• New Testament,  Theology

    The Link between Eschatology and Spiritual Gifts

    Although not often thought about, there is a link between eschatology and the spiritual gifts. There are many ways to argue for the cessation of spiritual gifts (for example, the cascade argument). But in this article I simply want to look at the correlation between one’s eschatology and the belief about miraculous gifts. Simply put, what what believes about eschatology, specifically the kingdom of God, has a logical impact on their understanding of the spiritual gifts. Before talking about eschatology, we can overview the Bible and see that there are specific times in history when there are major displays of miracles. Further reflection shows that these miraculous exhibitions are linked with time periods that are related to the Kingdom of God. To show this in summary form, I have adapted a chart from Mike Vlach: Kingdom Situation Time Period Kingdom Mediator(s) Result Signs and wonders to deliver Hebrews from Egypt…

  • New Testament,  Theology

    The Mark of the Beast, 666, and Nero (Rev 13:18)

    Revelation 13:18 says that the one who “has understanding” should calculate the “number of the beast.” This number is then further identified as the “number of man,” specifically, 666. Preterists have often interpreted Revelation 13:18 as a reference to Nero, but is that what John means when he says that the mark of the beast is 666? Symbolism and the Mark of the Beast Not everyone sees 666 as a reference to Nero. Many notable scholars have read the mark of the beast symbolically. Beale, for example, argues in his commentary that the mark of the beast is 666 because six is the number of imperfection. Thus, when six is used three times in the mark of the beast, it is emphasizing the completeness of imperfection. Although this view is possible, it is unlikely. John’s command to “calculate” (ψηφισάτω) the number of the beast is a term that was used…

  • Church,  Hermeneutics,  Theology

    7 Beliefs that Don’t Define Dispensationalism

    Readers of this blog may be curious as to what makes someone a dispensationalist. Simply put, dispensationalism is a set of doctrinal beliefs that deal with hermeneutics (how to read Scripture), ecclesiology (how the church operates), and eschatology (what the end times look like). Hence, a dispensationalist holds a distinctive set of beliefs about understanding Scripture, the role and function of the church, and about the end times. I have written elsewhere about how one can define dispensationalism, but in this post I want to highlight seven fundamentally errant beliefs that are sometimes associated with dispensationalism. These are charges that are often leveled against dispensationalism in a variety of circles. I have listed them in their accusatory forms. Dispensationalism teaches multiple ways of salvation. Unfortunately, this myth is often repeated, but has no basis in reality. Some people accuse dispensationalists of believing OT saints were saved by keeping the Law…

  • Hermeneutics,  Theology

    How do You Define Dispensationalism?

    I have written previously on the beliefs that are often linked with a dispensationalism, yet should not be associated with the theological system itself. Those beliefs are not inherent to the system of dispensationalism, and therefore are not essential to a dispensationalist. Today we turn the page and look at which beliefs define dispensationalism. We can define dispensationalism as a set of doctrinal beliefs that deal with hermeneutics, ecclesiology, and eschatology. This means that within those three spheres, a dispensationalist must hold to a specific set of beliefs concerning how one understands Scripture, the role and function of the church, and the end times. Thus, what follows are the four beliefs which each dispensationalist must hold to. Dispensationalism teaches that the Old Testament must be interpreted within its own context. This is, in my opinion, the most important belief of a dispensationalist because it leads to the rest. The core…

  • Review

    Book Review: Forsaking Israel

    One of the main reasons I came to Shepherds Theological Seminary was because of Dr. Larry Pettegrew. He had an impeccable reputation as a humble scholar who loved the Lord and his family. The most recent effort which validates his well-deserved reputation is the book, Forsaking Israel: How it Happened and Why it Matters (Kress, 2020). Forsaking Israel contains years and years of research and study on behalf of Pettegrew and some other distinguished colleagues at Shepherds Theological Seminary. The book is divided into two main sections. The main thrust of the first section is church history, and a discussion of the Church Fathers and why Israel began to be neglected in early church history. This section of the book also includes one of the most detailed analyses of the history of Covenant Theology and how the theology itself contributed to a downplaying of Israel as God’s chosen people. The…

  • Theology

    The Bible Says God Will Judge Sin

    One of the fundamental, life altering questions people ask is, “Will God judge my sin?” But additionally, we should be asking whether God will judge the sins of others? Both questions have tremendous ramifications. Thankfully, the Bible speaks with tremendous clarity on whether or not God will judge sin. God will judge personal sin. The Bible is clear that individuals who practice sin will be judged. For example, after a large laundry list of sin in Romans 1:29-32, Paul clearly states that God will judge those who practice those things (Rom 2:2-3). Revelation 21:8 also gives a list of those who practice sins such as murder and idolatry—all who practice these things have a portion in the lake of fire. Likewise, Hebrews tells us God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous (Heb 13:4). To top it all off, Jesus himself says the one who rejects Him will be judged…

  • New Testament

    Preterism and This Generation in Matt 24:34

    Preterism views the label “this generation” in Matthew 24:34 as one of the most important factors in determining one’s eschatological viewpoint. Does “this generation” refer to the disciples to whom Jesus is talking, or a future generation? Matthew 24:34 and the mention of “this generation” occurs in the midst of the Olivet Discourse (Matt 24-25). The Olivet Discourse was prompted by the disciples’ question about when the destruction of Jerusalem would be, and what sign would signify Christ’s return (Matt 24:3). In answer to the disciples, Jesus gives the following signs of the impending destruction: There will be many false Christs, wars, and rumors of wars, earthquakes, and famines (vv. 4-8) There will be persecution and a mass apostasy, but the gospel will be preached to the whole world (vv. 9-14) The abomination of desolation in fulfillment of Daniel 9:27 will take place and mark the need to flee from…

  • Church,  New Testament,  Theology

    How Many Resurrections are there in Scripture?

    Easter weekend is upon us, and so we celebrate the most important part of Christianity–the fact that Jesus is alive! This is the essence of our hope as believers. Because of Christ’s resurrection we have hope of our own resurrection. I saw an online discussion recently about how many resurrections there are in Scripture, and a question was asked about when OT believers are resurrected. I think it is a worthwhile discussion to have, and I think we can accurately observe four resurrections in Scripture. (This is of course assuming that the resurrection of Lazarus in John 11 and the saints in Matthew 27 are temporary and they die again). But, if you are interested, I have tried to compile a complete list of all the resurrections in the Bible. The Foundation for ALL Resurrection: Christ In 1 Corinthians 15:20 Paul calls Christ the “first fruits” of those who have…

  • Review,  Theology

    An Important Primer on Dispensationalism

    Concerning dispensationalism, I have tried to set the record straight by blogging on Beliefs that DON’T Define Dispensationalism and beliefs which all dispensationalists hold to. In keeping with that theme, (and because I know it may be of interest to some), I want to write a brief review of a primer on dispensationalism by Dr. Mike Vlach, entitled Dispensationalism: Essential Beliefs and Common Myths. I have really enjoyed this work, and it was just updated this past March (the previous edition is dated 2008). The updated version includes some additional material, including a significant discussion on the differences between dispensationalism and covenant theology (Chapter 5). What follows is a brief review, and I hope it will be helpful. The biggest complement that I can give the book is that it is easy to read. Both times I read it (2012 and 2017) I read it through in one sitting. It…

  • New Testament

    Israel’s Future Kingdom

    Studying the end times is important to do for a variety of reasons. First, it gives you an eager expectation and longing to see God’s will accomplished. Second, it provides the stimulation to live in a difficult life now as you wait for your hope to be fulfilled in the future. Third, it gives a sense of peace to the believer, knowing that Jesus is in fact in control of all of history, and He will return. A significant subject in discussing the future is the role of Israel. What awaits them in the future? As the title indicates, I believe the Bible clearly teaches a special kingdom for Israel in the future that coincides with the promises of the Old Testament. Acts 3:19-21 speaks to this issue clearly: