The study of the end times is something that many people agree will happen. However, many people disagree about the manner in which the end times will occur. This blog post presents a biblical outline of eschatology (the study of “last things”). This outline is derived from the notes of Dr. Lanier Burns who teaches Systematic Theology at Dallas Theological Seminary.
One of the big debates circulating right now in Christian theology is Paul and his application of God’s promises of the Old Testament. Specifically, much of this discussion is focused on how Paul applies the promises given to the Israelites in the Old Testament to the Gentiles in the New Testament. Within this discussion includes what is meant by “seed” originally promised to Abraham all the way back in Genesis 12:2.
Below I have attempted to outline this debate starting first with the position of Elliott Johnson, Th.D., professor of Bible Exposition at Dallas Theological Seminary. Dr. Johnson is a “classical dispensationalist” which means that he sees a distinction between the promises originally given to the Israelites and the promises given to the Gentiles in the New Testament. The second presentation of this topic will be N.T. Wright’s work. N.T. Wright is research professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at St. Mary’s College in Scotland. He is a strong advocate of the “New Perspective on Paul” movement which sees all of the promises of God being fulfilled in the New Testament church. Finally, in section III. you will find a brief exposition of this topic from myself primarily based on the third chapter of Galatians.
I. Elliott Johnson’s Position on How Paul Applies the Promises Given to Israel to the Gentiles
This blog post is a book review of Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond edited by Stanley Gundry (series editor) and Darrell Bock (general editor), Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1999. 330pp. In Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond three writers present their views of the millennium. The premillennial view is presented by Craig Blaising, professor of theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The postmillennial view is presented by Kenneth Gentry Jr., executive director of GoodBirth Ministries.
The amillennial view is presented by Robert Strimple, professor of systematic theology at Westminister Seminary California. Each of these writers summarizes his position on the doctrine of the millennium using a hemeneutical framework and specific biblical texts to support his view. 1
Throughout this article I will share that “the premillennial view believes” or “the amillennial position thinks” as a way to articulate the position of each viewpoint. However, I realize that within premillennialism, postmillennialism, and amillennialism there are various differences even within each view. Therefore, I will present each view as if that is “the” view for that entire system of thought while also acknowledging that there is a uniqueness within each of these views. ↩
The topics of predestination and free will are always hot button issues. Even conservative evangelicals who agree on most biblical doctrines can sometimes take different stances on whether or not someone is “predestined” to salvation or truly has “free will.”
Essentially, salvation is the application of the work of Christ to the lives of humans. 2
I. The Method and Instrument of Salvation
The Word of God is the method and instrument used by God to describe himself and show how humans can know him. 2 Timothy 3:15 says the message of salvation is contained in the Scriptures revealing God but also revealing his plan for salvation. 3 In fact, the Bible’s central message is about the spiritual recovery and salvation of lost men and women. 4 The Bible shows God’s love and salvific plan in both the Old Testament and New Testament. 5Continue Reading…
Comfort and Elwell, Tyndale Bible Dictionary, 1153. ↩
“The central message of the Bible concerns the spiritual recovery or salvation of lost men and women.” Demarest, Cross and Salvation, 25. ↩
“The Word of God is the means not merely to the beginning of the Christian life, but also to growth in it. Thus, Jesus told his disciples that they were made clean through the Word he had spoken to them (John 15:3). He also prayed that the Father would sanctify them in the truth, which is the Father’s Word (John 17:17). The Lord told Joshua that the book of the law is the means to a life of rectitude: ‘Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful’ (Josh. 1:8). The Word of God guides our feet (Ps. 119:105) and provides us protection as we engage in spiritual warfare (Eph. 6:17).” Erickson, Christian Theology, 937. Furthermore, “The Word of God plays an indispensable part in the whole matter of salvation. In Romans Paul describes the predicament of persons apart from Christ. They have no righteousness; they are totally unworthy of his grace and salvation (Rom 3:9–20). How, then, are they to be saved? This is by calling upon the name of the Lord (Rom 10:13). For them to call, however, they must believe, but they cannot believe if they have not heard; therefore someone must tell them or preach to them the good news.” Ibid., 936-937. ↩
According to the Tyndale Bible Dictionary, sanctification is “being made holy, or purified” by A.H. Strong as the “continuous operation of the Holy Spirit, by which the holy disposition imparted in regeneration is maintained and strengthened.” Lewis Sperry Chafer’s Systematic Theology tells us that word sanctify comes from similar Hebrew and Greek words that mean “a person or thing is thereby said to be set apart, or classified, usually as pertaining unto God.” Encompassing all of these definitions is that “Sanctification refers to growth in spiritual maturity, founded upon the enablement provided to all believers by the Holy Spirit and energized by the filling of the Spirit.” 1
With the definition of sanctification provided it is important to examine dispensationalism and how it might provide a different view of what sanctification is and how it occurs in the life of a believer.
Three Distinctions in the Dispensational View of Sanctification
When I first began attending Dallas Theological Seminary I often heard the word “dispensationalism” but did not know what the word meant. However, I have began to learn about dispensationalism and how it assists Bible students in correctly observing and interpreting the Bible. Even though I am not an expert in biblical studies or theologies, I would like to share with you what I believe to be a beginner’s biblical view of dispensationalsim.
The word “dispensation” comes from the usage of the word, oikonomia, which is commonly used in the New Testament. But what is a dispensation? Stanley Toussaint describes a dispensation as “a period of time during which man is tested in respect of obedience to some specific revelation of the will of God.” 1 These periods of times include seven distinct dispensations. Continue Reading…
The Scofield Reference Bible, ed. C.I. Scofield (New York: Oxford U., 1945), 5 quoted in Stanley Toussaint, “A Biblical Defense of Dispensationalism” in Walvoord: A Tribute, ed. Donald Campbell and John Walvoord(Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1982), 90. ↩
The story of Abraham and God’s covenant with him is very important to biblical theology and correct interpretation. Because much of what I write on this blog is based on the covenant made to Abraham and the promises provided to him by God, I’d like to share with you some important biblical observations about Abraham’s relationship and covenant partnership with God.
Even though I have been critical of Jack Deere’s assertions based on one verse that we have modern day prophets in today’s world, he does raise an important point about Scripture in his book, Surprised by the Voice of God.
Today is part two of a series of six blog posts where I am sharing my Theology of Pastoral Ministry. (You can read yesterday's post here.) By sharing this theology of pastoral ministry I hope to encourage you to develop your own theology of pastoral ministry (or philisophy of work).
Pastoral ministry is about serving others, which means it is important that I understand that people want to feel valued and worthy of respect.
While reading the book More Ready Than You Realizein an effort to learn more about evangelism, I learned how this great principle positively influences the people we serve. In the book a young woman shares her reflections on a two year evangelism conversation she had with the author, Brian McLaren, via email. While sharing her story and experience of moving from an unbeliever to a Christian, she writes, “I don’t remember much of what he [Brian McLaren] wrote [in his emails to her]. What I do remember is something far deeper and more important: that there was someone who was really listening to me and who was responding to me, not in a formula or in quick clichés, but sincerely and thoughtfully.”
That statement from this young woman gives us great insight into what people are looking for when they are being shepherded by a “pastor.” People are looking for someone to be real with them and show a sincere interest in them.
The people I serve at work probably do not want to feel that I am trying to evangelize them so I can add another Christian to my “convert list.” They do not want to feel they are one of many people whom I have questioned about their faith and tried to lead to Christ. They do not want to hear me give a bunch of well rehearsed questions and answers to their struggles with faith. They are looking for me to be sincerely interested in them, to show them value for who they already are, and to walk and talk with them as their faith evolves.
Question: How do you understand the people you work with and serve?
 Jennifer McLaughlin, interview by author, Norfork, CA, November 12, 2011.