Michael Vlach has written an excellent outline of the continuity of the Old Testament in the New Testament within Dispensational theology. It is worth the read.
There is nothing here that I would disagree with him on in this particular article. I would add, however, that Vlach comes from a modified classical view of dispensationalism, presumably the same position of John MacArthur. This means that he does not believe that during the Church age God works with Israel and the Church at the same time. This is a major presupposition that influences his pretribulationism—and most other pretribulationists, requiring them to place the rapture before the seven-year period.
As mostly a progressive dispensationalist, I would disagree with this classical dispensational notion that God does not work with Israel and the Church at the same time during the Church age. I believe that the Scriptures teach that God has worked with both Israel and the Church at the same time during the Church age in the past (e.g. God judged Israel in AD 70 which was during the Church age), at the present (Paul says that he is making Israel jealous by saving Gentiles), and will continue to work with both groups right up to the return of Jesus during Daniel’s 70th week (Revelation 7 is a beautiful picture of this portraying both groups being delivered just before the day of the Lord’s wrath).
So this latter point is a blind spot for classical dispensationalism reaching back to Darby’s writings. Nevertheless, Vlach’s article sums up great points that I agree with concerning continuity of Dispensational theology, points that are typically ignored or undervalued by critics of Dispensationalism.
Vlach concludes his article with saying:
These are just some areas of continuity. Contrary to what some critics claim, Dispensationalism does not start with the concept of “discontinuity” and impose it on the Bible to find what it wants to find.
Because I see much continuity in Dispensationalism I would not identify this system as solely a discontinuity system. I would say Dispensationalism is a healthy and biblical balance of both continuity and discontinuity. I will comment more on the discontinuity elements in a future blog entry.
I would rather spend my time responding to the few scholarly arguments that pretribs adduce. But we all know that pop-surface-level arguments work well on the pretrib masses. They lack a basic understanding of how language works.
Even when repeatedly refuted, the Tradition of pretribulationism is so strong that interpretive common sense cannot penetrate naivete. Though we all know that the Spirit ultimately changes minds and hearts. He uses arguments as a means to spread his truth.
That said, I need to re-post this article more frequently, since it comes up frequently:
Watch the first few minutes of John MacArthur’s sermon on the rapture, then read my article below:
READ THIS: The Word “Church” in the Book of Revelation
There are a multiple of other wrong-headed statements that MacArthur makes, but I wanted to highlight this common pretrib mantra about the church in the book of Revelation.
Marquis Laughlin asks this question in a facebook post:
Hey, can anyone give me a biblical answer to the identity of the 24 elders? I’m dealing with the pre-trib “they have to be the church” thing….I am using the obvious evidence in Revelation but that doesn’t seem to be making a dent here….
Marquis, see my two articles and a podcast episode on this issue:
This is a sneak preview excerpted from my book The Book of Revelation: A Prewrath Commentary (forthcoming, spring 2014).
(11) Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. (12) His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. (13) He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. (14) And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. (15) From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. (16) On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.” (Rev 19:11–16)
There are four reasons why I believe the “armies of heaven” refers to God’s people.
First, Revelation 17:14 describes God’s people being associated with the anticipated battle of Armageddon: “They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.” (Rev 17:14).
Second, the “armies of heaven” in v. 14 are described as “arrayed in fine linen, white and pure.” This attire is strikingly similar to the attire that is described in the immediate context describing the Bride: “for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure”— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints” (Rev 19:7–8).
Third, v. 14 says the armies were “following him on white horses.” This idea of “following” suggests redeemed people. Notice that this “following” is associated with the notion of purity (“arrayed in fine linen, white and pure”). This “following” by pure ones connects back to Revelation 14:4, “These are the ones who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These were redeemed from humanity as firstfruits to God and to the Lamb” (Rev 14:4).
In addition, notice that they follow the Lamb “wherever he goes.” Why would this not also include “following him on white horses”? This does not necessarily mean God’s people will actually participate in combat; the Armageddon passage does not specify this. It would certainly be a safe place to follow the Lord while he swiftly and single-handily slaughters his enemies!
Fourth, in the battle of Armageddon, Revelation 19:15 says, “From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron” (Rev 19:15). Elsewhere in the book of Revelation, it says the overcomer (believer) will be given authority to do the same: “And to the one who conquers and who continues in my deeds until the end, I will give him authority over the nations— he will rule them with an iron rod and like clay jars he will break them to pieces” (Rev 2:26–27). So this similar language and context indicates that believers will not only accompany Christ into the battle of Armageddon, but it also suggests that believers will be participating in combat—with, of course, a certain outcome, victory.
Finally, I do not want to rule out that angels as well will accompany Christ at Armageddon. They helped administer the trumpet and bowl judgments; why not be associated with the battle of Armageddon? There is nothing that requires that it must be either/or; it could be both/and, God’s people and angels accompany their Creator into battle. And the plural “armies” may suggest both groups of angels and the redeemed. In any event, it most likely refers to the redeemed people of God—not as if Warrior Jesus needs our help!
Last week, I wrote on the Homosexual Gestapo. I said, “I can now see within two years that a Bible-Believing church will not be allowed to meet publicly for worship. Given this, churches may want to begin posturing for home churches and, of course, preparing for persecution.”
Sure enough, today, I came across this piece that argues in the near future all churches may be forced to marry gays. Certainly, those churches who marry gays will be shown to be apostate—and make no bones about it, you will be surprised to see even certain professing “evangelical” churches that you thought were “solid” will desperately justify their capitulation to marry gays to keep their doors open (see the parable of the Sower, Matt 13:1–23).
It’s coming folks. It’s coming fast. The secular left will continue to criminalize Christianity until they cannot see any vestige of godliness in society that reminds them of their sin.
Churches need to begin now to think of strategic game plans and support systems on how to go underground in the future when these things come to pass. If there is no plan, then local evangelical churches will become frayed in the midst of this ostracism and persecution.
I understand that all of this is disconcerting, watching our country implode on every level, so I leave you with this hope and promise from our Lord: And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18
Last, but not least, pray that God brings a revival to this wicked country—his mercy is our only hope.
1. The church is grafted into the olive tree, which stands for the nation of Israel, and not the other way around, which erroneously has Israel being grated into the roots and the trunk of the church (Ro 9–11). The believing church is grafted into the roots and trunk of the olive tree of Israel. Without the roots and trunk of the tree, which represent the nation of Israel, the church has no anchoring or rootage in space and time or history.
2. The new covenant of Jeremiah 31:31–34 was explicitly made with “the house of Israel and the house of Judah”; it was not a covenant made with the church, even though the church may share in it, just as it shares in parts of the Abrahamic-Davidic covenant(s). There is no specific covenant in Scripture directly made for, or with, the church in either Testament!
3. Ever since the beginnings of human history, God has been raising up a remnant from all over the human race. The present-day believing church is part of that faithful remnant, which ever since Pentecost has been grafted into the trunk of the tree identified as Israel. Thus, there are distinguishable aspects between Israel and the church, just as there is a distinguishable aspect in the program of God, but there is not a separation, or a sharp division, between “the people of God” or the “kingdom of God.” The continuity term for believing Israel and the church is the one “people of God,” just as the continuity term for the one program of God is the “kingdom of God.” (Walter C. Kaiser Jr. The Promise-Plan of God: A Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008, 27)