Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The Abrahamic Covenant, by Dr. George B. Fletcher, Ch. 1

The following is a book by Dr. George B. Fletcher. The copy I have was distributed many years ago at one of the churches he pastored in my area. I rediscovered this while cleaning out my attic recently. I would call it early New Covenant Theology (NCT). At the time I did not know it was called NCT. John G. Reisinger used to come to one of these churches for their week long Doctrines of Grace seminars. I enjoyed attending these years ago and looked forward to them each Spring. There are some interesting things to be gleaned from this book by Dr. Fletcher. I believe it sheds light on some of the issues with the covenant with Abraham and some of the errors arising from a misunderstanding of these things. I will post each of the 16 chapters. Here is the first chapter...

Is the Israeli Nation in Palestine
a Fulfillment of Bible Prophecy?

Chapter I

     There are three schools of interpretation in the field of Bible Prophecy - the Postmiliennial, Premillennial and Amillennial. Postmillennialism looks for the Lord's returri AFTER (post) the Millennium. It believes the Holy Spirit through the medium of the church will bring about in this world by the power of the gospel an era of righteousness among the nations of earth. Premillennialism holds that Christ will come personally BEFORE (pre) the Millennium, and that by the catastrophic judgments accompanying the Second Advent, Christ will exercise political sovereignty over all nations for a thousand years from the reestablished earthly throne of David in Jerusalem, which will then become the capitol of the world. Amillennialism means "no Millennium", that is, such as held by the postmillennialist and premillenialist, namely, neither a literal reign of Christ on earth before the final judgment as in premillennialism, nor a golden era of universal peace and prosperity in this world by a militant Church as in postmillennialism. Amillennialism holds to a spiritual reign of Christ in redeeming grace in the hearts of His people in this present life (Romans 5:21; l Cor. 15: 25,26), and continued in their reign WITH Christ in heaven (Rev. 20:4-6) during this Messianic age of grace between the two Advents of Christ.
     There are differences and likenesses between these respective views of eschatology. Amillennialism agrees with postrnillennialism in asserting that Christ's Second Advent is the end of all gospel probation (2 Cor.6:2). Amillennialism agrees with premillennialism in declaring that Christ's Second Advent will be preceded by a time of apostasy and a great falling away. It agrees with the "pre" view that the world will not be converted before the Lord's return by the preaching of the Gospel. Amillennialism disagrees vigorously with dispensational premillennialism in its Judaizing tendencies and influences. It repudiates modern Zionism and considers it a last day revival of Talmudic Judaism, which is nothing other than ancient Phariseeism. Amillennialism agrees with postmillennialism that the Second Advent of Christ ushers in eternity and disagrees with premillennialism which declares the Second Advent will be followed by a thousand years plus of time before the final end. Amillennialism asks "If the Second Advent of Christ glorifies all the redeemed of all ages and banishes with everlasting destruction those who know not God and obey not the Gospel, who will be left to enter any supposed millennium on earth (2 Thess. 1:7-10; Matt. 25:46)?" It believes that the offer of salvation after the Second Advent of Christ is as unscriptural as the offer of salvation after death (Luke 3:24-30; Heb. 9:27, 23). It finds support for its view in the words of Christ that as theflood took ALL of the world of the ungodly away: "so shall ALSO the coming of the Son of Man be (Matt. 24:39). Who then will be left to enter an earthly millennium, it asks? All three schools of thought in interpreting Bible prophecy are related in one way or another to the Abrahamic covenant, and resort to it to establish their respective views of prophetic truth.
     Likewise there are three great schools of thought with respect to Church truth, indicated by the terms Episcopacy, Presbyterianism, and Independency. Episcopacy recognizes the right of bishops to preside over districts of country, and one of its fundamental doctrines is that a bishop is officially superior to an elder and that the "ordaining power" and the "right to rule" belong to the episcopal office. Presbyterianism recognizes two classes of elders - PREACHING elders and RULING elders. the pastor and the ruling elders of a congregation constitute what is called the "Session of the church". The "Session" transacts the business of the church, receives, dismisses, and excludes members. From the decision of a Session there is an appeal to Presbytery, which is composed of preaching and ruling elders. From the action of a Presbytery there lies an appeal to Synod, and from the Synod there is an appeal to the General Assembly, whose decrees are final and irresistible. Independency holds to the sovereign autonomy of the local congregation of professedly regenerate, and scripturally baptized believers. They differ materially and fundamentally from Episcopal, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches. Independency holds that local churches are independent of the State, but in matters pertaining to government they are independent of one another. They are interdependent only in the sense involved in mutual fellowship; and their mutual fellowship is not to be lightly esteemed, for it answers valuable purposes. Independency declares that every local congregation of baptized believers united in church worship and work is as complete a church as ever existed, and is perfectly competent to do whatever a church can of' right doIt is as complete as if it were the only church in the world. Every Baptist church is an independent and a pure democracy. The idea of independence should be earnestly cherished while that of consolidation should be as earnestly deprecated. Churches, according to Independency, are executive democracies organized to carry out the sovereign will of their Lord and King. All three views of church truth stand related in one way or another to the Abraharnic covenant and as the three views of Bible prophecy, they likewise resort to it to establish their respective doctrines of ecclesiology.
          The question naturally arises how are we to interpret the Abrahamic covenant in relation to Bible prophecy and Church truth? Are all three views of prophecy and church truth correct; or does some one of them harmonize more perfectly with the whole counsel of God? We are persuaded that two great doctrinal errors stem from the Abrahamic covenant. The one has to do with Ecclesiology, the doctrine of the Church; and the other with Eschatology, the doctrine of Last Things. The Paedo-baptist will invariably go to the Abrahamic covenant of Genesis 17 to justify his infant sprinkling, and the dispensational prernillennialist will do the same to prove a future world power kingdom of Jewish supremacy to be brought in AFTER the Second Advent of Christ. But do we ever find either Christ or his apostles referring us to the Old Testament for an explanation of the ordinance of baptism? Is it not a positive institution peculiar to the New Testament, and therefore should we go back to Genesis 17 to establish the mode, subjects, and design of a New Testament ordinance? If Christ and His apostles have by command and example shown what the mode, subjects; and design of baptism are, that, it would seem to us, is the end of all controversy. On the other hand, do we ever find Christ or the apostles teaching that the Temple will be rebuilt, the Levitical sacrifices renewed, the Aaronic priesthood restored, the middle wall of partition reconstructed and Jerusalem become the center of the world's worship in a thousand years of Jewish supremacy? Nevertheless the Abrahamic covenant is frequently brought forward to prove that Israel was given the land for an everlasting possession, and it is claimed that inasmuch as they have never possessed it according to the boundary limitations of that covenant, an age to come AFTER the Second Advent of Christ is necessary to its complete fulfillment. If the millennium is all the dispensational premillennialist claims it is going to be, is it not reasonable to 'suppose that Christ and the inspired apostles would have had something explicit to say about it in the New Testament?
     These and similar questions in the fields of ecc1esiology and eschatology as they stand related to the Abrahamic covenant challenge the diligent study of the people of God we ourselves in seeking· the·truth ask the question: "What. saith the scripture?" and in the Chapters to follow shall declare what we believe they teach respecting these matters.


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