Volume 21, Number 1 (Spring 2010)

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  • by Robert L. Thomas

    The words “all that I commanded you” (Matt 28:20) describe the substance of what Christian disciples are to teach in fulfilling Christ’s Great Commission. Since Jesus in the progress of His earthly ministry changed focus in response to Israel’s opposition to Him as their Messiah, understanding what disciples are to teach requires interpretive discernment regarding the historical and theological background of His various utterances. As a sample of His teaching, the Sermon on the Mount is appropriate. The Sermon came in the historical circumstances of Jesus’ emphasis on the coming kingdom promised to David in the OT, and lays down prerequisites for those who want to enter that kingdom. Qualities expressed in the beatitudes enumerate those prerequisites. One in particular in Matt 5:5b promises the privilege of inheriting the land promised to Abraham in Gen 12:7. The Sermon’s theme verse, Matt 5:20, is a rebuke to the scribes and Pharisees who so strongly opposed Jesus during His time on earth. The antitheses that follow in Matt 5:21-48 are corrections to their superficial rabbinic interpretations of the OT. In line with keeping the historical context in view, the term “brother” in the Sermon refers to fellow Israelites, not Christian brothers. Failure to interpret Christ’s instructions properly leads to impediments that hinder fulfillment of the Great Commission.

  • by S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.

    Isaiah speaks of the judgment inflicted by God’s wrath as His strange act and His strange work. The Pauline picture of human history in Rom 1:18–3:20 tells more about God’s judgment and why it is “strange.” His threefold use of paredôken tells of God’s giving mankind over to deserved punishment, which is more than a permissive divine action and more than a privative action—a withholding of common grace. It must be a judicial act of God in imposing His wrath on mankind. The devolution in human history is reflected in the more recent tendency of society to accept the sin of homosexuality and other sexual deviations as a mere sickness and not as sin. Civilizations throughout the world, particularly in the United States, are hurrying to their destruction by neglecting the righteousness of God in Christ, thus bringing on themselves the judgment of God as described in Rom 1:18–3:20. This is God’s temporal judgment which is preliminary to His eternal judgment on a rebellious human race. Retributive justice is an attribute of God and a necessary feature of His actions toward unbelieving humanity.

  • by Elliot Johnson

    The federal covenant theology posits a heavenly pre-existent covenant of grace which differs from the biblical New Covenant as stated in Jer 31:31-34. To answer the question, “Does Hebrews have a Covenant Theology?,” four themes for evaluating the federal theological covenant of grace are (1) the use of Scripture and the one people of God, (2) the unity between the Old and New Covenants, (3) the discontinuity between the Old and New Covenants, and (4) the warning passages and the doctrine of predestination. The epistle does not support the replacement of the houses of Israel and Judah by another people. Nor does Hebrews equate the New Covenant with one theological covenant existing from eternity past. It does support a discontinuity in moving from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. The federal theology model fails to allow for contingency found in the warning passages of the book. The federal covenant theology neglects Hebrews’ omission of any mention of a federal covenant established in eternity past, but the biblical covenant model does find textual support in four areas: (1) Scripture and the application of the New Covenant, being based on Hebrew’s extensive use of relevant OT texts; (2) covenant ratification and the coherent relationship between the first and the New Covenant, since the epistle bases the two covenants on different priesthoods; (3) discontinuity between the New Covenant and the last will and testament, since the last will and testament (9:16-17) is based on the death of Christ; (4) warning passages and the doctrine of inheritance, since there is contingency as well as predestination involved in receiving the promised blessings. The federal covenant theology model fails through a lack of textual support, but the biblical covenant model receives support because it recognizes distinct priests supported by distinct covenants for distinct services.

  • by Aaron Tresham

    Bart Ehrman has raised a question as to whether some portions of the original NT have been lost while through the years the text has been copied. The process of trying to restore words that may have been lost is called conjectural emendation. Among scholars, three views about the need for conjectural emendation have arisen: the optimistic view which contends that no words have been lost, the mixed perspective which says that perhaps a few but not many words have been lost, and the pessimistic view that many words have been lost. Since conjectural emendation is so subjective, an effort to reach a firm conclusion is fruitless, but it is helpful to observe that no text exists for which the need for emendation is universally acknowledged. A more helpful approach is to select 2 Pet 3:10d for examination because many scholars have suggested the need for emendation of this text. The textual problem in that verse centers in the reading of the last word åßñåèÞóåôáé. This word finds good support in the external witnesses, but is quite problematic in regard to how it fits its context. Numerous conjectures regarding how to replace the word have emerged, some of them quite insufficient and some of them more plausible. The best explanation which comes from Bauckham accepts the correctness of the reading åßñåèÞóåôáé and assigns it the meaning of “discovered.” Thus the need for conjectural emendation in 2 Pet 3:10d is erased.

  • by William D. Barrick

    Leviticus 26 provides a key to advancing the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants by showing how the two relate to each other. The parenthetical nature of the chapter shows its inter-covenantal character in six areas: (1) covenant, (2) law, (3) Yahweh, (4) promise, (5) repentance, and (6) revelation. The word for “covenant” used therein always relates to God’s sovereignty and His binding relationship to Israel, sometimes in relation to the Abrahamic Covenant, sometimes in relation to the Mosaic Covenant, and sometimes in relation to a possible future Deuteronomic Covenant. The use of law in Leviticus 26 supplements the use of covenant by reflecting the wisdom and moral character of the covenant-giver and by focusing on His absolute authority. Yahweh, the covenant-maker, is God who identifies Himself with both the Mosaic and the Abrahamic covenants. In the chapter promise includes both the promise to bless under the Abrahamic covenant and the promise to curse under the Mosaic covenant. Though the word for repentance does not occur in the chapter, the concept of repentance is entailed in the promise of Israel’s return from captivity. The word “law” implies a necessity of communicating the law-giver’s standards in written form for the benefit of future generations. Though the NT cites Leviticus 26 only once, the concepts involved in the chapter permeate many parts of the NT. By synthesizing the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants, it offers a taste of promise tempered by precept in telling God’s people how to live.

  • Book Reviews for 21:1   (103-134)

Volume 21, Number 2 (Fall 2010)

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An Issue Devoted an Examination of Biblical Sanctification

  • by Richard L. Mayhue

    This introduction to the much neglected and frequently misunderstood theme of biblical sanctification serves as the foundation upon which the subsequent four essays rest and out of which they arise. First a “primer on sanctification” defines the comprehensive biblical basis for and the implications of sanctification for the Christian’s life temporally and eternally. Second, a Scriptural perspective on sanctification highlights the various patterns of sanctification in one’s Christian journey. Third, biblically emphasized particulars of sanctification help to distinguish between the past, present, and future elements of a Christian’s experience. Ultimately, this essay concludes that sanctification in its full biblical breadth encompasses a Christian’s beginning in salvation and a Christian’s continuation in growing to be like Christ which reaches perfection with a true believer’s glorification after death.

  • by Andrew Snider

    The task at hand is to relate justification (being declared righteous) to a biblical understanding of sanctification (being made righteous). When God declares a sinner as righteous, the action begins with His own character and is accomplished by His own action. All His ways are perfect, just, and upright, qualities that stem from His holiness. His redemptive acts, including His justification of sinners, are marked by His love as exemplified in Rom 8:31-39. Justification is a declaration by God of the sinner’s status before Himself, imputing to him the righteousness of Christ through faith. Holiness is the key concept of sanctification as seen in the consistent biblical emphasis on God’s people being a holy people. Positional sanctification is a determination by God that a sinner is set apart as a member of God’s holy people. Progressive sanctification speaks of a growth in practical holiness when believers obey God’s command to grow in Christlikeness. Understanding the correct relationship between justification and progressive sanctification is important: sanctification does not cause justification and justification does not cause sanctification. Yet there is great importance in seeing that the two arise from the same soteriological reality of Christ’s substitutionary atonement and the resultant union of the believer with Christ.

  • by William D. Barrick

    Sanctification is inseparable from regeneration; where there is one, the other must also exist. Sanctification is the process of making holy, whether in the OT or the NT. God’s holiness is complete, comparable to no one else, and is incompatible with sin. Man’s holiness is progressive as it seeks to match the holiness of God in dedicating everything to Him. Both Testaments multiply references to God’s holiness as the foundation for human holiness. The believer progresses in his own sanctification through the ministry of the Holy Spirit and through attention to the Scripture, but humans also have a role in sanctification. They must live out what they possess by the grace of God.

  • by Keith H. Essex

    As in past centuries, Christians still speak frequently about the need for sanctification, yet no mutually agreed upon description of sanctification has emerged. The present discussion has chosen to describe the term in relation to what the Bible says about “fruit.” “Fruit” is used widely in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, referring to edible products from the ground as well as human offspring. In both the OT and the NT the word is used metaphorically to depict human actions. Other terms related to fruit also take on metaphorical meanings to speak of human behavior. Romans 6:22 and 7:4 link such terminology with the sanctification of believers. The contexts of these verses confirm a close tie between fruit and both past sanctification and the present lives of Christians in their progress toward Christlikeness. Galatians 5:22-23 relate the Holy Spirit’s role in producing the present sanctification of believers.

  • by Rick L. Holland

    Though “pastor” is the usual title for a lowly shepherd of sheep, Jesus through His sherpherdly role exemplified the great importance in guiding God’s people in pursuing sanctification. Every part of a pastor’s ministry relates tio sanctification. The six dimensions of a pastor’s sanctifying role are his desire for his people’s sanctification, his examples of his own personal sanctification, his preaching to encourage sanctification in the lives of his hearers, his making of disciples in obedience of the Great Commission, his prayer life on behalf of his people’s sanctification, and his leadership in public worship geared to cultivating sanctification. Ultimately, his goal for his people in their sanctification is to be imitators of Christ.

  • by Dennis M. Swanson

  • Book Reviews for 21:2   (239-277)