Rather than reading the Bible through the eyes of modern secularism, this provocative six-part course teaches you to read the Bible through its own eyes—as a record of God’s dealing with the human race. When you read it at this level, you will discover reasons to worship God in areas of life you probably never before associated with “religion.”
© Charles A. Clough 2002
Charles A. Clough
Biblical Framework Series 1995–2003
Part 6: New Truths of the Kingdom Aristocracy
Chapter 4 – The Historical Maturing of the Church
Lesson 206 – Review of Judgment/Salvation
07 Nov 2002
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD
We’re going to continue with our review on the church and the nature of the church because as we progress this year we are going to deal with the last chapter which we never covered last time which will be entitled the homecoming of the church. That will produce the issue of the Rapture and the timing of the Rapture in world history, etc. But to discuss that we have to first understand very clearly what we mean by the church. People get involved in all these extracurricular activities with eschatology and they’re rank amateurs when it comes to understanding the Old Testament and the nature of the church. We’re going to just mention a few other things, other ideas associated with these great events.
We’ve been looking at the events of the ascension and session and this event is the one that sets apart a new age. It was the rejection of Jesus Christ by the nation Israel that led to a surprise age and that is that after the cross of Christ, after His ascension, we have Pentecost, the Holy Spirit coming to earth, we have this inter-advent age. This inter-advent age is a problem because there’s very little, if any, revelation about it in the Old Testament. All we have in the Old Testament is we have the suffering Messiah here, and we have the glorious Messiah here, and we now know that it’s the same Messiah coming in two different events. But in the Old Testament they didn’t know that, they mixed these things up.
So the inter-advent age raised an issue, what’s happening, what’s going on here? The Lord Jesus Christ began to fill the disciples in, beginning in Matthew 13. There’s a series of parables and then He goes on and discusses things later on, and the themes that the Lord Jesus talks about is that He’s going away. The disciples don’t like that because He’s supposed to be the Messiah and the Messiah was supposed to bring in the Kingdom. So what’s this going away business? Well, it means the Kingdom is postponed. So the inter-advent age introduces another example of a theme that we should be familiar with from two other events. Think back to the flood of Noah, that event. What was the doctrine that we learned to associate with that historic event? It was the doctrine of judgment/salvation. Think back to another event, the Exodus. What was the doctrine we learned to associate with that historic event? Judgment/salvation.
Let’s look at that judgment/salvation and we’ll find that the inter-advent age is an age that illustrates judgment/salvation, of all things. Every time we talk about judgment/salvation we say the same things so here’s a review of the doctrine of judgment/salvation. You don’t have salvation spoken of in the Bible without a simultaneous speaking about judgment. There never is salvation apart from a judgment of some sort. The people in Noah’s day weren’t saved without the other people who disbelieved being judged. The people in the Exodus weren’t saved without Egypt being judged. Every time there’s salvation there’s also judgment of some sort. So in this case we are going to have judgment and salvation and the judgment/salvation takes on kind of a different dimension, but it has these same five things.
I’m going to review the five things that we associated with judgment/salvation. These things occur again and again and again in the Bible. What you want to do is get used to thinking in these terms so that when you run across salvation in the Bible something will click and you have to think in terms of well, if God is saving something, delivering something He’s delivering from something. So He’s judging what He’s delivering from.
The first thing we always associate with God is a gracious God and He always gives grace before judgment. What did He do with Noah? Noah preached, Noah told people there’s going to be a judgment someday. Nah, there’s not going to be a judgment. Yes there is. Nah, there’s not going to be a judgment. Well there was. The same thing, with what did Moses go to Pharaoh repeatedly and ask that he peacefully let Israel go out of Egypt, over and over and over and over, and every time Pharaoh rejected and hardened and hardened and hardened his heart. See the theme? God is gracious before judgment. That’s true of everything.
The resolution Congress is talking about and going to war is a judgment and in the book of Deuteronomy it gives you the rules of war. The whole doctrine of just war is covered in the book of Deuteronomy. One of the things in the book of Deuteronomy is you offer peace first and if peace is not accepted, then you go to war over an issue. And we have this clown, Nebuchadnezzar Junior over there who, for the last ten years has defied everybody on the planet. So grace before judgment but finally judgment comes; finally it comes, because if it doesn’t then there’s no credibility to the grace.
How does this apply in the Church Age? In the evangelistic address of Paul, turn to Acts 17, here’s an early example of what the gospel looked like when it went out into the pagan world of Paul’s day. Apparently Paul never really finished his address here in one sense, he never got to the finished work of Christ, never got to the cross because these people were so screwed up that he couldn’t even discuss who Jesus was until they got straight in their head that `Iesous which is the Greek word for Jesus and the word for resurrection doesn’t refer to gods and goddesses. That’s what they thought, so he has a big long address and he finally comes down to the end of it.
Acts 17:30, watch how Paul concludes this public address. This is a public hearing, this would be like somebody being interviewed by the press and by authorities, you might think of a Senate hearing, and on cable you can watch the live things. This would be analogous to that. Watch what Paul does when he comes down to the end of this address. Things are getting kind of hairy at this point because Paul is telling the truth and these people are going to react to what he says. In verse 30 he says, “therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance God is now declaring,” in other words He wasn’t before, something’s changed here, in this age “God is now declaring to all men that all everywhere that everyone should repent,  because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness thorough a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”
What we find here is that the gospel is a threat. It’s just like the message of Noah, it’s just like the message of Moses in Exodus, that it is grace, but it’s grace prior to a judgment that is coming. It is grace with a threat involved in it. Very rarely today in evangelism do you ever hear anything like this because we’ve gotten so sloppy and so careless in how we preach the gospel. It amounts to a psychological trip of some sort, you know, you have your pills and I have Jesus, that sort of thing, accept Jesus and you’ll have a happy life. That’s not the gospel. The gospel is this kind of thing; it’s the fact that we all have to give accountability some day before God. What are you going to plead your case? I’m not going to go up there and say well it’s because I taught classes or I did this or I did that. That’s not merit before God; the only merit sufficient to be acceptable with God in this day of judgment is going to be the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross.
If you’re not going to base your appeal in God’s divine court on the finished work of Christ you can kiss it off right now because you’re not going to make it. That’s the gospel; we all face a judgment, an accounting before our Creator, God. What are you going to do about that? That’s the issue. People can pretend God doesn’t exist and all the other smoking mirrors, but the bottom line is that you have to face God alone and everyone else has to. I do, your wife, your husband, your friend, your sister, your brother, and you’re not going to be around to hold hands, this is all by yourself kind of things. Pastors aren’t going to be there, lawyers aren’t going to be there, no one is going to be there. It’s just a personal confrontation, finally, between each one of us and God. And the issue is going to be, “What is the basis of acceptability?” Be careful that you prepare for that day; in that day you will claim the finished work of Jesus Christ, not something else.
So the gospel is a threat, and all during this inter-advent age the threat is approaching because this inter-advent age is only an inter-advent age, it is going to come to and end, and when it does it comes to an end in judgment. Therefore this is also known as the age of grace. Why? Because God has weakened His standards? No-no! Because He has put off judgment, and He is preaching the gospel throughout this period of the inter-advent age.
The second thing we said about this judgment/salvation is every time you have something like this happen God has perfect discrimination. In other words God perfectly discriminates one group of people from another group of people. That word “discrimination” I’m using deliberately because it’s a word that is politically not popular to use today. The word discrimination, if you go out in the street and use it, or use it in the classroom or with some group of people you’re with, that has a negative connotation. Think of how it sounds, yeah, I discriminate. The fact that it has a negative implication is unfortunately a sign of our times, because if you look in a dictionary that’s not the connotation of discrimination. It used to be said …, here’s how you used to use the word discriminate; when you go from being a child to an adult you’ve learned to discriminate. When you go from childhood to adulthood you’ve learned to discriminate. You have discrimination. It used to be considered to be an asset of growing up; that’s what discrimination means.
Think of it another way. Can you think of any law, any regulation ever written in the history of man that doesn’t depend on discrimination. Think about, if you have a law it discriminates between those who obey it and those who don’t. There’s nothing wrong with discrimination; discrimination is essential to life, it’s like oxygen. Where we get in trouble is we don’t distinguish the criteria used to discriminate, that’s the problem today. So let’s think clearly and let’s not buy all the garbage that’s out there. The issue today should not be discrimination, you have to discriminate. You have to discriminate between the criminal element and the ordinary citizen element. You have to discriminate between good and evil. You have to discriminate between people who are your close friends and people who aren’t. All these are legitimate forms of discrimination. You learn, as you grow older, to discriminate the cultural art forms from the junk, that’s a taste, that’s a discrimination.
So the question isn’t discrimination, the question is the criterion that you’re using to discriminate with. Therefore, obviously, there are wrong criteria. You can judge a person because of the color of their skin; they can’t help that, they were born with it so we have no business in discriminating people in the sense of looking down at somebody because they happen to have different genes than we do. They’re not responsible for their genes. So that’s not a good criterion for judgment.
But there are other judgment criterion so what the trick the world system is trying to get us, trip us up is by so developing a distaste for any kind of discrimination everything’s going to go. It’s a foot-in-the-door kind of argument, slippery slope type argument, don’t discriminate, don’t discriminate! Why? Because then we can every pervert in the world accepted.
Except, what minority will always be discriminated against? The believers in Jesus Christ. It’s very interesting how this works. Every other group on a college campus today can get away with literally almost anything they want to do, except those who want to preach the gospel. Those are the only kids on campuses today that are discriminated against. Gays aren’t discriminated against; pretty soon pedophilia is going to come in like a flood, you name a pervert and it’s going to be there. In fact, they have courses now in [can’t understand word] University why pedophilia is good. This is happening, except don’t have the gospel on the campus; we can’t possibly allow that. And that’s because the world system is threatened by the gospel because whether we know it, whether they know it, Satan knows it and he knows that the inter-advent age is going to come to an end and he’s going to be on the losing end when it terminates.
We have grace before judgment; we have perfect discrimination. God discriminates between those who accept Christ and those who reject Christ. Turn to John 3:16, right after that passage that everyone can quote we have the discrimination over the person of Jesus Christ. God is making Jesus Christ the criterion of discrimination. It is not popular; this is not something that’s going to get voted in because people don’t want to hear this. I didn’t write the Gospel, but look at this; right after John 3:16, everybody can quote verse 16 but look at the context. Look at verse 17, “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world; but that the world should be saved through Him.  He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” Clearly discrimination is going on and who is the criterion? Jesus Christ. So during the inter-advent age a perfect discrimination and separation of humanity into two groups, not race, not poverty versus the rich, not one tribe versus another tribe, the only criterion of discrimination is whether a person believes or rejects Jesus Christ. That’s the criterion of discrimination in the Church Age as far as God is concerned.
The third thing we’ve always mentioned about judgment/salvation is that there’s only one way of salvation. Think about it. How many arks were there in Noah’s day? How many boats? One! How many ways were the firstborn protected in Egypt on the night of the angel of death? Only one way: blood on the door. You couldn’t put a newspaper out in front and say I’ve done 8,253 good works over the past ten years. That didn’t cut it with the angel of death; he only wanted to see one thing, blood on the door. No blood, kill ’em; blood on the door, I’ll pass over. So when we come to the cross, that’s why there’s only one way of salvation, it’s the cross of Jesus Christ, not two ways, not 15 different religious ways to heaven, there’s only one way. And this shouldn’t shock people because if you think back in Biblical history it is the same pattern we saw in the flood, the same pattern we saw in Exodus. So it’s not like something new here, this is just Biblical thinking.
Then we said that when God judges He judges both man and nature. Man isn’t the only thing that’s judged. The point affected the earth. According to 2 Peter it affected the atmosphere, the whole cosmos. So when God judges it’s a cosmic type of thing. When God judged in Egypt remember what accompanied the judgments in Egypt? Geophysical catastrophes. During our age He’s judging, and He’s going to judge with a lot of catastrophes with the Second Coming, but involved in this is that the church is in conflict with the heavenly powers. There’s an unseen angelic conflict going on during this inter-advent age over the Person of Jesus Christ.
Then we said that in all cases the way of salvation is by faith, not by works but by faith. It’s always by faith. Again, in Noah’s day people had to accept the fact that the flood was going to come by faith. It hadn’t come. People were in the ark days before the flood started. How come they went in the ark? Because they believed, and the people that didn’t go in the ark didn’t believe, it’s that simple. Who put blood on their doors? They didn’t see any angel of death. Nobody had seen an angel of death. What’s that talking about, some strange thing Moses is talking about. Well, Moses said it and they believed it and the people who believed it did what they were supposed to do; the people who disbelieved didn’t and they got caught. It’s going to be the same thing in the Church Age. There’s a way of salvation and it’s by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s it! People can accept it or reject it but that doesn’t change it. Salvation is by faith in Christ and by faith alone.
Those are the concepts associated with this inter-advent age and it’s gone on for 1,900 years. That’s what the ascension and session did. We talked about Pentecost. Pentecost was the overt historic public evidence of what? If you were there with a video camera and you filmed what went on at Pentecost, what would that be proof of? What did Peter get up and say after it was all over? He said people, this stuff that you’re seeing here is the manifestation of the fact that Jesus Christ has seated Himself at the Father’s right hand and He has sent the Holy Spirit to earth. So the church has both a heavenly origin and an earthly origin derived from what’s going on in heaven. Right here I want to comment on something.
When did the church start? I didn’t say when was it recognized but when did the church start? At this point we’re going to talk about it, because we want to be clear, because you cannot talk about prophecy or anything else until we’re clear about what is Israel and what is the church. So I’m going to draw a contrast up here, Israel and the church. A lot of the confusion in prophecy comes because people cannot seem to get into their heads what these two groups are. They are different, they are not the same. Turn to Matthew 16 for a moment. Here the Lord Jesus Christ denies that the church existed in His day. Most of you have run across this because that’s the place where Peter’s talking about the rock, etc. so it becomes an issue with Protestantism and Catholicism. We’re not talking about that issue but we are going to the same passage.
Matthew 16, a classic passage, verse 18, and what is the tense of the verb “build.” Pick out the verb in this sentence in verse 18. Is the tense of the verb past, present or future? [“And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it.”] It’s future. What does that mean? It means the church wasn’t built in Jesus’ day. He “will” build the church. That’s interesting because that means that the church isn’t in the Old Testament. If you want some extra verses on this theme if you want to chase it down: Romans 16:25ff, Paul calls the church a mystery; Ephesians 3:1 Paul calls the church a mystery; Colossians 1:26 Paul calls the church a mystery. All these are passages that speak of the church as a new thing not previously revealed. Here’s where it helps to get a biblical definition of words. “church” is not a noun that refers to every believer in every age. That’s the way Reformed Theology treats it.
Like we said before, we can be very grateful to Reformed Theology for clarifying the sovereignty of God, the fact that He calls, that He elects, that He is the end all of history, that He controls history. We can be thankful for Reformed Theology for articulating sola Scriptura, that it is the authority of the Bible, not the authority of church tradition that is the final court of appeal, etc. For clarifying the gospel we can be very thankful. But the Reformers couldn’t do everything in their day and one of the things that they never had time to do was to reform the idea of what the church was all about. The Catholic Church is basically a church state. The Protestants substituted for the church state, state churches. Both concepts are wrong because that’s not what the church is. It’s not a state, it’s not an organization. The church is something else.
The church, whatever it is, does not refer to every believer in every age. So be careful, when you might be associating with some of your Reformed friends you’ll hear them use the words, “the church in the Old Testament.” Here’s what they mean. They mean the church is made up of all believers. They also will use the word “church” in the sense that we sloppily use it and that is the church is a group of people who could be saved or mixed in with some unsaved. So you could use that for a mixed multitude so to speak. Those are ways that noun “church” is used. How else is the word “church” used? What’s this called? A church building, sometimes people sloppily use the word church for the building. It’s not the building either. It’s not all things either.
What is the church? The church is a group of believers in the New Testament this side of Pentecost. It was on the day of Pentecost the church began. How do we know the church began on the day of Pentecost? In 1 Corinthians 12 it’s talking about the baptism of the Spirit. We know the baptism of the Spirit first occurred on Pentecost. Paul says in verse 13, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free,” that’s the body of Christ. Verse 12, “For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.” So Pentecost is the time when the church began. It started in a definite hour and minute of a certain month of a certain year. Before that there was no church.
This concept of when the church started is important because as you notice in verses 12–13 what is the synonym for the church in that passage. In apposition is the phrase “body of Christ.” You can’t have the body of Christ if Christ isn’t here yet. Christ wasn’t in the Old Testament in the incarnate form; He didn’t have a body. So again the church is dependent upon the ascension and session so that the Lord Jesus Christ is in position, He sends His Spirit to complete Himself. Think about it this way. What part of the body is Christ in heaven said to be? What’s the four-letter word used in the New Testament by Paul for part of the body that is equated with Jesus? The head! So He is ascended at the Father’s right hand and He is the head of this thing called the body. Well, you just don’t have a head walking around without a body. In one sense, and we have to say this very, very carefully, in one sense the ascended and seated Lord Jesus Christ is incomplete, He’s filling out His body. This is a strong, strong picture of the unity in the Lord Jesus Christ. And it is a key to interpreting prophecy because the Lord Jesus Christ from this time forward, whatever Christ is doing in prophecy the church is doing because the church is part of Him. So on the great day when He comes back, what does He bring with Him? The church. Why? Because it’s part of His body. He’s not distinct from His body. The head and the body are very closely related and this body one day will be completed. And when that body is completed will be the end of the church and that’s the homecoming of the church.
The body is finished, over and done with. Does that mean there’s not going to be believers in history after the church is raptured? No, there were believers before the church came on Pentecost; there’s going to be believers, people are going to trust in the Lord after the church leaves just like people trusted in the Lord before the church existed. Why people have a hard time with this is because secretly in their mind they have not understood that the word “church” refers to a small set of all the believers in all of history. It’s a technical expression used for the bunch of believers who are in union with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Let’s move over to the word “Israel.” Israel is defined as tribal; it comes out from Abraham, the first Jew. Israel takes a social and political existence in and of itself; it becomes not just a tribe, it becomes a nation. A nation has laws; that’s the Torah. A nation has leadership, national leadership which is kings; the kings are involved in administrating law. They have international relations with other nations. Those are all things that Israel did and does. So Israel is not even like the church. Israel contains believer and unbelievers. Remember Elijah, what did he say? There’s nobody beside me and the Lord said yes there is, there are some thousands beside you that are My remnant. A remnant? What does that mean? It means part of Israel is saved and part of Israel is not saved. Another thing about Israel, it’s localized, it has a local existence in a land. These are characteristics of that which we call “Israel.”
Therefore, when in the Old Testament you read about contracts, the party to the contract is not the church. The party to the contract is Israel. Who was the party to the Abrahamic Covenant, the Abrahamic contract? It was Abraham and the seed visualized by God and the contract. We get to the land promise as it is expanded. There are things, three parts of the Abrahamic Covenant: the seed, the land and the worldwide blessing. The seed promise is amplified later on through David, the Davidic Covenant; the seed is going to be the Messianic seed, the Davidic line, out of the tribe of Judah. The land promise of the Abrahamic Covenant is amplified in the Palestinian Covenant of Deuteronomy 30:31, talking about real estate. Where is Israel going to wind up forever? Land, local existence. The other part is that Israel is going to be a worldwide blessing. How is that amplified? When she gets with the program again, the New Covenant, Jeremiah 31. So Israel has their kind of existence, it’s a nation. The church is a group of believers. How many nations are in the church? Not as nations, but it’s people from every tongue, every kindred, every tribe and every people group are in the church. So the church is not localized to one tribe.
See, you can’t make these two the same. Let me show you a passage that people like to go to to try to prove that Israel and the church are the same thing. Turn to Galatians 6:16, this is a proof text that often times people will use to try to show that Israel, the noun, the term “Israel” has changed meaning in the New Testament. They’ll take you to Galatians 6:16 where Paul says, “And those who will walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.” They say see, there He’s talking to the church and He’s calling the church Israel. But look at the construction of the sentence carefully. There are two groups there. There are those “peace and mercy upon them,” who will walk by this rule, “and upon the Israel of God.” Who are the two groups? Gentiles and Jews. The “Israel of God” in verse 16 refers to believers who come out of a Hebrew Jewish background. They are “the Israel of God.” It’s a remnant, but that’s not a label for the church. That’s a label for a subset of people inside the church. There’s another group in verse 16, “those who walk by this rule,” and that’s a term that refers to the Gentiles.
The point is that there’s a contrast between us and that’s the big idea to get across here, don’t worry about all the fine details; just understand that the church is not Israel.
The third great event that we’ve been looking at from last year, we talked about two, we’ve talked about the ascent and session, on your timeline, after the Lord Jesus Christ is crucified, He goes to heaven, there’s the ascension and session, He sends the Holy Spirit, that’s Pentecost, and now we have a period of the book of Acts where the church emerges historically from Israel, and that’s from Acts 1–28. You have three subsequent mini-Pentecosts. Three times the Holy Spirit manifests Himself like He did on the day of Pentecost. In Acts 8 He manifest Himself with Samaritans. That’s a mind-blower, Samaritans were considered to be a mongrel, mixed race by Jews, kind of like slummy people. They couldn’t imagine God the Holy Spirit would contaminate Himself with these ghetto dwelling people, these scumbags is the way they’d refer to them. Yet God does. So now we have a very interesting thing. Samaritans are not part of historic Israel. Oops, how’s the Holy Spirit working in these people?
Then in Acts 10, if the Samaritans weren’t bad enough what’s the second time the Holy Spirit manifest Himself? To the Gentiles. Now we’ve got Gentiles in the church. They certainly aren’t of Israel. And finally, a third time the Holy Spirit manifest Himself is in Acts 19 and there we have some disciples of John the Baptist who knew nothing about Jesus apparently, and they’re integrated. So now you’ve got three people. You’ve got half-breeds, half Jew-half Gentiles; you’ve got pure Gentiles, and you’ve got Old Testament saints all being integrated together in this new thing called the church.
Then simultaneous with that you have these massive discussions that go on. There are three critical passages, among many, but here’s the three that you want to keep in your head. One is Acts 7, the speech of Stephen. The reason that Acts 7 is so important is that Stephen realizes, as a Diaspora Jew, that Israel in its Torah and in its temple, and in its origin has always objected to what God’s been doing, has always resisted what God has done. The Torah originated and was given outside the boundaries of Israel. What Stephen is doing in Acts 7 simply is this: he’s articulating the original purpose for the existence of the nation of Israel, which was what? What was the third thing in the Abrahamic Covenant? A land, a seed and worldwide blessing; Israel wasn’t supposed to be a green house, Israel was to be a green house in one sense but the plants grown in the greenhouse, the Canon of Scripture, the Messiah, were supposed to come out into the world and bless the world. That’s why Israel existed, to give that to the world. Stephen recognizes that and that’s a big breakthrough. All these Jews are holed up in Jerusalem, he said hey guys, there’s a world out there, think about your relationship with it.
In Acts 9, another passage you should keep in mind, the Damascus road experience of Paul. What did Jesus Christ say to Paul on the Damascus road? Here Paul is going along, what does he have in his hand? He has police orders to put Christians in jail; he’s killing Christians here. So here he is on the road to Damascus, the Lord appears to him and what does the Lord say? It blows his mind; Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me? Wait a minute, he’s looking up in heaven and he sees the Lord in heaven and the Lord is heaven is saying you’re persecuting Me. Paul isn’t reaching into heaven, who was Paul persecuting physically? Believers down here. I believe that the Damascus road experience in chapter 9 is the source of the whole idea that Paul got about the body of Christ. I believe that’s how God revealed the body of Christ to Him. I think it started right from the very first day that he saw the Lord Jesus Christ, that when he thought about it … Paul’s a brilliant person, and he’s sitting there reflecting on what the Lord said to him. And he says how can I be persecuting You? You’re in Heaven, so if I’m persecuting You in Heaven when I touch a believer on earth, what does that mean about the union between that believer on earth and the Lord in Heaven? It means that somehow believers physically here on earth are in union with Jesus such that when somebody lays a hand on a believer they’re laying their hand on Jesus Christ. How’s that for unity? That’s Acts 9.
Now if you were Satan, how would you take advantage of this? You can’t get Jesus because He’s far above you, but if Jesus is unified with believers on earth, how can you get at them? How can you make Jesus feel pain? By persecuting believers. So in the Sudan where we have black Christians being slaughtered by black Muslims, where we have white atheists persecuting white Christians in various places on earth, it used to be communist states where that went on, where you have Semitic Arab Muslims killing off Arab Christians, wherever you see this it is a satanic attempt to hurt, to inflict pain and to cause grief to the person of Jesus Christ. That’s how serious martyrdom is on the earth. There’s more to it than just people dying; there’s more to it than this, there’s a big chess game going on behind the scenes. In one sense we as Christians can be very thankful for that. So I want to turn to how Christians experimentally handle that problem.
This is a neat example of early Christians dealing with this martyrdom issue. Turn to Acts 4, this really isn’t martyrdom in Acts 4 but it’s a technique that the early Christians used and we ought to learn this because it may not be too many more years before we’ll be practicing this. In Acts 4 the problem is that Peter and John have gone in and they’ve healed somebody. What really ticked people off is that they didn’t just heal him; they had to go blabbering around the name of Jesus. They couldn’t do it in the name of religion, be ecumenical, all things to all men. They had to be this narrow fundamentalist type approach where they talked about the name of Jesus. Now watch the authorities here and watch what the church did. Verse 15, here they are, these are the rulers, these are the guys that are pulling the plugs on the whole society here, these are the backroom boys that make political deals.
Verse 15, “But when they had ordered them to go aside out of the Council, they began to confer with one another,” good politicians, get the press out of the way, get people out of the way, then we can talk the real stuff in the smoke-filled rooms. They said, now what are we going to do with these guys, “For the fact that a noteworthy miracle has taken place through them is apparent to all who live in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it.” See they tried to do that, but this one they couldn’t keep quiet, this got on the 6:00 o’clock news. Verse 17, “But in order that it may not spread any further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to any man in this name.” Now watch how many times in this passage the word n-a-m-e shows up. Remember, what’s the “name” associated with? The ascended, seated Lord Jesus Christ; in that day it would be the authenticated true Messiah. Verse 18, “And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus,” second time, “in the name.”
Verse 19, “But Peter and John answered and said to them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge;’  for we cannot stop speaking what we have seen and heard.” [blank spot, may read: verse 21, “And when they had threatened them further, they let them go (finding no basis on which they might punish them) on account of the people, because they were all glorifying God for what had happened;  for the man was more than forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed.  And when they had been released, they went to their own companions, and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them.”]
Now watch what the church does beginning in verse 24. This is super. Here’s a classic case of praying the Scripture back to God. Watch what these guys do. In verse 24, “And when they heard this, they lifted their voice to God with one accord and said,” now they begin to pray. Would you notice in verse 24, here they are under a pressure situation, they’re confronted by the authorities, they have no legal recourse, they have no lawyers on their side, they have nobody to go to court with, they’ve got no troops, no soldiers, no arms, they’re completely disarmed, don’t have any legal advice. So they go as helpless believers to the Lord in prayer. What is the first thing that they do, they pull out of the Framework? Notice, what was the first event in the Framework? Creation! Why? Because it’s the act of creation that defines God – God, man, and nature. Remember the doctrines; they all come out of creation. So what do they do first? They go back and they quote the Old Testament. “O Lord, it is Thou who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them.”
Why do you suppose they did verse 24? Let’s think about it, let’s get inside their heads because you’re going to have to do this someday and you might as well get your head straight. Why did they go back to creation in this kind of a situation? What does that do for them? Here they’re facing political power. What do they need to do? They need to have assurance of what? That God is in control of these people, these people are powerful people and I’ve got to know when I’m praying if I’m going to be stable and I’m not going to fall apart and turn into a whining crybaby over this thing, and be a nervous wreck and get my blood pressure up to 200 and something, what am I going to do? I’ve got to rest somewhere, so where do I put my feet? Where do I get a resting point? I go back to who God is. I go back to the fact that He is sovereign, He is righteous, He is just, He is love, He is omniscient, He is omnipotent, etc., etc., etc. Go back to that essence of God, He is the Creator. And you can calm your soul very often doing this; it’s just a mental exercise to go through this. It takes you about two minutes to run through the attributes of God and it’s just like cleaning your soul, like an internal bath, nice warm bath and it calms you down because now it’s not you, it’s not this situation, it’s not that person. You can focus and rest on the God who has created, notice the last part of that quote; He has “made all things in them.”
Verse 25, having rested in the character of God they’re going to go on, they’re going to quote another Psalm, another passage of the Old Testament. So see how their Scripture controls their prayers. This is what it means when someone says praying the Scripture back to God. It’s not talking about the rosary or something here. This is not just blah-blah stuff. This means to think through the Scriptures and you quote the Scriptures back to God. Why does that work? Because God said it, you can at least be guaranteed your petition is going to be right if you based it on what He told you to think. So all they’re doing is protecting the design of their petition back to God by going back to the Scriptures. Notice, do you recognize where verse 25–26 is coming from? It’s a passage we’ve covered. If you have a study Bible look in the margin. Where does it come from? Psalm 2. We went back to Psalm 2 and we said Psalm 2 was used by the early church to define the “Son of God,” one of Jesus’ names; it comes out of Psalm 2. Isn’t that interesting, they’re going right back to what we call a Messianic Psalm to deal with this issue.
The Messianic Psalm is quoted only in part; notice they don’t quote the part of Psalm 2 that talks about the King inheriting the world, because that hasn’t happened yet. What has happened is there’s an objection against the King. Now verse 27, here’s the key of praying in faith, and this is a key that you grab hold of this and it will be a powerful stabilizing device in your life because what they do in verse 27 is take the Word of God and they connect it point by point with the circumstance. Watch how they do this. They don’t just quote the Bible, verses 25–26. They quote it, but they understand it, and in verse 27 they apply it.
Here’s what their explanation of it is? “For truly in this city there were gathered …” Now where does that verb come from? Look back in verse 26. See where “gathered together occurs in Psalm 2? They’re going to use the vocabulary of the Scripture they quoted to bracket and control the circumstance. This is what we call strategic envelopment; here’s the problem, some big mess that’s happened. And you’ve got to get a handle on this or you’re going to be flubbing all over the place. So you’ve got to get a handle on what’s going on, so what they’re going to do, they’re going to surround that problem with the Word of God and they’re going to crush it. This is the process, step by step they’re surrounding it.
Here they are, they say “in this city,” that means right in their circumstances, so all of a sudden Psalm 2 is not something that’s a thousand years before in David’s day, they’re talking about “in this city there were gathered together against Thy holy Servant Jesus,” so clearly they’re calling Him Christ because at the end of verse 26 is the word “Christ,” this anointed one. They “gathered together against Thy holy Servant Jesus, whom Thou didst anoint,” by the way, and the word “anoint” is related to the word “Christ” because Christ in the Old Testament is Mashach, it’s the Hebrew word to anoint. Remember the oil Samuel poured on David; that was anointing oil. That’s from which we get the word Messiah. “Christ” to us has become some kind of a curse word to some people, but to other people it’s just kind of a title, but that’s not the Hebrew. The word “Christos” refers to that little oil going on.
See how loaded this sentence in verse 27 is? First of all the verb “gathered together,” in other words what these people have done in this city is exactly what you said was going to happen in the Word of God. They “gathered together against Jesus whom You anointed,” You made Him the Christ, so they’re referring to the Father. What they’re doing, this is that Jewish bargaining. They come to God and they’re actively interacting, God, You anointed this guy, we didn’t do this, You anointed Him. Then what do they do? “… both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles ….” They weren’t afraid to name names, they weren’t afraid to deal with individuals. They plugged Herod and Pontius Pilate. What did Herod do? The whole Herodian family was screwed up, there are two Herods, one beheaded John the Baptist and the other one killed all the babies in Bethlehem. So you can argue about which Herod, probably the one that killed John the Baptist. Who are the Gentiles in verse 27? The Romans. “… and the peoples of Israel.”
Now look what they do. This is so cool how they’re doing this. Here they are, they’ve got the promises of God, they matched this part of God’s Word with this part of the problem, boom they connected it. Then they connected another part, see what they’re doing, they’re connecting things in their circumstance with things in that verse. They’re drawing the wires tight; they’re tightening up on this thing. Now what they do, because they started in the right place, because verse 24 is the Creator made all things, now see how they conclude, verse 28. These guys, these politically powerful men did “whatever your hand and your purpose predestined to occur.” In other words, these guys meant it for evil but you meant it for good. There’s something good that’s going to come out of this. This is Romans 8:28. Verse 28 is nothing but Romans 8:28 in the context of Acts 4. It’s the same concept, God is in control and Pilate may have thought he was the big boy on the block; Herod might have thought he was the big man on campus, but in the final analysis these guys are just doing what you’ve allowed.
Remember what Jesus’ words were in the trial, when the priest got really ticked off and he said answer me, I’ve got authority over you. What did Jesus say back to Him? You don’t have any authority over Me except that which God gives you. How’s that for a putdown. This is the way you put things down. Verse 28 is a knockdown verse. It’s a spiritually powerful club that can be sued to suppress things. It’s a powerful tool. Verse 29 is the concluding petition out of this prayer, “And now Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Thy bond-servants may speak Thy word with all confidence,  while Thou dost extend Thy hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Thy holy Servant Jesus.” They go back to the “name.” What was their answer to the priest? Give me strength Lord so I can speak some more. Were these guys intimidated? The early church wasn’t intimidated because they had a lot of hot air and bologna people complaining. It wasn’t a threat to them; it really was a threat to them but they managed the threat. They responded to the threat; they crushed the threat in their soul first before their environment.
Notice the battle is in the mind. 90% of your suffering and my suffering occurs right here and the battleground is right here. The battleground in your life isn’t out there, it’s right here and this is the battleground they faced. This is a wonderful passage of Scripture to show how they managed the battle up here, so that when they went out in society they weren’t trying to be angry with these people. Don’t get the wrong picture. These guys did not belligerently seek a fight, they’re being very gracious, very courteous, but very determined. You can’t stop these people. This is what Jesus meant, “and the gates of hell shall not prevail against My church.” Why? Because these people took it to God in prayer and they asked God, “give me boldness” and you can see at the end of verse 31 He did give them boldness, He answered their prayer all right.
So that’s the emergence of the church, a powerful new thing, the body of Christ. Next week we’ll continue a little more in the review. We want to move forward always thinking in terms of the rest of the Framework so we connect this and it all plugs together.
Question asked, something about in the Church Age whether you’re Jew or Gentile if you accept Christ in the Church Age, those Jews will be a part of the body of Christ; they’re not going to be a part of Israel are they, or a remnant of Israel, they will have had two places in eternity or is this group of Jews right now strictly body of Christ:
Clough replies: They’re in the body of Christ but they don’t lose their Jewish identity and the issue of born again Jews today, that is why the born again Jews particularly over the last 50 years since the gathering of Israel have had this kind of dual existence. And Messianic fellowships struggle with this. For example, what is the role of circumcision for a born again Jew? What is the issue of the Sabbath? Passover, the Jewish holidays, what do they do with these, what’s the role? I can recommend for you the book that summarizes a lot of these struggles, Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s book, Hebrew Christianity. It’s a nice little book and it’s written by a guy who has his doctorate in rabbinic studies. I went to seminary with Arnold and we’ve been friends for years. Arnold’s worked with hundreds of Messianic fellowships all over the world and is very informed. He’s lived in Israel, speaks the language, and gives in that book a wonderful history of the problem of the Hebrew Christian. The Hebrew Christian really has a problem because you talk about a discriminated person. They’re kicked out of their own families and then they’re not accepted by Gentiles. They really have a heart-breaking problem, many of them.
Arnold was the one who made me aware that there’s a dirty name in the Hebrew language for Hebrew Christians and it comes because they consider Hebrew Christians to be cowards and traitors to Israel. The reason for that is that when the armies gathered together around Jerusalem, they gathered together in AD 68, if I can remember who the general was, I don’t think it was Vespasian but Vespasian was later involved in it, the Caesar died in Rome so General Vespasian went back to Rome, he was called back to Rome to take control and of course Titus became the General. And during the confusion of this ebb and flow of leadership the Roman army opened up the perimeter and Jews could flee out of the city of Jerusalem. They knew they were going to be besieged finally, and they opened up the perimeter and the Hebrew Christians took off and went up to Syria. The rest of the Jews did not appreciate that and they haven’t forgotten it down through the centuries. But if you’re sitting here tonight and you have any acquaintance with the New Testament, why do you suppose the Jews, when the armies opened up the perimeter, fled? Whose instructions were they following? What did Jesus say in Luke? Remember on the mount He was talking to them and He said when you see the armies surround Jerusalem get out because they’re going to destroy the city and you people should not be killed along with the rest of the unbelievers. The discipline is coming upon the city because of their unbelief, now you guys are believers, you shouldn’t be there.
Arnold points out that that history plays another role that we don’t often think about as Gentiles. It plays a role in the interpretation of the book of Hebrews because when we read Jewish epistles like Peter, Hebrews, James, that are strongly Jewish epistles, every time we see the word s-a-v-e, we Gentiles always think it means salvation in the sense of going to heaven, Phase 3 salvation. But to Jews in that time that isn’t what s-a-v-e meant. S-a-v-e meant that you were delivered physically and it produces a totally different concept to what’s going on in the book of Hebrews with all the threats. If you people want to go back into this temple business and you want to go back into Judaism, you’d better watch out because judgment is coming, if you want to be saved you get out of there. Because we’re Gentiles we don’t read it that way and so we come up with all these theological problems with James and Hebrews, with all these epistles when if we’d just learn to read it the way a Jewish Christian would have read it we wouldn’t have half the problems we’ve got exegetically. So it’s good to make a friend with a Hebrew Christian.
I have so benefited from knowing Jewish Christians because they’ve sobered me up on a lot of things about the New Testament. In fact, one Rabbi, the guy who started American Board of Missions to the Jews, had a tract. Somehow I got hold of this tract within months of the time I became a Christian when I was in college. There were several he made but I remember one in particular, it was entitled What It has Cost the Church to Withhold the Gospel from the Jews. What his point was that had the church not become so anti-Semitic in the first 200–300 years that it would have had enough Jewish people inside the church who believed in Jesus as the Messiah that it would have controlled our biblical interpretation. In other words, they would have been a healthy influence early on in church history at straightening out some of the stupid ways the Gentiles approached the Scripture.
One of the ways they would have straightened us out was the Kingdom of God would not be some ethereal far off heavenly thing; the Kingdom of God would be the Millennial Kingdom promised in the Old Testament. They would have preserved that. There wouldn’t have been any amillennialism in the church if the Jews had participated in it. So the church really cut off its nose to spite its face by becoming so anti-Semitic. It’s very interesting, Augustine, of course being one of the champions, and all this came in and it crippled the church theologically really up until the 19th century. I guess what God finally decided to do in the 19th century was get us straightened out anyway, whether we liked it or not because in the 20th century Israel would come back into existence and we’d better have the tools to interpret what’s going on. So with all this, the Hebrew Christian has a very interesting life. They are the body, yet they are Jews.
Question asked, something about the Israelite who is a believer or the believer in the Old Testament, what’s their future destination, the thief that died before Jesus was crucified, what’s going on with those people, where are they, what’s their future:
Clough replies: Where are the Old Testament saints in the future? Well, it’s not just a case of where are the Jewish Old Testament saints, where are the Gentile Old Testament saints from Adam forward. Obviously these people exist and obviously … in speculation, to answer your question, I mean if there were a clear cut answer you’d know it because you would have read it somewhere. So I’m not saying that there’s a special Bible version that gives you a hot passage on this topic. This is not well revealed in the Old Testament. Jesus obviously implies that they are with God in some way because that’s His argument when He says, How do you say, Jesus said, How do you say that it is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and you do not believe in the resurrection? Remember His argument against the Sadducees. Think about that argument. On the surface it looks kind of funny. What He’s arguing is … the Sadducees didn’t believe, they were a group of Jews who disbelieved in the resurrection. Jesus said how can you not believe in the resurrection if you’re calling God the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and He goes on to say, It does not say the God of the historic, it’s God is NOW the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
So Jesus inferred, on the basis of that logic from that text that Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham were alive and living somewhere and would be resurrected, because until they are resurrected the promises of their eternal salvation in body, because remember salvation is not just the salvation of the soul, salvation is physical too, physical body. These things have to be changed. They’re falling apart; they’re not going to last for eternity. So salvation has to happen to the body as well as to the soul. I can’t go into details on that because I frankly don’t know. They must be somehow associated with the Kingdom obviously.
But the other problem is that we think well, the church is going to rule in the Millennium, be the ruling priests and so forth with Christ, but also remember that there’s another dimension that is also true of the church and it introduces spatially a massive problem, the rest of the cosmos. What’s the rest of the cosmos all about, the rest of the universe? It’s a big place and when you have these hints about we’re going to judge angels and the angels are in the heavenlies, the church looks like, you kind of get the impression the church is not bound to the planet earth. The church may have other missions that we haven’t seen.
Keep in mind people, the Bible is not the last word as far as a closed body of revelation. Let me qualify what I’m talking about here. We just got through looking at a surprise, the inter-advent age. That was a surprise to the disciples. It probably would have been a surprise to a lot of the Old Testament saints how that thing worked out. Who is to say there aren’t further surprises? We build our little prophecy timelines but let’s face it, the church could be raptured and there could be another age between the Rapture and Daniel’s 70th week, we don’t know that. There have been surprises before, and the surprises always are the same kind, that’s this accordion thing where we think things are tight and close and then God pulls them apart and ooh, there’s a whole other age in there. So don’t think that we’ve got everything aced. What we have I think is true but it does not totally encapsulate history against more divine surprises.
Question asked: Clough replies: The question is about Romans 10–11, that talks about the church being grafted in, completed. The grafting in, and Paul clarifies that to which the church is grafted not as the nation Israel but as the Abrahamic Covenant, the redemptive work in the Abrahamic Covenant. What he’s saying there is that whatever blessings the church has come because of the covenants with Israel, the work of God that starts with the Abrahamic Covenant. Here are some examples. Let’s take mundane things that he also refers to in Romans 3. Where did we get the Scriptures from? Israel. Where do we get our Messiah from? Christ is a Jew. Where is the world going to get peace from? When Israel says “Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord.” So the Scriptures, the finished work of Christ, world peace all come through God’s work in Israel.
Moreover he says that we’re grafted in and when the fullness of the Gentiles be come in, then God’s program reverts to the Jew; the Jew will be grafted in. When that happens, you have the New Covenant. One of the things about Romans 10–11, this New Covenant idea, when we have communion and one of the thing the pastors always say, they quote Jesus saying “This cup is the cup of the New Covenant written in My blood.” But the New Covenant hasn’t fully come into being because one of the promises in Jeremiah of the New Covenant … first of all it’s given to Israel, secondly, the sign of the fulfillment of the New Covenant is that every Jew will be a believer. That’s not true today. So that Covenant has not happened yet. But Jesus is in a communion and He’s saying “This is the cup of the New Covenant in My blood which is shed for you.” What does He mean? He means that the basis of that Covenant has already formed. Israel’s rejected and there’s got to be a little drama here to play out the ebb and the flow of what’s going to happen, but the Covenant will be fulfilled. The point is that our salvation, our blessings are there only because we share in the finished work of Christ and the basis of that New Covenant.
So what Paul’s trying to get at in Romans 10–11, he’s trying to cut of anti-Semitism, which he had to deal with. It’s pretty apparent and more modern scholars have really basically said that one of the reasons behind the epistle to the Romans is that they had a real racial, genetic, Gentile thing going on in the congregation, and the Gentiles had certain prideful things and Paul had to deal with that in Romans 10–11 and the Jews had very prideful things and he had to deal with that in Romans 2–3. He puts down both sides in that epistle. It’s a neat way of watching how the apostles dealt with what we would call a social problem in the church. What I always love about it is, like I always say, is that the guy couldn’t brush his teeth without getting the Trinity involved. That’s the way Paul thought about life. He didn’t disconnect the problems from the great doctrines. I wish I had the ability to do that consistently but I don’t. That’s an example of what the church was doing in Acts 4. They took that whole issue of the Messiah, the promises of the Son of God, and they applied it to Herod and Pontius Pilate, and you saw what they did there. So that issue in Rom. 10, which we’ll get to, on the position of the church, it’s dependent upon Israel and the work that God did through Israel. We can’t ever severe the church away from that. That’s what that cautionary is, but the church is not Israel.
Later when we get into prophecy and the homecoming of the church we’re going to deal with the Rapture of the church and that’s a set of prophecies given to the church, not given to Israel, given to the church that speak of the destiny of the church. It’s not talking about the destiny of Israel, it’s not given to Israel, it’s given to the church. On the other hand, however, we have prophesies that are given before Pentecost to the disciples about Israel. We talk about the abomination of desolation, we talk about the armies encompassing Jerusalem, we talk about cosmic disturbances here and there and that wasn’t addressed to the church at that point. The church doesn’t exist in Matthew 24; the church doesn’t exist until after Pentecost. Pentecost hadn’t happened yet; the disciples out of a Jewish Israelite-ish motif, Lord, what’s this temple here. I mean they were just a few hundred yards from the temple and they’re saying what’s the deal, what’s going to happen here. That’s a totally Jewish question. It has nothing to do with the church.
That’s what makes prophecy so difficult. Then you walk your way into the book of Revelation and Revelation is different from the rest of the New Testament. For one thing, the book of Revelation is not soteriologically centered as a book. It’s not talking about salvation, it’s talking about judgment. The whole motif of the book of Revelation is judgment. So you sharply move from all the epistles talking about grace and God saving us and this and that, and then bam, you walk over into the Book of Revelation and it’s judgment, and it’s talking about Jews, it’s talking about the tribes of Israel once again. It’s like you went into another world somewhere here, what’s going on? This is difficult; prophecy is not easy to pull together.
Question asked: Clough replies: The question involves the geophysical disturbances that we see now as a precursor to those, the judgment things. They may or may not be, one of the problems we have, I’m into global warming a lot because it’s in my field; one of the problems we have is that people see, at least in weather systems and climate, we see extremes in our time, which in our lifetime we’ve seen climatic changes, no question about it. But the problem is that historically what is considered normal weather is the statistical data set gained from 1920–1940 and unfortunately in that period of time it was very stable. But if you go backwards in time to AD 1000, the world was so warm that the Vikings could cross the Atlantic and never see ice. So we call that the global warming. So there was warming back then. By the way, the global warming in the days of the Vikings probably wasn’t due to cars and automobiles! The problem is that we have all these oscillations in the system and we don’t know, frankly we don’t know what’s causing them. So it may be setting up that way; you have to be careful that when the prophecies are given to the church there appears to be no intermediate prediction there. Christ talks about the church; the next event is the Rapture. And while these other things may happen, Israel may come back to the land, nothing has to happen before the Rapture.
That’s what we mean, we’ll define what imminency is, it’s been misdefined by its critics. A guy by the name of Rosenthal wrote a book on the pre-wrath Rapture and he misdefines imminency and I’m amazed that a guy who professes to have taught pretribulationism for 30 years could be so ignorant and so misleading in the way he defines imminency. The way he defines it in the book is that no predicted event has to happen before the Rapture. That’s not imminency. Imminency means no predicted event has to happen, not that it will or that it won’t. Israel can come back to the land, that’s a predicted event; that could happen before the Rapture. That has nothing to do with it, nothing to do with imminency.
The point there is that you have to be so careful when you get into this stuff because it’s formidable, and like I’m going to say when we look at the maturity of the church over the centuries, we are living in the period of time when it appears the Holy Spirit is making eschatology an issue. In the 15th–16th centuries it wasn’t an issue. Back in those centuries soteriology was an issue. Back in the first 300–400 years Christology was an issue. We have to recognize this, that’s factual history, it’s not my interpretation. You can see it for yourself if you just look at church history. There appears to be a series of events, a series of emphasis in the Holy Spirit’s teaching plan. What’s so striking about that is, if you line up church history and you watch the topical sequence, if you go to a library and look at a systematic theology, it’s the same sequence. It’s amazing to watch that the sequence traditionally followed in Systematic Theology in Vol. I, Vol. II, Vol. III, Vol. IV is almost the same as what we observe in church history. Usually the last volumes in a theological set deal with eschatology. And sure enough, today in our day we’re dealing with eschatology. You’ve got all these arguments between amils, premils, postmils, pre-trib, mid-trib, ¾ trib, all the rest going on today, and that’s good that the discussion is happening because I believe God sovereignly is trying to make the church aware of its destiny because we’re going to face it. As much as the floods and the terrain the eschatology debate is a signal of the end times because God is getting us ready for it.
Our time is up; next time we’re going to deal with the maturity of the church.