Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The God I Worship 

The God I worship is gracious to whom He will be gracious, yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished. At one point in my life I had no problem believing that God is love; I grew up seeing God as a benevolent benefactor and fell into sin. Later, as a young man in my 20’s and early 30’s I came to see God as a righteous judge who must punish all sin; therefore, I wanted to be good but could not and became very frustrated, even angry. Eventually I repented, I gave up trying and believed that God justifies the one who puts their faith in Jesus. Still, I did not understand how He could justify me and be just, nonetheless I trusted in the promise of Jesus Christ. Then one day God showed me His glory; propitiation, I understood how God could be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. This is the God I worship!

The Age of the Earth

There seems to be a great deal of discussion among Christians on social media about the age of the earth, but should I say that I do not like positions on the age of the earth? There simply is just not enough information available in Scripture to tell us how old the earth is. 

“Archbishop James Ussher arrived at a date of 4004 BC for creation,” based on biblical genealogies. His conclusion was excepted until the development of geological science in the 19th century.1 Since then there has been much debate; some hold to Usher’s genealogies and others developed theories to reconcile the biblical narrative and the apparent age of the earth.2

Millard J. Erickson put forth six of these theories in his book "Christian Theology:" the gap theory, the flood theory, the ideal-time theory, the age-day theory, the pictorial-day theory, and the revelatory-day theory.3 I am not going to go in to what these theories say, but of the six I think that the age-day theory is most correct because it is exegetically based; it finds its bases on interpreting the Hebrew word יוֹם yom.4

In my hermeneutics class I was taught a five-step process for interpreting scripture. The first-step is to ask, “What did the text mean to the biblical audience?”5 We need to first look at the creation account in Genesis 1 from the point of view of the original audience:

When we ask the question, “How does the cosmos work?” we seek an answer that discusses physical laws and structures. In our worldview, function is a consequence of structure, and a discussion of creation therefore must, of course, direct itself to the making of things. In contrast, when Israelites asked, “How does the cosmos work?” they were on a totally different wavelength, because in the ancient worldview function was a consequence of purpose.6
I really am not purposefully avoiding a position on the age of the earth, but I do not think that a question of age was intended by the author. What we should be asking is “What does the creation account say about God and what does it say about us?” 

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Gen. 1:1 & 1:27-28)
My position on the age of the earth is that Ussher could be correct, but more than likely יוֹם yom is being used in the since of long-periods of time. However, it doesn’t really matter how old the earth is, what matters is that God created the earth and He made us in His image to take care of His creation. We are all created beings; therefore, let us abide in the great commandment to love God and love our neighbors. (cf. Mat. 22:36-40)

1 Millard H. Erickson, Christian Theology, 3rd edition (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013), 350.
2 Ibid.
3 Ibid.
4 Ibid, 351.
5 J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays, Grasping God’s Word: A hands-On Approach to Reading, Interpreting, and Applying the Bible, 3rd ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012), 42.
6 J. H. Walton, “Creation,” in Dictionary of the Old Testament Pentateuch, eds. T. Desmond Alexander and David W. Baker, (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2003), 164.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Triune God

(Pic from the Cover of God the Trinity)
Who is God—the Father, the Son or the Holy Spirit? Whom do we worship—the Father, the Son or the Holy Spirt? “To whom should we pray—the Father, the Son or the Holy Spirit?”1 I know that these are questions that I have struggled with during my Christian walk. I must admit that lately I have struggled with whom should I pray. Jesus prayed to the Father,2 but had previously told the disciples, “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.”3 And He said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you.”4
I do not think that I am the only one who has struggled with this; in fact, much of Christianity through the ages has struggled with the doctrine of the Trinity, because the doctrine of the Trinity is transcendent. We believe that God is Triune, but many of us are practicing Unitarians. Do you not emphasize one person of the Trinity over the other? “Those who emphasize the Father are often from the Reformed tradition, while Pietists tend to relate especially to the Son, and Pentecostals and charismatics make much of the Spirit.”5
What is the most explicit Trinitarian text in the Bible? Matthew 28:16-20 is known as the Great Commission. This text “contains the command to baptize new disciples ‘in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit.’”6 Let us dig into this text of scripture in order to answer who is God, whom do we worship and to whom do we pray?
But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”7
When the disciples saw Jesus, they worshiped Him. The first commandment given to Israel, “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me.”8 The disciples worshipped Him, but Jesus did not stop them from worshipping Him. Demonstrating that the disciples and Jesus believed Him to be Divine.
Jesus then states that He has all authority in heaven and on earth. God is the sovereign of the universe; therefore, how could Jesus have authority over the universe unless He is God? So, the disciples worshiped Jesus as God, Jesus received their worship and then claimed to have authority that solely belongs to God.
Jesus then commissioned the disciples. He sent them out to make disciples of all the nations. He also commanded them to Baptize these new converts in the name. What name? He gave one name that has three connected persons: The Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Three persons connected to gather yet one name.
The word Trinity is never found in the Bible, but it is here in context. “Matthew 28:19 contains the clearest reference to what became known as the Trinity...In this important text God is clearly named, singularly but completely, ‘the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”Who is God, whom should we worship and to whom should we pray? The answer, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; Three-in-One.

1 Millard H. Erickson, Christian Theology, 3rd edition (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013), 293.
2 Cf. John 17.
3 The Holy Bible, Updated New American Standard Bible, (LabHabra: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), John 14:14.
4 Ibid, John 16:23b.
5 Millard H. Erickson, Christian Theology, 3rd edition (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013), 293.
6 Malcom B. Yarnell, God the Trinity: Biblical Portraits, (Nashville: B&H Academic ebook, 2016), 466.
7 The Holy Bible, Updated New American Standard Bible, (La

Habra: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Matthew 28:16-20.
8 Ibid, Deuteronomy 5:6-7.
9 Malcom B. Yarnell, God the Trinity: Biblical Portraits, (Nashville: B&H Academic ebook, 2016), 499-520.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Can a Person be Saved by Christ if all They Have is Universal Revelation?

How do we know God? In His high priestly prayer Jesus prayed to the Father on behalf of those whom the Father had given Him and Jesus said, “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (Jn 17:3, NASB95)
Since eternal life is knowing the Father and the Son can a person know God if all they have is universal Revelation? “The study of God’s revelation of himself to humanity has been classified in two ways: general revelation and special revelation. The general revelation of God has been found in three areas: nature, history, and humanity.” (Erickson 2013, 121) Can a person look at nature, study history and look within themselves to know God?
David wrote,
“The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.” (Ps 19:1, NASB95)
David could look at what has been made and say, “God made this, what an awesome God.” However, when David wrote this Psalm He knew the Lord. David had an intimate relationship with his Creator already, therefore, David had eyes to see the glory of God in His creation. Can an unsaved person have that same insight?
The apostle Paul said, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.” (Rom 1:18-23, NASB95)
This passage is saying that the witness of God is there, it is an objective witness, but men are unable to see it because they are wrapped up in sin. (Erickson 2013, 125) I would, therefore, argue that a person cannot be Saved by Christ if all they have is universal revelation, because they are blinded by their sin. The Philippian Jailer asked Paul and Silas, “‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ They said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.’ And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house.” (Acts 16:30b-32)
When someone is reading this passage they often take note of what the Jailer asked Paul and Silas to do and also what they told the jailer to do, but did you notice what they did after that? “And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house.” (Acts 16:32, NASB95) The apostle Paul said, in his epistle to the Romans, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” Hearing implies word; words can either be spoken or written. Paul and Silas didn’t just tell the jailer to believe in Jesus assuming that he could know the Lord by universal revelation. They followed this up by telling him about Jesus.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Are You a Transformer, Translator, or Transplanter?

I was a transplanter. By the grace of God and for His glory I am becoming a translator. I pray that I never become a transformer.

Do we contemporize theology, and if so, how and to what extent? In order to explain, some defining must take place:

1. A transplanter does not think that the text of scriptures needs to be contemporized at all. The Bible should be stated as it was written.[1]

2. A transformer believes that the world has changed so much since biblical times and people with it that the message itself must be changed.[2]

3. A translator believes that the authoritative message that the Bible is speaking never changes, but since language, culture and situations have changed from biblical times the authoritative message needs to be contemporized for the modern audience’s ear.[3]

Millard J. Erickson said with regards to transplanters,
Taken to its logical extreme, this would mean that one should make no attempt to present the message at all, instead relying on a direct work of special manifestation by God to another person. Actually, it is unlikely that anyone really follows this approach to its logical conclusion. I have never, for example, heard a sermon that was composed entirely of direct quotations from Scripture. Some form of adaption, explanation, restatement, or application is usually found in any presentation of biblical truth.[4]

When I read what Erickson wrote I had to giggled, because I have actually done that on several occasions. The Lord has given me the ability to memorize large portions of scripture. I can preach a coherent biblical message from creation, to the fall, to Mount Sinai, to the cross and the judgment without ever using my own words.

I did this because I understood that Jesus trained 12 men, apostles, for the purpose of commissioning them to go into the world and make disciples. I also understood from John 15:26-27 that there are only two witnesses for Jesus Christ, the Spirit and the apostles. "When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me, and you will testify also, because you have been with Me from the beginning." (Jn 15:26-27)

Therefore, I came to the logical extreme that Erickson wrote about. It had not occurred to me until fairly recently that I could contemporize the authoritative message of the Bible for the modern audience without altering the authoritative message.

However, I am guarded when I do this, because it is the inspired word that God has authorized, not my words. There are differences in language, culture, time, place, situation and covenant that separates our audience from the biblical audience. However, do so with wisdom lest you become a transformer who thinks that he is a translator.

[1] Millard H. Erickson, Christian Theology, 3rd edition (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013), 73.
[2] Ibid, 76.
[3] Ibid, 77.
[4] Ibid, 75.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Blog #7: Comparison and Conclusion

For the past 7 weeks, I have been explaining a passage out of the book of Isaiah through a series of blogs. The passage is Isaiah 14:3-23. This is the 7th blog in the series, but it is actually the 8th. Eight weeks ago, I wrote a blog titled “What Does This Passage Mean: Isaiah 14:12-15.” Vv. 12-15 are in the center of the greater passage of Isaiah 14:3-23. 

Therefore, that blog that I wrote eight weeks ago serves is sort of a prologue to the interpretive journey. This blog would then serve as an epilogue to that journey. The prologue was based on my presuppositions.

I read Isaiah 14:12-15, then wrote what I thought that it meant without doing any research; I took both an intuitive and spiritual approach in my interpretation. Today I would like to compare what I thought that the passage meant eight weeks ago with what I have come to understand it to mean through "a 5-step interpretive journey."[1] To read the Prologue from eight weeks ago click on: 
“What Does This Passage Mean?”[2]

How My Understanding of the Passage Changed

My thoughts on this passage did change as a result of the 5-step interpretive process.[3] The change began in step 1 which is reflected in blogs 1 and 2.

In step-1, I began to understand the passage in its historical-cultural-literal context. No one in Isaiah’s day would have interpreted the passage to mean “a taunt against Satan at the eschaton.”[4] They would have understood this passage to predict the physical death of a tyrannical king yet to come.[5]

Then in steps 4 and 5 I saw the differences between the audience in Isaiah’s day and our day. Having noted those differences I was able to write three timeless-theological-principles from the text that is both true for them and for us:
1. A ruler can be cruel, because of pride and sinful desire.[6]
2. When an evil ruler is taken out of power the people and earth rejoice.[7]
3. The Lord God is omnipotent and eternal; therefore, death is the leveler of all men.[8]
Having come up with these three timeless-theological-principles being taught in the text I was then able to see how the New Testament modified these principles so that they could be applied with regards to Christians today.

Final Thoughts

The 5-step interpretive journey taught by Duvall and Hays is fantastic. It is imperative to have a historical-cultural-literary understanding of whatever Biblical text that you are going to interpret. This allows us to accurately come to a timeless-theological principle that can be applied in our lives and the lives of those whom we may be teaching.

[1] J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays, Grasping God’s word: A Hands-On Approach to Reading, Interpreting, and Applying the Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012).
[2] Michael Peek, What Does This Passage Mean: Isaiah 14:12-15, a paper presented for M-BS2400 Introduction to Hermeneutics, Mid-Western Baptist Theological Seminary, August 2017.
[3] J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays, Grasping God’s word: A Hands-On Approach to Reading, Interpreting, and Applying the Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012).
[4] Ibid, last sentence.
[5] Michael Peek, Blog #2 Isaiah 14:3-23 Verse-by Verse Commentary, a paper presented for M-BS2400 Introduction to Hermeneutics, Mid-Western Baptist Theological Seminary, September 2017, 14:12-15.
[6] Michael Peek, Blog #4 Cross the Principlizing Bridge, a paper presented for M-BS2400 Introduction to Hermeneutics, Mid-Western Baptist Theological Seminary, September 2017, The Cruel King.
[7] Ibid, The People and the Earth Rejoice.
[8] Ibid, Descending to Sheol.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Blog #6, Isaiah 14:3-23, Application

I have been explaining Isaiah 14:3-23 through a series of blogs. This will be the sixth blog in the series. In this blog, I will explain how the timeless-theological-principles taught in the text might be applied in the lives of Christians today. In a previous blog I identified three timeless-theological-principles taught in the text:

1. A ruler can be cruel, because of pride and sinful desire. (vv. 4b-6)

2. When an evil ruler is taken out of power the people and the earth rejoice. (vv. 7-8)

3. The Lord alone is omnipotent and eternal; the Lord God is the sovereign of the universe and death is the great leveler of all men. (vv. 9-21)

How the Timeless Theological Principle Applied to the Original Audience

Isaiah was a prophet of the Lord God in Judah and Jerusalem during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, Kings of Judah. (Isa 1:1) Isaiah prophesied during the time of the Assyrian threat and destruction of the northern kingdom of Israel. Chapters 1-39 deal primarily with Jerusalem during the time period of the Assyrian threat, but looks ahead to the future threat of Babylon.[1]

The things that Isaiah had been prophesying were very difficult even for the prophet to take. Although Judah and Jerusalem escaped the Assyrian threat, they would not escape a future threat by the Babylonians. Chapter 14 is an interlude in which he looks past the future threat of Babylon to a future rejoicing by the house of Israel over the death of the wicked king of Babylon.

Therefore, it is the desire of Isaiah that those in his day who heard and read this text repent and trust in the sovereignty of the Lord God to destroy evil. It is a frequent theme in Isaiah’s writing for those who hear to “trust in the Lord.”[2]

How the Timeless Theological Principle Applies to People Today

None of us are living in Judah or Jerusalem in the 8th century B.C. None of us are under the threat of the Assyrians. Our closest neighbors to the north have not been invaded by the Assyrians. None of us are under the Mosaic covenant and are not faced with the curses promised in the book of Deuteronomy for not keeping the covenant; therefore, we are not threatened with invasion by Babylon and subject to its cruel king.

We can however find ourselves subject to a cruel person who has authority over us. Therefore, the timeless-theological-principles that are taught in this text have application in our lives when we find ourselves under the authority of a cruel person. I am going to talk about a scenario that is close to me and close to those that I work with.

I work as a Registered Nurse in a Cardiovascular Intensive-Care-Unit. I have been a Registered Nurse for twenty years. I have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Texas at Arlington. I have received certifications from the American Association of Critical-Care Nursing: Critical-Care-Registered-Nurse (CCRN) and Cardiovascular-Surgery-Certified (CSC).

A surgeon has authority over a nurse when we are caring for a patient whom that surgeon took to surgery. On our unit, there is a particular surgeon who can be very cruel to the nursing staff. If anything goes wrong with the patient it is always the nurse that he blames and does so very cruelly.

Cardiovascular surgery is very high risk with many potential complications: Bleeding, respiratory failure, kidney failure, stroke and even death. The nursing staff on my unit are all professionals who do a great job caring for the patients, the majority recover and go home within five days.

But complications do occur and there is nothing that we can do to prevent it. When they occur, with this particular surgeon, he will often say, “WHAT DID YOU DO?” Instantly blaming the nurse and acting very angry. Even though I have many years of experience, if one of his patients begins bleeding I lament, because I know that wrath is coming my way when I report it.

It was the desire of Isaiah that those in his day who heard and read this text repent and trust in the sovereignty of the Lord God. Therefore, all the nurses that I work with can trust in the Lord. He is the sovereign Lord of the universe. Though we may endure cruel persons who have authority over us today. The Lord Jesus Christ will return. When He does there will be a new heaven and a new earth in which righteousness reigns.

The Story of Bob, Pat and Steve

Once upon a time there were three young men by the name of Bob, Pat and Steve. All three young men loved the game of baseball. They would often play a game of catch with each other in the neighborhood. Sometimes they would even go to the local park during their summer break and play a real game just like the big leaguers. All three young men were Christians. They had meet in their youth group.

The summer break had ended. Bob, Pat and Steve were all excited because they were going into the 8th grade. You see, their school had a baseball team in the 8th grade, but they would have to endure school until March. That’s when try-outs for the team were held.

On the first day of school all three young men received their schedules. As they went over their classes it was noticed that Pat had Mr. Franklin for 5th period Biology. Bob and Steve warned Pat that they had heard that Mr. Franklin gives Christians a hard time. All three went to their classes looking forward to the year ahead and especially baseball try-outs.

When 5th period began, Mr. Franklin gave an assignment. “Write a 100-word essay on the evolution of species.” Pat wrote his essay, in which he stated, according to the class text book, what the theory of evolution is, but he also stated that he did not believe it to be correct. Pat said that he believed that the Bible’s account of creation was correct. That God created everything in heaven and on earth and that people were created by God in His image.

On the following day papers were passed out. When Pat received his paper, the Mark was an “F,” in red ink and circled. From that point on, no matter how hard Pat tried, he could not get a passing grade in the class even though he was passing all of his other classes.

This was a problem for Pat, because school rules stated that a student had to be passing all of his/her classes in-order to try-out for baseball. The month of March came around, Bob and Steve made the team, but Pat was not even able to try-out.

Bob and Steve’s warnings about Mr. Franklin had come true. Pat was failing his class and knew the reason why, but could not prove it. Even though he was passing his other classes he did not have high marks, because he was an average student.

It was a very difficult year for Pat. He could not play the game that he loved with his friends. Pat’s Sunday school teacher had recently taught a lesson on Isaiah 14:3-23. In which he gave three timeless-theological-principles taught in the text:

1 A ruler can be cruel, because of pride and sinful desire. (vv. 4b-6)

2 When an evil ruler is taken out of power the people and the earth rejoice. (vv. 7-8)

3 The Lord alone is omnipotent and eternal; the Lord God is the sovereign of the universe and death is the great leveler of all men. (vv. 9-21)

Pat’s Sunday school teacher taught the class to trust in the Lord during times of difficulty. Trust the Lord even when faced with a cruel person who has authority over you. That person’s authority will eventually come to an end.

Pat understood that Mr. Franklin would not always be his teacher. He understood that there will be another year in which he could make the baseball team. He trusted in the Lord, believing that one day Christ would return. When Christ returns there will be a new heaven and a new earth in which righteousness reigns.

[1] Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart, How to Read the Bible Book by Book a Guided Tour (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002) 175.
[2] Isaiah 26:4, NASB95.


Fee, Gordon D., and Douglas Stuart. How to Read the Bible Book by Book. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002.

The Holy Bible Udated New American Standard Bible. La Habra: The Lockman Foundation, 1995.