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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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    We are a community of confessing believers who love the gospel of Jesus Christ, affirm the Biblical and Christ-exalting truths of the Reformation such as the five solas, the doctrines of grace, monergistic regeneration, and the redemptive historical approach to interpreting the Scriptures.

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  • « John 3:16 - Exposing our Traditions | Main | Jesus - the Powerful and Perfect Savior »

    A Call to Revolution

    It is the year 2008. The gospel has been spreading and the Kingdom of Christ has been growing for nearly two thousand years. But not without setbacks. For almost a thousand years, in the middle ages, the gospel was slowly obscured by the corruptions of a satanically-influenced medieval church. The light was almost entirely extinguished. But then God raised up a man, shaken to the core by a sudden insight into the inexpressably glorious truth proclaimed in Romans 1:17, “The just shall live by faith,” and the whole world was again turned upside down with the divine power of the gospel. Two hundred years later, when hypocrisy and self-motivated will-religion had nearly swallowed up the good effects of the Reformation, a diverse and unlikely group of men, including John Bunyan, John Owen, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, and even John and Charles Wesley trumpeted the joyful news that once again shook up the sleeping world, and fueled a missions movement that has reached across the globe for the sake of the Name. And now, more than two hundred years later, the gospel that has once more been attacked and suppressed, and has given way on many fronts to the false gospels of prosperity, self-esteem, inclusivism, and tolerance, is on the rise again. The heavenly insights of Edwards, Owen, and others on the sovereignty of God, his unconquerable grace, and the joy which his glory produces in those who are his has fueled another generation of outnumbered but unfailingly victorious men and women ready to give up their lives for the King. A last, great missions-minded movement is preparing for a final thrust into the heart of unconquered territories, and the trumpet sound which announces that the kingdoms of this world are the kingdoms of our Savior can almost be heard.

    But this movement, as all the other Kingdom operations before it, will not be without trouble. If we would be involved, we may well claim the assurance of the apostle that we must with tribulation enter into the Kingdom. The bloody persecution of thousands in China, North Korea, Uzbekistan, Turkey, and many other places, is on the rise. The satanic lies of Word of Faith, secular humanism, and many other devilish deceptions are abounding. Great opposition calls for great discernment, great effort, and great reliance on the great King of kings.

    Would you be involved? It will not be easy – but know that you are fighting on the side which has already won! In your struggle, which seems in every way to be set against you, you are more than a conqueror! Trust in the prevailing Christ, and your victory is already certain.

    But be sure you move wisely. A wise battle plan will take into account both the operations and stratagems of the Enemy, of whose devices we are not ignorant, and the stratagems of godliness that cannot fail to overcome him. As we move into the next, and we hope in God's grace, the last phase of redemptive history, we must be aware of our status.

    In the midst of growing Christian persecution and terrible world calamities, such as the Asian tsunami of 2004, hurricane Katrina, the earthquake in Pakistan, and most recently the terrible cyclone in Myanmar and the earthquake in China, and as we look ahead to all the fearful disasters which might yet be coming, we may be certain that the end is approaching, with all the prophesied disasters that it will bring ready to burst upon us with a terrific force. Let the nearness of the time fuel our efforts – this generation might not have passed before the appearance of our great God and Savior!

    Let us then be strategic in our efforts, both geographically and ideologically. Geographically, the great remaining battlefield, and the last and fiercest front for the battle of the ages, is Central Asia, the stronghold of Islam. Let us rise up in the strength of our King, and snatch a horde of sinners from every kindred, tribe, tongue, and nation out of the ravages of the false god of Mohammed and into the glories of the true God of creation, Jesus Christ our Savior, and the eternal Father and his life-giving Spirit.

    Ideologically, we must take stock of our position as well. Just recently, we have seen much rich fruit, that had been dormant for many years, spring up again in verdant lushness from the past labors of the Puritans. Men who have read Owen and Edwards have recast and trumpeted the truths which they gleaned from the scriptures, truths of God's unstoppable sovereignty and overcoming grace. Arminianism, Easy-Believism, and so on, are all around giving way before the glorious truths of Edwards' great masterpiece, On the Freedom of the Will, and Owen's indisputable tour de force, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ. Modern day reformers such as John Piper and J. I. Packer have spread abroad in current terminology the rich insights of such theological treatises as Jonathan Edwards', The End for which God Created the World, and The Religious Affections.

    But now, we have the need for another such truth as God's sovereign grace, a truth which has long been dormant, to come again into focus, and shake the evangelical world to its roots. A resurgence of reformed theology, drawing much sustenance from Edwards' now-termed “Christian Hedonism,” is already shaking the world, and destroying the deadening effects of Arminianism and man-centered theology. But a new resurgence of Edwardsian theology is now most pressing, which cannot fail to shake the foundations of a naturalistic and Christ de-centralizing hermeneutic: and that is, a biblical theology which derives from a reading of his great masterpieces, A History of the Work of Redemption, and Types of the Messiah. Arminianism and anthropocentrism have been waning, and this has greatly factored into the evangelization of the nations. But now, Dispensationalism and modern naturalistic hermeneutics must also be defeated, for this will be the factor that will energize the evangelization of the remaining nations of the world, which still lie crushed in the hegemonic grip of Islam.

    The simple observation of Edwards, that God is most glorified when his glory is not just understood, but delighted in, has suddenly sprung up anew in this age and has destroyed much anthropocentric theology. The indisputable syllogism of Owen, proving the particular redemption of Christ, coming to the attention of this generation once again, has thoroughly cut off the legitimacy of any Semi-Pelagian or Arminian ways of approaching the gospel. And yet, in spite of the overwhelming example of Edwards, Owen, and countless others before them, the Old Testament is still read today as one might read Homer or Plato, with a mind to discern, through humanistic canons, what the original author might have intended the original audience to understand, without taking into account the divine super-intendence of the whole. What Evangelicalism-shaking effects might the clear teaching of Edwards have, that the chief mode of instruction in the Old Testament was typology, and that this typology was without exception focused on the Christ? If his treatise on the end for which God created the world, getting into the heart of one passionate servant of God in this generation, has been so fruitful in a very barren field, might we not expect that same fruitfulness in the barren field of modern, post-Enlightenment, Dispensationally-influenced Old Testament hermeneutics if another such servant, getting into his heart the vision of Edwards for redemptive history, went about to certify Christ's statement that all the scriptures testified of him? There have been a few lone voices urging such a hermeneutic – but the dam has not yet burst, which will flood the world with the unspeakable glory of a Christ-centered way of understanding all the scriptures, all of history, all of reality. God grant that such a soldier of the Kingdom might arise today.

    Christians of the twenty-first century, turn to Christ as the focus of the universe, of world history, of all redemption, and especially of the Old Testament! You have the last great bastions of Satan to conquer, the riches of Central Asian kingdoms to draw into the Kingdom, and nothing to lose but your earthly bodies, which will soon be replaced with glorious bodies like the resurrection body of our Lord!

    Solus Christus

    Posted by Nathan on May 17, 2008 12:30 PM

    Comments

    Nate!

    would a song be in order?

    ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIER!

    yes and amen!!!

    2Ti 2:3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
    2Ti 2:4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.

    Nathan

    AMEN! In this age of squeamishness about declaring the true gospel may God raise up men who would take a stand and "destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ." (2 Cor 10:5) Whether these false or inconsistent gospels arise from from Word of Faith, Arminian, Seeker Sensitive, Emergent or dispensational belief systems, let us pray God would raise up and grant us courage to wield the Word of God in the face of a time when many believe the only heresy is to declare heresy. But not only must we expose what is false. More importantly we must declare what is true and good and just. Pray the Lord may make his true gospel known in the midst of the current chaos and confusion.

    I have a quick question since I found this site and have been reading here. I've been trying to figure out the differences between reformation theology and other Christian denominations, since it's not very clear to me.

    When you say "reformed theology", does the replacement theology regarding eschatology fall into that category? (The theology that says Israel was replaced by the Church, or "covenant" theology?)

    When we speak of dispensationalism, is that the domain of what we consider "evangelical christians" in America?

    I'm trying to figure out what I believe, but sometimes it's very difficult when there are 50 different interpretations of the same scriptures. I'm just a Christian looking for some clarity.

    Kli,

    While we would consider "replacement" theology to be unbiblical, we certainly agree with the teaching of covenant theology (and the bible) that the New Testament Church is a continuation of the one people of God from the Old Testament, and hence, the Church is the true Israel of God. God did not reject his people, but he did cut off the unbelieving branches from the good olive tree which came from the root of Abraham and the patriarchs, and grafted in believing branches from the Gentiles, making them Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise (see Romans 4, 11; Galatians 3; Ephesians 2:11-22). In a word -- not "replacement," but "expansion".

    Yes, Dispensationalism is very influential among Evangelicalism at large in America. However, not all Evangelicals would be Dispensational, and not all Dispensationalists believe the same things.

    If you're wanting to study the whole topic, I think a good place to start would be this scripture list:

    http://www.monergismbooks.com/pdfs/pog_003.pdf

    That way, you could begin by reading just what the bible itself has to say about the topic. Then, feel free to browse through the Dispensationalism and Covenant Theology categories on monergism.com.

    In Christ,
    Nathan

    thank you for the response!

    I've been working on this for a while, but the problem is that the more I read, the more confused I become.

    This far in my journey, I agree that it is an "expansion" not a "replacement", so I'm with you there.
    (After studying the tenets of replacement theology I can't help but feel depressed, since it appears that school teaches that all prophesy has been fulfilled and there is absolutely no significance of current world events, i.e. - we are no closer to Christ's return then we were 2,000 years ago.)

    I've been searching for a place online where I could ask questions on these different interpretations, but haven't found it yet. Sorry that this is off-topic from the original post!

    Do you know, off-hand, if there is a particular area of theology that explores whether scripture has dual meanings? (For instance, the idea that perhaps the scriptures/prophecies refer to more than one thing at the same time, like BOTH Israel and the Church, or BOTH Christ's first and second coming, etc)?

    Sorry if I seem loony - you get that way after reading too much competing theology! :)

    Kli,

    It sounds to me like what you're talking about, that all prophecy has already been fulfilled, is a belief called full preterism -- which I would definitely agree has some significant problems. Covenant Theology recognizes that all the promises made to Abraham have been fulfilled in Christ, but also looks ahead to when those promises will be consummated at Christ's second coming. A term we like to use is "already/not yet" -- We already have every spiritual blessing in Christ, and are citizens of his kingdom, but we do not yet have the full enjoyment of those blessings that we will have in the future, when Jesus returns and brings the kingdom to earth.

    As far as your second question goes: the belief that some scripture has a dual meaning has the technical term "sensus plenior" ("fuller meaning"). I think there is good reason to see a "sensus plenior" in a lot of Old Testament texts -- in many of the psalms, David was speaking in an immediate sense of himself, but in a fuller sense, he was looking ahead to the Messiah; in Hosea 11:1, God says of Israel, that when he was a child God called him out of Egypt, and in an immediate sense he was speaking of the redemption of the children of Israel from slavery in Egypt, but in a fuller sense, he was looking ahead to when he would bring Christ up from Egypt, where he spent his early years (see Matthew 2:15). So I think a lot of passages speaking of Israel had a fuller reference to Christ, and what he would accomplish. If you seek to trace every scripture passage to the person and work of Christ, then you will not go far astray.

    "But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere." 2 Cor 2:14

    "sensus plenior" - excellent! I was wondering if there was a name for it. After studying the tabernacle and all of its parts, there are definitely dual meanings everywhere (i.e. picture of Christ, picture of ourselves, etc)

    I'll explore some of the links you have here, and I hope you don't mind if I ask questions from time to time.
    And yes - preterist is weird. I hate it when people come up with entire theologies that ignore big sections of the Word.

    I'm trying to figure out what I believe exactly. Because I hate it when Christians aren't interested in all the "details". I need to know all the details.

    One of those wonderful "sensus plenior" would be King David, Nathan the Prophet, 1 Chronicles 17, 2 Samuel 7, put next to King Solomon and 2 Chronicles 6 and 7 and the very Public Ministry of Jesus Christ. The one apprehends and then brings clarity to the other!

    It truly is a blessing from the Lord in these days to come in here and read the thoughts you men of God bring into this Reformation Theology blog!

    The Lord bless you!

    Dear Nathan,

    Firstly, I would like to thank you and the entire team of Reformation Theology, who were instruments of the Lord in helping me understand Reformed Theology further. As one of the very few Christians of the Reformed Theology persuasion here in the Middle East, I have learned many good things and have grown further into the wonder of our Great Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The Images of the Savior series have been particularly helpful for us (our small cell group) to see Jesus clearly whom the Old Testament Scripture testify. I also have been buying books of reformed writers and sending them to my home country (Phils)and would read them when I take my leave. Once in a while the Lord would permit one of those books to be brought here despite the very strict customs inspection. Him We Proclaim by Dennis Johnson is one that I am eager to read on my next trip. At the same time, I have sent books to a local pastor in Nepal that he may also be introduced to Reformed Theology along with 130 former Hindus who now are saved by grace through faith in Christ. God willing, I will visit them shortly as well. Pardon me if I have taken valued space in this post, but I would like to thank you again for encouraging many of us who felt "left out" here. May our Lord bless you and keep you, shine His face upon you and be gracious to you, and give you peace.

    In His tender mercies always,
    Tennessee

    Dear Tennessee,

    Thanks so much for the encouragement! Your area of the world is very much in my heart -- I just offered up a prayer for you and those around you. If I can ever do anything to get materials into your hand, please don't hesitate to ask -- I'd be glad to donate and ship whatever you could use to direct your heart to the glory of Christ as you labor for the sake of his name and the spread of his kingdom.

    With love in the Savior,
    Nathan

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