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http://gracetheology.org, Dr. Fred Chay, It's Dèja Vù All Over Again

It’s Déjà vu All Over Again

If you live long enough you see things come full circle. This is often true in theology, concerning both orthodoxy and heterodoxy. In 1996 Zondervan produced “Four Views on Hell” with a team of contributors that did an excellent job. I used it as a seminary textbook in a class I taught on soteriology.

But times being what they are, 20 years can make a big difference in the theological landscape. We have lived through the sophisticated arguments of John Stott, the emotional plea of Clark Pinnock, and the hip presentation of Rob Bell concerning the love and wrath of God and the eternal state of man. But now 20 years later, a new book (a good book with new authors, albeit with the same title) has been produced to bring both classic and contemporary arguments for our consideration about the definition and duration of hell.

To set the hook, listen to one of the authors Robin Parry (PhD, University of Gloucestershire – UK) articulate some seminal components of one of the views from some other material he has produced on this topic.

“Historically all Christian universalists have had a doctrine of hell and that remains the case for most Christian universalists today, including Bell. The Christian debate does not concern whether hell will be a reality (all agree that it will) but, rather, what the nature of that reality will be. Will it be eternal conscious torment? Will it be annihilation? Or will it be a state from which people can be redeemed? Most universalists believe that hell is not simply retributive punishment but a painful yet corrective/educative state from which people will eventually exit (some, myself included, think it has a retributive dimension, while others do not).”

He adds:

“Christian universalists have a lot to say about God’s holiness, justice, and even his wrath. Typically they think that God’s divine nature cannot be divided up into conflicting parts in such a way that some of God’s actions are loving (e.g. saving sinners) while others are just and full of anger (e.g. hell). They see all of God’s actions as motivated by ‘holy love’. Everything God does is holy, completely just, and completely loving. So whatever hell is about it must be compatible not simply with divine justice but also with divine love. Which means that it must, in some way, have the good of those in hell as part of its rationale. Universalists feel that one potential danger in traditional theologies of hell is that while they make much ofGod’s justice and anger, they appear to be incompatible with his love and, as a result, they divide up the unity of God’s nature.”

We who champion a Free Grace theology must make sure we do our exegetical homework and theological articulation so as to clarify that the grace of God and the love of God do not eliminate the eternal consequences of sin for those who do not believe in Jesus for eternal life: a gift to use from the love of Christ, a love that cannot be earned and cannot be lost.

Serving Him with you
Until He comes for us,
Fred Chay, PhD
Managing Editor
Grace School of Theology

http://gracetheology.org, Fred Chay, Grace Theology Press

Are You Going for the Gold?

The Grace Theology Press (GTP) is committed to producing biblical and theological resources that proclaim a clear gospel message regarding justification by faith alone. We are also committed to producing resources for a life of sanctification that involves faithfulness. We are proud to offer a totally revised study edition of the classic work of Dr. Joe Wall entitled Going for the Gold.

Dr. Dave Anderson (PhD), President of Grace School of Theology, has endorsed this new work saying: “Going for the Gold is the most thorough treatment of the doctrine of rewards I have ever read. Not only does Dr. Wall lay out the various passages on the bema, the Judgment Seat of Christ, but he has a thorough treatment of the relationship of suffering to rewards. I would suggest that 50% of our motivation for the Christian life comes from our gratitude for what Christ has done for us on the cross. But the other 50% comes from anticipation of what it will be like to glorify Christ in the next life. When we try to have a victorious Christian life without a sufficient understanding of the doctrine of rewards, it would seem to me we are missing half the motivation for walking according to the Spirit instead of walking according to the flesh. Dr. Wall’s book does a masterful job of unwrapping the wonderful promises in God’s Word concerning the future that awaits the faithful Christian when Christ returns. This is a must read for anyone looking for more motivation for walking close to our Savior, especially on a path wrought with both deserved and undeserved suffering.

Hear the words of Dr. Joe wall as he describes…

A SCENE IN HEAVEN

The scene is breathtaking. You have died, and the Lord has come for those who believe in Him. You have been joined to your resurrection body and now stand in the presence of your glorious Savior, the matchless Lord of the church, the absolute Monarch of the entire creation. 

Your life flashes before you with three-dimensional vividness and stereophonic clarity (1 Corinthians 3:13). Your beloved Lord publicly sets the record straight. All the false accusations, lies, and unfair criticisms you received in life are exposed for what they really were, full vindication at last (Romans 14:6-12; 1 Corinthians 4:3, 5; 2 Thessalonians 1:4-10)! Jesus then examines all that you have said, thought, and done in the light of your purposes and motives. Why did you do that? Why didn’t you do this? (Romans 14:12). His fiery eye reveals the true value of all that you have brought before Him (Revelation 1:14; 1 Corinthians 3:13). 

You are awestruck and defenseless as you hear Jesus’ declaration of all that is worthless and sinful, and you are pierced with a deep sense of shame (1 John 2:28). Your true spiritual maturity in life is examined, and He decrees the kind of welcome you will experience when you enter His glorious kingdom (2 Peter 1:11). 

You are commended publicly for your faithful service (Matthew 25:21) and for your public loyalty to Him (Luke 12:8, 9). Then He awards you incorruptible symbols of honor that are accompanied with the announcement of your responsibilities in Jesus’ glorious eternal kingdom. Because Jesus Himself is ultimately the source of all that is good in your life, He is glorified by every honor He bestows on you. 

You have just been through the judgment seat (bema) of Christ.

If the topic of Christian rewards and accountability is of interest to you, I enthusiastically encourage you to order a copy of this totally revised study edition of Going for the Gold.

Serving Him with you
Until He comes for us,
Fred Chay, PhD
Managing Editor, Grace Theology Press

http://gracetheology.org, Dr. Gary W. Derickson, www.corban.edu

An Interview with Dr. Gary Derickson (Part 3)

http://gracetheology.org, www.corban.edu, Dr. Gary W. Derickson
Dr. Gary W. Derickson

Dr. Gary Derickson is Professor of Biblical Studies at Corban University (http://www.corban.edu) in Salem, Oregon, where he has taught for over twenty years. He has published articles in Bibliotheca Sacra, ETS Studies Series, The Master’s Seminary Journal, and The Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society. He contributed to The Nelson’s Complete Study Bible, is co-author of The Disciplemaker: What Matters Most to Jesus (2001) with Dr. Earl Radmacher, and is author of the 1, 2 & 3 John: Evangelical Exegetical Commentary.Dr. Derickson studied Biblical exposition at Dallas Theological Seminary, and earned his Masters of Theology in 1986. He continued his doctoral studies under four godly men at Dallas Theological Seminary: Drs. Elliot E. Johnson, Stanley D. Toussaint, J. Dwight Pentecost, and Homer Heater, completing his Ph.D. He left Dallas to teach at Western Baptist College, which later became Corban University.

I think that we both share an admiration for the life and legacy of Dr. Earl Radmacher. Dr. Radmacher was my hermeneutics professor in my seminary training in Phoenix. The content of what he taught was tremendous and he would emphasize important points with this big booming voice that would just put this exclamation point of all of the things we would learn. You wrote the book The Disciplemaker with Dr. Radmacher, what are some of your thoughts on what you learned from him and his legacy?

I learned of course an appreciation for accurately teaching God’s Word and reflecting the passion of Christ. One of the great things about that project is when we began it, I did the exegetical work, the research, the writing, and then he and I sat down together. He added a lot of illustrations and then sometimes made the choice on which view was going to be expressed in the book, which would be his view. The great thing is, after the initial work was done, actually near the end of the process, he and I sat down side by side and went through chapter by chapter, paragraph by paragraph and discussed everything. What I learned was just a rich trove because it was coming from all of his knowledge and experience and it was just being able to sit next to him and go through these things and learn from him. That was a great legacy to be a part of.

You’ve written The Disciplemaker and the commentary on 1, 2 and 3 John – are there other articles, books, or future projects?

My school has an e-journal that’s available to all called Dedicated, where several of my articles have been published. I also just finished a book for Lexham Press, which I think will be entitled, A Biblical Theology of 1, 2 and 3 John, and will be the first in a series that the publisher is releasing.

I have some other projects going – one project on Revelation for Kregel Press, and another project for Lampion Press taking my Master’s thesis and converting it into a book. My Master’s thesis makes the case that miracle workers ended in the first century though God still intervenes today. Those are some other upcoming projects that will keep me busy and tired for the next few years.

Thank you to Dr. Derickson for these tremendously helpful interviews. Dr. Derickson’s books, The Disciplemaker: What Matters Most to Jesus (2001) with Dr. Earl Radmacher and 1, 2 & 3 John (Evangelical Exegetical Commentary), should be in everyone’s libraries. Be sure to pick them up through your printed book or computer library sources.

Todd Mathis, M.Div.
Phoenix, Arizona

http://gracetheology.org, Dr. Charles Ryrie, Dr. Dave Anderson, www.gsot.edu

A Life Well Lived: A Tribute to Dr. Charles Ryrie by Dr. Dave Anderson

http://gracetheology.org, Dr. Charles Ryrie, Dr. Dave AndersonDr. Charles Ryrie impacted millions of lives through his writings, his preaching, and his teaching. I am just one of them. But since this is my tribute to him, I want to share two times his influence changed the direction of my life. The first was the end of my master’s program at DTS. I had been pre-med at Rice and decided early on to combine medicine with theology to be a medical missionary. At the end of seminary I was studying for the MCAT exam, a formality since I already had verbal admissions to two med schools.

Dr. Ryrie was my senior counselor and asked me to drop by one afternoon. He asked my plans, and I told him I was about to apply for med school with a view toward medical missions. He said, “I think that’s a good thing, but if you graduated from this school, I think you have more responsibility than that. For every one of you there are a thousand doctors.” Ah, he used the R-word—RESPONSIBILITY. I couldn’t get that out of my mind. My wife and I made the decision not to pursue medical school. But we didn’t know what we would do. We looked at mission boards, but they all wanted to take our kids away when they were six and put them in a school for missionary kids. That seemed to go against everything Dr. Hendricks taught us about the Christian home.

So we were stuck—didn’t now what to do. Never thought seriously about becoming a preacher. Who in his right mind would want to do that, right? Nevertheless, we wound up church planting. That seemed kind of like missionary work, and they weren’t going to take our kids away. As the years went by I picked up a PhD from DTS, and they began utilizing me as an adjunct professor.

Then in 2001 I was having lunch with Dr. Ryrie as I did from time to time. I shared some unmet needs I saw in the seminary world, and he encouraged me to start another seminary. I said, “But I don’t have any money.” His reply? “God’s will won’t lack God’s means.” So we stepped out on faith. We had an organizational meeting in Dr. Ryrie’s apartment, and he wrote our doctrinal statement.

Through the years Dr. Ryrie supported our school financially and with many encouraging notes and personal words of encouragement. A few years back my daughter and I spent a week at the Word of Life center at Schroon Lake, NY. They have a two-year Bible college there with a veritable shrine to Dr. Ryrie. They have a newspaper clipping about his leaving the banking world to go to seminary. They have the old manual typewriter he used to create the Ryrie Study Bible. Shortly after that trip I saw Dr. Ryrie in Dallas and told him I had visited the shrine to him at Schroon Lake. With a twinkle in his eye he said, “Well, did you do obeisance?” Of course, Dr. Ryrie was not God. Like all of us, he had his “humanity.” But more than any other man, God used him to direct the course of my life. Thank you, Dr. Ryrie!

http://gracetheology.org, Dr. Gary W. Derickson, www.corban.edu

An Interview with Dr. Gary Derickson (Part 2)

http://gracetheology.org, www.corban.edu, Dr. Gary W. Derickson
Dr. Gary W. Derickson

Dr. Gary Derickson is Professor of Biblical Studies at Corban University (http://www.corban.edu) in Salem, Oregon, where he has taught for over twenty years. He has published articles in Bibliotheca Sacra, ETS Studies Series, The Master’s Seminary Journal, and The Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society. He contributed to The Nelson’s Complete Study Bible, is co-author of The Disciplemaker: What Matters Most to Jesus (2001) with Dr. Earl Radmacher, and is author of the 1, 2 & 3 John: Evangelical Exegetical Commentary.Dr. Derickson studied Biblical exposition at Dallas Theological Seminary, and earned his Masters of Theology in 1986. He continued his doctoral studies under four godly men at Dallas Theological Seminary: Drs. Elliot E. Johnson, Stanley D. Toussaint, J. Dwight Pentecost, and Homer Heater, completing his Ph.D. He left Dallas to teach at Western Baptist College, which later became Corban University.

I know that in your study you came to a perspective on what many people have called a “purpose statement” for the book of 1st John, and it is with Chapter 5 verses 11-13. Can you share some of your perspective and your study in that in terms of what your learned from 1 John 5:11-13?

As I studied the book of 1 John, both in the commentary and even continuing to study it, I see its role more as providing Christians assurance that will enable them to really enjoy their life with God more. It has more to do with sanctification than it does with justification. It does apply tojustification, that we have this assurance from God that life is in His Son, but is written to believers so that they will continue to put their faith in Christ and enjoy the eternal life that God has given them. I guess one of the big things that I learned in my study of 1 John is that eternal life is both the person, Jesus Christ, and then the outgrowth of that relationship with Him. It’s not just a future destiny, but it’s a present experience.

You’ve put a lot of time in on the book, both in your dissertation and additionally with this commentary. Are there, for example, three truths that you really take from this epistle that you would want Christians to know, understand and apply? What are important truths from 1 John that Christians need to understand and apply?

I think one of the main truths really comes out of the first chapter. It’s foundational to our relationship with God, and it is our honesty with Him about our sin. Throughout 1 John, we do struggle with sin and it’s a reality in our lives that God has provided for. If we really want to experience and express the eternal life of God in and through our lives, we have to be honest with Him about our sin.

The second thing would be that we experience eternal life directly in proportion to our relationship with Christ. We can’t have a healthy relationship if we don’t have assurance of salvation, as described in 1 John Chapter 5, and, also if we don’t consciously, willingly, actively, obey his command to love one another.

A third lesson that I learned from 1 John is how central it is to God’s heart how we treat each other. It matters to Him how we as His children treat His other children. In fact, what I see in Chapter 4, which is what I’m going to talk about tomorrow [at the Free Grace Alliance meeting], is that the way God loves you and me is through you and me. We are His agents through whom He expresses His love to other Christians. If we don’t actively love one another, God can’t love us actively. He’s chosen not to use angels, but He’s chosen to use us and so we’re those agents through whom He manifests Himself to the world. He manifested Himself and made Himself visible through Jesus Christ, and now He makes Himself visible through you and me. He does it by our actively loving each other because that was what really moves His heart. That’s His passion and that’s what John brings out in the epistle.

Dr. Derickson’s books, The Disciplemaker: What Matters Most to Jesus (2001) with Dr. Earl Radmacher and 1, 2 & 3 John: Evangelical Exegetical Commentary, should be in everyone’s libraries. Be sure to pick them up through your printed book or computer library sources. Be on the lookout for Parts 2 and 3 of this interview with Dr. Derickson.

Todd Mathis, M.Div.
Phoenix, Arizona

http://gracetheology.org, Dr. Gary W. Derickson

A Tool for Studying, Living, and Teaching

Last week we introduced you to Dr. Gary Derickson in part one of an interview. Before we present part two of that interview next week, we thought it would be helpful for you to read some of his latest work on a most important book – First John.  As many of you know, the crucial and critical issue has to do with the actual purpose of the book. Most commentaries deal with this, but the best commentaries expose the reader to all critical thinking about what is possible, plausible and probable regarding purpose.  Dr. Derickson has provided such an examination.

Gary W. Derickson, First, Second, and Third John (ed. H. Wayne House, W. Hall Harris III, and Andrew W. Pitts; Evangelical Exegetical Commentary; Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012).

Purpose(s)

John states four purposes within his epistle, though they may not exhaust all of his reasons or motives for writing. In 1:3 he writes so that he and his readers may have fellowship with one another and with God. This is immediately followed by a second purpose, that he or they, or better, both, may experience joy (1:4). Then, near the end of his first section of instruction, he writes so that his readers “may not sin” (2:1). Finally, near the end of this epistle, he writes so that his readers might have assurance of their salvation on the basis of their belief in Jesus (5:13).

Interpreters often take either the first or last purpose statement as determining both the purpose and the message of the epistle. Those who interpret 5:13 as the controlling purpose often point to John 20:31, which they see as the stated purpose of the Gospel, as the pattern. The two purpose statements reflect a Johannine practice. “Whereas the Gospel of John is written with an evangelistic purpose, 1 John is penned to provide avenues of assurance whereby a believer can know he has eternal life through the Son” (Akin, 32). Similarly, arguing for the first purpose to be dominant on the basis that it occurs in the epistle’s prologue is equally unconvincing. Though one can point to the purpose of the Revelation being stated early (Rev 1:19), such a purpose statement is absent from the Gospel’s prologue, and this epistle appears to be more closely patterned after the Gospel than the Revelation (Brown, 90–91; Smalley, xxii).

Selecting one or the other purpose statement as controlling the message of the epistle has led to two approaches to the message of 1 John. The first view, and most commonly held, is best described as the “Test of Life” view. The second view, representing a minority of scholars and popular writers, is the “Test of Fellowship” view. In recent years a third approach has developed, taken by this commentary. The interpretation of the epistle should be based on its subject, the experience of eternal life, that is introducted in the prologue rather than any of the stated purposes.

Both purposes are accomplished along with John’s other two stated purposes, and none should be viewed as primary or comprehensive. Rather, the subject of the epistle can be found in its prologue, as with John’s Gospel, and should guide one’s interpretation of key passages. That being said, what follows is a sketch of the two views.

The Test of Life view identifies three tests in 1 John, which reveal whether the reader is in union with God and so has spiritual life. This approach was introduced, and so gained its name, by Robert Law in his commentary, Tests of Life. He proposed that John wrote to provide his readers three tests by which they could assure themselves of their salvation. These three tests of one’s justification include the tests of belief (orthodoxy), righteousness, and love. From then and to this day it has remained the dominant perspective for the purpose of the epistle.64 Hiebert generally concurs with Law, however at one point modified his outlook somewhat and saw John writing to provide “tests of a vital Christianity, which would promote the assurance of personal salvation in the lives of his readers and would enable them to detect and reject false teachers.” More recently, the view is expressed by Akin (115), who sees two primary tests, righteousness (obedience) and love, with perseverance as a third. John is providing tests by which a person can determine if he or she is “saved” and thereby has assurance of salvation. Failure to pass the tests indicates spiritual death, not immaturity. Reflecting Reformed Calvinism, it harmonizes the affirmations of John in the epistle with the Calvinist doctrine of perseverance. Within the Test of Life view, the absence of fruit in the life of a person indicates the absence of spiritual life (“No fruit, no life.”).67

The Test of Fellowship view also identifies the same three tests in 1 John as did the Test of Life view. However instead of revealing one’s union with God, they test one’s relationship—thus fellowship—with God. There are no tests in the epistle that determine the justification status of anyone. The purpose statement of 1:3 is central to the message of the epistle, and 5:13 relates only to its immediately preceding context. John’s use of κοινωνία is relational rather than indicating possession of or joint participation in eternal life. Its key representatives include Anderson, Hodges, King, Mitchell, and Pentecost.

The intermediate view sees neither purpose as dominant and does not see the tests being related to salvation. This is reflected by W. Robert Cook, who sees both purpose statements as controlling. Its two more recent representatives include Steven S. Smalley and Marianne M. Thompson.70 These two authors are closer to the view of this commentary, though not at every point.

In addition to these two dominant approaches to the purpose of the epistle, biblical scholars also define its purpose as either polemical or pastoral.72 For example, Akin says that “John’s central purpose is to encourage his readers to persevere in their belief in the apostolic proclamation of the Christ as Jesus, the incarnate Son of God” (Akin, 54). However, Brown (48), who builds much of his interpretation on his construction of the supposed “secessionists,” acknowledges that “a theory which gives prominence to the role of adversaries in the background does not automatically mean that I John should be classified as a polemical tract.” Even so, those statements identified as polemical are aimed at both encouraging the reader to remain true to the faith while, secondarily, refuting the heretical teachings that include both ethical issues as well as christological (Smalley, xxviii). Strecker (33) notes that the issue of false teachings cannot be central to the message of the epistle since John’s focus, especially throughout his various dualistic contrasts, is ethical. This is because the “Christian community itself is continually under siege” morally and not just because there are false teachers attempting to influence it.

John’s First Epistle appears to have a double purpose, namely, pastoral and polemical, with the pastoral dominant and the polemical brought out only as it relates to pastoral concerns. Westcott describes well John’s purposes related to the doctrinal and moral issues: “His object is polemical only so far as the clear unfolding of the essence of right teaching necessarily shews all error in its real character. In other words St John writes to call out a welcome for what he knows to be the Gospel and not to overthrow this or that false opinion” (Westcott, xxxix). Bruce understands it as a pastoral letter in response to the departure of Christians and the subsequent “perplexity” this caused and that he wrote “to state the criteria of truth and life, and to help his readers to see that they, and not the seceders, satisfied these criteria” (Bruce, 27). The polemical element of the epistle cannot be ignored in favor of arguments for a purely pastoral purpose (Smalley, xxxi). The themes of Christ’s incarnation and deity clearly indicate theological issues involving christology that needed to be addressed (Brown, 48). However these issues serve only as secondary to the overall concern of the apostle to encourage his flock. Though John clearly addresses issues raised by false teachers whose salvation he rejects (1 John 2:19), often referred to as the “secessionists,” he need not address them constantly throughout his epistle any more than Paul did in his. As will be argued later with particular passages in question, what is often attributed to the secessionists need not be, and, in fact, makes better pastoral sense than polemical when recognized as addressing the faithful rather than responding to the faithless. The two main passages that clearly address the problem of false teachers are 2:18–28 (“they went out from us”) and 4:1–6 (“test the spirits”). Others, such as 1:6–10 and 2:4–11, which are usually identified as either quotations or allusions to doctrines of the opponents need not be seen in such a way if a pastoral concern is attributed to them as opposed to a polemical concern. As will be seen in the commentary of those passages, they should be interpreted in light of John’s pastoral concern unless clear evidence shows otherwise.

John’s pastoral purpose is to promote fellowship within their congregation (1:3) by encouraging them in their faith and walk with God (2:12–17). He does include in his epistle correctives to false doctrines that were appearing and threatening the faith of the church near the end of the first century (2:26). However, he does this as they relate to his pastoral concerns. Deception ultimately degrades unity, which is only possible in the sphere of Christ’s love. Though it does appear that some false teachers had arisen within the churches of the recipients of this letter (2:18, 19, and 26), they are neither the reason for his writing nor the focus of this epistle. Nonetheless, when he does turn his attention to them, John is not gentle, as evidenced by the terms he uses to describe them. He addressed them because the churches would be enabled to maintain unity of the faith and love for fellow believers (3:11) by being able to distinguish between true and false teachers. For John, one’s behavior springs from one’s belief. Also, if a believer believes the wrong things, he or she will act accordingly. All sin results from unbelief. As a result, though behavior may not prove or disprove one’s justification (contra Law’s tests of life), it certainly indicates the state of one’s sanctification (contra Burge, 96).

Several key themes are developed in this epistle. They include eternal life, knowing God, and abiding in faith. Additionally, the author uses contrasts, such as walking in the light and walking in the darkness, being either a child of God or a child of the devil, love or hate, and life or death. These contrasts delineate between true and false teachers and between those believers in fellowship with God and those who are not. However where they bring the salvation of false teachers into question, they never serve as tests of the readers themselves with regard to their salvation, only their sanctification.

This letter includes a call to remain (abide) in the truths they had been taught by John and the other apostles rather than following the new ideas of the false teachers. This is the key to maintaining fellowship with God as well as other believers and is essential to loving others as well. Orthopraxy, biblically correct living, results from orthodoxy, biblically correct thinking. Christlike living results from a correct view of Christ Jesus. One’s view of Christ is expressed in a person’s conduct of life, particularly in how he or she treats other believers. Thus John exhorts his readers to express their orthodox belief in Jesus by righteous living and practically demonstrated love for others.

Though christological issues are addressed by John, the relational issues are given greater emphasis in his first epistle. How we treat others stems from our view of Christ and God. Even so, John makes it clear that our motivation to love is based on God’s actions on our behalf rather than on Christology alone. Thus John connects our actions to a response to God’s acts and nature rather than to the Incarnation.

Although you may not agree with all of his conclusions, I hope you do see that Dr. Derickson has provided a very “full service” service commentary on the book of First John.

Serving Him with you
Until He comes for us,
Fred Chay, Ph.D.
Managing Editor, Grace Theology Press

http://gracetheology.org, Dr. Gary W. Derickson, www.corban.edu

An Interview with Dr. Gary Derickson (Part 1)

http://gracetheology.org, www.corban.edu, Dr. Gary W. Derickson
Dr. Gary W. Derickson

Dr. Gary Derickson is Professor of Biblical Studies at Corban University (http://www.corban.edu) in Salem, Oregon, where he has taught for over twenty years. He has published articles in Bibliotheca Sacra, ETS Studies Series, The Master’s Seminary Journal, and The Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society. He contributed to The Nelson’s Complete Study Bible, is co-author of The Disciplemaker: What Matters Most to Jesus (2001) with Dr. Earl Radmacher, and is author of the 1, 2 & 3 John: Evangelical Exegetical Commentary.Dr. Derickson studied Biblical exposition at Dallas Theological Seminary, and earned his Masters of Theology in 1986. He continued his doctoral studies under four godly men at Dallas Theological Seminary: Drs. Elliot E. Johnson, Stanley D. Toussaint, J. Dwight Pentecost, and Homer Heater, completing his Ph.D. He left Dallas to teach at Western Baptist College, which later became Corban University.

Can you tell us a little bit about what you do at Corban University?

I teach Bible exposition courses beginning with a Bible survey class. I also teach Hermeneutics classes and the Life of Christ. One of my favorite courses that I teachis Daniel and Revelation together. I also serve as the Department Chairman for the Bible and Theology Department within our School of Ministry.

When did you decide that you would get involved with Bible and theology teaching?

When I was on active duty in the Army people kept asking me why I was in the Army and why I wasn’t a preacher or a counselor or a teacher. One day someone challenged me to pray about it and so I spent a year praying. I loved being in the Army as I was having a successful career, and after six months of prayer I felt like I would stay in the Army and teach Sunday School or lead Bible studies. Every time I said something like that, the Army sent me off for a month of training and upon my return the Sunday School class or Bible study was gone.

After a year of prayer I came to the realization that when I was an 8-year-old child I felt called by God to ministry and that call was still alive, still real. I resigned my commission and went to Dallas Seminary to study, where initially the idea was to go back into the military as a chaplain. Through my studies I became interested in Archeology, so after my Master’s degree I tried to get into an Archelogy program at Southwestern and was rejected. As a result, I stayed at Dallas to study Bible Exposition.

While I was finishing up my doctoral program, I was invited to come out to Oregon and teach and I’ve been there ever since. I discovered that that’s where God wanted me. So I ended up a teacher through a series of decisions essentially to obey God’s call, but I didn’t know where he was taking me. The author of Hebrews talks about entering into God’s rest and I can say I’ve entered into the place where God wanted me to be.I know that I’m doing what He wants me to do and it’s exciting.

I wanted to talk to you some about your commentary on 1st, 2nd and 3rd John. I am a Logos user and very early on signed up for the Evangelical Exegetical Commentaries and I was thrilled to get this first commentary by Dr. Gary Derickson. This is the same guy that co-authored The Disciplemaker. What was involved with producing this work? What motivated you to write the commentary?I have greatly appreciated my reading and study from this book.

I learned that the commentary series was being launched and at the initial time it was going to be written at the lay level. My dissertation had been on 1st John and I knew the general editor, Dr. Wayne House. I told him that I was available and he said “OK well why don’t you do this one?” and so he invited me to write it. I took on the project because of my love of 1st John and the desire to extend my impact beyond a classroom and hopefully help the broader body of Christ.

I think we’ve seen that reviewers with an alternate perspective on some of your views have been very complimentary. In the commentary, you used a theological method in writing it that exhibits and kind of an unfolding of researching concepts. Can you describe the method that you used as you wrote the commentary?

First, I personally performed exegesis and outlining to decide on what I felt the passages meant and then I began consulting the commentary tradition. In commentaries, I went back at least a couple hundred years and I also researched everything that I could find from modern times, both in commentaries and in journal articles and various other books to see what the different views were. One of my goals was, on every verse, on every issue, to honestly reflect all the alternatives and then to defend my view.

In addition to that, I presented the evidence when it came to my views because I knew that some of my views are minority views. My views are a grace view and not Reformed nor Lordship, and I knew that my view would bring challenges. I made sure that when I took a position I understood why I took the position and could also explain and show that I knew the other positions. I wanted to demonstrate that it wasn’t out of ignorance that I took my view. Also, one of my goals was to make the commentary a resource. As I studied, I saw the different ways commentaries were done and I wanted to make mine a useful tool for study and research.If someone wanted to study an issue then they could use my commentary to find all the sources and it would be a good tool even if they disagreed with me. In the end, I wanted the work to be a good tool that that could be used for personal studies.

Dr. Derickson’s books, The Disciplemaker: What Matters Most to Jesus (2001) with Dr. Earl Radmacher and 1, 2 & 3 John: Evangelical Exegetical Commentary, should be in everyone’s libraries. Be sure to pick them up through your printed book or computer library sources. Be on the lookout for Parts 2 and 3 of this interview with Dr. Derickson.

Todd Mathis
Phoenix, Arizona

http://gracetheology.org, Sandra Abbott, God's Grace

An Interview with Author Sandra Abbott

http://gracetheology.org, Sandra AbbottSandra A. Abbott (B.S. Ed., M.A., Ed., Biblical Studies Diploma, Phoenix Seminary) retired after 25 years teaching in her neighborhood schools. Since then, she has researched and written her own teaching commentaries for the following books of the Bible: John, Romans, 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, Hebrews, James, 1 and 2 Peter, and 1, 2, and 3 John. Through these writings, she has been teaching her weekly study group called Fellowship of Friends for over 10 years. Sandra has been the featured teacher at retreats, brunches, and other gatherings. Sandra has been married to her high school sweetheart, Bill Abbott, for over 50 years. She is a mother, grandmother, mentor, cancer survivor, and lifelong learner. Her passion is to teach biblical truths wrapped in a soft smile by God’s grace and for His glory.

 

 

Can you tell us a little about the title of the book – God’s Grace for Daughters of Eve: Lovers, Mothers and Others?

You will read the timeless truths of God’s goodness to a girl who giggled, a woman who wept, and one who went to war. You will also learn about His grace for a mama by a manger, a well woman, and a beloved bride. God adores mothers, lovers and others, just because He can. And so He does.

C.S. Lewis, in his Chronicles of Narnia, called girls of all ages: Daughters of Eve. This devotional book is written through the perspective of God’s grace for Daughters of Eve. Love rules. Grace reigns. God’s unreasonable kindness is unearned and often quite unexpected. License ignores it and legalism wants to supervise it. But liberty lovingly lives it, because God generously gives it. Grace is truly amazing

Who is the intended audience for the book?

It took a long time, but that which was planned before time was braided into the tangles of time by the hand of God, through His grace and for His glory. This is a story of Daughters of Eve: for men who marry them, sons who honor them, daughters who delight in them, people who pastor them and above all for women who are them.

It seems as this book gives us glimpses of God’s grace as demonstrated to women in Scripture?

My passion is to teach biblical truths wrapped in a soft smile, thus God’s Grace for Daughters of Eve was born. Linda Dillow wrote of this book, “A devotional with depth but also humor? Can a Daughter of Eve learn and laugh at the same time? I did and you will too!”

What do you mean in the summary of the book that in each story there is a little glitch?

Just like your story, and my story, you will discover a glitch in each of these stories; a minor mishap with major meaning — when life falls short, because we all fall short. Yet God rescues us, His perfectly imperfect children through one simple earthshaking sacrifice. Grace abounds.

Can this book be used in a Bible study group?

This devotional book can form the foundation for a retreat, group Bible study, or personal quiet time.  It also can be used to mentor or disciple others. In addition to the stories of many different Daughters of Eve, each chapter has a workbook section for personal application. Teaching tips are included, as are extensive Scripture readings.

What do you want people who buy your book to really get out of it?

Lessons linger and a line lasts which became a lifeline of love from the Father to the Son through the Holy Spirit for all who would believe the powerful promises of God—by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

What are some final words of wisdom that you would like to pass on to people reading this article?

By seeing glimpses of God’s great grace for other Daughters of Eve, the reader may be able to experience His lavish love personally, and permanently, through God’s amazing grace.

To find out more about Sandra’s ministry as a Bible teacher, retreat speaker, and her other books, contact her at aslans@cox.net.

http://gracetheology.org/, Grace Theology Press

Help for Times Like These

It is Advent season, and I’m sure you will hear and perhaps prepare a number of sermons from the scripture that reflect on the theology contained in the story of Jesus. You might even use Isaiah 9 to provide a backdrop. The irony of the first Christmas is that in a place where you would least expect to find what you need – a stable – you indeed find everything you need … the Savior.

In one of the most prophetic portions of sacred scripture we find the theological background for the baby Jesus born in a stable, declared to be the Savior, and sent to save sinners. In Isaiah 6-9, written 700 years before the birth of Christ, we see the Book of Emanuel containing two prophetic passages declaring the call and character of Jesus.

The name “Emanuel, God with us” and the nature of this child meets the deep need of man who then as well as now lives in a broken world, an age of anxiety and alienation.

The names attributed in this prophetic promise have been immortalized in the music by Handel entitled, “The Messiah.” The decision as to whether there are four or five descriptions depends on your text and theology. But we will stick with the famous fourfold division. My friend Dr. Gary Inrig articulates it this way. In these names we see:

  1. A Wonderful Counselor who understands the complexities of life. Jesus is not a detached analyst but a committed, compassionate, companion in our concerns and the complexities of life.
  2. A Mighty God who deals with the circumstances of life. The prophet reminds us that “Behold, I am the LORD, (Yahweh) the God (Elohim) of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?” (Jer. 32:27) The answer to the rhetorical question is NO, there is not! Jesus is able and available to help in time of need. Our Lord is not only profound and powerful, but also personal and perpetual.
  3. An Eternal Father who can deal with the changes of life. He is the “The father of eternity” perhaps coming from the Ugaritic Canaanite language (Abu Sunimi: father of years). The point is not that Jesus is the Father of the Trinity. The issue is His character. The Messiah is paternal in His care for His children. As the Psalmist declared: “Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him. (Psalm 103:13) Jesus said in His departure: “And lo I am with you always even to the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20)
  4. A Prince of Peace who can transform our brokenness and make us complete. This Prince will bring peace, protection, and prosperity. Peace “Shalom” is not simply the lack of war but a state of wholeness, completeness, and unity. There is no peace in Israel or in the rest of the world today. But the Prince is coming, and He by virtue of both His name and nature, will bring peace to all men. (2 Sam. 7:12-14; Psalm 89; Dan. 7:11)

It was Henry David Thoreau who said, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” But the Lord has declared that we have:

  1. A wonderful counselor who understands the complexities of life
  2. A mighty God who can deal with the circumstances of life
  3. An eternal Father who can deal with the changes of life
  4. A prince of peace who can heal the brokenness and make us complete in life

Jesus came through the crib and left by the cross and will come again to be crowned and consummate His Kingdom. In that knowledge, enjoy this advent season.

“Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Heb. 13:20-21)

Serving Him with You
Until He Comes for Us,

Fred Chay, Ph.D.
GTP Managing Editor

Dr. Charlie Bing, gracetheology.org, gracelife.org

Understanding Difficult Bible Passages: An Interview with Dr. Charlie Bing (Part 2)

Grace, Salvation and Discipleship , Charlie Bing, gracetheology.org

Editorial Note from Dr. Fred Chay: One of the purposes of Grace Theology Press is to provide fresh resources concerning grace theology to the church. This week we highlight a new resource from a veteran author and choice servant of the Lord, Dr. Charlie Bing. For the past 30 years, Charlie has provided leadership and resources for those of us who hold to grace theology. We are pleased to have published his latest book and hope you enjoy our interview with him.

GraceLife Ministries Founder and Director Charles Bing earned his Th.M. and Ph.D. from Dallas Theological Seminary. Dr. Bing pastored Burleson Bible Church in Texas for 19 years before transitioning to GraceLife full-time in 2005. He has served as Adjunct Professor of Biblical Studies for LeTourneau University from 1992-2011 and is a former President of the Free Grace Alliance. He is active as a speaker for churches and conferences in the United States and abroad and has published a number of books and articles on the gospel, salvation, evangelism, and discipleship. Dr. Bing recently partnered with Grace Theology Press to release his book Grace, Salvation and Discipleship: How to Understand Some Difficult Bible Passages.

I’ve read the book and there is a lot very helpful content in it. I thought the appendixes were helpful as well as a very useful summary of the principles of Bible interpretation presented early in the book. Can you give us an example of a passage and how you explain that in an A Truth / B Truth format?

Well, one example might be Matthew 7:15-20 where Matthew talks about false prophets and how to know them. It is in this passage where the statement is made, “By your fruits you will know them.” That passage is often used in the A Truth sense where it is used to assess who is a Christian by what they do. The problem with that is that the context there might lead us to another interpretation that’s not talking about our salvation and how to recognize a Christian, but how to recognize a false prophet. It says that they come to us as wolves in sheep’s clothing. If these false prophets are wearing sheep’s clothing, then obviously they look like Christians in that they are doing what Christians do. The question is, what is their fruit? We look in the context and we continue on to Matthew 12 where we see that the fruit could very well be referring to their words because that is the test of a false prophet in Deuteronomy. The false prophet is confirmed by his teaching. By reviewing the context and comparing it with other Scriptures we see that the passage is not teaching that we can recognize Christians by what they do, but we recognize false prophets by what they teach. This is not necessarily an A Truth but more of a B Truth on how to recognize false prophets.

Now the book is organized sequentially through the New Testament. You have Matthew, Mark, Luke, the Gospel of John; you have a section on Acts, the Epistles of Paul, Hebrews, James, Peter, John and then Revelation. How did you pick the passages you addressed in the book?

I picked the passages first of all because these are the passage that people have questions about when I teach at conferences. Secondly, they’re also the ones that many people with differing theology will often bring up against our view that the gospel of grace is absolutely a free gift. After about 30 years of Bible teaching, I hear the same questions over and over again. I initially began to write GraceNotes to answer these questions, and this book is really an extension of GraceNotes.

What do you want people who buy your book to really get out of it?

First of all, I want them to take away a sincere love and appreciation for God’s Word, especially if it is allowed to speak for itself. I want to be pulled by God’s Word, and I don’t want to be pushed by theology. So much of our Biblical interpretation is based on a theology that we have adopted from somewhere, and it pushes us to certain understandings or traditional understandings without thinking about what the passage really says in its context. I want people to let God speak for Himself, and the best way to do that is to let the Bible interpret itself in its context. The highest appreciation that we can have for God’s Word is to understand it in context, and from there go out with a clear idea of God, the gospel and discipleship.

What are some final words that you would like to pass on to those who are reading this? Do you have any additional comments for people who will buy your book?

Well, first of all, I know that not everyone’s going to agree with every interpretation I offer of a passage. Sometimes I’m not extremely settled on some of them myself, but that’s not the point of the book. The point of the book is to get you thinking about where the context leads us, and it may lead us to a different interpretation. The point is to be faithful to the context and faithful to principles of Bible study. In response, I show how the gospel remains absolutely free and discipleship remains our constant commitment to follow the Lord Jesus Christ after we have trusted in Him as our Savior.

Thank you to Dr. Bing for this interview. To find out more about Dr. Bing and GraceLife Ministries, go to gracelife.org where you can receive more information on the ministry. At gracelife.org, sign up for the newsletter or purchase the book Grace, Salvation and Discipleship: How to Understand Some Difficult Bible Passages.

Todd Mathis
Phoenix, Arizona