A Response to an Old College Friend on Facebook

A pastor whom I knew back in my college days recently linked with this article on his Facebook page (Michele Bachmann: proof that end-times theology will poison your worldview).  I think that the article typifies at least a portion of what is wrong in the Church today.  Let it be known at the outset that I am one of the dangerous ones that he discusses since I hold to the dispensational view of Scripture.

What follows is the message that I sent to my college friend.  His name is removed in order to not upset anyone, or get sued, or something along those lines.

I am saddened that you would place your stamp of agreement on that article.  I am not here to argue.  Instead I would like to simply direct our attention back to what Scripture teaches since it is the standard of truth, and doctrine.

2 Peter 3:3-4, 7, 10-11, “Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming?  For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation…But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men…But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.  Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!”

I could continue with Peter’s words, but simply notice what he said that the practical outcome of understanding the severity of “day of the Lord” and the coming judgment/destruction of the present earth should be – it is to have a purifying effect on God’s people – “what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness…”  1 John 2:28-3:3 gives the same basic message that the imminent return of the Lord should cause His people to live pure lives.

1 Peter 4:7, “The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit of the purpose of prayer.”

Peter claimed that in his day the end had already drawn near.  This verb, “is near” is in the perfect active indicative meaning that it is a “completed action with a resulting state of being…with the emphasis on the resulting state of being.”  In other words we are living at the end of all things, and if the end of all things had already drawn near at Peter’s time, logically it is even closer now.

Just as he had done in the previous passage, Peter describes what this knowledge should produce in the life of the Christian; 1.) sound judgment, 2.) sobriety in spirit (in control of one’s thought process  so as not to think irrationally) 3.) in order that we are able to pray in a focused manner.  All-in-all Peter again is teaching that knowing that we are living in the last days, that Christ may return at any time, is to have the effect of causing us to live in obedience to the word of God.

1 Peter 4:17, “For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?”

I’m sure that I’ve acted like a Pharisee even more times than I am aware, but this is not one of them.  Peter said that we are living in the time he called the end of all things, and here he says that judgment is beginning first in God’s own household, meaning us.  Our brothers and sisters around the world are being put to the test in ways we cannot imagine.  It very well may come to us also.  However, a much more severe judgment is reserved for those “who do not obey the gospel of God.”  Those who refuse to trust in Jesus Christ alone will face God’s judgment.  Revelation 20:11-15 is painfully clear;

“Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it…And I saw the dead, the great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book…which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds…And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

Any Dispenstionalist, of which I am one, who is worth his salt takes all of this together and realizes that we aren’t to be hunkering down in our bunkers, but we are to be sharing the gospel of salvation in Christ alone with those who need to know before they must stand before the Righteous Judge.  I don’t condemn anyone to hell.  It is not up to me.  God will be the one who hands down final judgment.  I’m just the one waving a flag warning the drivers to stop because the bridge ahead is out.

I’m not sure that you want to be in agreement with a man who is a scoffer concerning the end times – especially since they were specifically called out by Peter.  I would encourage you to look again at what the Word says.  It is the standard by which we are to judge any teaching.  Contrary to what the author of the article wrote, Paul told Titus that the grace of God has appeared and instructs us how to live “in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:11-13) – grammatically Paul identifies the appearing of the Lord as our blessed hope.  We should be looking for it, longing for it.  Yet, the brother who wrote the article says that it is a dangerous doctrine.  Paul told Timothy that “there is laid up for me (Paul) the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day (day of the Lord); and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Tim. 2:8).  I want that crown, and believe that I will get it because I am looking for and will love the coming of our Lord.

I pray that you will too.

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I Was Wrrrr…

fonzie7If you recall the t.v. show, “Happy Days,” which ran from 1974-1984, then you may also recall that Arthur Fonzarelli, or the Fonze, had a difficult time making the statement, “I was wrrr…wrrro.”  (WRONG)  Well, none of us wish to admit that we were wrong, but sometimes it helps.  So, I was wrrr….wrrong, at least in part.  I am referring to a tweet that I sent out on August 6 sending readers to an article written by Ann Coulter concerning the doctor who contracted Ebola while in Africa on mission.  Although I continue to agree with some of what Coulter wrote, and especially much of what she wrote in her rebuttal to her critics, I didn’t offer any exceptions to what she wrote.

Coulter went a little far in attributing motive to those whom she criticized.  She came across as mean in some of what she said. However, those two things do not erase what she got right.  I think she had some valid points.

Mission work is important work.  America Christianity has been one of, if not the most important contributors to the spread of the gospel to the most remote places in the world.  God has blessed us with abundance of wealth, and of knowledge in order to do mission work.  Therefore, American Christians who have the desire (given by God) and the means (also given by God) to do mission work, they should do just that.

My agreement with Coulter’s article is in one, maybe two areas, and I admit that I may read my view into what she wrote, to some extent.  First, there is what seems to be a prevailing attitude in American Christianity that each American Christian who isn’t doing some form of foreign missions, those Christians are not living in God’s will, aren’t really living like a Christian, and in some circles are seen as either lesser Christians, or not Christian at all.  To that I say, hogwash.  If you recall Paul’s instruction to the Church in Corinth, not all of us have the same gifts, which logically means that we don’t all have the same ministry.  Paul said, “All are not apostles, are they?  All are not  prophets, are they?  All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they?  All do not have gifts of hearings, do they?…” and so on (I Corinthians 12:29-30).  Thus, I would conclude that if you don’t have a desire to go on a mission trip, then don’t.  It doesn’t make you less of a Christian.  Nor does it mean that you are not living in obedience to God’s will.  There is a mission field just outside your front door; in the cubicle next to yours; next to you on the assembly line, etc.

Secondly, I agree with Coulter that there is, or at least seems to me that there is so much focus on going “over there” on mission, that we neglect what is going on in our own nation.  I’m sure that you have all noticed that our nation is quickly circling downward in the toilet.  We can’t seem to share the gospel with the people next door, but we can go to a nation with a language that we can’t speak, and a culture we don’t understand, and build a house or heal the sick, and never share the gospel with anyone.  Then somehow that serves as a missionary activity.  I understand that both building houses for people, helping the sick are good and important works.  There is nothing wrong with doing that on a mission trip.  However, if that is all you do, then please don’t call it a Christian mission, or sharing the gospel.  Unless you are able to clearly share the gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ, then the best that you are doing is making their trip to hell a little more comfortable.

I believe that we have lost site of what is meant by living a Christ-like life.  In an article for WORLD magazine on-line, Dr. Anthony Bradley hit the nail on the head, so to speak.  His article, entitled, “The ‘new legalism’,” (http://www.worldmag.com/2013/05/the_new_legalism) Bradley took to task the idea of the “radical” Christian life.  Bradley’s conclusion is worth reading:

Why is Christ’s command to love God and neighbor not enough for these leaders? Maybe Christians are simply to pursue living well and invite others to do so according to how God has ordered the universe. An emphasis on human flourishing, ours and others’, becomes important because it is characterized by a holistic concern for the spiritual, moral, physical, economic, material, political, psychological, and social context necessary for human beings to live according to their design. What if youth and young adults were simply encouraged live in pursuit of wisdom, knowledge, understanding, education, wonder, beauty, glory, creativity, and worship in a world marred by sin, as Abraham Kuyper encourages in the book Wisdom and Wonder. No shame, no pressure to be awesome, no expectations of fame but simply following the call to be men and women of virtue and inviting their friends and neighbors to do the same in every area of life.

There is a vast mission field outside, and maybe even inside your own home.  No need to seek a “radical” or even a “missional” lifestyle.  Just live for the glory of God in all that you do.  Paul says as much in several places:

1 Thessalonians 4:11 (NASB95) “and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you”

2 Thessalonians 3:12–13 (NASB95) “Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread.  But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good.”

1 Timothy 2:1–2 (NASB95) “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.

My conclusion of the matter is simple; bloom where God has planted you.

I should have been more careful in offering unqualified agreement with Ann Coulter’s article.  I was wrrr…not to make that clear at the outset.  So, here is the pot calling the kettle black.  For what it is worth, I pray this helps.