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1995 Issue 4

When was the last time you heard a sermon expounding the biblical texts related to church government? In the majority of denominations, you will probably never hear one sermon on the subject. In an age in which every sermon must be a three point path to dynamic Christian living, such studies are avoided like a bad rash. Two explanations for this neglect are immediately apparent.

(1) Discussions concerning church government will tend to polarize Christians of differing denominational affiliations. In an ecclesiastical culture that is driven by ecumenicalism, most preachers are afraid to say "thus saith the Lord" on the topic of church government. Such sermons would have the inevitable outcome of calling certain church organizations unbiblical. And we couldn't do that now, could we?

(2) Pastors are afraid of boring their congregations with studies that appear unrelated to daily living. Most pastors simply do not understand or appreciate the relationship that Christ sustains to his church. As a result, they are unwilling to do the necessary study and meditation in order to present the biblical data in a manner that will elevate the subject in the minds of their people, and teach them its relevance to Christian living.

After reading Isaiah 61:1-2 and 58:6 ,Jesus "closed the book and gave it back to the attendant and sat down ... And He began to say to them, 'TODAY THIS SCRIPTURE' HAS BEEN FULFILLED IN YOUR HEARING.'" Lk. 4:20-21. His point is dramatic and astonishing: the jubilant kingdom of God has broken into human life to bring comprehensive salvation to the world in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Jesus is explaining to His audience that at at the very moment of His teaching, and with His person and ministry the Jubilant Day of Restoration promised by Isaiah 61 is breaking into human life, society and experience. The rich blessings Isaiah promised, from this point in Jesus' life onward, will begin to be bestowed and experienced by God's people gradually and increasingly until they are brought to full perfection in individual believers at their deaths, and brought to full consummation for the entire creation at the second coming of Christ.

The Avenging of the Apostles: A Commentary on Revelation, by Arthur M. Ogden, Reviewed by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., Th.D.

The evangelical world suffers from a dearth of good commentaries on Revelation. There are a number of quality commentaries available that are helpful on technical and historical matters. But for the most part modern commentaries are encumbered by a refusal to take seriously the first three verses in Revelation. That is, they are reluctant to consider the utility of the evangelical preterist approach to this great prophetic work. Oftentimes that reluctance is based on erroneously equating preterism with liberalism, due to the widespread employment of a liberal preteristic methodology.

In the 1930's Herbert W. Armstrong (1892 - 1986) began to claim that the true gospel message, which Jesus promised would be published in all the world, was coincident with his message and his alone. He further claimed that his organization, which later became to be known as the Worldwide Church of God, was of Divine origin. He taught that the true church ceased to exist in 70 A.D. and was instantly restored through him in the 1930's. In order to believe such an aberrant claim, one must disregard the writings of all the of all the early church fathers and all the reformers; one must conclude that none of the martyrs after A.D. 70 and before 1930 were true Christians, and that the only true Christians in the modern era would be Armstrong's disciples!

One of the great differences between the French Revolution and the American War for Independence was the concern for legality and respect for law which pervaded this country and was so glaringly absent in France. In France, subversive groups worked to produce chaos and anarchy to effect a breakdown of law and order (see Fire in the Minds of Men, by James Billington for a fine exposition of the theology behind the French Revolution). Law was purposely undermined. The Biblical foundations of society were overthrown and society was restructured upon a totally new basis - the radical ideal of human rights and equality (which are pseudonyms for Statist absolutism). True human rights were completely ignored in France.

Q. In your study, what was the impact of faithful church teaching in maintaining Common law in a nation? Did you find that as churches moved away from faithful preaching. as American churches have done, that there is less interest in Common Law within a nation?

A. Yes, very definitely. Particularly in what are now England, Wales and Scotland. Ireland, however, is an unusual and a very interesting case. When Patrick, who was a Bible-believing Briton, preached the Gospel in Ireland in A.D. 430 - he got the people committed to what was an ancient presbyterian system of church government. They had a high respect for the Moral Law, the Ten Commandments.