Archive for February, 2014

The Spirit of Marcionism Lives On

February 27, 2014

If once we detach the New Testament from the Old Testament, there is not a single heresy that will not find something to say for itself, perhaps more than we may be able to handle. Let us carry what we hear to the Old Testament and if it exactly tallies with the Old Testament, we may be sure it is a right interpretation of the New Testament and if otherwise it must be false because the mind and will of God can never vary, disagree with or contradict itself. By taking different text here and there in the New Testament, and separating them from their reference to and connection with the Old Testament, many heresies have arisen; as Arianism, Socinianism, Marcionism, Dispensationalism and many others have. Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures. The Scriptures that the Bereans (Acts xvii. 11) were told to search must have been the scriptures of the Old Testament; no others, if written, could then have come to their hands; but they compared the New testament as preached by Paul with that of the Old Testament of Moses and the Prophets. That they might judge whether the things he declared to them were of divine authority, answerable to revelations that preceded by the Mind and Will of God or not.

This is said in respects to the whole and not any particular doctrine.. The Doctrine of the Trinity in unity, the incarnation, birth, life, teaching, miracles, suffering, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, glorification, intercession of Christ, together with every other doctrine of Christ and those things that bear toward salvation of mankind. When I compare these things with what is contained in the Old Testament, to which the New Testament so often refers for their truth, I then can not suppose them to be false.

Therefore, when we compare the New Testament with the Old Testament, we may be assured that it is as impossible to be false. When therefore I hear of a doctrine as taught in the New Testament, I am certain, if it be true, it must be in accord and harmony with the Scriptures of the Old Testament. If I find it does not exactly tally with what I find there, I am certain it is false, and must arise from some misconception or some misinterpretation of the passage where it is supposed to be found.

The gospel is the best comment upon the law, and the law is the best expositor of the gospel: they are like a pair of indentures, they answer in every part: their harmony is wonderful, and is of itself a conviction.

In John 5 Christ tells us – “For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?”

Ignatius Epistle to Philadelphia, c8.introduces a believer saying – nifi invenero in antiquis (vaticiniis) Evangelio non credo: which Ignatius heartily assents to as well, “What I do not find in Moses and the Prophets, I’ll not believe in the gospel.” Ignatius continues “But there is no danger of this, no hazard of being put to such a trail; for certainly the New Testament saith none other than Moses and the Prophets did say and that should come to pass.”

“ They thereupon imagine a discrepancy, if not a contradiction, between them, and adopt the mischievous conclusion that the two Testaments contain different codes of Christian ethics. This notion, it is to be feared, has a general prevalency. What is more common than to hear Christians, who should be well informed, and who profess full reverence for the inspiration of the whole Scriptures, speak of the morality of the Old Testament, of the Hebrew saint, of the prophet, as harsh, austere, and forbiddening, while that of the New Testament, of Jesus, and of the Christian is sweet and forgiving?

All these notions are of Socinian or rationalistic origin, and are incompatible with an honest belief in the actual inspiration of the Scriptures. … But if “All Scripture (the apostle means the Old Testament) is theopneustic,” if “holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost,” to “lead them into all truth,” then a real discrepancy between them is impossible; for all truths must be harmonious among themselves. … The same view commends itself irresistibly to the plain mind from this fact, that Jesus Christ, not to add the apostles, suspended the truth of his mission and doctrine on the infallibility and holiness of the Old Testament. His appeal is ever to them. He cites Moses and the prophets as though he thought their testimony must be the end of strife. Now, if they are not inspired and true, it follows irresistibly that Jesus Christ was either mistaken or he was dishonest. Absit impietas. In either case, he is no Redeemer for us. And, indeed, the former alternative of this dilemma is inadmissible for one who claimed, as he did, an infallible knowledge of himself, a preexistence of the era of Abraham and the prophets and the authority of the Messiah by whose Spirit those prophets spoke, So that, if the Old Testament were imperfect, Jesus of Nazareth would stand convicted of criminal attempts of imposture.” -Robert Lewis Dabney, Presbyterian Minister

The continuity of scripture must be stressed. Gospel and Law are not mutually exclusive. We are to obey the command of the scriptures to believe but we are also to love and obey God’s law and meditate upon it night and day. The continuity of scripture must be stressed. To sacrifice Gospel or Law is to sacrifice the whole of Scripture. Antinomianism and Legalism must always be avoided. To place a dichotomy between Gospel and Law is to place a false dichotomy.

Westminster divine Anthony Burgess, taught us how the law and gospel ‘sweetly comply’ together “Of Admonition, to take heed how we vilifie or contemne this Law of God … What, shall we revile that which is God’s great mercy to a people? Because the Jews and Papists do abuse the Law, and the works of it to justification, shall it not therefore have its proper place and dignity? Take heed therefore of such phrases, An Old-Testament-spirit, and, His Sermon is nothing but an explication of the Law: For it ought much to rejoyce thee, to hear that pure and excellent image of Gods holiness opened. How mayest thou delight to have that purity enjoyned, which will make thee loath thy self, prize Christ and Grace more, and be a quick goad to all holiness? And if you say, Here is nothing of Christ all this while: I answer That is false, as is to be proved, if the Law be not taken very strictly: And besides, the Law and the Gospel are not to be severed, but they mutually put a fresh relish and taste upon each other. And shall no mercy be esteemed, but what is the Gospel? Thou art thankfull for temporall mercies, and yet they are not the Gospel; but this is a spiritual mercy.” -Anthony Burgess, Vindiciae legis

As a friend recently said to me, “It is pretty simple for me now. Unless someone loves the Old Testament as much as they do the New Testament they are dispensationalist whether they acknowledge it or not. This includes the New Covenant Theologians, who are still ultimately dispensationalists when everything is said and done.


The First Rays of Millennial Morning Light

February 24, 2014

The First Rays of Millennial Morning Light
An Overview of Historicism Classical Post Millennialism
A Historic Covenanter view of Eschatology
by Michael Daniels

Editorial Note: This is a intramural debate or in other words an in-house discussion. It is not my intent to say that those who are partial preterist are not fellow believers or unworthy of fellowship. I have many dear friends and loved ones that are partial preterist. I believe this discussion should be kept civil, polite and unemotional. Let us bring honor to Christ and let us proclaim His kingdom which we are assured will fill the entire Earth.

Historicism teaches that much of prophetic revelation is being fulfilled throughout church history from the first advent to some undetermined time in the future. This is in contrast to partial preterism that sees much of prophetic revelation fulfilled in the first century and in contrast to futurism that sees much of prophetic revelation being fulfilled in some distant future. This is simply going to be an overview of Historicism and not a complete exhaustive work on Historicism. It is extremely hard to just give a brief overview of the system. It took Horae Apocalypticae by Edward Elliott 4000 pages to give a complete exhaustive detail of the Historicism system and it is very hard to condense 4000 pages into a brief overview.

It is the position of this author that Historicism is the biblical hermeneutic when dealing with prophetical eschatological passages of the Scripture and it is the main Orthodox position down through history. It is found among the Patristic sages and in fact the very first complete commentary on the Book of Revelation was of a Historicist view. It is the same exact position of the great Reformers of the Protestant Reformation including John Calvin, John Knox and Martin Bucer. It is the position taken by those who wrote the Westminster Standards which is explicitly Historicist. There were many millennium positions at the Westminster Assembly including Post Millennial, A Millennial and even a Covenantal Pre Millennial (as seen in the assembly moderator William Twisse). For this reason the Westminster Assembly did not place a Millennium position within the Confession of Faith but among those differing positions at the Westminster Assembly they all agreed with Historicism which they then placed within the Westminster Standards, both within the Confession of Faith as well as the Directory of Public Worship. The Puritans and Covenanters were of the same Historicist position. The Covenanters went further then the Westminster Assembly and they did confessionalize Classical Post-Millennialism which saw the Millennium not current by still future as seen in the Reformation Principles Exhibited 1806 and many of the Puritans also held to the Classical Post-Millennial position such as the great Jonathan Edwards. So the author of this paper does believe that the Historicist position is the Orthodox Patristic, Protestant and Reformed position.

Without a doubt Historicism does agree with many aspects of partial preterism. We all agree that the time leading up to the destruction of the Temple was the beginning of the Tribulation period but the Historicist does not see the Great Tribulation ending with the destruction of the Temple.

But Historicist believe that the period leading up to the destruction of the Temple was only the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jeremiah 30:7-11) which is the beginning of the Tribulation Period. Historicists see the Great Tribulation extending from the destruction of the Temple until some undetermined time in the future (Daniel’s Time, Time and Half Time, Daniel 12.5-7 and Revelation 12:14) and see Matthew’s reference to “great tribulation” in (Matthew 24:29) as parallel to Revelation 6:12–13.

We also believe that Matthew chapter 23:38 describes the destruction of the city of Jerusalem and of the Temple while much of the latter half of Matthew chapter 24 is describing the The Great Tribulation after the destruction of the Temple which are described as such in the writing of Cyprian.

Historicist believe that we are currently in the Great Tribulation period. A time of darkness, of cruel tyranny and persecuting of the saints of God. A period where the antichristian forces of Papacy, Islam and Secularism rail against the church and kill the saints of God. And we will continue to see this time of injustice, cruelty, tyranny and blood until the time when the church is delivered and Christ has brought all His enemies under Him and when all nations will submit themselves to Christ as King.

Historicists believe that mankind has been in the Tribulation since the destruction of the Temple and we point to the following passages which shows the “tribulation” that the saints continue to endure.

(John 16:33) – Jesus Christ said to His followers, “In the world YOU shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

(2 Thessalonians 1:4) – Paul wrote of the many “persecutions and tribulations” which “the churches of God” were to endure.

(Revelation 7:14) – God’s people who “came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”.

This gives clear biblical evidence that Christians have always gone through “tribulation” and will endure tribulations until some undetermined future time when the church is delivered.

John Calvin, Martin Luther and other Protestant reformers saw the Antichrist as a present feature in the world instead of expecting a single Antichrist to rule the earth during a future Tribulation period.

The Historicist sees that the ecclesiastical Antichrist (secularism is the state Antichrist) has two horn, one that grows out of the other. The Two horns are represented as the Papacy and Islam- the mystery religion of Babylon. The two heads are two sides of the same coin that stem from ancient Babylon. The Papacy which is the Babylonian Sun worship and is represented by the sun and Islam which is the Babylonian Moon worship and is represented by the crescent moon. Both have their roots in ancient Babylon and both have been paradisaical and taking in different portions of authentic Christianity and twisted them to their evil scheme. The Papacy was the first horn that came and persecuted the saints of the Most High and Islam is the second horn that came and until to persecute the saints. Historicist see Revelation chapter 9 as the ravages of the Islam which further demonstrate that this long and dreary season from the beginning to the end will continue to be a time of injustice, cruelty, tyranny and blood. Both the Papacy and Islam is the Mystery Babylon religion. But both will be destroyed. Islam has been a growing force and we are starting to see the signs of the power of the eastern second Antichrist and it is going to be a force that is gong to have to be dealt with.

When the Antichrist system (Papacy, Islam and Secularism) are destroyed the end of the Great Tribulation will come. Many portions of the Old Testament predict the church’s deliverance and prosperity. In addition to the destruction of the Antichrist we will also see the conversion of the Jewish people to Christ as prophetized in both the Old and New Testament as well as all the nations will submit to Christ and all of His laws. So the Tribulation will end when see the destruction of the Antichrist, the people of God united under one common creed, the Jewish people converted brought into the church and the last nation bowing the knee to King Jesus.

There is no scripture that describes the current state as the Millennium but many passages that speak of an on-going time of Tribulation and a time of antichristian darkness.

So what are the characteristics of the Millennium? The book of Revelation is largely about the Tribulation which is the ongoing present reality. It is the book of Isaiah that reveals the details of the Millennium. There are many Old Testament passages that speak about the Millennium after the Tribulation has ended such as Zechariah 14, Isaiah 65, Isaiah 2, Isaiah 32, Isaiah 60, Psalm 72:7-11 and so many other passages could be mentioned. And none of these passages can be said to describe the current reality of the present day.

Psalm 72:7-11

“In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth. He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him; and his enemies shall lick the dust. The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts. Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him.”

Psalm 86: 9-10

“All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord; and shall glorify thy name. For thou art great, and doest wondrous things: thou art God alone.”

Psalm 110:1-4

“The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth. The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.”
Isaiah 2:2-4

“And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”
Isaiah 11:9-12

“They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.”

Isaiah 66:18

“For I know their works and their thoughts: it shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see my glory.”

Joel 3:18

“And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth out of the house of the Lord, and shall water the valley of Shittim.”

Here is a bullet proof listing of the characteristic of the Millennium,

  1. The time of Antichrist reign in the earth and his power over the church of God shall come to an end.
  2. The time of the church’s low condition shall be finished.
  3. The time of Satan’s deceiving the nations shall be stopped.
  4. The time of the Jew’s apostate shall come to an end and they shall be converted to Christ and brought into the church.
  5. The time of heathenish idolatry and Mahometan delusions shall come to an end.
  6. The time of antichristian corruption with the constitutions and administration of the churches shall cease.
  7. The time of antichristian corruption with the nations shall cease and every nation shall submit to Christ and His laws.
  8. The time of mournful division among professors of true Christianity shall cease.
  9. The time of unprovoked wars shall cease and time of peace and prosperity shall reign.
  10. The time of the Lord’s trying the faith and patience of His saints shall cease(Rev. 13:10).

Jonathan Edwards gave us in Sermon 27 some other characteristics of the Millennium,

  1. 1. “It will be a time of great light and knowledge.
  2. It shall be a time of great holiness.
  3. It shall be a time wherein religions shall in every respect be uppermost in the world.
  4. These will be times of great peace and love.
  5. A time of excellent order in the church discipline, and government be settled in his church.
  6. The church of God shall be beautiful and glorious on these accounts.
  7. [That will be a time] of great temporal [prosperity].
  8. [It shall also be a] time of great rejoicing.”

Now what can we say about the Millennium’s time frame? Is it a literal 1000 years or is it a figurative number of some period of time? Historicism does not really get into the issue of the time frame of the Millennium. There has been Classical A Millennialist Historicist that hold that the Millennium is a figurative number that represent all the saints in the Intermediate state (and this has led to such views such as R2K and the denying of the Magistrate as being a component of the Kingdom of God), there has even been Covenantal Pre Millennialist that has held to a Historicist view but held that Christ returns before the Millennium and there are two separate resurrections between the Millennium (which is a whole other issue). And there are Classical Post Millennialist who believe that it is a future literal 1000 years.

I do believe Historicism does speak contrary to those Post Millennialist who are Partial Preterist because the Partial Preterist view is that the Great Tribulation as well as the Antichrist to be completely fulfilled in the first century and the Millennium is an undetermined time between the first advent and the second advent.

For Covenanters and the Puritans such as Jonathan Edwards and myself, we see that the Millennium is still future and it consist of a literal 1000 years which is the Classical Post-Millennial view. Everywhere in the scripture does it describe the Millennium as still future. The deliverance and prosperity of the church is still future. The nations submitting to Christ in totality is still future.

The Reformation Principles Exhibited 1806 confessionalized a future tense millennium and for good purpose.

“God shall, according to his promise, overthrow the empire of darkness, and introduce the millennial state, in which the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” -Reformation Principles Exhibited (1806)

This does not mean the Kingdom of God has not come! It surely did come with all power and authority in Heaven and on Earth (Matthew 12:28; cf. Luke 11:20; Romans 1:4; Hebrews 2:7-8; Matthew 28) and the nations are called here and now to submit to Christ or be dashed into pieces but we are still in a time of darkness. Christ will receive no greater authority or power then He has now, when the Millennial state begins. But we are still in a time of the nations rebelling against Christ. The Gospel state of the Kingdom is now. The call has been send and we are to convert the nations and that will happen with the power of the Gospel through the Holy Spirit and when that last nation submits to Christ then the first rays of Millennial light show bust forth.

For the Covenanters and many of the Puritans, myself and even Jonathan Edwards we take that future Millennium as a literal 1000 year time period because of the six definite article in the Greek that describe that Millennium. Yes, much of the book of Revelation is symbolic, yes much is figurative but we must be extremely careful to let scripture tell us what is symbolic and what is figurative and when it speaks of something in a definite article six times, I think we better listen.

So for now, the nations are to progressively submit to Christ “The Son” or be dashed into pieces (Ps. 2) and Christ is actively subduing His enemies and more and more as time progresses (and there will be ebbs and flows) the nations will come to submit to Him until that first rays of millennial light comes forth when the last nation submits to Christ.

End Note: This is merely a brief overview of the Historicist Post Millennial position. Stay tuned for an upcoming book that will be a historic Covenanter work republished that will get into much more detail on this historic but often neglected doctrine.


“We are assured that Satan will be dispossessed of that power over this world, which he usurped when man fell, and which he has since been permitted, for wise purposes, to exercise. His kingdom will be destroyed, and he will be shut up in hell. The great, immoral empires, symbolized by the four beasts of Daniel’s vision, are to be destroyed. That is, there will come a time when civil governments of an immoral character, shall cease to exercise tyranny over the nations. Their downfall will be succeeded by the setting of kingdoms established upon holy principles, and administered by godly men, The kingdom of Christ, in other words, will then be fully established.” -Samuel B, Wylie, The Two Sons of Oil, 1773-1852

And the, “The day begins to dawn. We see the first rays of the millennial morning streaming over the mountains of future years. Our Redeemer is on his march, and the brightness of light is before him. The mountains will flow down at his presence. “Who art thou, O great mountain! Before Zerubbabel, thou shalt become a plain.” “Hosannah in the highest! blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord!” “All kings shall bow down before him: all nations shall serve him.”” – James R. Willson, The Subjection of Kings and Nations to Messiah, 1819