My Kingdom Is Not Of This World

“‘My kingdom is not of [ek: out from] this world,'” is a statement about the source — not the nature — of His reign, as the epexegetical ending of the verse makes obvious: ‘My kingdom is not from here [enteuthen].’ The teaching is not that Christ’s kingdom is wholly otherworldly, but rather that it originates with God Himself (not any power or authority found in creation.”

Dr. Greg Bahnsen
God & Politics — pg. 27

B. F. Wescott speaking of John 18:36 could comment,

“Yet He did claim a sovereignty, a sovereignty of which the spring and the source was not of earth but of heaven. My Kingdom is not of this world (means it) does not derive its origin or its support from earthly sources.”

The Gospel According To John — pg. 260

John 18:36 along with Matthew 22:15-22 are two of the passages that are often put forth as defeaters for the comprehensive sovereignty of the Lord Jesus over this world. Bahnsen clearly shows here, quite in agreement with the Greek scholar B. F. Westcott, that God’s Kingdom, as it manifests itself in this world, is energized by a source outside this world. This is important to emphasize because many people read John 18:36 as proof that the Kingdom of Jesus does not and should not express itself in this world. Often this verse is appealed to in order to prove that God’s Kingdom is only “spiritual” and as such Christians shouldn’t be concerned about what are perceived as “non-spiritual” realms. Support for such thinking, if there is any, must come from passages other than John 18:36.

Worldview Leverage Points & Daniel 9:24f — Seventy Weeks

Worldview leverage points

Those texts, events, or policies upon which there is a great contest over interpretation of what those things mean. In this contest it becomes immediately evident that something larger is driving various interpretations.

For example

The abortion debate
Causes of the hostilities in the nation that transpired between 1861-1865
Whether Homosexuals should be protected by civil rights legislation

These are all examples of Worldview leverage points. Your interpretation or conviction on these issues is largely decided for you before you even consider the particulars because of the worldview you’ve embraced.

Daniel 9:20-27 is a worldview leverage point in terms of

Christ’s Kingship manifested in this world
The success of the Gospel ministry

It becomes a flash point that can turn into intense disagreement.

Now one more thing that is true about what I am calling “Worldview leverage points” is that often proponents of varying Worldview leverage points will try to saturate a culture with their interpretation so that their interpretation becomes the cultural interpretive fallback point. In other words people seek to control the interpretation of these “Worldview leverage points” so that their interpretation becomes THE interpretation.

Example – The McCarthy Era has become a cultural touchstone that is immediately interpreted by almost everybody in such a way that McCarthy wears the evil black hat while the people he was interviewing regarding anti-patriotic activities were the downtrodden and persecuted. This interpretation is automatic because this issue at one time was a worldview leverage point and those who need the McCarthy era interpreted it a particular way and thus saturated the culture with their interpretation so that that interpretation has become the cultural fall back point.

However, “Blacklisted By History,” by M. Stanton Evans tells a different story.

Well, something like this happened in the Church when it came to Daniel 9:24-27 to the point that many people here, though perhaps having never thought a great deal on this passage already have certain assumptions about the text. In many respects that isn’t even their fault since their a-priori understanding was kind of built into the Church’s sub-culture through things like the films the Billy Graham movement made, and through things like the rise of the Bible Colleges in America, and through things like being able to print bibles that had notes in them that supported your Worldview leverage point, and through things like the songs that you were taught to sing in youth group growing up. (e.g. — “I wish we’d all been ready.”)

Because this is so, when a different understanding of the Worldview leverage point in question arises it becomes very difficult to see or understand because of the way that our hard-drives have been written upon.

So because of this understanding that all of us have largely unconsciously adopted I am going to compare and contrast the predominant interpretation of Daniel 9:24-27 that has saturated most of our Church culture but is in fact only about 150 years old with a interpretation that is much older and satisfies the text far better.

The popular interpretation comes to us from the school of Dispensationalism. And because I grew up with this understanding as my fall back point it is almost easier to articulate then the position I now hold. It makes the following observations about this passage.

1.) Vs. 24 is a presentation of the whole prophecy

2.) 6 purposes of God (v. 24) are ultimately fulfilled only at the second coming of Christ

3.) Decree to restore & rebuild Jerusalem (v. 25) was issued in 445 by Artaxerxes (Ne. 2:1f)

4.) The seven sevens and sixty two sevens, when understood as 483 years of 360 days each, terminate shortly before the death of Christ

5.) Between the end of the 69th week and the beginning of the 70th week, there is an indefinite time gap, during which the prophetic clock is stopped for Israel and the church age transpires. (This time gap is nowhere suggested in Daniel’s text.)

6.) The entire 70th week is thus future and will begin when a future political leader makes a “covenant” with the people of Israel.

7.) At the beginning of the 70th week, the rapture of all believers will occur, yet life will continue on earth absent the believers.

8.) In the middle of this 70th week, the political leader will stop the renewed sacrifices that have begun in the rebuilt Jewish temple, and a period of great tribulation will commence in Israel.

9.) The 70th week ends with the coming of Christ.

So, as this focuses for the most part on the Second Coming of Christ this is often referred to as the Second Advent view of Daniel 9. Daniel 9 was read the way it, with a Dispensational “Gap,” in order to harmonize it with the rest of their Theology. In other words they developed a Theology and crammed Daniel 9 into their Theology.

Reaching behind the past 150 years when this interpretation became popular we find another view taught during the previous 1900 years in the Church. We will call this majority opinion interpretation the 1st Advent view of Christ’s coming. In this view the emphasis is laid on the finished work of Christ and the resultant punishment upon the Jews in AD 70 in the destruction of the Temple for rejecting their Messiah.

Now, keeping in mind the current popular view that we just gave let us contrast it with the 2nd Advent view.

The seventy sevens of v. 24 are 490 years. These seventy sevens are divided into three periods: seven weeks (49) years, sixty-two weeks (434 years), and one week (7 years). These time periods were specified so Daniel might “know and discern” the length of time involved, just as he had discerned the length and time in Jeremiah’s Prophecy (9:2).

Yet, if that “knowing and discerning” is the purpose of the passage, such knowing and discerning is impossible if an indefinite gap exists between the 69th week and 70th week as the current majority report insists. This is especially true given that the gap created by the majority report is already over four times longer than the entire 70 week period itself.

2.) It is possible that the decree of Artaxerxes in Nehemiah 2 is the decree mentioned by Daniel in 9:25. If we date 49 years from Artaxerxes word we find the streets and walls around Jerusalem had been completed. Some would prefer to begin the 70 weeks with Jeremiahs prediction that Jerusalem would be re-built. If we date 49 years from that point we find Cyrus permitting the Jews to return to Palestine. Regardless, which date we want to start from the point of this statement is that a very specific amount of time will pass between the decree and the coming of the Messiah. (No gap theory allowed.)

The six things to be accomplished during the 490 years in question (vs. 24) were all fulfilled in the first century.

a.) Finish the transgression – Israel’s sinful rebellion against God climaxed with her
rejection and crucifixion of the Messiah (Mt. 21:33-45, Acts. 7:51-52).

b.) Make an end of sin (seal up sins). Israel’s sins were reserved for punishment until
the generation that rejected the Messiah (Mt. 23:29-26).

c.) Make atonement for iniquity. This was fulfilled in Christ’s atoning death. (Heb. 2:17, 9:12-14, 26; I Jn. 4:10)

d.) Bring in everlasting righteousness – This has been accomplished through the redemptive work of Jesus (Rom. 3:21-22)

e.) Seal up vision and prophecy. The eyes and ears of the Jews were “sealed” from understanding the prophecies of God (Is. 6:9-10, 29:10-11, Mt. 13:11-16, Jn. 12:37-41).

f.) Anoint the most Holy – The Most Holy (Christ – anointed one) was anointed in His ascension to the right hand of the Father. (Heb. 9:22-28)

4.) After the seven weeks and the sixty-two weeks, which would imply a time during the seventieth week the Messiah is “cut off.” That is he is cut off from His people – He suffers the death penalty.

5.) At an (unspecified) point following the cutting off of the Messiah, the city and sanctuary are destroyed. The destruction of Jerusalem (v. 26-27) in A.D. 70 was a consequence of the rejection and crucifixion of Christ. It is not said by Daniel to occur within the 70th week.

6.) The one who confirms a covenant in vs. 27 is the Messiah in vs. 26. That the antecedent “He” is not the Prince of vs. 26 is confirmed in several ways:

a.) the word “prince” is not even the subject of the sentence in vs. 26. Main subject is Messiah.
b.) The “end” in vs. 26 is the “end of destruction” not the end of the prince
c.) The Messiah is the focus of the entire passage.

7.) The Messiah did fulfill or confirms the stipulations of the old covenant, and Christ’s covenantal work was directed toward the many (faithful Jews) for almost exactly seven years or one of Daniel’s weeks. The 3.5 years of Christ’s own ministry were focused primarily on the Jews (Mt. 10:5, 15:24), and for approximately 3.5 years after his death and resurrection, the ministry of His apostles was focused almost exclusively on the Jews (Acts 1:8, 2:14, Rom. 1:16, 2:10).

8.) Christ did put an end to sacrifices by His once for all Sacrifice on the Cross (Heb. 8-10, esp. 10:2,9, 12)

9.) The text of Daniel, while providing a clear statement of the events, which mark the end of the sixty-ninth week and the middle of the seventieth week, says nothing about an event marking the end of the seventieth week. It is not necessary therefore to find such an event either in Scripture or history. (contra dispensationalists)

In Daniel 9, we find the coming of the Messiah predicted to the exact year and are told what must come to pass in order for the Kingdom promises to be fulfilled.

The above blockquote from Keith Mathison’s “Postmillennialism,” Appendix one.

Election Day Sermon — 2008


Preaching a formal sermon to civil authorities on Election Day is a tradition unique to New England. Election Day in 18th and 19th century New England was a holiday that often began with cannon firing and a martial procession of government officials from the seat of government to a nearby church. There the most important members of the community–the governor and other elected officials, the clergy and socially prominent individuals–listened to a sermon often two to three hours long. It was a ritual in which the male, Christian, voting community (as one contemporary observer put it) “met together in a solemn assembly to give thanks to the God of heaven for the many great and distinguishing privileges, both civil and religious, which we are favored with; and to ask direction and a blessing from on high, upon all the administrations of government in the land.”

I.) Some General Considerations

It is not generally well known that our whole form of government and governmental system originally came to us out of the soil of Reformed Christianity. The their book “Fountainhead Of Federalism” McCoy and Baker trace the origins of the political thought that shaped our Federalism from the Reformation notions of covenant as applied to the realm of political thought. John Witte does something very similar in his book on political thought in the Reformed tradition. This idea of a bilateral covenant (contract) where the people take on certain responsibilities and make certain promises to the Magistrate who likewise takes on certain responsibilities and makes certain promises to the people to rule in keeping with God’s word is the original basis of our system of Federal system of Government. One can trace a line of Reformed political thought from Bullinger which would include Dupleiss Mornay’s well known work “A Defense Of Liberty Against Tyrants,” the writings of Samuel Rutherford, John Winthrop, Johannes Althusius, right on to Jonathan Witherspoon and James Madison. All these men didn’t agree on every detail of their political theory but all were influenced by the idea of covenant as an organizing principle upon which political theory could be discussed.

A.) It has always been the view of Reformed people that God is alone Sovereign.

1 Sam. 2:6-7 The Lord kills and makes alive; He brings down to Sheol and raises up. The Lord makes poor and rich; He brings low, He also exalts.

Ps. 103:19 The Lord has established His throne in the heavens; and His sovereignty rules over all.

Pr. 21:1 The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes.

This conviction that God alone is sovereign resulted in political systems of thought that did not allow absolute Sovereignty to be located in any one realm in a culture or society. Since God alone is absolutely Sovereign nothing else may be invested with that kind of absolute Sovereignty that God alone has – not the Church, not the family, and most especially not the State.

Practically what this meant is that Reformed people have seldom been particularly inclined to Monarchy in the Church or in the State, since Monarchy so often slips into absolute sovereignty. Nor have they been particularly inclined to elevate Church or State as one institution over the other as other Christian expressions have. To lift one institution in a culture over all others would be to invest that exalted institution with the kind of sovereignty that only God has.
Historically what Reformed people have thus done is built Republican forms of government, both in the Churches they built and in the States they have created, where sovereignty and power is diffused throughout the society.

The result of this has been the building of equal and co-ordinate centers of power that each exercises a portion of God’s delegated authority in their particular realm. In this way sovereignty was shared with the intent that God would be honored and tyranny would be avoided; God honored because absolute sovereignty remained invested in God alone — tyranny avoided because with God’s delegated sovereignty diffused throughout a society none of the equal and co-ordinate centers of power would be able to rise above the other to seize complete and total sovereignty.

B.) It likewise has always been the view of the Reformed That Man Is Sinful

Scripture teaches that all of us “were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.”

Scripture teaches “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”

Scripture teaches that believers likewise continue to struggle against sin. (Romans 7)

This view of man as sinner reinforced some observations that we’ve already made.

Because Man is a sinner Reformed notions of Government have always been to limit the power of Government and Governors,

“It is therefore most wholesome for magistrates and officers in church and commonwealth never to affect more liberty and authority than will do them good, and the people good: for whatever transcendent power is given will certainly overrun those that give it and those that receive it…. It is necessary, therefore, that all power that is on earth be limited, church power or other. If there be power given to speak great things, then look for blasphemies, look for licentious abuse of it….It is therefore fit for every man to be studious of the bounds which the Lord hath set: and for the people, in whom fundamentally all power lies, to give as much power as God in His word gives to men.”

John Cotton (1584-1652)

This distrust of a Government that does not know its boundaries as expressed by the Reformed minister John Cotton in the 17th century is echoed again by the Deist Thomas Jefferson in the 18th century.

“The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the Constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first.” – Thomas Jefferson

The Puritans created a worldview that was unknowingly accepted even by their posterity that no longer walked with God.

Since man was a sinner no man should be given to much power. Reformation theology agreed that power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Because Reformed people believed with the Scriptures that man was a sinner they introduced checks and balances and plurality of leadership into the forms of government that they built.

Now, these two general considerations should already give us a principle in our voting Tuesday – and that principle is that when we vote we should be voting against any candidate or party that desires to consolidate power into one person or to a centralized location.

We have a need to realize in our voting that when we vote to consolidate and centralize political power we are at the same time voting against the other realms that God has ordained to delegate authority. When we vote for those who will empower the State to be responsible to feed, clothe, and educate our children, we vote against the sovereignty that God has delegated to the Family. When we vote for those who might restrict what can be said in the pulpit we vote against the Church.

As voters we must realize that temporal sovereignty is not infinite and whenever you invest one realm with more sovereignty you at that point divest sovereignty from some other realm where God has appointed it to be.

It is interesting that our Constitution is a document that reflects all of this. It is a document that was intended to limit the Federal Government with specific delegated and enumerated powers. It was crafted to restrict the Federal government to doing a number of very limited things.

It is my conviction that when we vote for candidates or parties that desire to increasingly centralize and grow Government, whether in Lansing or in Washington, we are voting against Scripture which insists that God alone has the kind of sovereignty that the State is seeking to accrue. Such voting by Christians often pursued under the notion that the State will take care of them and their interest belies an underlying attitude that the State is the institution that can provide our salvation.

It is my conviction that when we vote for candidates or parties that desire to increasingly centralize and grow Government, and we do this when we vote for people who desire to increase the funds of Government at the expense of family income, we are voting against the wisdom of Scripture that reminds us that man is sinful.

Now, I hope you realize that in what we have said already we have eliminated a fairly large number of those who are vying for your vote. Increasingly rare is the candidate who intends to go to Lansing or Washington with the genuine intent of limiting and shrinking the size and role of government. Legion is the name of the candidates who believe that the brokenness of our society and culture can be fixed if we will just give Government more power and more wealth. Bloated Government cannot fix our problems because bloated Government is our problem.

II.) Some Specific Counsel From Scripture Touching This Election

A.) Life

Scripture teaches that the power of life and death come from God. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. When man seeks to ascend to the position that he can arbitrarily determine who lives and who dies man is seeking to seize the scepter from God and engod himself.
For this reason no Christian can vote for any candidate who supports abortion in any way. If God is the author of life then it can be nothing but murder when we end life without God’s sanction. Our assumption need always be that life begins at conception. Even if we are uncertain on that point our uncertainty should lead us to err in the direction of protecting life.

We are now somewhere in the vicinity of 50 million murders being committed in the name of choice.

Francis Schaeffer warned us long ago that the next logical step to abortion would be euthanasia and infanticide. We now have a candidate at the top of the ticket who has consistently supported infanticide with his vote (Infant born alive act). Neither of the candidates at the top of the ticket have been universally and unequivocally pro-life. Very few candidates down ticket have a high few of life.

This high esteem for life ought to make an impact on the way we vote in Michigan on proposition 2.

B.) 2nd Amendment

First we would note that the Scripture allows for self-defense.
“If a thief be found breaking up, and be smitten that he die, there shall no blood be shed for him,” Exodus 22:2-3

It is interesting when you look at the Scriptural record that the Philistines “disarmed” the Israelites in order to enslave them in I Samuel 13:19-22. In order to control people, they must be disarmed.
The right to keep and bear arms is a right of men to be free. If we really believe that God is pleased with cultures and societies that are free then we will be very leery of anybody or any party that seeks to strip us of means of self-defense.

When the people fear their government there is tyranny, when the government fear the people there is liberty – Thomas Jefferson

C.) Economics

Scripture teaches that the State bears the sword (Romans 13). A general rule of thumb is that the State thus should be restricted to doing whatever can be done with a sword. You do not house people with a sword, you do not feed people with a sword, and you do not give medicine to people with a sword. These functions should not be the function of the State.

Scripture nowhere gives to the State the role of God.

Socialism is a system that steals God’s sovereignty in order to invest it in the state. Socialist systems teach and believe that in the state we live and move and have our being. The State is our provider, or protector, and our omnipotent caretaker. Further, socialist systems are completely predicated upon violating the 8th commandment, stealing from those who work hard producing wealth, in order to redistribute that wealth. The effect of this redistribution of wealth is to shrink the pie of wealth as people lose incentive to create wealth. The consequence of this is not the raising up of people without wealth to wealth, but rather the pulling down of people with wealth to the status of not having wealth. Equality is achieved but it is the equality of the miserable.

As proof for this I offer the reality that in classical theology it is always the right of a God to own everything (The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof) and His prerogative to distribute what He owns as He pleases (God gives them their food in due season). Clearly, we are about to empower legislators and an executive that believes that the State owns everything and as such has the prerogative to re-distribute what the State (god) owns as it (he) pleases. It is the pagan left that is turning this country into an explicit theocracy.


Quoting Doug Wilson

In the colonial era, ministers used to preach what were called artillery sermons—messages leading up to elections in order to teach and inform the saints on their duties in the civil realm.
But this exhortation is a bit more focused on the process of voting itself. First, all that we do is to be offered to God at the fundamental. Ask God to count your vote, and it does not matter who else does. Give what you do to Jesus, and let Him do with it what He wills. You should be like the small boy who surrendered his fish and bread for Jesus to multiply, and not like someone who tried to feed the multitude himself by giving everyone a crumb.

Secondly, confirm it in your heart and soul that the day after the election, God is still on His throne, and Jesus is still at His right hand. Certain things are not on the ballot, as the sovereignty of God is not. When Christians react to elections with despair and panic, they are demonstrated that their faith is in the wrong place. If the election goes badly, do not soak your hair with lighter fluid, set it off, and then run in tight, little circles. Be a Christian. If the election goes well, do not act you have just been saved. Salvation is not something that Caesar holds in his hand, whether to give or withhold.

Third, vote with a clear mind and clean heart, doing so confidently and with boldness. Stand up for the unborn. Strike at every idol. Love God, and hate sin. Stand against every throne built on a foundation of lawlessness. And return here next Lord’s Day for the real work of Reformation.

Reformation Day

The need for Reformation in our culture is seen at every turn. The Church has turned into a version of mental and emotional burlesque performance where any appeal that is made is made upon the basis of emotions or experience or the fear that the secret rapture might happen tomorrow. With the emasculation of the Church the rest of the culture has followed into eclipse. The family, when it is successful, has become merely a place for bed and boarding as opposed to a place for education and training. The schools continue to churn out slaves. The State keeps tending towards tyranny. The law is built upon relativistic sand. The arts produce ugliness that communicates that there is no such thing as beauty. In our economy we continue to punish those who save and reward those who build debt. The need for Reformation in our culture is seen at every turn.

The need will not be answered by attempt at renewal that is only moral at its base. What is wrong with our culture is theological and will not be altered by merely treating the immoral symptoms that pronounce the presence of theological disease. No, if we desire to heal the immoral symptoms we must destroy the theological disease from which all moral and cultural sickness emanates. The cure must be theological.

The need will not be answered by attempts at renewal that seek to alter people’s emotional responses. Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity — the 800 pound guerrilla in today’s Christian expression — will not answer our need for Reformation. Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity is more problem then it is solution. Indeed, one way we will know that Reformation is taking hold when we see the influence of Pentecostalism abate. With its theology of emotion and excitement Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity combined with its anti-intellectualism hasn’t what it takes to withstand the tidal wave of paganism that has drenched all of us, nor does it have the ability to provide the lasting answers to the larger questions that all cultures demand. Without Reformation we will die in our emotion.

The need will not be answered by appealing to people’s experiences. All the rage these days is “narrative theology,” which if handled rightly could be effective. However, “narrative theology” as it is handled by most of the Church is merely a celebration of everybody’s different life-stories. It is nothing more then Schleiermacher on mescaline. This can not and will not bring Reformation. Without Reformation we will die in our experience.

The need will only be answered by thinking rightly about God – or we could say by a Holy Spirit driven restoration of right Theology. That which the Church and culture is dying of is the disease of thinking wrongly about God. This wrong thinking about the God of the Bible is the disease that produces all of our foul immoral symptoms. The first place that our wrong thinking about God reveals itself is in our worship and doxology. Thinking wrongly about God we worship wrongly. Worshiping God wrongly we reinforce wrong thinking about God. Reformation in the Church, in the family, in the schools, in the law, in the economy, in the political order, and in the arts — Reformation that will heal wherever it flows — will first be seen in the repair of our theology and doxology.

The battle that we face today in our times and in our culture hence is not primarily between Republicans and Democrats. It is not primarily between Islam and Secular Humanism. It is not primarily between Liberals and Conservatives. The battle that we face today in our times and in our culture is the Battle of Theology. The question that confronts us is, “How Then Shall We Think About God.” Here is where the battle lies and should we answer this question wrongly, or allow people who have answered it wrongly to be our ecclesiastical and cultural gurus we shall die.

As a people then, we will suffer increasingly or decreasingly to the degree that we get our Theology wrong. The more a people think wrongly about God the more they will inflict themselves with all kinds of neuroses, psychopathic and sociopath behavior, and just plain strangeness. To the contrary, only Reformation can cure the ecclesiastical and cultural malaise that is characterized by these kinds of maladies.

As we turn to II Kings 22-23 we see Reformation as the remedy for what ails people who have embraced a culture of death.

I.) Sola Scriptura – Formal Principle Of Reformation (vs. 22:11)

Josiah realized that God’s people had disregarded the authoritative source of God’s rule over His people and such a realization led to deep anguish. The Reformation that washed over ancient Israel occurred because the Scripture was restored, and with the Scripture restored people began to think rightly about God.

In the Reformation in the 16th century this idea of Scripture alone was thought of as the “Formal Principle” of the Reformation. It was referred to as the “Formal Principle” because in returning to the Scripture alone as the authoritative source of theology much that was sloppy and inferior in thinking about God was challenged and removed.

This idea of Sola Scriptura is part of what we confess as a Reformed Protestant body of believers,

“We believe that [the] holy Scriptures fully contain the will of God, and that whatsoever man ought to believe unto salvation is sufficiently taught therein…Neither may we consider any writings of men, however holy these men may have been, of equal value with those divine Scriptures nor ought we to consider custom or the great multitude, or antiquity, or succession of times and persons, or councils, decrees or statutes, as of equal value with the truth of God… Therefore, we reject with all our hearts whatsoever does not agree with this infallible rule” (Belgic Confession VII).

Before the Law was rediscovered in the II Kings account and before the Scriptures were rediscovered in the Reformation it was no longer the case in most quarters of the Church that the Scriptures were the authoritative source of theology. What had happened is that autonomous reason and tradition had been lifted above the Scriptures.

The Reformation was the Reformation because it made a serious effort to allow the Scripture to have pride of place in and over the Church and thus in and over the lives of God’s people.

Now if we are to have another Reformation again something like this has to occur again. It needs to occur again for in much if not most of Christianity in the world what has happened is that the Formal principle of Scripture is no longer Sola Scriptura. In Pentecostal quarters for example the formal principle is Scripture and direct revelation from the Holy Spirit. In Roman Catholic quarters for example the formal principle remains Scripture and tradition and autonomous reason. In Anglican or Episcopalian quarters for example the formal principle remains Scripture, Church Authority, and autonomous reason. In Emergent Church quarters for example the formal principle remains experience plus culture.

Unless God is gracious to give us a return to Sola Scriptura our Churches will continue to ape our pagan culture. Unless God is gracious to give us a return to Sola Scriptura we will continue to think wrongly about God.

Now, here we must have a word about what Sola Scriptura isn’t.

If there was a temptation once upon a time to over privatize Scripture in the hands of the corporate magesterium, there is in our time a temptation to over privatize Scripture in the hands of the individual, so that Sola Scriptura becomes Solo Scriptura. We must say that just as no group of people can stand over the Bible dictating to it what it says, so no single individual is allowed to stand over the Bible dictating to it what it says. If it was wrong for the Church to wrest Scripture away from God’s people, it is equally wrong for individuals to wrest Scripture away from the Church.

This is simply a plea to realize that as individuals we must read the Scriptures with the Church.

II.) Sola Fide — Material Principle Of Reformation (22:13)

“Our Fathers have not obeyed the Words of this book.”

Here the implicit idea is that God’s people, through their disobedience had defamed and defrauded God of that which was rightfully His – that is Glory.

We could say that by and in their disobedience they had attempted to de-glorify God.

Now this brings us to what was referred to as the Material Principle of the Reformation.

Material Principle = The central doctrine in a theology taught by that theology.

In the Reformation there was subtle disagreement on the Material principle.

Lutherans – Justification by grace alone

Reformed – The Glory Of God

The teleology or the end or goal of the Material principle for Reformed people has always been the exaltation of God. As Reformed people we look at the Material principle of Lutherans and what we tend to see is a theology that finds its final destination in man. We prefer instead to see justification by grace alone as serving the higher principle of God’s glory all the while insisting that justification by grace alone isn’t the end but rather is the means to the end of living to glorify God in all that we do. Reformed people insist that when God saves us through faith alone in Christ alone it is always for the end of God’s glory alone. God does all that he does, including saving His people, for His glory.

As we turn to the II Kings account we see that God’s people had failed to give God glory (22:17).

III.) No God But God – The Consequential Principle Of The Reformation (23:5f)

One way we will know that Reformation has come to us is when we begin to tear down the false gods that give meaning to our times, our cultures, our churches and our lives.

Here in II Kings we see how the gods are toppled. The account is straightforward but I think we little appreciate the cultural upheaval that is communicated in this text.

In order to get a sense of that we must realize that cultures find their meanings and definition from the religions and gods that define them. When Josiah attacks these gods and religions he is, as we would say, attacking their way of life – their mode of existence. Josiah is not merely assaulting the gods, he is assaulting the web of life in which the Israeli’s lived. He was attacking their cultural paradigm.

The same kind of destruction to false religions and gods happened in the Reformation. You can hardly read a history of the Reformation without coming across statues and religious art being destroyed because of the idolatrous nature that it was associated with in the minds of the people. Historical accounts record how people thronged into churches to bring out the Holy art and destroy it.

Indeed so great was the horror of the Reformers for the idolatry that many believe they over-reacted in becoming icon-phobes. But given the superstitious era in which they lived one can understand their reaction.

We, in our times, have lived through the kind of “way of life” assault on a culture that Josiah brought against the “way of life” of his people.

The nearest thing to this that has happened in our lifetimes is what happened in the iron curtain countries after the fall of the iron curtain. The people were rejecting the faith that had been foisted upon them and what Lenin and Stalin had pursued was visited upon their own heads as their statues and images were ripped town from city squares.

Anyway … you’ll know if in your lifetime you see Reformation because when Reformation comes the old gods are going to fall in such an obvious way you won’t be able to miss it. You’ll know if Reformation comes in your lifetime because your way of life will drastically change just as it drastically changed for the Israelites in II Kings. 23 and just as it drastically changed during the Reformation.

Nuggets From Daniel 2

In Nebuchadnezzar’s court there was a old order whose influence was predominant (sorcerers, astrologers, magicians Chaldeans). This old order is being eclipsed by a new order bringing a new influence. (Daniel, Hananiah, Azariah, Mishael)

The difference in these two orders is significant

Whereas under the old order the attempt was to gain insight into the future by manipulating the unseen world, insight into the future in the new order would be a matter of God’s gracious revelation.

Whereas the old order was signified by death (Nebuchadnezzar’s threat to kill em all) the new order is signified by the presence of protection of life for all (24).

Whereas in the old order it is thought that the King is sovereign, in the new order God is clearly sovereign over the King.

God brought His people into Babylonian captivity but it begins to become a question as to whom has actually captured whom.

Here, in Daniel 2, Daniel is a picture of Christ the high Prophet. Just as Daniel made known God’s mind to Nebuchadnezzar so Christ made and makes the mind of God known to His people. Just as Daniel’s wisdom was a means of deliverance for God’s people so the wisdom of Jesus is the means of deliverance for God’s people (cmp. I Cor. 1:30). Just as Daniel was the revelation of God to Nebuchadnezzar so Jesus is the revelation of God to His Kingly people today. And just as there was safety from the King’s wrath only in the revelation of Daniel so there remains safety from the King’s wrath only in the revelation of Jesus.