Monday, February 12, 2018

Biblical Zionism Counterfeited



Zechariah
Chapter Six
Biblical Zionism Counterfeited

          Zechariah 2:6-9 begins with the “alas, alas, come forth” call of the Messiah to the Jews to regather themselves in Israel.  This call happens at the beginning of the Kingdom Age.  It is important to understand that this is a Kingdom Age call because the Antichrist will counterfeit this at the beginning of the seven-year Tribulation.  The theological position known as Amillennialism pre-programs professing (but still lost) Christianity for the coming of the great Deceiver.  Whatever God plans, Satan counterfeits


6 Ho, ho, come forth, and flee from the land of the north, saith the LORD: for I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heaven, saith the LORD. 7 Deliver thyself, O Zion, that dwellest with the daughter of Babylon. 8 For thus saith the LORD of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye. 9 For, behold, I will shake mine hand upon them, and they shall be a spoil to their servants: and ye shall know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me” (Zechariah 2:6-9).

          The Antichrist will rise to power at the beginning of the seven-year Tribulation.  The Antichrist will present himself as the Messiah of Israel through a false peace pact with Israel.  He will impersonate the true Messiah by regathering the Jews to the land of Israel near the beginning of the seven-year Tribulation.  We must remember that the Antichrist is Satan’s counterfeit Messiah presented to the Jews as their theology falsely views Him and why they rejected Jesus at the first advent.  The corrupted Jewish priesthood, and most of the Jews that the priesthood had corrupted, wanted only a conquering King, not a suffering Saviour.  The corrupted, apostate Church wants only the suffering Saviour and does not want the conquering King.  The Jesus of Zechariah is not the Jesus of apostate Christianity and Replacement Theology.  We see this counterfeit Messiah in Daniel 9:27 and Revelation 6:1-2.  All the prophetic books are Messianic in scope.  However, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Zechariah, and Revelations are primarily Messianic. 

“And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week and in the midst of the week {three and a half years} he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate” (Daniel 9:27).

1 And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. 2 And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer” (Revelation 6:1-2).

          Many people will be confused and deceived because of the false end-time view known as AmillennialismAmillennialists believe that there will be no literal reign of Christ on Earth.  They believe the Church will usher in a utopian kingdom on earth through what is known as Kingdom Constructionism.  In other words, Ecumenical Christianity will be so effective in its dialogue that peace on earth will be accomplished and poverty will end through the redistribution of wealth. 

Three Theological Positions on the Millennium

          The word Millennium means a thousand-year period.  Another word for it is Chiliasm coming from the Greek word CHILIAS meaning one-thousand.  Chiliasm refers specifically to the teaching that Jesus Christ will reign on earth for one thousand years after His second coming.  This is essentially the meaning of the first theological position on the Millennium called Premillennialism.  This is Biblical Millennialism.
 
          Premillennialism is the outcome of literal interpretation of prophecy resulting in what is known as Dispensationalism.  Dispensationalism sees the Church Age (the sixth Dispensation) coming to a catastrophic end due to the judgment of God upon the earth.  Premillennialists see the redeemed (the saved of the Church Age) removed (raptured) from the earth prior to the judgments (tribulation) beginning.  Almost all historians of early church history agree that Premillennialism was the view held by those of the Apostolic Age.

          Premillennialism also distinguishes between God’s dealings with the Church and Israel in end time prophecies.  It holds to the regathering and restoration of the literal nation of Israel at the beginning of the theocratic Millennial Kingdom under Jesus Christ.

          A second theological position is known as Amillennialism. Central to this position is the denial of the literal reign of Jesus Christ upon the earth. There are two central divisions in this position.  There are those who believe the prophecies relating to the millennium are being fulfilled presently on earth as Christianity subdues the world and ushers in a utopian society (this is the Augustinian position of Amillennialism).

          Then, there are those who believe the saints in heaven are fulfilling the prophecies about the millennium during this period (proposal by Kliefoth).  This requires the spiritualization (allegory) of these prophecies in that they cannot apply to people living on earth.  These two Amillennial positions require an allegorical interpretation of Scripture.  In both cases, they believe the eternal state will happen immediately after the second coming of Christ.  Many do not believe in a literal second coming or an eternal state.  Theological liberals commonly hold this position.

          The third major theological position is known as Postmillennialism.  This position was first proposed by the English Unitarian, Daniel Whitby (1638-1726).  Much of this position is the direct result of the interpretation of the purpose and work of Christ from the Unitarian perspective of salvation and the Church.

          Postmillennialists believe the Church Age will end with the whole earth turning to Christianity (at least their concept of Christianity).  They believe that once this is accomplished, then Christ will return.  Post means after, therefore Postmillennialism means Christ will return after the Millennium, not before it.  This not only requires the allegorical interpretation of prophecy, it requires the rejection of many portions of Scripture regarding the Millennial Kingdom (such as Revelation 20:1-7).

In the middle of all this theological deception and confusion we find the Deceiver lying in wait to deceive.  Fitting right in with Amillennial views, it seems apparent that the Antichrist will make a “covenant” of peace “with many” nations at the beginning of the seven-year Tribulation.  If we understand the “bow” of Revelation 6:2 to represent the power to project missiles over a long distance, we can understand what he may use to procure this peace treaty (“covenant”).  It is also apparent from Matthew 24:5 that he will not come in his own name but pretending to possess power and authority from God.  He will come disguised as God’s Christ and offering a pseudo-peace.  This fact is primary to revealing the Antichrist.

1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. 2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3 For when they {according to Daniel 9:24, this is particularly the Jews, although it includes all unbelievers of the prophetic Word of God} shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief {the Church is excluded from the Tribulation}” (I Thessalonians 5:1-4).

“For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (Matthew 24:5).

“I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive” (John 5:43).

          The opposite is the false peace offered by the rider on the white horse.  Matthew 24:6-7 is speaking about the seventieth week of Daniel just prior to the coming of Messiah to establish the Kingdom Age. 

6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places” (Matthew 24:5-6).

          As soon as the Antichrist has deceived the world into thinking he is the great peacemaker that the Amillennialists are looking for, he will turn to his real agenda; DESTRUCTION (compare I Thessalonians 5:1-4).  Just as soon as the utopian liberals begin to believe that Ecumenicism will usher in the utopian kingdom of socialism and world peace, “the sudden destruction cometh on them . . . and they shall not escape.”

          Each of these four horsemen of Revelation 6:1-8 offers an illusion of Christ.  They will offer one thing but give another.  Part of the effectiveness of the delusions is that the “delusion” of these four horsemen is probably the fulfillment of II Thessalonians 2:1-12.

1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, 2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. 3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. 5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? 6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. 8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: 9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (II Thessalonians 2:1-12).

          The “lie” is that this Antichrist is Christ.  Daniel 11:21-23 adds more to this whole pattern:

21 And in his estate shall stand up a vile person, to whom they shall not give the honour of the kingdom: but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries. 22 And with the arms of a flood shall they be overflown from before him, and shall be broken; yea, also the prince of the covenant. 23 And after the league made with him he shall work deceitfully: for he shall come up, and shall become strong with a small people” (Daniel 11:21-23).

          The above verses certainly describe the actions of present day world politics, “vile” people, given “honour” or leadership by the populace, by using “flatteries” and “deceitfulness.”  Modern politics is built upon this foundation of deceit.  They use polls to find out what the majority wants and then tell them what they want to hear just to get their following (at least until they are elected).  It is little wonder that the Antichrist will be able to step into that system and be accepted with open arms.  Currently, the best politician is always the best deceiver.  He will come proposing to establish the Kingdom of God on earth knowing full well it is really the Tribulation time. The “rider on the white horse” represents this aspect of the character of the Antichrist.

          Under the counterfeit promise of peace, the Antichrist will bring war (“white horse”).  Under a flag of truce, the Antichrist will conquer the trusting and unsuspecting (“red horse”).  Under the promise of prosperity and re-distribution of wealth, the Antichrist will bring famine (“black horse”).  And under the promise of the great life under the Great Society, will instead come the final awakening to his reality, DEATH (eternal death).

          Daniel 9:24 gives us six reasons for the “times of the Gentiles” and the “seventy-weeks” of years that define the literal chastisement of God on a literal nation of Israel.  

24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people {the Jews, not the Church} and upon thy holy city {Jerusalem, not the Church}”

(1) “to finish {restrict or restrain} the transgression” {Israel’s spiritual revolt against God, the goal of this 70 years of chastisement is to bring the nation of Israel to repentance and acceptance of the Messiah and His finished work of redemption}
(2) “to make an end of sins” {to seal up the sins of Israel like a criminal in a prison cell.  This keeps God’s Name from being blasphemed in that without the chastisement God would be viewed as being acceptable with Israel’s great compromises}
(3) “to make reconciliation for iniquity;” - “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” Isaiah 53:6).  Although Jesus has propitiated the wrath of God for the sins of the whole world (I John 2:2), this statement is specific to the national sins of the nation of Israel in her failure to keep (righteously enforce) the statutes and judgments of the Mosaic Covenant. 
(4) “to bring in everlasting righteousness;” this is the Kingdom Age rule of the “rod of iron” of Jesus and His new priesthood of all faithful Church Age believers.  The first generation of the Kingdom Age will begin with only “born again” people.  The restored nation of Israel will be comprised of only saved Jews regathered to the Promised Land.  Righteousness and justice will be enforced like an unbending “rod of iron.” 

33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel {Kingdom Age}; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law {Mosaic Covenant} in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jeremiah 31:33-34).

(5) “to seal up the vision and prophecy;” to make an end to the prophecy of the “times of the Gentiles” in the chastisement of the nation of Israel due to her refusal to hear the prophets of God and repent and keep the Mosaic Covenant. 

25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part {this was due the hardness of their own unrepentant hearts, some Jews got saved and accepted Jesus as LORD and Saviour} is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. 26 And so all Israel shall be saved {the nation of saved Jews that begins the Kingdom Age}: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer {the physical presence of King Jesus in sovereign power}, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: 27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins {nation sins}” (Romans 11:25-27)

(6) “to anoint the most Holy;” Jesus anoints of the “most Holy Place” by His presence there.  Jesus’s presence will “anoint” “the most Holy” as the Shekinah of God in the Temple of the Millennial Kingdom.  The “most Holy” place is the “most Holy” because of the abiding presence of Jesus.  God gives two prophetic chapters of Scripture in Ezekiel chapter forty-one and forty-two to tells us that the Kingdom Age Temple will be a literal Temple constructed with exacting detail and specific measurements.  These exacting details and specific measurements are intended to eliminate any possibility for someone to allegorize the text into something mystical. 
         
25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and {plus}threescore and two weeks {7 + 62 = 69 or 483 years}: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times {Jacob’s troubles or the seventieth week of years = the Tribulation}. 26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off {the first advent and the crucifixion}, but not for himself {vicarious sacrifice}: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. 27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate” (Daniel 9:25-27).

1. The prophecy has to do with Daniel’s people - Israel and the city of Jerusalem (Daniel 9:24).  The true Church is not included because she is already in Heaven. 
2. The time specified in the prophecy is seventy weeks (of years) as specified in verse twenty-four.  This period is then divided into three lesser periods:

A. A period of seven (7) weeks (of years) or 49 years (vs. 25)
B. A period of sixty-two (62) weeks (of years) or 434 years (vs. 25)
C. A period of one (1) week (of years) or 7 years (vs. 27)

3. The beginning of this time-period of seventy weeks of years is fixed at “the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem” (verse 25).
4. The end of the seven weeks of years and the sixty-two weeks of years - 49 plus 434 years (483 years) will be some event in the life of Messiah, the Prince of Israel (verse 25).  This is what we know as Palm Sunday.
5. After sixty-nine weeks of years (483 years) Messiah will be cut off and Jerusalem will be destroyed by the people of another prince who is yet to come (verse 26).  This is the crucifixion and the Roman destruction of the Temple in the Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
6. After these important events, we come to the last or seventieth week of (7) years, the beginning of which will be marked by the covenant or treaty, which the coming prince (Antichrist) will make with national Israel, the promised duration of this treaty is originally for seven years (see verse 27).
7. In the midst of the seven years (the Tribulation) the treaty will be broken, and the coming prince will cause the Jewish sacrifices to cease and his wrath to fall on national Israel.  This condition will prevail for the remainder of the week, or the last 31/2 years of the Tribulation - see verse 27.
8. With the completion of the seventy weeks of years (490 years) a time of great blessing will be ushered in for Israel (verse 24 – the Kingdom Age).
Zechariah 2:8 says, “for he that toucheth you {the nation of Israel} toucheth the apple of his {God’s} eye.”  The intent here seems to mean that any person that sets out to injure or harm the nation of Israel must see himself as trying to harm God Himself.  Such as person that succeeds in touching Israel to harm her will ultimate be held accountable by God Himself in that such ill determinations are viewed by God as attempting to thwart God’s plans for Israel. 

Some commentaries say that the pronoun “his” in the phrase “toucheth the apple of his eye” is referring to someone that touches Israel to harm her is actually harming himself.  However, the phrase must be understood from the context of a previous statement from Deuteronomy 32:9-10 where the pronoun is clearly God.

9 For the LORD’S portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance. 10 He {God} found him {Jacob or Israel} in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he {God} led him {Jacob or Israel} about, he {God} instructed him {Jacob or Israel}, he {God} kept him {Jacob or Israel} as the apple of his {God’s} eye” (Deuteronomy 32:9-10).

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Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/ 
Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.

Monday, February 5, 2018

I. Biblical Zionism



Zechariah
Chapter Five
I. Biblical Zionism

         
We need no other evidence other than Zechariah chapter two to refute the false, heretical doctrines of Replacement Theology.  Reformed Theology and Covenant Theology are simply other names for Replacement Theology.  The primary false doctrine of Replacement Theology is that God has cast away the nation of Israel after which all God’s promises to national Israel are now transferred to a Theonomic institution call the Church.  There are numerous variations of views regarding Replacement Theology among different Christian denominations.  However, Replacement Theology is a serious doctrinal error because it makes God a liar regarding His promises to Abraham regarding the nation of Israel. 

1 I lifted up mine eyes again, and looked, and behold a man with a measuring line in his hand. 2 Then said I, Whither goest thou? And he said unto me, To measure Jerusalem, to see what is the breadth thereof, and what is the length thereof. 3 And, behold, the angel {the preincarnate Son of God} that talked with me went forth, and another angel went out to meet him, 4 And said unto him, Run, speak to this young man, saying, Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls for the multitude of men and cattle therein: 5 For I, saith the LORD, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her” (Zechariah 2:1-5).

Zechariah 2:1-5 gives us two critical criteria that define Biblical Zionism.  We cannot have a true Biblical vision of Zionism if either of these two criteria are absent.  In many cases, the Jewish movement known as Zionism is the hope of a restored nation of Israel with Jerusalem as its capital but absent of the hope of looking for the Messiah.  Biblically, if the Messiah is absent Zionism has not taken place. 

1. The Messiah MUST be physically present in POWER
2. Jerusalem MUST be restored as the capital city of the nation of Israel

In Scripture, Zion is synonymous with the city of Jerusalem.  However, Zion can refer to the city of Jerusalem on earth throughout all dispensations and especially the city of Jerusalem as the center of the world-wide dominion of Jesus during the Millennial Kingdom.  During this one-thousand-year rule with a “rod of iron,” Jesus reigns on earth as the Great Prophet, High Priest of a Melchizedecan Priesthood, and King of kings.  Jesus will rule over the population of the world during the Kingdom Age through the instrumentality of His faithful new Priesthood of all Church Age believers.  At the beginning of the Kingdom Age, the Church will be grafted into restored and revived national Israel.

Replacement Theology demands an allegorical interpretation of prophecy.  Allegorical interpretation of Scripture means the prophetic words of the Bible have “hidden spiritual meaning that transcends the literal sense of a sacred text.”[1]  Allegorical interpretation of Scripture allows a person to read almost any imagination or supposition into the Scripture.  For instance, when Replacement Theology comes to Scripture with the presupposition that God has cast away the nation of Israel and replaced Israel with the Church, that supposition demands an allegorical interpretation be used for all prophecy.  This means these people use two different methods to interpret the Bible (double Hermeneutic).  They claim a literal interpretation for most of the Bible while using an allegorical method for prophecy (and anything else that does not fit their theology). 

Therefore, when a person using a grammatical/historical method of interpretation of the Bible is in a discussion with such people, it is important to understand that these two methodologies are incompatible.  In other words, do not expect to make much progress in convincing a person using an allegorical methodology of his errors. 

Zechariah chapter two certainly establishes God’s intent for a literal interpretation of prophecy.  We know this especially because of Zechariah 2:1-5.  In this text. God is establishing a literal Jerusalem that can be physically measured (compare Revelation 11:1-2).  If this was an allegorical, mystical Jerusalem there would be no possibility of physically measuring it.  This is a physical Kingdom Age Jerusalem with measurements and boundaries, although no physical walls to protect against invasions.  Jesus is the Protector of this physical Jerusalem. 

Secondly, the Jerusalem of the Kingdom Age should not be confused with the Jerusalem of the New Heaven/Earth created after the Kingdom Age in the New Genesis

1 And I saw a new {kainos} heaven and a new {kainos} earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2 And I John saw the holy city, new {kainos} Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new {kainos}. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. 6 And he said unto me, It is done {everything God said He would do is finished, including the New Genesis} I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. 7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. 8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Revelation 21:1-8).

The modern Zionist Movement is credited to have begun through a book entitled Der Judenstaat (meaning The Jew’s State) published in 1896 A.D. by a Jew named Theodor Herzl.  Herzl described his vision of the founding of a future Jewish state during the twentieth century that would be independent of another overlord nation.  However, the modern Zionist Movement is predominantly secular and therefore is disconnected from looking for a coming Messiah to physically reign over Zion.  This is important because Bible believers should not confuse the Zionist Movement with Biblical Zionism. 

Biblical Zionism is Kingdom Age Dispensationalism where Jesus will physically reign on the restored throne of David over twelve literal tribes of a literal and physical national Israel with Jerusalem as its capital.  All faithful Church Age believers will reign with Jesus.  In Revelation 2:18-29, Jesus is speaking to professing believers in the church of Thyatira.  It is important to understand that Jesus is speaking so we understand that the pronouns He uses is referring to faithful believers.

26 And he {believers} that overcometh {saved; I John 5:4-5}, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him {the faithful believer} will I give power over the nations: 27 And he {the faithful believer} shall rule them {the people of the Kingdom age} with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers {divided into small city states}: even as I received of my Father” (Revelation 2:26-27).

Why is knowing these things important to every true Christian?  Knowing these things is important to every true Christian because every true Christian is commanded to be involved in winning souls to Christ by preaching the Gospel.  Every true Christian is commanded to make disciples of all nations, which involves them in understanding these truths and teaching them to others.  We cannot teach what we do not know.

Psalm 122 gives us many details about Kingdom Age Zionism.  As we read Psalm 122, remember that Zechariah 2:5 tells us that the protecting “walls” of the Kingdom Age Jerusalem will be Jesus.  Zechariah 2:5 does not say the Kingdom Age Jerusalem will be without walls, but that Jerusalem will be “inhabited as towns without walls.”

1 A Song of degrees of David. I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD. 2 Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem. 3 Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together: 4 Whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, unto the testimony of Israel, to give thanks unto the name of the LORD. 5 For there are set thrones of judgment, the thrones of the house of David. 6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. 7 Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces. 8 For my brethren and companions’ sakes, I will now say, Peace be within thee. 9 Because of the house of the LORD our God I will seek thy good” (Psalm 122:1-9).

The Jews during the 1800’s remained dispersed throughout the nations of the world, especially in Europe.  There were many Jews predominant in almost every field of science and business.  The Rothchild family (Jews) controlled most of European wealth through their banking system.  Nonetheless, there was a prevailing attitude of Anti-Semitism in Europe and around the world.  Roman Catholicism, Lutheranism, and most Reformed denominations hated the Jews. 

6 Ho, ho, come forth, and flee from the land of the north, saith the LORD: for I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heaven, saith the LORD. 7 Deliver thyself, O Zion, that dwellest with the daughter of Babylon. 8 For thus saith the LORD of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye. 9 For, behold, I will shake mine hand upon them, and they shall be a spoil to their servants: and ye shall know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me” (Zechariah 2:6-9).

The preincarnate Jehovah in the form of a “man” (Zechariah 2:1) is still speaking.  He is also “the LORD of hosts” (Zechariah 2:6).  Anytime the KJV uses the word “LORD” with all capital letters, it is translating the Name Jehovah.  Zechariah 2:6-9 tells us that Jehovah dispersed the Jews into all the Gentile nations of the world and it is Jehovah who calls the Jews back to the land of Israel.  “[T]he daughter of Babylon” refers to all Gentile nations and corrupt religions occupied by the children of Israel.  Although God is again assembling the Jews in our present time in the land of promise, Zechariah 2:6-9 is the Kingdom Age call of Jesus, the “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16).  The return of the faithful remnant at the time of Zechariah was only typical of what Jesus will do at the beginning of the Kingdom Age.  “Ho, ho” of Zechariah means “Alas, alas.”  It is the final proclamation by the LORD to the dispersed Jews around the world to gather themselves to Jerusalem.  Only believing saved Jews will obey. 

11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. 12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. 13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:11-16).

In Zechariah 2:7, Jehovah says, “Deliver thyself, O Zion, that dwellest with the daughter of Babylon.”  The “daughter of Babylon” is the Gentile political powers of the world in which the children of Israel had grown comfortable.  Even though a large remnant at the time of Zechariah had returned to Jerusalem to labor rebuilding the city and the Temple, the vast majority of Jews were satisfied to languish in the comforts and wealth of their captors.  Zechariah 2:7 addresses the same problem in the last days prior to the second coming of Jesus.  During the last three and a half years of the seven-year Tribulation, Jehovah will use “two witnesses” and one-hundred and forty-four thousand sealed Jews to preach the Gospel to the Jews as they are called to return to their land of promise (these are NOT the cult of Jehovah Witnesses).  In Revelation 17:5, God reveals that the “daughter of Babylon” in Zechariah 2:7 is offspring of the “MOTHER OF HARLOTS.” 

1 And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: 2 With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. 3 So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. 4 And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: 5 And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. 6 And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration” (Revelation 17:1-6). 

The greatest apostasy corrupting Biblical Christianity can be traced back to Constantine’s integration of paganism in with Christianity when he declared the Roman Empire to be Christian.  In doing so, Constantine would lay the foundations for the Roman Catholic Church and thereby paganized the vast majority of Christianity.  Augustine would systemize the theology of Roman Catholicism.  Roman Catholicism has persecuted Jews wherever they were found.  The Roman Catholic Christian Crusades was to take the Holy Land of Israel from Muslim control for Roman Catholicism.  Roman Catholicism claims that the first church in Jerusalem was the first Roman Catholic Church and is the mother of all churches everywhere. 

The San Giovanni Laterno Church is the first church of Rome.  An inscription on the front of the church (translated from Latin) says, “MOST HOLY LATERAN CHURCH, MOTHER AND MISTRESS OF ALL CHURCHES OF THE CITY AND THE WORLD.”  God calls this “Mother and Mistress” “the great whore” and “THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS.”  She gave birth to religious apostasy within Christianity.  The believers in Heaven will rejoice at God’s judgment of “the great whore,” which corrupted the world with her false beliefs and apostasy. 

“For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand” (Revelation 19:2).

          Some of the apostasy introduced by Augustine through Roman Catholicism was the corruption of a literal one-thousand-year Kingdom Age.  Augustine introduced an allegorical/mystical interpretation of the end times that came to be known as Preterism.  The word Preterism comes from the Latin word praeter meaning past or beyondPreterists, those who believe in Preterism, believe that all (full Preterism) of the events, or most (partial Preterism), of the book of Revelation took place before 70 A.D.  Since the Apostle John was given “the Revelation of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 1:1) in 96 A.D., the Preterists believed John was just giving an interpretation of past events that had already happened.  There is but one word for this nonsense – FOOLISHNESS!  

Anonymous comments will not be allowed. Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/ Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. He has served the Lord for over 40 years.

Monday, January 22, 2018

The Four Horns and Four Carpenters



Zechariah
Chapter Four
The Four Horns and Four Carpenters

    
In Zechariah 1:18, Zechariah is given a vision of “four horns.”  We know from Daniel 7:24 and Revelation 17:12 that these are four of ten Gentile kings.  We must understand that God’s resistance of these kings is His resistance against satanic globalism.  This satanic globalism, in its many attempts, opposes God’s divine dominion.  God’s divine dominion will be established through the restored nation of Israel and His promised Messiah fulfilled in the incarnation, death, burial, resurrection, glorification, and second coming to establish God’s one world Kingdom on Earth.  Therefore, a major aspect of satanic globalism is the destruction of the nation of Israel by scattering the Jews around the world.  Gentile globalism is predominantly Anti-Semitic characterized by extreme hostility towards Jews and the support of the nation of Israel.  Therefore, Antisemitism is a predominant characteristic of Antichristism.   The promise of the vision of Zechariah 1:18-21 is that although Satan will succeed for a short time, ultimately Satan’s plan will fail.

     At the time of Zechariah’s prophecy only two of these four horns had come into power; Babylon and Medo-Persia.  Graeco-Macedonia Empire would succeed the Medo-Persia Empire as Zechariah 9:13 foretells.  The Roman Empire would be the fourth and last as spoken of in Daniel chapters two and seven.  The Roman Empire will be revived as the one-world Antichrist government of the seven-year Tribulation period. 

18 Then lifted I up mine eyes, and saw, and behold four horns. 19 And I said unto the angel that talked with me, What be these? And he answered me, These are the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem. 20 And the LORD shewed me four carpenters. 21 Then said I, What come these to do? And he spake, saying, These are the horns which have scattered Judah, so that no man did lift up his head: but these {the four carpenters} are come to fray them, to cast out the horns of the Gentiles, which lifted up their horn over the land of Judah to scatter it” (Zechariah 1:18-21).

          These “four horns” are described as “the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem” (Zechariah 1:21).  God was giving hope to the faithful remnant of Israel through prophecies like this.  Although there was going be centuries where Israel would remain scattered, the promise of God is that He would restore and revive the nation of Israel one day in the distant future.  For people who see the consequences of their faithfulness beyond themselves into their future generation, these prophecies were a great encouragement. 

          What we see in these prophecies of Zechariah, given to the faithful remnant of Israel, gives us great insight into understanding God’s empathy for the faithful within the nation of Israel.  God gives these prophecies to the faithful remnant while they are in the middle of the crisis of chastisement for the failures of the unfaithful in the nation of Israel.  God gives these prophecies because the faithful must never forget that the unfaithful are a major responsibility of their prayer life and their ministry in preserving the Word of God through teaching.  In other words, even though God was not going to restore and revive the nation of Israel for thousands of years, there was something every faithful person in every generation could do.  They could be faithful, and they could try to persuade the unfaithful to become faithful.  We have a very similar message to the Jews professing faith in Christ during the Church Age in the epistle to the Hebrews.

8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. 9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: 10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. 11 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore sprang there even of one {Abraham}, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable. 13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. 15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. 16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city {New Jerusalem}” (Hebrews 11:8-16).

          Every generation of faithful believers must be able to see all the difficulties and impossibilities of life in the light of faith in God’s eternal promises.  They may have no control over the circumstances of the governments and wickedness of the people with which they must share this planet, but they can maintain a faith vision that sees past it all so as to keep their hope in God’s promises.  This is the testimony of the faithful recorded by God in Hebrews chapter eleven.  Faithfulness remains faithful because these people shared an eternal hope that transcended the temporal difficulties of their lives.  This does not mean that these people did not struggle with occasional bad choices within the difficulties of their lives, but that God saw their faithfulness within those struggles and counted them faithful. 

          The faithful remnant had to maintain a spiritual perspective of the work they were sent back to Jerusalem to do.  The Temple upon which they were making reparations was merely symbolic, or typical, of an ongoing and constant need of spiritual revival in their own lives and in the lives of every generation that would follow them.  The Temple upon which they worked to restore, repair, and rebuild was just a building made with stones.  God wanted them to see that the real temple they were building to His glory was the recovery of lost souls and the lives of people who had lost hope in God’s eternal promises.  It is easy to get lost and discouraged when we are blind to the spiritual and preoccupied with the daily routine of just working at surviving in the middle of the temporal.  It is a difficulty every person faces; especially the faithful.  It becomes easy to forget God and just give up on spiritual goals.  The satanic influences of this world, the curse upon this world, and the worldly people we seek to win to Christ entice sinners with promises of momentary pleasures.  They do this while mocking the things the faithful hold precious.

          The prophecy of the “four horns” of four coming world powers that would dominate, control, and scatter Israel for thousands of years was not a prophecy to discourage, although it might be discouraging.  It is not discouraging because God does not end with just telling them the bad news.  God gives them good news with the bad news.  God is going to raise up “four carpenters,” one for every “horn.” 

The prophecy of the “four carpenters” is God telling His remnant that they are just one of many generations of repairers, restorers, and rebuilders.  God is telling His faithful remnant, to which Zechariah prophesied, that God was going to maintain a faithful remnant under every one of these world powers.  God’s maintenance of the remnant is God’s working with them to recover and restore souls.  The faithful remnant was not abandoned by God as the circumstances made it appear.  However, abandonment is how the forces of evil want the faithful remnant to see their circumstances. 

     God is working through His Spirit anointed and Spirit-filled redeemed people.  God will not over-ride His gift of the free-will given to humanity.  God uses the faithful remnant to persuade those lost in the darkness of unbelief or within the numerous corruptions of false doctrines and idolatry.  We cannot blame God for the ever-increasing growth of iniquity in the world when the professing faithful remnant is increasingly being seduced into worldliness.  This is what Paul addresses in Romans chapter ten in his second of three chapters addressed to national Israel.  Any one and everyone can be saved according to Romans 10:13. However, the problem is not with God’s provision and offering of the gift of salvation.  The problem is with the silence of the redeemed regarding the message of Gospel of Jesus Christ.  “Whosoever” could be saved, but the “whosoever” needed to be told they could be saved and how to be saved (Romans 10:1-17). 

13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? 17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:13-17).

God uses the faithful redeemed to persuade and convince the lost and the unfaithful of righteousness and His judgment of unrighteousness.  This goes on in the Church and in the world.  This persuasion is the substance of preaching, teaching, and evangelism.  Paul’s epistles to the Church at Corinth exemplify the careful art of persuasion.  The Church at Corinth was a particularly carnal bunch.  They had professed faith in Christ, but were integrating their previous worldly and idolatrous practices and lifestyles in with their Christianity.  Paul’s emphasis in his persuading arguments to them was that what they were presenting to their world as Christianity was not Christianity at all.  Paul admonishes these believers in one of the most remarkable chapters of Scripture in the Bible.

1 For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: 3 If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. 4 For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. 5 Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. 6 Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: 7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) 8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. 9 Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. 11 Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God {our motives; Paul was being accused of men-pleasing and of trying to win the following of people for his own personal gain}; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences. 12 For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart. 13 For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause. 14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again” (II Corinthians 5:1-15).

     The faithful remnant’s maintaining of an eternal perspective in life will always be one of the greatest difficulties in the Christian life.  The world is no friend to maintaining this perspective of time in the midst of eternity.  The very people to whom the faithful remnant ministers will be the faithful remnant’s most discouraging foes.  The faithful must always remember that their responsibility is to be faithfully and lovingly persuasive.  Peter addressed this problem in his second epistle as does Jude in his epistle.  Notice that each call believers to remember

1 This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: 2 That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: 3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days {the Church Age} scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. 5 For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: 6 Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: 7 But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. 8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 11 Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 12 Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? {maintain a Biblical and eternal perspective of reality} 13 Nevertheless we {the faithful}, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. 14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things {the faith perspective of life}, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. 15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. 17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. 18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen” (II Peter 3:1-18).

          Zechariah 1:21 says, “these {the ‘four carpenters’} are come to fray them, to cast out the horns {the dominating world empires} of the Gentiles, which lifted up their horn over the land of Judah to scatter it.”  The word “carpenters” is from the Hebrew word charash (khaw-rawsh’).  The word refers to a skilled carver in wood or skilled engraver in stone.  The intent is that skilled craftsmen enabled of God shape the lives of individuals thereby rescuing those individuals from the pending and inevitable judgment of God.  The world will not be changed! 

     The word “fray” in Zechariah 1:21 is from the Hebrew word charad (khaw-rad’).  This word means to shudder with terror or to hasten with fearful anxiety.  As the faithful minister to individuals in the world, they must be careful not to eliminate the warnings of God’s pending judgment.  This is the foolishness of giving the good news of God’s gift of salvation without warning people with the bad news of God inevitable and eternal judgment upon the lost.  This is Jude’s reminder to believers in his epistle. 

15 To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all {to fully convict of their pending punishment} that are ungodly {irreverent and therefore wicked} among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches {harsh and severe comments that are blasphemous towards God and His redeemed}, which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. 16 These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling {overloaded} words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage. 17 But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; 18 How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. 19 These be they who separate {disjoin by creating factions and sects} themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit. 20 But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, 21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. 22 And of some have compassion, making a difference: 23 And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. 24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, 25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen” (Jude 1:15-25).

       That God has entrusted the preservation and propagation of His truth from generation to generation to His faithful redeemed is a reality that should overwhelm our senses with both gratitude and responsibility.  Many professing Christians spend their lifetimes trying not to offend anyone.  They do not share their understanding of the Bible because of fear of offending people.  They finally discover at the end of their lives that they have been unfaithful to their primary purpose in life – confronting the world with eternal realities of God’s judgment and the provisions of His grace in Christ Jesus.

     Francis Schaeffer made an excellent comment about the moral obligation of faithful believers confronting error and apostasy in his appendix to his book What Difference Does Inerrancy Make? He says:

“When [one] come[s] to the central things of doctrine, including maintaining the Bible’s emphasis that it is without mistake, and the central things of life, then something must be considered.  Truth carries with it confrontation.  Truth demands confrontation; loving confrontation, but confrontation nevertheless.  If [one’s] reflex action is always accommodation regardless of the centrality of the truth involved, there’s something wrong.

22 Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23 But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. 24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, 25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; 26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will” (II Timothy 2:22-26).


Anonymous comments will not be allowed. 
Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/ 
Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Defining the Church



Defining the Church

            
         There is almost complete ignorance by most professing Christians of what God’s Word teaches about the Church (Ecclesiology).  Most professing Christians have simply accepted what they have been wrongly taught because they have believed in the authority and expertise of their pastors and priests.  These pastors and priests, in most cases, have never looked beyond what their denominations have taught them. 


          When Christ says to Peter, “That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it,” what is He saying?  The translation is somewhat misleading.  Jesus is actually saying, “thou art Petros (pet’-ros; literally a piece of rock), and upon this Rock (the foundational truth of Peter’s proclamation of faith that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God”) I will build my church.”  The very first criterion for constituting a local church is that every member must be examined to ensure he has this same testimony of faith in Christ before he is added to the church.  Embodied in Peter’s testimony that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God” is all the Scriptural testimonies of what “the Christ” (Messiah) was prophesied to do, which is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Faith in what the Bible teaches about Who Jesus is and what He was incarnated to do is the foundational truth necessary for acceptance into the membership any local church. 

Apart from the reality of Jesus being “the Christ, the Son of the living God,” the work of redemption could not have been completed, God could not have been propitiated, and justification “by grace through faith” could not have been offered.  From this proclamation of faith and upon this foundational “Rock,” Jesus would begin to build His church one living stone at a time.

4 To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, 5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. 7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, 8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed” (I Peter 2:4-8).

          When we read the Epistles of the New Testament Scriptures, we can clearly see that they are addressed to the Church.  However, is this Church some ambiguous entity without geographical boundaries or theological definitiveness?  Is this Church universal and international in scope and governance?  Is the Church a hierarchal and Theonomic institution intent upon ruling over nations and kings establishing and dictating moral Law to the people of the world?  Does this Church hold the “keys of the Kingdom,” determining who can be saved and who will go to Hell?  According to the teaching of Scripture, we must answer each of these questions with a resounding - No! 

          For what purpose does the Church exist and how is it to be governed and administrated?  Every local church is a gift from God and a “holy priesthood” of every believer (I Peter 2:5).  Therefore, every local church as a “holy priesthood” is governed by our Great High Priest Jesus Christ.  Jesus is the “chief Shepherd” (I Peter 5:4).  Jesus governs every local church by gifting local churches with pastors to teach, guide, and administrate the individuals that constitute the ministering priesthood of believers united with that local assembly.  This Biblical and Dispensational definition of the Church helps us answer all questions about why God has established local churches.  The epistle of Paul to the Ephesians is the Magna Carta for teaching the administration of the priesthood of all believers in every local church. 

11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:11-16).

          How we answer these questions about the purpose and administration of local churches is singularly important to our worldview and establishing God’s purpose for believers in the world.  Our answer to these questions will also define how believers are to be trained to fulfill that purpose, how believers are to be administrated in their ministry to one another and to the world, and how accountability to God, His truth, one another, and moral culpability is to be administrated.  Therefore, every believer needs a doctrinally sound local church.  Finding a doctrinally sound local church is the great difficulty. 

          When we read of “the church” in the New Testament Scriptures, its use is directed to all believers in the Lord Jesus Christ living after the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-3).  The term “church” cannot be divorced from a dispensational transition from the Dispensation of the Law (Mosaic Covenant) to the Dispensation of the Church Age (commonly referred to as the Age of Grace or New Covenant).  Although Jesus began building His church with the Apostles, the Church was not ordained into existence until the coming of the promised Parakletos (Holy Spirit).  This historical event of the coming of the promised Parakletos marks the beginning of the Church Age. 

The Church is a living organism built upon the foundation living Rock of Jesus being “the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  The Church is a building of “living stones” built upon the Rock of the life-giving Stone, Jesus Christ.  These are metaphors revealing deep spiritual Truths defining what the Church is and for what purpose it is created.  Therefore, the Church is much more than an organization (although it is organized).  The Church is a living organism spiritually energized by the indwelling Holy Spirit intended to be a synergism of believers united into a working/ministry partnership with God.  These believers are united by truth {“the faith”) and enabled by the power of God in them. 

1 Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, 2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: 3 If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. 4 To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, 5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house {the Church collectively}, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. 7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, 8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. 9 But ye {the Church collectively} are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: 10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. 11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; 12 Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation” (I Peter 2:1-12).

          However, before this spiritual dynamic of the Church being a living organism, believers must be sanctified to bring glory to God.  Therefore, the teachings of the doctrine of grace (supernatural enablement of the indwelling Holy Spirit) must be taught and understood as this doctrine relates to the sanctification and then the consecration of the Priesthood of believers that makes up the living organism Christ calls His Church.
 
          Where then do we find the Bible’s teaching regarding the true doctrine of the Church?  Gathering all that the New Testament teaches about the doctrine of Ecclesiology must be done inductively (the sum of the parts equals the whole).  However, the epistle to the Ephesians gives us the greatest depth of teaching regarding the doctrine of the Church. 

“3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. 7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; 8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; 9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: 11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: 12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. 13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:3-14).

Notice that every pronoun in chapter one referring to believers is plural.  This is evident in the KJV, but not all other English translations.  This is important in that the election (“chosen,” vs. 4) of Ephesians chapter one is the election of the Church corporately to be a new priesthood.  It is not the election of individuals to be saved.  Election is vocational, not salvational.

If we draw the rest of Scripture revelation together with the teaching of the epistle to the Ephesians, we can formulate a thorough inductive understanding of the doctrine of the Church.  A basic outline of Ecclesiology from the epistle to the Ephesians chapter one is as follows:

A. The Church is a corporation of “saints” (sanctified priests), as “born again” believers, faithful to the commands of Jesus Christ (v.1).
B. The Church is distinct from the nation of Israel and her blessings are eternal and spiritual rather than temporal and earthly (v. 3).
C. The Church is chosen corporately “in Christ,” her High Priest, as a new, spiritual Priesthood before “the foundation of the world” (i.e., not an afterthought, but a before creation thought, v. 4).
D. This whole new priesthood, that is “saved by grace through faith,” is predestined to glorification (v. 5).  This is the meaning of the word “adoption” – translated from the Greek huiothesia (hwee-oth-es-ee’-ah).  The word means the placement or position of the sons of God.  This cannot be understood apart from the placement of the “firstborn” as the typical priesthood now fulfilled in the Church as the priesthood of all believers in the “church of the firstborn” (Hebrews 12:23). 
E. This new priesthood is “accepted” (positionally sanctified and consecrated) in Christ, “the beloved” (vs. 6-9).
F. The Church is embryonically what all believers of all Ages will be in “the regeneration” in the new Heaven/Earth – a kingdom of glorified priests (vs. 10-14).
G. Paul’s prayer for the enabling power of the indwelling Christ-life of the believer’s High Priest to be realized, actuated, and released in and through the local church as the “body” of Christ (vs. 15-23). 

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Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.