4/9/18

“As He Is In the Light” — Answering Continual Cleansing by Trevor Bowen

http://insearchoftruth.org/articles/answering_continual_cleansing.html

“As He Is In the Light” — Answering Continual Cleansing

A Desperate Alternative

Fundamental to Christianity is the holy march towards ever deeper spiritual purity (I John 3:1-3). Frequently, the Bible sets the standard at nothing short of perfection (I John 3:4-10; Matthew 5:48; I Peter 1:14-16). Yet, Christians often struggle with difficult, habitual sins, and always looming is the fear of what a Christian might not know. Cracks in one’s faith can be driven with questions, like: “Do you — or any of us — have perfect knowledge? Therefore, how do you know you are not sinning in ignorance? Do you — or any of us — have perfect control? Therefore, how do you know you will not be struck down in a moment of weakness, immediately after losing control?” Furthermore, hypothetical situations, like the following, may be presented to draw sympathy towards the proposed unreasonableness of God condemning a man for a single sin:
Imagine a godly man, the most spiritual man, who has preached for over 50 years and raised godly children. Even his devout grandchildren are a testament to his devotion! However, after living such a godly life, one day while walking to church to preach, a car drives by him and splashes mud all over his Sunday suit. Out of character, and without thinking, he curses. What if immediately a second car struck the man and killed him, before he had a chance to repent? Would God condemn such a man to hell for one little slip, after a lifetime of holiness? I think not!
Such reasoning and hypothetical examples highlight the discrepancy between what God commands and what we think is reasonable. To remedy the obvious fear and misery that many Christians might endure, the following alternative standard is offered:
I affirm that (a) continuous cleansing is an absolute necessity for the faithful Christian because he does sin and even may be unaware of some of his sins; (b) continuous cleansing for the faithful Christian is a genuine reality because God has promised that, through the blood of Jesus, we have full forgiveness as we walk in the light; (c) continuous cleansing for the faithful Christian is without any satisfactory alternative because if such is not so, then there is no hope at all for any of us. If the blood of Christ does not keep us cleansed (while we walk not after the flesh but unless we die with a prayer upon our lips we may indeed die lost, and every hour of every day and night would be a day and an hour of misery and fear. (Leslie Diestelkamp, Patton-Diestelkamp on Continuous Cleansing, p. 7)
Please notice that this doctrine, here called “continual cleansing” and “walking in the light” (taken from I John 1:7), is a doctrine of apparent necessity. It was invented to fill the gap and bridge the discrepancy between God’s commands and our general experience. Although the exact terms are unclear, continual cleansing offers immediate forgiveness of all sins committed in ignorance, weakness, presumption, etc., which are uncharacteristic with a man’s general walk, provided he is generally seeking purity, praying for forgiveness, and forgiving others. This doctrine has been advocated, because we are deemed “without any satisfactory alternative”, not because the unique attributes of this doctrine are necessarily advocated by Scripture. Therefore, if this proposed stop-gap solution is found inconsistent with Scripture, or if another alternative can be found — especially if the alternative is consistent with Scripture — then the doctrine of continual cleansing will have no reason or justification to continue as a possible theory.

A Flawed Proposal

The above proposed explanation, which is designed to comfort Christians struggling with sins of weakness and ignorance, exhibits the following flaws and inconsistencies with Scripture:
  1. Inconsistent with Context — In the context of I John 1:7, “walking in the light” is immediately defined and limited walking as He is in the light”. Furthermore, in this context He is attributed with the identity, “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” Therefore, every doctrine is fundamentally flawed that defines “walking in the light as He is in the light” differently from God’s abiding in light. Moreover, in the same context John identifies a people, who claim to fellowship God while practicing sin (I John 1:6) and another group, who claim that sin does not adhere to them (I John 1:8), all of which are condemned as self-deceived, liars, and those divorced from truth (I John 1:6-8). There is a bitter irony that a passage written to condemn automatic forgiveness and fellowship beyond confession and repentance is used by some as a proof-text that forgiveness may be obtained apart from repentance and confession!
  2. Unrealistic — The fear and paranoia produced by the above hypothetical situation ignores the fundamental characters of both God and a spiritual man. A mature, godly man will not behave as described in the above hypothetical. Such behavior is fundamentally inconsistent with his character. Will a truly, godly man, mature in all his ways curse God, when something unexpected occurs? Or, is he more likely to turn to God and seek His help, as did Stephen (Acts 7:57-60)? Furthermore, the above hypothetical assumes that God is either cruel and capricious or uninvolved. Are either true of the God we serve (II Peter 3:9)?
  3. Avoids Responsibility — If we do not yet have the knowledge or discipline required of Christians, then whose fault is it? Does God demand what is impossible of us? We are responsible and may be condemned for what we do not know of God’s Word, because it can be understood (II Peter 3:16; Ephesians 3:3-5; 5:17). When we make special allowances beyond God’s Word for sins of ignorance or weakness, we are ultimately abdicating responsibility for these transgressions, making them God’s fault. If God will not hold us responsible for these sins, then who is responsible?
  4. Kicking the Can — This proposal does not address the fundamental issue it proposes to resolve. How many sins must a person commit, before he is considered no longer “walking in the light”? If the limit is not 1 sin, is it 2, 3, 4 — how many? If it is not based on number, is it based on some measure of severity? If so, which ones are severe and not severe in God’s judgment? Maybe we have committed one of the severe ones and do not know it? Where is the list? Fundamentally, this proposal fails because it only pushes the line so as to make some folks some more comfortable. It ultimately must turn to faith, resting on God to be the ultimate judge. If such an approach cannot eliminate the need for faith that God will discipline and judge appropriately, then how does it answer the fear and misery that may come from not knowing?
  5. Self-Inconsistent — Beside being unable to answer the number or type of sins that are required to condemn a person and therefore provide some measure of insight and confidence, the doctrine of continual cleansing is not even self-consistent, which consistency is a requisite hallmark of truth (Titus 1:2). The doctrine seeks to save those who sin out of character with their previous choices, but what does it offer those who at the last repent near death, out of character with their past choices? Will it deny them salvation? If a man is measured by his general walk and uncharacteristic behavior is disregarded, then what comfort can be extended to those who seek forgiveness late in life? How can it offer them a self-consistent hope?
  6. Unique Hopelessness — Do Christians have a responsibility to evangelize, to perform benevolence, to edify? Have any of us managed to evangelize the whole world, aid all the needy, instruct all those in doubt, or encourage all the discouraged? Why is it that such grand tasks do not evoke the same sense of hopelessness, despair, and resignation that God’s lofty goal to be as holy as Him evokes? Will we eventually, similarly diminish the need for these tasks, since it appears impossible?
  7. Double Forgiveness — How should one react to learning of sins that he previously, unknowingly committed? Must he seek forgiveness for what has already been forgiven? Will God forgive the same sins twice? In the record, ancient saints had to seek forgiveness for “unintentional sins” and sins committed even in “integrity of heart” (Numbers 15:22-31; Genesis 20:1-7)? If it was already forgiven and forgotten, then what forgiveness is there to seek? What atonement is to be sought?

“Peace That Surpasses All Understanding”

Ultimately, any position that seeks to enumerate what God might do in every possible case is fundamentally flawed, because only God has that capability and authority:
Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another? (James 4:11-12)
Just as no Christian has the rights to move the boundaries to condemn another, neither does any Christian have the right to move the boundaries to justify someone. Only God has such right “to save and to destroy” (Romans 14:4, 7-8; James 4:11-12)! The continual cleansing theory — as does all grace-fellowship based approaches — ultimately fail, because they seek to work backwards from what they think God will do on Judgment Day and thereby diminish what God clearly demands of us now.
Let us ever keep moving forward, pressing on to higher ground, “judging nothing before the time” (Philippians 3:12-14; I Corinthians 4:3-5), and while keeping in mind these Scriptural facts about the God we joyfully serve:
  1. Patient, Forgiving God — God does not want anyone to be lost (II Peter 3:9). He is not a cruel or capricious God, looking to zap someone the moment they sin, trying to send as many people to hell as possible. In fact, quite the opposite is true. “Do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?”, (Romans 2:4). If time will indeed solve our problem, God has promised us that (II Peter 3:9). Let us be grateful that we have a patient, forgiving God.
  2. Involved God — More than once in history, God has providentially acted in people’s lives to bring them to salvation (Acts 8:26-29; 10:1-6; 16:8-10). Even once we have record of God somehow preventing an innocent man from engaging in sin to his own destruction, since he would have done so unknowingly and in integrity (Genesis 20:1-7). Do we doubt God’s ability or desire to do likewise today? Is the God of the Bible so far removed from men and their lives?
  3. Instructive God — Just as God wants us to be saved, He also wants us to know His will. We are taught to pray for wisdom from the One, “who gives to all liberally and without reproach” (James 1:2-8). His grace not only saves, but it also “teaches us” (Titus 2:11-14). He wants us to learn, grow, and overcome, so we would not be easily deceived (Ephesians 4:11-16; 6:10-18). He has promised to help us in the things we have yet to understand (Psalm 138:8; Philippians 3:15). Even if this refers to the revelation of the already revealed Word, is it not sufficient for its task (II Timothy 3:16-17; II Peter 3:16-19)? If He has already given His Son to save us, why would He deny us the knowledge necessary for us to act (Romans 8:32)?
  4. Pacifying God — God wants us to cast our cares upon Him (I Peter 5:7). There may be many things that we do not understand about God, His judgment, the future, and ourselves, but if we trust in Him — if we walk by faith — then through prayer, grace, hope, and faith, we can enjoy that “peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:5-7). Sooner or later, we must all give up whittling on God’s end of the stick. We might as well stop where God’s revelation stopped and enjoy peace and comfort where God defined it, instead of where it suits us (Deuteronomy 29:29; I Peter 4:11)
Finally, only God knows what He will do in every case. Only perfection itself would be qualified to even guess what God may do beyond what He has revealed. Therefore, if we are struggling with sins of weakness, let us not take comfort that God will overlook these sins, rather, let us redouble our zeal and not quit until we have overcome habitual sins. If we are fearful that we may be condemned by what we do not know, then let us delve into God’s faithful Word, which can be understood as God promised. Let us gather confidence from the tests that God provides for confidence in our personal salvation, and not invent theories to work around any failing of those tests. With faith in God, in His love, in His mercy, and in His patience, let us resolve to let God be our ultimate judge, always pressing on, never excusing any sin, and always “walking in the light as He is in the light.

Addendum

Job and his friends spent a great deal discussing Job’s tentative righteousness and integrity. However, notice God’s reaction to Job’s friends:
And so it was, after the LORD had spoken these words to Job, that the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has. Now therefore, take for yourselves seven bulls and seven rams, go to My servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and My servant Job shall pray for you. For I will accept him, lest I deal with you according to your folly; because you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has.” (Job 42:7-8)
Although Job and his friends thought they were talking about Job, they were truly reflecting upon God Himself, which He did not take lightly.
Many false doctrines and theories ultimately reduce to statements about God, which if they are false, then they likewise impugn and blaspheme Him, as did the false statements of Job’s friends.
Most false doctrines only blaspheme God in one way or another. Continual cleansing manages to blaspheme God in at least three ways at once, indicating a fundamental misunderstanding of God! If God fellowships those who continue in sin — even if the sins are unknown or difficult for the sinner — then His righteousness and holiness is blasphemed (I John 1:5-6). If God willfully permits a “good” man (as we see it) to be tragically killed and eternally condemned, when he would have repented in time, then God’s “goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering” are maligned (Romans 2:4; II Peter 3:9). If God inadvertently or unknowingly allows such a man to be condemned, then either His omniscience or omnipotence is called into question (Psalm 139). If God’s only recourse for our weakness and ignorance is to overlook it, then He fails to train, discipline, and perfect us, as He has promised making Him a liar and no kind of Father at all (Hebrews 12:5-14; I Thessalonians 5:23-24; I Peter 5:10; Matthew 7:7-11). Dear friends, our faith may waiver at times, and we may have questions, as did Job and his friends, but let us not transfer our weakness to God and speak of Him what is not right, as did Job’s friends. Let us trust in God, His promises, His love, and His power. Let us trust and obey Him!
Trevor Bowen
Sun, 19 Apr 2015 22:04:54 CDT

"THE EPISTLE TO THE COLOSSIANS" Spiritual Maturity In Christ (2:1-8) by Mark Copeland

                     "THE EPISTLE TO THE COLOSSIANS"

                  Spiritual Maturity In Christ (2:1-8)

INTRODUCTION

1. In Col 1:28-29, we saw that Paul's primary goal in his labors was to
   "present every man perfect in Christ Jesus."  That is, that they be
   "spiritually mature in Christ."

2. This being the case, we are not surprised to find Paul now writing to
   the Colossians of:
   a. His great concern for them - Col 2:1-3
   b. The reason for this concern - Col 2:4-5
   c. Some exhortations in light of his concern - Col 2:6-8

3. From these eight verses, there are a couple of things we can glean
   concerning the subject of "Spiritual Maturity In Christ"

[First, from verses 1-5 we can take note of several...]

I. INDICATIONS OF SPIRITUAL MATURITY (1-5)

   A. A DEEP CONCERN FOR OUR BRETHREN IN CHRIST (1)
      1. Remember that Paul is an example of spiritual maturity and thus
         worthy of our emulation - 1Co 11:1
      2. We see that he had a concern for his brethren (notice 2Co 11:
         28-29 also), even for those he personally had not seen!
      3. Epaphras likewise demonstrated this "mark" of maturity - Col 4:
         12-13
      4. Do we have such concern for our brethren?

   B. A HEART THAT IS ENCOURAGED (2)
      1. The KJV uses the word "comforted"
      2. It is the Will of God that we serve Him with hearts that are
         full of comfort and encouragement
         a. Such was the concern of Jesus - Lk 21:34; Jn 14:1,27
         b. Such was the frequent prayer of Paul - 2Th 2:16-17
      3. A "troubled, anxious heart" is not the mark of a mature
         Christian!
      4. Consider the example of Paul in facing impending death 
           - 2 Ti 4:6-8,17-18

   C. A HEART KNIT TOGETHER IN LOVE WITH OTHER CHRISTIANS (2)
      1. I.e., a love similar to that experienced by David and Jonathan 
         - 1 Sa 18:1
      2. The brethren at Colosse were well on their way in this regard 
         - Col 1:4
      3. How about us?  Are we developing hearts "knit together in
         love"?

   D. A FULL ASSURANCE OF UNDERSTANDING (2)
      1. Similar to having hearts that are encouraged, we need to have a
         strong assurance concerning ourselves and our salvation!
      2. Of course, this assurance comes as we increase our
         "understanding" concerning the basis of our salvation
      3. Indeed, the Word of God was so written to increase that
         understanding, and provide the assurance of our salvation 
         - 1Jn 5:13; 3:19; note also Ro 15:4
      4. As one matures in Christ, this "assurance" will increase, and
         it is indeed one of the "riches" we have in Christ!

   E. A KNOWLEDGE OF THE MYSTERY OF GOD (2)
      1. I.e., an understanding of the gospel, which once was hidden,
         but has now been revealed - cf. Ep 3:3-6; Ro 16:25-26
      2. Thus, a good knowledge of the gospel of Christ is essential to
         maturity in Christ
      3. Are we increasing in this knowledge?

   F. GOOD ORDER AND STEADFASTNESS OF FAITH (5)
      1. The word "order"...
         a. From taxis {tax'-is}, a military term, suggestive of men
            marching in proper order and precision, as in a drilling
            exercise
         b. This suggests that a mature Christian is one whose walk as a
            disciple is in proper line with what is expected
      2. The word "steadfastness" is a word which goes right along with
         this idea of marching in a straight line
      3. What is our "life of faith" like?
         a. Are we progressing in order, steadfast in our progress?
         b. Or are we wavering constantly?

[These are but a few indications of spiritual maturity.  If they are 
found in our lives, it is a good sign that progress is being made!

From verses 6-8, we can also learn of some...]

II. STEPS TO SPIRITUAL MATURITY (6-8)

   A. RECEIVE CHRIST AS "LORD" (6)
      1. This the Colossians had done
      2. Today, many seem to want Jesus just as a "Savior," but not as
         "Lord"
      3. That is, they profess to want Him as "their personal Savior,"
         but then do not obey Him in what He commands them
      4. Yet God has made Him both! - cf. Ac 2:36
      5. Until we enthrone Christ as Lord in our lives, we cannot hope
         to become "perfect" (complete, mature) in Christ
      6. Again, Paul provides a good example - e.g., Ga 2:20

   B. WALK IN CHRIST (6-7)
      1. Having received Christ as Lord, we must now "walk" (or live)
         in Him
      2. Verse 7 explains what it means to "walk in Christ"
         a. "rooted" - Christ must be the FOUNDATION and SOURCE OF
            NUTRITION in our lives (like tree depends upon its roots)
         b. "built up in Him" - allowing ourselves to become the kind of
            building He would have us to be
         c. "established in the faith" - well taught and grounded in the
            teachings of Christ, and living by them
         d. "abounding in it with thanksgiving" - ever overflowing with
            an attitude of gratitude

   C. BEWARE... (8)
      1. To grow spiritually, we must beware of dangers which would
         hinder our spiritual growth
      2. Otherwise, in our zeal to grow we can easily be misled by false
         doctrines which promise an easy route to spiritual maturity,
         but do not deliver on that promise!
      3. Thus the need for "negative preaching" as the occasion may call
         for it

CONCLUSION

1. Our next lesson will look at some of those false doctrines those at
   Colosse were facing which promised much, but gave nothing of true
   value

2. For the moment, let's close by asking two questions:
   a. Why should we even be concerned with growing in spiritual maturity
      in Christ?
      1) Because in Him "are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and
         knowledge" - Col 2:3
      2) Because He has warned of what will occur if we do not mature
         and "bear fruit" - Jn 15:1-2
   b. How does one initially receive Christ as Lord?
      1) By doing what He says, i.e., the Father's will - Lk 6:46; Mt 7:21
      2) This includes the command to repent and be baptized, for in so
         doing one receives the remission of sins as they also "put on
         Christ" (i.e., "receive Christ") - Ac 2:36-38; Ga 3:26-27

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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Will There be an "Antichrist"? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=1209

Will There be an "Antichrist"?

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

The long history of failed attempts to identify the so-called “Antichrist” would be humorous if it were not so tragic. Candidates for this personage have included Nero, Napoleon, Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Kruschev, and Saddam Hussein. The “mark of the beast” that the Antichrist allegedly causes people to receive has been associated with social security numbers, UPC barcodes, WWW—the World Wide Web, and even the IRS (a much more tempting postulation, to be sure). These endless shenanigans could be avoided if the Bible were taken seriously and impure motives were replaced by an honest pursuit of truth.
As a matter of fact, the term “antichrist” occurs only five times in Scripture, only in the writing of John, and only in two of his five books: 1 John 2:18,22; 4:3; 2 John 7. The implications are significant. Dispensationalists do not go to 1 and 2 John when they discuss the Antichrist. They go to Revelation, or 2 Thessalonians, or Daniel. They go to passages that do not even use the word Antichrist!
Contrary to current claims, John applied the term “antichrist” to more than one individual, and to individuals who were living then—in the first century! For example, 1 John 2:18 states that numerous antichrists had arisen in John’s day, and he therefore contended that “it is the last hour” (i.e., the final period of religious history commonly referred to as “the last days,” as in Acts 2:16-17). He then described their behavior as “not of God” (1 John 4:3). “Antichrists” were simply anyone who denied Christ (1 John 2:22). John, therefore, labeled any such deluded soul as “the deceiver” and “the antichrist” (2 John 7). Notice the use of the article. John was saying that people living in his own day who denied the incarnation of Jesus were to be regarded as the antichrist! Not just an antichrist—but the antichrist! The idea that the term “antichrist” is to be applied to some “future fuehrer” (Lindsey, 1970, pp. 87ff.) who will draw the world into a global holocaust is totally out of harmony with John’s inspired use of the term.
The primary passage that is used to support the notion of an antichrist is Revelation 13:1-10. Several points regarding the context of the book of Revelation and its proper interpretation lead to the understanding that the seven-headed sea beast was a symbol for the then monstrous emperor of Rome who was responsible for unleashing horrible atrocities upon Christians of Asia Minor in the latter years of the first century A.D. (Summers, 1951, pp. 174-175; Swete, 1911, pp. 161ff.). The two-horned land beast (Revelation 13:11-18), who enforced worship of the sea beast, referred to the official governmental organization known as the Roman Concilia that was responsible for supporting and regulating all details relative to emperor worship (Summers, pp. 178-179; Swete, pp. 168ff.). This evil legal entity was authorized to instigate economic sanctions against those who refused to appropriate the “mark” of the beast, “mark” being a symbol for the proof of their submission to Caesar worship (vs. 17). With this understanding of Revelation 13, it is unscriptural and unbiblical to identify the sea beast in Revelation 13 with some future revived Roman dictator known as the “Antichrist.”
A second passage that some say predicts an Antichrist is Daniel 9:24-27. Notice carefully the content of this marvelous prophecy. During the prophetic period that Daniel identified in terms of seventy symbolic weeks (vs. 24), transgression, sin, and iniquity would be “finished,” “ended,” and “reconciliation provided for.” This terminology clearly refers to Christ’s sacrifice upon the cross (Hebrews 9:26). The effect of Christ’s atoning work was that “everlasting righteousness” was ushered in. As Paul stated: “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21; cf. Jeremiah 23:5-6). Because of what Jesus did, individuals may now stand before God completely righteous through obedient faith. Likewise, “vision” and “prophecy” would be “sealed up.” This refers to the inevitable termination of Old Testament prophecy and its fulfillment in Christ’s appearance in human history: “Yes, and all the prophets from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days” (Acts 3:24; Hebrews 1:1-2). Finally, the phrase in Daniel 9:24 that speaks of the “anointing” of the “most holy” refers to the public ministry and official crowning of Jesus as He took His place upon His throne to rule in His kingdom. Isaiah said: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor” (61:1). On the day of Pentecost, Peter said: “Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God” (Acts 2:33). Notice that Daniel summarized the entire seventy-week period by including all of these six factors in the seventy weeks.
Next, Daniel broke the seventy-week period into three segments: seven weeks, sixty-two weeks, and one week. Verse 25 pertains to the first two sections of the seventy-week period. During these two periods, that is during sixty-nine of the seventy prophetic weeks, a decree would go forth calling for the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the reconstruction of the temple that had been destroyed by the Babylonians (cf. Nehemiah 2:7-8; Ezra 1:1-3). Daniel made clear that these sixty-nine weeks of the prophetic period, during which the temple would be rebuilt and national Israel reestablished, would take one up to the appearance of the Messiah.
Verse 26 speaks of the final week of the seventy week prophetic period, for he said “after the sixty-two weeks.” “After” puts one into the final or seventieth week of Daniel’s remarks. Two significant events were to occur during this final week. First, the Messiah would be “cut off.” This definitely refers to Jesus’ death upon the cross: “He was cut off from the land of the living” (Isaiah 53:8). Second, a “prince” and his people would come and destroy the city and the sanctuary—an obvious allusion to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple edifice in A.D. 70 by Titus and his Roman army.
Verse 27 alludes to the activation of the new covenant between the Messiah and “many,” that is, between Christ and those who are responsive to the demands of the new covenant. As the Hebrews writer said: “Behold the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah” (8:8; cf. Acts 3:25). The New Testament teaches that the cutting off of the Messiah, the crucifixion, was the act that confirmed the covenant (Matthew 26:28; Hebrews 9:15-29), and brought an immediate end to the validity of the Old Testament practices of sacrifice and oblation (Colossians 2:14; Luke 23:45; Hebrews 10:18-20). Then Daniel alluded to the ruthless invasion of Jerusalem in the phrase “abomination of desolation.” Jesus quoted this phrase in Matthew 24:15 and Luke 21:20, and applied it to the Roman desecration and destruction of the Jerusalem temple in A.D. 70.
Thus, the fundamental purpose of Daniel’s seventy-weeks prophecy was to show God’s final and complete decree concerning the Israelite commonwealth. All of the events described in the prophecy were literally fulfilled over 1,900 years ago. As far as God is concerned, the logical end of the Old Testament and Judaism has occurred. Now He deals only with the spiritual children of Abraham, whether Jew or Gentile (Romans 4:11-12,16; 9:8). Daniel 9 gives no credence to the notion of a future Antichrist.
A third passage used to foster belief in an Antichrist is 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12. Whatever interpretation is placed upon this passage, its use to refer to a future personage is doomed to failure since Paul explicitly stated that he was referring to a person who would be the product of the circumstances of his own day, i.e., “already at work” (vs. 7). How could Paul have had in mind a future dictator that still has not arisen, though 2,000 years have transpired? One need go no further to know that 2 Thessalonians 2 does not refer to a future Antichrist.
History is replete with a variety of interpretations of this passage, the most prominent one likely being the view that the papacy is under consideration (see Workman, 1988, pp. 428-434; Eadie, 1877, pp. 340ff.). Another possibility is that the “falling away” (vs. 3), or apostasy, referred to the Jewish rejection of the “new and living way” of approach to God (Hebrews 10:20). The Jews were the single most adamant opponents to Christ and the infant church (John 8:37-44; Acts 7:51-53; 13:45-50; Romans 10:20-21; 11:7; 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16). This rebellion, or falling away, would not reach its “full” (Matthew 23:32) climax until the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, and the resulting dispersal of the Jewish people. Paul had already alluded to this Jewish apostasy in 1 Thessalonians 2:15-16. The pouring out of God’s wrath was the logical consequence of the first century Israelite failure to make the change to Christianity.
The “man of sin” or “son of perdition” (vs. 3) would have referred to the personification of Roman imperialism, and would have been equated with “the abomination of desolation” that Jesus, quoting Daniel 9, alluded to in Matthew 24:15 and Luke 21:20. Verse 4 would refer to the Roman general who introduced his idolatrous insignia into the Holy of Holies in A.D. 70.
That which was “withholding” (vs. 6), or restraining, this man of sin, at the time Paul was writing 2 Thessalonians in approximately A.D. 53, would have been the presence of the Jewish state. The ingenious design of God was that Christianity would appear to the hostile Roman government to be nothing more than another sect of the Jews. Thus Christianity was shielded for the moment (i.e., A.D. 30-70) from the fury of the persecuting forces of Rome, while it developed, spread, and gave the Jews ample opportunity to be incorporated into the elect remnant—the church of Christ (cf. Romans 11:26). Thus the nation of Israel was rendered totally without excuse in its rejection of Christianity, while at the same time serving as a restraining force by preventing Christianity from being perceived by the Romans as a separate, and therefore illegal, religion (religio illicita). Once the Jewish apostasy was complete, and God’s wrath was poured out upon Jerusalem, Christianity came to be seen as a distinct religion from Judaism. Increasingly, Christians found themselves brought into conflict with the persecution from “the wicked” or “lawless one” (vs. 8). In fact, after A.D. 70 (when the withholding effect of Judaism was removed), Roman opposition to Christianity gradually grew greater, culminating in the fierce and formidable persecution imposed by Caesar Domitian in the final decade of the first century.
Once the shield of Judaism was “taken out of the way” (vs. 7), and Christianity increasingly found itself subject to the indignities of governmental disfavor, the Lord was to come and “consume with the breath of His mouth” (vs. 8) the one who was responsible. This terminology is not an allusion to Christ’s Second Coming. Rather this verse refers to Christ’s coming in judgment on the Roman power. Such a use of the word “coming” to describe the display of God’s wrath upon people in history is not unusual (cf. Isaiah 19:1; Micah 1:3). Paul alluded to the government’s use of counterfeit miracles (vs. 9), and thus deceit (vs. 10)—reminiscent of the Roman Concilia’s employment of trickery and illusion to deceive people into worshipping the emperor in Revelation 13:13-15 during the last decade of the first century A.D. (see Barclay, 1960, 2:127-128; Hailey, 1979, pp. 294-295; Summers, 1951, pp. 178-179). Sufficient textual indicators exist in this passage to exclude the premillennial interpretation of a future “Antichrist.”
When studied in context, the passages that are used to bolster the dispensational scheme provide no such support. Those over the centuries who have applied these passages to papal authority, Napoleon, Mussolini, Hitler, Saddam Hussein, et al., have been shown to be wrong. Amazingly, the pattern continues among those who have not learned from the sad mistakes of the past.

REFERENCES

Barclay, William (1960), The Revelation of John (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster).
Eadie, John (1877), Commentary on the Epistles to the Thessalonians (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1979 reprint).
Hailey, Homer (1979), Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Summers, Ray (1951), Worthy Is the Lamb (Nashville, TN: Broadman).
Swete, Henry (1911), Commentary on Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1977 reprint).
Workman, Gary (1988), Studies in 1 and 2 Thessalonians and Philemon (Denton, TX: Valid Publications).

Children and the Rod of Correction by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=7&article=1255

Children and the Rod of Correction

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

American civilization has undergone tremendous social shifting in the last fifty years in virtually every facet of its culture. This transformation is evident, for example, in the area of the family and parental discipline. From the beginning of this nation, most Americans have believed in the value of corporal punishment. This discipline has included spanking the child using a variety of instruments, including a “switch,” paddle, razor strap, yardstick, belt, or hand. The last generation to have experienced this approach to parenting on a wide scale was the World War II generation. Due to the adverse influence of social liberals and alleged “specialists” in human behavior and child psychology, the thinking of many Americans has now been transformed to the extent that corporal punishment has come to be viewed as “child abuse”—even by the judiciary.
Make no mistake: genuine child abuse is taking place every day in America. Some parents are burning, torturing, and even killing their children. However, the abuse of a good thing is no argument against its legitimate and judicious use. Extreme behavior often elicits an extreme reaction. We must not “throw out the baby with the bathwater.” Regardless of the superficial appeal of the arguments that are marshaled against spanking, those who recognize that the Bible is the inspired Word of God are more concerned with biblical insight regarding the matter. Does the Bible advocate or sanction the spanking of children?

THE BIBLE’S VIEWPOINT

Several verses refer explicitly to the use of corporal punishment in the rearing of children. The longstanding quip, “Spare the rod and spoil the child,” is undoubtedly a paraphrase of Solomon’s words: “He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly” (Proverbs 13:24). This motif is repeated throughout Proverbs. For example, Solomon asserted “foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction will drive it far from him” (22:15). This one statement is packed with meaning that merits deep and prolonged meditation and analysis. Most modern adolescent psychologists have not even begun to plumb its depths, let alone agree with it.
Lest someone get the idea that Solomon used the term “rod” figuratively, without intending to leave the impression that parents should actually strike their children with a rod, he clarified the target: “Do not withhold correction from a child, for if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with a rod, and deliver his soul from hell” (23:13-14). A proper balance is obviously needed between verbal reproof/encouragement on the one hand, and the application of corporal punishment on the other, as seen in the following words: “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother. Correct your son, and he will give you rest; yes, he will give delight to your soul” (29:15,17, emp. added). The immense importance of the interplay between positive instruction, encouragement, and nurturing, in conjunction with appropriate physical punishment, cannot be overestimated nor successfully discounted.

MEANING OF “ROD”

But what did Solomon mean by “rod”? The Old Testament uses primarily three Hebrew words to refer to a wooden stick:
Maqqel refers to a tree branch that has been transformed into a riding crop (Numbers 22:27), a shepherd’s staff (1 Samuel 17:40—which Goliath called a “stave” or “stick”—vs. 43), or a weapon of war (Ezekiel 39:9—“javelin” in the NKJV). It is also used as a symbol of dominion (e.g., Jeremiah 48:17—where it occurs in synonymous parallelism with matteh), and in its natural state as a branch of a poplar, chestnut, or almond tree (Genesis 30:37; Jeremiah 1:11) [see Harris, et al., 1980, 1:524; Botterweck, et al., 1997, 8:548-550].
Matteh occurs 252 times and is used to refer to a branch, stick, stem, rod, shaft, staff, and most often a tribe (some 180 times). It can refer to a stick used to beat out cumin/grain (Isaiah 28:27), a soldier’s spear (1 Samuel 14:27), as well as the shaft of an arrow (Habakkuk 3:9,14) [Botterweck, et al., 8:241; Gesenius, 1847, pp. 466-467].
Shevet, the word used in Proverbs, refers to a staff, stick, rod, scepter, and tribe. Gesenius defined it as “a staff, stick, rod” and then showed how it is translated differently in accordance with the use to which it was put, whether for beating, striking, chastening (Isaiah 10:5,15), a shepherd’s crook (Leviticus 27:32; Psalm 34:4), a king’s scepter (Genesis 49:10; Amos 1:5,8), a tribe (Judges 20:2), a measuring rod, or a spear (2 Samuel 18:14) [p. 801; cf. Harris, et al., 2:897].
Matteh and shevet are used together in Ezekiel 19:10-14 to refer to fresh tree branches. They are used in synonymous parallelism in Isaiah 28:27 as a stick used to beat out cumin/grain: “But the black cumin is beaten out with a stick (matteh), and the cumin with a rod (shevet).” They are unquestionably synonyms. If any distinction can be made between them, it is that matteh is not used to refer to a scepter (see Harris, et al., 2:897; although Gesenius, pp. 466-467). However, both are used to refer to a stick or rod. In fact, shevet is specifically referred to as a rod used for beating a human being: “And if a man beats his servant or his maidservant with a rod…” (Exodus 21:20). As Isaacs noted: “The Heb[rew] shebhet is the ordinary word for rod or club” (1959, 4:2702; cf. McClintock and Strong, 1880, 9:57-58,401).
In addition to the verses in Proverbs that refer specifically to spanking a child, several additional verses verify that literal striking of the body with a wooden stick is envisioned. For example, “Wisdom is found on the lips of him who has understanding, but a rod is for the back of him who is devoid of understanding” (Proverbs 10:13). “A whip for the horse, a bridle for the donkey, and a rod for the fool’s back” (Proverbs 26:3). Obviously, the “rod” is as literal as the “whip” and “bridle.” The Psalmist declared: “Then I will visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes” (Psalm 89:32). Though speaking figuratively, the Psalmist aligned “rod” with “stripes.” In passages where the term “rod” is used figuratively, the figurative use presupposes the literal meaning (e.g., Job 9:34; 21:9; Isaiah 10:24; 11:4; 14:29; 30:31; Lamentations 3:1; Micah 5:1).

CONCLUSIONS

In light of the linguistic data, the following conclusions are warranted:
First, the three terms are essentially synonyms with no real distinction to be discerned between them. They are as generic, ambiguous, and flexible as their English counterparts. As Orr stated: “Little distinction can be drawn between the Heb[rew] words used for ‘rod’ and ‘staff ’ ” (1959, 4:2596; also Funderburk, 1976, 5:132). The commonality that exists between them is the fact that they all refer to a stick/limb, i.e., a branch from a tree. In antiquity, scepters, spears, arrows, rods, staffs/staves were all made out of wood, i.e., tree branches (cf. Ezekiel 19:11). Hence, the distinction between them was one of purpose/function—not source. It follows that size, i.e., thickness and length, would likewise have varied. The Hebrew words themselves possess no inherent indication regarding size.
Second, the principle of spanking is clearly taught in Proverbs. This is beyond dispute. Since God would not approve of child abuse (cf. Colossians 3:21), it follows that whatever instrument is used for spanking, whether switch, yardstick, paddle, belt, razor strap, etc., should get the job done without inflicting inappropriate or unnecessary damage to the child’s body. The “switch” has much to commend it, and certainly coincides with the biblical texts on the subject. But good sense and personal judgment must be exercised in determining its size.
In his comments on the Hebrew word for “rod,” Hebrew scholar and Professor of Old Testament at Regents College, Bruce Waltke noted: “The rod was also used as an instrument for either remedial or penal punishment. …In Prov[erbs] it is the symbol of discipline, and failure to use the preventive discipline of verbal rebuke and the corrective discipline of physical punishment will end in the child’s death” (Harris, et al., 1980, 2:897, emp. added). The author of the apocryphal book, Ecclesiasticus, observed: “He who loves his son will whip him often, in order that he may rejoice at the way he turns out” (May and Metzger, 1965, p. 166).
Writing over one hundred years ago, professor W.F. Adeney offered a surprisingly current observation that has much to commend it:
The primitive rigour of the Book of Proverbs is repudiated by modern manners. Not only in domestic training, but even in criminal law, people reject the old harsh methods, and endeavor to substitute milder means of correction. No doubt there was much that was more than rough, even brutal, in the discipline of our forefathers. The relation between father and child was too often lacking in sympathy through the undue exercise of parental authority, and society generally was hardened rather than purged by pitiless forms of punishment. But now the question is whether we are not erring towards the opposite extreme in showing more tenderness to the criminal than to his victim, and failing to let our children feel the need of some painful discipline. We idolize comfort, and we are in danger of thinking pain to be worse than sin. It may be well, therefore, to consider some of the disadvantages of neglecting the old-fashioned methods of chastisement (1950, 9:258-259).

REFERENCES

Adeney, W.F. (1950 reprint), The Pulpit Commentary—Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, ed. Spence, H.D.M. and J.S. Exell (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Botterweck, G. Johannes, Helmer Ringgren, and Heinz-Josef Fabry, eds. (1997), Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Funderburk, G.B. (1976), “Rod,” The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, ed. Merrill Tenney (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan), 5:132-133.
Gesenius, William (1847), Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker), 1979 reprint.
Harris, R. Laird, Gleason Archer, Jr. and Bruce Waltke, eds. (1980), Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago, IL: Moody).
Isaacs, Nathan (1956), “Sceptre,” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. James Orr (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), 4:2701-2702.
May, Herbert and Bruce Metzger (1965), The Oxford Annotated Bible With the Apocrypha (New York, NY: Oxford University Press).
McClintock, John and James Strong (1880), Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1970 reprint).
Orr, James (1959), “Rod,” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. James Orr (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), 4:2596.

Acts 20 Paul’s Example by Ben Fronczek

http://granvillenychurchofchrist.org/?p=123

Acts 20 Paul’s Example

Paul’s Example  –   Acts 20:17-38
Have you ever thought about if you had one last thing to say or share with this church what would it be?
In our story from Acts 20, Paul is on his way back home from his third missionary journey. And the sad reality was, he knew that he would never see those people again this side of heaven. I just imagine just how he felt knowing that they would probably never see him again.
Some of us have had to deal with those feeling at one time or another in our life. Read this story in  Acts 20:17-38
I think Paul shared some important things with these people in this text before he said goodbye.   Yes he was sad about having to have to say goodbye, but I also think he left them with something to chew on and think about even after he left.
Here Paul talked about his own ministry while with them.
I can’t help but think that since he knew that this was the last time that he would ever speak to them he probably chose his words very carefully.  Actually, I think he left them with a great example to follow.
The question I have for you is, do you have what it takes to follow his example?
Today I would like to briefly look at what he told them, his example, and maybe look at what he said that we can apply to ourselves as we try to walk this Christian walk.
Re-read 20:17-19     ” 17 From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church. 18 When they arrived, he said to them: “You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia. 19 I served the Lord with great humility and with tears and in the midst of severe testing by the plots of my Jewish opponents. 20 You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house.”                                                                             
#1) The first thing he mentions concerning how he lived among them is how
he served the Lord with great humility.
The Greek word used here denotes the idea of having a humble opinion of one’s self, a deep sense of one’s own moral littleness, a sense of modesty and lowliness of mind.
Paul did not come into Ephesus like some kind of big shot preacher. He was gentle and meek, without a high and mighty or puffed up attitude.
Later when Paul wrote to the Ephesians in Chapter 4:2-3 he wrote, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love, make every effort to keep the bond of unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace,”
Question, are you bearing with one another in love? Are you putting with those brothers and sister in Christ that got you upset or angry?  Are you making every effort to keep the peace which is a bond ordained by the Spirit of God? Are you perusing peace? Or are you letting Satan get a foot-hold in your heart by holding on to that anger and frustration with others?  If you are, you just have to let it go. Turn it all over to Jesus.
You might be thinking, “Easier said than done.”
Did you ever think, ‘Maybe you just don’t want to let it go.’ You might be thinking, ‘But I was right and they were wrong. Who were they do or say that to ME?’
I’m not saying that it was right for them to hurt you, but you need to let those feeling go before Satan uses those feeling to destroy you. And believe me, ‘That’s just what he wants to do.’  He is playing with you and your feeling.  And just smiling all the way as you play into his hands.
Paul had a lot to be angry and frustrated about, especially how he was treated, but he seem to just let it go and give it over to Jesus. You need to do that as well or you’re never going to find peace.
Paul learned how to become a humble and gentle man, and so should we. Ultimately, this will show and demonstrates our trust in Jesus.
#2) The second thing he mentions is the fact that he not only served the Lord with
humility, but also with tears.
 As I read this I couldn’t not help but think about the passion this man had as he served the Lord.  We know that Paul was a very passionate when it came to serving our Lord and the church.
Verse 31 says, “be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.”
When he saw people fall in love with Jesus, change their lives, and give themselves to the Lord I’m sure it touched his heart. And I’m sure when he saw people ignoring, and ‘poo pooing’ the message of the cross and how people turned away, it probably really bothered him.  It especially got him upset when Christians began to turn away from Jesus, the church, and the truth of the Gospel to a lie. (Like in Galatians)
Paul took message of the Cross and his service to Christ to heart. He was passionate about it. What about you?
Is Sunday morning the only time you think about Jesus, the church and how lost so many people without Jesus?  The less compassionate you are, the less your mind will be focus on these things, and the harder you’re going to become. You are not going to want to treat one another with love or even make an effort to keep the bond of peace intact. You’re going to be less patient with people and start thinking they’re all jerks.
Paul was no wimp. He endured beatings like none of us can imagine and probably did not shed a tear.. Yet when it came to this stuff, his heart melted and tears flowed.
#3. The next things that Paul goes on to mention in the text is in verse 20. He said, “You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. 21 I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.”
Because of his love, because of his passion, Paul couldn’t help but speak about Jesus when and wherever he could. Yes he was an Apostle, yes he was commissioned by Jesus to bring the Good New to the Gentiles, but no one could forced him to have such a loving and passionate spirit like he had, with a willingness to always go the 2nd mile for Jesus.
It probably really bothered him when he didn’t speak up knowing full well that those people would die without Jesus and probably go to eternal damnation. Sometimes I think we push that truth aside…
#4. Paul also goes on to remind them of one more thing in verses 33-35 concerning how he acted when he worked with them.  “I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. 34 You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. 35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak.”
When it came to serving the Lord and the brethren, I don’t think there was a greedy selfish bone in Paul’s body.  It says a lot about his motives.
I have known some who because they couldn’t find work decided to go to preacher school because they knew that someone or some church would support them while they were in school and then after they graduated had nothing to do with the church. I know some preachers who go through churches like stepping stones  to make more money as they go on to bigger and bigger churches.  I’ve heard of members who sell insurance, or have other businesses who switch churches for business reasons so that they can network with  new people with each change.
That’s not why Paul went from place to place preaching. Paul did it because He loved our Lord and wanted to get the Good News out and so he would have done anything to serve him, including die.
Read verses 22-24 “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. 23 I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. 24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. “  
So we read here that even though the Holy Spirit let him know of the hardship that was ahead,  it didn’t matter, he had to finish the course set out before him.
In another place Paul later wrote while in prison, “For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
So how could he do what he did? How could he live like that?                                            –  We read here that he was sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. As a matter of fact he said that he was compelled by the Spirit in vs. 22.
–  Some of you have asked me, “How do I know if I doing what God wants me to do?” Or how do I know if God want me to do something?”
–  I think if God wants you to do something His Spirit will let you know. You will be compelled. The Spirit’s has a way of prompting us. Maybe it will be this uncanny urge, gut feeling like you should do something. I think if God wants you do something you’ll know it. An this will not conflict with what He tells us to do in His word.
–   We also read here that Paul adopted a humble, compassionate, non-greedy attitude as he went about serving. These are all personal choices we make. We choose to be humble. We choose not to be greedy. We choose  to serve in the name of Jesus. And we also allow ourselves to be sensitive and compassionate.
The questions is can you do that?  I know that you can. Some of you are doing these things already. Are any of us perfect? No. But we need to keep being reminded that this way of life is something we should strive for. It will give us the most peace, and will help us to be a better servant.
In Verse 36-37 we read that  “When Paul had finished speaking, he knelt down with all of them and prayed.  (After that)  They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him. 38 What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again. “
I can’t help but believe that if you follow Paul’s example of humility, love, compassions that will touch the heart of people like Paul did.
I Pray that his example will inspire you and move you to examine yourself, and your motives and enable you to say, “I want to be like that.”
Prayer  & Invitation

Fight To Win The Good Fight of Faith by Alfred Shannon Jr.


https://biblicalproof.wordpress.com/2011/03/page/3/

Fight To Win The Good Fight of Faith

A prize fighter can’t be a champion, until he first qualifies according to all the rules, and regulations of the governing bodies. It doesn’t matter how much he trains, or how many fights he wins, he will never be declared a world champion, until he qualifies lawfully. How much more we, no matter how many good deeds we do, we will never be declared a Christian until we obey the gospel of Christ. If we are going to take the time to fight the good fight of faith, let us fight lawfully, and qualify for our crown of life.
2 Tim 2:5; 2 Tim 4:7,8; 1 Cor 9:24-27; Jam 1:12

KING JESUS & CAMELOT by Jim McGuiggan

https://jimmcguiggan.wordpress.com/2017/02/


KING JESUS & CAMELOT

Tennyson tells us that King Arthur established the order of the Round Table. A table without a head or foot, where all were equal in their commitment to justice for all and might was for right. His dream drew knights from all over England and Europe and the effects of it were felt all over the land so that women could walk out in the evening alone without worry, doors were left unlocked,  the roads were cleared of robbers and tyrants were overthrown.
But just when things were flourishing, the greatest knight of them all, Lancelot, set his eye on the king’s wife, Guinevere and she on him. The wickedness became known and Lancelot rode away only to return when he heard that the knights had demanded that Guinevere be tried for treason. She was tried and condemned to death but Lancelot came and rescued her and carried her off to France where she entered a convent. The knights and Arthur raged and for a while there was nothing but inflamed pride and vengeance in their hearts and so they sailed to France, to make war against Lancelot and his forces.
Arthur is broken-hearted and dispirited. The dream had failed, the purpose had died. The great sin of Guinevere and Lancelot had also exposed the underlying sin of all of them when violence, vengeance and bitterness reigned and offended pride had proved stronger than brotherhood and forgiveness.
In the musical adaptation the king is putting on his armor in the dawn of the day of battle when he hears a rustling in the bush; it was a boy about twelve who had stowed away on one of the ships—to kill the enemy and be a knight, he said. Arthur wanted to know why he would want to be part of an extinct fellowship. Had he ever met a knight, was his father a knight or had his mother been rescued by a knight? The answer to all these questions was no, so what did he know of knights? Only the stories he had heard, the boy said, and when the king asked him what stories, he spoke of justice for all, the round table and might used in the service of right. As the boy spoke the astonished king was mouthing the words with him.
Stories! The story of the dream had kept the dream alive. The stories of righteousness and justice for all kept the vision alive in the heart of a boy who’d never even seen a knight. The deeply depressed and weary king gained new heart and energy and knights the boy Sir Tom of Warwick with a commission to go home and grow old telling the story of the meaning of Camelot. Part of his instruction was this:
Every evening from December to December
Before you fall asleep upon your cot
Think back on all the tales that you remember
Of Camelot.
Ask everyone if he has heard the story
And tell it loud and clear if he has not
Don’t let it be forgot
That once there was a spot
For one bright shining moment
That was known as Camelot.
At that moment an aide comes to remind the king that they have a battle to fight and win but the king, all smiles and optimism, assures his companion that their victory already stands before them in the heart of a boy who cherishes the story and what it means; a boy who will tell it everywhere he goes. What happens at the approaching battle is now irrelevant.
The massive truth on which all great fiction is built is that God’s great purpose for the human family was and is accomplished in and through Jesus Christ and that it is God’s wisdom by the foolishness of a preached message—a Story—to redeem the world (1 Corinthians 1:21). The victory has already been won and in the person and work of Jesus Christ. The Church’s mission is to learn and love and be shaped by that message about God’s dream and purpose that cannot finally be thwarted and keep that Story alive in each new generation.
Truths associated with the Gospel must be taken seriously, congregational structures must be taken seriously so that assemblies (God meant them to exist!) can function as assemblies that are how the living Lord Jesus is made concrete and visible in societies (these are Jesus Christ making Himself present in congregational form—Romans 16:16). But undergirding all these and others, the foundation on which all these and more are built are the breathtaking truths about God, His incarnation in and as Jesus of Nazareth as He has come to redeem and bring a new humanity to glory—a glory He eternally purposed. These are central to the Gospel of God (Romans 1.1 and elsewhere) People are not brought to salvation in Jesus Christ by a correct understanding of the “qualifications” of deacons or anything of that order, though we must pay attention to these things.
In ultimate truth, the world isn’t saved by science or philosophy or political reform or a correct understanding of all the ways believers are to respond to God however needful these are and no matter how true it is that these are instruments of God at His pleasure. The human family is saved and all things in heaven and on earth are reconciled to God and find their ultimate state of blessing in Him about whom the Story is told.
And the victory over the world is gained in the name of Jesus Christ through those who cherish the Story and will not let it be forgot (1 John 5:4-5).
Preachers and teachers and the entire church of God (the “fullness of Christ”) have a commission and a destiny—to tell and live out the Story about GOD and consequently about us!
(Holy Father, draw us to believe that the war against the Enemy has truly been won. Win us to believe, even if we don’t understand very well, that the telling of that Truth is the way you have chosen to save this world. Convict our schools, preachers and teachers that to know you and your Holy Son is eternal life. Fill our pulpits and classrooms with those who do more than pursue truths here and there but who are rich in and fervent to teach nothing other that Jesus Christ, crucified and raised. Give us teachers who glory in nothing but the cross and what it means in light of the One who slew the world there. Get them to give us something to tell! Fill and thrill your People with that cosmic good news, for the poor oppressed world’s sake, for our own sake that we might leave here and come to you not unhappy servants, and for your own dear sake who merits all our happy admiration and worship. This prayer in His name.)

Who is the Antichrist? by Roy Davison

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Who is the Antichrist?

Through the centuries thousands of different individuals have been designated as 'the antichrist'. In each generation we are confronted with sensationalists who label some contemporary as 'the antichrist'.
Is the antichrist one specific person or a class of people portrayed as one person?
The word 'antichrist' appears five times in Scripture: twice in 1 John 2:18, and also in 1 John 2:22; 4:3 and 2 John 7. The prefix 'anti' means 'against'. The word refers to someone who is against Christ, the opponent of Christ or the opposite of Christ.
The identity of the antichrist is described in these and related passages.
"Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour" (1 John 2:18).
Although this is the first time that the word 'antichrist' appears in the New Testament, readers are expected to be familiar with the concept. They knew he would coming.
Jesus had warned: "Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many" (Matthew 24:4, 5); "Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold" (Matthew 24:11, 12); "For false christs and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders, so as to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand" (Matthew 24:24,25); "Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am He,' and, 'The time has drawn near.' Therefore do not go after them" (Luke 21:8).
We are warned about "false christs and false prophets" and Jesus says their coming will be accompanied by lawlessness.
Peter gave a similar warning: "But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words" (2 Peter 2:1-3).
From these warnings of Christ and Peter, which were written down many years earlier than John's letters, Christians knew there would be an apostasy. There would be many false teachers and many would follow them. Lawlessness would be prevalent among those who claimed to be Christians!
In 1 John 2:18 we also notice that John was able to draw a conclusion: "Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour."
This prevalence of false teachers was proof that the last hour had come.
We can better understand John's conclusion by comparing this statement (written about 90 AD) with what Paul wrote some 40 years earlier. In his letter to the Thessalonians in about 53 AD he says: "Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12).
In 53 AD there were certain predictions that still had to be fulfilled before the return of Christ. The "falling away" had to occur and "the man of sin" would be revealed, the "son of perdition, who opposes." Paul speaks of the "mystery of lawlessness". Christ had foretold that lawlessness would abound (Matthew 24:12). Paul also calls this "man of sin" the "lawless one" and alludes to a Messianic prophesy in Isaiah 11:4. Some at Thessalonica thought Christ was returning immediately. Paul explains that a large-scale apostasy among Christians would occur first.
Forty years later, when John wrote, the situation had changed. John's readers knew about the prophecy of an apostasy (Matthew 24:4,5,11,23-26; Mark 13:6,21- 23; Luke 21:8; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12). In the meantime, this prophecy had been fulfilled: the antichrist had come (1 John 2:18; 4:3; 2 John 7), apostasy had occurred (1 John 2:19), and Christ could come at any moment. It was the last hour.
Since then, Christ can come any time. Whoever denies this is a false teacher.
John continues: "Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son" (1 John 2:22). One can deny with his mouth, but also through false doctrines and unauthorized practices, as indicated in 2 John 9: "Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son."
John also mentions the spirit of the antichrist. "By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world" (1 John 4:2, 3). Notice the movement from the plural to the singular. Every spirit who does not confess Christ, is the spirit of antichrist. In other words, the antichrist spirit represents all spirits who are against Christ.
We find the same movement from plural to singular in 2 John 7. "For many deceivers are gone forth into the world, even they that confess not that Jesus Christ cometh in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist" (ASV). Some translators change "the" to "a" in this last sentence. In the original Greek text, however, it is literally, word for word: "This is the deceiver and the antichrist." In other words, the many deceivers are the deceiver and the antichrist.
Who is the antichrist? According to John, "the antichrist" represents the many false christs and false prophets whom Jesus said would arise and deceive many. The antichrist stands for all the false teachers in the world, people who are opponents of Christ or who put themselves in the place of Christ.
Let us beware of the antichrist spirit, the spirit of lawlessness, the spirit that contradicts the word of God.
Roy Davison
The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982,
Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers unless indicated otherwise.
Permission for reference use has been granted.
Published in The Old Paths Archive
(http://www.oldpaths.com)