Law, Grace, and Citizenship Lesson 6
Christian Cultural Influence (Part 1)
Labor Day Conference at North Stonington Bible Church
03 September 2012
© Charles A. Clough 2012
Good morning. We are on lesson 6. This is the next to the last session and we hope we’ll start getting down to the Christian cultural influence. To do that let’s prepare our hearts with a word of prayer.
Just to kind of review here a minute what we’ve done so far - let me try to summarize what we’ve done so far and where we’re going. We now have a true picture. We’ve gone into the Bible. We’ve gotten the basic concepts; the big ideas of the Bible and these ideas we’ve seen are in total conflict with our surrounding culture. So we’re living in the middle of a battle of a whole set of ideas versus the cultural ideas. We need to understand that.
This is hard to do particularly as a young person growing up because as you get older you get more exposed to the assaults on the faith both the common ordinary kind of assaults but in your educational experience you get pressure. I think one of the problems we all have in education is that it comes so fast. We get frustrated as believers, as students because we’re trying to sit there and take it in, do a good job and then gosh, I don’t know about this, I don’t know about that. So I’ve asked Brian if he would come – Brian Staub. He’s a professor now. I’d like him to just share with you the dynamics of the classroom. This is particularly dedicated to you young people because you need assurance that it’s not a totally crazy world out there. You just have to learn how to handle it. Brian, could you come and share?
I’d just like to talk about a conversation I was having with Charlie at supper on Thursday night. I don’t want to take all the credit for the idea because it was the result of a conversation I had with Peter who was here this weekend and has already left. I do claim responsibility for all the wrong stuff that may be in it.
I have been on the faculty with the University of New York for 4 years now, teaching mathematics. While I was there in an effort to teach the students well, I tried to think about what’s motivating these students and what’s going to help them learn - at the same time think about what’s influencing them and making them think the way they do. I got saved in college and I have a lot of friends from college who are not saved. For a long time I’ve been thinking - why do they think the things they do. Where did their presuppositions come from which are inherently different than our set of presuppositions? I got to realize that they’re really coming from the same place in college. Students are coming into college and they are at a very impressionable age and they don’t really have a set of beliefs yet. They go through an education system that is supposed to teach them how to think for themselves and critically examine something and decide whether it’s true or false.
But that’s not what students come in to do. So based on thinking about what I was thinking when I went through college and conversing with my students they seem to have a very universal thought process and the thought process goes along the line of they know they want to make big bucks. They want to make good money and they’ve been told that if you want to make good money you have to go to college and get a college degree. So they’re in college because they want to get a good job and in order to finish college they have to finish their degree. To finish their degree they have to take certain classes.
So they said, “Alright I have to take these classes and I gotta to pass them.”
That’s where I see them in my classroom with this idea that they don’t want to learn anything from the class. They don’t want to take information and think about it and examine it. They want to know exactly when my exams are, what’s going to be on my exams and then cram it in their head and spit it back out.
In mathematics it’s different but if they’re sitting in a biology class that’s teaching something like evolution - they’re for better or worse I mean in some sense they have to do to get their degree but all they’re doing is packing their heads with ideas and not thinking about them. That’s how they get equipped with what they believe so I have many friends who believe in evolution; but they don’t even know what the theory of evolution says. They’ve never read Charles Dawkins; they’ve never read any kind of primary research source on it. They just know that they sat through his biology class when I was in college. I heard some stuff about evolution. I don’t really remember what was said but I remember bits and pieces of it and they go out and they go into the world and they hear little pieces from the media that reinforce what they’ve heard and that naturally develops their presuppositions.
The moral of the story is that when you’re in college you get bombarded with a lot of information that you’re asked to memorize not necessarily asked to think about. If you’re not careful then that will influence the underlying thought process that you use to make decisions. The good news is that if you have an understanding of what the biblical frame of mind is then you can over time test the truth of those ideas over the truth you already know and discern what’s true and what’s false.
For the unbeliever, they can’t do that. So the other thing that you can’t take away from it is how do those people think? Despite what they think they don’t think in any kind of original way. They are thinking the same way the ancient Greeks thought, the ancient Romans thought – the same process, the same set of beliefs. You can use that to evangelize to them and show them the inconsistencies of what they think is scientific fact.
So as a believer going to college don’t be overwhelmed with the amount of information that you are asked to blatantly memorize and not think about. Take it and think about it and do ask questions of yourself. Even as us adults who are not in college anymore we still get bombarded with all kinds of information with which we have to ask questions about and not just ... I believe that now. We must ask questions and see if that really fits in with what you already know to be true. So for those of you who are in college just remember that as you are being asked to remember things in some main idea of what we ....
Thank you Brian. I thought it would be more credible coming from him than it would from me since Steve is now the professor in a classroom. That’s just meant to encourage again those who are on their way to college that you are going to be taking a drink out of a fire hydrant. So you’ll have time after college to really educate yourself because education continues as long as we take breaths in this world.
If you look at the outline we’re on section 6 and that’s entitled The New Thing, The Church, The Body of Christ. Last night we transitioned from the Law to grace. We pointed out that the Kingdom of God and this is going to be a title that we need to trace and in a few minutes I’m going to point out why this is so important.
The Kingdom of God is used in theology for many, many different things and there are hundreds of versions of what people think the Kingdom of God is. We don’t have all the details; but we do know in the New Covenant promised through Jeremiah to Israel that when the Messiah returns He will put the statutes and judgments in the heart of the nation. So Israel will understand their social justice in terms of statutes and judgments reinforced this time by the Messiah. Because the nation will be regenerated, the heart will be there to obey them.
But, the takeaway for us is this – the statutes and judgments to come are going to look very similar to the statutes and judgments we’ve looked at in the Mosaic Law Code. That’s why even though the Mosaic Law Code is slightly different from the New Testament. It is another system, a national system versus the church system. The standards of holiness, the standards of justice that underlie those statutes and judgments aren’t going to change. They are the same thing. So those social structures that are encouraged under the Mosaic Law Code are going to be encouraged once again in the Kingdom of God. So what we want to do as believers is when we hear the term kingdom of God what you conceptually want to think about is the Mosaic Law Code. That’s an orderly society. That is a depiction of what a mortal society is when it is running properly.
The other thing we noticed last night – we mentioned in addition to the Old Testament view that the Messiah would come it wasn’t totally clear to those Old Testament saints certain things that happened; and I’ll use the word surprise. It’s not a surprise to God. God from eternity knew what He was doing here. But from earth from within our space-time-history it was a surprise what happened to the Messiah. It was a surprise to them the Messiah would be crucified. His body hung on a cross just like in the Old Testament law code a criminal’s body would be hung by the roadside saying that body is the body of someone who was accursed of God.
We saw how the Apostle Paul picked that up and said, “You know what - that display of Jesus’ body on the cross is showing us that He really did become accursed of God.”
Now this is a theological concept that goes beyond our ability to synthesize as to how the Son of God incarnate took upon Himself your sin and my sin and that sin was judged at that point. We don’t know how that happens. We just know that it happened. That was a momentous event.
Then the second great event following the crucifixion was the resurrection. Don’t you kind of prick your intellects to think about this for a minute? Think about the resurrection of Jesus. Think about Him walking outside and Miriam mistakes Him for the gardener. So in His resurrection body He looked a little different. But yet on the other hand probably Mary wasn’t expecting to see Jesus. So it could have been confusion on her part. She doesn’t recognize Him right away – until something happens. What led her to realize this is the Messiah; this is Jesus was He said, “Miriam.”
Now there were thousands of Miriam’s living at that time. But, she knew Him personally. You know your name when someone was friendly - one of your friends says your name - they say it a certain way. You get used to that. Well, that’s what Miriam did. Miriam was used to being called Miriam by Jesus. So this strange thing - this body walks out obviously alive and out of His mouth comes the word Miriam. Now let’s think about what goes on here. This is a resurrection body.
The resurrection body was a surprise to the disciples. Remember Thomas? He didn’t believe it. He thought he saw a spirit.
And what did Jesus say to Thomas? “Come here. Touch Me.”
And what He was teaching Thomas was that this was not some ethereal spirit.
He said, “I have flesh and I have bones.”
So this resurrection body is a totally new physics. There is no physical model that predicts resurrections. Do you know why the resurrection is so important? It’s because that’s the first piece, the first material piece, of the New Heavens and the New Earth. The New Heavens and New Earth has already begun. We unlike any other religion have a piece of the future now. Now we have the resurrection. The Marxists don’t have anything for their vaunted workers’ paradise. They don’t have a chunk of that. It’s only we Christians. The Muslims don’t have an idea of the future in the sense of something substantive now. But we do. We have a resurrected Savior.
So that resurrected Savior refutes all of man’s attempts to scientifically understand reality because any scientific theory of reality if it’s really a scientific theory that is comprehensive must include the resurrection and no physics deals with that.
How do we deal with a body that suddenly appears through a wall? How do we deal with this body? The other thing about the resurrection that’s so critical that we need to think about is once resurrection occurred that person is fixed in his ethical status.
That means when Jesus says in a very sobering moment, “Do you realize that there are two resurrections? There is a resurrection of life and a resurrection of damnation.”
Now remember that evil chart where the good and evil separate never to come again? That’s the sobering nature of resurrection. It fixes people in their ethical state. So Jesus can’t be tempted anymore. He doesn’t have to face Satan in temptation. He is in resurrection status.
So in the Millennial Kingdom, which we will talk about in a moment, one of the reasons it becomes the Millennial Kingdom isn’t because the people are sinless. They certainly have mortality. But, the Millennial Kingdom is administered and managed by immortal people - the leaders in the Millennial Kingdom (the church) and perhaps the Old Testament saints. We have immortal people ruling mortal people - strange kind of situation.
People say, “Well, it’s hard to visualize how that happens.”
Well for 40 days didn’t Jesus walk around with His disciples? Didn’t He eat with them? Isn’t this strange? A resurrection body eats. Well, what happens to the food? How does a resurrection body digest food? We don’t know. But the disciples apparently thought – “You know we had dinner; we had supper with Jesus,” and so forth. So this strange thing, this resurrection body, is something to think about. You know, we just think about it occasionally at Easter. But it ought to grip our minds about what the universe is going to be like.
Then something else about Jesus – that is after He rose - after He rose I mean He ascended. The place He ascended those of you who have been in Jerusalem is that ridgeline just east over the Kidron Valley. You have the Temple then on the east side you have the Kidron Valley. You walk up the valley. There is the Garden of Gethsemane. It’s so small.
When my son went there with an Air Force assignment he said, “You know you walk around and all these cosmic events happened within a couple of miles of each other and you get the idea, “Gee this is ground zero; but it’s an awfully small ground zero.”
You walk up the Kidron Valley and there’s the Garden of Gethsemane. You walk up the hill further south; and that’s the Mount of Ascension. So here Jesus was and the disciples are hanging around there.
Let’s turn to Acts 1 just so we get the picture of this. Luke didn’t see this but he obviously got the information through Paul and others who were there.
Acts 1:4 – this happened in history people. This isn’t a story for Sunday school. This is an historic event. The crucifixion, the giving of the Law in the Old Testament 1400 years prior to this event - that’s an historical event. How many of you in a history course or a social studies course have ever studied the giving of the Mosaic Law such that the God of the universe could be heard and videotaped? Has that ever been in any of your history courses? Is that a very important event? Why is it not in your history courses? Because, it’s filtered. Why is it filtered? Because of the presuppositions of your curriculum.
And here is another stupendous event. Has a man ever risen from the dead? No. Isn’t that an event worth studying in history? Have you ever studied it in a history course? No. Why? Because it’s filtered. You got a filtered education. That’s our problem. That’s why it takes a self-conscious effort to read the Bible as real living history to correct the falsified and filtered education that most of us have been brought up with. We have a problem thinking biblically about any subject because from when we were little kids on up our education has filtered out all this stuff. So the society at large thinks it’s nice little religious compartment. History is here and the Bible stories are over here in an airtight compartment - marginalized.
Look at this in Acts 1:4.
NKJ Acts 1:4 “And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, ‘which,’ He said, ‘you have heard from Me;
5 “ ‘for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’ ”
6 “Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, ‘Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ ”
That’s the Kingdom of God. They want to know. I mean that’s our hope. That’s our hope, our historic hope.
NKJ Acts 1:7 “And He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.’ ”
That’s the answer to both the people who try to date set as well as the people who laugh at the date setters and make it look like all we nit wit Christians are date setters and, “Ha Ha, it didn’t happen.”
Well, ha, ha, ha, the date set was wrong.
What did Jesus say? Nobody knows this. So, don’t try to compute the date.
NKJ Acts 1:8 “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Then in verse 9.
NKJ Acts 1:9 “Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched,”
Now just put yourself there on the sill. He’s talking to them and they’re watching Him because He’s talking to them.
“He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.”
Like Cape Canaveral here. Something happened on the top of that ridgeline. He started ascending and a cloud took Him out of sight. What a sight! And while they looked up - and there’s a kind of humor in this verse. Picture all the disciples looking up. They’re not looking horizontally. They are looking up. Something they don’t notice. While they look up toward heaven, two men stood by them in white apparel. They didn’t notice them because they were looking up. All of a sudden these two men are there in white apparel.
NKJ Acts 1:11 “who also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven?’ ”
It was a surprise. They didn’t even know these two guys suddenly appeared there.
Then they ask the innocent question. Isn’t this striking? So many times in Scripture when angels show up or God shows up, they begin the conversation with a question.
“What are you looking out for guys? This same Jesus?”
Now this is important because this was a videotapable event. What do the angels say in the next sentence?
This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven."
Isn’t that comforting? It’s going to be a public event. Not some smooth little mystical return of Jesus in somebody’s heart. This is going to be a public event that can be videotaped. That’s the power of the announcement. So we’ve looked not at His crucifixion and resurrection and His ascension. There is no eyewitness to His session right - because nobody has been in heaven to see what is going on there. The 4th event the session of Jesus comes to us as the Holy Spirit inspires the New Testament writers to write about it. They utilize Old Testament passages to do this.
So now we want to come to the new thing in the New Testament. The Kingdom of God hasn’t come because Jesus hasn’t come back to be king. However something new has happened – that on Pentecost God did a work; and we call that the beginning of something new, the body of Christ.
Now in your outline there are image #1 and image #2. The pictures of the body utilize these two images. The first image we have given over and over again and I list all these verses there. You have been through these verses many times – is the human body. Now that’s interesting. Why is the Holy Spirit using the human body as a metaphor for the church?
Metaphors in the Bible are not arbitrary literary inventions. When the Scripture writers use a metaphor they are relying upon something that was deliberately created to be that metaphor.
When I was in Texas as a teacher of the Bible I wanted to know more about sheep because sheep are always the metaphor of this. I remember going over to the veterinarian place and talking to the guy that was raising sheep.
I said, “What is their behavior like?”
“Come on. Let me show you this.”
So we go over to a small pen. We have a big long trough line. It was probably (I forget now.) 15 feet – 20 feet filled with food. So the sheep are in the next field and he opens the gate. So the sheep come through.
So the sheep come through. The first sheep comes through. All the rest follow him. The first guy decides he wants to eat the food at the end of the trough. Where do all the other all the rest want to eat? It’s 20 feet long. All the rest of them want to eat at the end of the trough. So they are butting each other not realizing that there is food all the way down here. Then he went on to describe all the other things.
Then I got to thinking. You know God has a great sense of humor. Here He designed this animal. God designed the animal. One of the interesting things about sheep is they need human beings to survive. Hey evolutionists? How did these guys evolve? Sheep need people. Sheep need shepherds. Here is an animal deliberately created needing a shepherd – stupid. Then that’s what God picks out to describe us.
Then the other metaphor - we looked at a zoological metaphor. What is the botanical metaphor? A vine. So I wanted to learn more about vines because in John 15 it talks about vines and pruning and all the rest of it. So there is a man in our church that’s a vineyard owner.
I went out to his vineyard and I said, “I’d like to learn more about how you take care of this vineyard.”
He showed me about a 300-page manual on all the little things that a vineyard owner has to know from the roots to the pruning and everything else. In a nutshell he showed me some basic things and it opened my eyes to another metaphor. Here’s this plant, grapes. The grape without pruning and without human care doesn’t produce much. It produces a lot of vine. It doesn’t produce really juicy grapes. Now isn’t this interesting? We have a sheep that’s designed to be totally dependent on man and we have a plant designed to be totally ... Is this an evolutionary accident or are these deliberate creations that God did so He could use those to train us in truths?
He said, “The first thing we do in vineyard production is we always plant north-south, never east-west.”
“Well, why do you plant the vine north-south?”
“So the light comes on both sides equally. The sun rises in the east and goes around the plant and shines on the west side.”
Now what’s the metaphor of light in Scripture? The plant needs the light to produce the fruit. That’s one of the other reasons they prune it so that the light comes on the areas of the vine that are producing fruit.
Another reason why they prune is because if there is too much vine there’s not enough wind to come take away the mildew threat. Now what’s the metaphor of wind? Isn’t this interesting? Here’s a plant that needs light and wind and you don’t have to be an advanced Bible student to pick up what those metaphors are talking about - the light of the Father and the wind of the Spirit. So the plant is done.
The last thing I learned that afternoon - I asked that afternoon when I was out in the vineyard with him – I asked him about – because I saw him pruning. It looked pretty vigorous. He wasn’t just snipping off of a leaf here and there.
I said, “In the course of a season of the total vine how much do you prune?”
“Oh, about 80%.”
80 percent? John says He prunes me - 80%?
So these metaphors are powerful things. When we talk about the church as the body, the human body was designed not only for incarnation but to illustrate the body of Christ.
Several intriguing things about this - one of the church fathers - it was Tertullian. I apologize for not giving you the reference. I had it once in my notes and I lost it. But the church father Tertullian had this wonderful picture of Genesis 2. Tertullian was imaginative in his writings.
He said, “When God reached down and He stooped down in the garden and He took the dirt in His hands and He molded the human body in His image, what He was doing as He stooped down to do that He was looking down the corridors of time until He would become incarnate.”
Isn’t that a graphic picture of the creation of man that it was being created because the God who created the human body deliberately created it because He knew that He would incarnate Himself in that kind of body? The human body is unique in that respect.
So this body has all kinds of features to it. It has an autonomic nervous system, which has all kinds of sophisticated communication in it. It has chemical communication. It has electrical communication within the body. I mention these things for this reason that we speak often of us in communion with the Father; but whenever the body of Christ and you’ll see it in your local congregation. I’m sure you’ve witnessed this. When one part of the body hurts it affects the other parts of the body. It’s almost like there’s a horizontal communication just like in the body, not just the vertical communication. You know where practically this plays out is in praying for the persecuted church.
There is a lady in Pakistan right now who’s in jail. I forget her name but she’s in the Voice of the Martyrs Magazine. She’s had experience much like Corrie ten Boom in the Nazi concentration camp in World War II. Corrie was in there and of course the horrible conditions for the women in that prison.
They were raped repeatedly and so on until she said, “We all got lice. The Germans stopped raping us because they didn’t like the lice.”
So here these women were sick, dying women. Corrie is praying, “Lord, you have to show me your presence in this.”
This goes on day after day. She recounts in her biography that she looked out the window. She could see out of her cell and a bird would come at the same time every morning and sing. It was that small little thing, but she knew that the Lord sent that bird.
You know what? This lady in Pakistan who is a Christian who is being imprisoned because she defected from the Muslim faith - do you know what’s happening? She looks outside a window and a bird comes every morning and sings to her. So that keeps her spirit up. She knows just because that bird comes to her and sings, Somebody sent the bird.
So God cares for His body. So this image of the body is not an image of a kingdom. The images here aren’t one of a king and a kingdom. The image here is now one of a head and a body. The imagery has changed. That’s what’s new in the Church Age.
Something else, and every parent knows this. When the baby is born and you take the total length of the baby what percent of the height of the baby is the head? A big percent, right? What happens when we age? We get taller and taller and of the percent of our height of our head decreases, doesn’t it? Because the body increases. I think that’s a metaphor of the growth of the body of Christ. After all the first generation it was the head, Jesus, and a few people. Now it’s millions of people in this body. This is the image.
There is a second image in your outline. That’s the image of the Temple. Remember we said (big idea # 7), when God meets people physically it’s a special space for Him. Those protocols come to that. We are the temple. That’s in 1 Corinthians 3 and Ephesians. Remember, I gave you those to verses.
So let me remember the blanks.
Instead of nation ethics, in the New Testament we get body ethics. So that’s a distinction. This is the change that’s happening.
We want to look now to orient ourselves now to what God is doing in our age. We want to move now and think about the body now different from the kingdom. In the next part of your outline, I have the difference from the Millennial Kingdom. In the Millennial Kingdom, Jesus is king. So He reigns as king. Now in our relationship with our Savior, He is our head. He is the head of the body and we are part of His body. So there’s a difference. Nation ethics will be corrected to righteous standards when Jesus comes to reign with a rod of iron.
Let’s go to Psalm 2 in the Old Testament. This pictures the Davidic king ultimately to come. Psalm 2
Those of you who love music will know as you look in Psalm 2; you can’t help but think in your mind Handel’s Messiah
NKJ Psalm 2:1 “Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing?
2 “The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying,”
See that’s the corrupt Noahic civilization resisting the idea because they’re Babelists. They want to make a name for themselves in union, in separation and independence from God. So they plot.
3 “ ‘Let us break Their bonds in pieces And cast away Their cords from us.’
4 “He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The LORD shall hold them in derision.
5 “Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, And distress them in His deep displeasure:
6 “Yet I have set My King On My holy hill of Zion.
7 “I will declare the decree: The LORD has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.
8 “ ‘Ask of Me, and I will give You The nations for Your inheritance, And the ends of the earth for Your possession.
9 “ ‘You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter's vessel.’
10 “Now therefore, be wise, O kings; Be instructed, you judges of the earth.
11 “Serve the LORD with fear, And rejoice with trembling.
12 “Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, And you perish in the way, When His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.”
That’s the picture of the tribulational introduction to the beginning of the Millennial Kingdom. Does that look calm and peaceful? That’s the King. That’s Jesus coming. Once He comes we have the Millennial Kingdom. We want to realize that in that relationship as distinct from His relationship today, we will have an altered spiritual background.
What happens to Satan during the Millennial Kingdom? He is incarcerated. What is missing then? In the dynamics of evil, what is missing in the Millennium that is not missing today? Deception. Remember it says Satan will deceive the nations no more when he is incarcerated. What does that mean about now? He is deceiving the nations. So that 5th dimensional component goes away as far as the dynamics of evil in the Millennial Kingdom. That’s one of the reasons why it becomes a Millennial Kingdom. So we have an altered spiritual environment.
But we have also an altered geophysical environment. That’s the climatological changes and so on.
The lion and lamb lie down together. The wolf and the lamb lie down together. What’s that about? It’s talking about the chaos in the biodiversity of the environment that resulted.
You say, “Well, that’s kind of silly. I can’t think of how that happens.”
Wait a minute – just a minute. Was that true – the animal eats animal as God created them originally? Or, did that start afterwards? It started afterwards. Well if it started, it can also stop.
So here is the supernatural cosmology that the Bible has. This is why it’s hard to believe in prophecy for the secularized mind – because in order to believe in prophecy and interpret the Bible literally you have to entertain a supernatural cosmology, totally different from the natural cosmologies that we’re all taught. So that’s the difference.
Now the thing that we want to notice here because this whole series is ultimately going to Christian citizenship – we’re thinking of the sociopolitical dimensions here. I want to take you to a quote. This is an old quote but I am deliberately taking you back to this old quote. Notice the date on the reference -1922. What’s significant about this date? Well, that’s right after World War I. That’s the period when the so-called Progressive Movement was rising politically in this nation. On the Democratic side it was Woodrow Wilson. On the Republican side it was through Teddy Roosevelt. You have the idea that we in America are going to progress beyond the Constitutional limitations of the 1800s. We are going to be a new era. We are going to have great peace.
One of the great peace conferences of the early Progressive Era was 1908. What happened 6 years later? Significantly the other world peace conference was in 1936 –1937. What happened 3 years later?
See man can’t bring about the millennial conditions. They always blow up in his face. But here’s a guy, Walter Rostenbush, a liberal Baptist who is arguing. He knows about the millennium teaching of the Bible. So now here is what these guys did. This is a quote that exposes the thinking of the Progressive Movement that captured biblical imagery and ripped it off the biblical foundation.
We need a restoration of the millennial hope which the Catholic dropped out of eschatology ...
He’s referring there to the fact that the idea of a literal Millennial Kingdom dropped out about 400 or 500 with Augustine and other theologians of the church. The church was basically a-mill until later Protestantism restored pre-millennialism.
We need a restoration of the millennial hope which the Catholic church dropped out of eschatology. It was crude in its form but wholly right in its substance. We hope for such an order for humanity as we hoped for heaven for ourselves.
Now is that wrong to hope for that? It’s not wrong; but what were these guys doing with the hope?
Notice the word he was using - it was crude in its form. If you read this quote in context, Walter Rostenbush is talking about – “It was supernatural. We don’t believe in a supernatural millennium. But somehow we need the hope of the millennium.”
Well if you subtract the supernatural component of the millennial hope, what are you left with? Operation Boot Strap, Babel. Here comes Babel again.
Now we are going to do what? What is the agency, if you get rid of supernaturalism, what is the agency of redemption? Man - and man corporately is the state. That goes back to Pharaoh, doesn’t it?
Pharaoh said, “L’etat c’est moi.” I am the state. Pharaoh didn’t speak in French. That’s just a parody on Louis XIV.
The point here is that these ideas people are not new. What did Solomon say in Ecclesiastes? There is nothing new under the sun.
Again thinking in terms of what Brian was sharing with us about college campuses and get all the data, if you learn to think through some of the basic ideas, low and behold there aren’t that many. They keep coming back and you can gain wisdom by watching what happens when these ideas are used and look at where the consequences come from.
So Millennial Kingdom has been captured. It was high jacked by liberal social gospel people. This hope lay at the foundation of the Progressive Movement. Now isn’t this a marvelous thing? Here are people who are not believers, but their hope is borrowed from the Bible. Now isn’t this strange - unbelievers borrowing ideas selectively from the Bible. This is an ideological cafeteria.
“I like the salad but I don’t like that fish so therefore I will borrow this idea from the Scripture but I don’t like that idea.”
So it’s man determining because remember what we said – ultimate authority God or - man? So if man is the ultimate authority, man obviously does the cafeteria selection – what meal I’m going to eat. But if we submit to God then we have to buy everything in the restaurant – the total meal. So the Millennial Kingdom is one thing.
Now what this does, this establishes an upper boundary on what we can do in society.
I also want to point out that contrary to the progressives, when this country was established the men who established our country were not all believers.
Now you’ve heard of David Barton. David Barton is getting heavy static now because he wrote a book about Thomas Jefferson, the life of Thomas Jefferson. He is getting flak by people who nit pick this and that. I think frankly Barton is a little careless on some of this stuff. He is trying hard to get consciousness of the biblical influence of our Founding Fathers; but sometimes he does overstate things.
But in his defense, here’s the thing. They’ll go to George Washington and say, “Well we’re not sure George Washington was a Christian.”
Well, there was a book written. Those of you who are history buffs; this is a great book. It’s called George Washington’s Sacred Fire. It was written by the President of Westminster Theological Seminary after he wrote an op-ed in a Philadelphia newspaper and was jumped on by all the academics.
“George, you can’t say George was a Christian. George didn’t have any faith. George was just a deist.”
So he was stung by the response to his op-ed. So he took ten years to go back and read every published document that exists that George Washington wrote. In this book which is 1,000 pages thick with 300 pages of footnotes so you can check on his references, he goes through George Washington’s letters. It’s a delight. As you open chapter 30 or whatever chapter may be, there are two quotes. One quotes a modern professor saying that George Washington never mentioned Jesus Christ as Savior. Then under it the author of George Washington’s Sacred Fire has a citation from letter so-and-so, so-and-so where he is talking about Jesus Christ as Savior. This goes on chapter after chapter. What do you get after you’ve written 600 pages?
You realize, “Gee, George’s critics haven’t read his own letters.”
Just read George Washington’s letters and let him speak rather than imposing your deist ideas on top of George Washington.
The point is these men thought thinkers.
Here’s one, James Madison. I am quoting by the way from a document that a reader – and here again history buffs. On the Internet is a free course on the Constitution of the United States. It’s called Constitution 101. It’s 12 lectures by faculty members of Hillsdale College. Hillsdale College is not a Christian college; but it’s a college that refuses to accept any federal money. And guess what that does to the curriculum. So they have a faculty that can teach unhindered by the Department of Education. They have done a wonderful job. In this lecture the professors go through - It’s free. You go on the Internet and listen to the lecture. They’ve got reading for you. They’ve got question and answer afterward, a discussion of people that have emailed in that particular lecture and the professors response to the emails. For $30 you can get the source documents. It’s worth 30 bucks because in this reader that I am quoting right here it’s not what somebody thinks they said - this is all source material and you can read it for yourself.
In framing the government, which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this. You must first enable the government to control the governed and in then the next place to oblige it to control itself.
Now this is quality of thinking. Now I took this course, I realized what I never got when I was in school. I always heard about the Declaration of Independence and so forth and so on. I never read the last half of the Declaration of Independence because in the last half is a list of all the things the British soldiers were doing to our population here in the United States. And if you take that list and you compare it to the stipulations of what Congress can and can’t do - they match! The Constitution fits the Declaration. See that’s not taught in schools. You know why? The Declaration mentions God four times. The Constitution doesn’t; so liberals love the Constitution and cut if off from the Declaration. Wrong! The Constitution is an exposition of the problems of the Declaration. Anyway, I am advertising. It’s free. I don’t get any money for this. It’s a great, great, great course.
But what I want to show here – I want to show a diagram. It’s like a bounded function here that’s going on. In both environment and politics we are not in the millennium. That fixes an upper bound on expectations for us today as the church. We are not bringing in the Millennial Kingdom, and we are not therefore on our own even empowered by the Holy Spirit. We differ from our post-millennium brethren here. Because this is not the Millennium, there are certain limitations.
The next thing on your outline we move to the difference from the Tribulation. Remember the Tribulation precedes the Millennium. What precedes the Tribulation? The rapture of the church. So after the church is released, you have the Restrainer gone. Then as the expression goes, all hell breaks lose. This is the Tribulation period. This is when the restraint on sin goes away. This is when Satan for a short time has total dominion over the world. It doesn’t mean there aren’t believers then. There are. It doesn’t mean people can’t become Christians and believers. They do, but it’s under very, very stressful conditions.
So what we now have is the difference between the Tribulation now where Christ is the conquering judge. See the roles? In the Millennium He is the king; in the Tribulation He is the conquering judge. He is neither of those today. He is head of the body today. It doesn’t mean He is changing His essence. It means He is exercising different roles.
Now I want to show you some of the things here. Let’s start with Matthew 23:39; and then we’ll get into a few other things. We all need to remember that the Tribulation is also a precursor to the Millennium because something has to happen at the end of the tribulational period. If you will turn to Mathew 23:39 - this is that passage I mentioned the other evening.
NKJ Matthew 23:39 “for I say to you,”
He is talking to the Jews in Jerusalem.
“you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ ”
Israel - remember go all the way back to Abraham – what group of people is the conduit of revelation? Jews. Who are the people that gave us the Bible? Jews. Who is it that gave us the Messiah? The Jews. And who is it that will give us the Millennial Kingdom with their invitation for their Messiah? Jews
In order to get Israel in shape and for a national confession, that happens at the end of the tribulational period. So Jesus comes back at that time.
But we aren’t in the Tribulation. And this is hard for our people. Just because we are pre-millenialists, just because we believe the Millennium Kingdom is going to come, to sit back and do nothing is to let evil happen. That’s wrong. Now there are going to be places - if you’ll look in your outline I have referenced Revelation 2:13 at Pergamos. If you’ll turn over there I just want to show you what Jesus is talking to the churches and the difference that He does because this depicts our age of history. There are going to be bad places and there are going to be good places.
In various areas of the world Christians feel like they are in the Tribulation. Think of what it is like to be a Coptic Egyptian now with the Muslim Brotherhood taking over demanding they are going to impose Sharia and they’re going to make you as a Coptic Christian pay all kinds of extra taxes to finance Islam.
So they probably feel right now like, “Alright we’re in Egypt now. It’s pretty close to the Tribulation.”
But in Revelation 2:13 here’s Jesus talking to this church. Look what He says in verse 13 to that church in verse 13.
NKJ Revelation 2:13 “I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan's throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days ...”
The idea is that in particular place (and we now know through archeological research what was going on), there was a temple in Pergamos. It was filled with pagan religion. Apparently our Lord was referring to that because that dominated the city culture.
So He is saying, “You people, this part of My body, you questions who live in this locale live right near the very throne of Satan.”
So there are going to be bad places throughout the Church Age – nasty places, scary places where believers have to live. And, it will seem like the Tribulation. Then elsewhere as in Revelation 3:8 there are in other localities other things. In Revelation 3:8 in Philadelphia different location, different believers.
NKJ Revelation 3:8 “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; ...”
Great opportunities for ministry! So how do we reconcile this? I suggest with this chart a lower boundary. We are not in the Tribulation so we’re not all the way down at the bottom. But we’re not all the way up to the top as far as righteous and justice permeates our culture. It varies up and down, up and down. It’s our body and our body’s influence on the culture that determines where we are on the graph. I think this sort of sets the tone so we don’t get discouraged because things are bad. Things are always going to be bad because we’re not in the Millennium. But we want to be encouraged that we’re not in the Tribulation either; and we’re not ever going to be in the Tribulation because of the pre-trib rapture. So it’s not absolute pessimism that God wants us to think about.
Now in Roman III we want to move to the historic church’s body influence. We want to think about how then without political power – because folks up until about the 1600s believers didn’t have political power. How did Christianity influence totally pagan tyrannical society? Because we are going back to that - we have to think - how did it happen? The first century was mostly slaves. Those were the early believers. When you said you were slaves of Jesus, they knew what slavery was. That’s what they were. The Roman Empire couldn’t have survived without slaves. Nobody else did any work. The only work done was by slaves. By the way the only educated people were slaves - another little dirty secret of the Roman Empire.
But the idea here is that we are influencing. How do we influence? The church influenced it before. Well we start with the example of Jesus. How did Jesus influence – and we’re supposed to walk as He walked. Well, His influence throughout His whole life was saving people from their sins. Was the emphasis of Jesus on getting rid of all sickness in society? How do you know that? Because He didn’t heal everybody. Were there lots of sick people that Jesus did not heal? Yes. What then was Jesus’ priority? To seek and save that which was lost. Did He help people? Yes, here and there He did help people. But the main priority was the gospel. So we’ve got to maintain His demeanor. His mission, His priority was the gospel. His demeanor was humility. He wasn’t’ arrogant. He was gracious with people. He was a gentleman with people. That’s our demeanor. His legacy was a cultural transformation in history.
This amazes you. When you study a course in secular environment; we’re talking about centuries of time, usually the Western civilization. The one influence of one man more than any other leader in all of world history was Jesus Christ and He is never mentioned – filtered education. See how distorted we have been trained? This is why it’s so hard to concentrate on the Word of God. You have to overcome this anti-biblical bias that exists.
Okay, following the outline – politically powerless believers but they were indwelt by the Holy Spirit had ordinary cultural influence. In other words just in their everyday lives they influence it. How did they do that? Go through the structure of society. They talked to people and I want to mention this next. Here is this book Conversational Evangelism and I think ... There are other books. This isn’t the only one. But if you are looking around for a little help and guidance and I have certainly learned a lot about it, is how to talk to people, particularly a post modern culture that doesn’t want to hear the gospel that has no interest in the gospel. So, you have to develop a hunger for the gospel and that takes time. The idea you can present the gospel in 5 minutes is gone. It doesn’t work. You present a little bit of truth here, a little bit of truth there. Maybe somebody else contributes it here. Maybe somebody else does it here. There is a teamwork approach. This is the body functioning. You can’t always be there and be the harvester. Sometimes you have to be the seed sower. It’s frustrating because you don’t get to see the harvest. But here’s a book that goes through a systematic approach. First of all he teaches us to listen.
I was talking to a police officer about this book.
He says, “You know I read this book. That’s how we policemen are trained to interrogate people who we suspect of crime. When we interrogate them in a conversation you’ll get a pause of silence. Do you know what we are trained to do? Don’t break the silence. If the person doesn’t talk, don’t you talk because you’re not learning anything while you’re talking. You’re learning when you’re listening to what they’re saying.”
This is what this whole first approach is – to listen with understanding. So people, we can learn and influence the culture verbally – verbal communication.
Labor and economic choices - let’s turn to Acts 19. Here’s a case where Christians devastated the economy of their local cities. You talk about cultural influence - check this one out.
We haven’t even begun to talk about any political... We’re not talking political influence; we’re talking about social influence here.
In Acts 19:23:
NKJ Acts 19:23 “And about that time there arose a great commotion about the Way.”
That was one of the words for Christianity.
24 “For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Diana, brought no small profit to the craftsmen.
25 “He called them together with the workers of similar occupation,”
This was the idol union.
and said: "Men, you know that we have our prosperity by this trade.”
26 “Moreover you see and hear that not only at Ephesus, but throughout almost all Asia,”
That’s Turkey, Asia Minor.
“this Paul has persuaded and turned away many people, saying that they are not gods which are made with hands
27 “So not only is this trade of ours in danger of falling into disrepute, but also the temple of the great goddess Diana may be despised and her magnificence destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worship.”
This led to all kinds of problems with the church. Have we ever heard about the church causing an economic problem recently? I bring this up for this reason. When we buy something – when you and I choose to buy something we are making a value judgment. What are we buying? We talk about the failure of the drug war. The reason why it’s failing is because people still buy drugs. I mean the cops try to do what they can; but they are dealing with 15 steps down – cause and effect, cause and effect, cause and effect. Crime is driven by people who want to buy the product.
I was shocked when one undercover agent was talking to me.
He said, “Do you know how many prostitutes go with the Super Bowl in Florida? We have young girls that are slaves, white slaves of pimps. There are 10,000 of them that come in for the Super Bowl.”
Why are 10,000 women, half of them slaves due to drug habits or other reasons, go around the Super Bowl? Because there are customers that want to buy the product.
So he says, “We sit there and watch this stuff. Yea, we can nip away at it; but for heavens sake, what do we do with a 10,000 situation?”
This is where things are at and we have to address these issues. As Christians at least we don’t buy these products. We make our influence not just by conversation but we influence by our economic choices. That is how the early Christians did it and we have an example in Acts 19.
In your outline it says marriage and family stability. People notice families that are stable. Today it’s like a Christian businessman was telling me.
“Gosh you know if I could get employees that show up at 8 o’clock in the morning consistently, this would be an A+ laborer. I can’t even get people to come out and be here more that 4 days a week. I got jobs and nobody wants to train for the jobs. There are plenty of jobs out there.”
But people notice a marriage and a family increasingly because the contrast between a Christian biblically-centered family that loves the Lord. It’s not perfect. We have sin natures. In marriages and family we have sin natures that live very, very close together. That’s why they’re tested.
There is a great book out called Relationships, a Mess Worth Making. It is written by a Christian counselor. I thought that’s a great title of a book, Relationships, a Mess Worth Making. His point is that relationships between two fallen beings, even believers, is going to be rocky at times. The questions isn’t horizontal. The question is what does God want here in this relationship. What does God want; not what do you want or what does the other person want. What does God want about this relationship? So that increasingly is going to be an absolute contrast to what’s going on all over the place. We’re going to have families in all kinds of weird structures in few more years. So that’s another influence.
We haven’t talked yet about any political influence. Then ideas have consequences – political theory and so forth, so on. So Rollins, one of the Christian historians, has this to say about the early Christians. This man is talking about the political influence of politically powerless believers over the centuries of time on Western civilization
“Christ,” he said, “founded a church whose government ...”
Think about this.
“ ... these Christians without any political power, organized themselves into local churches.”
What did they learn about organization?
He says, “Christ founded a church whose government is representative and republican.”
That is they have a basic constitution, the Bible; and they elect officers. Think of what was going on in the church. The Roman Empire wasn’t doing this. But the local churches were doing this. That meant that people who lived in the local church learned about government. Where do you think the colonists got all their ideas of government? It was in the churches and in the towns. That’s why when they set up a democracy it wasn’t like the Flintstones in Afghanistan. Now here we have a culture that was acquainted with how these things worked.
The officers are elected by the people whose constitution, the Bible, is written. The early Christians condemned by pagans such as Selsus and Hofry as stupid, foolish, and superstitious were not killed for their stupidity.
A very interesting idea. Ideology here.
The early Christians were not persecuted because they were stupid even though they were called stupid but because they rejected the highest value of pagan society, the worship of the state in the person of the emperor.
We casually in our work talk about the Lord, the Greek word kurios. We fail to understand that in the early church to call this Jewish carpenter “kurios” was a profound threatening statement to a pagan society. Do you know why? Because kurios meant Caesar. Kurios meant the dictator of the state.
It would be like to day, “I believe in President Jesus.”
Now that’s a threatening statement because it goes back to one of the ideas we covered. Do you remember what it was? Remember the Rushdooney quote talking about Egypt? Whenever you have the state without a transcendent power – without an omnipotent God over the state, the state becomes God. It has to happen that way. So down through the corridors of time Christians have really been hated and persecuted. I showed you the first lecture on Saturday – that’s why they write in legal journals that Christian should not teach their kids idiosyncratical ideas against the Enlightenment.
“We want the children of our society to submit to the absolute power of the state.”
Christians can’t do this. We submit to the absolute power of Jesus Christ.