Thursday, April 8, 2010

Redemptive Historical Hermeneutic and Biblical Theology

Biblical Theology is the study of the bible as an unveiling story. The focus of the story is the Lord Jesus Christ as messiah and savior. It receives its authority from the scripture alone but, it also incorporates the known history of the period in which the scriptures were written. The more that archeologists and historians learn about the history and culture of the times that the bibles messages were written to…. The audience that the bible was written to… the more precise the theological interpretations can be. 

Luke 24:27 states; And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” The Greek word translated as expounded in this passage is diermeneuo and is related to the word that we get hermeneutics from today. In other words, beginning with the Pentateuch and then the rest of the Old Testament scripture Jesus interpreted how the scripture pointed to him. This idea is punctuated farther on in the passage. In Luke 24:44-45; “Then He said to them, "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me." (45) And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.” It is interesting that Jesus had to open their understanding in order for them to comprehend the scriptures. Especially in view of the fact his disciples, being Torah observant Jews, had been taught the scriptures from the time they were small…. still, they did not understand and comprehend them. Could this be the scroll that could not be opened in Revelation 5:4 and, could this be the fulfillment of Revelation 5:9? I think it is. Revelation has a way of going back and forth in time with events… in other words, it not only prophesies future events but it also reports things that had already happened. An example would be the war in heaven. Certainly, Satan was cast down to earth prior to the Christ event… he was running to and fro in the earth at the time of Job.

Now then, whether or not one accepts the above analysis, Jesus did open their understanding and he did show them a way of interpreting scripture. The way he showed them was this… they were to find him (Jesus) and his redemptive vocation in the scripture. His focus was that the scripture was there to point to him and redemption. He made this clear to the Pharisees in John 5:39-40; “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. (40) But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.”

Jesus did not just teach a messiah centric hermeneutic. The Pharisees taught that all scripture points to messiah… they had a Christ centered hermeneutic. The problem was that it missed Jesus of Nazareth as the messiah. So then, Jesus did not just teach a Christ centered hermeneutic… he taught a Jesus of Nazareth centered hermeneutic. He opened their understanding so that they could see him as messiah and this gives the scripture a redemptive focus. This redemptive focus is the foundation for Redemptive Historical Hermeneutics and Biblical Theology.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Jesus redemptive focus; Prioritizing the messages of scripture

We have looked at the redemptive focus of scripture that Jesus and his apostles taught throughout the pages of the New Testament. It is apparent in John 5:39-40; Luke 24:27; 44-48 and, it is also apparent in the redefining of the term word of God that took place in the New Testament scriptures. This phenomena should be used to justify the idea that there must be a prioritizing of the scripture messages. In the past, we have said that there are essentially three types of messages. Passages that point to humanities need for redemption… God’s redemptive decrees… and reasonable service instructions and, we have shown through Paul’s writings that, the flow must be need (humanities sinfulness) à rest (the Sabbath Rest Hebrews 4:9-11 or, resting in the redemptive decrees) à reasonable service instructions (instructions answer the question how then shall we live.)

Again, let’s look at the redemptive decrees. How can we define them? They are promises of redemption that, if they are altered by other passages of scripture in any way, they lose their actual plain and common sense meaning. For example: John 3:16-18 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (17) For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. (18) "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

What does it mean to believe in him? It is best summed up in the amplified bibles definition of believe. Here is John 3:16 in he amplified bible; For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.” This is a classic example of a redemptive decree and to alter it in any way would destroy God’s faithfulness. Redemption is predicated upon these decrees and not the reasonable service instructions. Therefore, the redemptive decrees must have priority. They are the ground for saving faith…saving belief… that is, trusting in, clinging to and relying on Jesus and his redemptive acts. They are also the catalyst for the transformation. They create the transformation from peace with God and love for God.

The redemptive decrees are the source of peace with God. God made peace with humanity via Jesus Christ and his cross. Eph 2:14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, and… Col 1:20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. It is the peace and rest with God and his redemptive decrees that is the source for love for God and, love for God is the source of spiritual transformation.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The gospel question; the gospel and the ministry of reconciliation: Part V

We have looked at the gospel as it was prophesied in the Old Testament Prophets; as the message “the kingdom of God is at hand” by Jesus and, the gospel for the Gentiles according to Peter. Now it is time to look at the ministry of reconciliation as a part of the good news of the kingdom.
Daniel 9:24 predicts eight actions of the Messiah:
  • To finish the transgression,
  • To make an end of sins,
  • To make reconciliation for iniquity,
  • To bring in everlasting righteousness,
  • To seal up vision and prophecy,
  • And to anoint the Most Holy.
All of these predictions are gospel promises and, they all accompany the first coming of the son of man. The one we are focusing on today is “to make reconciliation for iniquity.” Paul mentions reconciliation through Christ Jesus ten times; Rom_5:10; Rom_5:11; Rom_11:15; 2Co_5:18; 2Co_5:19; 2Co_5:20; Col_1:21. The new perspective on Paul proponents along with many in the emergent church movement try to downplay the concept of imputed righteousness. They question Luther’s reading of righteousness and the fall. Personally, I think that this is a mistake. While, as we have stated in the past that a more Jewish view of the New Testament is valuable, to eliminate the idea of imputed or accredited righteousness does not square with Paul’s writing from my view.

Especially when one looks at the ministry of reconciliation in 2 Cor 5:18-21. N. T. Wright deals with 2Cor 5:21 as Paul reporting God’s covenant faithfulness and that it is not discussing personal sins and forgiveness. However, look at 2Cor 5:19.
(2Co 5:19) that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

This particular verse expresses that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself and, it further states that he (God) was not imputing sin. This means that he was not imputing sin to individuals in the world. It takes it out of the realm of just covenant faithfulness. In Romans 5:13, Paul explains that sin is not imputed where there is no law and, the Gentiles were clearly not under the law so then, there would not be a need for –not imputing—sin to the world. However, it is also explained in Romans 2:12 that the Gentiles would perish without the law and that the Jews would perish for breaking the law. In any sense it was a sentence of an uncertain death. Uncertain in the fact that no one could know what the ultimate result of death would be.

As we have shown before, the pathology of humanity is mortality via the survival instinct and, the ability to justify oneself via the knowledge of good and evil. This is the source of all greed and sin. This is the condition of the fall. This is the condition of original sin. This is the condition of unredeemed humanity… so then, it is also the reason for the necessity of the ministry of reconciliation.
It can be summed up in this: (2Co 5:21) For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. Next we will look at the exact operation of the cross event. What did the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus do for us all?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The gospel question; what is the gospel according to Peter? Part IV

It is definitely true that Jesus stated that the kingdom of God was at hand and that the Jews should repent and believe the gospel. The gospel then is the gospel of the kingdom of God. However, to understand the gospel as it is relevant to the Gentiles one must look into the book of Acts. Peter explains in Acts 15:7 that he was the first to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. Therefore, what Peter preached to Cornelius’ household is the gospel according to Peter. 

Let’s look at it:
Here is Peter’s entire sermon and the immediate results:
Then Peter opened his mouth and said: "In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all—that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins." While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. (Act 10:34-44)

Here is my attempt at giving a bulleted list of what Peter told them the gospel was. This is the absolute first time that the gospel was preached to the Gentiles… the Holy Spirit fell on all of them… therefore, we can conclude that Peter preached the gospel as he knew it. The gospel according to Peter was…..
  • People in every nation who fears the Lord is accepted by him
  • God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and power
  • He was crucified and resurrected
  • Whoever believes in his name will receive remission of sins
Essentially, the gospel is a very simple, straight forward message. God has redeemed the world through the faith of Jesus Christ. Notice I said the faith –of—Jesus Christ and, not faith in Jesus Christ. This will take some additional study and, we will get on with that in due time but, for now, we can begin to see the essential framework of the gospel. A quick note about bullet one… the meaning of fear is to be in awe of and reverence.

Why the gospel is important in the transformation process

Rom 8:6  "For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace," A very misunderstood passag...