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Monday, 6 April 2015

Replacement Theology, John Piper, and Israel

Replacement Theology, John Piper, and Israel

Replacement Theology, John Piper, and Israel

An Examination of “Israel, Palestine, and the Middle East” by John Piper
In 2004, Dr. John Piper preached a sermon at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN, entitled “Israel, Palestine, and the Middle East.” This message unfairly argued that the Jewish people and nation of Israel do not have a right to the land of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This sermon, now in print form, has been a standard apologetic for Replacement Theology advocates for the past ten years.

It has made its way onto the internet and has been used by many anti-Semitic and anti-Israel websites to argue that the Jewish people do not have a biblical right to the land of Israel. The purpose of this article is to rebut some of the viewpoints of Piper’s article.

The Background of John Piper

John Piper was born in 1946 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He has received degrees from Wheaton College (1964-1968) in philosophy and literature and a bachelor of divinity at Fuller Seminary (1970). He studied at the University of Munich (1971-1974) and received a doctorate degree in New Testament Studies. He was the pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church for 33 years, retiring in 2013 to pursue writing and a speaking ministry. He is the author of many books and a popular speaker.

Although a Baptist (only in ecclesiology), he is a strong Calvinist and a Reformed theologian. He holds to a continuation view, in which the spiritual sign-gifts, visions, and prophecy are all to be sought and practiced today. He holds to “double predestination”, the view that God elects some to salvation and others He elects to damnation (reprobation). He holds a post-millennial view of prophecy. Concerning Israel, he holds to a supersessionist view (replacement theology view), teaching that the church replaces Israel and that national/ethnic Israel will not inherit the land promises of the Old Testament.

Israel: The Land and the People

What does the Bible say about Israel? It clearly teaches that God chose Israel from all the peoples of the world to be His own possession. We read, “The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His treasured possession, out of all the people who are on the face of the earth” (Deut. 7:6). Concerning the land of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in a portion of which the nation of Israel resides today, we read, “On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abraham, saying, ‘To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great Euphrates…’ ”(Gen. 15:18).

Then in Genesis 17:7-8, we read, “I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojourning, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.”

These passages establish a number of very important truths. First of all, the national and ethnic Jewish people are God’s own possession. He loves Israel, He will protect them, and sovereignly, He has given to them certain promises. Secondly, these promises are “everlasting” promises to Abraham and his offspring. “Everlasting” means forever. Without question, God is faithful and will keep His promises. Concerning these truths, John Piper writes:
“This of course, creates a huge cleavage between the Islamic view of God’s covenant and the Jewish and Christian view of this covenant. But we believe that this is God’s Word, confirmed by the Lord Jesus, and so we say, the land is destined to be Israel’s land.”
It would seem that Piper stands firmly with Israel, but very quickly he backs away from the view he just supported, saying, “but it’s not that simple. This is not an issue that can be dealt with in sound bites.”

Who Owns the Land of Israel?

The question many ask is, “Who owns the land of Israel?” Israel or the Palestinian people? The correct answer to this question is neither. God owns the land and Israel has been given this land in a tenant relationship. We read many times in Scripture that the land is God’s land.  Just a few references should suffice: Joel 3:2, Jer. 2:7. We read in Leviticus 25:23, “…The land shall not be sold forever, for the land is My land.”

God has given the land to Abraham and his descendants, and He has never rescinded that offer. However, there were conditions and stipulations which Israel was to obey to dwell in the land. At times, Israel did not obey these conditions, and God providentially used Assyria, Babylon, and later Rome to remove her from the land. Nevertheless, the land promises were never revoked, altered, or given to another nation.

John Piper teaches that Israel is still a disobedient nation and, therefore, has no right to the land they now occupy. He believes Israel has illegally taken the land through middle eastern wars and have no biblical right to the land. He writes:
“Throughout the history of Israel, covenant breaking and disobedience and idolatry disqualified Israel from the present divine right to the land…The promises made to Abraham, including the promise of land, will be inherited as an everlasting gift only by true, spiritual Israel, not disobedient, unbelieving Israel.”
Let us examine this claim by John Piper against the nation of Israel. Has disobedience disqualified Israel from God’s land promises? Yes, it is true that on three occasions Israel fell into disobedience and idolatry and was removed from the land. But Israel was also brought back into the land. Israel returned to the land under Zerubbabel (538 BC), Ezra(439 BC), and Nehemiah(445 BC).

The question we would like to examine is: Why did God bring them back? Was the whole nation faithful and believing when they were brought back? Was half of the nation faithful and believing? The answer is, of course, NO. They were in captivity and only a small remnant (minority) was faithful. Very few truly trusted and believed in God.

Under Zerubbabel 49,690 Jews returned; under Ezra even a smaller amount, 1,750 Jews; under Nehemiah no number is mentioned in Scripture. Only a very small number of Jews turned back to God, yet God, being faithful to His promise, providentially brought them back into the land. Though few believed, the fact is, Israel did believe! When He brought them back, this land was fully and completely their land.

In the early days of Nehemiah’s return to the land, Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem began to mock Nehemiah when they heard that the Jews were rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. Nehemiah charged them, “The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it” (Neh. 2:20 NIV). The land was Israel’s land due to the faithfulness of God.

The Nation of Israel Today- Disobedient or Believing?

Is John Piper’s rejection of Israel based on his own standard of obedience for Israel or the biblical standard? Consider the giving of the land to Israel under Joshua after forty years of wandering in the wilderness. Was the whole nation obedient? Hardly. Not even the twelve spies who went in to scope out the land were faithful. Notwithstanding, God gave Joshua the land of Canaan as Israel’s inheritance. God has His own standard of faithfulness. We should be very careful about imposing our standard of obedience, our opinions of what God should and should not do, and our judgments concerning when disobedience breaks His covenant.

We raise the question: Is Israel faithful and believing today? Let us compare her to the days of Joshua, Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah. According to sources, there are 125-150 Messianic congregations in Israel today. Granted, not all believers in Messianic congregations are Jewish; however, it is estimated that there are 10,000-12,000 Messianic Jews in Israel today. Matthew Wagner, writing in the Jerusalem Post, states that there are 12,000 Messianic Jews living in Israel and 250,000 living in the United States.[2]

More conservative estimates put the number of Jewish believers at 100,000-125,000 world-wide. The organization “Jews for Jesus” estimates that 8,000 Jews come to Christ world-wide every year.[3] Admittedly, it is a difficult task to measure the number of Jewish believers in a city, country, and the world. Yet, it is widely conceded that in the last fifty years more Jews have come to Christ than at any other time in human history.

If this is true, comparing the modern-day faith of Jewish people with the faith of Jews during the days of Joshua, Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah, the Jews today are far more faithful and believing. Undoubtedly, God is working in Israel today. God has brought back His people to the land of Israel as a foretaste of even greater promises. On May 14, 1948, Israel was declared a nation. No Muslim nation acknowledges the statehood of Israel.

We admit Jewish evangelism is very difficult, and the percentage of Jewish believers world-wide is very small. Yet, compared to past generations, Jewish people are placing faith in the Messiah at an unprecedented rate. We would humbly reply to John Piper that God has not cast off His people (Rom. 11:1); on the contrary, His plan for the Jewish people will finally and completely come to pass. We reject categorically the idea that the church has replaced Israel.

The Kindness of Israel in the Midst of Hostility

John Piper suggests that the nation of Israel is unmerciful and cruel to the Palestinian people. He calls on the leaders of Israel to submit to international pressure to be a kinder and gentler nation. He writes:
“Therefore, the secular state of Israel today may not claim a present divine right to the Land, but they and we should seek a peaceful settlement not based on present divine rights, but on international principles of justice, mercy, and practical feasibility.”
Israel has made land concession after land concession. It has conceded to international pressure and has given land for peace. Israel has given back the West Bank in 1967, the Sinai Peninsula in 1979 (Egypt), the Golan Heights in 1981 (internationally controlled), and the Gaza Strip in 1994, and yet there is no peace. In 2014, the terrorist organization Hamas blanketed Israel with 7,800 rockets. What did Israel do? She defended herself. But she did more. Israel showed mercy and kindness to her attackers.

Well over a million tons of humanitarian aid and supplies entered into Gaza from Israel in 2014, equal to nearly a ton of aid for every man, woman, and child in Gaza. The Hadassah Medical Organization in Jerusalem donates $3 million in aid each year to treat Palestinians in Israel. According to the UN report of May 2010, 120 megawatts (over 70%) of Gaza’s electricity come from the Israeli grid. A new CAT-scan machine was recently shipped to Gaza. In the midst of the Hamas-Israeli war, on August 3, 2014, 185 trucks carrying 3,270 tons of goods and supplies entered Gaza via Kerem Shalom Crossing. Among the trucks that entered were: 100 trucks carrying 2,129 tons of food. 4 trucks carrying 13 tons of medicine and medical supplies. 67 trucks carrying 627 tons of humanitarian supplies. [4]

Conclusion

We suggest that the reasoning of John Piper in his paper “Israel, Palestine, and the Middle East” is biased, unbiblical, and ill-reasoned. It may be that he is blinded by his post-millennial and reformed views, which harbor an anti-Israel attitude. It may be simply a misplaced sympathy for the Muslim people. Whatever the case, we stand with Israel, with the unfailing promises of God, and in His love for His chosen people.

Endnotes

  1. John Piper, desiringgod.org/sermons/israel-palestine-and-the-middle-east, March 7, 2004. All quotes in this article are taken from this internet article.
  2. Wagner, Matthew (June 26, 2006). “Messianic Jews to protest ‘discrimination'”. Jerusalem Post.
  3. Tovia Singer, outreachjudaism.org/evangelizing-the-jews/
  4. www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/ForeignPolicy/Peace/Humanitarian/Pages/Israeli-humanitarian-aid-continues-10-Jul-2014.aspx

Saturday, 4 April 2015

abominations in the temple: the new apostolic reformation, bill johnson and jesus culture!

I am writing this post as a follow up to my two recent posts about Trinity Life Church in Leicester (Assemblies of God) whose pastor recommends Jesus Culture; and Elim who are hosting Bill Johnson "Senior Pastor" of Bethel Church Redding CA at their Leadership Conference in May.
http://bewareofthewolves.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/david-hind-trinity-life-church.html
http://bewareofthewolves.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/grave-sucker-bill-johnson-to-join.html

As I was writing these posts, I was reminded of a very powerful teaching I heard last year: Jacob Prasch - Ezekiel - Greater Abominations, which I think is very important for our understanding about what is happening in today's church.



Ezekiel is a major source for the book of Revelation where the judgements of God are replayed eschatalogically (as also are the judgements in the book of Exodus). Ezekiel depicts the destruction of Jerusalem as a judgement and a purificatory sacrifice upon the altar, made necessary by the various progressive "abominations" within the city and the temple, beginning with the image of jealousy i.e. the image which provokes the jealousy of the Lord (Ezekiel 8:3,5), through to the vile abominations engraved on the walls - creeping things and loathsome beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel (Ezekiel 8:10), through to the women weeping for Tammuz (Ezekiel 8:14), and finally, the priests in the inner temple practicing sun worship (Ezekiel 8:16). Jacob Prasch identifies several comparative "abominations" with Ezekiel which are progressively defiling the church in our time and which will culminate in the judgement of God. 

And the LORD said to him, “Pass through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in it.”
(Ezekiel 9:4)


The "mark" (the seal of God) on the foreheads of those who are faithful to God is found in Exodus 13:9; Ezekiel 9:4-6 and Revelation 7:2-3. Jacob explains that the word rendered "mark" remarkably is the name of the Hebrew letter tau, which in its ancient form was a cross. In the Book of Revelation, the seal of the Lord and the mark of the beast are irreconcileable. 

EZEKIEL CHAPTER 8 

In the sixth year, in the sixth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I sat in my house, with the elders of Judah sitting before me, the hand of the Lord God fell upon me there. Then I looked, and behold, a form that had the appearance of a man. Below what appeared to be his waist was fire, and above his waist was something like the appearance of brightness, like gleaming metal. He put out the form of a hand and took me by a lock of my head, and the Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven and brought me in visions of God to Jerusalem, to the entrance of the gateway of the inner court that faces north, where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provokes to jealousy. And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, like the vision that I saw in the valley.
 
Then he said to me, “Son of man, lift up your eyes now toward the north.” So I lifted up my eyes toward the north, and behold, north of the altar gate, in the entrance, was this image of jealousy. And he said to me, “Son of man, do you see what they are doing, the great abominations that the house of Israel are committing here, to drive me far from my sanctuary? But you will see still greater abominations.”

And he brought me to the entrance of the court, and when I looked, behold, there was a hole in the wall. Then he said to me, “Son of man, dig in the wall.” So I dug in the wall, and behold, there was an entrance. And he said to me, “Go in, and see the vile abominations that they are committing here.” So I went in and saw. And there, engraved on the wall all around, was every form of creeping things and loathsome beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel. And before them stood seventy men of the elders of the house of Israel, with Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan standing among them. Each had his censer in his hand, and the smoke of the cloud of incense went up. Then he said to me, “Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the dark, each in his room of pictures? For they say, ‘The Lord does not see us, the Lord has forsaken the land.’” He said also to me, “You will see still greater abominations that they commit.”

Then he brought me to the entrance of the north gate of the house of the Lord, and behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz. Then he said to me, “Have you seen this, O son of man? You will see still greater abominations than these.”

And he brought me into the inner court of the house of the Lord. And behold, at the entrance of the temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar, were about twenty-five men, with their backs to the temple of the Lord, and their faces toward the east, worshiping the sun toward the east. Then he said to me, “Have you seen this, O son of man? Is it too light a thing for the house of Judah to commit the abominations that they commit here, that they should fill the land with violence and provoke me still further to anger? Behold, they put the branch to their nose. Therefore I will act in wrath. My eye will not spare, nor will I have pity. And though they cry in my ears with a loud voice, I will not hear them.” 

EZEKIEL CHAPTER 9

Then he cried in my ears with a loud voice, saying, “Bring near the executioners of the city, each with his destroying weapon in his hand.” And behold, six men came from the direction of the upper gate, which faces north, each with his weapon for slaughter in his hand, and with them was a man clothed in linen, with a writing case at his waist. And they went in and stood beside the bronze altar.
 
Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub on which it rested to the threshold of the house. And he called to the man clothed in linen, who had the writing case at his waist. And the Lord said to him, “Pass through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in it.” And to the others he said in my hearing, “Pass through the city after him, and strike. Your eye shall not spare, and you shall show no pity. Kill old men outright, young men and maidens, little children and women, but touch no one on whom is the mark. And begin at my sanctuary.” So they began with the elders who were before the house. Then he said to them, “Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain. Go out.” So they went out and struck in the city. And while they were striking, and I was left alone, I fell upon my face, and cried, “Ah, Lord God! Will you destroy all the remnant of Israel in the outpouring of your wrath on Jerusalem?”

Then he said to me, “The guilt of the house of Israel and Judah is exceedingly great. The land is full of blood, and the city full of injustice. For they say, ‘The Lord has forsaken the land, and the Lord does not see.’ As for me, my eye will not spare, nor will I have pity; I will bring their deeds upon their heads.”

And behold, the man clothed in linen, with the writing case at his waist, brought back word, saying, “I have done as you commanded me.”

Friday, 3 April 2015

grave sucker bill johnson bethel church redding to join rivercamp leadership conference - shame on elim!!!

RiverCamp and Elim Metropolitan Region are hosting their very first Leadership Conference at Ealing Christian Centre in London on Monday 18th – Tuesday 19th May. They are "excited"; I am horrified! RiverCamp will play host to some of the most dangerous heretics on the planet today including grave sucker Bill Johnson, John Arnott and Heidi Baker!

Johnson and his occult cronies are part of the hypercharismatic New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), also known as Word of Faith, Dominionism, Third Wave, Joel’s Army, Latter Rain, Modern day Prophets and Apostles and Manifest Sons of God. Their distinctive teaching is that the end-times church must be led by an elitist group of apostles and prophets in order to achieve dominion on the earth prior to Christ's return. In contradiction, Paul and other epistle writers give instructions about church government, referring to “overseers” and “deacons” not “apostles and prophets”. This demolishes the NAR claim that apostles and prophets must lead the end-times church. Furthermore, Revelation 19:11-21 makes it clear that JESUS CHRIST (NOT THE CHURCH) will achieve dominion on the earth (Revelation 22:19). The NAR promotes strategic-level spiritual warfare which contradicts Daniel 10 and Jude 9 which assigns spiritual warfare against territorial spirits to Michael and the angels not to human beings. The "apostolic unity" taught by the NAR is in fact personal submission to self-proclaimed apostles, it is not unity based on agreement on doctrine. 

Designated as an "Apostle" by false prophet C Peter Wagner, Bill Johnson is "Senior Pastor" of Bethel Church, Redding, California, which is famous for dubious "manifestations" of gold flakes, glory clouds, angel feathers, angel orbs, grave sucking, open heaven experiences and much, much more. Johnson's wife Beni uses tuning forks as a prophetic act, and also believes she is called to the "prophetic act of waking up angels"!

Grave sucking is supposedly the act of "sucking" the anointing of dead believers from their graves. This is sorcery/necromancy (Deuteronomy 18: 10-11; Leviticus 20:27). The Bible tells us that the gifts are given as they are distributed by Holy Spirit as God wills (1 Corinthians 12:1-11; Hebrews 2:4). Christians have no need to travel around the world seeking the "anointing" of dead believers - this is to engage in witchcraft!

Beni Johnson, wife of Bill Johnson grave sucking at the grave of CS Lewis in Oxford.

Bill Johnson at the grave of false teacher Smith Wigglesworth in Bradford.

Here is Beni again hugging the grave of false teacher Charles Finney.
 
Jesus Culture (a ministry of Bethel Church)
Bill Johnson teaches many false things, but at the root of it is his rejection of the scriptures as the inerrant Word of God. He openly disdains the study of the scriptures as mere intellectualism:

Johnson: “Those who feel safe because of their intellectual grasp of Scriptures enjoy a false sense of security. None of us has a full grasp of Scripture, but we all have the Holy Spirit. He is our common denominator who will always lead us into truth. But to follow Him, we must be willing to follow off the map—to go beyond what we know”.

Biblically it is essential for leaders to rightly handle the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15); also believers are exhorted to test the spirits by the scriptures (1 John 4:1). In effect Johnson and his associate "super apostles" have no point of accountability or reference since they claim to have superceded the teachings of the original twelve apostles of Jesus Christ. This is nothing less than the spirit of antichrist who seeks to usurp the authority of the Word of God. Johnson is guilty of spiritual pride, the very thing he condemns in those who seek to understand the scriptures. Paul warned about the very first "super apostles" who sought to infiltrate the church in his absence (2 Corinthians 11:1-6). The definition of an "apostle of Christ" is one who was an "eyewitness" of Jesus Christ during his earthly ministry, and one who received direct teaching from Jesus personally. The apostles wrote the scriptures under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21-22). The word of God is eternal, it can never be changed (Matthew 24:35; 2 Timothy 3:16; 1 Peter 1:25; Psalm 119:89).

Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. (2 John 1:9)

Johnson and his fellow apostates arrogantly claim equality and even superiority to the original apostles, but they prophesy the delusions of their own minds (Jeremiah 23:26).

And what I am doing I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds. (2 Corinthians 11:12-15)

The leaders of the NAR boast an "Elijah anointing" which elevates them to a superior class of believer.

Johnson: "We will carry the Elijah anointing in preparing for the return of the Lord in the same way that John the Baptist carried the Elijah anointing and prepared the people for the coming of the Lord" (When Heaven Invades Earth p184).

"I live for the revival that is unfolding and believe it will surpass all previous moves combined, bringing more than one billion souls into the Kingdom" (p23).

The Bible does not speak of a great end time revival, but rather a false revival orchestrated by the Antichrist and the False Prophet (Revelation 6:2). The Antichrist will be the ultimate deceiver and the false Christ! (Revelation 13:1-18)

For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. (Matthew 24:3-51)


John and Carol Arnott with Pope Francis last year.

The teachings of  "The New Order of the Latter Rain" were condemned by the Assemblies of God (AOG) at their General Council in 1949. As far as I am aware, the AOG still adhere to that position (at least officially). Unfortunately, due to the lack of spiritual discernment of individual pastors and the autonomous nature of their churches, the false teachings of the NAR are now creeping into the AOG by stealth.

Shame on you Elim for giving a platform to these dangerous heretics.







Further reading:
http://moriel.org/MorielArchive/index.php/discernment/church-issues/warning-bill-johnson-and-bethel-church
https://walthope.wordpress.com/2014/02/21/grave-sucking-bill-johnson/
http://www.cicministry.org/commentary/issue124.htm
http://ag.org/top/General_Superintendent/Ministers_Letter/2015_issue_01.pdf