Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Abraham’


I know, that is an ambitious title. These things are connected in our theology; or at least they should be.

When I interact with those who advocate for believers’ baptism they often point to the New Covenant which is said to be very different than the Old Covenant (it is in some significant ways). The New Covenant, they say, leads them to hold to a regenerate or pure church such that the difference between the visible and invisible churches to be nearly insignificant. While there is nothing in any of the direct statements about the New Covenant that prohibit infant baptism or demand believers baptism they think it does. They are using a good and necessary consequence argument to defend believers’ baptism. We Reformed paedobaptists also use an argument based on good and necessary consequence. The difference is that we acknowledge this but they usually don’t.

The author of Hebrews refers to the promise of the New Covenant twice: in chapters 8 and 10.

For he finds fault with them when he says:

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord,
    when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel
    and with the house of Judah,
not like the covenant that I made with their fathers
    on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt.
For they did not continue in my covenant,
    and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord.
10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel
    after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws into their minds,
    and write them on their hearts,
and I will be their God,
    and they shall be my people.
11 And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor
    and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
for they shall all know me,
    from the least of them to the greatest.
12 For I will be merciful toward their iniquities,
    and I will remember their sins no more.” Hebrews 8

The author wants them to know that 1) the New Covenant is better and 2) the Old Covenant is obsolete. This does not mean the covenants are completely different and disconnected. The word used here for “new” is “kainos” instead of “neos”. “Kainos” can mean renewed rather than absolutely new. It can also refer to “more recent”.

(more…)

Advertisements

Read Full Post »


One of the series I’ve discovered and enjoyed over the years is P&R’s Gospel in the Old Testament series.  WTS Books is currently running a sale on them of 50% off the 11 volume set.  They would make a great Christmas gift (sorry Desert Springs people, I have most of them).

I first learned about the series when the late Ray Dillard visited RTS Orlando for Spiritual Emphasis Week.  He preached on Elijah and Elisha and their connection with Jesus and the gospel.  This was turned into Faith in the Face of Apostasy.   Unfortunately Dr. Dillard would not live much longer.

I am currently re-reading Living in the Gap between Promise and Reality: The Gospel According to Abraham for my sermon series on the life of faith in the life of Abraham.  Iain Duguid, formerly of Westminster West and now at Grove City College and planting an ARP church, is the author.  He also wrote Living in the Grip of Relentless Grace: The Gospel According to Isaac and Jacob.  These are 2 of my favorites in the series, offering hope to guys like me for whom life is a series of struggles- some self-made.

There are also volumes on Jonah, David, Hosea, Daniel (by a professor at Erskine though not my favorite volume), Job and Israel’s Worship.  I guess I’m missing the volumes on Ruth and Zechariah (which I may not get).

They take the position that all of Scripture (not each and every verse) points us to the fulfillment of God’s plan of redemption- Jesus.  So the show how the text points us to and prepares us for the ministry of Jesus for us.  Great stuff.  This series was also helpful for me to learn how to see and make those connections for my people so I was actually preaching the gospel each week.  I find them valuable.

 

Read Full Post »


The 2nd chapter of The Immigration Crisis by James Hoffmeier is very interesting.  He examines the biblical accounts, and archeological evidence from that time frame to gain a better understanding of what was meant by “alien” in Abraham’s day.  This is important to the matter today.  Some treat “alien” in the Scriptures as if it were equivalent to “illegal immigrant” today.  But is it?

We sometimes think that the Ancient Near East (ANE) was some borderless mass with free passage.  Yes, there were migrations and often mass migrations.  But, Hoffmeier argues that there were clearly delineated lands in that day.  Often the borders were natural (rivers, mountains etc.).  And these borders were frequently defended.

“Indeed many of the mass migrations throughout history have resulted in the eclipsing of various languages, cultures, and the national sovereignty of countries.”

We see this in the case of the Israelites wanting to pass through Edom after the Exodus (Numbers 20).  Any large migrating group would ask for permission to pass through the countryside belonging to another nation.  Israel asked for this permission.  And it was denied, repeatedly.  They respected Edom’s right to determine who could and could not cross their borders.

(more…)

Read Full Post »


Trevin Wax has compiled some statements on Christianity from both John Piper and N.T. Wright to provide some context for their debate on justification.  I read this on Christianity Today and I am more confused than ever.  With so much in agreement, and the big difference being what is meant by “works of the law”, I’m wondering what the big deal is.  I’m not sure why people are so thrilled with N.T. Wright’s developments.

N.T. Wright affirms the centrality of the Incarnation, substitutionary atonement and resurrection to our salvation.  Salvation is received by grace through faith and repentance.  Nothing novel or heretical there.  But, such summaries as this tend to be reductionistic, so perhaps something important is being left out.

As I read Romans and Galatians, I find something different than “ethnic badges” at work.  Afterall, most of those in the Reformed community is baptism as the new “ethnic badge” which has replaced circumcision.  Afterall, Abraham was justified by faith, so faith is not a new ethnic badge.

So, I’m not exactly sure what the hype is about on either side.  Since salvation is by grace through faith in keeping with God’s covenant promises in which He vindicates His righteousness through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus … it seems as though advocates of the New Perspective shouldn’t be all that excited since the church doesn’t seem to struggle with “ethnic badges’ anymore.  I can see where some would be concerned that Paul’s arguments not seem irrelevant to us, but neither would Wright be considered a heretic.

So I must obviously be missing something.  It can’t just be a matter of emphasis and nuance.  Is this thing just a bunch of smoke and mirrors?

Read Full Post »


I came across The Gospel According to the Old Testament series some time ago.  I’ve picked up new books when they have come out.  I think I have most of the series, and hope to use them at some point for a sermon series or teaching series.  But I haven’t read one in a few years as other matters distracted me.  But yesterday I was showing them to a friend who hadn’t heard of them.  So I decided now was the time to resume some of my reading.

I had read some of Living in the Gap Between Promise and Reality: The Gospel According to Abraham by Iain Duguid for some earlier sermons.  I picked up where I left off.  Let me say that I met Dr. Duguid last June.  He left Westminster West to teach at Grove City College.  In the process he transferred to the ARP with hopes of planting a church near the college.  He seems like a stand up guy.

In the gap between promise and reality, we find Abraham failing in Egypt.  I like what Duguid has to say about failure for Christians.

Now, in this chapter, we will see- not for the last time- faith dealing with that failure.  That’s a very important lesson for us to learn, isn’t it?  There seem to be plenty of books telling you how to be a success, but few write about what to do when you find that you aren’t.  Yet what you do when you are at your lowest ebb, when everything has gone wrong and you have failed God and your neighbor utterly, says a great deal about the kind of person you are and the kind of faith you have.

Thankfully the Bible is about real life, and how faith engages real life.  God knows we all fail and made sure we hear about how other faithful followers have gotten up, dusted themselves off (by the blood of Christ) and kept going (by the grace of God).  This is encouraging to me.  I need to hear this.

Does failure drive you away from God, or does it drive you back to square one, back to where you started, back to the altar, the place of sacrifice, so that you can call on the name of the Lord?  The builders of the Tower of Babel made no room for offering sacrifices to God and calling on the name of the Lord.  Their motto was “In man we trust.”  For that reason, when their building project fell apart, so did they.  They had no means of dealing with failure.  There was no room in their hearts for repentance, and consequently their religiousity could not survive the exposure of their own inadequacy.

Have you met those guys?  I have.  It is not pretty.  By God’s grace I’m not one of them.  I’m pretty inadequate.  As Paul told the Corinthians, any competency I have comes from God.  That’s true for all of us, but not all of us realize it.  So, failure means you are a failure.  I heard a great line about Isiah Thomas when he was FINALLY fired- “putting the ‘L’ in losing since 200_”.  I joke with CavWife that I’ve put the ‘L’ in losing since 1965.  I’m not a “super-apostle” or an uber-Christian.  I’m an ordinary guy with an extra-ordinary calling.  But that doesn’t mean I’ll be successful in all I put my hand to.

Good people, people of faith, fail just as others do.  The difference is that when they fail, they do not fall, because they return to the Lord in repentance, calling on his name and seeking forgiveness.

So, what do you do when you fail?  Do you give up or get back up?  Don’t beat yourself up, but recognize that Jesus was beaten (and crucified) for all your sin and failure.  Get up, and get going just as if God has made all things right (because, well, He has in Christ).

Read Full Post »