Volume 8, Number 1 (Spring 1997)

[click here to view pdf]

  • by Robert L. Thomas

    Paul uses portions of three of his epistles to develop the role of spiritual gifts in building the body of Christ. Among the eighteen gifts he lists are four that provide for the impartation of special revelation necessary for the body's growth: the gifts of apostleship, prophecy, the word of wisdom, and the word of knowledge. In discussions of NT canonicity, apostleship has been prominent, but a study of relevant passages shows that prophecy also played an important part in furnishing the early church with special revelation. Several NT examples, particularly the Apocalypse, reinforce this observation. In their efforts to single out books for inclusion in the NT canon, early Christian leaders looked for the works that were inspired, narrowing their search by concentrating on works by men whose spiritual gifts capacities included apostleship and prophecy. A number of early Christian writings verify their interest, not just in apostolicity, but also in the propheticity of a writing. After narrowing down their possibilities to works authored by apostles and prophets, they applied tests of antiquity, orthodoxy, catholicity, and traditional usage to finalize their list of NT books.

  • by Larry D. Pettegrew

    An area of debate among dispensationalists has involved continuity and discontinuity of Spirit baptism from dispensation to dispensation. Classic Dispensationalism as a whole endorsed the position of discontinuity. Revised Dispensationalism did the same with even more emphasis, a few of its spokesmen doing so by proposing two New Covenants, one for Israel and one for the church. With the abandonment of the two-New Covenants view by revised dispensationalists came the introduction of Progressive Dispensationalism. Progressive dispensationalists have proposed continuity of the doctrine of Spirit baptism from the OT through the church age into the future millennium. They likewise have suggested that the "body" metaphor for the church applies to all New Covenant believers, even those on earth after the church's rapture. An alternative dispensational view defends the continuity of Spirit baptism by allowing that OT prophets foresaw its occurrence as did John the Baptist and Jesus Christ. In the book of Acts, Peter connected earliest instances of Spirit baptism with previous predictions too. Yet the alternative proposal does not go so far as to indicate continuity of the body of Christ metaphor, but rather limits it to church believers of this dispensation.

  • by Will C. Varner

    A book called the Zohar emerged during the Middle Ages, giving rise to a Jewish form of mystical speculation known as the "Cabala" and creating strong interest in the system's mystical teachings in both Jewish and Christian circles. During the Renaissance, Pico, Reuchlin, and Ricci led in applying the Zohar's mystical teachings to the OT in defense of Christian doctrines such as that of the Trinity. The Cabalistic doctrine of emanations provided a solution to the tension between the doctrines of God's transcendence and His immanence. Another exegetical method of the Cabalists was gematria, a system for discovering secret truths from the OT through various techniques of assigning numerical value to letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Christians should resist the temptation of using Cabalistic means for discovering truth from the Bible, because it deviates so widely from the grammatical-historical method of exegesis.

  • by Paul W. Felix

    The first four verses of Luke's gospel set that book apart from Matthew, Mark, and John in giving information about the writer's research. Attempts of some to use the information to prove Luke's literary dependence on Mark necessitate a closer look at this prologue. The carefully structured sentence tells the context of the author's writing project (1:1-2) and gives a commentary on the writing project (1:3-4). Others had preceded Luke in attempting to put together accounts of Jesus' life, but for some reason Luke found their efforts unsatisfactory. He decided to write an account himself, basing it ultimately on reports from "eyewitnesses and servants of the word." His credentials for the task were impressive, including careful investigation of all events from the beginning of Jesus' life and putting the results down in chronological order. His purpose in doing this was to furnish Theophilus with exact information. Implications of the prologue preclude Luke's use of another canonical gospel as a source, but allow for his familiarity with other written sources. He depended on many sources, not two or three, but was most heavily dependent on oral reports from "eyewitnesses and servants of the word." He followed chronological order, not an order supplied by Mark. So the prologue does not support any type of literary dependence among the canonical gospels, but points to their independence of each other.

  • by Brian A. Shealy

    Bernard Ramm foresaw the hermeneutical problem among evangelicals that would arise through the advent of the New Hermeneutic. Hermeneutical theorists have departed from grammatico-historical principles and embraced the subjectivism of the New Hermeneutic. They are recommending a system that incorporates the step of application into the hermeneutical process, thereby confusing definitions of hermeneutics, exegesis, meaning, and interpretation. Dangers that the confusion brings include those of encouraging a man-centered interpretation, allowing cultural application to change meaning, and advocating a reader-response type of interpretation as well as others. To overcome those dangers, interpreters must be sure of their goal, determine what is normative, develop doctrine, and put into practice the lessons dictated by the meaning of a passage. The only way to achieve this is to redraw the line between hermeneutics and exegesis.

Volume 8, Number 2 (Fall 1997)

[click here to view pdf]

  • by John F. MacArthur

    Spurgeon's defense of the truth and concern for integrity follow the pattern set by Paul in dealing with his opponents in Corinth. In 2 Corinthians, Paul's response to criticism consisted of a defense of his integrity, without which his ministry would have been ineffective. He placed before his readers a number of reasons to reassure them of his integrity. They included his reverence for the Lord, his concern for the church, his devotion to the truth, his gratitude for Christ's love, his desire for righteousness, and his burden for the lost. In defending his integrity, he risked being called proud by his enemies, so he also displayed several marks of his humility: an unwillingness to compare oneself with others, a willingness to minister within limits, an unwillingness to take credit for others' labors, a willingness to seek only the Lord's glory, and an unwillingness to pursue anything but eternal commendation. Paul had right motives and he defended them for the right reasons, that is, to glorify God and to promote the truth of the gospel and Christ's church.

  • by Richard L. Mayhue

    Dr. Jack Deere, the well-known noncessationist author of the previously published Surprised by the Power of the Spirit , has proposed in his sequel, Surprised by the Voice of God , that humble, obedient Christians who seek to have an intimate walk with God should regularly hear God speak outside of Scripture through various means such as an audible voice, impressions, dreams, and/or visions. The author even suggests that a Christian's experience today could exceed the most spectacular moments in the first-century church at Jerusalem as recorded in Acts. Deere's attitudes toward those who disagree with his theological posture on these issues (cessationists) and his proposals are examined in regard to their logical validity, hermeneutical propriety, anecdotal proportions, exegetical precision, and theological persuasion. This reviewer has concluded that Deere unfortunately attempts to make too much out of too little and thus fails to present a convincing case for his own Third Wave convictions when Scripture, not experience, is the arbiter.

  • by Robert W. Yarbrough

    Eta Linnemann falls within the broad frame work of "conservative evangelicalism" according to a recent classification of scholarly students of Scripture. A brief biographical sketch reviews her preconversion scholarly achievements and then her postconversion literary achievements. German scholars have largely ignored her postconversion work on historical criticism, but in North America and Britain, reviews of it have been mixed in their evaluations of the volume. Some reviews of her work on the Synoptic Problem have been positive in North America and Britain, but some have been very negative. A weighing of the weaknesses and merits of Linnemann's scholarship as reflected in those reviews yields the conclusion that she is a friend of scholarship in terms of her industry, tenacity, and intensity to shed light on a crucial area, in her zeal for the truth, in her creativity, originality, fearlessness, and sharpness in analysis; and in her willingness to change her mind after discovering her earlier weaknesses.

  • by Robert L. Thomas

    God placed human beings, including the Messiah and the people of Israel, in His creation to fulfill a mission. The four Servant Songs of Isaiah (42:1-9; 49:1- 13; 50:4-11; 52:13; 53:12) summarize the mission of the Messiah as coming in two phases: a period of lowliness at the end of which He would die for the sins of His people and rise from the dead and a period of exaltation during which He would restore Israel's land and provide salvation to all peoples. Features of the Servant's first phase identify Him clearly as Jesus of Nazareth, with His second phase receiving full development in Daniel 7 as explained in Revelation. The mission of Israel has marked similarities to that of the Messiah, for example, the responsibility of witnessing to the nations. Israel has failed in her mission, however, and awaits a future restoration before she can fulfill her mission. That will come in her future kingdom when the Messiah returns. Israel also has a significant mission during the present age, illustrated by Jewish authorship of all but two of the NT books. Yet she is not presently fulfilling OT prophecies of her future role in the kingdom. The ultimate mission of all peoples will receive fulfillment in the new Jerusalem when they enjoy personal fellowship with God in bringing glory to Him.

  • by John Makujina

    The current practice of using the second greatest commandment "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" as a biblical justification for self-esteem is widespread enough to deserve closer investigation. The study of relevant biblical material reveals that scriptural data does not support modern formulations of self- esteem. Selfishness rather than self-esteem more accurately represents the forms of self-love in the passages, where self-love refers to a type of self-interest necessary for survival, one that is easily prone to overindulgence. The evangelical treatments of self-esteem, however, capitalize on the imago Dei and God's redeeming love as motivations for loving and valuing self. Methodological weaknesses in the psychological approach to the second greatest commandment are evident in several areas. An a priori commitment to modern concepts of self-love, which tends to impair careful biblical exposition, usually leads to errors in exegesis.