Church Discipline

CHURCH DISCIPLINE

Discipline In The Family of God

by Dr. Andrew Corbett

“In our day heaven and earth are on tiptoe waiting for the emergence of a Spirit-led, Spirit-intoxicated, Spirit-empowered people. All of creation watches expectantly for the springing up a disciplined, freely gathered, martyr people who know in this life the life and power of the kingdom of God. It has happened before. It can happen again.”
Dr. Richard Foster

It is a difficult subject for any pastor to teach, but not nearly as difficult as it is for a pastor to implement! Church Discipline. The New Testament prescribes for a local church to exercise its discipline appropriately and even lists its practice as one the essential requirements for its elders (Titus 1:9). Church discipline corrects, holds leaders accountable, and should teach people to think twice before acting foolishly (1Tim. 5:20). The Book of Proverbs has much to say about the role of discipline in shaping a person’s character which both families and churches need to help their members heed.

The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast. He will die for lack of discipline, led astray by his own great folly.
Proverbs 5:22-23

Church discipline should always redemptive. That is, it is designed to restore those it disciplines into both fellowship and, where appropriate, ministry. Done well, church discipline brings cohesion to its members just as parental discipline brings cohesion to a family. It helps to prevent people from hurting others and themselves. It serves to maintain unity within a church by keeping people accountable to the highest standards of cooperation.

He who heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.
Proverbs 10:17

Local, and to some extent, trans-local, church leadership is responsible for a church’s directiondevelopment, doctrine, and discipline.

THE PURPOSE OF CHURCH DISCIPLINE

1. To glorify God (Mtt. 18:15-19; Rom. 16:17; 1Cor. 5; 1Thess. 5:14; 2Thess. 3:6-15; 1Tim. 5:20; 6:3; Tit. 1:13; 2:15; 3:10; Rev. 2:2, 14, 15, 20)

2. To restore wayward saints (Mtt. 18:15; 1Cor. 5:5; Gal. 6:1) [This is the aim of God’s Word, not its promise!]

3. To maintain the purity of Christ’s Church (1Cor. 5:6-8; 11:27)

4. Shows respect for Christ and His teaching (2Cor. 2:9, 17)

5. To deter others from sinning (1Tim. 5:20)

6. To prevent giving cause for God to set Himself against a local church (Rev. 2:14-25)

This discipline should move through a progression of phases. 

  1. Instruction, then
  2. Exhorting, then
  3. Correction, then
  4. Reproving, then
  5. Rebuking, then
  6. Removal, then
  7. Repentance, then
  8. Restoration.

STEP 1 – INSTRUCTION

An integral part of Step 1 is introducing into a local church a culture that discipline is for the believer’s good. It is wise. It requires humility. It is maintained, and sometimes commenced, with the pulpit. The preaching of God’s Word is meant to shape, correct, and transform believers. This is where discipline begins. When the pastoral preacher models discipline in the spiritual life, family life, personal life, and professional life, their life becomes a cultural message to their congregation (Phil. 3:17; 1Tim. 4:12; 1Peter 5:3).

STEP 2 – EXHORTING

we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.
First Thessalonians 2:12

Step 2 is very pastoral. It is exhorting. This is sometimes translated encouraging. The Greek word is parakaleho (παρακαλέω), which means to draw another along side. It shows another how to live in a Christ-like manner in how they work, relate to others, use their time, manage their money, witness, worship, and recreate. The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy instructing him not just to preach information, to preach transformation by including exhorting in his preaching-

preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
Second Timothy 4:2

STEP 3 – CORRECTION

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
Second Timothy 2:24-26

This third step requires mild confrontation. It could be to correct a deficiency, such as if a trainee preacher needs to work on their delivery, pace, and focus. It could also be to correct an impropriety (misconduct). This should commence with fact-finding questions rather than accusations. Based on the principles given by Christ in Matthew 18:15-17, correction commences one on one. 

STEP 4 – REPROVE

The Greek word ἐλέγχω (“elegko”) is generally translated reprove.  Christ instructed that if the one on one correction is not received, then two people should confront the person committing misconduct. To reprove is to confront with a reprimand, an admonishment, a confutation. If this is still not received, then the matter should be brought before the whole church, which may lead to the person being removed from their fellowship (Step #6).

STEP 5 – REBUKE

The Greek word ἐπιτιμάω (“epitimaoh“) is translated rebuke. It involves confronting and scolding. This scolding is not belittling, rather it is a presentation of the pain caused by them. The one being disciplined must not only be confronted with misconduct, they need to be confronted with the damage they have caused to others as well.

STEP 6 – REMOVAL

It is a sad moment when church discipline eventually leads to the removal of an unrepentant offender from its fellowship.

And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.
First Corinthians 5:2

As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear.
First Timothy 5:20

This is done for both the good of the fellowship and the offender. The matter is brought before the church and the congregation. In the early centuries of the Church, there were not multiple denominations and independent churches. In this context, being removed from the fellowship, was an extremely shameful thing and meant being cut off socially from the community of the believers. This stage of church discipline is described in First Corinthians 5. Between First and Second Corinthians we deduce that the particular offender Paul is describing did eventually repent (Step #7). Thus, in Second Corinthians, the Apostle Paul urges the Corinthians to restore (Step #8) the repentant offender back into their fellowship.

For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him.
Second Corinthians 2:6-8

THE GOAL OF DISCIPLINE

The goal of discipline is to show love (2John 5, 6) and bring restoration (2Cor. 2:6-8). Not to punish or humiliate. As difficult as it is, and as reluctant as many church leaders may be to carry out, church discipline is needed for the good of congregations and individual believers. When Paul wrote to Timothy he instructed his protégé to make sure that the church was based on sound doctrine and orderly conduct, because it was the Church whom God has ordained to uphold the truth to the world. This is integral to the Church’s mission of evangelising the world. That is why church discipline, or the lack of it, is a major factor in our Great Commission effectiveness.

if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.
First Timothy 3:15 NIV

Amen.

© 1999, 2017 Andrew Corbett, Legana, Tasmania, Australia

The Divine Divorce of Israel

The Divine Divorce of Israel

The Bible is unique among the religious books of the world partly because it is structured around a story which has a beginning, a plot, a climax and an end; and partly because this story is also a love story. Its lead character, God, is its hero. He takes a bride. His bride flourishes. Tragically, she wanders from her husband into adultery and then harlotry. Her husband pleads with her for her to return to Him. She refuses. He is left with no option but to divorce her. But the story does not end there.

 

She saw that for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, I had sent her away with a decree of divorce. Yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but she too went and played the whore.
Jeremiah 3:8

GOD’S MARRIAGE TO ISRAEL

The Bible’s story opens with a marriage in Genesis chapter 2. From the outset, marriage is presented as the highest and closest union between a man and woman and was always intended to reflect the intimacy within the Godhead. As such, this unique relationship is identified as a covenant. This is the type of relationship which God also ascribes to His relationship with Israel. As the Scriptures unfold, we see that God thus describes Himself as a husband to Israel (Jer. 31:32). 

For your Maker is your husband,
the LORD of hosts is His name;
and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer,
the God of the whole earth He is called.
Isaiah 54:5

Ezekiel describes this marriage in a metaphorical story of God taking these Hebrews and bestowing magnificence upon them.

I clothed you also with embroidered cloth and shod you with fine leather. I wrapped you in fine linen and covered you with silk.  And I adorned you with ornaments and put bracelets on your wrists and a chain on your neck.  And I put a ring on your nose and earrings in your ears and a beautiful crown on your head.  Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your clothing was of fine linen and silk and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flour and honey and oil. You grew exceedingly beautiful and advanced to royalty.
Ezekiel 16:10-13

When the nation of Israel suffered a political division which divided them between north and south with ten tribes to the north being known as Israel (or Ephraim, or identified by its capital: Samaria) and the remaining two tribes in the south (Judah and Benjamin) being known as Judah (often identified by its capital: Jerusalem). From this point, God’s relationship with the Hebrews was then described as being married two sisters.

Oholah was the name of the elder and Oholibah the name of her sister. They became mine, and they bore sons and daughters. As for their names, Oholah is Samaria, and Oholibah is Jerusalem.
Ezekiel 23:4

 

GOD DIVORCES EPHRAIM

God gave Israel laws regulating the practice of divorce in Deuteronomy 24. Prior to this, a man could verbally divorce his wife and virtually confine her to a lifetime of impoverishment.  

¶ “When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house, and if she goes and becomes another man’s wife, and the latter man hates her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter man dies, who took her to be his wife, then her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled, for that is an abomination before the LORD. And you shall not bring sin upon the land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance.
Deuteronomy 24:1-4

There are two particularly important things to note about these regulations. Firstly, the divorce had to be a written document. Secondly, the husband divorcing his wife could not remarry her. Jesus Christ elaborated on this and stated that if a man divorced his wife and married another while his former was still alive, he was committing adultery. And if the wife he had just divorced was to marry another, he would be causing her to commit adultery.

And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”
Matthew 19:9 NKJV

The terms of the covenant between God and Israel included blessings and curses, terms and penalties. The terms of the covenant with God could be summed up with the word – devotion. The blessings of the covenant could be summed up with the word – prosperity. The terms of the covenant could be summed up with the word – Law. The penalties of breaking the covenant could be summed up with the word – exile

And the LORD will make you abound in prosperity, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your livestock and in the fruit of your ground, within the land that the LORD swore to your fathers to give you.
Deuteronomy 28:11

And the next generation, your children who rise up after you, and the foreigner who comes from a far land, will say, when they see the afflictions of that land and the sicknesses with which the LORD has made it sick— the whole land burned out with brimstone and salt, nothing sown and nothing growing, where no plant can sprout, an overthrow like that of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, which the LORD overthrew in his anger and wrath—all the nations will say, ‘Why has the LORD done thus to this land? What caused the heat of this great anger?’ Then people will say, ‘It is because they abandoned the covenant of the LORD, the God of their fathers, which he made with them when he brought them out of the land of Egypt, and went and served other gods and worshiped them, gods whom they had not known and whom he had not allotted to them. Therefore the anger of the LORD was kindled against this land, bringing upon it all the curses written in this book, and the LORD uprooted them from their land in anger and fury and great wrath, and cast them into another land, as they are this day.’
Deuteronomy 29:22-28

When Israel abandoned the Lord, God sent them prophets who each reminded them of their Covenant with God. These prophets to the Northern Kingdom of Israel included: Hosea, Amos, Joel, and Jonah. If, as Jeremiah declared, God had given Israel a written decree of divorce, chances are it was penned by at least one of these prophets. What we cannot be as certain about is whether there is a Canonical (Scriptural) record of this decree. In Second Kings 17 there is a reference to prophets giving this prophetic decree to Israel without including the precise retelling of its wording or naming any particular prophet.

until the LORD removed Israel out of his sight, as He had spoken by all His servants the prophets. So Israel was exiled from their own land to Assyria until this day.
Second Kings 17:23

Initially it appears that the book of Hosea is the most likely candidate. Support for this candidature includes its historical context.

(i) It was written before Israel was exiled to Assyria.

(ii) It metaphorically pictures Israel’s marriage to God and their adulterous unfaithfulness.

(iii) It foretells of a coming new covenant, which would involve God taking a new bride. But in order for this to happen in accord with what Christ said about divorce and remarriage, one of the parties would have to die. This will be discussed shortly.

 

SENT AWAY

Divorce involved the sending away of the divorced wife. When Abraham divorced Hagar, it necessarily involved sending her away (Gen. 21:14). In Israel’s case, this was carried out by the Assyrians who took them into exile.

¶ In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria, and he carried the Israelites away to Assyria and placed them in Halah, and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.
Second Kings 17:6

The Southern Kingdom of Judah faced the same threat from the Assyrians, but unlike their northern sister, they turned to the Lord.

Do not let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD by saying, The LORD will surely deliver us, and this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.’ …  ¶ Then Isaiah the son of Amoz sent to Hezekiah, saying, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: Your prayer to me about Sennacherib king of Assyria I have heard … ¶ “Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria: He shall not come into this city or shoot an arrow there, or come before it with a shield or cast up a siege mound against it.
Second Kings 18:30; 19:20, 32

But eventually, despite the Prophet Jeremiah’s pleading, Judah also abandoned the Lord and committed spiritual adultery with idols. This eventually led to them also being divorced from the Lord. 

Surely, as a treacherous wife leaves her husband, so have you been treacherous to me, O house of Israel, declares the LORD.’”
Jeremiah 3:20

 

THE NEW COVENANT & GOD’S REMARRIAGE

The New Covenant was foretold by the prophets, particularly Jeremiah. It depicted a remnant of the twelve tribes of Israel being reunited under a new covenant.

In those days the house of Judah shall join the house of Israel, and together they shall come from the land of the north to the land that I gave your fathers for a heritage.
Jeremiah 3:18

Based on the prophecies in the Book of Hosea, the New Covenant was to encompass those who were not ethnically Hebrew who were depicted with the common Old Testament metaphor for Gentiles of ‘beasts’.

¶ Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And in the place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” it shall be said to them, “Children of the living God.” And the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint for themselves one head. And they shall go up from the land, for great shall be the day of Jezreel.
Hosea 1:10-11

And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety.
Hosea 2:18

But in order for this to happen in accord with what Christ said was permissible, one of the previously divorced parties would have to be dead. This was fulfilled with the death of God The Son. By understanding this and recognising that God has now taken a new bride (as prophesied in the Old Testament) – namely, the Church (referred to as “the true Israel” cf. Gal. 6:16) – we can begin to understand that the closing book of the Bible, The Revelation, is the legal divorce papers of Israel and the announcement of God’s having taken a new bride.

If we read the Book of Revelation in this light, we can see an acrimonious ex-wife who is spiteful and hostile toward the new bride. But there is no mincing of words in the Book of Revelation when this ex-wife is referred to as –

¶ “ ‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.
Revelation 2:9

Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you.
Revelation 3:9

The implications of appreciating this issue are dramatic. Rather than persisting with the Dispensational notion that God has two People who are redeemed under two concurrent and equally salvific covenants, the Scriptures declare –

¶ In speaking of a new covenant, He makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
Hebrews 8:13

The Bible is unique among the religious books of the world partly because it is structured around a story which has a beginning, a plot, a climax and an end; and partly because this story is also a love story. Its lead character, God, is its hero. He takes a new bride. His bride flourishes and encompasses a multitude of people from every nation, tribe and tongue, so vast that no-one could number!

¶ After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
Revelation 7:9-10

Amen.

The Binding of Satan

The Binding of Satan

The Binding of Satan

The Theological study of Satan is known as Demonology. Many Futurists believe that it is the role Christians today to “bind” Satan…

I’m a ‘Pentecostal’ Preterist. To be more precise I’m a Pentecostal Partial Preterist. If you’re wondering what on earth does any of that mean? It means I wake up every morning to start my day living for Jesus, rather than againstSatan. I don’t have to bind Satan to get over difficulties or to make it through life. Let me explain further…

If I was a Full-Preterist I would have to believe that every prophecy and every intention of God was already fulfilled- and therefore that the supernatural gifts of Spirit ceased with the close of the Old Covenant in 70AD. But I’m not a Full-Preterist. I believe in miracles for today. I believe in the New Testament’s promise of the Baptism with the Holy Spirit for the believer today. I’ve been a Pentecostal Pastor now for more than 20 years. But I’m not a Dispensational Pentecostal (which I find an oxymoron) who regard the Devil as requiring the believer to mortally combat in order to further the Great Commission. This Dispensational concept of over-stating the power and role of Satan is rooted in the heretical notion that Christ descended into Hell to wrestle the keys of Hell and Death out of the hand of Satan in the corridors of Hell in order to achieve our salvation. And therefore in order for the believer to live a victorious life they must constantly battle Satan, says the Dispensational Pentecostal.

HOW PARTIAL PRETERISM REGARDS SATAN…

Defeated. Conquered. Bound.

In this way, God disarmed the evil rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by His victory over them on the cross of Christ.
Colossians 2:15

Jesus came to destroy the works of the Devil and according to Colossians 2:15 He did just that by dying on the Cross.

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—
Hebrews 2:14

It wasn’t in the corridors of Hell that salvation was achieved and the Devil was defeated, it was on the Cross! While Dispensationalists argue that a method of salvation was achieved by the Cross, they reject the notion that the Devil was defeated because of the Cross. Because they read Revelation as largely unfulfilled, they also read the account in Revelation 20 of Satan’s binding as also unfulfilled and yet to happen. But this interpretation is against the tenor of the New Testament’s description of Satan’s position since the Cross.

 

“BINDING” IN THE BIBLE

“Binding” can be physical, such as being bound by shackels, chains or ropes (Mk. 5:4) or bandages (Lk. 10:34). But it can also be non-physical. That is, someone could be bound by an oath (Mat. 23:16; Acts 23:12), a condition, or an obligation. Jesus questioned whether it was right for Him to heal a woman who had been ‘bound by Satan for eighteen years‘ (Luke 13:16). Christ also stated that we could only ‘bind’ people on earth with what what they were already bound by in heaven. In this sense, binding referred to obligations and it meant that people who could no longer do what the Pharisees had done when they invented certain rules they called ‘binding rules’ (things forbidden), instead they could only restrict people from doing what God said they were restricted from doing.

When it comes to interpreting the passage in Revelation 20 about Satan being bound at the beginning of the one thousand year reign of Christ it is assumed by the Pre-millennialist (one who believes in a literal and future 1,000 reign of Christ on earth) that neither the Kingdom (“1,000” years) or the binding of Satan has taken place. Silly simplistic arguments are used to rebutt those, who like me, regard the “1,000” years as linguistically representing the rule and reign of Christ from the close of the Old Covenant in 70AD to the present day (and beyond). To ignore the way the Bible uses the number “1,000” and to then impose a wooden-literal understanding of it into the Revelation 20 text is perilous. Job says that he could ask a thousand questions of God and have them all answered. Surely this language is stating the enormous depth of God’s knowledge rather than limiting God to the capacity to only answer a thousand questions. The Law-Giver says that God’s love extends to a thousand generations to those who keep His covenant. Surely God’s love does not expire after a thousand generations of humanity? The Psalmist said that God owns the cattle on a thousand hills. Does this imply that the cattle on a 1001st hill are not God’s? It appears that the Biblical usage of a thousand paints a picture of a number so large that it’s not meant to be counted. That’s exactly what it means in Revelation 20.

And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years,
Revelation 20:2

Secondly, since Satan is a non-corporeal being (that is, he doesn’t have a physical body) physical objects, such as metal chains, cannot restrict him. Therefore, whatever binding means in Revelation 20:2, its certainly cannot mean a physical restriction. Since we have already seen that binding can mean something non-physical, it is far more probable that the binding referred to in Revelation 20:2 is symbolic language for restriction. The Cross terminally weakened Satan, and the culmination of the Old Covenant in 70AD destroyed his ability to exploit the condemnation of the Mosaic Covenant.

Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”
Revelation 12:12

The teaching of the New Testament is that Christ came to defeat the works of the Devil. For those who believe that nothing changed for Satan since the Cross, then the statement in Revelation 12:12 becomes non-sensical as they are forced into the absurd position of claiming that the Devil’s short time is from the Cross to the present day. This type of Bible interpretation requires mental, theological, and exegetical gymnastics. For those of us not prepared to abandon the ordinary rules of Bible interpretation (including: Context, Non-Contradiction, Original Intention) such fanciful interpretations are not only ridiculous but impossible.

Since we know that the Cross announced the end of the Old Covenant which continued to function until the the New Covenant had been preached to every Jew in the Empire, and which Christ said was conditional for the ending of the Old Covenant-

And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world [Greek word: “oichoumene”, def’n: ‘Roman Empire’] as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
Matthew 24:14

The writer of Hebrews, who wrote to discouraged Jewish Christians encouraging them not to succumb to the taunts of Pharisaic Jews that the Mosaic Covenant has not been done away with since the Temple, Priesthood and Sacrifices were still in place, revealed to them-

In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
Hebrews 8:13

Satan did everything he could to prevent the first Church from preaching the Gospel to every creature-

because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us.
First Thessalonians 2:18

But despite Satan’s best efforts, the Gospel prevailed by 70AD-

the word of the truth, the gospel,
which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing—
Colossians 1:5b-6a

if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.
Colossians 1:23

When all those living under the Old Covenant had had an opportunity to convert to Christ and accept the New Covenant, the Old Covenant could end. With the end of the Old Covenant came the ‘binding’ of Satan. From that point Satan could no longer come into the presence of God (as he did in Job 1-2), instead he was ‘bound’ from approaching God, and ‘bound’ for eternal damnation (“bottomless pit”).

 

MILLENNIALISM & PARTIAL PRETERISM

Satan was defeated at the Cross. He was bound at the close of the Old Covenant. This means that he is restricted from deceiving nations and accusing the brethren in the presence of God (since he is now cast out of heaven). For those who claim that if Satan is bound now “he certainly has a long leash” – I suggest that if he isn’t bound now he certainly lacks imagination! If Satan is not now restricted from conducting unlimited evil by the Lordship of Christ then his lack of rampant evil is bewildering.

Futurists are quick to ignorantly attribute natural disasters to Satan as evidence of his unbounded evil. But so-called natural disasters are more often than not a vital part of God’s maintenance plan for sustaining creation. Earthquakes, tsunamis, bush-fires, floods are all designed by God for the purpose of sustaining life on earth. (I explore this issue further in my article on the Boxing Day Tsunami.)

The Biblical expression “1,000” speaks of not meant to be counted. God owns the cattle on a 1,000 hill, Job could ask 1,000 questions and each time receive an answer, God’s faithfulness is to 1,000 generations, and so on. In a similar way, after the close of the Old Covenant Age with the destruction of the Temple and abolition the sacrificial system, Christ established His New Covenant reign. There will eventually come a time when Christ will hand over this Kingdom to His Father (1Cor. 15:24) at His Appearing.

 

HOW FAR INTO THE FUTURE DID REVELATION CLAIM SATAN WOULD BE BOUND?

Dispensationalism claims that the Book of Revelation was written about events which were to be fulfilled in the much distant future. But the Book of Revelation makes emphatic claims that its contents pertained to its original audience. The opening verses of Revelation could not be clearer-

The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John…Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.
Revelation 1:1, 3 ESV

It flies in the face of logic to claim that although it plainly states that its contents are immediately about to happen, it actually meant that they were thousands of years off! That is an absurd interpretation. This also relates to what it says about the doom of Satan. Partial Preterism interprets Satan’s “time is short” (Rev. 12:12) as the forty or so years (an incredibly short time in the scheme of Biblical history) as being from the Cross to the destruction of Jerusalem. To suggest that Satan’s “short time” was from the Cross to the present day defies all ordinary senses of language.

In my eBook, The Most Embarrassing Book In The Bible (Understanding The Book of Revelation), I present the case for most of the Book of Revelation being fulfilled. Therefore, there is a strong case to be made from both the witness of Scripture and history that the Dispensationalist’s claim that Revelation is mostly about the future is without credibility.

 

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.

“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.

John 5:25

Amen.

Dr. Andrew Corbett, Legana, Tasmania, Australia, 25th December 2006

Are We Trying To Christianise Our Society?

Are We Trying To Christianise Our Society?

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Are We Trying To Christianise Our Society?The claim is sometimes made that as Christians around the world are getting more involved in politics that they are plotting to christianise their societies. Even many Christian leaders have criticised this Christian political movement by saying that it is not right to enforce Christian standards (such as marriage) onto a secular society. One leader even defended his view that marriage need not be limited to a man and a woman, based on the assumption that it is wrong for Christians to expect non-christians to act like Christians. He cited Canada as an example of how non-christian standards had not caused the “sky to fall in” on their society.

 

SEPARATION OF CHURCH & STATE

This line of reasoning often includes the appeal to a “separation of Church and State” where this means that the Church should not expect non-christians to uphold Christian teaching (which is not what this expression was ever intended to mean). This expression has now been so pummeled into this new definition that even some Christians now unquestionably accept it. The concept of separation of Church from State was originally proposed to describe the illegitimate role of secular governments interfering in the affairs of Church matters- not the other way around! The Church surely has as much right as any other lobby group or organisation to promote views it regards are for the best welfare of a society.

Claiming that Gay-Marriage or any other aberration of marriage should be accepted by society with the argumant that marriage is as much secular as it is Christian and therefore secular variations should be accommodated is misguided. Marriage is neither intrinsically Christian or even religious. Marriage is actually “original” and a part of the Covenant of Creation which God made with people. It is therefore found in every culture in every time throughout the history of mankind. It is not a Christian concept, but a divine one which overrides any appeal made by secularism.

 

BY SPEAKING OUT AREN’T WE CHRISTIANISING?

When we defend the place of the Moral (or “Natural”) Law aren’t we in essence appealing to non-christians to at least behave like Christians? Not at all. In fact, if this was what we were asking for we would be severely injuring the cause of Christ since Christianity is not merely about a change of behaviour but a change of heart!

If we were trying to “christianise” our societies we would be asking for Holy Communion to be made compulsory for every citizen, or for Sunday to the day for compulsory church attendance. That would be attempting to Christianise our society.

When we defend the rights and welfare of individuals and their property we are simply upholding the moral law which are laws common to all whether they are religious or not. The Moral Law tells us that certain things are right and certain things are wrong- no matter what our opinion of those things might be.

The test of morality is the welfare of the individual. That which is immoral is inherently harmful to a person’s welfare. Therefore murder is immoral because it is so harmful to a person’s welfare. Adultery is immoral because it too is harmful to not only the parties involved but also the betrayed spouse. Sexual misconduct is immoral because of the harm it inflicts physically, emotionally and spiritually upon its victims.

To claim that when immoral legislation (that which counters the Moral Law) has not really harmed a society, such as Canada, is a curious statement when these decision were only made within the last few years and already there is indeed negative fall out from it (none the least from those who have taken advantage of this radical legislation).

The “sky” doesn’t actually have to “fall in” for a negative impact to be made upon a society!

Sometimes legislative decisions take decades for their full implications to be outworked. It then sometimes takes generations to undo the damage done by what secularists felt at the time was rather innocuous legislation. For example, the Prohibition of the 1920s in the USA is frequently cited as an example of how it is just not possible to legislate morality. Yet the Prohibition of Alcohol in the USA was introduced due to the alarmingly high rates of alcohol induced family breakdown, domestic violence, workplace absenteeism and deaths, and premature deaths. The rate of hard liquor consumption in the USA at this time had reached record levels on a per capita basis. The Prohibition lasted 15 years. At the end of this time the rate of alcohol consumption per capita plummetted! Interestingly, so did the rate of negative welfare affects. Did the Prohibition stop all people from drinking? No. Does that mean the Prohibition failed? No. Facinatingly, the rate of alcohol consumption in the USA did not return to the pre-Prophibition rate until 1975! (Which demonstrates the powerful educative role any legislation plays.)

People who claim that Morality can not be legislated because legislation does not change anyone’s behaviour do not understand that the purpose of any legislation is to articulate what is right (moral) and what is wrong (immoral). If we honestly believe that morality can not be legislated then we would do away with any legislation which didn’t bring universal observance. The question should then be asked, “Is any legislation universally observed?” The answer is no. Think about it. If we believed that legislation against murder was failing to prevent murders, then why not simply do away with laws against murder- if legislation is only valid if it changes everyone’s hearts and behaviour!

Are we trying to Christianise our societies by speaking up for laws which reflect the Moral Law? Not at all. Are we claiming to be superior to our society because we are religious? Not at all. Do we want to see penalties prescribed under the Old Covenant enforced today for people who violate sexual laws? Not at all. All of the penalties of the Old Covenat Law have been borne by Christ. Does this mean that these sexual laws no longer reflect the Moral Law? Not at all. Indeed we have compassion for all people caught up in any form of immoral sexual addiction. But compassion should not be confused with tolerance.

I don’t think there is any other group within society that does more for both the victims and perpetrators of crime than Christians. While Christians are cast as intolerant soap-boxing, finger-pointing bigots, the reality is that it is Christians who have established halfway houses, soup kitchens, prison visitiation programs, drug rehabilitation centres, medical clinics, and schools to show compassion to all people, and especially those impacted by violations of the Moral Law.

We are trying to promote laws which are beneficial for all of society. We know that this is often met with hostility by those who interpret this as bigotry. And it is our wish that all those who believe in Higher Laws will defend this position graciously and in a way that is genuinely compassionate for those who hold a different perspective.

© Andrew Corbett, 23 November 2004

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Why Left Behind Should Be Left Behind

Why Left Behind Should Be Left Behind

Why "Left Behind" Should Be Left Behind!

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For LEFT BEHIND to be true it has to invent it’s own set of rules for Bible interpretation. What most LEFT BEHIND fans may be shocked to discover is that the pivotal sections of Matthew and Revelation upon which LEFT BEHIND is based was fulfilled by 70AD! And it had to be since that’s what Christ said!

“Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.”
Matthew 24:34 (NKJV)

The highly aclaimed atheist, Bertrand Russell, said this verse alone was enough to discredit both the Bible and Jesus Christ!

Like many evangelical Christians I was raised on a diet of End Times Prophecy. I was told that those who didn’t repent and accept Christ could find themselves in the most gruesome Great Tribulation where people would be randomly executed daily for not accepting “the silicon chip [mark] of the Beast”. The motivation for such a message was to encourage people to accept Christ before the highly imminent “rapture”.

But an examination of what the Bible says about the end times may surprise those who hold to the Dispensational view that God must remove the Church via a secret rapture, then allow a period of tribulation to commence to introduce an “Anti-Christ” who will set himself up in the Third Temple in Jerusalem and then start annihilating Jews and defy the true Christ. But this is heresy! And it this scenario upon which the LEFT BEHIND series is based. But in order for this fanciful interpretation to be true it requires the acceptance of some patently unacceptable hermeneutics (principles of Bible interpretation).

THE LAW OF “DOUBLE REFERENCE”?

With very little effort it can be shown that all of Matthew 24 has been fulfilled. The LEFT BEHIND scholars accept that most of Matthew 24 may have been fulfilled but that the Law of Double Reference demands that it must be fulfilled again. Therefore, although the temple was unquestionably destroyed in AD70, it will be rebuilt and then destroyed again under the rule of the Anti-Christ. This is accepted by dispensationalists even though there is no reference to an Anti-Christ in Matthew 24 or the entire Book of Revelation!

Secondly, there is no reference or indication in Matthew 24 that the events which Jesus foretold would have two fulfilments. In fact, there is no where in Scripture where it teaches a dual fulfilment of any prophecy!

THE DELIBERATE CHANGING OF KEY WORDS!

The Dispensational system requires the changing of key words in Matthew 24 in order to make its highly implausible interpretations have any possibility of acceptance. For example, the use of the word “you” in Matthew 24. Who is “you”? The clear meaning of Matthew 24 is the present disciples. To suggest anyone else is absurd.

Secondly, the meaning of Matthew 24:30-31 is taught as the culminating return of Christ when in fact the text makes no mention of Christ’s return down to earth. In fact, it is a direct quote from Daniel 7 which refers to Christ ascending into the presence of His Father (the Ancient of Days) and receiving the decree to judge Jerusalem. The Matthew 24 text clearly describes the event as the appearing of the Son of Man in the heavens. This is not the final, all culminating return of Christ to Judge all the dead (as described in Revelation 20).

Thirdly, the end of the Age is not the end of the World but the end of the Old Covenant. While it is true that the Cross marks the legal end to the Old Covenant, it wasn’t until the integral elements of the Old Covenant (the Temple, the Sacrifices, and the Priesthood) were done away with in AD70 that the Old Covenant was finally abolished (note Hebrews 8:13).

Fourthly, the term this generation is changed by Dispensationalists to read that generation. Perhaps these people have been singing the Pentecostal song “This is that” and they’ve carried over into their Bible reading! This means “this”. When Jesus said in Matthew 24:34 that “this” generation would not pass away before all these things happened, He didn’t mean “that” generation as Tim LaHaye and other Dispensational advocates teach. If we say that this means that then where do we stop with the rest of the Bible?

Fifthly, the word “world” in Matthew 24:14 is the Greek word for the Roman Empire (Gr. = “oikoumene“), not the whole earth (Gr. = “ge“). When we consider Colossians 1:5-6, 23 we see that Matthew 24 was fulfiled within the lifetime of the generation which Christ was addressing.

THE RAPTURE IS RUBBISH!

The references in Matthew 24 to one being taken and one left, has nothing to do with rapture but refers to the indiscriminate massacre of the inhabitants of Jerusalem during the Roman catapault attacks. Josephus describes this. The passage in First Thessalonians 4 has nothing to do with rapture – it is entirely about resurrection! Consider the context of that passage and this will be immediately seen. Once these two key passages are correctly understood, the Dispensational concept of a rapture vaporises.

When Christ does finally return to culminate time (Eph. 1:10) and judge the world (Matt. 25) after the Great and General resurrection (Rev. 20) there will be no Anti-Christ figure challenging Him from a rebuilt Jerusalem Temple situated in a reclaimed Judeo-Palestine at the end of Great Tribulation period. All of this fanciful drama might sell books and form the basis for movies and radio plays, but it has nothing to do with Scripture.

You may like to read my unfolding commentary on the Book of Revelation which explains some of these things in more detail. The first 4 chapters are available online now and the entire audio series is also available for free in our audio section.

THE MOST EMBARRASSING VERSE IN THE BIBLE expounds the entire chapter of Matthew 24 and shows why we can know that it is entirely fulfilled!


READ DR. CORBETT’S MOST EMBARRASSING VERSE eBOOK FOR JUST $AU3.95!

© 2003, Dr. Andrew Corbett

The Rapture Has Ruptured!

Understanding the Book of Revelation

The Difference Between Hyper-Preterism and Preterism

Matthew 24 Exposition – MP3

This, and other such issues, is dealt with more fully in my downloadable ebook on the Book of Revelation- The Most Embarrassing Book In The Bible.

I’m on a mission to counter this discrediting of Scripture. It is my mission to help reverse Biblical illiteracy rates and produce resources to help readers understand what they are reading and how to correctly interpret the Scriptures. I opened this article by saying that the issue of eschatology is secondary to how we read and interpret the Scriptures (Hermeneutics). That’s why I’ve made my eBook- The Most Embarrassing Book In The Bible available for an immediate download. Thousands of people around the world have now read this eBook and many have written to me thanking me and others for promoting a more sound method for reading and interpretting the Bible. I encourage you to download this eBook and read for yourself an alternate view to End Times than the one presented by many of these pop-preachers. When I first released this eBook several years ago I was a bit of a lone voice. But now some big ministries are beginning to say the same things. Most notably is Hank Hanegraaff’s latest book, Unlocking The Apocalypse Code, where he now makes the same assertions. I predict that in the days, weeks, months, years to come, Jesus Christ will be Lord and His Word will be found true and reliable.

Download Dr Corbett’s eBook explaining the Book of Revelation. Thousands have!

Download Dr Corbett’s eBook The Most Embarrassing Book In The Bible.

Amen.

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