Archive for the ‘Biblical Theology’ Category

Here’s a snippet:

” The same question arising in verse 1 surfaces here again: Does “all people” (πάντας ἀνθρώπους; v. 4) refer to every person without exception or to every person without distinction? The Reformed have traditionally defended the latter option.5 Sometimes this exegesis is dismissed as special pleading and attributed to Reformed biases. Such a response is too simplistic, for there are good contextual reasons for such a reading. A focus on all people without distinction is supported by verse 7, where Paul emphasizes his apostleship and his ministry to the Gentiles: “For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.” Hence, there are grounds in the context for concluding that “all people” zeros in on people groups, so that Paul is reflecting on his Gentile mission. In Acts 22:15 (NIV), when Paul speaks of being a witness “to all people” (πρὸς πάντας ἀνθρώπους), he clearly does not mean all people without exception; “all” refers to the inclusion of the Gentiles in his mission (Acts 22:21).”

Read the rest at link below :
http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/sdg/problematictexts.html

Jesus is alive and well

Posted: July 1, 2013 by doulos tou Theou in Apologetics, Biblical Theology, Christianity, Discipleship

Today Jesus is alive and well, seated on a throne at the right hand of God the Father being worshiped as God by angels and departed saints.

Today Jesus alone rules and reigns in exalted glory as Lord over man and beast, male and female, gays and straights, young and old, rich and poor, black and white, simple and wise, powerful and powerless, Republicans and Democrats, married and single, chaste and unchaste, modern and postmodern, Christians and non-Christians, angels and demons, the living and the dead, every religion, every spirituality, every philosophy, every thought, every word, every deed, every dollar, and every inch of creation, which he claims as his possession under his throne that is over all.

Mark Driscoll & Gary Brashears, “Vintage Jesus

Ht : ofi

There are more than a few texts in the Bible that destabilize our theological frameworks.  One such text comes from Jonah 3.10 which reads “When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.”  The problem of God “relenting,” or “repenting” or changing his mind is that it seems as if God’s will is dependent upon human interaction.  If this is true, there as some human actions which could in a way, force God’s hand.  Because this is an idea that most Christians and philosophers have always resisted, the reader needs a way to interact with verses such as Jonah 3.10.  Most of the interactions with verses such as this, particularly from the Reformed world have been a disappointment.  However, the excerpt from Jacques Ellul’s splendid commentary from Jonah posted below is a wonderful engaging of God’s repentance.  It might seem like a slow start and you may have to read it several times to fully appreciate, but I can promise you it is well worth your time.  There is precious gold to be found in the passage below.

When Nineveh repents, God repents too:  “God repented of the evil which he had said he would do to them; and he did not do it” (3:10).  This is a surprising term to be used of God, and yet it is a common one in Scripture.  God decides something, and then events change.  Thus God changes his mind.  He repents.  It is useless to avoid the difficulty this causes by saying it is only a manner of speaking.  Philosophers say that God cannot change.  True enough!  But the God revealed in Scripture is not the God of the philosophers.  Nor can one attribute this to primitive characteristics in the people of Israel.  Historians call this a gross anthropomorphism and one must not take it too seriously.  To be sure it is an anthropomorphism.  But God is not the God of historians.  To be noted first in relation to this repenting is that God repents of the evil he was going to do but never repents of the good.  This general rule is formulated by St. Paul (Romans 2) and it is confirmed by a survey of texts.  Only once to my knowledge do we read that God repented of the good that he had done, and this is explained more by literary than theological considerations.  In effect this repenting takes place only when there is risk of some evil, some human suffering.

Again it is no doubt important to emphasize that the same Hebrew words are not used for repentance of Nineveh and God’s repenting.  In a general way Scripture has different terms for man’s repentance and the Lord’s repenting.  As concerns man, shubh implies a change, a modification in attitude and direction (a conversion) in his very being, as we have seen.  As concerns God, the word macham is the usual term, and this does not imply a change of direction but inner suffering which must be consoled.  It is suffering not because of self but because of the relation between self and others.  This can happen in the relation between God and man, whether because man does not respond to God’s appeal or because of God’s justice necessarily demands man’s condemnation.  The just and perfectly holy God condemns, and can do no other, but where man repents, when man changes, God suffers for having condemned him.  One cannot say absolutely that he suppresses condemnation.  For in effect God does not change.  What is done is done.  What God has decided he has decided, the more so as it is decided for all eternity.  When it is said that God repents, it means that he suffers, not that he changes what his justice has deemed necessary.

Now God’s justice has deemed condemnation necessary because of past sin.  Repentance alone does not efface the past.  Once committed, a guilty act remains so even after repentance.  Condemnation cannot be automatically lifted.  There is no immanent mechanism.  Repentance, as an act of man, does not suppress the sins man has committed.  The two are not in balance.  What is between them is the fact that God repents, that he suffers and finds consolation.

But we must be more precise as to the meaning of this suffering.  It is not just sentiment.  It is not regret for having condemned.  It is not a kindly thought which causes God to lift the condemnation, which would imply a change of attitude.  Most of the passages speak of God repenting say that he repents of evil he had resolved to do.  He suffers the evil, and not just because of the evil, but the evil itself.  We might say with truth that God suffers the evil he has resolved to do.  He takes upon himself the evil which was the wages of man’s sin.  He suffers the very suffering which in his justice he should have laid on man.  God causes the judgment to fall on himself; this is the meaning of his repenting.  We shall see that it is in Jesus Christ that this is done plainly and for us.  Jesus Christ is precisely the one upon whom falls all the judgment and all the suffering decided for each of us, the judgment and the suffering of the world.  In reality  God’s repenting in the face of man’s repentance is Jesus Christ.  Each time there is any question of this repenting in Scripture we thus have a new prophecy of Jesus Christ who puts into effect both the justice of God and also the love of God without doing despite to either the one or the other.

It is only from this perspective of human judgment that there seems to be a change in God’s attitude.  When the Lord proclaims condemnation and then does not fulfill it, we tend to say, if we are believers, that he has changed his will, and if we are not believers, that there is no God.  But that is a purely temporal way of looking at it because we are not able to see Jesus in agony to the end of the world.  God’s purpose has not changed.  From the very beginning his aim was to save the world from his own wrath.

Ellul, Jacques, The Judgment of Jonah (Eerdmans: Grand Rapids 1971) pgs 98-100

Sovereignty

Posted: September 15, 2011 by doulos tou Theou in Biblical Theology, Christian Theology, Christianity, Discipleship, Uncategorized

First, the Bible reveals that God is omnipotent and omniscient. These are unconditional and categorical attributes. The sovereignty of God is the bedrock affirmation of biblical theism. The Creator rules over all creation. Not even a sparrow falls without His knowledge. He knows the number of hairs upon our heads. God rules and reigns over all nations and principalities. Not one atom or molecule of the universe is outside His active rule.

The sovereignty of God was affirmed by King Nebuchadnezzar, who confessed that God “does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’.” [Daniel 4:36] Process theologians have attempted to cut God’s power down to size, rendering the Creator as one power among others. The evangelical revisionists pushing open theism have attempted to cut God’s omniscience down to size, rendering Him as one mind among others.

Rabbi Harold Kushner argues that God is doing the best He can under the circumstances, but He lacks the power to either kill or cure. The openness theists argue that God is always ready with Plan B when Plan A fails. He is infinitely resourceful, they stress, just not really sovereign.

These are roads we dare not take, for the God of the Bible causes the rising and falling of nations and empires, and His rule is active and universal.

Limited sovereignty is no sovereignty at all.

-Al Mohler

read the whole sermon here

The revelation of the Trinity is to be found in the incarnation of the Son and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and these events took place intertestamentally. No one has put it better than Warfield:

We cannot speak of the doctrine of the Trinity, therefore, if we study exactness of speech, as revealed in the New Testament, any more than we can speak of it as revealed in the Old Testament. The Old Testament was written before its revelation; the New Testament after it. The revelation itself was made not in word but in deed. It was made in the incarnation of God the Son, and the outpouring of God the Holy Spirit. The relation of the two Testaments to this revelation is in the one case that of preparation for it, and in the other that of product of it. The revelation itself is embodied just in Christ and the Holy Spirit. This is as much to say that the revelation of the Trinity was incidental to, and the inevitable effect of, the accomplishment of redemption. It was in the coming of the Son of God in the likeness of sinful flesh to offer Himself a sacrifice for sin; and in the coming of the Holy Spirit to convict the world of sin, of righteousness and of judgment, that the Trinity of Persons in the Unity of the Godhead was once for all revealed to men.

And he went on to say,

We may understand also, however, from the same central fact, why it is that the doctrine of the Trinity lies in the New Testament rather in the form of allusions than in express teaching, why it is rather everywhere presupposed, coming only here and there into incidental expression, than formally inculcated. It is because the revelation, having been made in the actual occurrences of redemption, was already the common property of all Christian hearts

(B.B. Warfield, “The Biblical Doctrine of the Trinity,” The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1981), II:144., p. 145).

(HT:JamesWhite)

1. It reminds us of the unity of God’s action in the past and in the present, in revelation and in salvation, in Christ and in us. The believer and the church should not be surprised if what happened to Christ happens to them. The theologia crucis is for these theologians an insistence on the paradigmatic nature of the cross: it is not solely a soteriological event which remains locked in the past, but is a paradigm of the way in which God always works. For this reason, atonement theologies which regard the cross as purely a past action, the benefits of which one simply enjoys in the present, are inadequate if they fail to make the connection between God’s action in Christ and God’s action in the ongoing life of the church or the Christian.

2. It stands as a critique of theology which becomes exclusively academic. This is not just because of the tendency of academia to forget this theme, but more because it insists on the involvement of the theologian with God himself. For salvation and the knowledge of God to take place, there must be a conformity of the knower to what is known. In other words, the God who reveals himself in the cross of Christ can be known only from the cross of the Christian and the church. The forms of these ‘crucifixions’ are different, yet all three insist on the necessity of the personal experience of being humbled, becoming powerless, whether socially, soteriologically or epistemologically, and on the fact that only from that perspective can God rightly be known. This means that Christian existence today must be shaped by the form of God’s self-revelation, the crucified Christ. Quite simply, it becomes difficult for a church to use power in manipulative ways if its theology is founded upon the cross, and it seeks to remain true to the God revealed in it. Instead, the church’s use of power must be marked by the way God in Christ has used his power: in its giving power to those who lack it, and in the use of power to advance the interests of those disadvantaged by power relations.

3. In the face of postmodern critiques of the notion of power, the theologia crucis is a protest against forms of relationship between people, or between people and God, which are based primarily on manipulative power rather than love. It is not an ideology, but because of its insistence on the unity of God’s action in the past and the present, it makes demands on actual relationships within communities, the way leadership operates, and the way those on the margins are heard. Because the theologia crucis depicts the God who does not abandon power, but who uses it for the healing and salvation of his creation, exercising his own power in the foolish, powerless vulnerability of the cross, it can therefore offer an alternative model of power for the Christian community. The truth revealed in theologia crucis is not oppressive, but liberating, because it is inseparably connected to self-giving Love as its mode of expression. It tells of the God who places himself at the service of his people, and invites his people to follow suit.

from “Theology of the Cross: Subversive Theology for a Postmodern World?” by Graham Tomlin

(HT:SteveWood)


Teachings on the Doctrines of Grace from The Gospel according to John

by Steve Lawson

 

5 MP3s here

 

(HT:John Sampson)

The Cross rightly understood

Posted: October 4, 2010 by doulos tou Theou in Biblical Theology, Christian Theology, Christianity

“By Jesus’ sacrifice, God reveals and defends His justice in two ways. First, Jesus’ suffering for the sins of His people means that any sins unpunished beforehand are now fully punished in Christ. God leaves no sin unpunished. Mercy and grace do not come at the expense of justice. Second, because the sins of the faithful are fully punished in Jesus, God may justly declare righteous those who have faith in Jesus. That’s what it means to be justified in God’s sight — to be declared righteous by faith in Jesus. The cross, rightly understood, is God’s own answer to any objection that He is unfair to substitute Jesus for the unrighteous.”

– Thabiti Anyabwile, The Gospel for Muslims (Chicago, Ill.; Moody Publishers, 2010), 75-76

“One of the sweetest statements from the lips of Jesus . . . is this: ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’ (Matt. 25:34b). There is a plan of God designed for your salvation. It is not an afterthought or an attempt to correct a mistake. Rather, from all eternity, God determined that He would redeem for Himself a people, and that which He determined to do was, in fact, accomplished in the work of Jesus Christ, His atonement on the cross. Your salvation has been accomplished by a Savior, One who did for you what the Father determined He should do. He is your Surety, your Mediator, your Substitute, your Redeemer. He atoned for your sins on the cross.”

– R. C. Sproul, The Truth of the Cross (Orlando, FL; Reformation Trust Pub., 2007), 152-153.

God’s grace

Posted: July 2, 2010 by doulos tou Theou in Biblical Theology, Christianity, Reformed Theology

“The apostle Paul, who beyond all others is the exponent of grace and redemption, never dissociates God’s grace from God’s crucified Son. Always in his teachings the two are found together, organically one and inseparable.”

– A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 1992), 146.

My dad was a pretty well travelled businessman.  He was frequently out of town, working hard all (literally)  over the world.  One of the things he would do when he went out of town was get me some small present that he picked up on his travels.  Though I don’t go out of town nearly as much as my dad, I have picked up the habit of grabing my son David a little gift when ever I do have to go out of town.  My wife and I spent this past weekend in Charleston, attending the New Wine conference at St. Andrew’s Mount Pleasant (fantastic!) as well as getting some much needed one on one husband and wife time.  We left David in Myrtle with his godparents. On the way home we stopped at Barnes and Noble and were pleased to see that they carried the Jesus Story Book Bible.  Having received many good recommendations about this children’s Bible, I sat down and read a few of the stories and quickly determined to purchase it for David.  Let me just say before we get too far along, I’m very excited about this book, not only for David but also for myself and Stephanie.  As Dr. Tim Keller has said, “I would urge not just families with young children to get this book, but every Christian.”  This may sound like a bit of an exageration, but having read through it I must agree.  This is a great book for kids, but I’m ready to go ahead and go out on a limb, adults should purchase this book.  Seminarians should purchase this book.  Pastors should purchase this book.  And yes, it’s just a children’s Bible.  So what makes it so good?

The full title of the book is The Jesus Story Book Bible: every story whispers his name.  Many Christians have a difficult time connecting the Old Testament with the New Testament.  Like many children’s bibles, the The Jesus Story Book Bible covers the major episodes of the Old Testament.  However, unlike many children’s bibles, The Jesus Storybook Bible links every story in the Old Testament to Jesus, and applies the Gospel to every story in both the Old and New Testaments as part of the lesson.  For example, below is a caption from the creation story in Genesis.

 

God looked at everything he had made, "Perfect!" he said. And it was. But all the stars and the mountains and oceans and galaxies and everything were nothing compared to how much God loved his children. He would move heaven and earth to be near them. Always. Whatever happened. Whatever it cost him, he would always love them. And so it was that the wonderful love story began...

 

This is the Jesus Story Book Bible’s version of the creation.  Note how this Bible is preparing us for the fall as well as for our redemption.  “God loved his children,” the story reads, “Whatever happened.  Whatever it cost him, he would always love them.” Just as the cover advertises, ever story whispers his name, and this Bible is very good at whispering the name of Jesus in ever story, as well as his highlighting his marvelous and merciful work on the cross.  This will not only help children connect the dots between the O.T. and the N.T., but I think it would be a great help to adults.

It might surprise you to hear me say again that I think adults should purchase this book for themselves.  Let me give two examples.  A good friend of mine, and fabulous preacher, Hamilton Smith, has already confessed to using some of the points made in The Jesus Story Book Bible in his sermon prep.  And before you pick on Hamilton for using a children’s bible for sermon prep, consider that the famous preacher and author, Timothy Keller, uses the story of Abraham and Isaac from The Jesus Story Book Bible almost word for word in a conference message about the church engaging postmoderns.  That’s how good this children’s bible is.

It’s not just the content that impresses me.  I consider the artwork to be outstanding and highly engaging.  David loves it, but so do I.  Below are some of my favorite pics from this little book. (problems loading, will post later)

 

from the JSB's creation storyThe JSB's story about incarnation of the Son of GodThe JSB's story about the Lord's Supper

 

 

The JSB's story about incarnation of the Son of GodThe JSB's story about the Lord's Supper

 

For in it (the gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” – Rom 1:17

“I greatly longed to understand Paul’s epistle to the Romans and nothing stood in the way but that one expression “the righteousness of God,” because I took it to mean that righteousness whereby God is just and deals justly in punishing the unjust.

My situation was that, although an impeccable monk, I stood before God as a sinner troubled in conscience, and I had no confidence that my merit would assuage Him. Therefore I did not love a just angry God, but rather hated and murmured against Him. Yet I clung to the dear Paul and had a great yearning to know what he meant.

Night and day I pondered until I saw the connection between the righteousness of God and the statement that “the just shall live by faith.” Then I grasped that the righteousness of God is that righteousness by which through grace and sheer mercy God justifies us through faith. Thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise. The whole of Scripture took on a new meaning, and whereas before “the righteousness of God” had filled me with hate, now it became to me inexpressibly sweet in greater love. This passage of Paul became to me a gate to heaven…” – Martin Luther

THE CHRISTIAN IS BORN AGAIN

In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

JOHN 3:3

Regeneration is a New Testament concept that grew, it seems, out of a parabolic picture-phrase that Jesus used to show Nicodemus the inwardness and depth of the change that even religious Jews must undergo if they were ever to see and enter the kingdom of God, and so have eternal life (John 3:3-15). Jesus pictured the change as being “born again.”

The concept is of God renovating the heart, the core of a person’s being, by implanting a new principle of desire, purpose, and action, a dispositional dynamic that finds expression in positive response to the gospel and its Christ. Jesus’ phrase “born of water and the Spirit” (John 3:5) harks back to Ezekiel 36:25-27, where God is pictured as symbolically cleansing persons from sin’s pollution (by water) and bestowing a “new heart” by putting his Spirit within them. Because this is so explicit, Jesus chides Nicodemus, “Israel’s teacher,” for not understanding how new birth happens (John 3:9-10). Jesus’ point throughout is that there is no exercise of faith in himself as the supernatural Savior, no repentance, and no true discipleship apart from this new birth.

Elsewhere John teaches that belief in the Incarnation and Atonement, with faith and love, holiness and righteousness, is the fruit and proof that one is born of God (1 John 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1, 4). It thus appears that as there is no conversion without new birth, so there is no new birth without conversion.

Though infant regeneration can be a reality when God so purposes (Luke 1:15, 41-44), the ordinary context of new birth is one of effectual calling—that is, confrontation with the gospel and illumination as to its truth and significance as a message from God to oneself. Regeneration is always the decisive element in effectual calling.

Regeneration is monergistic: that is, entirely the work of God the Holy Spirit. It raises the elect among the spiritually dead to new life in Christ (Eph. 2:1-10). Regeneration is a transition from spiritual death to spiritual life, and conscious, intentional, active faith in Christ is its immediate fruit, not its immediate cause. Regeneration is the work of what Augustine called “prevenient” grace, the grace that precedes our outgoings of heart toward God.

from J I Packer’s  ” Concise Theology”

Christ Our Substitute

Posted: April 30, 2010 by doulos tou Theou in Biblical Theology, Christian Theology

L. Morris on The atonement in the Gospel of John

John does not outline a theory of the way atonement is brought
about, but he has a number of expressions that show that Christ died
in our stead. We have already had occasion to notice the words of
Caiaphas in which he laid it down “that it is expedient that one man
should die for the people” (11:50; cf. 18:14). His “for” is  which
often means no more than “on behalf of” in a general way. (more…)

GOD DRAWS HIS PEOPLE TO HIMSELF

…. From the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 THESSALONIANS 2:13-14

Effectual calling is a sixteenth-century English phrase that became the title of chapter X of the 1647 Westminster Confession. The chapter begins thus:

All those whom God hath predestined unto life, and those only, he is pleased, in his appointed and accepted time, effectually to call, by his Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death, in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation, by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God, taking away their heart of stone and giving unto them a heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and, by his almighty power, determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ: yet so, as they come most freely, being made willing by his grace. (more…)