• Review,  Theology

    Book Review: Discontinuity to Continuity: A Survey of Dispensational & Covenantal Theologies

    Typically, when there is a multiple-views book, it is a multiple-author attempt to persuade the reader to a certain theological position. These books have a needed place in the church, but it is certainly not the only way to compare different theological viewpoints. Most recently, I read a refreshing book on the multiple-views theme by a single author, Ben Merkle. I want to highlight this book as a valuable resource in the field of understanding eschatological systems because of its unique approach. Merkle’s book, Discontinuity to Continuity: A Survey of Dispensational & Covenantal Theologies (Lexham Press, 2020), is a multiple-views book by a single author (Merkle). However, rather than attempting to persuade the reader to any particular theological system, Merkle takes great pains to remain purely descriptive of the theological systems. I think he does a remarkable job in doing this, and to Merkle’s credit, he is able to describe…

  • Theology

    Is there a Difference between Soul and Spirit?

    Human beings are made in the image of God and are often referred to in terms of the physical (body) and the spiritual (soul and/or spirit). With regard the spiritual realm, a pertinent question is whether soul and spirit refer to the same thing. Are humans made up of three parts: body, soul, and spirit? Or are human beings made up of two parts: body and soul and/or spirit? This is a difficult question, and I know people who hold different views. To discuss this issue we must begin with surveying the biblical usage of these terms. In the OT, the word for spirit (רוּחַ) can mean the following: Wind or breeze (e.g., Eccl 1:17; 4:15, etc.). Breath which gives life (e.g., Jer 10:14; Ps 135:17, Gen 6:17; 7:15, etc.). Spirit of the Lord, the Holy Spirit (Gen 1:2; Exod 31:3; 35:31; Num 11:29; Isa 30:28; 34:16, etc.) Not as…

  • New Testament,  Theology

    The Link between Eschatology and Spiritual Gifts

    Although not often thought about, there is a link between eschatology and the spiritual gifts. There are many ways to argue for the cessation of spiritual gifts (for example, the cascade argument). But in this article I simply want to look at the correlation between one’s eschatology and the belief about miraculous gifts. Simply put, what what believes about eschatology, specifically the kingdom of God, has a logical impact on their understanding of the spiritual gifts. Before talking about eschatology, we can overview the Bible and see that there are specific times in history when there are major displays of miracles. Further reflection shows that these miraculous exhibitions are linked with time periods that are related to the Kingdom of God. To show this in summary form, I have adapted a chart from Mike Vlach: Kingdom Situation Time Period Kingdom Mediator(s) Result Signs and wonders to deliver Hebrews from Egypt…

  • New Testament,  Theology

    What Makes Jesus Happy?

    Happiness is often thought of as the chief goal in life. Thus, many people assume that, as a perfect human, Jesus must have been a very happy individual. However, I don’t see Jesus being happy very often in Scripture. In fact, I can only identify two times in the gospels where Jesus is described as happy. One of those times is in John 11:15 where Jesus is happy that he was not there to save Lazarus, so that the disciples would see God’s power displayed through Jesus. The other time Jesus is happy is described in Luke 10:21, At that very time He rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and said, “I praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight.” If we…

  • New Testament,  Theology

    The Mark of the Beast, 666, and Nero (Rev 13:18)

    Revelation 13:18 says that the one who “has understanding” should calculate the “number of the beast.” This number is then further identified as the “number of man,” specifically, 666. Preterists have often interpreted Revelation 13:18 as a reference to Nero, but is that what John means when he says that the mark of the beast is 666? Symbolism and the Mark of the Beast Not everyone sees 666 as a reference to Nero. Many notable scholars have read the mark of the beast symbolically. Beale, for example, argues in his commentary that the mark of the beast is 666 because six is the number of imperfection. Thus, when six is used three times in the mark of the beast, it is emphasizing the completeness of imperfection. Although this view is possible, it is unlikely. John’s command to “calculate” (ψηφισάτω) the number of the beast is a term that was used…

  • Church,  Hermeneutics,  Theology

    7 Beliefs that Don’t Define Dispensationalism

    Readers of this blog may be curious as to what makes someone a dispensationalist. Simply put, dispensationalism is a set of doctrinal beliefs that deal with hermeneutics (how to read Scripture), ecclesiology (how the church operates), and eschatology (what the end times look like). Hence, a dispensationalist holds a distinctive set of beliefs about understanding Scripture, the role and function of the church, and about the end times. I have written elsewhere about how one can define dispensationalism, but in this post I want to highlight seven fundamentally errant beliefs that are sometimes associated with dispensationalism. These are charges that are often leveled against dispensationalism in a variety of circles. I have listed them in their accusatory forms. Dispensationalism teaches multiple ways of salvation. Unfortunately, this myth is often repeated, but has no basis in reality. Some people accuse dispensationalists of believing OT saints were saved by keeping the Law…

  • Hermeneutics,  Theology

    How do You Define Dispensationalism?

    I have written previously on the beliefs that are often linked with a dispensationalism, yet should not be associated with the theological system itself. Those beliefs are not inherent to the system of dispensationalism, and therefore are not essential to a dispensationalist. Today we turn the page and look at which beliefs define dispensationalism. We can define dispensationalism as a set of doctrinal beliefs that deal with hermeneutics, ecclesiology, and eschatology. This means that within those three spheres, a dispensationalist must hold to a specific set of beliefs concerning how one understands Scripture, the role and function of the church, and the end times. Thus, what follows are the four beliefs which each dispensationalist must hold to. Dispensationalism teaches that the Old Testament must be interpreted within its own context. This is, in my opinion, the most important belief of a dispensationalist because it leads to the rest. The core…

  • Theology

    The Bible Says God Will Judge Sin

    One of the fundamental, life altering questions people ask is, “Will God judge my sin?” But additionally, we should be asking whether God will judge the sins of others? Both questions have tremendous ramifications. Thankfully, the Bible speaks with tremendous clarity on whether or not God will judge sin. God will judge personal sin. The Bible is clear that individuals who practice sin will be judged. For example, after a large laundry list of sin in Romans 1:29-32, Paul clearly states that God will judge those who practice those things (Rom 2:2-3). Revelation 21:8 also gives a list of those who practice sins such as murder and idolatry—all who practice these things have a portion in the lake of fire. Likewise, Hebrews tells us God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous (Heb 13:4). To top it all off, Jesus himself says the one who rejects Him will be judged…

  • New Testament,  Old Testament,  Theology

    The Inferior Prophecy of the New Covenant

    If I said the prophecy of the New Covenant was inferior to the Old Covenant, what would you think? Most of the time we focus on the superiority of the New Covenant in relationship to the Old Covenant. And rightly so! The Old Covenant never had the provision to save anyone (Heb 10:4). The Old Covenant never was able to perfect anyone (Heb 10:1). The New Covenant is vastly superior. The New Covenant is also superior with regard to one’s relationship with God. Whereas under the Old Covenant God’s relationship with the people was located spatially in the temple, now believers themselves are regarded as the temple of God where He lives (cf. 1 Cor 6:19; Eph 2:19-22). This is a significant transition to a greater privilege from the Old Covenant. Paul describes the comparison of the Old and New covenants as follows: For if there was glory in the…

  • Old Testament,  Theology

    Were OT Believers Indwelt by the Holy Spirit?

    As believers, our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit within us (1 Cor 6:19). The Holy Spirit indwells us as part of the new covenant (2 Tim 1:14; cf. Ezek 36:26). But what about Old Testament believers? Were Old Testament saints indwelt by the Holy Spirit? Some of those who are influenced by Covenant Theology would say that Old Testament saints were indwelt by the Holy Spirit. However, I think there is evidence that the Holy Spirit did not permanently indwell Old Testament believers. The Temporary Empowerment of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament The Holy Spirit was very active in the Old Testament. For one thing, the Spirit inspired the prophets as they wrote holy Scripture (2 Tim 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21). The Spirit also uniquely gifted individuals like Bezalel from Judah to construct the Tabernacle (Exod 31:2-5). The Spirit also was very active in the…