For Your Edification (6.1.12)

For Your Edification is a (bi)weekly set of resources on the subjects of Bible, Theology, Ministry, and Family Life.  Let me know what you think or if you have other resources that growing Christians should be aware.

BIBLE & THEOLOGY

Dating the Crucifixion.  Joe Carter points to a news report coming from the “International Geology Review” that claims “based on earthquake activity at the Dead Sea near Jerusalem, Jesus was most likely crucified on Friday, April 3, in the year 33.”  Carter’s news clipping reminds us that God’s revelation in Scripture and nature are both infallible, and that this new piece of data gives us plausible evidence confirming what the Bible already declares: “And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split” (Matthew 27:51).

Biblical Allusions. Jeffery Leonard has written an SBL article identifying inner-biblical allusions.  In fact, using Psalm 78 as a test-case, he lists eight ways that “shared language” works in the Bible. He also goes one step further to discuss ways to determine how to discern the direction of the influence.  If typology, allusions, and echoes are your thing, I encourage you to check out the article: Identifying Inner-Biblical Allusions: Psalm 78 as a Test Case.

Here are the eight evaluations for considering biblical allusions:

  1. Shared language is the single most importantfactor in establishing a textual connection.
  2. Shared language is more important than nonshared language.
  3. Shared language that is rare or distinctive suggests a stronger connection than does language that is widely used.
  4. Shared phrases suggest a stronger connection than do individual shared terms.
  5. The accumulation of shared language suggests a stronger connection than does a single shared term or phrase.
  6. Shared language in similar contexts suggests a stronger connection than does shared language alone.
  7. Shared language need not be accompanied by shared ideology to establish a connection.
  8. Shared language need not be accompanied by shared form to establish a con­nection.

FAMILY, LIFE, & MINISTRY

Defending Marriage in a Pluralistic Society. Paul Brewster, a pastor in our local association and author of Andrew Fuller: Model Pastor-Theologian, has written a helpful piece on the difficulty and necessity of defending marriage in our contemporary society.  Brewster’s editorial is noteworthy on two accounts: (1) He lives in middle America–Madison, Indiana to be exact–which is not the left coast or a progressive college town.  Rather, it is a small town in the heartland of America, and yet it like every other community in our nation has been affected by increasing demand for marriage anyway you like it. (2) He is a faithful, small church pastor.  It is easy to point to and depend on the Albert Mohler’s, Tim Keller’s, and John Piper’s to speak up publically; however, in truth, it takes all pastors proclaiming the gospel and the Christian worldview for the effect of Christ’s witness to win the lost to Christ and to preserve the culture from moral decay.

May we who pastor smaller churches follow Paul’s lead and contend for a biblical and traditional definition of marriage, and may we hear his admonition to defend God’s design for marriage so that marriage does not become Silly Putty in the hands of fools.

Charles Spurgeon’s Biography.  Here is an hour-long docu-drama retelling the life and labors of Charles Spurgeon.  If you are unfamiliar with this powerful minister’s pulpit ministry, this is a good place to begin.  If you want to know more about Charles Spurgeon, I would encourage you to check out John Piper’s audio biography, Arnold Dallimore’s biography Spurgeon: A New Biographyor his own two-volume autobiography–The Early Years and The Full Harvest.

How Do You Comfort a Family Whose Lost an Infant? Spurgeon on Infant Salvation

This week I am taking a class called Pastoral Ministry.  Its breadth of topics range from SBC life, to ministerial resumes, to the slow and but necessary process of cleaning up church roles. In the variety of topics, the issue of infant death came up, and the question was ask in earnest, “How do you comfort a grieving family in such a loss?”

Dr. Douglas Walker, the professor and one of Southern’s Senior VP’s, cited three passages of Scripture to answer the question: 2 Samuel 12, concerning David’s certainty that he would see his son again; Jeremiah 1, where it is said that YHWH consecrated Jeremiah while in the womb; and Luke 1, where John the Baptist it is recorded lept in the womb when the Holy Spirit filled him in the presence of the Lord, in utero.  His conclusion base on Scriptural inference and Spiritually renewed thinking was that pastors can and must assure grieving parents that their little children are with Jesus.  (For more on the subject, see Albert Mohler’s article.)

After considering these texts, the grace of God in salvation, and the sovereign righteousness of God to do right, Dr. Walker also cited a passage from C.H. Spurgeon concerning the gladdening thought that among the heavenly redeemed, there will be far more sheep than goats.  That in heaven and for all eternity, the saved will outnumber the lost.  And his rationale is that all those dead in infancy will be raised to new life in Christ.

The quotation comes from a sermon Spurgeon delivered on the subject, “Infant Salvation,” on September 29th, 1861 in the Metropolitan Tabernacle. Below I have included the pertinent section of his sermon. Consider his powerful argument and the overwhelming sense of victory that the Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ, will one day share with all who have believed in him.  On the cross, Jesus defeated sin, dethroned Satan, and setup the demise of death.  At the end of the age, death itself will be terminated for those in Christ, including all the infants whose lives were tragically ended in this age.  Hears Spurgeon’s inspiring words and rejoice with them.

Once again one of the strongest inferential arguments [for infant salvation] is to be found in the fact that Scripture positively states that the number of saved souls at the last will be very great. In the Revelation we read of a number that no man can number. The Psalmist speaks of them as numerous as dew drops from the womb of the morning. Many passages give to Abraham, as the father of the faithful, a seed as many as the stars of heaven, or as the sand on the sea shore. Christ is to see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied; surely it is not a little that will satisfy him. The virtue of the precious redemption involves a great host who were redeemed. All Scripture seems to tenon that heaven will not be a narrow world, that its population will not be like a handful gleaned out of a vintage, but that Christ shall be glorified by ten thousand times ten thousand, whom he hath redeemed with his blood. Now where are they to come from? How small a part of the map could be called Christian! Look at it. Out of that part which could be called Christian, how small a portion of them would bear the name of believer! How few could be said to have even a nominal attachment to the Church of Christ? Out of this, how many are hypocrites, and know not the truth! I do not see it possible, unless indeed the millennium age should soon come, and then far exceed a thousand years, I do not see how it is possible that so vast a number should enter heaven, unless it be on the supposition that infant souls constitute the great majority. It is a sweet belief to my own mind that there will be more saved than lost, for in all things Christ is to have the pre-eminence, and why not in this? It was the thought of a great divine that perhaps at the last the number of the lost would not bear a greater proportion to the number of the saved, than do the number of criminals in gaols to those who are abroad in a properly-conducted state. I hope it may be found to be so. At any rate, it is not my business to be asking, “Lord, are there few that shall be saved?” The gate is strait, but the Lord knows how to bring thousands through it without making it any wider, and we ought not to seek to shut any out by seeking to make it narrower. Oh! I do know that Christ will have the victory, and that as he is followed by streaming hosts, the black prince of hell will never be able to count so many followers in his dreary train as Christ in his resplendent triumph. And if so we must have the children saved; yea, brethren, if not so, we must have them, because we feel anyhow they must be numbered with the blessed, and dwell with Christ hereafter.

Sola Deo Gloria, dss