Counsel of Chalcedon
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1999 Issue 5

"For Christ entered not into a holy place made with hands, like in pattern to the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear before the face of God for us: nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place year by year with blood not his own; else must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once at the end of the ages hath he been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And inasmuch as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this cometh judgment; so Christ also, having been once offered to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time, apart from sin, to them that wait for him, unto salvation" (ASV). - Hebrews 9:24-28.

In these five verses, our author reveals the surpassing superiority and glory of Jesus Christ over that revealed by the Levitical economy by laying out the entire scope of his priestly work. He does so by considering three unique, historical, and physical appearances of Jesus Christ, all of which contribute to our understanding of redemption accomplished for his people and applied to his people. These three comings are: in heaven before God's tribunal as our great High Priest; on earth at his First Advent as the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world; and at his Second Coming at the conclusion of human history at which time he shall consummate our salvation and judge the nations.

In this study I will analyze a portion of Scripture which has generated much debate in Church history and caused much confusion in evangelicalism today: Matthew 24:1-34. This long standing debate is unfortunate, for I believe this passage is not so difficult when we approach it properly, listening to the voice of God in both testaments. Modem evangelicals are So New Testament oriented that we sometimes overlook the Old Testament backdrop to New Testament passages such as this one.

My task is to consider the portion of the Olivet Discourse that prophecies "the Great Tribulation." Undoubtedly, in our modern evangelical context of popular apocalypticism and interest in all things eschatological, this passage comes to people's mind as they ask: "Are we living in the days? Is our time the time of the fulfillment of these prophecies?" This especially is a lively topic today in that the Jews returned to the land of Palestine in 1948 and since we are about to turn the calendar to the year 2000.

The Signs of Self-Deception are Many. When a professor of religion is wise and prudent in worldly matters, but not shrewd or discerning in the things of religion, he is deceived. "All thy children shall be taught of the Lord." (Isa. 54:13) If we lack spiritual discernment, we lack the Holy Spirit; and "if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. " (Rom. 8:9) Jesus Christ laid down gross spiritual blindness as a mark that men were not of God. (Matt. 16:2;3.)

Where did sin come from? In no way can God be considered its source, although He has, in fact, foreordained whatsoever comes to pass in time. God cannot be made responsible for human sin. It would be blasphemous to speak Of the holy God as the author of sin. Whereas all things fit together in God's plan, God does not sin, nor does He force human beings to sin. The Bible is unequivocal on this subject - "Far be it from God, that He should do wickedness, and from the Almighty, that He should commit iniquity" - Job 34: 10. There is and can be no unrighteousness in the holy God, who is light, and in whom is no darkness at all. He cannot be tempted with evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone to evil, James 1:13.