Michael Boling – Reflections on Judges 8-9


Judges 8-9

The men of Ephraim became angry with Gideon because he had not called them to war against the Midianites. Gideon and his men, although physically exhausted, continued to pursue the Midianites. Arriving in pursuit at Succoth, Gideon asked for some food to be provided to his men as they were exhausted from their pursuit. The men of Succoth refused and Gideon responded that once he was done with the Midianites, he would return and tear their flesh with thorns and briars. Gideon and his men traveled to Penuel and requested food from that city as well with the same response of no provided to them. Gideon declared he would return to that city and would tear down their tower.

Zebah and Zalmunna were at Karkor along with their armies, a total of about 15,000 men. Gideon and his men attacked the camp of Zebah and Zalmunna, routing the whole army and forcing those two kings to flee, capturing both of them.

Returning from the battle, Gideon came to Succoth and found out where the leaders of Succoth were staying. Gideon showed those men Zebah and Zalmumma and then took the leaders of Succoth and thrashed them with thorns and briars as he had promised. Gideon then went to Penuel, tore down their tower and killed the men of the city.

Having capture Zebah and Zalmunna, Gideon told his firstborn son Jether to kill them. He refused and Zebah and Zalmunna taunted Gideon saying if he had any strength as a man, he would kill them. Gideon did as they suggested, taking the crescent ornaments that were on the necks of their camels.

The men of Israel asked Gideon to rule over them, but he refused, telling them God would rule over them. Gideon did make a request of the men, asking them to give him the earrings captured as plunder. They gladly gave Gideon those earrings. Gideon made an ephod out of those earrings and set it up in Ophrah. All Israel played the harlot there with the ephod and it became a snare to Gideon and his family.

The land remained quiet under Gideon for 40 years. His concubine bore Gideon a son named Abimelech. When Gideon died, the people once again did what was evil in the sight of God, serving the baals, making Baal-Berith their god.

Abimelech went to Shechem to his mother’s brothers and asked them if it was better that 70 men ruled over them or only one. The men of Shechem gave Abimelech 70 pieces of silver from the temple of Baal-Berith with which Abimelech hired worthless and reckless men to follow him. He went to his father’s house at Ophrah and killed his brothers and the 70 sons of Jerubbaal. Only the youngest son remained alive because he had hid himself. The men of Shechem made Abimelech their king.

When this was told to Jotham, the youngest son who had survived and hid himself, Jotham went to the top of Mount Gerizim and cried out to the men of Shechem that what they had done with Abimelech was wrong and they had forgotten all Gideon had done for them, let alone what God had done for them.

Abimelech reigned over Israel for three years, but God sent a spirit of ill will between Abimelech and the men of Shechem so the crime committed against the sons of Jerubbaal might be settled.
The end of Abimelech came in a rather interesting manner. As he camped against the city of Thebek and came against that city to take it, he encountered a strong tower in the city where all the men and women of the city had fled. Abimelech came against the tower and fought against it and he came near the door of the tower in order to set it on fire. A woman dropped an upper millstone on his head, crushing his skull. So that he would not be known as having died at the hands of a woman, Abimelech asked his armorbearer to take his sword and kill him which he did. When the men of Israel saw that Abimelech had died, they returned to their homes.

Simon Turpin – The Importance of an Historical Adam


Each and every generation of Christians will eventually have to face its own theological challenges and will be called “. . . to contend earnestly for the faith which was once and for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3). This generation is no different.

From childhood we are informed with ideas in our culture that are inherently pagan and often we are not even aware of this. These ideas are usually accepted into our mindset uncritically shaping the way we think. One of the most common invasions of secular thought even into the Christian mind in our own day is the current pagan understanding of the created realm, evolutionary naturalism. Unfortunately, many Christians uncritically accept the pagan view of the created order.

The debate over whether Adam was historical is ultimately a debate over whether we trust what the Scriptures clearly teach. If we cannot be certain of the beginning, then why would we be certain about what the Scriptures teach elsewhere? The uncertainty of truth is rampant in our culture partly due to the influence of post-modernism which is why many believe the issue over Adam’s historicity is unimportant.

Moreover, belief in a historical Adam stands against a dominant intellectual system that establishes what is called “credibility” in the secular academy. Evangelicals who feel intellectually accountable to the academy then have to come up with another way to read Genesis 1–11.

This paper will seek to show that the arguments against Adam being a historical person who existed in space-time history are not based upon the clear teaching of Scripture but upon evolutionary based presuppositions. It will then show why understanding Adam as a historical figure is important for a coherent understanding of the biblical message of creation, Fall and redemption.

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Albert Mohler – Tebow’s Big Fumble: Soon the Ball Will Be Thrown to Each of Us

For Tim Tebow, speaking at the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas, had to look like a great opportunity. He grew up attending a large Southern Baptist church, and an invitation to speak at one of the most venerable and historic Baptist churches in the world had to look like an easy call. He was going.

All that changed yesterday when Tebow, the National Football League’s most prominent evangelical symbol, sent word through Twitter that he was withdrawing from the event. His sudden announcement came after a whirlwind of controversy over his scheduled appearance at the Dallas church. Its senior minister, Robert Jeffress, is no stranger to public controversy. His sound bites are often incendiary, but his convictions—including the exclusivity of the gospel and the belief that homosexual behaviors are sinful—are clearly within the mainstream of American evangelicalism.
While many complained about Jeffress’s tone and stridency, the controversy quickly shifted to secular outrage that Tebow would agree to speak to a church known for such beliefs.

Gregg Doyel of CBS Sports warned, “Tim Tebow is about to make the biggest mistake of his life” by speaking at “a hateful Baptist preacher’s church.” Doyel described Jeffress as “an evangelical cretin” guilty of serial hate speech. Of course, Doyel engaged in hateful and slanderous speech of his own by associating Jeffress with the truly hateful Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas. Jeffress “isn’t as bad as Westboro,” Doyel admitted, “But he comes close. Too close.”

Other sportswriters piled on. Benjamin Hochman of The Denver Post offered his own warning to Tebow: “After a season on the sidelines, the ball’s in your hands, Timmy. Better not fumble this one.”

The controversy threatened to dominate Tebow’s life, so the 25-year-old athlete withdrew, attempting to escape his predicament. Stating that he has wished to “share a message of hope and Christ’s unconditional love” with the historic congregation, Tebow said that “due to new information that was brought to my attention” he has decided to cancel the event. He then pledged to use “the platform God has blessed me with to bring Faith, Hope, and Love to all those needing a brighter day.”

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Andrew S. Kulikovsky – The Bible and hermeneutics

Hermeneutics is the formal process by which the interpreter employs certain principles and methods in order to derive the author’s intended meaning. Naturally, this is foundational to all theological studies, and before a biblical theology of creation can be built, it is necessary to discuss the hermeneutical approach that should be utilised and how it should be applied to the text of Scripture, and in particular, the creation account of Genesis.

Biblical inerrancy

Presuppositions and prior understandings have always played a significant role in the hermeneutical process, and one such presupposition is biblical inerrancy. Inerrancy is a complex doctrine, but it is internally coherent, and consistent with a perfect and righteous God who has revealed Himself. Broadly speaking, the doctrine of inerrancy identifies Scripture as true and without error in all that it affirms, including its affirmations regarding history and the physical universe.1 Article IX of The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy states:

‘WE AFFIRM that inspiration, though not conferring omniscience, guaranteed true and trustworthy utterance on all matters of which the Biblical authors were moved to speak and write.

WE DENY that the finitude or fallenness of these writers, by necessity or otherwise, introduced distortion or falsehood into God’s Word.’

Concerning the role of history and science in the interpretation of Scripture relating to creation and the Flood, Article XII states:

‘WE AFFIRM that Scripture in its entirety is inerrant, being free from all falsehood, fraud, or deceit.

WE DENY that Biblical infallibility and inerrancy are limited to spiritual, religious, or redemptive themes, exclusive of assertions in the fields of history and science. We further deny that scientific hypotheses about earth history may properly be used to overturn the teaching of Scripture on creation and the flood.’

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Nick Batzig – The Curse Reversed

Curse-Reversed-614x277 One of the great keys to understanding the nature of Jesus’ saving work is to understand the nature of the curse pronounced by God on His rebellious image bearers. No sooner did Adam sin against God, bringing guilt and corruption to the who human race, that God came with the covenant curses commensurate with the actions of His creatures. He first pronounces the curse on the evil One, who tempted our first parents to rebel against God; then He pronounced the curse on the woman and finally He pronounced the curse on the man–the federal head of all humanity. What is most fascinating about these curses is that they are strategically given in the order in which each creature rebelled, and they are strategically placed with regard to the role that each was to play in fulfilling the creation mandate to “have dominion” by being “fruitful and multiplying,” and by filling the earth and subduing it. In short, Adam and Eve were to turn the world into the Garden by obeying God and by populating and cultivating this world that God had created to be a habitable inheritance for His image bearers. Here are five thoughts about the curses and the way in which God reverses the curse through the second Adam in His work of redemption and new creation:

1. The first curse was place on the serpent because he was the first to rebel and the first to bring disorder into God’s world. The Scriptures make clear that “the Son of God was manifest to destroy the work of the devil” (1 John 3:8). The rest of the Bible is, in the words of Sinclair Ferguson, “essentially an extended footnote to Genesis 3:15.” It is the unfolding of the enmity that God set between Satan and his seed and the woman and her seed. Of course, we need to recognize that the word ‘Seed’ in Scripture is first singular and masculine in nature, but that a plurality of persons is included in it in a secondary and related sense. It carries the idea of the One (i.e. Christ) and the man. In this first curse, there is a promise. This is the first promise of a Redeemer. God promises to crush the head of the serpent, even as the serpent attacks and bruises the heal of the Seed of the woman. In the warfare between the serpent and the Seed of the woman, the serpent would experience a fatal wound while the Redeemer would experience a wound that was meant to be fatal but which would be as if he only had his heal bruised. The difference between the two wounds is that the Redeemers would be remedied in His resurrection from the dead. Stuart Robinson, an old Southern Presbyterian theologian, in his biblical-theological masterpiece Discourses of Redemption, set out eight things that Adam and Eve could have known from this first promise. He explained that they could have known:

That the Redeemer and Restorer of the race is to be man, since he is to be the seed of the woman.

That He is, at the same time, to be a being greater than man, and greater even than Satan; since he is to be the conqueror of man’s conqueror, and, against all his efforts, to recover a sinful world which man had lost; being yet sinless, he must therefore be divine.

That this redemption shall involve a new nature, at “enmity” with the Satan nature, to which man has now become subject.

That this new nature is a regeneration by Divine power; since the enmity to Satan is not a natural emotion, but, saith Jehovah, ” I will put enmity,” &c.

This redemption shall be accomplished by vicarious suffering; since the Redeemer shall suffer the bruising of his heel in the work of recovery.

That this work of redemption shall involve the gathering out of an elect seed a ” peculiar people” at enmity with the natural offspring of a race subject to Satan.

That this redemption shall involve & perpetual conflict of the peculiar people, under its representative head, in the effort to bruise the head of Satan, that is, ‘to destroy the works of the Devil.’

This redemption shall involve the ultimate triumph, after suffering, of the woman’s seed ; and therefore involves a triumph over death and a restoration of the humanity to its original estate, as a spiritual in conjunction with a physical nature, in perfect blessedness as before its fall.

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Louis Berkhof – Systematic Theology

I. The Existence of God


WORKS on dogmatic or systematic theology generally begin with the doctrine of God. The prevailing opinion has always recognized this as the most logical procedure and still points in the same direction. In many instances even they whose fundamental principles would seem to require another arrangement, continue the traditional practice. There are good reasons for starting with the doctrine of God, if we proceed on the assumption that theology is the systematized knowledge of God, of whom, through whom, and unto whom, are all things. Instead of being surprised that Dogmatics should begin with the doctrine of God, we might well expect it to be a study of God throughout in all its ramifications, from the beginning to the end. As a matter of fact, that is exactly what it is intended to be, though only the first locus deals with God directly, while the succeeding ones treat of Him more indirectly. We start the study of theology with two presuppositions, namely (1) that God exists, and (2) that He has revealed Himself in His divine Word. And for that reason it is not impossible for us to start with the study of God. We can turn to His revelation, in order to learn what He has revealed concerning Himself and concerning His relation to His creatures. Attempts have been made in the course of time to distribute the material of Dogmatics in such a way as to exhibit clearly that it is, not merely in one locus, but in its entirety, a study of God. This was done by the application of the trinitarian method, which arranges the subject-matter of Dogmatics under the three headings of (1) the Father (2) the Son, and (3) the Holy Spirit. That method was applied in some of the earlier systematic works, was restored to favor by Hegel, and can still be seen in Martensen’s Christian Dogmatics. A similar attempt was made by Breckenridge, when he divided the subject-matter of Dogmatics into (1) The Knowledge of God Objectively Considered, and (2) The Knowledge of God Subjectively Considered. Neither one of these can be called very successful.

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Book Review – Connecting Church 2.0 by Randy Frazee

Pastor and author Randy Frazee, in his latest book The Connecting Church 2.0 addresses an issue that faces many of us, namely that of developing meaningful relationships within a local community of believers. Far too many Christians either become disillusioned with church resulting in non-attendance or they attend church on a regular basis yet fail to engage in conversation with or develop lasting relationships with others who attend their church. Many churches encourage their members to join and become active in small groups. With that said, with the hustle and bustle that constitutes the daily life of many American families, consistently attending church let alone a small group or other church activity often falls prey to the daily grind.

Frazee rightly notes from the outset that “We were designed by God physically, emotionally, and spiritually to require community for our health and well-being.” He reminds us that scientific studies have even revealed our very physical makeup is wired for relationships and community. Even animals thrive far better when they are around and when they interact in meaningful ways with members of their species. Fundamentally, community is an essential part of life and to reject that as somehow unimportant is a tragic mistake.

Scripture makes it clear one way that community can be enjoyed in a healthy way outside the family structure is through the church, the body of Christ. Frazee reminds us of Hebrews 10:25, a passage clearly exhorting Christians to not forsake “the assembling of ourselves together, as [is] the manner of some, but exhorting [one another], and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” We see the pattern of community in the early Church in the opening chapters of Acts where Frazee appropriately comments “The first Christians understood that a decision to follow Christ also included a decision to make the church the hub of their world, even when it required the abandonment of existing social structures.” Since Gallup polls demonstrate that many Americans suffer from a sense of loneliness that begs the question as to what has caused a country of people who have access to all manner of entertainment to feel they are lonely. Frazee tackles a number of reasons in this book to include individualism, isolation, and consumerism.

Unlike many books that talk about societal barriers to Christian community yet fail to provide salient biblical solutions to this important issue, Frazee cogently addresses the issues of individualism, isolation, and consumerism to include the root problems and how these issues have taken hold in society. Furthermore, and arguably more importantly than simply discussing the problem at hand, Frazee takes the reader straight to where solutions to these issues can be found, namely God’s word. But wait, there’s more!

Dr. Albert Mohler – Throwing the Bible Under the Bus

In his 1996 novel, In the Beauty of the Lilies, John Updike told of the Reverend Clarence Arthur Wilmot, the fictional pastor of New York’s Fourth Presbyterian Church, who stopped believing in God one day in 1910. On that day, the Rev. Wilmot “felt the last particles of his faith leave him,” Updike wrote.

Rev. Wilmot’s crisis of faith was rooted in his loss of confidence in the Bible as the revealed Word of God. The influence of liberal critics of the Bible had reached him even at seminary years before, and now he saw the Scriptures as just another human book. In Updike’s words, the Scriptures were “one more human volume, more curious and conglomerate than most, but the work of men–of Jews in dirty sheepskins, rotten-toothed desert tribesmen with eyes rolled heavenward, men like flies on flypaper caught fast in a historic time, among the myths and conceptions belonging to the childhood of mankind.”

Updike’s brilliant and accurate depiction of the liberal approach to the Bible remains shocking. The Higher Critics, as the liberal scholars were then known, did indeed see the authors of the Old Testament as “rotten-toothed desert tribesmen” who could not see beyond “myths and conceptions belonging to the childhood of mankind.”

Well, the Reverend Clarence Arthur Wilmot was fictional, but Dr. Karl W. Giberson is not. Giberson is not a pastor, but a professor at Eastern Nazarene College near Boston. He is also a scientist involved with the BioLogos Foundation, a group committed to the defense and promotion of theistic evolution.

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John MacArthur – The Cost of Compromise

The-Cost-of-Compromise_620 Martin Luther wasn’t prone to compromise. He famously said in his sermon “Knowledge of God’s Will and Its Fruit”:

The world at the present time is sagaciously discussing how to quell the controversy and strife over doctrine and faith, and how to effect a compromise between the Church and the Papacy. Let the learned, the wise, it is said, bishops, emperor and princes, arbitrate. Each side can easily yield something, and it is better to concede some things which can be construed according to individual interpretation, than that so much persecution, bloodshed, war, and terrible, endless dissension and destruction be permitted.

Here is lack of understanding, for understanding proves by the Word that such patchwork is not according to God’s will, but that doctrine, faith and worship must be preserved pure and unadulterated; there must be no mingling with human nonsense, human opinions or wisdom.

The Scriptures give us this rule: “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

It is interesting to speculate what the church would be like today if Luther had compromised. The pressure was heavy on him to tone down his teaching, soften his message, and stop poking his finger in the eye of the papacy. Even many of his friends and supporters urged Luther to come to terms with Rome for the sake of harmony in the church. Luther himself prayed earnestly that the effect of his teaching would not be divisive.

When he nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the door, the last thing he wanted to do was split the church.

Yet sometimes division is fitting, even healthy, for the church. Especially in times like Luther’s—and like ours—when the visible church seems full of counterfeit Christians, it is right for the true people of God to declare themselves and defend the truth. Compromise is sometimes a worse evil than division. Second Corinthians 6:14-17 isn’t speaking only of marriage when it says:

Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Satan, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord.

Sadly, this familiar command to separate is frequently both misunderstood and violated. But Paul is not giving believers license for legalism, sectarianism, or monasticism.

Instead, he’s drawing on an analogy from the Mosaic law. In Deuteronomy 22:10, the Lord commanded the Israelites, “You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together.” Those two animals do not have the same nature, gait, or strength. Therefore it would be impossible for such a mismatched pair to plow together effectively. They would be unequally yoked.

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Lore Ferguson – Doubt Your Doubts

My generation talks a lot about doubt. It seems hip and cool to be indifferent to everything and everyone. We shrug off people and plans as quickly as we shove off old technology or dated politics. We’re a generation of Thomases, doubting at every turn.

I am a doubter in every sense of the word. Even close friends doubt that about me though. “You’re so strong!” “You’re so loving!” “You know the Word!” With every exclamation I hide the truth even more deeply within me: I am so full of doubt I stumble on unbelief around every corner.

A few weeks ago someone tweeted, “In the Bible, doubt is always rebuked. In the post-evangelical culture, it is given a publishing platform.” He received a good amount of pushback, though; I wasn’t surprised.

Our questions are not sinful; men and women of God throughout Scripture voiced questions to God, and he, like a good Father, invites our questions because he is the source and sole answer. Following questions through will always lead us to the cross. However, a stagnant faith leads to the same old wells that eventually dry up because they are not the Living Water.

Increasingly, doubt and doubters are given platforms in church culture, and I see some good reason for it: arrogant certainty in rules and principles has led into a legalism of culture and spirit. The only answer for many dechurched or post-evangelicals is to circle their doubt like the drain in a bathtub. The problem with it, though, is the only place it leads is down.

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