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In This Issue
New Covenant Theology and Prophecy―Part 1 John G. Reisinger Christian Ethics A. Blake White The Vital Message of Jude for the Twenty-First Century – 3 of 3 Steve West The Time of Reformation – 3 of 3 A 'New Covenant Theology' Exposition of Hebrews 9 Stan F. Vaninger 1 1 3

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

New Covenant Theology and Prophecy ― Part 1
John G. Reisinger
Let me clearly state my millennial position at the very beginning of this article. I am not a premillennialist, an amillennialist, or a postmillennialist. I am a millennial agnostic. I honestly do not know what to believe about a millennium. In one sense, I am an existential millennialist, since I am unsure if an objective viewpoint exists, and even if it does, I am by no means certain that I can access it. I have no hope of finding the final answer. Let me explain.

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1. Most Premillenialist requires an earthly, Jewish kingdom that lasts one thousand years (a literal millennium).1 If this kingdom fails to materialize, God has broken his covenant with Abraham, because part of that covenant included a Promised Land. An earthly kingdom requires an actual place, capable of being located on a map. At the risk of oversimplifying, the minimal requirement for premillennialism is one thousand years of Jewish rule in the physical Promised Land. If this is an accurate account of premillennialism, then I cannot be a Premil. I see no necessity for a millennium of earthly rule to fulfill the Old Testament prophecies concerning an “everlasting kingdom.” It seems to me that the
1 I say most because men like Dr. Don Carson would be a Premillenialist but would not be a Dispensationalist.
Reisinger—Continued on page 2

Christian Ethics
A. Blake White
Schools of Ethics Historically, there have been three schools of ethics: deontological, teleological, and virtue ethics. Deontological ethics considers an act right or wrong because it should be done. This could be because it keeps a promise, it is just, or because God commands it.1 As Michael Hill writes, “Deontological theories argue that there are certain features of actions like murder or adultery that make them right or wrong, and therefore binds people to do them (or not). All deontological theories agree that people ought to do the right thing simply because it is right, and not because of any consequences or outcomes
1 John S. Feinberg and Paul D. Feinberg, Ethics for a Brave New World 2nd ed. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010), 35.

that might follow.”2 This is a “duty-based” ethic. The main advocate for this approach was Immanuel Kant (17241804). Teleological theories include consequentialism and utilitarianism. What is morally good or bad is determined by the end it brings about. Michael Hill writes, “A teleological ethic gives accounts of why actions are morally right or wrong in terms of the goals envisaged.”3 This is a “results-based” ethic. Popular advocates include Jeremy Bentham, J.S. Mill, and G.E. Moore.
2 Michael Hill, The How and Why of Love (Australia: Matthias Media, 2002), 25. 3 Hill, The How and Why of Love, 26.
White—Continued on page 12

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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 financially. 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, John Thorhauer, Bob VanWingerden and Jacob Moseley. Editor: John G. Reisinger; Phone: (585)3963385; e-mail: reisingerjohn@gmail.com. Webmaster: Maurice Bergeron: webmaster@soundofgrace.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 800-376-4146 or 301-473-8781 Fax 240-206-0373. 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. 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 find 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 sending Sound of Grace free of charge.

tic that produces this view is flawed. 3. Postmillennialism, as I understand it, requires a millennial reign of righteousness resulting from either a gradual conversion of the world, or a “latter-day revival” that converts the world. If this understanding is accurate, then I cannot be a Postmil. I do not find such a tenet in Scripture, and I believe this position, like the others, comes from a flawed hermeneutic. As is often the case in theological discussions, the conversation about prophecy is complicated in two ways: through the use of non-biblical terminology and through careless definition of the biblical terms that are used. Few people realize that the Old Testament contains no references at all to a millennial reign of the Messiah. The New Testament contains only six references, all within a single passage—Revelation 20:2-6. If we were to eliminate Revelation 20:2-6 from the conversation, we would have no reference point for a millennium, and thus no millennial views, yet we could retain and meaningfully discuss the multiple Old Testament references to an eternal kingdom. In other words, some of the Old Testament writers referred frequently to a coming eternal kingdom, but none of them ever mention a millennial (thousandyear) kingdom. As I pointed out earlier, a millennial kingdom is not the same thing as an eternal kingdom. A thousand-year kingdom cannot fulfill the promise of an eternal kingdom. We must not equate the millennium and the eternal kingdom and allow six verses in Revelation 20 to frame our understanding of the promised eternal kingdom of God. When I was in Bible school, over fifty years ago, the predominant theological trend was to treat the words kingdom and millennium as interchangeable. The word premillennial meant pre-kingdom. It meant that the return of Christ was prior to the establishment of the kingdom that God had promised to Abraham and the
Reisinger—Continued on page 4

hermeneutic that produces this view is flawed. If we insist on a rigid literalism in this matter, then one thousand years of rule does not qualify as everlasting. In the light of forever, one thousand years is a tiny fraction. Furthermore, if we posit an everlasting kingdom that is marked by certain geographic boundaries on this planet as it presently exists, then we preclude the possibility of a literal new earth. Here is a typical Premil statement.
In order for God to keep His promises to Israel and His covenant with David (2 Samuel 7:8-16, 23:5; Psalm 89:3-4), there must be a literal, physical kingdom on this earth. To doubt this is to call into question God’s desire and/or ability to keep His promises, and this opens up a host of other theological problems. For example, if God would renege on His promises to Israel after proclaiming those promises to be “everlasting,” how could we be sure of anything He promises, including the promises of salvation to believers in the Lord Jesus? The only solution is to take Him at His word and understand that His promises will be literally fulfilled.2

2. Amillennialism, as I understand it, requires that there is no earthly Jewish kingdom that lasts for one thousand years (a literal millennium). If this is an accurate understanding of a millennialism, then I cannot be an Amil. Where is there a Scripture text that says there cannot be an earthly Jewish kingdom that lasts for one thousand years? The belief that there is no necessity for a thousand-year earthly kingdom and the belief that the Bible teaches that there will be no such thing are two different beliefs. I feel the same way about an earthly millennium that I do about the gift of tongues. I see no reason for the revival of the gift of tongues and I do not see a biblical reason to believe that such a revival will occur. However, I also have no text of Scripture that specifically states that tongues will not be revived. Again, I think the hermeneu2 http://www.gotquestions.org/amillennialism.html

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The Vital Message of Jude for the Twenty-First Century: Part 3 of 3
Steve West
As we saw in our examination of Jude 1-16, Jude is writing a letter to contend for the faith, exposing false teachers and their destructive doctrines and lifestyles. Jude adduced numerous examples from the past that clearly show how God will punish the ungodly for both their words and deeds. Every case he cited showed the ungodly being punished in the end. Some were presuming on the grace of God, some were overt rebels, others mocked him and completely disregarded all standards of decency and morality, and ultimately God brought them all to judgment. There are certain ungodly people who have slipped into the church, and Jude wants Christ’s followers to make sure they are not imitating these ungodly scoffers. After having dwelt on the false teachers, Jude turns his attention to his “dear friends” (v. 17) and begins to counsel them on how they are to live. When Jude was articulating the case against the ungodly and the surety of their punishment, he looked to past examples and to prophecy. Now he reminds the believers about what the apostles of Christ had told them—that scoffers were going to appear in the last days, following their own ungodly desires (vv. 17-18). The apostles had warned that these types of people would come into the church and be divisive (v. 19). These false brethren are characterized by following human instincts, and the damning fact that they do not have the Spirit, which means they are not Christians at all (v. 19). Jude makes a clear distinction between these unbelievers and his dear friends. He writes: “But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life” (v. 20). Unlike the ungodly infiltrators, Jude’s beloved friends have holy faith. What a precious possession! They are not to take this for granted, however, or become complacent. A complacent Christian is a good aide for a false teacher. On the contrary, the believers are to work hard to build themselves up in the faith. Hard work in sanctification is an effective antidote to ungodliness. This work at building themselves up is not to take place in the sphere of their own wisdom or power. They are to “pray in the Holy Spirit,” which doubtless included charismatic prayer, but which is far more expansive. Praying in tongues was a subset of praying in the Spirit. All God-honoring prayer is prayer in the Holy Spirit, just as it is prayer in Jesus’ name. It is important not to miss the main contrast here between the believers and unbelievers. The latter do not even have the Spirit (v. 19), whereas the former have the Spirit and can pray in him (v. 20). It is impossible to imagine how blessed the followers of Jesus Christ really are. Unbelievers are led by their instincts and ungodly desires; believers are led by the Spirit. This present contrast is as stark as the difference between their final, eternal states. Believers are waiting for the consummation of eternal life (v. 21), whereas, as we have already seen, unbelievers are waiting for the day of judgment and darkness (vv. 4-16). Even now believers exist in God’s love and Christ’s mercy (v. 21), all because of God’s gracious love and call (v. 1). Even though there is an absolute polarization between these two camps, nobody knows when God will call a lost sinner to salvation or who he will redeem. Although it may have been tempting for the church to condemn everyone who seemed the least bit suspect, Jude advocates a different course of action. In fact, what Jude says seems somewhat out of step with the harsh language used so far in this epistle. But this is very instructive for us: Jude neither soft-pedals around sin and false teachers, nor indiscriminately runs over everyone he deems less holy than himself. He recognizes that in the midst of all this spiritual warfare there are likely to be casualties, and some of God’s children may be fooled in various degrees for various periods of time. Rather than blasting the weak, Jude says that believers need to “be merciful to those who doubt” (v. 22). There is some question concerning exactly what type of people Jude is referring to in this verse. In the first place, this is one of the few places in the New Testament where textual critics are really unsure which textual variant is original. Jude 22-23 simply encapsulates a very difficult textual problem. Second, there is a debate concerning the meaning of the word the NIV translates as “doubt.” The word refers to dispute and is often used when different parties are disputing or quarrelling with each other. Green takes this as the most natural meaning of the word and argues that
West—Continued on page 10

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children of Israel. In this scheme, the millennial reign of Christ described the kingdom that Messiah offered the Jews at his first coming. They rejected it, and thus God postponed its implementation until Messiah’s second coming. More recently, premillennialists maintain that the millennium is an aspect of the kingdom. The words “millennium” and “kingdom” are no longer interchangeable. What would happen if we used the phrase eternal kingdom instead of the word millennium to describe and define our prophetic view? We would then have the following three views IF we maintained the current categories used in this discussion: pre-eternal kingdom; a-eternal kingdom; and post-eternal kingdom. Let us, then, pose the following question: What is the relationship of the second coming of Christ to the eternal kingdom promised to Abraham, David, and the Jewish nation? Has Messiah already established that kingdom or will he do so in the future? Those who hold the a-eternal kingdom view would believe there is no eternal kingdom. This position would indeed make God unreliable in that he has promised something that will not happen. Who wants to adopt this view? I think we could eliminate this category from the discussion. There would be no a-eternal kingdom (amillennial view). Those who favor the post-eternal kingdom perspective would believe the establishment of the eternal kingdom precedes the second coming, but if the kingdom is eternal, there is no after-the-kingdom, and thus we are hard-pressed to speak meaningfully about a temporal second coming. Some Christians have adopted the doctrine of a non-physical return of Messiah, but no Christians I know of suggest a non-temporal return. Nothing can happen after the eternal kingdom, because given the nature of eternity, there is no after. Given the terms of the discussion, it would

seem impossible to hold a post-eternal kingdom (postmillennial view).3 An individual who holds the preeternal kingdom view would have to believe that the eternal kingdom has not yet come. Who wants to deny that the kingdom has come in some sense and to some degree? I think we can eliminate this view, too, from the discussion. There would be no preeternal kingdom (premillennial view). If we recast the conversation with the promised kingdom terms, we eliminate all three millennial views. This is why I am an existential millennialist. I am not, however, an existential or an agnostic kingdomist (if I may coin a new term for this discussion). The hermeneutical point that prevents this is the way that the authors of the New Testament Scriptures interpret the kingdom promises recorded in the Old Testament Scriptures. The authors of the New Testament grant us access to two views of these promises: their understanding of the promises, and their understanding of how the individuals to whom the kingdom promises were made understood those promises. My reading of these New Testament writers challenges the view that these authors understood the kingdom promises in the Old Testament in a literal sense and never spiritualized them. For the purposes of this article, let us consider two examples. Both Abraham and David received kingdom promises from God. The question that we want to answer concerns their understanding of those promises. Did they spiritualize those promises or did they understand them in natural language (as we define “natural” in the early twenty-first century)—that is, did they take the promises literally? Exactly what did Abraham believe that God was promising him in Genesis 15:18-21? Exactly what did
3 We would have to speak of a midkingdom coming; that is, that the second coming will happen after the establishment of the eternal kingdom or during the time of the kingdom.

David expect in the promises that God made to him in 2 Samuel 7? What resources do we have to help us resolve this interpretive dispute: the natural (literal) versus a spiritual understanding of the kingdom promise in the Old Testament Scriptures? We will begin by surveying the basic information. First, God gave Abraham and his seed a specific promise about a clearly defined piece of real estate—the land bordered by the river of Egypt and the Euphrates (Genesis 15:18-21). We refer to this as the Promised Land. God promised David that his son would establish an eternal kingdom and would sit on the throne of that kingdom (2 Sam. 7:11b-16). Next, we ask how Abraham and David understood their promises. What did they expect as the fulfillment of those promises? When and how were the promises to be fulfilled? How can we discover whether Abraham understood the promise to him in a literal sense (with the occupation of the Promised Land as the fulfillment of the covenant) or if he spiritualized the promise (with the occupation of the land as a type of inheriting heaven)? How do we know what David expected? To attempt to answer our particular question, we will begin with the biblical text concerning the promise to Abraham. If we allow the Old Testament Scriptures to give us our answers, 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 quesReisinger—Continued on page 6

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The Time of Reformation—Part 3 of 3 A ‘New Covenant Theology’ Exposition of Hebrews 9
Stan F. Vaninger
For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, 14how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.15 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.
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By using the for if / how much more structure in verses 13 and 14, our author brings into focus both the continuity and discontinuity of the historical shift from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. Both involve blood sacrifices and purification. But the sacrifices of the two covenants are very different as well as the nature of the purifications. The explanation given clearly shows the superiority of the New Covenant purification while the superiority of Christ’s sacrifice is explicitly stated later in 9:23. The language of Hebrews 9 repeatedly emphasizes both the continuity and discontinuity associated with the reformation brought about by Christ. If too much emphasis is placed upon the continuity in salvation history, our comprehension of God’s plan will be greatly impaired. John G. Reisinger reminds us, “The very term ‘New Covenant’ necessitates discontinuity. You cannot have an Old Covenant replaced by a New Covenant without having discontinuity.”1 With great insight, David L. Baker points out that Jesus Christ is, in
1 John G. Reisinger, Continuity and Discontinuity, (Frederick, MD: New Covenant Media, 2011), 37.

fact, the greatest discontinuity. “The New Testament declares that the new covenant has been realized in Jesus Christ, though this is a fulfillment beyond all prophetic speculation.... Paradoxically, therefore, the greatest discontinuity is the coming of Jesus. From one perspective he fulfilled the promises and hopes of the Old Testament, and yet from another he surpassed all expectations.”2 Hebrews 9 certainly confirms that observation. Deut. 18:15-19 tells us another prophet like Moses would be forthcoming (continuity) but give us no hint how much greater and better than Moses this new prophet would be (discontinuity). Putting together all of the OT Messianic prophecies seen with hindsight still falls short of the amazing fulfillment we find in the NT. Verse 13 says that the blood of goats and calves performed according to Mosaic law was for ‘the purifying of the flesh.’ This may not be clear to the modern reader. Sprinkling blood on just about anything will make a mess. It will not cleanse but make dirty. It will help to look ahead to verse 22, ‘under the law almost everything is purified (cleansed) with blood.’ What is spoken of in verse 13 is a ritual and symbolic cleansing. The sprinkling of sacrificial blood symbolized cleansing from sin in the Levitical ritual. Once we see this, the point of verse 13 is clear enough. The cleansing of the Mosaic sacrifices was an external cleansing only. It had no real effect on the inner person. It was only an external ritual. But then in verse 14, we have the contrast. The blood of Christ affects an internal cleansing. And what an incredible
2 Baker, Two Testaments, One Bible, Third Edition, 223 (in Chapter 9 which is entitled ‘Continuity and Discontinuity’).

cleansing it is. The blood of Christ cleanses our ‘conscience from dead works to serve the living God.’ Here is a very clear statement of what true saving faith in the blood of Christ brings about in the heart of the believer. The blood of Christ brings about a transformation; one could use the word reformation, a word which ‘encapsulates the essence of Jeremiah’s prophecy.’3 It writes the law of God on our hearts, turns us away from a life of sin (dead works) and turns us to a life of serving the living God. There is more than that to salvation, of course. Our writer gives two more results of the blood of Christ in verse 15. Verse 13 mentions the ‘ashes of a heifer.’ Even though the word red is not in the text, this is certainly a reference to the ashes of a red heifer spoken of in Numbers 19. According to this chapter, Israel was required to take a red heifer without spot or blemish outside the camp, slaughter it, and burn it on a wood fire and then gather the ashes. These ashes were then to be mixed with water and used by the priests to cleanse those who become ceremoniously unclean. Anyone who touched a corpse (or touched a grave or human bones) or entered a room where there was a corpse became unclean and had to go to the priests to be sprinkled with this water on the 3rd day and the 7th day. Numbers 19:10, 21 says that this law is a statute forever to Israel (the Hebrew word used here actually conveys indefinite continuance rather than endlessness4).
3 R. T. France, “Hebrews,” in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Revised Edition, Volume 13, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006), 115. 4 R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook
Vaninger—Continued on page 15

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tion by modifying either Covenantal hermeneutics or Dispensational hermeneutics. This article 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. I propose that we frame the discussion in terms of the word kingdom instead of the word millennium, as I have done thus far. Next, I propose that we look first for explicit answers within the biblical texts, considering the evidence from both the Old and New Testaments. Some readers might object that the New Testament authors were removed from both Abraham and David by time and culture, and thus what those New Testament writers offer us tells us more about their thought world than it does about the thought world of Abraham and David. Astute readers might point out that we cannot even assume continuity between the thought worlds of Abraham and David. These objections would be serious indeed if we did not have the assurance that the Scriptures, both Hebrew and Greek, are God’s inspired Word to his people. Thus, we can trust what the New Testament authors tell us about Abraham and David. Furthermore, the New Testament writers, although removed from Abraham and David by time and place, are much closer to them than we are. We would be hermeneutically arrogant to privilege our common sense reading of Abraham and David over the New Testament writers’ inspired reading of those men. Therefore, as a tenet of New Covenant hermeneutics, I propose that when the New Testament Scriptures speak to our questions, we allow what it says to be the final word and the word from which we build doctrine. Having proposed the desirability of examining all of God’s Word for answers to our question, let us refine that question. Do the authors of

Scripture who post-date Abraham and David and who refer to the kingdom promise explicitly state that the promises to Abraham and David (1) have been fulfilled, (2) are in the process of being fulfilled, or (3) are awaiting future fulfillment? Is the well-known statement, “The new is in the old concealed and the old is in the new revealed,” correct? Specifically, what do the new covenant Scriptures say about the land promised to Abraham and the eternal kingdom promises to David? According to those Scriptures, exactly how did Abraham and David understand what was being promised to them? I used to state that if the Old Testament were all of the Scripture to which I had access, I would be a premillennialist. I would believe that the land promised to Abraham had not yet been totally fulfilled and I would believe that David’s kingdom and throne had not yet been established. I would no longer say that. A fellow pastor recently offered proof from the New Testament Scriptures that old covenant believers knew and understood more than we usually credit them with knowing.
Christ chided Nicodemus (John 3:10), the disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:24-27, 44-47), the Pharisees (John 5:39, John 8:56), and his disciples (Acts 1:8 as the answer to Acts 1:6) for failing to interpret their Scriptures (our Old Testament) typologically. Christ expected, at the least, that his audience would understand that all of the Hebrew Scriptures were about him, and that they should read those Scriptures Messianically. His expectation of their reading lens precluded a wooden, literalistic (plain sense everywhere) hermeneutic. From: Chad Bresson

If this is all that God said about the land promise, I would join their ranks. However, such is not the case.
So the LORD gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there. The LORD gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their ancestors. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the LORD gave all their enemies into their hands. Not one of all the LORD’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled. (Joshua 21:43-45, NIV)

These verses are explicit. They specifically state that (1), “the Lord gave Israel ALL the land he had sworn to their ancestors.” Israel literally (2) “took possession of it” (i.e., the Promised Land) and they (3) “settled there” (in the Promised Land). (4) “God gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their ancestors,” and (5), “not one of their enemies withstood them; the Lord gave all of their enemies into their hands.” (6) Verse 45 is an explicit, comprehensive statement, “Not one of all the LORD’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.” According to Joshua, Abraham’s descendants occupied the land as an everlasting possession. This would seem to be the kind of explicit text that we are seeking. Indeed, if this were the final verse in the Scriptures that mentioned the Abrahamic kingdom promise, we would be justified in stating that God has definitely already fulfilled that promise. The text in Joshua, however, is not the final word. Some of the Old Testament writers who post-date Joshua present the promise as still in effect and awaiting another fulfillment (see 1 Chron. 16:13-18; Psalm 105:6-11; Jer. 32:37-41 as examples). If we ask, “Has God fulfilled every promise to Abraham and his seed, including the land promised in Genesis 15?” The answer, according to Joshua 21, is, “Yes, beyond question.” If we ask, “Do other Old Testament Scriptures, written long after Joshua wrote, clearly hold out the land promise as still future?”

In addition to the New Testament evidence, the Old Testament itself does not allow me to stand by my previous statement. Joshua sees God’s kingdom promises to Abraham as having been fulfilled. Amillennialists use this passage from the Old Testament to support their position.

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The answer again must be, “Yes.” Are we contradicting ourselves? We certainly are not contradicting Scripture since both answers come from Scripture. On the one hand, Scripture says, “The Lord gave Israel ALL the land he had sworn to their ancestors (Joshua 21:43, emphasis mine). On the other hand, long after Joshua died, David reiterated God’s promise and applied it to Israel in conflict with the Philistines over the Promised Land, thus making the promise’s fulfillment salient to the circumstances about which he wrote.
He remembers his covenant forever, the word he commanded, for a thousand generations, the covenant he made with Abraham, the oath he swore to Isaac. He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, to Israel as an everlasting covenant: To you I will give the land of Canaan as the portion you will inherit. (Psalm 105:8-11, NIV)

November 2011 country, of the western foothills and of the Negev …” (Jer. 32:40, 41, 44, NIV)

This text is not enough to make me a Premillenialist but it is enough to keep me from being an Amillennialists. It is clear that God’s people did not view the promise as over and done with the initial settling of Canaan. Joshua 21:43-45 is not enough to make us believe that there cannot be some future fulfillment, but it is enough to keep us from insisting that God’s people viewed the fulfillment as entirely future. So how did Abraham understand this promise? When (and if) we know that, we will get help in knowing how to interpret the Old Testament promises concerning the kingdom. While we cannot know everything that Abraham and David believed about their promises, we can know exactly how they understood the essence of the respective covenants that God made with each of them. We know exactly what Abraham understood God was promising in the land promise, and we know exactly what David expected God was going to do in the kingdom promised to him. We know, because the New Testament explicitly states their expectations. Remember our New Covenant hermeneutic: when the New Testament Scriptures speak to our question, we allow that answer to be the final one; the one from which we build doctrine. Allow me, for the sake of illustration, to offer the following constructed interview with Abraham, conducted in the present. Interviewer: Abraham, I understand God made a covenant with you and promised to give you a son by Sarah. He reaffirmed that promise when both you and Sarah were far too old to beget or bear children. Abraham: That is correct. And God kept that promise and miraculously enabled Sarah to conceive and to give birth to a child whom we named Isaac.

Inter.: God also promised to give you and your seed a specific piece of land where you would eternally dwell in security and safety.

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Abr.: That is correct. That promise is recorded in Genesis 15:18-21. Inter.: Did you and your seed inherit that land in fulfillment of that promise? Abr.: Yes. Scripture, in both Joshua 21:43-45 and Hebrews 11:8-11, records the fulfillment of that promise. Joshua said, “the LORD gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their ancestors, and they took possession of it and settled there” (Joshua 21:43). Hebrews 11:9 records how I understood the promise: “[Abraham] made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country.” While actually living in the Promised Land, I felt like a stranger still waiting for a permanent home. I knew God had something far better and greater than Canaan. Inter.: While you were making your home in the Promised Land, what were you thinking? Did you view your sojourn in the Promised Land to be the fulfillment of the promise God made to you in Genesis 17:8? Did you understand that you had found what you had been looking forward to by faith in God’s covenant promise? Abr.: No, not at all. The author of Hebrews accurately conveyed my state of mind and my expectations: “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. (Heb. 11:8-10) Inter.: Let me be sure I understand
Reisinger—Continued on page 8

We might want to consider this passage as a confirmation of the fulfilled promise: the threat from the Philistines might have caused some Israelites to wonder if God was going to break his promise. David is assuring them that their victory over the Philistines is evidence of God’s faithfulness. They will continue to retain possession (everlasting possession) of the Promised Land precisely because the promise has been fulfilled. But Jeremiah, writing even later, reiterates the promise again and applies it to a captive Israel in exile. Abraham’s offspring are not in possession of the Promised Land; it is no longer their kingdom; it would seem that the “everlasting possession” part of the promise has failed. Jeremiah offers hope by referring to an everlasting covenant whose kingdom promise sounds remarkably like that given to Abraham, yet the fulfillment of this promise is future:
I will make an everlasting covenant with them … and will assuredly plant them in this land … in the territory of Benjamin, in the villages around Jerusalem, in the towns of Judah and in the towns of the hill

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you. Are you saying that at the very moment you were making your home in the Promised Land, you realized that this land was not the essence of the promise God made to you? Abr.: That is correct. I knew, by faith, that the true land that God promised to me was a spiritual land and not physical dirt. I was looking past Canaan to a heavenly city. You can read about it in Hebrews 11. Inter.: From your vantage point of now being in heaven, are you waiting for Messiah to come again and this time to establish Israel, along with yourself, in the Promised Land? If God does not give you and your seed the Promised Land as a permanent possession, will you be disappointed and feel that God was unfaithful to his covenant? Abr.: You are joking! Or are you? Who in his right mind would trade what every glorified saint, including myself, and all the Jews who died in faith, now enjoy in the true “Promised Land” of heaven for ten thousand lands of Palestine? End of interview. It seems clear from the account in Hebrews that Abraham understood God’s promise in a spiritual sense. While living in the Promised Land, Abraham still considered himself a stranger. He was looking beyond Canaan for a spiritual city whose maker and builder was God. The author of Hebrews clearly spiritualizes God’s promise to Abraham. The question has been legitimately raised concerning exactly how Abraham understood what Hebrews attributes to him. A fellow pastor has given a good answer to that question.
When the N.T. writer tells us what Abraham believed concerning a city whose foundations were built by God, why should I just assume that Abraham somehow exegeted (spiritualized) that from what was previously given to him? In other words, why can’t I entertain the notion that God simply told him that

November 2011 (Heb. 11:10)? Did Abraham have to spiritualize what was already said, or was he told something extra by God—something Moses didn’t know to write down but the writer of Hebrews was given to write down and give to us? In other words HOW was Abraham made aware of that city without foundations? If you say Abraham spiritualized what was told him, can you prove that? Why couldn’t someone just say God told him about that heavenly city in some other encounter that we weren’t told in Genesis about? After all, in John 8:56 Jesus tells us information that Abraham knew about Christ and rejoiced. Am I to assume that Abraham got that understanding about Christ from exegeting only what he was told in Genesis, or was he shown new revelation—something extra that Genesis doesn’t tell us about specifically? I mean we know Abraham believed in a city without foundations (and rejoicing in Christ). What we’re not told is HOW that knowledge came to him—or do we? From Pastor Mark LaCour

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apply to our understanding of the relationship between the old and new covenants in their respective teaching about the eternal kingdom promised to Abraham and David. At this point in my investigation, I have found no New Testament reiteration or application of the land promise as God made it in Genesis 15. The New Testament authors do not refer to the land promise in the way that David or Jeremiah did. The eleventh chapter of Romans may be a debatable section concerning the future conversion of Israel, but no one suggests that Paul mentions the land as part of his argument. We may disagree about the status of the prophecies in the Book of Revelation—whether they are already fulfilled or are awaiting future fulfillment, but no one asserts that the land promise reappears anywhere in the entire Book of the Revelation. The closest thing to a New Testament reiteration of the land promise made to Abraham is Romans 4:13.
It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith.

This spiritualization of the Promised Land raises some questions about the way the new covenant authors treated the land promise. Clearly, one of the key components of God’s covenant with Abraham as recorded in the Old Testament was the land described in Genesis 15:18-21. This land promise figured prominently in the reiteration and application of the Abrahamic covenant beyond the initial settlement, as we saw from the Scriptures we cited. How do the authors of the new covenant Scriptures treat the land promise in the light of the Old Testament record? Did Jesus and his apostles hold out to the Israel of their day the same land promise that the Old Testament prophets held out to the Israel of their day? Or did the writers of the New Testament Scriptures point their fellow Jews to the cross and the resurrected Messiah as the blessed hope, or did they point the Jews to some future act of God in which God finally will literally fulfill his covenant promises of the land? These questions address the New Covenant hermeneutic we are trying to establish. They directly

So where do we stand in our attempt to establish a New Covenant hermeneutic? What have we accomplished so far? Several things seem clear. First, the land promise made to Abraham was, at a given point in time, completely fulfilled. Abraham and some of his offspring literally dwelt in the land of promise, for some period of time. We have explicit and unambiguous evidence in Joshua 21:34-45. Some may want to argue that Abraham did not actually possess the land in its entirety, but that is not the way that Joshua viewed it. He states his view emphatically, in both positive and negative terms: “Not one of all the LORD’s good promises to Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.” Remember, those good promises included the Promised Land! Second, an initial fulfillment does not rule out subsequent fulfill-

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ments, either of the same nature or of a complementary nature. The authors of Scripture sometimes view promises as having double fulfillment in time or in essence. We will say more about this when we look at how David understood God’s covenant to establish his kingdom forever and to seat one his sons on that kingdom’s throne. For now, we see the New Testament Scriptures’ spiritualization of Abraham’s understanding of God’s land promise. Abraham took possession of it and settled there, but even while occupying the land, he viewed himself as a stranger because he was looking past Canaan to a heavenly city whose maker and builder was God. He was looking for heaven, not Canaan. This prompts us to ask if Abraham’s understanding of God’s kingdom promise is unique, or is this the uniform understanding of the authors of the New Testament Scriptures as they interpret Old Testament kingdom promises? Does Hebrews 11:8-11 provide a hermeneutical principle for interpreting all kingdom prophesies? As more people move into New Covenant theology, we face an increasing need for a clearly articulated New Covenant hermeneutic. Recently, someone raised the question as to whether one can consistently hold to both New Covenant theology and Dispensational theology. New Covenant theology adherents currently include self-identified premillennial and dispensational theologians. The Bunyan Conference has profited from speakers such as Jack Jeffery, David Morris and Fred Zaspel, all of whom espouse some form of premillennialism and some form of dispensationalism . We have no desire to deprive ourselves of what they have to offer. Should we even try to establish a New Covenant hermeneutic? Would it perhaps be wiser to leave the subject alone and continue to borrow the US military’s slogan, “Don’t ask, don’t tell”? If we discuss the subject, do we run the danger of splitting the camp? There is no question that it is impos-

sible for a Covenant theologian to hold to New Covenant theology. Is the same thing true of dispensationalism? Will a New Covenant hermeneutical articulation result in a fixed either/or position with regard to understanding prophecy, or will our hermeneutic be fluid enough to accommodate different understandings as legitimate and acceptable? I am convinced that an open dialogue concerning the hermeneutical principles that we use to settle questions like continuity/ discontinuity is long overdue. Ultimately, we must decide if the issue is one of submission to Scripture or if the biblical treatment of the matter allows for tenuous and conditional positions. If the latter is the case, the question becomes one of intellectual co-existence. Andy Wood offers the following quotation in a web article titled “Dispensational Hermeneutics: The Grammatico–Historical Method.”4
The interpreter should, therefore, endeavour to take himself from the present, and to transport himself into the historical position of his author, look through his eyes, note his surroundings, feel with his heart, and catch his emotion. Herein we note the import of the term grammaticohistorical interpretation. (Terry, Milton S. Biblical Hermeneutics. NY: Philips and Hunt, 1883; reprint, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976. 231.)

thus constituting a universal human response), we have to find other ways to ascertain Abraham’s response. When the seeds of New Covenant theology began to take root in my mind, I realized that I could not transport myself into the historical position of Abraham (because I would inevitably project me onto Abraham), but I could use the New Testament to see if it shed light on Abraham’s expectations. In general, the kind of question we are asking requires grammaticohistorical exegesis—bringing out of the text the meaning the writers intended to convey and which they expected their audience to gather. When we want to know what someone thought, surely it is appropriate to consider the nuances of language they used, the genre in which they expressed their ideas, the historical background of their era, and the life setting (the culture) of their faith community. However, when we have New Testament evidence that states explicitly what they thought, we have a surer witness. In the case of Abraham’s expectations, we have that surer witness. Furthermore, we fail to privilege that which God has so graciously provided for us (the surer witness) when we base our interpretation of Abraham’s understanding solely on the Old Testament accounts of Abraham and then make that the basis of interpreting the New Testament teaching on Abraham. What Abraham understood about the land promise is not settled in Genesis, but in the New Testament. Since I have New Testament evidence, I must get a clear understanding of Abraham’s thinking and expectations from the New Testament Scriptures, and then read that back into the Old Testament teaching on Abraham. This kind of reading would be anachronistic (an improper hermeneutic, to be sure) were it not for the doctrine of inspiration, but since we do hold to that doctrine, we can make this kind of reading the first biblical principle of New Covenant hermeneutics. As a first principle, it is
Reisinger—Continued on page 11

When I studied Abraham and God’s promises to him, I tried to live, breathe, and walk in Abraham’s shoes. When God described the Promised Land so clearly and so specifically (Gen. 15:18-21), it was impossible for me not to take it literally. The problem with this approach, however, was that I took my twentieth-century, culturally-conditioned self with me. I created Abraham in my image, a move that we earlier categorized as an improper hermeneutic. Since we can neither prove nor disprove that my common sense response is ubiquitous (stretching across both time and culture and
4 http://www.spiritandtruth.org/teaching/documents/articles/25/25.pdf

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characterized by mercy. As was previously mentioned, Jude 22-23 is surrounded by difficulties. What is very clear, however, is that the church is to endeavor to rescue the lost and intercede for those in danger of being swept away by false teachings. They are to save some by snatching them from the fire. They are told—again—to show mercy. But this is a mercy which is immediately qualified. It is nothing like contemporary notions of tolerance, kindness, or love. It is a mercy that is mingled with fear. It is a mercy that is tempered by a hatred for sin. Christians are to fear sin, knowing our own tendencies and proneness to stumble (cf. Gal. 6:1). Believers are to hate every stain that sin brings, which Jude metaphorically describes as “clothing stained by [corrupted] flesh” (v. 23). Living with such tensions is one of the reasons we need to build ourselves up in our most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Even though this was not the letter Jude had hoped he would be able to write, he is still able to end on a note of praise. I grew up going to a camp called Rockwood Acres in a remote part of central Ontario, where for

in the context of Jude, where there are contentious false teachers, there would be disputing.1 If this is the case, Jude is instructing the true believers to be merciful to those who are disputing with them, who may be arguing on behalf of the false teachers. Peter Davids, on the other hand, defends the translation as “doubt” on the grounds that when the word is used without reference to disputants, it refers to an internal as opposed to external struggle.2 If this latter rendering is correct, Jude is aware that some people are not sure about exactly what to believe or who to follow. Rather than coming down hard on those who are genuinely confused or struggling, Jude advocates mercy. No matter the exact meaning of the word in this context, however, the one common denominator is that God’s called people are to be merciful. Whether the struggles are internal or external, believers are to be
1 Gene Green, Jude & 2 Peter, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008), 126. 2 Peter Davids, The Letters of 2nd Peter and Jude, Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006), 100.

about 30 years John Reisinger was the featured speaker at Family Camp, summer after summer. The theme verses of the camp are Jude’s note of praise, his doxology: “To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior by glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen” (vv. 24-25). This doxology is special as it stands, but it also takes on even more significance when the context of Jude’s letter is taken into consideration. Jude has been contending for the faith, tackling false teachers, and reminding his readers about the judgment that inevitably comes on the ungodly. He has given them basic instructions for how they are to live and how they are to interact with those who are on the wrong path. Great judgment is coming on those who are ungodly; there are doubters or disputers, and many are being taken in; some need to be snatched from the fire. It would be easy, if one had to rely on one’s own wisdom or ability, to be paralyzed with fear and to have serious doubts

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that heaven was attainable. Jude’s readers are in the midst of very trying spiritual circumstances, and so Jude directs their attention away from themselves to the living God. Take your eyes off yourself, Jude says, and look “to him who is able.” This is just such good advice: look to God. In this context, then, it is significant to praise God for his ability to keep us from falling. Throughout the Scriptures, slipping, falling, or stumbling is often used metaphorically for sin. Surrounded by spiritual temptations, Jude reminds his readers that God is able to keep them from falling. This is true in terms of their daily walk with him, and it is also true in terms of their eternal state. God is able to keep them from falling and to present them in front of his glory. Absolute darkness awaits the ungodly; the full glory of God awaits the believer. In God’s glorious presence the believer will stand blameless, without fault. Even when standing before the living God, there will be no spot to be found on those who are saved. Naturally, this will result in tremendous joy or “eschatological celebration.”3 As is the case with all doxologies, there is an ascription of praises to God, as well a reference to the time through which these praises are to be rendered. For Jude, he identifies God as the only God, the Savior, and ascribes to him glory, majesty, power, and authority. These ascriptions of praise are channeled through
3 Davids, 2nd Peter & Jude, 110.

Jesus Christ. As far as timeframe, these praises are to be ascribed both now and forevermore. Even though God is to be praised now and into the future forever, there is a further recognition that God is not temporally conditioned. He is “before all ages,” standing prior to history. He will persist through all ages, but he is subject to none of them. The ages depend on God, not he on them. He is supratemporal, transcendent over time and history. Jude’s readers, infiltrated by false teachers and contending for the faith, are expected to echo their agreement to this doxology, and the entire letter, by joining in the final “Amen.” It was over 1900 years ago that Jude wrote this letter. Since then the centuries have rolled by, and scoffers have kept appearing. The church has been attacked from without and within. Godless men and women have abused every doctrine of the Bible and caused great turmoil in the lives of true believers. But God is still on the throne of the universe. He was and is and is to come, and he will receive praise now and forevermore. For us, best of all, there is coming a great day of praise when we finally cross the finish line and are ushered into his glorious presence. There we will stand without fault and will experience pure, unadulterated joy. Whether we say “Amen,” “So be it,” or “Yes,” we should lend our agreement to what Jude has written and praise the Lord. 

necessary and not optional. When we have New Testament evidence about the interpretation of an Old Testament text, we privilege the New Testament and not our common sense reading of that Old Testament passage. It would seem therefore, that New Covenant theology must not interpret Hebrews 11:8-11 with Genesis 15:18-21; rather, it must interpret Genesis 15:18-21 with Hebrews 11:8-11. Or am I missing something? One last note before we conclude. I have framed this discussion in terms of kingdom, rather than millennium. Our discussions, however, may continue to include the term millennialism. When we talk about millennialism, we are talking about something that, if it happens, will happen after we are long gone. This is why at this point I refuse to make any prophetic view a test of fellowship. If some of the best of believers in the New Testament missed Messiah the first time he came because they did not understand the nature of the prophetic promises in their Scriptures, should we not be careful about how we treat those who understand the details of his second coming differently than we do? I fear that if Christ returned today, some would compare what was happening with their charts, and it would not fit. Let us not be among them of whom it was written, “there standeth one among you whom you know not” (John 1:26). We have focused primarily on Abraham in this article. In our next article, we will look at the New Testament evidence about how David understood God’s covenant with him. 

New Covenant Media public ations may be ordered from: W W W.NE WCOVEN A NTM EDIA .CO M

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Worldview One’s worldview will determine one’s ethics. So what is a worldview? The term is a translation of the German word weltanschauung, meaning a way of looking at the world (welt=world, schauen=to look).7 It is the comprehensive grid through which we perceive reality.8 In his classic book, The Universe Next Door, James Sire defines a worldview as “a commitment, a fundamental orientation of the heart, that can be expressed as a story or in a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true, or entirely false) which we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic constitution of reality, as that provides the foundation on which we live and move and have our being.”9 Albert Wolters defines a worldview as “the comprehensive framework of one’s basic beliefs about things.”10 My
the moral law (the deontological perspective), and he creates human beings to find their happiness (the teleological perspective) in obeying that law. He also makes us so that at our best we will find God’s law to be our chief delight (the existential perspective [what I am labeling virtue]). So God made all three perspectives, and he made them to cohere,” The Doctrine of the Christian Life, 123. As a New Covenant Theologian, of course I take issue with Frame’s view of moral law. 7 Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2005), 23. Pearcey’s book is probably the “go to” book on worldview currently. 8 N.T. Wright, The New Testament and the People of God (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1992), 38. 9 James W. Sire, The Universe Next Door (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2004), 17. 10 Albert M. Wolters, Creation Regained (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005), 2. Greg Bahnsen defines a worldview as “a network of presuppositions which are not tested by natural science and in terms of which all experience is related and interpreted,” Pushing the Antithesis (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision, 2007), 42. In an earlier book, Bahnsen defined

Virtue ethics is more concerned with the actor’s being than with his actions. This view maintains that right actions come from right sorts of people. The four cardinal virtues are wisdom, moderation, courage, and justice. The theological virtues are faith, hope, and love. This is a “character-based” ethic. Virtue ethics can be traced back to Aristotle. Should the Christian adopt one of these three schools? Many in the past have. The deontological approach is attractive to some. For them, God has said it, and we need to do it. This position should only be attractive at first glance though. Jesus had all sorts of sharp words for those who kept the externals of the law, but whose hearts were stony. Still, there is truth there because we ought to do what God has commanded. We also see the truthfulness of the teleological approach. One simply has to turn to a proverb to see that moral outcomes count. A good act is one that brings glory to God, which is our good. Virtue ethics is also true from a Christian perspective. Good fruit comes from good trees. A good act comes from a good person.4 The Christian view encompasses all three of these. There is no need to try to squeeze Christian ethics into one of the three schools. Nor is there a need to pit these against each other.5 God is concerned with the act, the outcome, and the actor. As Graham Cole puts it, “The holy God is interested in the moral agent, the moral action, and the moral aftermath.”6
4 John Frame, The Doctrine of the Christian Life, (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2008), 49-53. 5 Frame, The Doctrine of the Christian Life, 31, 33-34, 240. 6 Graham Cole, He Who Gives Life (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2007), 246. John Frame writes, “Only God can guarantee the coherence of the three perspectives. The biblical God declares

preferred definition comes from Michael Goheen and Craig Bartholomew. They write:
Worldview is an articulation of the basic beliefs embedded in a shared grand story that are rooted in a faith commitment and that give shape and direction to the whole of our individual and corporate lives.11

Every living person has a worldview. It is simply part of being an adult human being.12 All people have a set of convictions about how reality functions and how they should live.13 Our worldview informs how we approach religion, ethics, education, politics, environmental concerns, health care, family, dress, and entertainment. Worldviews provide a model of the world which guides its adherents in the world.14 A helpful way to discern our worldview is to ask five fundamental questions:15 1. Who are we? 2. Where are we?
a worldview as “a network of related presuppositions in terms of which every aspect of man’s knowledge and awareness is interpreted,” Always Ready (Nacogdoches, TX: Covenant Media Press, 2006), 119-20. 11 Michael W. Goheen and Craig G. Bartholomew, Living at the Crossroads (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008), 23. 12 Wolters, Creation Regained, 4. 13 Pearcey, Total Truth, 23. 14 Brian J. Walsh and Richard Middleton, The Transforming Vision (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 1984), 32. 15 I am indebted to N.T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1996), 443-74 for these questions. As far as I can tell, these originate in Middleton and Walsh, The Transforming Vision, 35, but they stopped with question four. Wright originally only had four, (NTPG, 132-33), but added the fifth in JVG. So also Craig G. Bartholomew and Michael W. Goheen, The Drama of Scripture (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004), 12.

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3. What’s wrong? 4. What’s the solution? 5. What time is it? All people have answers to these questions, but the Christian has definite, specific, and consistent answers to each of these:16 1. Image bearers: Humans are the apex (not ex-ape) of creation. We are image-bearers of the one true creator with responsibilities which accompany that status. 2. God’s good, but fallen world: We are in a good and beautiful (though broken) world, the creation of the God in whose image we are made. 3. The fall: Humanity has rebelled against its maker. This rebellion reflects a cosmic dislocation between the creator and the creation. 4. Jesus: The creator has acted, is acting, and will act within his creation to deal with the weight of evil set up by human rebellion and to bring his world to the end for which he made it, namely, that it should resonate fully with his presence and glory. 5. The last days: We live in the overlap of the ages. The kingdom has come in Jesus but will not be fully consummated until he returns to renew the world. An unbeliever will have various answers to these questions. In my experience, their answers will usually be inconsistent. This presents a wonderful opportunity to ask penetrating questions to show the bankruptcy of any and all non-Christian worldviews. Apologetics It is important to see that the Christian faith uniquely has a basis for any discussion of ethics. This fact presents us with a wonderful apologetic opportunity. Conceptually, cultural relativism reigns. As Allan Bloom famously put it in 1987, “There is one thing a
16 Wright, NTPG, 132-33.

professor can be absolutely certain of: almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative.”17 Theologian David Wells writes, “People can believe what they want and, within the law, do what they want, but it becomes intolerable if they imagine that what they believe includes standards of belief and morality that are applicable to others. Today, that is the unforgivable sin. It is the blasphemy against the (secular) spirit.”18 Consider these words from the Humanist Manifesto (1973): “We affirm that moral values derive their source from human experience. Ethics is autonomous and situational, needing no theological or ideological sanction. Ethics stems from human need and interest.” Or these words from French researcher Emile Durkheim: “It can no longer be maintained nowadays that there is one, single morality which is valid for all men at all times in all places.… The purpose of morality practiced by a people is to enable it to live; hence morality changes with societies. There is not just one morality, but several, and as many as there are social types. And as our societies change, so will our morality.” A teen publication called “The Quest for Excellence” says, “Early on in life, you will be exposed to different value systems from your family, church or synagogue, and friends.… It is up to you to decide upon your own value system to build your own ethical code.… You will have to learn what is right for yourself through experience.… Only you can decide what is right and comfortable for you.”19 Yale University law professor, Arthur Allen Leff writes, “I will put the cur17 Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1987), 25. 18 David Wells, Losing Our Virtue (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), 51. 19 The quotations from this paragraph are taken from Bahnsen, Pushing the Antithesis, 168-69, 171.

rent situation as sharply as possible: there is today no way of ‘proving’ that napalming babies is bad except by asserting it (in a louder and louder voice), or by defining it as so, early in one’s game, and then later slipping it through, in a whisper, as a conclusion. Now this is a fact of modern intellectual life so well and painfully known as to be one of the few which is simultaneously horrifying and banal.”20 So all moral decisions end up being either communally informed or simply a matter of personal choice. Should I help the old lady across the street or shove her into traffic? Personal choice. Should I save an abandoned litter of kittens or throw them into a wood chipper? Personal choice. You get the picture. It has become extremely unpopular to declare absolute truths. Feeling has replaced belief. It’s okay to feel, but not to believe.21 Yet at the same time, people are making moral judgments all the time. Even though ethical relativism is the reigning view of ethics today, people cannot live this way. As Schaeffer used to put it, they bump into reality at every point. On this point, they are dreadfully inconsistent. Part of our goal is to make people become conscious of their beliefs (epistemologically self-conscious) and the inconsistency of them. We seek to deconstruct their worldview so they can better hear the claims of Christ. As we saw in the introduction, epistemology is a branch of ethics.22 We ought to believe what is true. The
20 Arthur Allen Leff, “Economic Analysis of Law: Some Realism about Nominalism,” Virginia Law Review (1974), 454-455 quoted in Bahnsen, Pushing the Antithesis, 171-72. 21 Wells, Losing Our Virtue, 107. 22 John Frame, The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 1987), 63; Greg L. Bahnsen, Van Til’s Apologetic (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 1998), 263.
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moral relativist is making a moral claim. They are saying we ought to believe that there are no moral absolutes so they inconsistently have a morality about no morality. This is illustrated by the professor who denies moral absolutes but is not okay with his students cheating on his exams.23 The Moral Argument for God’s Existence In my opinion, the moral argument for God’s existence is a very helpful one in our day and age. This is simply to say that ultimately only Christians can make ethical judgments. All nonChristian positions end up internally contradicting themselves (self-referentially incoherent). They do not provide an adequate basis for ethics (or logic, beauty, science, human dignity, or love either, for that matter). Only the Christian faith provides the preconditions for intelligibility.24 It is impossible to live without an ultimate moral standard so the non-Christian is constantly forced to borrow from the Christian faith. As C.S. Lewis put it, “But the most remarkable thing is this. Whenever you find a man who says he does not believe in a real Right and Wrong, you will find the same man going back on this a moment later. He may break his promise to you, but if you try breaking one to him he will be complaining ‘It’s not fair’ before you can say Jack Robinson.”25 For example, let’s take the issue of pornography. Most consistent atheists and agnostics will see nothing wrong with this. “A person has this sexual
23 Bahnsen, Pushing the Antithesis, 172. 24 Bahnsen, Always Ready, 121. 25 C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity in The Complete C.S. Lewis (New York: HarperOne, 2002), 17.

drive that needs to be met, so go for it.” But strangely, the same person will be horrified at the thought of child pornography. But why? At what age does it become inappropriate? On what basis? They are left with arbitrary subjectivism. According to the unbelieving worldview, we are a batch of complex chemical reactions. Why would one batch care about the conduct of another batch? One prominent atheist has recently made the charge that religion poisons everything, but the question we should ask him is “So what?”26 What is is according to an atheist worldview. Naturalism or materialism can provide a (wrong) basis for what is, but it cannot provide a basis for what ought. Bertrand Russell writes, “Blind to good and evil, reckless of destruction, omnipotent matter rolls on its relentless way.”27 For the naturalist, there is no such thing as moral values. After all, you cannot see them. They are not physical. They don’t grow on trees. Atheism cannot even provide the rational basis for reason, much less the rational basis for good or evil. It all just is. As Tim Keller explains, “People still have strong moral convictions, but unlike people in other times and places, they don’t have any visible basis for why they find some things to be evil and other things good. It’s almost like their moral intuitions are free-floating in midair – far off the ground.”28 Those who advocate cultural relativism (i.e., right and wrong are
26 See Douglas Wilson, God Is (Powder Springs, GA: American Vision Press, 2008). 27 Bertrand Russell, Why I am Not a Christian (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1957), 115, quoted in Bahnsen, Pushing the Antithesis, 172. 28 Tim Keller, The Reason for God (New York: Dutton, 2008), 145.

determined by one’s culture) cannot condemn such things as the attack of 9/11, slavery, genocide, cannibalism, female sacrifice, infanticide, and pederasty (child molestation). Throughout history and today, there are cultures that practice such things. The American atheist has no basis to condemn any of these practices. For their culture, this behavior is right. The Western unbeliever is left to say, “It is wrong because I do not like it. My Western culture is better than their primitive culture.” At the end of the day, you simply have a difference of opinion. Non-Christians do not have a foundation for objective moral discussion, only subjective opinions. Moral standards presuppose absolute moral standards, which presupposes an absolute (or sovereign) personality.29 The only worldview that presents a being that is both personal and absolute is Christianity. We intuitively know to an extent what is right and wrong because we are made in God’s image. We call this our conscience. We learn further about right and wrong from revelation. God’s will and character are the basis for our ethical judgments. So when a person asks why rape is wrong, we say without hesitation, “Because God says so.” We can expand our answer, but we should be quick to point outside of ourselves to our objective grounding: the will and character of God. The non-Christian will also have many reasons why rape is wrong, but all will ultimately be a matter of personal opinion. Keller writes, “If there is no God, then there is no way to say any one action is ‘moral’ and another ‘immoral’ but only ‘I like this.’” In summary, without the sovereign personal God of Scripture, there is no room for moral discussion.30 
29 John Frame, Apologetics to the Glory of God (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 1994), 100. 30 Keller, The Reason for God, 153.

In prosperity, our friends know us; in adversity we know our friends. Churton Collins

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Many legends and traditions have arisen over the years about the ashes of the red heifer among Jews and have attracted the attention of certain circles of Christians. There is an ancient tradition in the Mishnah that there were only 9 red heifers in OT times, that the 10th red heifer would appear at the end-times and that the Messiah would prepare it for use by the priests. During the middle ages, this was reaffirmed by the Jewish rabbi and philosopher Moses Maimonides. A number of modern Jewish rabbis who anticipate the building of a third temple in Jerusalem in the near future have picked up on this ancient legend. Quite a few Christian prophecy teachers have also. Attempts are being made in Israel and in the US to breed a red heifer that remains spotless for 3 years. A recent book by a popular prophecy teacher has an entire chapter on this subject.5 Chapter 16 is entitled, ‘The Hunt for the Holy Heifer.’ The chapter opens with quotes from 2 modern Jewish rabbis. Rabbi Chaim Richmanis is quoted as saying, “The fate of the entire world depends on the red heifer.” Rabbi Gershon Salomon states, “Nine red heifers were born during the time of the tabernacle and the two temples. The tenth, according to this tradition, will be born in the end-times for the third temple.”6 Nowhere in the chapter are these quotes criticized or questioned. The author of this book has something to say about Hebrews 9:13-14 later in this same chapter: “There is no concept here of Jesus’ work removing or replacing that of the red heifer’s.”7 This statement misses the entire flow of thought found in Hebrews 9-10.
of the Old Testament, 2 Volumes, (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1980), 672-673. 5 Randall Price, The Temple and Bible Prophecy, (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2005), 361-378. 6 Price, The Temple and Bible Prophecy, 361. 7 Price, The Temple and Bible Prophecy, 369.

He then goes on to tell about attempts to breed red heifers in Mississippi and Texas by Christians. The rancher in Texas actually started a ministry where you can support the effort to supply Israel with a population of red heifers. A donation of $1000 will pay for one red heifer, $500 for ½, and $250 for ¼. In 1994, Rabbi Chaim Richman traveled all the way from Israel to see the red heifers being bred in Mississippi. He examined one seemingly perfect specimen for 10 minutes and declared, “This is the heifer that will change the world.”8 Again, the quote is given by our Christian author with apparent approval. I personally find this appalling and ridiculous. John 1:17 says that, “Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” The only contribution this Mississippi cow will make to the world will be a few hamburgers. And I say the sooner the better! The book I have been citing is 750 pages long. While many of the chapters contain valuable and interesting historical information, the work as a whole conveys very little understanding of biblical theology. It is possible that the Jews will someday build another temple in Jerusalem. There are a few NT passages that some interpret as indicating there will be a temple at the second coming of Christ. Most Jews in Israel are not the least bit interested and think of the minority who want to build a temple as fanatics. The current unrest among the Palestinians makes it seem unlikely to happen anytime soon. But it is possible. But if the Jews ever do rebuild the temple—if they restore the priesthood—if they resume the sacrifices as some desire to do—if they go back to the Levitical ritual, it will be a pathetic attempt to go back to an obsolete covenant, to go back to the types and shadows and entirely miss the realities. It will be an attempt to go back to being under a tutor and guardian instead of being sons of God. And some misguided Christians,
8 Price, The Temple and Bible Prophecy, 372.

instead of proclaiming the gospel to them, are encouraging them and supporting them in their efforts to be ‘entangled again in a yoke of bondage’ (see Gal. 5:1-6). Forget what the rabbis say; forget about the ancient Jewish legends and traditions. Here are the facts from the Word of God. The ashes of the red heifer are mentioned nowhere else in the NT outside of Hebrews 9. The ashes of the red heifer are mentioned nowhere in the OT outside of Numbers 19. There are no prophesies in the Bible (OT or NT) about the ashes of the red heifer. It all comes from Jewish traditions, fables, and legends. It is very similar to the situation with the ark of the covenant. Both involve unfounded speculations that distract the believer from the real teachings of Scripture. The Apostle Paul warns us about this kind of error in 1 Timothy 1:
3 As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, 4 nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith. The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, 7desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.

Paul is warning against Jewish teachers who are pushing fables, genealogies, and idle talk. Not quite the same thing as we have been talking about here but close, too close for comfort. The books by Randall Price contain hundreds of quotes from Jewish rabbis, both ancient and modern and are full of talk about future literal fulfillment of many Old Covenant types and shadows. Hebrews (and the NT as a whole) reveals that all these
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pointed to Christ and have fulfilled their purpose. At the end of 1 Timothy 1:4 (NKJ), Paul encourages Timothy to give heed to ‘godly edification.’ There is a similar warning/encouragement in Titus 1:10, 11, 13, 14; 2:1.
For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. 11 They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach... 13This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, 14not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth.
10 1 But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.

enant’ redeems the sinner. Christ’s death paid for the sins of the OT believers (the believing remnant within ethnic Israel). The animal sacrifices they offered in faith anticipated the better sacrifice of Christ which is what really paid for their sins. Verse 15 is one of the key statements in Hebrews. It affirms in no uncertain terms that the first (Mosaic) covenant was provisional, transient, and not self-sufficient. It links the Old Covenant solidly to the New Covenant, teaching that the ‘forgiveness experienced during the OT period depended finally—although this was hardly understood at the time—upon an event that was to take place in the future.’9 The advent of the Christian faith does not diminish the glory and beauty of the Jewish faith even though it does, in fact, outshine it. The word mediator occurs 6 times in the NT, 3 times in Paul’s letters, and 3 times in Hebrews. What is a mediator? It is one who brings about the reconciliation of two parties who were at odds with each other, undertaking to maintain the interests and good will of both. When the mediator has finished his work, all legal difficulties have been resolved and the two parties ‘shake hands’ to demonstrate that they are pleased with the arrangement and that all hostility and animosity have been removed. In mediating between a holy, just God and sinful men, the mediator has taken steps to satisfy the holiness and justice of God and, at the same time, provide forgiveness and redemption for the condemned sinner and also remove all antagonism toward God.
For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. 17For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive.
16

Gospels Acts Paul’s letters Hebrews Revelation

4 2 9 17 1

What is ‘godly edification’? What is ‘sound doctrine’? It’s what we find in the New Testament—in Hebrews— in Paul’s letters—in the Gospels. That’s what we should get excited about and teach. Hebrews in its entirety is warning against turning back to the Jewish faith. The Galatians were troubled by Jewish teachers who sought to turn them back to practicing circumcision, Sabbath keeping, OT food laws, and other Old Covenant practices. Paul writes this to them in Galatians 4 (he is clearly exasperated by their behavior):
But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? 10You observe days and months and seasons and years! 11I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.
9

We can see from these statistics that this word is very important to our writer; he uses more than the rest of the NT does. Most or all of the time, it is translated as ‘covenant’ depending on the translation (NASB: all 33 are ‘covenant’; NIV and ESV: translated twice as ‘will’ here in 9:16-17; NKJ: translated twice as ‘testament’ here in 9:16-17). The translators had a good reason for making the change from ‘covenant’ in 9:16-17. The Greek word διαθηκh can mean ‘covenant’ or ‘will.’ Many words have more than one meaning or shade of meaning in all languages. In this case, the two meanings are similar. The English word ‘covenant’ means a formal pact or agreement between two parties: two individuals, two groups, or two nations (=treaty). Sometimes there are stipulations; sometimes not. The word ‘covenant’ is used often in Scripture, both in the OT and NT. In the OT, we read of covenants between individuals, between nations, and between God and men. These biblical covenants between God and men are crucial to our understanding of God’s plan of redemption. Most occurrences of διαθηκh in Hebrews (and elsewhere in the NT) refer to one or more of the biblical covenants between God and man which form the framework of redemptive history. Notice that at the very end of 9:15, our writer speaks of ‘the promised eternal inheritance.’ This expression forms a transition to the thought of verses 16-17 regarding a will. For the first time in Hebrews, he introduces the concept of the believer having an inheritance from God. This is a common concept in Paul’s letters, and our writer clearly is familiar with Paul’s thinking in several areas. He was possibly one of Paul’s associates; his acquaintance with Timothy

Hebrews 9:15 very clearly expresses one of the purposes of the New Covenant: to provide redemption from the transgressions revealed by the Old Covenant. Our writer shows an important connection between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant which involves both continuity and discontinuity. The ‘first covenant’ condemns the sinner; the ‘new cov-

“Covenant” (διαθηκh) is another important word in this passage and in Hebrews as a whole. This word occurs a total of 33 times in the Greek NT:
9 Hagner, NIBC, Hebrews, 141.

suggests this (see 13:23). The next two verses (9:16-17) develop this concept of inheritance. These two verses use the word  but in a little different way than in the rest of Hebrews.διαθηκh is used here to mean a ‘will’ or ‘testament’ (we use these two terms together in English when we speak of someone’s ‘last will and testament’). It is the same Greek word as covenant () but takes on a slightly different meaning in the present context. A will is an agreement between two parties in a sense. A will is also, in a sense, a promise of benefit. But there is an important difference: for a will to take effect and the promised transaction to occur, the one party must die. What a great picture this paints for us! The death of Christ has provided for us a great inheritance. Not of money and real estate, but something of superior value. Christ’s death has resulted in great spiritual riches for us. Christ wrote the will. He had a plan to bless us abundantly. We are his heirs. As a result of his death, we inherit great riches. It’s like a Charles Dickens novel. A person who is wretchedly poor suddenly is notified that he is heir to an immense fortune. His benefactor had actually chosen him as an heir many years earlier. And suddenly his hopeless condition is replaced by unimaginable wealth. That’s what has happened to us spiritually. Overnight, we’ve gone from wretchedly poor to unimaginably wealthy. So we have two pictures here: in verse 15, Christ is spoken of as a mediator of a covenant (διαθηκh), a mediator between two parties that are at odds, who brings them into a mutually agreeable compact. But then in verses 16-17, our author uses the same Greek word (διαθηκh) to speak of a will where we are the benefactors. We need not imagine any contradiction or confusion between these two pictures. Each one gives us a little different perspective on what salvation through Christ involves.
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November 2011 enant was inaugurated without blood. 19 For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.” 21 And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. 22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.

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Some people claim to be repulsed by the biblical faith because of all the talk about blood in both the OT and NT. This passage is a great example of this. Why all this bloody talk? It is an honest question that deserves an answer: 1. The Israelites were farmers and pastoralists. They lived close to the land. The animals they raised were an important part of their food supply. It was a necessity and a routine chore for most families in biblical times to kill and butcher an animal. Most of them would not have been repulsed by it unless they had become attached to the animal being offered. The killing of animals at the tabernacle or temple would not have been much different except that it had a special spiritual significance. 2. The Levitical sacrifices were intended to impress upon the people the spiritual truth that ‘the wages of sin is death.’ The animal brought to the tabernacle by a family died as a substitute. Whether it was repulsive or not, the death of the animal made atonement. It was a payment for sins of the family members. The death of that animal really didn’t pay the price for their sins. But it provided an important object lesson. The spiritual prin-

ciple conveyed was, ‘without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins.’ The many bloody sacrifices taught that God takes sin seriously and demands payment and satisfaction for our offenses against him. The frequency of the sacrifices required by the Levitical ritual would have driven home the importance of this principle! Morning and evening, every day of the year, the priests offered up these blood sacrifices to God. This reminds us that the Levitical ritual of the Mosaic Covenant was a very positive blessing to the people of Israel in teaching them vital spiritual principles.
Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.
23

We are told here that the earthly tabernacle built in Sinai was patterned after something in heaven. Is there a physical tabernacle somewhere in heaven? I think the answer is no. The whole point of the discussion in chapters 8 and 9 is to show that the temple, the fixtures and furniture, and the sacrifices performed there were physical types of spiritual realities and spiritual truths. The tabernacle itself was a type of heaven, which here means the dwelling place and presence of God. It is not a physical place. Verse 24 says very plainly that Christ never entered the Holy of Holies in Jerusalem, which was a type of the true Holy of Holies. Christ entered the true Holy of Holies, the very presence of God. There is not a physical temple in heaven. The real temple is the very presence of the Almighty God who is the Creator of all things physical. This comes out quite clearly in Rev. 21:22
Vaninger—Continued on page 18

Therefore not even the first cov-

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where, in the midst of a description of the New Jerusalem, we read:
And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.

This certainly seems to rule out any physical temple building during the eternal state. There will be a third temple. But it will not be a building. It will be the God-man, ‘God with us.’ Notice the word better (κρειττωn) at the end of 9:23. This particular Greek word occurs in the NT only 19 times; 13 of those are in Hebrews. It is a key word in Hebrews and conveys a key thought that pervades this composition. The point here is that the sacrifice of Christ is a better sacrifice that the OT animal sacrifices. The writer has already given reasons why earlier in the chapter and will give more later in this chapter and in chapters to follow. Just in chapter 9 alone, we see that the sacrifice of Christ was better because: 1. It purchased eternal redemption (9:12). 2. It cleanses the conscience from dead works to serve the living God (9:14). 3. It provides a real and genuine redemption from transgressions against the law of Moses (9:15). 4. It grants an eternal inheritance (9:15). 5. It only had to be offered once (9:12, 28). In 9:24 we read, “Christ has entered…into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.” This is similar to the thought in 1:3, “After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” One thought added here at end of 9:24 is ‘on our behalf.’ Christ is the mediator of the New Covenant, and he has entered into the presence of God on our behalf. It gives new meaning to, “it’s not

what you know, it’s who you know.” Lane sees the singular form of ‘heaven’ as indicating the ‘highest heaven,’ meaning the spiritual realm that is God’s dwelling place,10 but Ellingworth sees ‘no distinction of meaning between the singular and the plural of ούρανός.’11 In this case, it doesn’t really matter since the context leaves no doubt that here the word refers to God’s dwelling place.
Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26 For then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.
25

by verse 27 because it seems to be out of place in this discussion of the greatness of Christ. But 27 and 28 go together and form a parallel: The parallels between verses 27 and 28 are limited to statements about death, as something which happens once for all, and what happens after.13 Just as man is appointed to die just once, likewise Christ was appointed to die just once in performing the one true sacrifice for sin. So the statement that man is appointed to die just once is made almost in passing. Yet it is a profound truth that many deny or in some cases just refuse to think about it. It is only the sacrificial death of the mediator of the New Covenant that can redeem us from this curse of death. Verse 28 includes a quote from Isaiah 53, the chapter in the OT that for Christians speaks most clearly and so powerfully about Christ and his sacrificial atonement for our sin. In his first coming, Christ became the one sacrifice that the many OT sacrifices prefigured. He came to bear the sins of many, and that one unique sacrifice became for the true believer the most important event in the history of the universe. Although our writer speaks much of the priesthood of Christ, we tend to remember him more as that sacrificial lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Our writer then contrasts that first coming with the future second coming of Christ. The main purpose of the contrast, it seems, is to remind us one more time of the finality and sufficiency of Christ’s sacrificial death. Christ’s second coming will not need to deal with the issue of human sin. That task was finished at the cross ‘once for all.’ The second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ will bring to completion our salvation. Surely, it will be much greater than any of us can imagine. Therefore, we are eagerly waiting for him. m
13 Ellingworth, NIGTC, Commentary on Hebrews, 485.

The OT sacrifices associated with the Day of Atonement were performed annually. They were both a reminder of sin and also a promise of a final resolution to come. They anticipated a better and the true sacrifice that would indeed atone for sin finally and fully. Verse 26 completes the thought begun by verse 25. In contrast to the OT type, the true sacrifice that the type anticipated is offered only once since it is definitive, complete, and final. Such is the absolute perfection of the one offering of Christ, that it stands in need of, that it will admit of, no repetition of any kind.12 The ‘once for all’ of verse 12 and here in verse 26 serve as a preview to the majestic declaration of 10:1-14 which powerfully drives home the point of the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice for our sin. Some are puzzled
10 O’Brien, PNTC, The Letter to the Hebrews, 338. 11 Ellingworth, NIGTC, Commentary on Hebrews, 476. 12 A.W. Pink, Exposition of Hebrews, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1954), 522.

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Kenneth Keefer A Tribute to a Prince in the House of Israel
It has been said that if one goes through life and has one true friend one is very fortunate. By God’s grace I have had more than one true friend. On October 14, 2011, God was pleased to take one of those true friends home. I knew Kenneth Keefer for more than fifty-nine years. For much of that time we worked together in gospel ministry. He was an elder in my first pastorate at the Reformed Baptist Church of Lewisburg, PA. He also served on the Board of Directors of Sword & Trowel and Sound of Grace. I have often said, “Every congregation would be blessed to have a Kenneth Keefer.” There would be a lot less church fights if Kenneth was there and when there was an unavoidable fight or split, the right side would win. The Apostle Paul lists one of the spiritual gifts as “helps.”
And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. I Cor. 12:28.

Very little is said about this particular gift; part of the reason being the uncertainty of the nature of this gift. It is usually described as the willingness to help the poor. Acts 9:36 is given as an example.
In Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (in Greek her name is Dorcas); she was always doing good and helping the poor. Acts 9:36.

That verse certainly describes Kenneth. He was always ready to both “do good and help the poor,” but I think the gift of help goes beyond Dorcas and helping the poor. When I think of Kenneth as having a spiritual gift of helping, I think of attributes such as “involved, always ready to help in whatever way needed, authentic in every way.” I think of the saying, “Ready to put his money where his mouth is.” I am sure there were times Kenneth was involved in something and be told, “That is not your problem or responsibility. Don’t worry about it.” His attitude was, “If there is a problem and I have the ability to help solve it then it is my responsibility.” Kenneth never felt he had the gift of preaching but he was one of the best friends and helpers that any preacher ever had. I am personally indebted to him in many ways and for many things. He will be sorely missed and not soon forgotten. He cast a long shadow across the path of all those who were privileged to know him. m John G. Reisinger
'You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.” Luke 12:40

The Sox Aren't In!
We take a lot of things for granted. The water is going to run when we turn on the faucet, the car is going to start when we turn the key, our hometown team is a cinch to clinch the wildcard birth in the playoffs, our foot is going to fit into our shoes . . . not necessarily! A man placed his boots on the cabin porch of his Idyllwild resort nestled in the San Jacinto mountains, then in the morning when attempting to put his boots on, his foot was blocked. Could it be a sock, he wondered? When he reached in his hand to pull out the sock, he was bitten by a bat. Nothing is certain! "Be prepared" (the Boy Scout motto). "For what," someone once asked Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting. "Why, for any old thing" he said. A bat in the boot? How about the Lord's coming? Christ the Lord is coming, Coming very soon. Suddenly some morning, Eve or Night or Noon. Gary George

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Grace Personi ied!
James Smith, "The Pastor's Morning Visit" "The glory of His grace." Ephesians 1:6 The glory of grace is its freeness! Grace fixes upon objects that are most unworthy; bestows upon them the richest blessings; raises them to the highest honor; promises them the greatest happiness; and all for its own glory. Nothing can be freer than grace! The glory of grace is its power! Grace conquers the stubbornest sinners; subdues the hardest hearts; tames the wildest wills; enlightens the darkest understandings; breaks off the strongest fetters; and invariably conquers its objects. Grace is omnipotent! The glory of grace is its benevolence! Grace has delivered, supplied, conducted, supported, and glorified thousands; brings the inexhaustible fullness of God―to supply the creature's needs; opens the treasury of heaven―to enrich poor, miserable, and wretched creatures on earth. gives away all it has―reserving nothing for itself! Jesus is grace personified! In Him grace is displayed in all its beauty, excellency, and loveliness. "Full of grace." John 1:14 O Jesus! glorify Your free powerful, and benevolent grace in me!
Courtesy of Grace Gems: www.GraceGems.org