Sermon Thoughts: Pastor Edwin’s Kingdom Come Series/ My own Eschatological Bents

Pastor Edwin Rideout of the Family Christian Center is three sermons into a sermon series that’ effectively dealing with the issue of the events of the end times, specifically those revolving around the kingdom of Christ coming. Throughout the sermon series he seeks to convey certain things, all through an understanding of what the eternal kingdom is, and the mechanisms of the final system that in its evil and rebellion will come against the kingdom, resulting in the events of the end time.

A bit more specifically, he delves into issues such as what the final system is, talking about the second coming, the antichrist, the tribulation. He spends a fair amount of time making the case that the system that will be used by God is the false, demonic religion known as Islam. That through the rise, spread, and propagation of Islam- and because of the enmity between Jacob and Esau that was foreshadowed in the scriptures, that the Muslims will play an integral role in the end times. We are told that the Koran is a demonic book, that Islam teaches evil and has evil intentions, and that  more than likely, with the build up of the Muslim population in Russia, that Russia will arm the Middle East and the Muslim nations with weapons, who will then attack Israel in the battle of Armageddon. The Muslim and Islamic system is what Satan will use to destroy Israel, and one might say that the Lord is using Russia and the Muslim Middle-East nations as instruments of God’s judgment and wrath- against themselves.

REFLECTIONS

While I am anxious to hear more of the matter, to see how this sermon series culminates, I don’t have much of a review to do perse, but I did want to share some thoughts, for a reason. Primarily to offer this as an example of an area where we can utterly and completely disagree, and it doesn’t mean it has to blow into some big thing. Because here’s the deal- I don’t have the same eschatological views as he does. I don’t care at all about end-time issues, partly because I don’t see what sort of benefit, relevance or impact having anything other than a broad understanding  of it could possibly have on my life. Eschatology for me is a long, winding and confusing road, and I think this is probably one of those rare times when almost any interpretation could very well be valid.

If I had to classify myself, I would say that I am more than likely some form of quasi-partial preterist/ historicist, who believes that most of the book of revelation was fulfilled prior to 70AD. I don’t believe in a rapture [and in fact, would suggest that if we examine the biblical record, that as far as scenarios are reflected, that you WANT to be left behind. That is to say, throughout the context of the scriptures Jesus uses judgment language reminiscent of the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem and the subsequent exile of its inhabitants. Those who were taken away were the ones judged by God whereas those left behind were the remnant who received grace.]

That’s what I essentially believe, but I wouldn’t start a new church over it. Furthermore, unless it bled into the rest of their theology in some really destructive and sinister ways, I fully believe this is a tertiary issue that would not affect how I view a Church. I’m not going to write a post critiquing his use of scripture interpretation regarding this sort of thing. That is, in my mind, very unfruitful. I have my opinions, but I could very well be wrong. I hold eschatological ideas very loosely. Part of that comes from surveying the history of the world since the ascendancy of Christ. People say that we are in the end times, and I do believe that in a general sense- that Christ will return one day for his bride. Absolutely. But there is nothing about this time that stands apart or is unique from any other time in history. We are not more evil or more depraved. The world is not worse now that it has been at different epochs throughout history. Immorality is not more widespread that it has been in the past. Nothing about this time in 2011 would leave me to believe that we are anything special.

We don’t know what would be the geo-political situation if Christ should tarry for a few thousand years. Perhaps we’ll have had several world wars by then which will have essentially ravaged and scorched the earth. Perhaps North America will have become the new mecca and the new Muslim power. Perhaps we will be living on Mars and the population of the world will have been decimated to a few thousand people living in underground colonies.  Perhaps Islam will have died out- gone the way of the ancient Greek gods and mythos, and a new world religion will reign that Islam will pale in comparison to.

Who knows. I don’t think I or anyone knows, nor do I think Pastor Edwin knows. For that reason I would caution him to frame his thoughts in terms of educated or probable guesses, possible interpretations instead of assured fact. But even if he wants to roll that way- that’s his prerogative. This is not something worth dividing about. This is not something worth parsing on my end. For that reason, in that context and approaching them with that mindset, I find these sermons to be informative, educational, and edifying. I certainly share his concerns over the Muslim faith and its increasing rise to prominence. I too consider the Koran to be a demonically inspired and don’t believe Allah to be Jehovah in any way shape or form. I pray for people trapped in Islam, that they might repent of their false religion and be forgiven of their sins so that they might have eternal life. I also find this to be an imminently courageous sermon to preach, and look forward to hearing the rest.

Great Quote: Why We Love the Church; by Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck

Why we love the church is an excellent, excellent book. In one of the most powerful paragraphs in the book, DeYoung and Kluck point out how most of the criticisms addressed to the church are self-contradictory:

“The church-is-lame crowd hates Constantine and notions of Christendom, but they want the church to be a patron of the arts, and run after-school programs, and bring the world together in peace and love. They bemoan the over-programmed church, but then think of a hundred complex, resource-hungry things the church should be doing. They don’t like the church because it is too hierarchical, but then hate it when it has poor leadership. They wish the church could be more diverse, but then leave to meet in a coffee shop with other well-educated thirtysomethings who are into film festivals, NPR, and carbon offsets. They want more of a family spirit, but too much family and they’ll complain that the church is “inbred.” They want the church to know that its reputation with outsiders is terrible, but then are critical when the church is too concerned with appearances. They chide the church for not doing more to address social problems, but then complain when the church gets too political. They want church unity and decry all our denominations, but fail to see the irony in the fact that they have left to do their own thing because they can’t find a single church that can satisfy them. They are critical of the lack of community in the church, but then want services that allow for individualized worship experiences. They want leaders with vision, but don’t want anyone to tell them what to do or how to think. They want a church where the people really know each other and care for each other, but then they complain the church today is an isolated country club, only interested in catering to its own members. They want to be connected with history, but are sick of the same prayers and same style every week. They call for not judging “the spiritual path of other believers who are dedicated to pleasing God and blessing people,” and then they blast the traditional church in the harshest, most unflattering terms.”

Ask me anything: Answers I

 

1. You seem to have a lot of problems with different Churches that you review. Why do you always nitpick? Do you review your own Church? What do they think about your criticisms?

I don’t have a lot of problems with churches that I review. In fact, I love the church and would suggest that most of the churches in town are doing a wonderful job. For this reason, I would endorse almost all of them. As far as nitpicking, I’m honest when I think I’m reaching that point, and will admit in my posts “this next point is a nitpick” That said, critiquing the misuse of scripture in sermons is not nitpicking. I think handling and rightly dividing the word of God is of supreme importance, and having the expectation that pastors be precise in their use of scriptures is not asking too much. There are some people who are unsettled with the “bereanification” of their sermons, and I can’t help that much. All I can is that it is without malice, and I wish for warm relationships with everyone, despite our differences. As for the last two parts, I do not attend a church regularly, though there is one that I try to attend when I can. I do review the sermons of the Church I attend infrequently, and I am unsure how they feel about the matter, though. I suppose if I were a member it would be a different matter, and they would rightfully have stronger opinions.

2. I love your review’s!!!! I think you should (amp) it up when it comes to the false doctrine that is being spilled out in Fort Mac institutional church program system….. My only beef is you are a little to “REFORMED” in your Theological approach to the scriptures for my taste…But other than that I love your site and your humor…. You need to start a small group bro, in Fort Mac and keep it (MID-RASH) style.. Anyway keep up the good work hommie…

Thanks, Mike! I think I’m pretty good about writing against false doctrine preached from Churches when I see it. You can read my reviews of the TOP Church, for example, to see that I don’t pull punches. As for other stuff, you’d have to give me examples of what the Fort McMurray institutional church program system does that is conducive to false doctrine. Some stuff I don’t care for, and others I may not be the biggest fan of, but their way doesn’t have to be my way, and so I want to have grace with that and that’s not the sort of thing that I’m going to point out.   No church is perfect, and I don’t want to rag against a church when it is simply being institutionally imperfect. As for the reformed comment, haha, I will say that it didn’t come easy. I grew up Roman Catholic, and then after I left town to attend college I found myself in a hyper-charismatic Church with a propensity to teach some very bad things. Reformed theology has been a warm blanket to me, and an awakening

As far as starting a home group,  I have thought about it. I think I would be good at it, and that people would benefit from going deep into God’s word, and that God would gain glory by it. When I was in college, under the ministry of IFCV, I taught a bible study and prayer group that grew from about 3 people to 25 in about three months time, right before I left. That was a little different though. In terms of a local mid-rash style small group, the only thing is that I would be reticent to do that apart from being under the authority of a local Fort McMurray Church. That is to say, I would be too fearful that starting my own thing without any source of tangible ecclesiastical authority over me would aggravate my already existing propensity for pride, and that would not be good for my soul. Rather, my first instinct is to become part of an already existing one, and study the word of God alongside my peers and alongside established elders. I’ve already posted my desire for this here. Perhaps one day I will attempt to start one, but for now I am content to keep on looking.

3. What are your current views on the issue of the Christ’s relationship to the Eucharist? As I understand it, consubstantialism and even the Real Presence are not inherently opposed to Reformed Thought (I’m thinking Lutherans and Traditional Anglicans); moreover, you of all people would be aware of the East’s assertion of the Real Presence (as well as the sacrificial quality) of the Eucharist. So, what do you believe regarding this issue? (I ask because I think this is a central issue in the entire scheme of ecclesiology)

Because your second question involves more than just me, I will answer it privately in a little while. As far as the first question, I believe that eating the body and drinking the blood of Christ is more powerful and potent that most churches give it credit for. In the NT, we see people taking it carelessly and recklessly and being executed by God for it; that has to mean it is more than mere symbolism or memorialism.

On that note, I really don’t like the practice of only taking communion once a month, or even once a season, as some churches do. I find it such an essential, beautiful, and spiritual part of the life of the believer and the function of the church, that I want to take it every week, and would take it every day if I could. As for specific beliefes regarding it, I  honestly vacillate between two positions. One is a form of consubstantiation where  in the communion, the body and blood of Christ, and the bread and wine, coexist in union with each other. Luther illustrated it by the analogy of the iron put into the fire whereby both fire and iron are united in the red-hot iron and yet each continues unchanged. The other would be a form of pneumatic presence that is attractive to me, but which I haven’t thought enough about. I will say though that in the tradition of my reformed brethren, that I would handily reject transubstantiation and anything else that takes God the Son out of heaven and puts him into my body.

fort mcmurray church girls; setting the world afire one mini-skirt at a time

I had the chance to go to Church this past weekend [name witheld to protect the innocent] and I must say that I had  good time. [recognizing of course that Church does not exist so that I can have a good time]. I though the music was worshipful, the message fairly edifying, the people very friendly, and the atmosphere thoroughly joyful. There was only one thing that really bothered me about the whole affair- the fact that many of the teen girls and young adults I saw were dressed in what I would delicately consider “immodest” attire. Plainly said, there was a looooot of skin.

I arrived there and sat back and realized that summer must be in full force, because many people were dressed like they were ready for a day at the beach. At some point, right after the call for the tithes and offerings, I half expected the ushers to bring out beach umbrellas and sunscreen so that these women might enjoy the message while being properly shielded from the sun. Some of these ladies, undoubtedly youth group girls by the way they all sat next to each other and raised their hands during worship, were quite young- probably in their early-to-mid-teens. Other pocketfuls were older, probably in their late teens to early twenties, and unfortunately were dressed no better.

They were wearing bright tank-tops, short skirts, bra straps strewn across shoulders, shorts, and ripped denim short-shorts which were raised up to an impossibly high angle. One girl had on what appeared to be a tube top. When we stood up to greet our neighbors, multiple women had their cleavage was on full display for all to see.  I watched some older men who were easily old enough to be their fathers, glance down at these girls and then quickly away, embarrassedly trying to make eye contact only, as they shook their hands and welcomed them to church that day. The Church boys, less tactful, simply stared and opened their arms;  awaiting with anticipation their greeting  which consisted of side-hugs.

This was not a small church, and while I concede that they may have all been concentrated in one small area  [I seemed to be behind the "youth section"] I think my random sampling was probably not atypical of how many of the women were dressing. And not just in this church, but probably in several churches in the Fort McMurray area.

A random sampling from various local Church websites will show that they would have everyone come to church dressed in what makes them comfortable. That seems to be the general rule; though I’m not sure how helpful it is when expectations are lowered. I also think I would not be overstepping when I say that this level of “comfortableness” is probably not what they had in mind. I understand that you’re always going to have guests who may come in wearing clothes that are sketchy. I think this is unavoidable and I don’t think it’s wise or particularly loving to confront them as they come in or as they leave and tell them that what they’re wearing is immodest, and that they need to wear something else next time. I don’t think that’s right. At the same time that is very different than girls who have been attending for years coming to Church wearing what I would consider objectively immodest apparel.

Part of me wants to say that these young girls should know better, but I’m not sure that’s the case. Many of these women don’t know better, because their parents, pastor, elders, pastors wife, youth pastors wife, or deacons have never told them that being scantily clad for Church isn’t legit. They go to school like this, to work like this, they go shopping like this and hang out like this, and so why should church be any different?  I think in light of scripture that a disservice is being done, and in fact it would not be out of bounds for these women to be gently taken aside and explained that in light of the biblical commands in scripture that women [and men]  should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control. I’m not sure how well they would react to it. I imagine some would be thankful and some would get upset, but I think this would be a gentle aspect of church discipline, for the sake of the strengthening of the church body as a whole.

What do you all think? Have you been in a Church like this? Am I being too critical in my analysis of what might constitute immodesty? What are the girls and young women wearing in your church? Is it unreasonable to approach them and tell them to dress up a little bit? How has this summer-time situation played out in your Church?

“I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.” 1 Timothy 2:8-10.

John MacArthur; 42 years to preach through the New Testament

Fred Butler at the hipandthigh writes

This past Sunday, June 5th, 2011, John MacArthur accomplished something that is extremely rare in Christendom. He finished preaching through the entire New Testament, methodically exegeting verse by verse.

To our knowledge here a Grace this hasn’t been done in over a hundred years or more. The one person that comes immediately to my mind is John Gill, who preached through both the OT and NT, but that was in the 1700s.

It was an emotional moment. John’s last sermon was on the longer ending of Mark, chapter 16:9-20. It was a encouraging message that explained the confidence we can have in the integrity of the Scriptures.

The message can be downloaded here: A Fitting End To Mark’s Gospel

The Sunday evening before that, John did a Q&A with the audience. He opened by sharing a bit about his thoughts and feeling with finishing the NT. A number of the questions asked had to do with his ministry. It, too, is worth the download to listen. Q&A Part 58

You can listen to all 42 years worth of his preaching online for free. This is a gift to the Church, both in its original delivery and its modern availability. Think of it- it took him 10 years to preach through Luke, and 8 years to preach through Matthew, and I was able to download and listen to those particular 18 years of preaching in less than 10 months.  I have been incredibly blessed by John’s ministry, having listened to about half of his sermons thus far.  His impact on my life is incalculable. The main is a wonderful, blessed, imperfect saint, and I love him for it.

The Bible Design Blog

There is a fantastic and innovative blog called the Bible Design Blog, which is run by J. Mark Bertrand. Th stated purpose of the blog, is to be a space where bible aesthetics are reviewed and discussed.  He delves into things like binding, [sewn or glued] paper quality and opaqueness, the quality of the leather,the grain of the leather, paper ghosting, fonts and typeset, layout and design of the text, the colour of the leather, streamers and complicators, rebinding, and everything else that goes into designing a new bible. It is a fascinating look into something that is not often considered, and well worth a look.

Check it out

Example #2

ask me anything- question and answers for the creator of this blog

I thought it would be only fair to open this up for a Q&A about me, where people could ask me anything about what I believe, teach, and confess about theology, morality, how I run this site, or just every day things. I am seeing a bit of growth on the site- or at least I do when I update it regularly, and I don’t want to be known as one of those places that hides behind a  wall and anonymously throws rocks at passerby’s. I don’t think I am, but with no pictures or information about me, I could see how that could be the perception. Transparency is a good thing. Seeing as how this small site only gets between 50-125 hits a day, almost all from the For McMurray area, I in no way expect an inquisitive outpouring. It would be nice though to get a handful of questions that I could respond to. If you are interested, leave your questions in the comment section, and Ill get to them in good time.