Adult Sunday School at Gospel Light featured our guest for the day, Dr. Doug Stauffer. He is considered an expert on dispensational theology and is the author of “One Book Rightly Divided”.The first topic that was introduced was the difference between the Kingdom of Heaven (a physical realm) and the Kingdom of God (a spiritual realm). In Matt 3:2, John the Baptist announces, “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”, meaning that Jesus is to be ruler of the kingdom on earth. Later in Matt 4:17, Jesus likewise says, “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”. He “went about all Galilee … preaching the gospel of the kingdom”, Matt 4:23, a kingdom that would have to wait until after the tribulation because of Jesus’ rejection by the Jews.
A transition occurs in Matthew chapter 12 where the spiritual kingdom becomes the focus. Jesus says, “if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.”, Matt 12:28. Dr. Stauffer spent time answering questions on this topic of the two kingdoms.
Calvinism became the source of discussion at this point. Dr. Stauffer was amazed by the Calvinist’s acceptance of the concept that unelected “people are birthed to die and go to hell”. He explained that the “elect” spoken of in 1 Peter 1:2 are only elect due to “the foreknowledge of God the Father”, who knows the beginning and end of all things. He said you are “not elect until you are elected.” We read 2 Thess 2:13, “God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” to understand that we have the choice to believe or not to believe. (See also Rom 8:28-29 and Rom 9:11.) God knew who would accept and who would not, but all men were given free will. “God will give you the tools if you want to disbelieve the Bible”, Dr Stauffer assured us. Pastor Vince Giardino was quick to add that Calvinism relies on twisting the scriptures and that we need to properly use the scriptures to dispel their doctrines.
The discussion turned to modern versions of the bible and their distortions, especially the NIV. The initial focus was on the controversy around the “voice” that the Apostle Paul heard in Acts 9, passages that critics claim show errors in the KJV. The common sense explanation to this “error” was what cemented Dr. Stauffer’s belief in the Bible. Acts chapters 22 and 26 clear up the matter; the voice only spoke to Paul and the others with him just heard a voice like thunder. Dr. Stauffer also spent time on Titus 2:13, a verse that some believe shows the NIV to be stronger on the diety of Christ. Not only did Dr. Stauffer debunk the idea using Titus 1:3-4 & 3:4-6, but he showed how the NIV version kills the originally intended meaning. He said that evidence destroys the ability to have faith in modern bibles. (Pastor G. mentioned Isaiah 43:11 as a cross reference.)“Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” Rev 4:11. Dr. Stauffer called this a “life changing verse”, one which we should all memorize. “’I want to please God’ should be our focus”, he said. We should realize that nothing is more important in our lives than to use our free will to please God.