The Coming Kingdom 081Isaiah 35:5-6 • Dr. Andy Woods • November 13, 2019 • The Coming Kingdom
The Coming Kingdom #081
Dr. Andrew Woods
Tonight we have all the tough-minded people that braved the cold weather. This is cold for us, right? Texas. This is like Anchorage, Alaska. There’s a handout back there. Does anybody need a handout? We’re talking about a paper handout, not a financial handout. Do you need one, Robin, up front? Can you bring one up, Karen?
So Brother Ron passed away. He usually does our handouts, and Janet had to take her daughter home because she wasn’t feeling well. And so now Karen is stuck. The shortest person in the church has got to do all that striding to get up here. Sorry about that, Karen, but thank you for your servant-mindedness.
Well, you might as well take your Bibles and go to Daniel 2 just for a minute. As you know, we’ve been doing this study on the kingdom and this is actually lesson number 81. You believe that? Yes. Someone said ‘yes.‘ So if you’re here for the first time, like Robin and Bill up front, some of it might be seem kind of odd because we’ve built a massive foundation. But every lesson builds on the prior lesson. And so the series of studies really has three parts to it, as you know.
What does the Bible say about the kingdom? It’s a study on the kingdom. And there we taught that the kingdom is not something that’s happening today. It’s not something that’s canceled, but it’s something that’s postponed. So to develop that conclusion, you have to go from Genesis to Revelation and look up tons of verses, which we’ve done.
Then number 2. Well, if the kingdom is in a state of postponement, why do so many people believe that we’re in the kingdom now? So we went through all of the verses that they use, and that was a major chunk of material that took, I don’t know, maybe over a year to go through all that. So we went through every problem passage or passage people use to argue that we’re in the kingdom. And we showed that none of those passages really teach what people think they teach.
And as of late, and we’re hoping to finish this up this quarter, is part 3, which I probably should have taught first because I dragged you through all this stuff without revealing ‘who cares?’ That’s number 3. I mean, why does it matter? Why do we need to know this? Greg, in his prayer, hinted at the fact that if you believe that we are currently in the kingdom, it has a huge effect on the life of the church. In other words, the church gets very confused when it sees herself as the Kingdom of God on the earth.
So in part 3, what we’ve been going through are nine false teachings. And most of you probably are familiar with these false teachings. So the purpose of this section is not to get in and refute every single false teaching on my list in detail, but rather to demonstrate that these false teachings exist today because the Church thinks it’s in the kingdom.
In other words, kingdom now theology essentially furnishes the right soil for all kinds of bad fruit to come up in the life of the church. And the reason I wanted to go into this is a lot of people, as Christians, spend their time shooting at these false teachings, they don’t really understand the foundation that Paul’s teachings come from, which is kingdom now theology.
So the first 4, we have already gone over, we finished number 4 last week. The Church stops looking at itself as a pilgrim on the earth and views itself as the earth [inaudible ?is our home?].
And then there’s another false teaching called the social gospel, where the ministry of a church revolves more around humanitarian-type issues, rather than giving people the eternal gospel that can keep their souls out of hell. That’s called social gospel.
And then the church, once she starts to see herself as the kingdom of God on the earth, develops what I like to call the urge to merge. There are not enough Christians on the earth to bring in the kingdom. So what the church starts to do is to merge with all of these other groups that don’t really share our theological beliefs. So we looked at evangelicals, the movement, evangelicals and Catholics together, evangelicals and Mormons together. Now it spiraled into evangelicals and Muslims together. And I tried to show you those movements that are happening today. And the reason they’re happening is because of kingdom now theology.
Then from there we moved into number 4, where if the church starts to see itself as the kingdom, then the church starts to reject or to discard Bible prophecy. So in other words, why teach Bible prophecy? Why teach about a coming kingdom?
Why teach about a coming kingdom if, in fact, the church is the kingdom? You see that? And if the church sees itself as establishing God’s kingdom on the Earth, why would you talk about the rapture, which is the rescue operation of Jesus to take us out of this world? Why would I care about that silly doctrine? Because after all, the church is the kingdom.
And so I showed you how prophecy is being kind of chipped away in our circles, marginalized—just an awful lot of churches I know of, and you know of them, too, that will not teach anything out of the Book of Revelation. And the reason that is so is because of kingdom now theology.
So those are the 4 things that we’ve gone over thus far in this section. And I want to move here into number 5. A fifth problem that begins to take place when the church sees itself as the kingdom is [that] you start to build the wrong kingdom. The devil is a pretty sneaky guy. Would you not agree with that? And there is nothing more that he would like to do in the closing age of the church than to get the church involved in some project that God never gave to the church; to get us to completely waste our time, effort and energy into doing something, trying to do something that only Jesus can directly do. And I believe that this is probably one of the main reasons why Satan has been at work all the way back to the fourth century, Augustine, to through his writings, the city of God, to convince the church that the church is the kingdom.
So one of the guys I like to quote from the past is this guy, Clarence Larkin. A lot of people dismiss him, but he’s very good when you actually look at his commentaries, and he’s got all kinds of warnings about the church and its flirtation with kingdom now theology. And he’s talking about practical problems that would come into the church when the church began to see itself as the kingdom. So this is a point that Clarence Larkin made back in 1920, roughly, in his book, The Second Coming of Christ. He says, “When the church enters into an alliance with the World,’… the end of such an ‘Alliance’ will be a Religious Political Regime’ that will pave the way for the revelation of Satan’s great Religious Political Leader’ and ’Superman’ — the ANTICHRIST.” [And what he’s saying here is if you get involved in trying to build the kingdom of God on the earth, you may not realize it; you may not understand it as a Christian, but what you’re really doing is you’re building the empire of the Antichrist without even knowing it. Now, why would he say that? It relates to the dream in Daniel 2 (See slide on Statue & Stone at 10:51). So Daniel 2 gives us a chronology of empires from the time of Daniel right up to the Second Coming. The first empire would be Babylon, which is the head of gold, which was the empire in existence when Daniel was alive. And that empire reigned from about 605 B.C. to about 539 B.C., and that’s the head of gold in the statue that Nebuchadnezzar saw.
And then would come the chest and arms of silver. And that would be the empire of Persia, which overthrew the Babylonians in Daniel 5, the Handwriting on the Wall chapter. And that empire existed after Daniel died. But it came into existence 539 B.C. and went all the way to about 331 B.C..
So, head of gold chest and arms of silver, and then you have belly of bronze. And that would be the empire of Greece. The Empire of Greece reigned particularly crushing down the nation of Israel, from about 331 B.C. up until about 63 B.C., until a general named Pompeii under Rome came into the land of Israel and subjugated the nation of Israel. And so that was replaced by the legs of iron. The legs of iron represent Rome, which trampled the nation of Israel down from about 63 B.C., and finally kicked them out of their land in AD 70. And you’ll notice that the legs of iron, there are two legs—most people believe that that has to do with the division between the eastern and western divisions of the Roman Empire. So Daniel is seeing all of this in advance.
And then when you get between the ankles and the feet, there’s a gap there of about 2000 years. And that’s where you put the age of the church. That’s us. We’re not in this statue because the church, Paul, calls us a mystery. And the church has been going on for the last 2000 years. So if you want to, people always want to know, where am I in the prophecy? Where do I fit? Well, you’re right there between the ankles and the feet. That undisclosed period of time. But eventually, the rapture of the church will take place when the church is complete. And what eventually will come into existence is the two feet of iron and clay. The last time I checked, there are 5 toes on each foot, right? So 5 plus 5 would be 10? And that’s the 10-region or ten-king confederacy of the Antichrist that will cover the Earth. That’s what we would call the New World Order. And that’s even what’s being built right now in our time period. It’s coming together. It’s not in place yet. But clearly, preparatory work is happening.
So the feet are going to come into existence and they’re mixed with iron and clay. And it’s sort of interesting as you go through this statue from head to toe, the metals keep getting weaker to the point where you have something very brittle at the bottom, the feet mixed with iron and clay, they don’t mix well with each other, Daniel tells us. And that is the 10-king global confederation of the Antichrist. And that kingdom is going to be replaced by a stone cut without human hands.
So Daniel, as he interpreted this for Nebuchadnezzar, saw at the end of this whole thing, this stone cut without human hands, shattering the feet in a nanosecond. It’s not something that comes gradually, but it happens instantaneously. And once the feet are shattered, since the feet is the foundation of the statue, the whole thing crumbles. And Daniel, in this dream that he’s interpreting that Nebuchadnezzar had, saw the wind go into the threshing floor and blow away all the pieces of the shattered statue. So the wind just drives everything away.
And then the stone cut without human hands grows and grows and grows till it fills the earth. So we know what everything else in the statue is. The big question is what does that stone cut without human hands? That is the kingdom that Jesus Christ personally will establish at the end of the 7-year tribulation period. So the Antichrist‘s kingdom will come into existence. That’s the feet. But that kingdom is going to be replaced by God’s kingdom, the stone cut without human hands that will grow and fill the whole earth. And that’s the Millennial Kingdom.
So when you look at this very carefully, what you have here is a chronology. You’ll notice that man will not bring in God’s kingdom. You see that? God alone—the kingdom doesn’t come through human agency, God alone brings it. And that’s the whole significance of the stone cut without human hands destroying the feet of the statue.
So, first we have Babylon, then Medo-Persia, then Greece, then Rome, and then we have at least 2000 years between the ankles and the feet. And so what’s the next kingdom in our future? The Antichrist kingdom. See that—just by paying attention to the chronology.
Then and only after the Antichrist’s kingdom comes on the scene—tribulation-period stuff, then it will be shattered by God’s kingdom. So here’s the order: Church age, Antichrist kingdom, God’s kingdom. You’re with me on that? And I know that there’s a chronology here because all the rest of the statue going right back up to the head is chronological. So therefore it’s no big deal interpreting the ankles and the feet and the stone cut without human hands chronologically.
So, the next kingdom in our future is not God’s kingdom, you follow? The next kingdom in our future in the year 2019 is whose kingdom? The Antichrist’s kingdom. Now you’re sitting in a church, perhaps, that never gives you this chronology. And all they’re talking about is kingdom this and kingdom that. And we’re kingdom builders. And we’re bringing in the kingdom. And in actuality, what kingdom are they ushering in? They’re not ushering in God’s kingdom because God’s kingdom can’t come until the Antichrist‘s kingdom comes on the scene, and then is destroyed by God. Actually, what they’re building, because we’re living between the feet and the ankles, is Antichrist’s kingdom? You see that? So the deception is we’re building the stone cut without human hands. No, you’re not. You’re not building the stone cut without human hands. What you’re building is the feet mixed with iron and clay.
And so that’s why kingdom now theology never wants Bible prophecy taught, because if someone gets up and explains to you, matter of factly, Bible prophecy, it would defy the order of kingdom now theology. So the error of kingdom now theology is it’s taken that stone cut without human hands, and it’s bringing it into, as if people had the power to do this, they think they do. They’re bringing it into human history prematurely. And consequently, what Satan is doing with all of this kingdom now theology—he’s got the church thinking about and building the wrong kingdom.
And by the way, Daniel 2 is also explained in Daniel 7. The same content that you have in Daniel 2 is explained in Daniel 7. It’s just [that] in Daniel 2, it looked like a dazzling statue. In Daniel 7, the same chronology is given, but through 4 grotesque beasts. And you say, well, ‘why the difference?’ Well, in Daniel 2, who had the dream originally? Nebuchadnezzar, who was a Gentile, one of the oppressors of Israel. So to him, it looked like a wonderful time period.
In Daniel 7, who receives the vision? Daniel does. Daniel is a Jew. He’s being oppressed. So he’s narrating the story from the Jewish perspective. Daniel 2 is narrating the story from the Gentile perspective. To Nebuchadnezzar, it looked like a great and wonderful time, but to Daniel, it looked like a terrible time where Israel was being trampled down by these four ferocious, disgusting beasts.
So the lion would represent the head of gold, or Babylon. The bear would represent the chest and arms of silver, or Persia. The leopard would represent the belly and thighs of bronze, or Greece. The terrifying beast would represent the 2 legs of iron, or Rome. And then, at the very end of the vision, we learned that this beast has 10 horns. And that matches the 10 toes in Daniel 2.
So it’s a fascinating read when you look at both chapters together, understanding that they’re narrating the exact same period of time but from different perspectives.
So here’s the point I’m trying to make: if the next kingdom on the horizon, looking at it from our time period in 2019 almost near 2020, if the next kingdom on the horizon is the Antichrist‘s kingdom, and that’s what this chronology reveals, and your church or your ministry that you’re supporting is busy building the kingdom, then exactly whose kingdom are you building? You think you’re building God’s kingdom, but you’re not building God’s kingdom. You’re actually contributing to Satan’s kingdom.
So this is one of the big problems with everybody today and [with] evangelicalism using the word ‘kingdom’ over and over again; giving people the impression that we’re setting up the kingdom and establishing the kingdom. I mean, amillennialism and post-millennialism have been teaching this for centuries, this doctrine of kingdom now theology. It’s a very important thing to actually sit down and think through because it relates to what you think the church should be doing. I don’t think the church should be building any kingdom because, number 1, God doesn’t need our help. Amen? When that stone cut without human hands enters human history, Jesus is going to bring that on His own. He doesn’t need human agency to do it.
And number 2, if we don’t pay attention to the chronology, we end up building the wrong kingdom. It’s a tremendous deception.
So, just to let you know that I’m not here making things up, here’s a quote from Dave Hunt’s book, which I will recommend to you. It’s called Whatever Happened to Heaven. And he’s sort of lamenting in this book how the idea of Jesus coming to rescue us out of the earth via the rapture and take us to the Father’s house is an idea that’s falling onto hard times. Dave Hunt writes this, ”There are many factors that make up the growing apostasy and seduction of the church. One of the most alarming, least understood, and fastest spreading errors is the teaching that earth instead of heaven is the ultimate home for the church, and that her goal is to take over the world and establish the kingdom of God. Only then, it is said, can Christ return—not, however, to take us up to His Father’s house, as He promised His disciples in John 14, but to reign over the kingdom which we have established for him.” [So the idea is we’re setting up Christ’s kingdom for Him without the king being present. That’s the error of kingdom now theology]. Dave Hunt says, “…If the real Jesus Christ is going to catch His bride up from earth to meet Him in the air [which He is going to do for us one day, do you believe that? It is right out of your Bible] (1 Thess 4:17), “…then those who work to build a kingdom for a ‘Christ’ whom they will meet with their feet planted on earth have been under heavy delusion indeed! They have been working for the Antichrist!”
So I believe this: that Satan is so slippery and so sly that his agenda is to push us into working for the Antichrist while we think we’re working for Jesus Christ. And that’s the deception and error of kingdom now theology.
Now, I’m very fond of this book here by Hal Lindsay. Most people know Hal Lindsay’s book, The Late Great Planet Earth, as his most famous book. And I read The Late Great Planet Earth a number of years ago; I thought it was excellent. But his actually his very best book, even better than The Late Great Planet Earth, is this book here, The Road to Holocaust. And he, along with Dave Hunt’s book, Whatever Happened to Heaven, explain some of these concepts that I’m trying to articulate this evening.
So here’s a quote from Lindsay’s book, The Road to Holocaust, 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 may be largely wasted seeking to accomplish a task that only the LORD Himself can and will do directly.”
So we shift onto our shoulders all of these cultural, societal things. That’s why you’re hearing more and more sermons in local churches about social justice and white privilege and institutional racism and universal health care and, all of these social-type causes. And we think that God has called us to fix all those problems, when in reality, the only One that can really fix those problems is Jesus Christ. I’m not saying the church can’t make certain inroads as we preach the gospel and bring people a proper worldview. But the reality of the situation is Jesus said ‘the poor you’re always going to have with you.’ The church is not going to fix poverty. It’s not going to cure cancer. It’s not going to fix the problem in the ozone layer, assuming there even is one. It’s not going to fix climate change or global warming. People say, ‘Well, do you believe in climate change?‘ And I say, ‘Are you asking me do I believe in the weather? Yes, I believe in the weather. But we had global warming in the time of the Vikings. And that was long before I got my SUV. So you can’t blame everything on capitalism and SUVs and all of these kinds of things.’ But we start thinking about all that stuff as if we can solve it.
And what are we not doing? We’re not doing the one job God did give us—to fulfill the Great Commission. The stuff Brett Nazareth was here talking to us about Friday, Saturday and a little bit on Sunday. And so the deception of kingdom now theology is that it gets you involved in doing something God never called us to do; He never equipped us for; never empowered us to do. And as you get involved in all of that, your eyes are off of what He actually did call us to do. And every moment you spend under that deception is a moment you take what little time you have left on this earth, which is not a lot of time. Because our lives are ‘like mists that appear for a little while. Then they disappear,’ right? James 4:14, and our lives may be cut short prematurely anyway, via the rapture. I can’t, of course, promise that, but that could happen. Would anybody be in favor of that? I’d be in favor of that. I was thinking about it not long ago. I don’t have a single problem in my life that the rapture wouldn’t solve. So I’m looking forward to the rapture. The rapture could interrupt our lives, if it doesn’t, I live out my natural lifespan, which is really not a lot of time. It’s like mist that is here and then it’s gone.
And wouldn’t Satan love to get us to take that mist and waste it? And that’s what he’s trying to do with the church at large by getting us involved in kingdom now theology. So one of the big problems with kingdom now theology is it gets you involved in building the wrong kingdom.
Which leads me to number 6: kingdom now theology goes hand-in-hand with charismatic theology. And I want to be very careful here because I have very good brothers and sisters in Christ, and a lot of times they invite me to come speak in their churches. They are what I would call soft Pentecostals or soft charismatics, meaning that they believe in the perpetuity of all of the spiritual gifts, but they want to practice those gifts according to the rules that are laid out in 1 Corinthians 14. Now, even though I have a theological difference with some of those folks, it’s never an issue. So my comments are not targeted at what I would call soft charismatics. The comments are targeted at what I would call ‘charismania.’
And this is where we’re getting into Chapter 24 of my book, The Coming Kingdom, or what also is called ‘power evangelism.’ Power evangelism is the idea—John Wimber, I’ll give you some material on him in just a little bit—that, unless you see signs and wonders in a ministry, then the gospel is not really being preached. In other words, just preaching the gospel without signs and wonders is insufficient to lead people to Christ.
And they hold that belief despite the fact that Romans 10:17 says, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God;” it doesn’t say by signs and wonders. In fact, there are a lot of people that get saved just by reaching into the hotel drawer and pulling out Gideon’s Bible. And they’re directed to John 3:16, and they get saved that way. A lot of testimonies like that, there are absolutely no signs and wonders. If signs and wonders produce faith, then why didn’t the Exodus generation, who saw almost any kind of sign and wonder you could see—the 10 plagues, and Sinai, the provision in the wilderness, and water coming out from the rock. I mean, if signs and wonders produced faith, then why did the Exodus generation who saw all of that, fail in faith? Remember, they got up to Kadesh Barnea, and they saw giants in the land and fell into unbelief. Well, if they saw all of the signs and wonders, why did they fall into unbelief if signs and wonders produce faith? The reality of the situation is signs and wonders do not produce faith. God’s word proclaimed and believed is what produces faith and salvation.
I wasn’t going to go here, but just slip over, if you could, to Luke 16:19-31–well, we don’t have time to read verses 19 through 31, but we’ll just read verses 29 through 31.
Remember the man that died in unbelief—the wealthy man? And he wanted to go back and warn his family and brothers, and so forth, who were on the same course in life of unbelief that he was on, so they wouldn’t go to this place that he was in, called Hades? Remember what the rich man said to Abraham? But Abraham said, well, actually, let’s back up to verse 27. He said, that is, the rich man in Hades in torment, ”Then I beg you, father, [speaking to Abraham], that you should send him to my father’s house— [Well, not speaking to Abraham here, but wanting Lazarus, I think it is, if I remember the story right, to go back from the dead and preach to his brothers— Luke 16. Sorry, Luke 16:27]. “And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers in order that he may warn them, so that they will not come to this place of torment.‘ “But Abraham said, “They have Moses and the Prophets. [Well, now, what is that? That’s the word of God]. “But Abraham said,‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ “But he said, No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’ ”But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.” In other words, they have God’s Word. They don’t need a miracle. They don’t need a sign. They don’t need a contact from someone that’s coming back from the dead. What they need to do is to believe that Word that they have. And if they won’t believe that, it doesn’t matter how many signs and wonders you do for them. They still won’t believe.
And see, this is the error of ‘power evangelism,’ because it assumes that unless the signs and wonders are accompanying the proclamation of the gospel, the gospel is not really being preached. So when I criticize charismatic theology, that’s the version or the variety of it that I’m critiquing here.
There are, in your Bible, various spiritual gifts. There are 7 gifts that we would call the disputed gifts, [see slide on The 7 Disputed Gifts at 36:31) meaning we don’t believe, in our doctrinal statement, that those gifts are in operation right now. They were in operation at one time, but they are not in operation right now. Those gifts are: apostle… [When I was teaching at the Bible college, students used to introduce themselves as ‘I’m Apostle so-and-so.’ And I would always say, ‘Man, you look good for your age because you should be about 2000 years old by now.’ And that kind of got them thinking a little bit. So sometimes using a little humor is better than just attacking someone’s belief system right out of the gate. So we have apostle, prophet, worker of miracles, tongues, which is a terrible translation. It is actually languages. The word is ‘dialecto’ where we get the word ‘dialect‘ and ‘glossolalia’ where we get the word, ‘glossary.’ What do you find in a dialect or a glossary? A known language. So it was a capacity to speak in a language that one had never learned. So if all you spoke is Spanish, and all I spoke is English—and all of a sudden, I break out in crystal clear Spanish, having never studied it, with Spanish being a known language, you would say ‘that’s a miracle from God.’ And that was one of the miracles that God used to confirm the early church and its message, because the Jews had been under the same kind of thinking for 1500 years, and now something new is on the scene. And so there had to have been some kind of sign God gave to authenticate the change of rules that had just taken place. That’s why these foundational gifts were given.
So tongues, interpretation of tongues, healing, and the gift of knowledge where you claim you just got direct knowledge from God. Charismatics believe that all those spiritual gifts are in operation today. Every spiritual gift you see in the Bible is in full operation today. ‘Power evangelism,’ the soft, charismatic say, ‘Okay, they’re in operation today, but you need to follow the rules of 1 Corinthians 14 because Paul lays out very clear rules that have to be followed if those gifts are in operation today.’ I’m much more akin with that variety of the charismatic movement than ‘power evangelism,’ which says [that] if these gifts are not in operation today, the gospel is not being proclaimed.
Now cessationists, and I don’t even like that title either, because we’re not cessationists, because we believe some of the gifts of the Spirit are in operation today. Hopefully, you believe in the gift of teaching, or else, why come to a Bible study? As for cessationists, which is our camp, I prefer the title selective cessationists, because we don’t believe that all of them don’t exist. We believe most of them exist. But these 7 do not exist today. Selective cessationists believe that most of the gifts of the Spirit are in operation today. All but those 7. And one of the reasons that this is a big deal is because if you believe that people today are receiving direct revelations from God on equal par with what’s in this Book—because if someone receives a direct revelation from God, I should be able to take their words and be able to add Revelation 23 to my Bible, when Revelation only has 22 chapters.
The problem with the belief that there are direct visions and revelations and knowledge from God today to some people, is that it’s an attack on sola Scriptura. It’s one of the great truths that came out of the Protestant Reformation—that the Scripture alone is sufficient. The whole Protestant Reformation and all those other solas that you see on the list come out of the foundational belief of sola Scriptura. In other words, this Book itself is foundational. And what is in this Book, 2 Peter 1,3,4, 2 Timothy 3:17, is sufficient for all matters of faith and godliness.
Everything that you need to spiritually develop into the person that God wants you to be is in this Book. I don’t need to consult some private prophecy somewhere, so what you have in the charismatic movement, to my understanding of it anyway, is this sort of idea that the Scripture alone is not enough. Why would I read this 2000 year-old book? With the New Testament 2000 years old, the Old Testament 3500 years old—would I read that when I can go and get the direct word from God today, and get the updated version? So what you have in the charismatic movement, to a large extent, is an attack on sola Scriptura.
Sugarland Bible Church is a church that believes in what are called the temporary spiritual gifts. Or rather, it has a statement about the temporary spiritual gifts. So we do not hide the ball at this church. Everything we believe is out there in print. And if you agree with the position of the church, then come on and join us. But we don’t let people be here for 10 years and say, ‘Oh, surprise, we have this belief over here.’
We’re very honest in the front end, and we have what are called position statements. It’s interesting how our Constitution is set up. You don’t even have to believe the position statements to be a member. There are the statements of faith, which is a smaller list, less controversial, that you have to believe, but you don’t even have to believe the position statements to be a member. The position statements, though, communicate that when this church teaches, in any venue, pulpit, Sunday School, Youth Group, small group, whatever, that we come from the angle of these 7 position statements. So actually, there might even be more than 7 position statements. There are 7, right? Seven is a biblical number. We’ll go with that. But you’ll notice here, number 7, the title of it is Temporary Spiritual Gifts.
[See slide on SLBC Position Statement No. 7] “This church teaches that the miraculous sign gifts, including the gift of tongues, [which is] (always the ability to speak in a previously unlearned known language), along with the gifts of healing, were temporal gifts given by the Holy Spirit solely to authenticate both the Apostles and their message before the close of the canon of Scripture (1 Cor. 13:8-10). We do not believe [that] these are active as gifts today”…
Now, what gifts are we talking about? We’re talking about those 7 right there [see slide on The 7 Disputed Gifts at 44:23].
[Back to slide on SLBC Position Statement No. 7] “…However, [and I like how this is worded], we affirm that God is sovereign and may heal today...” [So just because we’re saying there’s no gift of healing doesn’t mean we think God doesn’t heal today. I mean, if I didn’t believe that God didn’t heal, why would Earl stand up and give us all these prayer requests of people in the hospital and people who are sick? We obviously believe God heals when He wants to. We don’t tell Him who to heal. We petition Him. He doesn’t obligate Himself to heal everybody. But we believe that when God heals, He does so directly, rather than indirectly, through someone who claims that they have the gift of healing.
So just because we’re cessationists in these 7 gifts doesn’t mean we think that God doesn’t heal today. We believe that the majority of what is termed miraculous within the contemporary charismatic movement… Now, here, I’m not critiquing the soft, charismatic movement that wants to follow the rules of 1 Corinthians 14; I’m critiquing here charismania where anything goes. And ‘power evangelism.’
We believe that the majority of what is termed today miraculous within the contemporary charismatic movement is something other than the biblical gifts of tongues or healing. So, your typical charismatic or pentecostal will talk in great detail about some kind of private prayer language that they believe they have or they can communicate with God. And they do that because of the poor translation, tongues, when the fact of the matter is that’s not even what the Greek word says. It’s ‘glossolalia’ and ‘dialecto’ in Greek, which always refer to a known language.
It would be like going out on the missionary field, and you speak English, and everybody else speaks Spanish, and then you break out in perfect Spanish. That’s the true gift of tongues in the Bible. It has nothing to do with babbling. It has nothing to do with some kind of private tongue between you and the Lord. So that would be an example of our last sentence there, where we believe that the majority of what is termed miraculous within the contemporary charismatic movement is something other than the biblical gifts of tongues or healing. So that’s sort of the divide. You all are familiar with this division within the Christian church. I mean, you can be a Christian for a month and see this division. You go down to an Assembly of God type of church, and these gifts are alive and well. At least they claim they are. You come to other churches like ours, Sugar Land Bible Church, and we say, ‘No, those gifts passed away. The majority of gifts are still here. But those seven passed away because they’re intimately connected with the apostolic ministry.’
So why go into this? What I want to show you is this: the more you move in the direction of kingdom now theology, [then] the more you move in the direction of the charismatic movement. In other words, now this is not an ironclad rule, because I know some soft charismatics that don’t believe we’re in the kingdom [now]. However, generally speaking, not 100% of the time, generally, this maxim is true: if you believe in the kingdom and that we’re in the kingdom now, then it’s almost impossible to be a selective cessationist. Kingdom now theology leads in the direction of the charismatic movement, ‘power evangelism,’charismania, etc.
Now, why would I say that? It’s very simple. In the kingdom, there’s going to be miracles, right? That’s one of the characteristics of the Millennial Kingdom. Isaiah 35:5-6, of the coming kingdom, says “Then the eyes of the blind will be opened. And the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, And the tongue of the mute will shout for joy. For waters will break forth in the wilderness And streams in the Arabah.” Now that’s a kingdom passage. If you believe we’re in the kingdom now, then that should be a reality in every single church. That does not take you in the direction of selective cessationism. It takes you in the direction of a belief system that believes in the full perpetuity of the spiritual gifts, including those 7 disputed gifts.
So, and this is what most people miss in this whole discussion—they argue their points from other grounds. But what they’re missing is the foundation through which charismatic theology comes to the surface, and the foundation is kingdom now theology. In my entire life as a Christian, I’ve almost had nobody, except in writing and in print in a few places, draw that connection for people. And that’s what I’m trying to do in chapter 24 of my book. I’m not trying to rehash the whole cessationist charismatic debate. What I’m simply trying to show is the relevance of kingdom now theology to that particular debate.
So, John Wimber, who is dead now, but back in his day, was the founder of what is called the Vineyard movement. There was, in Southern California, around the late 1960s, early 1970s, something called the Jesus movement, where all of these people off the beaches, hippies, were just getting saved like crazy. That was connected to a belief in charismatic theology. In other words, the the movers and shakers in that movement were what I would call charismatics or pentecostals. Now, some of that group wanted to remain or be soft pentecostals. They said, ‘We believe in all these gifts, but we want to follow the rules of 1 Corinthians 14.’ Another chunk of that group wanted to discard the rules, and Katie- bar-the-door. Actually, Katie opened the door to anything and everything that’s miraculous, and there was a split at that point in time between what I would call the ultra-charismatic movement, John Wimber, from the soft charismatics. And that’s a split that most people might know as the split between Calvary Chapel, if you’re familiar with that movement, and the Vineyard. So the Vineyard wanted to go in the direction of ‘power evangelism.’ That’s why there are Calvary Chapel churches and Vineyard churches. It had to do with this split.
So Wimber was on the cutting edge of this more radical form of the charismatic movement. And he explains here in his book, entitled Power Evangelism. Now, what is ‘power evangelism?’ ‘Power evangelism’ is the idea that unless the gospel is proclaimed with signs and wonders, then the gospel is not really being proclaimed. And I tried to show you some deficiencies in that earlier.
In his book, Power Evangelism, John Wimber explains why he moved in this direction of experientalism. And look what he says here, because Wimber will connect the dots between his belief system in the charismatic movement and kingdom now theology. He does it right there in print. He says, “I was already acquainted with George Eldon Ladd’s writings...[now you should know who this George Eldon Ladd is because George Eldon Ladd at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, a seminary that’s now gone very, very liberal, was the progenitor of the already-not-yet view of the kingdom. Does that ring a bell at all? That’s exactly what Darrell Bock is promoting at Dallas Seminary. The already-not-yet view of the kingdom. Bock makes a few cosmetic changes to Ladd’s belief system. But the best I can tell, the two systems have a lot more in common than they do apart]. So Wimber says “I was acquainted with George Eldon Ladd’s writings (he was a Fuller Theological Seminary professor), but it was not until I read his book, Jesus and the Kingdom…” [what is Ladd arguing in Jesus and the Kingdom? That Jesus set up a spiritual form of the kingdom in His first coming]…“that I realized how his work on the kingdom…” [look at this—this is right out of Wimber’s writings], “…formed a theological basis for power evangelism. As I read Dr. Ladd’s works and then read afresh the gospel accounts, I became convinced that power evangelism was for today.“
So he basically bought into, at Fuller Seminary, this idea that Jesus set up and already formed the kingdom in His first coming. And so Wimber said, ‘Gosh, if that’s true, then everything Jesus did in terms of miracles should be replicated today in the life of the church. And in fact, if your evangelism doesn’t include these miracles, it’s not real biblical evangelism.’ So do you see the nexus there? Most people don’t see this. So Wimber founded, because of this split, the Vineyard movement. And here is the Vineyard movement’s mission statement, and it’s quite fascinating to read because the Vineyard keeps talking about the kingdom present all of the time. John Wimber, in the Vineyard Mission statement, “Commitment to the theology and practice of the kingdom of God is the most fundamental core value in the Vineyard”… [and this is what we’re all about. We’re not just about miracles. We’re about the kingdom that gives you all of these miracles]…
“…When the Vineyard talks about the kingdom, we are talking about the kingdom of God as a dynamic reality that the future reign of God breaking into the present through the life and ministry of Jesus...” [Now, that’s exactly what Darrell Bock teaches at Dallas Seminary; he uses that identical language. The future has broken into the present already-not-yet view of the kingdom] …“We have been commissioned to proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God, bearing witness to the already and the not yet of the kingdom in words and deeds” ...[Boy, that sounds familiar]. “…[Wow]. We view the kingdom of God as the overarching and integrating theme of the Bible.”
Do you see how dependent the Vineyard is on an already view of the kingdom? And and this is why Wimber got the whole concept of ‘power evangelism’ from the already-not view of Fuller Seminary, of the writings of George Eldon Ladd. Now, Charles Ryrie critiques the already-not view of the kingdom on this ground. Because, you see, at Dallas Seminary, they’re teaching this already-not view of the kingdom. And yet that’s supposed to be a cessationist school. So Ryrie’s point is: how can you be a cessationist school and believe in this already form of the kingdom when the already form of the kingdom logically leads in the direction of the charismatic movement? Ryrie says, correctly, I think, “Non-charismatic, progressive dispensationalists [those are those who are largely riding on the coattails of George Eldon Ladd] have not faced the question as to why signs and wonders are not characteristic of the church, if in fact, Christ is already on David’s throne. During our Lord’s earthly life, many signs validated His claim to the promised Davidic king for Israel. Now that he is allegedly reigning as Davidic king, (according to progressives), why are there not miraculous signs happening today in the ‘already’ stage of his Davidic reign?”
One of the progenitors of the progressive dispensational movement is a man who is also passed on. His name is Robert Saucy of Talbot Theological Seminary. He actually wrote a whole book defending progressive dispensationalism. And it is very interesting that as he moved in that direction, towards the end of his life, he got more and more open to the charismatic movement. He began to call his view open but cautious. Now that was a shift because it used to be ‘those things don’t happen anymore,’ to ‘now I’m open to those things, but I’m cautious about it.’ And he moved in that direction as he began to flirt more and more with the idea that we are, in some sense, currently in the kingdom. Dan Wallace of Dallas Seminary, Greek scholar, has a whole article. You can find it on his website online where he admits his openness to the charismatic movement. The title of the article, and I have it footnoted in the book, is “The Uneasy Conscience of a Non-Charismatic Evangelical.”
What is the reality of the situation here? And I’m getting ready to wrap up, believe it or not. What is, according to this list, the very last book that Paul wrote? 2 Timothy in AD 67. Now, this is Paul, who brought people back from the dead in his ministry. There was actually a guy named Eutychus. In Acts 20 there in Troaz, Paul got a little long-winded one night as their pastor, and he talked all night long. Now today, if I go pass 12:30, it’s World War III. If Paul was your pastor, you would never get out, and Eutychus fell asleep in the windowsill. He fell off a two-story building. He hit the ground, and he died. Paul went down, laid hands on Eutychus and brought him back from the dead. So Paul is not exactly a guy that did minor miracles. He did heavy miracles to the point of bringing people back from the dead. But this is what Paul says at the end of his life, AD 67, in the very last book that he wrote, “Erastus remained at Corinth, but Trophimus I left sick at Miletus.” Why would you do that, Paul? Why would you leave Trophimus sick at Miletus when you, earlier in your ministry, brought back Eutychus from the dead? In fact, right before Paul writes 2 Timothy, he wrote around the same period of time, 1 Timothy, a latter book. And the Baptists don’t like this verse because he says, ‘Take a little bit of wine for your upset stomach’ (1 Timothy 5:23). Why would Paul tell Timothy at the end of his ministry, ‘Take a little wine for your upset stomach?‘ Why didn’t he just heal him? Why did he leave Trophimus sick at Miletus? ‘You brought back Eutychus from the dead. Just heal him!’ Well, the answer is that the sign gifts were petering out because they had served their purpose. The foundation for the church had been laid. The new movement of God and the church had taken place. It had been authenticated to everyone. So these sign gifts gradually began to be withdrawn. This becomes biblical evidence as to why we at Sugar Land Bible Church don’t walk lockstep with the charismatic movement. Remember our doctrinal statement. We’re not saying God doesn’t heal today. He heals when he wants to, but he does it directly rather than indirectly through someone like Paul, who at that particular time in history, prior to 2 Timothy 4:20, had the gift of healing. Now, here’s the quote from Chrysostom, which I don’t have time to read to you; you can read that on your own, 4th century. Here’s the quote from Augustine, 4th century. And here is the lengthy quote from Philip Schaff, who wrote the history of the Christian Church, which is probably the most authoritative academic source we have on church history. He’s not a lightweight, Philip Schaff. And all sources, all three sources, Chrysostom, an early church father, Augustine, and Schaff, in this long quote, all hold to the selective cessationist perspective. (See slides on above quotes)
So we believe, according to our own position statement number 7, that the biblical position is that of selective cessationism, and my only point tonight is simply to demonstrate that that view will never harmonize with kingdom now theology. The more the church sees itself as the kingdom of God, the more selective cessationism doesn’t make sense.
So what does kingdom now theology do? Number 5: it gets you building the wrong kingdom. And number 6, it opens the door to something that used to be shut, which is the charismatic movement. And the part of that movement that I’m bothered by is not even so much the soft side of it, but the ‘power evangelism’ side of it.
And next week, I’ll show you number 7 of something that you see every time you turn on so-called Christian television, which is the prosperity gospel. That you’re the ‘kid of a king,’ so God wants you to be rich. Have you seen guys on TV promoting that? That is directly related to kingdom now theology, and I’ll show you that next time.
And so, wow, I’m way over time, 6 minutes over. So we’ll stop at this point.