David – Prayer of Repentance

In a series on “Men of Prayer,” I had the opportunity to share about David. The following are the materials I produced for the sharing. Take note that the materials were prepared for a College & University audience and as such, is not as detailed as could be. However, if you find them useful for your personal edification and/or for the edification of your ministry/local church, please use them without hesitation. God bless!

Outline:

  • Preliminaries

– Old Testament (OT) and New Testament (NT) words for “repent,” “repentance”

  • David’s Sin

– 2 Samuel 11

  • David’s Prayer

– Psalms 51

  • David’s Restoration

– 2 Samuel 12; 1 Kings 9:4-5; 1 Kings 14:8

  • NT examples

– Saul/Paul (1 Timothy 1:12-16)

– The Pharisee & the Publican (Luke 18:9-14)

  • Modern day example

– David Berkowitz (Son of Sam killer)

  • Us

– Revelation 12:9-10; Hebrews 7:24-25; 1 John 2:1; 1 John 1:9

 

Attachments:

David – Prayer of Repentance (Slides)

David – Prayer of Repentance (Participant Notes)

 

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the individual author, and they do not reflect in any way those of the institutions to which he is affiliated.

Views on Hell

[Articles in the Multiple Views series are intended to present various views held by Christians, in an objective and unbiased manner]

Perspective  Proponent & Overview
 A) Literal View  i) Proponent

 

John F. Walvoord

 

“Jonathan Edwards pictured hell as a raging furnace of fire. He imagined the wicked being cast into liquid fire that is both material and spiritual”[17]

 

Charles Spurgeon: “… in fire exactly like that which we have on earth thy body will lie, asbestos-like, forever unconsumed, all thy veins roads for the feet of Pain to travel on, every nerve a string on which the Devil shall forever play his diabolical tune of hell’s unutterable lament.”[18]

 

E.B. Pusey: “The fire shall pierce them, penetrate them … like a molten ‘lake of fire,’ rolling, tossing, immersing, but not destroying.”[19]

 

Augustine (?)[20]

 

ii) Overview

 

“.. the orthodox view is commonly interpreted to be the belief that punishment for the wicked is everlasting and that it is punitive, not redemptive.”[1]

 

“… an important principle must be observed all throughout the Scriptures: while the term “forever” [in the Bible] may sometimes be curtailed in duration by its context, such termination is never once mentioned in either the Old or New Testament as relating to the punishment of the wicked.”[2]

 

“The most definitive term in the New Testament is gehenna, uniformly translated “hell” and referring to everlasting punishment (Matt 5:22, 29, 30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15, 33; Mark 9:43, 45, 47; Luke 12:5; James 3:6).”[3]

 

“All the references to gehenna, except James 3:6, are from the lips of Christ himself, and there is an obvious emphasis on the punishment for the wicked after death as being everlasting. The term gehenna is derived from the Valley of Hinnom, traditionally considered by the Jews the place of the final punishment of the ungodly …

Whatever its historical and geographic meaning, its usage in the New Testament is clearly a reference to the everlasting state of the wicked, and this seems to be the thought in every instance.”[4]

 

“Though not always expressly stated, the implication [of the New Testament passages mentioning gehenna] is that the punishment will have duration and be endless.”[5]

 

“Though the word gehenna is not used in Matthew 7:19, some believe that this is what Christ meant when he said, “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” Also implied in Christ’s statement in Matthew 7:23 is the truth that part of the punishment of hell is to be separated from Christ forever: “Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers.’””[6]

 

“John implied [in Revelation 20:13-14] that the grave will some day give up the bodies of the wicked dead and that they will be resurrected in order to enter into the eternal punishment of the lake of fire. The fact that they are still in existence indicates that their existence was not terminated when they died physically, but they are still alive and suffering torment in hades, the intermediate state up to this point. This state is then emptied, however, and those who are in it are cast into the lake of fire, the second death; this action indicates eternal separation from God.”[7]

 

“Though the word gehenna is not used [in Revelation 20:10 and Revelation 21:7-8], the lake of fire is, and it serves as a synonym for the eternal place of torment.”[8]

 

“As Buis points out, the Greek word aionios in every instance refers to eternity.”[9]

 

Buis: “Aionios is used in the New Testament sixty-six times: fifty-one times of the happiness of the righteous, two times of the duration of God in His glory, six other times where there is no doubt as to its meaning being endless, and seven times of the punishment of the wicked.”[10]

 

“In support of the idea that aionios means “endless” is its consistent placement alongside the duration of the life of the godly in eternity. If the state of the blessed is eternal, as expressed by this word, there is no logical reason for giving limited duration to punishment.”

 

W.R. Inge: “No sound scholar can pretend that aionios means anything less than eternal.”[11]

 

“A general rule, however, can be established that unless Scripture specifically terminates a promise given “forever,” limiting it to time in contrast to eternity, we may assume that “eternity” means “everlasting,” as indicated in the character of God and in the character of salvation in Christ.”[12]

 

“… though aionios is generally used of eternal life, it is specifically coupled with punishment of the wicked in Jude 7 … This is in contrast to “eternal life” mentioned in verse 21.”[13]

 

“A most convincing evidence that eternity usually means “without beginning or end” is found in the definition of this word in Arndt and Gingrich. This word is used normally in the New Testament to mean either “without beginning or end” or at least “without end.” None of the passages uses the word in a sense other than infinity in time, but it may mean infinity in time past or infinity in time future.”[14]

 

“If the slightest sin is infinite in its significance then it also demands infinite punishment as a divine judgement. Though it is common for all Christians to wish there were some way out of the doctrine of eternal punishment because of its inexorable and unyielding revelation of divine judgement, one must rely in Christian faith on the doctrine that God is a God of infinite righteousness as well as infinite love. While on the one hand he bestows infinite grace on those who trust him, he must, on the other hand, inflict eternal punishment on those who spurn his grace.”[15]

 

“There is sufficient evidence that the fire is literal. In the case of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31, the rich man in hades asked father Abraham to cool his tongue with water because, “I am in agony in this fire” (v.24). Thirst would be a natural reaction to fire, and the desire to cool his tongue would be in keeping with this description.”[16]
 

B) Metaphorical View  i) Proponent

 

William Crockett

 

John Calvin: “We may conclude from the many passages of Scripture, that it [eternal fire] is a metaphorical expression”[47]

 

Charles Hodge: “There seems no more reason for supposing that the fire spoken of in Scripture is to be a literal fire, than that the worm that never dies is literally a worm.”[48]ss

 

J.I. Packer: “… the mistake is to take such pictures as physical descriptions, when in fact they are imagery symbolizing realities … far worse than the symbols themselves.”[49]

 

Kenneth Kantzer: “The Bible makes it clear that hell is real and it’s bad.  when Jesus spoke of flames … these are most likely figurative warnings.”[50]

 

ii) Overview

 

“… the Bible does not support a literal view of a burning abyss. Hellfire and brimstone are not literal depictions of hell’s funishings, but figurative expressions warning the wicked of impending doom.”[34]

 

Martin Luther: “It is not very important whether or not one pictures hell as it is commonly portrayed and described.”[35]

 

“The words of Jesus and the apostles tell us that the final abode of the wicked will be a place of awful reckoning, but specifically what the reckoning will be, we cannot know for certain until we pass beyond this life.”[36]

 

“Unfortunately, some people confuse a high view of Scripture with taking every word of the Bible literally. They think that whatever the Bible says must  be true literally. But this neglects the symbolic use of words, or what is often called rabbinic hyperbole. Rabbis in ancient times (and this includes Jesus) often used colourful speech to bring home forcefully their points.”[37]

 

“For example, when Jesus says, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children … he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26), he does not mean we must hate our parents to be proper disciples. This is a language vehicle used to convey the point that loyalty to him is supreme. We must love Jesus so much that our other loves seem like hate in comparison. The same is true with Matthew 5:29, “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” We know Jesus did not intend people to take his words literally, because the context has to do with lust. Removing an eye – or even two eyes – will not help because even blind people lust. This is colourful speech by Jesus the rabbi; he means that sin is so serious that it is better to lose an eye than to perish in hell.”[38]

 

“In Jewish literature, vivid pictures of hell are given to show that God has ordained an end to wickedness. The writers do not intend their descriptions to be literal depictions of the fate of the damned, but rather warnings of coming judgement. In the Qumran texts, for example, mutually exclusive concepts like fire and darkness are used more to evoke a horrifying image than to describe a literal hell.

The writers speak about “the shadowy place of everlasting fire” (1QS 2:8) and describe hell as “the fire of the dark regions” (1QS 4:13). The same is true with 1 Enoch, which talks about “darkness … and burning flame” (103:7) and “blazing flames worse than fire” (100:9). Similarly, 2 Enoch 10:2 pictures hell as “black fire.”

The Testament of Abraham 12-13 uses fire to picture the Last Judgement. There the archangel Purouel (whose name means fire) “tests the works of men through fire” (13:11). The fire that burns up the works of individuals in both the Testament of Abraham 13:12 and 1 Corinthians 3:15 is not a literal fire, but a symbol of something far greater.”[39]

 

“Fire is often nonliteral in Jewish writings; they use colourful language to make a point. Even the Torah was said to have been written with “black fire on white fire” (Jerusalem Talmud, Sekalim 6:1, 49d), and the tree of life was described as gold looking in “the form of fire” (2 Enoch 8:4). There are mountains of fire (Pseudo-Philo 18:3), rivers of fire (1 Enoch 17:5), thrones of fire (Apoc. Abram. 18:3), lashes of fire (T. Abram. 12:1) – even angels and demons of fire (2 Bar. 24:6; T. of Sol. 1:10).”[40]

 

“In the Scriptures God is said to be a “consuming fire” (Deut. 4:24), who has throne “flaming with fire” that has a “river of fire” issuing from beneath the throne (Dan. 7:9-10). Sometimes the images of fire approximate our understanding of material fire on earth. God speaks out of fire that does not consume a desert bush (Ex. 3:1-6) and carries a prophet to heaven in a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:11). In the New Testament, John says of the exalted Christ, “his eyes were like blazing fire” (Rev. 1:14). Fire is also used figuratively for discord (Luke 12:49), judgement (1 Cor. 3:15), sexual desire (1 Cor. 7:9), and unruly words (James 3:5-6).”[41]

 

“C.H. Dodd suggests that Paul “shared with many of his contemporaries the belief that … the material universe would be transfigured into a substance consisting of pure light or glory, thus returning to its original perfection as created by God.””[42]

 

“In the New Testament the final destination of the wicked is pictured as a place of blazing sulphur, where the burning smoke ascends forever. This would have been an effective image because sulphur fires were part of life for those who lived in the Jerusalem of Bible times. Southwest of the city was the Valley of Hinnom, an area that had a long history of desecration. The steep gorge was once used to burn children in sacrifice to the Ammonite god of Molech (2 Kings 23:10; Jer. 7:31; 32:35).”[43]

 

“How could hell be a literal fire when it is also described as darkness (Matt. 8:12; 22:13; 25:30; 2 Peter 2:17; Jude 14)? Those who raise this question have a good point … The point is that when it comes to God’s wrath at the end of time, Jewish writers are not concerned with seeming conflicts; they can describe punishment in many ways because they have no clear scheme as to what form it will take. For example, they often talk of hell as a place where the bodies of the wicked burn eternally, even though at the same time they are said to be rotting away with worms and maggots (Judith 16:17; Sirach 7:17; cf. Isa. 66:24). The author of 2 Enoch 10:2 even links “black fire” with “cold ice” in the place of eternal torment. What these writers are trying to do is paint the most awful picture of hell they can, no matter how incompatible the images might be. Yet of this they are certain: God will forever punish those who walk in the paths of wickedness.”[44]

 

“The wicked are said to weep and gnash their teeth (Matt. 8:12; 13:42; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30; Luke 13:28), their worm never dies (Mark 9:48), and they are beaten with many blows (Luke 12:47). No one thinks hell will involve actual beatings or is a place where the maggots of the dead achieve immortality. Equally, no one thinks that the gnashing of teeth is anything other than an image of hell’s grim reality.”[45]

 

“The eternal fire was created for spirit beings such as the devil and his angels (Matt. 25:41). How then will people with spirit bodies (and disembodied spirits such as demons) be affected by a physical fire? Physical fire works on physical bodies with physical nerve endings, not on spirit beings.”[46]

 

C) Purgatorial View  i) Proponent

 

Zachary J. Hayes

 

Origen (?)

 

Clement of Alexandria (?)

 

Jerry Walls

 

ii) Overview

 

“This word [i.e. purgatory] is commonly understood to refer to the state, place, or condition in the next world between heaven and hell, a state of purifying suffering for those who have died and are still in need of such purification. This purifying condition comes to an end for the individual when that person’s guilt has been expiated. But as an eschatological “place”, purgatory is understood to continue in existence until the last judgement.”[69]

 

“To understand the inner logic of the concept of purification after death, we need to think of a number of interrelated points.

 

First, it is helpful to recall that symbolism about purgation does not begin with Roman Catholicism, nor with Christianity, nor even with the Bible. In fact, such symbolism is widespread in religious history. It is symbolism that reflects a sense of distance between human creatures and God. There is distance, first, because all creatures are limited and finite, while God is infinite.

 

Second, there is distance because human creatures are sinners. Not only are human beings “less than God,” they are also “guilty before God.” Now, if the concern of the religious journey is to move to ever greater closeness and intimacy with God in a relationship of love, one must ask how the distance between God and creature might be bridged.”[70]

 

“The idea of a purifying fire was present in extrabiblical and in biblical tradition long before the Christian/Catholic concept of purgatory used it in its own way. When such symbolism is used in a Christian context, it expresses the conviction that something happens in the encounter between God and the human creature that makes the creature more “capable” of receiving the gift of divine presence within itself.”[71]

 

“If, from this side of death, we seem to be flawed lovers, and if the condition called heaven involves the perfection of love, how can we possibly bridge that distance?”[72]

 

“… he [i.e. Augustine] speaks frequently about the cleansing suffering that awaits those who die without being adequately purified in this life. Augustine was much concerned with the moral significance of human life and with the moral continuity between this life and the next. Because of this continuity, he could envision a process of cleansing on both sides of death. He argues that it is better to be cleansed in this life than the next, for the cleansing process in the next life will be far more severe than anything experienced in this life.”[73]

 

“The idea of a process of purification and not only in this life but in the next as well seemed to Cyprian a welcome way out of an otherwise uncomfortable dilemma [i.e. good people who had failed the test of heroic martyrdom in the time of persecution]. We could argue that, with Cyprian, the central insight of what eventually became the doctrine of purgatory was formulated already by the middle of the third century.”[74]

 

“Purgatory, as Roman Catholic theology envisions it, it involves a process of purification after death for those who need it. It is a process in which the concern of the living for the dead, expressed through prayers and charitable works, may have a beneficial effect on the healing of the dead.”[75]

 

“In his brilliant study of the history, Jacques Le Goff argues that it was first in the late twelfth century that the clear reference to purgatory as a place is found in Christian literature. If this argument is correct, it means that even though many intimations of a purifying process may be found in the early centuries of Christian history, the tendency to think of purgatory as a particular place on the eschatological map was a product of the Middle Ages. And even when purgatory was associated with a special place, it is interesting that this place was not necessarily “extra-terrestrial” but could be thought of as somewhere on this planet.”[76]

 

“In summary, the notion of purgatory is intimately related to the conviction that our eternal destiny is irrevocably decided at the moment of our death and that, ultimately, our eternal destiny can be only heaven or hell. But not everyone seems “bad enough” to be consigned to an eternal hell. And most do not seem “good enough: to be candidates for heaven. Therefore, something has to happen “in between.” But this cannot mean a coming back to life and getting another chance since our destiny is decided at the moment of our death. Therefore, some sort of cleansing process is postulated between death and the entrance into heaven.”[77]

 

“… purgatory means “suffering to the end what one has left behind on earth – in the certainty of being accepted, yet having to hear the burden of the withdrawn presence of the Beloved. This is not unlike the view presented by Dante in his Divine Comedy: the souls in purgatory are those of people who were basically animated by the love of God, but whose lives at other levels were marred by blemishes.”[78]

 

“He [i.e. Origen] argued that at the end of history, the unity of creation would be restored under the rule of God. To him this seemed to be the simple requirement of the goodness of God. In the end, all the enemies of Christ would be overcome, not by being annihilated but by being won over by the divine love. This meant that those who had not made the grade during their first life would return until they had succeeded. Thus the purgative process postulated by Origen is oriented to a theology of universal salvation. In the end, Origen says, there is only “heaven.” Even what Christians have called “hell” is seen as a temporary situation that is superseded by a total restoration of all reality to its God-intended form.”[79]

 

“Other early Eastern Christian writers envisioned a form of process after death. In the early third century, for example, Clement of Alexandria taught that souls would endure some sort of remedial “fire,” a fire that was understood in a metaphorical sense. The whole vision of Clement was cast in the framework of an understanding of Christian life that saw grace as an increasing God-likeness in the just …

 

Clement envisioned a growing God-likeness, beginning in this life and continuing in the next, until the soul had reached that state of maturity appropriate to its place in the heavenly mansions.”[80]

 

“The texts of Scripture have a long and complex history, and the divine message of revelation is found not in a specific verbal formulation but in a cluster of religious insights that have their own distinctive history …

 

So while the Scriptures remain the privileged and irreplaceable literary point of contact with the basic experiences that lie at the foundation of historic Christianity, there is no specific literary or verbal formula that may simply be identified with the revealed message of God.

 

From here, the step to tradition becomes clear. In Roman Catholic thought, Christians never deal solely with the text of Scripture. There is also a history of acceptance and interpretation of that text, for no text is self-interpreting.”[81]

 

“… tradition is not a second source of doctrine next to and independent of the Bible. Rather, it is the living communication of biblical revelation in ever-changing circumstances and in new and different communities and cultures. Just as the texts of Scripture give witness to the divine revelation, so also does the reality of tradition give witness to the same revelation, but in circumstances unknown to the authors of Scripture.”[82]

 

“If we are looking for clear and unambiguous statements of the doctrine [of purgatory in the Bible], we will look in vain. But our reflections on the matter of tradition and development might suggest a reformulation of the question. We might better ask if anything in Scripture initiated the development that eventually led to the doctrine of purgatory. Or, what is it in the biblical material that generates this form of Christian tradition?”[83]

 

“Beyond this [2 Maccabees 12:41-46], there is no other Old Testament text that stands out clearly in the development of Christian purgatorial doctrine.”[84]

 

“One could ask what meaning this text [i.e. Matthew 12:31-32] could have if it were not possible that some sins could be forgiven in the next world. This, in fact, seems to be the understanding of Augustine and of Gregory the Great. Likewise, it is the understanding of various medieval popes and councils. This text, therefore, has been seen to provide at least some biblical warrant for the concept of purgatory.”[85]

 

“If we take the “Day” [in 1 Corinthians 3:15] to refer to the final judgement, then the text seems to speak of a “fire” after the particular judgement that is involved in individual death. Though it is not necessary to interpret this text to mean the fire of purgatory, it was common among the Latin Fathers to understand this fire as a reference to some sort of transient, purificatory punishment prior to the final salvation. Examples of this interpretation can be found in Augustine and Caear of Arles.”[86]

 

“In conclusion, we might say that for Christians of earlier generations, it was not difficult to find some basis in Scripture for the doctrine of purgatory, even though each particular text might be subjected to different interpretations. For contemporary readers of the Bible, the actual texts of the Scriptures offer less clear evidence of purgatory than does the history of patristic exegesis.”[87]

 

“If Roman Catholic theologians find the evidence of Scripture ambiguous, what follows after that is unavoidably a matter of tradition and the development of church doctrine. And a genuine form of purgatorial understanding was developed rather early in the patristic church.”[88]

 

“The official teaching on purgatory is found in solemn statements made by solemn assemblies of bishops and theologians recognised at least by Romans Catholics as ecumenical councils. In response to the Eastern Church, the Second Council of Lyons (1274) and the Council of Florence (1439) addressed the issue. The Council of Trent (1563) did the same in response to the Protestant Reformation.”[89]

 

“The councillar teaching on purgatory is very concise. The Council of Lyons stated that those who die in charity and are truly sorry for their sins, but before they have made complete satisfaction for their wrongdoings, will be purged after death by “cathartic punishments.”[90]

 

“The Council of Trent, like that of Lyons, is brief. Trent reduces its teaching on purgatory to two points. First, purgation exists for some between death and the general resurrection, and second, the souls undergoing such purgation can be aided by the prayers and good works of the faithful and especially by the sacrifice of the Mass.”[91]

 

“… the concept of purgatory does not stand alone as a theological idea. Rather, it is part of a larger scenario that reflects the Roman Catholic understanding of how God deals with us and how we are to respond to God in the context of grace and eschatological fulfilment.”[92]
 

 D) Conditional View  i) Proponent

 

Clark H. Pinnock

 

John Wenham

 

John Stott: “I do not dogmatise about the position to which I have come. I hold it tentatively. But I do plead for frank dialogue among evangelicals on the basis of scripture. I also believe that the ultimate annihilation of the wicked should at least be accepted as a legitimate, biblically founded alternative to their eternal conscious torment.”[122]

 

Phillip E. Hughes

 

G. Selwyn: “There is little in the NT to suggest a state of everlasting punishment, but much to indicate an ultimate destruction or dissolution of those who cannot enter into life: conditional immortality seems to be the doctrine most consonant with the teaching of Scripture.”[123]

 

ii) Overview

 

“Hell is not the beginning of a new immortal life in torment but the end of a life of rebellion. Hell is, as C.S. Lewis said, the “outer rim where being fades away into nonentity.””[104]

 

“There is no single Jewish view of hell. Many sources present the destruction of the wicked (e.g., Wisd. Sol. 4:18-19; 5:14-15), while others speak of everlasting conscious torment (e.g., 1 Enoch 27:1-3). There is a similar diversity in the early Christian sources. The Apostles’ Creed affirms that Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead at the end of history, though it does not spell out the exact nature of that judgement. One can find the idea of everlasting torment (in Tertullian), annihilation (in the Didache), and universalism (in Origen).

 

The diversity was not to last, however. The view of hell as everlasting physical and mental torture came to dominate orthodox thinking early on.”[105]

 

“The Old Testament gives us a clear picture of the end of the wicked in terms of destruction and supplies the basic imagery of divine judgement for the New Testament to use …

 

While it is true that the point of reference for these warnings [in Psalm 37 and Malachi 4:1-2] in the Old Testament is this-worldly, this basic imagery overwhelmingly denotes destruction and perishing and sets the tone for the New Testament doctrine.”[106]

 

“Our Lord spoke plainly of God’s judgement as the annihilation of the wicked when he warned about God’s ability to destroy body and soul in hell (Matt. 10:28). He was echoing the terms that John the Baptist had used when he pictured the wicked as dry wood about to be thrown into the fire and chaff about to be burned (Matt. 3:10, 12). Jesus warned that the wicked would be cast into hell (Matt. 5:30), like garbage thrown into gehenna–an allusion to the valley outside Jerusalem where sacrifices were once offered to Moloch (2 Kings 16:3; 21:6) and where garbage may have smoldered and burned in Jesus’ day. The wicked would be burned up just like weeds thrown into the fire (Matt. 13:30, 42, 49-50).”[107]

 

“The apostle Paul creates the same impression when he wrote of the everlasting destruction that would come upon unrepentant sinners (2 Thess. 1:9). He warned that the wicked would reap corruption (Gal. 6:8) and stated that God would destroy the wicked (1 Cor. 3:17; Phil. 1:28); he spoke of their fate as a death that they deserved to die (Rom. 1:32), the wages of their sins (6:23). Concerning the wicked, the apostle stated plainly and concisely: “Their destiny is destruction” (Phil. 3:19). In all these verses, Paul made it clear that hell would mean termination.”[108]

 

“It is no different in any other New Testament book. Peter spoke of the “destruction of ungodly men” (2 Peter 3:7) and of false teachers who denied the Lord, thus bringing upon themselves “swift destruction” (2:1, 3). He said that they would be like the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah that were burned to ashes (2:6), and that they would perish like the ancient world perished in the great Flood (3:6-7). The author of Hebrews likewise referred to the wicked who shrank back and would be destroyed (Heb. 10:39). Jude pointed to Sodom as an analogy to God’s final judgement, being the city that underwent “the punishment of eternal fire” (Jude 7). Similarly, the apocalypse of John speaks both of a lake of fire that will consume the wicked and of the second death (Rev. 20:14-15).”[109]

 

“The Bible does not teach the natural immortality of the soul; it points instead to the resurrection of the body as God’s gift to believers. God alone has immortality (1 Tim 6:16) but graciously grants embodied life to his people (1 Cor. 15:21, 50-54; 2 Tim. 1:10). God gives us life and God takes it away. There is nothing in the nature of the human soul that requires it to live forever. The Bible teaches conditionalism: God created humans mortal with a capacity for life everlasting, but it is not their inherent possession. Immortality is a gift God offers us in the gospel, not an inalienable possession. The soul is not an immortal substance that has to be placed somewhere if it rejects God. If a person does reject God finally, there is nothing in biblical anthropology to contradict what Jesus plainly taught – God will destroy the wicked, body and soul, in hell.”[110]

 

“Presumably the traditional view of the nature of hell was originally constructed in the following way: People mixed up their belief in the divine judgement after death (which is scriptural) with their belief in the immortality of the soul (which is unscriptural) and concluded (incorrectly) that the nature of hell must be everlasting conscious torment The logic would be impeccable if only the second premise were not false.”[111]

 

“According to Christian theology the nature of God is revealed in Jesus Christ and shown to be boundlessly merciful. God loves the whole world. His heart is to invite sinners to a festive meal (Matt. 8:11). He is a forgiving and loving Father toward them (Luke 15:11-32), not a cruel and sadistic torturer as the traditional view of hell would suggest.”[112]

 

“Our moral intuition agrees with this. There is a powerful moral revulsion against the traditional doctrine of the nature of hell. Everlasting torture is intolerable from a moral point of view because it pictures God acting like a bloodthirsty monster who maintains an everlasting Auschwitz for his enemies whom he does not even allow to die.”[113]

 

“Sending the wicked to everlasting torment would be to treat persons worse than they could deserve.

 

Consider it on the basis of an Old Testament standard of justice, the standard of strict equivalence: An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth (Exod. 21:24). Did the sinner visit upon God everlasting torment? Did he cause God or his neighbors everlasting pain and loss?”[114]

 

“What purpose of God would be served by the unending torture of the wicked except those of vengeance and vindictiveness? Such a fate for the wicked would spell endless and totally unredemptive suffering. Here would be a punishment just for its own sake. Surely God does not act like that. Even the plagues of Egypt were intended to be redemptive for those who would respond to the warning.”[115]

 

“The New Testament says that God is going to be “all in all” (1 Cor. 15:28) and that God is going to be making “everything new” (Rev. 21:5), but the new creation turns out flawed from day one. John Stott does not think it adds up right, asking: “How can God in any meaningful sense be called ‘everything to everybody’ while an unspecified number of people still continue in rebellion against him and under his judgement?”

 

What kind of reconciliation and redemption is it if heaven and hell coexist forever, if evil, suffering, and death all continue to have reality?”[116]

 

“Here [i.e. Isaiah 66:24] the dead bodies of God’s enemies are being eaten by maggots and burned up. The fire and the worm in this figure are destroying the dead bodies, not tormenting conscious persons. By calling the fire unquenchable, the Bible is saying that the fire is not quenched until the job is finished.”[117]

 

“In this text [i.e. Matt. 25:46], Jesus does not define the nature either of eternal life or of eternal death. He says there will be two destinies and leaves it there. This perspective gives us the freedom to interpret the saying about hell either as everlasting conscious torment (eternal punishment) or as irreversible destruction (eternal punishment). The text allows for both interpretation because it only teaches the finality of the judgement, not its precise nature.”[118]

 

“[In Luke 16:23-24] … unless there is a lot of room in the patriarch’s lap, the detail seems to be imagery rather than a literal description of what the future life will actually be like. In addition, the story refers to hades (the intermediate state between death and resurrection), not to gehenna (the final end of the wicked), and is not strictly relevant to our subject.”[119]

 

“Regarding Revelation 14:11, we observe that, while the smoke goes up forever, the text does not say the wicked are tormented forever. It says that they have no relief from their suffering as long as the suffering lasts, but it does not say how long it lasts. As such it could fit hell as annihilation or the traditional view. Before oblivion, there may be a period of suffering, but not unendingly.”[120]

 

“I take John’s primary point throughout Revelation to be that everything that has rebelled against God will be overcome and come to an end. G. B. Caird catches the point: “John believed that, if at the end there should be any who remained impervious to the grace and love of God, they would be thrown, with Death and Hades, into the lake of fire which is the second death, i.e., extinction and total oblivion.””[121]

Continue reading “Views on Hell”

Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe (2010) [Chapter 3]

[Articles in the Summed Up series are intended to be summaries of chapters of selected theological books. The author(s) will be quoted verbatim for the purposes of ensuring accurate representation]

Creation: God Makes 

(pp.79-108)

A) About the author(s):

Mark Driscoll has a Master of Arts degree in exegetical theology from Western Seminary. He was the founding and preaching pastor of Mars Hill Church, and former president of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network

Gerry Breshears is a Professor of Theology at Western Seminary and earned his PhD in Systematic Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary.

B) Chapter Summary:

I) What does the Bible say about creation?

“The first book of the Bible, Genesis, takes its name from its first words, “In the beginning,” as genesis means “beginning.” The book of Genesis in general, Genesis 1 to 3 in particular, records the beginning of creation and human history.  Moses  penned  Genesis  in  roughly  1400 BC as  the  first  of a  five-part  book  called  the  Pentateuch,  meaning  “book  in  five  parts.”  The Genesis  account  of  creation  was  most  likely  directly  revealed  to  Moses  by the  same  Holy  Spirit  who  was  present  in  Genesis  1:2,  since  Moses  was not  present  for  the  creation  event.  Genesis  is  not  an  exhaustive  treatment of  early  history  but  rather  a  theologically  selective  telling  of  history  that focuses  on  God  and  mankind  while  omitting  such  things  as  the  creation  of angels  or  the  fall  of  Satan  and  demons.”[1]

“The  first  line  of  Genesis  says,  “In  the  beginning,  God  created  the  heavens  and  the  earth” … Brilliantly,  the  Bible  opens  with  the  one true,  eternal  God  as  both  the  author  and  subject  of  history  and  Scripture. Consequently,  everything  else  in  history  and  Scripture  is  dependent  upon God  and  is  only  good  when  functioning  according  to  his  intentions  for  it from  creation.”[2]

“In  Genesis  1:1,  the  word  used  for  created  is  the  Hebrew  word  bara, which  means  “creation  from  nothing.”  The  other  Hebrew  word  used in  a  creative  sense  in  Genesis  is  asah,  translated  “make”  or  “made,” which  means  “to  fashion  or  shape,”  or  “to  make  something  suitable,” such  as  making  loincloths  out  of  fig  leaves or  making  the  ark.  Bara emphasizes  the  initiation  of  an  object,  whereas  asah  emphasizes  the shaping  of  an  object.  Along  with  statements  where  God  does  initial creation  (the  heavens  and  the  earth),  the  only  other  things  bara’d  are the  living  creatures and  human  beings.  When  people  create  we  are doing  asah,  not  bara.”[3]

See Gen.  1:1;  2:3-4; 1:21; 1:27; 3:7; 5:1-2; 8:6.

“In  the  creation  account  we  see  that  God  created  (bara)  “the  heavens  and the  earth.”  This  phrase  could  be  more  literally  translated  “the  skies  and  the land,”  since the heavens are not the place where God lives, but the place where stars  move and  birds  fly.  The  Hebrew  word  eretz, usually translated “earth,” in  Genesis  1  does  not  mean  the  planet  but  the  land  under  the  water, separated from  water, where  vegetation  grows  and  animals  roam.  Elsewhere  in Scripture  it  usually  means  the  Promised  Land.  The  phrase  “skies  and  land” is  a  Hebraic  way  of  saying  “everything”  from  the  skies  above  to  the  earth below,  like  saying  from  top  to  bottom  or  head  to  toe,  including  space-time, mass-energy,  and  the  laws  that  govern  them.  In  other  places  in  Scripture,  the phrase  includes  the  sun  and  moon,  which  could  in  turn  mean  that  the  sun  and moon  were  created  as  a  part  of  this  first  creation.”[4]

“… the  same  language  for  “without  form  (tohu)  and  void  (bohu)” used in Genesis 1:2 is used elsewhere in Scripture in reference to uninhabited land.”[5]

See Deuteronomy 32:10, Isaiah 45:18

“[In Jeremiah 4:23,] “without form  and  void”  does  not  mean  chaos,  but  it  means  empty  of  humans;  “no light”  does  not  mean  there  is  no  sun  but  that  the  land  is  without  God’s  blessing.  Similarly,  in  Genesis  1:2  “without  form  and  void”  is  the  condition  of the  land  before  God  made  it  good,  filling  it  with  light  and  life.  The  best understanding  is  not  that  God  created  primordial  chaos  and  formed  earth  out of  it,  but  that  God  created  everything  out  of  nothing  and  that  the  land  existed for  some  unstated  period  of  time  in  a  desert-like,  empty  state.”[6]

““In  the  beginning”  means  that  there  was  an  inauguration, but  not  when  that  moment  was.  Therefore,  Genesis  1:1  leaves  open  both the  possibilities  of  a  young  and  an  old  earth.

The  creation  account  goes  to  great  lengths  to  make  it  clear  that  the God  who  created  (bara)  everything  according  to  the  first  verse  is  the same  God  who  prepared  (asah)  the  land  for  humans  to  dwell  with  him  in the  remainder  of  Genesis  1  and  2.”[7]

[1] pp. 81-82

[2] p.82

[3] Ibid.

[4] p.83

[5] Ibid.

[6] p.84

[7] Ibid.

Continue reading “Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe (2010) [Chapter 3]”

Jesus the Son of God (2012) [Chapter 3]

[Articles in the Summed Up series are intended to be summaries of chapters of selected theological books. The author(s) will be quoted verbatim for the purposes of ensuring accurate representation]

“Jesus the Son of God” in Christian and Muslims Contexts

(pp.73-109)

A) About the author:

D.A. Carson (Ph.D, Cambridge University) is a research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he has taught since 1978. He is president of the Gospel Coalition, and has written or edited nearly 60 books.

B) Chapter Summary:

i) What bearing does this study of Jesus as the Son of God have on the way Christians should think about Jesus?

“… in the New Testament “Son of God” is not a terminus technicus, as the Latins say–a technical term that always carries the same associations.”[1]

“Bible readers should exercise special pains not to succumb either to unjustified reductionism, in which one particular usage is read into every occurrence, or to “illegitimate totality transfer,” in which the entire semantic range of the expression is read into every occurrence. Context must decide.”[2]

“We have observed how 2 Samuel 7:14, Psalm 2:7, and Psalm 45:6-7 are applied to Jesus, even though the first certainly applies to Solomon, not Jesus, the second probably applies first of all to David and his immediate successors, and the third certainly applies, initially, to kings who had heirs who replaced their fathers, not to Jesus. Yet in all three cases the context drops hints of a fulfillment that outstrips local petty monarchs. Once these passages are nestled into the complex matrix of the Davidic typology, the many passages that anticipate an heir of David who is declared to be God and whose reign embraces the entire earth and even the heavens, the connection to Jesus is all but inevitable.”[3]

“Insofar as our conceptions of him diverge from what he has disclosed of himself, so far are we worshipping a false god, which is normally called idolatry. To study hard what holy Scripture says about the Son of God, who has most comprehensively revealed his heavenly Father, is to know more about God, and thus to begin to ground our worship in reality rather than slogans.”[4]

ii) What bearing does this study of Jesus as the Son of God have on current debate regarding the translation of the title, especially in Muslim contexts?

“At the street level, many Muslims think Christians believe that God somehow impregnated Mary, and that the Trinity is made up of God, Mary, and Jesus, who is thus the Son of God. They find the construct bizarre, not to say blasphemous, and of course, they are right. Informed Muslims have a better understanding of what Christians mean by the Trinity, but they find this Christian take on monotheism illogical at best, blasphemous at worst. In short, the objection to thinking of Jesus as the Son of God is not restricted to the repulsiveness of the idea that God had sexual union with a woman, but extends to the deeper criticism of the incarnation: the absolute distinction between God and his creation must not be breached.”[5]

“… some sectors of SIL/Wycliffe, Frontiers, and other organizations have for a number of years embarked on a variety of Bible translations that have replaced many references to God as the Father and to Jesus as the Son. For example, in one recent Arabic translation, Al Kalima, the baptismal formula of Matthew 28 becomes, “Cleanse them by water in the name of Allah, his Messiah and his Holy Spirit.” Sometimes “Guardian” has been used instead of “Father.””[6]

See www.al-kalima.com/translation_project.html

“(1) We should all recognize the extraordinary diversity of “son of” expressions in the Bible. Probably they should not all be handled the same way.”[7]

“On almost any reading of the evidence, the associations of the expression [the Son of God] are complicated, theologically laden, and inescapable. Why should it not be better, then, to render the original more directly, perhaps with explanatory notes?”[8]

“… words for “father” and “son” that convey mental pictures of social relationship but not biology may be misleading as words for “father” and “son” that convey mental pictures of a biological connection. For we have seen how “begetting” or “generation” or “engendering” language can be used of the way God becomes the “Father” of the Davidic king, and finally of Jesus himself: that is, the begetting is itself metaphorical. God establishes the Davidide as his son, he begets him, when the Davidide comes to the throne: at that point, so far as the activity of reigning is concerned, the Davidide is to act like his “Father,” and thus show himself to be a true son. This is more than a mere social relationship; it is a metaphorical engendering.”[9]

“… John’s Gospel happily associates Messiah and Son of God, but a passage like John 5:16-30, as we have seen, so deepens what it means to affirm that Jesus is the Son of God that our entire understanding of God and of sonship are enriched and transformed. This is not a mere translational matter. No language, no culture, means by “Son” what Jesus means in John 5–yet “Son” is the category Jesus uses, even though nothing in English, or Urdu, or Arabic, prepares us for a Son of God whose relationship with the Father is anything like what the text describes.”[10]

“… the richest theological loading of the expression “Son of God” as applied to Jesus springs from passages that deploy the expression to cross-polinate distinctive uses. This fact constitutes a driving reason to translate “Son of God” and “Father” expressions consistently, for otherwise, these crucial intracannonical links will be lost to view.”[11]

[1] p.74

[2] p.74

[3] p.75

[4] p.86

[5] p.89

[6] p.89

[7] p.91

[8] p.93

[9] p.101

[10] p.103

[11] p.107

C) Chapter Review:

  • Readability: 9/10
  • Theological depth: 7/10
  • Any other comments: This chapter is a lot more practical and is a worthwhile read for anyone interested in the subject of biblical translation as well as the difficult decisions that accompany it.

Jesus the Son of God (2012) [Chapter 2]

[Articles in the Summed Up series are intended to be summaries of chapters of selected theological books. The author(s) will be quoted verbatim for the purposes of ensuring accurate representation]

“Son of God” in Select Passages

(pp. 43-71)

A) About the author:

D.A. Carson (Ph.D, Cambridge University) is a research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he has taught since 1978. He is president of the Gospel Coalition, and has written or edited nearly 60 books.

B) Chapter Summary:

i) Hebrews 1

Note: Dr Carson points out that Hebrews 1:5 cites Psalms 2:7 and 2 Samuel 7:14

“New Testament texts quote Psalm 2:7 to prove Jesus is superior to angels, to prove Jesus did not take on himself the glory of becoming high priest but was appointed by God, and to demonstrate that God has fulfilled his promises to the Israelite ancestors by raising Jesus from the dead – even though, on the face of it, Psalm 2 does not mention angels, has no interest in the high priest’s office, and makes no mention of the resurrection of the Messiah.”[1]

“… both 2 Samuel 7:14 and Psalm 2:7 depict the Davidic monarch as God’s son, ideally imitating his heavenly father’s kingly rule. Both passages hint at Davidic reign that eclipses anything in the first millennium BC. Both are elements in a trajectory of anticipatory passages that run through the Old Testament.”[2]

See Isaiah 9, Ezekiel 34

“This trajectory–or, to use the more traditional terminology, this Davidic typology–is inherently forward-looking. It anticipates that toward which it points. When Hebrews 1:5 quotes Psalm 2:7 with reference to Jesus, it is the Davidic typology that warrants it; that is, the writer to the Hebrews is reading Psalm 2:7 not as an individual prooftext but as one passage within the matrix of the Davidic typology it helps to establish.”[3]

“… in the Old Testament, God reigns in a peculiar and redemptive way over the Israelites, and thus, via his appointed Davidide, over the Davidic kingdom. As anticipation mounted for the coming of the ultimate Davidic king, it was recognised that that kingdom, when it dawned, would be redemptive and transformative.”[4]

“… just as the kingdom of God sometimes refers to the entire sweep of God’s reign, and sometimes to that subset of his reign under which there is salvation for his own people, so also Jesus’s reign can embrace all of God’s sovereignty, all authority in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18), and sometimes can refer to that subset of his reign under which there is life (e.g., 1 Cor. 6:9-10).”[5]

“… as in 2 Samuel 7, so also in Psalm 45: the immediate referent is necessarily a Davidic king other than Jesus–and yet these texts are nestled within a Davidic trajectory that can be fulfilled only in Jesus.”[6]

“… in Psalm 45: the courtier does not think the king he is addressing is literally, ontologically, God, as verse 7 makes clear. The psalm is loaded with hyperbolic expressions of the king’s majesty, integrity, justice, humility, and power, precisely because these were the standards the king was supposed to maintain if he, as the son of God, was tasked with reigning as his Father reigns.”[7]

“… the sonship language applied to Christ in the prologue cannot be restricted to a strictly Davidic messianic horizon. The writer to the Hebrews, in other words, is prepared to link, within his first chapter, Jesus’s sonship in the Davidic, messianic sense, with his sonship in the sense of his thoroughly divine status, embracing his pre-existence and his oneness with God in creation.”[8]

“Judging by the evidence of Hebrews 1–and a treatise could be written to demonstrate similar support through much of the New Testament–Christians commonly plugged away at integrating confessional christologies. Just as we discovered in chapter 1, that Matthew can leap from an Israel-as-son-of-God christology to a Davidic-king-as-son-of-God christology, showing no embarrassment at affirming that Jesus is the Son of God in both senses, so Hebrews 1 leaps from preexistent-Godhead-as-Son-of-God christology to Davidic-king-Messiah-as-Son-of-God christology.”[9]

Continue reading “Jesus the Son of God (2012) [Chapter 2]”

Jesus the Son of God (2012) [Chapter 1]

[Articles in the Summed Up series are intended to be summaries of chapters of selected theological books. The author(s) will be quoted verbatim for the purposes of ensuring accurate representation]

“Son of God” as a Christological Title 

(pp. 13-42)

A) About the author:

D.A. Carson (Ph.D, Cambridge University) is a research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, where he has taught since 1978. He is president of the Gospel Coalition, and has written or edited nearly 60 books.

B) Chapter summary: 

i) Sons and sonship

“In the ancient world, however, the percentage [of sons doing what their fathers did and daughters doing what their mothers did] would have been much higher, frequently well over 90 percent. If your father was a farmer, you became a farmer … if your father was a carpenter, you became a carpenter – which of course is why Jesus could be known both as the carpenter’s son (Matt. 13:55), and, in one remarkable passage, as the carpenter (Mark 6:3 – presumably after Joseph had died).” (p.19)

“He [i.e. your father] established your vocation, your place in the culture, your identity, your place in the family. This is the dynamic of a culture that is preindustrial and fundamentally characterized by agriculture, handcrafts, and small-time trade.

This social dynamic does not necessarily shape the linguistic structures of all cultures characterized by it, but it certainly does the Hebrew culture.” (p.20)

“… there are many “son of X” idioms in the Bible, where the identity of “X” is highly diverse and the relationship between the son and X is certainly not biological.

Consider, for example, the expression “son(s) of Belial,” or “men [or occasionally ‘daughter’] of Belial,” where “Belial” is usually masked by contemporary translations.” (p.20)

See Deuteronomy 13:13, Judges 19:22, Judges 20:13, 1 Samuel 1:16, 1 Samuel 2:12, 1 Samuel 10:27, 1 Samuel 25:17, 1 Samuel 25:25, 1 Samuel 30:22, 2 Samuel 16:7, 2 Samuel 20:1, 2 Samuel 23:6, 1 Kings 21:10, 1 Kings 21:13, 2 Chronicles 13:7, and 2 Chronicles 6:15

“Calling someone “a son of Belial” is not necessarily suggesting that the biological father of the son is Belial/worthless/wicked/a scoundrel/Satan. Rather, it is a dramatic way of saying that the conduct of the son is so worthless/wicked that he is identified with the worthless/wicked family.” (p.22)

“[There are many cases where] the expression “son(s) of X,” the “X” is often abstract, or at least nonpersonal, nonhuman (e.g. son of one year, sons of affliction, son of morning, sons of oil, sons of the quiver). In all such cases, the relationship between the “son” and “X” cannot, of course, be biological.” (p.24) [emphasis mine]

“Who are the sons of Abraham? The true sons of Abraham, Paul insists, are not those who carry Abraham’s genes, but those who act like him, who imitate the faith of Abraham (Gal. 3:7; cf. John 8:33, 39-40), the “man of faith” (Gal. 3:9).” (p.26)

ii) The use of “Son(s) of God” to refer to beings other than Jesus

“In Luke 3, the genealogy of Jesus is traced all the way back to “Adam, the son of God” (3:38) … Certainly Adam is the son of God in the sense that God generated him, making him in the image and likeness of God, created to reflect God’s glory.” (p.29)

“As early as Exodus 4:22-23, the singular expression “son of God” can refer to Israel collectively.” (p.29)

See also Psalm 80:15, Hosea 11:1, Jeremiah 31:9

“The expression “son(s) of God” can refer to God’s covenant people, individually or plurally (rather than collectively) both under the terms of the old covenant and under the terms of the new.” (p.30)

See Deuteronomy 14:1, Isaiah 43:6, Isaiah 45:11, Isaiah 63:8, Jeremiah 3:19, Galatians 3:26, Romans 8:14, Philippians 2:15, 1 John 3:1

“… sonship language can be applied to Christ’s followers when in some way or other they are imitating God, their heavenly Father.” (p.30)

See Matthew 5:9, Like 6:35-36

“More specifically, the Davidic king is designated the “son of God.”” (p.31)

See 2 Samuel 7:14

“When a Davidic assumes the throne, he does so under God’s kingship. The reign of the Davidic king is meant to reflect God’s reign … the Davidic monarch is called the son of God because he enters into the identity of the supreme Monarch, God himself.” (p.32)

See Psalm 2:6-7, Psalms 89:19-29

“The major New Testament writers find ways to distinguish between Jesus’s sonship and the sonship of believers. In John’s Gospel, only Jesus is referred to as ὁ υἱός (“the son”) of God; believers are characteristically referred to as τὰ τέκνα or τὰ παιδία (“the children”) of God (e.g., John 1:12).

In Paul, although υἱός can be used to refer to both Jesus and the believer, only believers are sometimes described as being sons by adoption (Rom. 8:15, 23; 9:4; Gal. 4:5; Eph. 1:4-5).” (p.33)

Continue reading “Jesus the Son of God (2012) [Chapter 1]”

Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe (2010) [Chapter 2 – Part 4]

[Articles in the Summed Up series are intended to be summaries of chapters of selected theological books. The author(s) will be quoted verbatim for the purposes of ensuring accurate representation]

Revelation: God Speaks 

(Part 4: pp.68-76)

A) About the author(s):

Mark Driscoll has a Master of Arts degree in exegetical theology from Western Seminary. He was the founding and preaching pastor of Mars Hill Church, and former president of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network

Gerry Breshears is a Professor of Theology at Western Seminary and earned his PhD in Systematic Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary.

B) Chapter Summary:

xi) Why are there different translations of Scripture?

“For centuries the Eastern church had the Bible only in Greek. The Western church had the Bible only in Latin. Since most people were not fluent in these languages, they were unable to read the Bible themselves. One of the great developments of the Protestant Reformation was to return the Bible to the people of the church. The Reformers wanted the people to have the Bible in their own language. Martin Luther and John Wycliffe are just two of the men who risked their lives to translate the Bible into German and English. William Tyndale was charged with heresy and condemned to death because he translated the Bible into English. According to Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, he “was tied to the stake, strangled by the hangman, and afterwards consumed with fire,” simply because he wanted people to be able to read the Bible.”[1]

“During the past four centuries there have been hundreds of English Bible translations, and dozens are actively used today. They fall into three major categories.”[2]

“1) Word-for-word translations (also known as formal equivalence translations) emphasize the patterns of the words and seek “as far as possible to capture the precise wording of the original text and the personal style of each Bible writer. . . . Thus it seeks to be transparent to the original text, letting the reader see as directly as possible the structure and meaning of the original.””[3] (emphasis mine)

Examples include the King James Version (KJV), New King James Version (NKJV), English Standard Version (ESV), and New American Standard Bible (NASB).

“2) Thought-for-thought translations (also known as dynamic equivalence or functional equivalence) attempt to convey the full nuance of each passage by interpreting the Scripture’s entire meaning and not just the individual words. Such versions seek to find the best modern cultural equivalent that will have the same effect the original message had in its ancient cultures.”[4] (emphasis mine)

Examples include the New International Version (NIV), New Living Translation (NLT), and Contemporary English Version (CEV).

“3) Paraphrased translations put the emphasis on readability in English. Therefore, they pay even less attention to specific word patterns in an attempt to capture the poetic or narrative essence of a passage.”[5] (emphasis mine)

Examples include The Message (Message), The Living Bible (TLB), and The Amplified Bible (AMP)

“All faithful translations try to achieve a balance of four elements:

1) Accuracy to the original text as much as possible.

2) Beauty of language.

3) Clarity of meaning.

4) Dignity of style.”[6]

[1] p.69

[2] p.70

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] p.71

[6] Ibid.

xii) How can we best interpret Scripture?

“The first question to ask is, what does the Scripture actually say? God wants to speak to you through the Bible. One error is to under-read the text, missing what is there through lack of attention. The opposite error is to over-read the text, putting preconceived opinions, ideas, or perspectives into the text, which is called eisegesis. Therefore, the goal is to humbly read the text to hear from God, which is called exegesis.”[1]

“To avoid error, it is vitally important to be aware of the type of literature you are reading and interpreting.”[2]

“The second question is, what does the Scripture mean? In this step, you should look for what Scripture is teaching, especially in the original context. Much of the Bible was written to specific people in specific historical situations. The task is to discover that meaning and to understand the meaning of each text in its own terms, categories, and thought forms, beginning with the questions and issues the writer deals with, not the questions we bring.”[3]

“The third question is, what timeless principle truths is this section of Scripture teaching that apply to all of God’s people in all times and places? There are many questions to ask to find the timeless universal principle. Is the text describing an event or belief, or is it prescribing (commanding) a practice, precept, promise, or value?”[4]

“Faithful brothers and sisters from church history can greatly help us see the Scriptures more clearly, as they do not have some of our cultural assumptions.”[5]

“The fourth question is, how should I respond to what God has said? Here we are seeking to understand how the Bible’s teaching applies to our life individually as Christians and corporately as a church today.”[6]

[1] pp.72-73

[2] p.73

[3] Ibid.

[4] p,74

[5] p.75

[6] Ibid.

xiii) How does our view of Scripture affect our life?

“God speaks to us through the Scriptures as a perfectly loving Father. Subsequently, we listen to what Scripture says, learn what it teaches, and make every effort by the Holy Spirit’s empowering grace to repent of our sin, renew our minds, and redeem our lives.”[1]

“As the same Holy Spirit who inspired the Scriptures illuminates our understanding, we deeply enjoy our new life guided by our new wisdom of Scripture and our new power from the Holy Spirit, delighting in our new gift of repentance as part of God’s kingdom people together on mission in the world for Jesus.”[2]

[1] p.75

[2] pp.75-76

C) Review of Part 4 of Chapter 2:

  • Readability: 10/10
  • Theological depth: 5/10
  • Any other comments: This part of Chapter 2 is very practical as it addresses issues like bible translation, and biblical interpretation. It’s worth going through it once more to better understand what was said.

 

Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe (2010) [Chapter 2 – Part 3]

[Articles in the Summed Up series are intended to be summaries of chapters of selected theological books. The author(s) will be quoted verbatim for the purposes of ensuring accurate representation]

Revelation: God Speaks 

(Part 3: pp.58-68)

A) About the author(s):

Mark Driscoll has a Master of Arts degree in exegetical theology from Western Seminary. He was the founding and preaching pastor of Mars Hill Church, and former president of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network

Gerry Breshears is a Professor of Theology at Western Seminary and earned his PhD in Systematic Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary.

B) Chapter Summary:

vii) Does the Scriptures contain errors and/or contradictions?

“… we believe that all that the Bible teaches is truth from God, whether statements of fact about earth, heaven, humans, or God, or moral commands, or divine promises.”[1]

“The affirmation of the truthfulness of the Bible is inextricably tied to the character of God himself. God is a truthful God who does not lie. Therefore, because God is ultimately the author of Scripture, it is perfect, unlike every other uninspired writing and utterance. Taken altogether, inerrancy is the shorthand way of summarizing all that the Scriptures say about Scripture. Inerrant means that the Scriptures are perfect, without any error. The doctrine of inerrancy posits that because God does not lie or speak falsely in any way, and because the Scriptures are God’s Word, they are perfect. As a result, the entire Bible is without any error.”[2]

See Num. 23:19; Pss. 12:6; 119:89; Prov. 30:5–6

See also as 2 Samuel 7:28, Psalm 19:7–10, Psalm 119:42–43, 142, 151, 160, 163; and John 17:17

“A telling example of the Bible’s accuracy is in the transliteration of the names of foreign kings in the Old Testament as compared to contemporary extra-biblical records, such as monuments and tablets. The Bible is accurate in every detail in the thirty-six instances of comparison, a total of 183 syllables.

To see how amazing this is, Manetho’s ancient work on the dynasties of the Egyptian kings can be compared to extra-biblical records in 140 instances. He is right forty-nine times, only partially right twenty-eight times, and in the other sixty-three cases not a single syllable is correct! The Bible’s accuracy is shown not only in the original work but in its copies as well.

Luke correctly identifies by name, title, job, and time such historical individuals as Annas, Ananias, Herod Agrippa I, Herod Agrippa II, Sergius Paulus, the Egyptian prophet, Felix, and Festus. Political titles were very diverse and difficult to keep straight since every province had its own terms and, worse yet, the terms constantly changed. Yet Luke gets them right: a proconsul in Cypress and Achaia, the undeserved title Praetor in Philippi, the otherwise unknown title of Politarchs in Thessalonica, Asiarchs in Ephesus, and “the chief man” in Malta.”[3]

“Because Scripture is God speaking to us because he wants us to understand, we also believe Scripture usually speaks accurately in ordinary language. Typically the writers use popular language rather than technical terminology … There are also summaries, such as the Sermon on the Mount and Peter’s sermon at Pentecost, which we do not have full transcriptions of but rather only a portion of what was preached. Sometimes, the Bible also gives us rounded numbers rather than exact head counts of …”[4]

Popular language – Gen. 19:23; Mark 16:2; Isa. 11:12; Rev. 7:1; 20:8; Isa. 55:12.

Summaries – Mark 6:44; Acts 4:4.

Rounded numbers – Judg. 20:44–47.

[1] p.58

[2] Ibid.

[3] pp.59-60

[4] pp.62-63

Continue reading “Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe (2010) [Chapter 2 – Part 3]”

Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe (2010) [Chapter 2 – Part 2]

[Articles in the Summed Up series are intended to be summaries of chapters of selected theological books. The author(s) will be quoted verbatim for the purposes of ensuring accurate representation]

Revelation: God Speaks

(Part 2: pp.47-64)

A) About the author(s):

Mark Driscoll has a Master of Arts degree in exegetical theology from Western Seminary. He was the founding and preaching pastor of Mars Hill Church, and former president of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network

Gerry Breshears is a Professor of Theology at Western Seminary and earned his PhD in Systematic Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary.

B) Chapter Summary:

iv) Who wrote the Bible?

“The human authors of the Bible include kings, peasants, philosophers, fishermen, poets, statesmen, a doctor, and scholars. The books of the Bible cover history, sermons, letters, songs, and love letters. There are geographical surveys, architectural specifications, travel diaries, population statistics, family trees, inventories, and numerous legal documents.”[1]

“People who were providentially prepared by God, and motivated and superintended by the Holy Spirit, spoke and wrote according to their own personalities and circumstances in such a way that their words are the very Word of God. God’s supernatural guidance of the writers and their situations enabled them to receive and communicate all God would have us know for his glory and our salvation.

We call this divine inspiration. Putting it a bit more technically, the writings themselves have the quality of being God-breathed. It is not the authors or the process that is inspired, but the writings.”[2]

“The belief that God wrote Scripture in concert with human authors whom he inspired to perfectly record his words is called verbal (the very words of the Bible) plenary (every part of the Bible) inspiration (are God-breathed revelation). Very simply, this means that God the Holy Spirit inspired not just the thoughts of Scripture but also the very details and exact words that were perfectly recorded for us as Scripture. When we say verbal, we believe that the very words are inspired and important, chosen by God, so every word does matter … When we say plenary, we mean there are no parts of the Bible we don’t believe, don’t like, or won’t teach or preach or obey.”[3]

See 2 Tim. 3:16–17; 2 Pet. 1:19–21.

“The biblical authors knew they were writing Holy Scripture.”[4]

See 1 Cor. 14:37; 1 Tim. 5:18; 2 Pet. 3:15–16.

[1] pp.47-48

[2] p.48

[3] pp.48-49

[4] p.50

Continue reading “Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe (2010) [Chapter 2 – Part 2]”

Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe (2010) [Chapter 2 – Part 1]

[Articles in the Summed Up series are intended to be summaries of chapters of selected theological books. The author(s) will be quoted verbatim for the purposes of ensuring accurate representation]

Revelation: God Speaks

(Part 1: pp.36-47)

A) About the author(s):

Mark Driscoll has a Master of Arts degree in exegetical theology from Western Seminary. He was the founding and preaching pastor of Mars Hill Church, and former president of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network

Gerry Breshears is a Professor of Theology at Western Seminary and earned his PhD in Systematic Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary.

B) Chapter Summary:

i) How does God reveal Himself?

“God reveals himself to everyone everywhere through general revelation. General revelation includes creation, common grace, and conscience”[1]

see Romans 1:19–20; Ps. 8:3–4; Ps. 19:1, 4; Isa. 6:3.

“God’s general revelation also includes common grace. Augustine (AD 354–430) used the term common grace because it is for everyone and therefore common to all human beings.”[2]

“God’s common grace includes the water we drink, food we eat, sun we enjoy, and rain we need, as God is good to the sinner and saint alike.”[3]

see Ps. 65:9; 104:14; Matt. 5:45; Acts 14:17

“Internally, God also reveals himself generally through the conscience he gave us as his image bearers.”[4]

see Rom. 2:14–15; John 16:8–11

“For anyone to have a saving knowledge of God requires that, in addition to general revelation, they also must receive and believe special revelation.”[5]

“He revealed himself supremely through the incarnation, where the second person of the Trinity humbly entered into human history as the God-man Jesus Christ. During his earthly ministry, Jesus was led and empowered by the third member of the Trinity, God the Holy Spirit. That same Holy Spirit also inspired the writing of the Holy Bible.

God continues to reveal himself today, and the primary way he reveals himself is through the divinely inspired, inerrant, and authoritative Bible. The Bible is uniquely and solely God’s completely trustworthy revelation to us today. Scripture is the court of highest authority for Christians and their leaders, by which any alleged revelation from God is to be tested.”[6]

[1] p.38

[2] p.39

[3] Ibid.

[4] p.40

[5] p.41

[6] Ibid.

Continue reading “Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe (2010) [Chapter 2 – Part 1]”