Main Page
  About Us
  Glossary of Terms
   
  SECTIONS
  Culture
 
Theology
  Education
  Ecclesiology
  Philosophy
   

A Study of Dispensationalism
by Arthur Pink

"But there is further reason, and a pressing one today, why we should write upon our present subject, and that is to expose the modern and pernicious error of Dispensationalism. This is a device of the Enemy, designed to rob the children of no small part of that bread which their heavenly Father has provided for their souls; a device wherein the wily serpent appears as an angel of light, feigning to "make the Bible a new book" by simplifying much in it which perplexes the spiritually unlearned. It is sad to see how widely successful the devil has been by means of this subtle innovation."

Theology
Benefits of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Perry A. Hess | ...the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom


Christians throughout history have placed their faith, as well as the reason and foundation of that faith, in the crucifixion and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. At the end of his execution, when Jesus "gave up his spirit", Matthew tells us "...the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom...",(Mt.27:51).This tearing of the temple curtain, though often overlooked, plays an important part in the New Testament salvation of men and the development of the church.

The tearing of the curtain is a sign that God gave to the people showing just what was taking place on Calvary. The tearing of the curtain substantiated every claim Jesus ever made about Himself, as did every miracle he performed. But further, it substantiated every miracle Jesus ever worked. It substantiated every healing and every resurrection He ever commanded. In all, it proves Jesus was who he claimed to be, the very Son of God, the Creator. Notice the words of Matthew as he relates this to us in his gospel. He says the curtain was torn "from top to bottom". Now the tearing of this curtain by a man would be a great feat. We have all seen people attempt to tear a telephone directory in half. It is practically impossible, for the book is much too thick. The tearing of this curtain would be roughly equivalent as it too was very thick. Note that not only was the curtain torn, but that it was torn "from top to bottom". This shows us who it was that did the tearing, God! Not only could this not have been done by mere human strength, but it was done as if the curtain tore itself, beginning at the top, out of man’s reach, and ending at the bottom. The tear began at the top signifying God as the one who tore the curtain. God tore the curtain to show His utter displeasure and judgment on the Jewish people.

Now, there are serious repercussions to this act. The temple was considered to be the holy place in the mind of the Jew. Any judgment or destruction of the temple surely meant the final end of the world. The Jew could not fathom the idea of the temple’s destruction, or of God’s displeasure with them. The prevailing attitude of the Jew was "We are Israel, God’s chosen people. Surely He would not deal harshly with us". But God had ripped the unrippable curtain to show He had indeed judged Israel and as a result had abandoned the temple forever. Jesus, in Matthew 23:38 declared "Your house is left unto you desolate" (emphasis mine).Before this Jesus had considered the temple as God’s house, but no longer. The temple had become "Your house". God had forsaken the temple. He had indeed turned his back on the Jewish nation to focus on the Gentiles and the establishment of His church.

Finally, the tearing of the curtain is proof positive of Jesus statement "It is finished" (Jn 19:30). He was not speaking of his life here, nor of his ministry, but of the work of salvation. As Christ hung on the cross and died, Satan was bound, sin was put away and the debt of the sinner was paid in full. None of Christ’s chosen throughout history would ever have to pay the death penalty for their sin. DEATH!? Would a loving God really impose such a harsh penalty? Indeed He would, He must! Sin is a crime against all that God stands for, yea even the very nature of God. Man was created in the image of God and when we sinned that first time in the garden, that image of God in us was invaded and became deformed. Man died spiritually. God’s image in man became polluted and corrupted with sin and colored with evil intentions. Sin so invaded the being of man so as to render him helpless and hopeless and unable to do or will in favor of God’s will. This sin causes a debt to the holy God so large that it can never be paid by ourselves. Hell lasts for eternity because the debt we owe is so great and it must be paid. Those in eternal punishment are paying this debt they owe. BUT, as we saw earlier, the work of salvation is finished. Jesus paid this debt for His elect. He purchased salvation and gave it to those He loved. We have been redeemed! Our debt has been paid and canceled by Christ Jesus and we receive it as a gift of God’s wonderful grace.

The story, however, does not end here. We cannot leave Christ on the cross, for a religion that does is a fruitless religion. Christ resurrected is our centerpiece. The One who rose is our strength, our power. The resurrection is that in which we glory!

The Heidelberg Catechism is a wonderful statement and explanation of God’s truth. Question 45 and its answer will provide the basic outline for the rest of this treatise. It reads thusly:

Q. How does Christ’s resurrection benefit us?

A. First, by His resurrection He has overcome death, so that He might make us share in the righteousness He won for us by His death.

Second, by His power we too are already now resurrected to a new life.

Third, Christ’s resurrection is a guarantee of our glorious resurrection.

The Apostle Paul told the Roman church that Jesus "was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification. Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand..." (Rm. 4:25-5:2). Paul tells us Jesus died because of our sin, as we have already seen. He was raised to bring justification. The first benefit of the resurrection is the gift of justification. Justification itself is an objective work of our salvation. It is something that happens to us and not in us. Justification is the judicial act of God whereby He declares us righteous. As we stand before God in His courtroom, the evidence is overwhelmingly against us. Yet, as He drops the gavel, He pronounces no penalty. The sentence has already been paid in the execution of Jesus Christ, and because of this, God labels us PARDONED! God declares us just. He declares us righteous. Our sins have been "put away" and we are placed in right legal standing with God. This pardon brings with it freedom. Negatively, we have freedom from condemnation. No sentence is placed upon us and all our sins are forgiven. Positively, we now have freedom unto righteousness. We are made partakers of Christ’s righteousness. We are seen as Christ is seen. It is a mistake to say that justification is the same as if we had never sinned, it is more. If justification was mere sinlessness, then our post-conversion status would be the same as that of Adam’s pre-fall standing. Adam was created a sinless and innocent being. He was created with holy inclinations but he had the ability to commit sin. He loved God and obeyed God and Adam was without sin, (until he fell). He did not know what grace was and he had no idea of what justification did, for indeed he had no need of these gifts. Justification puts us on a higher plain than this. It is more than just being legally sinless. Righteousness is given to us and we are made active participants in the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul believed justification to be an important facet and a central part of our salvation, so much so that he assumes it so in Romans 5:1. John Calvin said that justification is the main hinge on which religion rests. It is foundational and its benefits are many.

The first benefit of justification is seen in Romans 5:1 where Paul mentions peace with God. Not only have we been pardoned, but we have been accepted by God as well. Being sinful creatures, we cannot accept God, we cannot even approach His throne. Being justified before His sight, He accepts us, which is a tremendous comfort. Before our conversion we were at enmity with God, (Rm. 8:7). We were bent on sin and headed for Hell. God’s wrath abided on us, (Jn. 3:36) and His hatred rested on us, (Ps. 5:5). After salvation, we are no longer haters of God nor are we at enmity with Him. God becomes our friend as we are drawn to Him with cords of love. We have "peace with God". The Greek term used here for "with God" denotes perfect harmony and unity. We are now "in tune" so to speak, with God. Jonathan Edwards painted a verbal picture of sinners being dangled over a fire by a thin thread, protected only by the hand of an angry God. This peace we now have removes the thread, quenches the fire, and plants us firmly in the hand of a loving God.

The second benefit of justification is access, (5:2). We have the privilege to go directly to God with our petitions. This access has a direct effect on our behavior. Access to the Holy One is a stimulus to act like Christ. As I was growing up my father was a member of the local Loyal Order of Moose lodge. The only way a non-member could enter into the lodge was in the company of a member. Once inside, the guest had a reason to act especially honorably, his host. Any dishonorable behavior by the guest would reflect on his host. So it is with our access. We have been brought in and justified by Jesus Christ, so we act like Him, and because we are now members, these actions become part of our very nature.

Finally, justification affords us adoption, sweet acceptance By God. Adoption is the doctrine which makes all of justification "click". We are made "sons of God". There are two words in the Greek for the word "son". The first, teknon denotes one born into a family by natural birth. Hence, a girl is technically teknon. The second word, huios describes one who has legally been declared a son. In the Jewish tradition, at age thirteen a boy becomes barmitzvah and enters manhood. In this celebration the Jewish boy passes from being merely teknon to being huios. He now assumes all the responsibilities and enjoys all the rights and privileges of being a full fledged son of the covenant. We, by being justified and adopted, are not only generic children of God, but are regarded as full sons of God. Because of this we call Him "Father" and have the responsibility to obey Him, and the privilege to love Him.

The second benefit of Christ’s resurrection as seen in the catechism is that of sanctification. Louis Berkhof defines sanctification as "that gracious and continuous operation of the Holy Spirit by which He purifies the sinner, renews his whole nature in the image of God, and enables him to perform good works". God is the primary mover in our sanctification. Paul wrote to the Phillipians that "He who has begun a good work in you will complete it..." (Phil. 1:6). God begins it and God completes it! It is God who brings us along, sustains us, moves us and makes us holy in our Christian walk. Our sanctification is not dependent upon faith that we, of ourselves, conjure up, but upon God’s faithfulness, His promise. It is the continuation of the work of the Holy Spirit after regeneration. It is NOT merely the "turning over of a new leaf", our making ourselves better, but God being actively involved in our Christian growth. Change is temporary but transformation is forever! God strengthens us and He uses various means to excite our faith. The Word of God is the primary means. We will not, we cannot grow in grace if we refuse to study the Word. Look around you. Modern, American evangelical Christianity has produced doctrinally weak Christians and churches. Many of today’s Christian population are little more than ignorant church-attenders and pew-fillers. It seems today more and more people are susceptible to be "tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine", (Eph. 4:14). Religious cults and false gods are widely accepted and tolerated, all because of a rejection and refusal to study and believe the Bible. People do not know God’s Word! The rise of liberalism in today’s churches is directly related to this. Jesus said worship must be done "in spirit and truth", (Jn. 4:23). This "truth" includes doctrinal truth, which is impossible without diligent Bible study. The Bible connects spiritual life with truth. The Bible is also regarded as a quickening power, as it promotes obedience, prevents and purges sin, and produces a hatred for sin and a love for truth. D. L. Moody, on the inside cover of his Bible, wrote "This book will keep me from sin, or sin will keep me from this book". Our sanctification is inseparably linked to our study of the Bible.

Other means God uses in our sanctifying process include faith and prayer. The diligent and heartfelt exercise of these leads directly to their increase. Just try it! It has been said that abiding begins as a discipline, but turns into desire!

Hearing the Word preached and applied also plays a large part in our growth as Christians, as does fellowship with other believers. None of these activities should be neglected. And while these all are very important to our growth in the Lord, they should not be regarded as ends in themselves. God is sovereign, but we are responsible for our actions, and so must determine in our hearts to become holy. We must determine to die to sin and not lead a lifestyle of sinfulness. We should strive to live a new life in the Lord. This is our duty as well as our desire. God has saved us to be a living memorial to Him, to honor Him, glorify Him and serve him. We must, in our hearts and minds, determine to do these things, and yet we see that it is God who sovereignly enables us and helps us to do so. He guides our will to do His will. He grants us grace to withstand trials and he leads us to do His perfect will.

The final benefit of Christ’s resurrection we see in the catechism is that wonderful truth of glorification. We look for the return of the lord Jesus Christ. In celebrating the Lord’s Table, we not only commemorate His death, but we look forward to His return and our resurrection. We expect Him to come for us as a girl expects her date to whisk her off to the prom. When He does so, we will be like Him. Our bodies, as well as our souls, will be redeemed. Presently, our bodies are earthly, sustained by the earth and infested with a sin nature. They are subject to sickness and disease, and upon death they decay in the grave. At Christ’s return we will receive a glorified, heavenly body, one that is sustained by God alone. This means for us, no more sickness, sin or death. "Many blessings are promised to our outward man, here in this life; and hereafter it is to be made a glorious and incorruptible body, like unto the glorious body of our lord Jesus Christ; It is to be clothed with light and crowned with rays, nevermore to suffer injuries without or diseases within", (Ezekiel Hopkins). Do you long for this? We can believe God for this. Thomas Watson said rightly that "we are more sure to arise out of our graves than out of our beds"! We can trust in God’s faithfulness and power, and let us do just that.

We have briefly looked at a few of the benefits resulting from Christ’s resurrection. They ought to move us to an even greater love and appreciation for the lord Jesus Christ. Let us take these truths and study them, understand them and apply them to our lives as we wholly trust the King of Kings.


  Perry A. Hess, BS Pastoral Ministries
1982 graduate of Mid South Bible College,
(now Crichton College) in Memphis, Tn
Has worked with teens as a youth pastor and teacher in various churches.
 

 

 

 
REVIEWS

By Nat Carswell

When confronted by the type of inanity which so dominates the Modern Evangelical New Testament American Christian (MENTAC) landscape today, one is tempted to become cynical and angry-sins as grievous as the inanity itself.
 
CONTRIBUTORS
Rev. Paul Alexander
Rev. Greg Bahnsen
Nat Carswell
Gordon H. Clark
Edward Dalcour
Kevin L. Clauson, M.A., J.D.
Rev. William Einwechter
J. C. Evans
Kenneth Gentry
Perry A. Hess
Michael S. Horton
Ronald Kirk
Amanda Krystaponis
Rick Martin
Charles A. McIlhenny
Larry J. Michael, PhD.
Wil Pounds
Eunice V. Ray
Colonel Ronald D. Ray
Ernest Reisinger
P.Andrew Sandlin
Steve M. Schlissel
Geoff Thomas
Sarah Thomas
K. Cody Vest
 
OFFSITE LINKS
A Place for Truth
Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals
Association of Classical & Christian Schools (ACCS)
Biblical Horizons

Business Reform

Can a Christian lose his or her Salvation?

Canon Press and Book Service

Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics

Center for Cultural Leadership
Chalcedon
Chasing Hats
Covenant Media Foundation
Credenda Agenda
Dispensationalism: Being Left Behind
Free Books
Historic Creeds
King's Meadow
Ligonier Ministries
Messiah's
ModernReformation.org
Postmillennialism
Razormouth
Reformation Ink
Reformed Web Sites
The Church
SCCCS
Search the Bible
The Department of Christian Defense
The Not So Secret Rapture
The Preterist Archive
The Works of Flavius Josephus
Threshold