Ecclesiology 016

Ecclesiology 016
Galatians 6:16 • Dr. Andy Woods • March 18, 2018 • Ecclesiology


Andy Woods

Ecclesiology 16

3-18-18     Lesson 16   Galatians 6:16

Father, we’re grateful for this morning, grateful for a new day to serve You and to learn of You, to worship You. We thank You, Lord, for the privilege that You’ve given us to worship You in spirit and truth and I just ask that we would do that freely today, whatever is encumbering us in terms of sin or just the wear and tear of living in a fallen world.  We just take those right now, Father, in a moment of silence and deposit those before Your throne of grace.  And we ask, Father, that You renew a right spirit in us so that we can be freely taught this morning by Your Spirit from Your Word and we’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory.  We ask these things in Jesus’ name and God’s people said… Amen.

Come on everybody, the water’s fine!  If you need a handout just put your hand up.  And if we could open our Bibles to the Book of Galatians, chapter 6 and verse 16.  And it’s been two weeks    I think since I’ve been with you.  One of those weeks I was in Idaho, last week of course was Shahram.  The only problem I have with Shahram is he doesn’t come out and tell you how he feels about things.  [Laughter]  I don’t like these beat around the bush guys.  I’m just kidding, I thought what he said was great and he continued on at the Chafer conference giving more teaching on his expertise, and those are all archives by the way, our sessions here were archived on our SLBC web page and Shahram’s talks over there are archived on Dean Bible

So since we had kind of a hiatus you may not remember this but we’ve been studying in this class the Doctrine of the Church, which is a subject called Ecclesiology.  Does that ring a bell at all?  And here is the big outline we’ve been following on the doctrine of the church.  We started with the definition of the church, the distinction between the universal and the local church.  We’ve looked at word pictures for the church, the origin of the church, when the church started and we spent a lot of time on the differences between Israel and the church.

The last time we were together, the last time I was with you we were on Roman numeral VI which is the concept of the intercalation, which is a fancy word, it has a simple definition.  Here’s what we’ve covered on the concept of the intercalation, about ten points here.  Number one, God’s program for Israel is conditional or unconditional?  Unconditional.  Number 2, God’s program as revealed in the Old Testament, as of today, remains unfulfilled.  Number 3, the promises that God made to Israel that we find in the Old Testament cannot be rewritten or deliteralized.  The plain method of interpretation is how those prophecies yet to be fulfilled will be fulfilled.  Number 4, those promises are completely truthful.  In other words, God has to move heaven and earth to see that those prophecies are fulfilled.  Which leads us to number 5, that God has a future program for Israel.  That cannot be denied.  And no matter how people try to rewrite those prophecies or come up with number 6, some kind of explanation as to why those prophecies are being fulfilled now, none of those explanations work.  So the first six points really show you that God is not through with Israel as a nation.

And yet, number 7, God is clearly at work today, isn’t He.  I mean, we’re sort of evidence of that aren’t we.  Here we are in the 21st century saved, we’re on a different continent, the Holy Spirit is inside of us, Christ has been building His church, His body, worldwide for two thousand years.  So the big question is well then, how do you explain the present work of God in the age of the church?  And a lot of people will simply say well, we’re the continuation of Israel.  Or we are Israel, or we are the new Israel, or something like that.  And so when you get into this subject of ecclesiology, the doctrine of the church… and I’ll be showing you some citations from some sources where people say this all the time, people think that we are the new Israel.  And yet to reach that conclusion you have to deliteralize Israel’s promises, as we’ve tried to explain.

So since the current age of the church, that’s been going on for the last two thousand years is not Israel what explanation do you give it?  Well in ecclesiology we have to define the identity of the church and so we have defined it as follows:  The present work of God is an interruption, or an interval, or a parenthesis, or a hiatus, these are all synonyms, different words, same meaning, or (here’s the fancy “i” word, intercalation which means an interruption in God’s work with Israel.

And this becomes so critical because you can’t really live out your identity unless you know what that identity is.  And because so much of the church feels that they are the new Israel in what’s called replacement theology, they’re confused as to what their task is.  They put upon their own shoulders national functions, or Israel type functions.  So that’s what we’re trying to deal with there in number 8, we’re trying to explain the identity of the church and the best explanation I’ve ever heard of it that doesn’t rewrite Israel’s promises is to call the church an intercalation which means an interruption.  Now this term intercalation, now I’ve added a few slides last night so some of these  you may not have on your handout, but they’re there in the prior handout that we gave to you a couple of weeks ago and all of this stuff is of course on the SLBC website under Sermon Archives.

This concept of an intercalation is not a word that I came up with; it’s a word that Lewis Sperry Chafer used in his systematic theology published all the way back around 1947-1948.  Let me just read you this quote real fast.  He says: In face, the new unrevealed purpose of God in the out calling of a heavenly people from Jews and Gentiles is so divergent with respect to the divine purpose toward Israel, which purpose preceded it and will yet follow it, that the term parenthetical, commonly employed to describe the new age purpose,” but Chafer doesn’t even like the word parenthetical, he says, “A parenthetical portion sustains some direct and indirect relation to that which goes before or that which follows: but the present age purpose is thus related and therefore is more properly termed an” here’s the “i” word, I’ve got it embolden there, and italicized, an  intercalation.  The appropriateness of this word will be seen in the fact that as an interpolation is formed by inserting a word or a phrase into a context so when the intercalation is formed by introducing a day or a period of time into the calendar.  The present age of the church is an intercalation into the revealed calendar or program of God as that program was foreseen by the prophets of old.  Such indeed is the precise character of the present age.”  [vol. 4, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1993), 41.

And I love reading these old guys because I like their vocabulary, I enjoy the complex sentence structure that they used in that day compared to the little tweets we send out today, with little abbreviations and things like that.  And it’s almost like the further in time  you go from the present the smarter people get.  Have you noticed that?  And we think we’re the smartest generation that’s ever lived because we have Twitter and Facebook. I would argue that Twitter and Facebook have made us really stupid because we don’t even know how to communicate with each other any more except in these little soundbites because Twitter only gives you a certain number of characters to get your ideas across.

Think about Lewis Sperry Chafer on Twitter, could he have communicated this in a tweet?  And he has to fill up a little space on this because this is a complex idea and what he’s trying to say here is that the work of God that began on the day of Pentecost and will continue up until the rapture, this unrevealed program which had never been disclosed in the Old Testament, is so unique and the differences between Israel and the church are so profound that you just can’t call it the new Israel or some kind of extension of Israel.  The uniqueness is so profound and the only description that applies would be this age is an interruption in God’s program with Israel.  We know that God is going to execute His program with Israel because His promises say that.  We know that God is at work today and yet if  you’re into geometry and points of correspondence and things like that, you look at the present age and the present work of God that there’s not enough points of correspond­dence with what God has said to Israel to call the church Israel.  It’s got to be an intercalation or an interruption.

So that is where we are as the people of God; we are this unique work of God taking place in between the 69th and 70th week of what?  It starts with a D, we’re studying it on Sunday morning, Daniel.  You say well why does the pastor take so long on the Seventy Weeks of Daniel prophecy?  I mean, we were in Daniel’s Seventy Weeks prophecy longer than Daniel was.  Why go into all that detail?  Because that detail is necessary to understand our identity in the present and if you don’t understand who you are in God you don’t know what you’re supposed to be doing. And you know when your business is suffering and  you hire a consultant to come in and fix business problems, and the consultant is a good one, generally the first type of question a consultant asks is why do you exist?  Why does this business exist?  I mean, what is it uniquely doing that no other business, or your competitors are not able to do?  And you go and you ask employees of businesses about their mission statement or their vision statement and they can rattle on and on about balance sheets and income statements and bank accounts and really the consultant is looking for something far more fundamental.  Why do you exist?  Can you articulate in a sentence of two why this business exists.  And if you can’t do that then you’re going to start to struggle as a business.

And if that’s true with a business think about the church.  I mean, why is there so much confusion today about what churches are supposed to be doing, what our calling is, what our task is?  The reason is leadership really has never given themselves to the study of ecclesiology, and in fact, the leaders of the church don’t really understand why they exist as under God.  And as Howard Hendricks said, what did he say… if there’s a… I’m going to butcher the statement, “if there’s a confusion in the pulpit there’ll be a fog in the pew,” something to that extent.  So if the leaders are confused then the laity are confused.   And your average church leader today really can’t articulate why they exist or who they are as a unique work of God.  And if the leaders can’t articulate it the sheep can’t articulate it either, because the shepherds are supposed to be leading the sheep. So that’s why I spent the time on this Seventy Weeks prophecy.  That’s why I wanted  you to see there’s a gap of time of undisclosed duration terminating week sixty-nine.  Week seventy is yet to come and right there in the middle of that God has inserted something so unique that the Old Testament prophets themselves didn’t even understand it.  It’s something brand new, something foreign. We are not Israel, we are intercalation in God’s program with Israel.

So there we sit, in between the 69th week, which has already been fulfilled, and the  70th week, which is yet to come.  There we sit and this program has been going on for the last two thousand  years, called an intercalation.  So we are that unique work of God in the gap between the first 69 weeks of Daniel’s prophecy and the 70th week.  And remember to whom was the 70 weeks prophecy given?  Remember I gave you ten facts on that.  Daniel 9:24 indicates that the prophecy was given to who?  God’s people and God’s city.  [Daniel 9:24, “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place.”]

So the first sixty-nine weeks concern Israel, the seventieth week, yet to come, concerns Israel, and what is God doing right in the interim, in between that gap, that’s where you fit, that’s where I fit, that’s where the body of Christ fits that’s been going on for the last two thousand years, this unique work of God which is very foreign to anything God has done with Israel, called an intercalation.  We are not the new Israel; we are not an extension of Israel.  We are something so different that the only term Lewis Sperry Chafer could conceptualize to articulate this was an intercalation.

Now once you start talking this way you’ve got to put your helmet on because you’re going to be attacked immediately.  Reformed theology hates this idea that the church is an intercalation.  What they want everybody to believe is that the church has replaced Israel and the church has now become the new Israel.  In other words, they’re basic ecclesiology is God is finished with Israel as  a nation, there is no future for the nation of Israel.  The only hope for the Jews is that they could get saved in the church age.  But other than that, all of the national promises are gone, those are done away with and all of those promises have been… watch this now, spiritually, not literally, spiritually transferred to the church.

So promises about they’ll beat their swords into plowshares, things like that, they don’t interpret that literally as a millennial reign of Christ on earth.  They say that’s Jesus reigning in our hearts today… spiritual peace.   And they do this with almost every prophecy that we would understand that is yet to be fulfilled for Israel, it suddenly gets repackaged and the church has now superseded Israel.  Sometimes this doctrine goes by the name supersessionism, replacement theology and supersessionism are synonyms.  It’s called supersessionism because the church supersedes Israel.  See that, replacement theology.

And it’s interesting, not only do they have to deliteralize Israel’s promises to get this to work but they have to only transfer the blessings to the church because when you get into the particulars of the Mosaic Covenant you’ll see that Israel had blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience.  The curses are never transferred to the church, isn’t that convenient.  We’ll leave those behind with the stubborn Jewish people but we’ll take all the blessings.  And you say well do people actually believe this?  I don’t know what every Christian out there believes but here’s what I would say: 80-90% of the Christian world, Christendom, by way of denominational affiliation is attending a church that is connected to replacement theology.  I don’t know how good each pastor of those churches do communicating replacement theology but when you look at the confessions and the creeds of most churches by way of denominational affiliation, almost every single one of them that I can think of is connected to replacement theology.  So it’s no doubt that the church is confused on its mission when the church can’t even define who it is, right?  Or what it’s identity is, and here at Sugar Land Bible Church we reject supersessionism, we reject replacement theology, we reject the idea that the church is just an extension of Israel.  It is NOT an extension of Israel, it’s unique in comparison to Israel and that’s why I spent all of that time in prior sessions going through the 24 differences between Israel and the church.  So we are an intercalation and once you start articulating that you have to put your helmet on because Reformed theology hates this very idea.

Now here’s a citation from the late R. C. Sproul’s magazine and this is what it says, a quote rather.  “We are not dispensationalists here….We believe that the church is essentially Israel.”  Whoops, I disagree.  “We believe that the answer to, ‘What about the Jews?’ is, ‘Here we are.’ We deny that the church is God’s ‘plan B.’ We deny that we are living in God’s redemptive parenthesis.”  They don’t like the Chaferian model.   “There, we are again one people. In His holy and heavenly temple there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, pre-mil nor post-mil.” It’s one big happy family mentality.  “There, we are all together,” watch this, “the Israel of God, princes with God, and the ekklesia, the set apart ones.”  [From Table Talk magazine, Spring of 1999, p. 2 (inside cover), by R. C. Sproul Jr., editor, emphasis is mine.]

So notice what he says here, if you believe in the parenthesis idea, the strongman argument that’s brought against your position is you believe that the church is God’s plan B.  Now you all know what a straw man’s argument is, right?  It’s a logical fallacy, it’s a misrepresentation of what your opponent believes.  And what you do is you tear down, not what your opponent believes, you tear down the miscaricature that you’ve just manufactured.  And it’s a man of straw because a man of straw falls over very quickly, right?  And it’s a logical fallacy because you’re not dealing with what your opponent actually believes, you’re dealing with what you just manufactured concerning what your opponent believes.  And if you want to see examples of straw man fallacies just watch politicians, they do the this to each other all the time on both sides of the aisle.  If you vote for my opponent my opponent is going to take away your social security check when the poor guy never said anything about social security.  So you’re tearing down an image that you’ve created.

So when they call us plan B theology that is not what we believe; that’s a misrepresentation.  Why is that?  Because Paul, in the Book of Ephesians, chapter 3 and verse 11, and keep in mind that Ephesians 2 and 3, probably better than any place in the whole Bible I can think of, describes this mystery of the church age that we’re in.  The mystery did not start with the pen of Paul.  The mystery started in Acts 2 but Paul is uniquely set aside by God to explain the mystery.  If you don’t have the 13 letters of Paul you don’t have an explanation of the mystery.  All you would know from the Bible would be Israel, Israel, Israel, Israel. Even Jesus Christ ministered under the dispensation of the Law, Galatians 4:4. [Galatians 4:4, “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law.”]   Had it not been for God’s unique work with Paul we would have virtually no explanation of the mystery that we’re in.  That’s why the writings of the Apostle Paul are such a big deal.  That’s why I really don’t like those bumper stickers that say “What Would Jesus Do?”  Have you seen those?  And I really, and I don’t know how this will ever change unless we start publishing new Bibles, but you notice that when you go through the Gospels, did you notice that in many of your translations Christ’s words are in red?  And the idea that you get from that is well the reason those are in red is because those are the important words.

Now obviously what Jesus did and said was very important because He was the incarnate Son of God.  But you have to look at very carefully at what Jesus said in the Upper Room.  He said I have many things to share with you but you are not yet able to understand.  And yet when the Spirit of truth comes He will guide you into all truth.  [John 16:12, “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.  [13] But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.”]

So Jesus Himself in such a statement never claimed to be the final authority of divine revelation even though He is uniquely the incarnate Son of God even though we have red letter editions of the Bible, even though we walk around with little [can’t understand word] and bumper stickers that say “What would Jesus do?”  If you look at what Jesus actually said in the Upper Room you’ll see He said there’s greater truth coming and I’m not going to give it to you now, here in the Upper Room because you’re not yet able to receive it.  So when did this greater truth come?  The mystery starts in Acts 2 and Paul, the apostle, is set aside to explain the mystery with his 13 letters.  Most prominently he does it in Ephesians 2 and 3.

Now when you understand this you’ll begin to understand the providence of God and the sovereignty of God as to why Paul was in prison so frequently.  In fact, I think it’s in 2 Corinthians 11 where he’s talking about his hardships; he talks about his many imprisonments.  I mean, here’s a guy that was in prison in Philippi, Acts 16, later in prison in Caesarea, ultimately he spends two years in Roman imprisonment.  He gets out of Roman imprisonment, the Book of Acts doesn’t record this but we know that He had a ministry of about, maybe five years, where he wrote the pastoral letters.  And then at the end of his life where does he go right back into?  Back into prison.  Why did God have this guy in prison so much?  Well, you’re dealing with a first century prison; there’s no Wi-fi connections, there’s no weight room, there’s no cable television.  I mean, there’s virtually nothing to distract  you.  So what is he in a position to receive?  He is in a position to receive mystery truth about the church that we would hardly know anything about had God not worked providentially and sovereignly in Paul’s life.

So if you were just to study the epistles of Paul you would get a lot correct, you wouldn’t get the whole revelation of God but you would have a tremendous understanding as to what God is doing, particularly Ephesians chapters 2 and 3, where he really gets into the issue.  I mean, what is the church?  How is the church supposed to be governed.  I mean, we’re in the process of selecting elders.  Well, who gave us the idea that we’re supposed to have elders?  And who are deacons, where do you get all that teaching?  You’re not going to get it in the gospels.  Jesus was ministering under the Law when that was written.   You’re certainly not going to get it in the Old Testament because there you have Judges and Kings and people like that.  And you’re certainly not going to find it in the Book of Revelation because that’s primarily, after chapter 3, describing what God is going to do on the earth after the church has been removed.

So where would you go to get a description of elders.  I mean, what are elders supposed to be like?  Do they all have to have an MBA from Harvard.   Is that what God is looking for in elders?  In fact, what you’ll discover in 1 Timothy 3 is God has an explanation for us.  And who wrote 1 Timothy 3, any guesses?  The Apostle Paul.  So all of these things in the church age that we take for granted we would have virtually no explanation of if it wasn’t for Paul.

Now Paul, in Ephesians 3:11 makes this statement when he says, “This” the church, the mystery he’s talking about, “was in accordance with the” what?  what purpose? “eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord”  That’s the church.  The church is not plan B, oh my gosh, God is up there slapping His forehead, what am I going to do, My chosen nation rejected My Son, I’m so worried, so upset, what am I going to do?  Oh, I know what I’ll do as an afterthought, as plan B, I’ll create the church.

And in the citation here from R. C. Sproul that’s how he misrepresents the way we think, he calls us plan B theology.  And when you get into the mindset of Reformed theologians they call us this all the time, plan B theology.  The problem guys is  you just created a strawman fallacy; we don’t believe in plan B theology.  How could there be a plan B when God is executing the plan.  Paul is very clear here that the church, although unrevealed prior to this point in time, is part of not just the purpose of God but the eternal purpose of God.  God always knew this was going to happen, it just hadn’t been disclosed yet.  See that?  The church was always contemplated in the mind of God; it just hadn’t been disclosed yet.  Who am I going to use, God says, to disclose this plan?  I know what I’ll use, I’ll use this man, the Apostle Paul.  And just to make sure he’s got plenty of time to write this out and work on it I will orchestrate his life in such a way that he will spend a lot of his life in solitude.  You see how the whole thing is coming together.

Now one of the things that happens to people when we finally realize the divine truth is we have a tendency to get over exuberant about it and we become unbalanced the other way.  So a lot of people will look at the church as the heavenly people of God, which it is, but then they will simultaneously say the church has no role whatsoever in the program that God is going to execute with national Israel in terms of the millennial kingdom.  And that is to become out of balance the other direction because the Bible is very clear that we have an earthly role.  If I’m understanding my eschatology correctly we are with the Lord in the Father’s house for seven years.  Jesus made a reference to this in John 14:1-4; He’s coming to receive us unto Himself and wherever He is we will be also which I think is probably the infant description of the rapture there.  John 14:1-4.

[John 14:1-4, “‘Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. [2] In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. [3] If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. [4] And you know the way where I am going.’ [5] Thomas said to Him, ‘Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?”’]

So there we are, in heaven, with the Lord for seven  years. But seven years is not a long period of time, is it?  Because Jesus, at the end of that seven year period is returning where?  Where is He coming back to?  He’s coming back to the earth.  That’s why the prophet, Zechariah 14 talks about His feet will touch the Mount of Olives and the Mount of Olives will split.  That sounds sort of physical to me, doesn’t it?  And that’s why when the disciples, after the ascension in Acts 1, where Jesus went to the Father’s house to prepare these dwelling places for us, they’re kind of looking up into heaven.  And remember what the angel said?  Why are you looking up there, don’t you know that this Jesus is going to come back just like He left.  So how did He leave?  Physically, visibly, bodily, from the Mount of Olives.  Well how is He going to come back?  Physically, visibly, bodily to the Mount of Olives.  And if what He says is true, and it has to be true because God said it, John 14:1-4, that we will be forever with the Lord.  Guess who’s coming back with Him.  His church.  His church is coming back with Him to this earth to rule and reign under His delegated authority.

Now does He need us to rule and reign?  Absolutely not!  He could get the job done by Himself but he has chosen to involve us in the process because it’s a privilege to be used by God, isn’t it?  It’s like when my daughter was really little, I was trying to get her to empty the dishwasher, she was so small, she really didn’t know where things went, she couldn’t reach up to where the upper cupboards are and now she’s taller than my wife so now she has no excuse, right?  But I wanted to kind of give her the privilege of participating in chores because don’t we feel a little bit better about ourselves when we’re contributing to something?  So I sat there and I thought to myself gosh, it’s taking a long time, I could just get this done in a couple of minutes.  Then I thought to myself, well I’d better not do that because I would be depriving her of the privilege of contributing.

The reality of the situation is God could just come back, He could expel Satan into the abyss, He could rule and reign all by Himself for a thousand years, He doesn’t need any help.  But he wants to involve us in the process for the joy that we experience in it as a contributor.  So we will be with Christ on planet earth functioning under His delegated authority in the millennial kingdom.  And you see, this is the part of the equation that oftentimes is missed because we’re so exuberant about how the church is a heavenly people.  And it’s not Israel, and it’s different than Israel and I would say “Amen” to all of that, but what I want us to understand is we have an earthly role.  In fact, if I’m  understanding my eschatology correctly our heavenly role is pretty minor, it’s important but it only goes for seven years; the earthly role goes for a thousand years.

So your Bible in the New Testament and the Pauline letters communicates this all of the time.  It’s a reminder of our ultimate earthly destiny.  So over in 1 Corinthians 6 you have the Corinthians suing each other in front of pagan judges.  And Paul’s point is well what kind of testimony is that, in front of an unbelieving judge?  I mean, didn’t Jesus say all men will know  you are My disciples by your ability to win arguments?  It doesn’t say that, does it?  “All men will know that you are My disciples by you love for one another.”  [John 13:35]

So the fact that you’re suing each other in front of a pagan judge you’ve destroyed the witness of the church and Paul says you’re defeated already.  And in the process of this rebuke Paul reminds the Corinthians of their earthly role, and notice what he says in 1 Corinthians 6:1-3.  He says, “Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints?  [2] Or do you not know” watch this “that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? [3] Do you not know that we will judge angels?”  And please don’t ask me what that means, I don’t know.  I don’t know how we’re going to judge the angels.  Is it the good angels, the fallen angels, what does that mean?  I don’t know if I know, I don’t know if it’s important that I know.  What is important is the last part of verse 3, “How much more matters of this life?”

I mean you guys are so cantankerous with each other and fighting each other that you can’t even  get your differences resolved in house, you’ve got to go outside to get your differences resolved  and in the process you’re destroying the witness of the church in front of this unbelieving judge.  And He says don’t you understand that in the millennial kingdom you’re going to be ruling and reigning to such an extent that you’re even going to sit in judgment on the angels?  And if that’s your destiny can’t you get your act together with this little problem that you have over here.  So his whole rebuke is a reminder of the earthly destiny of the church.  And this is why we shouldn’t get so exuberant about the Israel/church distinction that we cut ourselves off completely from God’s future program with Israel.  We have a role in it.

These rebukes continue over in 2 Timothy 2:11-13, Paul writes to Timothy, “It is a trustworthy statement:” and I always crack up when it says that because of course it’s a trustworthy statement, it’s in the Bible, but just in case you forgot, here is a trustworthy statement, “For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him;” look at this, [12] If we endure, we will also” what? “reign with Him;” oh no, look at this, “If we deny Him, He also will deny us;”  [13] But “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.”  What is that talking about?

Well, Paul is in Rome, in prison, he’s about to die.  He says in 2 Timothy 4:6, “For the time of my departure is at hand,” he has installed into office over the church at Ephesus a church that Paul himself planted on missionary journey three, where Acts 19:10 says all in Asia heard the Word of the Lord.  [Acts 19:10, “This took place for two years, so that all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.”]  And Paul did all of that without a Wi-Fi connection; can you imagine.

Now Paul is in prison and Timothy, this very young person, who he has installed into this position of authority as the pastor-teacher over the church at Ephesus is becoming what we would say wobbly.  He doesn’t know if he likes what he’s gotten into.  Why is that?  Because he now, late in Paul’s life, there’s a psychopath.  Do you think we have psychotic world rulers today?  That’s nothing new, Timothy had to deal with a guy named Nero who was actually lighting Christians on fire and using these burning Christians to illumine his garden parties. It was under Nero that the coliseum comes into existence where Christians are thrown to the ravenous beasts and the crowd would cheer as the Christians were dying.

This is what Timothy is up against.  Not only that, he’s very young because in the first letter he says don’t let people look down on you because you’re  young.  And not only that he’s very sickly, because Paul in the first letter, and the Baptists don’t like this verse, but he says take a little wine for your upset stomach, not a little bit.  [1 Timothy 5:23, “No longer drink water exclusively, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.”]

And so you’re dealing with a young guy who’s obviously saved.  I mean, would Paul put an unsaved person into authority over the church at Ephesus?  That doesn’t make a lot of sense. He’s obviously saved.  He calls him “my son in the faith” over and over again.  So what is the issue with Timothy?  He’s just getting wobbly, he thinking of shrinking backwards.

So Paul here challenges him with the idea that you’re going to reign with me alongside Christ.       [2 Timothy 2:11] “It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him;” but Timothy, you’re already identified with Christ!  And then he says, [12] “If we endure, we” what? “will also reign with Him;” now Timothy, here’s the deal, if you shrink back  your salvation is not in question.  What is in question is the degree of authority that you will wield in the future earthly kingdom because didn’t Jesus, in Luke 19,-verse 17 and verse 19 put one guy in charge of what?  Five cities isn’t it; another guy gets in charge of ten cities and we say well wait a minute, we want everything to be equal, we all want ten cities.  [Luke 19:17, “And he said to him, ‘Well done, good slave, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, you are to be in authority over ten cities.’”  Luke 19:19, “And he said to him also, ‘And you are to be over five cities.”’]

Well why does one guy get five cities and one guy gets ten cities to rule over in the earthly kingdom?  Because one guy was faithful in a little thing and therefore could be trusted with what?  Greater things.  And that’s what He’s saying to Timothy, yeah, you can shrink back, you can remove yourself from your calling, you’re not going to damage your salvation,  you’re going to arrive in heaven, that’s a done deal but what is at stake here is the degree of authority that you will wield in the future earthly kingdom.

People say well do you believe in once saved always saved?  Yes, I believe in that.  Then they say well what’s the incentive to live holy.  Well, here’s the incentive—if you don’t live holy as a Christian under God’s resources there are a lot of things that can be sacrificed that are valuable. They may not relate, necessarily, to your arrival in heaven but they are valuable.  And believe me, when Jesus returns to this earth and starts assigning people different roles to play in the millennial kingdom, that’s going to be valuable to you.

And then He says, “if we deny Him, He will deny us,” deny us what?  Not salvation but what? Reigning!  Some reign more than others.  But verse 13,Ttimothy, can you lose your salvation? “If we are faithless, He remains” what? “faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” [2 Timothy 2:13]  Salvation is not an issue; what is an issue is going to be is your authority that  you will wield in the earthly kingdom.  So Paul’s whole exhortation to get Timid Timothy, that’s what I call him, the guy who’s going wobbly in the knees, to endure as He’s reminding him of his future earthly role.  See that?  And that same philosophy is at work in Paul as he exhorts in the prior verse to the Corinthians.

And then we have Revelation 5:10 which is also speaking of the church, “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God;” that’s speaking of the church in context, “and they will reign” notice the future tense there, are we reigning now?  Well if we’re reigning now we’re nt doing a very good job because as I look around the world Christians are being martyred all over the world.  So obviously we’re not reigning now.  It says we will reign and where are going to reign, up in the clouds somewhere, wearing white sheets, having halos on our heads singing the hallelujah chorus 10,000 times, bored out of our minds because we’ve heard that tune before?  I mean, that’s not an accurate picture of what the church is going to be doing either.  It’s very clear here, “that we will reign upon the earth.”

So yeah, we have a seven year role in heaven but it’s very temporary.  In fact, I don’t mean to ruin anybody’s worship songs but when Jesus said I have many dwelling places for you in heaven people interpret that as mansions and some of your English translations say mansions.  When you study this in the Greek it’s not the word mansion at all; I believe it’s the Greek word monai, which is a temporary dwelling.  And I was teaching this at a church and I looked out of the corner of my eye and the worship leader was like changing all the music for the closing hymn, and I said why were you doing that.  He goes well I had all these songs at the end about mansions in the sky and all this stuff.

But the reality of the situation is it doesn’t say mansions in the Greek, that snuck into the King James Version, I think it’s in the King James Version if I’m not mistaken, there’s a story on how it got in there which I won’t belabor  you with but it’s very clear that monai, is used, it’s temporary dwelling places.  So what we’re doing with the Lord in heaven obviously by that description is not our ultimate destination.  The ultimate destination is right here in Revelation 5:10 where “we will reign” with Christ, wherever he is we will be, on planet earth functioning over this earth under His delegated authority and the degree of authority that we wield in that time period is dependent upon our faithfulness now.  Do you see that?

So if you don’t understand this you don’t understand the incentive to be faithful now.  I mean, why should I be faithful to Christ now; I mean, I’m going to heaven so who cares, I can just live however I want.  The issue is you can sacrifice a lot of things that are not necessarily related to salvation but they’re valuable.  See that?

So part of my concern about the intercalation teaching, which as you all know I believe in, is that we can become so exercised over it that we see ourselves strictly as a heavenly people of God and we cut ourselves off from the earthly destiny that’s  yet to come.  So in theology it’s easy to get out of balance.

So this statement by R. C. Sproul, I mean, to me it’s embarrassing that he wrote this.  And he’s not with us any more so I can’t e-mail him and talk to him about it, not that he would answer my e-mail anyway this side of eternity.  But this is completely inaccurate.  This is not even scholarship, what he’s doing here.  People think it’s scholarship because he sounds real good as he communicates it but if you tried to do this…  My readers in my doctrinal dissertation would kill me probably, I mean, there’d be so much red ink on the paper it would be glowing.  Scholarship is not about creating strawmen arguments to knock them down.  It’s about thoughtfully and carefully interacting with biblically what other people are saying and being fair in your representation of them.

Now Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s response to this is classic because George Zeller of Middletown Church sent this over to Arnold Fruchtenbaum, who I’m sure you all know is a Hebrew Christian.  Zeller writes this.  “We believe that the answer to ‘What about the Jews?’ is, ‘Here we are.’” Quoting Sproul.  “I shared this comment with a friend of mine who is a converted Jew.  He was born in Russia after his parents were released from a Communist prison.  With the help of the Israeli underground, his family escaped from behind the Iron Curtain.  He received Orthodox Jewish training while living in Germany from 1947 to 1951 and then his family immigrated to New York.  He is a dedicated servant of Christ and a respected author.  When told about Sproul Jr.’s comment ‘Here we are, [We are the Jews]’ he commented,” look at this answer, ‘“It’s a good thing he was not declaring this on the streets of Belin, Germany around  1941!’”  [’”Http://, accessed 17 February 2018.]

I mean, sometimes you know you fight these people with just a little bit of wit because it seems like our long biblical cases don’t penetrate but something like this does.  If you want to call yourself Israel and you want to call yourself Jewish then why don’t you go over to Saudi Arabia and try that out and see how that works for you.  Why don’t you try that in Iran?  Why don’t  you teleport yourself back to Hitler’s Nazi Germany, 1941, and say we are the Jews.  These ideas that we believe in work in a country where there’s freedom like ours.  But I guarantee it’s not working in Middle Eastern Islamic countries all over the world.  It certainly isn’t working in France, I mean, look how the Jews are treated in France. Look at how antisemitism is bubbling all over planet earth as I speak.  Are you going to go into those war zones and call yourself Jewish?

So next week, I had you open to Galatians 6:16 so all that was supposed to be intro, so obviously I didn’t get very far.  Next week I’m going to take you to the key passage that’s involved in the conflict between dispensational theology and Reformed theology.  It’s Galatians 6:16 where it looks at first glance as if the church is the Israel of God.  So when you’re explaining the intercalation model and you’re explaining that we are not Israel, immediately what you’re going to hear is well the church is the Israel of God.  The word Israel is applied to the church.  In fact, in Sproul’s comment, as you look there on the bottom,  it says, “Therefore we are altogether the” what? “the Israel of God….”  [From Tabletalk Magazine, Spring of 1999, page 2 (inside cover) by R. C. Sproul, Jr. editor]

And here’s a book I had to read at Dallas Seminary, by Edmond Clowney, The story of the church begins with Israel,” gosh, I can’t even agree with that.  The church is not in the Old Testament.  Jesus said, “I will” what?  “build My Church,” obviously the church didn’t exist in the Old Testament.  “The story of the church begins with Israel, the Old Testament people of God.  The identity of the church is necessary for the mission of the church.”  I agree with that.  “Only as a holy nation called out of darkness into the light of God’s presence can the church discharge its mission.  Peter affirms that the church’s to the titles of Israel.”  Hmmmm!  Then he describes the church’s witness of praise.  “This understanding of the church as the” what? “new and true Israel of Christ must inspire our mission in the contemporary world.”   [From Table Talk Magazine, Spring of 1999, pg. 2, Inside cover by R. C. Sproul].  He’s basically saying the church is Israel. , p. 2 (inside cover), by R. C. Sproul Jr., editor, emphasis is mine

Kenneth Gentry, a replacement theologian, says, “That is, we believe in the unfolding plan of God in history, the Christian Church is the very fruition of the redemptive purpose of God.  As such, the multi-racial, international Church of Jesus Christ” what’s the word? “supersedes” that’s supersessionism, “racial, national Israel as the focus of the kingdom of God.  Indeed, we believe that the church becomes ‘the Israel of God’”  What verse is he quoting there? Galatians 6;16, it’s a go-to verse.  ” [From Table Talk Magazine, Spring of 1999, pg. 2, Inside cover by R. C. Sproul]

Hans LaRondelle says, “Paul’s benediction in Galatians 6:16 becomes, then, the” what witness? “the chief witness” this is exhibit A, “in the New Testament declaring that the universal church is the Israel of God, the seed of Abraham, the heir to Israel’s covenant promise.”  So next week when we’re together I’m going to go through Galatians 6:16 and explain to you why people are confused on that verse.  Part of the confusion is our Bible translations are saying different things.  That’s why people are confused.  Some people are, what I would call, NIV positive, the NIV reads completely different than the NASB on this.  Anyway, that’s the direction we’re going.

So I’m going to stop talking at this point.