Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The New Adam

In John 18 John tells us how Jesus, the Son of God, takes his disciples across the Kidron brook, where there was a garden. Notice he deliberately doesn't say "Gethsemane" as the other gospel writers do. "A brook" and "a garden" - why this description? v2 then tells us Judas, who betrayed him comes along. John 13v27 has already told us that Satan has entered Judas at the last supper when he had taken the bread. So who symbolically is entering this garden according to John? It is Satan. When else have we seen the son of God in a garden with a river and Satan entering the garden? Yes, back in Genesis 3 with the Garden of Eden. Satan had come to attack this paradise and God had placed Adam, the first son of God as a guardian of the garden and its inhabitants including his family - Eve. But what did the first Adam do? Instead of defending Eve when Satan attacked her with his lies, Adam sat back passively and did nothing. He didn't defend Eve or the Garden. He didn't like the idea of risking his life to defend his bride and so he let Satan conquer them. Ever since Satan has been Prince of this World (Eph 2). What happens with Jesus in John 18? Judas and the troops approach and demand to arrest him. Jesus says in v8 "if you seek me, let these men go". He offers himself so that his disciples may go free. He does put his life on the line to defend them. Who are they? The disciples are the bride of Christ, as are we his Church. Where the first Adam put himself first and failed to save his bride, Jesus, the second Adam, self-sacrificially in his love for his bride, says "take me" and lays his life down so that his bride may go free - what an amazing picture of his love and what the cross has done in setting us free at Christ's costly expense. What an amazing God we worship - Jesus the God-man!

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A pressing engagement - Gethsemane

I was recently reading Matthew 26 where Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane and I wondered what the word "Gethsemane" means as very often in the Bible locations are significant. I looked it up and discovered that it meant "the place where the Olives are pressed". Olive oil in the Bible is used as an anointing oil to anoint Kings and Priests. Jesus, our King and Priest, here at Gethsemane is entering the pressing machine. He is giving himself to be crushed on our behalf. We in our sin cannot stand before a holy God so Jesus, the God-man, goes to the cross for us, being pressed and crushed, taking God's curse on himself so the blessing might flow out to us. What is happening at Gethsemane is that Jesus voluntarily goes to the cross. He says "not my will but your will be done." He enters the press of his own accord. This reminded me of Isaac in the Abraham and Isaac story on Mount Moriah. Isaac involuntary was bound to the wood on the top of the mountain. The son of the father being involuntarily sacrificed. Whereas with Jesus, he is the Son of the Father who VOLUNTARILY is bound to the wood of the cross and sacrificed on the mount of Olives - Calvary for us. In his astonishing love for us he gives himself over to death for us - and then rises triumphant having defeated sin and death!

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Monday, October 07, 2013

Dispensational Premillenialism undone in 4 words

I was preaching on 1 Thessalonians 3 recently and came across this phrase from Paul that undoes Dispensational Premillenialian eschatology in 4 words. 1 Thess 3v13 "...at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all the saints". "With all the saints". 4 keys words that the Apostles Paul authoritatively teaches. When Jesus returns at the second coming (yes there are only 2 comings not 3 that Dispensational Premillenialism effectively teaches) he is coming with the dead saints. Dispensational Premillenialism teaches that when Jesus comes the Rapture will occur and all the currently alive Christians will disappear for a few years whilst Jesus comes to rule on Earth. They teach that Jesus later returns another third time with the saints. But here Paul denies that. Jesus Second Coming is with the saints first time round. 1 Thessalonians is Paul's basic teaching of Christian fundamentals to a young church and every chapter ends with a focus on the 2nd coming which is clearly to be at the front of our minds as it was with Paul. 1 Thess 1v10 when Jesus returns he is coming in "wrath" to judge this sinful world. Why on earth would he leave lots of non-Christians here and whisk the Christians away in a Rapture so they can't evangelise the lost?! Bizarre! There is one Second Coming when this world ends, judgment comes and heaven and hell begin. There is not a Third Coming which Dispensational Premills effectively teach. Why can't they just admit they teach 3 comings even though that is nowhere in Scripture. If you are confused about the Millenium in Rev 20, ponder on this. v4 says only those beheaded for the testimony of Christ will reign with him for a 1000 years. All the people that foolishly read Revelation literally and not symbolically as it demands refuse to acknowledge that. If you ain't been beheaded for Jesus you are going to miss out on the Millenium. Please at least be consistent if you are going to be "literal" rather than reading Revelation as sophisticated symbolical literature that is just repeating the gospel. A better way to think about it is to ask "in what way have Christians been beheaded?" We all used to have a head - Adam, but now we have a new head - Christ. So what happened at conversion - we were beheaded and given a new head! It's just the plain old gospel folks. The millenium is now where we reign in Christ. Sin no longer has to master us, we reign in life Rom 5v17. Much simpler to just stick to the plain old gospel rather than getting into wacky land as many do when they literally read the images of Revelation as literal.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Atheist campaign: There is probably no God

A thought came to me about the Humanist society's bus slogan campaign "There is probably no God so stop worrying and enjoy your life".
This just shows how pitiful the ethics of atheism and humanism are. How well would this bus campaign go down in India or Africa where millions are starving? "Just enjoy life!" How patronising! How insensitive!
I know why I prefer to follow the God-man who said "love your neighbour as yourself".

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Reading Rev 20v1-6 in the light of the rest of the NT

Problems with pre-millenialism and a case for reading Rev 20 in the light of how these terms appear elsewhere in the New Testament.
By David Anthony, March 2010

The key passage in question is Rev 20v1-6. Wayne Grudem rightly states in his Systematic Theology that “it is unwise to base such a major doctrine on one passage of uncertain and widely disputed interpretation.”
It is much healthier to try to build a picture of the end times from the non-Apocalyptic / non-symbolic books of the NT and then read the symbolism of Revelation in light of that.
Some key questions to ask Pre-Mills:-
1) Who says Jesus is “reigning on Earth”? The passage doesn’t.
2) Why do you take the Millenium as literally a thousand years when you don’t take the 144,000 literally?
3) Why do you not take literally the fact that it says only those who “have been beheaded for the testimony of Christ” will reign with him? Why does this first subtly get changed to “all Christian martyrs” and then this again subtly slips into “all believers”? The passage clearly says “those beheaded”. There are absolutely no rules to your hermeneutics at this point. Some things are literal, some are not, all to back up your case.
4) Why does “meeting him in the air” when he returns from (1 Thess 4v17) get lifted out of the context of the rest of 1 Thess that makes clear Jesus returns once to bring final judgement and usher in the new creation?
The real danger is that if you are expecting Christ to reign on Earth for a thousand years, you are encouraging Christians to trust and worship someone on Earth claiming to be the Christ. In 2 Thess 2 Paul warns of the deception of people claiming to be the Christ (following Jesus’ warning in Mark 13v21-22). The AntiChrist himself in 2 Thess 2 will claim to be the Christ and rule from the new temple. Who is most likely to worship him? Is it not Christians who believe in Pre-millenialism – they are expecting a Christ to rule on the Earth prior to the final judgement!
Postmills and Amills expect Jesus’ return to be in utter glory and to wrap up this fallen world. No one will mistake him as he returns in glory and brings wrath on all unbelievers there and then (1 Thess 1v10). Postmills and Amills can avoid falling for the deception of the AntiChrist by obeying the simple rule – “anyone on earth claiming to be the Christ isn’t”!!!
So how are we to understand Rev 20?
The millenium
Well the first issue is “what does the millennium refer to?” The first millennium in the Bible was the length of time King Solomon’s temple lasted.
It was completed in around 970BC. Malachi 3v1-3 predicted that the Lord himself would turn up to examine his temple – but who will be able to stand that day? It predicted a messenger who will prepare the way. Malachi 4v5 says this forerunner will be Elijah.
Mark 1 begins with John the Baptist turning up and wearing the same clothes as Elijah – see 2 Kings 1v8. He does indeed prepare the way for Jesus.
Jesus is the Lord and by Mark 11 we see him approaching the temple. Malachi has given us the expectation that he will examine it. What is his verdict? The Jews have turned it into a den of robbers. This incident is sandwiched between the cursing of the fig tree incident. Just as Jesus looked for fruit on that and found nothing so he cursed it and it withered – Jesus looks for spiritual fruit in the temple and finds none – so we expect him to curse it and it to wither. Following even more opposition to him from the Jews in Ch12, Jesus does curse the temple as we expect in Ch13v2. The discussion in 13v1 is all about the temple stones and Jesus warns that not one stone will be left upon another. This is a reference back to Levit 14v39-40. There the priest was to inspect a house with mildew on the walls. If the mildew is still there after 7 days the stones of the house are to be torn down and cast outside the city. Jesus is the great high priest who examines the house of the temple and has found it with spiritual mildew. He is now promising that it’s stones will be cast down. What date was Jesus saying this? Circa 30AD. = 1000 years after it was completed. When will the stones be torn down? In Mark 13v30 (remember the context of the discussion is about the temple) he says this will happen within “a generation”. Biblically a “generation” as with the generation who died out in the wilderness was 40 years.
So we see the temple lasts approx 1000 years. Which suggests the Millenium is to do with the temple. What 1000 year millennium could Revelation 20 be referring to? The NT temple = the church.
What repeating storyline do we expect?
With the first temple Malachi told us the Lord himself would come to visit. This he did in Jesus’ first coming, 1000 years after it was built and he found the temple wanting – hence it was destroyed.
God builds a new temple – the spiritual temple of the church – this time Jesus will return but instead of finding it wanting Rev 21 tells us he will find it as his spotless redeemed bride who he marries / a city fit for him to dwell in. Again we would expect this to be after a millenium, but numbers in Revelation are symbolic - here for "a long time".
So the millennium in Rev 20 is the period of the NT church temple being built. That began at Pentecost and will carry on until all the elect are gathered. (Mark 13v27)
So the devil being bound for this thousand years is referring to the church age where the church grows throughout the world, less hindered by the devil.
So where do the beheaded martyrs coming to life and reigning fit in then along with first resurrections and second deaths?
Well this is a perfect example of not reading Rev 20 in isolation from the rest of the NT. What else do we find about “heads” and “reigning” and “resurrections”? John didn’t just pluck this out of the air and create a brand new theology. No this dovetails perfectly with everything Paul teaches in his letters.
1st Resurrection
In Colossians 2v12 Paul tells us that all Christians have been “buried with (Christ) in baptism, in which you were also raised with him”. There it is crystal clear – all Christians have already gone through a death and resurrection- we have “come to life” (Rev 20v4) i.e. the blessed first resurrection of Rev 20v6. Death in the Bible is primarily spiritual – not being in right relationship with God. So coming to life = being in relationship with God. i.e. All Christians have been spiritually resurrected from the dead.
Non-Christians have not gone through this spiritual death and resurrection in Christ – so they will have to suffer death as a punishment for their own sins rather than be united to Christ’s death and so be forgiven.
Beheading
Look on to Colossians 2v19 where Paul warns the false teachers “are not holding fast to the Head”. All the way through Paul’s letters e.g. 1 Cor, Ephesians, he refers to Christ as the Head and the church as the Body.
Was Christ always our head? No. Adam was our first head. But now as Christians we are united by faith to our new head – Christ. What do you call someone who loses their first head? “Beheaded”.
Hence John is not creating some Elite Business class section of heaven where there is a special privilege for martyred Christians or beheaded Christians. No he is using symbology (as he does all the way through Revelation!!!!) to talk of simple spiritual truths. All Christians have been beheaded from Adam. John is talking about all Christians being beheaded (when they got converted). We now have a new head and reign with Christ in the church age – the millennium.
Reigning
So where does reigning come in? (Nowhere in Rev 20 does John say Christ is reigning on Earth, yet this gets slipped in neatly by Premills.) Rather John’s emphasis is on us reigning with Christ. Where does Christ reign from? Heaven. John is not saying anything new here. Paul in Col 3v3 says we are hidden with Christ in God. In Ephesians 2v6 we are “seated with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus”. And in Romans 5v17 it says all Christians “reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ”. This last one is critical. It is not saying Christ reigns. The wonder of the gospel is that we reign through him too. When is this? Now according to Romans 5. Paul’s whole argument is that we are no longer slaves to sin, but reigning in life now, free to live to please God.
So again when John talks about reigning in Rev 20 he is not talking about the future. He is talking of the church age, where all Christians reign with Christ in the spiritual realms (hence why we have authority in prayer etc.).
Rest of the dead
So Rev 20v5 where it says “the rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended” is simply talking about non-Christians. They are dead from God’s perspective. Again this is nothing new. Eph 2v1 says “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins…” These non-Christians whether they are the walking dead or the dead dead, will be raised to new life at Jesus’ return in judgement – in order to serve their eternal prison sentence in hell in their new bodies.
Holy
Rev 20v 6 ”Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.”
John is just declaring the gospel here in v6. You are blessed and HOLY if you have shared in the first resurrection – i.e. been united to Jesus in his death and resurrection by faith – that is how you become holy. The simple gospel.
Second death
Over such the second death has no power. This is the wrath to come. Death has lost its sting for Christians – for us physical death just ushers us into being with Christ forever!
Priests
“They will be priests of God” = exactly how Peter describes all Christians in 1 Peter 2v9. Again John is not talking of some elite class of Christian.
Do you see how time and again John is not saying anything new but just repeating the same gospel preached by Jesus and all the other apostles in the NT?
Do you see how we safeguard ourselves from all kinds of strange confusion by reading the non-symbolic NT letters and getting our systematics and doctrine clear from them, before we try to delve into how John talks of the same things using symbolism?

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We ain't a widow!

Just reflecting on the theme of prayer. In Luke 18 in the parable of the persistent widow we are often rightly encouraged to remember that God is not like the unrighteous judge. Quite right. But we also need to remember we ain't a widow either! Not only is God our heavenly Father but Jesus is the bridegroom of the church his bride. He is the executive power God the Father has placed on the throne of heaven. As his bride, no wonder Jesus promises time and time again that if we ask we will receive. A good Old Testament illustration of this is Esther. In Esther 1v5-6 we get a vivid description of King Ahasuerus' palace garden court and it has many similarities to God's temple furnishings. The King in Ch4v11 has a strict rule that no one may enter his presence uncalled without dying much like the Holy of Holies. In 5v2 who does the King allow in? His beautiful bride Esther. She wins favour in his sight and he promises "What is your request? It shall be given you?" Remind you of any similar promises the King of Kings Jesus makes to his bride - us - the church?
Because of Jesus' death for us, our sin has been dealt with, the curtain barrier has been torn down and we now have access to God at any time. He does not look at us like a nagging wife but rather his beautiful bride who he delights to fulfill the requests of. If he has given his life for his bride, do you think he will withhold any good gift we need?

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Sunday, February 03, 2008

Paul - the beast becomes beast-catcher

At the end of Acts 7 and beginning of Acts 8 Paul, then called Saul, is the beast who opposes the church. He spends his time "ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison." 8v3.
In Chapter 9 Christ knocks him off his horse and he stumbles around blind. This encounter converts him and notice in 9v18 "something like scales fell from his eyes". The beast loses his scales. He then becomes the primary focus of Acts in the second half of the book as the gospel goes to the gentiles. This Jewish beast becomes the key evangelist of the gentile world. Who is the head of the gentile world? Who is the most ferocious beast of all who will so terribly persecute the church? Caesar in Rome. Acts ends with Paul travelling to Rome to tame the beast. Whilst he may have ended up dying there, his ministry and the church he supported there becomes the seed for the conversion of Constantine years later and the formal Christianisation of the Roman world. God in his sovereignty can use the greatest opponents of the gospel and by converting them use them to win over the world.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

The significance of Golgotha

Nothing in the Bible is incidental. So what is the significance of Jesus being crucified "at Golgotha (the place of the Skull) " according to Mark 15v22?
Rev 12 tells us that the serpent in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3 is that great dragon Satan.
God's promise to Eve in Gen 3v15 that her seed will strike this beast's head and he will only bruise his heel sounds far from impressive if we think of it only as a tiny snake. Eve could have crushed it's head herself. But if it is a mighty beast then bruising its unreachable head sounds far more impressive. How will mankind ever conquer Satan, sin and death?
When David, God's great king, encounters the mighty beast of a man Goliath in 1 Sam 17 we learn some important things. Goliath is about 10 feet tall and he is from Gath. A beast of a man.
How does David kill him? By bruising his unreachable head with a stone and then chopping off his head and bringing it back to Jerusalem 1 Sam 17v54. Because Jerusalem was the holy city this would have been hung outside the city, not inside. Where?
Gol-Gath-a. A contraction of Goliath of Gath. The place of his giant skull.
So Jesus, the Son of David, comes along and dies at Golgotha, there defeating and disarming the mighty Leviathan Satan Col 2v13-15 and putting him to shame. How? By his feet being BRUISED and pierced on the tree as he dies for our sins winning forgiveness and redemption and new life for sinful mankind.
Joshua 10v24 says that defeated kings were humiliated by the victors placing their feet on the losing Kings' necks. Jesus, the victorious King's feet at the cross rest on The Place of the Skull. Death has been defeated by Jesus!
Hallelujah!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Amazing Bible teaching - Jim Jordan & Biblical Horizons

I have just been introduced to an American Bible teacher called James Jordan and whilst I’ve only listened to a dozen talks or so I must say it is the most electrifying Bible teaching I have ever heard in my life. Despite going to Bible college for several years listening to Jordan makes me realise how narrow my understanding of the Bible has been previously and how much more seriously I must take every word – especially Old Testament imagery and themes. It feels like the blinkers have fallen off my eyes and I’ve seen the vistas of how rich God’s word truly is. Get hold of this stuff – there’s nuggets every 5 seconds!
The website is www.wordmp3.com and his section is under “Biblical Horizons”. Start with his teaching on Biblical worldview – the Garden of God. There is a free sample of talk 1 of this set at
http://www.wordmp3.com/ministry/?id=bh
I truly believe God’s word has the power to transform this world and so we must get this rich teaching into as many hands/ears as possible.
His website is http://www.biblicalhorizons.com/