Monday, August 17, 2015

THE CHURCH’S RELATIONSHIP TO THE NEW COVENANT by Cody Montandon


THE CHURCH’S RELATIONSHIP TO THE NEW COVENANT
 by

Cody Montandon*

 *Cody Montandon is a graduate student at Tyndale Theological Seminary

Scripture taken from the THE NEW SCOFIELD REFERENCE BIBLE, AUTHORIZED KING JAMES VERSION, WITH WORD CHANGES IN THE TEXT TO HELP THE READER, COPYRIGHT © 1967 By Oxford University Press, Inc.

             Much disagreement has existed and exists between traditional dispensationalists as to the nature of the church’s relationship to the new covenant. All dispensationalists agree that the new covenant was originally made between God and Israel. It is agreed that Israel is distinct from the church, and will remain a distinct nation for all of eternity. It is also agreed that the new covenant will see a literal earthly fulfillment in national Israel after the Messiah returns to set up His kingdom on earth following Daniel’s seventieth week. However, there are differences of opinion among dispensationalists as to how the church fits in to all of this. The New Testament clearly teaches that Christ is the mediator of the new covenant, and some passages seem to indicate that the church enjoys many of its blessings. Some will deny that the passages in question should be interpreted in that way, and argue that the church has no part in the new covenant. Other dispensational scholars believe that there are actually two new covenants, one for Israel and another, referenced in the New Testament, for the church. Some take the position that the new covenant is not fulfilled in the church, but that the church enjoys some of its blessings due to its relationship with the covenant’s Mediator.[1] This paper will not seek to serve as a survey of dispensational thought on this issue, as much has been written on the subject already. Instead it is the author’s aim to present his own view, after spending the better part of the last twenty years as a dispensationalist. Additionally, it should be said that Scriptural references to the new covenant are vast, and cannot all be covered in a paper of this size. Therefore, a handful of representative passages have been selected for the purposes of providing a Biblical foundation to the arguments made.
            Many dispensationalists may be afraid to see any relation of the church to the new covenant. After all, it has traditionally been covenant theologians who have done so, and in fact this relationship is central to their theology. However, when covenant theologians state that the new covenant is related to the church, they mean that the new covenant is completely fulfilled in the church, with no future fulfillment for national Israel.[2] This is the foundation of replacement theology, and no dispensationalist would want to flirt with anything remotely related to such an unbiblical notion. To do so may allow one to fall over the edge! Not to mention that walking near it may bring an alarming response from fellow dispensationalists, and few would want to be misunderstood or condemned by one’s colleagues! As a result, it seems that many otherwise sound theologians have worked over time to try and distance the church from the new covenant. No matter how admirable one’s intentions may be, if his conclusions are not biblically defensible, those conclusions must be rejected.
            The author agrees that the new covenant was made with the nation of Israel, and that it will be fulfilled at a future time in the nation of Israel, and in all of the literal ways described in Scripture. It is also agreed that there is a clear distinction between the church and Israel. This paper, however, will take the position that the church does in fact benefit from the new covenant, and is related to the new covenant by means of her union with the covenant’s Mediator, Jesus Christ. In Him, we enjoy many of the blessings promised to national Israel under the new covenant. Jesus, Himself, intimated as much in Matthew 15:21-28 when the Canaanite woman came to Him asking for mercy for her demon possessed daughter. As a gentile, outside of the nation of Israel, she had no right to ask the Messiah of Israel for blessings that He came to bring the Jews. In fact, when she addresses Jesus as Israel’s Messiah, He ignores her. He then plainly tells her that He had come exclusively to the lost sheep of Israel (v.24). He had a new covenant to keep with Israel, and was under no obligation to share its blessings with this Canaanite woman. However, when she came to him by faith, worshipping Him as Lord, He responded. He allowed the woman to partake of the crumbs of the meal He had prepared for Israel, and as result this Canaanite sinner enjoyed the blessings of the Jewish table.[3] What a beautiful picture of the church’s relationship to the new covenant. She has no rights to it. It wasn’t promised to her. She wasn’t even invited to the meal. But because of the loving relationship the Host has with her, He allows her to partake freely of the meal prepared for others. This, of course, does not mean that the original guests are uninvited, or that His plans for them have changed at all. The entire meal was prepared for them! They will still arrive right on time, and enjoy the fullness of the meal promised long ago, and prepared just for them.
            In Jeremiah 31:31-34 the new covenant is promised to Israel (v.31). By implication the covenant they were under at that time is what can be called the old covenant. That covenant was, of course, the Mosaic covenant. God specifically states that there will be two parties to this forthcoming covenant: Himself, and Israel. It was not made with the church. As the late, great dispensational scholar Charles L. Feinberg rightly points out, the church did not exist. No old covenant had been made with the church, and therefore no new covenant could be made with her! This, however, in no way means that the church has no part in it. Feinberg argues:
                        Does this mean that believers today have no part in the new covenant? Surely not,
                        for the same death of Christ that implemented the new covenant for Israel does so
                        for all sinners for all time. The testimony of the NT is too clear on this point to be
                        misunderstood. Because Israel rejected the covenant in the first advent, Gentiles
                        availed themselves of its provisions (cf. Rom 0:30-13:1); and Israel will yet ratify
                        it at the climax of her history (cf. Zech 12:10-13:1). Thus it is correct to say that
                        all believers in Christ are by virtue of this covenant grafted into the stock of
                        Abraham (cf. Rom 11:16-24)... Though Jeremiah 31 does not state it, the making
                        of the new covenant was inextricably bound up with the crucifixion of Christ for                           all mankind... salvation is possible only through the death of Christ, and this is the
                        basis for of the new covenant. All sinful mankind is thus in view in this covenant.
                        Finally, Israel as a nation will ratify the covenant after the “full number of
                        Gentiles has come in” (Rom 11:25-27).[4]

Though one may take issue with Feinberg’s statement that “all mankind was in view” when God made His covenant with Israel, the implication is right on. While God made His covenant with Israel, it was indeed always His plan to bring salvation to non Jews by way of the Mediator of the new covenant. So, while the new covenant will see its ultimate fulfillment in Israel at a future date, during the millennial reign of Christ, the church is today participating in some of the benefits of that covenant. The new covenant was inaugurated at cross (Matthew 26:27-28), and the church, by virtue of her union with Christ shares many of its spiritual benefits.[5] MacArthur concurs:
                        In principle, this covenant, also announced by Jesus Christ (Luke 22:20), begins
                        to be fulfilled spiritually by Jewish and Gentile believers in the church era (1
                        Cor 11:25; 2 Cor. 3:6; Heb 8:7-13; 9:15; 10:14-17; 12:24; 13:20). It has already
                        begun to take effect with “the remnant according to the election of grace” (Rom.
                        11:5). it will be realized by the people of Israel in the last days, including the                                  regathering to their ancient land, Palestine (chps. 30-33). The streams of the
                        Abrahamic, Davidic, and New Covenants find their confluence in the millennial                            kingdom ruled by the Messiah.[6]

            MacArthur makes an important point when he says that the new covenant begins to be fulfilled spiritually in the present dispensation. Though the author agrees with MacArthur’s general premise (that the church is enjoying some of the blessings of the new covenant today), he is not sure if MacArthur’s statement that the new covenant is beginning to be fulfilled in the present age is the best way to state the fact. The new covenant will be fulfilled in Israel, at a future date. Period. To argue that the church enjoys and participates in its blessings in the present age does not negate this important fact.
            A survey of a handful of Old Testament passages announcing the new covenant is in order:
                        Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the
                        house of Israel, and with the house of Judah, Not according to the covenant I
                        made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out
                        of the land of Egypt, which, my covenant, they broke, although I was a husband
                        unto them, saith the Lord; But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the
                        house of Israel: after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward
                        parts, and write it in their hearts, and will be their God, and they shall be my
                        people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his
                        brother, saying, Know the Lord; for they shall all know me, from the least of them
                        unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will
                        remember their sin no more (Jeremiah 31:31-34).

Walvoord notes that it is easy to see that the promises listed in this passage have no literal fulfillment in the present age. However, they certainly correspond to the spiritual blessings realized by the church. It is clear from the above passage (the only one in the Old Testament that specifically refers to the new covenant by name), that the covenant is with Israel, and that one cannot argue that it has been fulfilled in any way in the present age.[7] It is, however, obvious, that the promised blessing of forgiveness that was promised to Israel is already being enjoyed by the church! In Jeremiah 32:37-40, God expands upon the new covenant, providing the reader additional information. Not only will God be Israel’s intimate Lord, and not only will He write His law on their hearts, and not only will all know him (another promise that has not yet been fulfilled), but the new covenant includes a promise that national Israel will be regathered to her ancient land (v.37), and will dwell in that land forever (v.41). These are physical blessings that only Israel can enjoy, and therefore can only be fulfilled in Israel. In Isaiah 61:8-9, God promises that under the new covenant that Israel will be publicly blessed in front of all the peoples of the world. Only national Israel can enjoy the fulfillment of this promise, and the fulfillment can only be future.[8] This, it seems, is true of all of the physical promises of the new covenant.
            The claim should not be made that the new covenant is currently being fulfilled, or even that it has begun to be filled. This can only happen in the nation of Israel and the fulfillment will be literal. However, the New Testament is clear that the spiritual blessings that the new covenant will bring are already being enjoyed by the church. In Hebrews chapter 8, the author of Hebrews quotes Jeremiah 31:31-34 while speaking to Jewish Christians. As Dr. Fruchtenbaum points out in his excellent exegesis of Hebrews, the author of Hebrews did not do so in order to claim that the promises of the new covenant were fulfilled in the church, or that the church replaced Israel, but to demonstrate the supremacy of the new covenant over the old, and that the old covenant was temporary.[9] The New Covenant brought the promise of the forgiveness of sins, which would lead to internal change, which would lead to a new relationship with God. The author of Hebrews is arguing that his audience should take advantage of this, and realize that this promise could be realized by them, at that time![10] He goes on to argue that when Jesus died, the old covenant was rendered inoperative, and that his readers could now enjoy the benefits of the new covenant that God would make with Israel. Everything had been accomplished that needed to be in order for the new covenant to take effect, and in fact chapter nine goes on to demonstrate that Christ is already serving as the high priest, replacing the high priest of the old covenant, and serving in the heavenly tabernacle that the old tabernacle was a type of! Under the old covenant an earthly priest would purify the earthly tabernacle with blood, but the new High Priest has purified the true, heavenly tabernacle with His perfect blood (Hebrews 9:23), and now because of His perfect sacrifice He has put away sin (v.26), just as promised would be the case under the new covenant. It is important to remember that the context of this entire section of Hebrews is a dissertation on the superiority of the new covenant over the old. One cannot escape that conclusion that the salvation that the twenty-sixth verse speaks of is a blessing that was promised to Israel under the new covenant that is enjoyed today by both Jewish and gentile believers in Christ, which clearly proves the point that the church enjoys blessings of the new covenant. In fact, this is so very clear that many dispensationalists of the past have actually invented a “second” new covenant for the church. In their understandable attempt to stay away from the cliff of replacement theology that the covenant theologian falls over, and therefore to ensure that a proper difference is discerned between the church and Israel, they concluded that there must be another new covenant, since the new testament is so clear that the church benefits from a new covenant! However, as stated earlier, the church was never under an old covenant, therefore what new covenant could this possibly referring to, if not the one Israel was under formerly? The obvious conclusion is that the AH must be talking about God’s old covenant with Israel, and he makes this crystal clear in Hebrews chapters 8-10. The salvation that the church enjoys is none other than the salvation promised under the new covenant, bought and paid for by the new covenant’s mediator, Jesus Christ.
            It should be noted that nowhere does Hebrews, or any other New Testament passage state that the new covenant has been fulfilled. It is this author’s opinion that if one is to use a consistent literal-grammatical-historical hermeneutic, then the fulfillment of the new covenant can only take place when Israel is regathered to her ancestral land, and Christ returns to set up His millennial kingdom (Jeremiah 32:37-41). This will take place after the fullness of the Gentiles be come in (Romans 11:25). At that time, all Israel will be saved (Romans 11:26), experiencing the forgiveness of sins promised in Jeremiah 31:34. God will write His law on their hearts, and they will enjoy an intimate relationship with Him as their God that will be unique to that dispensation. Israel will dwell in complete peace and safety in their land (Jeremiah 32:37), and unlike in the past the nation will be completely faithful to their God (Jeremiah 32:40). When these promises that God made to the nation of Israel are fulfilled literally, then one will be able to say that the new covenant has been fulfilled. In the meantime, saved Jews, and saved gentiles enjoy the forgiveness of sins, and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit that the new covenant will bring Israel during the kingdom.
            While preparing this paper the author invited some friends over for dinner. A grand feast of grilled hamburgers, sausages, and hot dogs was promised. A date was set. Guests marked their calendars for the appropriate time on the appropriate day. While preparing the meal, the host noticed that there was going to be plenty of delicious meat for everyone, multiple times over. The smell was incredible. The host wasn’t the only one who thought so. His loyal dogs, Yogi and Teddy, sat eagerly next to the grill with watering tongues hanging out. They, from past experience, were aware that the chef was prone to drop meat while moving it from the grill to the plate, and they were ready. They were not disappointed! Not only did their master drop some, but because of his love for them he actually gave them some on purpose. Then, after the meal, when the guests had left, Yogi and Teddy got leftovers. They enjoyed so much grilled and seasoned meat that night they were laying belly up on the hardwood floor in the living room in a total and complete food coma. Looking over at them, the author thought about the church and the new covenant. That meal was not promised to those dogs. They weren’t even invited to the party! In fact, the promise of the party wasn’t fulfilled until the guests arrived, and it was fulfilled only then. But the food had to be prepared for the invited guests. And, because of their intimate relationship with the host, and his affection for them, those dogs had one of the best nights of their lives. They got to eat the crumbs that fell from the table of the party. And guess what? The friends who were originally promised the meal got all they wanted to eat, as well.
            God didn’t promise a new covenant to the church. He promised it to Israel. And one day that promise will be literally fulfilled. But in the meantime, like those dogs, the church gets to live under the new covenant today, and enjoy some of its blessings.


                                                                                                                       



BIBLIOGRAPHY

Decker, Rodney J. “Why Do Dispensationalists Have Such a Hard Time Agreeing on the New     Covenant?” Paper Presented at the Council on Dispensational Hermeneutics, Clarks    Summit, Pennsylvania, September 2008.

Dyer, Charles. “Jeremiah,” The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Old Testament. ed. John F.          Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck. USA: Victor Books, 1987.

Fruchtenbaum, Arnold J. Ariel’s Bible Commentary: The Messianic Jewish Epistles. San    Antonio, TX: Ariel Ministries, 2005.

Feinberg, Charles L. “Jeremiah,” The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 6, ed. Frank E.
            Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1981.

MacArthur, John. The MacArthur Bible Commentary. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson,        2005.

Pettegrew, Larry D. “The New Covenant” The Master’s Seminary Journal. 10/2 (Fall 1999),         251-270.

Toussaint, Stanley D.  Behold The King: A Study of Matthew. Grand Rapids, MI: 1980.

Walvoord, John F. The New Covenant With Israel, from the series Eschatological Problems,             www.walvoord.com.







[1] Rodney J. Decker, “Why Do Dispensationalists Have Such a Hard Time Agreeing on the New Covenant?,” Paper Presented at the Council on Dispensational Hermeneutics, Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania, September 2008.
[2] Larry D. Pettegrew. The New Covenant. The Master’s Seminary Journal. 10/2 (Fall 1999), 251-270.
[3] Stanley D. Toussaint. Behold The King: A Study In Matthew. (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1980), 194-195.
[4] Charles L. Feinberg.  “Jeremiah,” The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 6 . (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1986, 575.
[5] Charles Dyer, “Jeremiah,” The Bible Knowledge Commentary. Old Testament. ed. John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck. (USA: Victor Books, 1987). 1171-1172.
[6] John MacArthur. The MacArthur Bible Commentary. (Nashville, TE: Thomas Nelson, 2005), 868.
[7] John F. Walvoord. “The New Covenant With Israel,” in the Eschatological Problems series. www.walvoord.com.
[8] Ibid.
[9] Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Ariel’s Bible Commentary, The Messianic Jewish Epistles. (San Antonio, TX: Ariel Ministries, 2005), 112.
[10] Ibid.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

HOW THE NEW TESTAMENT QUOTES THE OLD TESTAMENT

HOW THE NEW TESTAMENT QUOTES THE OLD TESTAMENT

Anyone who has read through the New Testament soon realizes that it frequently quotes the Old Testament and quotes it in various ways.[1] This is especially true with the Gospels. Sometimes, because the context of the Old Testament quotation does not seem to fit the New Testament context, it appears that the New Testament takes too much liberty with the Old Testament. Rabbinic writings frequently quoted the Old Testament in a variety of ways, and the Jewish writers of the New Testament followed the same procedure. The rabbis gave the four ways of quotation the title of pardes, which stood for pshat, remez, drash, and sod. The New Testament quotes the Old Testament in the same four ways as the rabbis did. This will be a study to see just how the New Testament does quote the Old Testament.
By way of introduction, it should be pointed out that, in the context of the Old Testament, there were four different types of messianic prophecy and four categories of quotations in the New Testament.
THE FOUR TYPES OF MESSIANIC PROPHECY IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
There are four types of messianic prophecy in the Old Testament, including: messianic prophecy dealing only with the First Coming of the Messiah (e.g. Deuteronomy 18:15 19), messianic prophecy dealing strictly with His Second Coming and nothing else (e.g. Isaiah 2:1 4), messianic prophecy that blends the two Comings of the one Messiah into a single picture (e.g. ; Isaiah 9:5 7),[2] and messianic prophecy that gives the entire redemptive career of the Messiah, which includes four elements: His First Coming, the interval between the First and Second Comings, the Second Coming, and the Messianic Kingdom (e.g. Ps 110).
THE FOUR CATEGORIES OF QUOTATIONS IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
The New Testament quotes the Old Testament, but it quotes it in four different ways or categories. Every Old Testament quotation found within the New Testament will always fit into one of these four categories. In this study, Matthew 2 will be used as a base, simply because this one chapter has all four categories of quotations.[3]
  1. Literal Prophecy Plus Literal Fulfillment: Pshat
  2. Literal Plus Typical: Remez
  3. Literal Plus Application: Drash
  4. Summation: Sod

See the whole article here

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Heresy of Application

A key element to dispensational theology is the commitment it has to a consistent literal grammatical-historical hermeneutic.  There are times that teaching error is not directly related to our grammatical and theological understanding of the text.  Often times the error comes from the “application.”  At times a well meaning preacher/teacher may miss or misuse the point of the text to make a clear pass to apply a principal.  As dispensationalists we have to be committed to teaching the principal from the text accurately all the time.  This article describes some of the potential pitfalls of “application” or for others just being sloppy in handling the text and in how they represent God.  May the Lord bless you as you read this article and challenge you (and me) to handle the word of God carefully. 

 http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/1997/fall/7l4020.html 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Israel of God:
Galatians 6:15-16 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. 16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.
This passage has been used erroneously to attempt to prove that the Church is now Israel and all of the promises given to that nation now belong to the Church.  The theme of the book of Galatians is to refute the teachings of Judaizers who were promoting the addition of circumcision to Christianity.  According to Nelson’s NKJV Study Bible, “To a Christian under the New Covenant, following the Abrahamic sign of circumcision does not mean anything in terms of spirituality.  What really matters is being a new creation in Christ.”[1]  The phrase that makes this passage difficult is “Israel of God.”  This is a reference to believing Jews that are Israel both in flesh and spirit.  Some believe that “Israel of God” is the Church[2]; the evidence does not support such a conclusion. 
First, the repetition of the preposition (“upon” or “to”) indicates two groups are in view.  Second, all the 65 other occurrences of the term “Israel” in the New Testament refer to Jews.  It would thus be strange for Paul to use “Israel” here to mean Gentile Christians.  Third, Paul elsewhere referred to two kinds of Israelites-believing Jews and unbelieving Jews (cf. Romans 9:6).  Lest it be thought that Paul is anti-Semitic, he demonstrated by means of this benediction his deep love and concern for true Israel, that is, Jews who had come to Christ.[3]  Ryrie explains this passage brilliantly. He wrote,
The question is, Who composes the Israel of God?  The Amillennialist insists that these verses equate the Israel of God with the entire Church.  The premillennialist says that Paul is simply singling out Christians Jews for special recognition in the benediction.
Grammar in this instance does not decide the matter for us.  The “and” in the phrase ‘and upon the Israel of God’ can be understood in three ways.
First, it could be explicative; that is, it can mean “even,” in which case the phrase “Israel of God” would be a synonym for the “new creation” and would thus make the Church the Israel of God.

On the other hand, if the “and” is understood in an emphatic sense, it has the meaning of “adding a (especially important) part to the whole” and is translated “and especially” (cf Mark 16:7; Acts 1:14).  Third, the “and” might be a simple connective, which would also distinguish the Israel of God as Jewish Christians but not identify them as the whole Church.  The connective force would be less emphatic than the “especially” meaning, but both interpretations would distinguish Jewish and Gentile believers.
Although the grammar cannot of itself decide the question, the argument of the book of Galatians does favor the connective or emphatic meaning of “and.” Paul had strongly attacked the Jewish legalists; therefore, it would be natural for him to remember with a special blessing those Jews who had forsaken this legalism and followed Christ and the rule of the new creation.  One might also ask why, if the New Testament writers meant to equate clearly Israel and the Church, they did not do so plainly in the many other places in their writings where they had convenient opportunity to do so.  Historically, the word “Israel” is applied to the Christian Church for the first time by Justin Martyr in his Dialogue with Trypho, where the Church is equated with the ‘true Israel’ (not labeled the Israel of God).[4]
Thematically, this passage is most likely emphasizing a blessing upon Paul’s brothers in the flesh who are Jews but now are part of the Church.  This line of reasoning is supported by the theology of many of the first and second century Church leaders and Theologians.  As is seen in 1 Corinthians 10:32 there are three groups of humanity: Jews, Gentiles, and believers in Jesus Christ (the Church).  But in the early Church the Jewish believers were often designated separately from the Gentiles.  This type of distinction can be found in the writings of Justin Martyr among others.[5]  And as Charles Ray notes, “Scholars of every stripe agree that the vast majority of occurrences of ‘Israel’ in the New Testament refer to ethnic Israel, yet some want to make an exception to Galatians 6:16, with no compelling reason for doing so.”[6]  This “exception” serves as a prime illustration of the inconsistent hermeneutics of the covenant theologian that is used to support their supposition regardless of the Biblical facts.  Arnold Fruchtenbaum sums up the issue by writing,
… like all Covenant Theologians, [LaSor] ignores that there are two groups mentioned in the passage: the them and the Israel of God.  … there is no textual or contextual reason to depart from the primary meaning of kai, which means “and,” or to resort to a secondary meaning of “even.”  The them refers to the Gentile believers to and of whom Paul had been writing throughout the epistle.  The Israel of God refers to Jewish believers specifically and not to the Church at large.  There is no exegetical reason to make the Israel here a reference to the Church.[7]
The term “Israel of God” can only refer to the Church “at large” if an unnatural hermeneutic is employed.  The context of the passage, especially the more specific reference to the Church at large demands that the phrase “Israel of God” is a specific reference to a segment of the Church: Jewish believers.
Romans chapter eleven is, of course, one of the key passages in which Paul addresses the future of national Israel right after doing his own comparison of the three groups of humanity (Gentiles, Jews, and the Church) in chapter nine and ten. 




[1] Nelson’s NKJV Study Bible.  Thomas Nelson Publishers.  Nashville TN. 1997, 1980.
[2] Riddlebarger, 122-123.
[3] Walvoord, John F. and Roy B. Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, An Exposition of Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty, Old Testament (Colorado Springs, Colorado: Cook Communications Ministries, 2004), 611.
[4] Ryrie, Dispensationalism, 149-150.
[5] Crutchfield 261-262.
[6] Ray, Charles, Basic Distinctives of Dispensational Systematic Theology, Dispensationalism Tomorrow & Beyond: A Theological Collection in Honor of Charles C. Ryrie (Fort Worth TX: Tyndale Seminary Press. 2008), 56.
[7] Fruchtenbaum, Arnold G.  Israelology: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 1996), 314.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Rules of Interpretation Dr. Arnold Fructenbaum

There are four basic rules of interpretation which are keys to understanding the prophetic
word.
The first is called The Golden Rule of Interpretation:
When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore, take
every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning, unless the facts of the immediate
context, studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths, indicate
clearly otherwise.

See the rest of the article here


http://www.forthefathersministry.org/images/images_C7319/Rules%20of%20Interpretation.pdf

Monday, January 6, 2014

Flow and Highlights of Ecclesiastes




David Q. Santos



Philosophers of all ages have sought to answer the most basic of questions that have ever been asked by mankind. These questions cut through the all ages in order to find meaning and fulfillment to fleeting and futile existences. Solomon, the wisest man ever to live (1 Kings 10:23), made similar investigations into the futility and vanity of life. He recorded his investigation in the book of Ecclesiastes. His search took him through many patterns of thought that have been and continue to be parts of philosophical discussion even today.



Philosophical debates, as well as Solomon’s inquiry, are essentially epistemological in nature. For Solomon, the answers to all the philosophical questions of mankind are a dichotomy of wisdom on Earth versus Heaven. Solomon’s inquiry has four primary divisions. The Bible Knowledge Commentary divides Ecclesiastes this way;



I. Introduction: The Futility of All Human Endeavor (1:1-11)



II. The Futility of Human Achievement Empirically Demonstrated (1:12-6:9)



III. The Limitations of Human Wisdom Empirically Demonstrated (6:10-11:6)



IV. Conclusion: Live Joyously and Responsibly in the Fear of God (11:7-12:14) [1]



The first division of Ecclesiastes (1:1-11) is divided into three sections. The first is the book’s title which is found in chapter one verse one. The second section is found in verse two which describes the theme of the book. The final section in verses three through eleven provides the initial thesis to Solomon’s view of life “under the sun” (a phrase that Solomon uses 29 times in 27 verses).[2]



Verse one introduced the author of Ecclesiastes. This verse gives three specific details of the author. He is the son of David and currently is the king in Jerusalem. Also, he is called “Preacher.” Other Bible translations may render “Preacher” as “teacher.” Preacher is the Hebrew word is “Qohelet” (קֹהֶלֶת). Qohelet “refers to one who convenes and speaks at an assembly.”[3] Qohelet in this instance is used like a proper name. Carson state that “The Hebrew of Teacher is Qohelet, which is a Hebrew participle. It has a meaning (like the English name Baker).”[4] The Preacher’s identity is easily surmised to be Solomon. He is a king who is ruling over all of Israel (Ecc. 1:12) ruling from Jerusalem “as only three men were: Saul, David, and Solomon…”[5]



The theme of the book is identified in verse two. The Preacher declared that “all is vanity.” Vanity is the Hebrew word “hābal” (הָבַל) which can be understood as a breath or vapor. Hābal, in the context of Ecclesiastes especially, carries the sense of nothingness or perishable. The concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (CHALOT) adds to these definitions that its use in Ecclesiastes 1:2 that the hābal Solomon is describing is “his empty life.”[6] The theme of this book is emptiness of life. This is further stressed by Solomon’s continued and repetitive use of hābal in this verse and throughout the book. It occurs five times in this verse alone with 36 other instances in 31 verses in the entire book.



The final section of this first division is contained in verses four through eleven. This section provides proof of Solomon’s thesis. The key assertion is summed up in the commentary on the world; “there is nothing new under the sun” (v. 9). Prior to this statement Solomon provides his evidence; expressing the reality of a fleeting existence. He illustrates his assertion with naturalistic examples that all have observed. Even as generations of mankind pass by the world continues to operate much as it has for thousands of years (at least since Noah’s flood). The sun rises and goes down, rivers flow, and the wind blows; all while these generations go and come.



Solomon has presented his thesis which states that life is vain, futile, and fleeting. His thesis stated, he begins a series of inquiries as to the nature of life on this world. The second division of Ecclesiastes begins this inquiry. This division covers chapter one verse twelve through chapter six verse nine. In this division he discusses the futileness of human achievement. This division is broken into two sections. The first is Solomon’s personal experiences and observations of the failures of human achievement (Ecc. 1:12-2:17). The second section demonstrates this futility in an empirical fashion (Ecc. 2:18-6:9).



Solomon begins his inquiry into the vanity of life by expressing his own experience and observation of the futility of human achievement. The beginning of this inquiry is broken into four points. The Bible Knowledge Commentary divides this section in this fashion,



1. Futility of human achievement shown by personal investigation (1:12-15)



2. Futility of human wisdom (1:16-18)



3. Futility of pleasure-seeking (2:1-11)



4. Futility of a wise lifestyle (2:12-17) [7]



Solomon begins his God ordained task (Ecc. 1:13) of examining “all that is done under the sun” (Ecc. 1:12). He initially concludes that “I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and indeed, all is vanity and grasping for the wind.” (Ecc. 1:12) After further examination he determined that increasing knowledge only brings sorrow. Even pleasure to the point of not “withholding my heart from any pleasure” and all labor contained “no profit under the sun.” Solomon expressed that wisdom was superior to foolishness; and yet both the wise and the foolish would come to the same end. (Ecc. 2:14)



This second section provides an empirical examination by Solomon. Rather than just expressing his own observations he brings evidence to bear on his inquiry. He divides this section into four main points as described by The Bible Knowledge Commentary



1. Labor’s fruits may be squandered by someone else (2:18-26)



2. Labor cannot alter God’s immutable, inscrutable providence (3:1-4:3)



3. Labor is often motivated by inappropriate incentives (4:4-16)



4. Labor’s fruits may sometimes not be enjoyed (5:1-6:9) [8]



Solomon examined the reality of the fruits of labor. He soon concluded that enjoying these fruits will become vanity. Even the food that God has given is grasping at wind. (Ecc. 2:26) In contrast to God’s immutability stands man’s short fleeting existence where he strives to achieve and accomplish-gathering knowledge and goods under the sun. But Solomon found that all things have a time. Matthew Henry commented on these points. He wrote



…we live in a world of changes, that the several events of time, and conditions of human life, are vastly different from one another, and yet occur promiscuously, and we are continually passing and repassing between them, as in the revolutions of every day and every year. In the wheel of nature (Jam. 3:6) sometimes one spoke is uppermost and by and by the contrary; there is a constant ebbing and flowing, waxing and waning; from one extreme to the other does the fashion of this world change, ever did, and ever will. [9]



In the third division of Ecclesiastes Solomon deals with the limitations found in the wisdom of mankind. (Ecc. 6:10-11:6) Solomon described this problem in three sections. In the first section Solomon described futility between God and this world. The Bible Knowledge Commentary summarized Solomon’s dilemma writing,



Solomon introduced his discussion on the limitations of human wisdom by reverting to two themes he had used earlier to demonstrate the futility of human toil, namely, the immutability (1:15; 3:14; cf. 1:9) and inscrutability (3:11, 22) of divine providence. Solomon said that the nature and essence of everything that exists, including people, was foreordained long ago: whatever exists has already been named (“calling by name” parallels “creating,” Isa. 40:26) and what man is has been known (“knowing” parallels “setting apart” and “appointing,” Jer. 1:5). Furthermore Solomon said it was useless for a person to argue (no man can contend) about what is foreordained because God who had done it is too powerful for man. [10]



In the second section Solomon continued to explain the divide between man and God. Man is not capable of understanding God’s plans. He concluded this division by explaining that while God does know the future plans; man does not. Therefore, man cannot criticize God and must continue in good works not knowing the future.



Solomon’s concluding division provides a contrast of life under the sun with life that is lived for God and with Godly wisdom. This division has two sections with the main theme being living in the fear of God. (11:7-12:14)



The first section gives an exhortation to follow God in life. Solomon broke this section into three points. The Bible Knowledge Commentary describes them,



1. Enjoy life because the darkness of death is coming (11:7-8)



2. Enjoy life in your youth, remembering that God will judge (11:9-10)



3. Live responsibly in your youth for old age and death are coming (12:1-7) [11]



In this final section Solomon gives his concluding thoughts. He summed up all of his experiences and the conclusions of his observations of life. He first concluded that all is vanity. But at this point of the book it becomes clear that everything under the sun is vanity. Everything done for earthly means is vanity and will pass away. Solomon’s conclusion; “Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil.” (Ecc. 12:13-14)



Jesus explained that men should not seek to lay up treasures on earth. Instead they should “but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Mt. 6:20) Solomon discovered what Jesus would teach to His first century followers. This simple and yet profound understanding that the things of this world are fleeting and perishable but the things of heaven are eternal.











Work Cited



Carson, D. A., New Bible Commentary : 21st Century Edition, 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994).



Cone, Christopher, Ph.D Th.D, Life Beyond the Sun: An Intoduction to Worldview & Philosophy through the lens of Ecclesiastes, (Fort Worth, Tyndale Seminary Press, 2009)



Henry, Matthew, Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible : Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1996).



Holladay, William Lee, Ludwig Köhler and Ludwig Köhler, A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament. (Leiden: Brill, 1971)



Hughes, Robert B. and J. Carl Laney, Tyndale Concise Bible Commentary, The Tyndale reference library (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001)



New King James Version, The. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982).



Walvoord John F., Roy B. Zuck and Dallas Theological Seminary, vol. 1, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983-)







--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



[1] John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck and Dallas Theological Seminary, vol. 1, The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983-), 978–979.



[2] The New King James Version. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982). All Scriptural references and quotes are based on the New King James Version unless otherwise noted.



[3] Robert B. Hughes and J. Carl Laney, Tyndale Concise Bible Commentary, The Tyndale reference library (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001), 243.



[4] D. A. Carson, New Bible Commentary : 21st Century Edition, 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994).



[5] Christopher Cone, Ph.D Th.D, Life Beyond the Sun: An Intoduction to Worldview & Philosophy through the lens of Ecclesiastes, (Fort Worth, Tyndale Seminary Press, 2009), 21.



[6] William Lee Holladay, Ludwig Köhler and Ludwig Köhler, A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament. (Leiden: Brill, 1971), 76.



[7] Walvoord, 978–979.



[8] Ibid, 978–979.



[9] Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible : Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1996).



[10] Walvoord, 991.



[11] Ibid, 978–979.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Resurrection Sunday Message 2013

Listen or download the MVBC Resurrection Sunday Message using the link below.