Contending For The Faith

June 30, 2009

Various Items of Interest

Filed under: Bible Study,doctrine,eschatology,J. C. Ryle — Lynda O @ 11:49 am

I recently learned of J.C. Ryle at this blog, another 19th century British preacher, contemporary with Spurgeon. His name and writings are less well-known today than Spurgeon, but many of his sermons are available online. My local church library also has several of his books, including his expositions of the gospels.

Here are links to some of his writings online:

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Dan Phillips at Pyromaniacs blog has a good post on “What Prayer Is and Isn’t”  (link:  ). See also his recent interview and great statements, including his explanation of “why I am a Christian, a Calvinist, and a Dispensationalist.”

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In my Bible reading plan, I’ve been reading through much of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Revelation. Today’s readings included Ezekiel 38 and Revelation 21. My overall understanding of these passages is so much clearer now as a premillennialist, but so many people fail to just read the Bible and what it actually says. Ezekiel 38 is so parallel to the descriptions in Revelation chapters 19 and 20. Consider the parallel between Ezekiel 38:19 and Revelation 18:18-19; or the references to “Gog and Magog” at the beginning of Ezekiel 38, also referenced in Revelation 20 — at the end of the millennial kingdom 1000 years. I’m still not sure which period Ezekiel 38 and 39 refer to, and I’ve read commentators who relate it to the later period, but most relate it also to the events just prior to Christ’s return at the end of the tribulation.

In the spirit of Elijah (mocking the Baal worshippers on Mt. Carmel), I want to laugh (if it were not also sad, that such is preached and misleads people) again at the humanist, non-Biblical eschatological ideas from the local pastor. He declared his belief that the end of the world will probably come in about 50 years. But did he base this idea on any scripture, of seeing how what is foretold in the Bible relates to our world today? No. He cited, as proof, agreement with “the secular scientists” who are convinced that mankind cannot continue much longer, that man has so much power to destroy, especially with the atomic bomb which anyone can make. He predicts that humans will divide more and more apart from each other and destroy civilization, with terrible warfare that will destroy 100 million or more people.

Of course he said nothing about Israel, the fact of that nation’s existence; nor the current “Mediterranean Union” as a real possibility, or the indicators of one world government unification, or that the technology and political factors are coming together to set the stage for the Great Tribulation.  Based on human scientific ideas, he comes up with human ideas contrary to Biblical teaching — people dividing against each other, whereas the Bible says the opposite, unification. Most significantly, he dares to suggest that men are the ones to bring about a massive holocaust, where again the Bible makes it clear that God is the one who’s going to destroy this planet. He further fails to see that the U.S. will not be a major world power at that time — though perhaps this could happen within 50 years. But as Fred Zaspel notes in his article “The Nations of Ezekiel 38-39”  though we today cannot imagine any Middle-East conflict that does not involve the U.S., the text gives no indication of such involvement and thus we cannot impose other meanings (such as Russia for “Rosh”) on Ezekiel 38-39 in order to date it to our time. Nor does the local pastor recognize the biblical doctrine of rapture (at any time), much less the likely pre-trib rapture, which means that the next event for Christians to look for is not signs of the tribulation; the rapture is a sign-less event such that every generation of believers has lived in imminency, that Christ could return at any time.

My, how confused people get, even professing Christians and pastors, when they reject any part of the counsel of God, when they trade in God’s word for modern-day secular scientists. Again, at least he is consistent in where he places his real trust regarding both the beginning and the ending of our world.

But on the subject of world news and end times indicators (for the Great Tribulation), I am now considering that one important piece has not yet happened: a rebuilt Babylon which must then be destroyed again to completely fulfill the Old Testament prophecies (and agree with Revelation 17). It indeed looked like a near possibility some years back, while Saddam Hussein lived, but as Jim McClarty said in his series (2006) for the end times events to happen anytime soon, the “leading contender” would be a non-literal Babylon in the form of Roman Catholicism. Certainly Rome and the Roman church may very well have a part to play in that end times scenario, but many others make a strong case (including John MacArthur in his Revelation series) that Babylon must be rebuilt, to fulfill those OT prophecies.

Finally, I’ll close with this thought, from Fred Zaspel’s article (from 1985) mentioned above:

if the Lord were to return today it is difficult to imagine how Russia (or the U.S.A.!) could not be somehow involved in the end-time battles. But this does not mean that Christ’s return is very near, and it does not require that Russia be a part of the prophecy. That a nation is likely to be involved if events were to occur soon is not proof that the nation is specified in the original prophecy. Seventy years ago the possibility of Russia’s being an end-time power was almost unthinkable. Should the Lord tarry another seventy years the same may be true of Russia then; no one can say.


June 18, 2009

Great Christian Influences

This is a common topic on Internet blogs and message boards: list your favorite Bible teachers, or list the ones you’re most influenced by / learned from, etc.

Over time I find this list changes, and it’s always interesting to see the lists from others. Many of the names are unfamiliar, though over time I begin to hear more about those individuals. My own list is much smaller than others, those who obviously have been studying from many Christian teachers over many years.

Here is my own list of those great influences:

  • John MacArthur
  • Phil Johnson
  • Charles Spurgeon
  • S. Lewis Johnson

I’ve studied some from a few other names during the last 12 months– R.C. Sproul, Jim McClarty–but these are the important ones, and really more than I have enough time for in any given week. Unlike the  blogger, I don’t have an iPod to do podcasts, so I’m sticking with the “old” technology of MP3 files played on my computer, or burned to CDs and CD-RWs to play on the home DVD player or the car stereo.

My typical week includes:

  • listening to at least two John MacArthur sermons in my car, CD-RW discs with WAV files — currently listening to his Revelation series, up to chapter 16.
  • reading Charles Spurgeon devotionals (from Alistair Begg’s “Truth for Life” daily devotional emails), and reading a few sermons from the 1855 New Park Street volume
  • reading some of Pulpit magazine  and Teampyro blogs
  • listening to S. Lewis Johnson MP3s: half a sermon (about 23 – 25 minutes) each weekday morning before going to work.  I just started his series through Genesis.  Also, listening to MP3s of SLJ’s eschatology series, usually one message each weekday, on my PC at work (currently finished up through number 20 out of 37)

I’ve especially come to appreciate S. Lewis Johnson recently — a name I had often heard in the last several months, as being of like theological views to John MacArthur and Grace Community Church (baptist, Calvinist, dispensational). He really was a great teacher as well, with great depth of teaching (what I also appreciate about John MacArthur), and now I hope to listen to all of his messages, available on the Believer’s Chapel website (link here), and I’ll start by going through from Genesis to Revelation, all of his scripture-book messages.

June 16, 2009

Day 91 of the Horner Bible Reading Plan

Filed under: Horner Bible Reading Plan — Lynda O @ 8:35 am

I’m now up to day 91 in just under three months, with the following reading statistics: all of the New Testament at least once; and most of the Old Testament. Two days ago I completed List 1 (the gospels), so now I’m reading Matthew again. I’ve now implemented my variation on List 12 — Acts and Revelation, rather than just the book of Acts — and up to chapter 7 of Revelation. As with all my other NT reading, I’m reading Revelation for the second time through. In List 2 (the Pentateuch) I’ve started the third book (Leviticus), and in the history and prophets lists I continue reading through 2 Samuel, Ezra, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. At this point, I’ve read at least some (in most cases at least half) of all but eight of the Old Testament books: Leviticus (which I just started today), Numbers, Deuteronomy, 1 Chronicles, Nehemiah, Esther, Lamentations and Daniel.

A few things from my recent observations: both Romans (especially chapters 9 and 11) and James (chapters 2 and 3) speak of mercy, and the two readings complement each other in their frequent references to mercy. From today’s readings, Leviticus 1 (priestly instructions concerning the burnt offering) fits well with Ezra 8:35, in which the returning Israelites restarted the sacrificial system and made burnt offerings. In the gospels, again I am struck by the writing in Matthew’s gospel: the first chapters are just chock-full of Old Testament references that show how events concerning Jesus’ birth and early years fulfill so many Old Testament prophecies.

Again, this is a great way to read the Bible, reading many different parts at the same time to grasp something of the whole picture of God’s redemptive plan in history.

June 5, 2009

Concerning Prophecy and Study

Filed under: eschatology,S. Lewis Johnson — Lynda O @ 2:54 pm

My studies in God’s word continue, and I continue to enjoy and have great desire for learning all that is contained therein. One new observation I have, after months of study and perusing message board posts at BibleForums( one reason I especially enjoy studying the prophetic texts of scripture is that this particular area does require more detailed study than most other scriptural matters. Those who only give superficial attention to the Bible will never plunge into the depths of scripture, will never do the extra work necessary to see how the different texts relate to each other to form a more complete overall picture. So much of scripture deals with Christ’s Second Advent, yet so many neglect it altogether or only skim the surface and come to completely incorrect conclusions.

I can see this quality of study and depth of thought in the posts in BibleForums’ eschatology section. Whereas the overall content of the website is light and often superficial (as typical of all message board sites), at least a few of the posters in the eschatology sub-board show great intelligence and skill with their subject matter, knowing the scriptures and how to present and defend the premillennial view with solid biblical interpretation using the literal, grammatical, historical hermeneutic. This resource too is quite helpful for learning the topic, albeit in a broad, non-systematized manner of looking at specific issues rather than an organized presentation.

I’ve now embarked on a new topical series, a general eschatology series of 37 messages from the late S. Lewis Johnson. I’m in the “Covenants” section now, having just completed all three parts of the Abrahamic Covenant (message 12). Much of the material is review at this point, basic ideas I learned from Jim McClarty’s 112 message series, but S. Lewis Johnson adds more detail and insights. Again I think of Spurgeon’s great quote about increasing our faith as I consider the wonders of our great God, who not only purposed our own salvation but has an even greater plan, to also save a future generation of Jews. As S. Lewis Johnson said, it is so inconsistent of Calvinists to think that their own salvation is elected from God, but that the Jews lost their promises based on their efforts–their behavior and apostasy. Such a view would be more consistent from an Arminian, but not from Calvinists who understand God’s Sovereignty in Election. If God could reject Israel because of their failure, what confidence have we to assume that He would not reject us based on our efforts?

June 2, 2009

Bible Reading, Day 77

Filed under: Bible Study,Horner Bible Reading Plan — Lynda O @ 9:16 am

I’ve now been doing a modified Horner Bible Reading Plan for over two months — Day 77 now. A few times I’ve done two readings per day, though mostly once a day. I’ve now completed four of the lists at least once, and about to complete a fifth list (List 3, finishing up Hebrews tomorrow). The actual day number becomes less important now, so long as I follow the bookmarks and sticky-notes to indicate which chapters are next. But except for the Psalm number I would long since have forgotten the day number; after 150 days of Psalms, I probably will forget the number, though my Excel calendar should help with that information–as to what I’m supposed to be reading each day.

Reading Exodus and Hebrews together (lists 2 and 3) has been a great blessing. One recent day, for example, after reading Exodus 24 (where Moses confirmed the covenant) in list 2, the very next chapter reading (Hebrews 9, list 3) contains a direct reference to that very event — Hebrews 9:19-21. Hebrews has so many references to the Mosaic system, and I can appreciate it more when I’ve been reading in Exodus at the same time.

Creation is a frequent theme in the various Bible readings, such as the day I read Exodus 20 (discussion of the 6 days of creation as a model for the Sabbath), Proverbs 8:23-29, and Acts 14:15. Or consider God’s Sovereignty in the readings of 1 Samuel 23:14 (“God did not give David into his [Saul’s] hands”) and 2 Chronicles 25:20 (“Amaziah, however, would not listen, for God so worked that he might hand them over to [Jehoash], because they sought the gods of Edom”) on day 72. Since I’m never far away (in terms of days) from reading of so many passages, I remember more references from recent readings. Acts 20:34-35 (day 76) reminded me of Paul’s similar thought in 2 Thessalonians 3:7-10 (day 73). From day 60, Proverbs 29:3 (“A man who loves wisdom brings joy to his father, but a companion of prostitutes squanders his wealth”) brings to mind the reading of Luke 15 (the Parable of the Prodigal Son) from the previous day.

My ongoing study of Revelation (listening to a John MacArthur sermon series, currently in Revelation 14) complements my frequent readings of the Old Testament prophetic books. Yesterday I read Ezekiel 9 (on my second list of prophets — Ezekiel plus minor prophets), and Ezekiel 9:4 sticks out in reference to a similar passage in Revelation 7:3. In both cases, angels put a mark on the foreheads of God’s servants, to seal and protect them from disaster coming on the ungodly.

These are just a sampling from my daily Bible readings. As the apostle John said, the whole world could not contain the books that could be written (about Jesus Christ)– so I’ll end here. The Horner Bible Reading plan is a great way to read and familiarize yourself with the Bible.

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