THE ANTICHRIST Controversy Part I

See the Introduction
Already in the first century the church was faced with the question of how to understand the apostle Paul’s description of the coming apostasy and revelation of the man of lawlessness as recorded in II Thessalonians 2:1-12. Events continually surfaced that seemed to correspond to what Paul had described concerning a certain individual who would appear on the scene of history prior to Christ’s second return. In the mid 4th century, John Chrysostom (344-407) began asking questions that are still being asked to this very day. He wrote,
Here Paul discuses the Antichrist and discusses great mysteries. What is the “falling away”? He calls him Apostasy; so he will destroy many and make them fall away…And he calls him “the man of sin.”…But who is he? Satan? By no means. Rather he is a man in whom Satan fully works…He will abolish all the gods and will order men to worship him instead of God. He will be seated in the temple of God, not that in Jerusalem only, but also in every church.



William Perkins (1558-1602) is known as the father of Elizabethan Puritanism.  One of his most important works is the Reformed Catholik.  Perkins devoted an entire section in this work to the Reformed doctrine of assurance.  As I was reading this treatise, I was struck by how contrary Perkin's comments are to the Westminster Confession of Faith on Assurance.  Perkins is adamant that assurance belongs to the essence of true faith.  Read the following statements by Perkins and then compare them with the WCF. 


The ANTICHRIST CONTROVERSY--Can Christ Return At Any Moment?

I am thinking of doing a blog series on the antichrist phenomena, but thought I would raise the problem first.

Last night I attended a conference at the local Protestant Reformed Church on eschatology.  Professor David Engelsma spoke on Revelation 11 and the slaying of the two witnesses. The lecture was quite good, but during the course of the lecture, Engelsma again asserted with authority that the antichrist will be a literal man who will physically crush the church once its mission is complete. I say “again” because Engelsma was one of the most vocal Reformed voices against Harold Camping’s prediction of Christ’s return in 1994.  Engelsma responded to Harold Camping by saying that it would be impossible for Christ to return in 1994 because 2 Thess. 2 says the day will not come until the man of sin is revealed.  So, according to Engelsma,


Dr. W Robert Godfrey to Preach at LURC This Sunday!

For those in the surrounding region who attended our 2009 Pacific Northwest Reformation Conference featuring Dr. W Robert Godfrey, we have the privilege to have him back into our pulpit this coming Sunday.  Worship times are 10:00AM & 7:00 PM. Visit the LURC online for more info.

Sunday AM: Psalm 84--Desiring God on His Terms
Sunday PM: Revelation 14:1-13--Seeing the World as God Does



My good friend Rev. Kevin Efflandt recently did a post on the cult of personality.  His post captures the problem well.  Take time to read it.  I posted on this subject almost two years ago now (wow, where does time go?).  Here is an updated version.

In working through Preachers and Preaching with one of our seminary students, I was recently struck by something Martyn Lloyd Jones warned against.

The preacher has to guard himself against the terrible temptation to be a 'character'. People like a 'character', and if a man has certain elements in him that tend to make him a character--something out of the ordinary, something which people regard as attractive--he has to be careful. His danger is to pander to this and to play up to it; and in the end he is just calling attention to himself. Some men like to be quaint or odd or different, and to get people to talk about them. This is the danger, so beware of this; and, again, especially watch your strong point.



Crystal Cathedral Mega Church Goes Bankrupt

Considering that Robert Schuller pioneered the current mega church movement, the recent bankruptcy of the Crystal Cathedral is no small issue. Are we getting a glimpse into the near future for those megachurches that have followed Schuller's same paradigm for ministry? Just what is the current state of the megachurch movement? If the Crystal Cathedral is any gage of what is to come, what might we learn from the current bankruptcy of the granddaddy of all mega churches in this country?


What exactly did Jesus teach regarding the future of Israel? Is there a future restoration planned? Why did Jesus curse the fig tree? Take some time to listen to our daily 15 minute program as we tackle this very important subject.
Matthew 21 The Barren Fig Tree
Matthew 21 The Barren Fig Tree
Matthew 21 The Barren Fig Tree
Matthew 21 The Barren Fig Tree

Matthew 21 The Barren Fig Tree Part 2
Matthew 21 The Barren Fig Tree Part 2
Matthew 21 The Barren Fig Tree Part 2
Matthew 21 The Barren Fig Tree Part 2




Covenant Radio's current series is: WHAT IS REFORMED THEOLOGY? 
I was interviewed on Covenant Radio this past week on the Reformed doctrine of Regeneration.  I took a bit to warm up to being hundreds miles away and doing an interview over the phone, but I trust that if you take the time to listen to the full interview, you will be blessed by our discussion on the Spirit's work of implanting the principle of life in dead hearts, to the glory of God!  Listen to the whole series.

ELECTION--Dr. Cornelius Venema
REGENERATION--Rev. Christopher Gordon
Here are the first two:
#128 | Election and Predestination | Dr. Cornelis Venema | 1 HR 14 MIN
#129 Regeneration | Rev. Chris Gordon | 1 HR 3 MIN



I was challenged in a previous post to not just point out the errors of others, but provide some calls to action.  I have done this over the past year in many of my posts, but here are ten ways to evaluate you motivations for church going, and whether you should be attending your present church.  The call to action is to be honest in this self-evaluation as you take a more active role to test the spirits to see whether they be from God, especially in finding a church that is faithfully preaching the gospel.
Personal Motivations

1.  Sentimentalism Is Never to Trump Truth

When it comes to church life, people are often more given to sentimentalism than they are to the truth.  There may be a variety of reasons for this: sentimental attachment to a building, longstanding family representation in a particular church, pride in a certain denomination, etc.  Doctrinal integrity often takes a back seat to these kinds of sentimental attractions.  In these scenarios, people are honoring their traditions more than the LORD. Such commitments become a smokescreen to the defense of the gospel.

2. Church is Not About Making You Comfortable

People approach a prospective church with the following questions:  What are the people like?  What kind of programs does the church offer?  Is the music good?  What is the facility like?  Church is not about making us comfortable.  The church is given as a place for God’s people to be fed with his means of grace and spiritually equipped for every good work. 

As Luther said, God doesn’t need our good works, but our neighbor does.   God determines who he places next to us in the pew.  Remember that we come as beggars to receive the true bread from heaven.  Therefore, as beggars, our mindset should be to help other beggars find this same bread. 

3. Your Children Do Not Determine Where You Will Attend a Church
We live in a day of the cult of the child.  Children are not expected to take a submissive role in the home. The home today is built around the child, and discipline is non-existent.  This has devastating affects upon church life.  Parents are prone to listen to their child’s wants rather than to actively nurture their children by determining what they need.  For instance, a child complains to the parent that the sermons are too long, or the service is boring, and the parents, unwilling to lead, honor their children more than the LORD (see the consequences of this in 1 Sam. 2), and base their church attendance on what the child likes. 

This has resulted in the practice of children’s church, and other practices that remove children from the worship service.  The consequences of this are devastating upon church life. We are raising an entire generation of children who are not being trained to listen to sermons or worship the Lord corporately.  The long term fruits of this will show in increased antipathy to anything formal or organized when it comes to worship, and an inability to hear the Word (are we seeing this now?). 

4.  Style Preference Is Not Neutral
Often people base church attendance on stylistic preference, mainly with regard to music.  The Bible never presents worship as a matter of personal taste or style.  But that has not held us back today.  Just look in the phone book, when it comes to churches it's all about your likes and dislikes—contemporary, life-giving, exciting worship, etc. 

Everything we do must conform to the specific commands of Scripture with regard to worship.  Our music must conform to his truth, our liturgies should be filled with his Word, the sermons should be delivered in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power.  We should stop asking if the church is doing things that we like, but we should rather ask whether the elements of worship conform to God’s Word.

5. The Message Is to Be Believed, Not the Man Followed

The average churchgoer, when searching for a church today, is primarily concerned with the likability of the pastor. Is he down to earth? Does he share personal stories from his own personal experience? Is he just a fun-loving guy who can relate, who connects with the youth? Is he friendly?  The pastor can easily pander to this and emphasize that aspect of his personality that people are attracted to.  The church then becomes built around him rather than Christ. 

The people in the pew need to understand that the man proclaiming the Word is one sent by God himself. The preacher is sent with someone else's message, along with a method already predetermined. Through the messenger, God is exposing the lives of the sheep directly. He is uncovering the sins of people's hearts. This is ministry. The great goal of ministry, therefore, is to drop prideful sinners to their knees that they might find life in the glorious gospel of Christ and him crucified.  If the pastor is doing his job, there will be times you probably won’t like him.  But likability is not a qualification for the pastor. Beware of the cult of personality.  If you are following a man, you are being set up for a great fall. Follow the message and not the man. 

Church Motivations

6. The Preaching of the Word Is to Be Central

Is the service centered on the Word? Is the Word being read, preached, prayed and sung?  Or is the Word being used as a fortune cookie to manipulate what the pastors knows people want to hear, rather than what they need to hear?  If the preaching of the Word is not central, since it is the primary means of grace, you can be sure, God is not present in that worship service. 

7. The Sermon Is To Be Christ-Centered

Isaiah says, Lord who has believed our report?” This is an interesting question. Paul cites this from Isaiah 53 in Romans 10 to make the case that Christ is brought to us in the preaching  of this report. What is the report?

Here it is: "He has no form of comeliness no beauty that we should desire him, he is despised and rejected, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief...and we on our part hid our faces from him, he was despised, and we did not esteem him...he has borne our grief’s and carried sorrows...yet we reckoned him stricken, struck down by God and afflicted and wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities...all we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter and as a sheep before its shearers is silent so he opened not his mouth (Isa. 53:1ff)."

The report is that of bloody crucified savior who is not beautiful in our estimation. The report comes as a description of Christ's gruesome death when his grave was made with the wicked, God himself delivering over his son. Why would God do this to his beloved son? Isaiah says that it is due to our rebellious hearts since we always go astray and turn to our own. In other words, the Father did this to Son because of our sin. 

This is the report.  At the heart of everything we do in preaching, there should be a goal to preach the report.  It is God’s chosen means to save.  So ask this question: Could the sermon you’re hearing be preached in a Jewish Synagogue?  If so, it’s not a Christian sermon. 

8. Worship Should Not Be Built on Entertainment

You have six days if you really must be entertained (who could endure six days of this anyway?), but the seventh day is a day of rest from worldly amusements and a time to seriously worship the risen Christ.  Keep in mind, “amuse” means to not think.  If the church you are attending is theater-driven, you have forgotten that the very character of the perilous times the apostle warns about is a desire in people to have their ears tickled rather than a promotion of a love for the truth.  What we do is foolishness to the world, and no manner of making it acceptable to the flesh will ever be truly Spirit-filled.


9. Sacraments Are to Be Faithfully Exercised

God has given us two visible words in baptism and the Lord supper.  These are signs and seals of his grace to us.  Are these being honored in your church?  Are they being faithfully administered and not cheapened by making what is holy, common (i.e. baptism in parking lots and swimming pools for whosoever feels moved, etc.).   Is the Lord’s Supper treated as a means for your personal renewed commitment to the Lord, or as a means of strengthening your faith spiritually with the body and blood of Christ. 


10. The Church Should Love You Enough to Discipline You

It is not love to allow someone to continue in blatant sin without correction.  In fact, churches that open their doors to people running from other churches because of sin are bringing down God’s anger on the whole congregation.  A little leaven leavens the whole lump (1 Cor. 5).  We are commanded, in love, to exercise church discipline on those who have strayed in doctrine or in life.  Most likely, people have no idea what church discipline is today because the practice has all but been abandoned.  Churches that do not oversee the flock in this way are seriously offending Christ and provoking him to remove his lamp stand from their presence.



So here is a clip from Saddleback's worship service.  Contrast the "theology" in this worship song with the following God-breathed Psalm and then answer the following two questions.

Psalm 24:1 A Psalm of David. The earth is the LORD's, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein. 2 For He has founded it upon the seas, And established it upon the waters. 3 Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully. 5 He shall receive blessing from the LORD, And righteousness from the God of his salvation. 6 This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him, Who seek Your face. Selah 7 Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. 8 Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, The LORD mighty in battle. 9 Lift up your heads, O you gates! Lift up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. 10 Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, He is the King of glory. Selah

What very serious theological error is being advanced in this Saddleback song?  (Hint: Look and listen for the word "climb"?) And what is Psalm 24 really describing in contrast to this theology?  If you can pass this test, you have discerned well truth from faslehood.  BE BOLD!


NEW BOOK Always Reformed: Essays In Honor of W. Robert Godfrey

Joel Kim and Scott Clark have been working on a project for the last two years and are pleased to announce its publication today: Always Reformed: Essays In Honor of W. Robert Godfrey  The volume is in three sections to reflect three areas of Bob’s interests. Here’s the table of contents:
    Preface: Our Man Godfrey—R. Scott Clark
    I. Historical  1. Christology and Pneumatology: John Calvin, the Theologian of the Holy Spirit—Sinclair B. Ferguson 2. Make War No More? The Rise, Fall, and Resurrection of J. Gresham Machen’s Warrior Children—D. G. Hart 3. God as Absolute and Relative, Necessary, Free, and Contingent: the Ad Intra-Ad Extra Movement of Seventeenth-Century Reformed Language About God—Richard A. Muller 4. “Magic and Noise:” Reformed Christianity in Sister’s America—R. Scott Clark 5. Karl Barth and Modern Protestantism: The Radical Impulse—Ryan Glomsrud II. Theological 6. Reformed and Always Reforming—Michael S. Horton 7. Calvin, Kuyper, and “Christian Culture”—David VanDrunen 8. History and Exegesis: The Interpretation of Romans 7:14–25 from Erasmus to Arminius—Joel E. Kim 9. John Updike’s Christian America—John R. Muether III. Ecclesiastical 10. The Reformation, Luther, and the Modern Struggle for the Gospel—R. C. Sproul 11. The Reformation of the Supper—Kim Riddlebarger 12. Preaching the Doctrine of Regeneration in a Christian Congregation—Hywel R. Jones 13. Integration, Disintegration, and Reintegration: A Preliminary History of the United Reformed Churches in North America—Cornelis P. Venema 14. Epilogue: The Whole Counsel of God: Courageous Calvinism for a New Century—W. Robert Godfrey Bibliography Index Contributors
The volume is 284 pages in hardcover. If I may say we tried to make this volume as attractive as it is substantive. It’s available now through the bookstore at Westminster Seminary California this week for $20.00 (+ shipping). The price rises to $25.00 on Friday 8 October 2010.
To celebrate the occasion of Bob’s sixty-fifth birthday, the latest episode of Office Hours is dedicated to Always Reformed: Essays in Honor of W. Robert Godfrey.
Through his teaching at, and leadership of, Westminster Seminary in California, Robert Godfrey has had a significant impact both on the confessional Reformed churches at large and upon the lives and ministries of many pastors and leaders. These essays, by an esteemed group of friends and colleagues, are a fitting tribute to his life‘s work and, indeed, a helpful resource on the history, theology, and practice of the faith which he himself has done so much to promote.”—Carl R. Trueman, Professor of Historical Theology and Church History, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia
“Most great theologians and historians of the past are moving targets, so that we speak of the ‘early’ and the ‘later’ man. John Calvin is a notable exception. In this, as in many other ways, Dr. W. Robert Godfrey emulates his sixteenth-century mentor. In the decades that I have known him, Dr. Godfrey has been a consistent Calvinist, a worthy mentor, and an engaging friend and conversationalist with a fascinating array of diversified interests. His doctrine and life are a seamless piece of his seminary vision for comprehensive, consistent, Christocentric, and committed Calvinism. Editors Scott Clark and Joel Kim, together with the prestigious Reformed authors of this unusually insightful and provocative festschrift, have done a marvelous job in showcasing this vision from a variety of angles….Bob is eminently worthy of this page-turning festschrift, and it is worthy of him. If you are interested in growing on issues that relate to the cutting edge of the Reformed faith today, read this book. You will be informed, edified, challenged, and inspired.”—Joel R. Beeke, President of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids


The Sad Case of Francesco Spiera (1504-1548)--A MUST READ

The following is a link to an article written by my good friend, Dr. Wes Bredenhof.  The article is about the case of Francesco Spiera, an Italian lawyer from Venice who in 1548 converted to Protestantism.  He was subsequently put on trial by Roman Catholic authorities during the time of the Inquisition and was pressured to recant his Protestant views.  Upon doing so, he faced severe depression and died believing that he was a reprobate and sentenced to hell. Some believe his death was by suicide.  Both Protestants and Catholics immediately voiced their views on the events of Spiera's life--warning respectively.  Wes offers a good pastoral perspective on this sad account.  The article is well worth your time. Follow the link directly to the article right here.