Sound of Grace, Issue 205, March 2014
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sheep also entails that he is a danger to any predators that threaten the safety of his flock. Wolves and sheep have very different opinions about the merit of a good shepherd!
One of the very interesting things about the shepherd imagery in Scripture is that it is not only used to teach us about God, it is also used for humans who are in positions of influence. Political, military, and religious figures can all be referred to as shepherds, and the people they have re-sponsibility for as sheep or flocks. As we will see, although God is unfailingly an ideal shepherd, human shepherds are not universally good at discharging the obligations of their duty. In fact, when applied to human leaders, many times the shepherd imagery reveals how negligent (not to men-
I remember hearing a well-known preacher say, If you want to learn how to preach the gospel, study the book of Acts. There you have the actual sermons of the apostles themselves. Acts chapter 2 records the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost and the apostles speaking in tongues. The people who witnessed this event were utterly amazed. Some asked what was the mean-ing of the event, and others wrote it off by saying the apostles were drunk.
1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Sud-denly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.1
5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewil-
1. All Scripture quotations in this article are from The Holy Bible, New International Version.
Issue 2 05 Ma rch 2 014
It is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace Hebrews 13:9
Christ, Our New Covenant King #4John G. Reisinger
Most people who are reasonably familiar with the Bible understand that when the shepherd metaphor is used in Scripture it is often referring to God. Even young children are able to think through the imagery and figure out the basic point it is designed to communicate. The metaphor is multidimensional: it is used in multiple contexts to teach multiple points (which of course are still conceptually relatedif they werent, one image couldnt be freighted with them all). Overall, the picture is one of care, guid-ance, compassion, and nurture. The shepherd is a wise, strong, and concerned leader for the sheep. Because he loves the sheep, the shepherd protects them; adopting this role, however, means that his power is sometimes used to destroy his flocks enemies. The same heart and power that makes the shepherd a competent caretaker of his
Shepherding the New Covenant Flock: Part 4 of 6 Shepherding Imagery in the OT: Sheep that Shepherd
ReisingerContinued on page 2
WestContinued on page 12
In This IssueChrist, Our New Covenant King #4
John G. Reisinger
Shepherding the New Covenant Flock: Part 4 of 6 Shepherding Imagery in the OT: Sheep that Shepherd
A. Blake White3
Reflections on the Loss of Our Daughter
Why I Did Not Pursue a PhDA. Blake White
The Lord's Supper
A. Blake White9
Page 2 March 2014 Issue 205Sound of Grace is a publication of Sovereign
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derment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? 8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues! 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, What does this mean?
13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, They have had too much wine. Acts 2
In verses 14-21, Peter begins to ad-dress the people. He assures them the apostles are not drunk. Peter declares the events taking place prove that the kingdom promised in the Old Testa-ment was being fulfilled. He cites two Old Testament passages as being fulfilled at Pentecost. He first declares that the kingdom promised in the book of Joel has come.
14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and ad-dressed the crowd: Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These men are not drunk, as you suppose. Its only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17 In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will proph-esy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.
19 I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke.
20 The sun will be turned to dark-ness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Acts 2
He then shows that the kingdom and the throne promised to one of Da-vids sons have been established. The kingdom has come, and Davids son, Christ the Messiah, is sitting on the throne promised to David.
Jesus had all the credentials to prove he was the promised seed of David, the Messiah. The Jews still crucified him but God raised him from the dead. He ascended to heaven and was given authority over all flesh (John 17:1-3). Christ is the exalted son of David, the Messiah, who sent the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. The tongues were the evidence of the ascension and exaltation of Christ. Our Lord earned the right, or author-ity, to send the Spirit as his vicar. Fol-low Peters argument carefully in the following verses in Acts 2. First, Jesus had all the credentials to prove his claims that he was the promised Mes-siah. The Jews still refused to have this man to rule over us and cruci-fied him. His Father raised him from the dead, seated him at his own right hand, and gave him a new name, the name Lord. The new name denoted his earned authority to save or damn all men (John 17:1-3). The great lesson to be learned is set forth in verse 36, Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messi-ah. The heart of the lesson concerns the lordship of Christ. He is the one who fulfills the office of New Cov-enant King. The very same Jesus that
Issue 205 March 2014 Page 3
exception, then the verses prove too much and universalism must be true. In other words, the only evangelical options for these verses are universal-ism or definite atonement. If Christ was put forward as a wrath-bearing substitute for all without exception, then there can be no wrath for anyone. If he died for all without exception, then there will be life-giving justifica-tion for everyone. If he was the substi-tute for all without exception, then all without exception will be made alive. These verses pose a real problem for those who hold to exclusivity and a universal atonement.
So is universalism true? Hardly. Thats an alien worldview imposed on the Bible. Whats the solution then? Once one understands the corporate personalities of Adam and the last Adam, these verses make perfect sense.
Let me paraphrase the verses: Jesus died for all whom he represents, so that all those he died for would no longer live for themselves. It would
Not surprisingly in our current pluralistic culture, universalism is all the rage. The difficulty is there is very little exegetical basis for this view. Universalists typically do not adhere to sola scriptura, but sola cultura, to use David Wells terminology. How-ever, there are three passages that are often pointed to:
2 Corinthians 5:15 And He died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for the One who died for them and was raised. (HCSB)
Romans 5:18 So then, as through one trespass there is condemnation for everyone, so also through one righteous act there is life-giving justi-fication for everyone. (HCSB)
1 Corinthians 15:22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. (HCSB)
We have all heard the Bible says all. All means all, so I believe it kind of reasoning, but it is not quite that simple. If these alls are all without
make no sense to say that Jesus died for all without exception so that all without exception should no longer live for themselves. If that were true, according to this verse, the cross of Christ is a failure because there are hundreds of thousands of people around the world who live for one: self.
With regard to Pauls Christ/Adam theology, he is referring to the all within their respective represen-tative heads. Adam is the representa-tive head of all humanity; Christ is the representative head of the new humanity, the elect. So the verses are saying that there is condemnation for all represented by Adam but life-giving justification for all represented by Christ, the last Adam. In Adam, all under his headship die, but all under Christs headship are made alive. So, universalism is at odds with the rest of Scripture, and universal atonement proves too much and leads to univer-salism. In my humble opinion, only a definite atonement makes sense of these three verses.
Universal AtonementA. Blake White
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the Jews crucified was raised from the dead and declared by the Father to be Lord over every sinner.
22 Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man ac-credited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you your-selves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by Gods set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. 25 David said about him:
I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope,
27 because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your pres-ence.
29 Brothers, I can tell you confi-dently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 30 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. 32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. 33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. 34 For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said,
The Lord said to my Lord: Sit at my right hand
35 until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.
36 Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ. Acts 2
Verse 36 is the conclusion to Peters explanation of the events of Pentecost. It is also the heart of the New Covenant gospel, Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah. We noted in our last article that Peter said, Lord and Messiah. In Scripture Jesus is set forth as our Lord and Sav-ior but in present day preaching it is only Savior that is emphasized. The phrase accept Christ as your personal Savior is never used in the New Testament. It would be just as correct to say you must accept Christ as your personal Prophet or accept Christ as your personal King. The whole concept of preaching in most churches today can be summed up in that phrase accept Christ as your per-sonal Savior. The emphasis in Acts is totally different. In Acts the emphasis is on the resurrection and ascension of Christ. The saving benefits of Christ are never separated from his lordship. You may quote Luke 2:11, Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord, and say, This text says a Savior is born to us. True, but the text also states that this Savior is Christ the Lord.
I am not objecting to the word ac-cept. I am not suggesting the word accepting Christ should be changed to receiving Christ even though I prefer using the word receive. I remember a dear brother made a big issue out of this. He refused to say, You must accept the gospel. He felt the word accept means we have a free will. He said that phrase implied the sin-ner has the ability to both reject and
believe the gospel and thus the phrase taught man has a free will. He in-sisted we should say, receive Christ. He likened it to pouring water into a bucket. The bucket does not accept the water, for it is totally passive; the bucket merely receives the water. Likewise, we do not accept Christ; we receive Christ. I told the man that we are not buckets. We are creatures with a mind, heart, and will, and all three parts of our humanity must be af-fected with the gospel. The mind must be illuminated by the Holy Spirit, the heart or affections must be penetrated by the truth of the gospel, and the will must be liberated by the same gos-pel. When biblical regeneration takes place, we gladly accept Christ. When the Holy Spirit gives you a new heart, you will willingly accept Christ.
I once asked my friend, If I show you a Bible text that says we should accept the gospel, will you change your mind? When he agreed, I showed him 1 Timothy 1:15, This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all ac-ceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. The text says the gospel is worthy of being accepted, so what is wrong with telling someone to accept it?
If we would follow the apostolic preaching of the New Testament, we must preach a whole Christ, meaning we should set forth our Lord as the New Covenant Prophet, Priest, and King. Likewise, we must insist just as much that we preach a gospel which affects every part of mans being, namely his (1) mind, (2) heart and (3) will. The whole man must be affected by the whole Christ. Paul is quite clear in stating this fact in Romans 6:17. I have inserted numbers to highlight the gospel affecting mans whole be-ing. By nature we are slaves of sin, but thanks to Gods sovereign electing grace (it is always Gods grace and never mans will that is the motivating factor that delivers us). But thanks
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Issue 205 March 2014 Page 5
For a dozen or so years our daugh-ter, Gina, suffered unspeakably from more maladies and on more lev-elsphysical and otherwisethan I could begin adequately to explain. The infection that ravished her central nervous system, the years of sleepless-ness, the constant nausea, the passing out and the many falls and concus-sions that came as a result, the severe and relentless headache pain, the haunting hallucinations, the struggles with confusion, the blood clots, the systemic infections, and so very much more, all in the extreme, made her life the most severely agonized I have ever witnessed. Amazinglyyet true to formshe found moments of laughter almost daily, and we delighted in her company even while hurting for her. But the suffering became increasingly severe on so many fronts. And as we watched her suffer, how we prayed, often in despair, that God would de-liver her from it all.
About three years ago he did. In a dramatic and miraculous moment the disease was gone, and for a short while it seemed her life had been returned to her. But further setbacks were to follow. The suffering again became intense and unspeakable. Until finally, on Thursday, October 31, it was all over. Forever. Gina is now with the Lord.
At several points over the years it seemed she was dying, but then she would rally. And on occasions she and even we could have wished it for her sakeher suffering was so awful, death would have been considered a mercy. We still feel all that, but nothing could have prepared us for the pain we now feel over our loss. She was Daddys girl, Mommys soul mate, and brothers very closest friend. We are a very close family,
and we loved Gina more than words could ever expressand we told her so many, many times every day, verbally and with countless hugs and kisses. Surely a day will never pass, in this life, without sensing this deep, gaping hole in our hearts. We just cannot imagine life without Gina. How we loved her.
I have often suspected over the years that Christians who romanticize death have likely never experienced the loss of a close loved one. Death remains a dreaded and a devastating enemy, and there is just no way to make it pretty. It still stings, deeply so, and when it comes close like this it leaves us feeling all but completely undone.
Yet for Christians there truly is a difference. And during this past week since Gina passed, agonizing as it has been, we have learned first-hand that we really do not sorrow as those who have no hope. The weighty prom-ises and massive truths that God has revealed to us in his Word truly are life-shaping and soul anchoring, and they provide a sure point of reference for even the most hurting heart.
United to Christ by faith Gina belongedand belongsto God. And through the years of her suffer-ing we reminded ourselves often that the God who in grace had rescued her in Christ from sin loves her even more than we do. And so we trust his providence. He is too wise ever to make a mistake, and too good ever to do us wrong. And we acknowledge that just as he was free and sovereign in giving Gina to us 29 years ago, so now he is free and sovereignand good and justin taking her. He has not wronged us. Indeed, not only do we affirm this great truthwe rest
in it. This God is himself our Father, a Father who knows what is best for his children and faithfully directs our lives accordingly. Moreover, he is the Father who in love one day gave up his own Son to bear our curse in order to redeem us to himself. Yes, of course there are many Why? questions that we cannot answer, but we lack no proof of Gods love or his goodness. And we bless him today with deeper passion than ever.
We are so very grateful not only that God gave us our daughter for 29 years, but also that in grace he saved her and made her his own. This is re-ally everythingeverythingand we recognize that we are blessed to know that Gina is rejoicing today in the presence of our great Redeemer. How she loved him! How she loved the gospel. Gina was marked by passion in everything she did, but nothing so stirred her like the gospel of Christ. She loved to hear it, she loved to learn it more deeply, she loved to sing it, and she loved to share it with others. Her whole hope was in Christ. Virtu-ally every day, even in much pain, she would sit down at the piano to play and sing and refresh her aching soul with some of her favorite songs about Christ, Gods love in Christ, salva-tion in Christ, Gods faithful love and providence, and the glory that awaits us. And this same gospel is what as-sures us still. And we rejoice that nei-ther death nor life nor anything else in all Gods creation could ever separate Gina or us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And we have come better to ap-preciate that our hope in Christ is not for this life only. We eagerly await the day of Christs return when we will rejoice together in his glorious pres-
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Reflections on the Loss of Our Daughter
Fred G. Zaspel
Page 6 March 2014 Issue 205
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The third part of man that must be affected by the Holy Spirit applying the gospel truths is the will. By nature the will is chained to sin and self and must be set free, enabling us to be-lieve the truth. We do not get a second mind, heart, and will. In one sense we repent and believe with the same mind, heart, and will with which we rejected the truth. In another sense, the mind, heart, and will are all new in the sense that the Holy Spirit frees them from dominion to sin and self. The action of the will follows the mind and the heart. The will chooses what the heart finds desirable, and the heart finds desirable what the mind finds appealing. We choose to do what pleases us. Before our mind is regen-erated by the Holy Spirit, we can only desire to please ourselves. The carnal mind (or nature) hates God and his truth (Romans 8:7). When the Holy Spirit regenerates the mind and heart, we find trusting Christ to be most desirable. We cannot even want to be saved until the gospel illuminates our mind to see the real beauty of Christ, but when the Holy Spirit does his re-generating work, we cannot not want to believe. We are given a new mind only in the sense that our natural mind is retaught by the gospel truths enabling us to believe the gospel. Paul calls this work of sovereign grace the obedience of faith. It is obvious that Gods goal in the redeeming work of Christ is having a gospel that brings sinners into submission to Christ as both Lord and Savior. It would prob-ably be better to say, following Luke 2:11, to bow to a savior who is Lord.
Imagine for a moment that a lost person would say, I want to be a true Christian. I want to be a true follower of Christ. I sincerely believe that Christ is the true and final Prophet of God. I am going to obey his teaching because I believe that he alone speaks for God. I will gladly submit to his authority as my King. However, I do not believe in the idea of the need for
be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you (2) wholeheartedly (3) obeyed the (1) form of teaching to which you were entrusted.
First of all, form of teaching means the gospel. The gospel first ad-dresses the sinners mind. As we will see, the gospel must move the heart or affections, but it reaches the heart via the mind. Biblical preaching presents verbal and rational truth. The gospel does not come to us in dreams and visions; it comes to us in clear words. It does not come to us with water being sprinkled on us or our being totally immersed in water. The gospel does not come to us in communion cups or on a membership card in a lo-cal church. That form of teaching which is essential to biblical preach-ing and true salvation always comes to us in propositional form. It states Gods Word that must be understood and believed. It also lists mans false ideas that must be rejected. God does not save us in an intellectual vacuum. We are rational beings. God made us that way. He treats us as rational be-ings. The mind must be instructed with gospel facts before we can be saved.
Second, the biblical facts that must illuminate and penetrate the heart or affections concern the character of an offended God, the nature and reality of sin, and the promises of full and free forgiveness of all sins through the shed blood of Christ. When the Holy Spirit does his regenerating work, the sinner does far more than merely be-lieve some facts, even the right facts. He no longer reads Romans 3:23 and understands in some general sense that all people without exception are sinners. He now feels like God is speaking directly to him. The text now means, I am the helpless guilty sinner. He feels like God is address-ing him directly as an individual. The sinner freely admits that his guilt is dyed deep red and is totally without excuse. He literally feels his lost es-
a blood sacrifice to pay for my sins. I believe the whole system of blood sac-rifice is pagan in origin. We would have to say to such an individual, I am sorry but you cannot become a Christian under such a belief. Christ as Prophet, Priest, and King is a package deal. There are many people who will extol wonderful things about Jesus as the greatest teacher that ever lived, but will balk at the doctrine of propitiation. Actually, the word pro-pitiation is probably one of the most hated words in the Bible.
Suppose another person will say, I thank God for the cross and aton-ing blood of Christ. I believe the shed blood of Christ is my only hope of salvation. However, I do not think Christ was correct in everything he taught. He was a man of his times. Some of his views are not consistent with what we have come to believe today. Again we would have to say, I am sorry but you cannot become a Christian on those terms. You can-not have Christ as your priest to pay for your sins and then reject him as your prophet. It is a package deal. The current view that teaches you can receive Christ as your savior but, at the same time, reject him as Lord over your life is not at all the gospel of the New Testament. If we desire that sinners see the face of God in peace, we must proclaim the whole ChristProphet, Priest, and Kingto the whole manmind, heart, and will.
The modern day gospel misun-derstands at least two major points concerning our subject. One, it re-duces saving faith to being only an activity of the mind. Gospel faith is not merely believing some facts are true. It is receiving a person and trust-ing him to fulfill a promise he made. When someone says, I believe in Christ, I ask them, What do you believe in him for? What do you trust him to do? A forgiven sinner has some knowledge of forgiveness by the blood shedding on the cross. Believ-
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Issue 205 March 2014 Page 7For those who care about such
personal details, I thought Id provide a brief life update about what the Lord has been doing and where we are headed. In the summer of 2012, we moved to Fort Worth to do a PhD in BT and ST at SWBTS. I was not entirely sure about the plan, but felt like the Lord had closed some other doors and was opening this one. We were very fortunate to be supported by many, so I thought I would give it a year and go from there.
I did, and I was done. In short, I was not enjoying myself and life is too short to spend 4-6 years (the average time at SWBTS is 7.1 years) doing something you do not enjoy and do not ultimately need. I could point to numerous details that I did not like about the program, but I think the root of my discontentment was because it is time for me to get to work, so the Lord frustrated my time here. There were three primary reasons for not continuing the PhD program:
First, I simply was not enjoying most of the content. I love to read, study, and write, but have found that I love to read and write about what I want to read and write about. Too often, I found myself adding to, re-arranging, and glancing over my Books to Read When School is Over in 2017 list. There are way too many good books out there that need to be read, and paying to have to read bad books makes no sense. Furthermore, and I know many disagree with me here, in my experience the vast major-ity of what I was reading was irrel-evant to local church ministry, which is where my heart has been all along. The divorce of the academy from the local church is worth another paper in itself. I went to the national ETS meeting in 2012, and largely enjoyed it because Im a nerd, but came away asking how relevant to real life much of it was. Again, this is not to dispar-age nuanced theological thinking I just know that sort of life is not the one for me personally. And if Im
honest, based on empirical evidence, Im afraid that that much time spent on that much nuance can impair ones social skills.
Second, at least for me, the amount of work necessitated that time with my family was sacrificed. Professors often preach about how important family life is, but then assign 50-55 hours of reading in a week (and that was for one seminar out of three). You do the math. I had a better situa-tion than most, but still would have to return to the study after dinner when Id rather be wrestling with my boys or hanging out with my wife, not ana-lyzing Friedrich Schleiermacher or Brevard Childs. One day a conversa-tion with a recent (jobless) PhD grad really brought this home; he told me of numerous friends who had been divorced during the program. Now, I know that is something Alicia and I would never even entertain talking about, but it was still scary. I can see why it happens though. Momma gets tired of doing all the parenting by herself and spending evenings alone. I am confident my family would have survived a PhD. Many do all the time, but they would not have flourished, and that was a deal-breaker for me. I want to be fully present and what is best for them.
Third, my desire to preach the Word and pastor Gods people became too intense to remain in a library car-rel five hours a day reading Walther Eichrodt or Gerhard von Rad. Life truly is a mist. Every year it speeds up. During the first month of the PhD program, I got chills when I stumbled into a library elevator with my phone in one hand, coffee in the other, and a big bag on my shoulder. I must have looked disheveled because a very old
man randomly asked me, Are you go-ing to slow down before you turn 80? then walked out of the elevator. He seemed full of regret. It scared me.
I went to seminary initially in 2006 to be trained for pastoral min-istry. It is now seven years later. I turned 30 and had a third child. I al-ready have more education than most pastors in the world. It is time to get a house, plant roots, buy a dog, and get to work in the local church. There is a lot of Bible to be proclaimed, lost people to point to Jesus, dying and discouraged saints who need the hope of the resurrection, and fun to be had along the way. Spending another 5-7 years in the library just did not seem necessary or worth it for me. Again, I realize many do pastoral ministry while earning a PhD, but I am not gifted enough not to neglect some-thing important in my life with such a load.
Much more could be said, but that is the short of it. I have many friends who have obtained a PhD, or are get-ting one, and are doing it well. This is a personal note about the Lords lot for me. Descriptive - not prescriptive - though I do take the opportunity to ask the hard questions to friends con-sidering a PhD. With the academic job market being so sulky, the one thing I ask is do not plan on going into pasto-ral ministry as a back-up plan if you cannot land an academic post. The church does not need such. Teach at a Christian high school or something. Also, to the prospective seminarian: do work. But when you do, know that if you are a good student, you will be encouraged to keep going and consid-er the academic life. We need our best and brightest in pulpits.
Why I Did Not Pursue a PhD
A. Blake White
Page 8 March 2014 Issue 205
ing in Christ as our Lord and Savior is not the same as believing Colum-bus crossed the ocean blue in 1492. Anyone can believe that fact, or any other historical fact is true, but no one can believe in Christ in the bibli-cal sense apart from Gods sovereign electing grace.
Two, when we receive Christ, we do not receive facts; we receive a person, and that person is the Lord of glory himself. We receive Christ in a way that is not true in any other relationship between two people. Paul said, I know a man in Christ (2 Cor. 12:2). The Bible is the only literature ever written at any time in history, in any language, or in any style that describes a relationship of two people as one person being in the other person. Every believer is baptized into Christ. That is unique language because it is a unique experience. Scripture speaks of our being in Christ and Christ being in us. This descriptive language is unique to the Word of God.
The apostle John introduces his gospel by asserting the absolute de-ity of Christ. He was the creator of the world. He came into the world he created. He came unto his own, and they rejected him. But some received him. Notice it was a person they receivedas many that received him. Salvation is being joined to that person by a living faith. Of course, those who received Christ believed the essential facts about him, but the facts pointed to a person. Salvation is not in the facts but in the person to whom the facts pointed. Technically speaking, we believe the testimony of the Father concerning his perfect satisfaction with the work of atone-ment accomplished by Christ. The work of atonement, made by Christ on the cross, was directed toward the Fa-ther. Christs obedient life and death fulfilled the work of atonement that Christ accomplished as our substitute. This work was directed to the Father.
Christ offered himself to the Father. The atoning work of blood shedding was essential to satisfy Gods holy character. The resurrection, ascen-sion, seating at the Fathers right hand, and receiving full authority to forgive whom he chose was all involved in Christ being given the new name of Lord as a reward for his atoning work. Verse 37 in Acts 2 records the response of the unbelieving Jews to Peters explanation of the events of Pentecost.
When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, Brothers, what shall we do?
Verses 38-39 are surely on any list of most misused texts of Scripture. Verse 38 is used as a proof text to prove that you must be baptized in or-der to be saved. If this is the meaning, then we must rewrite many texts that make it very clear that baptism is not essential to salvation.
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:38).
Verse 39 is a key text used by those who believe in infant baptism. I have been trying to understand the Word of God for over fifty years. I have been in many discussions by mail and face to face. I have been forced to revise my understanding on more than one occasion. I have seen good and godly men twist Scripture verses at the expense of clear truth in order to hang onto a creed. I can say without any questions that using Acts 2:39 as a proof text for infant baptism is simply astounding. It denies and de-fies every rule of biblical exegesis. It is one of the most glaring examples of bad interpretation that I know.
For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call (Acts 2:39).
The paedobaptist view of Acts 2:39 is clearly set forth by Robert Shaw in his widely used exposition of the Westminster Confession of Faith. The promise in Acts 2:39 is said to be the covenant of grace made with Abraham. That same promise is said to be made with Christian parents and their children. For a moment, assume that is correct. Assume further that Shaw is correct, and then we must read Acts 2:39 this way, The promise of the covenant made with Abraham is the same promise made to the peo-ple to whom Peter spoke on the day of Pentecost. There is not a single shred of evidence for reading that into the verse. You must ignore what the text actually says and read into the text what is not there. I am reminded of the story of Spurgeon and the An-glican priest. The Anglican priest wanted to discuss infant baptism. He said to Spurgeon, I will read a verse of Scripture in favor of infant baptism and then you give a verse for your view. The Anglican quoted Mat-thew 19:14: Suffer the little children to come unto me. Spurgeon thought a moment and then quoted Job 1:1, There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job. The Anglican said, What in the world does that verse have to do with infant baptism? Spurgeon replied, The same as Mat-thew 19:14, nothing at all. Acts 2:39 has absolutely nothing to do with infant baptism. Here is Robert Shaws comment.
We thus find, that when God es-tablished his covenant with Abraham, he embraced his infant seed in that covenant; and that the promise made to Abraham and to his seed is still endorsed to us is evident from the express declaration of the Apostle Peter (Acts ii. 39): The promise is unto you, and to your children. If children are included in the covenant, we conclude that they have a right to baptism, the seal of the covenant.2
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Our Lord left his church with two ordinances, Baptism and the Lords Supper. This being the case, we had better think through them carefully! I want to take a look at three aspects of the Lords Supper: Past, Present, and Future.
There are five primary ways that Gods past mighty acts inform our present celebration of the Supper. First, we learn from the Gospels that the Lords Supper has roots in the Jewish Passover Festival (Ex. 12:24-27), which was instituted to remind the people of God of the exodus where God delivered them from 400 years of slavery and degradation. God heard the cry of his people and sent plagues to Egypt. Due to Pharaohs rock-hard heart, it took ten plagues before he finally let Gods people go. The last plague was the death of every first-born male in Egypt. Since Pharaoh was considered a god, his son would become one too. God takes that son in order to save his own firstborn son, Israel (Ex. 4:22). God provided salva-tion for the sons of his people through blood.
Gods provision is a key theme that will poke its lovely head up again and again as we reflect on the Lords Supper. God tells his people to kill an unblemished animal and spread the blood on the door posts and the lintel, and Yahweh would pass over that house, sparing the firstborn Son. After giving these instructions, God said, This day is to be a memorial for you, and you must celebrate it as a festival to the LORD. You are to celebrate it throughout your generations as a permanent statute (Ex.12:14; Deut. 16:3 HCSB).
Yahweh led his people out of Egypt into their own place by a pillar of cloud and a flame of fire at night, which provided guidance, shade, and warmth. He provided bread from heaven (Ex.16:4) and water from the rock (Ex.17:6) for the journey to the Promised Land.
The second Old Testament back-ground is the blood of the covenant. Jesus said that the new covenant is es-tablished by his blood (1 Cor. 11:25). With these words, Jesus is clearly al-luding to Exodus 24:8, where we read, Moses took the blood, sprinkled it on the people, and said, This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you concerning all these words. The blood ratified the covenant. Sinful people only approach the all-holy God through blood. Ani-mal sacrifices restrained Gods wrath, but it is impossible for the blood of bulls, goats, and sheep to take away sin (Heb. 10:4). Something more was needed.
The third past event that informs the present is the promise of the jus-tifying work of the suffering servant. In Isaiah 53:11-12, we read that My righteous Servant will justify many, and He will carry their iniquities. Therefore I will give Him the many as a portion, and He will receive the mighty as spoil, because He submit-ted Himself to death, and was counted among the rebels; yet He bore the sin of many and interceded for the rebels. Jesus said For this is My blood that establishes the covenant; it is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins (Matt. 26:28). With the language of many being forgiven, Jesus is clearly seeing himself in the role of the Isaianic Servant. Jesus is the
righteous Servant who gave Himself in the place of His people.
Fourth, the Supper alludes to the past promises of a new covenant. The old covenant given at Mount Sinai was a broken one. Directly after the ratification of the covenant, where the Israelites said We will do everything that the Lord has commanded (Ex. 24:3), they did the opposite of what He commanded. The second of the Ten Commandments was do not make an idol. Before Moses is even finished receiving the instructions for the construction of the Tabernacle, stiff-necked Israel is at the foot of Mount Sinai melting their jewelry, making an idol, and giving it the credit as the god who brought them out of Egypt (Ex. 32:1-4)! Israel was taken out of Egypt but Egypt needed to be taken out of Israel. They broke the covenant before it was even fully given, which is akin to committing adultery on ones wed-ding night.
Something new was needed. Something effective. Something that would fully forgive the people and enable them to obey. The prophets promised a new covenant where sin would be definitively dealt with and the Spirit would be universally poured out from on high (Jer. 31, Ezek. 36). Isaiah even describes this new work God would do with language and metaphors that picture a new exodus. God would again lead his people and liberate them from slavery, but this time not from Egypt or Babylon or Assyria but from Satan, sin, and death. Jesus said, This cup is the new covenant established by My blood (1 Cor. 11:25). With these words, Jesus signaled the end of the old covenant and the establishment of the new.1
All of these Old Testament events and institutions find their fulfillment in Jesus. He is the Passover lamb
1 Gregg R. Allison, Sojourners and Strangers (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012), 387.
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The Lords Supper
A. Blake White
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The first thing Shaw has to find in the text in order to use it as a proof text is evidence that Peter is speaking to believing parents. The you be-ing promised has to be proven to be believers concerning their children sharing in the promise made to Abraham. The problem is that Peter is addressing lost sinners! He is not speaking to believing parents. The promise being mentioned is clearly spelled out in verse 21. It is who-ever believes will be saved. Peter is preaching the gospel to the very people who literally crucified the Son of God. The promise is given in response to the question asked by the lost Jews with the blood of Christ on their hands. They asked, What must we do? Peter replies, Believe the gospel and be saved. This verse has nothing to do with believing parents. It has to do with ungodly sinners who crucified Christ. You dont tell believ-ing parents to save yourselves from this untoward generation.
The second thing Shaw needs to explain is how non-covenant children (those children not born in a Christian home) are included in the promise. Notice carefully exactly what Acts 2:39 says. It is Peters response to the question asked in verse 37 by the con-victed but still lost Jews who crucified Christ. It was the promise of salvation to all who call on the Lord in sav-ing faith. This same promise is made to the children of the ungodly Jews if they will believe this same who-soever will gospel. This very same promise is made to these lost Jews, and is made to their children, and is also made to those afar off. That would be the Gentiles. In other words, the pagans have the identical same promise of the gospel as do the lost
shaw/, Chapter XXVIII. Of Baptism (accessed 2/4/2014).
Jews and their children. If the promise means the covenant of grace, then the pagans are just as included in it as are the lost Jews and their children.
There is one more difficulty for those who want to get the infants of believing parents into Acts 2:39. That which governs who believes the prom-ise in Acts 2:39 is not physical birth but sovereign election. Peter is quite clear that all the elect will realize the promise. Salvation is not determined by your birth certificate and who your parents are; the new birth experience is determined by sovereign electing graceeven as many as the Lord our God shall call. The phrase, even as many as the Lord our God shall call, governs the whole verse. In other words, the promise will be realized by 1) as many of those who are ef-fectually called from among those who heard Peter preach on the day of Pentecost, 2) as many of the children who are effectually called, and 3) as many from among the pagans who will be called. There is not a single word about a special promise to the children of believers in this text. The children of believers have no more promised to them than do the Gentile pagans afar off. What is clear is that some children of believing parents are among the elect and some are not. The Lord who is both the only Savior and the only judge saves whom he will. The promise of salvation is to all who believe the gospel. All of these are synonymous with all those who are elect regardless of whether they are among the Jews or the Gentiles. The one doing the choosing in every case is God. If you chose to believe in infant baptism, God bless youbut please, do not use Acts 2:39 as a proof text. If you claim to believe and preach a biblical gospel, make sure it begins and ends with Jesus Christ as Lord of Lord and King of Kings.
(1 Cor. 5:7). He brings about a new exodus (Luke 9:31). Through being washed in His blood we avert death and hell. His blood of the covenant es-tablishes the new covenant where we find full forgiveness and the gift of the Spirit. He is the Suffering Servant.
Finally, and most notably, we look back to his victory. We look back to the bloody cross and mighty resur-rection. Jesus said twice to do this in remembrance of Him. The Lord s Supper is about the Lord. Body broken; blood shed. We celebrate this meal because Jesus died and was raised.
There are also five aspects in the present to consider in the Lords Supper. As mentioned, Jesus left us with two ordinances: Baptism and the Lords Supper. Baptism symbolizes the beginning of a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and the Lords Supper symbolizes the con-tinuing of that relationship in several ways.
First, the Lords Supper provides assurance. Some traditions call the Lords Supper the Eucharist, from the verb eucharist which means I give thanks. Eu charis = good gift. Jesus said, This is My body, which is for you (1 Cor. 11:24). For you. This is a time of remembrance and renewal. To receive the bread and cup is to receive Gods love afresh. This is not about what we do; this is not about what we give to God. Nor is it a sacrifice to him. This is not about what we do, but about what Jesus did. As sure as you are seeing, touching, and tasting this bread and this cup, so sure it is that Jesus is a reality and he is for you.
Second, the Lords Supper is a proclamation. Here is our divinely-instituted Gospel-drama ministry. We explain and illustrate the body broken and the blood shed. This is about the proclamation of the gospel.
The baptism of believers, we believe to be a reasonable, scriptural, and profitable service, calculated to strengthen and perpetuate every right feel-ing and conduct.
Charles H. Spurgeon
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Third, the Lords Supper is a com-munity-forming practice.2 Though our English translations hide this, the you in 1 Corinthians 11:23 is plural (hymin): I received from the Lord what I passed on to yall. Think of the Passover and Exodus. God leads them out and gives them his covenant. Passover was a family meal. To be in covenant relationship to God is to be in covenant relationship to His people. Starting with the promises given to Abraham (Gen. 17:3-8) and recurring all through the pages of Scripture we read the standard covenant formula: You shall be My people, and I shall be your God. We are the new covenant family of God. We are bound together and called to unity. First Corinthians 10:17 reads Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for all of us share that one bread. The one loaf symbolizes and fosters unity.3
Fourth, the Lords Supper brings with it a call to self-examination, but we have really messed up this part of the Supper. The Bible is not calling us here to confess personal sins that we have committed all week. We arent Catholic, are we? We believe in the gospel of grace so we confess sin as it happens. This is not a call to make oneself worthy.4 Sometimes we act like this time is a time to beat our-selves up until we feel sorry enough about our sin that we can now partake in communion. Straight up Romish penance. No, no, no. We are all always unworthy participants, but the warn-ing is that we dont eat in an unworthy manner.
As Robert Murray MCheyne said, for every one look at our self we need
2 Jonathan T. Pennington, The Lords Last Supper in the Fourfold Witness of the Gospels, in The Lords Supper ed. Thomas R. Schreiner and Mat-thew R. Crawford (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2010), 53-56
3 Allison, Sojourners and Strangers, 408.
4 Ibid., 394, 407.
to take ten looks at Christ.5 Scripture doesnt prohibit unworthy participants but unworthy participation.6 The Bible doesnt prohibit anyone who has ever danced with the devil to come to the table because we all have but you cannot come to the table holding the Devils hand.7 If you are repentant, you come. The primary issue here is that of division in the church. As one Baptist theologian puts it, The self-assessment is not for searching out remaining sins; these should be confessed and repented of quickly and inconsiderately before sharing in the Lords Supper. Rather, the self-exam-ination is specifically for the purpose of detecting broken relationships, division-causing behavior, disrespect, and mistreatment of brothers and sisters in Christ.8
The Lords Supper is just that a supper. The word for supper is deip-non and always means meal. We are malnourished today due to the crumbs weve substituted. Its ironic how literalistic we Baptists are about the mode of one of the ordinances, but opt for convenience with the other one. Weve turned a symbolic meal into a symbol of a meal. Communion in the Bible was part of a larger love feast.9 There was an actual table they came to. Roman houses could typically fit approximately nine people in the dining area, and thirty to forty people in the atrium. Typically, a rich person was the host. In Corinthian culture, it was normal for the rich guests to
5 Memoirs and Remains of M'Cheyne, ed. Andrew Bonar (Ed-inburgh: Oliphant, Anderson, and Ferrier, 1883), 239.
6 Allison, Sojourners and Strangers, 406.
7 Ray Van Neste, The Lords Supper in the Context of the Local Church, in The Lords Supper, ed. Thomas Sch-reiner and Matthew Crawford (Nash-ville: B and H Publishing,2011),387.
8 Allison, Sojourners and Strangers, 407.
9 Ibid., 392.
be served first and have better food.10 The problem was that the church was eating like the world. The rich were eating all the food and getting drunk and the poor folk were left out. They were eating their own supper, not the Lords (1 Cor. 11:20-21).
Rather than focusing on their own appetites, they must examine themselves, and recognize the body of Christ; otherwise, they will be disciplined by the Lord (1 Cor. 11:27-32). So to eat in an unworthy manner is to disregard the needs of others. Discerning the body is recognizing the body of Christ, the community of believers for what it really is.11 Paul rebukes them: Eat at home if you are going to act selfishly because in doing so you are acting like an unbeliever.12 The question to ask before the meal is not Is there any unconfessed sin in my life from last week? but rather Is there disunity in the body? Division? Unforgiveness? The Lord disciplines such divisiveness.
Finally, the Lords Supper should be a celebration. I have been to way too many communion services where the atmosphere was only slightly more cheery than an unbelievers funeral. This is not a funeral. This is not about messing up our faces and pretending to feel sorry for Jesus.13 Jesus is not dead but alive! The victory has been won. The Lords Supper is not an
10 Richard B. Hays, First Corinthians. Interpretation (Louisville: John Knox Press,1997), 196.
11 Ibid., 200.
12 James M. Hamilton, The Lords Supper in Paul: An Identity-Forming Proclamation of the Gospel in The Lords Supper, ed.Thomas Schreiner and Matthew Crawford (Nashville: B and H Publishing,2011), 100.
13 Russell D. Moore, Christs Presence as Memorial, in Understanding Four Views on the Lords Supper, ed. John H. Armstrong (Grand Rapids: Zonder-van, 2007), 33.
Page 12 March 2014 Issue 205owe their power and authority to God. It all comes from him, through him, and is to him. Human leadersin any capacitymust humbly remember that the positions they occupy are gifts from God.
The third framework is biblical-theological. Here, as everywhere, it is important to follow sound principles of hermeneutics. Regardless of the vocabulary we use, we must read the Bible in its canonical fullness. All Scripture reveals Jesus and remains improperly interpreted until we see how it finds its natural fulfillment in Christ. In regards to the shepherd metaphor, whatever we learn about human shepherds (whether good or bad) the canonical movement reveals that we have a desperate need for a supremely good shepherd. The worst shepherds need to be judged, pun-ished, and removed. The best shep-herds still fall short, and leave the sheep yearning for something more. All human shepherds in all of their various capacities plainly prove we simply need a Messianic Shepherd, a man who shepherds exactly like Yah-weh. Since the only shepherd who can act exactly like Yahweh is Yahweh, the canonical trajectory is towards a shepherd who is God incarnate. But that is our theme for the next article and must be left to the side for the present.
Turning from these wider-angle considerations, we will examine a few representative OT passages that refer to human beings as shepherds with responsibility towards other human beings who are imaged as sheep. Yet just before proceeding to the texts where the relevant shepherd metaphor is found, one more observation should be made. I must confess to not know-ing if much significance should be attached to the following point, but it is intriguing. Some of the most pivotal leaders in the history of Gods re-demptive plan were literally shepherds of sheep before they were metaphori-cally shepherds of Gods people-flock.
All the patriarchs had vast flocks (which actually lead to interpersonal tension at different times). Jacob watched over the flocks of Laban and built his own flock from select off-spring. When Joseph brings his whole family to Egypt they are explicitly identified as shepherds and they settle in Goshen. Moseswho is very important in terms of the shepherd metaphortends flocks in the wilder-ness between the time he fled from Pharaoh and the time God calls him to go back and lead his people out of slavery. David, of course, who gives us Psalm 23, was a shepherd boy and learned lessons about bravery, battle, leadership, and tenderness from his time as a shepherd. It was this back-ground that allowed him to recognize the greatness of the Lords shepherd-ing, and it also taught him lessons he applied throughout his reign. Since analogies, metaphors, and other sym-bolic or figurative modes of speech require understanding both the picture and the referent, David had the perfect interpretive background in which to reflect on what aspects of shepherding sheep most fittingly apply to leading people. Naturally enough, a godly man like David could not help but see how all the best elements of shepherd-ing were found in God: the analogy was natural and profound.
As important a figure as Moses was, the Bible is very clear that he was an undershepherd of God. Notice the following two statements in Psalm 78 and Psalm 77. Psalm 78 looks back over Israels history and how God miraculously delivered them from slavery in Egypt. The psalmist writes, But he brought his people out like a flock; he led them like sheep through the wilderness (Psalm 78:52). Here the shepherd is obviously God. Yet Psalm 77which also looks back to the exodus from Egyptends with this statement: You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron (Psalm 77:20). God is still the ultimate shepherd and the people are
tion sometimes evil) human leaders can be. When the metaphor is em-ployed in this direction, it is assumed that shepherds should be goodthe fact that some are lazy, selfish, or abu-sive does not alter the latent content of the imagery. What it does is provide a positive backdrop that sets in clear relief the inexcusable failure of shep-herds who do not properly lead the flocks entrusted to their oversight.
There are three larger frameworks which we should bear in mind when we start to work through what the Bible says about human shepherds. One is the wider thought world of the Ancient Near East, where shepherd imagery was extremely commonplace. In fact, shepherd was a title often assigned to deities and very frequently assumed by kings. It was a valued royal title. This means that one con-notation the shepherd metaphor had in Hebrew culture that is largely lacking in our own interpretive culture is the accent of royal power and govern-mental authority. The President of the United States is Commander in Chief. In the Ancient Near East there were dozens of rulers with the word shep-herd in their titles. Perhaps today if the President was referred to as the Commanding Shepherd we would be a step closer to naturally understand-ing a very, very important aspect of shepherd imagery in the Bible.
The second larger framework is theological. God is the ultimate shepherd: he is the one who owns the flock and employs all the human shepherds. They never own the flock; God does. This means that they are responsible to him for the job they do and are answerable for the condition of the flock entrusted to their care. Like every other type of power and authority in the universe, whatever we have is derivative. We do not grow our flock and then gift it to Godhe already owns everything and entrusts his possession to our stewardship. Whatever human shepherds there are
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still his flock, but there are intermedi-aries. God leads his flock through the agency of human leaders.
It is precisely because this is how God works that Moses is very con-cerned that a godly leader will be appointed after he dies. As Moses considers what will become of Israel after he is gone he is moved to pray to the Lord. This is his request: May the Lord, the God who gave breath to all living things, appoint someone over this community to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so the Lords people will not be like sheep with-out a shepherd (Numbers 27:16-17). Notice that although Mosess request is compassionate, the imagery is not focused on compassion, or tenderness, or loving care. The point of contact is leadership. Moses prays that God will appoint a leader over the people, and the shepherd imagery naturally bears that meaning.
The same straightforward equat-ing of shepherding and leadership is found at the end of Psalm 78 (previ-ously quoted to show that God himself was considered the great shepherd of Israel). Yet Psalm 78 ends with God appointing a mediating king/shepherd over his people. He chose David his servant and took him from the sheep pens; from tending the sheep he brought him to be the shepherd of his people Jacob, of Israel his inheritance. And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them (Psalm 78:70-72). Why was David a good shepherd? He had integrity and he competently led the people. Moses and Davidtender-ness asideare shepherds because they lead the people. Even the people recognize this principle. When Saul dies and Israel makes David king, the people say, In the past, even while Saul was king, you were the one who led Israel on their military campaigns. And the Lord your God said to you, You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will become their ruler (I
Chronicles 11:2). Military and politi-cal leading and ruling are the domi-nant notes sounded by the metaphor in these contexts. In fact, leadership is so tightly bound up with the OT use of the metaphor that God can ge-nerically refer to all Israels leaders as shepherds (cf. I Chronicles 17:6 where God uses the phrase, their leaders whom I commanded to shepherd my people).
The same imagery is used in contexts of judgment. When Ahab is persisting in rebellion against God and about to go to his death, Mic-aiah the prophet tells him, I saw all Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd, and the Lord said, These people have no master. Let each one go home in peace (I Kings 22:17). The reason they are like sheep without a shepherd is because they have no master, no leaderthe king is going to die in the upcom-ing battle. The way Micaiah uses the metaphor is as a picture of disaster: when the king dies, the people are left like sheep who have no shepherd. The same principle underlies Zechariahs famous Messianic prophecy, Awake, sword, against my shepherd, against the man who is close to me! declares the Lord Almighty. Strike the shep-herd, and sheep will be scattered, and I will turn my hand against the little ones (Zechariah 13:7). Similarly, in Jeremiah when God says he will judge the nations, he depicts himself as a lion devouring flocks, against whom no shepherd (i.e. leader) can stand (Jeremiah 49:19; 50:44).
The shepherd metaphor is exten-sively developed in Ezekiel 34. Space precludes a full treatment of the text, but a few relevant points need to be noted. The prophecy is directed not against a singular shepherd figure (like a king or false prophet) but against the shepherds of Israel (34:2). There is a plurality of leaders who have been given the responsibil-ity of being shepherds over Gods people. But when God addresses them
it is a message of woe and judg-ment. The general indictment is that they are shepherds who take care of themselves instead of the flock (v. 2). In more specific terms, they take the wool and slaughter the sheep, but do not care for them (v. 3). In other words they take from the flock but do not give to the flock. They do not care for the sick and weak, they do not look for the lost, and they have ruled [the sheep] harshly and brutally (v. 4). As a result, the sheep were scattered (v. 5-6). Because of their hard and selfish hearts and their gross negligence, God is now the enemy of his shepherds (v. 10). This is because the sheep were always his. Multiple times God refers to the treatment of my sheep and my flock at the hands of the shep-herd. The sheep are always his, and the shepherds appointed over them are always accountable to God.
Gloriously, God does not simply abandon his people to their fate. He himself promises to do all that the other shepherds were supposed to do. He will search for them, rescue them, gather them, pasture them, tend them, feed them, and heal them (vv. 11-16). If a shepherd could communicate to a literal sheep what this kind of care would be like, the sheep would real-ize it was going to be the recipient of perfect care. If metaphorical sheep truly understood what God has prom-ised, they would know that they are receiving perfect care from the perfect shepherd.
A fascinating shift in the imagery occurs in verse 17. Now God is depict-ing himself as a shepherd judging between the sheep in his flock. Who are the sheep who are being judged for their bad treatment of the weaker sheep? They are the leaders, the same group that had just been depicted as shepherds. Human leaders are shep-herds but they are also, simultane-ously, still sheep. Viewed from one angle they are metaphorically like shepherds; viewed from a slightly dif-
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ferent angle they are metaphorically just one sheep in the flock, surround-ed by their peers. If nothing else, this means that a human leader who thinks of themselves as a shepherd but does not equally think of themselves as a sheep will invariably have a distorted view of themselves, their role, and the relationship they actually have with others. Franklyalthough this is a theme for a future articlein my judgment there are far, far too many pastors who are locked into thinking about themselves as shepherds and the rest of the church as sheep. This is dreadful error: it is unbalanced and can have extremely negative repercus-sions.
There is one more vital twist in Ezekiel 34. After threatening the wicked shepherds who are also just mean sheep, God makes a very inter-esting promise. He says, I will save my flock, and they will no longer be plundered. I will judge between one sheep and another. I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd. I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. I the Lord have spoken (vv. 22-24). I believe this promise is to be taken as assurance that a David-figure, the fulfillment of Davidic/Messianic ty-pology, is going to rule over the flock one future day. As David was a good shepherd, this figure, as the typologi-cal fulfillment, will embody all the best qualities of the historical David but with none of the weaknesses and sinful failures. David was a good shepherd of Israel; the fulfillment will be the good shepherd. The promise was made and the flock of God longed for the shepherds advent. Now we look back over two millennia and know his name. Next month we will survey how the shepherd metaphor is perfectly fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the great David.
ence and discover for ourselves that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that will then be revealed in us.
Meanwhile, we are learning afresh the blessedness of the joy that is in Christ, a joy that bereavement some-how only serves to deepen. What a great hope, and what great joy is ours in him. We are also coming to appreciate more deeply the present work of Christ for us. In his sermon last Sunday our pastor wonderfully reminded us of our sympathetic high priest, the Lord from heaven who has come as one of us and who himself having learned sufferingsuccess-fullynow is able to provide for us every needed grace at every needed point in our journey. And we have also come to appreciate more deeply the real encouragement God gives through his people. Christian friends so often apologize for their stumbling words, unable to find words that seem suitable. Yet their many expressions of loving sympathy have all been blessed indeed.
We are hurting for our loss. The pain is massive, and on one level Im sure it will never be absent in this life. But deep as this hurt is, we are not left adrift. With minds and hearts shaped by gospel truth, with the love of God marvelously shed abroad in our hearts by his Spirit, with confi-dence in his unerring providence, and with an unshakable joy and hope in Christ, God has given us more than all we will need.
Scripture assures us that one day God will wipe all tears from our eyes. I doubt that this language was intended to make us envision a gigantic handkerchief or some kind of cosmic hug. I suspect, rather, that this comfort will come by means of fur-ther revelationthat God will enable us to see things from his perspective, to see his wise purpose as he has worked it out in history unerringly for the good of his people to his own
glory. There at last, with this fuller understanding, all mourning will be turned to joyful praise.
And so even in our loss, we do not doubt that for all eternity, one note of our song, looking back, will be Our God has done all things well.
ongoing sacrifice but a sign that THE sacrifice has been accepted once for all.14 It is a celebration because it is about King Jesus. We remember Him.
The Supper also points to the future. The Christian church has celebrated the Lords Supper for over 2,000 years and will continue to do so until Jesus returns. At the Last Sup-per, Jesus said, But I tell you, from this moment I will not drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it in a new way in My Fathers kingdom with you (Matt 26:29). So this is a celebration of hope a certain hope. In the supper we see the fulfill-ment of past promises and are given assurance of future promises. In this sense, the supper is really an appetizer for the great Messianic banquet (Isa. 55:1-3, Rev. 19:9).15 Take. Eat. Cel-ebrate.
14 Ibid., 32.
15 Pennington, The Lords Last Sup-per, 56.
ZaspelContinued from page 5
WhiteContinued from page 11
Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look! God's dwelling is with men,
and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will exist no longer; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away.
Then the One seated on the throne said, "Look! I am making everything new."
Revelation 21:3-5 HCSB
Issue 205 March 2014 Page 15
Council on Biblical TheologyJuly 22-25, 2014
Grace Church at Franklin4052 Arno Rd., Franklin, TN 37065
Theme: Gods Eternal Kingdom Purpose:NCTTime for a More Accurate Way
(Make Your Reservations as Early as Possible)
Morning (8:45-12:00) & Evening (6:45-9:30) SpeakersTony Costa. Christian Apologist & Adjunct Professor, Providence Theological Seminary (PTS). The Sabbath and Its
Relation to Christ and the Church in the New Covenant.Peter Gentry. Professor of OT Interpretation, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. (Two Messages) Ephesians 3:4-6:
What the OT Says about the Inclusion of the Gentiles & Gods Dealings with Abraham: Conditional or Uncon-ditional? One or Two Covenants?
Gary George. Evangelist & Pastor, Sovereign Grace Chapel, Southbridge, MA; Board Member PTS. The Regenerative Power of the Holy Spirit in the OT and the NT
Frank Gumerlock. Professor of Church History and Systematic Theology, PTS. Hebrews 11:8-19: Gods Land Promise to Abraham and the New Covenant
Zach S. Maxcey. Graduate of PTS and Blog Administrator for PTS. Daniel 9:24-27: The Messiah and the New CovenantW. W. Sasser. Pastor, Grace Church at Franklin and Board Member PTS. Grace and Law: Whats the Big Deal?Greg Van Court. Pastor, Dayspring Fellowship Church, Austin, TX & Adjunct Professor PTS. 2 Timothy 3:16-17: The
Profitability of All Scripture
Kirk Wellum. Principal, Toronto Baptist Seminary, Toronto, Canada. The Ecclesiological Implications of the New Cov-enant
Stephen Wellum. Professor of Christian Theology, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. (Two Messages) What Is New about the NC? and The Nature of Typology Revisited: Do We All Agree?
Blake White. Pastor, Spicewood Baptist Church, Spicewood, TX. 1 Corinthians 9:19-23: Not Under Law But Not Without Gods Law.
Wednesday & Thursday Afternoon Consolidated Doctrinal Workshop Topics (2:00-3:30 p.m.Moderator: Gary D. Long Faculty President, PTS
Topics Include:Use and Misuse of Inaugurated Eschatology in Dispensational and Covenant TheologyResponse to Criticism of the Book Kingdom through CovenantServant King and Obedient Son as Covenant Categories in Genesis 1-3Hebrew Idiom in Covenant Making (Cut vs. Establish a Covenant)The Church, Pentecost and Spirit BaptismThe Two Greatest Commandments and the Covenantal Administration of the Law of God
REGISTRATION & MOTEL ROOMS FOR THE COUNCIL ON BIBLICAL THEOLOGYFranklin, TNJuly 22-25, 2014
Registration Fee: $75 per person attending the Council. Enclose Check or Money Order and mail to: Providence Theologi-cal Seminary, c/o Dr. Gary D. Long, 6720 Wild Indigo Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80923, with a note For 2014 Council on Biblical Theology. Questions: Call Dr. Long at 719-572-7900; Alternate #: 719-821-9892Room: Individual Responsibility. Call Baymont Inns & Suites in Franklin, TN (615) 591-6660) located at 4202 Franklin Commons Ct., Franklin, TN 37067 and reserve a King-size bed room, or a room with two Queen beds, or a King-size Suite with one King-size bed and one Queen pull-out bed. The group rate per room is $69.99 + 17.25% tax. All rooms are non-smoking. Mention to the Motel that you are attending the Grace Church Doctrinal Conference. PLEASE MAKE YOUR ROOM RESERVATION EARLY DUE TO THE HIGH TOURIST SEASON FOR THE NASHVILLE AREA. (If Baymont Inns & Suites becomes filled, check directly with other motels in Franklin.)Administrative Host: Grace Church at Franklin, Pastor W. W. Sasser; Church Office: (615) 791-1575.Nursery Service provided by the Church. Church hosted Dinner provided Wednesday evening, July 23d.
Page 16 March 2014 Issue 205
Definite Atonement Long $10.95 $8.76The Doctrine of BaptismSasser $3.50 $2.80Full Bellies and Empty HeartsAutio $14.99 $12.00Galatians: A Theological InterpretationWhite $15.95 $12.76GraceReisinger $13.95 $11.16The Grace of Our Sovereign GodReisinger $19.99 $16.00Hermeneutical Flaws of DispensationalismGeorge $10.75 $8.60In Defense of Jesus, the New LawgiverReisinger $23.95 $15.95Is John G. Reisinger an Antinomian?Wells $4.25 $3.40John Bunyan on the SabbathReisinger $3.00 $2.80Jonathan Edwards on Biblical Hermeneutics and the Covenant of GraceGilliland
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Page 18 March 2014 Issue 205
The 2014 John Bunyan Conference
The 2014 John Bunyan Conference is scheduled for May 57 at Reformed Baptist Church in Lewisburg, PA
Speakers Peter J. Gentry (PhD, University of Toronto) is professor of Old Testament Interpretation at the Southern Baptist
Theological Seminary and director of the Hexapla Institute.
Larry McCall has served as a pastor at Christs Covenant Church, Winona Lake, IN since 1981. He has written a number of articles and is the author of two books, Walking Like Jesus Did and Loving Your Wife as Christ Loved the Church. He received his BA in New Testament Greek and MDiv from Grace College and Theological Semi-nary. In 1993, he completed his Doctor of Ministry at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
Stephen Wellum (PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is professor of Christian Theology at the Southern Bap-tist Theological Seminary and editor of The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology.
Steve West (PhD) is the Lead Pastor of Crestwicke Baptist Church, Guelph, Ontario, and an adjunct professor at To-ronto Baptist Seminary.
A. Blake White (MDiv, SBTS; ThM, SWBTS) is pastor of Spicewood Baptist Church in the Texas Hill Country. He and his wife Alicia have three children: Josiah, Asher, and Karis. He is the author of What is New Covenant Theol-ogy? An Introduction and eight other books focusing on exegesis and biblical theology.
Peter J. Gentry Overview of How the Covenants are Central to the Plot Structure of Scripture Culminating in the New Covenant Exposition of the Covenant at Creation and Its Foundational Role in the Under-standing of the New Covenant
Larry McCall Loving Your Wife as Christ Loves the Church - 2 MessagesStephen Wellum Underpinning and Understanding Biblical Theology
Understanding the CovenantsCentral to TheologySteve West Shepherding the New Covenant Community 3 MessagesA. Blake White Marks Prologue and the Isainic New Exodus (Mark 1:1-15)
The Gospel Gift of Gods Righteousness (Romans 1:16-17)
Pre-ConferenceStephen Wellum will present two pre-conference messages Sunday, May 4 at 9:30 and 10:45 am at
Reformed Baptist Church. For further information, please contact the church directly:
Reformed Baptist Church, 830 Buffalo Road, Lewisburg, PA 17837. Phone (570) 524-7488; Website: www.rbclewisburg.org; Email: [email protected]
Issue 205 March 2014 Page 19
The 2014 John Bunyan Conference
Lodging for the conference is available at a reduced rate at the Country Inn and Suites by Carlson in Lewisburg, PA. Just mention that you would like accommodations for the John Bunyan Conference to receive a double occupancy room for
only $90.00 per night which includes a nice continental breakfast.Reservations must be made by no later than April 13, 2014 to receive this reduced rate.
Reservations at the Country Inn and Suites may be made by calling 800-456-4000 or 570-524-6600. Their website is www.countryinns.com/lewisburgpa and the address is 134 Walter Drive, Route 15, PO Box 46, Lewisburg, PA 17837.
Meals for lunch and dinner will be available at the church.The registration is $80.00 per individual and includes five meals.
Space for meals is limited and registration will be restricted to the first 80 individuals who register. Please register by no later than April 13, 2014. Sign-in for the conference will be from 9:00 to 10:00 am Monday, May 5, 2014
at Reformed Baptist Church.Please call 301-473-8781 or email [email protected] to register; Discover, Visa or MasterCard accepted.
Please register by no later than April 13, 2014.REGISTRATION FOR THE 2014 JOHN BUNYAN CONFERENCE, LEWISBURG, PA
MAY 57, 2014 Register me for the 2014 John Bunyan Conference. Enclosed is a check for $80.00. Register me for the 2014 John Bunyan Conference. Enclosed is a check for $30.00; I will pay the remaining $50.00 upon sign-in. Make the check payable to Sovereign Grace New Covenant Ministries with a note For 2014 John Bunyan Conference and mail to 5317 Wye Creek Dr, Frederick, MD 21703-6938.
Name: _________________________________________________________________ Address: _______________________________________________________________ City: ___________________________________________________________________ State/Province Zip/Postal Code: ________________________________________________ VISA MasterCard Discover ______ ______ ______ ______ Exp Date ____/____ CCV No. _____ Phone: _______________________ Email: ____________________________________
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If Jesus is not GodGeorge Mylne, "Reposing in Jesus: Or, The True Secret of Grace and Strength" 1862
It is of great importance that we should practically know Jesus as He isthat we should be able to repose on Him in all the reality of His divine nature.
If Jesus is Godthen I must repose on Him as God; and this, not merely for the correctness of my beliefsbut for the strengthening of my faith, and for the encouragement of my soul in all the varieties of its experience and warfare.
If Jesus is not Godthen He could not have loved me from everlastingand I then have no warrant that He either can, or will, love me forever.
If Jesus is not Godthen He has neither rendered an infinite obedience, nor made a perfect atonement for sins, on my behalf.
If Jesus is not Godthen my faith is vain, and I am yet in my sins.If Jesus is not Godthen I cannot look to Him for unfailing guidance, wisdom or power.If Jesus is not God