… It is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace … Hebrews 13:9

I s s u e 19 4 F e b r u a r y 2 013

Christ, Our New Covenant High Priest—Part 1
John G. Reisinger
Hebrews 8:6 is one of the most important verses in the Book of Hebrews, actually in the whole New Testament, for giving us a summary of New Covenant theology. Hebrews 8:1 informs us that this section is a statement of summary and review.
The point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, (Heb. 8:1 NIV)

In This Issue
Christ, Our New Covenant High Priest ― Part 1 John G. Reisinger The Centrality of Love A. Blake White Free Will & Ultimate Responsibility Steve West The Cross and the Lord's Day Part 2 Steve Carpenter Indicative/Imperative A. Blake White 1

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New Covenant believers have, in our Lord Jesus Christ, the very Priest we need. He has accomplished and forever finished the work that Aaron could never have accomplished. Our High Priest has entered the Most Holy Place and has taken up permanent residence there. He has also made it possible that we poor sinners can also enter that same Most Holy Place at any time of any day or night. We have been given a “perfect clearance Reisinger—Continued on page 2

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The Centrality of Love
A. Blake White
In his Galatians commentary, Martin Luther writes, “The law of Christ is the law of love.”1 Love is absolutely central to the law of Christ. It seems to me that our circles do not emphasize the centrality of love like the Bible emphasizes the centrality of love. Love is not simply a fuzzy feeling of affection towards another but self-sacrificially giving of self for the good of others and the glory of God.2 Love is a verb. God is love (1 John 4:8). He is the self-giving God who calls his people to be self-giving lovers.3 This is why
1 Martin Luther, Galatians (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1998), 290. 2 Gordon Fee, God’s Empowering Presence (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1994),446-47; Michael Hill, The How and Why of Love (Matthias Media, 2002), 78, 80, 84, 97. 3 Timothy Keller, Reason for God (New York: Dutton 2008), 215-16.

so many of us are discontent with life. We are living for self rather than for God and for others which is not why we were created. Christ died for us so that we would no longer live for ourselves (2 Cor 5:15). As Pastor Paul Tripp writes, “To live for yourself is to rob yourself of your own humanity.4 Read afresh Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 13:
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice 4 Paul David Tripp, A Quest for More (Greensboro, NC: New Growth Press, 2007), 100.
White—Continued on page 12

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Reisinger—Continued from page 1

and total acceptance pass” into his Father’s presence (Romans 5:1-3). The Lord Jesus Christ, acting as our older brother and representative, has forever accomplished what Aaron and the blood of millions of bulls and goats could never accomplish. Hebrews 8:6 is a summary statement of three comparisons. The verse compares two priestly ministries, two different covenants and two sets of promises upon which the two covenants are based. These three comparisons demonstrate why Aaron’s priestly ministry failed and Christ’s priestly ministry succeeds. I have added numbers to the following quotation in order to emphasize the three comparisons.
But the (1) ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the (2) covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on (3) better promises. (Heb. 8:6 NIV)

February 2013 ministry as High Priest so much better than Aaron’s?” The answer: Christ’s ministry is better than Aaron’s ministry because it is based on a “better covenant.” The next obvious question then is this: “Why is the New Covenant that Christ established so much better than the Old Covenant that it replaced?” The answer: Because it is based upon “better promises.” That leads to the third question: “What are those better promises and why are they so much better?” The answer: The Old Covenant under which Aaron ministered promised life on the grounds of obedience to the law and the New Covenant under which Christ ministers says “only believe.” The Old Covenant is based on works and the New Covenant is based on grace. The Old Covenant was deliberately designed to be a “killing covenant.” The stated purpose of that covenant was to convict sinners of their guilt and drive them to the Abrahamic covenant to be justified by faith. All of the three statements are quite clear. We who live under the New Covenant have the benefits of a better ministry that was accomplished under a better covenant based on better promises. To identify the nature, purpose, and function of the two contrasted covenants is to understand the biblical relationship of law and grace. Immediately upon making these three comparisons and drawing out the logical meaning and implications of them, the writer of Hebrews reminds us of why the Old Covenant had to be discarded (Heb.8:7-8.). The Old Covenant could not meet the sinner’s need. It could not effect justification. None of Aaron’s work could bring the sinner into God’s presence. The writer of Hebrews then quotes Jeremiah 31:31-34 to prove that the change of covenants that was necessary in order for God to accomplish his redemptive purpose was clearly prophesied in the Old Testament Scriptures. This New CovReisinger—Continued on page 4

Issue 194
Sound of Grace is a publication of Sovereign Grace New Covenant Ministries, a tax exempt 501(c)3 corporation. Contributions to Sound of Grace are deductible under section 170 of the Code. Sound of Grace is published 10 times a year. The subscription price is shown below. This is a paper unashamedly committed to the truth of God’s sovereign grace and New Covenant Theology. We invite all who love these same truths to pray for us and help us fi nancially. We do not take any paid advertising. The use of an article by a particular person is not an endorsement of all that person believes, but it merely means that we thought that a particular article was worthy of printing. Sound of Grace Board: John G. Reisinger, David Leon, John Thorhauer, Bob VanWingerden and Jacob Moseley. Editor: John G. Reisinger; Phone: (585)396-3385; e-mail: reisingerjohn@gmail.com. General Manager: Jacob Moseley: info@newcovenantmedia.com Send all orders and all subscriptions to: Sound of Grace, 5317 Wye Creek Drive, Frederick, MD 21703-6938 – Phone 301-473-8781 Visit the bookstore: http://www.newcovenantmedia.com Address all editorial material and questions to: John G. Reisinger, 3302 County Road 16, Canandaigua, NY 14424-2441. Webpage: www.soundofgrace.org SOGNCM.org or

This verse is vital to any discussion of Christ as our High Priest. The writer of Hebrews sets forth three distinct comparisons of “better” things to show why the New Covenant, set forth in verses 7-11 as the fulfillment of the prophecy of the New Covenant t in Jeremiah 31:31-34, was so essential and is so superior. These three contrasts provide the sum and substance not only of the Book of Hebrews but also of (1) the heart of the religion of the New Covenant compared to the religion of the Old Covenant, or the basic difference between Judaism and Christianity; and (2) the vital difference between the Old and New Covenants as covenants. Each comparison grows out of the previous comparison, and all three are straightforward and uncomplicated. First, our Lord performs a “better ministry” than Aaron. The obvious question raised by such a statement is this: “Why is Christ’s

Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by Permission. All rights reserved. Scripture quotations marked “NKJV” are taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by Permission. All rights reserved. Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Contributions Orders Discover, MasterCard or VISA If you wish to make a tax-deductible contribution to Sound of Grace, please mail a check to: Sound of Grace, 5317 Wye Creek Drive, Frederick, MD 21703-6938. Please check the mailing label to fi nd the expiration of your subscription. Please send payment if you want your subscription to continue—$20.00 for ten issues. Or if you would prefer to have a pdf file emailed, that is available for $10.00 for ten issues. If you are unable to subscribe at this time, please call or drop a note in the mail and we will be glad to continue Sound of Grace free of charge.

Issue 194

February 2013

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Free Will & Ultimate Responsibility
Steve West
It is hard to imagine a debate existing about free will, predestination, and determinism if the concept of free will was completely detached from issues of morality and responsibility. A main motivation for defending free will, in either its secular or theological formulations, is to preserve a rough notion of freedom which entails personal responsibility for our behavior. Not only do we intuitively believe we are free, we want to be free. Furthermore, most of us want to be responsible for what we do, and we want to be able to hold others responsible for what they do. But if everything is predestined, or if determinism obtains, how can humans be responsible for anything? And, as we have already seen, appealing to indeterminism doesn’t necessarily help either—how am I responsible for random movements of particles, or random neural impulses in my brain? The importance of ultimate responsibility is described by libertarian Robert Kane in the following (lengthy, but important) quote: “Free Will, in the traditional sense I want to retrieve (and the sense in which the term will be used throughout this book), is the power of agents to be the ultimate creators (or originators) and sustainers of their own ends or purposes. This notion should be distinguished from free action, and not simply because free will is a power. To act freely is to be unhindered in the pursuit of your purposes (which are usually expressed by intentions); to will freely, in the traditional sense, is to be the ultimate creator (prime mover, so to speak) of your own purposes. Such a notion of ultimate creation of purposes is obscure, to be sure—many would say it is unintelligible—but there is little doubt that it has fueled intuitions about free will from the beginning. Its meaning can be captured initially by an image: when we trace the causal or explanatory chains of action back to their sources in the purposes of free agents, these causal chains must come to an end or terminate in the willings (choices, decisions, or efforts) of the agents, which cause or bring about their purposes. If these willings were in turn caused by something else, so that the explanatory chains could be traced back further to heredity or environment, to God, to fate, then the ultimacy would not lie with the agents but with something else.”1 In this paragraph Kane has explained what he means for an agent to be the termination point for the causal explanatory chain of a particular action. It must come directly from the agent, almost in an act of self-willed creation. Later, Kane connects this ultimacy (U) with responsibility (R): “(UR) An agent is ultimately responsible for some (event or state) E’s occurring only if (R) the agent is personally responsible for E’s occurring in a sense which entails that something the agent voluntarily (or willingly) did or omitted, and for which the agent could have voluntarily done otherwise, either was, or causally contributed to, E’s occurrence and made a difference to whether or not E occurred; and (U) for every X and Y (where X and Y represent occurrences of events and/or states) if the agent is personally responsible for X, and if Y is an arche (or sufficient ground or cause or explanation) for X, then the agent must also be personally responsible for Y.”2 Notice the important phrase “the
1 Robert Kane The Significance of Free Will (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 4. 2 Kane, The Significance, 35.

agent could have voluntarily done otherwise.” This requires alternative possibilities (which we looked at in the last article). Besides that, the idea for UR (Ultimate Responsibility) is that if the agent had alternative possibilities, and if the agent causally contributed to the event taking place in a way which was sufficient to cause or explain it, then the agent is personally responsible. Now, Kane goes on to present a long and extremely intricate (not to mention highly original) model for how this might actually take place in the world as we know it, but the details of his account will have to be neglected. The main point in focus is the contention that if there is anything that causes an event to take place besides the agent, then the agent is not ultimately responsible, and therefore cannot be praised or blamed for what happened. These sorts of considerations are rampant in theological discussions about freedom and predestination. Does the Calvinistic God make us puppets, dancing on our strings, confusedly thinking we’re responsible for what we do, when really it’s just the divine being jerking us around? If God foreordains everything I will ever do, doesn’t the causal chain of responsibility stop with him, not me? If I’m not ultimately responsible for my sin, why am I still blamed for it (and worse, punished)? On the positive side, if I only do the good works that I do because God decreed them for me, how can I take any credit for it? If my wife loves me, should I refuse to appreciate her, since she only loves me because God ordained it, and so he is responsible for her love, not my wife? If praise can only be traced to God, why can’t blame?
West—Continued on page 8

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Reisinger—Continued from page 2

enant that was prophesied was God’s intended purpose ever since eternity began and was made known at the dawn of sin in Genesis 3:15. Israel and the Mosaic covenant were never intended to be permanent. They were announced as ending when Christ came. As we noted in our last article, the nation of Israel and the religion of Judaism upon which it was based, was a parenthesis in God’s one unchaining redemptive purpose of sovereign grace for his one elect people.
For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. But God found fault with the people and said: “The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant
 with the people of Israel
 and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord. This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear. (Heb. 8:7-13)

February 2013 the Book of Hebrews fit into that interpretation. We first understand the theological point that the writer to the Hebrews is making and then ask why he chose to use Jeremiah 31:31-34 to prove that point. This is another clear example of the basic difference in our hermeneutics from that of both Covenant Theology and dispensationalism. This example demonstrates what we mean when we insist that the New Covenant Scriptures must interpret the Old Covenant Scriptures and not the other way around. It is impossible to understand a comparison if we do not understand both of the things being compared. For instance, if I were to say to you, “Oranges are much sweeter than lemons” and you had never tasted a lemon, my statement would be meaningless. For my statement to make sense you must know what both a lemon and orange taste like. If the writer of Hebrews exalts the ministry of Christ as better than the ministry of Aaron, and we do not have a clear picture of, (1) exactly what Aaron’s ministry was; (2) why that ministry failed; and, (3) why the Old Covenant, upon which Aaron’s entire ministry was based, had to be replaced with a new and better covenant instead of just patched up, then we cannot understand passages like Jeremiah 31 and Hebrews 8. There is no clear understanding of the greatness of the New Covenant until there is a clear understanding of the inherent weakness of the Old Covenant. First, we must ask, “Exactly what was Aaron’s ministry as high priest?” His greatest single duty was to make sacrifice for the people and then make intercession for them as he sprinkled the mercy seat with animal blood on the Day of Atonement. Hebrews 5:1 states that Aaron “offered gifts and sacrifice for sins.” He represented Israel before God with a blood sacrifice and then represented them in intercession. This two-fold ministry of sacri-

Issue 194 fice and intercession is co-extensive. Aaron prays only for those for whom he shed blood and made intercession. Aaron did not offer any lambs for the Egyptians nor did he pray for the Philistines. The same is true under the New Covenant. Christ died for and prayed for his own elect people. He died for his sheep and prays for those same sheep. How could he state this more clearly?
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:11) I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. (John 17:9)

Any attempt to exegete Jeremiah 31:31-34 without looking at how a New Covenant apostle understood that specific prophecy is simply not good hermeneutics, yet this is just what most Covenant theologians do. We must not start with Jeremiah, but with how the writer of Hebrews understood Jeremiah. This means that we do not first establish a rigid meaning of Jeremiah 31:31-34, and then make

Was Aaron’s ministry successful? Did his efforts of sacrifice and intercession pay the sinner’s debt and cleanse his conscience from sin? Was Aaron able to bring the sinner into the presence of God “without fear”? The answer to all of these questions is no. However, we must quickly add that the failure to accomplish these things was not because of any sin or lack of either effort or faith on Aaron’s part. He used, correctly and in good faith, every means that was available to him to do his job. So why does Jesus prevail in his priestly work and succeed in performing the same functions in which Aaron failed? Our Lord, like Aaron, also offers a sacrifice and makes intercession. However, unlike Aaron, Christ can and does bring the sinner, without fear and with a clear conscience, into the presence of the thrice-holy God. Why does Christ’s one offering of blood and his intercession on the ground of that blood accomplish what all of Aaron’s offerings of shed blood and his prayers could never effect in a single instance. Both Aaron and Christ pleaded with God on the ground of the blood they shed. Why did one succeed and the other fail? Part of the answer is given in HeReisinger—Continued on page 6

Issue 194

February 2013

The Cross and the Lord’s Day— Part 2
Steve Carpenter
In coming to the subject of the Sabbath in the Old Testament we should ask a question that is of first importance: By whom and when was the Sabbath first observed? That is a very important question to ask in relation to the matter of Sabbatarianism. By whom and when was the Sabbath first observed? The Puritans taught that the Sabbath was a creation ordinance, and it was written on the heart of Adam to keep the Sabbath. It was perpetually binding on all of Adam’s posterity for all of time because it was written on the heart and sin was the only thing that defaced that desire to keep the Sabbath; therefore, Sabbath observance is a part of the moral constitution of man, and it is not recognized as such by man now only because he has fallen and has a sin-darkened conscience. That is a powerful argument for the perpetuity of the fourth commandment—if it is true—because it says that the Sabbath was instituted with the created order, and that dictates that our starting point is in the text of Genesis. Let’s examine the first three verses of Genesis chapter 2: “Thus the heavens and the earth were completed and all their hosts. By the seventh day God completed His work which he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it because in it he rested from all his work which God had created and made.” The first thing that is worthy of observing from Genesis 2:1-3 is that there is nothing in the text which states that the seventh day was instituted as a Sabbath that is binding on man. There is nothing there at all. It does not state that the Sabbath is binding on man. There is nothing in Genesis 2:1-3 that comes close to the stated command of Genesis 1:28 where it says, “God blessed them and God said to them, be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Nothing close to a command such as you read in Genesis 1:28. There is nothing in Genesis 2:1-3 that comes close to the binding purposes that are stated in Genesis 2:15: “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.” Nothing like that in Genesis 2:1-3. There is nothing in Genesis 2:1-3 like the permission and the prohibition of Genesis 2:16 -17: “The Lord God commanded the man saying from the tree of the garden, from any tree of the garden you may eat freely, but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat for in the day you eat from it you shall surely die.” Nothing comes close to that! There is nothing in Genesis 2:1-3 that comes close to the timeless, regulative principle that is established for marriage in Genesis 2:24: “For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall cleave to his wife and they shall become one flesh,” yet this is what must be derived from Genesis 2:1-3 if it is going to be a creation ordinance. How have interpreters made it to be a creation ordinance if there is nothing in the text to directly lead to that conclusion? The answer is by keying on the words in verse 3, blessed and sanctified. The interpret-

Page 5 ers pack all sorts of things into these words making them receptacles and just keep pouring it in until finally when you are all done, it’s a creation ordinance. The text does not say—it’s very interesting to observe—that the seventh day was holy in and of itself. It was made holy. It was appointed to be holy. God’s resting on the seventh day did not confer any holiness on that day. God blessed and sanctified it after he had rested. You can see that in the text; it’s clear. Verse 3 begins in the Hebrew with a construction called the vowel consecutive which indicates temporal sequence, so he, in verse 3 says then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it because in it he rested. The rest didn’t make the day holy, God made the day holy because in it he rested, and there’s a difference between the two. There’s a temporal sequence that is indicated with no note of how long the temporal sequence actually was. It is probably that the sanctifying of the seventh day followed very closely the creation week itself, but the reason it was blessed and sanctified probably did not emerge with clarity until the institution of the seventh day as a Sabbath with the covenant nation of Israel in Exodus 16. Genesis was written by Moses, and it was written for Israel. The statement in chapter 2 will have included a view of the later institution of the Sabbath, and the enactment of the seventh day as holy awaited that institution with the Nation of Israel. We have such examples of proleptic or anticipatory uses of language throughout the Scriptures. This is the use of language which anticipates a future event for the language to take on its full meaning. As an illustration in the context of the Garden of Eden, Genesis 3:20 says that Adam called his wife’s name Eve in anticipation that she would be the mother of the whole human race, yet at that point, she had no children. It was in anticipaCarpenter—Continued on page 10

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Reisinger—Continued from page 4

brews 10 when the writer reminds us of the great difference between an animal’s blood and the blood of Christ. However, in Hebrews 8 he uses a different angle to make the same point: that which makes the intercession of Christ effective is not just the better blood that was shed; it also involves the “better” covenant that his oncefor-all sacrifice established. Christ’s ministry is successful because of the “better covenant” from which he ministers. The covenant terms, not just the kind of blood, make all the difference. We must see that the blood established the New Covenant and the New Covenant terms were based on grace while the Old Covenant terms were based on works. This leads to the second of the three comparisons in Hebrews 8:6, which begs us to ask, “Why is this New Covenant that Christ administers so much better than the covenant under which Aaron ministered? What is the weakness of the Old Covenant upon which Aaron’s ministry was based, and what are the strengths of the New Covenant from which Christ ministers?” The writer immediately answers; “The New Covenant is based on ‘better promises’ than the Old Covenant.” If the two covenants were based on the same promises, then Hebrews 8:6 would not make sense. If, as Covenant theology insists, the New Covenant and the Old Covenant are the same in “nature and substance,” then they are not substantially different at all, and again, Hebrews 8:6 becomes words without meaning. If there is not a radically new, totally different and very distinctly better covenant based on new, different, and better promises or better terms than the Old Covenant was based upon, then, I repeat, the words have lost their meaning. A failure to interpret Jeremiah’s prophecy in the light of the Book of Hebrews highlights the different views of the message in Hebrews.

February 2013 We insist that there was nothing at all bad or wrong with either the Old Covenant or Aaron as a priest. The Old Covenant terms were not unfair or too rigid, but, on the contrary, they were “holy, just and good.” The Old Covenant failed simply because it could not produce the very necessary things that are guaranteed in the New Covenant. That is what Jeremiah 31:31-34 is all about. The main point of the promise in Jeremiah 31:31-34 is not that God is going to tattoo the Ten Commandments on a New Covenant believer’s heart nor is it that God is going to write a ‘new and different set of rules’ on the heart. It is neither of those things. The glory and expectation of the promises in the New Covenant, as promised in Jeremiah 31, is that our blessed Savior is going to accomplish what Aaron and the law covenant given through Moses never could accomplish. Christ is going to affect inwardly what Aaron and the law covenant never could accomplish. Jeremiah 31:31-34, as can be seen from Hebrews 8 and 10, is not a lawcentered passage, but it is a Christcentered passage. John MacArthur is correct when he comments on Hebrews 8:10:
The New Covenant will have a different sort of law  an internal not an external law. Everything under the old economy was external. Under the Old Covenant obedience was out of fear of punishment. Under the New it is out of adoring love and worshiping thanksgiving. Formerly God’s law was given on stone tablets and was to be written on wrists and foreheads and doorposts as reminders (Deut. 6:8, 9). Even when the old law was given, of course, it was intended to be in people’s hearts (Deut. 6:6). But the people could not write on their hearts like they could write on their doorposts. And at this time the Holy Spirit, the only changer of hearts, was not yet given to believers. Now, however, the Spirit writes God’s law in the minds and hearts of those who belong to him. In the New Covenant true worship is internal, not external, real, not

ritual (cf. Ezek. 11:19-20, 36:26, 27; John 14:17).1

Issue 194

I ask again, why did Aaron’s ministry fail? What was it that he could not effectually accomplish? In a nutshell, Aaron and the priests from his line could not meet the just and holy demands of the covenant terms, the Ten Commandments written on the tables of the covenant housed in the ark of the covenant. The blessings promised in that covenant (Ex. 19:5- 6) depended on compliance with the covenant terms written on the tables of the covenant. Neither Aaron nor the sinner could meet those terms. 1) They could not obey the covenant terms and earn the life that was promised, and 2) once the covenant terms were broken, they could not bring a sacrifice that could pay for the sin and satisfy both God’s holy character and the sinner’s conscience. Aaron’s inability to effect entrance into God’s presence had nothing to do with his godliness or his consistency and perseverance. He did all he could do and all that was expected of him. His ministry still failed and had to be replaced. Hebrews 8:7 does not say, or imply, “because Aaron failed to faithfully perform his work.” The real problem is the Old Covenant terms and the sinner’s inability to meet them. Jesus succeeds in the same ministry where Aaron failed. The New Covenant constantly emphasizes that Christ “finished” the work of redemption. He offered a “once for ever”sacifice that satisfied God’s covenant terms.
How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal in1 John MacArthur, Jr., MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago: Moody Bible Institute,1983), 215.
Reisinger—Continued on page 16

Issue 194

February 2013

Indicative/Imperative
A. Blake White
In grammar, we speak of different types of moods. The indicative mood represents the act or state as an objective fact. For example, the cat is on the mat is an indicative statement. It is a fact. The cat is on the mat. It is a statement about what is. The imperative mood expresses an intention to influence the listener’s behavior. It is used with commands, requests, etc. “Put the cat on the mat” is an imperative statement. You are being told to do something with the cat. This grammar language has often been applied to New Testament ethics, especially with regard to Paul’s letters. The indicative is what God has done for us in Christ. It is who we are in Christ. We are forgiven, reconciled, and adopted. We are in Christ. It is a fact. We have a new status. The imperative is what we are called to do and be as those in Christ. It is what God demands of us. The distinction between indicative and imperative is an important one, for Christianity is not simply a moralistic religion.1 The message of Christianity is not merely “Be good people,” or “Do the right things.” The fundamental message of Christianity is that Jesus Christ has died for sinners, has been raised from the dead and exalted to the Father’s right hand and now exercises complete authority. We are called to be “good” people and do certain things in light of that re1 Victor P. Furnish writes, “No interpretation of the Pauline ethic can be judged successful which does not grapple with the problem of indicative and imperative in Paul’s thought,” Theology and Ethics in Paul (Nashville: Abingdon, 1968), 279.

ality.2 This relationship is really what sets Christianity over against all other religions. Pastor Tim Keller aptly writes, “Religion operates on the principle ‘I obey—therefore I am accepted by God.’ But the operating principle of the gospel is ‘I am accepted by God through what Christ has done—therefore I obey.”3 The order makes all the difference in the world. This is another way of saying that the imperative flows from the indicative. The indicative is the foundation of the imperative. The indicative and the imperative are “closely and necessarily associated.”4 They cannot be separated without distorting the theology of the New Testament. We will be asking “What Would Jesus Do?” in this Christian Ethics series, but we only ask this after we have asked and answered the question “What Did Jesus Do?” As Wolfgang Schrage says, “God’s eschatological act of salvation in Jesus Christ is the absolute basis, foundation, and prerequisite for all Christian conduct.”5 Protestants have historically guarded this biblical truth by distinguishing the doctrine of justification from the doctrine of sanctification (or transformation). Justification is forensic; it is a declaration. We are declared to be in the right on the basis of faith. Faith unites us to the Messiah so that what is true of him is true of us. Histori2 As Richard Hays writes, “Moral action is a logical entailment of God’s redemptive action,” Moral Vision, 39. 3 Tim Keller, The Reason for God (NY: Dutton, 2008), 179-80. 4 Furnish, Theology and Ethics, 223-24. 5 Wolfgang Schrage, The Ethics of the New Testament (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1982), 167.

Page 7 cally, the doctrine of sanctification has referred to the process of becoming more and more like Jesus. In this sense, transformation is a process while justification is a one-time event. Our sanctification, or moral transformation, flows from our right standing, our justification. Martin Luther guarded this distinction by speaking of the two kinds of righteousness. He distinguished passive righteousness from active righteousness. Passive righteousness is the righteous status that we are given by God through faith (Phil 3:8-9). We are passive in receiving this righteousness. Active righteousness is the good works we are called to do in light of our righteous standard. Our behavior must match our status; our righteous status must manifest itself in righteous behavior.6 Let’s look at Paul’s letters to show how he commands Christians to live. First let’s consider the overall structure of Paul’s letters.7 It is Paul’s practice to lay out the doctrinal foundations before turning to “ethics.” Consider Galatians. Paul deals with the seriousness of the Judaizers’ error, the nature of Paul’s calling, his apostolic authority, the implications of the gospel, his confrontation of Peter, their reception of the Holy Spirit, the role of the law in redemptive history, the natures of the Abrahamic and Old covenants, and adoption before coming to the first major imperative in 4:12: “Become like me.” Chapters 5 and 6 follow with pointed ethical exhortation. Ephesians is similar. It can be nicely divided into two sections: Ch. 1-3, and Ch. 4-6. Chapters 1-3 lay out the spiritual blessings in Christ
6 R.E.O. White, Biblical Ethics (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1979), 148. 7 See Wolfgang Schrage, The Ethics of the New Testament (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1982), 167.
Indicative/Imperative—Continued on page 11

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West—Continued from page 3

This nest of questions is common Sunday School fare when these issues arise, but there are also secular equivalents, many of which philosophers are beginning to take very seriously. Our Western justice system is predicated on the idea that criminals are responsible for what they do. But if the behavior of a criminal is really ultimately traceable to their genetics, their Darwinian instincts, and their social conditioning, in what sense is it fair to hold them personally responsible for what they do? They are really victims: victims of chance, natural scientific laws, and their environment. Their genetic code placed in their particular environment resulted in behavior that our society judges criminal, but that does not mean they are personally at fault. There are several prominent philosophical voices in the free will vs. determinism debate that are calling for an overhaul of our judicial system, on the basis that free will (which is necessary for responsibility) does not exist, and so it is actually immoral to treat people as if they are responsible for their actions. The model shifts from punishment to societal safety: criminals should not be loathed and punished, they should be pitied and quarantined. We quarantine innocent people carrying infectious diseases, but we treat them kindly and with pity, making their lives as comfortable as possible. Since criminals are no less responsible for their behavior than a sick person is responsible for the virus they’re carrying, we should treat criminals as sad victims, and not as responsible, morally wicked individuals. I will not bother to cite biblical texts which indicate that the wicked are morally responsible for what they do, and they are blameworthy and deserving of punishment for their wicked behavior. It is impossible (in my judgment) to read the Bible and not see that that is what the Bible teaches! Certainly God punishes the

February 2013 wicked and holds them responsible for what they do, and therefore they must actually be responsible and deserving of punishment. God is a God of justice, which means that when he punishes someone the punishment fits the crime. Hell is nothing more and nothing less than what individual, unregenerate rebellious sinners deserve. If you reject the Bible, however, it does become very difficult to actually hold people accountable for their lives. The chain of ultimacy for the libertarian runs beyond action to desire and willing. To answer the question: “why did you do that”? usually appeal is made to a desire. “Why did you eat that piece of cake?” “I was hungry and I love chocolate.” Complicated chains of reasoning must reach a termination point. - “Why did you work overtime last night?” - “I wanted to earn extra money and maybe get a promotion.” - “Why do you want extra money?” - “I want to go on vacation.” - “Why do you want to go on vaction?” - “I need to relax and get away from some stress.” - “Why do you want to relax?” - “I feel good when I do.” - “Why do you want to feel good?” - “Um, because I just do.” For ultimate responsibility, the chain of justification must terminate in the agent, and not beyond, in the libertarian contention. Behavior is motivated by desires, but what if we are not responsible for the desires we have? In other words, to hold people accountable, we cannot just look at their behavior, we must look at what motivated their behavior. And if they are not responsible for their desires,

Issue 194 they are not responsible for the actions which are caused by their desires. Thus libertarians argue that we cannot simply hold people accountable for the character that they have—people must be responsible for forming their own character if they are to be ultimately responsible. In other words, the agent must be the self-originator of both their desires and consequently their actions if they are responsible for the behavior that flows out of their character. At a purely philosophical level it is important to note that many philosophers simply find this criterion for responsibility impossible to meet. One difficulty is how do you begin the process of forming your own character? The first significant moral decision you make is based on a neutral character—if so, why does the neutral character incline one way or the other? Isn’t that just sheer luck and randomness again? If the character is not neutral, then it will incline to either the good or bad choice—but if the character isn’t neutral (even if the inclination one way or the other is very tiny), we aren’t responsible for it, and therefore not responsible for what we do! If we can’t be ultimately responsible for the first moment of character formation, we are not ultimately responsible for the subsequent behavior which emerges from our character, since the causal chain does not properly terminate in the agent. This whole position seems philosophically untenable because you either end up with an infinite causal regress (impossible for a temporal, finite agent), or you simply can’t meet your own standard. In other words, if this position is necessary for true responsibility, nobody is or can be responsible. From a theological perspective, this position is unacceptable for at least two main reasons. First, the Bible teaches the depravity of human beings. We are born sinners, and we act out of our sin nature. There is a

Issue 194 very real sense in which none of us choose to be born as sinners, nor to have a bent against God and righteousness. Nevertheless, we are born totally depraved, and act out of this character. We are responsible because we do what we want to do when we rebel and sin. (Doing what you want to do is the compatibilist take on what is necessary for freedom and responsibility, and once again we find the Bible teaching what compatibilists are arguing.) God holds us responsible and punishes us for the actions which flow out of our character and desires, even though we are born with those sinful tendencies already at work in us. Second, on this libertarian scheme it is hard to see how God could be responsible for anything he is or does.

February 2013 If God exists eternally and necessarily, always in the full splendor of his glory, then he did not form his own character. His essential nature is a given fact. All of his actions flow out of his perfect character, and they always have. There was never a time when God existed and he wasn’t perfect; there was never a time when God in self-formation had the alternative possibility of choosing evil, and luckily decided to choose the good. God is essentially holy, just, righteous, and good! Furthermore, the Bible is absolutely clear that God is the being of maximal splendor, and God is deserving of praise, honor, glory, and worship. He deserves to be praised and glorified, even though he is not ultimately responsible for his character on Kane’s model. But this is not a knock against God: it is a

Page 9 knock against Kane! This theological reflection, combined with the insurmountable philosophical problem with such self-formation, in addition to the Bible’s teaching about sinful behavior, desires, and responsibility, all come together to overturn the ultimate responsibility criterion. This does not mean that we are not responsible for what we do: it means that UR is an incorrect formulation of what is required for an agent to be responsible. In my next article I plan on commenting on several famous biblical texts which teach that humans are responsible for what they do even though they are doing what God has ordained. We must never let humans off the hook in terms of responsibility, but we must define responsibility in terms that are true to Scripture. 

Christ does not give freedom to believers so they can do what they want but so they can, for the first Ɵme, do what God wants, because of love for Him. Within the bounds of their parƟcular situaƟons and abiliƟes, even the most ungodly unbelievers are already free to do what they themselves want to do. They have more than ample opportunity to indulge the desires of the flesh, and it was hardly necessary for Christ to provide that sort of liberty. John MacArthur GalaƟans, Moody, 1987, p. 146. Morality will keep you out of jail--but only the blood of Jesus will keep you out of Hell! "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him!" John 3:36 Charles Spurgeon
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Carpenter—Continued from page 5

tion of her role of being the mother of the human race that she was called Eve. In 1 Samuel 4:1 it indicates that Israelis camped beside a place called Ebenezer even though it was not until 1 Samuel 7:12 that Ebenezer even received its name. It was inserted in anticipation. In Luke 6:16 we have the record of Jesus calling his disciples, and it states that Judas Iscariot was a traitor, though he wasn’t known to be a traitor at that point by all of the other disciples. It was in anticipation. It was a proleptic use of language. Likewise, when the seventh day is first mentioned, its sanctification is referenced, though the fuller meaning of that sanctification does not become apparent until God had called a covenant people out of Egypt. This makes the Sabbath a local, Jewish institution. This is the best interpretation for several reasons. The Sabbath as a day enjoined upon men is not found until the time of Moses. The first occurrence of the word Sabbath is in Exodus 16:23. Secondly, there is no record that the Sabbath was ever kept until the Jews kept it. You just have to do all sorts of things to the text of Scripture and force it to get any Sabbath observance between the time of Adam and Exodus 16. It just is not there. Thirdly, the word Sabbath is never used elsewhere in the Old Testament except in connection with other Jewish holy days and sacrifices. It’s a Jewish institution. I think one of the most straightforward reasons that we could suggest as to why it is a Jewish institution comes from the reasons that are given to the Nation of Israel as to why they are to keep the Sabbath. Exodus 20:8 says, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” You have the reason for the command in Exodus 20:11 which says, “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them and rested on the seventh day, therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and

February 2013 made it holy.” What he does is to list as the reason for Sabbath observance the fact that God rested on the seventh day in creation. Deuteronomy 5:12 states the command: “Observe the Sabbath Day to keep it holy as the Lord your God commanded you.” Deuteronomy 5:15 says, “And you shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord, your God, brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore,, the Lord, your God, commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.” The two reasons that are given in the testimony of Moses in the whole Mosaic Law where the observance of Sabbath was the seventh day rest of God in Exodus 20 and the deliverance out of Egypt in Deuteronomy 5. How could they possibly observe the Sabbath for those reasons before the event of deliverance out of Egypt occurred? It is very significant that these two reasons are put together because it is the thrust of the Old Testament to show that Elohim the creator is Yahweh the moral sovereign, the two are identified and God is Lord. They are brought together in Israelite theology by the revelation of the Old Testament. The God who is creator is also the God who is redeemer. The God who is creator is also the God who imposes his moral will upon his creatures and makes them morally accountable. He addresses them from within the framework of morality, and it is within the framework of morality that salvation and redemption exists. Those two are joined together in the Old Testament. That is why words like those at the opening of Isaiah 43 where the prophet writes, “But now thus says the Lord your creator Oh Jacob and he who formed you oh Israel, do not fear for I have redeemed you.” Creator and Redeemer are placed together which becomes the aggregate reason for the keeping of the Sabbath. Elohim, Creator, and Yahweh, Redeemer, are put together. This theme is also continued in the

Issue 194 New Testament with the revelation of the fullness in Jesus Christ. The hymn in Colossians 1:15-20 has two stanzas. In these two stanzas of the hymn it exalts Christ as the first born over all creation in verses 15-17, and then it looks at his role as the redeemer of the church. It says he is the first born from among the dead in verses 18-20. He is Creator and Redeemer in one. This reflects the aggregate reason for keeping of the Sabbath in the nation of Israel. Some have imagined a difficulty with the Jewishness of the Sabbath institution because it is first mentioned in Exodus 16 before they ever get to Sinai in Exodus 20; therefore, they reason that it was already an existent institution before the giving of the Ten Commandments. The answer to this is really quite simple. In the statement of the New Covenant that Jeremiah records beginning in Jeremiah 31:3132 says, “behold days are coming declares the Lord when I will make a New Covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah not like the covenant”—note carefully the next few words—“ which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt.” The wording here is very significant and E.W. Hengstenberg in an essay that he wrote on the New Covenant rightly observed that the Sinaitic Covenant or the Mosaic Covenant actually went through a process of ratification that was only climaxed at Sinai. It actually began with the Passover. Is it not interesting even to this day the legislation governing the Passover, which is understood to be a part of the law, is found in chapter 12 of Exodus. Please understand that the process of God forming this covenant with his people began when he brought them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt; therefore, they were in the process of having that covenant established in that wilderness period before they got to Sinai when the Sabbath was given in Exodus 16.

Issue 194 Now there is something else that may be worthy of observation. The institution of the Sabbath in Exodus 16 may have a special significance in that the Sabbath is declared throughout the Old Testament in both the law and the prophets to be the sign of the Mosaic Covenant. It is interesting that the sign of the Mosaic Covenant was given before the covenant itself was finally ratified at Sinai. This reminds us of the New Testament and the night in which Christ was betrayed before the New Covenant was finally ratified in his death and resurrection when he says to his disciples “This cup represents the New Covenant, here’s the sign of the New Covenant, I’m giving it to you.” He gave them the sign before the covenant was finally ratified. The same is true in the Old Testament with the Mosaic Covenant. The sign was given, and then the covenant was ratified at Sinai. In the New Testament the sign was given and then the covenant was ratified in the death and burial and triumphant resurrection of our Lord. Furthermore, it cannot be argued that the Jews lost the Sabbath during their long period in Egypt in slavery, and then it was restored only when they were delivered from Egypt because in Nehemiah 9:13-14 the statement is made that at

February 2013 the time of Moses: “Thou didst make known to them thy holy Sabbath.” It was a matter of fresh revelation. Ezekiel 20:12 reads this way: “I gave them my Sabbath.” The words that are used in Nehemiah and in Exodus do not reflect in either case the idea of restore. He made known and he gave; it was a new institution that belonged to his covenant people. When was the Sabbath given? It was given when the Lord brought them out of Egypt. Where did He give it? It was given in the wilderness. Why did He give it? It was given as a sign of that Mosaic Covenant. It can be concluded at this juncture in our reasoning process of going through the Old Testament that the Sabbath was first observed by Israel in Exodus 16 and is observed only by Israel throughout the whole Old Testament. Outside of the Pentateuch not a word is said indicating that the Sabbath was for anyone but Israel from Joshua to Job. The Sabbath is not mentioned, in fact, in the books of Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastics, Daniel and in ten of the twelve Minor Prophets. Nothing is said in any of the prophets who do mention it (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea and Amos) which can be made to apply to anyone other than the nation of Israel.  !2/21/12

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Indicative/Imperative— Continued from page 7

for the individual and the community. After laying out a lot of doctrine, Paul urges them “to live a life worthy of the calling” they have received (4:1). Romans is similar. There is a lot of gospel theology in chapters 1-11. It is only after these glorious chapters that Paul writes, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice.” Chapters 12-15 are heavy on gospel application. This sort of “gospel logic” is found throughout Paul’s writings. Richard Hays writes, “Consequently, much of Paul’s moral exhortation takes the form of reminding his readers to view their obligations and actions in the cosmic context of what God has done in Christ.”8 He takes both the indicative and the imperative with utmost seriousness and interweaves them beautifully. Consider Romans 6: In verse 2 Paul writes that we are those have died to sin, but in verse 11 he turns around and commands us to “Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” He is saying in essence, “Act like what you are.”9 Romans 6:6 says that our old self was crucified with Christ and Colossians 3:9-10 says we have taken off our old self, but Ephesians 4:22-24 commands us to put off our old self and to put on the new self. Again, we should act like who we are. Colossians 3:1-5 says, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on
8 Hays, Moral Vision, 39. 9 Act like what you are becoming is probably more accurate since we are not yet glorified. This does justice to the progressive moral transformation that must accompany our new status.
Indicative/Imperative— Continued on page 15

Dear Friends & Brethren, Thank you for the valuable magazine — "Sound of Grace." We appreciate your labors and ministry. A special thanks to John Reisinger. Adeline K.

It is a positive and very hurtful sin to magnify liberty at the expense of doctrine. Walter Shurden

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White—Continued from page 1

at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. (my italics)

February 2013 love Christ without love for the body of Christ. There is an intense unity between Christ and his people. So when Saul was persecuting Christians, Jesus says, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:4; cf. Matt 25:40).7 John says that if a person claims to love God, yet hates his brother or sister, he is a liar (1 John 4:20). “And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother” (1 John 4:21). The phrase “law of Christ” only occurs once in the Bible in Galatians 6:2. Preceding this verse, Paul wrote, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Gal 5:13-14). Amazingly, Paul says that true freedom comes by becoming slaves (douleuete) of one another through love!8 The gospel frees us to lovingly serve our brothers and sisters. Then Paul says that the whole law is fulfilled in one word, citing Leviticus 19:18: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The one who loves his neighbor has fulfilled what the law demands, and has thus fulfilled the law of Christ (Gal 6:2). Paul’s teaching in Romans 13:8-10 is very similar:
Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall 7 Richard N. Longenecker, Paul: Apostle of Liberty (New York: Harper and Row, 1964), 204. 8 Gordon Fee writes, “Freedom from the enslavement of Torah paradoxically means to take on a new form of ‘slavery’ – that of loving servant hood to one another,” God’s Empowering Presence, 426.

love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Issue 194

Love is not at odds with commandments. The commandments not to commit adultery, murder, steal, and covet are simply other ways of saying love your neighbor. James 2:8 says, “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing well.” Love is central to the law of Christ.9 Christians are called to seek the good of our neighbor, not our self (1 Cor 10:24). Above all, we are to put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony (Col 3:14). Paul tells Timothy, “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Tim 1:5). We are to “love one another with brotherly affection” (Rom 12:10). Paul prays that the Lord would make us increase and abound in love for one another and for all (1 Thess 3:12). Everything we do is to be done in love (1 Cor 16:24). Peter writes, “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart” (1 Pet 1:22). All we do is for the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31), but the immediate context of this verse is all about the other: giving no offense to Jews or Greeks or the church, trying to please everyone in everything we do, not seeking my own advantage but that of many (1 Cor 10:32-33). John also emphasizes the centrality of love. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light (1 John 2:10). The one who does not love his brother is not a child of God but of the devil (1 John 3:10). “For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another”
9 Moo, “The Law of Christ as the Fulfillment of the Law of Moses,” in Five Views on Law and Gospel (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 368.

In Matthew 22:34-40 Jesus is asked which is the great commandment in the Law. He replies, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Jesus, in Matthew 22:39, quotes Leviticus 19:18b (you shall love your neighbor as yourself). We know here the neighbor was the fellow Israelite, but we know that in the New Covenant our neighbor is anyone in need of help (Luke 10:2537). We are called to do good to all … but especially to those who are of the household of faith (Gal 6:10). Vertical love and horizontal love are inextricably bound together. Away with the talk of a personal relationship with Jesus that is disconnected to other believers. “Divine love issues in interpersonal love.”5 “Everything is done allēlōn.”6 One cannot claim to
5 Craig L. Blomberg, Matthew. The New American Commentary, (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1992), 335. 6 Gordon Fee, Paul, the Spirit, and the People of God (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996), 66.

Issue 194 (1 John 3:11, cf. 2 John 5-6). “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death” (1 John 3:14). “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers” (1 John 3:16). “And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us” (1 John 3:23). First Thessalonians 4:7-9 is a very informative passage for the centrality of love in the New Covenant law of Christ: “For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you. Now concerning brotherly love, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another.” Three key Old Testament New Covenant passages are Jeremiah 31, Isaiah 54, and Ezekiel 36, and Paul alludes to all three in this important passage. The Lord had prophesied through the prophet Ezekiel that he would “sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules” (Ezek 36:25-27, cf. 11:19). In the new age the Lord would pour out his Spirit empowering the new Israel to walk in obedience. In the chapter thirty-seven, Ezekiel recalled the valley of the dry bones upon whom YHWH would pour out his Spirit and bring life to the dead (Ezek 37:6, 14). Paul is clearly alluding to this passage in 1 Thessalonians 4:8:10
10 T.J. Deidun, New Covenant Moral-

February 2013 1 Thess 4:8: kaididonta to pneumaautou to hagioneishymas Ezek 36:27 LXX: kai to pneumamoudōsō en hymin Ezek 37:14 LXX: kaidōsō to pneumamoueishymas 1 Thess 4:8: who gives his Holy Spirit to you Ezek 36:27: And I will put my Spirit within you Ezek 37:14: And I will put my Spirit within you We have seen above that the New Testament writers viewed the New Covenant as having been inaugurated by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Spirit was poured out at Pentecost (Acts 2). We have God’s Spirit and a new heart.11 Jesus appeals to Ezekiel 36 in his conversation with Nicodemus: “unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:5-6).12 Jesus rebuked him for not being familiar with this truth though he was a teacher of Israel. The New Covenant is here, bringing with it the new birth where we are given the Spirit and a new heart. Being born from above enables and empowers believers to love one another. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been ity in Paul (Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1981), 18-22, 55-57; Jeffrey A.D. Weima, “1-2 Thessalonians,” in Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, ed. G.K. Beale and D.A. Carson (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007), 878-880. 11 Commenting on 1 Thess 4:8, Gordon Fee writes, “This usage reflects a Pauline understanding of the gift of the Spirit as the fulfillment of OT promises that God’s own Spirit will come to indwell his people,” God’s Empowering Presence, 52. 12 D.A. Carson, The Gospel According to John (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991), 194-95.

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born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7 my italics).

In the next verse, Paul says, “Now concerning brotherly love, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another” (1 Thess 4:9). Because the Thessalonians have been given the New Covenant promise of the Spirit, they have no need for instruction (though Paul is writing them in this verse). They have been taught by God (theodidaktoi) to love one another. Paul makes up this word “theodidaktoi”, but he is surely alluding to at least two passages: Isaiah 54 and Jeremiah 31, where we find promises that in the New Covenant age God himself will teach his people.13 In Jeremiah’s great New Covenant passage we read, “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord” (Jer 31:33-34; cf. 2 Cor 3:3). In the New Covenant, we are taught by God. All will know the Lord. Putting together several texts (Jer 31, Ezek 11, 36, Joel 2) we see that all will know the Lord because all will have the Spirit. John writes, “But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you” (1 John 2:27). John was clearly aware of the promises of Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 36.14 Paul also clearly alludes to or quotes Isaiah 54:13: “All your children shall be taught by the Lord (didaktoustheou).”15 Isaiah is referring to the children of the New Covenant
13 Deidun, New Covenant Morality in Paul, 20. Weima, “1-2 Thessalonians,” 879. 14 Ibid. 15 Ibid.
White—Continued on page 19

Page 14

February 2013

Issue 194

The John Bunyan Conference
The 2013 John Bunyan Conference is scheduled for April 22-24 at Reformed Baptist Church in Lewisburg, PA Speakers and Topics:

Gary George James M. Hamilton, Jr. David Robinson Kirk Wellum A. Blake White

New Covenant Theology and Pastoral Ministry - 2 Messages Biblical Theology - 3 Messages Preaching Sovereignty in the Old Testament - 2 Messages Jesus Christ: the Architect and Apex of the Church The Wisdom of God Towards a Missional Ecclesiology - 2 Messages The Abrahamic Covenant in Galatians

Lodging for the conference is available at a reduced rate at the Country Inn and Suites by Carlson in Lewisburg, PA. Just mention that you would like accommodations for the John Bunyan Conference to receive a double occupancy room for only $90.00 per night which includes a nice continental breakfast. Reservations must be made by no later than April 6, 2013 to receive this reduced rate. Reservations at the Country Inn and Suites may be made by calling 800-456-4000 or 570-524-6600. Their website is www.countryinns.com/lewisburgpa and the address is 134 Walter Drive, Route 15, PO Box 46, Lewisburg, PA 17837. Meals for lunch and dinner will be available at the church. The registration is $75.00 per individual and includes five meals. Space for meals is limited and registration will be restricted to the first 80 individuals who register. Please register by no later than April 6, 2013. Sign-in for the conference will be from 9:30 to 10:45 am Monday, April 22, 2013 at Reformed Baptist Church. Please call 301-473-8781 or email johnbunyanconf@comcast.net to register; Discover, Visa or MasterCard accepted. Please register by no later than April 6, 2013. REGISTRATION FOR THE 2013 JOHN BUNYAN CONFERENCE, LEWISBURG, PA APRIL 22-24, 2013 □ Register me for the 2013 John Bunyan Conference. Enclosed is a check for $75.00. □ Register me for the 2013 John Bunyan Conference. Enclosed is a check for $30.00; I will pay the remaining $45.00 upon sign-in. Make the check payable to Sovereign Grace New Covenant Ministries with a note “For 2013 John Bunyan Conference” and mail to 5317 Wye Creek Dr, Frederick, MD 21703-6938. Name: _________________________________________________________________ Address: _______________________________________________________________ City: ___________________________________________________________________ State/Province – Zip/Postal Code: ________________________________________________ □ VISA □ MasterCard □ Discover ______ ______ ______ ______ Exp Date ____/____ CCV No. _____ Phone: _______________________ Email: ____________________________________ □ If you would like to make arrangements with another individual to share a room and its costs, please so indicate and we will maintain a list of any who may be interested in such an arrangement. Name: _____________________________________ Gender: __________________________ Phone: __________________________________ Email: ___________________________

Issue 194

Speakers 2013 John Bunyan Conference

February 2013

Page 15

Gary George is a life-long resident of Worcester County, Massachusetts in the heart of New England. He has been the pastor of Sovereign Grace Chapel in Southbridge, MA since 1992. Gary and his wife Michelle have five grown children. Jim Hamilton is Associate Professor of Biblical Theology at Southern Seminary and Preaching Pastor at Kenwood Baptist Church in Louisville, KY. He previously taught at the Houston Campus of Southwestern Seminary and is the author of God’s Indwelling Presence: The Holy Spirit in the Old and New Testaments (B&H 2006), God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment: A Biblical Theology (Crossway 2010), and Revelation: The Spirit Speaks to the Churches (Crossway 2012). David Robinson is pastor of Grace Bible Church in Cambridge Ontario. He has been pastor for the last eighteen years and recently planted a church (Redeemer Bible Church) in nearby Kitchener. David is married to Eva and they have three children. Kirk Wellum is the Principal of Toronto Baptist Seminary and Bible College where he also teaches Systematic and Pastoral Theology. Before coming to TBS Kirk served as a pastor for a total of 24 years in three churches in Southern Ontario. He has written numerous articles for a variety of Christian magazines and has spoken at conferences in Canada, the United States, the UK, and Africa. Kirk is married and has four children. A. Blake White is currently working on a PhD in Systematic and Biblical Theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. He has authored seven books and is married to Alicia. They have two boys, Josiah and Asher. Kirk Wellum will present two pre-conference messages Sunday, April 21 at 9:30 and 10:45 am at Reformed Baptist Church. For further information, please contact the church directly: Reformed Baptist Church, 830 Buffalo Road, Lewisburg, PA 17837. Phone (570) 524-7488; Website: www.rbclewisburg.org; Email: rbclewisburg@earthlink.net
Indicative/Imperative— Continued from page 11

things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.” We have been raised with Christ and therefore should set our hearts on things above. We died with Christ and therefore should put to death whatever belongs to our earthly nature. “Become what you are.” Galatians 5:1, 5:25, and Ephesians 5:8 contain both the indicative and the

imperative in a single verse! Verse 1 of Galatians 5 reads, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Let’s paraphrase what Paul is saying here: “Christ has set us free. Be free.” Behave in line with what God has done for you in Christ. Verse 25 of Galatians 5 reads, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” In other words, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us live by the Spirit.” Ephesians 5:8 reads, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.” To paraphrase again: “You are children of light. Live as children of light.” Philippians 2:12-13 is a classic

verse for this relationship: “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” We are called to work because it is God at work. Galatians 3:27 says that we who were baptized into Christ have clothed ourselves with Christ, but Romans 13:14 commands us to clothe ourselves with Christ. So clothe yourself with Christ because you are clothed with Christ! Become what you are. 

Page 16
Reisinger—Continued from page 6

heritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. (Heb. 9:14-15 NIV) For Christ did not enter a manmade sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (Heb. 9:24-28 NIV)

February 2013 no chairs in the tabernacle because the priestly work of sacrifice was never finished. After our Lord made his once-for-all-time sacrifice, he “sat down” because his sacrificial work was done.
After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. (Mark 16:19; cf. Heb. 8:1)

We have looked at the first of the three comparisons in Hebrews 8:6. We have seen how the first comparison insists that Christ’s ministry of High Priest is better than Aaron’s ministry. We will now look at the second comparison. The second comparison in Hebrews 8:6 is between the two covenants. The writer states that the primary reason Christ’s ministry succeeded where Aaron’s ministry failed is because Christ’s ministry as High Priest is based on a better covenant. Everything depends on the nature of

It has been noted that there were

Issue 194 the covenant under which a priest ministers. Christ succeeds where Aaron failed simply because of Aaron’s inability to meet the terms of the covenant under which he ministered. Our Lord perfectly fulfills the demands of the Old Covenant and then establishes a new and better covenant based on better terms. The New Covenant under which Christ ministered is based on grace, but the Old Covenant under which Aaron ministered was based on works. The efficacy of the sacrifice and the intercession can only be as effective as the covenant under which that work is done. What was needed was a new covenant not merely a new administration of the same covenant. What was the major weakness in the Old Covenant that necessitated it being totally replaced with a new and better covenant? The answer is quite simple. Aaron could not meet the terms of the Old Covenant for either himself or for those he represented.
Reisinger—Continued on page 18

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Page 18 First of all, Aaron could not present to God the holy, sinless, lawkeeping, righteous life that the Old Covenant terms justly demanded. Aaron was a sinner who represented other sinners. He could not provide for himself or for those he represented the perfect righteous life that the “just, good, holy” law covenant demanded, nor could he offer an acceptable sacrifice that could pay the sinner’s debt to a holy God. The people Aaron represented, along with Aaron himself, were under the curse of God because they had broken the terms of the covenant, written both on the tablets of the covenant housed in the ark of the covenant and in the book of the covenant (Ex. 24:7-8) and sealed with blood. Secondly, once those covenant terms were broken, that law covenant demanded an acceptable sacrifice to pay for sin. Aaron could no more bring such a sacrifice than he could have brought a righteous sinless life. He could make no true atonement for sin any more than he could earn life by obedience. All he could do was sacrifice an animal and sprinkle its blood on the altar and plead with God to “cover the sin” with the animal’s blood until One came who could and would make a true atonement. Our Lord accomplished both of the things that Aaron could not accomplish. He obeyed the law and earned the righteousness that it promised, and then
Reisinger—Continued from page 16

February 2013 he endured its just curse on the Cross. His righteous life is imputed to all for whom he died just as the sin of those same people is imputed to Christ and fully paid by him on the cross. I trust the reader has begun to see the truth of the glory of the New Covenant. We have looked at why Christ’s ministry as our High Priest is so much better than Aaron’s ministry as High Priest. Christ’s ministry is based on a better covenant. We now look at the third comparison in Hebrews 8:6. The third comparison is between the different promises upon which the two covenants rest. Again the writer answers the logical question raised by the second comparison. Why is the New Covenant from which Christ ministers so much better than the covenant from which Aaron ministers? The answer is the third comparison. Christ’s ministry is better than Aaron’s because the Old Covenant from which Aaron ministered was totally inferior to the New Covenant. The Old Covenant is inferior because it is based on inferior promises. Both covenants promised eternal life but the Old Covenant required the sinner to obey the law in order to earn the promised life. The New Covenant assures the poor sinner that Christ has earned the promised life for us. Aaron could only give sinners a temporary relief. He could not offer a sacrifice that paid for sin and guilt. The covering only lasted for one year and then

Issue 194 there must be another Day of Atonement. We must remember that there was no real atonement for sin until the cross. That is the first time that sin was actually punished. Every drop of animal blood on the Old Covenant altars was like an ‘I owe you’ note. At Calvary, our Lord picked up and paid in full every one of those ‘IOUs.’ Someone has said, “The Old Covenant believer was ‘saved on credit.” We need to clearly understand the nature, function and promises upon which the Old Covenant was based before we can understand why that Old Covenant had to be replaced with a new and better covenant. The Old Covenant is the covenant made with the nation of Israel at Mount Sinai. It was a covenant based on works. It was based on a big “if.” IF the Israelite obeyed the terms of the covenant in the ark of the covenant, THEN they would receive the blessings promised in the covenant.
Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation’ (Ex. 19:5- 6 NIV)

When it was clear that we couldn't persuade him, we gave up and said, "The Lord's will be done." Acts 21:14 'He that hath ears to hear, but can't; let them be' Have you ever tried to stop a baby from crying and gotten nowhere with your efforts? Or tried to stop a dog from barking, and still it persists? These are like trying to advise a stubborn and rebellious person to change their ways—your words get totally ignored. You might as well talk to the wall. You're left with two choices, keep pestering them in hopes that you see results, or resign yourself to the reality that they will not listen. If the desire of their will is the father of their thought, you become muted out of their volume intake. When someone in essence says: "Not Thy will, but mine be done " then we must say: "The will of the Lord be done." 'A man persuaded against his will, is of the same opinion still' Gary George

No child of Adam could keep those terms thus all were condemned under the terms of that covenant. The blessings of the New Covenant are established on Gospel terms. They are not based on works but on grace. They tell a sinner to believe not work. The three comparisons mentioned in Hebrews 8:6 are not the only comparisons in the Book of Hebrews. The whole book is a series of contrasts between the “better things” believers have under the New Covenant. John MacArthur has given the best short summary of the heart of the message of Hebrews that I have ever read.
The epistle to the Hebrews is a study in contrast, between the imperfect and incomplete provisions of the Old Covenant, given under Moses,

Issue 194
and the infinitely better provisions of the New Covenant offered by the perfect High-Priest, God’s only Son the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Included in the “better” provisions are: a better hope, testament, promise sacrifice, substance, country, and resurrection. Those who belong to the New Covenant dwell in a completely new and heavenly atmosphere, they worship a heavenly Savior, have a heavenly calling, receive a heavenly gift, are citizens of a heavenly country, look forward to a heavenly Jerusalem, and have their names written in heaven. One of the key theology themes in Hebrews is that all believers now have direct access to God under the New Covenant and, therefore may approach the throne of God boldly (4:16; 10:22). One’s hope is in the very presence of God, into which he follows the Savior 6:19; 10:19, 20). The primary teaching symbolized by the tabernacle service was that believers under the covenant of law did not have direct access to the presence of God (9:8), but were shut out of the Holy of Holies. The Book of Hebrews may briefly be summarized in this way: Believers in Jesus Christ, as God’s perfect sacrifice for sin, have the perfect High Priest through whose ministry everything is new and better than under the covenant of law. 2

February 2013
present evil world, bondage to Satan, and dominion of sin, from the evil of afflictions, the sting of death, the victory of the grave, and everlasting damnation; as also in their free access to God, and their yielding obedience unto him, not out of slavish fear, but a child-like love and willing mind. All which were common also to believers under the law; but under the New Testament the liberty of Christians is further enlarged in their freedom from the yoke of the ceremonial law, to which the Jewish Church was subjected; and in greater boldness of access to the throne of grace, and in fuller communications of the free Spirit of God, than believers under the law did ordinarily partake of.3

Page 19
White—Continued from page 13

MacArthur’s statement, with which I totally agree, “The primary teaching symbolized by the tabernacle service was that believers under the covenant of law did not have direct access to the presence of God (9:8), but were shut out of the Holy of Holies,” is in total disagreement with the Westminster Confession. Covenant theology’s view of continuity/discontinuity necessitates that Israel had all of the blessings that the Church has but not to the same degree. Emphasis in the following quotation is mine.
The liberty which Christ hath purchased for believers under the gospel consists in their freedom from the guilt of sin, the condemning wrath of God, the curse of the moral law; and in their being delivered from this 2 Ibid., 1895

The first half of that statement listing the blessings of believers living under the gospel is an excellent summary. It sounds like these blessing are unique to New Covenant believers; however, the confession then upends everything it has just stated. “All which were common also to believers under the law.” To say that Old Covenant believers ”had greater boldness of access to the throne of grace” is like saying the veil was partially closed under the Old Covenant and more opened under the New Covenant Scripture is explicit in stating that the veil totally closed off entrance into the Most Holy place. To speak of an Old Covenant believer having any “boldness of access to the throne of grace “is to add to Scripture. I am sure the framers of the Westminster Confession never intended to minimize the glory of the New Covenant, but they could not have done so any better if they had deliberately tried! In our next article we will look at the rending of the veil the day our Lord cried, “It is finished.” We will see, among other things, just how wrong the Westminster Confession is on “access into the Most Holy Place.” 
3 Westminster Confession - Chapter 20. Of Christian Liberty, and Liberty of Conscience

(cf. Gal 4:27, John 6:45). Of course this chapter is in the midst of the “gospel of the Old Testament,” chapters 40-55, and it follows chapter fiftythree, the magnificent portrait of the suffering servant who will bring it all about. Isaiah 54 paints a picture of the New Covenant, in light of the other covenants. Verses one to three contain allusions to the Abrahamic covenant (Sarah’s barrenness, room for Gentiles, offspring possessing the nations), verses 4-8 allude to the Mosaic covenant (deserted wife, exile, Babylon), 9-17 alludes to the Noahic covenant. Verse ten speaks of the covenant of peace. This is equivalent to the New Covenant and “will be the fulfillment of all previous covenants.”16 Paul sees this time as having arrived. The law is written not on tablets of stone but on our heart (2 Cor 3:3). We are taught by God. Paul goes a step further in defining what we are taught: to love one another (1 Thess 4:9)! This is the essence of the law (as we have seen from Matt 22:37-38, Gal 5:14, Rom 13:8-10). Love is at the heart of the law of Christ. 
16 Barry G. Webb, The Message of Isaiah (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1996), 215. I am indebted to Webb for this whole paragraph.

In the first garden “Not Your will but mine” [by Adam] changed Paradise to desert and brought man from Eden to Gethsemane. Now “Not My will but Yours” [by Jesus Christ] brings anguish to the Man who prays it but transforms the desert into the kingdom and brings man from Gethsemane to the gates of glory. D.A. Carson Matthew, The Expositor's Bible Commentary, Zondervan, 1984, p. 545

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In New Covenant Theology and Prophecy, John G. Reisinger articulates what he calls a “New Covenant Hermeneutic” that will help Christians navigate prophetic differences when it comes to understanding how Old Testament promises should be interpreted and applied today. Reisinger has a unique ability to get to the essence of difficult theological issues and to marshal the relevant biblical data that must be considered if we are to move together toward a solution. His writing is clear, interesting, thought-provoking, and is a must read for all who are seeking to grasp how the Bible’s prophetic message fits together. Kirk Wellum, Principal, Toronto Baptist Seminary ______________________________________________________________________________ If we primarily use the Old Testament Scriptures to form our understanding of eschatology, we likely will embrace a premillennial understanding of Abraham’s and David’s expectations. At the risk of over-simplifying, we will refer to this as a Dispensational hermeneutic. If we use the texts in the New Testament Scriptures that deal with the promise to Abraham we likely will favor the amillennial position. Again, at the risk of over-simplifying, we will call this a Covenant hermeneutic (short for Covenant theology). Currently, New Covenant theology has no clearly defined hermeneutic. Adherents of New Covenant theology have attempted to answer this question by modifying either Covenantal hermeneutics or Dispensational hermeneutics. One of the basic presuppositions of New Covenant theology is that the New Testament Scriptures must interpret the Old Testament. “How do the New Testament writers interpret the kingdom promises of the Old Testament?” Do the New Testament writers give a literal, or “natural,” meaning to the kingdom promises in the Old Testament, or do they spiritualize those prophecies? This book represents an attempt to begin serious work toward establishing New Covenant hermeneutics from the ground up—that is, without beginning with either Covenantal or Dispensational hermeneutics. _____________________________________________________________________________________________________

New Covenant Theology & Prophecy John G. Reisinger
91 pages, paperback See page 17 for ordering information. Also available in Kindle format from Amazon.com

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