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Archive for the ‘eschatology’ Category

Francis Schaeffer’s paedobaptist covenant premillennialism appears to be rarely held today, although apparently it was commonly held among the Bible Presbyterians and the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod (RPCES), both of which he ministered in during his career.

The following is Schaeffer’s view in a nutshell and basically explains why he takes prophecy “literally” but why he wasn’t a dispensationalist even though he was a pre-tribulationist. It is from the second half of the message on the Covenant of Grace in the Westminster Confession of Faith series that was taught at L’Abri in the early 1960s. (This series includes the sermon from which his little book on Baptism was drawn.)

This is basically an introduction to a series of messages on the Abrahamic Covenant in which he emphasizes what he terms the unity and diversity of the covenant. This transcription is very lightly edited to remove repetition, etc. My apologies for any grammatical errors.
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Schaeffer:

We have here two halves in the first three verses of the Abrahamic Covenant. [He then quotes Gen 12:1-3.]

Here we have two halves and we must not get the two halves confused. There is a national, natural promise here to the natural seed of Abraham who are the Jews. But there is also the spiritual portion. The Covenant of Grace is operating here. The Covenant to Noah is under the Covenant of Grace. The Covenant to Abraham is under the Covenant of Grace. It is not aside from the Covenant of Grace. It is a part and a portion of the Covenant of Grace.

What you have is the two halves given. There is the half that deals with the Jews as the Jews, a nation. And I would say that Romans makes very plain that God is not done with the Jews. This portion of the covenant still stands. As a matter of fact, I would say immediately that if it doesn’t stand, then we cannot trust God, because he says in reference to his covenant to the Jews, as Paul is speaking to the Jews concerning national, natural Israel, his brethren according to the flesh, he says “The gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” He’s talking about the national, natural portion of the promise of the Abrahamic Covenant to the Jews as Jews. But we mustn’t forget that that isn’t all there is to it. There is a spiritual portion, a spiritual and personal element that is shown here: Looking forward to the coming of Messiah and an individual’s partaking in personally in it.

Those who tend to take the amillennial position tend to lose the diversity of this and confuse the national, natural portion with the spiritual portion. But there are many many people today who make the opposite mistake. And that is that they lose the unity, the failure to understand the total unity of the Covenant of Grace from the promise of Gen 3:15 onward, including the fact that there is a unity to those of us who are born again, now on this side of the cross, a unity with these promises, the spiritual side of the promises made to Abraham. Let us not lose the diversity. There is a difference between the promise made to the nation of the Jews as Jews and the spiritual portion, but let us equally beware of losing the unity, There is a unity to the Covenant of Grace. To say in passing, this is the reason I am not a dispensationalist. There is a unity.

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The following is taken from the preface to Ryle’s Coming Events and Present Duties, most recently republished by Christian Focus as Are You Ready for the End of Time?

One thing only I wish to premise, before making my statement. The reader must distinctly understand that I do not put forth my prophetical views as articles of faith — but only as my private opinions. I do not say that nobody can be saved, who does not agree with me about prophecy. I am not infallible. I am very sensible that holier and better men than myself, do not see these subjects with my eyes, and think me utterly mistaken. I condemn nobody. I judge nobody. I only ask liberty to hold and state distinctly my own views. The day will decide who is right. It is the new heart, and faith in Christ’s blood — which are absolutely necessary to salvation. The man who knows these two things experimentally, may be wrong about prophecy — but he will not miss Heaven.

The following, then, are the chief articles of my prophetic creed:

1. I believe that the world will never be completely converted to Christianity by any existing agency, before the end comes. In spite of all that can be done by ministers, churches, schools, and missions — the wheat and the tares will grow together until the harvest; and when the end comes, it will find the earth in much the same state that it was when the flood came in the days of Noah. (Matthew 13:24-30; 24:37-39.)

2. I believe that the wide-spread unbelief, indifference, formalism, and wickedness, which are to be seen throughout Christendom — are only what we are taught to expect in God’s Word. Troublous times, departures from the faith, evil men waxing worse and worse, love waxing cold — are things distinctly predicted. So far from making me doubt the truth of Christianity, they help to confirm my faith. Melancholy and sorrowful as the sight is, if I did not see it — I would think the Bible was not true. (Matthew 24:12; 1 Timothy 4:1, 2 Timothy 3:1, 4, 13.)

3. I believe that the grand purpose of the present dispensation is to gather out of the world an elect people — and not to convert all mankind. It does not surprise me at all to hear that the heathen are not all converted when missionaries preach, and that believers are but a little flock in any congregation in my own land. It is precisely the state of things which I expect to find. The Gospel is to be preached “as a witness,” and then shall the end come. This is the dispensation of election, and not of universal conversion. (Acts 15:14; Matthew 24. 14.)

4. I believe that the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ is the great event which will wind up the present dispensation, and for which we ought daily to long and pray. “May Your kingdom come!” “Come, Lord Jesus!” should be our daily prayer. We look backward, if we have faith, to Christ dying on the cross; and we ought to look forward no less, if we have hope, to Christ coming again. (John 14:3; 2 Timothy 4:8; 2 Peter 3:12.)

5. I believe that the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ will be a real, literal, personal, bodily coming; and that as He went away in the clouds of Heaven with His body, before the eyes of men — so in like manner He will return. (Acts 1:11.)

6. I believe that after our Lord Jesus Christ comes again, the earth shall be renewed, and the curse removed; the devil shall be bound, the godly shall be rewarded, the wicked shall be punished; and that before He comes, there shall be neither resurrection, judgment, nor millennium, and that not until after He comes, shall the earth be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord. (Acts 3:21; Isaiah 25:6-9; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18; Revelation 20:1, etc.)

7. I believe that the Jews shall ultimately be gathered again as a separate nation, restored to their own land, and converted to the faith of Christ, after going through great tribulation. (Jeremiah 30:10, 11; 31:10; Romans 11:25, 26; Daniel 12:1; Zech. 13. 8, 9.)

8. I believe that the literal sense of Old Testament prophecies has been far too much neglected by the Churches, and is far too much neglected at the present day, and that under the mistaken system of spiritualizing and accommodating Bible language, Christians have too often completely missed its meaning. (Luke 24:25, 26.)

9. I do not believe that the preterist scheme of interpreting the Apocalypse, which regards the book as almost entirely fulfilled; or the futurist scheme, which regards it as almost entirely unfulfilled — are either of them to be implicitly followed. The truth, I expect, will be found to lie between the two.

10. I believe that the Roman Catholic Church is the great predicted apostasy from the faith, and is Babylon and Antichrist; although I think it highly probable that a more complete development of Antichrist will yet be exhibited to the world. (2 Thessalonians 2:3-11; 1 Timothy4:1-3.)

11. Finally, I believe that it is for the safety, happiness, and comfort of all true Christians, to expect as little as possible from Churches or Governments under the present dispensation — to hold themselves ready for tremendous convulsions and changes of all things established — and to expect their good things only from Christ’s second advent.

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Four Scriptural Reasons for Affirming the Inauguration of the Davidic Covenant at the Ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ:

1.  In His post-resurrection pronouncements to the Apostles the Lord Jesus Christ proclaimed that “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Mt. 28:18).  The Davidic reign must not be excluded from this grant and assumption due to its universal and eternal nature implicit in the language of the “commission” it introduces.

2.  Peter directly connects the resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ to David’s prophetic pronouncement concerning the enthronement of the Davidic Messiah (Acts 2:25-36).  Specifically, the antecedent of the pronoun “his” modifying “throne” (Acts 2:30) is the same as that of “him”, and “his” (“loins”) earlier in the verse, and “he” in the beginning of the next verse (Acts 2:31), i.e. “the patriarch David” (Acts 2:29).  In particular, the term “his throne” at the end of the verse should be seen as coordinate with “his loins” in the middle of the verse, and therefore, of necessity, as having the identical antecedent, i.e., David.  In other words, the throne in view is referred to as David’s throne, and the enthronement of Jesus as the universal Lord and Messiah in His ascension (Acts 2:34-36) is explicitly connected to the throne of David and the fulfillment of what was revealed to David centuries before.

3.  When Christ returns to assert His absolute reign on the earth He will already be vested with the titles: “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Rev. 19:16).  This is consistent with His assertion in Mt. 28:18, and once again, must of necessity be seen as inclusive of the Davidic reign, as well as all others without exception.

4.  All of the above is consistent with and flows directly from the recognition of who He already was at His birth, i.e., the King of the Jews (Mt. 2:1-6; Lk. 1:32-33).  This was also explicitly acknowledged in His reception in Jerusalem during the Triumphal Entry as the King in fulfillment of prophecy (Mt. 21:1-17; Mk. 1:1-11; Lk. 19:28-48); and during His trial and execution (Mt. 27:11-14, 26-29, 37-43; Mk. 15:1-5, 9-13, 15-18, 26-32; Lk. 23:1-3, 36-43; Jn. 18:33-39; 19:1-3, 19-22).

Four Answers to Possible Objections to the Affirmation of the Inauguration of the Davidic Covenant at the Ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ:

1.  The prophesied Davidic reign in fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant must not be viewed as merely involving a reign over Israel, but a truly universal reign.  This reign is understood in the prophetic literature of the Old Testament in explicitly universal terms.

2.  That this universal Davidic reign would be initiated in and administered from heaven during the initial phase of its implementation should not be seen as inherently inconsistent with the terms of the Davidic Covenant.

3.  It must not be imagined that Christ must sit on the exact same literal throne that David sat on in order to fulfill the terms of the Davidic Covenant.  Where ever David’s ascended son/Lord is seated necessarily becomes the Davidic throne by virtue of the One seated upon it.

4.  It must not be supposed that Christ must be physically located in Israel in His humanity in order to begin fulfilling the requirements promised in the Davidic Covenant.

5.  While the actual restoration of the kingdom to Israel (Acts 1:6-8) awaits the time of their national reingrafting (Rom. 11:11-32), and regeneration (Ezek. 36:23-37:14), the stage has been set for that event in the enthronement of their King, and in His ongoing chastening of them including provoking them to jealousy through the Gentiles (Rom. 11:11-14).

Sola Scriptura, Soli Deo Gloria,

John T. “Jack” Jeffery

Pastor, Wayside Gospel Chapel

Greentown, PA

12 July 2013

The Inauguration of the Davidic Covenant at the Ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ

by John T. Jeffery

Copyright 2013 by John T. Jeffery.

All rights reserved.

The use of excerpts or reproduction of this material is prohibited

without written permission from the author.

Contact the author at:

722 South Main Ave.

Scranton, PA 18504

Home phone:  (570) 342-5787

Email:  johntjeff@verizon.net

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There is now a S.Lewis Johnson app available for iPhone and Android.  It’s just been released and is sort of in demo phase right now. But I’ve been told that the goal is to make all of the SLJ content available via the app.

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I recently discovered a great number of lectures by Francis Schaeffer.  Evidently these are the “L’Abri tapes” that I first saw mentioned in True Spirituality.

I haven’t listened to very many of these yet, but this includes lectures that appear to be the basis of several of his books. These include True Spirituality, No Little People, Joshua and the Flow of Biblical History, Genesis and Science, A Christian Manifesto, The Mark of the Christian and The Finished Work of Christ, among others. I must confess that I am less familiar with his well known apologetical works than I am with some of his others but I’m sure much of that material is there in embryonic form as well.

Overall, a wide variety of topics are covered, from cultural analysis, theology in general (including a series on the Westminster Confession of Faith), apologetics, the arts, etc.  There are also a good many lectures on eschatology, including an exposition of the book of Revelation.  It is well known that Schaeffer was premillennial, which was not uncommon among Presbyterians of his day, particularly among those of his background.  The titles of some of them seem to indicate that he was pretribulational as well.  But those lectures appear to be from the early 1960’s so I don’t know if he ever changed his views as did some others like James Montgomery Boice, for example.  I haven’t read that much of Schaeffer’s work, but I hope to remedy that soon.  However, I have noticed allusions to a future for Israel in some of his writings that were published in the 1970’s.  I do think it’s interesting that a leader who was known for teachings on cultural and other issues would have taught so much on prophetical themes. But most if not all of those lectures were from the early 1960’s, prior to him becoming a popular evangelical leader in the United States and beyond.

There is also a large amount of video material available online as well, perhaps most notably the film version of How Should We Then Live?

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With regard to prophetic sensationalism among premillennialists, Dr. Robert Duncan Culver (not strictly a dispensationalist, but an ardent premillennialist nonetheless) relates the following:

Unfortunately, the most grievous wounds to millennial faith have been inflicted by overzealous and sensationalist advocates among writers and preachers. As the good prophet in Zechariah 13 explains, his trauma is from “wounds . . . with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.” This has been going on as long as I have been alive [1916-  ed. note] and continues unabated. These well meaning, and I think incautious people, make the millennium vehicle for far more doctrinal freight than the biblical undercarriage was engineered to carry. Some recent “evangelical” fiction has carried this to grievous extremes in my opinion. These self-inflicted wounds by premillenarians may explain, in part at least, why presently literal interpretation of biblical predictions of a future reign of Christ on earth has been under severe attack from many quarters. As a matter of personal observation these excesses have certainly caused some to renounce chiliastic teachings and prevented others from accepting them.

Robert Duncan Culver, The Earthly Reign of Our Lord With His People, p. 7 (Third revised edition of Daniel and the Latter Days.)

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A few months ago, I reported that the Theologue site, one of my favorite theology websites, had been shut down. The notice that was posted at the time had a note of finality about it or else I wouldn’t have posted anything here.  However I am happy to report that Ed Sanders, the site owner, providentially came across this blog several weeks ago.  He advised me that the site will be reactivated in the near future.

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