WELCOME!!

Welcome to our blog! We are living in a day and age where most churches are dimming their lights, to accommodate the darkness of this world.

Skewed, half and false Gospels are being preached from the pulpits and carnal Christianity has created their own god – A god who does not have any commandments, holiness, justice or wrath, but only love. Biblical teachings on truth and the reality of judgement and hell have also become “hate speech.”

As the elect of God, let’s separate ourselves from all the half-baked teachings and learn from each other, about the things the remnant in these latter days needs to know.

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QUESTIONS ABOUT THE FALL OF ADAM

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BACKGROUND

The Scriptural account of the fall provides an adequate explanation of man’s present fallen state and the evil that surrounds us. It is also upon this dark background that the bright glories of God’s mercy and grace appear. Only to the degree that we understand the tragedy of Adam and his condemnation can we comprehend something of the glories of Christ and His Gospel.

In any study of the fall, we are faced with some of the most important and complex theological questions in all of Scripture: the origin of evil, the nature of human freedom, the sovereignty of God, and His eternal purpose. Although what we know about these issues will always be mingled with a certain degree of mystery, it is necessary that we endeavour to know what we can. We will address the following questions below:

Did God ordain the fall?

What is God’s eternal purpose in the fall?

The Scriptures affirm that the fall was not due to any fault of the Creator. All God’s works are perfect (Deuteronomy 32:4), He cannot be tempted by sin (James 1:13), nor does He tempt others with sin (James 1:13). The blame for the fall rests squarely upon the shoulders of Adam. As Ecclesiastes 7:29 declares, “Behold, I have found only this, that God made men upright, but they have sought out many devices.”

This truth presents one of the greatest theological problems in all the Scriptures: how is it possible that a creature created in the image of God came to choose evil and sin? Adam and Eve had a true inclination toward good, and there was nothing corrupt or evil in them to which temptation might appeal. How such righteous beings could choose evil over good, and choose the words of a serpent over the commands of their Creator, is beyond human comprehension.

There have been numerous attempts throughout history to explain the fall of Adam, but none of them is without its limitations. We must therefore be content with the simple truth of Scripture that although God made man righteous and holy, he was finite and mutable (i.e. subject to change) and capable of making a choice contrary to the will of God.

DID GOD ORDAIN THE FALL?

The word ordain means to put in order, arrange, or appoint. To ask if God ordained the fall is to ask if He put it in order, arranged it, or appointed that it to occur. Other words that carry similar meaning are: “decree,” “predetermine,” and “predestine.” Did God determine beforehand or decree that the fall should occur? The answer to this question is “yes,” but we must be very careful that we understand what this does and does not mean.

God’s ordaining of the fall does not mean that He forced Satan to tempt our first parents, or that He coerced them to disregard His command. What God’s creatures did, they did willingly. God is holy, just, and good. He does not sin, cannot be tempted by sin, and He does not tempt anyone to sin.

God’s ordaining of the fall does mean that it was certain to happen. It was God’s will that Adam be tested, and it was God’s will to let Adam both stand and fall alone without the divine aid which could have kept him from falling. God could have hindered Satan from laying the temptation before Eve, or in the face of such temptation He could have given Adam special sustaining grace to enable him to triumph over it. From the testimony of the Scriptures, we understand that He did not.

God’s ordaining of the fall also means that it was a part of His eternal plan. Before the foundation of the world, before the creation of Adam and Eve and the serpent that tempted them, before the existence of any garden or tree, God ordained the fall for His glory and the greater good of His creation. He did not merely permit our first parents to be tempted and then wait to react to whatever choice they made. He did not merely look through the corridors of time and see the fall. Rather, the fall was a part of God’s eternal plan and He predetermined or predestined that it should and would happen.

At this point a very important question arises:

“Is God the author of sin?”

This question can and should be answered with a strong negative. God is not the author of sin, nor does He coerce men to sin against Him. Although He predetermined that the fall should and would happen, He also predetermined that it should happen through the willing actions of Satan, Adam, and Eve. Although our finite minds cannot fully comprehend how God can be absolutely sovereign over every event of history and over every individual act without destroying individual freedom, the Scriptures abound with examples that demonstrate this to be true. Joseph was sold into slavery as a result of the willful sin of his brothers, and yet when the final story was told, Joseph declared, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive” (Genesis 50:20). The Son of God was crucified as a result of man’s willful sin and hostility toward God, and yet God had ordained or predetermined the death of Christ before the foundation of the world. In the Scriptures we read:

“… this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.” -Acts 2:23

“For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.” -Acts 4:27-28

From the Scriptures, we see that God does ordain or predetermine an event to occur and yet brings it to pass through the willful sin of men. He does this without being the author of their sin or coercing them to do that which is against their will. Godless men willfully nailed Jesus Christ to the cross and were responsible for their actions, but the entire event was according to the predetermined plan of God. The fall of Satan, and the later fall of the human race through Adam and Eve, were the results of their own sin for which they alone were responsible, and yet the events came to pass according to the ordained, predetermined, predestined plan of God. God has decreed a great eternal purpose for His creation and has ordained every event of history by which that purpose is being fulfilled. Nothing, not even the fall of man or the death of God’s Son, occurs apart from the sovereign decree of God.

“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For “who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor?” Or “who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to Him again?” For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” -Romans 11:33-36

“… In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will….” -Ephesians 1:10-11

WHAT IS GOD’S ETERNAL PURPOSE IN THE FALL?

Having demonstrated that the fall was the result of the creature’s willful disobedience and yet also according to the eternal purpose of God, it is now necessary that we endeavor to know that eternal purpose. In light of the evil and suffering that has resulted from the fall, it may seem difficult to accept that there can be any good purpose in it. Nevertheless, God’s Word assures us that there is such a purpose.

We know from the Scriptures that the creation of the universe, the fall of man, the nation of Israel, the cross of Christ, the Church, and the judgment of the nations have one great and final purpose. It is that the fullness of God’s attributes be revealed to His creation and that all creation know Him, glorify Him, and fully enjoy Him as God.

 THE FULL REVELATION OF GOD ’S ATTRIBUTES

God created the universe to be a theatre upon which He might display the infinite glory and worth of His being and attributes, that He might be fully known, worshipped, and enjoyed by His creation. It has been said by many that the fall of man is the pitch-black sky upon which the stars of God’s attributes shine with the greatest intensity of glory. It is only through the fall and the advent of evil that the fullness of God’s character may truly be known.

When the Christian worships God, what are the attributes that seem most dear to him? Are they not God’s mercy, grace, and unconditional love? Are these not the divine attributes most exalted in all the great hymns of the Church? Yet how could these attributes be known except through the fall of man?

Unconditional love can only be manifest upon men who do not meet the conditions. Mercy can only be poured forth from the throne of God upon men who deserve condemnation. Grace can only be granted to men who have done nothing to earn it. Our fallenness is our doing, for which we are obliged to take full responsibility. Yet it is through the dark theatre of our fallenness that the grace and mercy of God takes the centre stage and shine forth upon an audience of both men and angels. It is in the salvation of fallen man that the wisdom, grace, and mercy of God are revealed, not only to man but also to every created being in heaven, earth, and hell.

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” -Ephesians 2:4-7

“To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.” -Ephesians 3:8-10

THE FULL REVELATION OF THE GLORIES OF CHRIST

The greatest work of God is the death and resurrection of the Son of God for the salvation of God’s people. However, if man had not fallen there would have been no Calvary and no Savior. The very thing that most explains God (John 1:18), draws us to Him (John 12:32), and causes us to love Him (I John 4:10, 19) would be gone.

What would take its place? What other means could have been used to demonstrate the immeasurable mercies of God? Christ crucified is the great theme of every worthy Christian hymn, sermon, conversation, and thought. Without the fall, redemption would be unknown to us. We would be like the angels, longing to look upon something that we would never and could never experience (I Peter 1:12).

It is wrong, and near blasphemy, to even hint that the cross of Christ was a mere Plan “B” that was employed only because of Adam’s wrong choice in the garden. The cross is the main event to which every other work of God’s providence points. All things stand in its shadow. In one sense, the cross was necessary because of the fall, but in another sense, the fall was necessary so that the glories of God in the cross of Christ might be made fully known.

THE FULL REVELATION OF THE CREATURE’S DEPENDENCE

One of the most awe-inspiring and humbling truths about God is that He is absolutely free from any need or dependence (Acts 17:24-25). His existence, the fulfillment of His will, and His happiness or good pleasure do not depend upon anyone or anything outside of Himself. He is the only being who is truly self-existent, self-sustaining, self-sufficient, independent, and free. All other beings derive their life and blessedness from God, but God finds all that is necessary for His own existence and perfect happiness in Himself (Psalm 16:11; Psalm 36:9).

The existence of the universe requires not only the initial act of creation but also the continued power of God to sustain it (Hebrews 1:3). If He were to withdraw His power for even one moment, all would turn to chaos and destruction. This same truth may be applied to the character of moral beings, whether angels or men. Adam in paradise and Satan in heaven, although created righteous and holy, could not stand apart from the sustaining grace of an Almighty God. How much less are we able to stand and how much more quickly would we fall apart from the same sustaining grace? The fall, therefore, provides the greatest example of our constant need for God. If we cannot continue our existence beyond our next breath except for God’s preservation, how much less are we able to maintain any semblance of righteousness before Him apart from His grace (John 15:4-5; Philippians 2:12-13)?

(SOURCE: THE TRUTH ABOUT MAN – PAUL WASHER)

NOTE: Dear friends, it is the time of the year where we need to renew our WordPress subscription fees for the Heavenly Remnant blog. The annual fee amounts to USD139 and currently we are out of pocket.

In addition, we wish to expand the ministry, Lord willing, and to distribute tracts to the Zulu people in the area in South Africa where we live.

We humbly ask for any donations, no matter how small. Should you feel led to donate, donations can be made to our PayPal account.

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A PLEA FOR HELP

URGENT DONATIONS NEEDED
 
Dear friends, it is the time of the year where we need to renew our WordPress subscription fees for the Heavenly Remnant blog. The annual fee amounts to USD139 and currently we are out of pocket.
 
In addition, we wish to expand the ministry, Lord willing, and to distribute tracts to the Zulu people in the area where we live.
 
We humbly ask for any donations, no matter how small. Should you feel led to donate, donations can be made to our PayPal account.

THE GREAT COMMISSION OF JESUS CHRIST

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INTRODUCTION

The mission of the Christian church for the entire period between Christ’s first and second comings comprises of an assurance, three commands and a promise.

“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:18-20).

A FIXED ASSURANCE OF CHRIST’S POWER

The mission command is a task that is far greater than human capabilities and cannot be carried out in our own strength. It is not within the abilities of man to stand against the kingdom of Satan and to overcome it. You cannot save yourself or any other lost soul that is under Satan’s power, but the Lord Jesus gives his disciples the fixed assurance: “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” He came to seek and to save that which is lost (Luke 19:10) and our task is to lead lost souls to Him. His saving power is through the Holy Spirit that is working to give those that are lost salvation and to break the bonds of sin.

Have you in your own life experienced the fact that Jesus Christ came to destroy the works of the devil? (1 John 3:8). It is the only name that is given to man through which we can be saved (Acts 4:12). Through Jesus Christ’s death on the cross He destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the devil (Hebrews 4:12). There is no other religion or saviour through whom a person can be freed from Satan’s power! The Lord Jesus Christ’s instruction to Paul and every other disciple is: “Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” (Acts 26:17-18).

The power of Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit, is not only at work in the saving of sinners, but is also given to empower all disciples to proclaim the gospel to agnostic and even hostile people:

  • “[Jesus] said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses to these things. And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: But tarry ye in Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:46-49).
  • “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8).
  • “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:4).

It is not enough that a disciple should only know that Jesus Christ has all power in heaven and in earth – he also needs to be clothed with this power through being filled with the Holy Spirit. Only then can you be a successful disciple who can help others to make peace with God and to be clothed in His power. This power gives you the boldness to preach the Gospel (Acts 4:31) and equips you for the struggle against evil (Ephesians 6:10). However, many believers do not know the scriptures or the power of God (Matthew 22:29).

THE FIRST COMMAND: PREACH THE GOSPEL OF SALVATION

The first command is that we are to preach the gospel and make disciples in all the nations. People are to hear the gospel so that they can repent and be saved. Paul’s message to the unsaved Greeks was: “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now cammandeth all men every where to repent” (Acts 17:30).

The saving grace of Jesus Christ is to be preached to all people. By doing this we let the light of the gospel shine in a dark world, so that everyone that is living in the darkness of sin and are lost, can realise that they must come over to the wonderful light of the Lord Jesus through repentance and salvation (1 Peter 2:9).

The Holy Spirit convinces people of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgement through the preaching or reading of the gospel (John 16:8). Those that deny that they are lost sinners resist the calling voice of God through the Holy Spirit, to their own destruction.

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:8-10).

Those however, that are lost, and that acknowledge and confess their sins with regret, will be saved. Paul says that godly sorrow of this nature brings about “repentance to salvation” (2 Corinthians 7:10). Such a person appeals to the righteousness of God that was made possible by Jesus Christ on the cross, where the price was paid for everyone’s sins. Someone that has made peace with God on the grounds of the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross “shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death into life” (John 5:24).

THE SECOND COMMAND: BAPTIZE THOSE THAT REPENT

Someone that is saved is already spiritually baptised into the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13). Water baptism is an outward symbol of the abovementioned baptism, the same way that communion is a symbol of the Lord Jesus Christ’s death on the cross. The command is clear: “He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16). Water baptism therefore does not have the power to save, as a person can only be saved through faith in Jesus Christ. The Ethiopian eunuch asked Philip: “See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptised?” And the answer was: “If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.” And his reaction was: “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” (Acts 8:36-37). He was baptised on the grounds of his confession of faith.

What is the purpose of the water baptism, as it obviously does not have the power to save? It is an outward testimony, a confession in public by the person concerned that Jesus Christ is his or her Saviour. The Bible also links a verbal testimony to salvation as proof that it is genuine: “That thou salt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou salt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10). At the baptism the one concerned confesses Jesus Christ with his or her mouth and doing this fulfils the Lord Jesus Christ’s command to be baptised.

Christianity is a public matter that is carried out and confirmed in the open in various ways through the testimonies of believers.

THE THIRD COMMAND: INTENSIVE INSTRUCTION

Following a person’s salvation is a phase of intensive schooling in the Word: “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” Why must those that have received salvation be schooled in the Word? So that they can live a holy life and be of service in Christ’s kingdom. In Psalm 119:11 the psalmist says: “ Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” Jesus said: “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” (John 15:3). There are so many clear commands on sanctification in the Bible that any earnest Bible student can do nothing other than to give them serious consideration.

  • “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification… He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his Holy Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 4:3,8).
  • “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation” (1 Peter 1:15).
  • “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1).

Sanctification means “purified and set apart for Gods service.” A life of sanctification must necessarily lead to a person being willing and available for service. We have already indicated that a person who is filled with the Holy Spirit, will be a witness for Jesus Christ (Acts 1:8). He will not be able to remain silent about the great and wonderful things that the Lord has done for him. It is a spiritual truth that real faith leads to works and serviceability as faith without works is dead (James 2:26).

A convert that is well schooled in the Word of God and has accepted the requirement of a total commitment to sanctification, will under the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit accept the task of spreading the gospel further. Paul has this to say to the young Timothy: “Preach the word, be instant in season, out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2).

Here is where the mission command has completed its full circle: The disciple that has guided other people to the Lord and given them a thorough schooling in the Word of God, has now trained disciples that have received the power of the Holy Spirit and also have built up a working knowledge of the Bible. They can then spread the Word further and also make disciples. The work of the Lord must continue on earth in this way until He comes.

THE PROMISE: JESUS CHRIST IS ALWAYS WITH US

A distinct promise accompanies the mission command: “And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” We are never alone in this work. Jesus Christ is always with us through the Holy Spirit while we are carrying out his great commission.

The fact that Jesus Christ made this promise until the end of the world reality means “until the end of this age” because the Greek word aeon is used, that means, a long period. The New King James version correctly says: “Lo I am with you always, even until the end of the age”.

We have the assurance in these dark days of the nearing end of the church age, that the Lord Jesus is still with His faithful witnesses to empower them, to encourage them, to open doors for them and to provide their every need from the riches of His grace. He does not promise them moonshine and roses, wealth and a problem-free life but survival in the midst of difficult circumstances and victory in the struggle: “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:18,19). The servant that perseveres with the Lord’s work will be richly rewarded (Matthew 24:45-47).

Jesus Christ will come when all nations (not all individuals) have been reached with the gospel. In this spiritually dead and morally decaying world you can hasten Christ’s coming by taking part in extending His kingdom: “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God…” (2 Peter 3:11,12).

ONGOING OUTREACHES

The command for world evangelisation is still as binding as when it was given almost 2000 years ago, therefore every Christian must be actively involved in some way. Besides the fact that we should be supporting missionaries and evangelists with prayer and money, we should also be doing something to spread the gospel in our own areas. Conversations can be conducted with people and pamphlets or booklets containing good messages on repentance and spiritual growth can be distributed.

Come let us make a great effort in this time so near to the end of the church age, to win unsaved family members, friends, colleagues and other people for the kingdom of heaven.

This great task cannot be left in the hands of the church alone, for the following two reasons: (1) Many people do not go to church any more, and (2) In an increasing number of churches people are no longer clearly enlightened as to the biblical demands for rebirth and sanctification. The power of the Holy Spirit is still at our deposal to spread the news of Jesus Christ’s saving grace: “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be my witnesses…” (Acts 1:8).

(SOURCE: Prof. Johan Malan)

A DISPENSATIONAL VIEW OF THE GOSPELS IN SMALL CHUNKS (10)

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CHAPTER III
THE EARLY JUDEAN MINISTRY

RESUME

John alone gives us the record of this period of our Lord’s ministry. After His brief stay in Capernaum Jesus went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover. When He entered the Temple He found stalls set up for selling sheep and oxen and doves and money changers doing business. Making a whip out of rope, He drove them all out of the temple, the animals as well as the dealers, and overturned the tables of the money changers along with their coins, and cried out to them: “Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house a house of merchandise.” Whereupon the Jews asked Jesus for a sign which would give Him authority to do such things. The sign He gave was: “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews reasoned that it had taken 46 years to build the temple: how then could He raise it up in three days. After the death and resurrection of Jesus the disciples remembered this saying of Jesus and understood that He was talking about the raising up of His body from the dead: not the temple of Herod.

Beholding the signs which Jesus did, many in Jerusalem believed on His name, but He did not trust Himself unto them, for He knew all men and what was in man. There was a particular man by the name of Nicodemus, a Pharisee and a ruler of the Jews who came to Jesus by night, confessing that Jesus was a teacher coming from God, since no man could do the signs that Jesus did except God be with Him. Jesus immediately got down to basics and told him he had to be born again of the Spirit of God in order to enter the Kingdom of God. Nicodemus seemed incapable of understanding spiritual truths. He replied: “How can these things be?” The discourse ended with a reference to the brazen serpent which Moses set up, and the familiar John 3:16, “God so loved the world,” and the conflict between light and darkness.

After this Jesus left Jerusalem and went to the northern area of Judea with His disciples, where John was baptizing at Aenon, near Salim. A discussion arose about baptism, during which a man came with a report that Jesus was baptizing more disciples than John, which gave John the opportunity to give another witness about Jesus.

When Jesus knew that the Pharisees had heard that He was making more disciples than John He left Judea and headed north for Galilee. To get to Galilee He had to go through Samaria and there He encountered the woman at the well. Through her conversion the whole city of Sychar turned out and many believed on His name, not because of the woman’s words, but because they heard Him personally and were persuaded that this is indeed the Savior of the world.

EXPOSITION

1. The First Passover and Cleansing of the Temple
(Reference: John 2:13-23)

The First Passover of His Ministry. As far as the Biblical record goes, this is the first Passover Jesus attended since He was 12 years old. We are certain that He must have attended others, since Joseph and Mary are said to have gone to Jerusalem every year for the Passover. All Jews everywhere tried to get back to Jerusalem for this important feast. Jesus, however, did not assert His authority until He became of age and began His public ministry. The Passover is mentioned 9 times in John (2:13,23; 6:4; 11:55; 12:1; 13:1; 18:28,39; 19:14). Thus, Jesus observed three Passovers during His ministry: this one, one in the middle; and one at the very end of His ministry. It is significant that He began and ended with the Passover, for He was to fulfill the Passover type, and thus become our Passover (cf. 1 Cor. 5:7).

A. Cleansing the Temple. In spite of the fact that the Jews had made the Temple a den of thieves, Jesus still recognized it as His Father’s house. The original temple built by Solomon had been utterly destroyed by the Babylonians. It was rebuilt under Ezra and Nehemiah, but with much less grandeur (Hag. 2:3). Finally, Herod became King in Jerusalem in 37 B.C. He decided to rebuild the temple, and first collected all of the materials before dismantling the old one. The new building was started 20 – 19 B.C. The disciples later on must have been impressed by the grandeur of the temple, for they undertook to show off the buildings of the temple to Jesus (Matt. 24:1,2), but He foretold how this beautiful structure would also be destroyed and left desolate because Jerusalem did not know the time of her visitation.

This action of Jesus of driving out the merchants and money changers and overturning their tables seems out of character for those who think only of Jesus as “meek and mild.” What will they think when they see Him coming in flaming fire to take vengeance upon those that know not God and obey not the Gospel? God’s attributes of love and mercy are balanced against His attributes of holiness and justice.

B. The Sign of His Resurrection. When the Jews asked for a sign of His authority He replied, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” There were many things which Jesus said which the disciples did not at the time understand, but later, after they had received the Holy Spirit they remembered the sayings and understood. Here they understood He was speaking of His human body. The Jews remembered this saying too and perverted it and tried to use it against Him at His trial (Matt. 26:61). The disciples remembered it and were profited by it: they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.

C. Incomplete Faith. The people believed in His name when they saw the miracles He did. This kind of belief is inadequate and does not result in salvation. The word “believe” has in it the idea of commitment. The statement in vs. 24, “Jesus did not commit himself unto these believers,” contains the same Greek word used in vs. 23 and translated “believed” but here translated “commit.” Scriptural belief involves the element of committal, entrusting one’s self to God. To see a miracle worker and believe he has divine powers involved no sense of acknowledging one’s own sin and no element of committal. This fact is born out in the next section which deals with one of these men who had seen Jesus’ miracles and believed because of the miracles. Belief even caused him to seek out Jesus by night, apparently to avoid detection by other Jews, but Nicodemus was not saved by this kind of believing.

2. Discourse With Nicodemus
(Reference: John 2:23-3:21)

A. What Was in Man. Jesus knew what was in man. We can tell that from the way He dealt with Nicodemus. We don’t know why Nicodemus came to Jesus that night. As a ruler of the Jews he was surely interested in any religious developments. Perhaps he just wanted to check up on Jesus. Perhaps he had some questions. Perhaps he wanted to know how Jesus performed His miracles. Or perhaps it was just plain curiosity. It does not seem he was driven to Jesus by a sense of lostness, or by a desire to improve his relationship with God. As a Pharisee he would boast of being better than other men, of keeping the law in a blameless fashion. He was probably much like Saul of Tarsus, as Paul describes his situation before he met Christ (cf. Phil. 3:4-6). But Jesus knew what was in Nicodemus. Later on in some of His teaching He tells us what is in man. He knew that within every man is a nature of sin. “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies; these are the things that defile a man; but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man” (Matt. 15:19,20). Nicodemus got something that night he was not looking for.

B. What Christ Came to Put In Man. Jesus knew that Nicodemus needed not more religion but a new birth, which would give him a new nature. He needed to be born again. This was something that he couldn’t understand, for this was foreign to his way of thinking. What ridiculous ideas this Jesus had. How could a man enter into his mother’s womb and be born again? Jesus has to explain the most elementary truths to this one who was a notable teacher in Israel.

The flesh and the Spirit are two separate realms. That which is born of flesh is flesh and that which is born of Spirit is Spirit. The flesh cannot evolve into spirit any more than a rock can evolve into an animal. A man must have spiritual life to enter God’s kingdom; therefore, Nicodemus, you must be born of the Spirit. But Nicodemus wants to know how can these things be? Jesus used an illustration from the wind. The word wind and the word spirit are identical. When the wind blows, you can hear the sound it makes but you can’t tell where it came from and where it is going because it is invisible. So also is the Spirit. You can’t see how the Spirit operates any more than you can see how the wind blows. But you can see the effects of both the wind and the Spirit. The Spirit imparts new life and brings forth fruit of God. The song writer probably had this passage in mind when he wrote: “I know not how the Spirit moves, convincing men of sin, revealing Jesus through the Word, creating faith in Him; but I know Whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto Him against that day.”

Three times Jesus told Nicodemus he must be born again, but the second time He added something. He said, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit.. .” What does He mean by being born of water? Is this something different from just being born of the Spirit? Sacramentarians argue from this verse baptismal regeneration. Inserting such an argument in this context seems strange indeed, for if Jesus is saying anything at all He is saying that the physical, material world cannot in any way produce this new birth. How then could material water which can be seen, felt, and analyzed produce spiritual life?
Others take the water to be the water in which the fetus lives in its mother’s womb and therefore being born of water refers to our natural birth. The Living New Testament gives this as an alternate reading: “Physical birth is not enough. You must also be born spiritually.” We seriously doubt that Scripture ever uses water with this meaning. But the Scripture, and especially the Gospel of John, does often use water in a figurative sense. What did Christ mean when He told the woman at the well He would give her living water (John 4:10-14)? Or what did He mean by the rivers of living water which would flow out of man (ch. 7:38)?

In the very next verse John plainly states what He meant by water: “But this he spake of the Spirit.” Water and Spirit are both without the definite article and are connected by the conjunction “kai” (and). If this figure is used here the sense would be: Except a man be born of water, even spiritual water.

Water is also used to represent the operation of the Word of God, as in Eph. 5:26: “cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word.” And Peter speaks of being born again, not of corruptible seed, but by the Word of God (1 Pet. 1:23). Therefore, we prefer to believe this is the correct meaning of this passage. It is true that water baptism was being preached and practiced both by John and Jesus, and that baptism was required, just as animal sacrifices were, but water is never presented as a procuring cause of regeneration in Scripture. If the blood of bulls and goats could not take away sin and make one a member of God’s family, surely water could not do so.

Nicodemus started out by telling Jesus what he knew, and Jesus ended up telling Nicodemus he was ignorant: “Are you a master teacher in Israel and knowest not these things?” If Nicodemus didn’t believe the earthly things Jesus told him, how could he believe the heavenly things? Jesus knew whereof He spoke, for He had come down from heaven. (Some ancient Greek texts omit the last clause of vs. 13, “which is in heaven .”) Jesus at that time as the Son of man was not in heaven but on earth. As God, of course, He is omnipresent.

Not only was it necessary for Nicodemus to be born again, it was necessary for the Son of man to be lifted up on the Cross to make it possible for man to be born again. The Lord had sent fiery serpents into the camp of Israel because of their murmurings and many died from being bitten (Num. 21:6-9). Moses was commanded to make a serpent of brass and place it upon a pole. Every one that looked upon it was healed of his bite. In like manner Jesus had to be lifted up on the Cross, to be made the condemned serpent in our stead, that condemned sinners might be made the righteousness of God in Him.

From the illustration of the brazen serpent it is certain that the expression in the next verse, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son,” refers to giving Him in the sense of the Cross, and not merely in incarnation as a Teacher. Because the verb here is in the past tense, indicating a finished past action, it appears that the discourse with Nicodemus ends with vs. 15, if not sooner. Not only are “loved” and “gave” in the past tense, but there are a couple of phrases in vs. 16 that are never used by Christ Himself, “only begotten Son,” and “believe on the name of.” John has a way of injecting explanatory words of his own, so that it is sometimes difficult to know where a break should be made. For example, see ch. 1:16-18 and 12:37-41.

The words “condemn” and “condemned” in vs. 17 and 18, and “condemnation” in vs. 19, should be rendered “judge, judged, and judgment.” The unbeliever has been judged already: judged by virtue of his unbelief. Their judgment resides in the fact that light has come into the world, and men as a class loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were (imperfect tense) habitually evil.

We are beginning to see several of the most important and most often used words’ in John: “believe” – 99 times, “world” – 79 times, “Father” – 156 times, “know” – 107 times, “abide” – 41 times.

(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)

AMILLENNIALISM – A MAN-MADE THEOLOGY (PART 3 OF 3)

AMILLENNIALISM

D. The Advocates of Amillennialism.

If the doctrine of Amillennialism is contrary to Scripture, as we believe it to be, we must ask the question, “How did it come about?” How did the teaching manage to gain such popularity? Thus, it will be interesting to briefly trace the history of Amillennialism, and we shall see that the evangelicals who hold it today are in a very “unholy alliance” with others both from history and the present day.

We previously looked at the scriptural evidence and did not find Amillennialism in Scripture. But what about those who lived shortly after the completion of Scripture, some of whom knew the apostles like Peter and John personally? Many of the writings of the so-called “church fathers” unequivocally show that they expected literal fulfilment of the prophecies concerning Christ’s return and the establishment of His earthly kingdom. They include Papias, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus and Tertullian. Even many sympathisers of Amillennialism admit that for the first 3 centuries or so of the church’s history, the Pre-Millennial view was widespread.

The opponents of the literal interpretation in the very early years were the well-known heretical groups such as the gnostics, Platonists, and Montanists, for all of whom non-literal interpretation went far beyond future events. This is hardly illustrious company for the present-day evangelical Amillennialists, but at least they were consistent: they took their non-literalness to its logical conclusion, while present-day evangelicals prefer to pick and choose which parts of scripture they accept and which they try to explain away!

It is very widely accepted that the first advocate of Amillennialism to lay down a formal theory of interpretation was Origen (185-254 AD). He refused to accept Scripture references to the Millennium literally, instead propounding the allegorical method of interpretation. He and others at the “Alexandrian School” used his method of interpretation to explain away not only the doctrine of the Millennium, but also many other teachings of Scripture. Instead of bringing out the sense of Scripture, he introduced all sorts of fanciful ideas. He would, had he been alive today, not be regarded as a “sound” evangelical by any stretch of the imagination, and would be denounced as a heretic by many who accept his view of the Millennium, yet the growth of Amillennialism in those days perhaps owed more to him than to any other person. His work was carried on by men such as Dionysius and Augustine, and his allegorical methods of interpretation gradually gained the upper hand.

It is not difficult to see why it gained popularity in those days. Up until then the church had been a persecuted minority, and the hope of the Lord’s coming burned brightly. It was clear that the church was distinct from all the systems of the world. But with the so-called unification of the church and the state by Constantine, the distinction became blurred. Increasingly the Church of Rome saw itself as the fulfilment of the promises of the earthly kingdom and therefore, the hope of a future literal kingdom at Christ’s return was in a great measure lost. To teach that the present kingdom of Rome would be replaced by a future coming King, would not exactly please the Roman rulers! Thus, the Amillennial doctrine, (which did away with the teaching of a future earthly kingdom) flourished. The rise of Amillennialism is therefore indissolubly associated with the rise of ecclesiasticism and the papal system (again, not very good company for our evangelical Amillennialists of today!)

Amillennialism was the accepted doctrine of the Church of Rome throughout the Dark Ages and remains so to this day. With the Reformation much Scriptural truth was “rediscovered”, but most of the reformers continued to hold to the Amillennial doctrine. This was not necessarily because they had studied prophecy in great detail and came to the Amillennial conclusion, but rather because their major studies were not in the field of future events. It has thus been true that in Protestantism in general, the Amillennial view has continued to be held, not so much because it has been extensively studied, but by default, from Rome.

Throughout the ages the pre-Millennial truth was however never completely lost, but burned dimly for many years. During the last century and to the present day more Christians returned to the literal interpretation of Scripture and became the most faithful and consistent in teaching it.

Amillennialism is widely held, but for very different reasons:

For Roman Catholics, because their system views itself as the fulfilment of the kingdom prophecies and will not countenance the thought that it could be superseded or done away with.
For Protestant Denominations, by default from Rome. The bulk of Protestantism has never seriously questioned Roman teaching on future events.
For Reformed teachers, because “it’s what the early Reformers believed”. Constantly, reformed teachers will state that in holding their views, they are “standing foursquare with those who defended the faith in the days of the Reformation”. They claim that Amillennialism has been the historical view of the church for about 1700 years. But shouldn’t it rather be a matter of what Scripture teaches, rather than what the church of Rome taught? It is highly ironic that those who regard themselves as most opposed to Rome obtain their eschatology from Rome and still hang on to it.
For Liberals and Modernists, because they simply do not accept the full verbal inspiration of Scripture. They spiritualise all sorts of truths, or else flatly deny them, and so they have no compunction at denying the literal fulfilment of prophecy.
For Charismatics, because they come from all areas above, and have taken their own systems’ teaching on future events along with them. Moreover, the charismatic’s tendency to substitute supposed experience and fanciful interpretation of Scripture for sound exposition finds a ready ally in the allegorical view of future events.
It is an unholy alliance indeed: Roman Catholic, Protestant churchman, Reformed teacher, Modernist, and Charismatic, all united by very little, other than their allegiance to Amillennialism. May the Lord preserve us from such a group.

E. The Anomalies of Amillennialism.

It may be helpful to list some of the contradictions involved for an evangelical who holds to the teaching of Amillennialism. This section is really a drawing together of points already made in previous sections, so a detailed discussion will not be given.

For a true believer who is an Amillennialist, he is in an anomalous position for many reasons, including:

1. He claims to believe that every word in Scripture is inspired by God, and that Scripture is totally infallible. Yet in holding on to Amillennialism, he is accepting a system which effectively says that not every part of Scripture is to be accepted as literally true.

2. He claims to believe that Scripture is the only authority on all matters of doctrine and practice. But to introduce allegorical interpretation, is to leave the decision as to the meaning of Scripture open to the whims of men. Unless one accepts literal interpretation of prophecy, one can make it mean whatever one wants. There is nothing with which to control one’s whims. One is effectively introducing an authority outside God’s Word, and that “authority” is oneself, or whoever else one wants to believe!

3. He claims to believe that it is impossible for God to lie. Yet Amillennialism effectively teaches that when God made certain promises, He never had it in His mind to fulfil them in the way in which the hearers understood them.

4. He claims to believe that God is omnipotent, yet he effectively denies that God has the ability to perform what He has said. He raises all sorts of “practical difficulties” with literal fulfilment, forgetting that “with God nothing shall be impossible”.

5. He uses literal interpretation to study the Scriptures in general, but when it comes to prophecy, he changes his rules and uses allegorical interpretation. He thus abandons consistency of interpretation of Scripture.

6. Even within prophecy, he is not consistent in his interpretation. With some prophecies (e.g. those concerning the Lord’s birth) he is happy to adopt the literal method, but with others (e.g. the coming kingdom) he rejects the literal method.

7. In holding his view, he is holding doctrine which can be directly traced back, not to Scripture, but to heretics in the early days of the church age.

8. He is in alliance with all sorts of present-day groups with which he would disagree on other major doctrines, such as Roman Catholics and Liberals.

9. He is holding on to a system which, although it tries hard, fails, even by its own standards, to consistently explain away the prophetic passages. There are numerous examples of such inconsistencies, but we will confine ourselves to one:

Consider 3 facts taught in Revelation 20:
 Christ and His people reigning 1000 years (v.4,6).
 Satan being put in a bottomless pit for 1000 years and being able to deceive the nations no more (v.2,3).
 Satan being loosed after the 1000 years and deceiving the nations (v.7,8).

It is clear that the above 3 statements all refer to the same period of time. Even if the Amillennialist does not accept that it is literally 1000 years, he has to accept that it is the same period of time to which reference is made. He claims that the period of time is the present age, and the reigning being referred to is Christ at present reigning spiritually with His people. If this is true, then it must follow that:

• at present, Satan is bound, and is not deceiving the nations, and
• at the end of the age, Satan will be loosed again and will deceive the nations again.

But this reveals big flaws in the Amillennialist’s argument:
• If Satan is bound, in what sense is he bound at present? The Amillennialist simply has no satisfactory answer to this question. Revelation states that during his binding he will deceive the nations no more. Has this been the case, in any sense, during the past 2000 years? On the contrary, the whole course of the history of this age is a catalogue of Satan’s deception of the nations. The Amillennial line here is self-contradictory.
• If Satan is bound now, what is the meaning of the statement that he will be released again and deceive the nations again? This, no matter how it is taken, cannot be satisfactorily explained. The Amillennialist believes that the present age will continue as at present right to the end of the world, when Christ will return, raise the dead, judge everyone, consign some to glory and others to damnation, and then the eternal state will begin. Thus, in his own scheme, there is no place for anything corresponding to the releasing of Satan.

This is only one of numerous examples of the self-contradictions found in the Amillennial system. The Amillennialist is therefore really in a very anomalous position. For a true believer to hold on to Amillennialism is to put him in an inconsistent position.

F. The Attacks of Amillennialism.

From what we considered in these articles it should be clear that Amillennialism is an attack on many things that we hold dear, and so in this final section we will look at some of the attacks that it makes. As previously, this section will be doing little more than summarising material in previous sections, so points made will not be enlarged.
Some of the objects of the attack of Amillennialism are:

(a) God’s character:
Amillennialism implies that God says certain things that He does not really mean; that He makes promises that He does not intend to fully fulfil; that He uses language which He knows people will take in a different way to what He intends, yet He chooses to keep them in the dark about it; and that He does not have the ability to deliver that which He has promised. Such a view of God must be rejected in its entirety.

(b) Scripture:
Amillennialism states that there are many passages of Scripture which do not really mean what they say; and that we can either spiritualise these away, or else ignore them altogether.

(c) Sound interpretation:
Amillennialism teaches that sound interpretation of Scripture, taking into account the grammar, context, literal meaning of the words, and comparing Scripture with Scripture, can in certain circumstances be set aside; thus leaving us without any yardstick with which to test interpretation, leaving it open to whatever ideas we wish to introduce. The logical conclusion of Amillennialism is to lead to Liberalism. Once we introduce the possibility of allegorical interpretation, there is no telling where it can lead. Why stop with prophecy? Why not go all the way? Amillennialism and Modernism are natural allies; pre-millennialism and Modernism are incompatible.

(d) The created world:
It follows from the teaching of Amillennialism that there is no hope for the present creation, which is “groaning and travailing” in pain at present, to have fulfilled the promises given in Scripture to be delivered and restored to its former glory.

(e) Israel:
Amillennialism categorically states that the nation has been permanently set aside; that there is no future for it; that the myriad promises made to the nation have no hope of fulfilment Amillennialists is a form of being anti-Semitic. Taken to its extreme, we see the persecution of Jews by the Roman Church during the Inquisition and by Hitler (who was also a Roman Catholic) this century. Of course, it would be going too far to blame this totally on Amillennialism. However, had the belief of the Roman Church been Pre-Millennial, with its promise of the restoration of Israel, it is certain that they would never have carried out these atrocities. Amillennialism was undoubtedly a major factor in the build-up of anti-Semitic forces which have been released with such satanic ferocity at various times in the history of Christendom.

(f) The Church, Christ’s Body:
Amillennialism teaches that many promises which God made in the OT will never be literally fulfilled. If this is true, then what right have we to assume that what He has promised to us as the Church will be literally fulfilled either? If Israel is not to be given all that it was promised, are we likely to fare any better? If Amillennialism is true, then we have difficulty in taking any of the promises to us at face value.

(Source: Amillennialism Examined – by David McAllister (Zambia))

AMILLENNIALISM – A MAN-MADE THEOLOGY (PART 2 OF 3)

AMILLENNIALISM

THE ARGUMENTS OF AMILLENNIALISM

We must consider the points which Amillennialists make in favour of their views. We will never be able to convince them that they are wrong if we cannot at least answer their points. Also, when they make their points, these often seem at first to be very plausible. It is sometimes only after looking a little closer that we see the error of them; so, we need to look a little closer now.

There are several main reasons that an Amillennialist will give in support of his position:

Argument 1 : The use of figurative language in prophecy.

It is argued that since so much of the prophetic writings use figurative or symbolic language, it was never meant to be taken literally, thus we are free to spiritualise prophetic passages.

However, while it is true that much of the prophetic writings are in figurative language, these figures are nonetheless used to represent actual things, people and events. The use of figures does not do away with their reality.

Scripture abounds with the use of figures. For example, in Ex. 19.4, God tells the people of Israel that He has borne them out of Egypt “on eagles’ wings”. This is clearly a figure. No-one is seriously going to suggest that they left Egypt on the wings of birds. God is using a figure to show the might and power with which He took them out. But God’s use of a figure in no way lessens the fact that it was a literal exodus from Egypt. Figurative language is used to describe it, but it is nonetheless a real event.

It was so in recording past events. It is so in prophecy too. Take for example Isa. 11.1: “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots’. No-one doubts that this refers to the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, the words “rod”, “stem”, “Branch,” and “roots” are figurative. Nonetheless this in no way negates the fact that the Lord Jesus is a literal descendant of Jesse. The use of figures does not nullify the literal fact.

Turning now to the Book of Revelation, which is so much attacked because it abounds in figures and symbols. Take chapter 1 for example. We read in v. 12 about 7 candlesticks (lampstands). These are figurative, but we are told in v. 20 that they represent 7 churches. And those 7 churches are actual churches, as we see in the following 2 chapters. The use of the figure of the candlesticks (lampstands) does not mean that they did not represent literal churches. Take ch. 5.6. The Lord Jesus is represented as “a Lamb as it had been slain.” This draws our attention to His great sacrifice. No-one would suggest that the One being worshipped is a literal Lamb, but this figure in no way lessens the reality of that great scene of worship. The use of figurative language does not remove literalness. Thus, while prophecy often have figurative language, this is used to describe literal people, things and events. The use of figures enriches the Scriptures and gives to the reader many insights which he would not obtain if figures were not employed. But to use these figures as an excuse for doing away with literal events, is not valid.

Argument 2: The claim that OT prophecies which on the face of it are literal, are given a spiritual interpretation in the NT.

This point is really the cornerstone of the Amillennialist’s argument. He will point to NT quotations from the OT, which would appear to interpret the OT passage non-literally, and thus say that this shows that the OT passage was never meant to have a literal fulfilment, and the spiritual fulfilment is all the fulfilment there will be, i.e in the present age for the church and not for Israel in the future.

However, in taking this line, the Amillennialist is making a very big assumption. He is assuming that when an OT passage is quoted in the NT, then the NT quote is giving the only, the full, and the final interpretation for the original passage. This is not a valid assumption, for many reasons :

(a) There can be two fulfilments for the same OT Scripture.

An example: Matthew 2.15: “Out of Egypt have I called my son”. This is stated by Matthew to be the fulfilment of the words of “the prophet”, that is, a fulfilment of Hosea 11.1, where the context shows beyond doubt that God is referring to the Exodus of the nation of Israel from Egypt, many years before. Thus this verse, while it clearly describes a past event, is said to be fulfilled in the events in the Lord Jesus’ life in Matt. 2. Hence, we see that the same Scripture refers to 2 distinct events. But the fact that it refers to 2 different events does not mean that one of the events could not have taken place. They both took place, but one Scripture referred to both.

The above example is not the only one, but has been chosen because there is little room for argument about the fact that it shows that one scripture can describe two different things. But the point is this— Matthew’s quotation of this passage did not in any way do away with the reality of the Exodus. By the same token, the quotation of an OT Scripture in the NT, in a context different from that given in the OT, does not nullify its OT meaning. One OT passage can refer to two different things, and the fact that one of these is given in the NT does not mean that the other is untrue.

Thus, for example, in Rom. 4.17, when Paul quotes God’s words to Abraham, “I have made thee a father of many nations”, it is clear from v.16 that he is saying that the OT quote is fulfilled in the spiritual children of Abraham. However that does not in any way nullify the literal fact that Abraham was the physical progenitor of many nations, which we know to be true. The fact that God’s word to Abraham can be taken in two ways does not make one or the other untrue. Both are true.

And so it is for many OT prophecies yet to be fulfilled. Their use in NT quotations, which appear to indicate their fulfilment already, does not in any way mitigate against their future fulfilment. A Scripture can be fulfilled in more than one way.

Malachi 4. 5,6 gives us a good example of two fulfilments for the same passage. These verses promise that Elijah will come before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. This prophecy relates to John the Baptist, as our Lord’s words in Matt. 17.12,13 show. However, it is equally clear from the same passage that this Malachi prophecy also awaits future fulfilment, as the Lord says in v. 11, “Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things.” That this cannot refer to John the Baptist is seen in the fact that the tense used is future (and John was already dead when the Lord spoke these words), and also by the fact that the Lord says Elijah will “restore all things” (John certainly did not do that). John’s being the final fulfilment of Malachi 4.5,6 depended on the nation accepting his message (Matt 11.14), but their rejection of it, and thus of the Messiah means that the prophecy will have a future fulfilment. The fact that John fulfilled, in a measure, this prophecy does not mean it will not be fulfilled again in a day to come.

(b) The issue of partial fulfilment.

A prophecy may have a partial fulfilment in the NT but may still await its full and final fulfilment. An example is from Luke 1.32, where the angel tells Mary that her Son “shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Highest”. This was fulfilled in large measure at His first coming. But, from the evidence of other prophecies, it awaits a fuller and final fulfilment. His greatness is yet to be fully manifest to all. His Sonship is yet to be acknowledged by all. The words of the angel have been partially fulfilled and will be fully fulfilled in a day to come.

Thus, it must always be kept in mind, when a prophecy is quoted in the NT, it may have been fulfilled only to an extent. The full fulfilment may be yet to come. The quotation in connection with its partial fulfilment does not remove the fact of its complete fulfilment in a day to come.

(c) The time gap between the fulfilment of different parts of the same prophecy.

Often a prophecy is given which on the face of it will all be fulfilled together, but then in the NT we see that only parts of it have been fulfilled and the other bits are still to be fulfilled. We will take one example each from the OT and the NT:

OT: Isa. 9.6-8. In this passage, no distinction is made between prophecies referring to the Lord’s first coming (such as “For unto us a child is born”) and His second coming (such as “upon the throne of David”). Some of these prophecies were fulfilled in the NT and others still await fulfilment. But the fact that only some were fulfilled does not mean that the rest cannot be literally fulfilled.

NT: Luke 1.31-33. Again no indication is given that there is a time gap between the fulfilment of statements such as “thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son” and “the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David”. The fact that the latter has not yet been fulfilled literally does not mean that it will not be. We must allow for the time gap.

The Lord Jesus illustrated this Himself as no other could. In Luke 4.16-21 he read the prophecy from Isa. 61.1,2 and told that He is the fulfilment of it. But He read only the words from Isaiah which refer to His first coming, and left out the phrase “the day of vengeance of our God”, which refers to His second coming. Thus our Lord Himself makes clear to us that there may be a time interval between fulfilment of parts of a passage and other parts of the same passage.

Thus, when an OT passage is quoted in the NT, we must not assume that it has all been fulfilled. Take, for example, Peter’s quotation of Joel 2.28-32 in Acts 2.16-21. The events in Acts have fulfilled the predictions quoted in v.17 and 18, but the events quoted in v. 19,20 have still to take place. The fact that the whole passage is quoted in Acts 2 does not mean that it has all been fulfilled in Acts 2.

When parts of a prophecy have been fulfilled, the Pre-Millennialist takes the “wait and see” view. He trusts that God will fulfil all that has been promised. But the Amillennialist is not prepared to wait. He demands that it must all have been fulfilled already, and so anything for which he does not yet see the literal fulfilment he spiritualises away.

(d) The quotation of an OT passage in the NT is not necessarily a fulfilment at all.

We cannot assume that a quotation means fulfilment. Examples:-
i) Acts 15.14-17, quoting Amos 9.11,12. Many assume that this means that Acts 15 is fulfilling Amos 9. But it is never said to be fulfilling it. What is said is that what is happening in Acts is in agreement with what is said in Amos. James is not saying that the one is fulfilling the other, but that they agree together; they are in perfect harmony with each other. Much of the NT is not fulfilment of OT Scriptures, but it is not in disagreement with them.

ii) Hebrews 8.8-12 and 10.15-17 refer to the New Covenant, quoting Jer. 31.31-34. Because the provisions of the New Covenant are quoted to believers in this age, many take it that the New Covenant is with the church, and so that there is no future for Israel as far as the New Covenant is concerned. However, nowhere in Hebrews does God say that this New Covenant is completely fulfilled by the church. In fact, He re-iterates (Heb. 8.8) that it is with “the house of Israel and with the house of Judah”. He quotes it to us as the Spirit’s “witness” (Heb. 10.15). Witness and fulfilment are not the same thing. The main benefit of the New Covenant to Israel will be that their sins will be remembered no more (Jer. 31.34).

We bless God that this same benefit is true for the people of God today, and thus we can say that it is true that we do come into some of the blessings of the New Covenant. But that is not to say that we are the fulfilment of Jeremiah 31. The fact that present-day believers are said to come into of some of the blessings promised to the nation of Israel does not mean that we have replaced Israel in the purpose of God. That some of its blessings have been made good to us does not in any way mean that it will not be made good to Israel in a day to come. Here we have a case of amplification of an OT promise, to include us. The fact that it is amplified to include us does not in any way nullify its future fulfilment for Israel.

iii) Romans 9.26, quoting Hosea 1.10,11 and 2.23. The whole context of Hosea chapters 1 and 2 show that these verses in Hosea refer to Israel being set aside and subsequently restored. However, in Rom. 9 Paul is using this verse to refer to Gentiles being brought into blessing. Amillennialists seize on this as a proof that the church fulfils Hosea’s promise to Israel. But Rom. 9.26 says nothing of the sort. Paul is simply quoting Hosea out of its original context, and is not suggesting for a moment that Gentile blessing is the fulfilment of Hosea’s words. He is simply borrowing the quote and applying it in a different context. He is not denying or changing the original meaning of Hosea’s words. They will be fulfilled. We must always remember that the Holy Spirit is free to quote a Scripture in a different context from its original OT reference. That does not in turn free us to dispose of the OT context altogether.

Example (i) above is a case of agreement between OT and NT.
Example (ii) is a case of amplification of the OT context.
Example (iii) is a case of application of an OT passage in the NT.

But none of them is fulfilment. Thus, we see that NT quotation does not mean the same as fulfilment, and does not preclude future fulfilment for the passages quoted.

(e) The equation of things that are mentioned in the same passage but which are not equated in the passage.

For example, the Amillennialist will use Acts 2.25-36, in which we read of the Lord sitting on David’s throne (v. 30) and we also read of His present exaltation in Heaven (v. 33), and put these two things together and say it proves that His present exaltation is Him sitting on David’s throne. But Peter simply does not say that they are one and the same thing. The two statements are a couple of verses apart and are connected only to the extent that His resurrection is the reason why He is exalted in Heaven and also the reason why He will be able to sit on David’s throne. They are two separate things. The fact that they are mentioned in the same passage does not make them the same thing.

(f) When believers in the NT are said to fulfil parts of an OT prophecy, that does not mean they fulfil all of it.
There is no doubt that believers in this age do fulfil some OT prophecies, but we must not take that to mean that they fulfil all of them.

We get a good example of this in the use of the term “seed of Abraham” in Gal. 3 and Rom. 4 to refer to present-day believers. Amillennialists seize on this and take it to mean that all the blessings promised to Abraham’s seed in the OT are ours, spiritually. But if we look carefully at these 2 passages we will see which of the promises to Abraham are said to be ours:

Gal. 3.8: “And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.” Thus, we see that in us is fulfilled the promise that in Abraham all nations would be blessed.

Rom. 4.13: “For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world”. This phrase is not found in God’s words to Abraham in Genesis, but it clearly must refer to some promise that was made to him regarding the whole world. The only blessing promised to Abraham which was of a universal nature was that above, i.e. that in his seed would all nations of the earth be blessed. This therefore must be what is meant by his being “heir of the world”.

Thus, in both these passages it is made clear that the promise, in Abraham would all nations of the earth be blessed, is fulfilled in salvation through Christ for all nations. But nowhere in these two passages or elsewhere are present-day believers said to fulfil any of the promises relative to the nation and the land. These await literal fulfilment to literal Israel. The blessings for us spoken of in Gal. 3 and Rom. 4 were promised to Abraham. They do not go beyond God’s original promise, and no spiritualisation is necessary in order to bring them in. But we do not fulfil all God’s promises to Abraham. The promises to his physical seed will not be fulfilled in us.

Thus, when we take all the above points into consideration, we are not left with a single NT passage which nullifies or invalidates the original meaning and interpretation of an OT prophecy. In the NT we may get repetition, application, partial fulfilment, agreement, amplification, or broadening of the context of the original prophecy, but never does it entitle us to do away with the full sense and fulfilment of the original passage.

Argument 3: Alleged difficulties in the Pre-Millennial position.

One of the major ways the Amillennialist will try to discredit the Pre-Millennial position is by putting up difficulties. Before looking at some of the difficulties he brings up, however, two points are pertinent:

Firstly, the existence of difficulties does not make the thing wrong. It is admitted that there are many things about which we are not 100% sure, such as what exactly is being described in Revelation 21 and 22 (the Millennial city, or the eternal state, or both). But whichever is right, it does not in any way weaken the Premillennial argument. If we were working on the basis of difficulties, we would see that the Amillennialist himself has very many difficulties to try to explain. The existence of difficulties does not nullify the truth.

Secondly, many of the so-called difficulties are due to the Amillennialist doubting the power of God. Things that seem impossible to our finite minds are possible with God.
Some examples of difficulties which the Amillennialist mentions are:

1. The reinstatement of a priestly order. It is argued that this is impossible, as the records of the different tribes have been destroyed.

It is true that the records have been destroyed, and that perhaps no Jew alive today knows his tribe. But does God not still know it? And will God not be able to tell everyone which tribe they are from? And will anyone dare to disagree with Him? This is no difficulty when we are dealing with an infinite God.

2. The ritual of animal sacrifices. They argue that this would contradict the teaching of the Book of Hebrews, which says that animal sacrifices have given place to the final sacrifice of Christ. But it must be remembered that the Book of Hebrews is dealing with Christians of this church dispensation, and the point being made is that animal sacrifices could never take away sin, and are totally inappropriate in this age. But in a future day, when Israel is restored, in the land, with priests, and a temple, then sacrifices will be in order; not to take away sin, any more than the OT ones did. The OT sacrifices were effective only because they pointed forwards to Christ, and the Millennial sacrifices will point back to Christ. God will not allow Israel to forget the sacrifice of Christ and the system of sacrifices will continually be a memorial to them of what the death of God’s Son has done for them. Thus, as a commemoration, they will not be inappropriate at all.

3. They claim that a temple of the dimensions of that given in Ezekiel could not fit in the present temple site.

This is true, but they forget that Zechariah (14.4) tells us that at the Lord’s return to earth there will be massive geographical changes in the Jerusalem area, which will make room for the larger temple.

One is reminded of the words of the Lord Jesus: “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God” (Matt. 22.29). In the light of Scriptures and God’s power, these and other “difficulties” will vanish.

Argument 4: Objection to the view of the church as a parenthesis.

The Amillennialist claims that the OT makes no room for the setting aside of Israel, the introduction of the church, and then taking up Israel again. He claims that to believe this is to introduce an unwarranted break in the continuity of God’s dealings with His people.
It is interesting that this objection by the Amillennialist is tantamount to an admission that the church is not in the OT! As we have already tried to show, the church is not the subject of OT prophecy; it is a “mystery” not revealed until the NT. Revelation was progressive: God did not reveal everything at once, but different things in stages. The fact that the church was not revealed in the OT is not an argument against its existence in the NT.

But although it is true that the church is not in the OT, the Amillennialist is not right when he states that the OT makes no provision for it. Many times in the OT God speaks of the setting aside of Israel and their subsequent restoration at a later date. There are so many references to this that it would be difficult to know where to start with examples, but Hosea 1.10,11 is one of many. This setting aside and subsequent restoration leaves room for the church period.

Allowance is made time-wise for the church period in passages such as Daniel 9.24-27, which give the “Seventy weeks” prophecy. That 69 literal weeks of years passed up to the Lord’s death has been well-established (“The Coming Prince” by Sir Robert Anderson), leaving one week (7 years) to be fulfilled. That more than 7 years have passed since the Lord’s death is obvious, thus there must be a gap before the 70th week is fulfilled. Therefore, provision is made for the church age.

We see similar allowance in the NT, in the Lord’s reading of Isa. 61 in the synagogue in Nazareth (Luke 4.16-21). The gap between His first and second comings leaves room for the church age.

In Acts this is made clear too, e.g. Acts 15.14-17, which speaks of this time when God is taking out of the Gentiles “a people for his name”, and then Israel’s subsequent restoration.

As we have already seen in the epistles also, notably in Romans 11, the setting aside of Israel, a time of Gentile blessing, and future restoration for Israel.
Thus, the claim that there is no provision in Scripture for the church period is unfounded.

Argument 5: The claim that the only Scripture for the Millennium is Revelation 20.1-7.

The Amillennialist claims that the only time we read of the Millennium is in Revelation 20, and that without it there would be no case for the doctrine of the Millennium.
It is true that Revelation 20 is the only place where we are told the duration of the Millennium, but it is stated no fewer than 6 times that it is “one thousand years”. However, if it is the Word of God, one reference is all that we need. To say that something only occurs once in Scripture is an argument against it is to imply that something needs to be said several times before we are expected to believe it. If God says it once, that is enough.

The claim that Revelation 20 is the only Scripture for the Millennium is untrue. In these articles we have had many Scriptural references and this is the first time reference has been made to Revelation 20.

There is much Scripture for the Millennium, from Genesis to Revelation. Revelation 20 gives us the duration.

Argument 6: Argument based on 2 Peter 3.8

The Amillennialist says that since Peter tells us that “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day”, then when the Lord tells us in Revelation 20 of a thousand-year period, we have no reason to take it literally.

But to argue this is to do violence to Peter’s words. Peter is talking about scoffers who are denying that the Lord will come again, because, in their view, He is taking such a long time (v4). In response Peter reminds his readers that God is outside time, and what can seem a very long time to man is not so with God. The scoffers have no concept of how God sees world history and the passage of time.

However, to say that God is outside time, is not the same as saying that when God specifies a time to us, that He does not mean what He says. He does mean what He says, and when He gives us information, He gives it accurately. Peter is not implying for one moment that we can make specified time intervals in Scripture to mean whatever we want them to mean. On the contrary, in this passage He is emphasising the accuracy of Scripture. Amillennialists try to make it mean that he is teaching that Scripture is inaccurate. This is not so.

The Amillennialist’s arguments are clever and at first sight plausible but are unsound. May God give us help to know His Word, so that we will not be swayed by such erroneous teaching.

(Source: Amillennialism Examined – by David McAllister (Zambia))