Sunday, April 01, 2007

Why Every Self-Respecting Christian Should Be An Optimist Like God Himself

Well a response to John MacArthur's opening address to the Shepherds Conference had to come at some point. The reports I read of the address were irksome to me to say the least but I wanted to wait until I had heard the actual MP3 of the session before saying anything. Now I have had that opportunity. I've read most of the arguments supporting and shouting at him. As I said previously I actually appreciate a man such as him who is unafraid of offending but believes enough in his beliefs to speak out. The Church has been far too passive - it is time to speak out!

For those who haven't heard the message and probably don't want to or won't - here is the thrust of it:


Sam Storms has begun to respond I think in an effort to make a statement for Amillenialism. And by the way he has begun a blog here. Hurrah! So the question is - if I am not happy with John MacArthur's Premillenialism (and I'm not) and I am not 100% satisfied with Sam Storms Amillenialism (and I'm not) then what am I? Well I am not going to take the cop-out cliche of calling myself a "Pan-millenialist" (it will all pan out in the end). I would classify myself thus far as "An optimistic Amillenialist and a cautious Post-millenialist". I'm not at all experienced enough in theology and handling Biblical texts to be able to say with assurance that I know what millenial position to hold.

What I DO know is that I am confident that the Bride of Christ is going to wind up glorious. What I DO know is that all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. What I DO know is that the glory of the latter house shall be greater than the former. What I DO know is that all nations shall flow UP to Mount Zion and that isn't something that will happen in heaven. What I DO know is that Jesus SHALL reign where'er the sun doth it's successive journeys run. And what I DO know is that there are a lot of Scriptures that suggest an optimism in the sovereignity of God's right to exert His authority over His universe is biblical! Here are a few:

(1) In the OT - Num. 14:21; Psalms 2:6-9; 22:27-28; 47; 72:8-11; 110:1-2; 138:4-5 (cf. 102:15); Isa. 2:2-4; 9:6-7; 11:6-10; 45:22-25; 65; 66; Jer. 31:31-34; Daniel 2:31-35; Zech. 9:9f.; 13:1; 14:9.

(2) In the NT - Matt. 13:31-33; 28:18-20; John 12:31-32; 16:33; I John 2:13-14; 3:8; 4:4,14; 5:4-5; Acts 2:32-36,41; Rom. 11:25-32; I Cor. 15:20-26, 57-58; Hebrews 1:8-9,13; 2:5-9; Rev. 2:25-27; 3:7-9; 7:9-10; 11:15; 19:11-21.

My response to John MacArthur then?

It is simply the presentation of a transcript of Ern Baxter from the Dales Bible Week 1976. His series was "Where Are We Going?". I posted the dramatic conclusion to this series - "The Kadesh Crisis" - a week or so ago. I would say with some authority I think that this message entitled simply - "The Land" - was the climax of the entire week. In the message Dr Ern Baxter deals with the subject of the type of "Going into the Land" and suggests with support from historical greats such as C H Spurgeon that the land in type DOESN'T mean heaven. There are after all, no giants in heaven we hope!

So here it is:

A final thought. David Holden said something very telling at the Brighton Leadership Conference in 2000. He said, "Your eschatology will shape your ecclesiology". What then is more likely to make us as Christians go out with confidence in the supremacy of our God and spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth - ready to die if necessary? An eschatology that suggests the Church is going to end up a remnant, desperately "hanging on" till the end waiting for the Second Coming of the Lord to save us? Or an eschatology that suggests that indeed evil will grow greater and greater - but the mountain of the Lord shall be established and all nations will flow to it. And Zion's glory will shine forth like the brightness of the noon day sun?

14 comments:

Dr Annette Marshall said...

Excellent!! EXCELLENT!! It is about time that the victorious Church rose up and realised the significance of her royal anointing with the Holy Spirit. We are anointed to reign with Him!! Not just in heaven! But now! Here! On Earth!! Did not our Lord promise that demons would be subject to us? Where is the Church taking authority over those demons and seeing high places torn down by the powerful proclamation of the Gospel?

If MacArthur is speaking out with his views of negativity and defeatism then it is time that the optimists spoke out!

An excellent post and an awesome AWESOME transcript!

I am so stirred!

Anonymous said...

Going into the land was a naive triumphalistic ridiculous notion that we were blinded with in the 70s. Any self respecting scholar of the Word would know that is just charismatic stupidity. Our focus is the Gospel not the land as Macarthur so rightly teaches.

Anonymous said...

Great stuff. I love it. Yes - that is an interesting concept. We all know that Calvinism leads us to a tendancy not to evangelise, so it is good to read a blog that comes from a Calvinistic background as you do, but one that is seeking to identify how considering the future can motivate us in the present.

I remember it was you that spoke of Ern Baxter's challenge. The angels asked the disciples of Jesus, "Why stand you gaping?". And I believe you are right - it is this optimism that is the only way of seeing the future that is not gaping and waiting for the Lord to descend.

We have a mission to fulfill. Let's rise up each day with excitement in our hearts and passion in our souls and go win the lost - preaching a Gospel of a victorious risen and exalted Saviour and Lord who is seated as King of the Cosmos!

"For we see Jesus enthroned on high - clothed in His righteousness we worship Him! Glory and honour we give unto you! We see you in Your holiness and bow before Your throne! You are the Lord, Your Name endures forever! JESUS THE NAME HIGH OVER ALL!".

Anyone remember that old blast from the past? What a great chorus. I'd much rather sing that than "Jesus keep me near the Cross".

DR S A J B

James said...

Amen! Amen! AMEN!! I am so stirred by this. So if the tide is turning as Terry Virgo teaches, and revival DOES come this year, then this is our focus! To change the world! Not just to enjoy an experience but to bring lasting change in the community!

Peter Day said...

Going into the land is a vital truth that we need to hear again and get into our hearts. Jesus shall reign where'er the sun doth his successive journeys run. His kingdom shall stretch from shore to shore!

I would suggest that part of the reason for the church's slumber has been a lack of this glorious vision of Christ's ever-increasing kingdom - "Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end" (Isaiah 9v7).

Of course those who refuse to enter the land are condemned to die in the wilderness. That is what makes reading the Kadesh sermon that was posted a couple of weeks ago so sobering.

So thank you, Dan, for reminding us of these things again. May we not miss out.

Just to say also to Dr S A J B, concerning "Jesus shall reign" v "Jesus keep me near the cross." That was exactly the conversation I had with Dan this week. And in our elders prayer day yesterday we were led in prayer to thank God for the empty cross, the empty tomb and the fact that the throne is full! And one of the brothers started to sing "For we see Jesus enthroned on high...."

Hallelujah! God is stirring fresh vision among His church.

Anonymous said...

"A naive triumphalistic ridiculous notion" - my goodness, angry anonymous man. To say something like that, you must be very sure of yourself and your theology. A pity that you don't choose to share it with those you are ranting at. You see I would walk carefully as you vent.

The Lord can use the mistakes His people use, but He can't use unbelief. Your ventings and rantings seem to be growing in fervour and I really would suggest in all seriousness you consider whether you are guilty of quenching the Holy Spirit and grieving Him.

Debate yes. But you consistently show nothing but anger and venom at what is being published here.

Take heed.

Dr S A J B

Ollie said...

I never thought I'd see a photo of the author of "Charismatic Chaos" - that drivelling rant on YOUR blog!! ;)

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Your jaw will drop!

Baxter's Boy said...

I'd like to register a discomfort here with the term "Continuationist". I'm aware of it and have been for some time now. I think men like Don Carson have been responsible for it's birth, due to their belief that the spiritual gifts are still around today but would not wish to identify themselves with the Pentecostal or Charismatic Moves of God.

My discomfort is this: it's simply a "safe" word. All it does is register the fact that you admit that the gifts of the Spirit of God may "continue" today. You are not making a statement about whether you actively pursue them or seek them for either your own personal life or corporate life in your church.

It is a new theological word that is being used to slightly distinguish one from classical cessationism. Another word for it may be "Cautious but open".

Bleugh. Any thoughts?! ;)

James B said...

Agreed.

Boo for continuationism.

Anonymous said...

I persist - I don't like the tone of this post - it suggests that Dr MacArthur is a pessimist about the future. He isn't. He looks to the Second Coming of Christ as the hope of the world.

Peter Day said...

I don't believe anyone is suggesting that Dr MacArthur is a pessimist about the ultimate future, but there is a great difference between longing for His appearing (about which we are all united), and one's position on whether "His kingdom shall stretch from shore to shore" as a result of the gospel spreading because the church seen her high calling to disciple the nations.

Psalm 110 says, "Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies Your footstool." Until, as Dr Baxter would say, is a time word. The Lord will stay right where He is - upon the throne - until His enemies are made His footstool. In other words until His kingdom has spread from shore to shore, and we see the nations coming up to Jerusalem to seek the Lord, and earth is filled with the knowledge of His glory.

These are unfulfilled promises in scripture (and there are many). Dr MacArthur places them in the Millenial kingdom after Christ's appearing while I, Dan and many others place these glorious events before His second coming. That is why we say we have an optimistic view.

Ollie said...

Amen. I think it is time that restorationists started speaking up with coherent tangible theological apologetics for what they believe and why. Men like Macarthur have held sway in the theological world for too long and have begun affecting swaying amillenialists like Mahaney maybe. It's not enough to rest on experience alone. We need to get into the word of God and start reading and preaching what we see there!!

Didn't ern Baxter say how utterly dangerous it was to take your theology from the newspapers and not from the Word of God? Let's start believing what we read!!

Tim said...

Premillenialists are idiots. Don't they believe in the "Left Behind" stories?