Friday, October 24, 2014

The Church does inherit many of the promises to Israel but God still has a plan for Israel

Back in the late 80's and early 90's, when I was still a new Christian, all I ever heard was the pro-Israel or Christian Zionist point of view. I heard it in Church and in Bible Study and in parachurch organizations and in the popular books of the day.

At first it was exciting to hear about fulfilled prophecy, but eventually it started to bother me as it seemed to relegate the Church to some sort of afterthought of God's while supposedly His main concern was always the nation of Israel. The Church just sort of interrupted His plan but after "The Church Age" is over we are to expect that He would resume His dealings with Israel.

 I'd done a lot of reading on my way to Christian belief and always found that the Church was the whole point of redemptive history, not some afterthought.  So this emphasis on Israel was starting to get to me. Since then the Reformed churches have become more influential and now the Christian Zionists are complaining that we're making Israel irrelevant and calling the theology that I'd always regarded as orthodox traditional theology by a new pejorative term, Replacement Theology.

Jan Markell sent along another piece on the subject of Israel, this one objecting strenuously to "Replacement Theology" as the devil's work within the Church against Israel, "Christian" Palestinianism: More Lies From the Pit of Hell by Geri Ungarean for the website Rapture Ready.
I wrote an article on Replacement Theology not too long ago. The main proponents of this lie from the pit are the main stream denominations - Presbyterian Church USA, Lutheran, Methodist and some Baptist churches, among others. The Catholic Church has been teaching RT since its inception...

We can see the finger prints of Satan in every church who is turning its back on God’s Holy Word. There is a new outcry from the pulpits of the PC crowd.

They yell, “Free Palestine! Israel is occupying land which is not theirs! Israel is an apartheid state! Down with Israel! Boycott products made in Israel!” They compare Israel with Hitler’s SS. To them, Israel is the oppressor, and are occupiers of their own land.
I agree with her that such accusations of Israel are very wrong, as I just wrote in a previous post, and it's fair to call it the work of Satan too, but I disagree that any of this has to do with theology. Apparently some kind of theological excuse for denouncing Israel is made in those pulpits, but it's hard to see how they could use Replacement Theology for that purpose;  probably it's more along the lines of the typical liberal misuse of the teachings about love and kindness and the denial of the right to self-defense, such as were directed against Israel in the film I discussed in the previous post.

Again, what does Replacement Theology have to do with whether or not Israel is at fault as they claim?

Interestingly most of the churches Ms. Ungarean lists are known as liberal churches, but what she calls "Replacement Theology" is taught in conservative churches as well, particularly Reformed or Calvinist churches.

I've never wanted to get very deep into this controversy, but every time it comes up and I post something on it I am forced to learn a little bit more about it.   I don't enjoy it, the disputes can be rancorous.   I recently listened to some dispensationalist arguments against Replacement Theology at Sermon Audio but I'll never be able to learn enough to have more than a broad grasp of the issues.

They often start off saying something like "Replacement Theology is the belief that God is finished with Israel, that He cast them off for their sins and particularly their rejection of the Messiah, so now the promises He gave to Israel all belong to the Church."  Then if their focus is on Covenant Theology, the theology of the Reformed or Calvinist churches, they'll go on to characterize Replacement Theology as related to Amillennialism and the allegorizing of scripture. 

None of this addresses any of my own concerns.  I strenuously oppose Amillennialism, have never seen any reasonable excuse for allegorizing anything in scripture, don't believe that God has completely cast off Israel, and I continue to appreciate the insistence of the Dispensationalists on the literal interpretation of numbers in scripture (if it says "a thousand years" it means a thousand years and not just "a long time" and so on.)  

And yet I do think that many of the Old Testament references to Israel refer to the Church.  I think this because I think this is what the New Testament says.

Geri Ungurean continues:
Another NEWSFLASH: God Himself is a Zionist.
“For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His habitation. ‘This is My resting place forever; Here I will dwell, for I have desired it. I will abundantly bless her provision; I will satisfy her needy with bread.

Her priests also I will clothe with salvation, and her godly ones will sing aloud for joy. There I will cause the horn of David to spring forth; I have prepared a lamp for Mine anointed. His enemies I will clothe with shame, but upon himself his crown shall shine’” (Psalm 132:13-18).
Such a flat statement applying this passage to ethnic Israel is simply not true. The New Testament refers to Zion in spiritual terms as the heavenly Jerusalem, and specifically not a something of the senses that could be touched:
Heb 12:18  For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest...,   Heb 12:22  But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
This is the dwelling place of the living God, not earthly Zion. He dwells in His people as the New Testament says, not in buildings made of stone or on earthly mountains. And what could the "horn of David" refer to but the Messiah?

Here's what Matthew Henry says:
Here will I dwell, for here he adhered to his principle, It is good for me to be near to God. Zion must be here looked upon as a type of the gospel-church, which is called Mount Zion (Heb. 12:22), and in it what is here said of Zion has its full accomplishment. Zion was long since ploughed as a field, but the church of Christ is the house of the living God (1 Tim. 3:15), and it is his rest for ever, and shall be blessed with his presence always, even to the end of the world. The delight God takes in his church, and the continuance of his presence with his church, are the comfort and joy of all its members.
Ms. Ungurean's article continues with more analysis of Political Correctness in the churches and Christian Palestinianism, and I agree with her in general about the errors there, but my interest is more in the meaning of Replacement Theology.

As I say above I believe that the New Testament requires us to interpret many of the references to Israel, Zion, and other terms in the Old Testament, as applying to the Church because they all point toward the coming of the Messiah and the fulfillment of God's plan of redemption in a heavenly and not an earthly Jerusalem. There is a general complaint by the Dispensationalists that we "spiritualize" the Old Testament references to Israel, but in fact it's the New Testament itself that spiritualizes them.

The New Testament also clarifies that Abraham himself was not looking to earthly Israel as the promised land but to a better country, that is, a heavenly promised land:
Hebrews 11: 9  By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: 10  For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God...
13  These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.  14  For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.15  And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. 16  But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.
Paul in Galatians 6:16 refers to "the Israel of God" in a context that clearly defines it as referring to the Church, to believers in the Messiah:
Gal 6:14-16  But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.  15  For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.   16  And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.
Although this passage is often disputed it seems to me that the Israel of God can only be believers, certainly not unbelievers, and if it's believing Jews then they are part of the Church just as believing Gentiles are, and they can't therefore be a different group from those who "walk according to this rule" and that includes all believers, both Jew and Gentile.

Then another distinction is made between ethnic Jews and believing Jews, further "spiritualizing" terms that are earthly or fleshly in the Old Testament, including circumcision:
For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:
There are also all those New Testament passages that show the Church to be God's chosen people:
Eph 1 4  According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:

2 Thess 2:13  But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:

James 2 5  Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?

1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
Concerning the covenant with Abraham the New Testament is clear that all who live by faith in Christ are inheritors of that covenant, though it could possibly also be said that as long as this earth exists the land of Canaan was clearly given to the physical descendants of Abraham. The only problem there is that it is an everlasting covenant and we know from other scripture that this earth is passing away, and the "everlasting" covenant could therefore only be the spiritual covenant, the covenant with the Church.

Here's Matthew Henry again:
GENESIS 17:6-7 Here is, I. The continuance of the covenant, intimated in three things:-1. It is established; not to be altered nor revoked. It is fixed, it is ratified, it is made as firm as the divine power and truth can make it. 2. It is entailed; it is a covenant, not with Abraham only (then it would die with him), but with his seed after him, not only his seed after the flesh, but his spiritual seed. 3. It is everlasting in the evangelical sense and meaning of it. The covenant of grace is everlasting. It is from everlasting in the counsels of it, and to everlasting in the consequences of it; and the external administration of it is transmitted with the seal of it to the seed of believers, and the internal administration of it by the Spirit of Christ's seed in every age. II. The contents of the covenant: it is a covenant of promises, exceedingly great and precious promises. Here are two which indeed are all-sufficient:-1. That God would be their God, v. 7, 8. All the privileges of the covenant, all its joys and all its hopes, are summed up in this. A man needs desire no more than this to make him happy. What God is himself, that he will be to his people: his wisdom theirs, to guide and counsel them; his power theirs, to protect and support them; his goodness theirs, to supply and comfort them. What faithful worshippers can expect from the God they serve believers shall find in God as theirs. This is enough, yet not all.

2. That Canaan should be their everlasting possession, v. 8. God had before promised this land to Abraham and his seed, ch. 15:18. But here, where it is promised for an everlasting possession, surely it must be looked upon as a type of heaven's happiness, that everlasting rest which remains for the people of God, Heb. 4:9. This is that better country to which Abraham had an eye, and the grant of which was that which answered to the vast extent and compass of that promise, that God would be to them a God; so that, if God had not prepared and designed this, he would have been ashamed to be called their God, Heb. 11:16. As the land of Canaan was secured to the seed of Abraham according to the flesh, so heaven is secured to all his spiritual seed, by a covenant, and for a possession, truly everlasting. The offer of this eternal life is made in the word, and confirmed by the sacraments, to all that are under the external administration of the covenant; and the earnest of it is given to all believers, Eph. 1:14. Canaan is here said to be the land wherein Abraham was a stranger; and the heavenly Canaan is a land to which we are strangers, for it does not yet appear what we shall be.
In all of this there is no necessary idea that God is completely through with Israel and I don't see anything in scripture that says so. There are passages that speak of their failure to uphold their end of the covenant but there are passages that promise that He won't abandon them completely anyway, and how much of that refers to the Church I really don't know. We know from Romans 9 through 11 that He plans to save "all Israel" in the end and that definitely refers to earthly Israel. That to my mind is enough to give earthly Israel a place in God's plan. and I can't ignore the fact that their defeat of the Arab states who attacked them was nothing short of miraculous. This is all based on history and not scripture but nothing happens without God, the state of Israel couldn't be there at all if God weren't superintending the whole thing, and again their defeat of their enemies shows to my mind God's hand in their affairs. God isn't finished with Israel and He isn't finished with Planet Earth. Although the heritage of the Church is spiritual, and that includes believing Jews as well as Gentiles, a transformed body, a transformed life, God began His work with earthly people on an earthly planet and there's no reason to think He would not bring that work to a fitting finish, and for that earthly Israel has to play a gigantic role.

HOW it all is to happen I haven't sorted out in my mind.

How desperately we need revival

Jan Markell's ministry sends out lists of headlines every day now, and it's hard to choose among them what is the most dire situation we need to address.  They're all dire, that's the times we're living in.  Here for instance is today's list.  Religious liberty is threatened in Houston, the wellbeing of the entire nation is threatened from the seats of power in Washington, Kerry is blaming ISIS on Israel, ISIS is continuing its rise.  

So a bunch of pastors did send Houston's mayor some sermons, which is a good sign in that at least a bunch of pastors is alert to the situation, but clearly the Church is being targeted and clearly we aren't showing the ability to stand up against it in any way that would demonstrate that we have the power of the living God behind us. 

I'm driven back to my desperate wish for revival because revival would bring us that power, would bring God Himself down to us. 

Is the list of obstacles to revival I discussed a few posts back to be taken seriously?  Are these really the reason we haven't had a revival through all the growth of the power of our enemies and the enemies of America and of the west over the last decades?  Why did Leonard Ravenhill's impassioned calls to revival fail?  Why have we had only the morally and spiritually impotent "revivals" of the signs-and-wonders Charismatic churches in these decades?  Those are the questions I've wanted God to answer and I think the list I gave is unfortunately only too likely to be His answer, at least in the ballpark of the explanations we've been missing.  

Then, as the complaint about Replacement Theology has been capturing my attention lately I've wondered if the Dispensationalist errors should be identified as another hindrance to revival to add to the list.  More on Replacement Theology is what I intended to write about in this post that I'm now finding myself addressing to these more general problems.   I'll probably go on to that topic in the next post, but I feel so strongly that if we don't have revival all is lost that I wanted to add these thoughts about it.

If the problems I listed can really be taken as obstacles to God's willingness to give us revival, how much hope is there that we could overcome them?  Could those who are committed to ecumenism open themselves to the idea that they are wrong and repent of it for the sake of revival?  Could charismatics be persuaded that their own beliefs could be a hindrance?  What about all those in the churches who have been divorced and remarried, what on earth could anyone do about that?  Dying to self is our calling but these things are a call to more dying to self than we've ever even begun to ask of ourselves.  Then there's Bible Inerrancy:  the chances of the churches who deny it changing their minds seems awfully remote so should we not include them in prayer for revival or what?  (I think as we pray for revival we should clearly denounce these false elements in the Church.)  And so on.

I realize as I write this that nothing that I know of is happening toward revival anyway, this is all just my own ponderings, mostly an expression of despair.  All the best analyses of what's happening can't help us.  Nothing we can humanly do can help us. We need God's power SO desperately and everything we are doing is keeping us from having it.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Leftist Evangelical Movie slamming Israel

In a recent email list of headlines which she's been sending out every day recently, Jan Markell included her article, Changing the Minds of Evangelicals in which she calls attention to a film, With God on Our Side, that promotes evangelical support of the Palestinians over Israel.  This is what is known as the Leftist Evangelical point of view.  I watched it and here are some comments:
 
It's a deceitful movie.  It's mostly accusations of misconduct by Israel toward the Palestinians, intended to shame American Christian Zionists out of supporting Israel.  Israel's misconduct includes restrictions on the movements of Palestinians, by checkpoints, the high walls built to keep them out and so on.  It wasn't until the end of the film that anybody said why Israel considers these measures necessary, then explaining that the walls had almost completely ended the suicide bombings that had been plaguing Israel for years.  But not one single "Palestinian" complained about the terrorism in their own population which is the reason for the restrictions.  The complaint was always that it's Israel's fault and it's a hardship for the Palestinians.

Supposedly the Palestinians are suffering from all this, it even "ruins lives" as one spokesman said, but then the film takes you briefly into their community to show you what a "vibrant" community it is, not a suffering community. 

I was alert to hear any mention of "Replacement Theology" as the reason Zionists shouldn't be supporting Israel, but it was only at the very end that two of the Christian spokesmen brought it up.  Otherwise the complaints against Israel were of unethical behavior which was criticized from a Biblical point of view.  The Old Testament is not so much about a covenant of land, one critic said, but a covenant of ethics, how you treat the foreigner, the orphan and the widow.  Without regard to why Israel has taken the measures it has taken.

The pastor's son who said he grew up with the understanding that Christians are to support Israel, had come to rethink all that, "started looking into things like the separation barrier and Israeli policies that are really having an effect on Palestinian life;  so I don't know" he says, "does supporting Israel mean we fully support every one of those policies?"  His brother adds "I still think that there is some truth there, to supporting Israel, but I don't think you can support any group of people... when they do things that violate other Biblical principles."   Not a word about the reason for those policies, not a word.    Apparently self-defense isn't an acceptable reason.

Gary Burge says "Palestinians are not defined by the radical wing of Hamas or Hezbollah."  Which I think was the first mention of those terrorist groups in the film.  What does it mean "not defined by?"  As I recall, for a long time it was clear that a suicide bomber could arise from any part of the Palestinian population, how would anyone know in advance who was "defined" by such a possible expression of Islam and who wasn't?  And again, shouldn't the Palestinians have been identifying terrorism from their own population as the cause of the restrictions on them? 

And it is always referred to as the "Israeli occupation" without the slightest nod to the complicated history of the region in which time after time it was the Palestinians who refused to accept any offer of an independent Palestinian state, and wars initiated by the Arab states against Israel, in which Israel won back land.

And "land confiscation."  Nothing in this film is explained, it's all accusations directed against Israel with very little in the way of context.  Even though supposedly the historical footage was supposed to explain what happened it was almost impossible to decipher.  The usual war pictures but I couldn't tell who the soldiers were.  Some breaking into somebody's house but no clear explanation, just the insinuation that it must have been one of the many indefensible actions by Israel.  This is an irresponsible deceitful film. 

Salim Munayer uses his own family history as the only argument against the claim that the area was a wilderness when the Jews started settling there.   "There were people here" he says.  Well, nobody ever said there weren't some people there, what was said was that they were few and far between, and Mark Twain who visited the region in the late 19th century is often cited for his report that the area was a desolate wilderness.  People few and far between.  And certainly no "Palestinians," such a people group never existed and still doesn't exist.  Where possible the arriving Jews purchased the property of those living there, but nothing about any of this was mentioned by Mr. Munayer.  What happened to his own family's property?  Did they keep it, sell it, what?  He insinuates something about how his family was badly treated by the Jews but the footage supplied at that point is ambiguous and probably had nothing to do with his personal experience anyway.  They were told to leave their home in 1948 right after Israel became a state, but who told them is not said, only insinuated, and who killed those who refused to leave is also not clear, but it was insinuated that it was Israelis, and for no good reason of course.  I end up having no idea about what happened to Salim Munayer's family or why, and the strong impression that they don't want me to know.

"Wait," says the narrator, "I'd always been told that the Palestinians were the aggressors."  Well, I was never told that.  I was told that the Arab states made war on Israel and that they warned the Arab people in the area to leave, and they are the ones who became the refugees without a state of their own.   Not aggressors, pawns of their own Arab people.  Numbers of refugees are mentioned in the film without one mention of how they became refugees, just the usual insinuation that this was Israel's fault.

One interview that was almost funny was the guy who said the intifada, which was an uprising of the Arabs, was very hard on his family because the Israelis closed the schools, they couldn't go to work, water was cut off, etc etc etc., without once mentioning that this was connected to Israeli self-defense in response to an Arab uprising.  Occasionally in the film the Israeli side is defended, but only in general terms, we never find out one thing about what happened in the specific events mentioned, such as this man's experience or Salim Munayer's. 

Another mystery was the statement that after the Oslo accords "everybody agrees that there was a drastic deterioration in the standard of living of the Palestinians."   Not a word about why this occurred.

I end up knowing less about the situation over there as a result of this movie than I thought I knew before. 

Replacement Theology really doesn't explain much in this movie.  Are we not to support Israel because it really doesn't figure in prophecy after all, or because supposedly they've committed all these ethical offenses against the Palestinians?  The two are not connected.  I think of Israel as a political ally of America, whether there is anything to the prophecies or not.  We can't expect the unbelieving world to accept explanations based on Biblical prophecies anyway;  Israel has to succeed as a political entity.  And I don't believe those accusations.  If any of them is in any sense true the film utterly failed to prove it. 

Arutz Sheva report on movie.

Mark Tooley at Front Page Magazine review of movie.

Right politics, bad history

Just ran across this video of Pat Robertson denouncing gay activists as terrorists and felt like posting it because I agree with him about that, but also because of what he says about the Inquisition.  He repeats the error that so many hold these days, treating the Inquisition as OUR heritage, as something we need to apologize for, the heritage of the Protestant Church as well as the Roman Church.  The ignorance of history is depressing.  Protestants, pre-Reformation Protestants, were the VICTIMS of the Inquisition. 

He also of course thinks it can never happen again.  I'm not so sure, but if it does, again Protestants will be its victims.  And since there is such ignorance about history the chances that it could occur again are thereby increased enormously.  Nobody is looking at the source from which it would arise. 

So here's Pat:



Oh, by the way, some pastors from across the country, and even Canada and Australia and Germany have sent sermons and Bibles to Houston's mayor as Mike Huckabee suggested they do.

I guess this is a good thing, at least it's some kind of action in response to her outrageous attempt to violate religious freedom.

Monday, October 20, 2014

My opinion on what hinders revival

No news yet about pastors preaching in solidarity with the Houston pastors whose sermons on gay rights issues have been subpoenaed, perhaps it didn't happen at all or only a few got involved.

I didn't want to get too deeply into the specifics of the Houston situation because for me it quickly became the source of an idea for getting the Church out of what seems to be paralysis in the face of every move made by the left, as if we just have to sit back and put up with it. I've been guilty myself of giving up and thinking Well, the Church was born in the Roman Empire which persecuted them, and it looks like we're just going to go back to being ruled by a pagan government that wants us gone, and persecution is good for the Church after all; the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church and all that. And besides this is the end times and prophetically we're right on schedule... Which is all true. But lately I think there may be ways to fight it after all and that's what's been preoccupying me.

THE HOUSTON CHALLENGE TO THE CHURCH


Just to say a few words about what's going on in Houston. First, the Mayor and City Attorney of Houston both denied knowing anything about the subpoena until the controversy was underway, and both affirmed that religious freedom is not to be infringed, and claim that wasn't their intention, it was just a matter of a badly chosen word, the word "sermons." What did they intend to say? Just "any and all communications," no emphasis on sermons. Supposedly this is for some kind of study, not an attack on pastors, just a necessary study connected with Houston's new equal rights ordinance that some pastors were strongly opposing. It is dubbed "the bathroom law" because it provides that public restrooms be available to either sex according to their preference, to allow access for transgendered individuals to the facility where they are most comfortable. No regard for how comfortable the majority may be with this arrangement, or the strong possibility that predators would take advantage of it.

About the denial, it isn't true that the mayor respects freedom of religion, which has been shown by the publication of a tweet of hers on the 14th that said "If the 5 pastors used pulpits for politics, their sermons are fair game." Clearly she is definitely targeting the Church for "hate speech" or violations of gay rights. I'm not sure what law makes political speech in the pulpit a crime, but if it is a crime we shouldn't tolerate this state of affairs any longer. I'm grateful for the recent discussions from many sources of the "Black-Robed Regiment" which proves that the early American clergy considered it a duty to preach on the politics of the day, which ought to be a model for the clergy in all times.

As for the "bathroom law" it's obnoxious and obscene and should be stopped in its tracks. This is a violation of public decency. When I was in rehab for my hip replacement summer before last I was shocked both by having a male nurse on some shifts, which made me decidedly uncomfortable, and by one incident where I was drying off after a shower and a nurse rushed into the bathroom saying she was going to bring a man in to use the toilet and needed to pull the shower curtain around me. I felt violated quite frankly. When he was behind his own curtain I rapidly dressed and left. The nurse commented that I "sure didn't like it" when she did that, did I, obviously implying I was the one out of order, not she. I'm a dinosaur and we're supposed to move with the times. Separate bathrooms is old fashioned, passé, a relic of an oppressive age. Do we protest or do we just let it all roll over us? Protesting takes work, it causes bad feelings, it's easier to just try to live with it, not make waves. So we back off. Wimp that I am, I said nothing more about it.

So on to today's news:

Newsmax today reports that Mike Huckabee wants all pastors in the nation to send their sermons to the mayor of Houston, any and all sermons, not specifically sermons on homosexuality or gay rights, and all those hearing him (see video) to send her a Bible. I've got to say this hits me as a useless gesture and a waste of Bibles. Huckabee says some good things about what the right to freedom of religion means and how this mayor is violating it, but in my opinion his solution is no solution. At best maybe it could show her that there are a lot of Christians in this country who disagree with her, and maybe that would have some effect.

THE CALL TO UNITE BEHIND THE HOUSTON PASTORS RAISES A TENUOUS BUT REAL HOPE FOR REVIVAL


But no, this just gets me back to Michael Brown's suggestion that pastors preach on homosexuality to support the Houston pastors, and I'd still like to see this sort of thing be considered as a way to deal with the problems we've been facing in America. I can see lots of plusses to such an action. It would aggressively defy the threatened repression of specific Christian teachings which is a violation of our First Amendment rights, it would give pastors strength in numbers who may be intimidated by such threats, and if the congregation supports the pastor and prays for the success of his preaching and prays against the repression of Christian teaching, we are also calling on God whose power we need to accomplish anything at all. Besides the goal of supporting the Houston pastors I allowed myself to expand on the suggestion to include all the problems America has been facing, dedicating a Sunday to each perhaps, although the specific method is something the pastors would have to determine, but some dedicated time when churches preach and pray in one voice across the nation against the evils we've all been only too aware of lately, especially perversions of American law that have been undermining the nation for decades now.

And just thinking along these lines reawakened my dormant hope for revival. It's dangerous to have this hope reawakened because of the disappointment that follows when we work for revival and it doesn't happen. I think I have a better grip on why it doesn't happen and that's good, but it doesn't mean the obstacles can be overcome. When I started my blogs I had the occasional rush of hope for revival that would deflate rapidly under a sense of the obstacles that would have to be overcome, back then mostly the specter of the "holy laughter" and other disruptive charismatic phenomena that were so prominent in recent "revivals;" along with the naysaying of a portion of the Church who believe God has given up on revival and now only seeks judgment on a sinful nation.

So my first thought was what a futility it is when I saw that David Ravenhill is continuing his father Leonard's preaching on the need for revival in America. A few decades ago Leonard Ravenhill preached many sermons and wrote many books trying to wake up the American Church to pray for revival, one titled America is Too Young to Die, all good and true preaching on a very important subject. You can find his preaching at You Tube. But what a disappointment when you know people were trying to follow his lead and nothing happened. No revival. Some bogus charismatic "revivals" but nothing like the Great Awakening that changed a nation, nothing like the revivals in Wales and the Hebrides that morally transformed those communities and left an indelible impression of the power of God on all who experienced them. Years later Martyn Lloyd-Jones still spoke of the impact of the revival he had experienced as a young man. It makes you yearn for the experience, but then you run up against all the reasons it probably can't happen.

Kay Arthur, who leads Precept Ministries Bible studies put out a call to pray for revival a few years ago to her Bible study members across the nation and the idea thrilled me. I did a couple of blog posts on it. That many people praying concertedly for revival surely ought to bring us revival. But it didn't.

So even thinking the thought of revival now comes with a cloud of gloom over it that I have to keep shaking off. If none of the pastors responded to Michael Brown isn't that already a sign we can't get a unified Church on any issue in America today? In earlier times you could get a revival if just one church was involved, or even just a few people started a prayer meeting focused on revival. I think it was the Hebrides where a powerful revival occurred when the elders of a church met to pray a few nights a week and were joined by a couple of elderly ladies praying in their home, a powerful revival that had people flocking to the church who hadn't even heard of its prayers, just drawn by the Holy Spirit. Then in New York City a man advertised for people to come pray for revival at a location he rented downtown and only a few showed up at first but then thousands and ultimately over a million.   I've kind of given up on that model of starting small, thinking the churches across the nation have to share in the desire and the work to bring it about. But maybe that's the Pollyanna element, maybe one just has to start where one can start.

I've been doing some minimal fasting and praying lately about the horrors of the daily headlines and I believe God has been rewarding my paltry and inconsistent efforts. I wake up early with my head full of thoughts along the lines of my latest blog posts. This morning I woke up with thoughts about what hinders a revival.

Leonard Ravenhill also wrote a book titled Why Revival Tarries. It's an indictment of a prayerless Church, prayerless pastors, prayerless Christians. Here's Page One of the book. And you can get a feeling for it by reading the Reviews of it at Amazon. It's a powerful book, it makes you very uncomfortable. One reviewer says it changed his life. Some of us just get overwhelmed by it, we can't do what he asks so we sink into deeper gloom. That includes me. He makes you feel terrible about it. I can't sustain the deep protracted prayer life he asks for though I admire it and wish I could. I've tried. I won't bore you with my futile efforts. They are something like closing my eyes, gritting my teeth and trying desperately to fend off alien thoughts with frantic flailings. I've come to think we may need revival to give us the ability to pray in depth. I occasionally succeed at the little my lazy American self feels up to and hope God will make more possible. Ravenhill's book may spur others on to the depths of prayer but I have to limp behind them, and I think there are many others like me. So I say let's just do what we can, even a little may be blessed by God and one thing we know: the more we have the more we will get, that's a principle Jesus taught that could keep us from giving up.

If we did pray as Ravenhill wants us to I'm sure God would finger all the problems in the Church that are hindering revival and move us to deal with them. But I'm sort of suspecting that the reason we can't pray in the depth we should is the same reason revival isn't happening:  We're under spiritual oppression because of the sins of the Church. My own answered prayers lately are giving me some idea of what we're up against.

The thought of them, as usual, takes the wind out of me. But here goes.

WHAT HINDERS REVIVAL


1) The main one, that I keep bringing up over and over, is ecumenism. I have the impression from somewhere that even Leonard Ravenhill didn't take a stand against the Roman Church. He may have tolerated it or been ambivalent about it, I'm not sure, but I don't recall his ever denouncing it. Billy Graham might have had an influence on him, he had a lot of people fooled, but we have to denounce Graham in no uncertain terms for his acceptance of Romanism, for sending Catholics from his Crusades back to the Roman wolf, and also for his horrifying admission to Robert Schuler that he thinks some people are saved who never heard of Christ. You can find this at You Tube. And we need to repent of all ecumenical prayer gatherings. I think this is absolutely crucial. Jonathan Cahn preaches a solid gospel sermon but doing it at an ecumenical gathering is as good as burying it six feet deep. God will not hear us if we hold hands with the followers of Baal, even if they are very nice conservative people we agree with on most other things. If they are Mormons or Catholics or whatever they are, they have to come out of their false Churches before we can fellowship with them on a spiritual level. If we want revival in this nation we HAVE to come together as a pure Christian body free of the influence of false doctrine. We can be nice about it, we just can't have it.

So I'm thinking it's possible that if Ravenhill was at all open to Roman Catholicism, even possibly for the sake of friendship with Billy Graham, he may have put the brakes on his own call to revival.

2) But I know for sure that he was open to the Charismatic Movement, like so many of us who believe God could still move in miraculous power and long to see it. But a lack of discernment in that area could also have stifled his call to revival, because the Charismatic Movement is based on false doctrine. They have a false idea of the Gifts of the Spirit and it is a big mistake to equate God's continuing will to bless us at times supernaturally with the particular beliefs of Charismatica. I do think most Charismatics are saved people and doctrinally orthodox on the most important points, but they are also particularly accepting of Roman Catholicism, and I also have to take the position that because they promote the false teachings about the gifts of the Spirit that they shouldn't be part of preaching and prayer for revival. I think of Michael Brown who called for the pastors to unite with Houston pastors and I feel bad about it but I couldn't include him in this effort toward revival. He says he regularly prays in tongues, it's part of his private devotions. He's deceived, he's not talking to God. I don't doubt his salvation, I don't doubt his orthodoxy on foundational doctrine, but any effort toward revival needs to be free of doctrinal problems wherever we can identify them.

I know this is going to offend a lot of people, which is one big reason why I have so little hope of success in seeking revival. We can't have revival if we don't do our utmost to purify the Church.

But wait, it gets worse.

3) The other thought that keeps coming to mind, apparently in answer to prayer, that is guaranteed to offend a great number of people, is that one hindrance to revival is the presence of sin in the churches, and the one sin that is in all the churches these days is divorce, and especially remarriage after divorce. I know that this is justified on the basis of scripture in many churches, for instance that sexual betrayal is preached as justification for divorce and remarriage. I'm not sure even that interpretation holds up (isn't dying to self the most central of all the commands to us?), but could it possibly be the reason for all the many divorces we see in the churches? Battering and abuse seems like a justifiable cause, although scripture doesn't mention it and as far as I know it's not a very common reason anyway. I can't determine the best interpretation of the scriptures on this subject, I haven't studied them closely enough but even if I had it wouldn't be my place. Different churches have different levels of strictness about it. I've strongly felt that some justifications are so lenient they amount to permitting sin in the congregation, but it's a feeling or impression and I don't want to try to defend it. All I want to say is I think the Lord has an objection to some of it, maybe all of it, and that if He does it could definitely interfere with efforts toward revival. How would we find out? By fasting and praying. This is what every church should do with any policy that could be controversial. God will reveal the truth about the controversy if the prayer is sincere. You have to be willing to accept the answer He gives. It could be very disruptive of the church, but each church would have to deal with it according to the Lord's leading.

If we want revival it's going to cost.

I had to get all that said, I feel strongly that the Lord has pointed to these three areas in particular as needing Reformation before we can begin to expect Him to send us Revival. Others need to fast and pray to come to their own conclusions about it.

Later I have to add 4) Denial of Biblical Inerrancy has to be identified and shunned. Sad to say this is one of the things that was on my mind when I woke up early this morning, one of the things I believe comes from God in answer to my prayers to understand what hinders the revival we need to answer the deteriorating culture. And I forgot to write it here. Absolutely crucial. It's really all of a piece with "Liberal Christianity" too. Those individuals and churches who hold these views, who deny that God's word is inerrant and therefore affirm all kinds of worldly and ungodly positions, cannot participate in this revival effort. It's one of the things we need to preach down, denounce in preaching and prayer, like the rest on the list I've been putting together here.

Revival has a purifying effect in itself, it stirs up everybody's conscience and leads to personal reforms of all kinds, but in our current situation it seems we need to do some reforming on our own before we can think of being blessed with revival. But I feel optimistic that it's possible, if we were to do these things God could very well respond with revival.

5) and 6) I also have two other issues that are the subject of separate blogs that I believe could make a big difference too, the Bible Versions issue and the woman's head covering. There's unfortunately not much likelihood of convincing many of my views on these, but I'll just put it out there that if everything else is done and revival is still not happening it might be worth the experiment of women wearing scarves in church and the church using only the King James Bihle. Just a thought.

There could of course be other problems that need reform before we can have revival. I'll probably be thinking about it.

KNOWING WHAT HINDERS COULD HELP, OR OVERWHELM US 


It has to help to have some idea what may be hindering revival, when before we've had no way of explaining our continual defeats. There is always hope in having a direction that could conceivably be followed even if a difficult one. The particular issues I've identified are of course not likely to persuade many so in the end revival could well be prevented anyway as it has been for so long already. But if even a few churches agreed to these things we could possibly have a local revival at least.

Maybe not many Christians even want revival. But what if it's the only way we could possibly push back the pagan influences that have been overwhelming us lately? That's the context in which I think God brought these things to my mind.

I'll close this by saying we should be a David Church and I have some hope that we could be:
1 Samuel 17:26 And David spake to the men that stood by him, saying, What shall be done to the man that killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel? for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?
But at the moment instead of being a David Church that stands up to Goliath, we're the ones who bring reproach on Israel by fleeing from him.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Daydreaming about a committed and powerful Church that can take down this upstart Philistine culture by faith in God

I don't know how many pastors preached against homosexuality today as Michael Brown suggested they should and I was hoping they would, in support of those in Houston being harassed by the Gay Agenda.  I haven't seen any news on it, though maybe it's just early.  I hope a good number were involved. 
 
I'm wishing as usual that this could be a trend, and thinking of it as the only hope we have to actually do something against this tide of evil that's been flooding the land.  This is the work of Satan and we're his greatest enemy, supposedly, but here we sit as if gagged and bound.   I don't think I can stand any more analysis, we need action.  But what action?  We're paralyzed, and it's not completely clear why.  Just sitting around waiting for the end times prophecies to manifest as we see them developing all over the place. 
 
How I'd love to see the churches unite to preach down the issues of the day in one voice as a regular thing, from time to time, or since the times are so emergently bad drop everything else and preach and fast and pray in the same unison more often than that until God hears us.  Great revivals came about with daily prayer but just praying for revival now isn't going to do it because there's too much wrong that has to be faced down first.
 
Weak Church, divided Church, compromising apostasizing Church.
 
Well, Gideon didn't need big numbers, just a small number, and God.  Samson destroyed the Philistine temple bound and blind and all alone, with God.  David felled the Philistine giant all alone, with God.  I'd even point to the little state of Israel who, surrounded by giant Arab nations who want her dead, defeated them in the wars they started against her.  I have no doubt that was with God too.
 
So OK, a remnant of churches. we don't need big numbers, just the purest of the churches
Start with self-examination and repentance, strip down to essentials.
 
Keep hearing how tax-exempt status conferred by Big Brother has a stranglehold on the churches, so GIVE IT UP.  Without freedom to preach the truth it's not worth it.
 
Pray for the churches, against the apostasizing, against fear and weakness, pray for strength of faith
 
Concertedly, systematically, consistently Preach and Pray down:
  • The Gay Agenda
  • Push back against the sexual sins that are undermining the nation and led to the gay agenda, unmarried cohabitation, "sex education" the "freedom" of pornography, easy divorce and of course abortion; pray to restore respect for God's Law.
  • Marxism and Political Correctness in general. Take a few weeks on this one
  • Islam. A few weeks here too. Pray for the salvation of many Muslims out of that murderous satanic religion. Pray for strengthening of laws against such a subversive "religion."
  • The Roman Church. Take a few weeks on this one too. This will divide the sheep from the goats.  That eyes would be opened to false doctrine, that Catholics be saved.
  • Against all the cults, Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnesses, Christian Science, Emergent Church, all of them, that eyes would be opened, people saved.
  • And let's pray against the twisting of the Constitution and for some kind of reformation of the Supreme Court which is a major conduit for all these evils.
Keep up the self-examination and repentance, that's fuel for the work.

The list could grow quite a bit from here of course, and it may need to be rewritten, it's just meant to be an idea for how we could approach the problems.

Individuals can participate up to their ability even outside the church sessions.  Fasting helps.  Some can't do a complete fast, but just cutting back counts as fasting, cutting back on food but also on all the other comforts of life.  Turn off the TV except for the news programs, spend the time praying or reading up on the issues of the day that we're focusing on.  Eliminating specially loved foods and eating simple foods just for nourishment is a fast, you can do it as a version of Daniel's fast in Daniel 10:3 if you want, and that's one you can keep up for a long time.  If there's one thing I've discovered about fasting it's that it's important not to turn it into a hard and fast set of rules or deprive yourself of things that are only going to make you rebel and give up too soon. It's supposed to be a sacrifice but there's no point in pushing your limits or you can defeat the whole purpose. Eating half of what you'd normally eat at a given meal counts as a fast.  Make a sandwich, cut it in half and save half for another meal.  Do it for as many meals as you can;  do it for a few days in a row and you'll feel quite hungry.  But when you have to, go back to normal eating, then do it again when you feel you should.  Remember to pray though, the point of fasting is to clear the channels for prayer and especially for hearing from God, who will give wisdom for dealing with these issues we're praying about.

Just my daydream for today.

Update:


 Can't believe I forgot to mention that since revival could very well be the result of such a concerted effort by the Church, we need to pray that the phenomena the Charismatic Movement embraces won't dominate such a revival. Andrew Strom (see link top right of page) did a good job of proving that they are not Christian phenomena but commonly occur in Hindu settings, even under the evil guru Rajneesh. John MacArthur's Strange Fire Conference last year effectively debunked the claim that such phenomena have anything to do with the gifts of the Spirit given to the New Testament Church.

Nevertheless, such phenomena have often occurred in genuine revivals, even under Jonathan Edwards, Whitefield and Wesley, so they probably can't and shouldn't be totally suppressed. But they should be treated as aberrations, kept to the sidelines and not made the center of attention as if they are the whole point of the revival, which has often been the case in the "signs and wonders" charismatic fiascos such as the "Toronto Blessing," the Brownsville "revival," the Lakeland "revival" and whatever it is that has been going on in Redding California.

We want a Church full of people who resemble Jesus, and that is salt and light to the culture, not a Church that is breathlessly awestruck by physical manifestations.

Black-Robed Regiment model?

Maybe I'm being pollyanna -- Me?? Pollyanna? Me?? Well, sort of, or maybe on the upswing of bipolar, not that I've ever been classified as such. I'm talking about really really hoping a great number of pastors and their churches will see the value in rallying together on the issues of the day, starting today in preaching God's word against homosexuality. The more the better to stand in support of the Houston pastors who are under attack by their Gay Agenda-driven mayor.

Individually they all get picked off one by one. There should be some strength and safety in numbers. That's what I'm hoping. I'm sure I'm putting so much hope into this because the evil that has been growing around us has been getting me down, and especially the sense of helplessness. Then the thought comes, God's Church helpless? Don't we have the power of the omnipotent God behind us? WHAT IS GOING ON?

I was just listening to Alex Jones from a year ago where he has two pastors on talking about the government tyranny against the churches already well underway, and the main message is the WIMP FACTOR, the COWARD FACTOR, how many pastors out there won't stand up against the tyranny. They've got tax-exempt status and they don't want to risk it by speaking out. Getting in debt building huge churches, trying to live the prosperous American Dream.

THIS IS NOT THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH!

JESUS SAID: HE WHO WOULD SAVE HIS LIFE WILL LOSE IT, BUT HE WHO WOULD LOSE IT FOR MY SAKE WILL FIND IT.

WHERE IS OUR FAITH?

I found the Jones program by looking for some preaching on the Black Regiment. It's mentioned on Jones' program, one of his guests wrote a book on it.

I wanted to hear something on the Black Regiment because of what Larry Kutzler had to say about it in his blog yesterday on the Houston situation.

The Black Regiment is the model we need today, the clergymen of the Revolutionary War period who preached war against the tyrant and took their guns to church, ready to use them. And they did use them, they fought in the war when it came. A model of a pastor who is the complete opposite of the pastor who doesn't want to make waves.
A great need in the church today is to raise up courteous leaders who are not afraid to tell the truth and fight for what is right in our society. Too many pastors end up compromising their calling in being silent about the issues that are controversial.

If you contrast what we see in the pulpits today with the pulpits back in the Revolutionary days, you will find a stark contrast.

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=youtube%EE%80%81+black+robe+%EE%80%80regiment&FORM=VIRE4#view=detail&mid=6FAAB8781CEF9C02E2A86FAAB8781CEF9C02E2A8

Preachers were not only religious leaders, they understood that their religious duty was to serve their country by defining the Constitution of the United States. Beneath those black robes they wore as they preached, was a soldier who willing to defend the country with his life.

It was that kind of courage that forged this great land, and we are now on the brink of losing everything our foundering forefathers fought and died for.
The last radio program I heard from Chris Pinto was his discussion of a book he'd recently discovered on the preachers of the Revolutionary War period, Sacred Scripture Sacred War that I'm hoping I'll be able to get eventually.

The United States was born from the pages of the Bible, despite the fact that some of the big name Founders were anti-Christians.

What will it take, Lord? Is it possible? Have we gone over some line we can't return from? Will the Church wake up or not? Will the pastors come out of hiding and stand for Your truth or not? If building projects must be abandoned and tax exemption lost and we have to meet in a warehouse isn't that better than letting the evil powers overrun us? If we have to go to jail for telling the truth, far far better than cowering. Will we call down the evils that are destroying America and the west or not?

Have mercy on us, Lord, give us the wisdom and the courage we need to rid ourselves of everything that keeps you from blessing us and restoring the American church and the American nation. Amen.