John Owen, The Preterist

“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. 11Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.”        ~2 Peter 3:10-13 ESV

John Owen provides a very interesting read of this passage, one that has been largely neglected since his day, but by the grace of God is becoming more of the predominant view, and is being understood as the truth of Scripture in many places, especially here at cross+words.

Here is just a brief portion of a sermon in which Owen postulated that the New Heavens and New Earth are essentially the New Covenant.

1. It is certain, that what the apostle intends by the “world,” with its heavens and earth, verses 5, 6, which was destroyed by water; the same, or somewhat of that kind, he intends by “the heavens and the earth” that were to be consumed and destroyed by fire, verse 7. Otherwise there would be no coherence in the apostle’s discourse, nor any kind of argument, but a mere fallacy of words.

2. It is certain, that by the flood, the world, or the fabric of heaven and earth, was not destroyed, but only the inhabitants of the world; and therefore the destruction intimated to succeed by fire, is not of the substance of the heavens and the earth, which shall not be consumed until the last day, but of persons or men living in the world.

3. Then we must consider in what sense men living in the world are said to be the “world,” and the “heavens and earth” of it. I shall 134only insist on one instance to this purpose, among many that may be produced, Isa. li. 15, 16. The time when the work here mentioned, of planting the heavens, and laying the foundation of the earth, was performed by God, was when he “divided the sea,” verse 15, and gave the law, verse 16, and said to Zion, “Thou art my people;” — that is, when he took the children of Israel out of Egypt, and formed them in the wilderness into a church and state.

Then he planted the heavens, and laid the foundation of the earth, — made the new world; that is, brought forth order, and government, and beauty, from the confusion wherein before they were. This is the planting of the heavens, and laying the foundation of the earth in the world. And hence it is, that when mention is made of the destruction of a state and government, it is in that language that seems to set forth the end of the world. So Isa. xxxiv. 4; which is yet but the destruction of the state of Edom. The like also is affirmed of the Roman empire, Rev. vi. 14; which the Jews constantly affirm to be intended by Edom in the prophets. And in our Saviour Christ’s prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem, Matt. xxiv., he sets it out by expressions of the same importance. It is evident, then, that, in the prophetical idiom and manner of speech, by “heavens” and “earth,” the civil and religious state and combination of men in the world, and the men of them, are often understood. So were the heavens and earth that world which then was destroyed by the flood.

4. On this foundation I affirm, that the heavens and earth here intended in this prophecy of Peter, the coming of the Lord, the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men, mentioned in the destruction of that heaven and earth, do all of them relate, not to the last and final judgment of the world, but to that utter desolation and destruction that was to be made of the Judaical church and state; for which I shall offer these two reasons, of many that might be insisted on from the text:—

(1.) Because whatever is here mentioned was to have its peculiar influence on the men of that generation. He speaks of that wherein both the profane scoffers and those scoffed at were concerned, and that as Jews; — some of them believing, others opposing the faith. Now, there was no particular concernment of that generation in that sin, nor in that scoffing, as to the day of judgment in general; but there was a peculiar relief for the one and a peculiar dread for the other at hand, in the destruction of the Jewish nation; and, besides, an ample testimony, both to the one and the other, of the power and dominion of the Lord Jesus Christ; — which was the thing in question between them.

(2.) Peter tells them, that, after the destruction and judgment that he speaks of, verse 13, “We, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth,” etc. They had this expectation. But what is that promise? where may we find it? Why, we have it in the very words and letter, Isa. lxv. 17. Now, when shall this be that God will create these “new heavens and new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness?” Saith Peter, “It shall be after the coming of the Lord, after that judgment and destruction of ungodly men, who obey not the gospel, that I foretell.” But now it is evident, from this place of Isaiah, with chap. lxvi. 21, 22, that this is a prophecy of gospel times only; and that the planting of these new heavens is nothing but the creation of gospel ordinances, to endure for ever. The same thing is so expressed, Heb. xii. 26–28.

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This sermon can found here: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/owen/sermons.iv.xiii.html.  Have fun!!!!

You can also see a series of videos featuring Kenneth Gentry about a Preteristic interpretation of Revelation at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjOThGeEnyc&feature=related

 

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Some Thoughts on Contemporary Worship Music and Evangelism

The other day was a beautiful day. Both my Daughters were Baptized into the Covenant Family of God. So naturally we called our friends and family to join us in celebration for this joyous occasion.

It was a combined service (usually we have two, one more “contemporary, the other more “traditional”), and naturally there were more people in the sanctuary than usual. The music began, and the drums started pounding, guitars started playing, and people began clapping.

For some, this is a regular experience in their worship, and they whole heartedly approve of it. I myself am more of a “traditionalist” I guess you could say, and, if I might have the audacity to interject my own thoughts and “preferences” in choosing a “style” of worship, I suppose that I am more of a hymn kind of guy.

Now before I get tinto my little rant concerning the use of of Contemorary Christian Music (CCM) in Church services, let me first begin by saying that I am not against CCM outside the church context. I myself am frequently blessed by the medium of Christian Hip Hop, and sometimes listen to other Christian rock bands as well. So right from the start, I wanted to state that I am NOT anti-CCM. And I am not even necessarily against the use of drums and guitars and the like in worship services. I believe God should be glorified by the use of all musical instruments (Psalms 98, 150).

So what am I getting at? Just that I think it is Ironic that alot of CCM is used for the sake of making unbelievers or non-churched peoples “comfortable”, as in the seeker sensative movement, and yet, I believe that the use of CCM in church services actually HINDERS evangelism and evangelistic purposes for which it was originally intended because it makes people feel uncomfortable. Shoot, it makes ME feel uncomfortable. And this is exactly what happened the other day in church.

When the music began and people began clapping, I felt uncomfortable, knowing that unbelievers were there. Unbelievers are most likely expecting to hear hymns and the like and would probably not feel as uncomfortable. I know it makes them feel that way because I was told by a person that it made him feel uncomfortable. I don’t blame Him.

I just think that when unbelievers come in to our churches, we should be looked upon by them as “wannabe” wordly rockers with a Christian flavor. We should sing hymns and Psalms, and maybe even chant. This would actually make the unbeliever feel more comfortable in a worship service because this is what He is expecting. Solemnity, reverence, awe, and seriousness (note: I am still not advocating for making worship service “seeker friendly” when I say this, I am just noting the irony).  Just some thoughts, maybe I’m way off in left field. Or maybe not.

Reformed Catholicity

When we say we are “Reformed”, what does that mean? What is being “Reformed”? The Reformers understood the word as an adjective describing their catholicity. They were “Reformed Catholics.” Since then it has become a noun, we are “Reformed.” That needs to change. Moves toward ecumenism is not a bad thing, and understanding that Jesus wanted His church to be unified might help us become more unified under the banner of catholicity.

We need to stop seeing and living our Christian experience through the lens of the Liberal/Fundamentalist controversy of the early 1900’s. We need to stop attacking each other on every single possible doctrinal issue, attempting to make every other Christian church denomination or person conform to our interpretation and tradition of Scripture. The amount of energy expended on such pursuits could be put towards greater issues of importance, than whether or not someone holds to all 5 points, or views justification as forgiveness of sins instead of imputation of active obedience. Doctrine is important, we need to know the truth and teach the truth, but at what expense?

“Sorry I wasn’t feeding and clothing the poor and homeless, and loving my enemies, and working to see your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven Lord, I was too busy being engaged in meaningless theological debates that produced anger and malice amongst my fellow Chrsitian brothers and sisters. I know that you would be proud of me.”

Calvin on: Election (1 Peter 1:1)

Commentary on 1 Peter 1:1:

To the elect, or the elected. It may be asked, how could this be found out, for the election of God is hid, and cannot be known without the special revelation of the Spirit; and as every one is made sure of his own election by the testimony of the Spirit, so he can know nothing certain of others.

To this I answer, that we are not curiously to inquire about the election of our brethren, but ought on the contrary to regard their calling, so that all who are admitted by faith into the church, are to be counted as the elect; for God thus separates them from the world, which is a sign of election.

It is no objection to say that many fall away, having nothing but the semblance; for it is the judgment of charity and not of faith, when we deem all those elect in whom appears the mark of God’s adoption. And that he does not fetch their election from the hidden counsel of God, but gathers it from the effect, is evident from the context; for afterwards he connects it with the sanctification of the Spirit As far then as they proved that they were regenerated by the Spirit of God, so far did he deem them to be the elect of God, for God does not sanctify any but those whom he has previously elected.

However, he at the same time reminds us whence that election flows, by which we are separated for salvation, that we may not perish with the world; for he says, according to the foreknowledge of God This is the fountain and the first cause: God knew before the world was created whom he had elected for salvation.

But we ought wisely to consider what this precognition or foreknowledge is. For the sophists, in order to obscure the grace of God, imagine that the merits of each are foreseen by God, and that thus the reprobate are distinguished from the elect, as every one proves himself worthy of this or that lot. But Scripture everywhere sets the counsel of God, on which is founded our salvation, in opposition to our merits.

Hence, when Peter calls them elect according to the precognition of God, he intimates that the cause of it depends on nothing else but on God alone, for he of his own free will has chosen us. Then the foreknowledge of God excludes every worthiness on the part of man. We have treated this subject more at large in the first chapter of the Epistle to the Ephesians, and in other places.

As however in our election he assigns the first place to the gratuitous favor of God, so again he would have us to know it by the effects, for there is nothing more dangerous or more preposterous than to overlook our calling and to seek for the certainty of our election in the hidden prescience of God, which is the deepest labyrinth.

Therefore to obviate this danger, Peter supplies the best correction; for though in the first place he would have us to consider the counsel of God, the cause of which is alone in himself; yet he invites us to notice the effect, by which he sets forth and bears witness to our election. That effect is the sanctification of the Spirit, even effectual calling, when faith is added to the outward preaching of the gospel, which faith is begotten by the inward operation of the Spirit.

Calvin, John. Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles: 1 Peter 1:1.  Available at:http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/calcom45.iv.ii.i.html. Internet; Accessed 3 April 2009.