An Examination of Biblical Precepts Involved in Issues at Hand
Romans 13 - To Obey Or Not To Obey
2. The Freedom Movement
4. Prophecy (Book Reviews: "The Parousia" and "The Beast of Revelation.")
5. End Time -- What is the Preterist view?
6. Righteous Writing (Christian Research, Writing and Publication course)
|Obedience, Romans 13|
While editing Christ or Caesar, I felt the following short section from that book would be worth bringing to your attention.
There are many differing opinions among Christians about when and how to resist civil authority; those opinions range from, "All civil authority is corrupt, so ignore it all," to "All civil authority is from God, so we must be subject to its every whim." Then both extremes use the same passage of Scripture, Romans 13:1-5,
Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. 5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
But which is right? All civil authority is corrupt, so ignore it all, or þAll civil authority is from God, so we must be subject to its every whimþ? Maybe the following can provide some light into this dark corner.
Since first hearing the comment, I have used it many times: "A TEXT WITHOUT A CONTEXT IS A PRETEXT." Hence, it appears that many sincere people are willing to stake their lives on TEXTS that are PRETEXTS, for the way most people commonly use the TEXT, Romans 13:1-5, will not hold up to its CONTEXT.
Therefore, apart from its context, Romans 13 can be made to say whatever the speaker desires it to say: "All civil authority is corrupt, so ignore it all," or "All civil authority is from God, so we must be subject to its every whim." Maybe we should say, the speaker can make the text say whatever will attract the larger crowd and/or the most money from those to whom he desires to appeal.
Let us examine a few texts from both the Old Testament and New Testament context of Romans 13:1-5. First, we will examine Romans 13's New Testament context with a few New Testament points before we go back to its Old Testament context.
The New Testament Context
First: It is important to note that Romans 13 is placed after Romans 12, a point we do not hear much from either side of the Rom 13 issue. Romans 12 exhorted every Christian to present his body as a living sacrifice and to not be conformed to this world, vv. 1, 2. There are several methods which the world uses to get us to conform to its image: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, the pride of life, as well as civil laws to force conformity. Man is always trying to make himself and others after his own image rather than God's, and he uses laws to obtain his goal. Paul, in Romans 12:2, clearly tells us we are to resist anything, civil laws included, used by the world to conform us to its image. God's law shows us how to conform to the image of Christ, which alone is pleasing to God. The two sets of laws, God's and man's, will conflict regularly, each trying to conform us to an image. Romans 12:1-2 makes the decision for us which to obey.
Moreover, when confronting many Christians over the issue of proper authority, many who flee to Romans 13 (Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers) to justify submission beyond the requirements of God's Word (because they do not want any problems with civil authority) blatantly violate v. 8 (Owe no man any thing, but to love one another -- prohibits debt). They justify debt by saying they are "doing God's work. In reality, however, they are doing the lender's work as they struggle to keep that lender in business, Pro 22:7. Is it not amazing how we can be so dogmatic on a passage right to a point we want to avoid?
Furthermore, those who use Paul's writings to justify antinomianism avoid vv. 9-14 where Paul clearly tells us that the Mosaic Law is still operative for believers (and all mankind, for that matter). Then on the other end of the spectrum, we have those who claim to love the Law of the Lord - saying it is still in effect today - and preach against antinomianism, yet they borrow huge sums of money to build new edifices in the name of the Lord contrary to the very law they claim to love and uphold, Romans 13:8.
One should be suspicious when people will live and die by what they want to believe a passage teaches, e.g., Rom 13:1-7, yet completely ignore a precept included in the same passage, e.g., vv. 8-14. If one refuses to face the truth in one passage, are they facing the truth in the other passage? Obviously, they are using Scriptures to defend the city they have built upon the sand. What has happened to a consistent study of the scriptures? Not only is inconsistency astounding, but it has God's wrath against it. (Does not the Lord then give us religious and civil leaders after our own heart, who will say one thing to obtain their heart's desire and then do another?)
Human nature will holler loud and fight long to support a Scripture that might justify personal beliefs, but it will remain strangely silent over Scriptures within the very same passage that go contrary to what the natural man desires.
Second: The church at Rome, as did all the early Christian churches, contained a large percentage of Hebrews, Jews. The Jewish hope of that time was for the Messiah to establish His physical kingdom upon David's literal throne in Jerusalem, Acts 1:6. Thus the vast portion of New Testament books, e.g., Galatians and Hebrews, deal extensively with the Hebrew influence upon the early Christian church. Therefore, we can assume that one of the purposes of Romans 13 was to counter that "Zionist" influence upon the early church which sought to establish a physical Kingdom of God with a literal sword. Rather than placing the individual Christian over the state, Romans 13 placed him under the state. However, the church was not placed under the state, for it must always remain under Christ and directly answerable to Him; it is equal with the state.
Third: Romans 13 was also written to counter the attitude that all civil government is corrupt: "Since all civil government is corrupt, as a Christian, I cannot support it." Rome's corruption during Paul's time is readily documented.(1) Hence, the tendency of Paul's day would have been to refuse to support the state's wickedness in any way, e.g., "As a Christian, do I owe allegiance to such a wicked civil government, and should I pay taxes to it?"
Fourth: Christians are members of a kingdom, the Kingdom of His dear Son. His kingdom exists within the kingdoms of men, Colossians 1:13; it has its own laws (God's laws, the Scripture), and it has priorities regarding responsibilities, Matthew 6:33. The Kingdom of God and the kings of this world are at war with each other as the powers of darkness seek to crush out the Kingdom of Light, Psalms 2. The conflict is real, and the goal of both is to subvert the other, 2 Corinthians 10:3. The goal of the kingdoms of men, with the urging and help of the powers of darkness, is to get individuals to obey or live by ITS laws; on the other hand, the goal of the Kingdom of His dear Son, with the urging and help of the Spirit of Grace and Truth, is to get individuals to live by ITS laws. Romans 13 ends with the exhortation to avoid, at all costs, living after the laws of the flesh, laws of this world's system which are in conflict with the laws of God's Kingdom. Thus there will be a continuing open and hostile conflict between man's physical laws which reflect living after the flesh and the physical laws which reflect living after the Spirit.
Fifth: In Romans 12:14, 18, we have instructions on how to respond to those who persecute Christians. We should take special note that, talking about how we must respond to our enemies, Paul says in v. 18, If it be possible, as much as lieth within you, live peaceably with all men. It, hence, is not always possible to live in peace, and those who profess Christ and do always live in peace with the wicked have obviously joined with the wicked.
Therefore, as we look at Romans 13, we must keep in mind that: First, Paul takes it for granted that those he is addressing have presented their bodies to God as a living sacrifice; second, those of 12:1 (and 13:1) are not conforming to this world, but rather they are conforming to the image of Christ and seeking His will first and foremost, and third, it will not be possible to live peaceable with all men at all times, 2 Timothy 3:12. There will be conflicts between the world's system and the image of Christ which His people are seeking after.
The Old Testament Context
The only word from God possessed by the church to whom Romans was written was what we know today as the Old TestamentþGenesis through Malachi. Therefore, any new doctrine presented to that church would, of necessity, have had to been built upon the Old Testament law and prophets. Not one thing presented by the New Testament authors contradicted in any way anything already established in the Old Testament (other than the rites and rituals that pointed to the then coming work of Christ). Therefore, Romans 13 must be viewed in the light of the Old Testament, for its doctrine is built upon the foundation of the prophets, Ephesians 2:20. Despite what many modernists preachers/teachers of God's Word say, the New Testament was not written in a vacuumþit was written in its Old Testament context.
Of the several Old Testament books developing the precepts of proper authority, we will mention only two:
Daniel & Jeremiah
One of the major themes of Daniel is that all power, without exception, belongs to God alone, and He uses it as He pleases. No one will usurp His power. If all power belongs to Him, what will the rebellious use for power?
Daniel 2:37, 38, Thou, O King, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory. And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath he given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all.
All must agree that Nebuchadnezzar was not a godly man, yet God established his civil government, and then God instructed His people to serve Nebuchadnezzar, Jeremiah chs. 25-29. In fact, Jeremiah establishes the penalty for refusing to serve the pagan civil ruler which God had establishedþdeath, Jeremiah 27:8-22. Accordingly, God established Nebuchadnezzar's rule; then God commanded His people's obedience to the pagan king, and then God threatened His people with the sword if they did not submit to the heathen king.
One finds little difference between Jeremiah 27-29 and Romans 13:1-5. Paul reduced Jeremiah 25-29 into just a few verses, and their agreement is not coincidental: Jeremiah said that resistance to Nebuchadnezzar was resistance to God Himself, and that He, God, would seek vengeance upon those who resisted the authority of the one He established over them, Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon. God told Nebuchadnezzar that he was established at God's pleasure, yet Nebuchadnezzar, like every other heathen civil authority, paid no attention to what God said: He moved to place an unBiblical, unlawful demand upon God's people, Daniel 2 & 3.
The three Hebrews in Daniel had been commanded by God to serve and obey Nebuchadnezzar' authority, yet they refused to bow to the image. They refused to bow because they had clearly yielded their bodies to their Godþthey could not allow their bodies to act in any manner inconsistent with God's Law-Word. Their resistance to God's appointed civil authority was based upon their yielded bodies to the Lord God.
The Hebrews were servants of the most High God. Though their resistance against the king's command appeared contrary to God's instructions to obey and serve Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon, they could do nothing inconsistent with their servanthood to God. The three did not seek to overthrow Nebuchadnezzar's authority, yet they stood firm when the civil authority demanded they violate God's Law-Word, Daniel 3:26-28.
Observe that Jeremiah instructed God's people to settle down in the kingdom of Babylon and not rebel against Babylon's authority, Isaiah 13:1-22; 24; Jeremiah 50:14-29. They were there as servants because they had turned from their God; therefore, God had established Nebuchadnezzar and his kingdom to judge them, Jeremiah 25:1-11; 26:3. Jeremiah tells them to build houses, plant gardens, have children and prosper; he tells them to seek the peace of the city wherever they might find themselves living. (No doubt God's command included their getting involved in social affairs around them, e.g., politics.) Furthermore, Jeremiah tells them to pray for the peace of Babylon, and any Chaldean city, Jeremiah 29:7:
And seek the peace of the city, &c.] The prosperity and happiness of Babylon, or any other city in Chaldea, were they were placed: this they were to do by prayer and supplication to God, and by all other means that might be any ways conducive to the good of the state where they were:
whither I have caused you to be carried away captives; and as long as they continued so; for being under the protection of the magistrates of it, though Heathens, they owed them submission, and were under obligation to contribute to their peace and welfare:
and pray unto the Lord for it; the city, where they dwelt; for the continuance, safety, peace, and prosperity of it; and therefore much more ought the natives of a place to seek and pray for its good, and do all that in them lies to promote it; and still more should the saints and people of God pray for the peace of Jerusalem, or the church of God, where they are born, and brought up in a spiritual sense; see 1 Ti 2:1,2 Ps 122:6-9;
for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace; which is an argument taken from self-interest; intimating, that while the city in which they were was in safety and prosperity, was in a flourishing condition, as to its health and trade, they would partake more or less with them of the same advantages; and on the other hand, should they be distressed with the sword, famine, or pestilence, or any grievous calamity, they would be involved in the same. (John Gill)
The prophet does not speak this for the affection that he bore to the tyrant, but that they should pray for the common rest and quietness that their troubles might not be increased, and that they might with more patience and less grief wait for the time of their deliverance, which God had appointed most certain: for not only the Israelites but all the world yea and the insensible creatures would rejoice when these tyrants would be destroyed, as in Isa 24:4. (Geneva)
One would think that the same person who wrote Jeremiah 29:7 also wrote 1 Timothy 2:1-2.
Finally, Jeremiah says, "Don't let the prophets dwelling among you tell you any different, for God has not sent them and you will be in trouble with your God if you follow them," Jeremiah 29:8ff. Again, it sure seems like Jeremiah studied the New Testament, for his response is easily found there, Romans 13:1-5, Ephesians 5:6:
Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.
Jeremiah warns God's people not to get involved in an attempt to overthrow the civil authority over them, even though that government might be as evil as was Nebuchadnezzar's one-world government, Babylon.
It follows, therefore, that in Godly resistance, any resistance to God's appointed civil authority of Romans 13:1-5 must be based upon the yielded bodies of Romans 12:1-2. If it is not, then resistance to the civil authority is actually rebellion towards both God and the civil authority He raised up. The higher powers is always the Lord and His Word, as Paul already spelled out in Romans 12.
How much modern resistance to civil authority is because those resisting are determined to obey Romans 12 & 13:12-14 regardless of the consequences? If the motive for resistance is not obedience to Romans 12 & 13:8-14, then resistance has God's curse against it because it is actually rebellion.
The reader might find it interesting that one of the more popular speakers traveling the country today preaching return to the Constitution, is traveling alone with another man's wife; he draws big crowds and seemingly makes a good income. Is he promoting Romans 12 or is he promoting Ephesians 5:6 (Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.) as he deals with Romans 13?
I believe serious research into the founding of America will find that it was founded upon the desire to obey Romans 12. Therefore, that early American resistance to the tyranny of civil authorities mentioned in Romans 13 was totally lawful.
(1) Ludwig's Handbook, Accent Books, Denver, Colorado 80215.
|The Freedom Movement|
Last spring I spoke at large home schooling conventions in Florida, Ohio, Maine and Massachusetts. The words that drew the strongest applause pertained to freedom, getting government out of education, getting educational bureaucrats off the backs of home schoolers. By asserting their desire to free themselves from our statist, humanist government educational institutions, home schoolers are proving that these government institutions are not only unnecessary but that they have seriously undermined and harmed family life.
The government schools have not only tried to create generation gaps between children and parents, but they have also deliberately embarked on a program to alter children's values so that they are in conflict with the values of their parents. Prof. Benjamin Bloom, in his famous Taxonomy of Educational Goals, wrote:
The evidence points out convincingly to the fact that age is a factor operating against attempts to effect a complete or thorough-going reorganization of attitudes and values....
The evidence collected thus far suggests that a single hour of classroom activity under certain conditions may bring about a major reorganization in cognitive as well as affective behaviors.
And so, behavioral scientists like Bloom and his colleagues have been hard at work devising the techniques to be used in classrooms to thoroughly reorganize the attitudes and values of a child regardless of whether or not the child's parents approve of what the educators are doing. The implication is that the educators believe they have a preordained right to reorganize a child's values and attitudes without the parent's consent. And that "right" is derived from the belief that the state owns the child. In fact, the new education reform program passed by CongressþGoals 2000 and the School-to-Work law is referred to as a Human Resources Development System, in which the individual is regarded as an economic resource to be developed by the state for the state's purposes.
Dr. R. J. Rushdoony writes in The Roots of Reconstruction:
The first and basic premise of paganism, socialism, and Molech worship is the claim that the state owns the child. The basic premise of the public schools is this claim of ownership, a fact some parents are encountering in the courts. It is the essence of paganism to claim first the lives of the children, then the properties of the people.
And so, by reclaiming their freedom from the state's educational institutions, Christian home schoolers are also reclaiming their children's lives for God. Their children belong to God as do each one of us, and God has given parents the responsibility to educate these children in the knowledge and love of God.
It goes without saying that, in time, the home school movement will transform America. In the first place, it is already creating among Christians a growing awareness of the family as the most important cultural and social unit of the nation, an awareness that the family shares equal status with church and civil government under God's sovereignty. It is only when God's sovereignty is denied by humanists, pagans and neo-Christians that Christian freedom is lost. In fact, it is only under Biblical Christianity that true political freedom under limited government has been possible. That's what we had in the early days of our nation before the forces of liberalism, socialism and atheism created the almighty, overpowering state.
It is thanks to the enduring power of the U.S. Constitution as a spiritual and legal force, that parents have been able to reassert their rights as parents. While courts and bureaucrats have contested that right, the idea of freedom is still so fundamental to the meaning and existence of America that even the worst of the statists finds it difficult, if not uncomfortable, to argue their case of ownership of the children in the court of public opinion. This is particularly so when the state schools have produced such high levels of functional illiteracy, thereby demonstrating an incompetency of incredible magnitude.
It is not surprising that Michael New, the twenty-four-year old U.S. Army Specialist who refused to wear a U.N. uniform in Macedonia when ordered to do so by his superior, is the product of a Christian home schooling family. He wrote:
The Army had taught me that the wearing of a uniform, or the accoutrements of a uniform, was a sign of allegiance and faithfulness to the authority or power so signified. As an American fighting man, how could I wear the badges and insignia of another government? I had taken an oath to the United States of America and no other. I had sworn to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic, to obey the orders of the President and those in authority over me. But the Army oath I swore upon enlistment doesn't bind me to blind obedience, but specifies that obedience must be "according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice, so help me, God." Congress makes all regulations governing the land and naval forces, and the experts in the military on the wearing of the regulation uniform are the sergeants. So I asked my sergeant how we as American soldiers could wear a "UN uniform" and still be American soldiers? The response I got was not what I expected: I was threatened with court-martial, imprisonment, or a less-than-honorable discharge, if I did not wear the "UN uniform."...
My stand was not merely a matter of conscience, but was a result of my understanding that an objective standard doesn't make allowances for what I think or feel about it. I firmly believe that our Constitution is the final word, and I had sworn to uphold this objective external standard. (The New American, 9/2/96)
Christian home schoolers are doing the same thing when they uphold parents rights and responsibilities pertaining to the education of their children. They must rely on God's word as the source of their parental authority and the Constitution as the objective protector of those unalienable rights.
It should also be noted that Howard Phillips, founder of the U.S. Taxpayers Party, is a home schooling parent. Howard is an uncompromising, unequivocal defender of the U.S. Constitution, and the platform of the party calls for a federal government that strictly adheres to that Constitution. It should therefore surprise no one to know that Dr. Rushdoony, who addressed the U.S.T.P. at its convention in August, strongly endorses the philosophy of government espoused by the Party.
Recently, on a TV interview program, Richard Darman, President Bush's budget director who persuaded the President to compromise with the Democratic Congress and approve a tax hike, described his philosophy of governing as a process by which the two parties in Congress compromise on all substantive issues in order to move the government forward. What he described was the dialectical process whereby the country is moved steadily leftward in a socialist direction. The idea that someone might be uncompromising and unequivocal in defense of a position has no place in the Darman philosophy of government, and that is why he could not understand the Christian conservatives who had expected Bush to keep his promise not to raise taxes. And so, it can be said that it was the Darman dialectic that lost Bush his re-election.
Because homeschoolers have had to take an uncompromising and unequivocal stand on their rights to educate their children as they see fit, they are in direct conflict with those who believe in the dialectical approach to government. The idea that the government must "move forward" regardless of where it is taking us is totally contrary to the letter and spirit of the Constitution, which places strict limits on what the government can do and should do, particularly when it concerns the basic rights of the citizens.
The home schooling movement is indeed transforming America, one family at a time, creating a grassroots leavening that will gradually make itself felt culturally, academically, spiritually, and politically. A whole generation of young people educated at home without the brainwashing of the state is bound to be more independent and entrepreneurial in its pursuit of careers, be more aware of individual and parental rights, and have greater understanding of the American form of government. Many of these home schoolers will feel obliged to enter politics so that they can become the legislators who will restore Constitutional government to this country. Just as Michael New felt a deep obligation to do what his conscience said he must do, so will thousands of other home schoolers understand the necessity of upholding the Judeo-Christian values of the founding fathers if we are to preserve freedom and justice in America.
[Samuel L. Blumenfeld is the leader in V:S. home schooling and phonics, and he has lectured on these subjects from coast to coast and abroad. State school authorities once called him statist education's "Public enemy number 1." (Chalcedon Report, Dec, 1996. Used by permission.)]
For some time now, there has been a heated discussion north of us over an ordinance passed by the Lafayette city counsel a couple years ago: Its purpose was to give "Homosexuals" "equal rights." (Purdue University is located across the Wabash River from Lafayette in West Lafayette.) However, there are some Christians up there very actively involved in trying to return decency and honesty to that community. Gaining control in the last city council election, the decency group sought to overturn the þHomosexualþ amendment to the city ordinance. They had the votes in the first reading of the proposed change; however, the day of the second vote, the Sodomites convinced two of the council members to abandon the pro- family position and vote for the Sodomites. The city retained its pro- Sodomite position by one vote.
One of the more disconcerting things about the second vote was the train of 'religious' leaders who spoke in favor of the Sodomites. It was claimed that 50 pastors supported the Sodomite ordinance. Of the many professed Bible believing pastors in Lafayette, only two pastors spoke against the ordinance, and neither was Baptist.
This pastor has been writing a column for a local paper up there, The Family Times. Obviously, the vote to support and encourage the Sodomites in Lafayette required a column, and the following is that column with the quoted verses retained.
HOMOSEXUALITY & LafayetteþOrdinance, 32.006
"DISCRIMINATION." Any difference in the treatment of a person, including exclusion or segregation, because of race, sex, religion, color, sexual orientation, handicap, familial status, or national origin. (Places Sodomites on the same level as Biblical families, ed.)
"FAMILIAL STATUS." One or more persons under 18 who live with a parent, legal custodian, or designee; pregnant woman; or people in the process of obtaining legal custody of a child. (This could be people of same sex: Sodomites, ed.)
"SEXUAL ORIENTATION." Mail or female homosexuality, heterosexuality and bisexuality by orientation or practice, by and between consenting adults. ('71 Code, 2-62) Ord. 68-21, passed 7-1-68; Am. Ord. 76-41, passed 9-7-76; Am. Ord. 92-33, passed 11-2-92; Am. Ord. 92-41, passed 5- 3-93)
Those of us who believe that the Holy Bible is God's inspired Word to man are not allowed to judge the rightness nor wrongness of homosexuality, nor any other thought nor action, Mat 7:1, Lu 6:37. On the other hand, those of us who believe God are commanded to render righteous judgment upon all matters, John 7:24. But the judgment we must use is God's judgment, 1 Cor 4:3. So it matters not what man feels about issues; what matters is what God's Word says about a particular issueþin this case, homosexuality.
Satan's original offer to Adam was that man did not need God's Word to distinguish between right and wrong: "You," said Satan, "can determine for yourself what is right and wrong," Gen 3:5. Continuing throughout history, Satan says today, "You don't need God's Word to tell you the truth about 'Homosexuality.' You can make up your own mind." He then ridicules all who might use God's Word to judge the rightness or wrongness of matters around them.
But are we going to follow Satan as he persuades men to judge on their own apart from God or are we going to follow God's Word and say what He says about every situation? Believers do not have a choice, for God commands us to judge righteous judgment, i.e., view current events in terms of what His Word says about them. (See also 2 Ch 19:6; Isa 1:23, & Jer 5:28.)
In considering "Homosexuality," a key passage is Romans 1:23-27. Hence, Homosexuality is a modern term used to replace the Biblical term describing men burning in lust one toward another, Sodomy: The men of the ancient city of Sodom burned in lust toward other men, and desired to lie with them as with women. The men of Sodom cried out to Lot who had brought visitors into his home: Bring them out unto us, that we may know them:
[Know] is also used for sexual intercourse on the part of both men and women in the well-known euphemism "Adam knew Eve his wife" and its parallels (Gen 4:1; 19:8; Num 31:17, 35; Jud 11:39; 21:11; 1 Kgs 1:4; I Sam 1:19). It is used to describe sexual perversions such as sodomy (Gen 19:5; Jud 19:22) and rape (Jud 19:25). (TWOT - 848. Cf., Gen 39:12; 2 Sam 13:12.)
Throughout the Word of God, the Lord makes His feelings abundantly clear about men with men and women with women - Sodomy: He considers such actions abominable - a thing of horror and disgusting. Sodomy, and other perversions, are repugnant to God, falling under His judgment; the Lord calls Sodomites, dogs in Deut 23:18 (Lev 18:22-30; 20:13 calls for death against all participants). In fact, God so thoroughly destroyed the city of Sodom for its perversion that no trace has been found of it.
Moreover, the Lord God feels the same about Sodomy as He does about human sacrifice (Deut 12:31). Accordingly, those who condone Sodomy must also support human sacrifices; however, the supporters of Sodomy are not that logical in their thinkingþat least not publicly, probably because that is not 'PC' in what is left of our Christian heritage. We must admit, nevertheless, that those supporting Sodomy (whether the president or a city counsel member) do support the death of the family, for two Sodomites cannot produce children between themselves. (A family is a man and woman united in marriage, Mat 19:5, Eph 5:31. Thus a vote for the Sodomites was an anti-family vote.)
God's judgment is heavy against those supportive of what He condemns (sodomy), the city of Lafayette in this case: Ps 50:16-23; Pro 24:23-26; Isa 3:9 & Eze 16:47-50.
However, as bad is Sodomy is, even deserving death (Rom 1:32), it is not as bad as are the false prophets who, in the name of "God," attempt to reject God's Word and place His approval upon what He condemns, Jer 23:13-16. God tells us not to listen to those who condone what God condemns, especially when they attempt to speak in the name of the Lord: Those who listen to them will suffer the same fate as will those who God moves against. The followers of the false prophets should flee for their lives from them.
Ordinance 32.006 condones what God clearly condemns. Jesus said it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for those who seek to speak in God's name condoning what God condemns, Mat 10:11-15. (This pastor realizes the context of this passage.) The false prophets who attempt to speak in God's name for what God's Word is against also deserve of death, De 18:20. In addition, evil awaits the people who refuse to accept God's Word about matters, Jer 6:15.
The Lord does not have nice words to say about Christian leaders who refuse to speak out against evils such as Sodomy, calling them dumb dogs who cannot bark because they love the ease of not making waves, Isa 56:10. (Note that God called the sodomites dogs.)
Peter dealt with the ungodly cry of those who seek to break the bands of God's Word from themselves so they can go their own way and do their own thing (Ps 2):
2 Pet 2:6 And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly...
The events surrounding Sodom and Gomorrah are recorded as a warning for all and as a rebuke to those, whether they be "religious leaders," civil leaders or average citizens, who would seek to condone and support those things which God condemns.
My thing has never been "Prophecy." I have found far too much other material in Scripture to deal with than to worry about "Prophecy." Personally, I believe the emphasis must be on searching the Word of God and applying what we find into every area of life. Furthermore, I suppose that the overabundance of prophetic speculation, e.g., "89 reasons why..." & Jack Van Impe, has made me kind of leery of entering into that field of study. I do realize that one's view of "Prophecy" must certainly influence his activities for Christ. However, though I have not made it a matter of study, I have found more evidence in Scripture for what is called the "Preterist" view (without knowing what the view was called) than for any other view. Though no system of Eschatology is without weak points and even holes, I have found overwhelming Biblical evidence for the "Preterist" view. In my mind, it is the most consistent with what I have found in Scripture.
I have had several people contact me concerning good books I could recommend along the line of "Prophecy." Two books have come to my attention recently that I feel I can recommend as basically faithful to the Word of God, considering the many books and ideas I have encountered over the years.
First, "The Parousia, A careful look at the New Testament doctrine of our Lordþs Second Coming," by James Stuart Russell (1816-1895). It contains 561 pages, soft-bound. I miss an index not being in it, but it does have a comprehensive Table of Contents. He "served as pastor of the Congregational Church in Bayswater, England during the years 1862-1888. He earned his M.A. degree from King's College, University of Aberdeen. Then after this book was published, they honoured him with a D.D. degree. Two editions were published, the first in 1878 and the second in 1887, both in London. This is the most popular introduction to and defense of the preterist view of Bible Prophecy in print today. It is a 1996 reprint by Kingdom Publications, 122 Seaward Ave, Bradford, PA 16701. $17.00 post paid from Kingdom Publishers" toll-free, (888) 257-7023, and they accept MasterCard and VISA.
Mr. Russell convincingly presents the Preterist view from the many New Testaments - from Mal and Mat through the Revelation - passage we hear used in "Prophetic" teaching today. (It appears to me that most prophetic teachers fail to realize that prophecy is from the time the passages are written, not from the time they are read.) Though Russell goes further in some areas than I would (spiritualizing some things I would not), I must admit that he deals with the many New Testament "Prophetic" passages in the most consistent manner I have encountered: His arguments concerning the "Prophetic" passages are hard, if not impossible, to refute by those of us who accept Scripture as the final authority - that is, who use Scripture rather than history to interpret Scripture. An usual point I found about Mr. Russell, not often found in Bible teachers, is that when he encounters a passage he cannot answer, he tells us he has no answer. Many teachers seem to think that when they admit they do not have all the answers, they have lost their ability to teach.
I am thankful to the man who brought this book to my attention, and I can readily recommend it to any interested in serious study of Scripture. "Parousia" is an excellent book for those disillusioned by "date setting."
I suppose that Mr. Russell wrote "Parousia" to counter the then rising tide of dispensational millennialism that started gaining worldwide momentum after about 1850.
Second, "The Beast of Revelation 666," by Kenneth Gentry, 1989, Institute for Christian Economics, Tyler, Texas. It is a 1994 reprint with corrections, 209 pages with an exhaustive index of both Scriptures used and of subjects covered. It is obtainable from your local book seller or $10.00 mail order from Dr. Kenneth Gentry, 46-N Main St., Conestee, SC 29636. Dr. Gentry does an excellent job presenting the preterist view, offering abundant evidence for the identity of the beast, and for an early dating of the Revelation. Dr. Gentry goes almost identical to the conclusions I have had to reach concerning 'Prophetic' passages through several years of serious Bible study. Dr. Gentry book, þBefore Jerusalem Fellþ is also being reprinted, and is due in February, 97.
The above books deal with "Prophecy" well enough that there is no need for me to deal with it.
Is the End of the World near? Are we living in the Last Days? Is Christþs return at hand? For 150 years here in America we have constantly been told we were living on the threshold of the end of the world and Christ's return. Prediction after prediction has failed to materialize, and false hope after false hope has been foisted upon the Christian community. Many Christians have been disillusioned, and are already looking for more reasonable explanations. Some have been so disillusioned they left the faith altogether.
And the secular media (who are always looking for an excuse) are further discrediting Christianity because of it. Something is terribly wrong with traditional views of Bible Prophecy. There is a serious need to re-examine the whole issue of Last Things.
Bible prophecy can be understood, but Futurist views have fallen far short for many reasons: their extreme physical/liberalizing approach, their seeming inability to distinguish between figurative and literal language, and their failure to properly take into account the historical-grammatical-cultural context of the prophecies (specifically what they meant to their original audience). Even the most difficult prophetic passage comes alive when approached properly. It is time to look at some alternatives, and the Preterist view is a great place to start.
What is the Preterist view, you say? "Preterist" means past in fulfillment, and "Futurist" means future in fulfillment. Preterist basically means the opposite of Futurist. Futurists believe most end-time prophecies (especially the major ones) are yet to be fulfilled. Preterists believe that most or all of Bible Prophecy has already been fulfilled in Christ and the on-going expansion of His Kingdom. Most Futurists do not really believe Christ has been successful yet in fully establishing His Kingdom.
The þPreteristþ interpretation of Bible prophecy has been mentioned several times in publications such as Christianity Today, Christian News, Great Christian Books catalog, World Magazine, and several others. There are already two dally radio programs around the country teaching from the preterist perspective and several monthly and quarterly publications. Scores of Preterist books, tracts, video and audio tapes have been produced and many more are on the way. It is beginning to capture significant public attention, and is þspreading like wildfireþ at the grass roots level. It is compatible with the essential beliefs of all Christians, and is already represented in nearly all denominations.
When will Christ return? This question is relevant, and can be answered by scripture. Jesus seems to have answered it very clearly in these passages (Matt. 10:23; Matt. 16:27,28; Matt. 24:34). Ever wonder why the First Century Christians expected Jesus to come in their lifetime, and where they got this expectation from? Take a look at the extreme sense of imminency in these passages: James 5:8,9; 1 Pet. 4:7; Matt. 10:23; Matt. 16:27,28; Matt. 24:34.
These verses have always troubled Bible students, and have been used by liberal theologians to attack the inspiration of Scripture. They reason that these passages were not fulfilled when they were supposed to be (the first century generation), so Jesus and the NT writers failed in their predictions and were therefore not inspired. But these verses point to Christ's coming in some sense in connection with the Fall of Jerusalem at 70 AD. So, Jesus' predictions were fulfilled. He did not fail, nor do we need to engage in theological gymnastics to try to explain-away the seeming delay or postponement of His return it happened right on schedule. Many knew the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD was important in God's scheme of redemption, but never understood its full significance. It has to do with the consummation of the plan of redemption. The final events of the redemptive drama came to pass in the first century within the apostles generation (before A.D. 70). Christ's Kingdom is here now. Paradise has been restored in Christ (spiritually-speaking). We live in the Garden of Eden now (If we are in Christ), just as sure as we can know we have "eternal life." These are present and abiding benefits, not pie-in-the-sky bye-and-bye. Christ has conquered all His enemies and has given us the Kingdom.
This view offers a much more positive and realistic worldview. It is conservative, consistent, optimistic, responsible and accountable. And it robs us of no motivation for either living the Christian life, or evangelizing the world. In fact, it s the only view which gives us a consistent reason for being constructively involved in making the world a better place for the long-term.
Bible prophecy absolutely makes sense when approached from this past-fulfillment (preterist) perspective! It puts emphasis on the spiritual nature of God's Kingdom, not on the physical, materialistic, sensual, and sensational. It teaches a realized spiritual salvation in Christ and the Church now, instead of a frustrated hope for a postponed sensually gratifying paradise way off in the future. It has an optimistic worldview that gets involved, makes a positive difference, and lights a candle, rather than cursing the darkness, longing for a rapture-escape, or retreating from society. It doesnþt engage in wild-eyed speculation like futurist views. It's just simple, straight-forward Bible interpretation.
Some of the great theologians and scholars of the last 300 years have suggested the preterist view for consideration, but traditional Christianity was too caught up with the idea that the Pope was the Antichrist or some other such Futurist notion. But that has changed. We are not as gullible now as they were when William Miller, Darby, Russell, Rutherford, Scofield, Walvoord, and Hal Lindsey came along. A constant barrage of false predictions has made us more wary.
Most Christian theologians in Europe a century ago took a somewhat preterist approach, and none of them considered it unorthodox. F. W. Farrar said the preterist view was "full of suggestiveness." Charles H. Spurgeon, who did not accept it, nevertheless stated that it "throws so much new light upon obscure portions of the Scriptures, and is accompanied with so much critical research and dose reasoning, that it can be injurious to none and may be profitable to all."
Many who never knew anyone else took this position have independently discovered it in the Scriptures, and are finding Biblical prophecy bursting with meaning now. If you haven't taken a look at it, it is time you did. Write or call us here at Kingdom Counsel to find out about more books and resources that will help you finally make sense out of Bible Prophecy without being taken for a ride by the date-setters.
Write or Call:
Klngdom Counsel, 122Seaward
Avenue, Bradford PA 16701
I have had several folks mention their desires to get involved in writing and publishing. Up till now, all I have been able to say is, þJust do it.þ I realize that is not a good answer, though that has been the way the Lord has worked in my situation.
Divine Providence allowed Ken Gentry's writers' course to come to my attention. I am confident it will be of great assistance to those of us who desire to be effective Christian writers. Therefore, let me urge those of you who desire to be effective communicators with the printed page to seriously consider what he has to offer.
A course on Christian Research, Writing, and Publication for Aspiring Writers, by Rev. Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., M. Div., Th. M., Ph. D.
Perfect your writing
Expand your witness
Improve you regards
Generate extra income
Begin a productive hobby
This course is designed to assist the aspiring Christian writer and diligent student by:
reading skills for increased comprehension and time savings...
Developing a research strategy for library usage and note-taking... Cultivating topic selection, thesis defense, and logical flow of presentation...
Polishing writing skills for increased readability...
Providing guidance in publication procedures, submission etiquette, and manuscript marketing.
$175.00 for 23 tapes; 2 texts; 1 syllabus; and interactive oversight. Write for more info or order from:
Dr. Kenneth Gentry
46-N Main St.
Conestee, SC 29636