Amillennialism 101

Here is a fun video explaining the common Reformed and historical view of the Eschatology (study of last things):

Amillennial Timeline from Puritan Reformed on Vimeo.

Original Post can be see here: http://headhearthand.posterous.com/amillennial-timeline-animation


The Rise of the Sojourner

The sojourner who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower. (Deuteronomy 28:43)

That is the result of not following God's ways.

Deuteronomy 28:1 "And if you faithfully obey the voice of the LORD your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth.

One might claim that this applied only to ancient Israel and that the Christian is no longer under the Law. Yet is the Christian under no obligation to live a life in obedience to God? And what of a nation that many claim as a "christian" nation, if it has left that so called identity will not wrath fall upon it? If God did not save Sodom or Gomorrah then He will not save a nation that has become corrupt either but rather let if fall to the sword. Many will raise the alarm and rise up to defend against enemies yet fail to rise up against their own iniquities. It is not those who belong to God who are judged but the hypocrites and false prophets, those that bow down before the images of this world and practice the religion of their flesh.

2Timothy 3:1-7 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying it's power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.

Consider carefully what is written in 2 Timothy because it describes very well the popular culture of the country and much of this world and it is even found among the Christians. What church still speaks out against such things? Very few. Often the refrain is that we aren't under the law but under Grace, or maybe even that scholars feel the meanings of the Bible are only about Love or philosophical positions. Do Christians even examine their own lives and the lives of their fellow Christians according to these standards? Not many churches practice any form of discipline and even ignore many sins that in the past would bring excommunication. Because of these reasons many "fall asleep" while dutifully attending worship speaking His name but being far from Him.

Deuteronomy 28:15 "But if you will not obey the voice of the LORD your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you.

There are warnings of foreign religions that are rising up, that will bring the sword of their own "law", and overtake and posses the land once filled with peace. Do we take up arms to defeat our enemy? Is it even our enemy? Yes, they are enemies of God by professing a strange and idolatrous religion, and their "faith" practiced out may bring about much suffering and death, but is this what God requires us to do, to fight and kill our enemies? God is Who drives out the invaders and oppressors. He raises up and brings low nations and rulers. No government comes to power except that the Lord allows it. It is not by the efforts of those who claim to follow God that victory occurs but by God's own providence. All this He does for His purposes. His purpose is not to build Heaven on Earth but to gather a peoples for Himself. Heavenly salvation awaits those that belong to Him at the End of Days. To that cause, to help gather, our efforts are to be directed and not to make a nation blest.

Romans 2:14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law.

Certainly there can be blessing and prosperity found where there is obedience, and many of these things come as a consequence of obeying what is right before God, even the heathen practices the Law they do not know. Where there is lawlessness there is strife and misery. With wickedness comes the fruit of sin. Because of the love God has for His creation, that which He called good when He created it, He restrains evil from destroying the world before it's time and only for the sake of His elect.

Deuteronomy 28:25
"The LORD will cause you to be defeated before your enemies. You shall go out one way against them and flee seven ways before them. And you shall be a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth.

Deuteronomy 28:33-34
A nation that you have not known shall eat up the fruit of your ground and of all your labors, and you shall be only oppressed and crushed continually, so that you are driven mad by the sights that your eyes see.

Deuteronomy 28:43
The sojourner who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower.

Deuteronomy 28:45-50
"All these curses shall come upon you and pursue you and overtake you till you are destroyed, because you did not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that he commanded you. They shall be a sign and a wonder against you and your offspring forever. Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, because of the abundance of all things, therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the LORD will send against you, in hunger and thirst, in nakedness, and lacking everything. And he will put a yoke of iron on your neck until he has destroyed you. The LORD will bring a nation against you from far away, from the end of the earth, swooping down like the eagle, a nation whose language you do not understand, a hard-faced nation who shall not respect the old or show mercy to the young.

Deuteronomy 28:58-59
"If you are not careful to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that you may fear this glorious and awesome name, the LORD your God, then the LORD will bring on you and your offspring extraordinary afflictions, afflictions severe and lasting, and sicknesses grievous and lasting.

Time and again warnings are given about what happens if God's Law is ignored. These curses shall come upon you, the Scriptures proclaim, if you do not do as commanded. These aren't curses to just proclaimed to a people that do not know God but to a people that belong to God, they are temporal curses that affect the very life they live. What is the reaction that such warnings should result in? Repentance! Yet instead warnings result in a fear of losing current ways of life, to no longer live in a peaceful existence and enjoy the fruit of the land, to no longer have the things of this world. The fear of losing the blessings received rather than fearing their own sinfulness.

Romans 9:14-17 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth."

Is it right to warn a land that they will be overtaken by a violent religion, or is it better to warn them of their sins and the consequences? It is because of their sins they may be destroyed, even as Abraham pleaded with God to spare Sodom for the sake of even 10 righteous people it was lain to waste because repentance was not found. Jonah hoped for God to destroy Nineveh for it's sins but God spared it because they repented when Jonah prophesied to them. Though Jonah tried to avoid warning them and then having seen their repentance still was angry and hoped for God to bring disaster upon the land. Yet it was not the will of man but the will of God that occurred in either instance.

Luke 9:24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.

Is it your lifestyle you are trying to save? Then you will lose it. To gain the things of this world and to have earthly treasure is to lose an inheritance in Heaven. Seek not after gold or silver but after the very Word of God. You will either proclaim the Gospel or you will proclaim a political message that fades away. The time is short.


Cantique de Noël

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviour's birth.

What is wrong with that? What possible critique could be given to that? Well, let's delve into this a bit further and see what it brings forth. Do we ever really listen to what the words of a Christmas carol say, or do we just enjoy the warm feeling it gives? I cringe at some of these carols, though at times they may have truth in them, as they are not very Biblical or accurate but fanciful compositions. Sometimes a good excuse for exclusive Psalmody... thought I don't hold to that.

How often for Christmas have we heard and perhaps sung "O Holy Night" without listening but enjoying the tune. It is a beautiful piece no doubt, but as I sung it in a church where I am not a member but was visiting there were some things that stumped me. At first I thought the theology of this church, though it claimed to be a Reformed church, had gone stunningly liberal. Now to be fair this church has some liberal leanings and is struggling with some serious issues that may lead it to leave the denomination it is in.... but I will not go further on that since it is about the song that was sung.

O Holy Night was originally written by Placide Cappeau, a wine merchant, who lived from 1808-1877 as a poem called "Minuit, chrétiens" (Midnight, Christians) at the request of a priest. In 1847 it was composed as a Christmas carol by Adolphe Adam as "Cantique de Noël" (O Holy Night). A Unitarian minister named John Sullivan Dwight adapted to music a rendition based on Cappeau's French text in 1855.

The French version if translated literally has a different reading to it then the version sung now. To read it in it's original French either Google it or go here on Wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O_Holy_Night . A comparison of the literal English translation of the original French version with how it is now sung reveals some changes and even corrections. Literal isn't necessarily very readable or singable and so poetic licence is often taken. Both versions have some problems in them.

Comparing O Holy Night and Cantique de Noël;

O Holy Night (OHN)

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
'Til He appear'd and the soul felt its worth.

Cantique de Noël (CN)

Midnight, Christians, it is the solemn hour,
When God-man descended to us
To erase the stain of original sin
And to end the wrath of His Father.

At this point the Cantique almost reads like a dirge of some sort, perhaps good with some moody somber music, while the Holy Night version is more uplifting. Problems arise with both though, in the OHN while we see the long anticipated saviour arriving we have to question what is meant by "the soul felt it's worth" Was it not John the Baptist who felt unworthy to untie the sandals of Christ? Perhaps the writer meant the hopelessness that a fallen nature inflicts on a person and there finally being a hope realised, yet it seems to deny the humility with which we approach God and perhaps the justified faith that Abraham and others walked with in looking forward to the promises. In the CN the emphasis is on original sin and the extinguishing of God's wrath, yet it distances sin from us as if we are innocent victims of it rather than willing partners in sin. Even God's wrath still exists against those who do not belong to Him and will not repent, rather it is the sacrifice that has been made that indicts them further on the hardness of their hearts.


A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.


The entire world thrills with hope
On this night that gives it a Savior.

Perhaps on this not much is to be disagreed with in either version. We may say something about what "world" is defined as, yet we can say that it does speak for Romans 8:19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.


Fall on your knees! O hear the angels' voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born;
O night divine, O night, O night Divine.


People kneel down, wait for your deliverance.
Christmas, Christmas, here is the Redeemer,
Christmas, Christmas, here is the Redeemer!

Here we see an interesting difference. The OHN seems to have what can best be called "night-olatry" where that particular night is venerated and honoured, Christ is but a side note in it, and we glorify the night He was born. In the CN for what purpose Christmas is used as a chant of sorts but the focus is upon Christ the Redeemer and our humble anticipation. The significance of such a focus on the Redeemer is not lost, because the presence of a redeemer must affirm there to be something from which we must be saved. Need we kneel down if we were saved from something outside of us or would we rather stand up and welcome deliverance? No, if we are being redeemed from out own sins then kneeling does place us at a humble footing.


Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaming,
Here come the wise men from Orient land.


May the ardent light of our Faith
Guide us all to the cradle of the infant,
As in ancient times a brilliant star
Guided the Oriental kings there.

We have to cedit the OHN for being more accurate in saying that they were wise men from an Orient land rather than referring to them as kings, the New Testament does not call them kings. What about the word "Faith"? Is this Faith given by the Holy Spirit or is Faith referring to particular theology? Each seems to be mentioning a different kind of faith, the CN makes Faith out to be something particular as a religion of sorts, while the OHN's Faith becomes a beacon that guides. A Reformed view of faith (notitia, assensus, and fiducia) might fit into these lines but doing so defines what is said in the sentences. This Faith must be Biblically rooted and not some ethereal spiritual view so common in the world. For it to fit we must believe that Christ's birth was foretold by the Prophets as being for our salvation, that He will rule over creation and finally bring a new Heavens and a new Earth about. We are not to stop at the cradle but move on to the cross and then to the tomb, ultimately leaving that behind and coming before the Throne. The image in our minds of that cradle is not enough and is not the summation of our faith.


The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friend.
He knows our need, to our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King, Before Him lowly bend!


The King of Kings was born in a humble manger;
O mighty ones of today, proud of your greatness,
It is to your pride that God preaches.
Bow your heads before the Redeemer!
Bow your heads before the Redeemer!

Here the CN takes the lead when it proclaims to us our inadequacy and need to repent, yes He was born in a humble place and maybe we can see in it Mark 10:43-45 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." With the OHN version we begin to wonder what is being said, we can apply interpretations to it that deform theology. What is meant by our needs and knowing our weaknesses? To see "needs" become our particular wants in life, and "weakness" become a rally cry for God will make you a better person would be wrong. If it be speaks of our fallen nature and our limits as humans, then we can agree, that God became man as in Philippians 2:5-8 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

So then was Christ born to be our friend in all our trials? Now by trials it means the things we endure in life, the infirmities and daily struggles with our sanctification, and not ongoing judgment and punishments. with John 9:39 Jesus said, "For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind." He was born to die for our sins and one could hardly expect and enemy or aloof person to do this for us, so in that regard we could say so, yet maybe the aspects of the Holy Spirit as the Counselor would be fit better with that. We see friend being used in James 2:23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness"--and he was called a friend of God. Here Abraham is a friend of God and we assume God is a friend of Abraham, yet making a God a "friend" is a precarious spot, for we are not to view God as a "buddy" and loose reverence of Him as God.


Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.


The Redeemer has overcome every obstacle:
The Earth is free, and Heaven is open.
He sees a brother where there was only a slave,
Love unites those that iron had chained.

There is a definite difference between the two versions and they are different gospels. The OHN has a social activism intertwined in it that is not seen in the CN version, Christ becomes a teacher of good living and the gospel is about peace. If this peace was from a forgiveness of sins that were propitiated, we might agree, but this peace is a worldly peace of getting along with others. This contrasts with what the CN version says, where the focus is on Christ's work and not ours, it is not about us but Him. What was contained in the original version has been changed and a new agenda placed in it that eventually makes Christ out of be a teacher and philosopher, someone that is more palatable to a secular world, and a distraction from God's purposes and plans.

The two lines "Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother" and "He sees a brother where there was only a slave" carry with them some implications. In the CN we may see ourselves as the slave and think of the bondage of sin we are under. In the OHN we have been separated from the slave personally and the slave becomes another person we can be joined to. The context of the lines following each of these sentences leave no doubt that the latter one referred to the general state of mankind lost in sin before God while the first involves itself in human events that are more contemporary. While it is good to desire a just society and be active in living out a life that demonstrates holiness the ultimate purpose of the Bible is not social or political change. Those sorts of things lead to Utopianism which are disguised socialism, and that sort of use of either Scripture or religion is manipulation for purposes other than furthering the real Gospel.


Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! O praise His Name forever,
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
His power and glory evermore proclaim.


Who will tell Him of our gratitude,
For all of us He is born, He suffers and dies.
People stand up! Sing of your deliverance,
Christmas, Christmas, sing of the Redeemer,
Christmas, Christmas, sing of the Redeemer!

We see God exalted and praised in both of these, not much to complain about there, although maybe there should be some concern about the word Christmas being used. One problem with the CN version is that we see Christ die... He suffers and dies.... and then what? Are we delivered because of His death? It brings to mind 1Corinthians 15:14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. Why should we sing about Him dying if not living? The Gospel is sweet because He is alive. Rom 6:5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.