Prophecy, Human Prophets, and the end of Prophetic Revelation.

When we think about Biblical prophecy, we sometimes imagine, God telling the Old Testament prophets what is going to happen in the future, kind of like a fortune teller.  This creates problems for us later on.  When we think of prophecy in such a simplistic way we end up with false prophets starting new cults and a plethora of other problems. To understand Biblical prophecy we have to first understand some things about God.  

Understanding Biblical prophecy has to include understanding some attributes of God that you might not have considered.  Let’s start with God’s eternality.  You may have heard it mentioned before or just assumed it, but have you thought about the implications?  Since God is eternal, He will never not be.  There is not an instance where He was not.  He will be forever and He has always been.  There is no other being that is eternal like this, and that is because of the aseity of God, or His uncreated being.  Since He has always been, He has no beginning.  He is the uncaused causation of all things.  He is the original originator.  He is also omniscient, or possess the knowledge of all things.  As the Creator He knows everything about everything, and He knows what He knows perfectly and in complete truth.  God is omnipresent.  He is everywhere you can call a place and places we can’t conceive, and He is in those places in all times and He exceeds them.  God transcends our concept of space-time and dimensions.  He could be called hyper-dimensional.  He is also perfectly wise in His application of His omniscience.  We call that omnisapience.  When He applies His knowledge He does so with wisdom that is solely His.  It is beyond all creatures ability to grasp it.  When we consider these attributes apart from one another, they are interesting.  

Understanding that there are many more attributes, and they are also perfected in God, we begin to comprehend a more grand and majestic concept of God.  We can’t know God as He knows Himself, but we can know Him as He intends for us to know Him.  He gave us His word and His Holy Spirit for this end.  As fallen, sinful, finite, creatures, under the noetic effect of sin, nevertheless we can know God as He has made provision for us.  

Think about each one of those attributes for a moment, and then consider them along with His love.  He loves us perfectly, without violating any of His other attributes.  He created us in accord with His plan to show us His love, grace, mercy, longsuffering, and lovingkindness.  He created us, Himself having perfect knowledge of what that would look like.  With Heaven and Hell, sin and temptation, the fall, His incarnation, the gospel, the redeeming of His elect, their glorification, all done in accord with His perfect will, and wisdom.  

He is also communicative.  He has created us with the ability to communicate.  He has communicated some of His attributes to us in our creation.  For instance, we are made in the image of God, we are made with senses that allow us to communicate with others, and we have emotions.  Remember that our attributes are not perfect.  Simply existing as finite creatures contrasted with the infinite Creator displays the disparity of our attributes compared to His.

We know from His word that in the early times of our history, that He walked and talked with Adam in the garden.  We know that the Christophanies of the Old Testament record that the preincarnate Christ (eternal Son) appeared to people as the Angel of the Lord, or as the Word of God.  Then He used men as prophets.  Think of them more as a mouthpiece or speaker hooked to a source, rather than a person who predicts the future.  Considering that God knows everything perfectly, and that the past, present, and future are all realities that He has always known in perfect truth, and that He keeps everything working, He doesn’t reveal possible futures to His prophets, but rather tells them of the certainty of the future because it is a reality that He has already known in perfection, according to His sovereign will.  For example, think about it this way.  You have already watched a movie.  You know the entire movie.  Not only have you watched this movie, but you are also the writer, director, and producer of the movie.  Then, you tell one of the people in the theater about an upcoming scene.  You tell him to tell the rest of the audience what is coming up.  He is your prophet.  This is done with their lack of understanding of your roles in creating the movie.  Once they witness the scene your prophet told them about, they think your prophet is a mystic, or a fortune teller who can predict the future.  In their ignorance of you and your work they develope a wrong notion of who you are, and what you are about.  This is the poor concept of Biblical prophecy many people have, and it displays their ignorance of God, and His attributes.  

Realize that my analogy was very lacking, but try to understand what I am getting at.  God is not simply a being with a precognition of what the future holds.  He is the one who determined it in His perfection according to His will.  So when He says something is going to happen, it is because it is a certainty.  It has already happened in the future.  As mortal time travelers, we can only travel forward through time, at normal speed, and are subject to the created laws of the created natural world.  God transcends all.  He is not subject to time.  He created time.  He is not subject to space.  He created it as well.  He also created their relationship that Einstein referred to as, “space time.” Having perfect, complete, knowledge of the end of the world before He ever created it is one thing, but to imagine that God has that same perfect complete knowledge of every minute instance, in every individual life, and every particle floating on the wind, and their interconnected, relationships, causes and consequences from the dawn of time to the end of it, is just beyond us.  To us it looks like chaos, but it is divine order.  How can I see the effects of an individual life cut short today, 400 years from now?  I can’t.  God in His sovereignty has it all under control.  

God’s word, is what upholds all creation.  He spoke that creation into existence by His word.  He spoke to the prophets.  He calls the Bible His word.  It is His mind for us to know Him.  Jesus is called the Word made flesh.  There is an interconnected relationship between God and the certain reality of His word.  He speaks things into existence.  Just read Genesis for all of the, “He said, and there was” statements.  Consider that God in His perfect foreknowledge of our futures tells a chosen man, “Thus sayeth the Lord” and then that man relays God’s word to the people, for it to be known to them, according to His purposes.  It is amazing, and since we know God is good, we can trust in Him.  

Prophets are not the normative.  In the Bible there were big gaps in time between prophets.  There were not a bunch of true prophets operating all simultaneously.  We don’t read that.  We know there were many false prophets working simultaneously.  We also know that they would work directly against God’s true and chosen prophets.   There is even a test for prophets in Deuteronomy 13 along with a punishment for false prophets.  

Prophets weren’t prognosticating future events.  They were exceptions to the rule.  They were relaying what God had told them of the reality of things He had determined in the future.  To the people it looked like telling the future, but remember my analogy of the movie.  When they relayed the word of God it was specific and exact.  Events played out just like they were revealed.  Not like people claiming to be modern prophets, like Joseph Smith or Muhammad.  Their prophecies are riddled with inaccuracies.  Most of their prophecies failed to happen at all.  Their prophecies were used for their own licentious purposes more often than not.  We see that in so called modern day, “prophets” all the time.  We can all remember the time televangelist Oral Roberts claimed that god told him if he didn’t raise 8 million dollars He (God) was going to, “call him home.”  Then there is Beth Moore who claims that God told her to write down what He is telling her and then for her to speak it as often as she is able.  You can see that false prophets cause all kinds of trouble, from starting new religions, spreading a false gospel like the prosperity gospel, to claiming extra-biblical personal revelation, which is the bread and butter of a false prophet.

Have you ever wondered why people claiming to be prophets now don’t stand up to the record of Old testament prophets, and why they don’t have the accuracy of a person speaking the reality of the word of God?  There is a very good reason as to why they aren’t true prophets.  That reason is Jesus is the culmination of Prophecy and the Prophet above all prophets.

When He finally entered into His creation, at the advent of His incarnation, He exemplified the perfect execution of the office of Prophet.  He fulfilled it.  The Word of God, who is God, the Word that became flesh, God of all creation, came into His creation and spoke His words to His creatures.  There were people at the time who hated Him, and people who left their lives to follow Him, but they were all astonished who listened to Him.  Why is that?  The scripture says it is because He spoke as one who had authority.  Think about that.  You go to the synagogue or temple and listen to the scribes and pharisees teachings.  Almost all of them disagree with each other on various topics.  It makes you wonder who is right?  What should I believe?  Then, comes this man Jesus who speaks as if He is explaining His own words He spoke to you earlier.  He doesn’t have to consider what the scriptures could mean.  He doesn’t have to wonder at the intent of the author.  He is the author.  He knows what He was saying and what He wanted to communicate.  As the authority of His very own words, He spoke as a man speaking the words of God.  He was the culmination of all the prophets and inaugurated the end of prophecy in the sense of explaining what would happen.  

We have the completion of the progressive revelation of scripture in the form of the Bible.  The canon of scripture is closed.  All of the word of God that He intends for us to have has been given to us and compiled in one volume.  All of the papyri, scrolls, and codices, we call scripture have been gathered together in the Bible.  When a prophet speaks the word of God now, he speaks what is written in the Bible.  There is no more telling of future events, unless it is from the Bible.  There are no more new commandments, all are recorded in the Bible.  There are no new teachings.  There are no new scriptures to add.  Everything God had to say to us is in the Bible.  The office of prophet is simply the accurate and truthful preaching of the word, from the Bible.

[Hebrews 1:1 NASB]
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways,
[Hebrews 1:2 NASB]
in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.
[Hebrews 1:3 NASB]
And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
[Matthew 7:28 NASB]
When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching;
[Matthew 7:29 NASB]
for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.
[Mark 1:21 NASB]
They *went into Capernaum; and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and began to teach.
[Mark 1:22 NASB]
They were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
[Luke 4:31 NASB]
And He came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and He was teaching them on the Sabbath;
[Luke 4:32 NASB]
and they were amazed at His teaching, for His message was with authority.
[John 1:1 NASB]
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
[John 1:2 NASB]
He was in the beginning with God.
[John 1:3 NASB]
All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.
[John 1:14 NASB]
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Christians, Firearms, Self-defense, and Protection of Others.

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First off, let me say that this is not a matter that should cause us to break fellowship with one another, or to become polemic.  We reserve polemics for the enemy.  We should never turn our cannons on ourselves.  No friendly fire inside the camp.  This is a matter of adiaphora.  Personal convictions on this should be arrived at via much study and consideration of scripture.

That being said, recently Dr. John Piper wrote an article on the topic.  His view is one of personal pacifism.  He does not own a firearm and does not encourage others to own one.  He strongly believes that the Bible is clear on how a Christian should respond to evil and violence.  Here is the link to his article.  Dr. James White wrote an article that expressed an alternative and different position.  His article was not polemic, nor was he demonstrating a lack of love or grace.  You can read his article here.  There have been many knee-jerk emotional responses on both sides of the issue.  People are pulling out the, “Depart from me!  You are of a different spirit!” phrase and flinging it around.  This is an issue we can disagree on.  It is not a primary article of faith.

Personally, I’ve always thought it was more loving to defend the victims of evil against evil, even with deadly force. I recently read an article from Dr. John Piper where he explains his convictions about guns, and using them in defense. He seems to be pretty clear that he doesn’t think it is something a Christian should do. I, along with many other Christians disagree with him on this issue. However, I won’t let this become a divisive issue. It is a matter of adiaphora. I happen to agree with Dr. James White’s stance on the use of weapons, and the reasons to employ them.

If I see an elderly person being mugged, I will stop the mugging. If I see two men beheading a person in the street, I will stop them. If I see a group of men gang-raping a woman, I will stop them. If you are the victim of evil men, then you better hope that God, in His providence, directs someone like me to your aid.  We are supposed to love people, seek justice, and what is right.  I strongly believe it is more loving to defend the victims against the evil of sinful men, than it is to allow those evil men to work out their demonic desires.  If it can be stopped without employing lethal force, then I believe that is what we should do.  If a person is physically able to pull someone off of their victim and hold them for the police, then they should do so.  If they are looking at a situation that requires lethal force to stop the taking of human life, the rape of a person, be they man woman, or child, or the brutalization of a person by a group of thugs, then it is more loving and just to end the evil being wrought.  It is actually hateful to allow the evil to continue.  It demonstrates contempt for law, justice, and righteousness.

On a larger scale, like the Nazis and Jews, Dietrich Bonhoeffer came to the conclusion that he must act against the Nazis.  He could not sit by and watch the genocide of the Jewish people.  America couldn’t sit by and watch it either.  I believe it is actually a hateful thing to sit by and allow evil men to murder others.  I would not feel, or reason myself to be in the will of God, by allowing atrocities to go on around me, while I sat patiently waiting for them to be finished.  I wouldn’t act out of a sense of self-preservation, but rather out of self-sacrifice, compassion, and love for the victims.  
While Bonhoeffer drew the line at killing.  He himself would not directly kill.  I would.  I would not do it lightly.  I don’t come to this conclusion with bravado or some egocentric notion of heroism.  I don’t have a Master’s degree or a Doctorate.  I am not a seminarian.  I am a Christian.  God has given me a functioning mind that can reason and think.  He has also given us His word and His Spirit.  It is our obligation as Christians to think deeply and honestly about this topic.  We should not take it lightly, nor should we lack grace for brothers with a different strongly held conviction on this topic.

Oxford NKJV Scofield Study Bible, Reader’s Edition, Genuine leather, Black Thumb-Indexed

I received the Oxford University Press New King James Version Scofield Study Bible III in the mail gratis from Oxford, for the purpose of review.  It was shipped in a cardboard box with paper packing.  

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It arrived safe and sound, with no damage.  Inside the shipping box, was the retail box.  It is a two piece box, with a clear plastic window in it.  It is sturdy enough to retain for storing the Bible in.  

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Inside the retail box, the Bible is wrapped in plastic wrap.  This Bible is black in color, and is listed as genuine leather.  It feels like pigskin leather.  It is hard and shiny like pigskin leather.  This one had an odd impression across the front cover. It has been being used for a couple months now and the impression is still there. If I had purchased this Bible I would have sent it back for an exchange, even though it does not affect the function.

Upon opening it, I was struck with a strong odor.  It smelled strongly, and not in a pleasant way.  I have had it opened for a few days now, and the smell has dissipated quite a bit.  There is a groove around the perimeter, and on the inside there is a gilt line.

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This Bible has a decorative head and tail band.  It also has a gold/yellow colored ribbon marker.  The spine and corners of this Bible are rounded.
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The thumb indexes are pretty typical of other thumb indexes.  Some people love them, I don’t really use them.  This Bible is printed and bound in Korea.  They seem to be the new middle of the pack printers as far as quality and price go.  Most of the Korean made Bibles are a good value.  They aren’t as well made as the Jongbloed Bibles, and they aren’t near as expensive either. They far exceed the quality of the Chinese made Bibles and are generally about a third to twice the cost.  In my opinion, it is worth it to spend the extra money.  The Chinese quality is so hit or miss, it is ridiculous.

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This Bible seems to be pretty well made.  The binding is sewn and overcast stitching is employed to further strengthen the binding. This is a very desirable feature. The leather is decent grade pigskin genuine leather.

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I am pretty pleased with all of the features this Bible has for the price.  It seems to be a good value.  The presentation and family records pages are attractive compared to most.  They are printed on a textured, colored paper.  They look fancy compared to the plain paper ones, and they take ink better than the glossy paper in others.

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There are a lot of articles, cross references, chain references, maps, footnotes, and other helps dispersed throughout this Bible.  Book introductions at the beginning of each book are just enough information without being information overload.

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The Bible is a bit thicker than some study Bibles, but not near as large as others, like the ESV Study Bible.  I think they made a decent compromise between features and size.  Sometimes it seems there is never enough in a study Bible to please some customers, and if there were, it would be so large they couldn’t carry it.  A good editor is a must.

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The paper is opaque enough so that ghosting is minimal.  The 9 point font is inked uniformly and printed clearly, to contrast well with the paper.  The layout is double column, verse format, with side column references in the gutter and margin, notes are at the bottom of the page.  The text that is in red is also printed uniform, and clean.  The verse numbers are in black regardless of whether or not they precede black text or red.  The page edges are gold gilt.   There is a large, useful concordance, and 12 color maps in the end of this Bible.

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Here is what Oxford says about this Bible on their product page;

This book, which represents a quantum leap in the development of the respected Scofield® Study Bible, combines a popular modern Bible translation with the highly regarded Scofield® study system. The new edition includes a host of useful features that are sure to enhance the augmentation (not revision) of this renowned one-volume resource, thereby broadening its readership.

 

Bound in beautiful black genuine leather, this style features sewn pages, gold page edges & fillet, 1 ribbon marker, Presentation Page & Family Record, a gift box, and helpful thumb-indexing.

 

Includes a subject-based topical chain reference system for following major themes throughout the entirety of Scripture; over 100 factual articles, charts, and lists that put a wealth of fascinating information at the reader’s fingertips; expanded introductions that include detailed outlines of each book; study note biblical references in the familiar, “chapter-and-verse” format; bottom-of-the page study notes that permit quick retrieval of interesting data; a striking page design and easy-to-read typeface; in-text black and white maps that orient the reader to geographical references in the biblical text; notes crucial to understanding the Scofield® are formatted in accessible, in-text articles; sectional headings have been added for ease in following God’s guiding hand in human history; and, there are 16 pages of accurate, full-color New Oxford Bible Maps (with index of places and natural features) that illustrate the biblical world.

 

* An exclusive, subject-based topical chain reference system.

* Over 100 boxed factual articles and lists.

* Expanded introductions with detailed outlines of each book.

* An expanded Subject index.

* Study not biblical references are in “chapter-and-verse” format.

* Side-column references are grouped by chapter and verse.

* Over 550 in-text definitions of proper nouns for people and place names.

* Nearly 70 in-text black and white maps and charts.

* In-text articles of nearly 250 notes crucial to understanding the Scofield®.

* Indexes to Proper Nouns, Chain References, and Subjects.

* 16 pages of accurate, full color New Oxford Bible Maps (with index of places and natural features).

* Bottom-of-the-page study notes.

* Sectional headings.

* Select NKJV Concordance.

 

You can purchase your copy at Christianbook, Oxford University Press, or Amazon.

Don’t forget to check out all of the pictures I took of this Bible on my Flickr page.

 

ISBN-13: 9780195275360

474RRL

They Hate Christians, Why?

The hate and vitriol, I’ve witnessed from liberals, and atheists has been some of the best supporting evidence that the God they hate is truly who He says He is in His word.  They deny Him so passionately, while leaving false religions alone.  They can see hundreds, thousands, no millions of murders committed  by Muslims, Communists, abortionists, and even justify eugenics, and euthanasia with Darwinian evolution,  without batting an eye.  They will even call it, “good.”  They don’t even have the ability to judge anything good or evil without an external moral authority like, oh… I don’t know, God!  Yet, let a Christian preach Christ and they want you locked up as hate criminal.

It has always made me wonder, why it is, that so many people hate Christianity, and God. It caused me to read the Bible more. The Bible, God’s word, makes it clear why they hate us. It isn’t because we are the most charitable and giving people on the Earth, and we are. It isn’t because we preach to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, and we do. It isn’t because we disrupt society with bombings, shootings, and decapitations, because we don’t.

 

It is simply because, people hate the thought that their idea of their own personal righteousness isn’t good enough. Not only is it not good enough, it is actually offensive to God. They hate the fact that, God Himself in the second personage of the Trinity, according to His sovereign, will, foreknowledge, and love, offered Himself, as a Holy sacrifice, to justify wretched sinners to Himself. The transcendent Holiness of God is so offensive to the self-righteous that they would kill him over and over again, throughout eternity if they could. They hate what He shows them about themselves.

The fact, that all have sinned and deserve death and hell. That none are good, not one. Friends, if you hate Christ, His cross, or His people, ask yourself today, “Why do I feel so strongly about this? What is it, really about them that I hate so much?” be honest, repent, and believe in the finished work of Christ Jesus on the cross. Submit to Him and follow Him as your Lord, master, and Savior. You can be free of all of the hate that you’ve been harboring, you can have the burdensome load of bitterness, loathing, and guilt removed from you shoulders. Humbly come to Christ in repentance and faith. His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

Households & Promises A Guest Post from Dr. Dennis Dickinson

Households & Promises
There is a passage in Philippians which is important to the text of Acts 16. In the concluding statements of Philippians Paul says, “Caesar’s Household Greets You Guys.” What a statement! Caesar’s Household was his Administration. These are men of influence and power.
Now to Acts 16 where we are told that Philippi is a Roman Colony. A city of retired Roman Military. Lydia the Lydian is here doing business with her Household: which could be her family, but they aren’t actually mentioned anywhere in the text. It could be nothing more than het staff. You see in the Roman world one’s “household” included slaves, and anyone else associated with the authority of the “dominus” or Lord.
As Paul and Silas preach, they are shouted at by the young girl which the Greek text says has the spirit of a Python. This places her squarely with the Temple at Delphi. Its very possible that she is a Pythones Priestess. Paul casts out the spirit, then he and Silas are drug before the town military authorities in the market where it is stated that they are teaching things that no Roman can legally embrace and that these men were Jews. “They are Jews!” The Roman military, and the Roman world knew that the Jews had been a great bother for the order of the empire. Jerusalem was a constant Hot-Spot for the Roman Military. Now this Roman Colony of retired and patriotic retired military hears these words. Grabbed, stripped, beaten, thrown into maximum security at the prison, and placed in stocks,they were out of the way.
Paul and Silas were singing hymns to God. I wonder if they were singing about the one who has come to set the captives free when the earthquake freed everyone in the prison. All the doors were opened and all restraints fell off. The prisoners had perhaps a live demonstration of the message in music.
The military jailor runs in, pulls his military sword, and Paul yells “Stop!” As a soldier his life is forfeit if he looses a prisoner under his responsibility.
Now we get to the thick of it. Two phrases are easily misread.
“What must I do to be saved,” the jailor says. The problem here is that he does not know the full meaning of these words. How could he. Paul says “believe on the Lord Jesus (Christ) and you shall be saved AND YOUR HOUSEHOLD. Then Paul preaches the meaning of his words. He did not stop with words which may not be understood. So he preached and explained to the jailor and his household the godpel.
“and your household.” These words have been claimed for “Headship-Salvation.” i.e. the kids are saved because of the father. But the “household” is in the Roman world not just the kids but also the slaves and staff. It is also at times a business or government with its staff. Here it is not the house of his family, but seems to be his office and staff. Like “Caesar’s House” or “household” this man also brings in his prison staff to hear Paul. All of the staff could forfeit their lives for being involved in the supposed prison-break.
So here is the gospel in business with a Lydian woman, in government with magistrates and prisons, in the market with the competing Python Maiden, and among prisoners. No wonder Jesus told them not to go to Asia (Turkey, etc.) and actually blocked them. They had work to do in Philippi with “households.”
One other note. Historically a community had to have ten Jewish families to form a Synagogue. The Jewish Proselyte Lydia was meeting at the river, as was Paul and his team because this was tradition in such matters. Paul and his team simply were faithful to their task regardless of location. So must we be. He that is faithful in little is faithful in much (Luke 16:10). There is great success in little things. They define what we will do with big things.
May you lead your “household” whether at home, in business, in government, or in anything into faithfulness.

This article was published with written permission of the author, Dr. Dennis Dickinson of Whitestone Christian Fellowship and the Charnock Institute of the Bible.