Posts Tagged ‘doctrine’
Posted by Job on February 1, 2012
Posted in Jesus Christ | Tagged: Baptist, Calvinism, charles spurgeon, Christianity, doctrine, Particular Baptist, Reformed Baptist, Reformed Theology, sermon, total depravity, video | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Job on February 1, 2012
Posted in Jesus Christ | Tagged: Calvinism, Charles Sermon, Christianity, doctrine, election, free will, human responsibility, Particular Baptist, preaching, predestination, Reformed Baptist, Romans 10, Romans 10:20-21, salvation, sermon, sovereign grace, video | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Job on February 1, 2012
Posted in Jesus Christ | Tagged: Baptist, Calvinism, charles spurgeon, Christianity, damnation, doctrine, endtimes, eschatology, eternal damnation, eternal punishment, final state, final status, heaven, hell, lake of fire, last things, new jerusalem, Particular Baptist, Reformed Baptist, saints, salvation, sermon, sinners, soul sleep, video | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Job on October 26, 2011
In this sermon Paul talks about the misuse of Scripture in the understanding of salvation.
Regeneration vs Decisionism – DEEPER Conference 2008 Breakout Session (Living Waters & Way of the Master)
Posted in Bible, Christianity, discernment, election, evangelical, evangelical christian, evangelism, faith, false doctrine, false teaching, Holy Spirit, irresistible grace, Jesus Christ, Judaism, limited atonement, Reformed, religion, Ruach Hakadosh, salvation, salvation prayer, salvation through Jesus Christ, spiritual warfare, televangelism, testimony | Tagged: Baptist, Biblicism, Calvinism, decisional regeneration, doctrine, free will, God, infralapsarianism, Jesus Christ, paul washer, preaching, predestination, regeneration, salvation, sermon, soteriology, supralapsarianism, Theology, video | 4 Comments »
Posted by Job on January 3, 2011
From brother W.B. Moore.
What I have to say is to people who claim to be Christians.
Jesus spoke out against sexual immorality.
18 But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man unclean. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what make a man unclean; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him unclean.
20 He went on: “What comes out of a man is what makes him unclean. 21 For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and make a man unclean.
We have to realize that sexual immorality is a category of sin that includes all sexual sin.
1 Corinthians 5:1
It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father’s wife.
Paul had to deal with one specific instance of sexual immorality: a man having sex with the wife of his father. This is identified as a sin in the Old Testament, specifically Leviticus 18:8, Leviticus 20:11, Deuteronomy 22:30, and Deuteronomy 27:20. Paul did not further address specific examples of sexual immorality in this passage. However, it is clear that it was a category of sin that dealt with sex that God had prohibited.
Christ said the entire category of sin known as sexual immorality was evil.
Now, sexual immorality would refer to what God had defined as wrong already by the time of when Christ said this; this would come from the Old Testament. As Christians today, we use both the Old and New Testaments to see Who God is, what God has done, how God feels about issues in life, and what He expects of and for us.
The word translated as sexual immorality is Porneia. This word means
1. illicit sexual intercourse
A. adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals etc.
B. sexual intercourse with close relatives; Lev. 18
C. sexual intercourse with a divorced man or woman; Mk. 10:11
Romans 1 says even the desire of a man for a man or a woman for a woman is sin. The act of sex between two people of the same gender is also sin.
The term translated in Romans 1 as ‘lust’ is epiqumia in Greek. It means desire, craving, longing, desire for what is forbidden, lust.
It is even the mere desire for same gender sex that is wrong in God’s eyes.
Paul said we must turn away from wickedness if we confess Christ as Lord:
2 Timothy 2:19
Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.
Paul also said God will punish men for sin.
1 Thes 4:3-8
3 It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; 6 and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. 7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8 Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.
It does not matter how you feel about it. It does not matter how you justify it. God said if you do not change and turn to God, then you are not saved. If you claim you have repented and turned to God, then you need to live like it.
Posted in Bible, Christianity, false doctrine, false teaching, Jesus Christ | Tagged: 1 Corinthians 5:1, adultery, Christ, doctrine, Exegesis, fornication, gay theology, God, homosexual, homosexual theology, homosexuality, love, Mark 7:20-23, Matthew 15:18-20, obedience, sanctification, Sex, Sin | 13 Comments »
Posted by Job on December 30, 2010
Original sermon may be accessed here
Posted by Job on July 3, 2010
And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a [certain] man, kneeling down to him, and saying, Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me. And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting. Matthew 17:14-21
Much has been written in the area of spiritual warfare and deliverance. Some of it is based on scripture, some on experience, some on things taught and handed down, some on what purports to be revelation, some on conjecture, and usually the final product is some combination of these things. I do not deny that these techniques cannot yield results, because that would be denying what I have seen with my own eyes and borne witness to with my own testimony. However, “whatever works” cannot be the basis of sound Christian belief and practice. A good reason for this is simple: “results may vary!” In the scientific community, one of the major tests used to establish and verify a theory using experiments or observation is repeatable results. Since the results of the various spiritual warfare techniques, strategies and methods do in fact vary – a fact that the teachers and proponents of these methods freely admit – we cannot rely on unreliable experientialism for our Christian doctrine and practice. Instead, we must rely on the Bible. The Bible is God’s unique, Holy Spirit inspired revelation that is inerrant, infallible and the final authority in all things. So, even though the varying results is enough to justify being suspect of a lot of the spiritual warfare and deliverance teachings, the truth is that the doctrine of scripture means that Christians should not rely on practices and beliefs not supported in scripture even if they did work every time. So even if it does work, then what profit is it if the “work” is not of God and does not glorify God? The purpose of Christian living is to serve and glorify God, not to do the things that we want to do and believe that should be done ourselves. As the Bible is the final authority and is 100% infallible, then the Bible gives us perfect instructions on how to live to serve and glorify God in all areas. The Bible is what teaches us, and the Bible is what we must use to teach others.
So, based on the revelation of Jesus Christ as given to us in the Bible – and the purpose of the entirety of scripture is to reveal Jesus Christ – the best, surest way and the starting point for all spiritual warfare and deliverance is prayer. Prayer is the first and best weapon against the evil one and his forces. Consider, for instance, the Lord’s prayer.
After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as [it is] in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. Matthew 6:9-13 and also Luke 11:2-4
How many of you knew that this was a spiritual warfare and deliverance prayer? It is. For one thing, it deals with forgiveness of sin, as it asks that our own sins be forgiven by God AND that we forgive the sins of others. Failure to forgive the sins of others, especially against us, leads to anger and resentment that Ephesians 4:26-27 tells us “gives a place to the devil.” For another, it asks that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven, and it is certainly God’s will for evil spirits and their influence to be bound, hindered, cast out and defeated (Matthew 12:28, Luke 11:20). But there is also a more direct reference. “Deliver us from evil” in the Lord’s prayer not only means “keep us from sin” (with all the spiritual warfare things that go along with sinning) but many expert theologians and Bible scholars follow Martin Luther in asserting that “deliver us from evil” should read “deliver us from the evil one”, which is Satan.
Now Martin Luther was not one to deny that Christians in our time need to directly confront unclean spirits. Quite the contrary, Luther claimed to have seen Satan and thrown a bottle of ink at him! (Small wonder that a current popular trend – or evil spirit – of deception moving through modern Christianity is to attack Martin Luther and claim that the Reformation, the exodus from the darkness of Roman Catholicism, was a mistake!) So, the Lord’s Prayer is quite literally and unquestionably a direct, powerful spiritual warfare and deliverance prayer. It petitions that God would overcome the presence and effects of sin and evil spirits in our lives. It even addresses the area most often neglected by spiritual warfare teachers, which is the flesh or the old man which still exerts a negative influence on born again Christians as described in Romans 5-7 when asking God to help us to forgive others, and in particular not to view the transgressions of others against us personally more prominently than we view our own transgressions against God. What stronger impulses of the flesh are there than hypocrisy and self-centeredness? And this prayer also explicitly directly asks for protection from all evil spirits through a reference to their leader, Satan. And as Jesus Christ explained in Matthew 12:24-30, being protected from Satan means being protected from all evil spirits.
However, the importance and primacy of prayer in spiritual warfare is often overlooked. Instead, the commonly advised and emulated strategy is to imitate the actions of Jesus Christ and His apostles during their spectacular encounters with evil spirits, and also to mix in things learned from other teachings and our own experiences. In doing so, we ignore that the most repeated and striking thing concerning the ministry of Jesus Christ was His prayer life. His ministry began with 40 days of fasting and prayer in the wilderness, and the gospels make it clear that seeking the will of God the Father in prayer was far more prominent in the ministry of Jesus Christ than all the sermons, exorcisms and miracles put together. To put it better, Jesus Christ came not so much to preach and perform miracles and exorcisms as He did to do the will of God the Father, and so Jesus Christ only preached, performed miracles and did exorcisms when it was the will of God the Father that He do so. When it was not the will of God the Father for Him to do so, Jesus Christ did no sermons, miracles or exorcisms, because even being God in the flesh with power and being deserving of praise and glory Himself, had Jesus Christ done those things of His own accord or on His own initiative, God the Father would not have been glorified, and Jesus Christ would have thereby sinned. (Of course, we know that Jesus Christ, being God, cannot sin.) And this was how Satan tempted Jesus Christ during His time of fast … by attempting to get Jesus Christ to take an action apart from the will and direction of God. It was the same temptation that Satan gave to Adam. Where Adam failed, Jesus Christ succeeded. And Christians are to follow Jesus Christ’s success and not Adam’s failure. Follow Adam, and man is glorified. Follow Jesus Christ and God is glorified. To God alone be the glory!
That is why spiritual warfare and deliverance must begin with and be dominated by prayer. We cannot take initiative or authority upon ourselves. We cannot presume to know, for instance, if the issue that we are addressing is motivated by evil spirits in the first place. We also cannot presume the manner and time in which God desires the evil spirit to be cast out. Further, we cannot even presume that God wants the evil spirit to be driven off in the first place! A powerful example of this is the thorn in the flesh described by Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.
And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
Now there has been a lot of needless conjecture as to what exactly the “thorn in the flesh” was, but this is only because people have such difficulty believing what the text plainly says, often for doctrinal reasons. But it is clear: “the messenger of Satan” is clearly in the Greek “the angel of Satan”, and we all know that angels of Satan are evil, unclean spirits, or demons. Now for some people, the idea that a born again Christian, an apostle no less, would be tormented by a demon is doctrinally troublesome. For others, the wording of the passage makes it appear as “there was given to me” means that God gave the demon to Paul, which would seem to charge God with being responsible for temptation or evil where scripture tells us that God cannot be the author of evil. However, this stunning passage does recall how God allowed and used Satan in His dealings with Job in the Old Testament. Just as God allowed Satan to attack Job in the Old Testament for purposes that glorified God and ultimately were a blessing to Job, God allowed one of Satan’s demons to do the same regarding the apostle of Jesus Christ Paul. So then, it would not have been to the will of God or glory of God to drive this evil spirit from oppressing or tormenting Paul. Please recall: the evil spirit could not possess Paul because Christians are possessed and indwelt by the Holy Spirit. So, the demon could only afflict Paul.
And please note that Paul first sought the Lord in prayer concerning the evil spirit. Scripture does not record failed attempts at spiritual warfare and deliverance by Paul concerning the demon, and we cannot presume that these failed attempts existed because the Bible does not record them. Instead, it records Paul’s asking God three times for permission to drive the demon away, and God denying this permission for His own sovereign, God-glorifying purposes which were in service to God’s plan to conform Paul into the image of Jesus Christ! So let us not be deceived. These are not matters to be trifled with. Christians in the spiritual warfare and deliverance ministries must not act according to presumption, self-will and self-initiative. Instead, we must be guided and directed by God’s Holy Spirit. Being Holy Spirit-led and Holy Spirit-filled requires much preparation in ways that include prayer, Bible study, fellowship and good works which are conducive to spiritual maturity in advance (Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting) and also seeking God’s will during the necessary time. Note that I did not say during the time of spiritual confrontation with the forces of evil, for God must permit and instruct us when and whether He wants us to participate in such spiritual confrontations to begin with. Again, it is God’s will that is being done, not ours. It is God that is being glorified, not us. And we are acting in accordance to God’s sovereign will and not our own desires or feelings. This is why we must rely on prayer. We must humble ourselves and submit ourselves to God’s design, God’s plan, and God’s actions through prayer. Otherwise, we take rash actions of self-interest and self-will as did King Saul, who failed to wait on the Lord and found his kingdom and life – and those of his sons – taken from him.
Returning to apostle Paul, spiritual warfare and deliverance ministers have centered on the Ephesians 6:10-17 as one of their favorites for study and practice.
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [places]. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:
Regrettably, one of the reasons for this is that this passage, when taken incautiously, can invite the flesh to imagine oneself in the manner of this strong, mighty righteous and powerful HUMAN warrior image against the forces of evil, an image that we have seen reinforced time and time again in secular Hollywood movies and TV shows. Incautious and out of contexts readings and applications of this passage may cause us to think that in the Name of Jesus Christ WE have the power, WE have the authority, WE have the dominion, WE can challenge and take over strongholds and defeat the enemy, and that in doing so God’s will shall be done and He shall be glorified. This is indeed the doctrines of many popular spiritual warfare and deliverance teachers. However, such self-seeking presumption is not coming in the Name of Jesus Christ at all, but instead coming in our own name. It is so tempting to reject the counsel of those who actually do come in the Name of Jesus Christ and instead come in their own names (see John 5:43), but reject it we must. For Jesus Christ said that all who call on His Name, even all who cast out devils and do great works using His Name are not truly His. People who use the Name of Jesus Christ in accordance with self-seeking are not Jesus Christ’s sheep, because though they call on the Name of God, like Adam they are following after their own hearts. Instead, Jesus Christ’s sheep will be people who are after God’s heart, so they will seek direction from God and patiently wait on God before they act. The identifying fruit of the spiritual warfare and deliverance minister who is God’s sheep is one who exhibits patience, humility and submission in seeking the will of God lest he sin and lead others into sin, and not one who rushes in according to his own human desires and limited knowledge and misuses and misappropriates the Name of Jesus Christ carelessly, recklessly, proudly and selfishly. Instead of seeking to take authority and power after the manner of human rulers, we should be seeking to submit ourselves to, rely upon and glorify God after the manner of God’s humble servants, including the one Jesus Christ who emptied Himself, came to earth as a man, suffered humiliation and rejection, and was slain for our sins in our place on the cross, and was raised for our justification. It is the manner of the humble Jesus Christ who was raised from the dead and is blessed forever that we should emulate and identify with, and not the manner of proud, presumptive, arrogant and self-willed humanity, or for that manner of the tempter and deceiver of humanity Satan, who in his presumption decided that he would be like the Most High (Isaiah 14:14). Make no mistake, but in doing anything, including spiritual warfare, without first making certain that we are doing God’s will and not man’s, we are emulating not Jesus Christ in His submission and sacrifice to the glory of God, but Satan in his mad and failed attempt at being a usurper of God’s glory. From such, spiritual warfare and deliverance minister, turn away!
Instead, turn your attention to the oft-neglected end of the “put on the whole armor of God” passage, which is verse 18, which reads “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.” It clearly shows that the primary and main ingredient to spiritual warfare, to putting on the whole armor of God for confrontations against the enemy, is “praying always in asking to the Holy Spirit.” We are to always pray so that we can ask of the Holy Spirit that indwells all Christians concerning the Will of God. Without receiving and submitting to the will of God in spiritual warfare (or anything else) we aren’t performing spiritual warfare at all, but instead proud, self-seeking and harmful bombast that resists the Holy Spirit, misuses the Name of Jesus Christ, dishonors His sacrifice on the cross and refuses to glorify God the Father. Thus, so-called spiritual warfare that rejects prayer in supplication to the Holy Spirit before, during and after is nothing more than an abomination against the Holy Trinity in clear, explicit ways.
One should note that the primacy of prayer in spiritual warfare is given at the end of both Matthew 17:14-21 and of Ephesians 6:10-18. One also notes that no explicit references to prayer seem to be made in many of the New Testament exorcism narrative accounts and references. That is indeed curious, as one would think that in Matthew 17:14-21 and Ephesians 6:10-18 that the most important thing would come first as a lead instead of coming last, and also that there would be a stronger correlation depicted between prayer and spiritual warfare. This is still more evidence of how spiritual things often do not conform to our human expectations. It is a test of our faith, of our faithfulness, of our humility and submission to see if we will study the whole counsel of God as revealed in scripture. To see if we will seek God in spirit and in truth as He commanded us to so. To answer the door of our hearts when He stands and knocks so that He will come in, sup with us, and teach us the truth. Those of us truly interested in knowing and serving God will search, notice and find these things so that we can go about performing spiritual warfare and deliverance ministry – and please recall that ministry means service, and that it is service to God first and then to man – God’s way. Those who are not will cut corners, interpret passages out of context and selectively, and do whatever we can in order to claim to be serving God in God’s way when they will really be serving themselves in their own way.
So I ask and challenge you spiritual deliverance and warfare minister. In what way have you been serving in your ministry before now? And in what way will you serve in your ministry in the future?
Posted in Bible, Christianity, discernment, Jesus Christ, prayer, spiritual deliverance, spiritual deliverance techniques, spiritual warfare | Tagged: 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, casting out devils, christian living, Christian walk, demon, doctrine, dominionism, Ephesians 4:26-27, Ephesians 6:10-17, Ephesians 6:18, evil spirit, faith, faithfulness, fasting, Isaiah 14:14, John 5:43, Luke 11:2-4, Luke 11:20, Matthew 12:24-30, Matthew 12:28, Matthew 17:14-21, Matthew 6:9-13, orthodoxy, orthopraxy, practice, Romans 5-7, spiritual maturity, the Lord's Prayer | 9 Comments »
Posted by Job on November 20, 2009
Posted by Job on October 15, 2009
Click on link below to access document.
Posted in Bible, Christianity, Jesus Christ | Tagged: 1 Corinthians 15:42-44, 1 Corinthians 15:48-49, 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18, doctrine, endtimes, eschatology, John 20:27, Luke 24:2, Luke 24:39-43, Philippians 3:20-21, resurrection, Theology | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Job on October 14, 2009
Posted by Job on September 21, 2009
Original link here.
Acceptable Sacrifice, by John Bunyan
All Loves Excelling, by John Bunyan
All Things for Good, by Thomas Watson
Apostasy from the Gospel, by John Owen
Art of Prophesying, by William Perkins
Bruised Reed, by Richard Sibbes
Christian Love, by Hugh Binning
Christian’s Great Interest, by William Guthrie
Come & Welcome to Jesus Christ, by John Bunyan
Communion With God, by John Owen
Doctrine of Repentance, by Thomas Watson
Dying Thoughts, by Richard Baxter
Glorious Freedom, by Richard Sibbes
Glory of Christ, by John Owen
Godly Man’s Picture, by Thomas Watson
Golden Treasury of Puritan Quotations, by I.D.E. Thomas
Great Gain of Godliness, by Thomas Watson
Heaven on Earth, by Thomas Brooks
Holy Spirit, by John Owen
Jerusalem Sinner Saved, by John Bunyan
Justification Vindicated, by Robert Traill
Learning in Christ’s School, by Ralph Benning
Letters of Samuel Rutherford, by Samuel Rutherford
Lifting Up For The Downcast, by William Bridge
Lord’s Supper, by Thomas Watson
Mortification of Sin, by John Owen
Mystery of Providence, by John Flavel
Prayer, by John Bunyan
Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, by Thomas Brooks
Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, by Jeremiah Burroughs
Reformed Pastor, by Richard Baxter
Secret Key to Heaven: The Vital Importance of Private Prayer, by Thomas Brooks
Shorter Catechism Explained, by Thomas Vincent
Sinfulness of Sin, by Ralph Venning
Spirit (The) and the Church, by John Owen
Spiritual-Mindedness, by John Owen
Sure Guide to Heaven, by Joseph Alleine
Temptation: Resisted & Repulsed, by John Owen
True Bounds of Christian Freedom, by Samuel Bolton
Posted by Job on July 29, 2009
From Psalm 45. Hopefully they will not mind my wholesale appropriation.
The character of the promises first made to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3, and later reiterated and expanded in 12:7; 13:15-17; 15:1,4-21; 17:1-9,19; 21:12; and 22:16-18 has long been recognized, in some sense, as foundational to all of redemptive history subsequent to this epochal event. How we understand the precise nature of these promises, therefore, will largely shape our understanding of all of redemptive history from the call of Abraham to the eternal state. An understanding of these promises that concentrates predominantly on their physical aspect, and therefore sees an ongoing necessity for Middle Eastern geography to be reserved for the ethnic offspring of Abraham has several problems: first, it little accords with the understanding that the patriarch himself had of the covenant promises; second, it is in violation of clear fulfillment formulas found later in the Old Testament; and finally, it fails in its intent to understand literally the promise of eternal possession of the physical land by the physical offspring of Abraham. The discussion of the first of these points will be reserved for the main body of this article; but it will not be out of place here to touch briefly on the other two. As regards the former of these, we find stated in Joshua 21:43-45, in very specific terms, that God had fulfilled all that he swore to the fathers. Later, in I Kings 4:20,21 and II Chronicles 9:26, we see the precise geographical boundaries promised to Abraham in the actual possession of Solomon, at the height of Israel’s political history. Immediately subsequent to this complete fulfillment of the land promise in its physical aspect, its typical purpose then having been realized, Israel as a nation began to lose possession of the extreme portions of its geography, never again to recover them. Can this historical reality be consistent with the promise made to Abraham that “all the land which you see I will give to you, and to your seed forever”(Gen. 13:15)? Those who understand the permanence of the promise to mandate a renewed future possession of these boundaries by the nation of Israel have the same fundamental problem that they criticize in the interpretation which considers the physical aspect of the promise to be done away with upon its fulfillment under Solomon: namely, that this geographical possession will one day end; the one interpretation is no more consistent with an eternal fulfillment than the other. The old earth will one day melt with a fervent heat to make way for the new (II Pet. 3:10); and as soon as this dissolution of the old earth takes place, (including the geographical regions promised to Abraham), a literal fulfillment of the land promise becomes impossible. The nature of the promise made to Abraham is such that, any fulfillment which is not eternal does not do it justice. God’s promise to Abraham must extend to him and his seed for all eternity, including that portion of eternity in which the land of Palestine no longer exists. There must be a time, therefore, when the physical land promise is done away with, and only that aspect of the promise which was eternal remains. Whether this transition is placed immediately subsequent to the height of Israel’s glory or immediately prior to the dissolution of the earth has no bearing on the reality that what was promised to be for Abraham’s seed forever is actually not forever. The Abrahamic promise, then, could never be eternal unless something other than the physical land of Palestine is fundamentally intended by the promise. And if something other than the physical land isintended by the promise, then it would be vastly beneficial for us to ascertain the nature of this original intention, together with the ramifications that it has for our understanding of God’s unfolding plan of redemption. The purpose of this article is to demonstrate that the fundamental intention of the land, seed, and blessing aspects of the Abrahamic covenant was, respectively, (1) An eternal place of restored fellowship with God; (2) An eternal people enjoying a restored fellowship with God; and (3) A universalization of the promised blessings of this fellowship which is, at the same time, a specific localization of those blessings within Abraham. This understanding will be demonstrated, first, by an examination of the promises in connection with Abraham’s history; and second, by an examination of the promises from a New Testament perspective.
The “Land” Promise Intended an Eternal Place of Restored Fellowship with God
From the time of his first being called out by God and commanded to go to a land which Jehovah would show him, Abraham demonstrated an understanding of the nature of that land which transcended mere physical possession. Hence, the first thing we see of Abraham’s sojourn in the land of Canaan is an occurrence which eventually becomes a pattern: Abraham experiences a divinely-initiated encounter in which he enjoys personal fellowship with God. He immediately builds an altar at that place of fellowship; and, at later periods of his wandering, he returns to that specific place to call upon the name of the Lord. (Genesis 12:7,8; 13:3,4). Eventually, we find Jehovah revealing himself and Abraham building altars and calling upon his name throughout the land of Canaan, which Jehovah had promised to him. We read that Abraham built altars or called upon the name of the Lord at Shechem, Bethel, Hebron, Beersheba, and Moriah, all places within the boundaries promised to him by Jehovah. And, although he traveled outside of those boundaries, for instance journeying twice to Egypt, we never read of him building altars or calling upon the name of the Lord except in the land which God had promised to him. From the beginning, then, we find a pattern linking the promised land to places of theophanies and personal encounters with Jehovah, and places where Abraham was led to respond to those theophanic experiences in worship and personal fellowship.
Furthermore, Abraham never truly possessed the land which Jehovah had promised to him. And, although he was rich and powerful, he never sought to take possession of the land by wealth or force, excepting the single incident of his buying a burial plot for his wife. In fact, at times when he might have gained some of the land or its wealth, as when he defeated the coalition of kings and was offered compensation for it, he adamantly refused, fearing that his possessions might then be construed as coming from human hands (Gen 14:22-24). In rejecting this portion from the king of Sodom, Abraham demonstrated an understanding of the nature of his promised blessings as transcending the mere physical. He had ample opportunities to seize the city of earthly foundations; but he already possessed the conviction that the land which was promised to him was a city of spiritual foundations, a city in which the redeemed might enjoy everlasting fellowship with God. In the circumstance of God’s bountifully providing personal encounters of fellowship with Abraham in the land of promise, while at the same time denying him the physical possession of that land, we perceive a divine safeguard against a crassly physical hope which longed for a city of bricks and stones as the pinnacle of the land promise made to Abraham. Abraham demonstrated a lively faith which steadfastly embraced the eternal hope which glowed alluringly beyond the hills and valleys of Canaan and found satisfaction only in an inheritance of unending personal fellowship with Jehovah at the place where he would choose to set his name. Tragically, many of his descendants, lacking his spiritual perception, failed to look beyond a physical land in which God’s presence was nowhere to be found except as mediated through a cumbersomely wrought cult of ritual approach.
The “Seed” Promise Intended an Eternal People Enjoying a Restored Fellowship with God
One of the most striking statements Abraham had of the true nature of the blessings promised to him comes, appropriately, at the occurrence of the official inauguration of the covenant, in which God swears by himself that he will give Abraham a seed and a land (Gen. 15). Although God had promised Abraham several specific things falling into the general categories of land, seed, and blessing, when he sums up all those blessings at once, he declares, “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield and your exceeding great reward” (Gen. 15:1). At the heart of the covenant, then, God himself is the intended fulfillment of the promise. Therefore, every true understanding of the promised blessings must be able to be subsumed under that head. The land promised to Abraham was only included in the promise because it was integral, in some way, to the reality of having God as his portion. This point is vital for understanding the nature of the promises as they relate to Abraham and his seed. Yes, the Lord made Abraham the father of many nations: Israelites, Edomites, and twelve Arab nations all sprang from his loins. But the ultimate fulfillment of his being made a father to a great people, or to many nations, could only come by his being a father to those whose exceeding great reward was Jehovah. Hence, when we find the original promise made to Abraham in Genesis 12 repeated and developed in Genesis 17, we find the very essence of the covenant promise made manifestly clear. In verse 4-8 of the latter chapter we read,
As for Me, behold! My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. Neither shall your name any more be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham. For I have made you a father of many nations. And I will make you exceedingly fruitful, greatly so, and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come out of you. And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your seed after you in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God to you and to your seed after you. And I will give the land to you in which you are a stranger, and to your seed after you, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession. And I will be their God.
At the heart of this reiterated covenant promise is the reality that Abraham’s true seed would be those whose God would be Jehovah. This promise, “I will be their God,” is given twice, once in connection with the seed that Abraham would father, and once in connection with the land that God would give to them. It is readily apparent from these verses that the Immanuel principle — the principle of God being the God of a certain people and dwelling with them alone of all the nations of the earth — is a vital principle for understanding the promise made to Abraham. At the heart of the seed and land promises, and in fact what constitutes the very essence of those promises, is the reality that Jehovah will be their God. This “Immanuel principle” is the substance of all later redemptive history, and the precise content of the Abrahamic covenant.
In safeguarding against a literalistic/physical misunderstanding of the “seed” aspect of the promise, God found it expedient to go to considerable lengths. Hence, he closed Sarah’s womb, making her barren for the entire fruitful period of her life; then, he awaited the fulfillment of the promised seed until Abraham himself was beyond the age of reproductive virility; and additionally, beyond the age of Sarah’s natural fertility even if she had been capable of bearing children in her youth. Finally, he brought about a seed to Abraham through purely physical means (i.e. Ishmael) simply to declare that this physical seed was not the fulfillment of the seed promise(Genesis 16). In these circumstances we see that a purely physical seed could never meet the criteria for being the seed of which Abraham was promised an innumerable multitude. Instead, a seed to whom Jehovah sovereignly gave life out of death was to be the nation which fulfilled the promise given. It would have benefitted the later descendants of Abraham who presumed upon the favor of God by virtue of their genealogy to have considered well this point.
The “Blessing” Promise Intended a Universalization of the Blessings of Fellowship Which Is, at the Same Time, a Specific Localization of Those Blessings Within Abraham
In the phrase we have recorded for us in Genesis 12:3, “In you shall all the families of the earth be blessed,” we ascertain the striking circumstance of Abraham’s blessing being at once universalized, so that all the families of the earth come to share in its riches; and at the same time localized, so that the fountain of this world-encompassing blessing is in some sense within Abraham. That Abraham is seen as the source or location from which the blessings comes, and not merely a dispenser or mediator through whom it would be disseminated, is the natural reading of the inseparable bethpreposition in the original. This relationship of Abraham’s blessing to himself and to the world, so that he would be, on the one hand, blessed himself, and on the other hand, the location from which the blessing would spring, is vital for understanding the promises made to him. The precise manner in which the blessing was said to be both for Abraham and in Abraham must have been initially somewhat obscure: but by the end of his life, Abraham would have understood that the promised blessing was to come through a person, the one seed to whom the promises were ultimately referring. When God favored Abraham through encounters of personal fellowship, he connected those events with reiterated promises that he would give the land in which fellowship with God was made possible to his seed (Genesis12:7; 13:15; 17:8). Hence, Abraham would have learned to connect in some organic sense the place of fellowship with God to the advent of the seed promised to him. This connection would have led to an intensification of his desire for the promised seed to come. And as he remained frustrated in his continued expectation, and utterly failed in his own attempt to produce it through other means, he must have come to understand in a fuller sense how vastly significance this promise was, that it could only be accomplished by the all-powerful God performing that which is impossible. The first instance in which we are forced to recognize, to a large degree, this mature understanding in Abraham is when the Lord appeared to him and gave the promise, “He that shall come forth out of your own bowels shall be your heir” (Genesis 15:4). It is in this context that the statement is made that Abraham believed in the Lord, and he counted it for righteousness. What was it that Abraham believed that was sufficient to stand as the grounds of his justification? It could not have been simply that God would give Abraham a child of his own. This indeed happened when Abraham fathered Ishmael, and yet it was not the fulfillment of the promise that God had made. The only fulfillment consonant with what Abraham had come to expect was a seed who would bless the nations, a seed who would provide fellowship with God, a seed who would possess the land where God dwells with man, and a seed who could only be brought about through the accomplishment of the impossible. In other words, what Abraham believed was that God would supernaturally send a seed who would be the ground of blessing and fellowship with God. All of this becomes more manifest when Sarah commands Ishmael to be cast out, having rejected the thought that the son of the bondwoman should inherit with her own son. In God’s response to Abraham’s initial displeasure at this idea, we find that Sarah was essentially right. When God came to reinforce to Abraham the decision that Sarah had made, he reiterated the principle that it was through a specific seed in the future that the blessing would come. Sarah’s desire was indeed appropriate because, “In Isaac shall a Seed be called to you.” In adducing this promise, God was indicating that Ishmael by all rights should be cast out because he had no part in bringing in the promised blessing; instead, the Seed who would bring Abraham the blessing was in Isaac. It is significant that Isaac is not said to be that seed, but rather that the Seed who would be called to Abraham, the Seed who would be the grounds for every blessing given to him, was in Isaac — again, the natural reading of the bethpreposition.
This consideration of Abraham’s history compels us to credit him with a much greater understanding of the Messianic hope than some interpreters have given him. It is not some raw, blind faith without content (or with a content of which the full extent is the birth of a child essentially the same as any other child) that justifies a man. It is only faith in the promised Christ and his victorious work of redemption that justifies. This was the content of the belief that Abraham had, and for which he was counted righteous. The essential correctness of this assertion is borne out later by the nature of the test to which God put Abraham’s faith. When God put Abraham’s faith to the ultimate test, he did not ask for some task that was entirely unconnected to the content of his faith. Instead, he gave a command to Abraham that was so constructed that his response to the command would indicate precisely what it was he believed about the promises of God. God had already revealed that the Seed who would come to bless all the families of the world was in Isaac. When God commanded Abraham to put Isaac to death, and Abraham obeyed without hesitation, he demonstrated that he believed in a coming Seed who could be put to death and yet be brought to life through the power of God. Abraham’s faith had grown so that even the death of the one in whom the promised Seed still resided could not overcome his belief in the triumphant life of that Seed. Abraham had grown to trust in the resurrection power of God by which he would make the promised Seed victorious even over death. By the end of Abraham’s life, therefore, we must conclude that he understood that the blessing which would come to all the families of the earth was in him before it came to be in Isaac, by virtue of the fact that he was in the genealogical line of the Messiah that was prophesied from the time of Adam. In this respect, the blessings which Abraham hoped for, blessings of a people of God enjoying a place of fellowship with God were to be universalized so that they touched the whole earth; and at the same time localized so that they were in Abraham.
Further Support Adduced from the New Testament
In examining the teaching of the New Testament as it touches the topic at hand, we find our conclusions largely corroborated and made explicit. We concluded that the land promise made to Abraham could be ultimately fulfilled only by a place in which fellowship with God is possible. In light of this conclusion, it is striking that the place of rest with God for saints who have fallen asleep in the time of Jesus is a place which Christ refers to as “Abraham’s bosom” (Luke 16:22). More interesting yet is the observation made of Abraham’s life, concerning which he was said to have possessed that faith by which one draws close to God, that, “He looked for a city which has foundations, of which the Builder and Maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10). Abraham’s faith did not consist in looking to the ownership of Middle Eastern geography; he looked instead to the land which Canaan could only symbolize, a city which God alone would build. That this city intended a place of fellowship with God is made clear throughout the New Testament. InGalatians 4, Paul declares that believers in Christ are inhabitants of the Jerusalem which is from above, which he sets in opposition to the physical city of Jerusalem. In Hebrews 13, the author declares that we who worship have come to the spiritual Zion. The apostle John looks to a New Jerusalem, one whose chief characteristic would be the presence of God and his dwelling with men (Rev. 21:2,3). In all of these instances we find certain confirmation both of our conclusion that physical Palestine served as the type of a place of restored fellowship with God; and of our conclusion that this was precisely what Abraham understood and believed and awaited.
The second assertion we made, that the seed promise intended a people enjoying restored fellowship with God, is also corroborated by New Testament teaching. In the fourth chapter of Romans Paul makes evident that Abraham was justified through faith in the one who justifies the ungodly. In virtue of this reality, Paul goes on to assert that Abraham, by virtue of his faith, became the father of all those who believe, whether uncircumcised and believing (as Abraham himself was when he believed) or circumcised and believing. The ultimate fulfillment of the promise that he would be the father of many nations came when people from every tribe, tongue kindred, and nation believed, and so demonstrated that believing Abraham was their father. And this teaching is not isolated to Romans alone. In the third chapter of Galatians, Paul explains that, “Those who are of faith, these are the children of Abraham” (verse 7); and again, “the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the nations through faith, preached the gospel before to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all nations be blessed.” So then those of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham” (verses 8,9). How was it the nations were blessed in Abraham? By virtue of the fact they were in Abraham, who fathered them all as the patriarch of the family of faith; and, being in Abraham who believed unto justification, they received likewise the blessings of justification through faith. As Paul sums up later in the chapter, “If you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise” (verse 29).
The final conclusion we made was that the blessing promise intended a universalization of the blessings of fellowship which is, at the same time, a specific localization of those blessings within Abraham. In demonstrating this, we observed that the promised blessing was to come to Abraham and all those who believe, through his promised Seed; this promised Seed is the long-awaited Christ; and therefore, it is only in Christ, the true Seed of Abraham, that we are blessed together with him. This conclusion is borne out by the New Testament teaching that those who believe are in Christ. Faith brings justification, but only because faith establishes one in a relationship in which he is said to be “in Christ”. Hence we are blessed because we are in Abraham, the spiritual father of us all, as we observed in Galatians 3:7-9; but more specifically, we are in Abraham because we are in Abraham’s seed, Christ. Later in the chapter, Paul clarifies just how it is that those of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law…so that the blessing of Abraham might be to the nations in Christ Jesus“ (verses 13,14). The blessing of Abraham comes to the nations because they are in Christ; Christ is the seed of Abraham; therefore, if we are in Christ, we too are the seed of Abraham by virtue of our relationship in Christ. We, not ethnic Jews or Arabs, are Abraham’s true children and heirs.
That we alone are Abraham’s heirs, as his children through faith, is demonstrated by a grammatical feature of our text in Genesis that Paul brings to light in his letter to the Galatians. Ethnic Jews could never claim to be the heirs of Abraham, and therefore the rightful owners of Palestine, for the simple reason that the promise was never made to all of Abraham’s offspring. Paul recognizes this truth in Romans 9, where he observes that, “not because they are the seed of Abraham are they all children. But, “In Isaac shall your Seed be called” (Romans 9:7). In other words, mere ethnic descent was never sufficient to make one a true child of Abraham. The promises were never given to all Abraham’s offspring — as Paul goes on to clarify later in the chapter that Isaac was chosen and not Ishmael, Jacob and not Esau, and so on. This basic point Paul reiterates in Galatians 3, when he observes that the promises were originally made not to Abraham and his children, but to Abraham and his seed, which is singular. This one seed of Abraham, to whom the promises must be fulfilled, was Christ alone (Galatians 3:16). If Christ is the only seed of Abraham to whom the promises must be fulfilled, then those who are in Christ, not those who are ethnically descended from Abraham, are the heirs of the promises. Hence, Paul tells us that we have all spiritual blessings in Christ (Ephesians 1:3); that all the promises of God find their “yea” and “amen” in Christ (II Cor. 1:20); and that the nations are fellow heirs and of the same body and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ (Ephesians 3:6). Only to Christ were the Abrahamic promises fulfilled; and therefore only by virtue of being in Christ are we Abraham’s children and heirs.
The interpretation of the Abrahamic covenant which sees the promises necessitating the possession of physical Palestine by ethnic Jews fails to do justice to the spiritual understanding of the promises that Abraham himself had. As Christ told the Jews of his day, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and He saw and was glad” (John 8:56). Abraham looked beyond the merely physical and placed his hope in the coming Messiah, and in God who would raise him from the dead. This assessment is borne out by a careful study of Abraham’s life. And that this understanding that Abraham had of the promise is essentially correct is made clear by New Testament teaching on the topic. Any interpretation of the Abrahamic covenant that misunderstands the scriptural teaching of what the promises signified, to whom they were made, and who could claim them as Abraham’s true children and heirs is not only wrong, but positively harmful. An interpretation that insists on claiming physical benefits for Israel on the basis of their ethnicity obscures the vast spiritual riches of the Abrahamic promises as fulfilled to Christ and to us who are in Christ; it minimizes the place of Christ as the one true Seed of Abraham and the one in whom are all promised blessings; and it conditions us to be looking for a crassly physical, not to mention false, eschatological hope in the coming of an ethnically Jewish millennial kingdom, instead of understanding and awaiting that blessed hope of all redemptive history, the great proclamation, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God” (Rev. 21:3). This is the hope of Abraham and all his true children, and the goal of all redemptive history.
Posted by Job on July 29, 2009
HT PJ Miller.
My friends have often heard me say, “The more I read my Bible the less dispensational I become.” This statement comes from someone who was spiritually nurtured in churches with dispensational theology, who graduated from a Christian university steeped in dispensational theology, who received his first graduate degree from a dispensational seminary, and who—for twelve years—preached sermons that reflected dispensational theology. For the first sixteen years of my Christian life, I rarely questioned the fundamental distinctions of dispensational theology. What are those distinctions? In his discussion of what he called the “sine qua non of dispensationalism,” Ryrie asserted:
A dispensationalist keeps Israel and the Church distinct … This is probably the most basic theological test of whether or not a man is a dispensationalist, and it is undoubtedly the most practical and conclusive (Ryrie 44-45).
Later he concluded, “the essence of dispensationalism, then, is the distinction between Israel and the Church” (Ryrie 47).
As a dispensationalist I studied my Bible with the understanding that God had dual and separate plans for Israel and the church. I understood this “church age” to be somewhat parenthetical until God resumed His plan with the nation of Israel. I believed that the Abrahamic covenant and all the other Old Testament covenants were essentially for national Israel, and that only the soteriological benefits of the covenants belonged to the church.
As I continued to pastor and preach, I realized that my training in the Old Testament was weak. I decided to pursue a Master of Theology in Old Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary. My dispensational comrades in ministry assured me that Westminster would ruin my theology. I suppose many of them believe that has happened. Nevertheless, I was drawn to Westminster primarily because Bruce Waltke was teaching there. I had read books and articles by Dr. Waltke and had profited immensely from them.
While at Westminster I had the privilege of learning from Vern Poythress, Tremper Longman, and Raymond Dillard, along with Bruce Waltke. At first I listened as an antagonist, but I was soon won over by their personal graciousness and their commitment to Scripture. I began to experience discomfort as I realized that my commitment to dispensationalism was often unyielding, even when contradicted by the results of exegesis. These words from the introduction to my Th.M thesis summarize my response at that time:
Exegesis often eviscerates one’s theological presuppositions. When a theological bulwark withstands the penetration of biblical exegesis, its tenets remain secure. However, if its walls crumble beneath the weight of incisive and precise exegesis, then one must abandon the fortress and construct a better one (Davis, 1990, 1).
During the course of my study at Westminster, Bruce Waltke was my faculty advisor. I was privileged to have a number of personal discussions with him regarding the uneasiness I felt in questioning dispensationalism. As I considered what to research for my Th.M thesis, he suggested a topic that would be beneficial to me on my journey and helpful to others. I wrote “A Critical Evaluation of the Use of the Abrahamic Covenant in Dispensationalism.” The writing of that thesis opened a door and gave me a gentle push toward my eventual departure from dispensationalism. Rest of the article continued (click here)
Now for article two.
As many of you are no doubt aware, I was raised a Dispensationalist. When I first became convinced that the teachings of Dispensationalism are not supported by an honest assessment of scriptures, I determined to change my thinking on the topic, and so be done with the issue summarily. Such were my intentions, but I found, much to my surprise, that the roots of Dispensationalism are so deep, and they affect so profoundly one’s way of thinking about virtually every theological issue, that the task of rejecting one’s own Dispensationally-flavored way of viewing the Bible is no simple task. It is a monumental struggle that requires years of deep, intense, Spirit-reliant searching of the scriptures. As I embarked on this long process, I slowly became aware of a vast array of manners in which a thorough grounding in the Dispensational ideal tends to influence one’s beliefs and emphases. This in itself was shocking to me; but what came as the severest shock of all was the reflection that virtually every one of these Dispensationally-derived misunderstandings tended in some way towards the eclipse of Christ as the sum and substance of every redemptive promise and reality, the One for whom, to whom, and by whom are all things, the One who sums up all of reality, brings all things under his feet, and is in himself all the fullness of the Godhead. Let me be clear here: I have no doubt that many, if not all Dispensationalists would affirm in theory the Christo-centrism of all reality; nevertheless, the fact remains that in practice they deny the explicit Christ-centeredness of many times, persons, and realities in history – and not just minor, inconsequential persons and things, but those that stand out as epoch-defining and historically-pivotal.
I am indeed grateful for the many resources available today which demonstrate scripturally that Dispensationalism is in error. I think that our current need is not so much to argue that Dispensationalism is wrong – although such efforts will certainly continue to be helpful – as it is to show just how grave and far-reaching the errors really are. In contribution to this latter goal, I have reproduced a portion of an interaction that I had some time ago with one of my Dispensational friends. My hope is that the preceding comments and following correspondence will not be unduly inflammatory or derogatory in nature, but that they will be used by God “for the equipping of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edification of the body of Christ, until we all attain, in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man…” (Ephesians 4:12-13). We all retain errors of some sort in our striving after the full knowledge of Christ and his great work: God grant that such dialogues between fellow-believers in Christ may be useful in the doctrinal maturation of each one of us!