Dr. Michael Vlach has an exciting and very informative newer blog HERE. I’ve found his articles on the New Testament use of the Old Testament very informative.

This graphic shows some of the points of error in some peoples’ eschatology/ecclesiology. Notice that the Church is called “the New Israel”, and that some of the promises of Israel are said to be inherited by the Church. 

Also note that the division of the ages into This Age and The Age to Come. Look closely at where the author placed The Church. Under the Age to Come, thereby inferring that we are now in the ‘Millennial Kingdom” as per an Amillennial scheme. 

While the Church is a new people, it is not called the “New Israel” in The Bible-ever. This is a supercessionist interpretation of Paul’s teaching.

Mac hits below the belt with this ad-but you get the point.

John MacArthur has a sermon from 1989 on “The Ministries of the Holy Spirit”. In it he cogently summarizes the decline of the true biblical sanctification in the teaching of the evangelical church. Here’s an excerpt on one of the reasons for this phenomenon:

The second contributing factor to the decline of interest in sanctification by the Spirit is what we call pragmatism. In a very highly defined sophisticated complex culture like our own where we are the victims of so much data and so many theories and so many viewpoints and so many solutions and so many programs and seminars and operations and systems, we tend to look in the pragmatic realm at the natural level rather than the supernatural level for the matter of sanctification.

The transcript of the sermon can be found HERE.

One of the things to be wary of is the use of psychology in the counselling ministry of the pastorate. Many pastors will tell you that they practice “biblical counselling”, but what they’re doing is using an unholy admixture of humanistic psychology and biblical principles.

While this system may produce some results, and some change in the subjects, we need to remember that not all change is sanctification.

If we’re to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, The Word of Truth is the only basis for true change.

 

Romans 9, 10 & 11 are the Apostle Paul’s discourse on the meaning of Israel’s national election, current rejection of Christ, and future salvation in the economy of God. 

Romans 11 explains how God has not rejected Israel as a nation in unbelief. There Paul asks in verse 1:”God has not rejected Israel, has he?“.The form of the question in Greek assumes a negative answer, and then Paul strongly denies that God has rejected Israel as an obstinate people in their sins. Impossible. ‘May it never be” is the sense of the Greek term “me genoito”.  Paul is really emphasizing the utter denial of such a rejection.

And the rejection in view is one of final casting away. God is to have supposedly finished with Israel as a nation because of unbelief in Christ. And instead, God has turned to the Gentiles, who have accepted the Gospel and are the majority of the church. But this phenomenon is a false interpetation by the Gentiles of what is happening to Israel. It would seem that the newly “ingrafted” members of God’s household from the Gentiles need a short lesson in Biblical history and how God works.

Paul begins by pointing to himself as evidence of the faithfulness of God to Israel as a people. “For I also am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin”.

 Important to note here is what Paul is not actually saying. He is not saying that his belief as a Jewish Christian in the church is proof that God is saving the elect of Israel. It is tautalogical to assert that God has not rejected the elect.

 What Paul is answering is the question of national casting away forever of the Jewish people. And since Paul identifies with the currently set aside nation of Israel in three ways (nationality/DNA/tribe) he is clearly saying that God is keeping and saving Israelites such as those of Benjamin, and they are Abraham’s children. In other words, not every Jewish person is in unbelief, and so God is still dealing with Jews as Jews. They as Jews must still inherit the promises of God as stated in his unconditional covenants. God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew. This is not just the elect. It is the nation as an adopted and called out people. God foreknew Israel distinct from other nations.

Going back to the book of Kings,(1 Kings 19:10,14) Paul draws from an example of former Israelite apostasy, and how God even then had graciously saved a remnant of Israelites. To reject Israel, God would have to reject all Jews, and clearly He has not done that.  Instead he has sovereignly kept a remnant that is chosen by grace.

The issue is God’s sovereign choice. Jews as Jews are chosen. That chocie is irrevocable. And God’s grace is freely given, Israel did not earn it. But Israel at the present as a nation has failed to obtain the righteouness of God, because it sought it by works of the Law. And grace and works are mutually exclusive as the basis for salvation.

For the LORD will not reject his people; he will never forsake his inheritance.Psalm 94:14

This is what the LORD says: “Only if the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth below be searched out will I reject all the descendants of Israel because of all they have done,” declares the LORD. Jeremiah 31:37

TO reject Israel is to foresake Israel. And God will not do that ever. So how do we understand the present situation of the Jewish nation? Why have they so adamantly put the Gospel away from themselves? It’s because of a sovereign, judicial hardening of Israel by God Himself! It’s God who gave them a “spirit of stupor”, “eyes that cannot see and ears that cannot hear”.

 It’s this spiritual obstinancy that has caused enmity to the Gospel, and the occasion of preaching towards the Gentiles, that God is saving in the present age. Israel is set aside temporarily, and in unbelief only partially. The Gentiles will come to a  “fullness” one day. And God will yet again turn to accomplish a national salvation for His people whom he foreknew above other nations.  All Israel will be saved.

What does this mean? Not every Jew without exception. But the final generation of the Jewish people as a nation, and as distinct from the Church. They will be placed back into the “place of blessing” where they naturally belong. Then they will dwell in the Spirit, and have the law written internally, and live safely in their land.

So then, when you see a Jewish person today who has not yet beleived in the Gospel, remember that Paul explains their enmity as purposeful-the occasion for Gentile inclusion. There is a note of hope in the midst of hardness and blindness.

This truth should cause Gentiles to be humble, and thankful, and actually provoke Jews to jealousy as they see Gentiles enjoying  Patriarchal spiritual blessings from their own root. Romans 11:24. What it should not do, is cause us to reject Israel and to make the church the “New Israel” in it’s place.That is what Paul is getting at. And if you miss this point, you miss all of Paul’s argument in Romans 9-11.

Japan’s recent earthquake and tsunami double disaster has brought up the usual rhetoric of “end time” scenarios. Editors like to call such phenomena,”Apocalyptic“. Sources like The Sun or The Mirror  jars our senses with such headlines. Let’s face it: Japan’s nuclear emergency is disastrous. Already there is high-level radiation in the air, and the threat of “Chernobyl-like” meltdown.

The situation has caused much talk amongst ordinary people. We who are so far removed from the problem still sense a foreboding disaster could reach us. Here in Ontario we felt the tremors of a small earthquake in Quebec on Wednesday afternoon. Then reports of a small leak in a Pickering, Ontario nuclear facility didn’t calm fears any.(It was “negligible”). Nevertheless, I encountered discussions with friends about the future in light of these disasters.

The question centered on a scenario of “what if”. What if the nuclear plants in Japan leak radiation and destroy the planet? What if we out planet becomes so overpopulated that we can’t survive as a race? From the global perspective to the eschatological speculations, what is happening raises other fears, and causes people to think through their future and their mortality.

What’s interesting in these questions is that there’s a sort of “naturalistic inevitability” built into the assumptions. The idea is that life will always go on as is, with natural cycles of climatic change, and population growth.  In this naturalistic thinking, the earth will end in some disastrous way, a nuclear war, a huge asteroid hit, pandemic disease, etc. What ‘s happening in Japan, at least for these people, somehow portends our human fate-in a naturalistic apocalypse-a final devastation like the “end of the world” of Biblical proportions.

As I entered the dialogue, I thought about the true “end of the world”. While I’m captivated and heartbroken by the devastation in Japan, I know that it’s not the Biblical “Apocalypse”. Such comparisons are well meant-by the biblically ingnorant- but the Apocalypse of Jesus Christ includes the outpouring of the wrath of God on the inhabitants of the Earth. It’s a unparalleled time of cataclysm and misery and darkness, which make the present tsunami a picnic at the park by comparison. I know that the world won’t cease to exist or die in a “heat death” as our atheistic experts in astrophysics like to theorize.  I know all this because God has spoken already, with finality, and with purpose about the end-and it’s not the end of the world, but the end of the AGE. It will be followed by an incumbant age of peace and new order of things under God’s appointed King. People have told themselves a lot of lies to justify what is happening in the world. They’ve multiplied “gospels” to fulfill their need for certainty in chaos. But the root of the global problem is sin-human sin. It’s the result of the curse-and the One who spoke it because of sin, also reverses it by His Word. People need the only true Gospel now. They need a biblical worldview to make sense of it all, and find their stability in a crazy world.

Japan’s current situation may get worse. But before Japan there was New Orleans, and there were disasters in Indonesia, and New Zealand. They have come and gone. Tragedies occurred in all of them, but so did triumphs. The world is “groaning” in earthquakes and volcanoes, and killer storms and tsunamis. We haven’t seen the last of them-but the “end” is not yet.

What always seems to come out of these things is this: People ask about God. They talk about Him, and think about life in relation to Him. For Christians, Japan is a time for dialogue with others who are seeking hope in disaster as well as showing our practical love and concern for our neighbours. We should not panic with others. We know what the Bible says about the end of days, and we, in our canon of truth possess the real “Apocalypse”-the true meaning of which is to unveil or reveal something, in this case God’s plan for His people and his Glory in the Lamb of God, and King of Kings.

By the way…I ended up explaining sin, righteousness and the judgement to come to my friends…and telling them that Jesus Christ came to earth in order to deal with sin so that people could live forever in a newly renovated Earth. (See also Revelation 21-22).

Regeneration precedes faith in the Elect. 1 John 5:1 uses the perfect tense for “has been born of God” . This is the completed past action, which results in ongoing faith (present participle). Hence, it is not faith that gave rise to the new birth by the Spirit, but the Spirit gave the new birth which resulted in faith, and continues to produce faith in the Christian.