The Binding of Satan

The binding of Satan in Revelation 20 has always been a major issue of debate between premillennialists and amillennialists.  Premillennialists, like me, insist on the chronological nature of chapters 19-20. So the second coming of Christ in Revelation 19 precedes the 1000 years of Revelation 20.  Amillennialists, many of them following the Augustinian recapitulation view of the literary structure of the book of Revelation, argue that Revelation 20 begins over again with a discussion of the present age.  Hence, the 1000 years (as an indefinite period of time) describes the present or Church age.  This means that the binding of Satan described in Revelation 20 is happening now at the present time.

Consequently, there is a debate between premillennialists and amillennialists over the activity of Satan during the present time.  For example, in the excellent book (in my view) Competent to Counsel by Jay Adams, he honestly affirms that, because he is an amillennialist, he does not recognize demon possession when he counsels people.  Now, his views as well as others, always get qualified in later writings or expressions, but the sentiment is generally a limitation of Satan’s activity in the present age.

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Friends of Israel

Yesterday, I was approved to be on the board of the Friends of Israel outreach ministry to the Jews.  It was a delightful day of interaction.  I have published some articles in their excellent magazine Israel My Glory, but I am happy to be, in a more direct way, part of an organization that I have followed and supported for many years and which has stood by the central dispensational truths of the Word of God.  Their heart to reach Jewish people with the gospel of Christ is beyond question.  They have a great relationship with the nation of Israel.  God is doing many wonderful things.  I ask my friends to pray for me as I enter into this new and important responsibility.

Israel, the Church, and the Kingdom

I have been working through some dispensational commentaries on the book of Revelation, especially in chapters 20-22, to see how the distinction between Israel and the Church plays out in the minds of various dispensationalists.  I am looking at both recent writers as well as older ones going back to John Nelson Darby.  I need to review this issue for the sake of my paper for the upcoming Council on Dispensational Hermeneutics and for my commentary for the Evangelical Exegetical Commentary.

One issue that intrigues me is the interpretation that the New Jerusalem, the holy city, of  Revelation 21:2 is part of the millennium and not the eternal state beginning at the end of the millennium.  This is not my view, but I have heard it and read it in the literature.  Many prominent men have held to it.  Darby seems to be one of them.  In his Synopsis of the Books of the Bible 5:560, when he gets to that point in the book of Revelation, he comments, “What follows is the description of the heavenly city, as before we had that of Babylon.  Its heavenly character and millennial connection with the earth is revealed” (emphasis mine).  I hope to eventually write an article on this topic showing the history of interpretation of this passage within modern dispensationalism.  I think it is something that is needed.

Balance Between Academics (Content) and Ministry

I recently finished reading The Pastor Theologian: Resurrecting an Ancient Vision (Zondervan) by two pastors Gerald Hiestand and Todd Wilson.  It was quite interesting.  I recommend it to you for your consideration although at certain points, which I will not go into here, I have some disagreements.  But the good thing about the book is its desire to have theological thinking done by pastors in our churches.  In fact, the divide between the Academy (the Seminaries) and the Church is a concern they are trying to address.  There is a ditch on each side of the road.  I have seen men who can parse every Greek and Hebrew verb but don’t seem to have any great desire to walk across the street and tell somebody about Jesus.  On the other hand, I have had lunch with pastors who, after we have gone through the Roman’s Road, have nothing to talk about.  Academic minutiae on one side.  Shallowness on the other.  God spare us from both.  At Baptist Bible Seminary where I serve we have tried to bring balance to our training of pastors.  Even our seminary journal is named The Journal of Ministry and Theology for a reason.  We are a resource for the Church.  The book I mentioned at the start of this blog is one attempt to bring balance from one side of the ledger.

Distinction Between Israel and the Church as an Argument for the Pre-Trib Rapture

I am going to try to pick up my blogging again and perhaps speed it up, Lord willing.  I plan to do more personal things on Facebook (where my activity has picked up) but more academic/technical things on  I have been asked to speak at the Pre-Trib Study Group this coming December giving an analysis of Sam Storms’ book Kingdom Come which I blogged about a few times.  I hope to finish my string of blogs in response to Sam’s points which I had started to do.  My paper at the Pre-Trib Study Group will be an expansion of the paper I delivered at the Council on Dispensational Hermeneutics last year.  I want to be constructive in my criticism and not bombastic in my disagreements.  Please pray for me on this.

For this blog post, however, my main thought goes ahead to the upcoming Council meeting in September which I advertised in my last blog.   My presentation is entitled “What Do Israel and the Church Share from a Traditional Dispensational Viewpoint?”  I want to help traditional dispensationalists do a full-blown theology and not just hammer the distinction between Israel and the Church (which I firmly accept) as a matter of polemics in our debate with replacement theology.  In doing this, one area that gives me pause is the constant use by dispensationalists of the distinction between Israel and the Church as a theological switch that provides proof for the pre-trib rapture.  This argument would be more plausible if the distinction has been proven to be absolute on other grounds before we get to the rapture question.  To be sure, some dispensationalists in the tradition have argued for a pretty absolute distinction by keeping the Church out of the future earthly kingdom.  In addition, Lewis Sperry Chafer’s view of two distinct new covenants was at least partly caused by his desire to make the Israel-Church dichotomy more absolute.  As to the idea that the Church as a heavenly elect will have no part in the future earthly kingdom, this seems to be countered by Luke 19:11-27 and like passages.  As to the idea of two new covenants, very few dispensationalists today hold such a view.  The book I edited entitled “Dispensational Understanding of the New Covenant” shows three views defended, none of which are the two new covenants view.  No one showed up to defend this view at the Council when we discussed it.

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Council on Dispensational Hermeneutics

The eighth annual Council on Dispensational Hermeneutics has been scheduled for September 16-17, 2015 at Baptist Bible Seminary in Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania.  Our topic this year is “Dispensationalism, Israel, and the Church.”  I am doing a paper on what Israel and the Church share from a traditional dispensational point of view.  I believe that we often times spend all of our time discussing the distinctions.  This is appropriate since it marks dispensationalism as unique.  However, Israel and the Church do share some things in God’s design for those institutions.  We must not lose sight of that side of things.  I am looking forward to the interaction at our Council.  Anyone is welcome to attend as an observer.  There is no charge for the two-day Council.  For more information for registration see

On Death and Dying

There are seasons of life.  As one gets older, the opportunity for losing good friends to the vicious enemy of death increases. I have experienced the death of five friends in the last year or so:  Bill Quick, Patsy Hayes, Dick Engle, Rod Decker, Belva Donahue.  Names on a page.  Representing people that many of you reading this do not know.

Bill Quick was a friend who had a complicated past and an interesting sense of humor.  Part of our church, his testimony was that the Lord had changed him, but he, like all of us, worked through the issues of life.  He served faithfully in our church on the Praise Team and the Lord used him.

Patsy Hayes was a dear believer in my local church.  She was in the hospital for around eleven months fighting some form of skin disorder and other issues.  She eventually came out of it.  We were excited about seeing her back on her feet again.  She was a person full of energy and a heart who knew the Lord but wanted to know Him more deeply.  However, he chose to help her go deeper by calling her home.  She died of a heart attack when we thought things were going so well.

Dr. Dick Engle was for many years one of the Old Testament and Hebrew professors at Baptist Bible Seminary.  He was a man that never said a bad word about anybody in my presence.  He was a kind, gentle spirit who loved deeply.  He showed patience toward me as I tried to help him with his computer many times.  And he loved the Bible, especially the First Testament as he called it.  The Lord took him this past spring.

Dr. Rod Decker was a close, personal friend.  In fact, he preached the funeral of Dick Engle mentioned above.  Recently (a few months ago), cancer took my friend Rod before his time.  The loss stings me, although I am sure not as much as it hurts his own family.  Rod was a great scholar and taught me much.  I will always remember the conferences we attended together and the conversations as we traveled.  He will be missed much.

Belva Donahue is the one on the list that was closest to me.  My mother-in-law.  She feigned anger at my “mother-in-law” jokes from time to time, but the truth was she was the best mother-in-law the husband of a daughter could ever want.  She was kind yet feisty.  She had her opinions but did not hate.  And she shared her faith in God to the end, when she passed away this summer at the age of 89.  She will be remembered.

All of these folks had put their trust in Christ as Savior.  I will see them again when I get to heaven.  Death, that great enemy the Bible tells us, has been conquered through Christ (1 Cor. 15:54-57).  Its sting is only momentary.  Its attack futile.  The sorrow is only for a night.  Eternity awaits…in glory and grandeur.  The true believer has a special relationship to death.  Dying is not our destiny (Rev. 21:4).



A Harsh Winter in Northeast Pennsylvania

IMG_0263IMG_0259We have had a brutally cold winter this year with more than the average snowfall here in northeast Pennsylvania.  I have provided a picture looking out from my front porch out into my   front yard recently.  We are expecting another heavy snowfall in the next couple of days.    I have friends who love this kind of weather and are into cold, outdoor sports like snow skiing.  That is the way they want heaven to be.  Others want heaven to maintain the four seasons of North America.  For me, I believe there is a demon behind every snow flake.  The picture of palm trees I have provided from my recent trip to Orlando, Florida shows where my allegiance lies.  As a Southern boy, I vote for global warming every time it comes up.

Why I Never Changed My Mind About the Millennium — # 2

# 2

In two earlier posts, I gave some introductory remarks responding to Sam Storms’ blog entry entitled “Why I Changed My Mind About the Millennium” along with my initial response to his first reason why he can’t hold to the premillennial position – the idea that death in the kingdom, from Storm’s point of view, can’t be harmonized with the alleged truth that Jesus ends death at the Second Coming.  I will deal here with his second reason.  It is somewhat helpful that Sam Storms’ book Kingdom Come has recently been released.  Although a more complete analysis will come later, it will prove helpful here at filling in more detail than his outline given in the blog at the website of the Gospel Coalition.

The second reason that Storms gives is that if you are a premillennialist, “you must necessarily believe that the natural creation will continue, beyond the time of Christ’s second coming, to be subjected to the curse imposed by the Fall of man.”  He goes on to affirm that, in conjunction with this idea, “the natural creation is set free from its bondage at the parousia.”

The basic idea is that premillennialism cannot be right since it teaches that Christ’s Second Coming does not end the curse on the natural created order.  This particular argument is actually a variation of the one I responded to in my last post about the end of death since death is the primary result of the curse.

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Why I Never Changed My Mind About the Millennium — # 1

# 1

In an earlier post I started this series responding to Sam Storms’ Gospel Coalition post on why he changed his mind about the millennium (from premillennial to amillennial).  In that post, I dealt with some introductory things.  Starting with this post, I will make one post each for the six reasons he gives to allegedly prove that premillennialism is untenable.  Hopefully in a friendly way I can make some assertions that help to defend the premillennial understanding of the end times.

The first reason that Sam gives is that if you are a premillennialist, “you must necessarily believe that physical death will continue to exist beyond the time of Christ’s second coming.”  He goes on to couple that statement with the words “death is defeated and swallowed up in victory at the parousia.”  Sam’s post is just giving general statements and not the detailed arguments that will naturally be present when his book Kingdom Come is released soon.  However, I would like to take a stab at responding to the general statement here.

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