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1993 Issue 3

In this article we shall endeavor to answer the following question, Is the postmillennial hope wishful thinking or certain hope? My initial response to this either/or dilemma is to affirm that postmillennialism is both wishful thinking and a certain hope. Let me explain what I mean by this unusual assertion.

By every godly measure postmillennialism should be wishful thinking for the believer. That is, it should be the Christian's wish that the Gospel of Jesus Christ make overwhelming and victorious progress in the earth. It should be our wish that the world be overflowed with the righteousness of God through our diligent, God-blessed labor. It should be our wish that peace arise as a result of the gracious transformation of human nature under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Why would a Christian wish for anything less?

What men believe determines how they think and live. This has always been the case and is still so today. To focus upon specific historical events while overlooking the theological foundations that provoked those events is to miss the most important lessons history has to offer. To be ignorant of the theological underpinnings of the past is to have a radically short-sighted and woefully misguided view of it.

There have only been two basic faiths throughout the history of the world: The Biblical Faith (God-centered, Scripture-based, teaching salvation by grace) and the non-Biblical faith (man-centered, rejecting the authority of the Scriptures, teaching salvation by works). The latter has many cultic expressions, advertises itself under various names which have an almost infinite variety of minor differences among themselves. Do not be fooled by the apparent disharmony however. All the forms of unbelief, in spite of their trivial differences, are united in their antagonism to Biblical theology. Their variety serves the Deceiver well since it disguises the fact that their common foe is Christianity.

There are Christians who interpret the Bible in light of a basic, covenantal continuity between the Old and New Testaments. Other believers make a dispensational discontinuity between the Old and New Testaments their main principle of interpretation. These different orientations result in conflicting systems of theology, as we have seen, but they also lead to very specific, practical differences in living out the Christian life.

In particular, the divergence between covenantal and non-covenantal approaches to Scripture comes to concrete expression in their differing views of the children of adult converts to the faith. Both schools of thought agree that the children of Christians are conceived and born in sin, that they need to be "born again" and exercise faith in Jesus Christ for salvation. But covenantal and non-covenantal theologies disagree over the status of these children while their believing parent(s) pray for their children, nurture them, and await a Spirit-given profession of faith by them as they grow up.

Mark begins his gospel simply by assuming that the Son of God has made His appearance in the world in Jesus. In his fast-moving style Mark moves immediately into a vignette into the ministry of John the Baptist and the baptism of Jesus.

Matthew, like Luke, says much about the actual incarnation of Jesus, although he basically confines his narrative to a description of the virgin birth of Jesus and related subjects.

John begins his gospel as the book of Genesis begins the Bible: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.... And the Word became flesh...," Jn. 1:1, 14.

Although Luke, with Matthew, reports at length the circumstances surrounding the birth of Jesus Christ, his emphasis is quite different than that of Matthew, so that Luke's account of the birth of Jesus is in no way a mere supplement to Matthew's account. The two accounts differ widely concerning what they report, although both are historically accurate.

In John 16:14, the Lord Jesus Christ gives us a summary statement of the work of the Holy Spirit: "He shall glorify Me." The major function of the Spirit is, in a sense, self-effacing; He does not seek His own glory, but Christ's, His work is Christ centered. (In as much as Christ came to do the work of the Father-or glorify Him [Jn. 17:4]-all glory that is Christ centered is similarly reflected onto the Father and finally becomes Theocentric. As the angels sang at the birth of Christ, "Glory to God in the highest!" [Lk. 2:14]) In the same way that this verse speaks of the Spirit's work, it also speaks of His "person." This is true on two accounts. First, although the person and work of the Spirit must be distinguished, they must never be totally separated. Second, to perfectly glorify the Lord Jesus Christ, by carrying out His ministry, the Holy Spirit must be intrinsically Holy and divine. This He is; He is the Holy Spirit, a title attested to by Christ Himself (Jn. 14:26). He is also fully divine, possessing all of the attributes of deity. This monograph intends to examine the doctrine of the person and work of the Holy Spirit (or "pneumatology") as set forth in the Westminster Standards, i.e., the Confession of Faith along with the Larger and Shorter Catechisms.

(The following article represents an excellent example of how Christians can respond to needs in their community without the intervention of governmental bureaucracy. I thought you would enjoy and profit from these real life messages. Robert Smith is founder and executive director of the Christian Food Mission. He is also a deacon at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Laurel, MS. You might write to encourage or support him at P.O. Box 2422 Laurel, MS 39442. - The Editor)

From the very beginning God has had His hand on this work and, I believe, He is not finished with it yet. Let me begin by sharing something important I recently came to understand about myself.