Visions from the Vincents

February 27, 2008

Poythress on Jesus and the Law

Filed under: Books,The Law,Uncategorized — Joshua @ 2:10 pm
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“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt 5:17-20).”

In what sense does Jesus fulfill the Law and Prophets and in what sense does he abolish them? This is a difficult question that Vern Poythress explores in his new online book “The Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses.” Here are some helpful excerpts from this book on the relationship between Jesus and the Law.

“Some interpreters have argued that the word “fulfill” here means “confirm” or “establish.”4 According to this view Jesus reasserts the true meaning of the law over against Pharisaic distortions, and thereby confirms its validity”

“This view, I believe, in nearly correct. Jesus’ teaching in 5:21-48 does vindicate the law against distortions and does harmonize with its true intention. But I would argue that in verse 17 Jesus claims something more. The coming of the kingdom of heaven means a fundamental advance in the working out of God’s purposes. God’s promises of his reign and his salvation, as given in the Old Testament, are being accomplished. What the law foreshadowed and embodied in symbols and shadows is now coming into realization. What was earthly and preliminary in the function of the law is now fulfilled in heavenly realities. Jesus’ teaching represents not simply the reiteration of the law but a step forward, bringing the purposes of the law into realization. The law is to be written on the hearts of his disciples (see Jer. 31:31-34). Jesus does not assert merely a static continuation of the force of the law, but rather a dynamic advance–in fact, the definitive fulfillment.

John Murray says,

Hence what Jesus means is that he came to realize the full measure of the intent and purpose of the law and the prophets. He came to complete, to consummate, to bring to full fruition and perfect fulfilment the law and the prophets. Jesus refers to the function of validating and confirming the law and the prophets and includes much more than the fulfilment of the predictions of the Old Testament regarding himself. He means that the whole process of revelation deposited in the Old Testament finds in him its completion, its fulfilment, its confirmation, its validation. Still more, it finds in him its embodiment. To use John’s terms, “grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). 6

The words “confirm” and “validate” by themselves might assert only static maintenance of the law, but Murray introduces terms like “complete” and “consummate” to indicate an advance.

Don A. Carson gives a more precise formulation as follows:

Jesus fulfills the Law and the Prophets in that they point to him, and he is their fulfillment. . . . Therefore we give plJ-ejroJ-oj (“fulfill”) exactly the same meaning as in the formula quotations, which in the prologue (Matt 1-2) have already laid great stress on the prophetic nature of the OT and the way it points to Jesus. . . . just as Jesus fulfilled OT prophecies by his person and actions, so he fulfilled OT law by his teaching. In no case does this “abolish” the OT as canon, any more than the obsolescence of the Levitical sacrificial system abolishes tabernacle ritual as canon. Instead, the OT’s real and abiding authority must be understood through the person and teaching of him to whom it points and who so richly fulfills it. . . . Jesus is not primarily engaged there [in Matt. 5:21-48] in extending, annulling, or intensifying OT law, but in showing the direction in which it points, on the basis of his own authority (to which, again, the OT points). This may work out in any particular case to have the same practical effect as “intensifying” the law or “annulling” some element; but the reasons for that conclusion are quite different.7

Carson’s idea of fulfillment clearly agrees with all that we have seen up to this point in studying Matthew and his theology of the kingdom, as well as what we have derived from our study of the Mosaic law itself. Carson preserves the normal force of “fulfill” within the context of Matthew, and explains how Jesus can confirm the law and make advances as he gives the rest of the Sermon on the Mount.

[HT Justin Taylor]

February 26, 2008

Guiness on Frank Schaeffer’s Memoir

Filed under: Books — Joshua @ 4:10 pm
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Os Guinnes offers a much needed critique of Frank Schaeffer’s new Memoir Crazy for God.

[HT Justin Taylor]

February 25, 2008

Thabiti Ponders Obama

Filed under: Race — Joshua @ 10:03 pm
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Thabiti Anyabwile, friend and African-American pastor in the Grand Caymen Islands, considers the meaning of Barack Obama’s political success in “My Mama and Barack Obama.”

He says,

“What I think we’re seeing in large measure with Barack Obama is the American way of deposing dictators and fighting revolutions. Only the dictator is the small-minded racial and political genie that has for so long lived bottled up in the American mind. Well, the genie may be out of the bottle and I know what three wishes I’ll make: (1) the redefinition of personal identity which puts “race” or ethnicity in its proper perspective and place; (2) the advancement of opportunity at the highest level for all; and (3) the advancement of the gospel which finally and eternally remakes man and promotes him to the highest glories in Christ.”

Let us pray that this is so!

Piper on Family Worship

Filed under: Family — Joshua @ 9:06 pm
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Look at this article, “The Family: Together in God’s Presence,” by John Piper on the value of family worship .

Ed Stetzer on the Endless Pursuit

Filed under: Contemporary Theology — Joshua @ 7:15 pm
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“American spirituality has glorified ’searching’ for spiritual meaning but de-emphasized ‘finding.’ In other words, it is good to be looking for spirituality, but it is intolerant to actually believe you have found a right faith.” – Ed Stetzer, quoted in Kane County Chronicle

[HT Joe Thorn: Theocentricview]

Emerging vs Emergent

Filed under: Contemporary Theology — Joshua @ 4:10 pm
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Check out this helpful post by Jonathan Leeman on the differences between Emerging and Emergent as explained by C. Michael Patton.

February 24, 2008

“In My Place Condemned He Stood”

Filed under: Books — Joshua @ 4:25 am
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Two of my heroes in the faith collaborate to produce In My Place Condemned He Stood. This book should be on everyone’s must read list.

[HT Justin Taylor]

February 21, 2008

The Great Recession of Our Youth

Filed under: Youth — Joshua @ 2:32 pm

Economic Recession
A recent article by MSNBC Senior Producer, John Shoen, traces the current emphasis of presidential hopefuls on the economy as an indicator of increasing national fear over the financial status of the United States. Shoen points to specific factors that stimulate this angst—rising energy costs and unemployment along with a fall in housing values. Economic fear is real. It taps into the way that God made us. For men, financial difficulty intimidates our natural drive to provide for and protect our families. For women, it calls into question their ability to nurture and nest. The church should never make light of the stress and strain of economic recession.

Spiritual Recession
Unfortunately, many professed Christian homes, are more affected by the ebb and flow of the economy, both local and national, than they are by the spiritual condition of the youth in their own homes. At our church, we pray that this is not the case. The findings of number recent studies will serve as a gut check for where our priorities are as the church. The recession of our youth seems to be even more severe—and surely more significant—than the economic recession we now face. According to Glen Schultz of Kingdom Education, and the SBC Council on the Family, we are loosing between 75 and 88 percent of our youth by the end of their freshman year of college. Laurie Goodstein of The New York Times recently bellowed similar warnings saying, “Only 4 percent of teenagers will be ‘Bible-believing Christians’ as adults. That would be a sharp decline compared with 35 percent of the current generation of baby boomers, and before that, 65 percent of the World War II generation.” The Barna Group fleshes that 4 percent out saying, “the percentage of teens who are evangelicals – i.e., those who are not only born again but also believe in the accuracy of the Bible, personal responsibility to evangelize, believe in salvation by grace alone, and possess orthodox biblical views on God, Jesus and Satan – have declined from 10% in 1995 to just 4% today. This demise is attributable to growing numbers of teenagers who accept moral relativism and pluralistic theology as their faith foundation. This decline parallels a similar drop among adults: 12% were evangelicals in 1994, but just 5% fit the criteria today.” The word staggering comes to mind. Your children and grandchildren are at great spiritual risk and need to have the Word of God poured into them. Further statistics show, that the way that churches have been ministering to their youth may not be so fruitful. In fact, the presence of a well-liked youth minister proved to provide no advantage to a youth remaining in church after their freshman year of college.

Parent Driven Youth Ministry
Studies also show that some youth do have an advantage—an old fashioned one. Youth in homes where the father goes to church and disciples his children are 80 percent more likely to remain in the church after their freshman year of college. Similar studies show that the mother’s spirituality has proven to be an added benefit to their child’s walk with Christ. The most powerful tool to combat this prodigious attrition of our youth from churches is the life and doctrine of their parents. In other words, fathers and mothers who go to church and have conversations with their youth about who Jesus is and what he means to their lives receive the reward of children who are much more likely to spend eternity in heaven with them. This is by no means a new thought. Exodus 20:12 commands children to obey their parents. The result is that their “day will be long in the land.” The land represented God with his people. So, early in Scripture the significance of the role of parents in children’s lives is highlighted. Paul actually quotes this same text in Ephesians 6:2-3. In 6:4, he says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and Instruction of the Lord.” Numerous other texts support the God given role of the parent in teaching their children. For these reasons, our church encourages youth ministry that isn’t simply geared towards youth in isolation. Instead, we are advocating a parent driven model of youth ministry. We hope that our parents will see youth events as opportunities for them to spend time growing their youth spiritually. Therefore, we strongly encourage youth and their parents to come to all “youth” events. If the parents can’t come, then we strongly encourage them to talk to your youth about what they talk about at these events. In other words, we need to be a people that are just as interested in the spiritual lives of our youth as we are in our bank accounts. Some day all of the gadgets and gizmos that we give our children will perish, but what will happen to their souls? My great hope for our youth is the same as my hope for all of our members—that they see and value Jesus Christ as the one true King who is far more valuable than anything this world pretends to offer.

February 19, 2008

Wright about Heaven

Filed under: End Times — Joshua @ 3:00 am

Here N.T. Wright offers his thoughts on common misconceptions concerning heaven.

February 18, 2008

Tolkien on Original Sin

Filed under: Uncategorized — Joshua @ 7:35 pm

Here Clyde Kilby remembers a special opportunity to meet with J. R. R. Tolkien in the Summer of ’64. Kilby recounts Tolkein’s angst over trying to muster up an analogy that rightly paralleled Adam’s sin in The Silmarillion.  Kilby said, “He described his problem in depicting the fall of mankind near the beginning of the story. “How far we have fallen!” he exclaimed—so far, he felt, that it would seem impossible even to find an adequate prototype or to imagine the contrast between Eden and the disaster which followed.”

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