The Coming Kingdom 055Revelation 3:21 • Dr. Andy Woods • November 28, 2018 • The Coming Kingdom
The Coming Kingdom
11-28-18 Revelation 3:21 Lesson 55
2 Samuel chapter 7 and we’ve been doing this study through the kingdom. By the way, I’m looking at this screen here, is this the new computer… it’s a new computer… WOW, we’re really entering into kingdom conditions at this church, aren’t we. But we spent really the first part of the study and I think this is lesson 55 so I appreciate you all’s perseverance on this, but we really talked about what does the Bible say about the kingdom, Genesis to Revelation. We developed the kingdom very carefully from the pages of the Old Testament and New Testament, we saw that it was offered to Israel on a silver platter and rejected. And at that point the kingdom was not cancelled but postponed.
We could have stopped the study at that point but I wanted to keep going because most of Christendom throughout its last two thousand years and really most of Christendom even up to the present time argues that we are in the kingdom now. So we’ve been talking about why is that belief system wrong. It’s wrong because it changes what the Old Testament reveals concerning the kingdom,, as we’ve studied. So why is it, looking at number three here, that so many people believe that we are in the kingdom? There are a plethora of passages in the New Testament allegedly arguing that the kingdom is something that’s present and we looked at every single passage people used in the ministry of Jesus and we found them to be wanting in the scales, tried in the scales but wanting.
And we’re moving into some passages from the Book of Acts that people use to argue what we’re currently in the kingdom. So as we move into the Book of Acts and this study is based on a book I wrote called The Coming Kingdom, and I think most of you have copies of that book. If you don’t have one I know we’ve got some new folks tonight, see me after and I’ll get you a copy of that. That’s just part of an elders gift to you all for taking this class and sticking with it, you get a copy of my book.
But we’re in chapter 17 of the Book of Acts and the Book of Acts has really become a key battle ground for people arguing that we are presently in the kingdom. We’ve seen how they misuse the teachings of Jesus to argue we’re in the kingdom and now we’re looking at passages from the Book of Acts. And by far and away the biggest argument that people use today from the Book of Acts, and I’ll show you the passages that they use, is that they believe that Jesus is currently reigning on David’s throne today. So if you go to a church and you’re trying to figure out should I attend that church or not or you’re trying to figure out where someone is doctrinally one of the things that you can do is ask them is Jesus on David’s throne currently, because what they say about that will reveal an awful lot about their theology.
So is Jesus currently reigning on David’s throne? And this is unfortunately one of the more complicated parts of this study and it’s difficult because we’ve had some stops and starts and another stop coming up to take a pause for Christmas break, so I’m going to try to take you through this the best I know how, so just sort of hang on to your seat belts, it’s not the easiest part of the study to grasp. But really this part of the study is dealing with the response to this idea that Jesus is currently on David’s throne. In other words, He is functioning today in their minds not according to his high priestly role at the right hand of the Father but He is functioning as Davidic King reigning on David’s throne. And everybody that promotes kingdom now theology basically teaches that.
So to this idea that Jesus is reigning on David’s throne, I’ve got six responses to that. You see them listed there on the screen. [1. Passages from Christ’s ministry, 2. Passages from Acts 3. Passages from Paul. 4. Passages from the General letters.  Passages from Revelation.  Miscellaneous Arguments] We’re not going to be able to get through all of these tonight but I think we’ll be able to get through a pretty good portion of this so you’ll get a handle on this idea.
So is Jesus really reigning on David’s throne? Well the first response, and we started this sub-section three or four weeks ago, when I was with you, before I left on my trip. The first response is David’s throne is earthly; it’s always portrayed as something on the earth. We went through, you might recall, several verses that reveal that the Davidic throne, beginning in the Old Testament, is never something in heaven but it’s always something on the earth. You might remember we looked at 1 Kings 2:11-12. It says, “The days that David reigned over Israel were forty years: seven years he reigned in Hebron and thirty-three years he reigned in Jerusalem.  And Solomon sat on the throne of David his father, and his kingdom was firmly established.”
So this is talking about the transition from the Davidic dynasty to the Solomonic dynasty, and the throne obviously there is very literal because Solomon, a literal character “sat on the throne.” I mean, did Solomon travel up to heaven to sit on that throne? Obviously not, he was seated on an earthly Davidic throne. And that’s how the Old Testament always portrays David’s throne.
But when you go over to 2 Samuel chapter 7 and you take a look at verses 12-16, it says in 2 Samuel 7:12-16, “When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom.  “He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.  “I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men,  but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you.  “Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me” for how long? “forever; your throne shall be established forever.”  In accordance with all these words and all this vision, so Nathan spoke to David.”
So David, about 1000 B.C. wanted to build a house for the Lord and the Lord said you’re not going to build a house for Me, I’m going to build a house for you and in the process He gave to David what’s called the Davidic Covenant. And from that Davidic Covenant is a promise that from his seed or his lineage will come forth an eternal dynasty. So this is where the Davidic throne idea comes from.
John Walvoord writes this, the great scholar formerly at Dallas Seminary. He says, “The covenant with David is not only given twice in its major content, namely 2 Samuel 7 and then there’s a parallel passage in 1 Chronicles 17, but it is also confirmed in Psalm 89. In this and other Old Testament references there is no allusion anywhere to the idea that these promises are to be understood in a spiritualized sense as referring to the church or to a reign of God in heaven. Rather, it is linked to the earth and to the seed of Israel, and to the land…There is no indication that this kingdom extended to a spiritual entity such as the church nor that the throne in view is the throne of God in heaven rather than the throne of David on earth… Such a situation does not prevail in this present age and is not related here or elsewhere to the reign of Christ from the throne of His Father in heaven.”
So Walvoord’s point is very simple, that when you study the Davidic Covenant, 2 Samuel 7, you study all of the passages that speak of David’s throne they’re always what you would call mundane, earthly, over the earth, they’ll be fulfilled on the earth, they have nothing to do with anything taking place in heaven. And that’s not only true with the Old Testament’s portrayal of the Davidic throne, it’s true with the New Testament’s portrayal of the Davidic throne.
You remember the mother of the sons of Zebedee, James and John came to Jesus with their sons bowing down and making a request of Him and He said to her, “What do you wish.” She said to Him, “Command that in Your kingdom that these two sons of mine may sit on Your right and on Your left.” So how did she, the mother of James and John, understand David’s throne, heavenly or earthly? Obviously very earthly and she makes a bold request; she says, “when You enter Your kingdom,” and she expected a kingdom, she expected it on the earth, she was no doubt well-schooled in the Davidic Covenant, “when You enter Your kingdom and sit on your throne I just want my two sons to sit on Your right and Your left,” which is a pretty bold request. But she understood it as earthly and that’s my point. All these references to David’s throne are always on the earth, never in heaven.
When Jesus returns He will sit on David’s throne on this earth and that will be fulfilled in Matthew 25:31, which says, “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.” Now what throne is that? That’s David’s throne. Where is it located? On the earth? In which city? The city of Jerusalem. So is the Davidic throne right now occupied? It’s not occupied; you have no reigning King today on David’s throne, it’s waiting for Jesus.
So the first thing to really think about, responding to this idea that kingdom now theologians use that Jesus is now reigning on David’s throne is number one, David’s throne is always earthly, so therefore to argue, watch this very carefully, to argue that Jesus is on David’s throne today in heaven involves you doing what with the concept that’s laid out in the Bible? You have to change it. So the key word is “change.” Everybody takes today (sadly) is taking the Davidic throne and changing its meaning.
Now we have something in the Bible called progressive revelation; we’ve covered this haven’t we. Basically what that means is the Bible will lay down a point or a principle and subsequent Scripture never changes the original point or principle, it just adds details. So for example in Genesis 3:15, the very first prophecy of a coming Messiah, we learn that there’s coming one from the seed of the woman, or Eve, who’s going to crush the serpent’s head. And subsequent Scripture never changes that concept, it just adds details. You’re traveling through the Old Testament and you learn that He’s going to be born of a virgin. You learn that He’s coming from the tribe of Judah, first He’s coming from Israel, secondly He’s coming from the tribe of Judah. You learn that He’s going to be pierced. So notice what subsequent Scripture does, it never changes Genesis 3:15, it just adds information or clarity or details. And that’s basically what we mean by progressive revelation.
If all of a sudden the New Testament, and this is what makes us different from the kingdom now theologians. If all of a sudden the New Testament can change the Old Testament that means that everything God spoke in Old Testament times was a lie. So progressive revelation will never change what God originally said, ever! If that could happen then God could be proved a liar and He was just saying to His original audience, just fooling, I really didn’t mean it! So progressive revelation is always adding clarity, is always adding detail as you start early on in the Bible and start moving through it but it never changes it.
And kingdom now theologians are not respecting that principle at all; they’re outright changing what God originally said because they believe that the New Testament actually changes the meaning of the Old Testament. It’s sort of (if I can use this analogy) it’s sort of like Islam. In the Qur’an you have two kinds of verses; you have the Mecca verses and the Medina verses, and Shahram Hadian, when he was here covered this with us you’ll recall. So when the Muslims are in the minority in a population they quote all of the verses, they talk about Allah’s love and that kind of thing, but once they get the majority in a population suddenly they start quoting a different set of texts about aggression and bloodshed. And you can see this exact pattern in Mohammed’s life. Mohammed, when he was in the minority spoke a lot about love; once he got the majority and wanted to start killing people he started talking about hatred and vengeance and all of these kinds of things.
So you ask yourself, well what happened to the love verse, now all of a sudden you’ve become warlike? And their answer is well those earlier verses have been (and this is a very important word to understand) they’ve been abrogated. Abrogated means the new passages cancel the old passages. See that? That’s the doctrine of abrogation in Islam.
The Bible knows no such doctrine. You can never use one set of passages to cancel out the clear meaning of another set of passages because the moment you do that you challenge God’s character where His original promises to an audience really don’t mean anything anymore because He was just fooling after all. So we don’t believe in abrogation, we don’t believe the New Testament changes the Old Testament or cancels the Old Testament. Kingdom now theologians do that and I think their method of interpretation is more similar to Islam than it is biblical Christianity. So if David’s throne is earthly suddenly arguing that Jesus is on David’s throne now, what have you just done? You’ve just changed the whole thing and you’re not following the principles of progressive revelation.
So Robert Lightner, who is… was, he’s with the Lord now, a very good scholar on this subject, says this concerning kingdom now theologians. He says, “So, they have not only changed” now this is his response to this idea that Jesus is now on David’s throne in heaven, “So they have not only changed the people to include the Church, but they have also changed the place where the covenant is to be fulfilled. Now it’s not only on earth, but it’s also in heaven. . . . The people have changed and the place has changed.” [Robert Lightner, “Progressive Dispensationalism,” Conservative Theological Journal 4, no. 11 (March 2000): 53–54.]
So to kind of capture this idea I put together this little chart showing how this idea that Jesus is currently reigning on David’s throne is the complete change of what the Old Testament and New Testament portray. First of all the place has changed, the throne has moved from the earth to heaven. Secondly, the people have changed, the Davidic throne is no longer over Israel which was what it was originally designed or intended but now it’s over the church which today is predominantly Gentile. And then also what has changed is Israel has changed; according to the original promises the Davidic throne only comes into existence after Israel is converted, and I took you through quite a few of those passages demonstrating that, and now what they’re saying is it really doesn’t matter if Israel is converted or not, we’re going to still have the Davidic throne over the church anyway.
So the place has changed, the people have changed, the promise of a Davidic throne over a regenerated Israel has changed and automatically when you see that you can begin to ask yourself, something is not right with their theology because they’re contradicting the principle of progressive what? Revelation. I mean, latter Scripture can add details but it can never change what was originally said. Do you follow me on this?
So you have to watch these kingdom now theologians very carefully because when they start arguing from early Acts that Jesus is reigning on David’s throne what they all start saying is somehow the New Testament changed the Old Testament.
So here is this quote from George Elden Ladd who started to promote a belief called already/not yet, which basically means we’re already in the kingdom today but some of it is yet to come. So he calls it already-not yet. And this was something that he got into sort of a theological argument with, with John Walvoord of Dallas Seminary, Walvoord and him in the 60’s and the 70’s started going back and forth, George Eldon Ladd at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California, which coincidentally (maybe not so coincidentally) has become extremely liberal where today they don’t even hold to the inspiration and inerrancy of the Scripture.
As a matter of fact, I almost went to seminary there until the Lord told me (basically) not to, and part of it was I wanted to go there because I lived in southern California and it was very close to my house and I was working at a Baptist church at the time and I could get a huge discount on tuition because of my denominational affiliation. And I was very close to enrolling until I figured out that you could be a teacher there and not believe in the full inerrancy of the Bible. So you could believe this, the Bible is true when it comes to spiritual things but it can have mistakes in it when it comes to physical things, like what? History, archeology, geography, science, the Bible could be mistaken on those things but you can trust it on things you can’t see. And once I figured that out, that they didn’t believe in full inerrancy… if you want a fancy title for this it’s plenary inerrancy, it’s believing that the Bible is true not just on spiritual things but on everything it talks about.
Our belief is plenary inerrancy; we don’t believe the Bible is a scientific textbook but when it talks about science it’s extremely accurate what it says. The Bible is not primarily a history book although it records and awful lot of history, but when it touches on history it’s absolutely accurate in what it says. The Bible is not primarily an archeology book but when it comments on archeology it’s absolutely 100% accurate in what it says. Fuller seminary you don’t have to believe that, so you can believe it has mistakes in it historically, archeologically, scientifically but you can trust it on spiritual things. Now just think about this for a minute; if you can’t trust the Bible on the things you can see, archeology, science, history, those kinds of things that you can validate through human observation, then how in the world are you supposed to trust it on things you can’t see, like heaven, hell, angels, demons. So Fuller Seminary went this direction of partial inerrancy and that’s the reason I decided not to go there, I didn’t really want to sit under somebody that doesn’t believe the Bible is completely accurate.
So we at Sugar Land Bible Church reject partial inerrancy; we believe in plenary inerrancy. And you say well what do you do with those situations where the scientific world is saying one thing and the Bible is saying something different? Well what’s happening is either we’re interpreting the Bible wrongly or the scientific world is interpreting science wrongly, or maybe it’s some combination thereof because at the end of the day when all of the tallies come in and all of the evidence is known science will 100% line up with the Bible and the Bible will 100% line up with science. There cannot be a mistake in it.
So Fuller Seminary, prior to moving into this partial inerrancy direction, went into this already-not yet concept of the kingdom. And George Ladd started arguing back and forth through journal articles and things like that with John Walvoord that Jesus is currently on David’s throne now. And the very sad thing about it is Walvoord aggressively stood his position arguing that Jesus is not on David’s throne now and yet today, now that Walvoord is dead and gone the majority of the faculty at Dallas Seminary ended up siding with George Ladd on this issue, adopting his already-not yet view of the kingdom rather than John Walvoord. And they’ve come up with something called aggressive dispensationalism which is not exactly Laddian but I’ll tell you this much, it’s a lot closer to what George Ladd was saying than it was what Walvoord was saying. And so it’s interesting how Ladd’s presuppositions actually took hold in the very school that John Walvoord represented and was, as the two were battling on this issues throughout the 60’s and the 70’s. But anyway, that’s just a little background on George Ladd but notice what he says here concerning this kingdom now idea.
He says, “The new redemptive events in the course of” now he’s got to give a German word in there to show how scholarly he is, how do you say that word, “Heilsgeschichte” what does that word mean by the way? Salvation history. Now you can either come out and say salvation history or you can use a German word to show everybody how smart you are. So when you see that word just think of salvation history.
“The new redemptive events in the course of salvation history have compelled Peter” now he’s talking about Peter’s sermon in Acts 2, that’s why I’m going into all of this because they’re basing it on what Peter says on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2. Watch this very carefully, “have compelled Peter to” do what, what’s the next word? “reinterpret the Old Testament.” What is he saying here? He’s saying the New Testament has just changed the meaning of the Old Testament, therefore he’s not following the time and tested approach of what kind of revelation? Progressive revelation, and that’s the difference between us and our belief and kingdom now theology. They believe that the New Testament somehow changes the Old. [George Eldon Ladd, “A Theology of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974), 336–37]
Ladd goes on and he says, “ Because of the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, Peter” in his sermon in Acts 2, “transfers” see that word, “transfers the messianic Davidic throne from Jerusalem” which is on the earth to where, “to God’s right hand in heaven. Jesus has now been enthroned as the Davidic Messiah on the throne of David, and is awaiting the” final consummation of His Messianic reign, already not yet. Jesus is in heaven now reigning on David’s throne but one of these days He’s going to come back to the earth and He’s going to sit literally on David’s throne, already not yet. “Jesus as not been enthroned as the Davidic Messiah on the throne of David, and is awaiting the final of His Messianic reign,” this involves a rather radical, and this is why I use this quote, because he’s admitting what he’s doing, “a radical” what? “reinterpretation of the Old Testament prophecies,” not adding clarity, not adding detail but an outright change or reinterpretation.
And this is how you always recognize kingdom now theology, because they will argue for this. My response is well then all the promises that God made in the Old Testament era to a specific audience really have no meaning because God always knew all along He was going to change what He said. That makes God telling fibs, lies, half-lies, all the way through the Old Testament until you get into the New Testament. See the problem with that? To my mind it’s an assault on the character of God. See, our view with the postponed kingdom allows all of God’s prophecies to take place in the millennium; that’s why the millennium or the thousand year reign of Christ is such a big deal, because we are allowing God to keep His Word meticulously on the earth. Their system doesn’t allow for that. See that.
“This involves a rather radical reinterpretation of Old Testament prophecies, but no more so than the entire reinterpretation of God’s redemptive plan by the early church.” They think the apostles came along and just changed everything. I mean, if that’s true why do we even have an Old Testament? You might just as well throw the whole thing out and you might just as well start reading in the New Testament if the New Testament is carte blanche rewriting, changing, altering the Old Testament. “This involves a rather radical reinterpretation of Old Testament prophecies, but no more so than the entire reinterpretation of God’s redemptive plan by the early church.” In fact, it is an essential part of this reinterpretation demanded by the events of redemptive history. . . . Jesus is enthroned as the Messiah. . . . He must reign until all his enemies are made a stool for his feet.” [George Eldon Ladd, A Theology of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974), 336–37]
So there is your “already not yet” view of the kingdom coming from the very liberal Fuller Theological Seminary that almost within a millimeter claimed me as one of their own. I don’t know if I’d be standing here if I went to that school.
Here’s another example of kingdom now theologians changing, believing the New Testament changes the Old. George Murray, a kingdom now amillennialist says, “The Davidic Covenant, of which much has been said, was to the effect that his seed would sit upon his throne and had its natural fulfillment in the reign of King Solomon.” So far so good; he’s taking it literally. “Its eternal aspects include the Lord Jesus Christ of the seed of David; and in the book of Acts, Peter insists that Christ’s resurrection and ascension fulfilled God’s promise to David that his seed would sit upon his throne” what’s he quoting there, see the verse, “(Acts 2:30).” That’s why I’m covering all this as we got through some early passages in the Book of Acts. They’re all getting this from early Acts. George Murray says, “Why insist, then, on a literal fulfillment of a promise which the Scriptures certify to have had a spiritual fulfillment?” So you see he’s following the same hermeneutic, you all know what hermeneutic is, method of interpretation. His method of interpretation is Peter just took all of the Davidic promises that are earthly and like George Ladd argued in the prior quote, just all of a sudden changed them to being celestial and heavenly.
So in George Murray’s mind if Jesus is now reigning on David’s throne and we’re in the kingdom now then quit praying “Thy kingdom come.” Quit talking about the future millennial reign of Christ on the earth because we’re in it now. This is kingdom now theology.
Dwight Pentecost, one of the good guys, my professor, responds to George Murray as follows: “The amillennialist is bound to argue for a conditional covenant and a spiritualized fulfillment,” see it’s very tricky, they either say the Davidic Covenant’s conditional meaning cancelled because Israel didn’t keep her end of the bargain. Now is that true? I thought the Abrahamic Covenant and the related sub covenants were not conditional, as we have studied, but what? It starts with a “u,” unconditional. So the kingdom now theologian comes along and says well the covenants were always conditional. Now what if that argument doesn’t work? Well if people don’t accept that argument I’ll just say they’re being fulfilled now. Where? In heaven, not on the earth one day.
Pentecost says, “The amillennialist is bound to argue for a conditional covenant and a spiritualized fulfillment so that the throne on which Christ is now seated at the right hand of the father becomes the ‘throne’ of the covenant, the household of faith becomes the ‘house’ of the covenant, and the church becomes the ‘kingdom’ of the covenant. . . .” See what Pentecost is pointing out here? Murray has rewritten the whole covenant to make it fit his kingdom now theology. Pentecost says, “This makes the church the ‘seed’ and the ‘kingdom’ promised in the covenant.” Then Pentecost says, “The kingdom becomes heavenly, not earthly….” And look at this last line, “Only by extensive allegorization can such a view be held.” [Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come, Page 103]
What Pentecost is saying is Murray is not following, number one, the literal method of interpretation. Number two, he is not following the time and tested principle of progressive revelation but he is allowing the New Testament (in his mind) to completely rewrite the Old Testament. And that’s how Israel is cancelled as a nation and how the church has now usurped Israel’s place and become the new Israel. And we are in the kingdom now. Another fancy name for this you might recognize is replacement theology. Israel means nothing as a nation because we have inherited all of our promises, her promises through extensive allegorization. So whenever you get around kingdom now theologians or replacement theologians they go on and on about how the Bible is not to be interpreted literally. But when you interpret it literally what do you come up with? God is going to fulfill every single promise He made to Israel on the earth during the millennial kingdom.
So we, I believe, God has a future for Israel and we believe that the gathering of the Jews today in their own land, even in unbelief, is in some sense preparatory for that. So we look at the nation of Israel and rejoice. Now if you go to a mainline denominational church, I don’t mean to call out any names but any particular Reformed church, Lutheran church, Presbyterian church, and I’m not saying within those different environments there are not good people here and there, I’m just talking about as a movement as a whole, you will never hear a single word in their sermons about the nation of Israel. The nation of Israel is irrelevant. In fact, if the nation of Israel is irrelevant future then really who cares about a bunch of Jews being regathered in the Middle East.
We talk about it from our pulpit as a miracle of God, a preparatory for the end of the age. But if you’re in a kingdom now replacement theology church you get no teaching at all on this subject of future Israel. The Middle East, who cares about the Middle East, who cares about Israel, we are Israel. Who cares about Jesus reigning from a throne in Jerusalem called the throne of David in the future millennial kingdom; don’t you understand that Peter, in Acts 2, reinterpreted those passages and we’re in the kingdom now and He’s reigning on David’s throne now. And how do you reach that conclusion? By discarding literal interpretation and discarding progressive revelation that subsequent Scripture will never change what the original promise says and by embracing what Dwight Pentecost here calls extensive allegorization.
I believe largely what I believe about the Bible because I became committed a long time ago to taking this whole book literally whenever I could, except when there’s an obvious figure of speech. That relates not just to the ministry of Christ in the first century but all of the prophecies related to not just the first coming of Christ but the second coming of Christ. And the more you become committed to that the more you start to see that God has never fulfilled these prophecies literally so there has to be a time in history where He does and we place it where? In the thousand year millennial kingdom.
Lewis Sperry Chafer, the founder of Dallas Seminary, said this around 1947. He says, “Similarly, the earthly kingdom that according to the Scriptures had its origin in the covenant made to David, which is mundane and literal in its original form” you all know what “mundane” means, just earthly or ordinary, “and equally as mundane and literal in uncounted references to it in all subsequent Scriptures which trace it on to its consummation,” and we’ve looked at those Scriptures, haven’t we, these are very literal, he says, “is by theological legerdemain” and I had to look that word up, I didn’t know what he meant by that so I put it in parenthesis when I looked it up, it means “trickery, or deception “is by theological trickery or deception metamorphosed into a spiritual monstrosity” that’s a strong word or phrase isn’t it? “…in which an absent King seated on His Father’s throne in heaven is accepted in lieu” or in substitution for “the theocratic monarch of David’s line seated on David’s throne in Jerusalem.”
Lewis Sperry Chafer, the founder of Dallas Seminary understood this issue cold. He says, “If what Jesus has right now at the Father’s right hand is now the Davidic throne and the Davidic kingdom,” he says “that’s a metamorphosized spiritual monstrosity.” And it’s also trickery or deception to teach that. Why is that? Because they’re taking the original promises and changing them. So that’s the battleground there.
Now around the early 1980’s enter a professor at Dallas Seminary by the name of Darrell Bock and you see Darrell Bock a lot on TV, when the Easter special and the resurrection of Jesus and the news people want a comment from a so-called conservative, they interview Darrell Bock. He’s pretty good on defending the resurrection and the historicity of Jesus and things like that, a very smart guy. My wife and I actually went to his church for a while, not really understanding what he was teaching, a very intelligent guy. But he got wrapped up in this whole debate in the 1980’s and he started to move in George Ladd’s direction. He was trying to come up with a middle ground between John Walvoord and George Ladd and so what he began to teach at Dallas Seminary with the assistance of another guy named Craig Blaising is progressive dispensationalism which is very, very similar to what George Ladd was teaching at Fuller Seminary already not yet. Jesus is already reigning on David’s throne and then you say well, Darrell Bock, you’re a replacement theologian. And he says no I’m not because I still believe Jesu is going to return to the earth over regenerated Israel and rule in that sense. But I do believe that the kingdom now theologians are right in the sense that we’re in the kingdom now, already and Jesus is already reigning on David’s throne.
So he tried to carve out what I would call a middle ground position between George Ladd and John Walvoord. And you see, your typical Bible church who has never had anybody come into their midst to explain these controversies to them hires a pastor from Dallas Seminary thinking they’re getting the old stuff from Walvoord and Pentecost and suddenly they start hearing some kingdom now theological ideas from their pulpit about Jesus reigning on David’s throne now. And once you move in that direction it opens a lot of other theological doors which I’ll be explaining; I do that in part III of the book. And so what’s happened is a lot of traditional Bible churches have been sort of lurching leftward because they’re assuming that everybody coming out of such and such an institution thinks the old way when in reality they’re not thinking the old way, they’ve moved in this sort of already not yet direction and they’re hearing… the old guard is hearing kind of fuzzy things that they’ve never heard before from the pulpit. And they’re kind of in a mist as to what’s happening because they’ve never really had someone come in and explain these controversies to them. See that.
So that’s why if you’re on a pulpit committee or selecting a church to attend, these are things you need to be attune to, to figure out exactly what kind of pastor am I getting here and what kind of a church am I becoming involved in. So Darrell Bock, through his “already not yet” view of the kingdom says, and this is a direct quote, “The Davidic throne and the heavenly throne of Jesus at the right hand of the Father are” what? “one and the same.” [Evidence from Acts,” in The Coming Millennial Kingdom, ed. Donald Campbell and Jeffrey Townsend (Chicago: Moody, 1992), 194.]
There it is, he believes that Jesus is currently reigning on David’s throne. Now it’s not the final form of the kingdom the way replacement theologians and amillennialists teach but it’s what he calls an already form of the kingdom. And you see, he moves into the middle and it’s kind of an outworking of what you call postmodernity which is a belief that no one has the truth. So if nobody has the truth how do you arrive at the truth? You look at where opposites converge; where do people agree in the middle, that’s where you find the truth. And the middle becomes the what? The new truth. See that? And so I like to call this sort of middle ground mania, and this is largely how his position came into existence. Now he claims he came to his position through a study of the text, I believe he believes that but I also believe that what was also motivating him was a resolution of this conflict between Ladd and Walvoord. And the problem is when you come to the Bible trying to fix a conflict are you really interpreting the Bible or are you just trying to patch things together between two sides?
My perspective on it is let’s study the whole Bible in its literal sense and let’s let the Lord settle the conflicts. What does the text say? I don’t come to the Bible saying well, I’ve got to make this camp over here happy and this camp over here I’m going to make them happy so let me kind of put out a tightrope and see if I can walk the middle a little bit. I have no ambition to do that as a Bible student, as a Bible teacher. In fact, if Martin Luther had done that we probably would never have had the Protestant Reformation when you think about it. What we need today are people that will stand on the authority of the text regardless of the cost or the consequences or who’s happy or who’s unhappy with it. The Lord will sort all that stuff out. The issue is what does the text say? And I’m convinced that these progressive dispensationalists were not doing that, they’re just moving into what I call middle ground, a middle ground mania.
So what did Darrell Bock come up with? He came up with a new hermeneutic. Now you should be very suspicious about anybody that wants to come up with a new hermeneutic or a new method of interpretation because to my mind we don’t need a new hermeneutic or a new method of interpretation with the Bible, we need to apply the literal method to the whole Bible and figure out what the Bible says. But if you do that kingdom now theology won’t float so you come up with a hermeneutic that says the new changes the old or abrogates it. Bock was more clever than that, he came up with what is called complementary hermeneutics. I know this is a lot to ingest and digest on a Wednesday evening when it’s freezing outside.
But here is what Darrell Bock says concerning complimentary hermeneutics. ““…the New Testament does introduce” what’s the next word? “change” now when you see the word “change” your warning bells or whatever should be going off because a change means a different definition of progressive revelation.” You see, I believe when Peter preached on the day of Pentecost he was taking old passages, not changing their meaning but just applying them freshly. That’s what I try to do every Sunday by the way; I’m not coming up with new meanings of verses, I’m trying to figure out what the verse says but apply it to a 21st century audience. I think that’s what Peter was doing. But Darrel Bock says no, Peter was not doing that, he was actually changing it. Now watch this, “…. In making complementary additions, however, it does not jettison Old Testament promises. The enhancement is not at the expense of the original promise.” [Craig Blaising and Darrell Bock, “Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church: Assessment and Dialogue,” in Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church, ed. Craig Blaising and Darrell Bock (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992), 392–93]
See, when you criticize Darrell Bock he always says you’re misrepresenting me and partly he is right because everybody wants to accuse him of teaching amillennialism or kingdom now theology, which he’s not doing. He still believes… let me say that again, they want to accuse him of teaching amillennialism and replacement theology which he is not doing. He still believes in a future kingdom, a future place for Israel. But what he does says is while the New Testament doesn’t cancel the old (that’s what the amillennialists say and kingdom now theologians say. “While the New Testament doesn’t cancel the Old Testament it adds a layer of truth that was never there before.” Do you follow that? The old stuff is still there and it’ll be fulfilled one day but here’s a new layer of truth that Peter adds that was not in the original passage. And that’s what’s called complementary hermeneutics.
Here’s kind of how it works. “This novel approach allows mere crucial linking allusions,” or “pictorial descriptions” of Jesus as the heir to David’s Throne to expand” that’s a very important word, “to expand the original terrestrial promise of the Davidic Throne so that it now encompasses a current spiritual form of the Davidic Kingdom with Jesus presently ruling from a celestial Davidic Throne. [The Reign of the Lord Christ,” in Dispensationalism, Israel and the Church, ed. Craig Blaising and Darrell Bock (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992), 49, 51.]
So he’ll take some passages that portray Jesus at the right hand of the Father and he’ll say wait a minute, notice the Davidic imagery that’s used to describe Christ as Jesus is at the right hand of the Father. Why is that Davidic imagery there? In my opinion it’s there to show that Jesus is the heir to David’s throne. That’s the only thing it’s doing there. But he says no, no, no, no, what it’s there to do is to take 2 Samuel 7, the original Davidic promise, and add a layer of meaning, expand a layer of meaning that was never there before. Do you follow that? And this is how these guys can sign a doctrinal statement at Dallas Seminary which is still premillennial but at the same time argue that Jesus is now reigning from David’s throne in heaven. Do you follow that? It’s sort of like trying to grab a wet eel, I mean, these guys are just slippery and I want to you exactly how they’re doing it.
Robert Lightner exposes what Bock is doing in this quote by contrasting Bock’s approach with progressive revelation. Lightner says, ““‘Complementary hermeneutics’ must not be confused with the historic orthodox doctrine of progressive revelation. The latter truth means that God revealed His truth gradually, sometimes over a long period of time. What was revealed later never” what’s the next word, “changed,” that’s the key word, “What was revealed later never changed the original revelation, however. The meaning and the recipients of the original promise always remain the same.” [Robert Lightner, Last Days Handbook (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997), 210.]
So what you have in progressive dispensationalism Bock, Blaising, etc. is a movement away from the traditional definition of progressive revelation that I explained at the outset. Subsequent Scripture clarified, gives details, but never changes its meaning. Bock and his group says yes it does change it. It adds a layer of truth with leaving the original meaning intact, complimentary hermeneutics, middle ground between Ladd and Walvoord. And by the way, if you don’t buy into this you’re considered as not being that bright. You have to be up to speed, you have to be with their trend, and if you hold to the old way of thinking Walvoord, Pentecost, Toussaint, Ryrie, etc. you’re looked at as being conceptually and hermeneutically naïve.
It’s sort of the same way they make you feel when you’re going through law school and they’re all talking about how the Constitution is an evolving document because if the Constitution is not an evolving document how am I going to find all my socialism and abortion in the Constitution? Right? So I’ve got to make it a living document. And then if you raise your hand in class and say I don’t think it’s a living document, I think it’s a fixed document, if you want to evolve the document and amend the document through the amendment process but let’s interpret it according to the framers, you get mocked and belittled for wanting to return to an under evolved society of 18th century. And that’s sort of the same pressure seminary students are put under, under this new progressive dispensationalism.
So Craig Blaising says, “But when that which is in fact new is presented and accepted as if it had always been the case, the result is not only historical confusion but a conceptual naïveté” now you know who he’s speaking of there when he says “conceptually naïve”? He’s speaking of Charles Ryrie. Charles Ryrie, who… gosh, don’t I have a Ryrie Study Bible here, who wrote all of these books on systematic theology and all kinds of books, and you know Charles Ryrie, who had a PhD from Dallas Seminary and Europe, by the way, two doctorates, you follow Ryrie’s way of thinking you’re looked at as conceptually and hermeneutically naïve. And most seminary students can’t hold up under the pressure because it’s sort of like not being kick pick for the kickball team. Remember how you felt as a kid when everybody else was picked for the kickball team and you weren’t picked? That’s sort of the group pressure that they can put you under when you don’t buy into this new way of thinking, because this is considered sophisticated “with it” and the old way is just kind of a dying corpse so to speak. So this is the battle ground.
Now why are they doing it? And wouldn’t you know it, I get on a roll and it’s 8:02, because Janet was asking me a few weeks ago why are they doing this? You asked me that, didn’t you? Can I give you this paragraph? I can do it fast. I guess not, I’ve lost my audience, you guys have already had to endure an awful lot of academic stuff tonight so we’ll pick it up next time.