Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Reflections on Romans (3)


Paul is a receiver of grace and apostleship (1:5). Paul brings out a number of issues in this text.

The phrase “Though whom” connects verses 4 and 5.  Clearly, Paul is a receiver by the means of Jesus Christ. It reveals the continued activity of Christ and indicates that God is the source (cf. 1 Cor. 1:9; Gal. 1:1). Some downgrade this phrase, saying it is “scarcely necessary.”[1]Though whom” or “by whom (KJV) is the preposition genitive, dia, signifying immediate agency or instrumentality. Wallace identifies it as a genitive of production which produces the nouns (grace and apostleship).[2]

The main verb is the word “received,” which means to take in hand, thus, to receive as a gift. It applies directly to Paul. It is used with the word “we,” an epistolary plural, which we would call an editorial “we” and refers to Paul alone. It speaks of Paul, who alone is the Apostle to the Gentiles (cf. 1:8-16; 11:13)

What he received is identified by the two main nouns: The nouns of grace and apostleship entail his mission and area of responsibility. They specify the awareness that his ministry is unique to the Gentiles (cf. 1:8-16). He states clearly in verse 5 that his ministry for all the Gentiles. There is some debate on the understanding of these two nouns. Either way is permissible.[3] Some understand these as two distinct things: grace and apostleship. Others take it as a hendiadys denoting grace-apostleship. If this is correct, it certainly signifies that the apostleship was a gift of grace. However, Haldane is probably correct that gracious gifts to be used in His service.

The purpose of grace and apostleship to Paul is “to bring about [the] obedience of faith” (1:5). The phrase conveys an evangelistic element. It is used both at the beginning of the epistle and at the end (16:26). Gentile obedience has particular reference to the ministry of Paul and his gospel or apostleship (15:18). Paul received grace and the gracious gift of apostleship for the purpose of obedience of faith.[4] It gives the essence of Paul’s ministry. The phrase itself has given way to a number of interpretations, which Longenecker contributes to the uncertainty of the meaning of the genitive (of faith). He identifies 5 ways in which it could be taken, but he takes it as a genitive of source.[5] Thus, the obedience that comes from faith. However, it seems that most take it as a genitive of apposition. Moo makes these two statements the same: “This obedience to Christ as Lord is always closely related to faith, both as an initial, decisive step of faith and as a continuing faith relationship with Christ. In light of this, we understand the words obedience and faith to be mutually interpreting; obedience always involves faith, and faith always involves obedience.[6] Godet says, “The only possible meaning is: the obedience which consists in faith itself.[7] Obedience and faith in apposition are common in this epistle: Rom. 1:8; 16:19, 10:16; 11:23, 30, 31; 15:18. It is the believer’s response to the gospel of grace, especially the Gentile aspect of the gospel.

The object of this mission to bring obedience of faith “among all the Gentiles” (1:5). Paul’s apostleship was a Gentile apostleship (Rom. 11:13; Eph. 3:1-10). Only Paul has such an apostleship…it was unique, directed, and focused upon the Gentiles. The core of “obedience of faith’ is a part of the mystery/secret (Rom. 16:25-26). It is a manifestation of the mystery. It is the substance of Gentile eternal salvation. It is a realization of the dispensation of grace (Eph. 3:2-3). The heart of its content is the equality of Jew and Gentile (Eph. 3:6). “Paul’s commission is to be viewed as other less than the eschatological actualization of the eternal plan to create faith’s obedience among the nations[8] (Eph. 3:10-12)

It should not be limited to the Pauline mission but includes ethical elements as well. This involved obedience, which is an ethical demand. Surely, the phrase included an ethical sidestep to the Law. As Garlington states:

Whereas before to be a member of the covenant people was to live within the boundary set by the law, the eschatological people have assumed a new corporate identity. And since there is now “no distinction” between Jew and Gentile (1:16-17; 2:11; 10:12; etc.), Paul endeavors in Romans to expound the ethical and social expression of this new corporate entity.[9]

The ethical demand centers upon the phrase “obedience to the faith.” “Faith obedience is set in vivid contrast with legal obedience” correctly states Welch.[10] It is now by faith, not the law, which controls this new corporate body.  In every occurrence in Romans obedience has reference to Christian behavior (cf. 2:8, 5:19; 6:12, 16-17). Ethical obedience has the essence of faith. This is clear in Paul, indicating disobedience is equivalent to unbelief (cf. Rom 10:16, 21; 11:23; 15:31). 

[1]  C.E.B. Cranfield, ICC: ROMANS, [Edinburgh, T&T Clark, 1975], 1:66
[2]  Daniel B Wallace, GREEK GRAMMAR: BEYOND THE BASICS, [Grand Rapids MI, Zondervan, 1996], 105-106.
[3]  C.E.B. Cranfield, ICC; ROMANS, 1:66;
[4] This “gives voice to the design of the apostles missionary gospel” notes D.B. Garlington, “The obedience of Faith in the Letter to the Romans,” Part 1; WESTMINSTER THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL 52, 1990, 201.
[5]  Richard N. Longenecker, NIGTC: ROMANS, 79-80; See Cranfield, ROMANS, 1:66 for seven options.
[6]  Douglas J. Moo, NICNT: ROMANS, 54.
[7]  F. Godet, COMMENTARY ON THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS, [Grand Rapids MI, Zondervan, reprint 1956], 82.
[8] D,B. Garlington, The Obedience of Faith,” Part 1, 205.
[9] IBID, Part 1, 202.
[10] Charles H. Welch, JUST AND THE JUSTIFIED, [London, Berean Publishing Trust, reprint 1971], 9.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Book Review of Dispensationalism

Michael J. Vlach, DISPENSATIONALISM: REVISED AND UPDATED, Los Angeles, CA, Theological Studies Press, 2017; 112 pages.

Michael Vlach (of Masters Seminary) has produced a good survey on the issues of dispensationalism. He classifies himself as a mix between a revised and progressive dispensationalist. However, any dispensationalist, no matter how he classifies himself does not attempt to settle the issues. The book deals with basic characteristics of dispensationalism: Its fundament beliefs and myths consider the subject. It covers:

A very brief of history of the system and the variations within dispensationalism.

The essential beliefs of dispensationalism. He gives six essential beliefs:
1.      A historical-grammatical hermeneutic.
2.      The church is not a replacement of Israel.
3.      The Church and Israel are distinct. The church is not the new Israel.
4.      The spiritual unity between Jew and Gentile, but does not cancel the distinctions between the two.
5.      Israel has a future of salvation and role in the Messianic kingdom.
6.      The “seed of Abraham” has a promise to Israel and the Gentiles which are different they are not canceling their unique positions.

He proceeds on to myths about dispensationalism. He centers upon the five most popular myths. Including that it teaches two ways of salvation, it is related to Arminianism, antinomianism, non-Lordship salvation, and it primarily centers on seven dispensations. Plus, lesser myths. He calls the myths false ideas.

This revised work includes 3 new chapters: (1) Continuity and Discontinuity in Dispensationalism; (2) Key Differences between Dispensationalism and Covenant Theology, and (3) Recommended Sources on Dispensationalism. He gives a good survey on these issues. He hits the essence of the issues involved. I find the chapters of continuity/discontinuity and its differences with Covenant Theology very good.

The book is short, reader friendly, and does a good job on focusing on some key issues. Issues that are common across the spectrum of dispensation views. It will be helpful to any dispensationalist and non-dispensationalist. He writes from the major Acts 2 position. The are two weaknesses of the book from my view: (1)One weakness is that he completely overlooks the mid-acts dispensational position. (2) He also ignores Dispensational Theologies (such as Lewis Sperry Chafer and Charles F Baker) on his resource list. Neither take away from this excellent work. He has produced a consistent introduction to the field. It will be a helpful introduction to dispensationalism, ideal for beginning students, and will clarify some issues within the field. I found it to be an enjoyable read and refresher on dispensationalism. 

Pastor Jim Gray
Berean Advocate
Maricopa AZ

Monday, July 10, 2017

Reflecting on Romans (2)


Romans 1:1-4

Paul was “set apart for the gospel of God.” (1:1). Paul sees himself as “set apart.” This separation is to something, not from something. His calling and separation were to preach the gospel to the Gentiles (Gal. 1:15; Rom. 1:5). Paul was “set apart” for this purpose at birth [Gal. 1:15-16]; conversion [Acts 9:15]; and by commission [Acts 13:2]. It has the thought of dedication, especially in the Old Testament. It was used of the firstborn (Ex. 13:12); the first of the harvest which is to be given to the Lord (Num. 15:20); service by the Levites to the Lord (Num. 8:11); and the nation itself as God’s possession (Lev. 20:26).

One of the most important aspects of Paul’s teaching is the gospel. Paul has many different terms in referring to the gospel. Since in Romans the gospel is referred to numerous times by Paul and 60 times in his writings it is vital to see what he means by the term. The word gospel means good news or glad tidings and presents the message of God or His saving work. The verb (evangelizomai) means to announce or preach the gospel (1 Corinthians 1:17; 9:16, 23).

Paul uses this phrase, “Gospel of God,” six times (Romans 1:1; 15:16; 1 Thessalonians 2:2, 8, 9; 1 Timothy 1:11). Mark (1:14) and Peter uses it once (1 Peter 4:7). This has two possible meanings; both related: First, it could mean God’s ownership, or second, the giving of the gospel by God. A survey of the expression as used in Scripture indicates that this is a generic term referring to any type of good news given by God. A survey of the term reveals:

The preaching and message of John the Baptist (Mark 1:14). Popularly called the gospel of the kingdom. It is identified as the Gospel of God.
Paul connects the term with the gospel he was called and set aside for, which reached back to the promise of Jesus’ humanity and exaltation. (Romans 1:1-6). This promised was through the prophets and Old Testament scriptures, certainly refers back to the promise given to Abraham. 
Ministering the gospel of God to Christ and to the Gentiles (Romans 15:16).
Paul preached the gospel of God (1 Thessalonians 2:2, 9).
God imparted the gospel of God to believers (1 Thessalonians 2:8).
Peter uses the term (1 Peter 4:17) in the context of the rejection of the gospel of God.

We can safely conclude that the term does not apply automatically to any particular form of the gospel. It is a generic term. All gospels or aspects of the gospel can be said to be the gospel of God. He is the origin and giver of good news in all dispensations. It can be said that the gospel of God is the core of any gospel. The common core in all the uses of the gospel of God is Jesus Christ—his person, work, and exaltation. Two vital things need to be understood as to the term.

It does not rule out the fact that there can be different aspects or gospels under this general heading, such as the gospel of the kingdom; the gospel of grace; the gospel of peace, and others. He is the origin, communicator, and definer of the the different gospels and its aspects.
Each Gospel of God is determined or identified by the context or modifiers in the text. Gospels can have a different focus, forms, instructions, and limitations; but all are the Gospel of God and have a common core—Jesus Christ (cf. Mark 1:1; Rom. 15:19).
Dispensationally we could diagram the Gospel of God as:

TO ISRAEL                                                        TO THE CHURCH
Gospel of the Kingdom                                       Gospel of Grace
Gospel of the Circumcision                         Gospel of Uncircumcision
                                                                         Gospel of Peace
The Earthly Kingdom                                Church, the Body of Christ

The gospel of God opens and closes the book of Romans (1:1-4 cf. 16:25-27). The focus is on the gospel of God which Paul identifies as “my gospel.” It concerns the proclamation of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles (1:3 cf. 16:25). It is in accordance with, but not in fulfillment of the Old Testament (1:2 cf. 16:25). It is now directed to the Gentiles apart from Israel (1:5 cf. 16:26). This new avenue of the gospel is part of the mystery revealed to Paul (16:25; Eph. 3:1-10). Paul also uses the terms “the gospel of His Son;” “the gospel of Christ;” and “my gospel” to describes this gospel in Romans. 

The foundation of the Gospel of God[1] is threefold. While some dispensationalists seem confused as to this foundation by either holding Paul preached the gospel of the kingdom during his early ministry; or that Paul’s gospel of grace was prophesied in the Old Testament. Neither is the case. There is a threefold foundation common to all the gospels of God (Rom 1:1-4 cf. 1 Cor 15:3-4; 2 Tim 2:7-8).

The Promise of Christ: “Which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures” (Rom. 1:2). This could be understood as phase 1 of the gospel. It is to be understood as the promise given beforehand in the Word of God (i.e. Old Testament). He marks the source of the promise, with the Word of God being the channel by which the promise was made known. The promise is akin to prophecy. The clause “concerning His Son” should be understood with the subject of prophetic promise. The basis of the promise is found in Genesis 3:15. He is the star out of Jacob (Num. 24:17). He will be a prophet like Moses (Deut. 18:15). He is the fulfiller of the covenant made with David (2 Sam 7).
The Incarnation of Christ: “concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant (seed) of David according to the flesh” (1:3).[2] The prophecy reaches its climax with the coming of the promised one. The word born or made (KJV) is the Greek verb which has the meaning of transition from one state to another.[3] This is phase 2 of the gospel of God, which focuses on the Son of God becoming a man. This brings out His preexistence to His existence of manhood—the incarnation. He was born as a descendant of David. This involves his qualification as Messiah. He came as the seed of David. He became one of us taking on flesh which indicates His human existence with all it features—yet without sin.  
The Resurrection of Christ: “who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1:4). This is phase 3 of the gospel. The resurrection is a public declaration of the deity of Christ. It also is in connection with the Holy Spirit (Spirit of holiness). The gospel rests on the cornerstone of Christ—who was promised, incarnated, and resurrected.

There is no gospel apart from these elements. Paul calls the death, burial, and resurrection the “first importance;” (first of all—KJV) (1 Cor. 15:3).    

The gospel gives three aspects in relation to the believer:

      It has the power to save (Rom. 1:2; 1 Cor:1-4).
It has the power to keep the believer secure (1 Pet. 1:5),
It has the power to establish (Rom. 16:25). The knowledge of the mystery is essential to establish us as a member of the body of Christ. The mystery aspect of the gospel was kept secret until it was made know through Paul (Eph. 3:2-3). This mystery explains that the earthly kingdom (preached in the Old Testament and Gospels) has not come and will not come until after the dispensation of the mystery is
Stam asserts:

“In the light of the Word of God as a whole, and especially of the Epistle to the Romans itself, it is clear that Paul here refers not to the contents of his gospel but simply to the fact that God had predicted that He had wonderful good news in store for mankind.”[4]

[1]  God is a most important word in this epistle. It is found 153 times in Romans (once every 46 words), yet this is often overlooked. This is a book about God and His message and work on behalf of mankind. See Leon Morris, PNTC: THE EPISTLES TO THE ROMANS, [Grand Rapid MI, Eerdmans, 1988], 20.
[2]  Some scholars hold that verses 3-4 are part of an early hymn or confession formula quoted by Paul. I do not think that is likely. 
[3]  Leon Morris, TNTC: ROMANS, 42.
[4]   Cornelius R Stam,  ROMANS, 26.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017



The book of Romans is a theological masterpiece. Stam reflects the common view that it is “one of the most profound, yet one of the most enlightening books of the Bible—indeed of all literature[1]

The epistle opens with the conventional form of letters in that time—writer’s name; recipients; and greetings. Paul packs a world of information into the salutation about his position, purpose, and message. The salutation is one sentence in the Greek text (1:1-7). It is also the longest salutation given by Paul.

As we begin to reflect on Romans, let us begin with the beginning—Romans 1:1. It opens the epistle with centering upon Paul’s position. It is twofold:

1. He is a servant of Jesus Christ.[2] Unlike the Roman world which looked down on servants, and would never refer to themselves as servants—Paul lifts the word to a place of honor and respect. It is the biblical view, not the worldly view. This view saw being a servant of the Lord as honorable (Gen. 18:3; 2 Sam. 7:19; Amos 3:7). While some understand the word as simply an expression of humility, it speaks of our position in relation to God—we are his servants (cf. 6:22). It marks ownership. He is a purchased possession of Christ (just like us). Being a servant suggest two things: property and obedience. We are His to do as He wills us to do. No matter what other responsibility we have in the church, we are first of all obedient servants before we can be anything else.

2. Paul is “a called apostle” (cf. 1 Cor. 1:1). The word apostle indicates one sent to command under the authority of another. The word specifies an identification of office, authority, and responsibility. Outside the New Testament is was used rarely indicating an old navy term for one sent to command a ship. It also signified a royal aspect, for one sent in the name of the king, an emissary. An apostle was one sent to represent his ruler or master. He was an apostle by calling—not self-appointment, arrogance, or ambition (Gal. 1:1; 2 Cor. 1;1; Eph. 1:1; Col. 1:1; 2 Tim. 1:1). It is a divine gracious mandate. “God is mentioned at once as the primary legitimating factor behind Paul’s life work.”[3] Calling himself an apostle indicates the consciousness of his commission and call by God. This was a direct call from God through the vision of Christ on the Damascus road (Acts 9:3-6, 15-16; 26:15-18; 1 Cor. 9:1). He is identified as the Apostle to the Gentiles (Rom. 11:13), the only one to be so designated. His authority was delegated to him to be both servant and apostle to the Gentiles. Paul is Christ’s Apostle unto the Gentiles for the dispensation of grace. William R. Newell says, “Throughout church history, to depart from Paul has been heresy.”[4]

[1]  C.R. Stam, COMMENTARY ON THE EPISTLE OF PAUL TO THE ROMANS, [Chicago IL, Berean Bible Society, 1981], xvii.
[2]  Used 4 times in the first seven verses.
[3]  James D. Dunn, THE THEOLOGY OF PAUL THE APOSTLE, [Grand Rapids MI, Eerdmans, 1998], 29.
[4]  William R. Newell, ROMANS: VERSE BY VERSE, [Chicago, Moody Press, 1938], 2.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Final events: The Last Judgment


Revelation 20:11-15

After the throwing of Satan into the lake of fire to join the antichrist and the false prophet comes the judgment of the world. “it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). There is no tolerance, nor exceptions; the death rate is still once per person. We are born to die. Death has been called the most “democratic institution” in the world.[1] Future judgment by God after death is a keynote of Scripture (Eccles. 12:14; Dan. 12:2; Acts 17:31; 2 Tim. 4:1). Newell comments, “The great white throne is not dispensational or governmental in any sense, but a final, personal, eternal assize.”[2]

The judgment in Revelation is known as the white throne judgment. Amillennialists hold that this is a general last judgment, including believers and unbelievers.[3]  On the other hand, premillennialists hold that it is a specific judgment at the end time. What does the text of Revelation 20 teach on this event?


John opens the description with the words, “Then I saw,” a phrase that indicates sequential order or chronology. It makes clear that it is next in the order of last things. This judgment marks It is called the white throne judgment. This throne is not the same as the throne in Revelation 4:2 nor the Davidic throne of the Millennium (20:4-6; 3:21). The differences between this throne and the one in Revelation 4:2 are listed by Criswell:[4]

  •       It is a throne in heaven that is at the beginning of the tribulation period, not at the end.
  •      A rainbow marking the covenant surrounds the throne which is absent from the white throne. He says of the white throne, “There is nothing but the nakedness of almighty justice and retribution. There are no covenant promises of good to remember in that awesome hour.”[5]
  •      The throne in Revelation 4 it is attended with is attended with lightning, thundering, and voices.
  •      In Revelation 4 there are seven lamps burning before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God. Not so in Revelation 20.
  •      The throne of Revelation 4 there is a sea of glass like crystal. Absent from the white throne.
  •      The throne of Revelation 4 is accompanied with praise and songs unto God.  
The throne of Revelation 4 deals with the glory and majesty of God, whereas, the white throne pictures God as a judge. Beale observes that white speaks of the holiness of God.[6] John sees nothing of the millennium nor heaven. The focus is on the throne and those who will face the righteous judge.

Part of the description is the person on the throne. The word “and” denotes the connection of the throne with “Him who sat upon it.” While this person is not identified by name; it surely is Jesus Christ (cf. John 5:22; Acts 17:31).

The reaction to seeing the throne is fear. For “from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them” (20:11). This speaks of the world trying to find a hiding place, but none is found. It is parallel to the fear in Rev. 6:14-17 of the tribulation wrath; it is also parallel to the terror of the 6th seal. Fear of judgment is a universal factor among the unsaved. They flee His presence. “The flight of the present earth and heaven from God’s presence strengthens the description of Him as the ultimate Judge.”[7] Pentecost, based on this verse, holds that the judgment takes place neither in earth or heaven, but somewhere in between the two.[8] Garland identifies the fleeing as the melting of the elements of the old earth and heaven (cf. 2 Peter 3:10-12); since no place was found for them.[9]  Clearly, the new heaven and earth follow immediately after the judgment (Rev. 21).

The KJV translation differs from most modern texts. It reads: “from whose face the earth and the heaven fled way.” The Greek word is the same in the TR and the Modern Critical Text.[10]  It means face, countenance, or presence. Both translations are correct, it seems to depend on how one takes the word as a singular or plural. Most modern translations take it as plural.[11] However, there is a good case for leaving it translated face. The word face still carries the idea of presence but is more specific. The term has a long Jewish standing in scripture for which no man can look or stand without divine protection (cf. Ex. 3:6; 19:21; Isa. 6:5).


The judgment of God is based on two facts: (1) God created us. (2) Man is accountable to his creator. In these verses, the following can be observed:
    All those before the throne are the resurrected dead. No living individuals are mentioned. The resurrected program for the saints was completed with the beginning of the millennium (Rev. 20:4-5). Those at the judgment are the rest of the dead of Revelation 20:5.
   It speaks of equality of the subjects—both small and great. Status or fame is not a factor nor an influence in judgment. Death was the great equalizer.
   This involves a resurrection of the unbelieving dead. It is the last resurrection of Scripture. MacLeod observes: "These verses clearly imply a bodily resurrection. Nowhere does the Bible say what kind of body these resurrected ones will have, but it is evidently a body suited to suffer in the torments of the lake of fire." [12]

The standard of the judgment is their deeds. The books were opened. This is a record of one’s life; his deeds, actions, and thoughts prior to death. Each man provides the basis of his own judgment before God. The Greek for “things having been written” is a perfect passive participle indication the written was in the past. In other words, each one wrote it while alive, but the recording stopped at death. God’s judgment is never arbitrary or capricious. His judgments are perfect and just. These books will clearly demonstrate the absence of faith. Man condemns himself by his own record. While there may be degrees of eternal punishment (cf. Luke 12:47-48) it remains eternal punishment nevertheless.
In addition, there is another book opened; the book of life. Some have referred this as the book of faith, in contrast to the books of works.[13] It is clear that salvation comes to those written in the second book. Salvation comes through faith alone, not of works (Eph. 2:8-10). Works alone will never save us. Their names are not found because they went about establishing their own righteousness, not submitting to the righteousness of God (Rom. 10:2-3). Therefore, their names are not in the Lamb’s book of life (20:15).


“Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire” (20:14).  This is the first result of this judgment. MacLeod points out that “Death is humanity’s last enemy (1 Cor. 15:54-55), and Hades are the grim receptacle of death’s prey…The last vestiges of human rebellion against God will be destroyed.”[14] This is identified as the second death, the Lake of fire.

In addition, “if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (20:15). Followed by the place of the dead comes those who are dead. Their names were not found in the book of life. This reinforces the idea that they are not saved. Their names were blotted out of the book of life (Ex. 32:32; Ps.69:28; Rev. 3:5). They are part of the resurrection of condemnation (cf. John 3:18, 36).  While the book of deeds may determine their degree of punishment; the book of life seals their destination. That destination is the lake of fire. It is the place of torment, but also the place of eternal separation from God. It is the destiny of all who are unsaved. The redeemed will be blessed, but these at this judgment will be condemned. Paul writes that “These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thess. 1:9). Let us heed the warning of our Lord, “My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has the authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!” (Luke 12:4-5).

[1] Sir Walter Raleigh quoted by David J. MacLeod, “The Sixth ‘Last Thing’: The Last Judgment and the End of the World,” BIBLIOTHECA SACRA, July-September 2000, 30.
[2]  William R. Newell, THE BOOK OF REVELATION, [Chicago, Moody Press, 1935], 327.
[3]  Steve Gregg, REVELATION: FOUR VIEWS, [Nashville TN, Thomas Nelson, 1997], 478.
[4]  W.A. Criswell, EXPOSITORY SERMONS ON REVELATION, 5 Volumes, [Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1966], 5:83-85.
[5]  Ibid, 5:83-84.
[6]  G.K. Beale, REVELATION: A SHORTER COMMENTARY, [Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 2015], 458.
[7]  Thomas Constable, NOTES ON REVELATION [www.soniclight.com, 2008]. 190.
[8]  J. Dwight Pentecost, THINGS TO COME [Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1969], 423.
[9]  Tony Garland, A TESTIMONY OF JESUS CHRIST, [www.Spirit & Truth, 2004], 2:126.
[10]  proswpou.
[11] Charles Lee Irons, A SYNTAX GUIDE FOR READERS OF THE GREEK NEW TESTAMENT, [Grand Rapids, Kregel, 2016], 604.
[12]  David J. MacLeod, “The Sixth ‘Last Thing’: The Last Judgment and the End of the World.” BIBLIOTHECA SACRA, July-September 2000, 321.
[13]  Tony Garland, THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS CHRIST, 2:127.
[14]  David J, MacLeod, “The Last Judgment and the End of the World,” 325.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Book Review

GETTING THE GOSPEL RIGHT, R.C. Sproul, [Grand Rapids, Baker, 2017] 234 pages.

R.C. Sproul is one of the popular Bible teachers today. He is strongly Reformed and Calvinist in his theology which influences his teaching. The reader must keep this in mind as he reads this latest work. He admits that the church is made up of three elements: the visible church (mere professors of faith), the invisible church (true believers), and believers outside of the visible church.

The book was written in reaction to the movement to reconcile Catholics and Evangelicals, which has a negative effect of compromising the Gospel and Christian unity. It critiques the work “The Gift of Salvation” declaration in 1998, which reiterated that both Evangelicals and Catholics believe in justification and salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ. He shows that the two do not believe the same about the gospel. Catholics believe that sanctification comes before salvation, which is nothing less that salvation by works. Evangelicals believe salvation comes before sanctification. These approaches cannot be reconciled.

The release of the “Cost of Salvation,” it has caused a much debate within the evangelical world. He, therefore, evaluates the statement paragraph by paragraph as to its assertions and its omissions.  This is the heart of the book. His scrutiny of the statement indicates two fundamental observations of the two groups:

First, the Catholic church sees Protestants as separated brethren.

Second, the evangelical world views the Catholic church as apostate brethren.

This means that each view the other as outside, or apostate from the true church.  "The Gift of Salvation" does nothing to remove the doctrinal chasm between the Catholics and Evangelicals. It undermines the truth of the Gospel. 

Sproul is a strong proponent of sola fide (salvation by faith alone). He defends this sola fide in this work. He indicates that the Catholic and Evangelicals who signed this document have abandoned or at the lease compromise this truth. 

The book is reader friendly. It is concise and worthwhile to those who are interested in trying to unify the two. It does a good job showing the major differences between Catholics and Evangelicals. If there is a weakness it is that it deals more with unity than the contents of the right gospel. It is directed more to leadership than the layman. It is a call to arms against compromise of the gospel.

The book was sent to me from Baker Book House in exchange for my person review without obligation.