Let's be reasonable with one another, shall we?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

I'm Wondering ...

I do find it interesting how much discussion that the below post has generated.
I am a bit taken aback.
I posted a question at another blog yesterday and haven't gotten one answer!
And ... in my view, it was a very enthralling question.
Maybe it is just the aroma of liver and onions that kept everybody in the kitchen!


  • Rose - that is a big, big question, and that is probably why there haven't been any nibbles.

    I hope you can excuse my verbosity, but it is difficult to address so a large scope in few words.

    As I see it, Christ's earthly ministry was decisively and exclusively aimed at Israel. There was some crumb eating by the occasional (and exceptional) Gentile, but Christ was not sent to the Gentiles but to Israel (during the incarnation at least). We see this most clearly I suppose in the incident with the Canaanite woman and the demon possessed daughter and again when Christ sends His disciples out instructing them to preach to no one outside of Israel.

    That is a difficult pill for some to swallow, but scripture teaches it plain as day. The Christ had to be presented to (and rejected by) Israel before He was ever given to the Gentiles. That was God's plan from the beginning, and to this the OT prophets give ample witness.

    Understanding that Christ was sent to Israel and not the Gentiles is somewhat important because if we have a sloppy understanding of who Christ was sent to (during His incarnation) we may well become inclined to think the OT promises regarding the coming new covenant (new heart etc.) were directed at or intended to apply to individuals (including Gentiles) and doing so we stand in danger of confusing the "new heart" with the "new birth".

    The new birth is not the same as the new heart, but the new birth is possible because of the new heart.

    The "new heart" God had been promising for centuries was given to the nation of Israel at Pentecost in the person of the Holy Spirit.

    The new birth happens (of course) the moment the Holy Spirit begins to indwell a believer. For the disciples at Pentecost, it happened after they were already saved by grace through faith - but ever since that day men have received the indwelling Holy Spirit the very moment they are justified (i.e. born again).

    This change in the economy of the Holy Spirit's ministry is best described by Christ in John 14:17, (...for [the Holy Spirit] dwells with you and will be in you...).

    So when we understand that the "new heart" that was promised in the OT was not promised to individuals, but rather to the nation of Israel, and that it was through this new heart that individuals can be born from above - we are no longer in danger of flubbing up when we examine God giving like King Saul another heart (1 Sam. 10:9) we aren't bamboozled into equating this with the new covenant's "new birth".

    Saul did have a change of heart but not because he was the recipient of a covenant that hadn't come yet. The Holy Spirit certainly came upon Saul, but the Holy Spirit did not indwell him, he resided with him, and eventually left him - proving beyond any (sober) doubt that this was not a pre-covenant injection of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

    At Pentecost the "new heart" was given to Israel, but just as it was prophesied, this gift was far too glorious to be limited merely to Israel - and so according to God's predetermined plan and intention - and in accord with the voice of the OT prophets, the Gentiles were grafted into the "Israel of God."

    People get derailed on this sort of thing when they start relying on logic instead of scripture. For instance:

    It is right to reason that no one is saved except through Christ, we know that no one can now come to the Father except through Christ.

    It is right to reason that salvation is only by grace through faith and that this is the way of salvation in both covenants.

    We affirm that since the day of Pentecost, the very moment a believer is restored into a right relationship with God he is "born from above" (i.e. immediately indwelt by the Holy Spirit).

    But it is quite wrong to take these truths and bind them together prematurely.

    Yes, the Holy Spirit now indwells believers; and yes, OT saints were saved in the same way we are saved - by grace through faith - but there it is presumption and speculation (at best) to impose the indwelling of the Holy Spirit on the OT saints just because that is the way it works today. It works that way today because we are under a new covennant with better promises.

    It is a mistake to project the benefits of a new covenant backwards in time to a time and people who were not the recipients of that covenant - the only reason we would do such a thing is because we confuse the new covenant promise of the indwelling Holy Spirit given to all who believe - with the gospel. The gospel produces this "benefit" (capital "B"?) now, but only because we are in the new covenant - but prior to this when people were saved by grace through faith they did not receive this benefit.

    That is how I see it at least. I thought your question was very good, and that someone should make a comment.

    By Blogger Daniel, at 2/14/2007 2:35 PM  

  • Hello Rose.

    You know I worry about being made to look silly if I say something that is shown to be incorrect.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 2/14/2007 11:29 PM  

  • Hi Rose, this is a great question and I think Daniel has done a pretty good job of answering it. I really don't have anything that I can add.

    By Anonymous Gordon Cloud, at 2/15/2007 9:59 AM  

  • Old Testament "saints" were born again, but not until Christ came, died, was burried and resurrected.

    We are always getting hung up on the time thing. God is not subject to time.

    By Blogger Joe, at 2/16/2007 6:25 PM  

  • I'm not sure how to take Joe's comment, but I agree with Daniel for the most part. I like to think of the HS "abiding" with believers of the OT but this is not permanent indwelling. Another question to ask is if Saul was even a believer. Another can of worms please.

    By Blogger Jonathan Moorhead, at 2/20/2007 2:39 PM  

  • Where have you gone, Rose? I am missing you.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at 2/20/2007 8:46 PM  

  • Jonathan,

    The funny thing is David had a glowing Euology for Saul that strongly seemed to indicate positional righteousness. That same respect seemed to reverberate through his whole family. Remember he slayed the Amalekite for bragging about killing Saul and he followed suit in this and it wasn't until his hand was forced by the injustice done to the Gibeonites that he allowed his family to be taken yet Mephibosheth was safely kept. The point was that anyone that layed a hand on them was under Davids wrath or his sword. It was really an odd thing that reflected His understanding of positional righteousness having been anointed by God and recognizing the permanence of that anointing.

    By Anonymous bhedr, at 2/20/2007 10:32 PM  

  • Daniel,
    Thanks for your thorough answer.

    As I see it, Christ's earthly ministry was decisively and exclusively aimed at Israel.

    That is how I see it too! I am glad to see it in your comment.

    ... it is presumption and speculation (at best) to impose the indwelling of the Holy Spirit on the OT saints just because that is the way it works today.

    Great statement.

    Thanks again Daniel. I need to think some more about what you say about the new heart/new birth. I had not considered that aspect.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 2/23/2007 8:56 AM  

  • Matthew!
    I was really looking forward to YOUR input on this! What a surprise that you would be bashful.
    Come on now! I am counting on you. What hath the Dyspraxic Fundamentalist in his mind on this matter?

    By Blogger Rose~, at 2/23/2007 9:16 AM  

  • Hi Gordon,
    I agree. I think Daniel's answer is very thoughtful indeed.

    Thanks for visiting.

    Yes, we are hung up on the time thing. God is not subject to time, but He has subjected His creation (people included) to it. Thus ... the question!! Nice try, Joe! (I am teasing...) :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 2/23/2007 9:18 AM  

  • Jonathan,
    I have always had the understanding that people in the OT had the HS come "upon" them, but they were not permanently indwelt. Dispensations ... there is no way around it!

    I think Daniel gives an interesting answer to Zane Hodges bringing up the "New Heart" mentioned in the OT.

    Another can of worms please.

    Would you like those broiled or deep fried?

    By Blogger Rose~, at 2/23/2007 9:26 AM  

  • Brian,
    Interesting answer to Jonathan's worms. I wonder if David's defense of Saul had to do with respect for Saul's office ... much like GW Bush would defend Bill Clinton against foreigners, even though I am pretty sure George doesn't have the utmost respect for Clinton as a person.

    Just wondering ...

    By Blogger Rose~, at 2/23/2007 9:29 AM  

  • Hi Rose,

    The Holy Spirit (called here in the "Spirit of Christ" ) was in ("en") the OT prophets in 1 Peter 1:10-11 - not merely upon ("epi") but in ("en") them. Not to the same measure that the NT saints enjoyed Him after Pentecost, but in them nevertheless

    By Blogger goodnightsafehome, at 2/23/2007 9:52 AM  

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