What Does The Bible Say The Future Holds?

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY THE FUTURE HOLDS?

It wasn’t that long ago that the Bible Prophecy teachers abounded. They each claimed to have special insight into Bible prophecies which enabled them to forecast what was around the corner for our world. Some of them, such as Hal Lindsay, sold millions of paperback books promoting their interpretation of Bible prophecies. Others, such as Tim LaHaye, novelised their interpretations into the ‘Left Behind’ series which also sold in the millions.

This unquenchable longing by people to know what the future holds and hopes that the Bible spells it out in detail, shows that believers have undergone a conditioning over the past century and a half that this is what Bible prophecies are about.  

For the past decade and a half I have been arguing that this is not the focus of either the Bible or its prophecies. Rather than approaching the Bible with a set of assumptions about its contents, it is better to approach the Bible seeking to understand its original message. This process is known as exegesis. To exegete a Scripture, and especially a Biblical prophecy, we must answer several questions:

  1. Who is this Scripture written to? (Clue: The answer will never be “us” or even “me”).
  2. How would the original audience have best understood this Scripture? (Clue: The answer will nearly always include some relevance for them.)
  3. Which other Scriptures give insight into this Scripture in question? (Clue: there will be other Scriptures which will be helpful to our understanding of a Scripture passage.)

If you want to know what the Bible forecasts for our future, you have to start with the right questions. Since the Scriptures were written to particular audiences and not to us, we need to distinguish who the Bible’s message is to and who the Bible’s message is for. The expression “last days” in the New Testament has more to do with the ending of the Old Covenant economy which included the temple in Jerusalem, the Levitical Priesthood, the system of animal sacrifices, and the ceremonial rituals. This was all made obsolete at the Cross (Heb. 8:13) and then finally done away with when the New Covenant had been offered to all those under the Old Covenant economy (Col. 1: 5-6, 23).

If you’re hoping to use the Bible to determine who will be the next President of the United States or Leader of the Kremlin, you’re going to be disappointed. To be sure, the Bible did indeed forecast with uncanny accuracy the coming world empires and even predicted the name of one of these Emperors (Isa. 45:1) But it did so with reference to the audience it was written to. It also did so because it was linked to God’s redemptive plan in Christ. We could surmise a few things though from what see in those prophetic Scriptures which looked way beyond its original audience. For example, in Revelation 7:9 we get a glimpse of the final harvest of souls and this glimpse should cause us to take heart. In Revelation chapter 20 we get a glimpse of Christ’s protective nurture of His faithful in the midst of growing hostility toward His followers from those destined for wrath (Rev. 20:9ff). In Revelation 21 and 22 we are given a glimpse into our eternal bliss which still awaits us. 

Therefore, as we exegete the Scriptures we should be more confronted with what the Scriptures calls us to do – which includes, to bear witness to Christ, and His saving work, to a world enslaved in spiritual darkness. We should be shaped by how the Scriptures commission us to do this witness-bearing which includes being as wise as serpents and as a subtle as doves (Matt. 10:16), and accepting that as we are faithful to Christ in being these witnesses, we will have to endure the world’s hostility. That’s what our future holds.

Andrew Corbett

The Subsequent Experience

The Subsequent Experience

Is the Baptism of the Holy Spirit subsequent to salvation or inclusive in it?…

Even after a hundred years of modern Pentecostalism there are a growing number of people who are sympathetic to the modern availability of the gifts of the Spirit butreject the idea of them being only available to those who have had an experience ‘subsequent’ to their salvation generally referred to as the baptism in the Spirit

An “Evangelical” is someone who takes the Bible “literally” and regards Christianity as the work of a God who performs miracles, has sent His Son to save lost sinners. Evangelicals believe that God now accomplishes this saving work by the power of the Holy Spirit each time someone is born-again. 

Pentecostals also believe this, but they also believe in the baptism with the Holy Spirit. This belief is what sets “Pentecostals” apart from “Evangelicals”. It is the belief that after the regeneration of a person by the Holy Spirit (being “born-again”), that there is another experience with a “work of grace” that Holy Spirit can accomplish in a believer. This ‘subsequent’ experience with the Holy Spirit is also referred to as the Doctrine of Subsequence. Most Evangelicals believe that when the Holy Spirit saves a soul that His work in the believer in this life is completed and that He now works on the believer only (we looked at this in our study on ‘Sanctification’). 

Pentecostals base their belief that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is another experience to salvation on three sources: the Scriptures, history, and personal experience. 

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SCRIPTURES

In the Old Testament, God established the Sabbath celebration and 7 special festivals. Each of these festivals were symbolic of something that Jesus was to do. 

OLD TESTAMENT FESTIVAL NEW TESTAMENT PICTURE
(a) The Sabbath Foreshadowed the rest from works achieved by Christ’s finished work of atonement
(b) Passover (Lev. 23:3) Foreshadowed the death of Christ as the Ultimate Sacrifice – the Lamb of God
(c) Unleavened Bread (Lev. 23:6) Foreshadowed the period of Christ’s death and the bitterness of soul this caused His followers
(d) Firstfruits (Lev. 23:10) Foreshadowed the resurrection of Christ as the first to rise from the dead forever
(e) Pentecost (Lev. 23:16) Foreshadowed the outpouring of the Holy Spirit establishing a new “Commonwealth” (Eph. 2:12)
(f) Trumpets (Lev. 23:24) Foreshadowed the last Trumpet when Christ shall return to judge everybody 
(g) Day of Atonement (Lev. 23:27) Foreshadowed the day of judgment when we shall all stand before God and be judged
(h) Tabernacles (Lev. 23:34) Foreshadowed the resurrection of the Redeemed (2Cor. 5:1)

The point here is that we can see a separate Festival corresponding to our salvation through the regeneration of the Holy Spirit, that is being born again, and another Festival corresponding to the Baptism with the Holy Spirit. 

Within my lifetime I have witnessed an amazing shift in thinking, practice and response to the charismatic gifts. As a boy I remember when Pentecostals were looked down upon by ‘mainstream’ Christians. They were generally regarded as uneducated, ignorant, and gullible. As Pentecostalism birthed its super-preachers, who often boasted in their lack of education and minimal theological training, this stereotype was often reinforced in the minds of traditional Christians. But then came the charismatic movement which began in the 1960s and reached amazing heights in the 1970s when nearly every mainstream denomination had their pockets of ‘charismatics’. Pentecostals were no longer seen as “them” but were increasingly becoming “one of us”. Evangelical leaders, like Billy Graham, were quick to recognise the rise of Pentecostals and warmly embraced them into his city-wide crusades. Pentecostals had arrived. 

One hundred years on and the influence of Pentecostal churches upon the mainstream, traditional churches can hardly be understated. Pentecostals now form the largest segment of church-attending, active Christians in the world. It is the only expression of the Church that is generally growing worldwide. Pentecostals now hold positions of influence in politics, media, sport, entertainment, literature and community service groups. Pentecostals are now being noticed.

For the most part, Pentecostals have held a wide range of doctrinal positions from Reformed to Arminian, from Calvinist to Semi-Pelagian, from modalistic to classic trinitarian. But the one unifying doctrine which distinguishes them even from ‘charismatics’ is the belief that there is an experience with the Holy Spirit subsequent to salvation called the Baptism in the Holy Spirit which is evidenced by the receipt of a heavenly prayer language called: tongues. But now Pentecostals are being questioned.

 

HISTORY

Through out Church history there are numbers of documented occasions when believers sought God and were graced by an extraordinary outpouring of the Holy Spirit. In the second century AD, somewhere between 135 AD and 177 AD, there was a group in Phrygia (Asia Minor), led by a man named Montanus, who all claimed that they had received the Baptism with the Holy Spirit subsequent to their salvation. They practised speaking in tongues and especially prophesying. [Source: Wikipedia] Records of Christian groups experiencing the subsequent Baptism with the Holy Spirit continue down through the centuries, of note is the experience of the Moravians from August 13th 1727. These believers gathered to pray and seek God. As they did, there was a physical sense of wind rushing into their meeting place and strange things began to take place. This event has become known as the Moravian Pentecost. [Source] Around 1870 in several parts of the globe, there were numerous reports of similar Pentecostal outpourings and stirrings. Figures such as D.L. Moody, Andrew Murray, C.H. Spurgeon have identified themselves with these events. Around the turn of the twentieth century there were several Christian groups in Wales, Australia and the USA which each experienced what they described as the Baptism of the Holy Spirit where speaking in tongues and prophesying resulted.

Today it is estimated that there are over 600,000,000 Pentecostals worldwide who testify to experiencing a subsequent Baptism with the Holy Spirit to their salvation.

 

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

Some people dismiss personal experience as evidence for proving something. But this is quite unreasonable. Courts of Law place a great deal of weight in people’s experiences to determine whether a defendant is guilty or not. My own story is that I came to Christ in what was for me a dramatic conversion. But it was some time after this that I was baptised with the Holy Spirit when I then spoke in tongues and began to experience other gifts of the Holy Spirit.

When Peter and John prayed for the Samaritans to receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:14-15), something happened which people “saw” (Acts 8:17-18). If they had received the Holy Spirit and spoken in tongues and prophesied, this would clearly have been visible.

In Acts 9, Saul is converted to Paul. Later, Ananias lays hands on him and prays for him to receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17). 

There appears to be two types of “tongues” in the New Testament (1Cor 12, 14). Firstly, there is speaking in tongues which is similar to prophecy. It requires another Holy Spirit gift called interpretation of tongues. This gift strengthens the whole church when it is interpreted. This prophesying in tongues seems to be what was happening on the Day of Pentecost. These recently Spirit-baptised believers were mostly speaking in known languages – even though they had never learned them.

But there appears to another type of tongues. This is used in prayer (1Cor. 14-1-4). When someone prays in a tongue they are not talking to anyone else except God (1Cor. 14:2). When a person prays in tongues they are strengthening themselves spiritually (1Cor. 14:4). 

– – –

What makes someone Pentecostal is not whether they use a certain spiritual gift, or even how they worship, or whether they use choruses or hymns. The distinguishing feature is the belief, promotion, and practice of the doctrine of subsequence. Pentecostals believe, teach and invite people to a subsequent experience with the Holy Spirit variously called being filled or baptised in the Holy Spirit. This is the touchstone of Pentecostalism. Either the charismatics are right- that all of the Holy Spirit in His fullness is given at the point of salvation, or the Pentecostals are right- that one can be saved yet still lacking the ‘Promise of the Father’. Pentecostals are now being challenged. 

What is the baptism of the Holy Spirit? Now there are some, as we have seen, who say that there is really no difficulty about this at all. . . They say that it is simply a reference to regeneration and nothing else. It is what happens to people when they are regenerated and incorporated into Christ, as Paul teaches in 1 Cor 12:13. But for myself, I simply cannot accept that explanation, and this is where we come to grips with the difficulty. I cannot accept that because if we were to believe that the disciples and the apostles were not regenerate until the Day of Pentecost – a supposition which seems to me to be quite untenable.”
GREAT DOCTRINES OF THE BIBLE, Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones 

I’ve been reading the life story of the great Baptist preacher, and the world’s greatest ever Christian essayist, F.W. Boreham. He talks about sitting under the ministry of C.H. Spurgeon, F.B. Meyer, and other great men of God. He describes his dramatic conversion in 1888 when aged 17. But he then goes on to describe his encounter with the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands in 1890. From that point he experienced a newness in his walk with Christ, a passion for the lost, and a fresh love for God’s Word. He alludes to what we would call today “gifts of the Spirit” operating throughout his life over his many years of ministry, including discernment and prophecy. He even makes mention of the fact that he was prophesied over as a little baby that he would grow to be a very successful writer. His story is one that is repeated multiplied times over throughout history. People who have been soundly converted have then experienced a later encounter with the Holy Spirit which they refer to as either a baptism or a filling with the Spirit.

For those who see no distinction between regeneration and the baptism in the Spirit salvation was not fiished at the Cross but at Pentecost. Not until the first believers were baptised in the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost as described in Acts 2 did they simultaneously experience regeneration. The various gifts of the Spirit, including tongues and prophecy, were distributed to believers as the Spirit willed. And this same pattern has continued to the present day. All regenerated believers have whatever spiritual gifts the Holy Spirit has bestowed. It may take time for a believer to discover this gift, but by virtue of their salvation they have already received the fulness of the Spirit and His gifts in their life. This we might call the doctrine of inclusiveness.

But Pentecostals regard salvation as having been finished by virtue of the Cross of Christ. The blessings of salvation, including our physical resurrection and the baptism in the Holy Spirit, come as a result of Christ’s atoning and redeeming work on the Cross (including His resurrection). Thus, to a Pentecostal, a person can be regenerated but not yet physically resurrected. Similarly, a regenerated person may not yet have received the baptism with the Holy Spirit. 

So, according to the Doctor [Martin Lloyd-Jones], the baptism with the Holy Spirit is AFTER regeneration, it’s experiential, and we’re conscious of it, and of course it’s everywhere in the New Testament.”
Adrian Warnock

Pentecostals point to Biblical examples of subsequence. Firstly, the original disciples. At a post-resurrection appearing of Christ He breathed on them and told them to receive the work of the Spirit in their lives – which we might reasonably take to mean regeneration (new birth, salvation). And then 10 days or so later they are waiting for a further encounter with the Holy Spirit which Christ taught was the “Promise of the Father” or the “baptism in the Holy Spirit”. Secondly, the Samaritans who responded warmly to Philip’s preaching were clearly saved. But Philip called for the apostles to come from Jerusalem to pray for these new converts to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit (Acts 8). Similarly, in Acts 19 Paul enquires of the Ephesian believers as to their response to the Holy Spirit subsequent to believing. Upon discovering that they had not yet received the Holy Spirit, he prayed for them to do so – and they did. 

It’s therefore one thing to assert that the New Testament teaches that the baptism in the Spirit is synonymous with salvation, and another thing altogether to claim that Pentecostals have no basis for believing that it is a subsequent experience to salvation. The latter claim is at least challenged with the Acts narratives which give Pentecostals support for their position. Either way, it should be the modern believer’s earnest prayer to fulfil Ephesians 5:18.

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,
Ephesians 5:18

You do not have to speak in tongues to be saved. You do not have to speak in tongues to be a member of this church. If you have been baptised with the Holy Spirit, there is a strong likelihood that you are now open to being used in the gifts of the Holy Spirit (some of which are mentioned in First Corinthians 12). There clearest evidence that someone has been baptised in the Holy Spirit is that they now continually want intimacy with Christ; they want to continually serve Christ; they love the Church and continually want to see it blessed; they have a burden for the lost and work to see them come to know Christ; and, they produce the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

If you have never received the baptism with the Holy Spirit, and experienced the blessing of praying in tongues, you are invited by Christ to seek the Father for this empowerment for service (Luke 11:13). 

And if the baptism with the Holy Spirit has merely become for you an historic event in your walk with Christ, then Jesus and the Spirit bid you to come back to the Waters and be filled again (Acts 4:30-31).

Dr. Andrew Corbett, 17th September 2006

Just War Theory

Just War Theory

Is there such a thing as a “Just War”? Can military conflict be thought of as advancing the Cause of Christ? Should Christians serve in the Armed Forces?…

Richard ArmitageFormer Whitehouse Deputy Secretary of State (and Christian), Richard Armitage, has described the “Coalition of the Willing” (including the armed forces of the USA, UK, and Australia) as doing the “Lord’s work” in their military campaign in Iraq. But does God really sanction war? Is there really ever such a thing as a “Just War”?

I am presenting this as a Pacifist. I do not come from a military family. I do not agree with war. I have never seen “action”. I have never served in the military. But, I am an amateur war historian, and I have throughout my pastoral career pastored soldiers, airmen, and naval personnel. I have publicly and consistently denounced our invasion in Iraq even before the Americans proposed it. Therefore, I stand open to the accusation of bias when it comes to the issue of “Just War” – but it is a declared bias that the reader should factor into their own opinion about this vital topic.

There never was a good war, or a bad peace.
Benjamin Franklin

The cost of warTHE COST OF WAR

War always comes at a cost. Usually this cost is borne by those directly engaged in the struggle: military personnel. But this is no longer the case. The ratio of military personnel to civilians has been hurtling toward a much higher civilian casualty rate. This is evidenced by the statistics from WW1 through to the most recent Gulf War 2.

FACTS
WWI
WWII
KOREAN
VIETNAM
GULF2
YEAR
1915 -18
1939 – 45
1950 – 53
1966 -1974
2003 –
CASUALTIES
37M
81M+
5.6M
8.4M
80K
DEATHS
15M
62M
   
?
(CIVILIAN)
6.6M
37M
 
5M+
50K
RATIO
44%
59%
 
60%
70% (?)

There is no such thing as an inevitable war. If war comes it will be from failure of human wisdom.
Andrew B. Law

Nations have recently been led to borrow billions for war; no nation has ever borrowed largely for education. Probably, no nation is rich enough to pay for both war and civilization. We must make our choice; we cannot have both.
Abraham Flexner

 

THE “EXTRA” COST OF WAR…

The modern cost of warOf course, casualties are not the only cost of a military conflict. Some of the costs of war, which are hard to put a number to, include: residual landmines (left “live” in the ground even after a war and still killing and maiming today), orphans of those killed in a conflict, congenital birth defects resulting from toxic chemicals used as weapons of clearing agents (for example “agent orange”), and the increasingly diagnosed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, are all costs of war which don’t usually get reported in the most commonly cited statistics.

 

LESSONS PACIFISTS CAN LEARN FROM WAR…

Lessons from military battlesThere many valuable life-lessons that can be learned and applied from military campaigns. In our DVD presentation, THE ANZAC SPIRIT, I show that the best of what it means to be Australian is graphically seen in the battles that Australians have been engaged in. There are of course negative examples that can be noted from military battles, such as excessive cruelty, torture, murder, betrayal, and sniping. But such positive qualities as courageous leadership, teamwork, self-sacrifice and bravery in the face of adversity are admirable traits that often shine in the dark tempest of military turmoil.

 

THE NATURAL PURPOSES OF MILITARY WARFARE…

Purposes of military warfarePeople have their reasons for going to war. These reasons surely fall under the general headings of ‘power’ or ‘defence’. Under the general category of ‘power’ we might include (i) territorial conquest, (ii) revenge, or (iii) pride. But history reveals that war often serves a more mysterious purpose.

 

THE DIVINE PURPOSE OF MILITARY WARFARE…

and to overthrow the throne of kingdoms. I am about to destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the nations, and overthrow the chariots and their riders. And the horses and their riders shall go down, every one by the sword of his brother.
Haggai 2:22

The LORD is a man of war; the LORD is His name.
Exodus 15:3Divine purposes for military warfare

Scripture seems to indicate that God used military battles to evict, judge, vindicate, rescue, humble, and teach. It was Thomas Aquinas who argued in the Middle Ages that if wars are to be fought they should only be fought if they meet three criteria that makes them “just”.

In order for a war to be just, three things are necessary. First, the authority of the Sovereign…. Secondly, a just cause…. Thirdly … a rightful intention.
Thomas Aquinas

This is the origin of the ‘just war’ theory. But what might surprise people is that whenever God instructed war in the Old Covenant, it was always restricted to either defence, or an offensive limited to a specific time and place for a stated purpose. That is, Israel was not free to make war whenever it chose. Added to this, God gave some very stringent rules for how military conflict was to be carried out.

 

DIVINE RULES FOR MILITARY WARFARE…

Rules of warfare in the BibleDeuteronomy 20 contains rules of warfare that include the protection of non-combatants, women, children, animals and even fruit trees.

“When you draw near to a city to fight against it, offer terms of peace to it…but the women and the little ones, the livestock, and everything else in the city, all its spoil, you shall take as plunder for yourselves. And you shall enjoy the spoil of your enemies, which the LORD your God has given you…”
Deuteronomy 20:10, 14

 

POPULAR MYTHS ABOUT BIBLICAL WARFARE…

It is a myth that God or the Bible ever authorised “Holy War”. The term no where appears in Scripture.

The Bible does not teach HOLY WAR

Some Muslims claim that the Bible is same as the Qur’an when it comes to sanctioning violence. One Australian Federal politician who used Parliamentary Privilege to air these claims even said that the Bible authorises the ripping open of pregnant women. This politician went on in her speech to cite a violent story from the Bible where this apparently occurred to support her case. The main problem was, however, in using this violent war-crime story to back-up her position (that the Bible was just as violent as the Qur’an) she actually drew on a story from the Qur’an! No where does the Bible endorse such war crimes – in fact, it condemns them as “evil”!

Thus says the LORD:
“For three transgressions of the Ammonites,
and for four, I will not revoke the punishment,
because they have ripped open pregnant women in Gilead,
that they might enlarge their border.

Amos 1:13

You are created to worshipDespite the DaVinci Code book and movie promoting the idea that the Church conducts strategic assassinations in order to silence its enemies and advance its cause as somehow endorsed by the Bible, this is wrong. It does not. Christians are not authorised by God or the Bible to carry out executions in the name of God or the Church.

Some appeal to Dietrich Bonhoeffer as an example of a Christian Pacifist who adapted to his circumstances and embraced a “Just War” mentality when it became obvious that Adolf Hitler could not be stopped. He became a co-conspirator in the attempted assassination of Adolf Hitler early in the tyrant’s career.

 

WHAT JESUS TAUGHT ABOUT WARFARE…

Christ never condemned anyone for their military service. And He had plenty of opportunity to if He wanted to make a point about the morality of military service.

Christ’s language about swords was generally metaphorical. “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matt. 10:34) “Sword” in this reference speaks of pain caused by division, not a physical sword. The same idea is conveyed in Luke 2:35 where Mary the mother of Jesus is told that a ‘sword’ will pierce her heart.

Christ said His Kingdom was not of this world but if it was his followers would fight to defend it - John 18:36

Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.
Matthew 26:52

He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one.” (Luke 22:36) This statement came from Christ during His Last Supper with His disciples. He was about to leave them. He had up until that point been their provider, their host, and their protector. His absence would highlight their lack of these things – hence His statement to them about needing other things to replace Him. This statement by Christ in Luke 22:36 is therefore metaphorical.

 

WHAT THE NEW TESTAMENT TEACHES ABOUT WARFARE…

The New Testament teaches that the battles of the Old Testament were shadows or types of our real battles that we all face in obeying God.

Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did…Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.
First Corinthians 10:6-11

The New Testament teaches that we are to live out our commitment to Christ and His cause as if we are in a constant state of war.

Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.

2Tim. 2:3-4

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.
2Cor. 10:3-4

for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.
Romans 13:4

A distinction needs to be made between murder and killing on behalf of the State. Murder is the unlawful killing of another person. Death in military combat generally carries the authority of the State and is not as such categorised as murder.

 

WHAT CHURCH HISTORY TEACHES ABOUT WARFARE…

The Medieval Crusades are often used against Christians to show that we have a shameful and violent past. They are cited as examples of the ugly side of Christianity and therefore such a blight upon Christianity that it has no moral right to criticise the violence of other religions.

But these “crusades” were contrary to the teaching of Christ and Scripture! The Crusaders had to violate Scripture to conduct their crusades. The argument that most wars in human history have been caused by religion is just not true. The twentieth century has been described as the bloodiest century ever. All the major atrocities of the twentieth century were carried out by atheists – Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot, to name some of them.

 

CHRISTIANITY IS ABOUT PERSUASION NOT WARFARE…

The cause of Christ and His Church is not advanced militarily. Our greatest weapons are the Gospel, prayer, holy living, courageous leadership, faith, and argument. Not military warfare. In other words, Christianity is advanced by dual persuasion – (i) the persuasion that comes from the witness of a believer, and (ii) the persuasion that can (and must) only come from the Holy Spirit.

For those believers engaged in military forces, the Scriptures affirm the dignity of such a vocation and the acceptability of carrying out just war within the rules of engagement in the cause of the State.

And for those of us who long for world peace, the answer is rarely, if ever, war- but the kind of inner peace that only Christ can give to the world- one individual at a time.

 

Amen.

watch this…./… printable version of this page

Andrew Corbett, October 10th 2006

How Will Every Eye See Him?

How Will Every Eye See Him?

Explaining “Every Eye Shall See” From A Preterist Perspective
Written by Dr Andrew Corbett, President of ICI Theological College Australia, and author of the popular commentary on the Book of Revelation- The Most Embarrassing Book In The Bible, February 16th 2011

After years of studying the Book of Revelation, I have become persuaded of the Classical Preterist Position. One of the first objections raised against Preterism (often confused with Hyper-Preterism, or, ‘Pantellism’) is based on Revelation 1:7. Which says that when Christ ‘comes’, ‘every eye will see Him.’ Opponents of Preterism offer what they think is a death-blow to Preterism with this apparent ‘knock-out’ verse. As a Preterist, I have to admit, if their interpretation of this verse is correct, Preterism can not be true. Therefore, how we understand this verse will either destroy the validity of Preterism or, could it possibly validate it?

Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.
Revelation 1:7

Another way to render this verse might be: “Behold He is coming with the clouds [in judgment] and every eye will see Him – that is, the eyes of those who pierced Him, and all of the Tribes of the Land [Israel] will wail at this time because of His judgment. Even though this will be devastating, it must happen.”

Rendering the verse this does three things. Firstly, it becomes immediately consistent with the time-frame references in the opening chapters of the Book of Revelation. That is, Christ’s judgment on Jerusalem was seen by those who orchestrated HIs crucifixion- the High Priest and the Sanhedrin along with all Israel who joined together to kill the Christ.

and plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him.
Matthew 26:4

It is consistent with the time-frame references in the opening chapters of the Book of Revelation because it plainly states that the events described were to take place soon – “for the time is near” (Revelation 1:3). To argue that verse 7 should be interpreted as referring to the end of time or the end of the world is not consistent with the context and therefore not a literal interpretation. Regarding this verse as forecasting something that was indeed near, at hand, soon, now, about to take place, as it plainly says in Revelation 1:3, is consistent with Revelation’s overall time-frame.

Secondly, rendering verse 7 this way is consistent with the other Biblical uses of the expression coming with the clouds which refer to God’s judgment on a people from Heaven. When the God of Heaven interacted with Moses, He is described as being surrounded by clouds (Exodus 19:9) and He chose to give the Hebrews a picture of His majesty and great glory with “clouds”-

The glory of the LORD dwelt on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud.
Exodus 24:16

God gave His people the picture of His glory being represented by clouds. Therefore, when it says that God is coming in, or with, clouds we must be careful not to think of this just in a wooden literal sense. It more often than not is a word picture of God’s glory. On numerous occasions throughout the Old Testament, God’s glory did literally appear as a cloud to people (eg. Numbers 9:19). But as the Old Testament unfolds God takes this concept and creates the metaphor of clouds to speak His glory. Thus, whenever He judged on Israel’s behalf, He is often described as doing so by ‘visiting’ the nation to be judged ‘riding clouds’.

¶An oracle concerning Egypt.
Behold, the LORD is riding on a swift cloud
and comes to Egypt;
and the idols of Egypt will tremble at his presence,
and the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them.
Isaiah 19:1

Thirdly, rendering the verse this way is consistent with the complementary Biblical passages (the broader context) which make clear time-frame references to the generation of Revelation’s original audience. In particular, the Olivet discourse of Matthew 24, which most scholars recognise as a parallel to the Book of Revelation, plainly says this in verse 34 (“this generation…shall see all these things”). Understanding Revelation 1:7 as speaking to and about the first century audience makes any other rendering of this verse as yet future implausible. In what other generation, apart from the original generation to which Revelation was addressed around 65AD, could the qualifying statement about every eye shall see – even those who pierced Him – apply? If we force the interpretation of the text to be prophetic of our future, the fulfilment becomes impossible. That is, far from the Preterist interpretation of Revelation being disqualified by this verse, it is actually only the Preterist interpretation that offers any hope for this verse to be fulfilled!

It is absurd for Futurists to claim that “even those who pierced Him” refers to modern Israel. Futurists pride themselves for being “literalists” when it comes to interpretting the Book of Revelation. But which interpretation of Revelation 1:7 is more literal? I am proposing the most literal interpretation of this verse by saying that when the text says “even those who pierced Him” that is precisely what it means. “Every eye shall see” refers to the qualifying statement identifying this audience as the people responsible for Christ’s death. Again, when Futurists claim that this text prophesies the invention of satellite TV which will televise the return of Christ live around the world, they can barely warrant their appeal as literalists!

 

ALL THE TRIBES OF THE EARTH

The expression “all the tribes of the earth” sounds global. But it is almost certainly not. The Greek word for “earth” is ‘ge’ (geology, geography), which is translated as “earth” or “land”. This word is used to designate the Land of Promise, Israel. It is perfectly natural to understand Revelation 1:7 as referring to all the tribes of Israel. This understanding is consistent in the three ways discussed earlier (1. The Textual Time-Frame Indicators, 2. It Is Biblically Consistent, and, 3. The Broad Biblical Context). In this light, we are logically, reasonably, and rationally left to conclude that the author intended to convey to his original audience that this verse was indeed to be fulfilled in their life-time. Indeed, I have already shown, this is the only way to literallytake this verse. But, the Futurist might ask- In what way then was this verse possibly fulfilled?

I have already shown that the expression the Lord is coming is a Biblical expression of God’s looming judgment. It is the classic understanding of the Church that Christ will return. This is where Classical Preterists and Hyper-Preterists part company. Pantelogists (Hyper-Preterists) regard all Bible prophecies as being fulfilled, whereas, Classical Preterists (Partial Preterists) distinguish between Christ’s coming in judgment on Jerusalem and His eventual return. There is historical support for this view dating back to the second and third centuries. Nearly all Biblical Commentators prior to the 1800s took for granted that the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24) was fulfilled with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD. This can be readily verified by sourcing a very commonly available old commentary such as Matthew Henry’s. Both the Hyper-Preterist and the Futurist Dispensational interpretation were unknown prior to the early 1800s. Naturally both schools of interpretation disagree with this assertion, but the challenge for Dispensational Futurists is to find any Biblical Commentator or Scholar who wrote anything about an invisible return of Christ to rapture the Church to then be followed by a physical return of Christ with the Church 3 to 7 years later! The same challenge applies to Hyper-Preterists to show any Biblical Commentator of scholar accepted by the Christian community as orthodox who claimed that Christ had already returned and that the General Resurrection referred to First Corinthians 15 had already taken place. On the contrary, both Paul (2Tim. 2:18) and the corpus of Biblical Commentators and scholars down through the ages have both denounced the heretical view that the Resurrection of all the dead had already taken place!

How then can we claim that Revelation 1:7 has been fulfilled? Having shown that it could only have been fulfilled in the first century AD, we can then integrate it into the whole message of The Book of Revelation and the Olivet Discourse and show two things clearly: (i) Both the Book of Revelation and the Olivet Discourse of Matthew 24 intended to convey prophecies regarding the times leading up to 70AD (note the time-frame language~ “now”, “at hand”, “this hour”, “near”, “shortly”, “this generation”); (ii) It can be shown historically that the events forecast in Revelation 1:1 – 20:5-6 (at this point in the Book of Revelation the time-frame changes) have been fulfilled. That is, the inhabitants of Jerusalem in 70AD literally saw the coming of God’s judgment upon them for their apostasy. “Every eye” saw it. “All the tribes” of Israel saw it.

The Partial-Preterist (Classical Preterist) view of Bible prophecy is completely orthodox. It is Christo-centric. It is Biblical. It conforms to the ancient 4 Creeds of the Church. It is verified by history. It is commended to you in my ebook THE MOST EMBARRASSING BOOK IN THE BIBLE, which you can download immediately.

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The Most Embarrassing Book In The Bible, eBook, by Dr. Andrew Corbett

The Most Embarrassing Book In The Bible, eBook, by Dr. Andrew Corbett

I have written a fuller explanation of the book of Revelation in my eBook- THE MOST EMBARRASSING BOOK IN THE BIBLE (click here to read a preview). The application from the Book of Revelation is that despite what appears to be an impotent Church struggling to serve an apparently impotent Christ, the Church is in reality made up of overcomers who lay down their lives gladly to promote Christ and His Gospel. In so doing, the Kingdom of Christ is extended, prayers are offered and heard, miracles are graced, and the believer can die with infinite hope that their Lord will keep them for eternity and clothe them with a new body which can not be subject to pain, injury, sorrow, or sin. With this knowledge we can endure momentary hardship during the brevity of this life on earth. We can be assured that our greatest delights and deepest moments of fulfilment are yet to come in the life to come.

John 5:25“Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.

Amen.

What Does The Bible Say Our Future Holds?

What Does The Bible Say Our Future Holds?

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY THE FUTURE HOLDS?

It wasn’t that long ago that the Bible Prophecy teachers abounded. They each claimed to have special insight into Bible prophecies which enabled them to forecast what was around the corner for our world. Some of them, such as Hal Lindsay, sold millions of paperback books promoting their interpretation of Bible prophecies. Others, such as Tim LaHaye, novelised their interpretations into the ‘Left Behind’ series which also sold in the millions.

This unquenchable longing by people to know what the future holds and hopes that the Bible spells it out in detail, shows that believers have undergone a conditioning over the past century and a half that this is what Bible prophecies are about.  

For the past decade and a half I have been arguing that this is not the focus of either the Bible or its prophecies. Rather than approaching the Bible with a set of assumptions about its contents, it is better to approach the Bible seeking to understand its original message. This process is known as exegesis. To exegete a Scripture, and especially a Biblical prophecy, we must answer several questions:

  1. Who is this Scripture written to? (Clue: The answer will never be “us” or even “me”).
  2. How would the original audience have best understood this Scripture? (Clue: The answer will nearly always include some relevance for them.)
  3. Which other Scriptures give insight into this Scripture in question? (Clue: there will be other Scriptures which will be helpful to our understanding of a Scripture passage.)

If you want to know what the Bible forecasts for our future, you have to start with the right questions. Since the Scriptures were written to particular audiences and not to us, we need to distinguish who the Bible’s message is to and who the Bible’s message is for. The expression “last days” in the New Testament has more to do with the ending of the Old Covenant economy which included the temple in Jerusalem, the Levitical Priesthood, the system of animal sacrifices, and the ceremonial rituals. This was all made obsolete at the Cross (Heb. 8:13) and then finally done away with when the New Covenant had been offered to all those under the Old Covenant economy (Col. 1: 5-6, 23).

If you’re hoping to use the Bible to determine who will be the next President of the United States or Leader of the Kremlin, you’re going to be disappointed. To be sure, the Bible did indeed forecast with uncanny accuracy the coming world empires and even predicted the name of one of these Emperors (Isa. 45:1) But it did so with reference to the audience it was written to. It also did so because it was linked to God’s redemptive plan in Christ. We could surmise a few things though from what see in those prophetic Scriptures which looked way beyond its original audience. For example, in Revelation 7:9 we get a glimpse of the final harvest of souls and this glimpse should cause us to take heart. In Revelation chapter 20 we get a glimpse of Christ’s protective nurture of His faithful in the midst of growing hostility toward His followers from those destined for wrath (Rev. 20:9ff). In Revelation 21 and 22 we are given a glimpse into our eternal bliss which still awaits us. 

Therefore, as we exegete the Scriptures we should be more confronted with what the Scriptures calls us to do – which includes, to bear witness to Christ, and His saving work, to a world enslaved in spiritual darkness. We should be shaped by how the Scriptures commission us to do this witness-bearing which includes being as wise as serpents and as a subtle as doves (Matt. 10:16), and accepting that as we are faithful to Christ in being these witnesses, we will have to endure the world’s hostility. That’s what our future holds.

Andrew Corbett

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