Witnessing or testifying of Christ
In our part in the great commission to extend Christ’s kingdom to the ends of the earth we witness of what we know to believers and unbelievers. Our witness echoes the official preaching.
The Scriptures need to form an integral and powerful part of our efforts to win the elect and see them established in true churches, it will also serve to harden the reprobate.
We are to teach all Christ commanded. We need courage. Our holy lives are vital. We witness at every opportunity and we are vital to the growth of the church. Significant occasions are when we are asked and this seems to be the NT emphasis rather than by our aggressive instigation.
We witness to persecutors, to unbelieving family, neighbours and other acquaintances and to advocates of false religions or false doctrines. We condemn error. Our witness comforts, encourages, edifies, instructs and rebukes fellow believers.
Suffering for Christ’s sake is powerful witness.
A word about “friendship evangelism.” We love our neighbour by befriending him and seeking his good. The unbeliever who manifests enmity to God we are to hate. Any friendship that encourages worldliness e.g. listening to ungodly advice, condoning or taking part in sinful behaviour, scorning truth has to be avoided (Psalm 1). Friendship is usually based on a common interest e.g. sport, but stops well short of fellowship which is the meeting of Christian minds and speaking about the things of God!
Mainly adapted from “Ye are my witnesses” speeches by David Engelsma and Herman Hanko at British Reformed fellowship conference 2012.
Held at Castlewellan Castle, Co. Down from July 16th to 23rd the speeches given covered all the major Biblical teaching on the end times. The messages can be viewed and heard here:
Click top left 1/19 to see playlist.
The food and fellowship were first class as were the informative trips to the battle of the Boyne site, Trim castle and Hillsborough Castle. There were over 100 conferees from the UK, USA, Singapore, Philippines, Hungary and Australia.
A fun run round the lake had over a dozen entries and was a close competition for the inaugural shield.
View from castle.
BRF Special Lecture
John Nelson Darby (1880-1882) and Powerscourt-an expose of dispensationalism.
Rev. Angus Stewart
Sung Psalm 83:3-11
Reading Hosea 1:8-11, 2:19-23. Note these passages are interpreted in the NT as clearly prophetic of the gathering of the gentiles into God’s true Israel.
Dispensational theology, the theory that God has two peoples, Jew and Gentile and that he deals with his people differently over the ages, is very popular. It is based on a literalistic hermeneutic (interpretation) rather than allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture.
It teaches that Israel (the Jews) are heading towards earthly blessing while the church are for heavenly blessings.
Darby, reacting to the Church of Ireland’s establishment, allegiance to the crown and episcopal ordination founded the brethren assembly movement and an eschatology that sought to consolidate unfulfilled prophecy. Powerscourt, in Co. Wicklow, south of Dublin, the stately home of a sympathetic countess was the scene of three annual conferences to discuss this topic in 1831-1833.
Was the man a believer? Certainly he was deceived and dangerous in the light of II Tim.2:16-18 where Paul condemns another eschatological error.
Why is dispensational theology popular (Millions have bought books like “The left behind series” and “Late, great, planet earth”. My (JK) contention is that:
- It suits people (to be raptured before the tribulation) so they do not suffer.
- People choose a theology and church that suits them (if they are not sincerely seeking and teachable).
- It appears to favour the Jews and this, they believe, is spiritually right and rewarded.
Premillenial dispensationalism is exposed as gross error in the other speeches of this conference (on this blogsite under BRF) and this book.
Christ’s Spiritual Kingdom
Rev. Andrew Lanning
Sung Psalm 50 (a Psalm of Christ’s return).
Wheat and chaff separated.
Immediately prior to Christ’s return there will be absolute pitch blackness as all the luminaries in the heavens are turned off! This is the powers of heaven being shaken. There will be a general resurrection of all the dead and the final judgment according to works which will be to demonstrate God’s absolute justice. Time (for judgement) and distance are no object in eternity. There will be only two verdicts according to Matthew 25-guilty with hell to pay or not guilty because by faith the believer knows Christ paid. Then there will be the new creation.
Prof. David Engelsma
The whole book is symbolic, the description of these two is clearly not to be taken literally. Revelation is repetitive.
Christ’s appointed witnesses speak God’s word as the two witnesses, the two olive trees and the two candlesticks.
Two witnesses is the number needed to testify to the truth (Deut.17:6, Matt.18:16 and II Cor.13:1).
Compare Zechariah 4.The two witnesses comprise the visible instituted true church composed of ministers and people who are all a wonder of grace. They as repentant people also call the godless to repentance, tormenting the wicked and the apostate church. The fire alludes to Jeremiah 5:14 which hardens and destroys the wicked. Their prayers also bring down divine judgment in the form of natural physical calamities as well as man-made violence and wars. Even though the antichristian kingdom appears to have been victorious it is actually the saints who win when Christ’s voice raises them from the dead (v12) to meet those alive at the time in the air with him.
Pre and post-millennial heresy have in common the error of excluding the church from suffering.
After a period when the false church serves antichrist, the beast turns against the whore and destroys her, tremendous natural calamities strike the antichristian kingdom which eventually destroys itself at Armageddon (c.f. II. Chron. 20).
Rev. Andrew Lanning
The return of Christ will be sudden and unexpected for the godless and people in false churches. Abounding lawlessness and apostasy will characterise the end time, lulling church people into spiritual sleep. Like the people in Noah’s day and the unprepared virgins who I believe were spiritually dead, they will perish being excluded from the Kingdom ark through their earthly-mindedness. Lawlessness (e.g. impurity) serves apostasy which is a falling away from the truth. Our calling is to watch and pray and be sober.
For Jesus death, including our death, is no more an obstacle than awaking from sleep (Tabitha/Lazarus)-hallelujah!
Prof. David Engelsma
Revelation 13, Daniel 7.
He mentioned the privilege of being saints in the last and worst battle of he ages.
We must remain steadfast.
Daniel’s fourth beast and his kingdom are a worldwide political power and empire. The king and his kingdom constitute Antichrist. He speaks evil of God and rules by totalitarian law. He apes Christ’s divinity (number 666)by doing miracles. He is physically victorious over the church and utterly destroys it as an institution. His reign is limited (time, times and half a time). Just as Christ laid down his life and took it again so his body of people dies but is resurrected. Why is this decreed?
- To manifest man’s utter and total depravity
- To allow the wicked world to fill up its cup of iniquity
- To manifest how repulsive the beastly kingdom is, ruling by force, whereas the kingdom of God rules by grace , love and truth.
The beast from the sea, the false prophet, head of the false church who also does miracles including making the image of the beast speak, will eventually feel the force of her master who used her as a whore, who then turns against her and destroys her at Armaggedon.
Rev. Andrew Lanning
Readings: Matthew 24:40, I Thess.4:13-18, I Cor,15:50-52
Premillenialism teaches a secret rapture, 7 years under Antichrist where at first he is good to the Jews then persecutes them. This is followed by Christ’s public second coming to set up an earthly kingdom, based in Jerusalem under Old Testament ceremonial law for 1000 years which after a growing rebellion leads to Christ’s victory at Armaggedon and the eternal state.
So the church is out of the way (conveniently), the Jews are God’s main emphasis (dispensationalism) and men are saved by choice (free-willism).
- ERRORS: The people of God in all ages are ONE. There is one covenant, one covenant people (the church of all ages) and one way of salvation (by grace, through faith, in Christ). Belgic Confession Art.27
- The Kingdom (now) is spiritual NOT physical.
- Ceremonial law has been abolished for good.
- Scripture teaches one, public, noisy coming of Christ with the resurrection of all men, final judgment and eternal state.
Tower of Babel (the earliest attempt at a world empire)
Prof. David Engelsma
Readings Matthew 24 and II Thess.2:1-3
Signs are: visible representation of invisible reality e.g. a miracle of healing speaks of Christ’s power to save.
Signs are also visible warning of an invisible danger (as a road sign) or Noah’s building the ark.
The 1000 years of Revelation 20 have these characteristics:
- Satan bound from deceiving the nations.
- Saints live and reign with Christ in their souls in heaven.
- Satan is afterwards loosed and deceiving the nations attacks the church (beloved city).
Engelsma exposed all the millenialisms:
Postmillenialism with its prospering of the gospel in a golden age before Christ returns (denying the fact Christ said it would be like the days of Noah and the few on the narrow way)
Premillenialism with Christ coming to reign on earth over a Jewish Kingdom after church is secretly raptured.
Both these heresies deny that there are visible signs of the end.
Reformed Amillenialism teaches that we are now in the millennium which is a number symbolic of a long period from the ascension of Christ till his visible return of which there are clear signs so that we can and ought to watch and pray.
Two major signs: 1. Great apostasy 2. Rise of Antichrist.
THE sign will be the preaching of the gospel to all peoples and disciples made among them.
The Spirit restrains the rise of antichrist (II Thess. 2:7) who is the beast from the sea, a political head, until the last elect is saved.
Serving him will be the beast from the earth, the false prophet leader of the ecclesiastical world.
In the false church, unrighteousness leads to false doctrine that then leads to further immorality.
We must be fearless.