Distinctions between Apologetics and Philosophy (by Dr. Cone)

Biblical apologetics is a form of evangelism (1 Pet 3:15), and not a form of polemics. Also, Biblical apologetics technically has nothing to do with philosophical argument. However, in practice, the term apologetics is traditionally used to refer to principles and arguments for defending the faith. But more precisely, these are two separate categories. The first (Biblical) is simple evangelism, and the second (arguments) is more philosophical. Of course, I think it is vital that Christians use their brains and do philosophy, but doing philosophy isn’t the same thing as evangelism. Both are needed, but for different reasons and in different contexts.   Where would philosophy come into play, then? Biblical apologetics = aspects of evangelism Traditional apologetics = category of philosophy So, it depends on what you are asking. I would suggest philosophy doesn’t come into play in evangelism, generally (not prohibited, but not part of the gospel message). Now, if one defends – as part of the hope within them – the Biblical worldview, that is certainly not wrong, but it is not the essence of evangelism, nor is it modeled anywhere in Scripture as a part of evangelism. But with respect to traditional apologetics, as a category of philosophy, I would suggest that we need to do a more comprehensive philosophy than just developing a few lines of argument that favor the Biblical worldview. Here are two challenges with traditional apologetics: (1) it often claims to be its own discipline and it isn’t (it is part of a larger discipline: philosophy), and (2) it often claims to have a necessary role in evangelism, and it doesn’t (necessarily, though it can).   In practice, where does addressing faulty presuppositions come into play when dealing with a lost person, whatever flavor his lostness has chosen? Case by case. As long as we acknowledge that a person is not going to be converted by admitting faulty presupposition. Here is the issue: of course they have faulty presuppositions, they are lost. But they are not willing to receive good ones without Christ (1 Cor 2:14). Now, someone might deeply appreciate the elegance of the Biblical worldview, and might “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps 34:8) and might believe in Christ, but it is just as possible that they might appreciate the elegance while remaining unconverted (James 2:19). The issue with those who are spiritually dead is that they need Christ, and Peter, for example focuses on the aspect of hope (1 Pet 3:15). Certainly Paul focuses on knowledge/ignorance, but all in relation to Christ (e.g., Acts 17).    Do we ignore questions and present the gospel without addressing questions, or correcting faulty foundations?   Certainly not. It is not that we sidestep or ignore the questions, it is that our focus in evangelism is introducing the lost to Jesus Christ, and so much of that focus involves concepts like love, hope, peace, etc. For example, changing someone’s mind about the probability of design won’t in and of itself draw them to Christ, so that is not the end goal. Of course we need to be able to answer questions, and of course we need to be able to correct faulty foundations, but I would still suggest we do so within the context of 1 Peter 3:15 – the focus is our giving an account for the hope within us.   Do we practice what Schaeffer called taking the roof off – taking them to the logical conclusion of their faulty system – or how Bahnsen demonstrated – they can’t account for their own ability to reason based on their own epistemology, etc? That depends on the person. You see, rather than having a one size fits all method, Biblical evangelism seems more about relationship and responsiveness than about argument. even in Acts 17, Paul was very gracious to those he spoke, and he did not eviscerate their worldview (though it was deserving) – instead he positively asserted a component in their worldview that they apparently hadn’t considered. We have much freedom here, and it is very important that a believer allow the word of Christ to richly dwell within him (Col 316), and that our feet are shod with the preparation of the gospel (Eph 6:15). So I would never argue that we should be ignorant of apologetic/philosophic issues, but I would argue we need to use these things in a Biblical way.   So if I’m going to teach evangelism do I try to help them learn to answer, or approach the answers to the questions by using an epistemological approach?  Or do I teach them to simply give Scripture without taking account of any other information? The answer to that question is not an either or, it is a both and. We need to be able to answer the philosophical questions – I think that can be a part of giving account for the hope that is within us. We also need to be able to work with the Scriptures, as they are suitable for what is needed. The bottom line is we need to be able to do both, and we need to recognize what the situation calls for and demonstrate the gentleness and reverence requisite for one who has the hope of Christ. It is simply a matter of priority, that is what I am saying: I can be exceedingly skilled in the rhetorical art of polemics, and I can be exceedingly skilled in the philosophical disciplines, and I can even be skilled at presenting the gospel in such a way as to be most convincing. But if I do not have love, I am no more than a clanging cymbal (1 Cor 13:1). I would like to see people equipped with and by Scripture, capable to reason things out in their philosophy, and interested in showing love and compassion to those who are perishing rather than seeing those who don’t know Christ as an intellectual challenge to be vanquished. – See more at: http://www.drcone.com/2014/10/23/a-dialogue-on-the-relationship-between-apologetics-philosophy-and-evangelism/#sthash.oFBipmys.dpuf

Prayer Changes Us not God’s Will- As expounded by A.W. Pink (courtesy of Timothy Hammons)

I have really enjoyed re-reading A.W. Pink’s The Sovereignty of God, and noticed that the last time, I didn’t finish it. I had one chapter to go: God’s Sovereignty and Prayer. That chapter alone is worth the price of the book, for it really dispels the belief that we can change God via our prayer.

This is a common misconception among evangelicals. They tell stories of how certain people prayed so much and because of that, were able to do so much. The story is often told that Martin Luther would pray three hours a day. Well-meaning Christians often point out that this is why God used Martin Luther to start the Reformation. I think those people get it completely backwards. God did not use Martin Luther to start the Reformation because he prayed three hours a day. Martin Luther prayed three hours a day because God used him.

After all, if God is sovereign, how in the world do we change God?

This is the main point that Pink makes in his chapter on prayer. God’s will is unmovable from his eternal council. He will bring about His ends and His purpose to His satisfaction, whether we pray about it or not.

Who do we think we are that we can change God at all? What arrogance we fill ourselves with when we tell people that this country is going to hell in hand basket, but if we pray, God will change all that. That is utter nonsense.

Just look at the psalmist who wrote their prayers for us. Do we find God being changed in any of the pleas? Not at all. The only thing that changes is the psalmist, and his understanding of his plight.

Some might ask: “if God is sovereign, then why pray at all?” To which Pink gives us three answers:

  1. Prayer has been appointed that The Lord God Himself should be honored. God requires we should recognize that He is, indeed, “the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity (Isa. 57:17).”
  2. Prayer is appointed by God for our spiritual blessing, as a means for our growth in grace. When seeking to learn the design of prayer, this should ever occupy us before we regard prayer as a means for obtaining the supply of our need. Prayer is designed by God for our humbling. Prayer, real prayer, is a coming into the presence of God, and a sense of His awful majesty produces a realization of our nothingness and unworthiness.
  3. Prayer is appointed by God for our seeking from Him the things which we are in need of. (Pink them reminds his readers of God’s sovereignty and decree of all things). Prayer is not for the purpose of informing God, as if He were ignorant,… but it is to acknowledge He does know what we are in need of. Prayer is not appointed for the furnishing of God with the knowledge of what we need, but is designed as a confession to Him of our sense of need… God requires that His gifts should be sought for. He designs to be honored by our asking, just as He is to be thanked by us after He has bestowed His blessing.

You can see that Pink seeks to exalt God while helping us see our need for humility. When we see that God has truly decreed all things, and all things will work out according to His foreordained will, we remember our place as creatures, coming before our Lord in humble submission instead of coming before making demands that He change His plans before is. No, prayer does not change God, it changes us and helps us see our need to enter into His presence in humble reliance.

Timothy Hammons is a Teaching Elder in the Presbyterian Church in America. This article appeared on his blog and is used with permission.

Birth Pains/Seals Parallel ~ NOT!

Alex the Less:

Here is a refinement of the Pre-Wrath Rapture of the church view. It may be a bit lengthy but the position is fully explained.

Originally posted on The Orange Mailman:

I can remember reading Marv Rosenthal’s book, The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church, for the first time. I was fascinated by this presentation of end time events which I hadn’t read anywhere else. I “devoured” it reading some portions several times. I can remember shortly after thinking, “I believe in a Sixth Seal, Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church.” I had already been studying end times Bible passages searching for answers, but everything I was reading in the scriptures contradicted the Pre-Trib rapture notes I had in all my Bibles.

I also remember reading about Rosenthal’s presentation of the parallel between the birth pains of Matthew 24:4-8 and the first four seals in Revelation 6. I thought it was interesting and compelling, and for quite some time, I believed in that parallel seeing that those two sets of events occurred within the same time frame. Later, on a discussion board, one…

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Eyelashes and Morals

Alex the Less:

Here is a message that bears repeating: The internal/external dichotomy.

Originally posted on THE CHRISTIAN PUNDIT:

BB-BeaIt doesn’t take much life experience to know that, given a choice, a young man will choose a young woman with a beautiful face and gorgeous figure over an average woman with weak eyes. Even biblical patriarchs were susceptible to an attractive external. “Now Laban had two daughters. The name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance. Jacob loved Rachel” (Genesis 29:16–18a). He picked the pretty girl. And in a time before Maybelline, she was probably born with it. She didn’t beat Leah at the win-the-man game because she was better at application and had contacts. God made Rachel more beautiful than her sister, and it won her the love of the husband.

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TRV (Two Reading View or Christotelic) Explained

Here is Richard Gaffin (long time professor at Westminster Seminary Philadelphia) explaining TRV and why it is deficient. The entire article (response) appears here:

http://wrfnet.org/articles/2014/06/wrf-member-westminster-theological-seminary-responds-clair-daviss-comments#.VCsO1PldV8G

This happens through its “first read-second read” treatment of the Old Testament that it adopts. The first read seeks to establish the original historical meaning or original human author meaning of an Old Testament passage on its own terms without any reference to the New Testament. The second read of the passage then seeks to show how in the light of the New Testament it is about Christ, to disclose its Christotelic content.

This approach as a whole is ill-conceived and seriously flawed. Though it is motivated in part by the legitimate concern to avoid reading New Testament meanings back into Old Testament texts–no doubt a danger–there is a difference between reading the New Testament back into the Old and reading the Old Testament in light of the New. The former is wrong; the latter is not only legitimate but also requisite. As it is carried out, the first read tends towards highlighting the “messiness” of the Old Testament, as its proponents put it, towards finding unrelated or discordant trajectories of meaning in the Old Testament. It obscures both the organic connection between the meaning of the divine author and what the human authors wrote as well as the organic connection and unity between the Old Testament and New Testament.

Multivalent, even contradictory trajectories will appear to be the case when the Old Testament documents are read “on their own terms” in the sense of bracketing out their fulfillment in Christ and the interpretive bearing of the New Testament.

For new covenant readers submissive to both the Old and New Testaments as the word of God, such a disjunctive reading of the Old Testament is illegitimate, as well as redemptive-historically (and canonically) anachronistic. To seek to interpret the various Old Testament documents for themselves and apart from the vantage point of the New exposes one ultimately to misinterpreting them. The Old Testament is to be read in the light of the New not only because Jesus and the New Testament writers read it this way, but also because Jesus and the New Testament writers are clear about the continuity in intention and meaning that exists between themselves and the various Old Testament authors and what those authors wrote in their own time and place. Passages like Luke 24:44-45, John 5:39-47 and 1 Peter 1:10-12, not to mention numerous others, put this beyond question—unless we are to dismiss such passage, as advocates of Christotelic interpretation characteristically do, as reflecting a Second Temple Jewish hermeneutic that attributes meaning to Old Testament passages that is not their original human author meaning.

The Old Testament reveals a unidirectional path or a set of multiple paths that leads to Christ. Certainly at points that way is obscure and difficult to follow; that remains and will always be a challenge to sound interpretation of the Old Testament. Nor did the Old Testament authors grasp with any fullness the meaning of what they wrote. But, as Vos says elsewhere, that they “did not understand all this in detail is not relevant” (Reformed Dogmatics, volume 2, forthcoming, on the unity of the covenant of grace). At the same time, their understanding of what they wrote does not disclose discordant and inorganic discontinuity. As Vos immediately adds, “But without doubt, they would have grasped the heart of the matter.” To cite a few examples among many more: “Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad” (John 8:56). “Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him” (John 12:41). Not only did Isaiah speak (or write) but also, in speaking, he himself saw or understood. In fact, with an eye to the syntax of verse 41, he spoke “because he saw”; he said it because he saw it. Again, the intense interest of the Old Testament prophets as a whole was in what “the Spirit of Christ” at work in them was disclosing about his own eventual coming, his sufferings and consequent glory (1 Peter 1:10-11).

As Vos indicates in the first quote above, at stake here is what is essential for the Reformed faith (e.g., WCF, 7:5-6; 8:6; 11:6; WLC, 33-35), for true, Biblical religion since the fall: the unity of the religion of the Old and New Testaments focused on Christ. Central for the faith of the former is the future fulfillment of the promise of the Messiah to come, for the faith of the latter, the realized fulfillment of that promise.

Finally, it seems fair to observe that the term “Christotelic” has been coined in part to replace “Christocentric.” Advocates of Christotelic interpretation will speak of the Old Testament being “Christological” in a general sense, in view of the pervasive reference to Christ that the New Testament finds in the Old   Testament in all its parts. But they avoid applying “Christocentric” to the Old Testament because in their view, their “first read” approach shows that its original historical, human author meaning is, all told, not Christ-centered.

There can be no objection to “Christotelic” in itself. But Scripture is Christotelic just because it is Christocentric. It is Christotelic only as it is Christocentric, and as it is that in every part, the Old Testament included. Or, as we may, in fact must put the issue here in its most ultimate consideration, Christ is the mediatorial Lord and Savior of redemptive history not only at its end but also from beginning to end. He is not only its omega but also its alpha, and he is and can be its omega only as he is its alpha.

An Answer to Dr. Bill Evans

Alex the Less:

Here is a good defense on the organic unity of scripture contra the TRV (Two Readings View) of some.

Originally posted on Green Baggins:

Dr. William Evans has written several posts on the Christotelic controversy. I wish to focus on this post. As I see it, the key issues here surround the initial similarity between Poythress/Ferguson/Hodge, on the one hand, and the Christotelic interpretation, on the other. In fact, Evans does not seem to find any difference at all between the two. I beg to differ.

The first thing I wish to point out is that I believe Evans has not quite described Green’s critics accurately. Evans writes:

Green’s critics, however, contend that such thinking effaces the “organic connection” between the Old Testament and the New. They believe that grammatical-historical interpretation is the normative method of biblical interpretation, and that the meaning of the text resides in the human author’s intention. However, the grammatical-historical method is redefined and expanded to include divine influence on the human authors’ psychology as legitimate considerations for interpretation…

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102 Will God reward us openly? (Mat.6:4)

Alex the Less:

Herman Grobler again provides clear reasons to help us determine exactly what God says in His word.

Originally posted on Bible differences:

102. Expected Addition Mat.6,4,6,18

One of the interesting variations that is sometimes found in manuscripts is the addition of expected words. As an example, let us look at Matthew 6:4

NIV: “Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
KJV:”…thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.”

People love to use opposites together Darkness against light, black versus white and even so secret versus openly. It is most often expected together. Therefore it is almost unthinkable that one would deliberately remove the expected “openly” from the sentence above, had it been in the original autograph. On the other hand it is easily acceptable that “openly” could have slipped into the text, had it not been part of the autograph. Whatever the case might be, both could not render the original. One must be an alteration of the original. But how could one…

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Salt Losing its Flavor: Luke 14: 34-35, Matthew 5:13

This instance recorded in Matthew and Luke occurs as part of the Sermon on the Mount (or Plain). Another reference to salt losing its flavor is found in Mark 9:50 and most likely is given at another time. The rationale for seeing Mark’s account as given at a different time relates to the nature of Jesus’ teaching ministry. Often the message given was the same but the places changed such as the “Kingdom is at Hand” proclamation. Of course many of the accounts recorded in the Synoptic Gospels are parallel and given from another perspective when they are not in exact agreement, but not all of the sayings of Jesus were given only once since not all of the disciples were with Him at all occasions and others (who would become part of the 500 who witnessed His resurrected person) needed to hear the same message in different towns. Newspapers and other media did not exist so it should not be surprising that the same teachings were repeated at different times and places.

The Sermon on the Mount starts as a description of the character of Jesus’ disciples (see Lk. 6.20a). Here I reproduce Mt. 5.1-12 since this section defines the “salt of the earth”

 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied. “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them. “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil things about you falsely on account of me. Rejoice and be glad because your reward is great in heaven, for they persecuted the prophets before you in the same way.

Therefore, with seeing these traits, it is easy to see exactly what “the salt of the earth” is. Conversely, also, what losing its “flavor” means.

V. 13: “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its flavor, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled on by people.

A note about the word “morantha” (from moraino) translated as “loses its flavor” in both Matthew and Luke’s account given in the “Sermon on the Mount.” In this instance, as I regard the passage, it is a wrong translation. It should read: “become foolish” for these reasons: 1. To translate the word “loses it flavor (lose its saltiness)” is from Mark’s  account which I have previously explained was most likely given at a different time than the Matthew and Luke sections. The related content in Mark clearly shows this is the case.

2. In Matthew and Luke Jesus is already using a figure of speech in terming His disciples as “salt”, why would He use a term such as “moraino” which clearly means “to make foolish” as another figure of speech within a figure of speech? No, in this instance, Jesus is clarifying what He means: that the disciples not turn to folly and be characterized opposite of the traits Jesus just described in verses 2-12 of Matthew chapter 5.

3. Jesus was speaking to His disciples to whom He explained figures of speech in instances where they asked. In Lk. 14.35 Jesus warns: ” The one who has ears to hear had better listen!” He wanted the disciples to clearly understand the message to them so He uses: “become foolish”. This is how both Matthew 5.13 and Luke 14.34 should both be translated: “become foolish”.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if salt becomes foolish how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled on by people. (v.13)

I.Howard Marshall in his commentary on Luke notes “no attestation” of moraino than “to make folly, become foolish” but still thinks Luke 14.34 should read: “lose its saltiness”. I respectfully disagree for the previously cited reasons. No matter how one translates the word, one thing should be clear: the meaning of “losing its flavor” is “to become foolish.”

In other posts I hope to discuss more about the figure of salt used in the bible and also “The Covenant of Salt”. All bible references: NET Bible.

The New Covenant in 1 John

In 2 Corinthians 3.6 Paul defines aspects of the New Covenant which are different from the Mosaic Covenant of the “letter”: who made us adequate to be servants of a new covenant not based on the letter but on the Spirit, for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (NET) Here Paul describes one of the Law’s functions: “to kill”. The sense of what Paul is saying is that the commandments of the Old Covenant exposed our deficiency to keep those commandments perfectly and thus the Law of the Sacrifice was necessary to atone for that sin by bringing a substitute for the offender, a sin offering. The person would place their hands on the animal and confess their sin then the priest would offer it on the altar after it had its throat cut.

The good news of the New Covenant is that Christ has atoned for sin once for all time and the Spirit is given on that basis to those who turn to Christ in faith. This New Covenant was promised in a detailed manner especially in Jer. 31.31-34 toward the end of Israel’s Theocratic Kingdom:

“Indeed, a time is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah.  It will not be like the old covenant that I made with their ancestors when I delivered them from Egypt. For they violated that covenant, even though I was like a faithful husband to them,” says the Lord. “But I will make a new covenant with the whole nation of Israel after I plant them back in the land,” says the Lord. “I will put my law within them and write it on their hearts and minds. I will be their God and they will be my people. “People will no longer need to teach their neighbors and relatives to know me. For all of them, from the least important to the most important, will know me,” says the Lord. “For I will forgive their sin and will no longer call to mind the wrong they have done.” (NET)

Before we look at 1John, a few notes on the time frame of when this New Covenant was to happen: “after I plant them in the land” (“after these things”-Heb.). Jeremiah had long prophesied that Judah would be exiled but then allowed to return after 70 years (605-535 BCE). Also, Dt. 30.1-6 promises “heart circumcision” after the exile due to breaking the Old Covenant. Additionally, Ezekiel 11.14-20 promises a removal of the stony heart to be replaced with the fleshly heart after the restoration from the Babylonian Captivity. Again, Ezekiel 36.24-27 promises after Israel returns from captivity that 1. Cleansing 2. New heart and spirit 3. Fleshly heart 4. The Spirit enabling to keep God’s regulations.

The last OT prophet Malachi promised the “Messenger of The Covenant” who will be the Lord Himself: “I am about to send my messenger, who will clear the way before me. Indeed, the Lord you are seeking will suddenly come to his temple, and the messenger of the covenant, whom you long for, is certainly coming,” says the Lord who rules over all. (Malachi 3.1 NET) John the Baptist was the first messenger who cleared the way for the Messenger of the Covenant who was Jesus who was longed for to pay redemption’s price for all of humanity.

Without specifically mentioning The New Covenant, the Apostle John in his first epistle described the new relationship (covenant) that believers in Jesus enjoy. 1 John 2.20 contrasts those who have not left the faith of verse 19 as having the anointing (Holy Spirit) and that they all “know”: Nevertheless you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. While true that some manuscripts have the accusative form (in the Koine Greek) and additional “things”, this certainly doesn’t make sense. Even the apostles in the first century were not cognizant of many aspects. Also, it would be normal for the scribes hearing the epistle read would naturally add “things” to give the verb its object when in reality the clause ends with “know”. It is abundantly clear to many scholars that this is a reference to Jer. 31.34 where they (believers) would all “know” the Lord. Therefore, the Greek nominative case (subjective-”you all know”) is preferred over the accusative case (direct object-”you know all things”).

1 John 2.27 again mentions this anointing as a person (the Holy Spirit) who teaches the New Covenant believer to abide in Christ: Now as for you, the anointing that you received from him resides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things, it is true and is not a lie. Just as it has taught you, you reside in him. (NET)

“Chrisma” is the word in Greek which referred to the anointing oil such as what the High Priests would be anointed with in the OT. This OT oil was a symbol for the NT Holy Spirit promised in the New Covenant.

An aspect of “the times of the Lord” (Lev.23) was the festivals which every male Israelite was to attend. The Passover was fulfilled in Christ’s sacrifice: Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast affects the whole batch of dough?  Clean out the old yeast so that you may be a new batch of dough—you are, in fact, without yeast. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. So then, let us celebrate the festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of vice and evil, but with the bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth. (1Cor. 5.6-8 NET) All three synoptic Gospels (Mt., Mk., Lk.) mention Christ at the Last Supper referring to the cup of wine as His symbolic blood of the Covenant which was expected (New). Christ would shed His own blood (and so enacting The New Covenant) in our stead accomplishing redemption. The Last Supper was during the time of the first lamb of Passover (Christ’s crucifixion occurred at the ‘second lamb’ is my view).

The second festival of the “times of the Lord” all male Israelites were to attend was Shavuot or in Greek, Pentecost (50 days). Jesus instructed His disciples to wait for “the promise from the Father” (“another advocate”) which happened when the Spirit descended on the 120 believers assembled together for the festival Shavuot. This is the anointing which John speaks about in his epistle: the Holy Spirit’s indwelling all faithful to Christ. It is how Christians “know” the Lord.

The Winners’ Prizes — Dead Vegetation?

Alex the Less:

Many Christians, when they read this admonition to run to win the race, think of racing many opponents because this is a feature of modern competition. Christians can be confused as to who they are competing against and may think this verse speaks of competing ministries. I do not think the verse refers to competing against other Christians, rather, the struggle between the “old” and “new man” within a believer. Paul here refers to a two person race as evidenced by the accompanying figure of boxing the body negating the lusts of the flesh (beating the body to submit it to the new person). Both metaphors are for the ultimate purpose of not being disqualified through the lack of self control. It is the same as presenting one’s body as a living sacrifice (Rom. 12.1-2). The old person is rendered inoperable by denying the old self and taking up their cross in following Christ (Mt.10.38-9).

Originally posted on HolyLandPhotos' Blog:

In a previous entry I shared some pictures related to “Running the Race.”  The winners of such competitions were awarded, among other things, victory crowns—the composition of which depended upon the games.

GSATNMMI02

Modern Recreation of Victory Wreaths — On the left a Pine Wreath for the winner of an event at the Isthmian Games and on the right a Laural Wreath for the winner of an event at the Olympic Games — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

The games at Isthmia were held twice during the four year Olympic cycle.  The city of Corinth was in charge of these games and Isthmia was only 6 miles from Corinth.  The games included athletic as well a music contests.  It is very probable that the games were held during Paul’s stay at Corinth.  Indeed, he writes to the church at Corinth:

1Cor. 9:24     Do you not know

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Lebanon?

Ezekiel 17.1-5: Tells the riddle of Nebuchadnezzar coming to Lebanon to pluck the top sprig (Jehoiachin) from Israel (Judah) and placing a seedling (Zedekiah) in its place. A question in my mind is: why mention Lebanon? The answer becomes clear when we realize that Judah had no suitable place for encampment for Nebuchadnezzar’s army and court. The broad and fertile plain of Riblah in the land of Hamath (Lebanon area) did however and the Babylonian King likely used this site as he did later in 587/6 BCE when Zedekiah’s court was executed (Jer. 53.9-11).

17:1 The word of the Lord came to me: 17:2 “Son of man, offer a riddle, and tell a parable to the house of Israel. 17:3 Say to them: ‘This is what the sovereign Lord says:

“ ‘A great eagle with broad wings, long feathers,

with full plumage which was multi-hued,

came to Lebanon and took the top of the cedar.

17:4 He plucked off its topmost shoot;

he brought it to a land of merchants

and planted it in a city of traders.

17:5 He took one of the seedlings of the land,

placed it in a cultivated plot;

a shoot by abundant water,

like a willow he planted it.

Premillennialism in Church History, Part II

Alex the Less:

Good historical summary of PMill. thought by Lynda O. in this post.

Originally posted on Scripture Thoughts:

Continuing from Part I in this series, now for a brief look at the early medieval period, when the martyr doctrine was itself martyred. As well established from the available writings of the early church, the true church pre-Constantine (those who were of the Christian faith and not heretics) affirmed chiliasm. Nathaniel West’s essay points out the connection between the martyrs and their “martyr doctrine,” the hope of the future reign with Christ. Premillennialism is the doctrine of the martyred church, a great truth that has no place in apostate Christianity, that false faith that springs forth in times of peace, free from persecution.

This part of the history is more known to premillennialists, at least in general terms: the allegorical approach in the Alexandrian school, and Augustine formulating what is now called amillennialism, including “progressive parallelism” as a “spiritual” answer in response to the “carnal” excesses of some chiliast…

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Methuselah – The Palm Tree

Alex the Less:

Modern agricultural techniques such as in vitro germination are impressive but more impressive is the original design allowing this seed to remain viable all these years. The oasis of En Gedi (pictured also) was an important place when King David was hiding from Saul as there are springs of water that sustained the soldiers. In the future En Gedi will be a fishing village (Ezekiel 47.8-12).

Originally posted on HolyLandPhotos' Blog:

View of “Methuselah” the Judean Date Palm tree on the grounds of Kibbutz Ketura in the Rift Valley of Israel—about 30 mi. [50 km.] north of Eilat.

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“Methuselah” the Date Palm — sprouted from a 2,000 year old seed that was found in the excavations of Masada — Photo: March 2014 — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

Methuselah sprouted in 2005 from a 2,000 seed that was found in the excavations of Masada.  It was transplanted to the earth in 2008.  This picture was taken in March 2014 and it seems to be doing well.

To view an interesting 8 minute video on this Judean Palm Tree that was sprouted from a 2,000 year old date pit found by Yigal Yadin at Masada Click Here.

Yishai Fleisher interviews, on site, Dr. Elaine Solowey, who supervised the sprouting of the pit and the nurturing of the seedling back…

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The Forgotten Covenant (Pt.4)

Alex the Less:

The Millennial sacrifices proclaim Christ’s death similar to how Church Age “Lord’s Supper” observances do. Both “Believer’s Baptism” and “The Lord’s Supper” memorialize Christ’s atoning work: the once for all sacrifice at Calvary’s cross. If the Old Testament sacrifices were shadows of Christ’s one sacrifice then it may be helpful to look at them as morning shadows. Now, and in the Millennium, they are evening shadows. Christ’s redemptive event is pictured from two perspectives: before and after.

Originally posted on DR. RELUCTANT:

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

In this last part of our study of the “Priestly Covenant” I will try to answer some of the main objections which might be thrown at  what I have already stated.

1. If Christ is the Final Sacrifice for sins, how can there be a temple and sacrifices in the future?

This objection is based on a misunderstanding of the Book of Hebrews.  Mixed in with this is a subtle prejudice (usually of the non-pejorative sort) against the very idea of a temple and sacrifices.  I shall address the former issue more than the latter.

In Hebrews 7:12 the priesthood is said to be changed.  That being so, how can Levites officiate in any future temple?  The answer, of course, is that it is the High Priesthood which is under consideration in Hebrews (Cf. Heb. 4:14-5:5; 7:1-3, 11-13,23-27; 9:6-10, etc).  Interestingly, there is no…

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The Forgotten Covenant (PT.3)

Alex the Less:

The early church (1st-3rd century CE) was clearly awaiting an earthly kingdom that the Father would set up and thus were Premillennial in their outlook toward future blessings. Here is part 3 of Dr. Henebury’s series “The Priestly Covenant.”

Originally posted on DR. RELUCTANT:

Part Two

After the vision of the enormous temple which ends Ezekiel one is left with some questions.  How could such an immense structure fit in Jerusalem as we know it?  Why would any cultic priesthood be necessary once Jesus had come and died for our sins?  And, doesn’t the Book of Hebrews negate the whole idea of priests and sacrifices?

I am going to leave aside the last two questions until I examine some objections in Part Four.  But this post will answer the first problem.  But before I do that I want to fill in the picture a little more by looking at some more prophetic references.

In Daniel’s prayer of confession in Daniel 9 we see him specifically make supplications for “Your city Jerusalem” (9:16) and “Your sanctuary” (9:17).  Gabriel’s answer addresses Jerusalem (9:24, 25) and the temple, which is doomed to destruction (9:26).  I am not…

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Context Dictates Usage, not Word Definitions

Craig Keener gives sage advice for understanding and interpreting the bible:

 

Context is the way God gave us the Bible, one book at a time.  The first readers of Mark could not flip over to Revelation to help them understand Mark; Revelation had not been written yet.  The first readers of Galatians did not have a copy of the letter Paul wrote to Rome to help them understand it.  These first readers did share some common information with the author outside the book they received.

We’ll call this shared information “background”: some knowledge of the culture, earlier biblical history, and so on.  But they had, most importantly, the individual book of the Bible that was in front of them.  Therefore we can be confident that the writers of the Bible included enough within each book of the Bible to help the readers understand that book of the Bible without referring to information they lacked.  For that reason, context is the most important academic key to Bible interpretation.

Often popular ministers today quote various isolated verses they have memorized, even though this means that they will usually leave 99% of the Bible’s verses unpreached.  One seemingly well-educated person told a Bible teacher that she thought the purpose of having a Bible was to look up the verses the minister quoted in church!  But the Bible is not a collection of people’s favorite verses with a lot of blank space in between.  Using verses out of context one could “prove” almost anything about God or justify almost any kind of behavior–as history testifies.  But in the Bible God revealed Himself in His acts in history, through the inspired records of those acts and the inspired wisdom of His servants addressing specific situations.

People in my culture value everything “instant”: “instant” mashed potatoes; fast food; and so forth.  Similarly, we too often take short-cuts to understanding the Bible by quoting random verses or assuming that others who taught us have understood them correctly.  When we do so, we fail to be diligent in seeking God’s Word (Proverbs 2:2-5; 4:7; 8:17; 2 Timothy 2:15).

One prominent minister in the U.S., Jim Bakker, was so busy with his ministry to millions of people that he did not have time to study Scripture carefully in context.  He trusted that his friends whose teachings he helped promote surely had done so.  Later, when his ministry collapsed, he spent many hours honestly searching the Scriptures and realized to his horror that on some points Jesus’ teachings, understood in context, meant the exact opposite of what he and his friends had been teaching!  It is never safe to simply depend on what someone else claims that God says (1 Kings 13:15-26).

I discovered this for myself when, as a young Christian, I began reading 40 chapters of the Bible a day (enough to finish the New Testament every week or the Bible every month).  I was shocked to discover how much Scripture I had essentially ignored between the verses I had memorized, and how carefully the intervening text connected those verses.  I had been missing so much, simply using the Bible to defend what I already believed!  After one begins reading the Bible a book at a time, one quickly recognizes that verses isolated from their context nearly always mean something different when read in context.

We cannot, in fact, even pretend to make sense of most verses without reading their context.  Isolating verses from their context disrespects the authority of Scripture because this method of interpretation cannot be consistently applied to the whole of Scripture.  It picks verses that seem to make sense on their own, but most of the rest of the Bible is left over when it is done, incapable of being used the same way.  Preaching and teaching the Bible the way it invites us to interpret it—in its original context–both explains the Bible accurately and provides our hearers a good example how they can learn the Bible better for themselves.

If we read any other book, we would not simply take an isolated statement in the middle of the book and ignore the surrounding statements that help us understand the reason for that statement.  If we hand a storybook to a child already learning how to read, the child would probably start reading at the beginning.  That people so often read the Bible out of context is not because it comes naturally to us, but because we have been taught the wrong way by frequent example.  Without disrespecting those who have done the best they could without understanding the principle of context, we must now avail ourselves of the chance to begin teaching the next generation the right way to interpret the Bible.

Many contradictions some readers claim to find in the Bible arise simply from ignoring the context of the passages they cite, jumping from one text to another without taking the time to first understand each text on its own terms.  To develop an example offered above, when Paul says that a person is justified by faith without works (Romans 3:28), his context makes it clear that he defines faith as something more than passive assent to a viewpoint; he defines it as a conviction that Christ is our salvation, a conviction on which one actively stakes one’s life (Romans 1:5).  James declares that one cannot be justified by faith without works (James 2:14)—because he uses the word “faith” to mean mere assent that something is true (2:19), he demands that such assent be actively demonstrated by obedience to show that it is genuine (2:18).  In other words, James and Paul use the word “faith” differently, but do not contradict one another on the level of meaning.  If we ignore context and merely connect different verses on the basis of similar wording, we will come up with contradictions in the Bible that the original writers would never have imagined.

http://www.craigkeener.com/the-importance-of-context-in-bible-study/

The Forgotten Covenant (Pt.2)

Alex the Less:

Here is the second part of Paul Henebury’s “Forgotten Covenant”. We are right to expect a 4th Temple (Ezekiel 40ff) and a list of arguments is given By Dr. Henebury for its literal completion.
The treatment of “The Covenant of Salt” is not as developed as I hoped however and I will write on it after my research is complete giving my own views on the concept.

Originally posted on DR. RELUCTANT:

Part One

Biblical Covenantalism tracks the covenants through Scripture for the sake of putting together a composite picture of God’s plan.  The covenants are the backbone of Scripture.  If we pay careful attention to these covenants as they arise, we will not be able to bypass the everlasting “covenant of peace” which God made with Phinehas and his descendents in Numbers 25.  The fact that a covenant of this kind is casually passed over with barely a mention and not traced out in Scripture is telling.  I think what it tells is that we tend to want to read our endings to the story into passages like this.  Coming to the covenants like this tends to muffle their testimony with a pious overlay of ‘the finished work of Christ.’

The Witness of Ezekiel

Ezekiel, like Jeremiah, was a priest (1:3), but evidently not in the line of Phinehas.  In chapters…

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The Puritans, and Online Resources

Alex the Less:

Lynda O. has listed some Puritan resources which I want to pass on to others. If time is limited however, the bible is the first and best read possible.

Originally posted on Scripture Thoughts:

In 1987 Dr. S. Lewis Johnson observed the negative slant our culture puts on the Puritans, while emphasizing the positive aspect of true Puritanism:

There is a genuine New Testament Puritanism. A separation from sin and evil that a genuine Christian must cultivate. Even Arminians and Calvinists who don’t agree on soteriological truths, do agree here if they’re believers in Christ. Christians are to separate from evil and sin in their Christian life. …. New Testament Puritanism is no harsh, repellant thing eradicating the affections. It’s the opening of the heart to eternal love, to eternal joy, to eternal comfort in rich fruitfulness. There is puritanism in the New Testament. It’s for everyone of us who named Christ. May God help us to illustrate it in our lives.

Yet in recent years within evangelical Christianity, the Puritans have made a “comeback,” with increased popularity as their writings have become…

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The Forgotten Covenant (Pt.1)

Alex the Less:

Over the next 4 days I am reblogging Dr. Henebury’s posts on the priestly covenant made with Phinehas. This is an important section for understanding bible interpretation and shows how the scriptures can be taken at face value (unless obvious metaphorical language is used).

Originally posted on DR. RELUCTANT:

Question: Which plainly stated Covenant in the Bible is most often neglected?

The answer is the covenant which the LORD made with Phinehas in the Book of Numbers.

The circumstances surrounding this covenant centers around the doctrine of Balaam as it was realized at Baal Peor (Cf. Num.31:16; Rev. 2:14).  Amid the idolatry and fornication a Simeonite by the name of Zimri openly brought a Midianite woman into the camp of Israel and took her into his tent to have sexual relations with her.  This happened even while Israelites were “weeping at the door of the tabernacle of meeting.” (Num. 25:6).

Phinehas, who was Aaron’s grandson, witnessed this brazen act of “sexual liberation” and struck the man and the woman through with a javelin (25:8).  This act of priestly zeal stopped a plague which had broken out within the camp which had claimed the lives of twenty-four thousand people.  God’s…

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Review of Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament Bundle (Logos Bible Software)

Alex the Less:

Dan Wallace critically evaluates a new offering from Logos Bible Software: Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament Bundle. This seems like a great new tool though Prof. Wallace does note some limitations. This resource should aid pastors and students to see many aspects of the text conveniently in one place with easy navigation.

Originally posted on Daniel B. Wallace:

As would be expected from anything produced by Steven Runge, this is a most useful tool. It is intended to help readers understand why an author chooses the forms he does to convey meaning. Discourse grammar has become an increasingly helpful approach in the last few years to supplement standard grammars. It does not replace traditional grammars, but supplements them. Occasionally, discourse grammars, including this one from Logos, will see meaning in the wrong places. For example, the illustration of the use of the participle like an indicative verb conveying some meaning that is somehow different from an indicative may be overplayed (repeatedly mentioned in the Introduction). The participle used as an indicative verb is quite rare in the NT, never seems to occur in classical Greek, and is most likely due to Semitic influence. Most of the NT examples occur in the Apocalypse, a book whose author R. H…

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