Books

How the Church Relates to God’s Kingdom Program

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Below is a short excerpt concerning how the church relates to the kingdom of God from my book, He Will Reign Forever: A Biblical Theology of the Kingdom of God. Published by Lampion Press (LampionPress.com). This comes from a chapter called “How the Kingdom Relates to the Bible’s Main Characters,” pages 540-42.

The church is an important stage in the kingdom program. The kingdom itself is a broader category than the church and relates to God’s plan to exercise His sovereignty over every aspect of creation—material and immaterial; humans and angels; animals, trees, inanimate objects, etc. The kingdom encompasses other major themes of Scripture including covenants, law, salvation, people of God, etc. The church is a category within the people of God concept. The church is the New Covenant community of believing Jews and Gentiles as it exists in this age between the two comings of Jesus. The church has a worldwide mandate to spread the message of King Jesus in this age while Israel is experiencing a partial and temporary hardening because of unbelief.

The church is not the kingdom, but it relates to the kingdom program in several important ways. First, the church consists of those who have consciously trusted in Jesus the Messiah. The church experiences messianic salvation since its members are joined to the Messiah. By means of the Holy Spirit Jesus baptizes believers into His body, the church. Christ’s church, therefore, comes under the authority of Jesus.

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Review - The Church of the Fundamentalists

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Larry Oats prefaces his new book, The Church of the Fundamentalists, by noting “While much has been written on the histories of the fundamentalist and evangelical movement, the theological basis of that division has frequently been overlooked. The purpose of this book is to examine how the ecclesiologies of mid-twentieth century fundamentalists and evangelicals affected their views of ecclesiastical separation and how those views led individuals to establish, abandon, or modify their views of ecclesiastical separation.” In other words, the controversies swirling around the fundamentalist issue center on the question, “What is the church supposed to be?”

The book contains four chapters with an introduction and conclusion in its 176 pages. The first chapter surveys “Varieties of Ecclesiologies,” really a survey of the “primary historical views of the nature of the church.” (25) This background is necessary in order to understand the theology driving the fundamentalist-vs.-evangelical answers to this central question.

18948 reads

Review - Ecce Venit: Behold He Cometh

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Reprinted with permission from As I See It, which is available free by writing to the editor at dkutilek@juno.com.

Ecce Venit: Behold He Cometh by A. J. Gordon. New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1889. 311 pp., hardback.

A. J. Gordon (1836-1895), college- and seminary-trained New Hampshire native and for a quarter century pastor of Clarendon Street Baptist Church in Boston, was unusual among his peers in that he, in large part under the influence of Plymouth Brethren writers (“Darbyites”) embraced pre-millennialism and dispensationalism (post-millennialism and a-millennialism were both widely and commonly held).

He participated in the famous Niagara conferences which were mostly focused on promoting the pre-millennial coming of Christ. Gordon strongly affirms the literal, personal and physical pre-millennial coming of Christ followed by a literal 1,000 year earthly reign of the King of Kings, and points out the errors of interpretation of other views, especially post-millennialism, with its Pollyannaish hyper-optimism about the progressive conversion of the whole world to Christ, with a concurrent improvement of all earthly conditions, including man’s fallen nature.

8015 reads

Jim Elliot Was Not the First to Say It

Reprinted with permission from As I See It, which is available free by writing to the editor at dkutilek@juno.com.

“He is no fool who gives away what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.”

That quote is universally associated today with the name Jim Elliot, one of five American missionaries who were martyred in South America in the 1950s. He had indeed written them in his journal, and they convey a profound truth. But they did not originate with Elliot. Almost those precise words were spoken and written centuries earlier.

To find the original (or perhaps yet one more preacher who borrowed these words from someone else), we must go back almost 300 years, to the mid-1600s, to the life of Philip Henry (1631-1696), father of Matthew Henry (1662-1714), the famous Bible commentator. In Matthew Henry’s biographical account of his father’s life, he notes his father’s practice while pastor in Worthenbury, England (1658-1662) to set aside a tenth of his income for charitable purposes, notably the relief of the poor. Matthew then states regarding his father,

4317 reads

Review: By the Waters of Babylon

aniolScott Aniol’s new book, By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Culture, argues at length against the architects of missional evangelism—not because Aniol thinks the attractional model (of Hybels, Warren, et al.) is better, but because he doesn’t see cultural forms as neutral, suitable for any message including the gospel.

Here’s what I take to be his thesis paragraph for the book:

Although the missional church seems to correctly recognize the nature of the Christendom paradigm in western civilization and in many cases rightly discerns the integral relationship between Christianity and culture during that period, it appears to view this development in the history of the church as entirely negative, with very few positive fruits. At the very least, most missional advocates see what happened as merely neutral contextualization of the church’s worship to culture, yet their very quick dismissal of worship forms coming out of that period as simply antiquated “relics” reveals what may be a simplistic understanding of the impact of the church upon culture during that period. This perspective limits their ability to recognize the strengths of the cultural forms from that period in expressing Christian values and the vast differences that exist today with regard to culture and contextualization in worship.

15719 reads

Review: Conscience: What It Is, How to Train It, and Loving Those Who Differ (Part 2)

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Handling Disagreements

In chapter 5, Naselli and Crowley discuss “Twelve Principles about How to Disagree with Other Christians on Disputable Matters.” #1 is “Welcome those who disagree with you (Rom. 14:1-2).” Here they re-define the weak conscience:

The weak person’s conscience lacks sufficient confidence (i.e., faith) to do a particular act without self-judgment, even if that act is actually not a sin. To him it would be sin … His conscience lacked the confidence (faith) to do those things without self-condemnation.1

This definition is excellent, as is the remaining discussion, which is based on it. They go on to describe weakness and strength as a spectrum2 extending from permissive (strong) to strict (weak). This is the pattern for the rest of the book, where “weakness” is treated as strictness, not theological immaturity.

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