Many Christians are confused by the various theories about the timing of the rapture to the Second Coming of Christ. I think the answer lies in the words used to describe the Second Coming in the Greek NT: parousia (personal appearance, arrival), epiphaneia (appearance, manifestation), and apokalupsis (unveiling, revelation). Robert Brown has written an excellent essay analyzing the use of these key words in the NT and shows that these words cannot justify separating the Second Coming into two stages separated by 7 years (or 3 ½ as some hold). Brown’s essay can be downloaded here:
(Text quoted from Anthony A. Hoekema, The Bible and the Future, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994)
“It is quite common, particularly in dispensationalist circles, to say that the Second Coming of Christ is “imminent.” If by “imminence” it is meant that no predicted event needs to occur before Christ comes again, this view gives us difficulties–since, as we have seen, the New Testament teaches that certain things must indeed happen before the Parousia occurs…
…there is no sound biblical basis for dividing the Second Coming of Christ into these two phases. Although the signs of the times are indeed present throughout the entire history of the Christian church, it would appear that before Christ returns some of these signs will assume a more intense form than they have had in the past. The signs will become clearer, and will move on to a certain climax. Apostasy will become far more widespread, persecution and suffering will become “the great tribulation,” and antichristian forces will culminate in “the man of lawlessness.” As we shall see when we look at the individual signs more closely, the Bible does indeed point to such a final culmination of the signs of the times. To say therefore that no predicted events need to happen before Christ returns is to say too much. We must be prepared for the possibility that the Parousia may yet be a long way off, and the New Testament data leave room for that possibility. On the other hand, to affirm with certainty that the Parousia is still a long way off is also to say too much. The exact time of the Parousia is unknown to us. Neither do we know exactly how the signs of the times will intensify. This uncertainty means that we must always be prepared. Instead of saying that the Parousia is imminent, therefore, let us say that it is impending. It is certain to come, but we do not know exactly when it will come. We must therefore live in constant expectation of and readiness for the Lord’s return. The words of the following motto put it well: Live as though Christ died yesterday, arose this morning, and is coming again tomorrow”.
(About the author: Anthony Andrew Hoekema (1913-1988) was a Calvinist theologian and Dutch Reformed minister who served as professor of Systematic theology at Calvin Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, MI for twenty-one years. He was an amillennialist. His book Amillennialism can be found at http://www.the-highway.com/amila_Hoekema.html.)
A quote from Spurgeon’s sermon: Motives for Steadfastness, May 11, 1873):
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)
Beloved, be ye steadfast. By this the apostle means, first, be ye steadfast in the doctrines of the gospel. Know what you know, and, knowing it cling to it. Hold fast the form of sound doctrine. Do not be as some are, of doubtful mind, who know nothing, and even dare to say that nothing can be known. To such the highest wisdom is to suspect the truth of everything they once knew, and to hang in doubt as to whether there are any fundamentals at all. I should like an answer from the Broad Church divines to one short and plain question. What truth is so certain and important as to justify a man in sacrificing his life to maintain it? Is there any doctrine for which a wise man should yield his body to be burned? According to all that I can understand of modern liberalism, religion is a mere matter of opinion, and no opinion is of sufficient importance to be worth contending for. The martyrs might have saved themselves a world of loss and pain if they had been of this school, and the Reformers might have spared the world all this din about Popery and Protestantism. I deplore the spread of this infidel spirit, it will eat as doth a canker. Where is the strength of a church when its faith is held in such low esteem? Where is conscience? Where is love of truth? Where soon will be common honesty? In these days with some men, in religious matters, black is white, and all things are whichever color may happen to be in your own eye, the color being nowhere but in your eye, theology being only a set of opinions, a bundle of views and persuasions. The Bible to these gentry is a nose of wax which everybody may shape just as he pleases. Beloved, beware of falling into this state of mind; for if you do so I boldly assert that you are not Christian at all, for the Spirit which dwells in believers hates falsehood, and clings firmly to the truth. Our great Lord and Master taught mankind certain great truths plainly and definitely, stamping them with his “Verily, verily;” and as to the marrow of them he did not hesitate to say, “He that believeth shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned;” a sentence very abhorrent to modern charity, but infallible nevertheless. Jesus never gave countenance to the baseborn charity which teaches that it is no injury to a man’s nature to believe a lie. Beloved, be firm, be steadfast, be positive. There are certain things which are true; find them out, grapple them to you as with hooks of steel. Buy the truth at any price and sell it at no price.
An excellent e-book on “The Person Of Christ According To The New Testament” by reformed theologian B. B. Warfield:
“Justification By Faith” was the rallying cry of the Protestant Reformers, and it remains the cornerstone of reformed theology today. The following article by W. J. Grier is a great explanation of justification by a reformed Irish theologian:
Charles Hodge on Jesus Christ as the promised Redeemer and the only Way of salvation in both the Old and New Testaments:
Our Lord commanded the Jews to search their Scriptures, because they testified of Him. He said that Moses and the prophets wrote of Him. Beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded to the disciples in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. The Apostles when they began to preach the gospel, not only everywhere proved from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ, but they referred to them continually in support of everything which they taught concerning His person and work. It is from the Old Testament they prove His divinity; His incarnation; the sacrificial nature of His death; that He was truly a Priest to make reconciliation for the people, as well as a Prophet and a King; and that He was to die, to rise again on the third day, to ascend into heaven, and to be invested with absolute authority over all the earth, and over all orders of created beings. There is not a doctrine concerning Christ, taught in the New Testament, which the Apostles do not affirm to have been revealed under former dispensations. They therefore distinctly assert that it was through Him and the efficacy of His death that men were saved before, as well as after His advent. (Systematic Theology, Vol.II, p.370-371)
Several months ago I posted the e-book The Approaching Advent Of Christ by Alexander Reese and noted that it had some formatting issues. I have updated the book and am reposting it. This book is one of the best presentations of the post-trib premillennial doctrine that I have read. Download it here:
The person who brought the Lordship Salvation controversy to the fore-front of evangelical theology was John MacArthur with the publication of his book The Gospel According to Jesus in 1988. The term ‘Lordship Salvation’ was coined by McArthur’s critics who were proponents of the ‘Free Grace’ theology (called “easy-believism” by critics).
Here is McArthur’s statement on Lordship Salvation today:
“The gospel that Jesus proclaimed was a call to discipleship, a call to follow Him in submissive obedience, not just a plea to make a decision or pray a prayer. Jesus’ message liberated people from the bondage of their sin while it confronted and condemned hypocrisy. It was an offer of eternal life and forgiveness for repentant sinners, but at the same time it was a rebuke to outwardly religious people whose lives were devoid of true righteousness. It put sinners on notice that they must turn from sin and embrace God’s righteousness. Our Lord’s words about eternal life were invariably accompanied by warnings to those who might be tempted to take salvation lightly. He taught that the cost of following Him is high, that the way is narrow and few find it. He said many who call him Lord will be forbidden from entering the kingdom of heaven (cf. Matt. 7:13-23).
Present-day evangelicalism, by and large, ignores these warnings. The prevailing view of what constitutes saving faith continues to grow broader and more shallow, while the portrayal of Christ in preaching and witnessing becomes fuzzy. Anyone who claims to be a Christian can find evangelicals willing to accept a profession of faith, whether or not the person’s behavior shows any evidence of commitment to Christ. In this way, faith has become merely an intellectual exercise. Instead of calling men and women to surrender to Christ, modern evangelism asks them only to accept some basic facts about Him.
This shallow understanding of salvation and the gospel, known as “easy-believism,” stands in stark contrast to what the Bible teaches. To put it simply, the gospel call to faith presupposes that sinners must repent of their sin and yield to Christ’s authority. This, in a nutshell, is what is commonly referred to as lordship salvation.”
W. H. Griffith Thomas wrote an article on the resurrection of Christ for the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE) that is a classic. In it Thomas discusses the top 6 proofs of the resurrection and then discusses the theological issues. If you don’t have a copy of ISBE this article is worth having as a reference:
The New Covenant Theology (NCT) movement seems to be growing rapidly. Fred Zaspel presents a scholarly but easy to understand essay on the main difference between NCT and CT, which is the relation of the Christian to the Mosaic Law. The essay is New Covenant Theology and the Mosaic Law, A Theological and Exegetical Analysis of Matthew 5:17-20. If you are interested in NCT this e-book covers the subject exceptionally well:
Today I am posting 2 excellent works on the life of Christ.
1. A Harmony Of The Gospels For Students Of The Life Of Christ by the noted Southern Baptist scholar A. T. Robertson. I have used several Gospel harmonies in the past and I think this is the best.
2. The Life Of Christ by J. Gresham Machen. This book is a short introduction of the person and work of Jesus Christ and is well suited for self-study or teaching Bible Classes. Dr. Machen was an American Presbyterian scholar, apologist, and author.
The following article The Person Of Christ by R. A. Finlayson was a help to me, especially in understanding the Kenosis theory vs. the Krypsis theory (which I was unfamiliar with). Finlayson has the ability to cover a lot of theology in just a few words. This article is definitely worth a read.
I am pleased to be able to provide a copy of the book Triumph Through Tribulation (A Frank Appraisal Of Twenty Arguments That The Church Will Not Pass Through The Tribulation), by Dr. Norman Spurgeon MacPherson. In the book MacPherson gives the background on the Biblical term ‘tribulation’ and completely disproves the arguments for a pretrib rapture.
Note: I was given permission to post this book by Dr. MacPherson’s son Dave MacPherson.
In the opening of his essay “Law And Grace” John Murray states:
“No subject is more intimately bound up with the nature of the gospel than that of law and grace. In the degree to which error is entertained at this point, in the same degree is our conception of the gospel perverted”. Murray goes on to state the classic covenantal understanding in his comprehensive essay:
The Shortest Sermon
“This sermon is just 1 minute 48 seconds long but it sums up the last 35 years of my full time Christian ministry. If I never preached another sermon, this is the one I’d want you to remember me by.
Here’s the context – a story Jesus told about being a neighbor.
“On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live. “But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
The Gospel Of The Incarnation is a book of 2 sermons preached by B. B. Warfield in the Chapel of Princeton Seminary. The sermons were so popular that the students requested that they be published. I have formatted the book and converted it to an e-book:
Ask several people “what is the Gospel?” and you probably get a number of different answers ranging from “the Good News” to a lengthy theological explanation. Reformed theologian Loraine Boettner wrote a booklet answering the question and it is well worth reading. In it he addresses a wide range of subjects and compares the Calvinistic and Arminian view of the Gospel.
Recently I posted “Figures Of Speech Used In The Bible” by E. W. Bullinger, a detailed and highly technical work. Today I am posting a short paper “Figures Of Speech” by Robert I. Bradshaw. It looks like it designed as a self-study lesson because it has questions and spaces for answers. It is very a good introduction to the types of figures of speech and idioms used in the Bible:
Bradshaw’s website is at www.biblicalstudies.org.uk where he maintains a library of helpful materials.
I ran across a little book on the resurrection of Jesus Christ by a lawyer named George W. Gere titled “Did Jesus Rise? Evidences Of The Resurrection From The View-Point Of A Lawyer”. I was able to reformat it and convert it to PDF format. The author has some interesting points that are worth considering.
Today I am posting “The Death Of Christ”, an e-book by James Denney.
About the author: James Denney, D.D. (1856-1917) was a Scottish theologian and preacher. Denney was Professor of Systematic Theology at Free Church College Glasgow in 1897 and spent the rest of his life teaching there.
Denney’s greatest contribution to theological literature is in his robust defense of the penal character of the atonement. First expressed in his Studies in Theology, it found its fullest expression in his 1902 work The Death of Christ (London, Hodder and Stoughton, often reprinted), and its follow-up (in later editions included as an appendix in The Death of Christ), The Atonement and the Modern Mind. Denney insists that the death of Christ cannot be understood unless it is seen as a death for sin, as Christ bearing the penalty in the place of those he came to save. (info on James Denney adapted from a WikiPedia article)
I am posting the e-book Who Moved The Stone? by Frank Morison (aka Albert Henry Ross). It is a great defense of the resurrection of Christ as a historical fact. The author started out to write a book de-bunking the ‘myth’ of the resurrection and ended up becoming a christian and writing one of the best known defenses of the resurrection. It was written in 1930 and continues to be printed and circulated today.
The Divine Word by Fred Zaspel:
The apostle John is the only Biblical writer to refer to Jesus as “the Word.” He employs the other more usual titles also – Christ (Messiah), Lord, King, Lamb, etc. – but this one is unique to John. He begins his Gospel, his account of the earthly life of Jesus, by introducing Jesus as “the Word.”
Why does John refer to Jesus as “the Word” of God? What is the significance of this title? What is John trying to tell us?
One of the fundamental tenets of the Christian faith is that God speaks. Throughout all the many centuries of history God has been making himself known. He “speaks” in the very created order, revealing his power and wisdom and glory. He speaks in providence, his sovereign direction of all that is to his own ends. And he has spoken many times through the centuries to many of his chosen people and through his spokesmen the prophets. Our God speaks and makes himself known. Indeed, this is the whole ground of authority in the Christian religion. Christianity, unlike any other religion, is a revealed religion. What we believe we believe because God has communicated it to us. God has told us what is true and what is false, what is right and what is wrong, and we believe and respond accordingly. He has told us who he is and what he is like. He has told us how we may be saved and what will come of us if we do not comply. God has spoken. Everything about us rests on this fact. Read more…
The Incomparable Christ
“More than 1900 years ago there was a Man born contrary to the laws of nature. This man lived in poverty and was reared in obscurity. Only once did He cross the boundary of the country in which He lived, which was during His exile in childhood. In infancy He startled a king; in childhood He puzzled the doctors; in manhood He ruled the course of nature, walked upon the billows as if on pavement, and hushed the sea to sleep with just the spoken word. Read more…
The Two Covenants (The Answer To Dispensational Theology) By Philip Mauro is a defense of Covenant Theology vs. Dispensationalism. Mauro was a well respected lawyer and author. This article was taken from his book The Gospel Of The Kingdom:
For some time I have been studying Covenant Theology (CT) and New Covenant Theology (NCT) and have decided that I must fall somewhere in-between the two. I believe there are two main covenants, the old and the new, more like NCT than CT. I found an article by Mark LaVoie on solochristo.com that does a good job of showing the NCT position on covenants:
(Also see the article by F. F. Bruce:
Previously I posted a Harmony Of The Gospels Outline that was based on A. T. Robertson’s book. Here I am providing a copy of the complete book.
In my last post I quoted J. Gresham Machen on the importance of history to Christianity. I received a reply stating: “Strangely, the New Testament fails as history precisely at the most critical juncture, the resurrection.”
I have read a number of harmonies of the resurrection accounts and find them credible. I am posting one that I think is excellent by J. Gene White for anyone wishing to explore the issue:
Another short essay by Murray J. Harris is at:
(A Quote from: The Evidence for the Resurrection By J. N. D. Anderson, MA, LLD. The entire book is available below)
“The empty tomb stands, a veritable rock, as an essential element in the evidence for the resurrection. To suggest that it was not in fact empty at all, as some have done, seems to me ridiculous. It is a matter of history that the apostles from the very beginning made many converts in Jerusalem, hostile as it was, by proclaiming the glad news that Christ had risen from the grave – and they did it within a short walk from the sepulchre. Any one of their hearers could have visited the tomb and come back again between lunch and whatever may have been the equivalent of afternoon tea. Is it conceivable, then, that the apostles would have this success if the body of the one they proclaimed as risen Lord was all the time decomposing in Joseph’s tomb? Would a great company of the priests and many hard-headed Pharisees have been impressed with the proclamation of a resurrection which was in fact no resurrection at all, but a mere message of spiritual survival couched in the misleading terms of a literal rising from the grave?”
“Speaking In Tongues In The NT” by John A. Battle. He defines the cessationist position on the subject. This article first appeared in the Western Reformed Seminary Journal.
Dr. Merrill C. Tenney points out that every major doctrine of the Christian faith is touched upon in these two letters of Paul:
“Paul and those who received his epistles believed in one living God (I 1:9), the Father (II 1:2), who has loved men and has chosen them to enjoy his salvation (II 2:16; I 1:4). He has sent deliverance form wrath through Jesus Christ, his Son (I 1:10), and has revealed this deliverance through the message of the gospel (I 1:5; 2:9; II 2:14). This message has been confirmed and has been made real by the power of the Holy Spirit (I 1:5); 4:8). The gospel concerns the Lord Jesus Christ, who was killed by the Jews (I 2:15). He rose from the dead (I 1:10; 4:14; 5:10).
He is now in heaven (I 1:10), but he will come again (I 2:19; 4:15; 5:23; II 2:1). To him is ascribed deity, for he is called Lord (I 1:6), God’s Son (I 1:10), and the Lord Jesus Christ (I 1:1, 3; 5:28; II 1:1). Believers receiving the word of God (I 1:6), turn from idols, serve God and wait for the return of Christ (I 1:9, 10). Their normal growth is sanctification (I 4:3, 7; II 2:13). In personal life they are to be clean (I 4:4-6), industrious (I 4:11, 12), prayerful (I 5:17), cheerful (I 5:16)”
Dr. Tenney was a professor at Wheaton College Graduate School for many years.