Archive for December, 2015

John 10 & the Doctrines of Grace

At the end of chapter 10 in the Gospel of John, Jesus clearly sets forth the doctrines of salvation, or as some call them the Doctrines of Grace. These doctrines are true, because the Bible records that Jesus taught them. So based in the Bible, not any teachers like Calvin or Spurgeon, we are obligated to believe them. 

But you don’t believe, because you are not of my sheep, as I told you.

Here is something that Jesus did NOT say. He did not say “you are not my sheep because you don’t believe.” No, he said they did not believe because they were not his sheep. Do you see the importance of that distinction? In that one sentence Jesus lays out the foundations of total depravity and unconditional election. Can someone make themselves a sheep by believing, or are they believing because Jesus made them his sheep?

Well fine, then how do we know who the sheep are?

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give eternal life to them. John 10:26

Those who are the Elect/sheep have the ability to hear the voice of Christ. He has a close, intimate relationship with them, which causes them to follow him. In that three part process, did you notice where we come into the picture? Our first active, rather than passive, part is to follow Jesus. He also gives us eternal life as a result.

They will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of my Father’s hand. John 10:28

At this point, someone usually says that while no outside force can steal us away, we have the option of losing our own salvation. Tell me, are you “someone”? Are you so powerful that you can extricate yourself from the Father’s hand? The most powerful force in the universe is actively holding onto us. We are eternally secure because we hear His voice and persevere to the end. In fact, it is only because of Christ’s keeping power that we are able to keep following at all.

So in chapter 10 of John, we see the Doctrines of Grace laid out for us by Jesus Christ himself. I dislike the acrostic of TULIP because it is imprecise but here is how it is given to us in John 10.

Total Inability (i.e. Total Depravity) – But you don’t believe, because you are not of my sheep (vs 26)

Unconditional Election – My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give eternal life to them. (vs 27)

Particular Redemption (Limited Atonement) – I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep (vs 11)

Effectual Call (Irresistable Grace) – Again, verse 27. His sheep hear his voice and follow him. Period.

Perseverance of the Saints – They will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of my Father’s hand. (Vs 29)
 

 Jesus proclaims the Doctrines of Grace in john 10, and we should interpret the rest of Scripture on this subject in light of Jesus’ own words.

Two For the Ages

Jesus often spoke about different ages. But what stands out, at least to me, is that he only referred to two of them. He kept it simple. There was “this age”, and “the age to come.” Where that run afoul of many people’s doctrine is that they have all sorts of ages on their charts and diagrams, along with numerous theories that tie together what had seemed to be unrelated verses into a neat whole. 

The problem with that, is it ignores a simple yet foundational rule of hermeneutics: when interpreting a passage or passages, your interpret the difficult ones in light of the more straightforward ones. Start with the ones that we know, and then interpret the more complicated passages with the thought in mind that whatever you come up with as an answer cannot violate what is taught in the easy verses.

We can even put this principle to the test in interpreting biblical prophecy. We take the simple and plain teachings of Jesus in the Gospels and interpret the rest of prophecy in within that framework.

As stated above, Jesus talked about only two ages. We can jump into Daniel, Zechariah, Ezekiel and Revelation, but in the end, we had better have two ages or we missed it somewhere. We cannot come up with more than two ages and still be within the framework that Jesus set forth plainly. Yet folks end up with a Jewish Age, a Millennial Age, the age of miracles, and on and on ad nauseum. Let’s start with what Jesus did in fact say.

“Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.” Matthew 12:32

When Jesus talks about “this age”, he is obviously talking about the time right then. But notice what Jesus says about the age to come (singular). There would not be the opportunity to have sins forgiven. Let’s see where else Jesus talks about the ages.

“So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life.
Mark 10:29-30  (emphasis mine)

Note that Jesus describes the “age to come” as one where true disciples will have eternal life.

Luke 18:40 recounts this same event and says the age to come is one which will feature those with eternal life. Why? Because the age to come is the eternal state in heaven. That fact wipes out a theory that is gaining in popularity called Full Preterism. This unusual doctrine teaches that all prophecy has already been fulfilled at the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. by the Romans. That event marked, they claim, the end of the Jewish Age, and the beginning of the Gentile Age.

The problem is, that is too many ages! We end up with the Jewish Age, the Gentile or Church Age, and the eternal state in heaven. To claim this is to go against the clear teaching from Jesus that there are only two ages, not three. It is this present world, and then eternity. This is even stated in the negative by Jesus.

So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”
Matthew 13;49-50

There will be an individual judgment where some will be cast into the furnace “at the end of the age” Jesus says. That has not happened, and if it did already happen, He missed some!

No, the doctrine of Full Presterism does not stand up to Scripture without doing violence to the clear two age teaching of Jesus Christ.
The Second Coming of Christ has not already occurred, and we will spend the next and only other age in heaven or hell.

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