Replacement Theology

covenantchart

Those of you who receive the email version of Messiah Gate were, I pray, blessed by the article, Yom Kippur — An Untold Story, which posted at Joel C. Rosenberg’s WordPress blog.

The top line on the chart above depicts the false accusation against Reformed (Replacement) Theology while the second line depicts the accurate representation of what is also known as Covenant (or Supersessionist) Theology. The ‘church’ has not replaced Israel (as in the first line), but has become a new body (in Christ) of believing Jews and Gentiles whose hearts are turned towards God and not, metaphorically speaking, Sodom.

On the evening of Yom Kippur I was watching Pastor Jack Hibbs on His Channel Live. Pastor Hibbs hosted an Israeli author, and the discussion centered on the Dispensational role of Israel in these end times. “Pastor Jack” began the conversation by deriding Replacement Theology as demonic. — that God has not fulfilled His promises [Abrahamic and Davidic covenants] to Israel.

Then I read a piece by Issac W. Oliver (Assistant Professor in Religious Studies, Bradley University) that raised my eyebrows:

Draining Jesus of his Jewishness reached its unfortunate peak with the rise of Nazism when Jesus was even cast by some as an Aryan! However, ever since the end of World War II, the Jewishness of Jesus has been gradually resurfacing. “Blame” for the Christian distancing from Jewish practice has shifted instead to Paul, the apostle of the Gentiles. Traditionally, Paul has been viewed as an “apostate” from Judaism who founded a new religion, Christianity. [1]

Earlier, I read an author who cited quotations from Hitler that the Nazi solution (Holocaust) was imagined from the writings of Martin Luther. What all of these similarly themed articles espouse is that the Pauline epistles were the seed of anti-Semitism. Frankly, that is not the case. Haman, 2400 years before Hitler, tried to exterminate all of the Jewish people living in Persia. No, anti-Semitism has existed since the Book of Genesis.

Aspersions are cast upon Paul from many quarters. A ‘Christian’ woman called a radio program (The Narrow Path) and irately denigrated Paul whom she believed was homophobic. “Why don’t Christians leave gay people alone?,” she asked. When the host (Steve Gregg) quoted Paul’s list of those (including homosexuals) who will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10), the woman hemmed and hawed before exclaiming. “Well, I don’t believe that!” 

The impugning of Paul has disturbed me for some time, but after many hours of study it has become all so clear to me. There are essentially three groups of people who seek to disparage Paul: Judaizers who want to restore legalism, liberals who don’t want to repent or be judged, and atheists who seek to discredit the authority and validity of Scripture.

Dispensationalists fall into a subset of Judaizers who foresee the restoration of the earthly kingdom with all of its inclusive trappings: legalism, temple worship and blood sacrifices. The evangelical ‘church’ has been bedazzled by this false doctrine for the past 175 years.

Steve Gregg has just posted a YouTube video on Replacement Theology countering the false assertions of Jack Hibbs and Mark Hitchcock. To call one side demonic because it upholds historic Christianity is unnecessarily divisive and void of brotherly love.

Reminder: Videos do not appear on the email version of this post. Click on video link, or visit Messiah Gate to view. The video is rather long (2 hours), but this particular issue causes the greatest eschatological divide in the ‘church’ today. It stands Catholics and orthodox Protestants in rancorous disagreement with fundamental evangelicals. Hopefully, this video will help you to understand the issue with more clarity, and might be useful in a group Bible study. 

Be blessed. Jesus Christ is Lord! 

Notes:

His Channel is a production of Calvary Chapel, founded by Chuck Smith. The network teaches a Dispensational brand of Christianty. Messiah Gate links to the website with a caution to watch with discernment. Calvary Chapel faithfully teaches the essentials of Christian doctrine for which they are to be commended.

1. Do Christians Have to Keep the Torah?, Isaac W. Oliver, article, May 2015.

Video credit: Biblegate

Copyright © 2015 Messiah Gate

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A Thousand Years

amillennial

There is an old adage: Don’t know if you are Pre, Mid or Post? Then you must be Catholic.

The chart that you see above is what the church believed from Augustine to Calvin, and for 200 years after the Reformation. The Amillennial timeline is church doctrine that has been upheld by Catholics and orthodox Protestants — excluding fundamental evangelicals — for over 2,000 years.

Augustine, who is recognized as the most brilliant theologian after the Apostle Paul, validated the earlier writings of Origen that the Bible uniformly teaches Amillennialsim. Subsequently, the Roman church decided it was not safe to teach Premillennialsim.

What we are talking about is a method of interpretation called hermeneutics. How do you read and understand the Bible? 

Let’s break it down. If we read the Book of Revelation with a literal (or linear) filter it is hard not to see that John is speaking of a visible, earthly Millennial reign of Christ. The Bible, however, is written as poetry, history and prophesy. The Rabbin, in the manner of the Pharisees, would read the Jewish scriptures with a strictly literal interpretation. That is one reason why the Jews rejected Christ because they were looking for a Messiah who would literally restore the kingdom, and physically sit on the throne of David.

The literal (linear) method of interpretation is recommended when studying the legal and historical books of the Old Testament. This method, however, does not work when we try to understand the poetic and prophetic books including Revelation. The Apocalypse was written as a progressive parallel of the church age sandwiched between the two Advents of Christ which is depicted as the Millennial reign — Jesus is reigning even now. He is both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36).

Premillinnialism presumes that the church will be raptured prior to Christ’s return after which our Lord will reign for a literal 1,000 years upon the earth.

Because neither Jesus nor the Apostles taught this, the church (for 1800 years) interpreted a thousand years to be symbolic of the completeness, or fulfillment of time. This would be in keeping with the Jewish tradition of attaching symbolic relevance to numeric prophesy. The prophetic books are allegoric, metaphoric, symbolic and figurative — not to be understood in a linear way.

endisnear

This is what happened in the 19th century. The literal church expected Christ to return in AD 1000. He didn’t. By the 1800’s there was a great falling away as people lost faith in the fundamentalists preachers who stood on street corners holding signs that read, The End is Near.

This gave rise to varied cult-like groups such as the Millerites, Russellites and Jehovah’s Witnessess who were deeply engaged in date-setting the imminent return of Christ. People would sell all of their assets in anticipation of the long-awaited day of the Lord. When Christ still didn’t return it was suggested that He came spiritually.

Jesus told John that the Revelation must soon take place for the end is near (Revelation 1:1-2). The end was near for 1800 years, and the church was going through a mid-life crisis. This was not a problem for the orthodoxy who rested upon the words of Peter:

Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation’ (2 Peter 3:3-4).

But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up (2 Peter 3:8-10).

The literal church will use this passage to support their Millennial interpretation. It cannot be done. This is the eisegesis (imposed meaning) that Dispensationalists apply to Scripture in order to make their theology. as they often say, fit the prophetic timeline. Orthodoxy, on the other hand, applies exegesis to determine the contextual meaning of Scripture. What Peter does confirm are the words of Christ that there will be an appointed last day when this age will end. The day of the Lord has been postponed for over 2,000 years even as we patiently await His glorious return.

Enter John Nelson Darby of the Plymouth Brethren. Darby was the father of modern-day Dispensationalism. In the early part of the 19th century he devised a system of literal interpretation that is known also as Rapture Theology. It revived the long-dormant belief in Premillennialism with an emphasis on the rapture and a carnal fulfillment of the Millennial kingdom.

Darbyism, as we have noted before, was codified in the Scofield Reference Bible (1909) which became the training tool of the Dallas Theological Seminary. Alumni of DTS include David Jeremiah, Hal Lindsey, Chuck Swindoll, Charles Ryrie, and J. Vernon McGee (who was an orthodox, Amillennial Presbyterian until he went through the DTS program.)

When Lindsey made his 1970 prediction of Christ’s return by 1988 he said, “If I’m wrong, I guess I’ll be a bum.” Why is this man still preaching and teaching? This is what Dispensationalism has wrought, but no more so than the pastor of a mega-church in San Antonio, John Hagee.

Hagee’s brand of Christianity is Dispensationalism on steroids. Israel, by this standard, has always been the prophetic center of God’s plan of redemption. The church is just a footnote to be removed so that God can fulfill His promises to Abraham in an earthly, carnal kingdom. This was a false doctrine of the early church that was emphatically denounced on two accounts:

Jesus said, My kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36) — it was spiritual, not physical; and Paul declared that the promises of God were made to Abraham and his seed who is Christ (Galatians 3:16). John, and Origen, condemned the chiliastic view of an earthly kingdom since Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of all that God had promised to Israel and Abraham.

Hagee believes in a two-fold plan of redemption — Jesus for the Gentiles, Moses for the Jews. In his own words:

The Jewish people have a relationship to God through the law of God as given through Moses. I believe that every Gentile person can only come to God through the cross of Christ. I believe that every Jewish person who lives in the light of the Torah, which is the word of God, has a relationship with God and will come to redemption. The law of Moses is sufficient enough to bring a person into the knowledge of God until God gives him a greater revelation. And God has not … I’m not trying to convert the Jewish people to the Christian faith … (it) is a waste of time … The Jewish person who has his roots in Judaism is not going to convert to Christianity. There is no form of Christian evangelism that has failed so miserably as evangelizing the Jewish people. They have a faith structure. (Everyone else) needs to believe in Jesus, but not Jews. Jews already have a covenant with God that has never been replaced by Christianity. [1]

Hagee’s brand of Dispensationalism is called Christian Zionism. It virulently derides Historic Christianity (pejoratively branded Replacement Theology) as anti-Semitic; the evil force behind the Crusades, Inquisition and Holocaust. 

In his book, In Defense of Israel, Hagee claims that Christ did not come to be the Jewish Messiah (p. 137). This is counter to everything taught in Scripture, but to be expected from a man who thinks like a Pharisee — linear, literal and lawful.

If the Jews knew what awaited them in the carnal kingdom to come — two-thirds of them will be killed — then they might reconsider their rejection of Messiah. No, the eternal kingdom has always been viewed by the Orthodoxy as the new heaven and new earth as described in Revelation 21. The Millennial age — where a day is like a thousand years — precedes the Second Advent of Christ. “Oh,” say the Dispy’s, “you’re spiritualizing the text.” Well, yes. And so did Jesus, Matthew, Peter, James and John who were all Jewish by the way.

Let me explain the millennium another way. Suppose I ask a woman to marry me and she says, “No! Not in a thousand years.” If I take her literally all I have to do is wait, and in 3016 she’ll say “yes”? If a thousand years is like a day then her answer tomorrow would still be “no”. It’s a figure of speech, and we do well to understand the Bible in the context of Jewish idioms and symbolism.

None of this matters if you are not right with God in Christ Jesus. We must have a discerning spirit to expose deception and false doctrine

Notes:

1. Julia Duin, San Antonio Fundamentalist Battles Anti-Semitism, The Houston Chronicle, 30 April 1988.

Copyright © 2015 Messiah Gate

Revelation: An Historic View

revelation

The LORD awakens me every day with a song on my lips and a message in my heart. I pray, also, the courage to be faithful to His word.

At last night’s mid-week Bible study, the teacher made a comment — which I hear typically — that all of the Book of Revelation after chapters 3 or 4 is about the return of the Jews to Israel and the restoration of the kingdom.

This interpretation is heard all day on Christian radio and television. The ‘church’ will be raptured — after all, the church-age was only a detour from God’s original plan — and Jesus will return to reign for a thousand years on the earthly throne of David in fulfillment of  God’s promise to Israel.

The prophets of old did not foresee the church-age — they only saw the coming of Messiah. When Israel rejected Him, the LORD had to revise His plan of redemption. The ‘church’ became an interim solution — a stepchild, if you will — to make the chosen people jealous (Romans 11:11).

Jealous? The Inquisition and Holocaust generated horrific fear — not jealousy.

This interpretation suggests that the LORD did not foresee Israel’s rejection of the Anointed One so He had to scramble and devise a two-stage plan of redemption that included the Gentiles. No, the rejection and crucifixion of Messiah was unmistakably foretold by Isaiah, Micah and Zechariah. (Click on EMET tab for additional study.)

The church-age was not an afterthought.

Bible teachers who present this interpretation are typically pre-millennial with a Dispensational slant. They believe that the Book of Revelation was written towards the end of the first century, 96 A.D. Why is this important?

The dating of the Apocalypse (John’s vision) is critical to our understanding of Bible prophesy. I believe that the Revelation was written in the 60’s A.D. as a warning to the ‘church’ about the impending destruction of Jerusalem.

That singular event was cataclysmic as it brought an end to the age of Judaism, and was a fulfillment of Christ’s prophetic judgement against the nation Israel.

I listen daily to well-known pastors who lift scripture from the Old Testament to validate their interpretation of Revelation. For example, they will cite Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel — wherein the prophet speaks of a return from exile — as evidence that the LORD will fulfill his covenant with Abraham. We have previously cited Joshua 21:43 as literal proof-text that God’s land promise to Israel (through Abraham) was fulfilled 3500 years ago.

A very beloved pastor (who goes through the Bible) cited a passage from Amos as evidence that God will still fulfill His promise to Abram which the pastor sees as yet unfulfilled:

“In that day I will raise up the fallen booth of David, and wall up its breaches; I will also raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old” (Amos 9:11).

Amos was a prophet from the southern kingdom of Judah who was sent, by the LORD, to warn the northern kingdom, Israel, of their imminent judgement. The Book was written circa 766 B.C. (Samaria fell to the Assyrians within a generation; and Judah fell to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, 134 years later.)

Amos concluded his prophesy on a hopeful promise of restoration which was fulfilled by the decree of Cyrus to return all captive exiles to their homeland.

We need to have a clear understanding that the pre-exilic prophets — when speaking of a return from exile — were prophesying of the return from Assyrian/Babylonian captivity as so ordered by Cyrus, king of Persia (Isaiah 44:28).

I am a Covenant (Reformed) Theologian. It is Historic Christianity which is derided as Replacement Theology — precursor of the Holocaust — say pre-millennial Dispensationalists who are literal to a fault except for passages which don’t align with their eschatology (such as that cited in Joshua).

We — that is, Reformers — are accused of spiritualizing scripture. That is, to say, we take Old Testament prophesy and apply it to the ‘church’.

However, the whole of New Testament canon is spiritualized — from the Gospels to Revelation. That’s why the Jewish people reject it!

Take, for example, our passage from Amos. Though it was written to Israel almost 2800 years ago, James quotes it in Acts 15:16 as having been fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

This is the manner of New Testament writers to quote from the Old Testament and conclude, this was to fulfill what was written by the prophets. And it is in agreement with our Lord’s claim that He came to fulfill the Law and Prophets (Matthew 5:17).

One more example before we leave this thread. In Romans 9:25, Paul quotes from Hosea 2:23 a prophesy that was spoken to the northern kingdom (Israel) about thirty years prior to the Assyrian conquest:

As indeed he says in Hosea, “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’”

James, Paul and Peter (1 Peter 2:10) apply these passages to the Gentiles not as an allusion, but fulfillment of Bible prophesy.

If you have time, please study Revelation 12. It carefully summarizes the history of the ‘church’, and will help you understand its meaning.

The woman (Israel) was with child (v.1). The Serpent comes to devour the child (v.4). The woman gives birth to a man-child who will rule the nations, and be caught up to God and His throne (v.5). Michael and his angels are at war with the dragon who was cast out of heaven, and thrown down to the earth (v.7-9) — a fulfillment of Christ’s prophesy:

I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven (Luke 10:18).

The brethren overcome the Devil by the blood of the Lamb (v. 11). The dragon persecutes the woman who flees into the wilderness (as did the remnant who survived 70 A.D.), and the chapter concludes with Satan, so enraged with the woman, that he goes to make war with her children (the ‘church’) who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus (v. 14-17).

Keep in mind that Revelation (and the Bible’s Apocalyptic books) were written with allegory, metaphor and symbolism. A great way to witness to a Jewish neighbor is to give them a copy of Revelation. They will see ‘Daniel’ throughout the book and, hopefully, the Messiah as well. 

The date of Revelation, once again, will color your understanding of its prophetic message. The most widely cited reference in favor of the late-date is a quote from Irenaeus — a disciple of Polycarp who was a disciple of John, the book’s author. Irenaeus suggests that John (or the vision) was seen during the reign of Domitianou. This has been understood more recently to be a reference to Emperor Domitian who reigned in the 90’s A.D. However, for 1800 years the ‘church’ believed this to be a reference to Domitious Nero, the Emperor who presided over a brutal persecution of the ‘church’ in the late-60’s A.D. — leading up to the prophetic destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the age.

Church tradition teaches that Paul was tortured and beheaded by Nero in 67 A.D., and John’s cryptic reference to the Beast (Revelation 13:18) was understood to be Emperor Nero. For John to mention Nero by name would have meant instant death.

Incidentally, Paul wrote to seven churches during his ministry as John (in Revelation) addressed the seven churches in Asia (Revelation 1:4). The Muratorian Canon documents that Paul wrote to seven churches in the like manner of John:

… the blessed Apostle Paul, following the rule of his predecessor John, writes to no more than seven churches by name … John too, indeed, in the Apocalypse, although he writes to only seven churches, yet addresses all.

If Paul died in 67 A.D. then the early-date of Revelation, without further debate, must be understood within the context of the time in which it was written as a warning to the ‘church’ of great tribulation. Indeed, as Josephus recorded, no city in the history of the world had suffered the catastrophic destruction that befell Jerusalem in 70 A.D.

Prophesy of Christ fulfilled (Matthew 24:21).

With regards to great tribulation we do not preclude the loosing of Satan and his war against the saints.

Copyright © 2015 Messiah Gate