Book Review - Day of Atonement

Image of Day of Atonement: A Novel of the Maccabean Revolt
by David DeSilva
Kregel Publications 2015
Paperback 320

Most Christians do not realize there is a large gap between Malachi and Matthew. We’ve noticed a blank page or two, but eagerly turn from the Old Testament to the New without much thought. Those blank pages hide four hundred years of turbulent history in the life of the people of Israel. Some Bibles even include additional books to fill in the missing details. I’m not advocating a return to the Apocrypha, but every Christian can benefit from an appreciation of the harrowing tale that stands behind the Maccabean revolt. That history stands behind Jesus’ celebration (and endorsement?) of the Feast of Dedication.

The Maccabean history is helpful in today’s world where increasingly Christianity is marginalized and a pressure is building for us to synthesize our faith with the lifestyle of those around us. Just water down our faith, bend a little here and a little there, and we’re sure to increase our cultural status. A similar challenge faced the Jews who would be true to God in the face of the siren call of Hellenization and Greek influence. Read more about Book Review - Day of Atonement

Whatever Happened to Literal Hermeneutics (Part 4)

From Theologically Driven. Read the series so far.

Having established two axiomatic principles of language that govern the intelligible use of words (the Univocal Nature of Language and the Jurisdiction of Authorial Intent), we need to pause, I think, to make an important qualification—not so much a third axiom of language, but an answer to a common observation that is often raised at this point, viz., that the Scriptures have two authors, divine and human.

As such, some non-dispensationalists maintain, God is able to use linguistic structures with a broad semantic/syntactical range to secretly but accurately communicate meanings additional to what the human author intended. This being the case, they reason, it is possible to affirm the two principles above but still find a loophole, unique to the Christian Scriptures, that allows two disparate streams of intentionality in a single text: the divine author intended more than or other than what the human author intended, and that’s OK in view of the inscrutable mystery of inspiration. Read more about Whatever Happened to Literal Hermeneutics (Part 4)

Thy Kingdom Come? The Kingdom, the Church, & Social Justice (Part 2)

This article first appeared in the Baptist Bulletin. © Regular Baptist Press, Arlington Heights, Illinois. Used by permission. Read Part 1.

Our participation in God’s work: missio Dei

The heart of the debate comes down to determining our role in God’s plan to reestablish the Mediatorial Kingdom. Do we have a job? Are we supposed to be helping God establish His kingdom? It would seem that most Christians believe this to some extent, simply judging by phrases like, “Helping God bring in the kingdom,” and “We need to reclaim culture for the kingdom.”

Where’s the truth in all of this? Ephesians 2:10 says, “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” If God has asked us to work for Him, and if God’s overall goal in world history is to reestablish His kingdom, then our work must contribute to this in some  way. But to what extent are we partners with God in this endeavor? Are we supposed to help God with everything He’s trying to accomplish?

There are three main views on the coming kingdom, and each view answers this question differently.

Premillennialism teaches that the kingdom has not come yet, and that it is going to come in the future in all of its glory, as predicted in Old Testament prophecy, with Jesus ruling and reigning this planet as the mediatorial, human (and divine) ruler. Read more about Thy Kingdom Come? The Kingdom, the Church, & Social Justice (Part 2)

Thy Kingdom Come? The Kingdom, the Church, & Social Justice (Part 1)

This article first appeared in the Baptist Bulletin. © Regular Baptist Press, Arlington Heights, Illinois. Used by permission.

On a recent vacation, I took the opportunity to spy on another church. My family was visiting friends out of state who took us to their nondenominational, nonaffiliated church. My radar was tuned in. From the moment we stepped onto the property to the moment we left, I was analyzing everything.

In such settings, I play a game: see how quickly I can figure out the pastor’s theological perspective and his alma mater. As I was collecting evidence, I noticed several points of interest. A statement at the bottom of the bulletin made an impassioned plea for more people to help in various ministries. The motivational tagline at the end said, “Come join us as we build God’s kingdom.” Interesting. Using a theology of the kingdom to motivate ministry service.

I peered into the church library and spotted the Left Behind series prominently displayed. Interesting. At the end of the service, the pastor announced that they would soon begin a study of Daniel. At this point I was certain the pastor was most likely pre-millennial in theology. Read more about Thy Kingdom Come? The Kingdom, the Church, & Social Justice (Part 1)

The Blind Eye and the Deaf Ear (Part 1)

This post begins a five-part series consisting of one of C.H. Spurgeon’s lectures to his students. Not long ago, a pastor friend contacted me with a link to the lecture and remarked that it was encouraging to know Spurgeon was dealing with all the same kinds of problems back then that pastors face regularly today. He suggested it would be good content for SharperIron, and I couldn’t agree more.

Depending on what collection you look at, this is Lecture 9 in Volume 3, or possibly Chapter 22, or even Lecture 22. (I believe I also saw it as Lecture 10 in one collection.) The text is available in multiple locations on the Web (such as cblibrary.net, monergism.com and reformationtheology.com), and is apparently in the public domain. Read more about The Blind Eye and the Deaf Ear (Part 1)

Whatever Happened to Literal Hermeneutics (Part 3)

From Theologically Driven. Read the series so far.

We come now to the heart of this series, viz., a discovery of the “received laws of language” that we as humans unconsciously use every day as we engage in ordinary communication with one another. The material here is not new with me, but rather is a distillation of an article published in 2002 by Rolland McCune, “What Is Literal Interpretation?” that he contributed to a start-up journal published by a missionary with whom he was acquainted, Sola Scriptura, issue #3. It is unfortunate that the study has not been circulated more widely.

The Univocal Nature of Language

The first of the hermeneutical rules he proposes is the Univocal Nature of Language. By univocal is simply meant “one voice.” By saying that the Bible speaks univocally we mean that its statements can have only one signification in any given context. To this I add the following qualifications: Read more about Whatever Happened to Literal Hermeneutics (Part 3)

Legalism & Galatians Part 3: Adoption

Portions of the epistle to the Galatians have been used in a manner that breeds confusion and misunderstanding regarding legalism, grace, sanctification, and Christian living. It’s a pity, because the epistle speaks powerfully and clearly on all of these topics. The book’s teaching on adoption is an especially potent message for our times, carving a clear, joyful—yet responsible—path between the opposite errors of justification by works (legalism) and sanctification without works (antinomianism).

But that’s not all. The reality of believers’ adoption as God’s children not only answers the extremes of legalism and antinomianism, but also counters other common errors. Here, we’ll consider two additional errors as well as the two opposite extremes. Read more about Legalism & Galatians Part 3: Adoption

The Irreconcilable Pursuit of Christ & Coolness (Part 2)

From VOICE, July/Aug 2015. Used with permission. Read Part 1.

The Bible & Coolness

How should we live as Christians in a culture that is driven by style and worships the cult of youth, popularity, and appearances? A culture where the greatest fear seems to be becoming old-fashioned, out of date, passé?

Solomon’s words in Ecclesiastes echo through the generations. There is no new thing (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10); we only forget what has come before (Ecclesiastes 1:11). We are born rebels (Ephesians 2:1-3), yet each new generation that rebels believes its insurrection is novel. Seeking to set ourselves apart from the majority, to impress the world with our unique style and way of living, is part of our fallen human nature.

Here’s something else to consider. There’s a very good reason why churches and Christianity, and indeed Christians, tend not to be noted by the world for their trendiness. The problem with trying to make Christianity fashionable is Christ Himself. He said in John 15:18-19

If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

Read more about The Irreconcilable Pursuit of Christ & Coolness (Part 2)