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The Kingdom of God: David and Solomon as Types of Christ

March 27, 2012 Leave a comment

I continue to appreciate Horner-style genre Bible reading, for the repetition and increasing overall familiarity with scripture.  Often I notice particular verses and parallels that I might not have picked up on from separate single-passage reading.

One day in my reading, for instance, I noted the following similar passages:

  • Romans 16:20  “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.”
  • 1 Kings 5:3 “You know that David … because of the warfare with which his enemies surrounded him, until the Lord put them under the soles of his feet.

The interesting point I noted here is the David-Solomon pair as a type of Christ in His future reign upon the Earth.  Romans 16:20 references the fulfillment, what Christ will actually do in the future.

As I’ve been reading again through the books of Kings and Chronicles, and thinking more about the Kingdom (see this recent post), I’ve noticed even more clearly the typology of the David-Solomon set and the functions and actions of each.  Together, David and Solomon represent aspects of Christ’s future work:  first the warfare against His enemies and putting them down (King David), immediately followed by the wonderful time of peace and prosperity as pictured in the Kingdom of Solomon.

As pointed out in this previous post, true types (examples or pictures) can be defined by three characteristics:

  • correspondences between people, things (or institutions), or events
  • historicity: not allegory of things that did not historically happen
  • predictiveness:  God works according to the patterns that are revealed in the Old Testament; the types of the Old Testament point forward to the ultimate fulfillment.

1 and 2 Chronicles especially point out the distinction between the two, with several statements about the fact that David was a man of war and could not build the temple, and Solomon would be the man of peace (1 Chronicles 22:7-10, and 1 Chronicles 28:3-6).  1 Kings 5:3 (above) directly shows David as the type of Christ: who had enemies, and warfare, until the Lord put them under his (David’s) feet.

It is so true, as Richard Mayhue said, that the doctrine of the Kingdom of God is the most neglected and misunderstood theme in the Bible.  So much of the Old Testament includes the kingdom theme, including the many passages showing the Kingdom type as played out in Israel’s kings, plus the parallel scriptures written centuries later, by the prophets, describing a future kingdom so much like the one depicted in type by King Solomon.

The first several chapters in 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles provide some great descriptions of some of what we can look forward to when Christ has put all His enemies under His feet and begins to reign:  wealth (1 Kings 4:20-28, 1 Kings 10:14-23, 2 Chronicles 9:13-22), peace (1 Kings 4:24-25; reference Micah 4:4), a king who reigns with wisdom (1 Kings 3), and people from the other nations coming to Jerusalem, bringing tribute and seeking his wisdom (1 Kings 4:21, 1 Kings 10: 23-25), and praising the true God, Solomon’s God and ours (1 Kings 10:1-10;  Matthew 12:42 ) the King and Lord Jesus Christ, the “greater than Solomon.”

The following is just a sampling, a table showing several of these parallels between the Old Testament type and the future fulfillment.

Scripture Teaching OT Type Future Fulfillment
Enemies Under Feet 1 Kings 5:3 1 Corinthians 15:25-27;
Romans 16:20
A Kingdom of Peace 1 Kings 4:24-25 Micah 4:4
Nations Coming to Bring
Tribute
1 Kings 4:21; 1 Kings
10:23-25
Zechariah 14:16; Haggai 2:7;
Isaiah 60:3-7
Fleet of Ships at Tarshish,
bringing silver and gold
1 Kings 10:22 Isaiah 60:9
The House Filled With Glory 2 Chronicles 5:13-14 Haggai 2:7
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Classical Apologetics: Confusing Effect and Cause

March 22, 2012 1 comment

I’ve not studied the issue of classical (or evidentialist) apologetics as contrasted with presuppositional, beyond understanding the general approaches of each (and affirming presuppositional apologetics).  Fred Butler’s recent blog post, Questioning Classic Apologetics, gives a great summary of questions for classic apologists, along with his own reference to James White’s work.

I’m familiar with evidentialist apologetics, from my earliest Christian years and time spent reading Josh McDowell (Evidence Demands a Verdict) and even Norm Geisler’s “When Skeptics Ask” (though I’ve forgotten much of that one).  As Fred points out so well, classical apologetics puts too much emphasis on non-biblical Greek philosophy, considering that the Bible alone is insufficient to convince sinners of their need to repent and come to Christ.

Now I want to focus on one particular issue:  confusing the effect with the cause.  Josh McDowell shared his testimony, that his conversion came about as a result of directly trying to “prove” Christianity wrong.  He met a group of Christians at the college, hated what they believed so much that he set out to prove the resurrection of Jesus Christ a fraud, and ended up being convinced by the evidence FOR the resurrection.  Therefore, he apparently reasoned, other unbelievers would also be convinced by the non-biblical evidences available.

Those who emphasize the need for evidentialist apologetics are unaware of the real cause for their own conversion, the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration.  In the case of McDowell, I observe that he was the one who initiated the investigation.  Arnold Fruchtenbaum similarly set out, as an unbelieving Jewish teenager, to disprove the claims of the Jewish Christians he met at the local missionary agency.  But it is one thing for a hostile unbeliever to “set out” to disprove the claims of Christianity, as a result of meeting up with Christians (when, behind the scene, the very providence of the encounter with the Christians, and the desire to disprove them, has been brought about by the Holy Spirit’s work on their heart), and quite another for a believing Christian to actively seek out unbelievers to debate with, to hope to win them over by evidentialist human reasoning.

Classical apologists see the effect from their own lives: extra-biblical evidence convincing someone to come to faith.  Similarly, the Pelagian observes the effect — his own desire to “choose God” — and thus mistakes that which is an effect of the Holy Spirit in regeneration (the real reason behind why the sinner “chose God”), for the “root cause” of the matter.

Body, Soul and Spirit: Trichotomy or Dichotomy

March 19, 2012 3 comments

I briefly looked at this idea of dichotomy and trichotomy, over a year ago, when it came up in the last of S. Lewis Johnson’s “The Divine Purpose” series.  At the time I wasn’t very clear on the difference between the views, and didn’t research it further. I’m now looking at it again, after my Sunday morning Spurgeon sermons, where I came across this interesting passage from Spurgeon:

The Teaching of the Holy Spirit (#315, May 13, 1860)
But now, further—all that the Believer truly knows which is profitable to himself is taught him by the Holy Spirit. We may learn very much from the Word of God morally and mentally, but the Christian philosopher understands that there is a distinction between soul and spirit. He knows that the mere natural soul or intellect of man may instruct itself well enough out of the Word of God, but that spiritual things are only to be spiritually discerned. He knows that until that third, higher principle—the spirit—is infused into us in regeneration, we have not even the capability or the possibility of knowing spiritual things! Now it is this third, higher principle, of which the Apostle speaks when he speaks of “body, soul and spirit.” Mental philosophers declare there is no such thing as the third part—the spirit. They can find a body and a soul, but no spirit. They are quite right—there is no such thing in natural men. That third principle—the spirit—is an infusion of the Holy Spirit at regeneration and is not to be detected by mental philosophy! It is altogether a subtler thing—a thing too rare, too heavenly, to be described by Dugald, Stewart, or Reid, or Brown or any of those mighty men who could dissect the mind, but who could not understand the spirit! Now, the Spirit of God first gives us a spirit and then afterwards educates that spirit.

I was aware of the Dallas Seminary / S. Lewis Johnson trichotomy view, and that others generally, including John MacArthur and most others in Reformed circles, see a dichotomy in which the “soul and spirit” are the same thing as contrasted with the body.  Evidently Spurgeon too was a trichotomist, of the variation that only believers have the third component of the spirit.

From online blog comments and facebook discussions, apparently the doctrine of trichotomy is (at worst) often reviled and called heresy, or (best) seen as something believed primarily by charismatics: who apparently conclude from trichotomy that theological knowledge is “unspiritual” whereas the Spirit needs to be in direct communication with God.  One well-known covenant theologian disdains trichotomy as somehow an  important part of “goofy dispensationalism.”  Yet Martin Luther was also trichotomist, as were many of the early church fathers; see this article concerning the history of belief in trichotomy.

Dan Phillips even responded to casual blog-comment discussion with these observations on trichotomy:
1. Some Reformed guys really disagree with it.
2. Some Reformed guys (S. Lewis Johnson, for one) really don’t.
3. I definitely have seen trichotomy abused (i.e. cough::Bill Gothard::cough)
4. Abuse of a doctrine doesn’t necessarily discredit the doctrine.
5. I can’t imagine a planet on which the mere thought that soul and spirit might not be interchangeable is rightly regarded as “heresy.” It’s a difference among brothers.

S. Lewis Johnson provided in-depth teaching, with a good look at the specific scriptures, in his two messages within his “Systematic Theology” series on this very topic (combined with the related issue of creation and traducianism):
Man and His Nature, Part I   and   Man and His Nature, Part II

Concerning 1 Thessalonians 5:23, he observes:

Now, you could render this.  Some of our greatest Greek scholars say that that little word “complete,” or entire I think in your text, that second word, should go with each one of these nouns, body, spirit, soul, and may your whole spirit, may your whole soul, may your whole body.  Or your spirit in all its parts, your soul in all its parts, your body in all its parts be preserved complete.

In other words, Paul clearly distinguishes between body, soul, and spirit, and to make it a definite, uses an adjective that means complete in all its parts.  And refers the adjective to each of the three nouns as if to suggest there are parts to the soul, parts to the spirit, but that all of each is to be preserved for each.  He’s talking about sanctification.  And he’s saying, of course, when we come into the presence of the Lord, he’s praying that our spirits, our souls, and our bodies will be preserved complete.  Our spirit, in all its parts, in our in all its parts, our body in all its parts. As if to collect –distributively speak of them.  I don’t have time to go into the Greek texts, but the adjective, the second one that’s translated entirely, or whole, here is used distributively.  And that, as far as I can tell, is the only meaning possible of these texts.

He also points out some details concerning 1 Corinthians 15:44:

Now, one other passage we could look at, which is disastrous to the dichotomist’s view is 1 Corinthians 15, verse 44 where Paul speaks about the earthly body adaptive to the present sensuous world and the glorified body adapted tot he future spiritual world, and he uses the word soulish and spiritual of these two bodies.  And he says the present body is a soulish body, but our body to come is a spirit body.  And that wouldn’t make any sense at all if those two terms meant essentially the same thing.  Listen to what he says.  1 Corinthians 15, verse 44,

“it is sown” (that is our bodies that we have her now, we Christians)  “It is sown a soulish body (a natural body), it is raised a spiritual body (a pneuma body). If there is a natural body, (that is a soulish body) there is also a spiritual body.”

And so Paul distinguishes here between the body that we have now and calls it the body of the psyche, and he says that at the resurrection, we’re going to have the body of pneuma.  And if that does not distinguish between those two terms, I don’t know what does.

S. Lewis Johnson goes on to the significance of the distinction between the soul (the emotions) and the mind or intellect (the spirit):  the fact that God speaks to us in our spirit (mind) rather than to our feelings.  Our feelings (soul) should always be dominated by the mind.  Certainly MacArthur and other dichotomists agree with that conclusion, as in their sharp criticism of charismatic chaos; but here the scriptures give even stronger support to this understanding:

Well, now you see, if man is made up of spirit, that part of his being which is preeminent is his mind, and when he is born again is renewed, quickened by the Holy Spirit.  And if it is true that God speaks to men in their minds and in the spirits, and this works itself out through his psyche, his self, his emotions, his loving, his hating, all of the other things that make up his general passions, feelings; and if that expresses itself in its physical body, just as I am in my mind, thinking of Scriptural truth which is being brought through my passions, through my emotions to you, and you can see it in my face, well, then God speaks in a man’s spirit, that part of his being which is characterized by rationality.  He speaks in that part of the man which is his mind, not in his feelings.  But his feelings should always be under the dominancy of his mind.

The Kingdom of God: The Central Theme of Scripture

March 13, 2012 6 comments

I’ve begun listening to a recent TMS lecture series (February 2012) concerning The Kingdom of God. According to the introductory message this series included six parts, of which the web page includes five: an introduction from Richard Mayhue, followed by great lessons from Bill Barrick, Keith Essex, Nathan Busenitz and Michael Vlach. The first two messages have already covered a lot of ground on this very large topic, the one unifying theme of the Bible.

The Bible is filled with the kingdom theme. The Old Testament is saturated: just looking at the “kingdom vocabulary” and the words “king” and “kingdom” and their variations, the Hebrew OT includes 3,154 references – and that doesn’t include the Aramaic portions in Daniel. Many other words also relate to the subject of the kingdom, as for instance judge, ruling, scepter, and palace. Many passages contain just a brief reference, as for instance Exodus 15:18, the last verse in the song of Moses. Other passages do not contain direct kingdom language, yet clearly refer to it, as for instance Psalm 118. About 30% of hymns in the average hymnbook are about the kingdom, which though generally from the erroneous amillennial/postmillennial view at least recognize the immense scope of the kingdom theme.

Over the last few centuries theologians have been quite interested in dividing the Bible into all its parts, examining and dissecting it. Yet that perspective, looking at the trees, loses sight of the overall picture of the forest. When we consider the broad overview of the Bible, what is its central theme? Keith Essex mentions several ideas set forth by theologians, concluding that the kingdom and salvation are the primary two, of which the kingdom is the primary one. He cites two reasons: the canonical order and the theological order of God’s word. The canonical order: The Revelation of the Kingdom both precedes (Genesis 1-2) and culminates (Revelation 21-22) after the teaching of sin and salvation. The theological order: salvation is a means to an end, not the end. We are saved for a purpose, to serve the Savior.

Dr. Mayhue suggests a simple three-point outline for a single sermon about the whole Bible:

  1. The Kingdom Before Sin (Genesis 1-2)
  2. The Kingdom During Sin (Genesis 3 – Revelation 20)
  3. The Kingdom After Sin (Revelation 21-22)

Bill Barrick’s message is especially good, and he further expands on the “mirror image” of scripture: The doctrine of First Things is repeated in inverse order in the doctrine of Last Things. As the earth began so it shall end. March forward from Genesis (OT history), and backward from Revelation (to begin of NT), and see the parallels.

A closer look at these parallels and reverse sequence of events:
Creation == > New Creation
Light ==> God’s Light (Rev. 22)
Man’s Rule (Gen. 1:21) ==> High King’s Rule
Curse of the Fall reversed

Antagonism from Satan:
Creation –> Satan’s freedom
Satan’s rebellion again, and confinement (before) the New Creation
Worldwide global flood judgment after the fall. In Revelation 6-19, global judgment again, before Satan’s defeat.
After global judgment: Old Testament — Babylon
Global judgment in Revelation: Babylon (Revelation 17-18) prior to the global judgment.

Of the first three messages, I’ve especially enjoyed Dr. Barrick’s, for his great delivery including many quote-worthy statements such as this section:

Vice-regents of God are literal, unfallen human beings living & residing on planet earth, possessing physical bodies, and living in a specific location, the garden of Eden. God’s initial mediatorial kingdom is earthly, it is physical, it is real, it is human. We must catch that concept. We read the Bible as though there was no literal Adam and Eve, we spiritualize everything to where we do away with everything physical and everything earthly, as though in the New Testament suddenly all this is transformed and we are to be only spiritually directed, spiritually minded, and there’s only spiritual reality, and the physical reality is just a means of getting where we’re going and that’s it.

That’s not the way scripture approaches it. God’s design was for there to be a literal, human, unfallen, earthly localized kingdom on this planet. And He will not have that program subordinated, skewed, changed, altered or denied. There will come a time when He will establish a new Eden on planet Earth, and place within it a Regent who is an unfallen human being in human form with a human body. And He will reign, and He will fulfill that intent, that God started in the garden of Eden.

To read the scriptures in any other way, is to read it as though there is no truth to God’s promise to restore that which has fallen, to glorify that which is now not glorified. It would be for God to admit defeat and say, ‘I just have to give up. I created man, I created this possibility of having a mediatorial kingdom on earth that’s real, that’s literal, that’s human, that’s localized, that’s earthly, and it failed because man disobeyed. My vice-regents disobeyed the king of kings and Lord of lords. Therefore I give up, the program is canceled. We’ll move on to plan B.’ God’s never had a plan B. It’s all plan A.

Revisiting Preterism: Careless Biblical Interpretation

March 7, 2012 Leave a comment

I continually observe that some people are more focused on the ideas of man rather than on God’s word.  They love to spend so much time “proving” that God’s word doesn’t really mean what it says.  So they follow human arguments and reasoning, based on a superficial and inconsistent treatment of scripture, rather than looking to the scripture itself.

Recently at the local church, it was the preterist idea that Hebrews 12:26 (“At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.”) is only symbolic, figurative apocalyptic language and is actually talking about what happened in the 1st century, the change of administration at the cross followed by the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.  Such a view doesn’t even make sense with the next three verses in Hebrews 12, or with the original quotation from Haggai.  But instead of letting scripture speak for itself, looking at these other verses (as a starting point, then on to other OT references in the Hebrews text), they go with their own predetermined ideas and twist scripture to support that view.

I’ve previously blogged on several of these specifics, so here it is in summary form.

The preterist preacher’s reasoning basically includes this approach to the word of God:

    1. Faulty interpretation of Haggai 2:7, based on the King James wording “the desire of all nations shall come.”

      See this blog post:  Haggai’s Prophecy: First or Second Coming
    2. Incorrect interpretation of the Olivet Discourse, by ignoring the extra verses in Luke 21 not found in the parallel texts:  when Luke 21 speaks of Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, that equals the “abomination of Desolation” in Matthew 24.

      See this blog post:  Luke 21, the Olivet Discourse, and the Literal-Grammatical-Historical Hermeneutic
    3. Assumption that all biblical language describing the world being destroyed, the heavens being shaken, the sky falling, etc., is symbolic language, which is really just a description of the new order, the new administration that began at the Cross followed by final judgment on Israel in 70 A.D.  Needless to say, this is an extra-biblical presupposition not grounded in any actual scripture.
    4. Therefore, the shaking described in Hebrews 12:26 is talking about the destruction of Jerusalem.

The Mature Christian Worldview And Its Fruit

March 1, 2012 Leave a comment

I’ve enjoyed reading Dan Phillips’ books (see this post).  From those books and other recent events, the following are just some observations about the Christian life and our worldview.

From The World-Tilting Gospel:  yes, studying God’s word can (and often does) lead to pride and looking down on others who haven’t studied it.  Dan admitted it happened to him; it happened to me as well.  However, NOT studying God’s word will also bring pride.  Pride can feed on anything, and even on absolutely nothing, such as the deliberately-empty “waiting on God” attitude.

From God’s Wisdom in Proverbs: a very good point about how we choose our friends and even (especially) marriage partners: we should choose our friends not only from those who are Christians, but from those who are growing and maturing Christians.  Indeed the difference is so important, and how I wish these books had been available in my early Christian days 20 years ago (and that I had read them then).  It is not enough to be satisfied with friends who are Christian, yet who in their daily lives are focused on this world’s cares instead of growing in their knowledge and understanding.

It really is true, that where our treasure is, there our heart will be as well (Matt. 6:21, Luke 12:34).  I think of specific individuals (preachers) and their attitude toward God’s word – and the fruit of such an attitude.  Take for instance the local preacher who continually shows only a low view of scripture and superficial understanding of God’s word, combined with man’s views of scripture (such as progressive creation, amillennialism, preterism).  Like with so many who refuse to believe, the mind is instead focused on pointing out how the words in the Bible really don’t mean what they say they mean, but instead “it really means this.”  What are the fruits of this type of mindset?  He is also very focused on preserving and hanging on to  this life, with casual comments about how our lives are so uncertain, how short our lives are, we never know when it will end; even remarks about how we all say we want to go to heaven, just not right now.

Certainly such a view has some truth — provided that it is balanced with the Christian worldview.  After making such comments about preserving this life, why not continue the application?  When good preachers who highly treasure God’s word and spend their time studying it rather than “reinterpreting it” point out the uncertainty of life, they don’t stop there —  but direct such comments specifically to the unsaved in the audience, imploring them to come to Christ before it’s too late.

Contrast the above attitude with that of individuals with a high view of scripture, who show great depth of understanding, who believe and love the doctrines in God’s word.  The focus is on God’s word and conforming the mind to what God says, rather than trying to conform scripture to man’s understanding.

Here I observe the following fruit from such preachers:  humor and illustrations that focus on our eternal existence.  S. Lewis Johnson would joke about how he didn’t really understand what a certain person said about the term “heavy” – because he hadn’t received any of George Foreman’s blows, and he didn’t want to do that until he had his resurrection body (when he wouldn’t particularly mind). He often talked about what we’ll do when we get to heaven, about meeting with and having conversations with characters from the Bible.  Then he would relate that to the importance of studying God’s word, and why we should even study the minor characters: so that when you meet up with Obadiah you’ll know who he is and know what to talk about him with.

Instead of speculating and reasoning from man’s view to come up with ideas not in the text (such as a preterist view that the “shaking” mentioned in Hebrews 12:26 actually happened at the cross followed by judgment in 70 A.D.), SLJ would speculate about heavenly things, wondering if the saints in heaven are aware of us and what we’re doing.