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

The Biblical Illiteracy in the Christian Church

Edward Dalcour


Just a few months ago, I remember watching the TV show: Politically Incorrect. One of the guests was the metal rock star Marilyn Manson. I recall how Manson confidently and boldly attacked Christianity professing his anti-Christian dogmas. This type of anti-Christian pontification is a commonplace in the media, as well as in college and university campuses.

Thus, the question arises: “Why is it that unbelievers along with non-Christian cults that are so antagonistic toward Christianity are so incredibly heroic when it comes to asserting their views?”

Answer: Today’s Christians are biblically ill-equipped to communicate the reliability of Scripture and foundational Christian doctrines: the deity of Jesus Christ, the Tri-Unity of God, justification by faith alone, etc. Hence, Salvation is predicated on the finished work and the Person of Jesus Christ. Jesus stated in His high Priestly prayer to His Father:

This is eternal life, that they may know (ginoskosin) You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent (John 17:3 NASB).

The word translated “they may know” is ginoskosin, which “denotes to come to know, to know [i.e., intellectually] His Messianic dignity … his divinity”1 When Jesus said, “…Unless you believe that I AM you will die in your sins” (John 8:24; lit. Gk), in essence He said: “Unless you know, intellectually, assent, and trust Me that I AM the Savior, Eternal God distinct from My Father and that because of My sacrifice on the cross, I justify the sinner through faith alone; unless you believe this, you will die in your sins.”

Observably, the proclamation of these essential teachings is virtually nonexistent within the walls of most major Christian conferences and revivals. Let me ask you: “In the last ten years have you ever heard in a church, or a Christian conference a specific teaching on the nature of God (Trinity) or the deity of Christ or justification through faith alone?” I ask this question at churches around the world. Rarely do I see a single hand on this. When one becomes a Mormon or a Jehovah’s Witness within the first 30 days or so, they know and are able to communicate the nature of their God. And, what is more, they commit to memory many verses in order to support their theology, and hence they chew up most Christians at the doorstep. The reason being: THEY STUDY!

The Importance of Biblical Competence

The first century church was concerned about what God thought and not man. Subsequently, the early church Fathers valued Scripture; for them it was the sole infallible regula fidei, that is, the “rule of faith” for the church. Christians must be fearless God lovers and not afraid to speak out for what is right. God requires this of us all. We must study God’s Word so we can be effective witnesses for Christ. The Bible has a lot to say in terms of Christians building themselves up intellectually. Paul says not to be “...conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of your mind….” (Rom. 12:2 NASB).

God told us to love Him with our minds. Studying Scripture these days to further one’s biblical acumen is not exactly the hobby of choice. Hence, the by-product: churches are filled with members who are perfect candidates for non-Christians cults and toys for clever skeptics.

Speaking on Paul’s letters, the Apostle Peter says: “His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures….” (2 Peter 3:16 NIV). The Greek word translated “ignorant” is amatheis, which literally means unstudied or untrained. Hence, it is the unstudied that distort Scripture. Being biblically educated is not a suggestion, Scripture commands:

…always being ready to make a defense [apologian] to everyone who asks you to give an account [logon] for the hope that is in you…. (1 Peter 3:15 NASB)

It is paramount that Christians learn to communicate accurately the Person of Christ. It is not the mere name “Jesus” that is salvific, for in the first century “Jesus” was a common name. It is the Person of Christ who was sent by His Father and became (egeneto; cf. John 1:14) flesh to die in our place. The only way we can know, understand, and present accurately the Jesus of Scripture is to devote time to study and biblical research. The Apostle Paul instructed us to watch our doctrine closely and persevere in them, for we do this, Paul says, we will ensure salvation both for ourselves and our hearers (cf. 1 Tim. 4:16).

What is true is that most (over 80%) current members of the Mormon Church, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Oneness groups, and virtually all non-Christian cults came out of Christian churches! The fact is they were not rooted in basic distinctive Christian theology. Hence, when Mormon missionaries or JWs approached them at their doorstep, they saw the fruits of love and good works but were biblically inadequate to discern the fruits of doctrine—particularly on the doctrine of God.

Tolerance for Truth

Because of the laxity of biblical study, too many Christians severely lack doctrinal discernment. It is bad enough when a Christian cannot demonstrate biblically the nature of God or that Jesus is the eternal God distinct from His Father; but far too often Christians are tolerant when it comes to biblical truth.

Example: When a popular evangelist errs in essential doctrine, does anyone speak out as Scripture teaches (cf. Titus 1:9, 13)? Why is it that a Christian leader who falls into immorality can immediately the next week, step behind the pulpit, neatly brush his coat and claim that the devil made him do it and preach on; while the congregation remains silent in support? Do they not read Scripture?: “…he must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach…” (1 Tim. 3:2ff.). Unfortunately many Christian men and women stay silent in the face of evil; they would rather not say anything than have someone get upset at them.

Many times, I hear sincere Christians say: “We are not suppose to judge.” However, in sharp contrast to that assertion, judging actions and doctrine is the biblical responsibility of all Christians. Paul sums it up this way: “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside… Refute those who oppose sound doctrine….” (1 Cor. 5:12; Titus 1:9; NIV).

In the end, we as Christians have an obligation: Since we follow a God that calls Himself “Truth,” we should therefore give a reasonable and substantive presentation of the Gospel that centers on the Person of Jesus Christ. We should have a high standard for truth and become biblically literate. Christian leaders would do well to increase their doctrinal education so they can equip and train others. The motto for the early church was: “Contend (epagonizesthai; lit. “argue,” “contest”) for the faith” (Jude 3). But sadly, in the modern church, the motto has been altered: “Do not contend for the faith, someone may get upset.” Is there anyone left that will stand?

Notes

1Joseph H. Thayer, Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (1896; reprint, with Strong’s numbering added by Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody: Hendrickson, 1996), 118.

 

A special thanks goes out to The Department of Christian Defense for permission to reprint this article on our site.

 

Martyn Lloyde-Jones

From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?
James 4:1

It is interesting and strange to note in what may be termed the religious attitude towards war, or the attitude of religious people towards war, two tendencies almost invariably manifest themselves.
 
CONTRIBUTORS
Rev. Paul Alexander
Rev. Greg Bahnsen
Nat Carswell
Gordon H. Clark
Edward Dalcour
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
Peter J. Wallace
 
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 Long List of Reformed Links
The Not So Secret Rapture
The Preterist Archive
The Works of Flavius Josephus
Threshold