About Me

My photo

I am the Pastor/Teacher of Rivers of Joy Baptist Church in Minford, Ohio since August 2008.  I am married to Charity since June 14, 1969.  I have four grown children.   Having served in the local church for over forty years as Pastor/Teacher, Asso., Youth Pastor, Minister of Education, Building Upkeep, Camp Director, Sunday School Teacher, etc. Also I have worked in the public place for as many years as I have preached. Charity and her sister are co owner of Union Mills Conf. (Bakery) in West Portsmouth Ohio


Part Five

When the reformers broke away from the Roman Catholic church, they carried a lot of baggage with them. Amillennialism was one such chain that kept the church in bondage to the law.
You might be wondering, "how does a doctrine about the ‘‘end times' affect the teaching of law and grace?" That's a good question. Augustine and his contemporaries faced a dilemma. It had been years since the Lord Jesus had said, "behold I come quickly." By doing away with the literal return of Christ for His church, Augustine no doubt felt that he was helping God out.
After all, if there was no literal return of Christ and no literal millennium, then Christ could be reigning over His spiritual kingdom up in heaven. The literal promises given to Israel in the Old Testament could be spiritually applied to the church. However, applying those promises to the church came at a tremendously high cost. Attached to the promises given to Israel was also the Old Testament law. If the church is "spiritual Israel" then she must also keep the law——if not for salvation, then at least for Christian living.

Anytime man decides to help God out, he just makes trouble for himself. A good illustration of this is found in the account of Chronicles. When king David decided to bring the ark of the covenant back to Jerusalem he put it on an ox-drawn cart. But in the law God specifically told Israel that priests were to carry the ark on poles. In 1 Chronicles 13:9-10 we read, "And when they came unto the threshing floor of Chidon, Uzza put forth his hand to hold the ark; for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzza, and he smote him, because he put his hand to the ark: and there he died before God." Uzza paid dearly for trying to help God out. His intentions may have been good, but the results of his efforts were devastating.
Proverbs gives us some very sobering advice about tampering with the Word of God: "Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar [Prov 30:6]." Concerning the book of Revelation, the Lord Jesus Himself said, "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and [from] the things which are written in this book [Rev 22:18-19]." In all of these warnings, nothing is said about those who would distort God's Word through allegorical interpretation. Augustine's intentions may have been noble when he tried to help God out. He may have felt that amillennialism could help to explain Jesus' statement in Revelation about His soon return, but the results of Augustine's efforts were devastating.
Throughout the Old Testament many so-called religious leaders opposed God's true prophets. Jeremiah predicted Judah's demise if she kept rebelling against the Lord. The religious elite of that day claimed that he was a traitor. They threw him into a cistern and left him there to die. False prophets opposed Jeremiah's predictions and the result was the Babylonian captivity. These false prophets didn't learn anything from this captivity. They continued to tamper with God's Word which ultimately resulted in 400 years of silence——the Old Testament equivalent of the dark ages.
I'm not equating Augustine with the false prophets of Jeremiah's day. Those false prophets knowingly distorted and opposed God's Word. I don't think that Augustine intentionally tried to distort God's Word. His intentions were noble. Like Uzza, he simply tried to give God a helping hand. Under the dispensation of the law, Uzza lost his life for his noble attempt. But Augustine lived in the dispensation of grace. He did not pay for his noble attempts with loss of life. Never-the-less, the church has paid dearly for Augustine's attempt to steady the solid foundation of Scripture. Just as Israel received her just rewards——400 years of silence——so too the church plunged head-long into the dark ages following Augustine's misguided efforts.

Israel's 400 silent years ended with the bright hope of the birth of Messiah and the promised Messianic Kingdom. But that hope soon dwindled with Israel's rejection of Messiah. The promise of the Messianic Kingdom was put on hold until Israel would be ready to accept her Messiah.

So too, the dark ages ended with the bright hope of the reformation and the rediscovered truth of salvation by grace. But that bright hope was tarnished by the snares of legalism that kept the reformers in bondage. When Martin Luther stepped away from the Roman Catholic church he drug with him the ball and chain of amillennialism's law-based teachings. The Lutheran, Reformed, and Anglican reformers rejected premillennialism as being merely "Jewish opinions."

They continued to maintain the amillennial view which the Roman Catholic church had adopted
from Augustine.

J.B. Stoney notes that:

  • In the Reformation there was, through grace, a great deliverance. The ground-work of Christianity was recovered; namely, justification by faith. But though this was recovered, it was not maintained that the old man was crucified on the Cross, and hence they only refused the exaction of popery, but considered the flesh as still before God. Refusing the exaction was right; but the retention of that on which the exaction could be made, the old man, was and is the weakness of the Reformation.

Miles Stanford also observes that:

  • The Lutheran Church is an example of little birth truth and no growth truth, resulting in legalism, lack of eternal security, and even a charismatic element as well as liberalism. In general, the Reformation-oriented Reformed Churches, with birth truth but little or no growth truth, also reflect this imbalance in their unscriptural application of "the law as the rule of life" for the believer.

Dr. William R. Newell pretty well sums it up when he wrote:

  • Almost all the theology of the various ‘‘creeds of Christendom' date back to the Reformation, which went triumphantly to the end of Romans Five, and, so far as theological development or presentation of truth was concerned, stopped there.

The reformation brought back the truth of salvation by grace, but reverted to the law for living the Christian life. This law-grace paradox continued to plague the church until John Nelson Darby and his contemporaries came on the scene in the early 1800's. Darby adopted the literal, historical-grammatical method of Bible interpretation.