As I said, we’re not going to keep you here long tonight, but this is a good opportunity to answer some questions. And I just made the suggestion this morning that you might write them down and I kind of got inundated. And I think what we’re going to do tonight is begin with these questions that have been written down because I want to respond to them. And, you know, you sort of set the agenda. I’m much more comfortable in some ways determining what I’m going to say, but it’s kind of a special joy to be able to just respond to you.
And I’m going to go through these questions just as they’ve come. And I’ve just briefly glanced at them because I was handed them before the service began, and I think you’ll find them very interesting. And there may be some time for a few at the microphone, but we’ll have to wait and see with regard to that.
Someone handed me an article in the newspaper. There have been a couple of articles. I think there was one in the L.A. Times this morning about a supposed revival. “God Is Up to Something,” was the headline written by Larry Stammer, the Times religion reporter, and it went on to talk about all these people who are saying there’s this great revival, this movement of God that’s coming through the Vineyard and the Toronto Blessing and all of that. And, you know, millions of tens of millions - one comment was, “Tens of millions of people are being saved,” and it goes on and on with all of these really wild claims.
You need to read those things with a great amount of discernment because, as we were saying this morning, it doesn’t seem to be anything more than something that’s on the surface. But you need to be careful as you read those things not to get drawn in. There was another article in the Daily News that somebody handed me, and actually it is an ad, and it says, “Reading the Bible carefully, an exciting 12-week hands-on seminar beginning Thursday, January 11th,” and it goes on to talk about the fact that many of the problems people have in understanding the Bible, it says, “comes from not reading it carefully,” and so this man and his organization are going to help you to read the Bible carefully.
And to give as an illustration, “Did you know that even though most everyone talks of the apple that Adam was given by Eve to eat, the Bible mentions nothing about an apple at all? So you can join us as we sit down together in a class and read the Bible carefully.” Well, in the first place, who said it was an apple? I never said it was an apple and I’m not sure that any Bible teacher ever said it was an apple. And I don’t think that’s a very good way to attract a crowd because who really cares whether it was or wasn’t, and why would people want to come to discover such trivial things as that?
But anyway, it tries to pull you in. And if you read through it carefully, it says they’re going to talk about creation, the garden of Eden, Cain and Abel, Noah and the great flood, the tower of Babel, the promise made to Abram and so forth. And then there’s a little tiny note at the side that says, “The expense of these seminars is being absorbed totally by the Christadelphians.” And you need to know that because I’ve been asked this regarding this article is the Christadelphians is a cult. Their subtlety is that they say here that they are fundamentalists.
It says the sessions are sponsored by the Christadelphians of Reseda, a fundamental Christian community that wholeheartedly believes the Bible alone holds the answers and so on. But the Christadelphians are a cult. They’ve been around for a while, and they do not hold to the doctrines of Scripture, and you need to be very careful about that. But if you were to read that, if the average person was to just read that, it would sound like this is evangelical, fundamental, basic Christianity. And when they pick up the Times and read about this “God is doing something,” this is how people view Christianity.
This is - this is supposed to be it. This is supposed to be the movement of God. And I think even believers and unbelievers can really be duped if they come to those conclusions. So you need to be very discerning. It’s a real battle out there, you know, to reach people with the truth in the midst of all of this aggressive error. So we have to be discerning people, and we know that, we’re - we’re working hard to make sure we are.
Well, let me get into some of these questions. Here’s - here’s one that’s a practical question, two-part question. What is the ultimate purpose for the premarital counseling at Grace? Second, is the class meant to be purely instructional or to be a test for the man or the woman’s godliness? Is it biblical for the man to use the class as a test to see if they should be engaged?
Well, let me answer that. First of all, what is the ultimate purpose of premarital counseling? I would say it probably has two purposes. One would be to determine the spiritual maturity, spiritual life, the spiritual commitment, the spiritual condition of the individuals involved. And I think it’s very, very much on our minds that people marry in the Lord, right? That they both be Christians, that they both be giving - living godly lives because if you’re not living a godly life, you can’t know God’s will.
You don’t determine God’s will by living in sin. That is why from the time that I first began the marital counseling, premarital counseling, I said you have to ask the question of any couple that comes in - are they - are they in sin? Are they behaving toward one another immorally? Are they engaged in sexual sin of any kind? Because if they are, they’re not in any condition to discern the will of God, right? So if they say, “Yes,” then you have to ask them to live purely for a period of time so that in a condition of pure obedience to God, they - they can really discern what is right.
So it is to determine the spiritual condition of those people involved and to help them understand and anticipate what marriage is all about because I think it’s so - it’s so misunderstood in the time in which we live. There’s so much divorce, there’s so much sexual sin. We have a whole generation of young people who are coming up who really don’t understand what marriage is. They haven’t really seen it. You know, the majority of children now in our world will come - in our nation will come from divorced families - the majority of them. And they’re not going to have a model that is viable and that is godly.
So we want to help them to understand what marriage is really all about, what God expects, and - and we want to teach them how to make a marriage what the Lord would want it to be and what they would surely want it to be. And then the question is at the end: Is it biblical for the man to use the class as a test to see if they should get engaged? Sure. You may already be engaged and you may decide after the class that that’s the right thing to do. On the other hand, you may decide, you know, maybe we need to wait or maybe this isn’t really best.
We just want to help people, we don’t want to - we’re not there to tell you yes, no, it’s not like we’re some spiritual authority on that. We want to bring you to the test of Scripture, to understand what the Word of God says, and to take a look at your own life, look at this relationship and see if it really does fit what God would have. But it is definitely a period of time to ask those questions about your spiritual life, your compatibility, and whether or not this is really the will of God for your life. That’s why we do it.
It’s not just - you know, here’s how to run a budget, and, you know, here’s how to, you know, make sure your wife is happy and here’s how to make sure she gets a few words in here and there so you have sort of a copacetic relationship, that’s not what it’s about. It’s about real examination of spiritual condition because that’s the stuff that makes lasting relationships.
Now, here’s one, and it’s sort of, you know, in the general category of marriage and family and that. In Luke 2:41 to 52, Jesus, age 12, and the question is: Did Jesus at age 12 disrespectfully disobey His parents by not informing and not returning with them when it was time to leave? You remember Jesus’ family had gone down to Jerusalem for the feasts, and they obviously went with a whole entourage of people, probably friends and relatives who had come down from Nazareth. Jesus was twelve years of age. They came down for the feast and then they started back home.
And when they started back home, it became apparent to them somewhere along the road - and it must have been a large group or they would have known immediately that Jesus wasn’t there, but as this whole entourage moved back toward Nazareth, it became apparent that Jesus was not there. And so His parents had to return back to Jerusalem and they found Him. And where was He? He was in the temple.
Now, it is traditional that Jewish boys are bar mitzvahed, that means they’re made a son of the law. What that means is that they become responsible at that age for their own obedience to the law of God. It doesn’t mean they’re kicked out of the house, doesn’t mean they’re on their own. They would certainly, in most cases, continue to live with their parents. But it does mean that they take on personal responsibility for the law.
So we will not conclude that Jesus was exercising His right to live on His own or to be on His own or to conduct His life apart from His parents or to be non-submissive to them in any way. Nor should we conclude that He had sinned in doing what He did because He couldn’t sin, right?
Jesus answers the question. Some Bible commentators, this little note says, have said at this particular time that no longer was Jesus technically under parental authority. I don’t think that’s true. I think He was still under some parental authority and certainly would have exercised perfect parental respect. But the correct understanding of that whole issue comes right from the mouth of Jesus. You remember when they found Him, He was in the temple, right? What was He doing?
It’s very important to note that He was asking questions. He was not teaching. He was not usurping a role of authority in the temple with the learned men. He was simply asking questions. He had come under the law, He was now responsible to keep the law Himself. He had reached what we could call that general time of accountability where He was personally accountable to the law of God, and He was simply in the temple doing everything He could to comprehend what that responsibility really meant.
In His humanness, He was asking the questions that pertained to the matters that were at hand in His own life because that same text says that Jesus Himself grew in wisdom and stature and favor with God and man. There was development in Jesus, there was actual development, physical development, spiritual development. He didn’t go from imperfection to perfection, He didn’t go from sin to righteousness, He just had an expanding spiritual awareness. And this was part of it. At the age of twelve, He was asking the questions that pertained to His own living a righteous life.
And when His parents said, “Why have you done this?” He gave the right answer. He didn’t say, “You’re not important” but He said this: “I must be about my Father’s business.” And they had to recognize that from then on, the claim on His life had to do with that which was from God and that their authority would not be ignored by Him, but it would always be under the authority of His Father, and that’s all He was saying. I think, in a general sense, He was saying, “Look, I’ve been made a son of the law and I must understand the fullness of what this means.” There was no rebellion there. There was just a - it was just a priority, the ultimate priority.
Here’s another question: “If you have been baptized in another church, whether by immersion or sprinkling, is that acceptable for membership at Grace Church?” Well, the answer to that is yes in the broadest sense, and I’ll tell you why. Certainly, if you have been immersed anywhere since you’ve become a Christian - since you’ve become a Christian - that is what we would believe is a valid baptism. And we don’t expect people to be rebaptized in our church, as if you needed a baptism for every church you might attend. You only need one baptism in your life after you become a Christian.
But with regard to sprinkling, the question gets a little more difficult. I don’t believe the Bible teaches baptism by sprinkling. I don’t think that you can support that mode of baptism exegetically, or out of the text of Scripture, but if a person in good faith was raised in that environment or converted in an environment where sprinkling was the mode of baptism and in good faith they made their public testimony of their faith in Jesus Christ and were instructed that this is the manner in which you do that, their conscience was clear and they were obedient to that which was taught to them, we would acknowledge that.
At the same time, we would hope and trust that over a period of time, they might come to a better understanding of the mode of baptism. We wouldn’t want to eliminate their membership because of the mode, but we would want them to come to an understanding of the true biblical means of baptism and at some point ask for that immersion to be done.
Now, if a person were to come and say, “I want to be a member of Grace Church but I have never been baptized in any way,” we would ask that they be immersed prior to completing or immediately after completing that membership process. Okay?
And you say, “Well, why is baptism an issue?” It’s an issue because the Bible commands it, right? It’s a matter of obedience. And if you have any questions about that, get the tape - I did a tape a couple of years ago called, “Understanding Baptism,” which summarizes all of it, and I know you can get it in the tape room and probably in the bookstore.
Here’s another interesting question about the book of Jonah: How do modern Jews view the lesson learned by Jonah? Well, if you’re talking about modern Jews, modern, I suppose we could say, conservative Jews or reform Jews - you have to - I suppose you could put Jews in four categories. Contemporary, you could have sort of a Hasidic, which would be the radical orthodox, the sort of more normal orthodox who would both hold to a very literal interpretation of the Old Testament.
Then the conservatives who would waffle a little bit and be more liberal and not hold to a literal interpretation of the Old Testament, a more fanciful and allegorical and spiritualistic approach to it and not necessarily historical and literal at all. And then the reform Jews who would be more sort of racial Jews and holding onto their religion purely for its social forums and customs and traditions.
There are a small number of Hasidic Jews. There are quite a large number of orthodox Jews around the world and they have, of course, come to Israel and there’s a lot of them in New York and other places like that, but most modern Jews fall into the conservative and reform group, and they wouldn’t even necessarily believe there was a Jonah. They wouldn’t believe the story even happened. They would simply see it as some kind of allegory or some kind of picture about the fact that it’s necessary to have compassion on people who are going to fall under judgment.
The orthodox would see it for what it is. If you pick up an orthodox commentary on the book of Jonah, they would say Jonah was a prophet of God and that Jonah went to Nineveh and Nineveh repented, and they would say Jonah had a wrong attitude about their repentance. I mean they would have to admit that this is the way it is because they would take it literally.
The question, then, follows: Do the Jews who would see the lesson literally preach to Gentiles or feel they need to? I would answer that by saying a good loyal orthodox Jew if he really believed in the book of Jonah and in the Old Testament would have to do everything he could to reach out to Gentiles and try to convert them to Judaism. And they do that. They do that.
Is there - here’s another question: Is there any difference between the Reformers’ and the Puritans’ views on regeneration? This is kind of a simple question. Let me answer it this way. The Reformation, the Reformers, as we know, Martin Luther, Zwingli, Melanchthon, and others, basically articulated and crystallized the view of regeneration that became the Puritan view. The Puritans come at a later time, a hundred years later and more, and so the Puritans locked onto the Reformed doctrine of salvation that came out of the Reformation. So there really wouldn’t be a great distinction.
The Puritans took that basic view and elucidated it and extrapolated on it and developed it and enriched it by their voluminous writings. I mean they were unbelievable. Talk about verbose, I mean they had no terminal facilities. They didn’t know how to stop, they just kept going deeper, wider, and richer.
And, of course, we’re all immensely indebted to that because we live in a world of short answers and quick everythings. That’s why, I think, there’s such an appeal to the Puritan literature to people today because to go back and plunge that deep is so refreshing in the superficiality of our current time.
Now, here’s a statement that I’m sure comes because of my message this morning, and while I was preaching on some verses in Jeremiah, somebody was poking around in the rest, as you tend to do when I’m preaching and you glance down and find a verse I don’t comment on and wonder what it means. But in Jeremiah chapter 30, there is a verse that someone asked if I could briefly explain. I think it’s not too difficult to understand.
Jeremiah chapter 30, verse 21, the question is - the verse, I’ll read it, Jeremiah 30:21, “Their leaders shall be one of them, their rulers shall come forth from their midst and I will bring him near and he shall approach me,” and then this is the question: “For who would dare to risk his life to approach me? declares the Lord.” What does that mean? Why would God say, “Who would dare to risk his life to approach me? declares the Lord.” Well, in the context here, this is a wonderful, wonderful statement.
If you go back to verse 18 or even back further into chapter 30, the Lord talks about the future salvation. For example, look at verse 10 - well, go back to verse 8 - go back to verse 7. Verse 7, he’s talking about the time of Jacob’s trouble. What’s that? Well, that’s the time of the tribulation in the future. And he says, “But he will be saved from it, and ‘It’ll come about that on the day,’ declares the Lord of hosts, ‘I’ll break his yoke from off their neck and tear off their bonds and strangers shall no longer make them their slaves.’” In other words, Israel is going to be liberated from the terrible oppression of the tribulation. “‘And they will serve the Lord their God and David their King, that is the Messiah whom I will raise up for them.’” The middle of verse 10, “‘I will save you from afar and your offspring from the land of captivity.’”
First of all, this is the promise of the deliverance of the Babylonian captivity. And then beyond that, it’s the promise of the deliverance from the great time of persecution to come on Israel in the period of the tribulation. So God promises salvation. And that’s sort of the context of this.
Go down, then, to verse 18, you can pick it up there, “‘I will restore the fortunes of the tents of Jacob and have compassion on his dwelling places. The city shall be rebuilt on its ruin.’” That happened in the return from exile. You remember the city was rebuilt, the wall was rebuilt under Nehemiah, temple was rebuilt. “‘The palace shall stand in its rightful place and from them shall proceed thanksgiving and the voice of those who make merry.’”
So Jeremiah said after captivity, there’s going to be a return. “‘I’ll multiply them, they’ll not be diminished. I’ll honor them and they’ll not be insignificant. Their children shall be as formerly, their congregation established before me. I’ll punish all their oppressors and their leaders shall be one of them.’” In other words, instead of being led by a Babylonian, you’ll be led by a Jew, one of your own people.
“‘And I will raise your leader right up from your midst and bring him near and he’ll approach me. For who would dare to risk his life to approach me?’” Why does He say that? Because you would never approach God on your own unless you were brought or invited. “‘And you shall be my people and I will be your God.’” In other words, God is saying I will do the unthinkable. I will draw you to me. And who would ever think to do that without a proper invitation? I will do the unthinkable.
The Jewish people, by the time they had experienced all the preaching of Jeremiah, would’ve - if they had any response to it positively at all, would’ve concluded that they should fear God because God was going to come in fiery judgment. And after seventy years in captivity - and even more than that for some - would have seen God as a very stern God of judgment and would have been reluctant to draw near to Him, and yet He says here what would be something you would be reluctant to do normally, you will do because I will bring you near, I will bring him near and he shall approach me who otherwise wouldn’t even dare to do that.
That’s mercy, that’s grace, that’s forgiveness. That could be said of us as well. We wouldn’t dare to draw near to God on our own if we really understood who He was. But we draw near to Him because He draws near to us and brings us to Himself.
All right, here’s another question: What is dispensationalism? And what is your position from Scripture on the subject? Dispensationalism, and I’ll try to condense this because I don’t want to get too bogged down, dispensationalism is a system. It is a system - it is a system that got sort of out of control. I think it started out with a right understanding.
The earliest and most foundational and helpful comprehension of dispensationalism was that the Bible taught a unique place for Israel and that the church could not fulfill God’s promises to Israel. Therefore, there is still a future and a kingdom involving the salvation and the restoration and the reign of the nation Israel, historical Jews. Dispensationalism at that level, if we just take that much of it - and that’s all I want to take of it, that’s where I am on that - dispensationalism became the term for something that grew out of that and got carried away because it got more and more and more compounded.
Not only was there a distinction between the church and Israel, but there was a distinction between the new covenant for the church and the new covenant for Israel. And then there could become a distinction between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven. And there could become a distinction in the teaching of Jesus between what He said for this age and what He said for the millennial age and they started even to go beyond that. And then there were some books in the New Testament for the church and some books in the New Testament for the Jews, and it just kept going and going and going until it became this very confounded kind of system.
And you see it, for example, in a Scofield Bible and other places, you see it. If you want to see it in graphic form in a book by Clarence Larkin, all kinds of charts and all kinds of things that try to explain this very complex system. I really believe that they got carried away and started imposing on Scripture things that aren’t in Scripture. For example, traditionally, dispensationalism says the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5 to 7, has nothing to do with us, so we don’t need to worry about it.
When I went through the Sermon on the Mount, in writing my commentary as well, I pointed out how foolish that is. So let me tell you, I have been accused through the years of being a leaky dispensationalist, and I suppose I am. So let me take you down to where I believe dispensationalism - I don’t use that term because it carries too much baggage, but let me take you down to what part of dispensationalism I affirm with all my heart. It is this, that there is a real future for Israel. And that has nothing to do with some kind of extrabiblical system. That has nothing to do with some developed sort of grid placed over Scripture.
The reason that I believe you have to have a future for Israel is because that is what God promised, period. And you see it in Jeremiah. In Jeremiah chapter 30 right on to the thirty-third chapter, there is a future for Israel, there’s a new covenant. Ezekiel chapter 37, the valley of dry bones is going to come alive, right? God’s going to raise them back up. God’s going to put a heart of flesh in and take the stony heart out and give them His Spirit, and you have the promise of a kingdom to Israel, you have the promise of a king of David’s line, a Messiah, a throne in Jerusalem. You have the promise that there’s going to be a real kingdom.
So my dispensationalism, if you want to use that term, is only that which can be defended exegetically or expositionally out of the Scripture, and by a simple, clear interpretation of the Old Testament, it is obvious God promised a future kingdom to Israel. And when somebody comes along and says, “All the promises of the kingdom to Israel are fulfilled in the church,” the burden of proof is not on me, it’s on them.
And the simplest way that I would answer someone who is what is called an amillennialist or a covenant theologian - that is, believing there’s one covenant and the church is the new Israel and Israel is gone and there’s no future for Israel and amillennialism meaning there is no kingdom for Israel, there is no future millennial kingdom, my answer to them is simply this: You show me in that verse in the Old Testament which promises a kingdom to Israel where it says that it really means the church. Show me. Where does it say that?
On what exegetical basis, what historical, grammatical, literal interpretative basis of the Scripture can you tell me that when God says Israel, He means the church? Where does it say that? That’s where the burden of proof really lies. A straightforward understanding of the Old Testament leads to only one conclusion and that is there is a kingdom for Israel.
One way to understand that is to ask yourself a question. In the Old Testament - and if you wanted to get sort of a general sense of what the Old Testament is about, it’s simply about this: It reveals God and His law and it tells what’s going to happen to you if you obey it and what’s going to happen to you if you don’t. And then it gives you a whole lot of illustrations of that. Right? It reveals God and His law and it tells you what’s going to happen to you if you obey it and if you don’t, blessing and cursing.
Now, when Israel sinned, disobeyed God, what happened? Judgment, chastening, cursing, slaughter. Was it literal? Yes. Was it Israel? Yes. So if Israel received all of the promised curses literally, why would we assume that they would not receive the promised blessings literally? Because some of those are in the same passages, and how can you say in this passage, the cursing means literal Israel, but the blessings means the church? There’s no exegetical basis for that. And you’ve now arbitrarily split the verse in half. You’ve given all the curses to Israel and all the blessings to the church. On what basis, exegetically?
I remember when I was in Jerusalem one time and we were in the convention center right near the Knesset in Jerusalem, and I was there with Dr. Charles Feinberg, who was a keynote speaker and David Ben-Gurion was there, who was the premier of the land of Israel at that time, and Teddy Kollek, who was the mayor of Jerusalem. And we were sitting on the platform and an amillennialist had come to speak.
It was the Jerusalem conference on prophecy, it was a tremendous event, and there was an amillennialist who got up to speak and he made the great announcement to David Ben-Gurion and to some of the Knesset members and the mayor of Jerusalem and all these Jewish dignitaries, as well as the three thousand people that were there, that the promises to Israel in the Old Testament were going - were being fulfilled in the church.
Now, it’s one thing to say that, but you don’t need to take a trip to Jerusalem to say that, that there would be no kingdom, and he preached on Isaiah 9:6, “The government will be upon His shoulders,” 9:6 and following. And he said that means the government of your life, and he’s talking about personal conversion here and so forth. Well, I remember when that message was done, and I sat through it with Dr. Feinberg.
Dr. Feinberg was, to put it mildly, upset. And his opening line, because he gave the next address, was, “So we have come all the way to Jerusalem to tell you that you get all the curses but the Gentile church gets all the blessing.” And then he launched into a message about the promises of God.
If you take a literal approach to Scripture, you cannot conclude anything other than that God has a future for Israel. What that means is that the church is distinct from Israel, and when God is through with the church, takes the church to glory, then He brings that time of Jacob’s distress that we read about earlier, purges, redeems Israel, and the kingdom comes. I don’t want to say any more than that about dispensationalism. I don’t believe there are two different kinds of salvation. I don’t believe there are two different covenants.
I don’t believe there’s a difference between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven. I don’t believe the Sermon on the Mount is for some future age. I don’t believe you can hack up New Testament books and some for the Jews and some for the church. I think that the only thing the Bible really holds up in that kind of system is that there is a future for Israel, and that’s an exegetical issue.
Okay, it’s probably more than you probably wanted to know, but it’s very, very important because it preserves the literal interpretation of Scripture. And listen, folks, once you’re not literal, then who’s to say? Right? I mean, why not just say, “Well, Israel really means left-handed Texans.” It’s not exegetical if it’s not in the text. “It means Canadians.” How can you say if you can’t say what’s literally there?
All right, Daniel 9 is another question, and it looks like we’re just going to be able to answer these questions that are written down. Daniel 9. These are good questions, by the way. Somebody asked me on the way to church, “Are there any questions you can’t answer?” I appreciated the compliment very much, and I said, “Yes, there are two questions I can’t answer. One is questions that have no answer, they’re just beyond our ability, and other - the other is questions to which I do not know the answer. I can’t answer those, either.
And you know that if there was a paper up here that had one of those, you would never even hear me ask myself that question. And that’s why I usually like to use the microphones because I think the transparency and the vulnerability is - is maybe good.
But anyway, let’s look at Daniel 9. “Seventy weeks have been decreed to your - for your people and your holy city to finish the transgression to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up the vision and prophecy and anoint the most holy. So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks, it will be built again with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.”
Now, we could really - this could be a whole long deal, but let me just say - here’s the question: Scripture says from the decree to rebuild the temple until the Messiah shall be sixty-nine weeks - seventy weeks, actually. Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, so forth, so on, and that’s exactly right. Seventy weeks - seventy weeks. The question is: When does this start?
Well, the decree to rebuild was the decree of Artaxerxes, I think it was 440 B.C., something around there, and if you go - remember now, seventy periods of seven, seven sevens, seven of seven years, 490 years - so if you go seventy weeks, it says you go all the way - listen to this in verse 24 - you go all the way to finish the transgression. In other words, the end of sin, you make an end of sin, you make atonement for iniquity, you bring in everlasting righteousness, seal up the vision of prophecy, anoint the most holy. What does that signify? The kingdom. That’s all the way to the kingdom. It’s going to be seventy sevens.
So you are to know and discern, verse 25, that from the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild until the Messiah, there’ll be seven weeks and sixty-two, just splits it up, seven and sixty-two make sixty-nine. Then after the seven and after the sixty-two, after the sixty-nine, verse 26, the Messiah will be cut off. What does that? That’s the crucifixion - that’s the crucifixion. So from the decree of Artaxerxes around 440, sixty-nine sevens, you multiply seven times sixty-nine, and you have to change some days because the Jewish calendar had 360 days instead of 365 days, and you add all of that up.
You know, it’s a fascinating thing to realize, if you start at the decree of Artaxerxes and go exactly sixty-nine times seven years, of 360 days, the sixty-ninth week ends when Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem, the passion week, and was executed. There are two chronologies that follow that. One was developed by Sir Robert Anderson many years ago, and the more late one has been developed at Dallas Seminary by Harold Hoehner in his book, Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ. But in both cases, the chronology brings you right down to the crucifixion of Christ.
Now, that covers the sixty-nine weeks, you’ve still got one week left - one week left. And at the end of that seventieth week, sin is done with, atonement is made, the vision’s complete, the prophecies are complete, everlasting righteousness comes in, and the holy place again is anointed. What is that describing? The kingdom. So you’ve got seventy weeks, sixty-nine go to the crucifixion and a seventieth week goes to the kingdom. Has the seventieth week occurred yet? No. Seventieth period of seven years is the time of the tribulation in the future.
We are living between the sixty-ninth and seventieth week in this church age, and that’s what it is saying here. After the sixty-nine, the Messiah was cut off. Now, in the seventieth week - very important - the prince who is to come, verse 26, who’s the antichrist, verse 27, will make a firm covenant with many for one week. What happens in the time of the tribulation? The antichrist comes up and with whom does he make a covenant? The Jews, he becomes their protector, and that’s the holocaust of the tribulation.
But at the end of that seventieth week, everything is wrapped up, Christ comes and sets up His kingdom. So this church age is the age in between. Its end is signaled by the rapture of the church, and we don’t know when the Lord is going to come for His church, it could be at any time. After He comes, the period of the tribulation begins just prior to the kingdom, and once the seventieth week is complete, the kingdom comes.
Well, let me see. Here’s a good practical question, we can kind of close on this one. The disobedience of society toward the laws of society - traffic laws, illegal immigration, littering, graffiti, abortion, rape, murder, you know all the list - it’s upsetting to Christians, upsetting in various degrees. What should our attitude and response be toward unbelievers committing these sins? This goes back to where we started tonight a little earlier. I don’t like that. I don’t like - I don’t like the trashing of our world, do you?
I don’t like the trashing of our culture. I don’t like the devastation of our children. I don’t like murder and rape and abortion and drugs and homosexuality and feminism, and I don’t like political correctness, and I don’t like multi-culturalism that wants to wipe out all vestiges of Christianity, literally wants to wipe out western culture totally and replace it with Eastern mysticism. I don’t like all of that. I don’t like the corruption of politics. I don’t like all of this stuff.
And it does come down to littering and graffiti and the invasion of things that upset us and make us live in fear and drive-by shootings and who knows what? We don’t like any of that, nobody likes that. And we have every reason not to like that. We should have a holy aversion to iniquity, God does, doesn’t He? But the same God who hates the sinner weeps and He Himself is a mixture of grace and justice, of compassion and vengeance.
Should we all become Rush Limbaugh fans? Should we all take on the Republican socio-economic agenda? Should we all become to one degree or another racist and want to take back our society and our culture from - from the complexities that it now experiences? Should we - should we maybe even become revolutionaries? Are we justified in - in a real revolution that the liberation theology people would espouse, a literal machine-gun takeover? What should be our attitude?
I think the best answer to that question and the most concise is found in the second chapter of Titus - the third chapter, actually, of Titus. And the first few verses of this chapter, just a very, very, very potent section. In fact, whoever asked that question might want to get the tapes on this section because it’s so important.
Now, let me give you the background to Titus. Titus is an evangelistic epistle. It teaches about evangelism. And it starts with God. In verse 3 of chapter 1, “God our Savior.” In verse 4, “Christ Jesus our Savior.” In chapter 2, verse 10, “God our Savior.” In chapter 2, verse 13, “Our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.” In chapter 3, verse 4, “God our Savior.” In chapter 3, verse 6, “Jesus Christ our Savior.” Get the idea that this is about a God who saves, right? Whenever God is identified here, whenever Christ is identified, with the exception of the opening verse, they are identified as Savior.
God has a saving purpose. And Paul is writing to Titus to tell Titus how to make the church effective in the saving purpose of God. If you’re going to have an evangelistic outreach, here’s what you have to do. First of all, chapter 1, you have to have pure leadership. You’ve got to get rid of false teachers and you’ve got to get godly leaders. That’s where effective evangelism starts. Chapter 2, you’ve got to teach sound doctrine, and you’ve got to have a godly congregation. He talks about how the older men are to behave, older women, younger women, younger men, employers, employees, all that.
In other words, he’s teaching how to have an evangelistic outreach. Then he comes down to chapter 3. First is take care of your leadership, chapter 1. Chapter 2 is make sure the church is pure. Chapter 3 talks not about your relationship to the church but your relationship to the unregenerate world. And it says this, “Remind them to be subject to rulers, authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed. The first thing we are to do, no matter how debauched or how pagan our culture is or is becoming, is to be subject to the rulers, obey the laws, submit to the authorities, be obedient and be eager for every good thing we can do.
Verse 2, he says don’t speak evil of anybody, don’t malign anybody, don’t be contentious, but be gentle, show every consideration for every person. We don’t have to accept the sin, we can hate the sin. We can have a holy wrath against those who perpetrate that iniquity, justifiably so. But we do not malign, we do not rebel. We are meek, we show every consideration. We do to them every good deed. We submit to every law, even those we don’t think are fair. Why? Verse 3, “Because have you forgotten we also once were foolish?”
What does that tell you? That tells you that there are going to be authorities and kings and rulers and governments and people that are foolish. And foolish people will do foolish things, will they not? They’ll make foolish laws. They’ll give foolish leadership. They’ll render foolish verdicts. They’ll behave foolishly. They’ll teach foolishly. They’ll lead foolishly because they’re foolish. But remember, we also were foolish ourselves once. They will also be disobedient to God. They will be deceived. They will be enslaved to various lusts and pleasures. They will spend their life in kakia, in evil and envy and hate.
Do we see that today? Yes, they’ll do that. And we once were that way, and if it weren’t for the grace of God, we’d still be that way. That’s the right attitude. Remember that only by the grace of God are you not a part of it. And remember this, verse 4, it was the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind that appeared and He saved us. I love those three little words right there. You ought to circle them. “He saved us.” He reached down and saved us, and the only reason we’re not a part of the problem is because He saved us. We didn’t save ourselves.
He says, “Not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness but according to His mercy by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.” Down at the end of verse 8, he says, “You better engage in doing good because this is profitable and this is right if you’re going to reach the lost.”
So it’s a tough balance. We can resent the sin, we can even have a holy wrath toward the sinner, but at the same time, we have to remember that if it weren’t for the grace of God, we would be right there with them. Right? It’s only because He saved us, and we must remember that and treat them with compassion. As we were saying with Jeremiah, Jeremiah hated the sins of his people. He had a holy aversion toward the people who were perpetrating iniquity, but it broke his heart, and it was that mingling of compassion that put the zeal in his ministry.
How upset should Christians be about unbiblical government? I think we need to be upset about those things that are biblical issues. How upset should we be about economic policies? Don’t be upset at all about them. That isn’t - those kind of things, political issues, economic issues, you may have a preference here and a preference there. What you have to get upset about is that which is a biblical issue, an issue of righteousness, an issue of sin. And we have to remember that we can’t expect much out of the wicked.
And let me give you - I hate to tell you this, folks, but as the society gets worse, it’ll get more inequitable. It’ll get less and less just, less and less fair, and more and more disturbing. And I hate to say that apart from some divine intervention, we may not have seen what we will see. In fact, we may not even be able to imagine what it might be like.
Okay, good, good questions. And it calls upon us to live godly lives in this world.
Well, one other question, just quick. I didn’t - I forgot this was here. This is a question that has a broader implication. In John 13:38, Jesus tells Peter, “A cock will crow when he denies Him.” The same is said in Luke 22:34 and Matthew 26:34, but in Mark 14:30, Jesus said, “Before a cock crows twice.” Why does it say twice in one gospel and in the others it only says “before the cock crows”?
It’s a simple question. Jesus said the cock will crow, He didn’t say how many times it will crow. At least it wasn’t recorded that He said how many times it will crow in the other gospels, but Mark said that He said it would crow twice. The point is this: When you’re studying the gospels, when you see a discrepancy like that, which appears to be a discrepancy, the simplest way to treat it is the actual incident is the sum of the parts.
For example, I’ll give you another illustration. When you have the account of the crucifixion of Christ, the different New Testament writers, the synoptic writers, say something was written, you remember, on the sign above Jesus. One says one thing, one says another, one says another. And what is the truth of it? Each had a purpose in identifying something there, but what was there was the sum of everything. It’s not a contradiction, it’s simply that you put the - you put the whole together. Jesus did say, “Before the cock crows twice,” it was Mark who recorded that He said “twice,” the rest simply abbreviated the statement and said that He said, “Before the cock crows.”
So you want to do - when you study the Bible - and this is an old thing, you know, people always debating about the synoptic problem, meaning the synopsis of Christ’s life - Matthew, Mark, and Luke - why are there contradictions? But if you study them, there aren’t contradictions there. There are different perspectives as eyewitness looks - eyewitnesses look at that, different emphases because of the purposes of the writer. But you always combine things, you don’t eliminate anything, and you’ll have the sum of the parts.
That’s why if you don’t have something in your library, as a Christian, you ought to go in the bookstore and get one, and that is A Harmony of The Gospels. What it does is it lists in columns the gospels and harmonizes all the accounts in all the gospels so that you can put them all together - very helpful tool. In fact, our own Dr. Thomas, teaching in our seminary, did a masterful job of doing a harmony of the gospels for the New American Standard, which is a real treasure for one who wants to harmonize the teaching of the Scripture.
Well, let’s stand. You’ve been great tonight, what a great time.
Father, thank you for this wonderful evening of looking into your Word and searching it out. I’m so grateful that the hearts of these people are turned toward your truth so that they really do want to know the truth, not whether what Eve ate was an apple or something else, not something so insignificant as that but the real things that matter. Father, thank you for this time and we can only commit the truth to you and to your Spirit to find a place in our heart and in our lives. May we hear it, understand it, and live it for your glory. In Christ’s name, Amen.
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