Author Archive

Review, part 2: “From Heaven He Came and Sought Her.”

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by Dr. David L. Allen
Dean of the School of Theology
Professor of Preaching
Director of the Center for Expository Preaching
George W. Truett Chair of Pastoral Ministry
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Learn more about Dr. Allen, HERE.
Follow @DavidLAllen on Twitter
HERE.

Follow on Facebook HERE.

“Review of From Heaven He Came and Sought Her: Definite Atonement in Historical, Biblical, Theological, and Pastoral Perspective, David Gibson & Jonathan Gibson, eds. (Wheaton: Crossway, 2013) – Part 2
(Read “Review, part 1,” HERE.)
Part 2 of this review will address the key elements of the six chapters in the biblical section.
A detailed assessment of each of these sections awaits a multi-part review I intend to post on my new website www.DrDavidLAllen.com, which will be launched later this month.

Definite Atonement in the Bible

These chapters all focus on the biblical data impinging on the question at hand. Key to most of them is the attempt to argue that the so called “universal” language in atonement passages such as “all” or “world” do not mean “all without exception” but “all without distinction,” and, conjoined with the Reformed doctrine of unconditional election, indicate Christ’s death for elect people of all nations, Jews and Gentiles. The authors read the “universal” texts (“all,” “world,” etc.) in light of the “limited” texts (“his people,” “the church,” etc.), and are thus forced to mitigate the meaning of words like “all” and “world.” Moderate Calvinists and non-Calvinists read the limited texts as a subset of the universal texts.

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Review, part 1: “From Heaven He Came and Sought Her.”

DavidAllen2

Ed.’s note: All comments will be pre-moderated, meaning that each comment will post after moderator approval.
==================================================================================

by Dr. David L. Allen
Dean of the School of Theology
Professor of Preaching
Director of the Center for Expository Preaching
George W. Truett Chair of Pastoral Ministry
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Learn more about Dr. Allen, HERE.
Follow @DavidLAllen on Twitter
HERE.

Follow on Facebook HERE.

“Review of From Heaven He Came and Sought Her: Definite Atonement in Historical, Biblical, Theological, and Pastoral Perspective, David Gibson & Jonathan Gibson, eds. (Wheaton: Crossway, 2013) – Part 1

As one who is currently completing a manuscript for publication on the subject of the extent of the atonement, I have long awaited the appearance of From Heaven He Came and Sought Her. The book has been touted as the “definitive” scholarly word on definite (limited) atonement. David Gibson and Jonathan Gibson serve as editors of the work which includes 23 chapters written by a cadre of scholars. The book is a lengthy tome of 703 pages, including indices, published by Crossway. Twenty-one authors from a variety of backgrounds (including Presbyterian, Anglican and Baptist) contribute chapters. As with any multi-author volume, the chapters ebb and flow as to content, style, and substance. 

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Interpreting & Preaching Hebrews 6.1-8, part 10

DavidAllen2

by Dr. David L. Allen
Dean of the School of Theology
Professor of Preaching
Director of the Center for Expository Preaching
George W. Truett Chair of Pastoral Ministry
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Learn more about Dr. Allen, HERE.
Follow @DavidLAllen on Twitter
HERE.
Follow on Facebook HERE.

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Click the links below to read previous posts of
Preaching & Interpreting Hebrews 6.1-8.

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This is the final post in our 10-part series. Today we look at how to structure a sermon on Hebrews 6:1-8 based on the exegesis of the passage in the previous posts.

Text-driven preaching attempts to respect the structure, substance, and spirit of the text. The spirit of the text is a one of warning. Heb 6:1-8 is the third of five warning passages in the letter. The substance of the text is the necessity to press on to spiritual maturity and the consequences to the believer who fails to do so. The structure of the text consists in three sub-paragraphs with the main point emphasized by the author in the hortatory subjunctive in Greek (“let us press on”) in the first paragraph. The sub-paragraph beginning at v.4 and again at v.7 are both introduced by the subordinating conjunction gar, indicating that the main point of the entire passage is found in the first sub-paragraph, vv. 1-3.

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Interpreting and Preaching Hebrews 6.1-8, part 9

DavidAllen2

by Dr. David L. Allen
Dean of the School of Theology
Professor of Preaching
Director of the Center for Expository Preaching
George W. Truett Chair of Pastoral Ministry
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Learn more about Dr. Allen, HERE.
Follow @DavidLAllen on Twitter
HERE.
Follow on Facebook HERE.

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Click the links below to read previous posts of
Preaching & Interpreting Hebrews 6.1-8.

post 1
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post 8
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We now consider the “Loss of Rewards” view concerning Heb 6:4–6. Essentially, the Loss of Rewards view interprets the group in Heb 6:4–6 as referring to genuine believers who “fall away” in the sense of willful disobedience to God. They do not commit apostasy in the traditional theological sense of the term. They do not once and for all deny Christ. They do fail to press on to spiritual maturity by virtue of direct disobedience to God’s will and word. The judgment that these believers incur does not involve loss of salvation. Their judgment is more accurately designated “discipline,” which involves both a temporal and an eschatological aspect. It is not final judgment in the sense of eternal loss. Temporally, this discipline involves loss of opportunity to go on to maturity in the Christian life, loss of effective service for Christ in this life, loss of the blessings of God that come from an obedient life and in some cases perhaps premature physical death. Eschatologically, it involves loss of rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ (Rom 14:10–12; 1 Cor 3:10–15 and 2 Cor 5:10). These are genuine believers who are in danger of forfeiting some new covenant blessings in this life as well as rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

This interpretation incorporates several contextual factors within Hebrews. First, in the immediate context of Heb 5:11–6:8, the author is addressing genuine Christians who were failing to press on to maturity (6:1). The context of the passage is not salvation but sanctification. Second, ascribing genuine believer status to the people described in Heb 6:4–6 favors this interpretation as well. Third, the immediately following verses, Heb 6:7–8, support this interpretation. The author follows the warning with an illustration introduced by gar connecting it with the previous context and showing that the previous audience continues in view. This agricultural illustration speaks of a single plot of land, not two different lands as is implied in the NIV translation. The word “land” occurs only once in the Greek text—v. 7. It is not two kinds of land being described, but rather two possible outcomes from the same land. The ground has received the rain necessary for cultivation and growth. Verse 7 speaks of the positive result of fruitfulness when the rain falls on the land and the result is vegetation. Verse 8 speaks of the same land, which received the same rain, but “thorns and thistles” are the result, not fruit.

In actuality, the contrast is not between two different groups of people as two possibilities that may affect one group of people. This is evidenced by the illustration of two different results occurring to the same land in Heb 6:7–8. The author is using this illustration to depict in somewhat of a typological fashion the two possible outcomes of Christians: those who press on to maturity through obedience and those who willfully continue in disobedience. Verse 8 describes the three-fold result of the land that brings forth “thorns and thistles: It is “worthless,” “near to being cursed,” and “its end is for burning.”

Upon first blush, one might assume by the use of the word “curse” that eternal loss is in view in Heb 6:8. But the text does not say the ground is “cursed” but in danger of being cursed. If the reference is to apostasy, then the reference is not to those who are “near” to being cursed, but to those who would indeed be cursed with eternal loss. In Scripture, “fire” can be used in context of the unregenerate in hell, and it can also be used to speak of God’s judgment of Christians. The latter is clearly the case in 1 Cor 3:10–15 where the focus is on the nature of the believer’s works at the Judgment Seat of Christ. The quality of the work is tested by fire, but the result for those who do not pass the test is not eternal damnation. It is works of “wood, hay and stubble” that are burned up, not the individual, who entered heaven “as by fire.” The context of Heb 6:10, where the author mentions the “works” of his readers, make the comparison to 1 Cor 3:10–15 all the more appropriate. The “burning” of land that did not produce vegetation was a common act in the 1st century AD. The purpose was to cleanse the land of the “thorns and thistles” so it would bring forth fruit. The land was not destroyed in the process. By analogy, the author of Hebrews is not suggesting that those who had “fallen away” were eternally destroyed. The better interpretation is to take Heb 6:7–8 as referring to loss of rewards.

There is an interesting correspondence between Paul’s description of the wilderness generation’s privileges in 1 Cor 10:1–4 and Heb 6:4–5. Five positive things are stated about the wilderness generation, followed by a negative statement, just as we find in Heb 6:4–6: (1) all were under the cloud; (2) all passed through the sea; (3) all were baptized into Moses; (4) all ate the same spiritual food; and (5) all drank from the same rock that followed them, which was Christ. Then follows the negative statement in v. 5: “but God was not pleased with most of them and they were scattered in the wilderness.” Paul does not state they were “apostates” or that they were “cursed” by God and removed from their covenant status. Other parallels occur between 1 Cor 10:1–13 and Heb 6:1–8. Hebrews 6:5 speaks of the “age to come” and 1 Cor 10:11 speaks of “the ends of the ages” having come. First Corinthians 10:3 speaks of “eating” and Heb 6:4–5 speaks of “tasting.”

The deaths of the rebels in the exodus generation are no indication they were unconverted, since both Moses and Aaron also died in the wilderness as a result of God’s discipline for their disobedience. It is significant that the same Hebrew words in Deut 9:23–24 and Num 20:12, 23 are used to describe their sin as are used to describe the sin of the exodus generation. They forfeited the blessing of the Promised Land but this had nothing to do with their eternal spiritual condition.

The author appears to affirm the redeemed status of the wilderness generation in Heb 11:31 when he says: “by faith they passed through the Red Sea.” Hebrews 6:9 also points in this direction. Notice the author does not say “we are persuaded of better things concerning you, namely, your salvation.” Rather he refers to “things that accompany salvation,” contextually a reference to fruitfulness that accompanies salvation.

Those who affirm that Heb 6:6 refers to apostates who were not genuine believers cannot conceive of such language being applied to believers. However, if the “falling away” does not refer to apostasy as has been argued on the basis of the meaning and usage of the word, there is no reason to think it cannot refer to willful disobedience on the part of Christians. It is clear that the word was so used in the LXX for sin among God’s covenant people. Jesus used harsh language at times even when speaking to his own disciples. In Revelation 2 and 3, Jesus has some harsh words to say to some of his seven churches. The Pauline epistles are filled with serious warnings to deter Christians from sinning.

Next: Final Post, Part 10 – Preaching Hebrews 6.1-8.

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Purchase a Kindle or hardcover copy of Dr. Allen’s ‘The New American Commentary / Hebrews,” HERE.

 

Interpreting and Preaching Hebrews 6.1-8, part 8

DavidAllen2

by Dr. David L. Allen
Dean of the School of Theology
Professor of Preaching
Director of the Center for Expository Preaching
George W. Truett Chair of Pastoral Ministry
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Learn more about Dr. Allen, HERE.
Follow @DavidLAllen on Twitter
HERE.
Follow on Facebook HERE.

========================

Click the links below to read previous posts of
Preaching & Interpreting Hebrews 6.1-8.

post 1
post 2
post 3
post 4
post 5
post 6
post 7
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We are now ready to examine the major interpretations of Heb 6:4–6 and to synthesize all of the evidence into an interpretive framework. There are five major interpretations of Heb 6:4–6: (1) the Loss of Salvation view, (2) the Hypothetical view, (3) the Tests of Genuineness view, (4) the Means of Salvation view, which is in reality a variation of the Tests of Genuineness view, and (5) the Loss of Rewards view.[1]

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