Friday, March 28, 2008

How are You in Church?

Did you know that you may represent what is often going on in the churches of America? People flat out do not realize what they are doing to one another; we are not living honestly with one another. We sit in our pews with our nice suits and dresses and with big smiles on our faces, but do we really realize how we are mirroring Christ to the world, or to the person sitting right next to us? Are we doing it as Christ would, or are we mirroring what we feel and desire, regardless of our mandate from our Lord? Hypocrisy is a destroyer of the church. If Satan were to sit down in a counsel of demons to implant a strategy to tear down the church in America, all he would need to do would be to place a few key individuals in each church to spread gossip and rumors.

Satan cannot do any better than that; perhaps this is where it all originates. But in any case, no matter where the slander of hypocrisy comes from, it all comes down to us. As Christians, we have the responsibility to act as the Disciples of Christ. Consider how a well-trained sheep dog will go out into the herd and gently nudge the sheep at their rear ankles to where they need to go. The sheep dog causes no harm to the sheep; he provides the leadership and strength to place the sheep where they need to be and keeps them focused on the shepherd. If you were to place a pit-bull, who is not trained, out into a sheep field, all it would do is go around and maul the sheep.

So, what are you doing? Are you mauling sheep or are you shepherding with love and care?

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Perfect Formula to Destroy a Church?

If it is your desire to destroy the church, all you need to do is wrap yourself in arrogance and condescending actions so you put-down everyone in your path while you puff yourself up along with a "better than thou" attitude. You will soon realize that the visitors at your church do not stay, the people whose hearts seek after God will leave, and teaching that is relevant will dissipate. You will be left with a very comfortable, well-managed group of people that you can control and rule over, all conforming to your whims and policies, while all the time believing that they are better than everyone else, and that they are right when everyone else is wrong.

Of course, you will be completely operating without the approval of our Lord and walking apart from His Fruit or Spirit. If this is what you want, if this is what you desire, then go for it. After all, we do have liberty, and perhaps you may think that everyone else is doing it. However, remember there is a judgment, and a responsibility that goes along with our faith; we will all be held accountable for the practices that are contrary to Scripture and God’s will. And, it will be woe to us to fail Him in this big way. I do not know about you, but it scares me to think I could push a precious child of my Lord away with my feeble portentousness and arrogance.

God does not want us to have a comfortable little group where everyone thinks the same, acts the same, and follows the same list of do’s and don’ts, while keeping everyone else out who does not conform to our views. Do not forsake Scripture and the call of our Lord. God does not call us to divide His body, taking His precious truths and turning them into a whip to pound and punish people to conform. No, Scripture is God’s love letter to us, so the more we know, the more responsible we become to follow His precepts and teachings. They are designed to help us grow closer to Him in maturity and faith. They are not meant to push people away with judgmental actions and harsh attitudes unless it is to protect His sheep with our discernment. (More on that later.) If this is what you want to do, or if this is what you’re doing, be warned; it will destroy your church and it will greatly grieve our Lord.

Have you seen this done? If so how? What do you think we can do to stop and prevent this?

Monday, March 03, 2008

Biblical Eschatology Influences Leadership!

What does this all have to do with church leadership? The sad fact is that too many of our churches are spending too much time and energy on speculative theology while completely ignoring the calls and commands of Christ. While we invent these particulars of nonsense, too many people go un-reached and thus un-discipled because of our foolishness. Let’s stop the nonsense and focus on that to which God has clearly and assuredly called us!

Many great expositors of the Bible have gotten End Times and Revelation wrong—Including me. Why does this happen?

Perhaps we get lazy and do not do the proper exegetical work or just turn to our favorite mentor or preacher and take his findings at face value, never really carefully examining what and why we believe. Perhaps we just trust our favorite commentary or study Bible and forget they are the words of mere men who may have done a marvelous job at a logical strength for an Epistle like Romans and Matthew, but then took their brains out when they got to Revelation. I did this; I did not use my own Into Thy Word Bible Study Methods I had taught for over ten years before realizing my errors. I just trusted in the charts I received from a mentor. The rules of biblical interpretation were not followed, and misled and confused both others and us. We must come to God’s Word with reverence and a surrendered will and seek its relevance using the appropriate tools. Furthermore, when we come to a theory or idea we test them with the same rules. In this way, we can effectively see what lines up to Scripture and what does not. (For more information see Exegetical Methods on our sister website

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9

What do you think?

What is “Popular” Eschatology?

What is the hot view of Eschatology today?

We have the Dispensational views, the Reformed view, the other variations of Protestant views, and then there is the Catholic and so many subsets of each of these theologies. It should be clear, because God’s Word is clear when we take the time to see eschatological passages in their context, language, and genre structure. We need to see what is actually there, not what we want to be there. Like any other reading pursuit, you do not use a textbook for poetry or poetry for a lecture in biology or give a lecture at a wedding or a lullaby at a deposition in a court of law. That transpires in how you read a text: a novel versus a technical paper or directions. A textbook is read and examined and notes taken whereas a novel is enjoyed and even skimmed. Language is predicted by its usage, meaning of context, and situation to name a few. This is true for any work of literature, including the Bible as it is a collection of literature, but also God’s Word. If we get this point we can get Eschatology, as the Church has for the most part. But in the last one hundred and fifty years and mainly in the last few decades, many new views of Eschatology have come about. Mainly from the absence of knowing and being willing to learn about the Bible, many factions and infighting and fringe groups have developed. All because people claiming to know Christ as Lord no longer are effectively reading His Word the Bible; rather, they read into the Bible instead of reading from the Bible. They place into the Bible what they want it to say instead of taking out of the Bible what God actually says. So people come to His most precious Word and seek what they want instead of what He has for us. These are most of the popular views; they can be fun and make for invigorating discussions. By the way, what is actually there is much more effectual and wondrous than any of our wild popular theories. Thus, when most Christians today get into the subjects of Biblical prophecy, eschatology, end times, and the Second Coming of Jesus, they get it wrong and in so doing make up theories and claim them as dogmatic fact, saying there will be a Rapture, what Israel’s role must be, the rise of an specific Antichrist and what he must do, a Seven year Tribulation, all that “must happen” for or before a Millennial reign and/or Christ Second Coming, and other various sub topics. And their only debate is not their biblical right for these things to exist, but what order, sequence, and what I heard Francis Schaeffer say to me on this, the particulars of nonsense.

Thus, what we have is a multitude of diverse opinions about what Biblical Eschatology is and how it relates to end times and how it affects the Church and Christ’s Second Coming.

What is your view of “Eschatology” or “End Times?”

How sure are you that your view is correct?

It all comes down to this point: do you read into the text what you want it to say? Or do you read from the text what God’s Word has to say?

Most Christians, pastors included, will say they never read into the text of Scripture. So, you have to go before God in sincerity and honesty and seek Him, not your or someone else’s ideas.

How can we do this? We have to surrender pride and presumptions to really catch what caught up really means! We have to really read, not assume, or we will get it wrong and thus lead our churches down the wrong path, making minors the majors and missing the point of our call and duty as a local church.

What is Biblical Eschatology?

See for yourself coming soon on our new website, this link should work by 3/7

My Journey in Eschatology

I firmly believed in the classic dispensational view, a rapture, a seven year tribulation and Millennial reign of Christ. It was fact to me without question and a hill I would die upon—until someone challenged my on it. My very own high school youth group to whom I was teaching Revelation, kept asking me where is that? I do not see it! This does not make sense. And I could not answer their questions. I knew how to study the Bible but I was not using my own tools for Revelation or Matthew chapter twenty-four. Instead, I was relying on my prized possession a 1940’s edition of The Scofield Study Bible I received from one of my mentors, my favorite commentaries, one by Dr. John Walvoord and the other by Frank Gaebelein, not to mention I had also mostly memorized Hal Lindsey’s book, The Late Great Planet Earth. But I could not defend my positions biblically; I could only quote those who held that view. I just assumed I just did not get it and they did. So I decided to just read the Book of Revelation without reading my views into it, as many of us naturally do. I kept doing this for over ten years. During the same time, I had a run-in with one of my seminary professors about the Rapture who said none of this was biblical. I thought he was crazy; how could it not be biblical? What about all the great people who teach this, such as Ironside, Wiersbe, and Walter Martin to name a few, plus my mentor Ray Steadman who introduced me to Scofield and Darby.

So, I engaged this subject wholeheartedly; I wanted to see for myself. I read all the passages and the books, yet I could not find anything in the Bible where we could get a Rapture view or any declension of that view, or any of the classic dispensational views I thought were fact. In fact, I could not find the popular ideas of others, taught by so many people as dogmatic and even essential doctrine. The passages that are used to support a rapture and a seven year tribulation said nothing to this. People who I would consider great exegetes and godly men were teaching this; I asked why. Why were they producing so much of these particulars of nonsense? Perhaps they were just like all of us; maybe they made mistakes at logic or interpretation, or did not do their homework well. Or, maybe they did what I did, just relied on others and my favorite teachers and take it as that. I couldn’t get what many poplar sensationalists were saying either. What most Christians now believe and what I believed at one time was not there in the Bible’s evidence bag. I could not find a seven-year tribulation, an antichrist as a particular person, or a rapture or the Millennial reign that most pastors preach on and the plot lines of many popular Christian Books. I found that you have to read these things into the Bible because it just is not there; all the passages that were claimed were taken out of their context and twisted, and meanings subscribed to them that were not there originally or in reality. I was upset, mad, and confused that I had missed the point. So I decided to make this a Schaeffer Institute project and then spent over ten years of careful exegetical and inductive analysis of Revelation, Matthew chapter 24 and many other Eschatological passages before I would write on this publicly as I am now. I sought what they clearly said, not what I was taught they said, or what I wanted them to say or what was popular in my theological tradition. Then I took the four main theories and laid them out side by side next to an exegetical and inductive work into the Book of Revelation. I was careful not to read into it any presumptions, leaving it up to you, the reader, to make your own conclusion—the reason it took ten years. Yes, this was tough and cost me a lot of sleepless nights and struggles to look at what I thought I already knew so well. This brought me to what real Biblical Eschatology is, to end times from what the Bible clearly speaks on.

Biblical Eschatology?

What is your view of “Eschatology” or “End Times?”

This is the study of our Christian beliefs concerning all future and final events, such as Jesus’ Second coming and the final judgment.

How sure are you that your view is correct?

Did you know, it all comes down to this point: do you read into the text what you want it to say? Or do you read from the text what God’s Word has to say? How does this make you feel?

So how can we get a better idea what Scripture really tells us about end times? To read into it our preconceived views? Or perhaps read the Bible as what it says in context, word meanings, historical, cultural and genre considerations of the passage, thus with this method you get what is the actual meaning.

This is also called “Exegetical Eschatology,” meaning “to draw from,” for serious or critical examination of a text of Scripture for the purpose of explanation, clarification, and interpretation. For the authentic Christian, it provides a better framework of God’s principles and can be a shredder for its critics—as in those who oppose faith and reason or the Truth of Christ and His principles. This is done by examining the facts, details, and essence of a Bible text before making any conclusions.

This means we engage the text with careful exegesis, uninhibited by theological prejudice, with an inductive process with open minds to discover God’s lessons for us.

What does the original language, genre, and cultural analysis do, considering the original hearers of this work?

What did that term mean to John and those seven churches, or what was Jesus saying in Matthew chapter twenty-four, not just what we may think it means today.

Otherwise, our preconceived ideas will form our opinions rather than what the Word actually says. This is how the Reformers, Calvin and Luther, did their studies (although they subscribed to the Historicist view), as well as Augustine (who was mostly a Futurist, but not like the Futurists today) and other great men. They were seeking His revealed truth inductively, applying literal interpretation (if the genre allows), and historical and grammatical exegesis, not mere human speculations and traditions. This is what we seek to do at Into Thy Word.

How do you think we should do this and does that thought line up with Scripture?