Here is my critique and commentary on Article 18:
We affirm that our only sure and confident hope is in the sure and certain promises of God. Thus, our hope is an eschatological hope, grounded in our confidence that God will bring all things to consummation in a manner that will bring greatest glory to his own name, greatest preeminence to his Son, and greatest joy for his redeemed people.
We deny that we are to find ultimate fulfillment or happiness in this world, or that God's ultimate purpose is for us to find merely a more meaningful and fulfilling life in this fallen world. We further deny that any teaching that offers health and wealth as God's assured promises in this life can be considered a true gospel.
This article is lacking clear statements on a lot of possible eschatological issues, but I think that's good. It reminds me of the many great confessions before it like the Westminster Confession of Faith (certainly the T4G statement is not a confession) which leave the eschatological door open as it were. I do like the strong focus on "eschatological hope" because before Christ the Israelite believers hope was Christ as the Curse-Reverser and as believers now our hope is for Christ as Triumphant King. Thus Christianity has always been aboutaa future hope.
I do not think it could have mentioned here some common beliefs which all Christians hold to--future judgment, future return of Christ. These perhaps are implied elsewhere, but a clear statement here may have been helpful.
Here I want to briefly digress. What I find disheartening in many churches is the elevation of a certain millennial position as central to the gospel. By no means am I saying knowing what you believe about eschatology is not important, but the Church has never seemingly come to a consensus and each viable option has some Biblical warrant. To write off all, non-premil pretrib Christians as people who don't interpret the Bible literately is rubbish and to likewise to scorn those who hold to that position because in some ways it is new is also rubbish. My concern is this. Why in so many churches (conservative, particularly Fundamentalist) does everyone have to be premil pretrib? Is not this an area where lay ministers and elders can disagree in one body and yet still co-exist? I think so.
We deny that we are to find ultimate fulfillment or happiness in this world, or that God's ultimate purpose is for us to find merely a more meaningful and fulfilling life in this fallen world.Ultimate happiness cannot be found in the here and now. We are hired to find our happiness in Christ and giving God glory. We are pilgrims and may we never forget that. I love the emphasis some preachers put on exhorting Christians to war time living. Not being so concerned with this world and worldly possessions. If I were to be honest, this is an area the Lord is working on with me. I am far too earthly minded. However, we cannot say this life means nothing. The physical is no less real than the spiritual and visa versa.
We further deny that any teaching that offers health and wealth as God's assured promises in this life can be considered a true gospel.Thus because we are pilgrims our goal is not to amass a horde of health or wealth (read my previous post on suffering). God promises neither and as a matter of fact God often promises suffering for Christians in this world. "For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too" (2 Cor. 1:5) & "This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering" (1 Thess. 1:5).
. . . God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. . . (2 Tim. 1:7-10).Our ultimate "health and wealth" is in the hope of seeing Jesus. It's when we see Him face to face that we will be changed and no longer will we suffering for we will be changed into his likeness (2 Cor. 3:18). And because we will value only the most valuable, namely Jesus Christ himself, then we will have all wealth and much more. "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us" (Romans 8:18).
In conclusion (to the whole series), I find it interesting that even though this document was not intended to be a standard against which to measure churches and Christians per se, Mohler mentioned it would be interesting to see who would not sign it. Well I am equally amused and interested in seeing who in the blog-o-sphere has agreed or disagreed with this statement and why. It has certainly touched on different people's hot buttons. I am overall in almost complete agreement with it and would surely have no issues with signing it.
Well friends it's been fun working through these articles, but I'm afraid I've come to my end. On one of my upcoming blogspots I will post a compilation of all my posts on these articles--edited, in final form, and as PDF. Also, you can look forward to my series on the Holy Spirit. I will get to the matter of spiritual gifts, but I want to lay a foundation first, so those posts may be a while in the making. Lord bless those who have read these and may they build you up in your faith.
Read the Full Statement of Affirmations and Denials
(All emphasis such as italics, bold, or color is mine unless otherwise noted)
If you are interested in reading the series: Part1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15, Part 16, Part 17, Part 18, Part 19, Part 20, Part 21, Part 22, Part 23, Part 24, & Part 25. Look for the PDF soon!
Soli Deo Gloria
(HT: Adrian Warnock)