Archives For Theology

I. INTRODUCTION

In this first post in a series of five about the doctrine of Scripture–bibliology–I’d like to introduce you to general and special revelation. In later posts I want to look at the Trinity, sin, salvation, and the church. But before discussing those topics I want to describe for you general revelation and special revelation. Here are a brief outline and definition of those terms. 

Bibliology: General Revelation and Special Revelation

Photo Credit: Chris Yarzab

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II. GENERAL REVELATION

The phrase “general revelation” means that God’s revelation is available to all people at all times. It is something seen in creation and our everyday lives. Here are a few other definitions of general revelation:

“General revelation includes all that God has revealed in the world around us, including man.” (Ryrie, Basic Theology, 31)

“General revelation comes through observing nature, through seeing God’s directing influence in history, and through an inner sense of God’s existence and his laws that he has placed inside of every person.” (Gruedem, Systematic Theology, 123)

In one of King David’s psalms he speaks about God’s general revelation through creation: Continue Reading…

As we celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ today on December 25 I want to share a few thoughts about the future return of Christ that could occur at any moment.

I am a dispensationalist who believes in the pretribulational rapture and premillennial reign of Christ. Yet, I hold these views lite and loose. They are not points worth arguing and causing disunity within the body of believers. Lots of people smarter than me hold contrary views and I respect those who do.

Often we hear people say, “Christ could come at any moment” or “I’m ready for Christ to come back.” Yet, what does that mean about our beliefs about Christ’s return and the end times? Doesn’t the book of Revelation describe seven years of tribulation of plagues, sores, earthquakes, hail, fires, and other events that indicate judgement which all occur before Christ returns in Rev 19:11?

While there are various views on the return of Christ, here are six reasons I believe Christ will return for his people before the seven years of tribulation begins.

Christ Return and the Rapture

Photo Credit: “Waiting for the Word

I. THE CHURCH IS ABSENT IN REVELATION 4-19 1 

First, the church seems to be absent from the narrative of Rev 4-19. The Greek word for church, ἐκκλεσια, is used nineteen times in Rev 1-3, zero times in Rev 4-19, and one time in Rev 20-22. While it is not good to argue from an “absence of evidence” it does strike me that if the church was on the earth during the time of the Tribulation (Rev 4-19) there would be mentions of it. But, there are none in Rev 4-19.  Continue Reading…

Notes:

  1. These reasons for the pre-trib rapture is adapted from Mark Hitchcock’s book, The Endwhich is a great reference book for end-times events.

Whether it is orthodox, protestant, evangelical, or catholic Christianity, all agree on the doctrine that God exists as three persons–Father–Son–Holy Spirit together as one God.

Below is a brief outline of the primary Scriptures that described the doctrine of the Trinity. 

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I. INTRODUCTION

Definition of the Trinity
I believe that the one God exists as three distinct persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—each is equal in nature, equal in glory, but distinct in relationship (definition based on J. Scott Horrell and his forthcoming book on the Trinity).

II. GOD IS ONE

A. Old Testament

When reading the first five books of the Old Testament it is good to remember who wrote the books, whom they were written to, and what was the historical context of “God” at that time. Numerous hints and evidences are provided in the Bible that suggest Moses was the person who wrote the first five books of the Bible. And those first five books were written between 1446 and 1406 after the “Exodus” of the Israelites from Egypt. In this time, there were numerous gods throughout the ancient near east. Gods of fertility, water gods, grain gods, and many many others. Moses, as God’s chosen leader taking the people out of Egypt recorded the first five books of the Old Testament as a way to communicate to the Israelites who they were and who their God was.

1. Gen 1:1

Simply, one God created the world with ease and freedom.  Continue Reading…

When talking with people about what is “church” I often hear someone say, “But hey, the Bible says ‘where two are gathered in Jesus’ name, I am with you.’ People will often use this phrase to describe how a small group is a church. Yet, the context of that passage has nothing to do with what a church is or what a church does. In Matt 18:19-20 the context is correcting another believer and prayer, not what is or is not a church.

What is the Church

Photo Credit: Peter’s First Preaching (The Bible and Its Story, vol 10)

With that said, let’s look at what the church actually is. From my understanding of the Bible there are seven key elements of a church.

I. MAKE DISCIPLES

First, the church is commanded to go into all nations and make disciples. Continue Reading…

A Brief Study of Hell

December 4, 2017 — Leave a comment

I have worked hard during the last year and a half to provide a verse-by-verse teaching through the book of Revelation. There are a few sections of the book that I skipped which I hope to teach on in the future. Throughout a study in the book of Revelation the topic of “hell” comes up a lot. Here I wanted to provide a short summary of what the Bible says about hell and the different views about hell. 

A Brief Study of Hell

Photo Credit: Viktor Vasnetsov (1848-1926)

I. A BIBLICAL DESCRIPTION OF HELL

Hell is a place of eternal conscious punishment. Worms which will “never die” devour people and the fire that devours people will “never go out” (Isa 66:22-24; Mark 9:48). At the end times many bodies will rise up to “everlasting life” or to shame and “everlasting disgrace” (Dan 12:2-3). Hell is also described as an “eternal fire” (Matt 18:6-9; 25:4; Jude 7). The smoke of this fire that torments unbelievers in hell will rise “forever and ever” (Rev 14:9-11). Continue Reading…

I. INTRODUCTION

A. Review of Past Lessons

B. Text of Rev 20:11-15

11Then I saw a great white throne with someone sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from his presence. No place was found for the earth and sky. 12Then I saw the dead—the great and the small—they were standing before the throne. The books were opened, then another book was opened which is the Book of Life. The dead were judged from what had been written in the books according to their deeds. 13The sea gave up the dead that were in it. Death and Hades also gave up the dead that were in them. Every person was judged according to his deeds. 14Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire—this is the second death—which is the lake of fire. 15If someone’s name is not found written in the Book of Life, he is thrown into the lake of fire. (Rev 20:11-15) 1

The Great White Throne Judgment in Rev 20.11 to 20.15

Photo Credit: “The Last Judgment” (Stefan Lochner, 1400-1451)

C. General Remarks about Rev 20:11-15

“The account in these few verses, in spite of their brevity, is one of the most impressive descriptions of the Last Judgment ever written.” Metzger, Breaking the Code, 97

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II. THE GREAT WHITE THRONE (20:11)

Καὶ εἶδον θρόνον μέγαν λευκὸν καὶ τὸν καθήμενον ἐπʼ αὐτόν, οὗ ἀπὸ °τοῦ προσώπου ἔφυγεν ἡ γῆ καὶ ὁ οὐρανὸς καὶ τόπος οὐχ εὑρέθη αὐτοῖς.

Then I saw a great white throne with someone sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from his presence. No place was found for the earth and sky. (Rev 20:11) 2

A. Who Sits on the Throne

The one sitting on the throne is the Father and probably also Jesus. In the New Testament the Father is described as providing the last judgment (Matt 6:4; 10:32-33; 18:35; Mark 8:38; Rom 14:10; also see Dan 7:9, 10, 22), but Jesus has been given authority to judge (Matt 7:22-23; 25:31-46; John 5:22, 30; 2 Cor 5:10). Continue Reading…

Notes:

  1. Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own based on the NA28 Greek text
  2. Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own based on the NA28 Greek text

I. INTRODUCTION

A. Past Lessons & Review

B. Text of Rev 16:12-21

“12Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl onto the great Euphrates River and its water dried up. This prepared the road for the kings of the east. 13Then I saw three impure spirits that looked like frogs come out of the mouths of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet. 14For they are demon spirits making signs which go out to the kings of the whole earth to gather them for the battle of the great day of the Lord, the Almighty! 15Behold! I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays alert and keeps his clothing, so that nakedness does not walk around and people see his nakedness. 16The demonic spirits gathered the kings and their armies to the placed called in Hebrew, ‘Armageddon.’ 17Lastly, the seventh angel poured out his bowl on the air. And I heard a loud voice coming out of the temple from the throne saying, ‘It is done!’ 18Then there was lightening, roaring, thunder, and a great earthquake. The earthquake was so great and severe, that one of that magnitude had never been felt by man before. 19The great city was split into three parts and the cities of the Gentiles fell. Babylon the great was remembered before God and gave her the cup of wine of his angry wrath. 20Every island disappeared and no mountain was found. 21Then great hailstones that weighed 100 pounds each were coming down from heaven onto people. So people slandered God from the hailstone plagues because they were the most severe of his plagues.” (Rev 16:12-21) 1

The Sixth and Seven Seals and War of Armageddon of Rev 16.12 to 16.21

Photo Credit: Matthias Gerung

C. General Remarks

“Those who fall under judgment here are those who have been given every chance to repent, and have refused. They have chosen to go down with the monsters rather than to suffer and be vindicated with the lamb. In the language of chapters 17-22, they have chosen the way of the harlot rather than the way of the bride.” (Wright, Revelation for Everyone, 146)

“Though we are not able to immediately understand all the details of these dramatic judgments, the unmistakable impression of the Scriptures is that the whole world is being brought to the bar of justice before Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords. There is no escape from divine judgment except for those who receive the grace of God in that day of faith in Jesus Christ.” (Walvoord, Revelation, 251)

QUESTION: IS ARMAGEDDON A “PLACE” OR A “BATTLE?”

QUESTION: IS ARMAGEDDON THE “LAST” BATTLE ON THE EARTH?

QUESTION: IS ARMAGEDDON A “WAR” OR A “SINGLE BATTLE?”

QUESTION: IS JESUS PRESENT DURING THE BATTLE OF ARMAGEDDON?

II. THE SIXTH BOWL JUDGMENT ON THE EUPHRATES RIVER (Rev 16:12-16)

“Numerous interpretations have been offered for this bowl judgment. Some have been farfetched, and the historical school has in the past attempted to identify this battle with a previous major world conflict. But the most natural explanation is the best, which is that this judgment actually dries up the great Euphrates River, thereby preparing for an invasion from the East.” (Walvoord, Revelation, 245)

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A. The Euphrates Dries Up (v. 12)

Καὶ ὁ ἕκτος ἐξέχεεν τὴν φιάλην αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ τὸν ποταμὸν τὸν μέγαν τὸν Εὐφράτην, καὶ ἐξηράνθη τὸ ὕδωρ αὐτοῦ, ἵνα ἑτοιμασθῇ ἡ ὁδὸς τῶν βασιλέων τῶν ἀπὸ ἀνατολῆς ἡλίου.

“Then the sixth angel poured out his bowl onto the great Euphrates River and its water dried up. This prepared the road for the kings of the east.” (Rev 16:12) 2

QUESTION: DOES GOD ALLOW BAD THINGS TO HAPPEN?

1. The Great Euphrates River

The river is called the “great river . . . Euphrates” in Gen 15:18; Deut 1:7; Josh 1:4.

Two Old Testament prophecies seem to predict this future event of the drying up of the Euphrates River:

  • “The LORD will make a dry path through the gulf of the Red Sea. He will wave his hand over the Euphrates River, sending a mighty wind to divide it into seven streams so it can easily be crossed on foot.” (Isaiah 11:15, NLT)
  • “They will pass safely through the sea of distress, for the waves of the sea will be held back, and the waters of the Nile will dry up. The pride of Assyria will be crushed, and the rule of Egypt will end.” (Zechariah 10:11, NLT)

2. Kings from the East Continue Reading…

Notes:

  1. Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own based on the NA28 Greek Text
  2. Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own based on the NA28 Greek Text

I. INTRODUCTION

A. Past Lessons and Review

B. Text of Rev 16:1-11

1Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, “Go and pour out the seven plagues of God’s wrath on the earth.” 2So the first angel left and poured out his bowl on the earth. Then painful and harsh sores appeared on the people who had the mark of the beast and who worshipped his statue. 3Then the second angel poured out his bowl on the sea. As a result the sea turned into blood like from the dead, and every living thing in the sea died. 4Then the third bowl was poured out on the rivers and water springs. As a result they turned into blood. 5Then I heard the angel of the waters saying, ‘You are righteous. The One who is, was, the holy one that judges with these things, 6because the blood of the saints and the prophets has been poured out, so you gave them blood to drink, which they deserve.” 7Then I heard a voice from the altar saying, “Yes! Lord God, Almighty! Your judgments are true and just.” 8Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun and it caused the sun to burn up humans in fire. 9People were scorched with a scorching heat. So they slandered the name of God who holds power over these plagues, yet they did not repent and give him glory. 10Then the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast. As a result his kingdom was darkened and people were biting their tongues from the pain. 11They slandered the God of heaven because of their pain and sores. Yet, they did not turn from their evil deeds. (Rev 16:1-11)

The First Through Fifth Bowls (Rev 16:1-11)

Photo Credit: Matthias Gerung

C. General Remarks

“God will allow natural elements themselves (earth, sea, rivers and sun) to pass judgment on the human beings who have so grievously abused their position as God’s image-bearers with creation.” (Wright, Revelation for Everyone, 142)

D. Opening Illustration

Well known Bible scholar and writer N.T. Wright, was cycling down the street one day when he came up beside a former teacher of his. Wright had studied the New Testament under him a few years earlier, but now Wright was neck deep in studying and writing about Rom 1:18-3:20. That section of Paul’s letter to the Romans is all about God’s wrath against all human wickedness. Wright confided in his former teacher saying, “I’m having a hard time with wrath.” To that statement his former teacher said, “Aren’t we all” and he cheerfully cycled off (Wright, Revelation for Everyone, 141).

II. AN INTRODUCTION TO THE BOWL JUDGMENTS (Rev 16:1)

“Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, ‘Go and pour out the seven plagues of God’s wrath on the earth.’” (Rev 16:1)

QUESTION: WHO IS IN CHARGE HERE? SEEMS TO BE THAT GOD IS IN CHARGE.

QUESTION: WHAT IS THE TIMING OF THESE BOWLS? FIRST OR LAST?

QUESTION: WHO’S VOICE DO YOU THINK THIS IS?

A. The Seven Angels

These are the same seven angels that are first mentioned in Revelation 15.

B. God’s “Wrath” Continue Reading…

This is my final post in the summary doctrine series. Today we look at what it means for people to respond to the Gospel and what happens to those who do or don’t accept the Gospel message. Like my other posts, I’m using the Evangelical Free Church of America’s statement of faith as a guide.

A Summary of the Doctrine of the Gospel and Hell

Gustave Dore’s “New Jerusalem”

Response and Eternal Destiny. Article #10. We believe that God commands everyone everywhere to believe the gospel by turning to Him in repentance and receiving the Lord Jesus Christ. We believe that God will raise the dead bodily and judge the world, assigning the unbeliever to condemnation and eternal conscious punishment and the believer to eternal blessedness and joy with the Lord in the new heaven and the new earth, to the praise of His glorious grace. Amen.

I. BASICS OF THE GOSPEL MESSAGE

A. The Gospel Message Continue Reading…

Throughout my summary of Christian doctrine series this is perhaps my favorite study. Today I am providing a summary of the doctrine of Jesus’s return which is also known as “eschatology.” Like normal, I’m using the Evangelical Free Church of America’s statement of faith as a guide:

A Summary of the Doctrine of Christ Return

Photo Credit: Gustave Doré’s “The Last Judgment”

Christ’s Return. Article #9. We believe in the personal, bodily and premillennial return of our Lord Jesus Christ. The coming of Christ, at a time known only to God, demands constant expectancy and, as our blessed hope, motivates the believer to godly living, sacrificial service and energetic mission.         

I. THE SECOND COMING OF JESUS

I believe in the pretribulational rapture of the church, seven literal years of Tribulation, and the literal premillennial reign of Christ on earth.

A. Pretribulational Repture Continue Reading…