A Sidekick's Blog

Finally

June 5, 2017
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Last night my lovely bride and I finally joined a church we can both agree on, and the adventure begins anew towards mutual growth on common ground.


Presbyterian Again

May 24, 2017
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I guess it was about 2 years ago that I left a Presbyterian Church in America – henceforth PCA church for a Reformed Baptist church that was truly Reformed, not a mixture of Eastern Orthodox liturgy with popular evangelicalism and secret flirtations among the staff with the writings of N.T. Wright. I explained in a blog post why I became a Baptist. Now, I find myself back in a PCA church – and with the blessing of the Elders at my former Baptist church! Not due to doctrinal differences (which do still matter), but because my bride and I need to be of the same mind and under the same spiritual headship. We had been getting some marriage counseling. Everyone should! It’s very helpful to avoid self-deception and making me aware of way I was hurting my family without even knowing it. At a certain point, because church is central and vital to making the best of a Christian marriage, and because my wife wouldn’t join my church (why is not relevant to this post), I asked the Elders about looking elsewhere, even though I had a vital role in worship there. It is with their blessing that my wife and I – together – are joining with a PCA church here in town. None of the fancy Orthodox-inspired liturgy, no flirtations with damnable heresies, and the Lord’s Supper every week (I have always wished for that)! A chance at real friendships is part of the reason God is moving us there too, I think. It just wasn’t possible without both of us being committed to the same church.

In the post linked above, I cited three differences between Reformed Baptists and their Presbyterian brethren. In my situation now I’m having to give them a second look, especially since we’re joining this new church and expect to be more than just “regular attenders.”

Hermeneutics:

“Baptists don’t deuce,” my former pastor told me in explaining the difference. But to reach some of the conclusions they have reached, they had to have deduced them “by necessary consequence” even though not contained, per se, in the Scriptures. Baptism, for example, which they define as immersion only, forbidding any other mode. In Scripture there are multiple baptisms, and not all of them by immersion. “The Greek word baptizo means ‘to immerse,'” they say, yet I can’t find independent proof of that claim from anyone but Baptist scholars who simply assert it as fact. Applying the sacrament only to believers is also deduced, since creating a type-and-shadow relationship between physical birth and spiritual birth (regeneration) also requires deduction beyond what is strictly contained in the Scriptures. The Scriptures themselves draw a parallel between Old Testament circumcision and New Testament covenant baptism. One of my favorite little Baptist deductions is drawn from 1 Peter 3:18-21, in which Baptists must deduce that “baptism now saves you” means “only believers should be baptized.” Two Old Testament events are compared to baptism (besides covenant baptism): Noah’s flood (in the 1 Peter 3 passage), and the flight from Egypt (1st Corinthians 10:1-4). In both of those events, I say with a wry but sincerely friendly smile, the people of God were sprinkled, and it was the enemies of God who were immersed! Oops…

Covenant:

The covenants of God with Adam, with Moses, with David – are eternal, even though ancient Israel as it was in Moses’ time and David’s time is long gone. Baptists separate them, reasonably so, into Old (type and shadow) and New (reality prefigured by type and shadow). But Christ fulfilled the Covenants rather than doing away with them. There remains one everlasting Covenant of Grace, which existed even before Creation itself, as the Three Persons of the Godhead covenanted together to redeem a people for God from the fallen race of Adam. Type and shadow are certainly demonstrable from the Scriptures, but they do not represent separate covenants, nor separate people.

The Regulative Principle of Worship

Since the baptism of the children of believers is not expressly and explicitly commanded in the New Testament, Baptists are wise to refer to the Regulative Principle as their main argument for not practicing covenant (“infant”) baptism. We are, however, expressly and explicitly commanded not to neglect the traditions of the Apostles (2 Thes 3:6, 25). The validity of custom is asserted “for those who wish to be contentious,” in 1st Cor. 11:16. So I’m not sure the RP truly applies when it comes to baptism.

A lot of Baptist ways of thinking and applying the Word will remain with me as long as I live, and I’m grateful for it!

But – omygosh, my friends – I’m a Presbyterian. Again.


Defining “Reformed Baptist” (again)

March 9, 2015
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It’s surprising how quickly the meanings of words and definitions change.  In fact I’m sure that a lot of plain, longstanding theological definitions are deliberately changed – without saying so – in order to “justify” some new and completely unorthodox theological position while making it appear orthodox by using familiar terminology.

Federal Visionists in my former denomination have turned the Reformation on it’s head to justify such unorthodox things as paedocommunion and salvation-by-sacrament, yet most of them claim the Westminster Confession and the Three Forms of Unity.  All they had to do was apply new definitions to the old terms and viola – they’ve undone the Reformation using their Reformed Confession.  They know that their heretical position cannot be justified in Baptist theology, so they call even 1689-Confessional Baptists “non-Reformed.”

Absurd.  They’re a heckuvalot further removed from the Reformation than any Reformed Baptist is.  But it seems that, again, Reformed Baptists – just at a time when we are rediscovering our own roots and restoring our churches to their historic heritage – have to defend our very existence again, as others change the meanings of plain, long-understood theological terms.  Linked below is a wonderfully clear article which I hope will help cement our identity.  Enjoy:

Defining “Reformed Baptist” (again).

 


Thursday is for Theology

September 4, 2014
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Thursday is for Theology.

Amateur theology, but co-writing on my friend’s blog.  Adoptedsidekick will remain as a “friends and family” blog, the theological stuff will be published on Keachfan, and I’ll create a new separate one for the Linux stuff and move all the posts around accordingly when I get some time at the computer to do it.  Stay tuned!

 

 


Reformed Blindness?

July 31, 2014
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I just wordlessly quit a Reformed forum that I deeply respected until recent days, when a mystifying blindness to the obvious truth about the present conflict in Gaza became all too obvious.

I am not a Dispensationalist. I don’t believe that the little nation of Israel has a future role in bible prophecy and I’m not looking for a rebuilt Temple there, nor for Jerusalem to become the capitol city of Planet Earth. I do not support Israel out of any heterodox belief that they remain “God’s chosen people.” In fact, no one – Jew or Gentile – comes to the Father except through Christ alone. And no one without Christ can be counted among God’s “chosen people.”

But my theological beliefs about Israel and the Jewish race do not blind me to the simple, proven, obvious FACTS about the present conflicts involving the tiny democracy that has been the only true ally of the United States (my home country) in the Middle East since its birth:

There is only one nation in all of the Middle East where it’s Palestinian citizens enjoy

  • the right to vote
  • the right to own land
  • the right to run for public office

It’s Israel! NONE of the surrounding “Arab” nations treat their Palestinian citizens with such consideration. To them, Palestinians are trash. They are regarded as gypsies, vagabonds, undesirables. Even if they join in the “Death to Israel” chants with their Arab “brethren.”

Israel defends it’s citizens – all of it’s citizens – with state-of-the-art weapons of war. Hamas, by contrast, defends it’s offensive rockets using it’s citizens as human shields. Women and little children are favored for use as human shields because of their value as media pawns, being used to make it appear as though Israel is targeting them. Those tunnels that Israel is destroying were built by captive little boys under threat of rape by their Hamas masters. These are FACTS, overwhelmingly well documented. Hamas holds it’s own children hostage and does not seek peace at all, but the complete annihilation of Israel and of the Jewish race.

Yet in the so-called Reformed community, most obviously and recently in the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (PCUSA) but in equal measure in the broader and supposedly more orthodox Reformed community, a baffling blindness to these facts is shown in discussions and decisions, like the one in which the PCUSA voted to divest itself of companies and churches doing business with Israel in the “disputed territory.”

Even in the forum I just quietly abandoned (although I did click the “delete my account” link), respected Reformed folk urge “tolerance” for Islam, which plainly teaches that all non-Muslims should be forced to convert or be enslaved, taxed into indentured servitude, or outright slaughtered. Throughout it’s bloody history, Islam has been spread chiefly by the sword and by terror rather than by anything similar to Christian evangelism. Tolerating Islam today is akin to tolerating and appeasing Nazism in the 1930s.

What I honestly wish to know is WHY such overwhelmingly obvious, daily observable facts are deliberately ignored and even refuted by so many in Christendom. I can think of only one reason (plain ol’ anti-Semitism), but surely there must be some reasonable explanation for such willful blindness to the plainly obvious.

There can be absolutely no biblical, Christian basis for repeating history yet again by standing still and mute in the face of terror and tyranny as has been the case every other single time in history that tyrants have enslaved and slaughtered thousands and millions of peaceful people. This willful ignorance is every bit as mystifying to me as the liberal American bias in favor of Islamic jihadists – the very same people who would use Sharia law to outlaw every beloved liberal cause, from gay “rights” to the right of women to vote. If their jihadist friends get their way, liberals will be the first to die in defense of their favorite causes. When Christians oppose homosexuality, we are “homophobes.” Yet when Islamic jihadists do the same, it is somehow noble and good. This is beyond willful ignorance, it’s outright suicidal stupidity.

When I similar baseless calls among Christians for “tolerance” of tyranny, false religion, child rape, and calls for genocide, I am more than merely baffled. My disdain is beyond disappointment, it’s outright disgust.


Semper Reformanda

February 9, 2014
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Always Reforming. Constantly challenging my faith and practice against the revealed word of God, as found in the bible.

Admittedly driven this time by a sense of expediency because I am “between churches” and the only real Reformed alternative nearby is a Reformed Baptist church, it is nevertheless always a good thing to take measure of one’s beliefs using the scriptures as a guide. What scares me a little is that there’s a part of me, in a rush to bring my heart-achy search to a conclusion, that wants to “prove” from the scriptures that I’m justified in moving over to the Baptist church. To counter that tendency I’ve determined to do nothing until I have read, absorbed, and debated these things with both Baptist and Presbyterian brothers. The trouble I’m having is in finding people from either camp who are actually willing to be challenged in that way. I have been a Presbyterian for over two decades. Both of my adult children were raised in that tradition, both baptized as infants by sprinkling. If I am to make any big changes in my theology at this point in my life, I’m darn well going to have good solid reasons for doing it.

So on my own I have been reading articles, listening to audio recordings of debate between Baptist and Presbyterian theologians, looking at questions through the eyes of both sides, and re-examining my own hermeneutics.

So far, in the admittedly short time I have been examining these things, it appears to boil down to these three things:

Different hermeneutics:

Reformed believers are guided by one of two hermeneutics. Both usually lead to similar conclusions I think, but an important distinction exists between the two. And the deeper I go in my study, the more the distinction seems to matter.

The Presbyterian hermeneutic is described in the Westminster Confession of Faith this way:

The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture… (WCF 1:6, emphasis mine).

The Reformed Baptist hermeneutic sounds similar but it is different because it does not include deduction or “good consequence:”

The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down or necessarily contained in the Holy Scripture (London Baptist Confession 1:6, emphasis mine).

So what’s the difference? Both often lead to the same conclusion, as they do in the doctrine of the Trinity, for example. I have a silly, simplistic way of illustrating it: If one passage explicitly states that “all normal dogs have four legs,” and another explicitly states that “Spot is a normal dog,” then it is necessarily true that Spot has four legs even though that fact is not explicitly stated. The fact is contained in the book even though not explicitly. A Presbyterian might deduce that since there are other properties of normal dogs, such as two ears, a wet nose, and a wagging tail, then Spot must also have those qualities as well, even if the book doesn’t contain those things in its description of normal dogs. A Reformed Baptist could not reach that far, since two ears, a wet nose, and a wagging tail are not contained in the book’s description. While I realize that my silly simplistic illustration likely falls short of adequately describing the difference, I’m a simple Boy Wonder and receptive to correction if I really have misstated the difference. That’s just how I understand it for now.

It is that difference, I think, that accounts at least in part for the differences in Covenant Theology between Baptists and Presbyterians, and in the way that the two apply the Regulative Principle of Worship to the two sacraments, baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

Different Covenantal Views:

Presbyterians view the Old and New Testaments as containing different administrations of the same covenant which most refer to as the Covenant of Grace. They do this to preserve the continuity of Scripture to include both Testaments. But, to a Reformed Baptist, it isn’t necessary to preserve the continuity of the Testaments by describing the two as being “different administrations of one covenant.” The writer of Hebrews describes the Old Covenant as “type and shadow” of the New. The New fulfills the Old. But to a Baptist, the two are separate covenants altogether and while one prefigures the other, they apply to different groups of people and different points along the continuum of unfolding eschatology and progressive revelation. The Old covenant was limited, under it’s different administrations, to one family, one race, one nation; whereas the New removes all such distinctions. The Old was temporal rather than eternal as the New covenant is. The Old was physical, geographical, and political. The New is spiritual, universal, and “not of this world.” Yet under the Old, prefiguring the New, all who were eternally saved were saved just as they are in the New: By faith in One who was to come, the Seed promised to Abraham in the Old covenant, the Second Adam, the Mediator of – as the writer of Hebrews describes it – “a better covenant based on better promises (Hebrews 8:6).” I’m told by a Reformed Baptist theologian that my summary of the Baptist covenantal view in my previous blog post is accurate, so please refer to it for a more complete picture of why Baptists separate the two differently than Presbyterians do.

Different Applications of the Regulative Principle of Worship:

Both Reformed Baptists and Presbyterians subscribe to this principle, based on Sola Scriptura and described in the Westminster Confession of Faith in these terms:

…the acceptable way of worshiping the true God is instituted by Himself, and is so limited by His own revealed will, that He may not be worshiped according to … any other way not prescribed in the holy Scripture (WCF 21:1).

This principle has been reduced by many people to simply, “When it comes to the worship of God, whatever is not commanded is forbidden.” This is quite unlike the Lutheran and Anglican principle which is, to reduce it to it’s simplest form, “whatever is not forbidden is permitted in the worship of God.” This leads them to all sorts of human inventions that “help the people worship,” from drama and dance to more superstitious stuff like making the sign of the cross and assigning mystical properties to the elements in the Lord’s Supper and observing a liturgical calender. Superstition, by the way, I take to mean trying to please, appease, delight, or “reach” God by any means other than revealed in His written word.

Because the Old Testament is to be interpreted through the lens of the New Testament, and because of the difference in the two views of covenant theology, the Reformed Baptist does not see baptism as a New covenant “replacement” of Old covenant circumcision. And as there is no explicit command in the New Testament to baptize any but confessed believers, Baptists reject what Presbyterians call “covenant baptism” (or “infant baptism”). To a Presbyterian, the command to baptize the infant children of believers is necessarily deduced by the examples of Old covenant circumcision and “household baptisms” in the New Testament.

These three differences combine to form the theological basis for both credobaptism (believer’s baptism) and paedobaptism (infant baptism). They also represent what my search has “boiled down to.” To most people I know, none of this matters. One just goes to “whatever church makes them happy” as long as it adheres to “the essentials.” That can’t be enough for me. In fact it hasn’t been enough for me ever. Not because I’m “too nitpicky,” but because love demands the pursuit of the truest possible knowledge of God.

Despite my desire to avoid it, I suspect that this blog post likely betrays a little bias towards the Baptist position. In fact it is the Baptist position which seems more consistent (Presbyterians baptize babies yet keep them from the Supper until they can articulate their faith in an adult manner), closer to the Reformation cry of Sola Scriptura (because it insists upon not exceeding what is written no matter how flawlessly logical and reasonable it may seem to do so), and by painting a picture of the covenants in a way that preserves the continuity of Scripture without the confusing of merger of Old and New sacraments, signs, shadows, and types. Perhaps I haven’t been a very good Presbyterian all these years, but it isn’t because I haven’t made every effort to understand, apprehend, and articulate my faith without becoming bewildered and confused by that hermeneutic and getting lost in the details. As I said, I’m a simple sidekick, and tend to ruin in favor of those things which “are so clearly propounded and opened in Scripture that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of ordinary means, may attain unto an sufficient understanding of them (WCF 1:7).”

God help me.


Simplicity, Sincerity and Worship

December 15, 2013
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I have been a Baptist, a Charismatic (Pentecostal), a Presbyterian, and now – for the time being – an unaffiliated “Protestant.”

In all that time, the sweetest and purest and most deeply satisfying worship experience I have ever known, apart from my own private time alone with God, was the unaccompanied singing of Psalms – scripture that was written to be sung! Unfettered by ecclesiastical traditions and trappings, uncluttered by the addition of organ, piano, or guitar, unassuming, unpretentious, and unerring in the perfection of the words of scripture itself, and sung from the heart by a handful of Jesus’ disciples who wished only to adore Him, and to do so in the way He Himself prescribed instead of inventing some fancy, elaborate pomp and ceremony as if to impress Him, or in some effort to bring Him down from heaven into our midst. That simple time of worship, lasting only minutes, was as close as I have ever come to “heaven on Earth.”

Much more so than in those times of frenzied Pentecostal efforts to “conjure up the Holy Ghost” (to put it as kindly as I can), and much more so than in the grand, lofty, High Church, Anglican-style pomp and ceremony of my last former church. Today I revisited my old church because I have family visiting this week for whom it is their home church. But if today’s visit had been my first visit to this PCA church, it would surely have been my last. While all the pomp and ceremony is beautiful and pleasing to the senses, and while on it’s face the words of the liturgy and song service were fully glorifying to God, there was little else to appeal to a simple, humble sidekick who just wants to adore his Lord as the Lord has instructed. And the sermon, the pastor walked over to the Advent Wreath and explained that neither he nor the Session really knows what it’s supposed to mean, we just have it there and light the candles in a certain order because. Just because. My first thought: “Is this a Reformed church?” My second thought: “No, apparently not (that is, more apparent than before), and that’s part of the reason I left.” So we’ve got all these symbols and ceremonial trappings borrowed from Anglicanism, Romanism, and even Eastern Orthodoxy, which we don’t even understand, yet we employ them in “Reformed” worship? Was all that pomp and circumstance supposed to make up for such a sermon?

picard headesk

Don’t get me wrong, I know this Pastor well enough to know that he loves the Lord and is passionate for His gospel. I know him to be a devoted servant of Christ who is not only a lot smarter than me, but far more disciplined spiritually, mentally, and academically than me. I’d love to be half the Christian he is! And yet, simplicity and humility in my faith, in my practice, and in my worship have become far more valuable to me lately than academic discipline and spiritual knowledge. That denomination’s willingness to tolerate the damnable heresy of “the Federal Vision” eventually manifests itself this way I suppose, since FV is basically little more than a call back to Rome! The Reformation’s Regulative Principle of Worship is simply the doctrine of Sola Scriptura applied to worship. I suppose it just figures that the Regulative Principle would be an early casualty of my former church’s tolerance for such a heresy.

It makes me sad. And at the same time, glad to have found another church that practices sincere, humble, simple, unpretentious worship – and they’ve never even heard of the Regulative Principle of Worship.


Why I Am an Orthodox Preterist

March 22, 2013
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“Full” Preterism is the idea that all biblical prophecy has already been fulfilled. I prefer to call that, hyper-preterism! Historically the majority report in Christianity, until little more than 100 years ago, taught what is usually termed “partial” preterism – that most biblical prophecy has been fulfilled, but some things remain yet future. I prefer to call this orthodox preterism.

As a child I heard only the popular Dispensationalist view, and assumed that all Christians believed the same stuff I had been taught. Until I studied Church History a bit and discovered that today’s majority report on eschatology (the study of “last things”) was unheard of before the Second Great Awakening. The closest thing to it was something called “chialism” (today known as “historic premillennialism”), but it was by no means ever the generally accepted eschatology of the Church, before or after the Bishop of Rome’s claim of superior authority above all other Bishops.

Following my study of both secular and church history, I have come to adopt the historic teaching of Christendom throughout most of it’s history. I am an Orthodox Preterist. Here is why:

The events in Jerusalem in the year 70 A.D. are amazing and compelling! A summary of Rome’s war against Jerusalem can be found in an ordinary encyclopedia, but the accounts of eyewitness historians are absolutely mind boggling. To get the benefit of both sides, one should read the accounts of both sides, so to avoid the inevitable twisting of history written by the victor. Fortunately we have accounts from both sides: Josephus, a Jewish priest and eyewitness, wrote a compelling account of those days; and the Roman eyewitness Tacitus wrote an account from the Roman perspective. Both are absolutely fascinating, and both accounts read like apocalyptic visions!

Historically, orthodox Christianity has taught that the events of 70 A.D. represent a “judgment coming of Christ” upon the generation that rejected Him. It is not to be seen as the Second Coming, but rather as the final aspect of His first advent (coming). In this judgment upon that single generation (see Matt 23:36 and 24:34), He used Roman troops to put a permanent end to the entire Old Testament system that prefigured His finished work on the Cross. The “last days” means the last days OF THAT COVENANT.

In the Olivet prophecy of Matthew 23 and 24, the Lord Jesus describes this judgment in details which we are more accustomed to associating with the end of the world! When we read about the stars falling from the sky, the sun going dark, and the moon turning to blood, we tend to think of planetary catastrophe, worldwide nuclear annihilation, or something like that. When we read, “the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky” we tend to associate that with the Second Coming and the end of the world. When we read about a great trumpet blast and the gathering of the Elect from the four winds we think of “the Rapture.” When Jesus used those terms in Matthew 24, He was quoting Old Testament scriptures which referred to the conquest of Israel and Judah (in Isa 13) by the Assyrians and Babylonians. Such language is also used by Ezekiel in describing the conquest of Egypt by Babylon (32:7). It also describes the events of 70 AD, and further describes the Second Advent as well.

The Jewish historian Josephus, who witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem and the years following it, wrote describing the celestial signs leading up to Jerusalem’s conquest and the destruction of the Temple:

Thus were the miserable people persuaded by these deceivers, and such as belied God Himself; while they did not attend, nor give credit, to the signs that were so evident and did so plainly foretell their future desolation; but, like men infatuated, without either eyes to see or minds to consider, did not regard the denunciations that God made to them. Thus there was a star resembling a sword, which stood over the city, and a comet, that continued a whole year. Thus also, before the Jews’ rebellion, and before those commotions which preceded the war, when the people were come in great crowds to the feast of unleavened bread, on the eighth day of the month Xanthicus [Nisan], and at the ninth hour of the night, so great a light shone round the altar and the holy house, that it appeared to be bright daytime; which light lasted for half an hour. This light seemed to be a good sign to the unskillful, but was so interpreted by the sacred scribes as to portend those events that followed immediately upon it. 1

R.C. Sproul, in his book, The Last Days According to Jesus, writes:

Josephus says these astronomical phenomena triggered false prophecies of hope for Jerusalem and it’s people. … The bright light shining round the temple area may be related to the Shekina glory, the sign of God’s presence. False prophets read it in much the same way that false prophets in Old Testament times viewed the coming day of the Lord – as a time of unqualified weal, a day of brightness and glory. This missed the dreadful darkness that would accompany it as a sign of judgment.2

Other signs in the sky were reported by other historians recording events
surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem. The Roman historian Tacitus writes:

Besides the manifold misfortunes that befell mankind, there were prodigies in the sky and on the earth, warnings given by thunderbolts, and prophecies of the future, both joyful and gloomy, uncertain and clear. For never was it more fully proved by awful disasters of the Roman people or by indubitable signs that the gods care not for our safety, but for our punishment.3

In addition to his account of the comet, the prophecies, the sword-like star, etc., Josephus records an even more astonishing celestial event that seems to be a quite literal fulfillment of Ezekiel 1 :22-28 (not quoted here, but read it and be amazed!). Here’s Josephus again:

Besides these, a few days after that feast, on the one and twentieth day of the month Artimisius [Jyar], a certain prodigious and incredible phenomenon appeared; I suppose the account of it would seem to be a fable, were it not related by those that saw it, and were not the events that followed it of so considerable a nature as to deserve such signals; for, before sun-setting, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armor were seen running about the clouds, and surrounding of cities. Moreover at that feast which we call Pentecost, as the priests were going by night into the inner [court of the] temple, as their custom was, to perform their sacred ministrations, they said that, in the first place, they felt a quaking, and heard a great noise, and after that they heard a sound as of a great multitude, saying, “Let us remove hence.”4

I believe personally that “the end of the age” as often used in scripture to refer to “the last days,” means the end of the Jewish age – or the end of the old Mosaic covenant, and that the Lord’s presence did indeed depart from the temple before it was decimated. There is absolutely no doubt as to the celestial signs that took place and accelerated in the years immediately preceding the destruction of Jerusalem. Some Roman military officers wrote accounts of soldiers deserting (a death penalty offense) for fear at the signs in the earth and sky during those turbulent days that saw the rise and fall of 6 emperors (and a pretended Nero who allegedly recovered from an assassination).

Because the Jewish age ended in 70 AD, because the Olivet discourse of Matthew 23 and 24 was so literally fulfilled, and because the Apostle Paul ascribed “a sign to unbelievers” as the meaning of tongues, and because the prophecies of the period, according to Josephus, Tacitus, and others, foretold great destruction and judgment upon Israel (including the end of temple sacrifices by the way), that is why I believe the signs ceased when the things they signified came to pass.

Christian Orthodoxy has always taught – up until Dispensational Premillennialism took hold a little more than 100 years ago – that we are in “the Millennium” right now! The “millennial” Kingdom began after the way was prepared by John the Baptist, when Christ arrived. This kingdom is not of this world, though it exists in the world. It is forever, it is expanding and liberating millions, and will reign completely at the close of this “millennium” when Christ returns to destroy the last enemy. Satan is bound! Is Christ not even now ascended to His throne at the right hand of God the Father (Colossians 3:1)? Are we not even now seated in heavenly places with Him (Ephesians 2:6)? Has He not already given His church authority to bind and loose in His name (Matthew 16:17-19)? Jesus demonstrated His authority over Satan by casting out demons, having “bound the strong man” during His earthly ministry. Satan is bound in this present millennial kingdom.