Apologetics may be simply defined as the defense of the Christian faith. The word "apologetics" derives from the Greek word apologia, which was originally used as a speech of defense.

The Divine Design of Salvation

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  • The Divine Design of Salvation

    by K. Scott Oliphint

    Once we acknowledge that sin is universal, that it continues in every person from the point of conception on (Ps. 51:5)*—and that it is individual, that it plagues and enslaves me—we begin to see what Christians mean by “salvation.”

    Since sin is rebellion against a holy God, it is impossible that such a good and holy God could overlook that rebellion. Since he is holy, he must punish all violations of his character.

    This concept of God goes against more “popular” notions of him. Typically, people think that God’s love trumps everything else. He is not bothered by our rebellion. Others think God’s primary job is to forgive us, no matter our attitude toward him.

    We have to recognize who God is, not what we might want him to be. We must know him according to what he says he is and does. God says that “the one who sins is the one who will die” (Ezek. 18:20). He says that “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23), and the death that sin produces is not just physical death but eternal punishment (see Rev. 20:14, for example). The Lord is too holy to allow sin in his eternal presence. He cannot look upon, or tolerate, sin (Hab. 1:13).

    An analogy might help. Suppose you have a sworn enemy who had dedicated himself to opposing and fighting against all that you are and stand for. Anything that you hold dear he vehemently opposes. His disposition toward you includes a resolve to fight against everything you love. Now suppose this enemy claims that your responsibility is to accept him as he is, to bring him into your home, and to include him in all your affairs.

    How would you respond to this person? At minimum, you would conclude that he is not thinking clearly. He cannot really think that he can oppose you at every turn and still expect that you will include him.

    Now consider that God—who alone deserves praise and who is to be honored by all of his human creatures—simply decides to bring all who are opposed to him into his presence, where they can oppose him more vigorously. Their presence itself is a violation of his character, because it is sin and rebellion in the presence of perfect goodness and holiness. Is God expected to tolerate that rebellion? Is he supposed to bend to our desires?

    When Moses and Isaiah (just to use two examples) find themselves in the presence of God, they are afraid and undone (see Ex. 3:6; Isa. 6:5). They recognize that they are not worthy to be in God’s presence because they stand condemned in his sight. The very presence of God requires us, not God, to act differently.

    But our sinful and rebellious condition does not have to be the end of our story. Even though we are the ones who defiled God’s good creation, he graciously provided a way back to him. God gives a hint of this “way back to him” as soon as sin enters the world. He says to the serpent, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Gen. 3:15). God declares that there will be animosity and antagonism between the seed of the serpent (Satan) and the seed of the woman. In other words, someone who is a descendant of the woman will be wounded. The good news is that this descendant will crush the head of the seed of the serpent. In other words, the seed of the woman will destroy the seed of the serpent.

    Edenic Initiation

    After God pronounced his curses on the serpent, the woman, and the man, he “made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them” (Gen. 3:21). This may seem like a mere gesture of kindness. But it is much more than that. Adam and Eve had already made coverings for themselves by sewing fig leaves together (Gen. 3:7). The process of sewing these leaves together indicates that they had adequately accomplished their purpose. They were no longer exposed.

    Why, then, did God make garments of skin for Adam and Eve, since they were already covered? Those garments provided a hint as to what God would do to solve the sin problem that Adam brought into the world. There are two aspects to the covering that God made that help us see his grand design for salvation, in light of sin.
    1. First, the problem of sin could not be “covered” by the efforts of Adam and Eve. If they were going to be truly covered, God would have to cover them.
    2. The covering that God provided, unlike the covering that Adam and Eve made, required a sacrifice that God himself would initiate.


    The covering that Adam and Eve needed was a covering, not one they made, but that God made. God made a covering of animal skin, not leaves. This points to the fact that if sin is going to be covered, blood will have to be shed (Heb. 9:22). In other words, the death that sin brings can be covered only by the death that bloodshed requires.

    These two key aspects of God’s activity toward Adam and Eve are developed in God’s dealings with humanity from this point forward. We see, in Genesis 4, Abel brings an acceptable sacrifice to the Lord; it is a sacrifice that required the shedding of blood. But Cain’s sacrifice consists of the “fruit of the soil” (Gen. 4:3); it is not acceptable to God. Already we begin to see that it is not simply any sacrifice to God that will do. The only sacrifice that can truly cover our sin is a sacrifice that God initiates, that he can accept, and that includes the shedding of blood.

    The rest of the Bible illustrates these two key aspects of salvation—that God will provide an acceptable sacrifice, and that sin cannot be covered without the death which the shedding of blood requires.

    Abrahamic Sacrifice

    Certain events in biblical history demonstrate this more clearly. In Genesis 22, for example, God calls Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac (Gen. 22:1–18). So Abraham takes Isaac to Mount Moriah to sacrifice him to the Lord. As far as Abraham knows, God requires the shedding of a blood sacrifice to cover his sin.

    We know from this chapter, though Abraham does not yet know, that God is doing this to test Abraham. He wants Abraham to demonstrate his loyalty to him. Abraham knew that God had promised to build and bless a nation through Isaac, so he realized that God could raise Isaac from the dead (Heb. 11:17–19). Abraham proves himself to be obedient to the Lord. Once Abraham’s obedience is proven, God stops Abraham from going through with the sacrifice of his son. Instead, God provides an animal, a ram, for Abraham to sacrifice. Abraham names that place “The LORD Will Provide” (Gen. 22:14).

    With this event, we begin to see in more detail the two aspects of God’s plan of salvation. Not only must God provide an acceptable sacrifice, and not only must there be the shedding of blood (i.e., death) for sin to be properly covered, but we see hints, from the perspective of the New Testament, that this shedding of blood must be more than the shedding of the blood of animals. For human sin to be covered, there must be the shedding of human blood—someone must die—and it must all be acceptable to and provided by God himself.

    Source: The Divine Design of Salvation | Monergism

  • #2
    To see a prophesy of Christ in Gen 3.15 has always struck me as stretching it a bit. More than a bit, actually. If that was really what was meant, wouldn't it be a great deal less cryptic?

    So much for the perspicuity of Scripture.
    Comment>

    • #3
      Originally posted by ThyWordisTruth View Post
      To see a prophesy of Christ in Gen 3.15 has always struck me as stretching it a bit. More than a bit, actually. If that was really what was meant, wouldn't it be a great deal less cryptic?

      So much for the perspicuity of Scripture.
      G'day ThyWordisTruth,

      I definitely believe we are spoiled or have favor in that the types and shadows by which OT saints had seen Christ's coming are now in full fruition. What was dimly seen has now been illuminated fully with Christ. Regarding Genesis 3:15 I think even the genealogies of Christ bear testimony. The seed of the woman with each passing birth successively came about to Christ's birth - which further testifies to the Prophets emphasizing the Davidic line. Obviously, they too saw the coming Messiah - the redeemer Job spoke about. All the while the OT saints had a forward looking faith at His coming, as we have a historic looking faith at Him already having come. This is short of any eschatological soteriology. Clearly, we are at an advantage.

      If you are not familiar you may want to inquire on typology which bears a hermeneutic through types and shadows.

      God bless,
      William
      Comment>

      • #4
        Post #1 -- absolutely. -- Genesis 3:15 has always been confusing to me -- but the author's explanation makes it much clearer and it makes perfect sense. In other words -- the seed of the woman, Jesus Christ was bruised for our iniquity --the death and bodily resurrection destroyed the stronghold that satan previously had on mankind. Jesus Christ's death - the perfect Lamb of God -- was crucified - blood shed for mankind --paid the price for our sins. By His stripes we are healed.

        God's Word isn't always meant to be easily understood. It goes deep in places. But salvation is very easy for anyone to understand. It's simple enough for a child to understand and accept. That doesn't mean that every child Will understand , but child-like faith is needed. Salvation is also Profound. A person doesn't have to understand all that is happening in order to accept what does happen.
        Comment>

        • #5
          Originally posted by Sue D. View Post
          God's Word isn't always meant to be easily understood. It goes deep in places.
          Amen sister,

          I found this out in John, I am in a bible study that has been in John for 1 year now, we finally are about to turn the page to Chapter 5. John is an author that makes multiple allusions to the OT, and trying to cover multiple allusions can be time consuming requiring an extensive knowledge of the OT. While others call this a hermeneutical circle because each time around more and more is understood, I just say that the full depths of God's word are never completely plumbed.

          God bless,
          William
          Comment>

          • #6
            Originally posted by Sue D. View Post
            God's Word isn't always meant to be easily understood. It goes deep in places.
            You mean it was written so that only professional theologians could understand it. That seems a bit perverse on God's part.

            Comment>

            • #7
              Originally posted by William View Post

              G'day ThyWordisTruth,

              I definitely believe we are spoiled or have favor in that the types and shadows by which OT saints had seen Christ's coming are now in full fruition. What was dimly seen has now been illuminated fully with Christ. Regarding Genesis 3:15 I think even the genealogies of Christ bear testimony. The seed of the woman with each passing birth successively came about to Christ's birth - which further testifies to the Prophets emphasizing the Davidic line. Obviously, they too saw the coming Messiah - the redeemer Job spoke about. All the while the OT saints had a forward looking faith at His coming, as we have a historic looking faith at Him already having come. This is short of any eschatological soteriology. Clearly, we are at an advantage.

              If you are not familiar you may want to inquire on typology which bears a hermeneutic through types and shadows.

              God bless,
              William
              i

              I am afraid the word eisegesis comes to my mind.

              Comment>

              • #8
                Originally posted by ThyWordisTruth View Post
                i

                I am afraid the word eisegesis comes to my mind.
                Typology is a method of biblical interpretation whereby an element found in the Old Testament is seen to prefigure one found in the New Testament. The initial one is called the type and the fulfillment is designated the antitype. Either type or antitype may be a person, thing, or event, but often the type is messianic and frequently related to the idea of salvation. The use of Biblical typology enjoyed greater popularity in previous centuries, although even now it is by no means ignored as a hermeneutic.

                Typological interpretation is specifically the interpretation of the Old Testament based on the fundamental theological unity of the two Testaments whereby something in the Old shadows, prefigures, adumbrates something in the New. Hence, what is interpreted in the Old is not foreign or peculiar or hidden, but arises naturally out of the text due to the relationship of the two Testaments.

                Motivation

                The study of types, particularly, types of Christ, is motivated by a number of factors related to New Testament use of the Old Testament. Firstly, the authors of various New Testament books use the Old Testament as a source of pictures pointing forward to Jesus. Among the most obvious passages are 1 Cor. 10:1–6, Gal. 4:21–31 and the letter to the Hebrews. From 1 Corinthians, we find Paul using the desert wanderings as typological of the Christian life, while in Galatians, he famously uses Sarah and Hagar as typological of slavery to Law under the Old Covenant against the freedom of grace in the New Covenant. The author of Hebrews is concerned to write explaining how the Old Testament points forward to Jesus; in so doing, he draws on heavily on Moses the man, as well as the Mosaic Law, with its sacrifices and Temple rituals.
                Classification of types

                There are various kinds of types presented in the Old Testament. Chief among these are the historical type, the legal type and the prophetic type. G.P. Landow

                Historical types

                People in the Old Testament frequently are seen to be types of Christ. For instance, Moses, who led God's people out of slavery in Egypt and into the rest of the Promised Land, is clearly a type for God's Messiah, who leads his people out of slavery to sin and into the rest of the New Earth. A host of Old Testament characters can be seen, in this manner, to act as types of Christ, such as:

                Adam, whose sin brought death to all. _(see Jesus as the second Adam)_
                David, God's anointed yet unrecognised King;
                Esther, who saves God's people even when God seems absent
                Elisha, God's prophet who raised the dead and fed the hungry.

                We may also include in this category some of the non-human 'characters' of Biblical history: for example, the rock struck by Moses in sin yet bringing forth streams of life-giving water ( Numbers 20:1–13), or the Temple in Jerusalem.

                Legal types

                Within the Law of Moses, many sacrifices, offerings and rituals were prescribed by God as the worship to be given by Israel. These sacrifices pointed forward, in different ways, to the one Sacrifice to be offered on the Cross for the sins of all God's people.

                Prophetic types

                Imagery occurs frequently in the prophets and other prophecies contained in Scripture. For instance, the promise of Genesis 3:15 is cast in terms of the struggle between men and serpents, and yet it contains the Gospel, as the Seed of the woman crushes the head of the Serpent once and for all on the Cross; it is for this reason that this verse is called the Protevangelium.

                Survey of perspectives

                The historical development of perspectives regarding typology is important for understanding the issues. For example, following the Reformation period, several distinct schools of thought developed. Among conservative scholars there were three major positions: Johannes Cocceius (1603-1669) applied any OT event or person that resembled a NT parallel, thereby coming close to an allegorical approach. John March (1757-1839) asserted that the only types were those explicitly stated to be types in the NT. Later, Patrick Fairbairn (1805-1874) mediated between the two by accepting both explicit and inferred types, stating that many more correspondences existed in the NT period than happen to be enumerated in the texts themselves.^ [2]^

                With the rise of the historical-critical method in the 19th century, non-conservative scholarship repudiated the unity between the Testaments and regarded typology as an inferior method, since Scripture (by their view) contained the disparate religious experiences of diverse groups rather than a unified historical record.^[3]^

                Most modern liberal scholars continue to disregard typology altogether. Lampe argues that, historically speaking, typology was traditionally understood as the real meaning of the Old Testament - a meaning read into it by the Holy Spirit, even though no one in the OT could have understood it. He concludes that not only is this old fashioned and out-dated, but typology is no longer to be pursued.^ [4]^

                Gerhard von Rad, who writes from a rather Neo-orthodox perspective, understands typology as just more or less analogical thinking.^ [5]^

                Within evangelicalism, the traditional view is that types occurred because God intentionally constructed pictures of Christ, and then placed those pictures within Israel's history.

                Issues in the use of Typology

                Typology represents a vital part of early Christian hermeneutics built upon the belief that God is in control and has unified His Word and the events in redemptive history.^[6]^ It is questioned whether typology is prospective (the OT type as a divinely ordained prediction) or retrospective (the NT antitype as analogously related but not prefigured in the type). It is likely that the solution lies in the middle. The OT authors and participants did not necessarily recognize any typological force in the original, but in the divine plan the early event did anticipate the later reality. Thus David's coronation (e.g., Psa. 2, 72, 110) did indeed foreshadow Jesus' enthronement as the royal Messiah, though it was not a direct prediction.

                The term that best describes this balance is "promise-fulfillment" as suggested by Moo.^[7]^ The OT type is promissory and the NT antitype fulfills the divine purpose implicit in the earlier event. Yet there is no need to assert that God had a meaning in the OT type of which the human author was not aware or that the OT texts had a “fuller sense” or deeper meaning than was realized by the original authors in order to explain either prophetic fulfillment or typology.^[8]^

                A canonical approach to the problem states that any particular biblical text can be interpreted in terms of its total biblical context. In other words, all of Scripture is analogously related, NT writers could see many parallels between Jesus and the religious experiences of Israel (e.g., David's brush with death in Psa. 16:8-11; cf. Acts 2:25-31) without necessitating any “deeper” thrust in the earlier passage.^[9]^
                I am surprised you think that being Reformed.

                God bless,
                William
                Comment>

                • #9
                  Originally posted by ThyWordisTruth View Post

                  You mean it was written so that only professional theologians could understand it. That seems a bit perverse on God's part.
                  I don't mean to be saying that. I'm no 'professional theologian' by any means. I grew up in a Bible teaching church and thought that Bible college would be easy. Was I ever Wrong. College was Deeper --it was supposed to be. I studied more and learned more. But I still only did 'C' level in grades. Discovered that my mind doesn't absorb at the speed of college.

                  Each person is unique -- I happen to enjoy reading and researching - - but at my own speed. Today I started with a Beth Moore study in 2 Timothy. A 6-wk study. A group of women meet once a week. Should be interesting.

                  There was a church we went to many years ago -- the pastor was encouraging us to do our personal Bible study --Great -- Then he proceeded to list all the Bible helps we could get to help us understand better. Ungers' Bible dictionary was one -- we had one. He said they were available at the church library if we wanted to use them instead of getting our own. That approach really bothered us -- he was - in fact - making Bible study sound So complicated that 'why not just listen to Pastor instead of doing all that study ourselves'. We left the church for that -- he wanted to be the 'king pin' -- my husband went in to talk with him. The pastor is fairly short and my husband is over 6 ft. He would hardly even listen to my husband. Pastor didn't like having to look up to anyone.

                  So -- read / study God's Word on our own -- share what we learn with who ever is around to listen. Or even email someone with what's being learned.
                  Comment>
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