Making a Covenant with Abraham (Part 5)

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Problems with the Promise & Fulfillment Motif?

John Sailhamer is a critic of the common evangelical dogma that teaches a “promise-fulfillment” way of looking at the two Testaments, because by setting things up that way, the almost irresistible temptation will be to interpret the Old Testament through the lens of the New Testament, and in particular with the first coming of Christ culminating in the Gospel. Such an attitude threatens to turn the Old Testament, the Bible of Israel, and of Jesus and the Apostles, in to a book of colorful stories and sermon illustrations for New Testament preaching. 1

This might sound very good. As a matter of fact it does sound good to very many evangelicals. So good in fact, that it has often been assumed by pious minds as a natural implication of having a New Testament. But the “promise–fulfillment” idea so frequently recommended cries out for a bit of careful examination. The received wisdom is that we don’t start by reading through the OT to find its meaning, but that we begin by reading the NT, with emphasis on Paul’s Gospel, and we then interpret the OT through our understanding of the NT, especially our understanding of the work of Christ. Essentially what is being urged on us is the hermeneutical priority of the NT. Without the interpretive mindset we have gained from the NT, so the thinking goes, we are not in a position to rightly understand the OT. Hence, the OT is to be interpreted, not on its own merits, but by the NT. An earlier quote from Goldsworthy again makes this clear: Read more about Making a Covenant with Abraham (Part 5)

Theology Thursday - Arminius on Law & Gospel

On “Theology Thursday,” we feature short excerpts on various areas of systematic theology, from a wide variety of colorful (and drab) characters and institutions. Some are orthodox, but decidedly outside the Baptist orbit. Others are completely heretical. Regardless of heresy or orthodoxy, we hope these short readings are a stimulus for personal reflection, a challenge to theological complacency, and an impetus for apologetic zeal “to encourage you to contend earnestly for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints,” (Jude 3).

From The Works of Jacob Arminius,​ vol. 1, “Disputation 13 — On the Comparison of the Law and the Gospel.” Courtesy of The Wesley Center.

Since the law ought to be considered in two respects, not only as it was originally delivered to men constituted in primitive innocence, but also as it was given to Moses and imposed on sinners, (on which account it has in the Scriptures obtained the name of “the Old Testament,” or “the Old Covenant,”) it may very properly, according to this two-fold respect, be compared with the Gospel, which has received the appellation of “the New Testament” as it is opposed to the Old. Read more about Theology Thursday - Arminius on Law & Gospel

Bitterness Happens

Bitterness is a cup we all have to drink sometimes, though some taste it far more often than others and some mixes are far more noxious than others. The bitterest afflictions are those that are continuous—an irreversible decision with seemingly unending consequences, an irreparable but inescapable relationship, the loss of someone so close to us we can’t figure out who we are without them, a gradual ebbing of health and with it both the grief of lost vitality and the resentment of feeling that it happened too soon and wasn’t fair.

In these cases and many more, bouts of bitterness are unavoidable. But with each perfectly normal attack of spiritual and emotional heartburn comes a temptation to indulge and harm ourselves.

I wish I could title this post “I Beat Bitterness and You Can Too,” but my battle with bitterness is ongoing—almost daily. The struggle has led to study, though, and the truths of Scripture have often proved to be powerful medicine. I need to review them, and the exercise may also help you or someone you know. Read more about Bitterness Happens

Passion, Guilt, and Narcissism: Growing Up in 2016

As the mother of four young people ranging in age from 15 to 28, I’ve spent the last couple of decades trying to prepare them for the world they will live in.

Along the way I’ve listened to many a fellow parent bemoan the problems of “these kids today.” Memes of children walking around looking at their smartphones are our signposts of The End of Civilization as We Know It.

However, the parents and elders of every generation echo the lament, “These kids today …” There’s a quote, old enough to be sometimes attributed to Plato, which states, “The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise.” Read more about Passion, Guilt, and Narcissism: Growing Up in 2016

Mere Christianity: An Examination of the Concept in Richard Baxter & C. S. Lewis (Part 4)

From Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal (DBSJ), with permission. This section continues to examine Lewis’ concept of mere Christianity. Read the series so far.

Lewis’s Conception of a Mere Christian

Nowhere in Mere Christianity does Lewis elucidate the fundamentals of a Mere Christian. In various places he gives hints of what may be included. For instance, he says that doctrinal differences should never be expressed in the presence of those who have not yet “come to believe that there is one God and that Jesus Christ is His only Son.”1 So we have at least two explicit essentials: first, Mere Christians are Monotheists, and second, they believe Jesus Christ is God’s Son.2 In another place, Lewis gives a second, more mystical definition: “It is at [the church’s] centre that each communion is really closest to every other in spirit, if not in doctrine. And this suggests that at the centre of each there is a something, or a Someone, who against all divergences of belief … speaks with the same voice.”3 How can one identify a MC congregation or denomination? They have the same spirit. Here, Lewis is suggesting that Mere Christians can recognize one another by an invisible and undeniable unity of spirit. Read more about Mere Christianity: An Examination of the Concept in Richard Baxter & C. S. Lewis (Part 4)

Ordering Finances Wisely Part 8: Work and "Using the World Without Abusing It"

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Key Verses

Luke 11:11-13, “If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

1 Timothy 5:8, “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (KJV).  (“Infidel” is ἄπιστος, “without faith;” in ESV, NKJV, NASB, NIV, “an unbeliever.”)

1 Corinthians 7:29-31, “But this I say, brethren, the time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none, those who weep as though they did not weep, those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess, and those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away Read more about Ordering Finances Wisely Part 8: Work and "Using the World Without Abusing It"

Theology Thursday - Second Helvetic Confession on the Law

On “Theology Thursday,” we feature short excerpts on various areas of systematic theology, from a wide variety of colorful (and drab) characters and institutions. Some are orthodox, but decidedly outside the Baptist orbit. Others are completely heretical. Regardless of heresy or orthodoxy, we hope these short readings are a stimulus for personal reflection, a challenge to theological complacency, and an impetus for apologetic zeal “to encourage you to contend earnestly for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints,” (Jude 3).

From the Second Helvetic Confession

The Will of God is Explained for Us in the Law of God

We teach that the will of God is explained for us in the law of God, what he wills or does not will us to do, what is good and just, or what is evil and unjust. Therefore, we confess that the law is good and holy.

The Law of Nature

And this law was at one time written in the hearts of men by the finger of God (Rom. 2:15), and is called the law of nature (the law of Moses is in two Tables), and at another it was inscribed by his finger on the two Tables of Moses, and eloquently expounded in the books of Moses (Ex. 20:1 ff.; Deut. 5:6 ff.). For the sake of clarity we distinguish the moral law which is contained in the Decalogue or two Tables and expounded in the books of Moses, the ceremonial law which determines the ceremonies and worship of God, and the judicial law which is concerned with political and domestic matters. Read more about Theology Thursday - Second Helvetic Confession on the Law

Making a Covenant with Abraham (Part 4)

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Covenants & Promises

Two Abrahamic Covenants?

To make things a little more tricky, some scholars claim to see not one but two covenants made with Abraham by the Lord. This is the position of Paul Williamson as set out in his fine book Sealed with an Oath. Williamson believes that the thirteen year time lapse between Genesis 15 and 17, plus what he calls “significant differences … in terms of their covenantal framework and their promissory emphases” argue for two covenants.1

But the time gap is not in itself a problem for a divine covenant. Clearly it would take many generations for the descendants to appear. The issue is really over the repetition of covenantal language and what receives emphasis. What it boils down to for the two-covenant view is that Genesis 15 is said to be temporal and unilateral, whereas Genesis 17 is eternal and bilateral.2 Williamson sees the two covenants with Abraham as stemming from “the two separate strands set out in the programmatic agenda of Genesis 12:1-3.”3 Read more about Making a Covenant with Abraham (Part 4)