The Meaning of the Lord’s Prayer

Interesting look at the meaning of the Lord’s Prayer Matthew 6:5-15, Luke 11:2-4

The Lord’s prayer is foundational teaching on prayer in the Bible. It is a prayer that has been prayed both privately as well as in corporate worship for thousands of years. The Lord’s prayer is often said in unison at our church and provides a good framework on how to pray. But what is the meaning of the Lord’s prayer? 

Source: The Meaning of the Lord’s Prayer

Insights on Success from John Calvin

There’s a section in John Calvin’s two-volume edition of his Institutes of the Christian Religion called “John Calvin to the Reader.” In just four short pages, Calvin provides many insights and takeaways on success. Here are five of those takeaways. 1. We should not presume

Source: Insights on Success from John Calvin

Take Up Your Cross

Part of Christian discipleship means that disciples of Jesus should carry their own cross as they follow Jesus. But what does this mean?

Continued at Source: Take Up Your Cross

Why Some Christian Leaders Don’t Post About Current Events on Social Media

Why Some Christian Leaders Don’t Post About Current Events on Social Media

In a word — pressure. That’s how many Christian leaders feel about having to post about current events on social media. But it shouldn’t be this way. As you know, 2020 is shaping to be one of the most infamous years in recent memory. Whether…

CONTINUED AT: SOURCE

 

The Exchange of Pleasures 

“The pleasure of obeying God is far greater than any pleasure that sin affords.”

The Exchange of Pleasures 

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Many moons ago I was into dieting and supplements and lifting-weights. I still am today, although to a much lesser degree. I try to eat healthy most days of the week. I take fewer supplements. And I lift weights and run, say, three or four days a week (when we’re not living in a coronavirus age). I feel much better when I take care of my body.

These days, though, I’m working on my pastor and dad bod which is notoriously not much to look at. My physique now isn’t what it was back in my early twenties and that’s okay. But back when I was a Certified Personal Trainer and Sports Nutrition Specialist, I learned many lessons that are transferable to the Christian life. One of those lessons is this: achieving a fitness goal and killing sin both happens through the exchange of pleasures…

Continued at: SOURCE

Pastor, Pay Careful Attention

Pastor, Pay Careful Attention

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Using Acts 20:28 as his text David finds 5 “takeaways” for pastors to contemplate. 

    1. First, pastors need to pay careful attention to their own spiritual lives
    2. Second…the pastor is also called to pay careful attention to the souls of his flock.
    3. Third, God himself ordained that you would be at the church you now currently serve. 
    4. Fourth, pastors are to care for the church of God.
    5. Fifth, Jesus obtained the church with his own blood. 
CONTINUED AT SOURCE

The Doctrine of the Millennium: A Brief Introduction

Anyone who even infrequently uses social media knows there has been a significance influx since COVID-19, of so called prophets (I think they are really profiteers) expounding upon how we are seriously in the “End Times.” The problem like so many uneducated false teachers their Eschatology is based not on solid biblical foundations but upon the emotions of others. 

I am not big on Eschatology, it is not my forte so to speak, so I will not pretend to write about what specifics. However, the following article (one of the best I have read on the matter) is specifically about one subject of Eschatology, the Millennium, of which many a discussion has ensued since the beginning of Christianity. It does not pretend to “know the answer,” instead Mr. Quoad relates the facts of each side in a well written piece.

* Note I have highlighted areas and edited the format without changing any of the content.

The Doctrine of the Millennium: A Brief Introduction

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What will happen when Jesus comes back? What must happen before he comes back? What is the correct view on the millennium? And why does this even matter? The answers to these questions have been the cause of much debate throughout the history of the church, and I don’t plan on solving every issue related to the millennium here. Instead, my aim in this post is to give you a brief introduction to the doctrine of the millennium.

millennium

This post merely serves as an introductory level and does not intend to go into great detail on each issue. I’ll share basic information on the three major views associated with the millennium, some strengths and challenges of each position, and resources for further study. ¹

For those of you who want to know more about the millennium but (a) don’t know where to start in your study and (b) are too busy to even start a study, this post is for you.

The Doctrine of the Millennium: A Brief Introduction

Key Passage

Before we move on, let’s look at the main text associated with the millennium. Although there are other texts that absolutely must be taken into consideration when coming to a conclusion on where you stand, the key text associated with the millennium is Revelation 20:1-6. You might want to start by reading the text to get a big picture view of the debate.

Revelation 20:1-6

“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while. Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.”

Key Terms

Let me also define a few words. None of the views will make sense without understanding the basic terms. Here are some of those terms:

Eschatology: The word eschatology comes from the Greek word eschatos which means “last.” Eschatology, therefore, is the study of the last things. The last things are best taken to mean the events that will occur prior to, during, and after Christ’s return. Theologians differentiate between personal eschatology and general eschatology. Personal eschatology entails future events that will specifically affect persons (e.g., death, intermediate state, etc.). General eschatology entails future events that will affect the world (e.g., second coming of Christ, eternity, rapture, etc.).

Millennium: The word millennium derives from the Latin word mille which means “thousand,” and annus which means “year.” The word millennium, then, means one thousand years. The reference to one thousand years is mentioned five times in Revelation 20:1-6.

Are the 1,000 years literal or symbolic? Will Christ come before or after this 1,000 year period? Could the 1,000 year period be actually happening now? And what is supposed to happen during the 1,000 year period? Much of the debate comes from understanding what this 1,000 year period means in relation to Jesus’ return.

Three Major Views Associated with the Millennium

As we look into the various major views on the millennium, keep in mind the prefix of each word (e.g., “a,” “pre,” “post”). That will help you remember what the view means. “A” means no, “pre” means before, and “post” means after. I’m not covering every view possible, but only a primer on the major ones in alphabetical order.

Major Millennium View #1: Amillennialism

Amillennialism is the belief that there is no millennium in the future, but that the millennium is happening now in and through the church.  The millennium started when Jesus rose from the dead and will end when Jesus comes back. Hence, why this view is sometimes referred to as inaugurated or realized millennialism; because the millennium is happening now in and through the church age. The reference to 1,000 years should not be taken literally in a book of the Bible packed with so much symbolism.

How do amillennialists interpret Rev. 20:2-3? According to the amillennial position, Jesus bound Satan during his earthly ministry. Their reasoning comes from texts like Matthew 12:29: “Or how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house.” And also texts like Luke 10:18: “And he said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven’” (Luke 10:18). During his earthly ministry, and even more through his death and resurrection, Jesus binds Satan and thus Satan is unable to hinder the progress of the gospel. The church cannot cease to exist and the gospel cannot be stopped in part because the enemy is bound.

“They came to life,” John says, “and reigned with Christ for a thousand years” (Rev. 20:4b). He continues, “This is the first resurrection” (Rev. 20:5). This a reference to those whom have died with Christ and are currently reigning in the intermediate state with him. Significantly, when Christ returns, the resurrection of believers and unbelievers, judgment, and the new heavens and new earth happens at once. This is the most seamless of the views and commonly held in the Reformed tradition.

Amillennialism

Strengths of Amillennialism

•The New Testament in many places seems to indicate the resurrection of believers and unbelievers, judgment, and the new heavens and new earth happening in conjunction upon Christ’s return (1 Cor. 15:22-281 Cor. 15:50-57Romans 8:18-232 Peter 3:8-13Matthew 25:31-462 Thessalonians 1:5-10John 5:28-29).

•The reference to “thrones” in Revelation 20:4-5 is a clear reference to heaven (Daniel 7:922). The mention of “thrones” in the book of Revelation is always associated with heaven, thus revealing the vision that John saw happened in heaven, not on earth.

•Scripture elsewhere teaches one resurrection, not two (John 5:28-29Acts 24:15Dan. 12:2). In order to believe in premillennialism, you must believe there are two separate resurrections.

•The premillennialist often refers to texts like Isa. 65:13 and Isa. 66:22 to depict a time in history that does not refer to the present life, nor the new heavens and new earth, thus making the possibility of a future millennium reign. These Isaiah texts, curiously, are not mentioned in Revelation 20:1-16 but are mentioned in Rev. 21 and Rev. 22 when John is speaking of the new heavens and new earth.

Revelation 19:21 says, “And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh.” This depicts all non-Christians being executed in the last battle between Christ and his enemies. If all of Christ’s enemies are destroyed by the end of chapter 19, then it is impossible for unbelievers to be in the millennium as portrayed in Rev. 20:1-6.

Challenges of Amillennialism

•The Greek word anastasis for “resurrection” (Rev. 20:5) in the Bible always refers to physical resurrection when used elsewhere. To argue that the word here is in reference to the resurrection of believers is to contradict how the word is used in all other places in Scripture.

•The binding of Satan logic seems like a stretch. Not to mention that there are specific texts that do not picture Satan as bound, but as “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Cor. 4:4). Even more, Rev. 20:2-3 does not merely depict Satan as bound, but as one whom is thrown into a pit, shut, and sealed (Rev. 20:2-3).

Adherents you may know: Augustine, John Calvin, Martin Luther, Louis Berkhof, Sam Storms, Kevin DeYoung, and Tom Schreiner.

Resources on Amillennialism

1. Kingdom Come: The Amillennial Alternative by Sam Storms
2. A Case for Amillennialism: Understanding the End Times by Kim Riddlebarger
3. The Bible and the Future by Anthony A. Hoekema (specifically chapter 17)
4. 7 Reasons Tom Schreiner (Tentatively) Holds to Amillennialism by Justin Taylor
5. Making Sense of the Millennium Part 1 and Part 2 by Kevin DeYoung

Major Millennium View #2: Postmillennialism

Postmillennial is the view that Christ returns after the millennium. The millennium is a time that refers to a golden age in which God will use the church powerfully to spread the gospel during a time of peace, righteousness, and great joy. The gospel will progress in unprecedented success and transform all cultures and societies. During the millennium, Christ is in heaven (not on earth, as the premillennialist will argue) and is working by his Spirit through his church for the success of gospel advancement.

After the millennium – and only for a brief time – Satan will be released, and will attack the church one last time. But then Jesus will return personally, bodily, and gloriously to defeat his enemies. He then will conduct the final judgment and usher in the new heavens and earth. This view posits an extremely optimistic picture of the future.

Postmillennialism

Strengths of Postmillennialism

•The postmillennial view pictures a high view of creation and culture. Adherents to this view often lead the way in cultural engagement and societal restoration.

•Having a robust view of the great commission, some of the parables in the Gospels, the creational mandate (Gen. 1:28Gen. 2:15), and texts like Isaiah 9:7 may naturally lead us to believe in worldwide advancement and cultural impact for Christ. Adherents to this view often lead the way in evangelism and apologetics.

•Just look at the world now. Christianity is exploding in places like South America, Africa, and Asia. This is just further proof that a Christian golden age will happen in the future.

Challenges of Postmillennialism

•The nature of the kingdom of God, the essence of the great commission, and the creational mandate does not automatically and inevitably lead us to believe that there will be a Christian golden age in the future.

•The world is clearly getting worse.

•Dismisses the imminent return of Christ (i.e., that Christ could return at any moment).

Adherents you may know: Many of the Puritans, Jonathan Edwards, and Doug Wilson.

Resources on Postmillennialism

1. Heaven Misplaced: Christ’s Kingdom on Earth by Doug Wilson
2. Postmillennialism: An Eschatology of Hope by Keith Mathison
3. The Puritan Hope by Iaian Murray

Major Millennium View #3: Premillennialism

The premillennialist view is broken up into at least two different categories: historic premillennialism and dispensational premillennialism. I’ll describe both, and mention some strengths and challenges of the historic premillennialism view, but I won’t mention the strengths and challenges of the dispensational premillennialism view as it is quite complex and requires a full-length post to unpack. We will mainly focus on the historic premillennialism view here.

Historic Premillennialism

Historic premillennialism is the view that Christ will return before the millennium. The reason why it’s called “historic premillennialism” is that, historically, this was the allegedly commonly-held view by many of the church fathers like Iraenus, Pappias, and Justin Martyr. Most premillennialists see the one thousand years as literal, but some do not.

According to this view, there will be a time of great suffering and persecution on earth, often referred to as the “tribulation.” Christ will come after the tribulation to usher in the millennium. The millennium is a time when Christ will reign on earth for one thousand years (either literally or symbolically) with glorified believers in a time of peace and righteousness and great joy. During the millennium, Satan will be bound and not have any influence, after which he will be tossed into the lake of fire. Christ will usher in the final judgment and new heavens and new earth after the millennium.

Historic Premillennialism

Historic Premillennialism Strengths

•This view provides the most straightforward reading of the text. It gives the clearest exegesis of Revelation 20:1-6.

•The reference of “coming down” in Revelation 20:1 is a clear reference to activity on Earth.

•There are several Old Testament passages that don’t seem to fit either the present church age nor the eternal age (Isaiah 65:20Isaiah 11:6-9Isaiah 11:10-11Psalm 72: 8-14Zech. 14:5-17). Not to mention, 1 Cor. 15:20-28 strongly suggests a millennium age. This Bible is messy, and therefore we must make room for these texts and not ignore them, nor assume that they are all symbolic.

Historic Premillennialism Challenges

•It seems unwise to build an entire doctrine from only six verses that explicitly mention a millennium.

•If you’re a premillennialist, you must believe that, when Christ returns to usher in the millennium, the following will still exist: death, people who can come to saving faith in Christ, the subjugation of creation to the fall, and the delay of the new heavens and earth (along with the sentencing of eternal condemnation for all unbelievers) until after the millennium is over (adapted from Sam Storm’s Kingdom Come (p. 135-137).

Adherents you may know: Wayne Grudem, D. A. Carson, John Piper, and Al Mohler.

Resources on Historic Premillennialism

1. A Case for Historic Premillennialism: An Alternative to “Left Behind” Eschatology edited by Craig Bloomberg and Sung Wook Chung
2. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine by Wayne Grudem (specifically chapter 55)
3. The Blessed Hope: A Biblical Study of the Second Advent and the Rapture by George Eldon Ladd

Dispensational Premillennialism

A key distinction of dispensational theology is a regular literalism in interpreting the Bible and, probably more significantly, a distinction between Israel and the church. This view is sometimes referred to as pretribulation premillennialism, i.e., that Christ will return before the millennium and before the great tribulation. This view is curiously quite popular, although it only started gaining popularity in the 19th and 20th centuries.

In Systematic Theology, Grudem writes: “This position is similar to the classic premillennial position mentioned above, but with one important difference: it will add another return of Christ before his return to reign on earth in the millennium.” A key text for this position is 1 Thess. 4:16-17. This second return of Christ is thought to be a secret return, where he will rapture his people out of the world. After Christ returns to heaven with those whom he raptured, there will be a great tribulation for seven years. At the end of the tribulation, Christ will return to reign on earth for one thousand years which, of course, should be taken literally.

Adherents you may know: John MacArthur.

General Resources on The Millennium

This is a great quick place to start if you want to learn more about the millennium. Schreiner does a great job of breaking down each view. Schreiner is an amillennialist.

Likewise, Sproul does a great job of explaining each view on the millennium in the video below. It’s a bit longer than the video Schreiner is in above, but it is still a great place to start. Interestingly, Sproul does not take a side but just explains each view.

Here is a conversation with Jim Hamilton (historic premil), Sam Storms (amil) and Doug Wilson (postmil). John Piper is the moderator (who himself is a historic premillennialist but does not engage much in the debate). This conversation is a little combative, but it’s educational nevertheless.

Another helpful resource is The Millenial Maze: A Panel on the Millenium by Andy Naselli. There you’ll find yet another discussion on the doctrine of the millennium, along with a host of resources at the bottom of the post for further study.

Next Steps

What should you do next if you’d like to learn more?

I suggest two things:

1. Read and re-read Revelation 20:1-6. Read it over and over again. Read the footnotes in multiple study Bibles. As you notice cross-reference texts in your study Bible, read those texts too. Cry out to the Lord for insight as you read.

2. Select one (or multiple) of the resources in this post and read or watch it.

I want to make a plea that we have conversations about the millennium in a civil and charitable manner. Although it’s good to have strong biblical convictions, it’s uncalled for to be dismissive and antagonistic towards those with whom you disagree. This is a secondary issue. There’s a possibility you could be wrong. While evangelicals will not all come to the same conclusion on the doctrine of the millennium, there is one thing we can all agree upon, and that is this: Christ is coming back!

A note on the charts used above: Taken from Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem Copyright © 1995 by Wayne Grudem. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com


Notes:  ¹ In writing this post, I was helped by chapter 55 of Wayne Grudem’s book Systematic Theology, the ESV Study Bible, and the NIV Zondervan Study Bible. When it comes to the strengths and challenges provided, some of them are things upon which we should all agree, but some of the points are admittedly my own personal opinion. 

4 Things God Cannot Do

 

 4 Things God Cannot Do

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What are some things God cannot do?

“Nothing is impossible for God,” is a common expression used by Christians for all sorts of situations. The idea is that because our God is so big and powerful and wonderful and beautiful, nothing is impossible for him. Nothing is too big for him. He can do whatever he wants, whenever he wants, however he wants. After all, he is . . . God.

But is this true?

The expression “nothing is impossible for God” is used directly or indirectly at least twice in Scripture. The angel comforts Mary when speaking to her about Jesus in her womb, reminding her that through God’s power she can conceive a child as a virgin (Luke 1:37). The context is to trust in God who can enable Mary, a virgin, to conceive a baby.

It is also used in another context dealing with money and salvation. When the disciples asked Jesus who can be saved if it’s hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom, Jesus responds by saying, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). He’s talking about one’s allegiance to money and salvation. By God’s power, your main allegiance can shift from money to God, and no one is beyond the scope of salvation if God chooses to save him or her. The context is money and salvation.

But the fact that nothing is impossible for God doesn’t mean there are things God cannot do.

Continued at: SOURCE

The Omniscience of God is for Your Comfort

The word omniscience comes from the word omni which means “all” and from the word scientia which means “knowledge.” God’s omniscience, therefore, means that God has all knowledge or, stated differently, that God is all-knowing. This means, of course, that God knows everything about your

Source: The Omniscience of God is for Your Comfort

Don’t Believe Your Own Press

While this article is written about people mostly in positions of high Christian Influence; I would say that it applies to all Christians in all aspects of ministry. From the greeter at the church to the most influential theologians of our time. – Mike  

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Recently, I had an opportunity to speak with a widely recognized theologian at a conference. He left an impression on me with his words.

After his lecture, me and some friends approached him to strike up a conversation. Our conversation was mostly surface level, mixed with a few jokes. I was happy to be in the circle. When you’re standing next to an influential person, you don’t care what’s going on. You’re just glad you’re there.

But I grew discontent. And time was ticking; I didn’t know how much more time I would have with him or if I would ever see him again. I’m not one to miss out on learning opportunities. So I decided to ask a question. Before he left our circle I put my hand on his shoulder and asked, “How do you cultivate a spirit of humility in light of all the success God has entrusted you with?”

Some readers of this site might remember a similar question delivered from me to R. C. Sproul several years ago. I like to ask a variation of this question for a few reasons: (1) I genuinely want to know the answer; (2) The response is always memorable; (3) It makes for good blog material.

How did he respond? Like this: “I get a lot more hate mail than you do.” Laughter ensued.

Then I said, “Yeah, but only slightly.” More laughter.

But then, he got serious. And this is where the learning comes in. He continued and said something like, “I get a lot of love, and I get a lot of hate. I don’t believe all the kind things said about me, and I don’t believe all the negative things said about me.” He then began to loosely quote Jesus’ words in Luke 6:26, where Jesus says woe to you when all people speak well of you.

Our time together soon ended. A few more comments were made, and then he kindly walked away. I saw someone snatch a picture with him before he left, and then he was gone.

I jumped into my car soon thereafter to journey home. For the first couple of hours, I did not listen to music or an audiobook. I just drove quietly and reflected on the conference. There were many things that stood out to me during this wonderful time, but one was this conversation. What particularly stood out to me is when he said, “I don’t believe all the good things said about me.”

If you’re a Christian influencer, people will see your strengths more than your flaws. But the people in your church and the people at home know your weaknesses. You know the real you. And God does to a perfect degree. Our recognition of our sinfulness and weaknesses should cause a spirit of humility. We’re not as talented as people think.

The preacher will get told he is an amazing preacher; the author that he is the best writer; and the church planter that he has so much potential. And yet, in the midst of the praise, we should not believe it all.

Not for a second am I saying that encouragement and kind words from others is not a blessing. Sometimes affirmation from external sources is not only desired but needed to confirm your calling. We should be constantly lifting one another up with our words. Christians should be encouraging without reservation.

But the praise can be taken too far, taken too seriously. And if the praise gets to your head, sin won’t be far from your heart. Be thankful for kind words, but know that all the kind things said about you aren’t always accurate. Thank the person, transfer the glory to God, reflect on the words, and move on with your life, not allowing the praise to shape your identity.