Ad Gloriam Dei

"Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." - 1 Corintians 10:31

"Let us pursue the things which make for peace and those by which one may edify another"- Romans 14:19

"As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend." - Proverbs 27:17

Monday, May 22, 2006

Saturday: A Day of Preparation

"That day was the Preparation, and the Sabbath drew near."
Luke 23:54

How much do we see Saturday as the Preparation Day for the Lord's Day? Do we prepare to "remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy"? Are we getting to bed late? Have we organised our home on the Saturday, so we have don't have unnecessary work to do the next day?

Also, do we view Friday night as the Preparation Night for the Preparation Day? If we have some big task to do on Saturday, do we get to bed on time and get up early enough the next day, so we aren't getting too near midnight when we're finishing off, so that we're too tired to use the Sabbath as we should, or putting ourselves in a position where we have to work past midnight?

Indeed, do we view the whole week as a preparation for the Sabbath? Are we endeavouring to get sufficient rest during the week, so we aren't using the Sabbath as a day to catch up on sleep?


Blogger Allen R. Mickle, Jr. said...

Guess that depends if we think the Sabbath is still normative for present day Christians... ;)

Sorry... that's just my "not under the law of Moses but the law of Christ" dispensational bent coming out!

Allen Mickle

Monday, June 19, 2006 9:21:00 pm  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

Dispensationalism is too big an issue to deal with here! Have you read Keith Mathison's "Dispensationalism: Rightly Dividing the People of God?"

What type of dispy are you? A John MacArthur minimalist, or Schofield and Co., or something in-between?

By the way, doesn't it make you think when you consider that Dispensationalists suddenly appeared in the mid-19th Century? Sure, there were Gribben-esque historic premills, but no dispys. (Call me presby if you will, but here we reserve it for the PCI.)

So... the 9 Commandments, eh? 1,2,3,DELETE,5,6,7,8,9,10? Why are all the other commandments that are around it still applicable today, but we delete No. 4 for some reason?

Was it tied to the Temple and the Priesthood that were a shadow of Christ? No, so why has it gone?

One day in seven was kept as a Sabbath, prior to the Fall, but for some reason it disappears in the New Covenant dispensation? Pourquoi?

Monday, June 19, 2006 10:29:00 pm  
Blogger Allen R. Mickle, Jr. said...


Yep, I've read Mathison's. Have you read Ryrie's, Dispensationalism? I would argue actually that I am McClain, McCune dispensationalist (of the old Grace Theological Seminary, Winona Lake, IN), essentially reformed dispensationalist but for simplicity sake, let's just say a Ryrie dispensationalists (with modifications).

Sure, I agree. Dispensationalism does not have a long history, but that really doesn't make it wrong or right does it? Refinement is always occuring in theology (can we ever fully know completely the absolute correctness of theology while dwelling on earth?) and as long as it does not explicitly go against Scripture, when it was correlated is not really an isuee.

And no, I believe that the 10 commandments as expressed within the Mosaic Law are no longer for the Christian in this dispensation (we are no longer under the Law of Moses but instead the Law of Christ). The intent of all of commandments is reflected in the ethical teachings of the New Testament so you might say it is a moot point but I find in particular the one that is not is simply the Sabbath command.

Do you celebrate the Sabbath on Saturday? Just curious.

You are right, it is rooted in creation, and on that account I do not disagree. I agree that we can then draw practicaly conclusions that one day set aside for rest is necessary for the believer but not in terms of a law requiring "sabbath rest."

So, no. Christian's are not to obey the Mosaic Law, but the ethical requirements of the law are re-iterated in the law of Christ. See Douglas Moo's chapter in Five Views on Law and Gospel (Zondervan). All perhaps except the requirement of the Sabbath but which as you rightly say, is not essentially grounded in the Law but in creation.


Tuesday, June 20, 2006 1:14:00 am  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...


Just to acknowledge that I've seen this and will answer when I get the time. I had to visit a work colleague with cancer.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006 10:26:00 pm  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

Just a quickie...

Glad to hear you've read Mathison. You're still a dispy? Want to read it again? ;)

I've skim-read Ryrie's "Dispensationalism Today" I still think the Dispensational hermeneutic is contrived.

I don't believe that history determines what we believe, but surely we believe that fundamentally Christianity has been maintained by the work of the Holy Spirit through the ages. Dispensationalism is fundamentally different from all that has gone before (not in terms of salvation, for non-Ultras). It has a radically different hermeneutic.

Doesn't this bother you, given that Christ promised that He would build His Church? This is no little refinement. Why did the profound system of dispensationalism sudden evaporate with no trace in the early Church?

No Ten Commandments? I see what type of dispy you are. Why did all the other moral obligations get carried over? Isn't it bizarre that No. 4 is the only one to not be deleted and reintroduced for the New Covenant?

Isn't the Ten Commandments a summary of the moral law? E.g. it doesn't mention lust, but as Christ said, lust is encompassed under the archetypal sin of adultery along with all other unfaithfulness and sexual sin. See Larger Catechism Q's 98,137-139.

The Ten Commandments aren't just a list of specific rules that have been abrogated, they are a summary of the total moral law.

Why do you believe that the moral law suddenly stopped? Where does it say this? (I'll not assume your answer. I'm aware of some answers.)

I do celebrate the Sabbath on the Lord's Day. The Sabbath was a day of holy convocation and in the NT we see that the disciples met on the Lord's Day instead. The other sabbaths were abrogated as tied to the ceremonial law, the festivals and the sacrifices. (But hey, lets invent our own and call them Christmas and Easter.)

The creation ordinance of one day in seven to rest and worship God was a command, not a pragmatic idea dreamt up by men. This was a law. What is a law but a set of commands? God's moral law reflects His own morality and doesn't change. His ethical requirements continue into the NT because they are intrinsic to Him and remain law.

We are still under the law, not as a covenant of life, for it never could give life. The OT church were saved by faith just as we are.

The Mosaic law (the Old Covenant of Heb. 8) consisted of ceremonies, symbolic social laws, civil laws and personal moral laws. The ceremonies and the symbolic social laws have passed away because Christ was foreshadowed in them, e.g. His priesthood supersedes the Levitical shadow, His sacrifice supersedes the animal sacrifices and burnt offerings. Hebrews make the reason for the discontinuity clear.

What is the reason for the abrogation of the Weekly Sabbath, esp. as it was a creation ordinance?

Must go. I've stayed too long.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006 11:13:00 pm  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

"“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 5:17-19)

No, I really must stop!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006 11:18:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I'm Timothy's wife and read your discussion on the law and Sabbath day. Another relevant verse occured to me:

"Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law." (Romans 3:31, NASB)

God Bless!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006 11:38:00 pm  
Blogger Allen R. Mickle, Jr. said...

Well Timothy,

You ask many questions that can be answered briefly here. I do not believe we are not under any law. I believe we are not under the law of Moses but we are under the law of Christ. Please see Doug Moo's article like I mentioned. He sum's up the position explicitly.

Also, I would suggest you read Ryrie's 2nd edition of his book (printed in 1995).

Timothy, no, actually it doesn't bother me that it is more recent of a systemization. It is not an issue of salvation nor I believe, of corruption of the church, so therefore, I don't have a problem with even a major revision like this. And no, it does not bother me that the church embraced a different hermeneutic following the first century. The church started to embrace a lot of doctrinal problems within the first centuries (for instance, like a hierarchy within the context of groups of churches).

Again, to answer your questions regarding the moral law, I'll simply point you again to Moo's treatment. He makes the arguments much better than I. Yes, I agree the Mosaic law reflects the moral law of God, but since the Christian is no longer under the law of Moses (Romans 10:4, etc.).

I never said the moral law stopped, I said the Mosaic law stopped (you should read McClain's Law and Grace). I think that the way covenant theologians divide up the Mosaic law is a problem. The law cannot be divided up into various aspects, it is one unifed whole. Therefore, if you believe part of the law of Moses has been abrogated, then it all has.

I agree, the Sabbath rest is rooted in creation, not in the Mosaic law, therefore it is trans-dispensational (even though it is not explicitly reiterated in the NT). But, since you are already changing the day of the Sabbath (oops... I mean the early church!)... what else about it can change? No matter what, clearly, I believe the Lord's Day was set aside by the early church as a day of worship of God and as the Sabbath is trans-dispensational, they moved it to Sunday as a time of rest as well. It cannot be the "Sabbath" of the law because it would be required on Sunday. It is simply a day we set aside for rest because God did as well. If we were doing it based on the law, it would have to be on Saturday, but Paul says every day is the same (Rom 14:5).

I doubt I answered your objections (I think you misunderstand the position) but hope it helps none-the-less. Does not mean I think you are any less of a brother, and I hope you feel the same.

I will be away on vacation until next week and won't be online, so if I don't reply right away, don't feel bad!

Allen Mickle

Wednesday, June 21, 2006 12:14:00 am  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

Regarding the stopping of the moral law, I guess my hasty and tired mind was expressing things in a Reformed way.

You state that the Ten Commandments (which are ethical, except for the 4th, which you see as non-ethical), no longer strictly apply to us, but rather we are now under Christ's Law, which also have those same eternal ethical principles that are an expression of God's eternal righteousness. I presume this is because of the following?

1. The Ten Commandments were given to Israel, but not to us as we are Gentiles and part of a distinct body called "the Church".

2. We are "no longer under law, but under grace".

Is this true, or would you like to add more?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006 1:06:00 pm  
Blogger Allen R. Mickle, Jr. said...


Think you summed it up well. I'm at Pearson International Airport right now on my way home to Nova Scotia so if you reply, I'll probably check it sometime tomorrow or Monday. :) Looking forward to interacting on Culver, especially since he attended a dispensational school and has now moved to a covenant position.

Allen Mickle

Sunday, June 25, 2006 1:26:00 am  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

I've started reading Ryrie's "Dispensationalism Today" again. As I hadn't exhaustively read it last time, I thought I'd read through it more carefully this time.

I confess that I only have the 1st edition of 1965. Are there any significant differences between this and the 2nd edition of 1995?

As I read it again it strikes me that there is a lot to dispensationalism that is common to those of us who hold to covenant theology, as Ryrie admits.

Sunday, June 25, 2006 10:57:00 am  
Blogger Allen R. Mickle, Jr. said...


There are a few significan re-writes in the book. I think the 95 edition is much better. But, I'd have to think really hard about the major differences and the advantages. But of course, 30 years of extra time to reflect gives one a good opportunity to adjust and refine their theology.

And, yes! Love that final comment. I think all too often in the debate between discontinuity and continuity we stress the differences and not the similarities. Some make dispensationalism out to be some monolithic doctrine that permeates all that we believe. But in reality, it only affects our eschatology and our ecclesiology.

It will be interesting to talk to Culver about that. He went to a dispensational school (Grace Theological Seminary) for quite awhile yet has changed to the covenant position.


Sunday, June 25, 2006 12:52:00 pm  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

I hope Ryrie sorted out the third sine qua non of dispensationalism:

"...the underlying purpose of God in the world. The covenant theologian in practice makes this purpose salvation, and the dispensationalist says the purpose is broader than that, the glory of God." (p. 46)

What an astonishing statement! Didn't ever read the best known question from the Westminster Shorter Catechism and repeated in Spurgeon's version:

QUESTION 1. What is the chief end of man?
ANSWER. Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
1 Cor. 10:31; Rom. 11:36; Ps. 73:25-28.

He may slip in the phrase "in practice", but many wouldn't spot that, nor is it in practice. When I hear any Calvinist discuss evangelism, it is always stated first that the primary objective of evangelism is God's glory.

Sunday, June 25, 2006 2:06:00 pm  
Blogger Allen R. Mickle, Jr. said...


This continues to be Ryrie's third sine qua non but I think he re-words it. I don't doubt that he knows what the Westminster Confession says on the matter. I think it is more how generally covenant theologians flesh out their respective theologies. They tend to focus more on redemption and Jesus Christ's provision of it as the chief purpose for the Word of God and God's plan and program today, whereas we try to maintain that the over-arching idea of God's program and plan has always been and will continue to be to glorify Himself. Now, maybe we are missing on what covenant theologians believe on this matter, but it seems to be a tad different. I just think about the focus of some covenant theologians being on Christ and redemption as being the chief end and purpose of God. Maybe though it is not a consensus amongst covenant theologians. I'm willing to be corrected at least on that.


Sunday, June 25, 2006 9:33:00 pm  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

Given what I stated, I find it hard to believe that you can back-up Ryrie on this. I was talking to a brother who has left a dispensationalist assembly to attend our congregation. He emphasised on several occasions what really struck him about our congregation, and Reformed literature he has read, was how God-centred it was, and how man-centred Dispensationalism was.

God's primary purpose is his own glory. There is nothing more emphatic in Reformed literature.

Obviously the main method that God has used to display His glory is the salvation of poor sinners through the glorious redemption purchased by Christ.

What is the Bible primarily about? Man falls, man needs saved, the OT points to Christ, Christ comes and provides propitiation, salvation goes out to all nations, Christ will come again to finish our salvation and usher in a new heavens and a new earth. We are saved that we might glorify God.

Why do you think the Bible is written?

" the praise of the glory of His grace..." (Eph. 1:6)

Sunday, June 25, 2006 10:01:00 pm  
Blogger Allen R. Mickle, Jr. said...

I think the Bible was written for God to glorify Himself. That includes things of salvation, etc.


Monday, June 26, 2006 9:18:00 pm  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

Everything glorifies God, even Satan, but what purpose does the Bible fulfill in glorifying God?

Monday, June 26, 2006 10:27:00 pm  
Blogger Allen R. Mickle, Jr. said...


Well you asked! That's why I answered to glorify God. The purpose in the authorship of the Scriptures was to present to people the revelatory communication of God. The sub-purposes of that are multi-fold. The over-arching purpose is to glorify God in giving His revelation to man. The corollary to this main purpose is that because it was given to glorify God, it was given so that we know how to glorify God.


Tuesday, June 27, 2006 1:47:00 pm  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

I wasn't trying to rebuke you. I asked the question to get you to clarify what the Bible's purpose in glorifying God is. Obviously the purpose of all things is to glorify God, which I assumed was a priori in our discussions.

(If were to ask you what is the purpose in eating, you could say, "To glorify God," which would be correct, but I wouldn't be expecting that answer as I would assume the ultimate purpose, and I would be expecting the purpose at the 'next level'.)

I'll try to get to the point on what I'm trying to drive at.

Ryrie asserts that dispensationalists make "the underlying purpose of God in the world" to be the glory of God, which is "broader than" the covenant theologian, who "in practice makes this purpose salvation".

We refute that allegation through our confessional statements, our literature and our practice. We assert that everything is to the glory of God, even salvation, even the acts of the demons. The underlying purpose in the universe from all eternity to all eternity is the glory of God.

However, we also assert that the supreme means by which God glorifies Himself is the salvation of the elect. The Bible's purpose is to reveal to us the glory of God, but primarily this glory is revealed through the salvation of the elect.

Moreover the Bible is concerned with the history of redemption from the creation and fall of man, through the death of Christ to the consummation of all things at the end of the ages. It reveals to us how we are fallen for we look at ourselves in the mirror of God's ethical standards and see how far we fall short of His glory. It reveals to us the way of salvation and what salvation is. It teaches us how we may progress in sanctification after our justification, etc., etc.

Do you agree? If so, then how can Ryrie make the claim that dispensationalists emphasise God's glory more than covenant theologians? We both teach the same ultimate purpose (God's glory) and the same primary purpose at the "next level" (the salvation of the elect).

If this isn't a differentiator, then we're left with points 1 and 2. Although I would add a third, which I will discuss on a separate occasion.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006 7:16:00 pm  
Blogger Allen R. Mickle, Jr. said...


I really do not disagree with you at all. Although, I am a little fuzzy on how pre-fall could be seen as part of the history of redemption. Was redemption necessary pre-fall? I think I know your answer but am interested in you articulating it for me.

I am fine at excluding the "third" sine qua non. Perhaps Ryrie is mis-understanding most covenant theologians. I'm not sure because of course I'm not Ryrie.

But, like you, I would agree that the first and second sine qua non obviously set up differences between dispensationalists and covenant theologians. Have you ever read, There Really is a Difference by Renald Showers? I think it is a pretty healthy look at the difference between both dispensationalism and covenant theology (but of course he may be biased as well since he is a dispensationalist). I simply offer it up though as an attempt to understand each other.

So what would be your new third sine qua non?


Tuesday, June 27, 2006 7:52:00 pm  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...


I've just finished my evening devotions and I came to put the PC to bed, but I just want to acknowledge that I read your comment.

I'm glad that we could come to some form of agreement on Ryrie's 3rd sine qua non.

Althouh maybe McArthur might disagree with me, I would put unfulfilled prophecy concerning Israel as fundamental to dispensationalism, although I recognise that it comes out of sine qua nons 1 and 2.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006 11:00:00 pm  
Blogger Allen R. Mickle, Jr. said...


Yes, I would think that that would be derived from the first 2 sine qua non's.


Wednesday, June 28, 2006 2:46:00 am  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

The problem with Ryrie's sine qua non (RSQA) 1, "A dispensationalist keeps Israel and the Church distinct," is that it is no less distinctive than believing that that there are different periods in world history that have distinct administrations. I think that in both cases it is a question of degree, rather than the mere belief or not.

Many amillennialists (such as myself) and historic postmillennialists hold that Israel as a nation has a distinct destiny as declared in Romans 11, i.e. that Israel as a nation will turn to the Lord, but that they will become part of the Church though this. See Iain Murray’s "The Puritan Hope". Many modern amillennialists would disagree, but my camp would see that Israel in Romans 11 are clearly the nation and not the same as the second group in the phrase "Not all Israel are Israel" (Rom. 9).

Most (all?) dispensationalists agree with covenant theologians that believing Israelites have been absorbed into the entity of “the Church” within the present dispensation. So who are the distinct body that is Israel in this dispensation? Does this merely cover unbelieving Israel?

So it seems to me that it is the quality and degree of the distinction that is in dispute, and the extent of the two plans.

The real distinctions are, in my opinion:

1. Covenant theologians see various prophecies in the OT regarding Israel as being fulfilled in a 'spiritual' sense (for want of a better word!) because of how the NT interprets some of these passages, whereas dispensationalists believe that they cannot be interpreted in such a spiritual way due to their hermeneutic (although according to my wife some dispensationalists see some 'spiritual' fulfilment in the Church).

Ryrie acknowledges that both camps see that there are figures of speech/symbols and not everything is interpreted literally, e.g. the woman "Babylon" who sits on three hills in Revelation.

2. Dispensationalist believe in a rapture of the Church prior to the end of the ages and before the Millennium, its extinction as an earthly body at this point, and the re-emergence of Israel as God’s special people, but not as part of the Church. (Do all dispensationalists believe this?)

3. The belief that certain passages of Scripture are inapplicable to the Church as they were given to Israel as a distinct body, e.g. the Ten Commandments, rather than that certain ceremonies are fulfilled in Christ.

Again, it is the type of distinction between Israel and the Church, rather than the existence of a distinction as such.

Covenant theologians all see a distinction between Israel and the Church to some degree, e.g. not all Israelites ended up in the NT Church, but they do see a continuity in the people of God as set forth in the picture of the Olive Tree in Romans 11.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006 6:55:00 pm  
Blogger Timothy said...

OK, Allen and Timothy,
Being formerly a dispy and a DTS grad, the fundamental difference that we have with dispys today IS the church/Israel distinction. All other arguments are merely arguments around the real issue that separates us. Dispys see the Israel as the people of God, and Gentiles as an afterthought, whereas those in Reformed camps see only believers through all ages as the people of God, not just those who are of the physical descent of Abraham.

By taking the latter position, we see that the Moral law is still applicable today because it was given to the people of God, not just those who's genetic descent is from Abraham. That is the difference. Once you understand this, then you can dialogue more clearly. I know that you have both touched upon it... but that is the key.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006 10:02:00 pm  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

I could deal with what we perceive to be the typical dispensationalist, but I'm trying to get at what binds all types of dispensationalist together as a group.

The difference between dispensationalists and ourselves is more than that there is a distinction between Israel and the Church. It is the nature of the distinction that we disagree about.

Is it true that all dispensationalists "see Israel as the people of God, and Gentiles as an afterthought" (a.k.a. the parenthetical nature of the Church)?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006 10:19:00 pm  
Blogger Allen R. Mickle, Jr. said...


I'll reply in more detail tomorrow but I would hesitate with the belief that dispensationalists believe the church was an after-thought. I have never heard an academic dispensationalist say the church was an after-thought. They have all believed that the church was planned before the foundation of the earth, but of course it was a mystery in the OT and not revealed until the coming of Christ.

Even those who take the parenthetical approach (with the future establishment of the kingdom of God, God in some senses, has taken a break from ethnic Israel, but will reestablish them just prior to and during the Tribulation and millennium), they would never say the church was an after-thought.

I will reply more tomorrow to what you have said Timothy but find what you are saying interesting and will be good to interact on it.


Thursday, June 29, 2006 1:53:00 am  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...


I think you'll need to distinguish between the two Timothys, otherwise it will get too confusing.

Thursday, June 29, 2006 8:38:00 am  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...


I think we should continue here.

Thursday, June 29, 2006 10:40:00 am  

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