Title: Looking at Preaching Afresh
Fresh Thoughts on Preaching:
PART 3. Preaching involving Prophetic Scriptures
ABBREVIATED VERSION FOR FASTER READING!
Part 1: Difficult Prophetic Areas
Perhaps if we may begin with the example of the end times and then go on to consider Israel.
1A. End Times Prophecies
We will limit ourselves for the moment at least, to specific teaching in the New Testament about these days.
An Uncertain Time
i.e we do not know when the things spoken of will happen. Jesus' words in Matt 24 are a useful starting point and we need to note:
For the details of the verses, please se the main page.
Paul seems to reiterate the ‘uncertainty principle' in 2 Thess 2 but makes the point that the end will not come until there has been
Let's leave the last words to Jesus: “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Mt 24:36) and if you didn't get it the first time, “So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Mt 24:44)
The wise preacher prefaces anything he says in this area with, “It may be that….” Possibilities, not dogmatic assertions!
A Clear Return
Continuing Matt 24 : He will be seen by all nations
The clarity of Jesus' return is also stated by the two angels at Jesus' ascension (Acts 1:11) – as visible from the sky – seen all around the world according to Jesus' previous words.
Note: Zech 14:4 Jesus coing on to the earth - but details unclear
Also Rev 19:11-21 Jesus coming to bring judgment on the earth as a conquering king. There, there is no indication of location etc. butit is not unreasonable to suppose that it may well be in Israel and specifically at Jerusalem.
There are various 'possibilities'. Perhaps not so clear as we might like to think.
Categorical assertions are unwise, for the reasons we gave earlier in this article.
Israel: there appear two camps of extremists.
Israel's position is according to the New Testament :
Q1. Is a Jew saved automatically by being a Jew?
A1. On the day of Pentecost Peter preached the Gospel TO JEWS and it required them to repent of their sins and believe in Jesus as their Saviour (Acts 2:38). That never changed.
Check out: Rom 2:28,29, Gal 3:28,29, Gal 6:15, Mt 3:9)
Q2. Wasn't God for all of Israel throughout the Old Testament?
A2. Definitely not, only those who were obedient to Him and loved him. Read the prophets and again and again you find that the disobedient majority were under God's judgment and it was on the faithful and obedient minority, the ‘remnant' who were saved.
Q3. So aren't all Israel saved today?
A3. No, definitely not. Godless and unrighteous Jews are exactly the same as godless and unrighteous gentiles - unsaved and lost and needing to come to salvation.
Q4 . So does Israel not have a place in God's plans today?
A4. There are probably two answers to that.
Q5. What does Paul's teaching in Romans 9 – 11 say?
A5. For the detail, read the original notes.
Note: Use of Particular Words or Phrases
The notes examine the use of:
See Notes for consideration of Replacement Theology
The same assessment of sins that applied then, still applies today – to both them and to gentile unbelievers. All are the same in that particular respect. Let's not sanctify unrighteousness!
I reiterate that I believe both are extremes which ignore Scripture and I therefore suggest that what follows is a far more balanced position than either of those ‘extremes' hold.
1. God's children are what they are by faith and not works, i.e. believing not self-effort.
2. Those who are saved are thus saved by faith and grace alone - by heart response and God's free gift in Jesus
3. Thus it doesn't matter whether you are Jew or Gentile salvation comes through Jesus alone and that is through all time. Anything less demeans the work of the Son of God.
4. Although Israel rejected the Son of God, their rejection of him made possible the divine sacrifice for sins and the availability of salvation. (Not in praise of Israel, just a comment by Paul)
5. God permits Israel 's continued existence (as a people)
Part 2: Bad Uses of Prophecies
Here are some of the ‘bad fruits' of such a narrow focusing:
2A. The Bad Fruit of Tunnel Vision
Focusing on any single issue to the exclusion of all others is a clear mark of deception
Beware a person with“a bee in their bonnet”
2B. The Bad Fruit of Distortion
Such people then spend a lot of time reading those who conform to their viewpoint as if to justify their stand, but
2C. The Bad Fruit of Division
Part 3: Failures of Understanding
Behind this tendency that we have been considering are two main failures of understanding and both need addressing:
3A. A Question of Interpretation
Example: the different schools of interpretation in respect of the book of Revelation
3B. Understanding prophetic workings
a) General Rules for Interpretation
When it comes to understanding the workings of prophecy some further rules apply:
b) Second Guessing Fulfilment
“Whenever God brings a word about the future it WILL always be fulfilled BUT frequently our attempts to guess how and when it will be fulfilled usually go wide of the mark.”
That statement needs a little clarification. Yes, there will be times when God says, for example, “Next month I will….” and it is clearly seen to be so, but many times the Lord gives more general words of direction or encouragement where a) we are given things to do and b) the timing of the eventual outworking is not specified.
Now I believe there are two reasons why this is so:
3C. Difficulty in use of the Name, Israel
Six different uses of the word 'Israel' in Scripture need understanding.