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The special privilege God meant as a tool for witness, they [the Israelite’s] were to be a channel and you know what happened don’t you? Instead of them seeing themselves as a witness, instead of them seeing the difference as a way to reach people, instead of them standing up and saying, I’m different and consequently the world is going to say what’s the difference and I can tell them that God has made me different. Instead of that it became an excuse for carnal, selfish, self-glorification and pride.
It can happen with us too. We’re to be different aren’t we? We’re to be completely different than the rest of the world. We’re to walk a different walk, talk a different talk, think a different way. Read later in Ephesians and you’ll find out we are to walk not as the Gentiles walked, not as the heathen walk in the vanity of their mind. We are to walk in love. We are to walk in light. We are to walk in wisdom. We
are to walk in the spirit. Our conversation, our manner of life, our walk is to be totally different than the rest of the world. And that it is to be different because want them to take note of us. First of all, and secondly, God wants to keep us separated so different that we can’t mingle with them. It’s the same two things again. And hopefully the world will see the difference and we’ll say to them it’s Jesus Christ
that made the difference and here’s how He can make a difference in your life. And that’s exactly what Israel should have done. Instead of doing that, Israel became proud, loved the difference, celebrated the difference, became proud about the difference, and elevated themselves as if they were better than everybody else.
And I hate to think about it, but I think it’s even possible that that’s happening in Christianity or could happen. Where Christianity forms some sort of an elite that think they’re better than everybody else. And instead of really being a channel to reach the world, we become an isolated little group of people with our own little lingo and our own little deal and our own little code and our own little bumper stickers and our own little radio stations and TV stations and our own books and our own everything, and it’s us for, no more, shut the door, you know. ~ John McArthur, teaching on Ephesians 2: 11-12
from John MacArthur’s teaching on Ephesians 1: 6-10
There are five Greek words in the New Testament that come from the legal vocabulary. They have to do with legal things in the Roman world, a legal background. Let me share them with you and then I’ll show you how they differ.
The first one is dikaiosis. Now dikaiosis is a word that means acquittal. It means acquittal in the court. When somebody was acquitted of a crime, we translate it in the Bible justification. Justification. Somebody is justified.
All right, there is a second word, aphesis. That word means to cancel a debt, to cancel a debt. Sometimes it would be a lawsuit or something would be wrangling in the court and there would be a judgment that would say you don’t owe that man anything the debt is cancelled, or whatever, retribution has been made, the price is paid, there’s the canceling of the debt. Aphesis in its legal sense means to cancel a debt, we translate it in the Bible, are you ready, forgiveness, forgiveness.
The third word is huiothesia. And that is a word that means in legalese, it means in the Greek world – adoption. Like a family would go to court to adopt a child. Now the Bible really uses it to speak of sonship, sonship. Becoming a son of God.
And then there is the word katallasso which legally means reconciliation. Sometimes people go to court for a divorce and they will be reconciled. Or sometimes two fighting factions will be brought into a suit and there will be reconciliation brought about. Now it means in a courtroom reconciliation and that’s exactly the way we translate it in the Bible. Paul talks about being reconciled to God.
The fifth word is apolutrosis, it means to redeem, to purchase to set free. And it is translated redemption.
Now listen and I’ll show you the distinction of these words.
In justification the sinner stands before God accused but he is declared righteous. In justification he stands before God accused but he is declared righteous.
In forgiveness, the second word, the sinner stands before God as a debtor and receives a cancellation of his debt.
In adoption the sinner stands before God as a stranger but he is made a…what? … son.
In reconciliation the sinner stands before God as an enemy but he is made a friend.
In redemption the sinner stands before God as a slave and he is receiving his freedom, you see.
All of those terms speak of the wondrous miracle of salvation. All of those things; justification,
forgiveness, adoption, reconciliation and redemption are provided because Jesus paid the price.
By Dr. Michael J. Vlach
Daniel’s ministry took place in the context of Israel’s captivity to Babylon. Daniel 2 tells of a coming kingdom of God that will suddenly and decisively crush and replace the reigning Gentile kingdoms. As such it is an important section of Scripture for understanding the timing and nature of God’s kingdom.
Not long after King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon ascended the throne, he had a recurring dream that disturbed him greatly (2:1). Sensing the magnitude of his dream, the king summoned his wise men with an incredible demand. They were to relate the king’s dream without being told of its contents and then interpret its meaning. Failure to do these things meant execution. They pleaded their case to the king, claiming the unfairness of such a request, but to no avail. On the verge of execution Daniel, who was also under the sentence of death, asked for time to beseech the Lord for the dream and its contents (2:18). “The mystery was revealed to Daniel in a night vision” (2:19) and after giving thanks to God Daniel gained access to the king to relate the dream and interpret its contents.
Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar that his dream concerned “what will take place in the latter days” (2:28) and “what would take place in the future” (2:29). In the king’s dream he saw “a single great statue…which was large and of extraordinary splendor” (2:31). This single statue was made of various parts:
- Head of fine gold (2:32)
- Breast and arms of silver (2:32)
- Belly and thighs of bronze (2:32)
- Legs of iron (2:33)
- Feet partly of iron and partly of clay (2:33)
The king also saw a “stone” that “was cut out without hands” that struck the statue on its feet (2:34). The entire statue including the head of gold, the breast and arms of silver, the belly and thighs of bronze, the legs of iron and the feet of iron and clay “were crushed all at the same time” and became like “chaff” that was swept to the winds “so that not a trace of them was found” (2:35). The “stone” that struck the statue, however, “became a great mountain and filled the whole earth” (2:35).
Daniel then offered the interpretation of the great statue and the stone that destroyed the statue and grew into a great mountain. Concerning the head of gold Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar, “You are the head of gold” (2:38). Thus, the golden head represented Nebuchadnezzar and the kingdom of Babylon. Daniel does not explicitly say what the remaining three kingdoms of the statue represent but many scholars from the early church onward believed that the breast and arms of silver represented the kingdom of Medo-Persia which followed the Babylonian kingdom. It is also believed that the belly and thighs of bronze represented the kingdom of Greece and that the legs of iron referred to the kingdom of Rome (2:39–40). Rome was the most powerful and dominating kingdom of ancient times and is well described by iron. The feet of iron and clay indicate a kingdom related to the fourth iron kingdom of Rome, but this form of the kingdom in a latter state is not as stable since it has the element of “clay” associated with it. Daniel says this kingdom is “divided” and while strong also has a “brittle” element to it (2:41–42). Thus, this fourth kingdom begins as a very strong iron kingdom but then becomes less strong.
The “stone” that “was cut out without hands” is undoubtedly God’s kingdom that is without human origin. The stone that strikes the feet of the statue then becomes “a great mountain that fills the whole earth.” “Mountain” in this context is a symbol of a kingdom. Verses 44–45 state what this kingdom will do to the previous kingdoms:
In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever. Inasmuch as you saw that a stone was cut out of the mountain without hands and that it crushed the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold, the great God has made known to the king what will take place in the future; so the dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy.
“In the days of those kings” is probably a reference back to the ten “toes” of the feet mentioned in verse 42. Thus, during the days of the final form of the fourth kingdom (Rome), the kingdom of God will “crush and put an end to all these kingdoms” and “will itself endure forever.”
Daniel 2, therefore, teaches five kingdoms with the fifth and final kingdom crushing the others:
- Babylon (head of Gold)
- Medo-Persia (breast and arms of silver)
- Greece (belly and thighs of bronze)
- Rome (legs of iron) and later form of Roman empire (feet mixed with iron and clay)
- God’s kingdom (a stone cut out without hands that becomes a great mountain)
The main point of Daniel 2 is that starting with Babylon there would be four major Gentile powers that would rule over the world and Israel, but a day is coming when God’s kingdom will suddenly crush these kingdoms and itself will be established as a geo-political entity over the entire earth forever.
Note that when God’s kingdom comes it dramatically and decisively destroys and replaces the existing four Gentile powers that preceded it. It does not co-exist as a spiritual kingdom alongside these literal kingdoms. As McClain states,
At one moment a stone from heaven shatters the Gentile kingdoms leading to the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth. There is no gradual development of God’s kingdom. It comes suddenly and decisively.
Debate has occurred as to whether this kingdom of God is a spiritual or earthly kingdom. This kingdom of God is spiritual in that it comes from heaven. But when this kingdom of God comes, it invades earth and takes over the realm in which the other four kingdoms ruled. Thus, it is an earthly kingdom as well in that it presides on the earth. The kingdom of God will be spiritual in origin but earthly in regard to the sphere of its existence and domain.
This earthly aspect of God’s kingdom is evident in a connecting point between the fourth kingdom (Rome) and the fifth kingdom (God’s kingdom). The fourth kingdom (Rome) “shatters all things” and “breaks in pieces” its enemies (2:40). Likewise, the fifth kingdom, God’s kingdom, “will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms” (2:44). There is a parallel here—just as the fourth kingdom of Rome crushed all rival political kingdoms on earth, so too the kingdom of God will crush the earthly political kingdoms on the scene when it comes. The coming of God’s kingdom is not progressively taking place over time; it is sudden. This is a stone that violently brings an end to the kingdoms that preceded it. The kingdoms that use to exist are like “chaff” that is swept away by strong winds.
Like the previous four kingdoms, God’s coming kingdom is a real geographical and political kingdom that will exist over the entire earth. It radically replaces the Gentile kingdoms that came before it. In reference to Daniel 2, Blaising states,
“This kingdom is not simply a higher order of spiritual reality that coexists with the present course of affairs, but it is a complete replacement of present conditions on earth with a new worldwide and multinational world order” 
Some have argued that God’s kingdom is the church, but this understanding is unlikely. According to Daniel 2:44–45, when God’s kingdom is established it crushes and puts an end to the prevailing Gentile powers of the day who are swept away like chaff with no remnants remaining. This did not happen when the church began. The Roman Empire continued for centuries after the church started. There is no evidence that the leaders of the Roman Empire or anyone else believed their kingdom had been replaced by the Christian church. That would have been news to them. Instead, the kingdom of God of Daniel 2 replaces the fourth kingdom when it comes; it does not exist alongside in a spiritual sense. Plus, just as the four previous kingdoms were tangible geo-political entities, so too will God’s kingdom be a geo-political entity. While the church has a mission to the nations, it is not a geo-political group like Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, or Rome. The coming Christian church simply is not the fifth kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream statue.
The concept of reigning over the earth is an important one in Scripture. In the creation account God created man to rule and subdue the earth (Gen 1:26–28). While God had established a kingdom on earth with Israel (see 1 and 2 Samuel), a nation that was supposed to show God’s glory to the other kingdoms of the world, Israel failed its mission and was judged and dispersed to the Gentile nations who would now rule over Israel. God’s kingly authority over the earth would be given to Babylon and then to the kingdoms of Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome, and then a weaker but revived Roman Empire. But after this time period of Gentile domination or what Jesus called “the times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24) God’s kingdom will be established over the entire earth and Israel will be restored. In sum, King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream involved the broad panorama of human history from his day through the kingdom of Israel’s Messiah.
From JMac’s teaching on Ephesians 1:3…
We go to God and we say Oh God, I need more love, I just want You to give me more love. And the Bible already says “That the love of God is shed abroad in your heart.” You say Oh, don't need that. Lord, what I need is peace, I'm so distressed. And Jesus said when He left: “My peace I leave with you not as the world giveth give I unto you, never let your heart be troubled.” Oh I got that too? Right Well, what I need is I need joy, I'm unhappy. No, read John 15, He said that He was going to leave His joy in us that our joy might be, what? Full. Oh, I don't need that either? No. Oh, I know what I need, I need strength. No. You can already do all things through Christ who already strengthens you. You see, we spend a lot of time asking for what we've got. You say Well, What am I supposed to ask for? James said ~ ask for wisdom and wisdom is the sense not to ask for what you've got. You see, God has already dispensed to us all spiritual blessing. All blessing connected to the Spirit. And people say Well, have you received the second blessing? I always say Yes. And the 5,000th too all when I received Christ I received how many? All spiritual blessings.
I have all that I need. Praise God!
I’m trying to understand how those who hold to an Amillennialist eschatology interpret Scripture. I was shocked by the position presented on 5ptsalt blog which claimed Israel = Jesus. I have never heard their position stated like that before.
In my personal Bible study, I find clear teaching that God has a plan for the future of ethnic Jews that survive the Great Tribulation. Just one example is in the 12th &13th chapters of Ezekiel, the nation of Israel recognizes their sin in rejecting Messiah at His first Advent; recognizes that Jesus has the power to save when He defends Jerusalem at the battle of Armageddon, repents and is redeemed.
JMac puts it succinctly when he proclaims:
“And that’s a simple point, folks, you ought to make sure you understand. There is no forgiveness until there is repentance. There is no salvation until there is sorrow for sin. There is no cleansing until there is an awareness that cleansing is needed. And as they mourn and as they see Christ, they are doing what is required by God for cleansing.”
If it’s so understandable to me, however, how is it that those who hold to an Amill position see it differently? How is it that they ‘replace’ Israel with Jesus?
I found a fabulous explanation from Fred Butler’s blog, Hip and Thigh. He presents the following list of hermeneutic presuppositions that Amills hold to when they interpret Scripture:
1) The NT provides an over riding explanation of the OT. In other words, the NT must be utilized to interpret to OT. Sometimes the NT interpretation spiritualized the OT so that it is understood in the non-literal sense.
2) OT prophets spoke of the glories of the coming Messianic age from the pre-Messianic age. This means that when OT writers spoke of Israel, the Temple, David’s throne, the Kingdom of God, the NT reinterprets all those images to apply to Christ and His Church. The OT images, as real as they may have been, are really types and shadows found in the reality of Christ.
3) Use of the analogy of faith. Basically, this principle states unclear text will be interpreted in light of clear texts. The NT is the clearest revelation we have, so it will illuminate cloudy, OT texts.
This list apparently was from Kim Riddlebarger, who is from White Horse Inn, I think.
So Amills interpret the Old Testament through the lens of the New Testament. They believe that all the prophecies have been fulfilled in Christ and we are now in the ‘1000 year’ reign of Christ. Really??? Need more research into Amill & preterism.
I had a wonderful Sunday School teacher years ago who used to always say, “The Old Testament concealed; the New Testament revealed.” He taught from a pretrib rapture/ literal 1000 year position.
Still noodling it through in my head. I am confident, however, that at this point I do not agree with the Amill’s position that Israel = Jesus. God’s plan of redemption for a surviving remnant of ethnic Jews is clearly taught in Scripture–Genesis to Revelation.
By Dr. Thomas Ice
Pre-Trib Research Center
Sixteen and a half years ago when I started working full-time as director of the Pre-Trib Research Center, I immersed myself in the major viewpoints of those of us who believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible. The theology that comes out of that approach is often called dispensationalism. While dispensationalists have amazing unity on so many issues, especially in comparison with other prophetic systems, I noticed a few significant areas of differences. What I hope to do in this new series is to identify the main areas of differences, suggest right views, and offer an explanation as to why dispensationalists have some differing viewpoints.
Some of the items dispensationalists differ on among ourselves include the following:
- Whether Babylon in the New Testament refers to Rome or Babylon.
- What is the timing of the invasion of Gog and Magog in Ezekiel 38 and 39?
- Does Matthew 24:3–9 refer to the church age or the first part of the 70th week of Daniel?
- Is the rapture in Matthew 24 or 25?
- Is the church referenced in Matthew 24 or 25?
- Is the Greek word apostasia a reference to ‘departure from doctrine’ or ‘a physical departure’ in 2 Thessalonians 2:3?
Over the years of investigating and discussing these issues, I have seen some patterns develop relating to most of these issues. It appears to me that many who take certain views on Babylon and the Olivet Discourse are taking views that are more consistent with historicism, rather than the futurism they normally follow. But how does one go about validating an interpretation and an interpretative system like futurism? I will put forward some approaches to examine these issues during this series. I will also deal with whether Psalm 83 or Isaiah 17 could be fulfilled in the church age, outside the realm of the tribulation.
I know that everyone within our dispensational camp will not agree with what I will come up with, but I have never seen anyone try to identify and classify our differences in a systematic way. So, I will bring forth my thoughts on these issues, post them for public discussion, in order to see if they are helpful for some within the dispensational orbit.
Striving for Consistent Biblical Futurism
I have come to believe that most of the differences within dispensationalism arose from a lack of consistently applying the futurist perspective of biblical prophecy. It appears to me that the issues related to the Olivet Discourse and the identity of Babylon in the New Testament, for example, are holdovers from the historicist interpretative approach that dominated Protestant eschatology from about 1525 until around 1800.
Historicism is one of the four interpretative approaches to the book of Revelation relating to the time of fulfillment. The other three are preterism, idealism, and the dispensationalist view, futurism. Futurism is the result of a consistent application of the grammatical-historical hermeneutic popularly known as the literal interpretive approach. The other three approaches use the grammatical-historical method to some extent, but they all allegorize the text to a large degree and in various ways to support their overall notions of when and how Revelation would be fulfilled. I believe futurism is the result of interpreting the book of Revelation literally, understanding that there are symbols, figures of speech, and various literary devices that the author intended in conveying the meaning of his message.
The general notion of historicism, sometimes called the continuous-historical method, holds that the book of Revelation, especially chapters 4-19 or the tribulation period, are being fulfilled somewhere in church history. Thus, according to mainstream historicism,  the events of Revelation 4-19 have pretty much all taken place in Church history. Proponents of this view are mainly waiting for Armageddon and the second coming. The key point that will arise in this series is that historicism believes that the events of the tribulation period are being fulfilled in the current church age. Thus, prophecy is being fulfilled in our day, the church age. Also, historicists believe that Babylon is a code word for Rome, usually religious Rome. This is another non-literal interpretation that flows out of the historicist notion that each successive Pope is the Beast of Revelation or Antichrist.
On the other hand, the general notion of a futurist view of Revelation is that we are in the church age, a period about which there is very little specific prophecy. The events of Revelation 4-19, the tribulation period, are not happening in our day since they will only occur after the rapture, during the 70th week of Daniel, which is future to our day. That chapters 4-19 are future is something that all futurists agree on in relation to the Book of Revelation. If they did not agree on this then they would not be futurists.
Mixing Historicism with Futurism
When one moves to the Olivet Discourse, one has to decide if Jesus’ sermon covers the same basic time period as Revelation 4-19, which most futurists usually agree that it does to some extent. However, many dispensationalists inconsistently, I believe, interpret parts of the Olivet Discourse in a similar way that historicists have over the years. Some may say that I am being too slavish to the theatrical and abstract system of futurism. However, in my case, I first came to the conclusions exegetically and then wondered why there were these two schools of thought within dispensationalism, when we are usually on the same interpretative page. Then, over the years, as I read many older commentaries and studied the development and viewpoints of historicism, it became apparent to me that in the shift within Protestantism from historicism to futurism, there was some historicist baggage that was left behind.
I believe that taking Babylon as anything other than Babylon in the New Testament is a holdover from historicism. We have seen since the 1980s, a major shift by dispensational interpreters away from the idea that Babylon is a codeword for Rome, either political or religious. Why? The shift has occurred because nowhere in the biblical text are there contexts that support the notion that Babylon is used for anything other than referring to Babylon. It is the same issue that we all encounter when dealing with whether Israel always means Israel. Thus, the view that Babylon means Babylon is consistent with the grammatical-historical hermeneutic and the system that flows naturally from such an interpretative approach, which is futurism. The historicist view that Babylon is Rome relies on arguments from outside the biblical text to make its case. Such an approach we know as allegorical interpretation. Thus, if one holds the view that Babylon is Rome and is otherwise a futurist, then that would be an example of my claim that an interpretation is inconsistent with futurism, even though many futurists may inconsistently hold such a view. Further, I have observed in my study of the history of interpretation that futurists holding the Babylon is Rome perspective appear to have carried it over from a body of historicist scholarship that is still widespread, rather than from making a case from the biblical usage, which would be the grammatical-historical approach that leads to futurism.
While writing this article, I received an e-mail message from a good futurist friend who holds to pretribulationism. However, my friend’s e-mail contained an article that used the phrase ‘nations in distress with perplexity’ from Luke 21:25. The article applied that passage to what is happening in the world today. However, when one looks at the passage, those words were spoken in the context of the tribulation. How should a consistent futurist use this passage, if it can be used at all, in application to today?
Luke 21:25 can be applied today by a consistent futurist who first notes the context is of the future time of tribulation when this prophecy will take place. Since we are likely at the end of the church age, then we already see the same kinds of things happening today that are a foretaste of things to come. To apply that passage directly to today, when futurists would all agree the Luke passage is set within the tribulation, is to function like a historicist. Many futurists deal with the prophecies concerning Jerusalem in Zechariah 12-14 as if they are happening today. This passage is also set within the tribulation. However, there is no doubt that even today, before we have reached the latter half of the tribulation that nations are lining up against Jerusalem. Knowing where these prophecy events are leading does give us insight about why affairs in our own day are trending in the direction they are going.
In this series, I hope to at least demonstrate why there are differences within the dispensational camp on events surrounding primarily the Olivet Discourse. My approach will be to argue that we should move from the clear to the less clear passages to see if there are parallel items in the clear passages that help us interpret the less clear passages. I know some will dispute my judgment as to what are the clear passages, but I will provide a rationale for my decisions. I will attempt to establish a framework for development of a consistent futurism, as opposed to a historicist-futurist model that is often put forth within dispensational circles.
I believe that the clearest, most extensive passage on the 70th week of Daniel is found in Revelation 4-19. All futurists believe that these chapters in Revelation cover the tribulation period. I will then hope to demonstrate, when comparing the Olivet Discourse, Paul’s teachings on the tribulation (primarily 2 Thessalonians 2), along with the Old Testament prophets, that all passages speak of events that will occur within that seven-year period known as the tribulation, or in very close proximity to it. Maranatha!
 An example of mainstream historicism is found in their great champion E. B. Elliott and his scholarly work entitled Horae Apocalypticae; or, A Commentary on the Apocalypse, Critical and Historical, 5th edition (London: Seeley, Jackson, and Halliday, 1862), 4 vols.
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Think he’s home schooled?
“Sin, biblically defined is anything done, spoken, thought or imagined that is not in perfect conformity to the Word of God.”
“All of us tend to humanize God, glorify ourselves and thus minimize sin.”
“Does spiritual truth trigger a response to God to act appropriately to the world because of the fight you are waging and winning within your soul?”
“Pleasures of the world will pass, they’re like Juicy Fruit– tastes great for a little while and then it’s really bad!”
These are just a few quotes from Rick Holland’s excellent teaching, ‘The War Against Your Soul” from the 2009 Resolved Conference. You can listen here.
“Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.” 1 Peter 2:11-12
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~from Chuch Missler’s study, Armor for the Age of Deceit:
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God… Having put on the breastplate of righteousness…” – Eph 6:10, 11, 14
Most of us don’t wear battle armor today. Yet here is a command in God’s Word to appropriate for ourselves the weaponry to protect ourselves, or else we are sitting ducks in conflicts which we cannot avoid. What is the “breastplate of righteousness?”
The Roman Model:
The Roman breastplate was typically made of bronze, backed with leather. It was designed to protect the vital area. A blow through this was usually fatal.
What is your most dangerous vulnerability? Or, alternatively, What is your most important stewardship? There are many good answers: your family, etc. However, I suggest that your most critical area is your heart. The breastplate covered the heart. (A concordance search on “heart” can be very instructive.)
“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are (all) the issues of life.” -Proverbs 4:23
Alexis de Tocqueville, in his famed analysis of America, summarized, “America is great because she is good. If she ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.”
“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” – Proverbs 14:34
During Israel’s conquest of the Land of Canaan, personal sins resulted in national defeats. Joshua’s tragic defeat at Ai is but one example (Josh 7).
When asked, “What is the biggest problem in America?” General Norman Schwarzkopf replied, “Lack of integrity.” When asked the same question, author Larry Abraham answered, “Lack of justice.” And he subsequently relocated himself outside the United States.
The increasing evidence of corruption in government, in business, and in personal lives continues to propel us toward God’s judgment on our land.
It is easy to point the blame at other people, but the truth is we need to start with ourselves. Walking in righteousness means that we actively tell the truth and do what is right. David was heavily concerned with integrity and uprightness in his personal life (Psalms 7:3-5).
Our own commitment to personal integrity needs to extend to a fiduciary loyalty to our employer (1 Cor 4:2; Eph 6:5,6; Col 3:22), staying current on our payables, and maintaining the sanctity of all of our commitments. But rather than dwell on our own inept pursuit of personal righteousness, I believe that there is an even larger issue involved here.
People have different ideas about righteousness. We must understand that righteousness is something we are, not something we do. Righteousness within us affects what we do, but what we do does not make us righteous.
In Matthew 5:20, Jesus said, “For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.”
What a blow for the Jew! They looked up to their professional law-keepers-men who dedicated themselves to keeping every yot and tittle of the law! And even that wasn’t good enough! [They have been much maligned in modern NT viewpoints, but they were, indeed, a dedicated lot. They fasted at least one day a week and gave their savings to the poor, etc.]
“Pharisee” means “separated.” Separation from the world does not mean salvation as far as God is concerned (John 8:44). Jesus called them liars, vipers, and hypocrites.
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead [men’s] bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.” – Matthew 23:27, 28.
What a stinging rebuke to the religiously righteous individuals of that day. (Jesus, whenever encountering sinners of almost every kind, was kind, caring, and forgiving. There was only one group that invariably encountered His ire: the religionists pandering their own ritualistic righteousness.)
These were not the last group of individuals to develop a destructive system of self-righteousness in the name of God. There are many “very righteous” religions. They always include steps to entering the kingdom. There are sacraments to be kept. Certain prayers prescribed to be offered regularly. Special forms of communion and confession which are mandatory. There often is a specific dress code and other expectations of social and dietetic performance.
This all started when Adam and Eve attempted to cover themselves with aprons of fig leaves(Gen 3:7). God replaced them with coats of animal skins (Gen 3:21), teaching them that by the shedding of innocent blood they would be covered. This was, of course, already pointing to the Cross.
Religious righteousness can save no one. God says that this type of righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). External forms of righteousness have always competed with the true faith in Christ as the means of salvation and security.
[This article was excerpted from Chuck Missler’s study, Armor for the Age of Deceit. ]
October brings with it many changes. Along with the delightful weather, I look forward to Mike Gendron’s quarterly publication called ‘Proclaiming the Gospel’. This newsletter’s main article is on repentance. which has been addressed on a previous post. May you be blessed by his article: The Role of Repentance in the Salvation of Sinners.
I recently found an excellent resource for Bible study. Precept Austin is a web ministry that has a plethora of information! From commentaries to charts and hymns to maps, this site has anything you could possibly need to aid you in your study. Here’s the link: http://preceptaustin.org/
This past January I started studying the book of Daniel. I used Dr. John Walvoord’s commentary as my guide. It took me over eight months to finish, however, it was a thorough study. One of the aspects of Dr. Walvoord’s teaching that I truly appreciate is the fact that he includes interpretations from others that differ from his, while offering reasons why he disagrees with biblical support for his view. Very insightful. Here’s the link to that series: http://www.walvoord.com/series.php?series_id=24
Lastly, may I suggest you spend some quality time reading the latest from the Berean Call. Dave Hunt and T.A. MacMahon consistently point us to the truth of Scripture. Here’s their latest offering: http://www.thebereancall.org/node/8076
Have a blessed weekend!