The Future Kingdom in Zephaniah

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From Faith Pulpit, Summer 2013. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

The question of the literalness of the prophecies concerning Israel’s future is a major theological issue today. That issue is a key distinction between dispensational and Reformed/Covenant views of eschatology. In this article explores the prophecies related to Israel’s future in Zephaniah 3, and this careful interpretation provides a paradigm for interpreting other prophetic passages.

Zephaniah was a prophet to the southern kingdom of Judah. He ministered after the spiritually disastrous reigns of Manasseh and Amon and during the attempted revival of godly King Josiah (640–609 B.C.). Unfortunately, Josiah’s revival was not enough to stem the tide of wickedness in the kingdom, and God allowed Judah to be captured and enslaved by the Babylonians, beginning with King Nebuchadnezzar’s first attack on Jerusalem in 605 B.C. Zephaniah probably penned his prophecy in the mid-620s. He was a contemporary of Jeremiah and Habakkuk. Read more about The Future Kingdom in Zephaniah

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Book Review – China’s Reforming Churches

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Image of China's Reforming Churches
by Bruce P. Baugus
Reformation Heritage Books 2014
Paperback 320

It is no secret that Christianity in China is growing. In a country that has been historically hostile to religious diversity, Christianity has been growing and making a mark on the whole of Chinese life. One of the factors that accounts for this growth is the infusion of Protestant missionaries from various denominational affiliations. What might come as a surprise to many is the growing and well documented influence of conservative Reformed missionary influence in various ways throughout China.

Through the efforts of a number of Reformed leaders who are involved in the spread of Reformed polity and theology in China, Bruce P. Baugus, professor at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi, has edited China’s Reforming Churches: Mission, Polity, and Ministry in the Next Christendom. The contributors to this book include pastors, theologians and Chinese-Americans who believe that Reformed polity and theology possess what is necessary to sustain the future growth of the church in China. Read more about Book Review – China’s Reforming Churches

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Reformation That Brings Revival (Part 2)

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From Voice, May/June 2014. First appeared at Always Reforming. Continued from Part 1.

3. Reject everything contrary to God’s Word

2 Chronicles 17:6, 30:14, 31:1, 34:3-5

King Jehoshaphat was clear about the prohibition of idol worship. So had all the other kings before him that had allowed it. But in 2 Chronicles 17:6, it tells us that Jehoshaphat did something about it. The text says, “His heart was courageous in the ways of the Lord.” This courageous heart sought to obey the Lord in all things, including the destruction of the popular high places of worship and the Asherim.

For his part, King Hezekiah did similarly brave acts recorded in 2 Chronicles 30:14 and 31:1. And Josiah at the ripe young age of 20 likewise followed in the godly footsteps of these two kings (2 Chron. 34:3-5), making sure to defile the graves of the pagan priests. Read more about Reformation That Brings Revival (Part 2)

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Reformation That Brings Revival (Part 1)

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From Voice, May/June 2014. First appeared at Always Reforming. Used by permission.

There is no doubt that the church today needs revival. But not revival as it is sometimes defined: evangelistic tent meetings in which the Holy Spirit is scheduled to arrive on our set dates. Revivals or “awakenings” as they used to be called, mark a special time when God moves upon God’s people and there is evidence of the Spirit’s powerful work among His people and those He draws to salvation through the proclamation of the gospel message.

Today there is a lot of activity in the evangelical church—lots of money being spent, books printed, and conferences held, churches planted and sermons preached. With the technology of our day, there is more access to the Bible, sermons, and the gospel worldwide than ever before. We have in our country a majority of the world’s largest churches.

But would we say that there is revival happening in our nation or our churches? Most of us would say no, and I would heartily agree. There are victories and people are being saved but the Church today, especially in North America, is a long way from revival. Do you desire revival in our churches and our nation? I do, and I think that you do as well. Read more about Reformation That Brings Revival (Part 1)

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God and the "Gay Christian"? A Biblical Response - Chapter 5

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Read the series so far.

Before foraying into the New Testament, where he seems to think he will find justification for his views, Matthew Vines attempts to deal with “The Abominations of Leviticus.” He does not deal with the relevant texts by doing contextual exegesis or theological formulation; instead he takes a more indirect route around Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13.

Basically his approach is to relativize the Old Testament law by comparing prohibitions and punishments which God mandated for the theocracy of (OT) Israel, and then contrast them with what he believes is Christian practice. At the latter half of the chapter he runs to Philo and the works of radical liberal scholars in an attempt to prove that ancient cultures saw the passive agent in homosexual relations as being lowered to the level of the woman: of being, in other words, “feminized.” This is so he can lift the word “abomination” away from its obvious meaning of “moral repugnance.” Read more about God and the "Gay Christian"? A Biblical Response - Chapter 5

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The Hope of the Church

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(About this series)

CHAPTER VIII: THE HOPE OF THE CHURCH

BY REV. JOHN MCNICOL, B. A., B. D., PRINCIPAL OF THE TORONTO BIBLE TRAINING SCHOOL

There are many indications of a revival of interest in the study of eschatology. The latest attack upon the Christian faith is being directed against the eschatological teaching of the New Testament. The Christian Church was founded upon the promise of a speedy return of Christ to establish His Kingdom in the world, but its history has taken an entirely different course. The expectation of the early Christians was not fulfilled. The teaching of the apostles has been falsified. Such is the argument that is now being used in some quarters to discredit the founders of Christianity. This is compelling Christian scholars to give renewed attention to the teaching of the new Testament about the Lord’s second coming, and will doubtless lead to more earnest and thorough examination of the whole outlook of Christ and His apostles upon the future. Read more about The Hope of the Church

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Crisis: A Biblical and Practical Response, Part 2

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Read part 1.

6. God responds in mercy and deliverance

As we noted earlier, more than likely the crises you look at with dread and fear will soon be behind you. It is true that sometimes God does not heal. Sometimes He doesn’t take away the source of our agony. However, as a general rule, God does act in mercy. He often lessens the pain, encourages the heart, touches the body, and relieves the troubled mind. 1 Peter 5:7 reads, “casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” Here Peter reminds us to deposit those distractions into God’s hands because the God of the universe has a personal compassion for each one of us. Colossians 1 reminds us that Jesus is preeminent and that He created us and He redeemed us. Since God created us and saved us, He will also sustain us! The most direct way to deposit our cares into God’s hands is through prayer. Paul reminds us in Philippians 4:6-7,

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be known to God; and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard you hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Read more about Crisis: A Biblical and Practical Response, Part 2
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Crisis: A Biblical and Practical Response, Part 1

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Most of the time, I hate crises! A crisis is usually crushing, and physically—if not emotionally—exhausting! But the Scriptures are clear that, while I may desire to run from a crisis like a six-year-old runs from broccoli, as a servant of Christ crises in my life and ministry often cannot be avoided. The good news is that they can actually be spiritually, emotionally and even physically good for me.

In the oldest book of the Bible, Job, notes that man is born to trouble and given to adversity, pointing out that trouble is as common and dependable as sparks flying upward from a campfire (Job 5:7). Ephesians 1:11 explains that God has planned out the details of our lives and that He uses those details consistently with His providential plan in making us more like His Son. Included in His plan is … crisis!

An implication here is that, as hard as you and I might try to avoid it, these times of personal chaos and threat are simply unavoidable! So if we can’t avoid it (and surely we can’t!) it is important to consider how God would have us face it.

Especially for ministry leaders, dealing with crisis is par for the course. Often it feels like we get “the worst of times,” while our friends or neighbors get to enjoy “the best of times!” It’s important for us as ministry leaders to understand that one of the reasons we are in leadership is to help others as they go through crises. That simply cannot happen unless we know what it is to face crisis and experience God’s grace by personally coming out of the lion’s den with faith and sanity intact! Read more about Crisis: A Biblical and Practical Response, Part 1

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