Eschatology

I heard this on the White Horse Inn, and I thought it was brilliant in how it sums up American Christianity.

“I believe in God who once was Almighty, but sovereignly chose not to be sovereign.

And in Jesus, my personLordandSavior, Who loves me and has a wonderful plan for my life, Who came into my heart when I asked him to, and is now seated at the right ventricle of my belief in him, Who walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way, and tells me I am his own, Who shall come again with secrecy to rapture us outta’ here, Whose kingdom shall last exactly one thousand years;

And in the Holy Ghost, who did some weird stuff at Pentecost, but doesn’t do much more anymore except speak to the hearts of individual believers.

And I believe in this local, independent, and powerless church, insofar as it is in line with my personal interpretation of the Bible and does stuff I like; in one Believer’s baptism for the public proof of my decision for Christ; and in giving my personal testimony for soul winning.

And I look for the identity of the Antichrist, and know that the Last Days are upon us.

– Ay-men”

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Page of Scripture

“And he said to them, ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:25-27)

I LOVE THE box top analogy that Mike Horton and other guys gave on a recent broadcast of the White Horse Inn. The illustration was of a jigsaw puzzle and how it is good to occasionally look at box top to see what the individual pieces together will look like.

I am sure that we all have experiences in putting jigsaw puzzles together. Examining all of the pieces in great detail. Figuring out how the pieces fit together. Moving the pieces around and if the pieces didn’t come together right we would then re-work the pieces into another arrangement. But occasionally we had to stop and look at the box top so that we can see what the overall picture is going to be.

It is the same with our Bible reading and studying. The way I would study the Bible is to study a number of sections in great detail. I would study to the point I would be able to give many details of individual section of scripture but failed to see that the pieces are forming a cross. Recently I came to realization that if I do all this and Christ is not the center I am missing the point of scripture.

One of the greatest pleasures I ever had in my life was to actually read the entire Bible with the understanding that Christ is the center. In other words, what I decided to do is to look at the box top as I was reading individual pieces now as a whole. It really helped me to see the overall picture of scripture, which is Christ.

Martin Luther has been attributed in saying the scripture is about Christ, every word of it. If you never had read the Bible all the way through I really recommend it. And if you do decide to read the Bible all the way through or you are reading the Bible now let me give you some pointer so that it will help you see the box top.

Before you start it would be good that you choose a decent version of the Bible. I always recommend the English Standard Version (ESV) but there are others out there that are good too. Some of my readers like reading the King James Version and if you are reading the King James Version good for you. It is a solid, old translation. Most Americans are using the New International Version, which is pretty good, but I do think that translations that use a more literal approach in translation are better. I don’t recommend paraphrases or liberal translation like Today’s New International Version. The TNIV is an example where the translators are deliberately mistranslate text of scripture to accommodate moderns sensibilities. Also as a side note, try reading a Bible without footnote for a change.

First thing to keep in mind that when reading the scripture that Christ is always the center. Consider this from the lips of Jesus, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” (John 5:39-40)

Second keep in mind that not only Christ is the center of scripture but also scripture has a covenantal structure. The overall structure of scripture is the Covenantal NOT Dispensational! When reading scripture you will notice covenantal language throughout the Old and New Testaments. Later you may want to get a book like Mike Horton’s God of Promise: Introducing Covenant Theology to get a better understanding of the covenantal language of scripture.

Third is to have the understanding that the scripture contains both Law and Gospel. If you fail to understand Laws and Gospel of scripture you will misunderstand Christ centrality role of scripture. Here is a great line from the White Horse Inn that is helpful, “That the Law is everything that God commands and the Gospel is everything that God gives and what He gives in the Gospel is everything that He has demanded in the Law.”

Fourth point is to always to read the scripture in the “plain sense.” Dispensationalists always insist that they read scripture literally (yeah right). I guess that this is the main reason why Dispensationalists always come up with bizarre interpretation of scripture particularly apocalyptic sections. All of scripture is not to be read literally and to do so is a mistake. Apocalyptic books, for example, need to be read as apocalyptic literature, poetry as poetry, and historical narrative as historical narrative. If you were raise with a dispensationalist understanding like I was it will be hard to leave out crazy interpretations that have influence you. Read the text in light of the genre you are reading and try not read more in the scripture than what is there or impose an allegorize interpretation.

I hope anybody who reads this blog entry will find this useful.

I AM LISTING a few books that has been recently life changing to me. I will from time to time be adding more books to this page as well as book reviews on my blog entries.I am NOT a professional theologian. However, I am recommending books that will help other laymen (like myself) to get a more firm foundation of the truths of scripture and at the same time recommend books that will be challenging to read. One my goals is to bring our theological understanding up to a higher standard.

ESV BibleThe first book on my list is an awesome edition of the ESV Bible (English Standard Version – Click Here!). I like this edition of the ESV Bible (ISBN: 1581347006) because it has an awesome leather binding and it is very compact to carry to church every Sunday. Many study Bibles on the market today are too large to carry to church every Sunday or anywhere else. Additional features I like with this particular edition are no center-column references, no footnotes, and no words of Christ in red. It is compact Bible with just the text of scripture and nothing else. The study Bibles that I own will be used at home for studying.

Holiness SproulFor many who had read The Holiness of God by RC Sproul it has been a life changing experience (including myself). This book is considered a modern classic in Reformed circles and when many think about the Reformed Faith the Holiness of God by RC Sproul immediately comes to mind. When comes to God’s holiness all other theological understanding falls short because every theological understanding will be affected by our understanding of the essential doctrine of God’s holiness.

Chosen SproulAfter getting the understanding of the holiness of God down the book Chosen By God by RC Sproul should be the next book to read. This book is very helpful in understanding true grace and the dreaded “P” word (predestination) in theology.

Schaeffer TrilogyI have the entire 5-volume set of the complete works of Frances A. Schaeffer. However the book Francis A. Schaeffer Trilogy: Three Essential Books in One Volume is an excellent book in reading the Schaeffer’s apologetics from the late man himself. This volume includes The God Who Is There, Escape From Reason, and He Is There and He Is Not Silence.

God of Promise - HortonGod of Promise – Introducing Covenant Theology is an excellent book by Mike Horton that introduces Covenant Theology to those who has very little exposure to this theological structure. Covenant Theology is the glue that holds Reformed Theology together. If any of my readers ever grew up with the Dispensationlist understanding of scripture this book will definitely be a fascinating read. The Bible is covenantal in structure. It is not broken up in economies like the Dispensationlist suggest. Or are we purposed-driven as a recent best-seller suggest but we are promise-driven.

According to PlanThe classic approach to Reformed Theology is that Christ is the center of all of Scripture. The book According to Plan – The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible is a book that attempts to demonstrate this fact by documenting the overall one story of the Bible, which is Christ. I first heard of this book when it was recommended reading by Mikey Horton (I call him that out of affection) on the White Horse Inn broadcast couple years back. It was everything that Mikey said it was which is an excellent book on the scripture with Christ as the center.

AmillenialismIf Dispensationalism is or has been your understanding of the theology of eschatology (the study of future things) then let me recommend Kim Riddlebarger’s book A Case For Amillennialism – Understanding the End Times. Many years ago I embraced Reformed Theology. A couple years ago I heard Kim Riddlebarger on the White Horse Inn stated that he was writing a book on defending Amillennialism. The reason that he gave for writing this book was because it is the eschatological understanding of most in the Reformed Faith. When I heard that I was shocked because I didn’t know that! After reading his book I am now about 97% Amillennialist, which means it will most likely be 100% soon, LOL.

Horon’s Book

“And he said to him, ‘I am the LORD who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.’ But he said, ‘O Lord GOD, how am I to know that I shall possess it?’ He said to him, ‘Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.’ And he brought him all these, cut them in half, and laid each half over against the other. But he did not cut the birds in half. And when birds of prey came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.” (Genesis 15:7-11)

GOD OF PROMISE – Introducing Covenant Theology by Michael Horton is another book that you will never find in a Christian Bookstore. As some of the readers of After Skubalon, Light blog will know that many years ago I worked in a “Christian” Bookstore, and I have mix feelings about the experience.

Many things have change in the “Christian” market place since working at the bookstore 15 to 20 years ago. The inventory on the shelves of the bookstore then was shallow but today it is a hundred times worst! Of course this is before mega churches and books like the Purpose Driven Life. Fifteen to 20 years ago you may have seen a book like God of Promise sitting on our shelves, not selling. Today most of the more shallow Christian readers buy their books at Wal-Mart, and the deeper thinking Christian readers will buy books like God of Promise on the Internet.

I been studying the Bible for years in part but never read the whole Bible. About a year ago I decided that I was going to read the whole Bible. I read it once in the New International Version (which is the most popular version in the United States) and then I read it again in the English Standard Version (which is the newest of the “essentially literal” translations).

What stood out the most as I was reading the Bible was that I was able to see the whole of scripture as systematic. I was able to detect the overall structure of “law and gospel” and the concept of covenantal relationships with God and His people. Being a reader of Reformed Theology gave me the background needed to read the scripture through the lenses of covenant, which is the glue that holds Reformed Theology together.

The more I see the theology of scripture as systematic the more I am firmly convinced that it is God’s word! Covenant Theology seems to be best theology that systematically fit the whole of scripture.

Dispensationalism, however, sees the Bible not as one systematic message but a message divided up into different economies. I think Dispensational Theology is not systematic like Covenant Theology. And the most important thing we can learn from Covenant Theology is that we Christian are NOT “purpose driven” but “promise driven.”

Mike Horton has written a rigorous introduction to Covenant Theology. I am fascinated on how the ancient middle-eastern treaties shed light on the covenantal arrangement between God and his people of the Old Testament and how Christ became the fulfillment of those promises. Mike Horton excellent book is a great read on how these ancient treaties can help us get a better understanding how God related to His people then, now, and future promises. By stating that his book is rigorous is NOT a criticism but in fact praise to him. Because of this I may have to read it again.

About Me

Marboro
Greeting Friends,

My name is Timothy but I will be known as Timotheus on this blog. I am a Reformed Christian man living in Charleston, West Virginia (USA).

My blog will have entries of my personal, theological, philosophical, and political views from a Reformed perspective (or as I currently understand it).

To learn more about Reformed Theology read the article Reformed Theology by the late James Montgomery Boice by CLICKING HERE!.


If you wish to read more about ME please CLICK HERE!