Tom McMahon interviews his guest, Paul Wilkinson, author of "For Zion's Sake."
Gary: Welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7, a radio ministry of The Berean Call featuring T.A. McMahon. I’m Gary Carmichael, thanks for tuning in. In today’s program, Tom begins a special four-part series with his guest Paul Wilkinson, the author of For Zion’s Sake, Prophets who Prophesy Lies in My Name, and Christian Palestinianism. Now with his guest, here’s TBC Executive Director Tom McMahon.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. I guess for today’s program and for next week and maybe even beyond that—we’ve got so much to talk about—is Paul Wilkinson who we’re talking to—well, this says—my notes say Manchester, but actually it’s Oldham, which is close to Manchester. It’s amazing what technology allows us to do. As you’ll hear, Paul will sound like he’s just a block away, but he’s actually 5,000 miles away.
I first met Paul at a Christian retreat center located in the moors of southern England. We were both speakers at Truth for Youth Conference in Devon where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle placed his Sherlock Holmes novel, The Hound of the Baskervilles. And for any of you who know that area—well, England, in general—there’s something actually scarier than The Hound of the Baskervilles, and that’s [hedgerows]. Now, if you don’t know what that is, well, ask somebody, try and find somebody who’s been there, but it’s—actually it’s, to describe it to you, it would be like one of our one-lane lanes in which you have traffic going both ways, but it only will fit one vehicle, and you can’t even walk along that without being—well, it’s scary, let’s just put it that way.
Paul is the author of For Zion’s Sake, and some booklets such as Prophets Who Prophesy Lies in My Name, and another titled Christian Palestinianism, and he’s also co-authoring a book with his pastor titled Israel Betrayed. Paul, thanks for joining me on Search the Scriptures 24/7.
Paul: It’s an honor to be with you today, Tom.
Tom: Paul, before we get to the book and the booklets which, as I said, we’re scheduled at least right now, for this week and next week, but I think we’re going to go beyond that. There’s just so much to talk about. But before we go there, the first time I ever heard you speak, you gave a message that I’ll never forget, and not just because you’re a great speaker, that certainly, but because of the man that you introduced me to, and of course I’m referring to John Harper. Paul, tell us about John Harper.
Paul: Well, John Harper was a much-loved pastor, Baptist minister, from Glasgow in Scotland and in 1911, early part of 1912, he was ministering at the Moody Church in Chicago, and the Lord blessed his ministry. Many people were saved, and he was greatly admired and esteemed over there. And he traveled back across the Atlantic the beginning of 1912 to his native Scotland. While he was back in Scotland, he received a cable from the Moody Church pleading with him to return, because his ministry was much needed. So what John Harper did was he booked a ticket for himself and his six-year old daughter Nana and his sister. And let me just say that Nana’s mother had died in childbirth, so Nana was John Harper’s only daughter. So John booked a ticket onboard the Lusitania to travel back to the United States when, inexplicably, even though now in hindsight we know it was the sovereignty of the Lord, he decided to change his ticket and book the three of them onboard a new ship that was about to make its maiden voyage from South Hampton, England called the Titanic. So, the three of them took their ticket onboard the Titanic, set sail on the 10th of April, 1912, and during the four days that the Titanic was actually on the ocean, before the infamous iceberg incident, John Harper, as he’d done all his life since he was a child, a teenager was when he—he was a teenager when he came to know the Lord, and at the age of seventeen, he was there with his Bible on the street corners of his home village, just proclaiming Jesus Christ to everybody that passed by, and onboard the Titanic, he did exactly the same. He was proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ, and even on the final night of the voyage, he led one of the deckhands to the Lord. Well, 11:40 PM, 14th of April, 1912, the “unsinkable ship” hit the iceberg and we know the story. And the call went out for everybody to get up on deck and to man the lifeboats. And so John Harper woke his little girl Nana up, wrapped her in a blanket, took her up on deck, gave her a kiss, and told her that they would see each other again one day, and then he passed her into the arms of one of the deckhands. And once he’d seen that she was safely in one of the lifeboats, John Harper took off his jacket, gave it to another passenger, and then he just began to run up and down the decks, crying out to people, “Is your soul saved? Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved!” And at one point, it was actually John Harper that went to the Titanic’s orchestra and called them to play “Nearer, My God, to Thee.” And people began to gather around John, and he knelt down on the deck—one survivor remembered him kneeling down on deck, and just raising his hands to heaven and praying to the Lord. Anyways, the ship lurched. Finally John Harper had to jump into the ice-cold waters of the Atlantic, and as soon as he was in the water, he was swimming up to as many people as he possibly could, crying out with all his might, “Is your soul saved? Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” And eventually, tragically, hypothermia set in and at the age of 39, John Harper sank into the waters, the ice-cold waters of the Atlantic. But we know his soul, his spirit, went straight into the presence of His Lord and Savior.
Now, that’s not the end of the story. Four years later in a church meeting in Hamilton, Ontario, a man by the name of Aguilla Webb stood up and he declared that he was a survivor of the Titanic, and he had been in the waters holding onto a piece of wreckage when this man, John Harper, had swam up to him, asking him the question, “Is your soul saved?”
And Aguilla Webb said, “No, it is not.”
And John had said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved,” and according to that man’s testimony, the waves took him away. But strange enough, not long afterwards, the waves, the current brought John Harper back to Aguilla Webb and he asked the question again: “Is your soul saved?”
And Aguilla said, “No, I don’t think it is.”
And John Harper’s last words were, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.”
And this is what Aguilla Webb said in that church meeting in Hamilton, Ontario: he said, “There alone in the night, and with two miles of water under me, I believed. I am John Harper’s last convert.”
Tom: Wow. And there’s so many other things about it, those of us who have fears of this, or fears of that…
Tom: Didn’t John Harper almost drown as a teenager?
Paul: Three times in his life, yeah, he had that experience in the waters…
Paul: …and the Lord preserved him.
Tom: Yeah, without a lifejacket, okay? He jumps overboard to be continually used of the Lord. It gives me—this may sound like a pun, because of the cold water—but it honestly, it gives me chills as I think about this man and his commitment to our Lord. Wow.
Paul: He just surrendered his life to the Lord at an early age, and so all he thought about from that moment on was reaching the lost, and nothing changed. You know, he wasn’t interested in trying to save his own life, because he knew he was saved. Whatever happened, he was safe in Jesus. And you know, people often ask, “Well, what happened to the six-year old little girl, Nana?” Well, she grew up in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, and she went on to live to a ripe old age, and she led many women to the Lord, and her life was blessed just as her father’s life had been blessed.
Tom: Yeah. Paul, one of the things that convicts me—I mean, it really does—about that story is that, you know, as I mentioned earlier, people have fears, and people have a fear of flying, and a fear of this, and a fear of that, but we’re seeing in John Harper “perfect love casts out fear.”
Paul: That’s right.
Tom: And into my own case, what prevents me from being used of the Lord? It’s not even anything like that. It’s almost trivial what may cause me not to step out, except that the love of God, you know, the love of our Lord compels me…
Tom: …and I’m thankful for those times. Now, Paul, your book For Zion’s Sake deals with another very interesting man among the saints of our Lord Jesus Christ, John Nelson Darby.
Paul: That’s right.
Tom: Now, tell us about what motivated you to write the book, and certainly you’ve told me that your pastor certainly had some involvement with that, I think, editing it and more, right?
Paul: That’s absolutely right. My pastor Andrew Robinson, he’s the pastor of my fellowship Hazel Grove Full Gospel Church in the town of Stockport just outside Manchester in the north of England. Back in 2002, the Lord prompted him to take me to one side and basically say, “Paul, I feel the Lord wants you to do Ph.D. research.” And so, we then began to seek the Lord and just think about what that research would entail, what our focus—my focus should be, and we began to think about the 19th century and the Jewish people going back to the land of Israel, and the question we were asking was who in the church was declaring that this was by the hand of God, this was the fulfillment of Bible prophecy? Who in the church was saying that Scripture was being fulfilled before their very eyes? And we only knew a little bit about the Plymouth Brethren, but we knew enough to start to think about the early Brethren Movement which began in 1830, and the main founder or architect of brethrenism was John Nelson Darby, an Anglican. [He] studied at Trinity College in Dublin, and served as a priest in the church of Ireland for many years, leading people to Christ. We knew that Darby and the brethren—basically, they took the Bible literally. They believed God’s Word. They were students of the Word of God, and they tested everything by Scripture. And so they read all the prophecies that God had given concerning the return of the Jews to the land, and the restoration of the kingdom to Israel, and God restoring His sanctuary in the midst of His people, and being glorified in the sight of the nation. And that was basically the journey that led to beginning Ph.D. research at Manchester University, 2003: John Nelson Darby and the Origins of Christian Zionism. And when that was finalized and accepted, we felt that it needed to be published; we had no doubt about that. And so my pastor spent five months with me with the Ph.D. thesis, and he essentially edited that thesis which became For Zion’s Sake: Christian Zionism and the Role of John Nelson Darby, which was published by Paternoster Press, 2007. And essentially, that’s seeking to define what Christian Zionism is, what Christian belief in Israel is all about, stripping away the politics, and going right back to the Bible, which is what John Nelson Darby did.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Now during Darby’s time, Paul, what was the eschatology, eschatology meaning their belief in the last days and how things were going to play out according to the Scriptures? What was the prevailing view?
Paul: Well, the prevailing view was amillennialism.
Paul: You also had post-millennialism, but with amillennialism, the belief [was] that basically the Lord Jesus was not coming back to this earth, literally, physically; that He was not going to reign for a thousand years; that Israel was finished because Israel rejected the Lord Jesus as the Messiah and God replaced Israel with the church—that’s what we call replacement theology. And two of the most significant names in church history that really put amillennialism on the map, this false doctrine, were Augustine…
Paul: …Bishop of Hippo in North Africa from the 4th-5th century, A.D., and John Calvin, who was Augustinian through and through, and so too was Martin Luther. You know, these two men, Calvin and Luther, the great Protestant reformers, but they basically perpetrated this theology of replacement, this amillenialism that said, “Israel’s finished. The church is the new Israel. Christ is not returning, He’s ruling and reigning now through the church. The church is the kingdom of God on earth,” and Bible prophecy was essentially set to one side, and amillenialism, Calvinism—that has dominated the reformed Protestant church for centuries, and that was the dominant view in the Church of England which John Nelson Darby and the early brethren confronted and contended against, because they were pre-millennial. They understood this was the teaching of the early church, the early church fathers for at least three centuries, and they put Israel back on the map. They put the return of the Lord back on the map as far as evangelical doctrine is concerned, and the rapture of the church, too, was put in its rightful place as the blessed hope of the church.
Tom: Right. So, that was then, and as our listeners are going to hear, these ideas, these teachings—not just amillennialism, post-millennialism, certainly Calvinism with those views, although some Calvinists have a different eschatological view…
Paul: That’s right.
Tom: …however, this has all come back in a fury, and now it’s supported by those who—we’re not denying the salvation of Calvinists, but we will be saying and we will be directing our discussion at those who definitely do not know Christ…
Tom: …and have come along side those—some of it’s been accepted out of naïveté, but, come on, Paul, it’s a simple matter: What does the Bible say? What do the Scriptures teach?
Paul: Yeah. Yes.
Tom: Now, let’s go back to the term “Christian Zionism.” Could you give us a definition of that?
Paul: Well, Christian Zionism is basically the belief that God has not finished with or replaced or reinterpreted Zion, where Zion represents Jerusalem, it represents the City of David, the temple mount, it represents the land of Israel, the Jewish people, depending on what context you find that word used in Scripture. And in Scripture, for example, in Zechariah 8, the Lord
God Himself declares how jealous He is for Zion; He’s jealous for His land, Israel; He’s jealous for His people, the Jewish people; He’s jealous for His city, the city of Jerusalem; and Jerusalem, as it goes on to declare in that prophecy, shall be one day the City of Truth when the Lord Jesus returns to rule and reign from Jerusalem. So Christian Zionism is simply believing everything God has declared and decreed in His Word concerning the restoration of the Jewish people to the land that God promised to Abraham, and confirmed it to Isaac and Jacob and their descendants by virtue of an everlasting covenant based on everlasting promises and the everlasting love of God towards His people.
Tom: You know, notwithstanding God’s love for the Jews, but honestly, it has more to do with God’s integrity. He does this for His own sake, so when people say, “Well, look, they’re there in unbelief, and they’re doing this and they’re doing that, and so on,” it comes back to the integrity of God’s Word.
Tom: He has to fulfill it. And this is really being blown off.
Paul: I remember reading some years ago (when I was doing my Ph.D. research) an article that Dave Hunt wrote for The Berean Call—I think it was entitled, “Oh, Jerusalem, Jerusalem,” you know, the heart cry of the Lord Jesus over the city, and that’s exactly what Dave said: the integrity of God is at stake here when we’re talking about Israel, because God is a faithful, covenant-keeping God, and if He has rejected Israel or replaced Israel or redefined Israel, as many in the church are saying to this day, then God is none of these things. He is not faithful. But we know He is true, and it’s His integrity, His name, His glory which is at stake here.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Paul, I am thankful and I know many are thankful—thankful to your pastor for encouraging you to go through the Ph.D. program. As long as I’ve known you, I’ve never heard you call yourself “Doctor,” okay? (Laughs) Now, I’m laughing at that because when I—you know, when I’m with Dave, all over the place, you know, we’re speaking at conferences and so on, they will introduce him as Dr. Hunt…
Tom: …and his response to that is, “I just want to straighten something out here. Not only am I not a doctor, I’m not even a nurse.” Okay? (Chuckling) But nevertheless, scholarship and what you’ve done, Paul, by the grace of God, we can’t thank you enough.
Paul: Well, it’s the calling of the Lord, isn’t it?
Tom: Yeah, yeah.
Paul: You know, we’re all members of the body of Christ. We’re all equal in His sight, and He calls each of us to do different things, and in term of the academic research, that is simply being a key that the Lord has used to open doors in order to raise a banner amongst the nations…
Paul: …and proclaim these truths that we’re talking about.
Tom: Yeah. Now, if you hadn’t done the research, then the myths, the erroneous information that was out there about John Darby, John Nelson Darby, people just buy it…
Tom: …without checking it out. So the Lord used you to definitely get the information, the…And you know, I’ve seen people that wouldn’t even necessarily agree with you but were thankful, because you didn’t just go to other sources, you went to as many direct sources that you could possibly find, so…
Tom: …this was not a matter of just, “Oh, well he’s, you know, looking it up on Wikipedia,” for example.
Paul: No. It’s the only way, isn’t it Tom? It’s the only way to do research is to go back to primary sources where we possibly can and, certainly in John Nelson Darby’s case, there’s so much horrible stuff, so many lies and myths that have been said about him, and how many Christians have the time to research—to get into libraries and do that kind of research? So, you know, we were absolutely determined to set the record straight by going back to primary sources: those who were around in the days of Darby, Darby himself and his writings, and what he said, and to test everything, test everything so that the truth would come forth and then people could make up their minds.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Paul, much of your book deals with Darby’s view of the rapture of the church. Now, some people think, “Wait a minute, I thought this was about Israel and now you’re talking about the rapture.” We’ve got about four minutes left in this segment. Could you explain how they’re related?
Paul: Well, they’re related in the sense that there’s believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are called to study and understand as best we can, with the help of the Holy Spirit, the whole counsel of God from Genesis to Revelation. So as Christians we can’t have our pet subjects, our pet themes, and—we’ve got to handle the faith, that body of doctrine once and for all delivered to the saints by the Lord Jesus through His apostles. As Jude records in verse 3 there, we’re to contend for the whole faith of Jesus Christ, and that’s why, you know, in talking about Christian Zionism, we try to say, “Look, we need to be balanced in everything that we proclaim, and everything that we teach, and see Israel in the greater context of the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.” It’s all about Jesus.
Paul: If we’re going to talk about Israel, we’re going to talk about Christian support of Israel, we’ve got to put it in the context of the King of the Jews, the King of Israel, who’s coming back to take up His throne, and a lot of Christians go askew. You know, they get caught up in extreme forms of Jewish roots or Hebraic roots teaching that takes them down paths that are a distraction, and can be very dangerous at times.
Paul: And so we were just trying to steer a clear course though the Scriptures and say, “Look, this is about Israel. This is about God’s love for Israel. It is about His faithfulness to His promises and His covenants, but ultimately, it’s about the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Jews, King of Israel who’s coming back to take up His rightful throne.”
Tom: And, just to interject this, Paul, He’s coming back with us…
Paul: That’s right!
Tom: …which means we have to get where He is in order to come back with Him!
Tom: And it’s a clear teaching of Scripture, right? I’m not, this isn’t something—well, I have to make this point: Paul, as you know, I grew up Roman Catholic.
Tom: This, all of this stuff—amillennialism, okay, we didn’t believe in the thousand-year reign of Christ. I don’t know if we ever heard about it. We didn’t believe in the rapture. There’s so many things with regard to prophecy we absolutely never heard. And much of the church is in that mentality today. But these are the clear teachings of Scripture.
Paul: That’s right.
Tom: So, anyway…
Paul: And we are urged, we are exhorted in the Scriptures, to look and long for His appearing. That’s what Paul said in his final letter to Timothy. You know, there was a crown of righteousness awaiting him, and not only him, but all who have longed for his appearing, and that’s our primary call. Like the Thessalonian church, you read in 1 Thessalonians:1:10, you know, they were commended for turning to God from idols and waiting for God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to return from heaven, and that’s our primary call as the Bride of Christ to be looking and longing and waiting for Jesus.
Tom: Amen. Paul, we’re out of time for this segment, but when we return next week, the Lord willing, I want to talk more about the rapture and why it is so controversial. In the meantime, Gary will tell you how to obtain [for] free a booklet that we offer. It’s based on—well, it’s Prophets Who Prophesy Lies in My Name by Paul Wilkinson. And folks, the things that we’re going to be talking about next week and, the Lord willing, to weeks after, are all covered in this booklet, and we gladly send it out to you for free. Gary will give you that information. So in the meantime, Paul, again, thanks for being with us, and I look forward to picking this up next week.
Paul: Thank you, Tom. God bless!
Gary: You’ve been listening to Search the Scriptures 24/7 with T.A. McMahon, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. We offer a wide variety of materials to help you in your study of God’s Word. For a complete list of materials and a free subscription to our monthly newsletter, contact us at PO Box 7019, Bend, OR, 97708. Call us at 800-937-6638 or visit our website at thebereancall.org. In our next program, Tom will continue his four-part series with Paul Wilkinson, the author of For Zion’s Sake, Prophets Who Prophesy Lies in My Name, and Christian Palestinianism. We hope you can join us. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for being here, and we encourage you to Search the Scriptures 24/7.