The Coming Kingdom 077Matthew 4:19 • Dr. Andy Woods • October 16, 2019 • The Coming Kingdom
The Coming Kingdom #77
Dr. Andy Woods
Kingdom Now Theology & the Social Gospel
October 16, 2019
In the handout, Page 8, Slide #24, is where we will start. You may recall the last time I was with you, we began to get into Part 3 of my book, The Coming Kingdom, so we are on the home stretch.
We are in Part 3 where it is the ‘So What’ question. We have explained that the Kingdom is in a state of postponement today, Part 1. In Part 2, we refuted the verses that some use to argue that we are in the Kingdom. That took a lot of time to go through all of those. Now we are in Part 3, Who Cares, and maybe I should have taught this first. Open your Bibles to Matt 4:19; the premise from which I’m operating is when the Church gets confused about the subject of the Kingdom, and it begins to see itself the way that Roman Catholics view their church: the vicar of Christ on earth. You recognize the word, “vicar” from which we get the word ‘vicarious’ which means ‘in the place of.’ That is essentially Roman Catholic amillennialism: they view themselves as the representatives of Christ on the earth; in other words, they are His kingdom on the earth even though the King is not here. It isn’t just Roman Catholics who teach Kingdom Now Theology; you find it in countless other movements.
When the Church looks at itself as the Kingdom and begins to see itself as the Kingdom, what you basically have is soil from which a plethora of false doctrines naturally arise. They naturally and logically arise and one of our problems is that we don’t connect the dots very well because we spend all our time shooting at the false doctrines, not understanding that if we went after the foundation, then these false doctrines wouldn’t exist.
What I have here in the final third of the course is nine false doctrines that emerge in the Church (see Slide on 9 Ways Kingdom Now Theology Impacts the Church) as a consequence of Kingdom Now Theology. I just had a chance to teach all nine of these in five sessions at Middletown Bible Church in Connecticut where there was a great conference, so much of this is fresh on the tip of my tongue having just taught the whole thing. I went fast with them; you get the slow boat version.
The first false doctrine we talked about last time is that the Church stopped seeing itself as a pilgrim. There is a book called The Pilgrim Church, and it is a wonderful title of the Church because that is what it is. I gave you the verses last time; Heb 11:13; 1 Pet 1:1; 1 Pet 2:11; James 1:1 — our home is never in this world; it is not our identity as a Church; we are merely passing through this world. That is what a pilgrim is — someone passing through a terrain temporarily enroute to their ultimate destination which, for us, is the Father’s house, and ultimately, the Kingdom, then the eternal state. That is who we are and our identity. God never intended the Church to sink its roots down deep into this earth. That is why Phil 3:20 says our citizenship is in heaven. We are citizens of the United States, but we are dual citizens — citizens of a home country temporarily, ultimately though, it is in heaven. See how that entire concept is blurred once you see yourself as the establisher of God’s Kingdom? That is the first problem: the Church loses her identity.
The second problem which we got into this minimally last time is that the Church starts to move into the social gospel. The social gospel basically, in the 1920s, took over the Seven Sisters or the mainline denominations. There was a split in those denominations between the liberals and the fundamentalists. It was around that time period that Harry Emerson Fosdick preached a famous sermon, against the fundamentalists: “Shall the Fundamentalists Win?” There was a war that occurred for the heart and soul of those Seven Sisters or mainline denominations, and we lost! That is why we are meeting here at Sugarland Bible Church in an independent church because we lost control of the mainline denominations. When you lose control of the mainline denominations, you lose the property, the library, the endowments, and that is why you can drive around Houston and see these beautiful churches with stain-glassed windows and beautiful buildings, but they teach oftentimes very liberal thinking. To get conservative teaching, you have to go to a storefront type of church. People make fun of us for meeting in these storefront churches, and there is a history there: the modernist, fundamentalist controversy. We have a very nice facility here, but most conservative churches don’t have anything quite like this. They’re renting or meeting in a gym or a strip mall, etc, and the reality as to why that is has to do with the 1920s. What the liberals began to teach in the mainline denominations in that decade was the social gospel. The social gospel is the idea that the focus of the Church is bringing in Kingdom realities which only Jesus Christ’s kingdom can accomplish. A lot of it relates to confusion because they believe that they’re the Kingdom, and if you believe that, then you’re busy bringing in Kingdom realities, and you get all this talk about the environment, the ecosystem, being a good steward of the earth, social justice; about rectifying what they call structural racism or structural biases; universal health care, etc. That all takes center stage where their goal for the Church is to bring these things into existence. A lot of humanitarian work; Jimmy Carter with his Habitat for Humanity, etc, becomes the focus of the Church rather than the proclamation of the Gospel. That is what I mean by the social gospel.
A friend of mine offered up this definition of social gospel that I thought was good: it is giving water bottles out to people as people are on their way to hell. That is the mindset — you go to someone’s home and mow their lawn and do a lot of tasks for them, but never give them the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That is basically what is meant by social gospel. When that happens and the Church can easily drift into this mindset as the 1920s, the fundamentalists, modernists controversy demonstrates, then the Great Commission, the job that Jesus actually gave to the Church becomes the Great Omission. I want to be clear about one thing: I am not against humanitarian work coming from the Church, but we should always use that as a platform to preach the Gospel because at the end of the day what good does it do someone to have their stomach filled with food for 24 hours if they never hear the gospel and their soul goes into an eternal hell? So, I’m not saying not to do humanitarian work, but to keep it in balance or you will move rapidly into social gospel.
The goal of social gospel is to change the structures of society; that is where so many are today; writing books about within evangelicalism; about structural change either from the right or the left. Another name for this is holistic gospel. Holistic gospel is where you are more concerned about the collective salvation of nations than about individual souls. Collective salvation; holistic gospel; social gospel are all interchangeable terms. See Matt 4:19 NASB, And He [Jesus] said to them [His disciples], “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Holistic gospel says, ‘Now you’re responsible not just to fish for men but for the fishbowl that they’re in.’ That is the change in emphasis, in focus. It makes sense if we are the Kingdom, right? We should be bringing these conditions to the earth.
Robert Schuller was talking about this in the 1980s, and in this quote, he is condemning negative-thinking theologians; that would be people like we are. “Negative-thinking theologians looked at the doctrine of sin, salvation and repentance…through distorted glasses tinted with mortification mentality [they really know how to call you names]. Too many prayers of confession of sin and repentance have been destructive to the emotional health of Christians…I am not fully forgiven until I allow God to write his new dream for my life on the blackboard of my mind, and I dare to believe ‘I am; therefore, I can. I am a child of God [this is essentially the self-esteem gospel…”
[Just twenty minutes from here, Joel Osteen is basically a younger version of Robert Schuller. I grew up 15-20 minutes from Garden Grove [California]. Countless times when on the freeway, I saw that big cathedral of glass that Robert Schuller built. I recall listening to many of his sermons. When I hear Joel Osteen today, it is the same kind of stuff that Schuller used to teach; of course, Schuller got his ideas from a man named Norman Vincent Peale. Walter Martin was asked once what he thought about the theology of Norman Vincent Peale, and Walter Martin, a conservative, responded that Paul is appealing that Peale’s theology is appalling. And that stuck with me. So, the chain goes from Norman Vincent Peale to Robert Schuller and Robert Schuller had a huge influence on Rick Warren who has had a large effect on Joel Osteen. So, that is the chain as we move into this holistic redemption, self-esteem gospel. Schuller has an interesting line in this where he says that] … “God has a great plan to redeem society”…. [So, we are all supposed to buy into this self-esteem gospel and society will be redeemed] … “The emerging church, reformed according to the needs of self-esteem-starved souls under the Lordship of Christ…will help us to affirm the concept that ‘While God’s ideas may seem humanly impossible, he will give us these ideas which will lead to glorious, self-esteem-generating success.’”
Frankly, I don’t really know if the biggest problem is that there is a lack of self-esteem. Do you know they’ve done studies and where the greatest percentage population-wise of people with the highest self-esteem? In prison. Prison inmates have the highest self-esteem according to some statistics. If you are struggling with self-image; there is a way to remedy that: to discover and understand who you are in Christ and that you bear God’s image. There is a biblical answer to self-esteem and self-image problems. It isn’t to put myself on the throne, but what he says here is social gospel when he throws in that “God has a great plan to redeem society.”
Craig Blaising, a progenitor of progressive dispensationalism at Dallas Seminary who teaches the already not yet form of the Kingdom, writes, “Unfortunately, present-day dispensationalists [that would be us] have written very little in proposing a theology of social ministry…if we as a community of Christ worked on creating our community as a model of social justice and peace, then we really would have some suggestions to make for social reform in our cities and nations.”
Notice that what he has done here is to flip the purpose of the Church. The purpose is to bring peace and social justice into the Church, whatever that means; it is rather a nebulous concept. But it is popular because people fill that nebulous concept with their own ideas. If they’re coming from the left, they fill their ideas into that phrase; if coming from the right, they fill their ideas into that phrase. Blaising, who believes that Jesus is now reigning on David’s throne, that we must bring social justice and peace to our Church so we can make changes in society that people will believe in. Once they see social justice in the Church, then society will then be attracted to our message, and then you will have social justice in the community.
All these guys, whether it is Tim Keller, Al Mohler, Craig Blaising, Daryl Bock, are all moving in this direction of what I call social gospel. Brian McLaren, a leader of the Emergent Church says stunningly, “The church has been preoccupied with the question, ‘What happens to your soul after you die?’ As if the reason for Jesus coming can be summed up in, ‘Jesus is trying to get more souls into heaven as opposed to hell, after they die.’ [I thought that was the goal; that is the whole burden to share the Gospel with the lost]. I just think a fair reading of the Gospels blows that out of the water.” In his understanding of the Gospel, he sees Jesus going around doing all these miracles, feeding people, and helping the poor, and he believes that Jesus didn’t just preach repentance and salvation and faith alone to escape hell; what Jesus did is to bring in this holistic societal change type of gospel, and if we don’t do that, then we are missing out on what Jesus wants us to do. We are missing out on his example.
A book by a man named Stearns, and he wrote a book called “Hole in the Gospel.’ I was talking to some people here in the local community in some of the large churches in our area, and all their small groups about a year or two, they were all reading this book of Stearns, Hole in the Gospel. He basically calls it the Donut Gospel and is essentially saying is that we are caught up in a gospel that is empty because we are just preaching the Bible and salvation but not bringing all these structural changes to society. Almost everyone who believes this and wants to do this, also believes that we are currently in the Kingdom. Kingdom Now Theology logically leads in that direction.
I could show you examples in the Bible where Jesus performed miracles to help people in terms of humanitarian need and other examples where Jesus stopped meeting peoples’ humanitarian needs because He was more concerned for their souls which is eternal, than about a meal for a day. Some examples which will never be brought up by social gospel advocates:
John 6:15, “So, Jesus, perceiving that they were intending to come and take Him by force to make Him king, withdrew again to the mountain by Himself alone.” Now, He has a crowd of people who are coming at Him, saying ‘You’re going to be the King whether or not you want to; we will force you to be the King.’ Everyone wanted Jesus to be the King at this point because of the miracle He had just performed about the masses who were fed with a few fish and a few loaves earlier in the chapter.
John 6:26, Jesus answered them and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.” I feel a little guilty reading that because I just had two hamburgers there in the kitchen. So, He has all kinds of people following Him not because they care about eternity, they like the humanitarian side of what He is doing. And if this guy can feed the masses with a few loaves and fish, then He could overthrow Rome, so it is all external politics. They aren’t understanding why Christ came into the world; He did so to deal with the real need we all have: our separation from God because of sin.
John 6:28-29, 28Therefore, they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, 29“This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” ‘So, what you all need to do rather than look for your next meal, for Me, is you need to believe the one condition of justification in the One He has sent, Me, and be saved.’
So, Jesus switches the conversation away from social gospel to the Real Gospel. So, everyone stood up and applauded, right? No, they were no longer interested in what He was saying.
John 6:60-61, this is all taking place at Capernaum near the Sea of Galilee, Therefore, many of His disciples, when they heard this said, “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?” 61But Jesus, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them, “Does this cause you to stumble?” … 66As a result of [changing the conversation away from humanitarian social gospel to the Real Gospel] … many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.
I like what Jesus said here to the twelve. You want to talk about church growth being destroyed? He just went from a massive crowd to twelve. Would you hire a pastor like that? ‘Yeah, I came in and took over a church of a couple thousand people and now there are twelve people left.’ That is what Christ did here by focusing on the Real Gospel.
John 6:67, So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” And Peter has the classic answer, of course, 68 “Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.”
So, that is an example where Brian McLaren’s analysis of Jesus is highly selective. I can show you another example where Jesus rejected social gospel. John 12:1-8 the story of Mary pouring expensive ointment on Christ. 1Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2So, they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving; but Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with Him. 3Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, [sounds here like a social gospel advocate] who was intending to betray Jesus Messiah, said, 5“Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and given to poor people?” 6Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it. [So, Judas wanted the perfume sold and put in the money box so he could embezzle more funds. He masquerades his motive as social gospel. We need to help the poor. Look at Christ’s response here; it is so interesting]: 7Therefore Jesus said [concerning Mary], “Let her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of My burial. 8 For you will always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me.” In other words, ‘I [Jesus] am here for an instant so it would be completely appropriate for Mary to worship Me in extravagance; the poor will always be available for you to help so don’t worry about them right now. Worry about the moment that you are in.’
Notice that Jesus again directs people away from helping the poor to individual worship. Brian McLaren, in his selective use of the Bible, isn’t quoting any of these verses. This is the weakness of social gospel; social justice. Everyone is hijacking Jesus to make Him according to whatever their worldview is. If you are a Marxist, then you make Jesus into a Marxist revolutionary; if you are a socialist, then you make Him into a socialist; if you’re a humanitarian, you make Jesus into a humanitarian. The reality is that I don’t think that Jesus is unconcerned about these issues, but it isn’t His primary issue for which He came into the world. He came into the world to rectify the alienation that exists before us and God through His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. That is where the focus needs to remain for the Church.
Charles Ryrie, concerning holistic redemption, or holistic gospel, correctly says, “Holistic redemption can easily [emphasis mine] lead to placing unbalanced, if not wrong, priorities on political action, social agendas, and improving the structures of society.”
Now, am I against people being involved in humanitarian work, in politics? No, not at all, but that’s a matter of individual conscience. William Wilberforce used his position in Parliament as an evangelical Christian to speak repeatedly against the slave trade, and he eventually got the slave trade abolished where he was. So, God can use people politically; I am the product of a political family; my father was a Superior Court Judge, appointed by George Deukmejian, the governor in California; he was elevated to the Appellate Court, I was a political science major in college, I have a law degree, so my who life has centered around politics. It clearly has its place. If people, as a matter of conscience, want to get involved in that, praise the Lord, you have the freedom in Christ to do that. What I am saying is that it shouldn’t be the priority of the Church. That is the danger when all these social causes eclipse what God wants the Church to do.
In the Epistles, you won’t find any instructions anywhere about how to take over Rome, etc. In fact, I think that the entire book of Philemon, one chapter long, is some good reading. Remember the slave Onesimus who had escaped and fled to where Paul was in Rome, and what Paul told Onesimus at the end of his letter? He said, ‘You need to go back to your owner, Philemon, as a slave, and to live out your Christian convictions in that structure.’ He never says to overthrow the structure or regime change, etc. My point is that the Church, when it makes that its priority, then it shifts onto its shoulders, a task that God never gave to the Church.
Is that happening today? Rick Warren (Purpose Driven Summit, November 15, 2014) talks about his peace plan: “P.E.A.C.E. is an acronym for Promote reconciliation; Equip servant leaders; Assist the poor; Care for the sick; and Educate the next generation. Coalition members see these actions as Jesus’ antidote to five ‘global giants,’ [Why are there only five global giants? Probably because he is trying to make that fit with David going to slay Goliath with five stones in his bag. I think that is why he is focused on these five global giants] — problems that affect billions of people worldwide: spiritual emptiness, self-centered leadership, poverty, pandemic disease, and illiteracy.” Rick Warren and 1,7000 leaders launched the Peace Coalition at the Purpose Drive Summit. Coalition members see these actions as Jesus’ antidote to slaying the five global giants; problems that affect billions of people worldwide — the five which we have already articulated.
What do you call this? Social gospel; this is the very thing that consumed the mainline denominations in the 1920s, so it is a recycling of Kingdom Now Theology. I think I gave you the quote last week about how Rick Warren believes that it is his purpose, and he likes that word, ‘purpose’ — purpose driven church, life; the whole goal is to find your purpose. He believes that his purpose is to get the Church involved in this activity of slaying these five global giants. What do you not see in the Peace Plan? The Gospel is missing; the Great Commission is missing. These verses, Matt 28:19; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:46-49; John 20:21; Acts 1:4-8; and Romans 1:16-17 — are all missing.
Let’s look at some of these verses:
Matthew 28:19, the assignment that Jesus actually gave to the Church. You know these verses very well, the Real Great Commission, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, …”
Mark 16:15 , another Great Commission passage as presented in the Four Gospels and the Book of Acts, And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation.” He didn’t say to go into the world and slay the five global giants!
Luke 24:46-49, [Every Gospel writer has a rendition of the Great Commission] 46…and He said to them , “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 “And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city [Jerusalem] until you are clothed with power from on high.”
Aren’t you glad that they waited on and listened to the Lord rather than just go out and tried to do it through human power? Christianity would have fizzled a long time ago, yet here we are 2,000 years later, recipients of the Gospel, on a totally different continent. That is what the power of the Holy Spirit will do. The Holy Spirit will empower the Church when the Church is what it is supposed to be.
The game of satan is to try to change the Church into something that it is not. Once the Church becomes something that it isn’t, God isn’t authorized to pay the bill. He will only pay the bill for things He ordered that are on the menu. On the other hand, if we go off and do our own thing, God has no authorization or interest at all in energizing us to being what we are supposed to be.
John 20:21, [Read these verses and compare them with Rick Warren’s PEACE Plan, and you can easily see the difference] So, Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”
Acts 1:4-8, there is a 40-day period between Christ’s resurrection and His ascension when He is ministering to the disciples. Acts 1:4 says, 4Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; 5for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” [When was that prophecy fulfilled? On the Day of Pentecost, the birthday of the Church]. Next chapter and watch this important verse 6 So when they [the disciples] had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?”
Why would they ask that? Because they did not understand this long interim period of time that would come because national Israel in the first century rejected her King. God would create the age of the Church; we’ve been living in it for the last 2,000 years. They had no knowledge of the Church Age; all they knew was Israel, Israel, Israel; Kingdom, Kingdom, Kingdom. Now something has happened where the nation had rejected her King, so God’s plan all along was to create the age of time that we are in called a mystery or an intercalation, an interruption in God’s program which we are currently in is not Israel’s program; it is the Church’s program. It is hinted at frequently in Christ’s earthly ministry.
In Luke 19:11 where Luke wrote a prequel and a sequel, the prequel is the Gospel of Luke, and the sequel is the Book of Acts: a two-part series, 11While they were listening to these things, Jesus went on to tell a parable [the parable of the Minas], because He was near Jerusalem, and they supposed that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately. [‘Oh, my goodness, the Lord is making His way to Jerusalem, so He must be getting ready to set up the Kingdom,’ and He is explaining to them that the Kingdom will not be set up at that time. They are in a period of postponement. He reveals to them in the Parable of the Minas about this long age where people are giving minas, a monetary sum or denomination, different giftings or resources. And while the Master is absent (which He won’t be when the Kingdom comes), and we are to invest what God has given us during this interim time period.
The day will come when the Kingdom comes, where He will hold us to an accounting of what we did with what He gave us. You might be saying to yourself that God hasn’t given you anything. Every person in this room and listening has three things that God will ask them what they did with, and they all begin with the letter, ‘T.’ The first thing that we all have is TIME, the second thing we have is TALENT, there are things that you can do that no one else in this room can do. The third thing is TREASURE. Every person has those three things to one degree or another — some to more or less of a degree, but everyone has all three of them. The Lord expects us, in the interim, during His absence, to invest those things for His purposes, and He will come back at the end of this interim age, and ask, ‘What did you do with those three Ts I gave to you? TIME, TALENT, and TREASURE.’
The apostles aren’t really hearing all of this, going back to Acts 1; they thought that He was going to set up the Kingdom.
Acts 1:6-8, 6So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” Notice Jesus’ response here? ‘Whoever gave you the idea that there will be a kingdom through Israel? What a dumb idea that is.’ He never rebuked them for that; the only thing He corrected them on was not the establishment of the kingdom. By the way, who will the kingdom be established through? Israel! It is very clear. He never rebuked them for having the idea of a future kingdom through Israel. What He corrected them on was the issue of timing. That is what the Parable of the Minas was designed to teach. The kingdom will come one day, but for now it is in a state of postponement, and in the interim, don’t waste time setting it up. God will set it up one day; we are to spend our time investing the three Ts.
Acts 1: 7He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs [they were confused because they did not understand the interim age; the Church Age] which the Father has fixed by His own authority [In other words, the Kingdom will come when God wants it to come, but in the interim] 8 you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” [He is clearly not talking about the Kingdom there because the Kingdom is headquartered in Jerusalem. He is saying to them to get out of Jerusalem; it is the worldwide mission of the Church while the Kingdom is not here].
Very clearly, that is another rendition of the Great Commission which isn’t found at all in Rick Warren’s PEACE Plan.
Romans 1:16-17, Paul says, “16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man [or the just] SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” The word ‘power’ is ‘dunamis’ where we get the word ‘dynamite’ and the word, ‘dynamic.’ That is the Source of power that the Church is supposed to be disseminating. This message is so powerful that it can be read in a book, and someone can get saved. This message is so powerful that satan can preach it, and if he does it accurately, people could get saved. This message is so powerful that people can use it to build their own platforms through poor motives. Paul talks about that in Phil 1:14-17, I think, where he says how some preach Christ out of strife and seeking to take advantage of me being here in prison. Paul doesn’t get mad at these people with corrupt motives preaching the gospel because at least the Gospel is going out. The Gospel is objectively true regardless of whose mouth it comes from. That is the power of the Gospel. What is bothering me about this PEACE Plan is that I don’t see any reference to the Gospel other than in veiled terms, such as spiritual emptiness, perhaps? It is all these social causes which won’t come into existence until the Kingdom comes.
What has happened with all these things is that the Church is losing her identity through Kingdom Now Theology.
See slide on Prophecy Panorama. Who will set up the Kingdom then? Jesus will. See the chart on the slide. The second Advent is found in Rev 19, then the Kingdom comes in Rev 20. See how chapter 19 comes before chapter 20. The chronology of the Book of Revelation should tell you who will set up the Kingdom. For the Church to get involved in Kingdom programs, building, etc, is a waste of time. Hal Lindsay wrote a book, The Road to Holocaust. Most people know this author by his book, The Late Great Planet Earth. Many people have been led to Christ because of this book. I got very interested in Bible Prophecy by reading that book; God used that book in a tremendous way. Despite that, I don’t think that is his best book. If you really want a good read, get his book, The Road to Holocaust; it will put some hair on your chest, if you’re a man. “Bestselling author, Hal Lindsay warned what could happen to the church in the last days if she began to see herself as the establisher of God’s kingdom: “The last days of the church on the earth may be largely wasted seeking to accomplish a task that only the LORD Himself can and will do directly.”
I hope that these verses we have examined tonight demonstrate that Kingdom realities cannot be ushered in by the Church. They will be ushered in by the King when He returns. Do you believe that the devil is sneaky? Do you think that he would pull this one on us on the eve of the Rapture? Do you think he would confuse us to such an extent that we would spend the waning moments on the earth doing something that God never called us to do? I think satan has been trying to confuse the Church on this subject all along. When the Church begins to move into Kingdom Now Theology, she begins to flirt with losing her pilgrim status and moves into social gospel.
I will just introduce the third way that Kingdom Now Theology impacts the Church though we won’t get too far into it tonight. The church starts getting involved in ecumenical and interfaith alliances. The term ecumenism is the urge to merge. It is the desire to merge with groups of other spiritual communities who don’t hold to our same core biblical convictions. The reason this plays directly into or emanates from Kingdom Now Theology is because there aren’t enough Christians numerically on planet Earth to cause Christianity to bring in the Kingdom. If your goal is to bring in the Kingdom, then you must merge with a group who doesn’t think the way we do biblically; they might agree with us on some political issue. Or another group. Ecumenism, the urge to merge, is a result of Kingdom Now Theology. In other words, the idea is to merge with groups to be a co-belligerent. A co-belligerent against some cause, for example, communism, humanism, pornography, abortion — some cause that you are upset about, but there aren’t enough Christians to get rid of that issue so you merge with another group politically but there is no theological compatibility. This explains ecumenical and interfaith alliances.
Clarence Larkin in 1920, and I love reading the old commentators. When I was taking my dissertation at Dallas Seminary, they told me that I couldn’t quote anyone that is older than five-ten years. I was required to be in vogue with contemporary scholarship. I thought that was tragic, because if you bypass the older commentators, you miss out on a lot of wisdom. Clarence Larkin is known well for his prophecy charts, but he wrote excellent commentaries on Daniel and Revelation. In his book on this slide, Rightly Dividing the Word, he predicts what happens to the Church when she begins to see herself as the new Israel on earth. He says, “The great mistake the Church has made is in appropriating to herself in this Dispensation [the Church Age] the promises of earthly conquest and glory which belong exclusively to Israel in the ‘Millennial Age.’ [That is Kingdom Now Theology, right? Look over at Israel’s promises, and you say that ‘those look pretty good, let’s just make them available to the Church,’ and you deliteralize them; you must always deliteralize these promises to make them fit the current age of the Church. It is interesting to me that no one ever appropriates Israel’s curses for disobedience. Read Deuteronomy 28:15-68 which are all curses for disobedience; they choose to leave those behind for the Jewish people but they will take all the goodies].
Clarence Larkin continues, “… As soon as the Church enters into an ‘Alliance with the World,’ and seeks the help of Parliaments, Congresses, Legislatures, Federations and Reform Societies, largely made up of ungodly men and women …” [Why is he talking about this in 1919 — recall what is happening to the Seven Sisters, or the mainline denominations, the fundamentalist modernist controversy…those who don’t learn from history are condemned to repeat it.
If you know even a little about church history, you can see how the same lies keep recirculating. So, what happens when the church gets involved in all these tasks…?], “… she loses her spiritual power and becomes helpless as a redeeming force.” Why? Because when the Church moves outside of its design, God says that He isn’t obligated to write the checks any longer. ‘It is your task; you fund it.’ The Church is then emptied of its power, see that? This is what Clarence Larkin predicted in 1919.
So, what do we have today? The urge to merge — evangelicals and Catholics together. This was a movement largely started by the late Charles Colson who did a lot of good things, wrote a lot of good books, started Prison Fellowship Ministries. But around the early 1990s, he started a movement called ECT — Evangelicals & Catholics Together. The goal was to fight some ‘ism’ out there. Humanism, Communism, Atheism — we all must come together. The idea is that we have to all hang together or we will hang separately. You merge with some group who you don’t agree with theologically for the purpose of fighting an evil, so forget about doctrine; don’t worry about it. What we have to do is to save America or the planet, etc. Once we get that task rectified, then we will get back to theology. This is how the Church gets pulled into these ecumenical causes.
In this ECT, it was a written agreement, and I can’t tell you how many very notable evangelicals put their John Hancock on the document where it was an agreement that we won’t evangelize each other anymore; we won’t share the Gospel and try to evangelize one another’s sheep folds, since after all, we are all one big happy family, coming together for some great cause, and this is how ecumenism and interfaith alliances start to develop.
Just when you think the whole thing had died since Chuck Colson died, here comes Rick Warren, and he brings the whole thing to life. This is an interview he did on EWTN, a Roman Catholic Network, being interviewed by Raymond Arroyo; if you watch Fox News, you will see him frequently on Laura Ingraham. He is very Catholic, interviewing Rick Warren here. It is a lengthy quote, and I won’t give this to you in full now because we are ready to stop (see slides on Ecumenisim and Matthew Slick on “”). The most important line in this is, “… But the most important thing is if you love Jesus, we’re on the same team.”
That is the ecumenical mindset— “If you love Jesus, we’re on the same team.” We have a little problem because which Jesus are you talking about? Is there not a false Jesus in the world? Don’t the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Mormons teach a Jesus? How do I know it is the right Jesus?
We will stop here and pick this up next time.