Republished with permission from Conservative Theological Journal, 10:29 (May 2006)

Pillar III: Incapacity of Man to Comprehend Revelation

Definition

Once man has a proper perspective and understanding of the reality of and the essentially communicated identity of God, he can begin to have a proper understanding of himself.[1] As man is a reflection of his Creator, he can not successfully grasp his own nature without having first ascertained that of his Creator, thus the understanding of natural man’s incapacity to comprehend (to willfully receive as truth) even while cognitively understanding God’s revelation must come after the first pillar recognition of the Biblical God, which of course presumes the necessity of and authority of Scripture, the foundation of the second pillar.

How then does man respond to divine revelation? How can he respond to divine revelation?

First, man has understood God’s general revelation in the cognitive sense (Rom. 1:18-23). There is no doubt here that man’s failure is not one of lacking understanding of the character of God, rather it is lacking the proper response to submission to Him as God, The cognitive fundamental of His existence has been resisted by the fallen human mind, and has been replaced by worship of the creation itself, the failure here not being a lack of understanding, but a lack of fearing Him as God, and thus man possesses ultimately an innate inability to arrive at wisdom.

Second, man has understood God’s special revelation through Scripture in the cognitive sense. As revealed using the tools of language, Scripture is grammatically understood by the unbeliever (although with remarkably increasing difficulty), yet the unbeliever understands the self authenticated truths to be foolishness (1 Co. 2:14) and thus fails to respond positively,[2] ultimately rejecting the claims of Scripture.

Third, man has understood God’s personal revelation in Christ Jesus in the cognitive sense. Every man has been enlightened by the incarnation of Christ (Jn. 1:9) – Christ has explained the Father, and while understood cognitively,[3] He is not received, for darkness is preferred by humanity over the light He provides (Jn. 3:19). Why then does man, while understanding cognitively the revelations of God, consistently fail to grasp them in the personal sense without His divine aid?

 

The Noetic Effects of Sin

The death promised in Gen. 2:17 was a result of disobedience to the command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The epistemology of the human race was changed at the moment Adam ate, accompanied by the spiritual death – the separation of man from fellowship with God. This change in the mind was certainly not for the better, despite Satan’s promise that the offenders would be like God, knowing good and evil. Satan was half right – as humanity from that point forward would indeed know evil, yet would be fully incapable of grasping good. Roughly 1500 years after Adam’s sin, God described the thoughts of the human heart as ‘only evil continually’ (Gen. 6:5). Later, God characterizes the human heart as more deceitful above all else and desperately sick (Jer. 17:9). The Satanic promise of knowing good proved to be a deception – the following of which left humanity without the capacity to rightly think and appraise reality. The spiritually dead man was no longer able (as the pre-fall Adam surely seemed to be, Gen. 2:16, 19) to understand, appraise, or respond positively to God’s revelation (1 Cor. 2:14). Although creation pours forth truth and revelation of God (Ps. 19), that truth, being understood and clearly seen in natural revelation (Rom. 1:19), has been suppressed (Rom. 1:18) by the human mind.

The noetic effects of sin result in more than simply the lack of ability to appraise spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:14-16), there is, in the human mind, a bent to suppress and reject the truth of God, as men love the darkness rather than light (Jn. 3:19). As a result, God has given the ungodly over to a depraved mind (Rom. 1:28), and further, the minds of the perishing are blinded by Satan (2 Cor. 4:3-4), continuing the contrast between the natural mind and the regenerated mind (Jam. 3:13-18). The freedom of neutrality that Satan seemed to offer was nothing of the sort; rather it proved to be bondage to faulty thinking, as none are disposed to fear God (Rom. 3:18), and since the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (Prov. 1:7), there are none who can claim a right epistemology without the intervening of God. The supplementing of human reason with divine revelation is not effective for bringing about the positional knowledge[4] of God. Rather, as Van Til notes, the fundamental conclusions of the fallen mind (as suppressing the truth of God) must be reversed.[5]

This is why the four pillars (the fourth yet to be identified), if hypothesized by the unbeliever, will not and cannot translate of their own accord to saving faith. The right hypothesizing of the four prerequisites by the unbeliever can only allow perhaps a mere glimpse of the unity and beauty of God’s revelation, and therefore the unbeliever’s need to receive it, and therefore an awareness of his need of Divine assistance in doing so. Van Til explains that the only way to see is to first believe:

[T]his God cannot be proved to exist by any other method than the indirect one of presupposition. No proof for this God and for the truth of His revelation in Scripture can be offered by an appeal to anything in human experience that has not itself received its light of the sun for the purposes of seeing by turning to the darkness of a cave.[6]

So how then does the incapable natural man believe in order to see? How then does God communicate in special revelation His truth to the human mind? For who can rightly appraise His revelation? His ways are higher, yet His word accomplishes what He desires, namely the revelation of Himself to those who are lower, despite their inherent limitations (Is. 55:8-9). How then does He overcome the effects of sin?

The Drawing Work of the Father

Based on His choosing (Rom. 9:15-16), the Father draws to Himself those whom He wishes (Jn. 6:44).  None can come of personal volition, and even if any could, they would not, for there is none who seeks after Him (Rom. 3:12-18). He has chosen those whom He will draw, even before the foundations of the world (Eph. 1:4-6), and His drawing work is efficacious, ultimately resulting in the glorification of those whom He has chosen (Rom. 8:30). His drawing work seems best to be equated with His calling work (Gal. 1:4-6, 15), and refers to His active involvement in bringing man to Himself, creating in man the ability to respond positively to His revelation. Also note Mt. 16:15-17 – the truth regarding Jesus Christ is revealed by the Father – He is the Logos, the Word, the very Idea of God (Jn. 1:1-5) and Jesus Christ reveals the Father.

The Revealing Work of Christ

By virtue of His relationship with the Father, only Christ can adequately explain or reveal Him (Jn. 1:18). There is no other who possesses this divine relation (as only begotten God), and there is therefore no other to whom humanity can look for the explanation of God’s character. Christ claimed to be the only access to the Father (Jn. 14:6).  His revelation of the Father is both representative (as the very image of God, Col. 1:15; as the exact representation, Heb. 1:3), and hortatory (in teaching about the character of the Father, Jn. 16:12; 17:4-8). As the revelation of the Father, Christ is the primary topic of special revelation (Lk. 24:27, 45; Jn. 5:39). Without His revealing work, man would have no enlightenment (Jn. 1:9), no explanation of the Father (1:18).

The Illuminating Work of the Holy Spirit

The Spirit guides into all truth (Jn. 16:7-11, 13). He is given to the believer so that[7] the believer will have comprehension[8] of that given by God (1 Cor. 2:12). Chafer emphasizes on this point that “…in so far as He opens the understanding to the Scriptures, He unveils that which He has originated.”[9] By virtue of the anointing of the Holy Spirit, which every believer possesses, He is the Divine Teacher of the believer (1 Jn. 2:27). Without Him the individual is simply ‘worldly-minded (Ju. 19). Without His convicting work (Jn. 16:8) and divine enablement (1 Co. 12:3) the individual would be fully incapable to respond with repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth (2 Tim. 2:25).

 

Importance

John Whitcomb adroitly points out a significant flaw in certain apologetic approaches, saying,

it must be admitted that Christians have too often been guilty of building systems of apologetics on other foundations than the one set forth in Scripture.[emphasis mine] Instead of giving the impression that men are eagerly waiting for proof that Christianity is true, the Bible exposes men’s hearts as sealed shut against any and all finite pressures for conversion.[10]

Whitcomb’s characterization is also applicable to theological method. If the apologetic foundations are flawed, then by virtue of the apologetic relation to theological method, the theological foundations are equally flawed.

Both methodologies – apologetic and theological – must find their base, form, and function in Scripture.

Man’s incapacity can not be overcome by noetic achievement. The great chasm between man and God can only be bridged by the hand of God through His work both allowing and enabling man to respond in faith. Yet, as He revealed Himself with the tools of language, He does not work in counteraction to the basic principles of language (i.e., hermeneutic principles). Therefore, there is dual responsibility borne in developing proper apologetic and theological method: (1) God’s part: He must reveal Himself to and illuminate those whom He has chosen to know Him (positionally), and (2) the believer’s part: the believer must be (a.) dependant upon God’s divine guidance and (b.) diligent to rightly utilize the tools of language in order to understand His revelation.

Pillar IV: Utilization of a Consistent Hermeneutic

Definition

Due to the fixity of special revelation (1 Cor. 12:10; Heb. 2:2-4), the use of language as the chosen vehicle, and the intrinsic authority of Scripture, the

utilization of a consistent hermeneutic approach to Scripture is demanded.[11]

Ryrie offers three evidences for the legitimacy of a consistent literal hermeneutic: (1) Biblical – based on the clearly literal fulfillments of prophesy historically fulfilled, (2) Philosophical – based on the purpose of language as given by God to communicate with man, and (3) Logical – based on the need for objective interpretation and the absence of objectivity which parallels the absence of a consistent literal hermeneutic.[12] Paul Tan likewise identifies the consistent use of the literal hermeneutic is good hermeneutics.[13] It is maintained here that not only is a consistent application of hermeneutic method good (as Ryrie and Tan suggest), but it is additionally both possible[14] and necessary.

 

Definition

The hermeneutic principles utilized must honor the authoritative revelation of God as such, and therefore cannot enthrone the interpreter, but must instead acknowledge the enthronement of the Revealer.

The task of the interpreter is that of rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15). The interpreter is not a collaborator in the recording of the word of truth, and thus possesses no authority to eisegete his own understandings into the text or to modify in any way the words and meanings given by the Author.

If this be so, then an acknowledgment must be made of the hierarchy within the dual authorship of Scripture. Men were moved by the Spirit to write, but their words were God’s words (2 Pet. 1:20-21). Undoubtedly, the words of Scripture themselves were inspired (2 Tim. 3:16), and not the men God used to pen them. It is therefore the interpreter’s task to submit to the authority of the Revealer, and thus to accept, as they stand, the Scriptures’ assertions as truth.

Proportionate to the level of authority the interpreter allows himself, there are three hermeneutic methodologies that bear consideration. The three approaches will here be referred to as accommodation, partial-accommodation, and non-accommodation.

The accommodation hermeneutic encompasses any hermeneutic methodology which fully accommodates the authority of the interpreter over revelation. In particular, full accommodation is characterized by one of two assertions (or both): [1] language is of human origin, and does not provide a vehicle conducive to absolute understanding of propositional revelation, and therefore the hermeneutic process, like human language, is subject to advancement and must evolve, and [2] the writings of Scripture are not themselves propositional revelation, but rather contain some degree of revelation, and it is the interpreter who must determine what is revelation, what is not, and must likewise delineate meaning either by experiential interpretation (enthroning the heart of the interpreter) or by rational interpretation (enthroning the mind of the interpreter). The accommodation hermeneutic can be consistently applied, yet, clearly it causes the second pillar to crumble. Therefore, in this approach the accommodation hermeneutic is not a viable option.

The mediating approach is the partial-accommodation hermeneutic, which uses a sometimes literal approach, but in practical application at other times elevates the authority of the interpreter either by (in extreme cases) outright distaste for conclusions arrived at through literal methodology, or indirectly and unintentionally by (in moderate cases) seeking to alleviate seeming discrepancy by methodology that lends itself more toward reliance on a deductive, eisegetical approach.

To differing degrees, and with differing motivation, each variant of the partial-accommodation hermeneutic wanders from the literal historical-grammatical system. Alexandrian allegorism, multilayer hermeneutic,[15] phenomenological hermeneutic,[16] double-revelation[17] ramifications, genre override, and canonical process/ complementary [18] are a few notable nuances of partial-accommodation hermeneutical method. Each of these approaches to some degree or another enthrones the interpreter in issues where clarity of interpretation is seemingly difficult, and thus results (often unintentionally) in an unwarranted collaboration of interpreter with writer in the revelatory process. This type of collaboration violates the Author’s divine right of singular authority over His revelation. Partial-accommodation approaches are inconsistent both in method and in practical submission to divine revelatory authority due to varying levels of interpreter authority. Partial-accommodation violates the fourth pillar (due to inconsistency) and sometimes crushes the second (due to occasional enthroning of the interpreter); therefore it is not a viable option.

The non-accommodation hermeneutic makes no room for the enthroning of the interpreter. Rather it squarely and consistently requires in theory the submission of the interpreter to the authoritative revelation and requires in practice an inductive and exegetical application, pulling out of the text the fixed and singular meaning placed there by the Divine Author. Only the literal grammatical historical method consistently acknowledges fixity, singularity, and authority of revelation. The non-accommodation approach is the only one of the three options that does not infringe upon the second pillar, and therefore (in this approach) it is the only viable option.

 

Importance

The conclusions of the literal method are soundly dispensational-premillennial. Even opponents of dispensational conclusions readily admit them as necessary results of the literal methodology. Berkhof argues against the literal method in such cases of difference only because its conclusions are “entirely untenable”[19]  in his estimation. He further states that literalism results in “all kinds of absurdities,”[20] based upon conclusions (with straw-men added) he cares not to accept. Gerstner admits that “on points where we differ, there is a tendency for the dispensationalists to be literalistic where the non-dispensationalist tends to interpret the Bible figuratively”.[21] The literal approach is less concerned with conclusions and more concerned with a hermeneutic method that submits to the revelatory authority, yet the conclusions of the literal approach are distinctly idiosyncratic. Ryrie emphasizes the relation between the methodology and the conclusions:

if literalism is the valid hermeneutical principle then that is an approach to the Scriptures which if consistently applied can only lead to dispensational theology…only dispensationalism consistently employs the principles of literal interpretation.[22]

It is from within the framework of conclusions of a non-accommodation approach that Ryrie’s sine qua non[23] emerges, not as a set of theological presuppositions, but as characteristic results.

Four results of a literal grammatical-historical approach are particularly notable:

 

1. Consistent and practical submission in the interpretive process to the divine authority, inerrancy, and infallibility of Scripture.

As a result of respectful consideration of the self authenticating nature of special revelation, the approach to Scripture is exegetical rather than eisegetical, and is primarily inductive (beginning with the text to find the theology) rather than primarily deductive (beginning with the theology in order to determine the text). Here the interpreter avoids the error of enthroning himself as authoritative over God’s revelation.

 

2. A recognition of the cumulative nature of revelation, applied in the interpretation of the New Testament in light of the Old Testament (and not vice versa).[24]

Stallard identifies this as a paramount principle in his four steps[25] of theological method, rightly prioritizing the OT vs. the NT, simply as a product of cumulative revelation. Ryrie declared this recognition “an imperative”[26] without which will be raised “unresolvable contradictions.”[27]

Notice Christ’s approach to handling OT revelation in His appearance to the two on the road to Emmaus: “And beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures” (Lk. 24:27). His listeners later described His process as “explaining the Scriptures” (24:32). Christ makes reference to this order within Scripture on other occasions as well, and His characterizations are not simply acknowledgments of the commonly held structure of the OT revelation. It is significant that in order to explain the Scriptures, Christ Himself started at the beginning.

If the NT is postulated by the OT, as Kuyper suggests,[28] by logical conclusion the NT must be interpreted on the basis of the revelation given in the OT.

While there is inconsistency regarding the acknowledgment of the cumulative nature of revelation among those of non-literal persuasion,[29]

there can be none for those holding to a literal hermeneutic.

3. Awareness of the doxological center

Even as Christ is the central Character in special revelation (Jn. 5:39), His primary purpose is doxological and not redemptive (Jn. 17:4; 1 Pet. 4:11).[30] The redemptive plan is a means to the accomplishment of God’s revealed purpose: specifically, His own glorification.[31] The doxological purpose extends further than the Westminster assertion[32] regarding the chief end of man. It is God’s self proclaimed purpose in all of (human) history.

4. Recognition of the complete distinction between Israel and the church

To Israel belong the covenants (specifically Land, Davidic, and New Covenants as fulfillment of the Abrahamic) which ensure a future of restoration and literal fulfillment for Israel. The church is entirely distinct from national Israel, yet benefits (in fulfillment of Gen 12:3c, etc.) from blessings promised to Abraham through his descendants. Specifically, the church benefits from the New Covenant promise to Israel regarding forgiveness of sin (Jer. 31:34).[33]

A.C. Gaebelein recognized that both Jew and Gentile would participate in the Kingdom Age, but not as one body,[34] yet the mystery is revealed (Eph. 2:11-3:6) that in the current age exists a body (the body of Christ) – distinct from national Israel, made up of both Jew and Gentile. God’s purpose in and for the two distinct groups are made evident in Romans 9-11, and in that same context the distinction between the two groups can readily be seen. Chafer highlights the distinction, identifying twenty-four specific differences between Israel and the church.[35] The distinction is really at the heart of Ryrie’s sine qua non (strategically identified as the first element), and until only recently[36] has been a universally agreed upon principle in dispensational thought. It must be noted that this principle of distinction is not a theological presupposition, but rather an inevitable result of the consistent application of the literal grammatical-historical hermeneutic brings about this conclusion, a fact that non-dispensationalists readily admit.[37]

Conclusion

These four pillars, with their associated results provide an essential framework for presuppositional dispensationalism, an attempt to build theological method upon the proper foundational elements (i.e., a Biblical epistemology, recognizing the existence and authority of the Divine Revealer), and to further develop and positively assert dispensational conclusions as those arising naturally from the natural, plain-sense reading of Scripture. The purpose in view here is not to move toward a mediating position, nor is it to justify any particular system, but rather to approach God’s word with necessary humility and to unashamedly stand firm on the assertions made therein. This approach seeks to provide an apologetic synthesis within the theological method – the Biblically theistic worldview must be the stated basis of the theological framework. We must begin at the beginning, by casting off the shackles of atheistic modes of thought which so presently invade our theological (and apologetic) method, and build the base from a Biblical epistemology. This approach seeks to provide a cohesive, consistent framework of approach to Biblical revelation, one which can deal cogently with historical and contemporary issues, proposing Biblical solutions using consistent hermeneutical methodology. And finally this approach seeks to encourage revitalization and renewed passion for the value of God’s word as that which is entirely profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness – as the sole standard of thought and conduct for the believer.

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[1] John Calvin, Institutes 1:1:2.

[2] although there are varying levels of understanding with varying usages/misusages (Neh. 8:8; Mt. 21:45; Lk. 20:19; Php. 1:15-17; 1 Ti. 1:6-7; 2 Tim. 3:5-7; Jam. 1:22; Jude 4).

[3] note that His opponents clearly understood His claims, yet failed to acknowledge them as truth (Jn. 5:18,39-40; 8:57-59).

[4] ginosko as defining eternal life in Jn 17:3 in contradistinction to the ginosko of Rom. 1:21.

[5] Van Til, An Introduction to Systematic Theology , 15-16.

[6] Van Til, The Defense of the Faith, 109.

[7] note the hina purpose clause of 1 Cor. 2:12.

[8] eidomen rather than ginoskomen, highlighting accurate cognitive rather than experiential  understanding, reversing enslavement to the noetic effects of sin, providing the believer with the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:12-16).

[9] L S Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol 6 (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1993), 37.

[10] John C. Whitcomb, Contemporary Apologetics and Christian Faith,  Part I, Biblioethica Sacra: 134,104

[11]a significant point of departure in progressive dispensational thought is evident in disagreement with this assertion of  need for a fixed hermeneutic: Blaising argues: ““Given the nature of biblical literature and a history of practicing historical-grammatical exegesis, hermeneutical developments are inevitable, including distinctions of various levels of hermeneutical certainty and the exploration and testing of multiple hermeneutical options. It is the actual practice of historical-grammatical exegesis by dispensational scholars that is proving this fixed-interpretation view of dispensationalism inadequate” [Craig Blaising, Developing Dispensationalism Part 2: Development of Dispensationalism by Contemporary Dispensationalists Bibliothica Sacra 145:579 (Jul 88) p. 258]. It seems to be upon this ground that Blaising (along with Bock) refer later to the complementary hermeneutic as a refinement of literal interpretation [Blaising & Bock, Progressive Dispensationalism (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1993), 52]. Blaising again suggests that although there have been many dispensational works which directly or indirectly imply a fixed or confessional method of interpreting Scripture, no “scholarly advocate of dispensationalism” has specifically made the claim as to the legitimacy of such. [Craig Blaising, Developing Dispensationalism Part 2: Development of Dispensationalism by Contemporary Dispensationalists Bibliotheca Sacra 145:579 (Jul 88) p. 256].

[12] Charles Ryrie, Dispensationalism Today (Chicago: Moody Press, 1965), 88-89.

[13] Paul Tan, The Interpretation of Prophecy (Dallas: Bible Communications, 1974), 21.

[14] Some, like coventalist John Gerstner, have suggested that it is impossible to maintain a consistently literal hermeneutic, particularly in approaching Biblical prophecy, and that dispensationalists in practice are inconsistent in their hermeneutic approach. [e.g., John Gerstner, Wrongly Dividing The Word Of Truth (Morgan, PA: Sole Deo Gloria, 2000), 93, 96, & 110]. While these accusations can be readily dealt with, they are valuable still in that they provide the interpreter pause and  a reminder to avoid interpretive carelessness.

[15] e.g., Origen’s literal, moral, spiritual; Clement’s natural, moral, mystical, prophetical; Middle Ages fourfold: literal, moral, allegorical, anagogical; Swedenburg’s natural, spiritual, celestial; etc.

[16] as utilized by Calvin in his commentary on Genesis, particularly in 1:6 as he refers indirectly to the literal hermeneutic here as lacking ‘common sense’ and that Scripture here only deals with the ‘visible appearance of the world’ and that no truths pertaining to astronomy are therein presented.

[17] as identified and critiqued by John C. Whitcomb, Jr. in Biblical Inspiration and the Double-Revelation Theory, Grace Theological Journal, Vol. 4:1, (Winter, 1963).

[18] with some variations by Childs, Bock & Blaising, Saucy, et al; the characterization as a partial-accomodation approach is explained in footnote under the results of a literal-grammatical approach.

[19] Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1941), 712.

[20] Ibid., 713.

[21] Gerstner, Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth, 93.

[22] Charles Ryrie, The Necessity of Dispensationalism, Biblioethica Sacra 114:455 (Jul 57).

[23] 1. distinction between Israel and the church, 2. literal hermeneutic, and 3. doxological purpose of God (Ryrie, Dispensationalism Today, 44-47).

[24] at this point progressive dispensationalism is seen to utilize a partial-accommodation hermeneutic, as Blaising, Bock, Saucy, et al demonstrate in practice a re-definition of cumulative revelation and suggest that the resultant complementary hermeneutic is actually a refinement of the literal hermeneutic, when in fact, it is simply a different hermeutic method entirely [see Robert Saucy, The Case For Progressive Dispensationalism (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1993), 20-29 & 70-71; Blaising & Bock, Progressive Dispensationalism (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1993), 100-105; Harold Bateman IV, Three Central Issues in Contemporary Dispensationalism (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1999), 89-94].

[25] Stallard’s four principles adapted as follows:

1. recognition of one’s preunderstanding.

2. formulation of Biblical theology of the Old Testament from a literal grammatical historical interpretation of the Old Testament.

3. formulation of Biblical theology of the New Testament from a literal grammatical historical interpretation of the New Testament.

4. production of systematic theology by harmonizing input from 2 and 3.

[adapted from Mike Stallard, Literal Hermeneutics, Theological Method, and the Essence of Dispensationalism]

[26] Charles Ryrie, Basic Theology (Wheaton, Victor Books, 1986), 114.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Abraham Kuyper, Principles of Sacred Theology (Grand Rapids, Baker Book House, 1980),  461

[29] e.g., see Berkhof’s practical struggle with this issue [Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 1941),  715].

[30] the non-dispensationalist generally argues that the redemptive center provides continuity/ unity within Scripture, and emphasizes only one people of God, and thus provides a significant evidence against the distinction between Israel and the church [e.g., O.T. Allis, Prophecy & The Church (Philipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed, 1945), 17-18.

[31] Ps. 86:9, 12; Ezek. 39:13;  Jn. 17:3-4; Rom. 11:36,  12:1-2; 1 Co. 6:20, 10:31; Eph. 2:8-10; 1 Tim. 1:5;  1 Pet. 4:11; Is. 6:3 & Rev. 4:11, etc.

[32] Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever. [Shorter Catechism, 1].

[33] this element of blessing as bestowed on the church is highlighted in Eph. 2:11-3:6, and 1 Jn. 2:25), and does not (1) replace the church with Israel, (2) include the church in any other aspects of the New Covenant, or (3) invalidate or alter in any way the covenant promises made to Israel.

[34] A.C. Gaebelein, The Annotated Bible: Romans-Ephesians (NY: Our Hope), 252.

[35] Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol 6, 47-53.

[36] the advent of progressive dispensationalism has brought a blurring of the lines between Israel and the church, epitomized by Saucy’s assertion that “there is a mediating position between non-dispensationalism and traditional dispensationalism…and it denies a radical discontinuity between the present church age and the messianic kingdom promises.” [Saucy, The Case for Progressive Dispensationalism, 20], and identified in Lanier Burns’ characterization that “The difference between traditional and progressive dispensationalists is the extent to which Old Testament covenants are realized (in other words, fulfilled) in the church age.” [Bateman, Three Central Issues in Contemporary Dispensationalism, 290].

[37] see Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 712; A.H. Strong, Systematic Theology (Philadelphia: Judson Press, 1947), 1011; O.T. Allis, Prophecy & The Church, 54; etc..

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