1. The Reason
1 Peter 3:15
Systematic theology is the discipline that formulates comprehensive answers to the questions we all have about God and ultimate issues. Theological categories can serve as a grid to help us evaluate the accuracy and relevance of our answers.
In this chapter, I explain the discipline of formulating a systematic theology, defend it, and define some key terms which will be used throughout the book.
2. The Promise
2 Timothy 1:10
The promise of eternal life to believers of all nations is the message within the message of both the Old and New Testaments. That message was concealed within the narratives, poetry and prophecies of the Old Testament, revealed by Christ in the Gospels, and explained by the apostles in the Epistles and Revelation.
In this chapter, I provide an example of biblical theology, as I trace the promise of eternal life from Genesis to Revelation.
3. The Important Thing
God’s truth revealed in the Bible applies directly to everyone’s life, but it is not defined by our experiences, or even what we conceive to be our problems. We should allow God to speak to us on his terms, not force him to say what we want him to say.
In this chapter, I survey a variety of theological approaches that have developed, and encourage them, while warning against doing theology out of wrong motives.
4. The Necessity
Translation occurs when the intended content of a message is restated in words that the target audience can understand. Good theology translates God’s message, and assumes that there is intended content that transcends the means God originally used to convey the message.
In this chapter, I explain the importance of propositional truth as the core of God’s revelation to us. I also show how God has used experiences and symbols as means of communicating that truth to us, but warn against confusing these means with the message itself.
5. The Balance
No academic discipline is totally free from ethical standards. As in athletics, the rules determine whether someone has succeeded. Breaking the rules can disqualify even the fastest runner. Good theology places equal weight on the accuracy of the message and the integrity of the messengers.
In this chapter, I illustrate the need to explain the whole message of the Bible while living up to the moral standards it promotes.
6. The Task
The few short years Jesus spent in public ministry were focused on the task of bringing a few men to the point where they were totally committed to him, and training them to reflect his character, power, and message. In his Great Commission, he commanded his disciples to reproduce that ministry. Having a good theology is only part of what it means to be a disciple of Christ.
In this chapter, I clarify the text of the Great Commission Jesus gave his disciples in Matthew 28:19-20, showing how a systematic theology fits into the wider task of making disciples by means of evangelism and intensive training.
7. The Source
The source of truth behind all accurate theological constructs is God himself. Although he has chosen to communicate those truths in radically different ways, they can still be understood without paradox or contradiction because they originate within the unity of God. In this age of relativism, Christians need to stand firm behind the truths that God has revealed in loyalty to him.
In this chapter, I attack the relativistic presuppositions of the postmodern era, and show that any attempt at proving that absolute truth cannot be expressed fails by reason of its own standards. I then commend God’s revelation in scripture as the ground for a belief in absolute truth.
8. The Standard
1 John 4:6
Willingness to accept the teachings of the Bible is evidence that one has had a real experience with God. The apostles (and the prophets before them) spoke their messages freely, assuming that God’s true people would hear his voice within their messages. Those who rejected the biblical messages were condemned by God, and had to face the consequences of their choice. Today, we face the same choice when we read the Bible.
In this chapter, I encourage a high view of the Bible, both in its original form (the manuscripts) and its present form (the modern versions). I explain the process of canonicity by which the Bible came to be accepted as authoritative in its present form.
9. The Tool
2 Timothy 3:15-17
The Bible was never intended to merely inform us of God’s existence and standards, but it was designed as a tool to transform us into the people God wants us to be. This idea presupposes 1) that human nature is not what it should be, 2) it needs transformation in order to qualify for the destiny God has in store, and 3) The Bible, rightly applied, can be a means of that transformation.
In this chapter, I examine the role of the Bible in the process of sanctification toward the goal of mature Christianity.
10. The Law
God’s word and his being are inextricably connected, so that there is no way to seek God without concentrating on what he has revealed, and no relationship with God can be formed which is not informed by that revelation.
In this chapter, I expose the myth of the personal relationship with God through some means other than the Bible.
11. The Light
God’s word is intended to be understood in the contexts and times in which it was originally given, and with a minimum of effort, we can understand and apply it to our modern contexts as well. Willful ignorance of the teachings of God’s word cannot be excused by claiming that the Bible is too confusing.
In this chapter, I expose the myth that the Bible is archaic, thus irrelevant. I show that when biblical texts are treated in accordance with the rules of literature established for the genres they reflect, their meaning is obvious.
12. The Gift
1 Peter 1:3
God has given us sure knowledge of himself through his word, and that knowledge is sufficient for our present needs. Although we do not yet understand everything about our present standing and future hope, what we do understand is enough to motivate our trust in him, and to guide us in obeying him.
In this chapter, I expose the myths that the Bible must be updated with the findings of modern science, or supplemented with a personal supernatural experience, or explained by some ecclesiastical authority. All any believer needs is the Holy Spirit’s guidance to properly use the gift of the Bible.
13. The Immeasurable One
The traditional attributes of God’s greatness (omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience) are essentially ways of saying that God is so different from all his creatures that he cannot be measured (defined) by the means we are. This attribute of infinity suggests that the affirmations we make about God can only be approximate, even when they are cast in the most extreme language.
In this chapter, I discuss the difficulty in defining God’s attributes, since our language is only accurate when defining finite things or persons. We are thus forced to utilize approximate language which can only be affirmed based on the revelation of scripture.
14. The Immutable One
Although God acts and moves through history, making his mark upon the lives of all his creatures, he still remains transcendent. His essential nature and attributes do not change. This fact is encouraging to all of us who are depending on the unchanging grace of God for our ultimate salvation and glorification. But this fact also warns those who expect God to suspend justice for them, in spite of how they have responded to his gospel.
In this chapter, I outline the traditional case for the doctrine of immutability, and treat some questions that emerge from the topic. Namely, 1) If God is unchanging, how can he affect history; 2) If God is unchanging, why offer salvation to all?; 3) If God is unchanging, is there hope for those who have not heard the gospel?
15. The Immortal One
1 Timothy 6:16
Some demons created thousands of years ago have not yet died. Some elect angels created at the same time will never die. Enoch and Elijah were translated bodily, so that they did not die. Believers alive at Christ’s second coming will be glorified without going through death. Yet none of these facts overrule the plain teaching of scripture that God’s immortality is exclusive to him alone.
In this chapter, I show that God is the only being in the universe who is by nature immortal.
16. The Triune One
The God of the Bible is a complex being consisting of three equally divine persons. This eternal trinity is unlike any other being or thing in the universe, which makes him difficult to define. Nevertheless, the evidence for the unity of the godhead, together with the distinctiveness and equality of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit compels us to accept the Nicene description of the Trinity as the only doctrine which matches all the texts pertinent to the question.
In this chapter, I examine the doctrine of the Trinity as defined by the council of Nicaea in 325 AD, comparing first with the texts of scripture it was based on, then with the views of Arius, the Arians, and Oneness Pentecostals.
17. The Holy One
Goodness is an attribute of God that is communicable. That is, we can (and should) imitate God by being good as he is. However, there is a purity which we cannot attain. His righteousness makes ours look like filthy rags in comparison.
In this chapter, I explain the meaning behind the term “holy,” showing how the God of the Bible is unique among the “gods” of the nations, and among all his creatures.
18. The Independent One
The universe can only be explained (in terms of both origin and present function) by presuming a supreme being who is both independent of it, and sovereign over it. While many have sought to prove the existence of this independent sovereign God, the best proof is found in his revelation of himself in scripture.
In this chapter, I examine the evidence from creation, philosophy, human nature, and the Bible that leads to the assumption that there is a supreme being who is both independent of the universe, and sovereign over it.
19. The Created Being
Human beings are creatures, created by God and subject to the same limitations as other creatures. Presupposing that we were created immortal, and then approaching scripture from that presupposition has led to gross misinterpretations of several texts. We can only truly understand who we are in relation to God by beginning with the reality of our total dependence upon God for life and existence.
In this chapter, I refute the doctrine of innate immortality, showing that humans depend upon God for life and existence just as all other creatures do.
20. The Ruling Being
Human beings are designed to function as God’s representatives, exercising dominion over the other species on the planet, and responsible for protecting and cultivating it. This responsibility is built into the Adamic covenant, which is still in effect, in spite of the fall. Human government is authorized by God, and accountable for meeting the stipulations of that covenant. Christ will rule the new earth as the ultimate fulfillment of this ideal.
In this chapter, I cover the issues of human responsibility for and authority over the created order as representatives of God. Subsidiary issues include the relationship of church and state, the Millennium, and the eternal kingdom.
21. The Mortal Being
The consequences of original sin in the garden of Eden include the mortality of all human beings, which makes homo sapiens no different from the animals in terms of mortality and eventual death. This dark reality is the backdrop upon which the brilliant light of eternal life offered by Christ emerges in scripture.
In this chapter, I continue presenting the evidence for innate mortality, and bridge to the concept of potential immortality as a result of the atonement.
22. The Social Being
Genesis 1:27; 2:18
Human beings are capable of being alone, but are designed to operate in groups – the core group being the married couple – husband and wife. Through the inter-relationship opportunities provided by marriage, families, communities and societies, we learn our purposes, our values, and shape ourselves. These horizontal relationships can also help us to better understand and function in our vertical relationship with God.
In this chapter, I explore the various social connections that define our humanity. These include gender relationships, family issues, friendships, political affiliations, school and church involvement.
23. The Ethnic Being
At some point in our history (probably Babel), the human species has diverged into a number of distinct ethnic groups. God’s intention for these ethnic identities is to preserve them throughout eternity under the Lordship of Christ. In regard to salvation, God does not favor any particular race, but wishes to redeem every race.
In this chapter, I point out the inconsistency in racist ideology and activity for those who claim to follow Christ. I consider the claims of racial supremacists in order to show that such claims stem from unbiblical presuppositions.
24. The Immortable Being
Romans 2:7; 2 Timothy 1:10
The hope of humanity is the eternal life that God offers through the sacrifice of his Son on the cross. Immortality is a potential possession. Therefore, no human life need be wasted. Each of us has the potential to be much more than what we can attain in a few short years of life. The immortability of the human soul leads to at least two practical, but seemingly contradictory conclusions: 1) all human life is valuable and must be protected, 2) the chance to be immortal is worth risking one’s life for.
In this chapter, I outline the doctrine of potential immortality, and point out some of the implications of this doctrine, including the sanctity of human life, and the call for unlimited perseverance.
25. The Definitions
1 John 3:4
Sin is a complicated issue, because it manifests itself in so many ways, the Bible uses a variety of metaphors and analogies to describe it, and the terms do not always refer to the same reality. There are actually three realities the Bible calls sin: 1) the inherited sinful inclination caused by the fall, 2) the imputed curse that we live with as a result of that event, which has lead to mortality and eventual death, and 3) our personal acts of transgression, mistakes, failures, and rebellion.
In this chapter, I unravel some of the confusion caused by the fact that the Bible uses the term “sin” in a variety of ways. My goal is to identify the problems labeled “sin,” so that the readers can appreciate the various ways God has addressed those problems.
26. The Causes
A number of internal and external factors conspire to cause individuals to sin. The internal factors include our inherited sinful inclination, our lack of appreciation for the boundaries God has set for our lives, our dependence upon tradition as a motivation for action or inaction, greed, lust, and other forms of selfishness. The external factors include temptation from the spirit realm, societal pressure to conform, and deception from a variety of sources.
In this chapter, I identify some of the causes which lead an individual to commit personal sin. In doing so, I will avoid dealing with the causes of the inherited sinful inclination and the imputed curse, as I intend to deal with those issues more fully in subsequent chapters.
27. The Root
The root cause of all personal sins is original sin. This term does not refer to the first time someone willfully sins. It refers to the first time the human race sinned: the fall of our ancestors in the Garden of Eden. The choice to break the original prohibition has lead to a change in human nature and destiny, which is universal in scope.
In this chapter, I go back to the events described in Genesis 2-3, showing that these events have drastically altered human nature and destiny, causing all humans to be born in a state of condemnation.
28. The War
Spiritual warfare is more than deliverance from demon possession. It is a metaphor which describes every aspect of the Christian life. We are involved in a war with a formidable Adversary whose goal is to enslave the human race through a variety of strategies which have proven to be effective. This slavery manifests itself in four kinds of sin-bondage: selfishness, falsehood, depression, and fear.
In this chapter, I describe the war that Satan is waging against humanity in his bid to enslave the world. Each attack that he perpetrates against us is designed to cause a progression in sin, leading to further bondage.
29. The Consequences
Original sin has altered humanity’s character, causing us all to be born into a state where we are inclined to do the wrong thing, to disobey authority, the believe lies, and to fall into bondage. The ultimate effects of this sinful inclination include disruption in our relationships with God and others, and false understandings of ourselves.
In this chapter, I delineate the consequences of original sin in or innate character, and point out the effects that this sinful inclination produces on our relationships and our views of self.
30. The Solutions
The axiom “the wages of sin is death” is true for all of the kinds of sin. Our inherited sin has resulted in spiritual death. God has offered a solution to this problem in the glorification of the believer at Christ’s return, and he has provided the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of this inheritance. The sin imputed to humanity as a result of Adam and Eve’s rebellion has resulted in mortality and eventual physical death. The solution God offers is th resurrection unto eternal life at Christ’s return. All personal sins require both punishment and destruction. The solution God offers is the substitutionary atonement of Christ. For those who refuse this offer, destruction in hell awaits.
In this chapter, I show that God has provided a real solution to he problems of inherited sin, imputed sin, and personal sins.
31. The Logos
Christ existed as the eternal Son of God before he was born as a human child. He shared all the attributes of deity before and even after his incarnation, but subordinated the free exercise of those attributes in order to obey the Father’s will, and accomplish the atonement.
In this chapter, I show that Christ pre-existed his birth, and is in all respects fully God, sharing all of the divine attributes with the Father and Son. I refute the Arian heresy, which claimed the Christ was a special creation, and is not equal to the Father in deity. I also refute Ebionism, which taught that Christ was merely an exalted human.
32. The Nazarene
John 1:14; Hebrews 2:14
When the Logos became human at the incarnation, he took on the full range of limitations shared by all other humans, with the only exceptions being that he did not possess a sinful inclination, nor did he commit personal sins. He was, however, fully capable of committing sin, thus his temptation was real. When demonstrated divine power through miracles, he drew that power from the Holy Spirit.
In this chapter,I show that Christ is fully human. His humanity was not a disguise (as taught by Docetism), nor partial (as taught by Apollinarianism).
33. The Union
John 1:14; Philippians 2:6-7
Since the incarnation, Christ has possessed two complete natures, fully incorporated into his being. He is (and will always be) 100% human, and 100% God. The doctrine of the hypostatic union emphasizes that fact.
In this chapter, I explain that Christ exists eternally with two natures: human and divine. His natures are not fused (as taught by Eutychianism), nor is he two separate persons (as attributed to Nestorianism).
34. The Teacher
Christ taught that he is the savior of the world, and explained how to enter his kingdom. He explained how the subjects of his kingdom are supposed to live. He denounced his enemies. He equipped his disciples to lead the Church, and prepared them for the difficulties they would face. He predicted the events concerning his own life, death and resurrection, as well as current and future eschatological events.
In this chapter, I summarize the commands and instructions of Christ, because you cannot really know people unless you know what they say (said).
35. The Good Shepherd
Christ is God’s appointed guide, and the provider of our salvation. He demonstrated this by how he taught, and by the fact that he laid down his life for us. Our response to this fact should be undivided loyalty.
In this chapter, I explore the ramifications of the “Good Shepherd” metaphor as it relates to Christ’s role, and the role of believers as his sheep.
36. The Messiah
Christ is the Messiah of the Jewish nation. He fulfills the typological predictions found throughout the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). His works and roles are defined by these types, which include his roles of prophet, priest, king, and suffering servant.
In this chapter, I outline the major Old Testament predictions concerning the Messiah, most of which were fulfilled by Christ’s birth, life, death and resurrection, and some of which will be fulfilled in his return and millennial reign.
37. The Guide
The Holy Spirit is a person who affects us as any other person would do. He has all the attributes of personality, so is capable of communication and interaction.
In this chapter, I show that the Holy Spirit is more than an impersonal power. I refute certain mechanistic views of the Holy Spirit.
38. The Discipler
The Holy Spirit oversees the divine ministries of regeneration and sanctification, including the ministry of discipling the believer. This ministry involves all the things that Jesus did for his disciples while on earth: empowering, illuminating, interceding, sanctifying, and gifting.
In this chapter, I explain how the Holy Spirit continues the discipling work that Christ began. He was sent specifically from heaven to carry on Christ’s work.
39. The Empowerer
The Holy Spirit was sent by the Father and Son to empower believers for ministry, fulfilling God’s will. The Church received this baptism in the Spirit at Pentecost.
In this chapter, I distinguish between the initial gift of the Holy Spirit (at Pentecost), and the fullness of the Holy Spirit, which is an ongoing option for believers.
40. The Reflector
1 Thessalonians 5:19
The Holy Spirit reflects our relationship with God, thus may withhold his influence when offended by sin in the believer. He may also confirm the unbeliever in willful rebellion.
In this chapter, I point out the differences in the four types of sin against the Holy Spirit.
41. The Giver
1 Corinthians 12:4-6
The Holy Spirit equips the Church with Spiritual Gifts, which may be temporary manifestations, or lifetime ministries assigned to individual believers.
In this chapter, I explore the different categories of Spiritual Gifts, and explain how these gifts function to support the Church’s evangelism and training ministries.
42. The Producer
The Holy Spirit produces genuine Christian character in the lives of believers. This fruit is intended to be universal in the Church.
In this chapter, I distinguish between genuine fruit of the Spirit, its Satanic opposites, and its carnal perversions.
43. The Helpers
Angels are created spirit beings, known for their dedication, power, number, and activity. The elect angels assist in carrying out God’s will in the world, including helping out Christians.
In this chapter, I introduce the concept of angels, and show their original divine purpose. I also survey the biblical facts about angels, and refute some of the common myths pertaining to them.
44. The Fallen
Satan is now a fallen angel,and those demons who followed him in rebelling against God are also fallen angels. This fact affects their present nature and function, as well as their ultimate destiny. God has pronounced judgment on these fallen ones, and their end will be complete destruction. They have organized themselves in an effort to get as many humans as they can to share their fate.
In this chapter, I introduce Satan, and explain his rebellion against God, and that of the angels who joined him in that rebellion. I suggest their apparent hierarchy, and present function. I show that they are not immortal beings, and will die after God throws them in the lake of fire.
45. The Tempters
Satan’s primary and most often utilized means of affecting change in this world is through temptation. The demons bombard the minds of human beings with a variety of temptations designed to enslave. All humans can resist temptation, but believers have help from the Holy Spirit that unbelievers do not have. The more one gives in to temptations, the more control of his life he gives over to Satan’s kingdom.
In this chapter, I explore the process of temptation, explaining the resources believers have that enable them to resist temptations, thus avoiding bondage due to their natural desires.
46. The Deceivers
Satan and his demons use deception to enslave humanity. They organize humans with political and religious systems that perpetuate the deceptions, cleverly mixing lies with truth. They foment hostility and enmity by pitting the systems against each other. They usually deceive people into doubting or ignoring the existence of the spirit realm, so are able to function in darkness. Believers can overcome deception by knowing and proclaiming the truth.
In this chapter, I reveal the way that Satan uses deception to get people in bondage. I also show that perhaps the greatest deception that Satan uses is blinding humanity to his own existence, and that of his demonic armies.
47. The Accusers
Another kind of demonic attack is the accusation, where Satan seeks to enslave a person by condemning him for past failure, or at least planting disbelief in one’s present status. This is a particular kind of deception that ultimately accuses God of not being an effective savior. The best way to overcome bondage to accusation is to gain a firm understanding of who one is in Christ.
In this chapter, I show how Satan uses accusation to render a person ineffective in their walk, or to keep someone from responding to the Gospel. I point out that accusation is really a denial of who God is, and who the believer is in Christ.
2 Timothy 1:7
When all else fails, Satan and his demons are prepared to manifest themselves visibly, or through some display of power, in order to prevent people from learning and living the truth.
In this chapter, I deal with manifestations of Satan’s power, including demonic oppression and possession. I show that although these are realities, they can be opposed and properly defended against.
49. The Chooser
God the Father is sovereign over all things, including the choice to save some, and allow others to perish. The choices that he makes are eternally binding, and they are particular choices, not general ones. If an individual is saved, it will be the result of God’s free election of that individual in eternity past. If an individual is not saved by this sovereign election, she will reject the gospel, and refuse salvation because all humans are naturally disposed to do so, without divine intervention.
In this chapter, I contrast the doctrines of general and particular election, making the case for particular election as the view that best preserves God’s sovereignty in salvation.
50. The Sacrifice
Jesus Christ suffered and died on the cross as the divinely appointed penal substitute for the personal sins of those who chose to apply his sacrifice to themselves. His suffering and death are sufficient to atone for the personal sins of every soul in the world, but are only effective if applied. Although Jesus’ death means many things, its primary purpose is this atoning work, and it should never be reinterpreted in such a way as to sidetrack our thoughts from the concept of penal substitution.
In this chapter, I review some of the mistaken notions about why Jesus died on the cross, and defend the concept of penal substitution as essential to the gospel and Christianity.
51. The Regenerater
The Holy Spirit applies the Father’s election, and the Son’s atonement to the life of every believer. He regenerates, indwells and transforms believers’ lives so that they reflect their destiny as glorified saints. He assists in the battle against Satan and sin, and guides believers in the process of making decisions that reflect their new status before God.
In this chapter, I explain the process of sanctification, where the Holy Spirit applies the sovereign election of the Father, and the atoning sacrifice of the Son the the life of every true believer.
52. The Change
2 Peter 3:9
God’s work of salvation affects an immediate and ongoing change in the mind of the believer, which in turn transforms the believer’s behavior. This miraculous change of mind is called repentance. After conversion, the believer’s eyes are opened to the reality the Bible reveals about God, Christ, sin, Satan, the world, and the Church. The believer’s self-awareness is forever altered.
In this chapter, I explain repentance as a choice that drastically and permanently changes the believer’s mind, conforming it to the truth as revealed in God’s word, and allowing it to redirect energies previously dedicated to unrighteous behavior.
53. The Testimony
God’s primary means of turning the world to himself is the testimony that believers communicate. This testimony includes our words, our associations, our traditions, and the Christlike behavior that validates them all. Believers need to guard against a truncated testimony that is so narrowly defined that the world sees it as practically irrelevant.
In this chapter, I encourage witnessing for Christ in as many ways and through as many means as possible. I warn that some means may not be as effective as others, so God’s people should witness wisely.
54. The Life
1 John 3:3
A truly saved person has both repented of his sins and trusted Christ for his present and future life. This converted person will live a life of faith that reflects his new commitments. A person living this life reflects a confidence that his sins have been forgiven, and God will never forsake him. He submits to the lordship of Christ, obeying his commands. He focuses on the second coming of Christ and the eternal inheritance that day will reveal.
In this chapter, I describe the life that a saved person should live. This is the evidence we present to the world to prove our repentance and validate our testimony.
55. The Chosen
Believers have a special relationship with God the Father, because the Father has chosen them individually to be part of his new humanity, adopting them into his eternal family, making them citizens of his divine kingdom. As a result of this connection with the Father, believers do not quite fit in with this world – even the cultures that they were born into seems foreign to them.
In this chapter, I review the images of the church relating to God the Father, suggesting that these images explain the fact that believers relate to this world differently than unbelievers.
56. The Saved
2 Corinthians 2:15
Believers have a symbiotic link to the person of Christ. Every metaphor which describes his person and role has a corresponding implication for the identity and role of his disciples. He is the Savior, we are the saved. He is the King, we are his subjects. He is the head, we are his body. He is the Bridegroom, we are the espoused bride. The best way to get a grasp on the biblical view of the Church is to know clearly who Christ is and what he did, and then extrapolate our place and work based on his.
In this chapter, I review the images of the church relating to Christ, suggesting that we can only understand our identity and role as we concentrate on our symbiotic relationship with him.
57. The Transformed
Believers are caught up in what God is doing in the world today through the relationship they have with the Holy Spirit. He is at work in them, conforming them to the image of his Son. He is at work through them, reaching the lost with the gospel. He is at work for them, confirming their testimony through miracles.
In this chapter, I review the images and statements about the church relating to the Holy Spirit, suggesting that we can best recognize the Holy Spirit when we see God involved in his work through us.
58. The Gathered
The Church is God’s gathered community, designed to radiate his glory through worship (honoring his person and praising him for his works), instruction (discipling each other through God’s word), fellowship (growing closer together and demonstrating our unity), and evangelism (bringing others into the comm y through dynamic witness).
In this chapter, I explain what the Church does, utilizing the concept of the gathered community, and asking what this gathered community is supposed to do, both within and outside official services.
59. The Voice
The Church has not exhibited an unbroken succession of centuries dedicated to the high ideals established for her in scripture. Rather, the human voice of God has often struggled with Satanically orchestrated political antagonism from without and religious apostasy from within. The marks of the true Church have not always been evident, but have never been completely hidden.
In this chapter, I review the marks of the true Church by surveying Church history, suggesting that she often poorly manifested the voice of God at those times when she has allowed herself to be defined by current worldly culture.
60. The Body
The Church government puzzle cannot best be solved by means of tradition, evolutionary theory, or pragmatism. The best answers to the puzzle come when believers take the body of Christ metaphor seriously, and see themselves as a combination of interrelated systems designed not to have dominion over each other, but to equally submit to the head.
In this chapter, I examine the major methods of Church government that have developed over the centuries, I point out the strengths and weakness of each method, comparing them with the apparent multi-systemic method in operation in the book of Acts. I suggest that this multi-systemic method best preserves the body analogy.
61. The Advents
The first advent of Jesus Christ was predicted for thousands of years, in numerous ways, and detailed in hundreds of scripture texts. Yet most of the Jews who had access to the predictions either ignored them or misinterpreted them. Likewise, the second advent of Christ is detailed fully in both Testaments, but Christians differ widely on their expectations. A survey of the predictions and fulfillments of the first advent will yield principles that help us know what to expect as we read the predictions of the second advent.
In this chapter, I show that the prophecies fulfilled when Jesus came to this earth the first time set a pattern that help interpreters learn what to expect when the prophecies of his second advent are fulfilled.
62. The Kingdoms
When Christ referred to the kingdom of God, he was talking about the dominion of God over those who have submitted to the rightful rule of his Son. This kingdom was a present reality when he walked this earth, since he already had followers. But sometimes Christ referred to the same kingdom in the future tense, when this domain of this earth will be handed over to him at his return. So, it is proper to speak of two kingdoms, the spiritual reign which is already, and the spiritual/physical reign which is not yet.
In this chapter I draw a contrast between those statements Jesus made implying that his kingdom is a present reality, and those he made which imply a future kingdom. The primary differences between these two kingdoms are the nature of the subjection, and the timing.
63. The Destinies
1 John 5:12
There are only two eternal destinies: life or death. The saved will be rewarded with permanent life, while the lost will suffer permanent death.
In this chapter, I contrast the two eternal destinies: The inheritance of the saved is permanent life, and the fate of the lost is permanent death.
64. The Apostasy
2 Thessalonians 2:3
Both Old and New Testaments predict a period of rebellion to occur in the Church between Christ’s ascension and his return. This apostasy took place within the first millennium, and was marked by wholesale syncretism and idolatry within the visible church. Although the Protestant Reformation did much to swing the ecclesiastical pendulum back toward sola scriptura and sola fide, the Church remains in danger of succumbing to this apostasy, until Christ returns and sets the record straight – revealing who has been faithful to him.
In this chapter, I explain the theological differences between Protestants and Catholics, and show why Catholic theology should be rejected because it constitutes a major apostasy from the faith revealed in the New Testament.
65. The Reign
1 Corinthians 15:24-25
Christ’s spiritual/physical reign over the earth will begin immediately upon his return, but will manifest itself in a number of special events: The last world war (Armageddon), The greatest reunion (The Marriage Supper of the Lamb), and the restoration of all things (The Millennium). This will be a time for redeemed humanity to undo all the damage done to this earth by Satan since the fall. It will also be an age of warfare against all the spiritual beings who have fostered rebellion against Christ and his kingdom.
In this chapter, I state the case for a literal 1000 year reign over the earth after Christ’s return. I explain why this time of restoration is needed for humanity to fulfill its role as initiated by God in the Old Testament. It is also crucial to the role of the Church as established in the New Testament.
66. The End
God’s ultimate goal is a new heaven and new earth where his reign is absolute, and evil and evildoers are completely destroyed. This new universe will be set up after all personal sins have been dealt with on Judgment Day, and all evil obliterated in the Lake of Fire.
In this chapter, I set forth the doctrines of the judgment, the second death, and the new universe.