. What Should New Testament Preachers Do with Old Testament Promises?

What Should New Testament Preachers Do with Old Testament Promises?

Some time ago my wife and I visited a church we’d never been to before and heard a message from one paragraph in Joshua 1. Take particular note of the promises (bolded), because the preacher did:

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.

A stirring passage. And the preacher, who was a gifted speaker, skillfully weaved its themes into a unified sermon. We profited from it. We love to hear God’s word preached with care and feeling.

But there was one implicit rhetorical move underlying the entire message that I felt uncomfortable with, and it was explicitly stated at the end when the preacher said, looking into the eyes of his audience, These are God’s promises to you.

Discussing the sermon later with my wife, she said something I found very helpful. She knew that for all the preacher’s good intentions, it wasn’t right for him to apply those words from Joshua 1 directly to Christians. She knew what not to do with Joshua 1. But, she said, what should she do with it?

Preachers, the next time you encounter an Old Testament promise in your sermon text, I encourage you to try three basic, time-tested ways of avoiding the error I’ve described.

1. Apply the promises to Israel first.

The preacher could have avoided his error if he had added just one paragraph in place of that line—just one additional rhetorical step. And that step needed to go backwards.

The preacher needed to take a step back and clarify that Joshua 1’s promises were given to Israel first. Joshua is part of a long story, and no one today lives in the same chapter Joshua did. In other words, these promises are not to us.

Faithful evangelical interpreters dispute the precise level of continuity between the church and Israel. But I’m not aware of anyone who says they’re exactly the same thing. Some element of translation needs to be made when New Testament sheep are led graze in Old Testament pastures.

Frequently, this point can be made by expanding the sermon to include another paragraph or two of scriptural context. Soon New Testament Christians hearing the message will see some promises they know can’t apply directly to them, perhaps promises they don’t even want! In fact, those kinds of promises are found just verses before the passage above. Here’s God speaking to Joshua (note where I’ve bolded):

Arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory. (Josh 1:2–4)

What is a soccer mom supposed to do with this? How about an ailing urban planner? A recently baptized third-grader? They won’t want to live in the land of the Hittites. If they know their Bibles at all, they’ll know intuitively that these promises are not for them. That mom may wish for the larger house one subdivision over, but taking off her shoes and walking around its yard is more likely to get her yelled at than to bring the property under her ownership. The specific details in the context of Joshua 1 make it clear that New Testament Christians aren’t being addressed.

2. Translate the promises.

The next move is this: translate the promises for New Covenant believers. If Joshua 1 promises certain things to the children of Israel, talk about what these promises indicate about God’s character, and about God’s plan for the world. He’s got the same character and the same plans.

Think about the character of God as revealed in Joshua 1. This is a God who could do everything for the Israelites but doesn’t; he encourages them, through Joshua, to “be strong and very courageous” and go clear out the land for themselves.

Is this still God’s way? Yes. He can make things happen directly; he could evangelize people himself, and sometimes he basically does (some people are converted through reading a discarded Bible). But generally he calls us to be his—strong and courageous—witnesses.

Think about the plan of God as revealed in Joshua 1. He’s in the process of giving a land to his chosen seed, Abraham’s seed. Joshua 1 uses a theologically significant word when it says they will “inherit” it (see Woudstra in NICOT, 62). And Joshua 1 is all part of God’s plan to bless the world through that seed.

Our task as biblical interpreters is to discover what Joshua 1 contributes to this story, how it enriches the themes of that story, how it advances the story. All this is relevant to New Testament Christians.

3. Give the (now-translated) promises to the grafted-in olive branches.

This means that a Bible interpreter can go ahead and give the promises back to Christians after translation. These promises are for us, even if they aren’t to us—just like the sap of an olive tree is for whatever branches are on it, even if some of them have only lately been grafted in (Rom 11:17–24). These promises are part of the “doctrine, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness” that the Bible was given to us to provide (2 Tim 3:16). All OT promises do apply to modern Christians somehow. Just not directly as if we’re standing on the border of the Promised Land.

So don’t withhold this passage from grafted in olive branches, including yourself. If you bury the promises in qualifications, pull them out again and present them. We Gentiles were once “strangers from the covenants of promise” (Eph 2:12), but the grafting operation Jesus performed made believing Gentiles and Jews into one body (Eph 2:16). We’re no longer “strangers to the covenants of promise,” as if they have nothing to do with us.

No, Sarah Smith of 101 Peachtree Lane, Atlanta, GA, has no right to expect direct and immediate application of the promises of Joshua 1. She doesn’t get to claim Hittite territory. But it’s quite true that one day “the meek will inherit” every bit of the territory God names in Joshua 1, and more (though what role national Israel will play in this is another convoluted question evangelicals disagree on). If you can’t say “These are God’s promises to you,” you can nonetheless say, “These promises will be for you in the New Earth.” All God’s promises are Yes in Christ (2 Cor 1:20).

Mark L. Ward, Jr. received his PhD from Bob Jones University in 2012; he now serves the church as a writer for Faithlife. His most recent book is Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible.


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Written by
Mark Ward

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  • Should never skip the step of fulfillment in Christ, who is the remnant of Israel reduced to one. We inherit the promises, but only as realities experienced “in Christ.”

    • In addition to Jesus’ note that he fulfills the OT (Matt 5:17-19), I find Paul’s language helpful for this discussion:
      For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory. (1 Cor 1:20, NLT)

  • This post makes me think of a sermon I heard about where the preacher used Israel’s march around Jericho as an example of getting a wife. His message to young men was, be persistent. Keep marching. Keep trying to win her heart. She’ll come around and marry you eventually.

    We should always consider the original context and audience before we attempt to apply it to our circumstances.

    • Hi Jeremy, I could not let this one pass without comment:

      Strange application, but funny in my view. I would think that a better application would be: just as Israel was instructed on how to conquer (after being approved for it), so one should ask God if the person for marriage is the right one, and if there is any special way to go about it (that maybe allows to appreciate compatibility in beliefs, values, etc.).

    • Been there; heard that, Jeremy! We’d like to believe that the Bible has relevance to all of life, and we should believe this. But that doesn’t mean that each part of the Bible has the same kind of direct relevance to a given question as any other.

  • Thank you Mark, for stimulating our thinking with your article. Which seems to raise more questions than it answers. This passage of Scripture can have only one specific interpretation but as always there are potentially infinite applications of the passage. The question remains in my mind, are we justified in our application because of correct interpretation and careful observation of Scripture or are we stepping outside of what our God intended for this text and many other Old Testament promises to create doctrines that were never meant to be?

    • Hi Daniel:
      Very interesting question, I know you did not write for me, but such great question deserves input.

      We all live in different particular contextual situations. Our historical reality is very different. But we do need guidance from God, and one such way could be extracting underlying principles from the Bible.

      An often cited example: slavery… Not condemned in the Bible, Christian even encouraged to be slaves for Christ.

      Now in our present context, taking the Biblical principles that God makes no distinction among wheat (not tares), and that wheat bear the image of God, one can infer that slavery is wrong.

      Further more, if we look back to the original design (Adam and Eve), we see that they worked ordering all, and upkeeping for God. I do not see that God made some slaves for Adam to boss around. Thus it can be inferred that originally no slavery was in mind, it came about because of the fall.
      So the doctrine of all men equal in front of God, may have some Biblical validity, and a very practical application.

  • I enjoyed the article above – very timely. Question; do preachers also have to be careful in how they seek to draw analogies from the OT. For example using David versus Goliath as an example of the Christian’s struggle
    and victory against sin? Does David’s victory against Goliath really tell us or assure us of anything except that David was gifted as tough and skilled and confident fighter due to his experience in the wilderness protecting his sheep? He wasn’t so gifted at child rearing for example (Absalom) or in controlling his sexual urges (Bathsheba). To seek to make a link or a parallel between David’s victory (or any other such event in the bible) and some spiritual requirement often seems a bit artificial and contrived.

    • Hi David:
      Excellent question and better example. I do think that parallel situations apply. Paul says that we are part of a spiritual war agains forces of darkness, etc.

      We are expected to face, engage and defeat those evil forces not in the flesh, but with the Spirit of God, through fasting, praying, interceding (our modern stones).
      It is amazing how many unconverted have the same attitude Goliath has, more so if they are into occultism, and is incredible to see their fall when Jesus Christ comes to defend His sheep, and through the intercession of the Church.

      As far as David not being well rounded saint: some christians are very uncomfortable about the term perfection.

      Perfection roughly comes in two grades: absolute and relative.

      Absolute perfection was achieved and is only possessed by Jesus Christ.

      Now relative perfection is something that applies to us: “be perfect as Our Father above that is perfect”… many stories in the Bible were written for our edification so note:

      Abraham, Isaac, Israel, David, and others fell short in the Holiness highway to say it in a way.
      But consider some totally awesome humans:

      Enoch was taken directly by God, Joseph in Egypt, Daniel, the Apostle John, were relatively perfect (as compared to the other characters in the Biblical narrative).

      So that relative perfection is what we should strive for, God said to Cain, “if you were to imitate Abel, I would accept your sacrifice better” (very rough paraphrase).

      So we can never achieve absolute perfection, except maybe in the presence of the Lord, but with the aid of the Holy Spirit we should try to be modern Daniel, Joseph, Enoch, etc.

    • If we take the biblical “heroes” as exemplars, we might find ourselves teaching a Junior High boys’ Sunday school class, “If you trust God, you can kill people, but only bad people.”

      • Our fight is not against blood and flesh ,but against forces of darkness in the heavenlies. Our weapons are not carnal, but powerful in Christ to destroy any stronghold that is against the Kingdom of God and its expansion.

        Many books in Vyrso give testimony of the effectiveness of spiritual warfare against principalities, powers, and dominions in a particular region. Once the evil spirit is bound and expelled, evangelism becomes easier, injustices are started to be dealt with, etc.

        But of course, for those that deny such spiritual warfare reality, such teachings will never happen, and then they worry why their tradition loses adherents.

        Just because Jesus resurrected and went to heaven to intercede for us, does not mean that de devil and his minions finished trying to obtaculize Kingdom work and to make believers stumble and try to steal their spiritual, material, and emotional blessings.

        God’s word talk about an ongoing spiritual war till the end when Jesus comes to set things right. That is God’s ultimate reality for this region of His Kingdom, regardless what any human thinks, says, does or teaches.

        So teach youth: if you trust Jesus, you can evict, expel, rebuke forces of evil which are misguiding unconverted people, then Kingdom work can happen unobstructedly.

        But remember God’s provided way is the only way: Acts 2:38 is a prerequisite for entrance in the New Covenant, where one can receive power from above to do the spiritual war as is supposed to be.

        Paying lip service to sola Scripture is no good if there is no belief in the underlying reality (spiritual) to which it points.

    • I think the underlying message of David vs Goliath is not so much about his skills or his bravery. The context of the story in that encounter is the spiritual lesson we can all learn from David- that is his faith in God.
      1 Sam 17:37 “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine”
      David was fearless because he had absolute faith in God.
      There is application in our modern context

  • But that is where the “church” get mixed up, who are the “gentiles? Doesn’t scripture tell us they are the ones scattered in the nations, not the nations themselves. Compare;

    or go to youtube ” http://youtu.be/hzWsDebLtHo
    “The Two houses of Israel

    We also say, the law/Torah does not apply to us either, but these scriptures tell us they are commanded for now also!!

    The New Testament demands obedience to Torah!

    I hope this helps!!

    • Hi Will, good to read your input, not sure what happened to CD, think server went down.

      Have you considered the possibility that those that comply with the God given requirements for the New Covenant (hear, believe, have faith, repent, confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, baptize as per Acts 2:38, receive the Holy Spirit, and do as God indicates you (saved for good works, not by them), have assurance of salvation.

      Then those who go the extra mile, (trying to be relatively perfect like Enoch, Daniel, Joseph, Apostle John, etc. imitating Christ as much as possible, will just receive a prettier crown (to say it in a way), but those extra works are nothing more than a show of love for the savior Jesus Christ, and nothing more?

      Just a different angle for further research, reflection and comment.

      Remember that I do see clearly the warning in Revelation 21:8, and do try to understand what “workers of lawlessness” is.

      I just think that a person trying to do Kingdom expansion work earnestly, little time will be left to engage in the wrong stuff, and the Holy Spirit will help with the problem / blind areas if asked.


      • Hi Hamilton, good to hear from you, yes, I miss CD and all you guys.
        “Requirements for the new covenant”?
        The law, appears to still be there, right!

        16 “This is the covenant I will make with them
        after that time, says the Lord.
        I will put my laws in their hearts,
        and I will write them on their minds.”

        The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (Heb 10:16). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

        Remember what the Holy Spirit will cause us to do!

        27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.

        The New International Version. (2011). (Eze 36:26–27). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

        And the NEW Covenant is only made with Israel and Judah.

        Man does there best to teach us, what the scripture, does not teach!

        • Peter talked in Pentecost about an OT promise being fulfilled: that of the coming of the Holy Spirit (who had left the scene for a while up to that moment).

          The promise is that the Spirit will fall upon all (gentile Bride of Christ included as we see in Acts).

          So people were cut to their hearts by the Holy Spirit and asked: what should we do, and Peter said: Acts 2:38.

          Jesus told the Apostles to do the Lord’s supper in remembrance, Acts shows that it was for all the congregation, and Jesus Himself says it is part of the New Covenant.

          Luk 22:20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

          1Co 11:25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

          2Co 3:6 who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

          Note that the New covenant is about the Spirit, who Jesus came to baptize with.

          I do think that the law is important, we are not to be “workers of lawlessness”, but we are not under it for salvation, but it is helpful as checklist for checking spiritual progress (together with the fruit of the Spirit, etc).

          The law has importance, but is not the primary means of grace:

          Heb 7:18 For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness
          Heb 7:19 (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.

          That better hope is Jesus Christ Himself dying for us, and baptizing us with the Holy Spirit.

          Remember we talked about the weightier matters of the Law:

          Love of God in our hearts Romans 5:5, justice, mercy, charity, break all unjust yokes, etc. That is what the Lord is concerned about.

          Religious authorities in His times on Earth were master blasters in all things law, but the charge against them was very simple: “they did not have the love of God in them”, see again Romans 5:5.

          Love of God is brought to us by the Holy Spirit, which is the second mission of Jesus, to baptize us with the H.S. , and life in the Spirit (as living stones part of the new temple of God (body of Christ)), is what the New Covenant is about.

          Kind regards.

  • I feel your observations have great validity. However, what makes them the final authority on interpreting O.T. passages?

    • Hi Earl:
      I know you did not write for me, but I have to side with Dr. Ward in this fine article.

      I do not think that Dr. Ward is saying that the way he sees it is absolute truth come down from Heaven.

      But he does use his God given rationality, to pinpoint key principles that seem very valid in the light of Scripture.

      Note: Israel different to but related to gentile church:

      Some believe that the story of Joseph in Egypt is a type of Jesus in the future. Note that Joseph was sold by his brothers, just like Jesus was, also Joseph married a gentile bride (just like Christ) we are the gentile Bride of Christ (the Church).

      Note that when Joseph was going to reveal himself to his brothers, his wife and everyone else left (i.e. the wife was in the royal chambers), and many think that so will be with the gentile Church, when Jesus Christ reveals to the Jews, the Church will be in heaven, after taking part of the wedding of the Lamb.

      The Kingdom of God came to us through Jesus. Jesus had a twofold mission: 1 die for us in the cross (atonement), 2 Baptize us with the Holy Spirit.

      So that special rest, that 8th day, our promised land (talking about the gentile church) is the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
      Think of it the following way: Our toil started when the Holy Spirit (Shekinah) left us before being expelled from the garden. So, our return to the promised land comes when we get that Holy Spirit back again, and Jesus is the one that baptizes with the Holy Spirit.

      So many promises, themes in the OT, are like shadows of what would be for us in the Spirit:

      Wherever you step will be yours, in our times translates as do not allow squatters to spiritually mess with your areas of influence… To understand this see:


      We are definitively the grafted-in branch, but we are not Israel, we are the gentile Church, the Bride of Christ, and the sap that nourishes us is the Holy Spirit, the very Spirit of God.

      So I do find that the article has very valid principles, in my view supported by the Scripture, but I also hardly think there are the only angles to look at the topic, pretty sure that with the input of brothers, and sisters from other traditions, more fine details can be added.

  • I have a similar question on OT application; in Psalm 103:3, David said :
    “Who forgives all your iniquities,
    Who heals all your diseases, (NKJV)” Does ‘heals all your diseases’ apply to us today as well? Thanks.

    • I’ve been a bit busy this week launching a new book, and I haven’t been able to answer some very interesting comments here. I’d ask this: did Psalm 103 in fact promise that God would in fact heal all of anyone’s diseases? Was that David’s authorial intent? Was it the Spirit’s? Even within the Old Testament, clearly not everybody gets all their diseases healed. There are lepers in Israel, for example. I think trying to interpret this promise faithfully, so that it honors the psalmic genre and harmonizes with the rest of Scripture, we have to see this as something other than a promise—to anyone—of complete healing within this life. David’s own infant son, the son of Bathsheba, was not healed.

      Calvin takes it as spiritual healing, for example. So does Augustine. Or could he be saying, “When our diseases get healed, you’re the one who does it”? Wish I could spend more time on this question. It’s an important one.

      • Hi Dr. Ward:

        Know that you must be very busy, but it would be great if you could start a group in Faithlife to talk about the use and misuse of the KJV, and maybe have exchanges about some of the topics here and in the previous blog you have posted about Biblicism (internal evidence study would be good topic).

        I know you have very limited time, but you write such thoughtful articles, that a faithlife group would be interesting where different angles from different traditions could be contrasted, explored, and commented upon.


        • This is very kind, and in fact we are hoping to do just this very soon, start a Fatihlife group to discuss Authorized. I’ll plan to let you know when that occurs!

          • Like, Amen, Praise the Lord, Amen.

            (like the buttons to acknowledge). Looking forward to learn more
            from you, and other believers.


          • After once trying to convert everything to contemporary English, maybe for reasons of evangelism, maybe for other reasons, I’ve come to a new appreciation of the KJV and its place in history, as well as the earlier English translations like the Geneva, Coverdale, and of course, Tyndale. As for the KJV, I’d like to see this book available on Vyrso, “God’s Secretaries: The Making of the King James Bible”–don’t know why it hasn’t already been put there. I had to get it on Kindle as a result, which was nice because they have live production (not computerized) audiobook that can play along with the text–not sure Logos/Vyrso does this for anything other than Scripture.

            In my opinion, this book it does well to keep a clear and balanced perspective on the KJV and its background and development:

  • I don’t have time for a lengthy response, but don’t forget that the writer to the Hebrews took a verse from that passage and applied to directly to believers today.

    • Larry, this is the best point anyone could make. I’ve never liked saying, “Well, an apostle has authority to do that, but we can’t.” That feels wrong to me: we’re supposed to follow the example of the apostles.

      Briefly, Guthrie in his comments on this passage in the Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament actually leans toward this being a quotation of Deut 31.

      And my personal hypothesis that I don’t have time to explore at the moment—I invite your thoughts—is that this is more of an allusion than a quotation.

      But again, this is the best reply to my viewpoint. These are not easy questions.

      • Sorry Mark, I do not have Guthrie’s commentary, but you brought up Deut. 31, awesome!
        28 Assemble to me all the elders of your tribes and your officials, so that I may speak in their ears these words, and that I may call as witness against them heaven and earth. 29 For I know that after my death you will certainly act corruptly, and you will turn aside from the way that I have commanded you, and the disaster in the future days will befall you, because you will do evil in the eyes of Yahweh, ⌊provoking him with the work of your hands⌋.”

        Harris, W. H., III, Ritzema, E., Brannan, R., Mangum, D., Dunham, J., Reimer, J. A., & Wierenga, M. (Eds.). (2012). The Lexham English Bible (Dt 31:28–29). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

        17 “Do not think that I have come to destroy the law or the prophets. I have not come to destroy them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one tiny letter or one stroke of a letter will pass away from the law until all takes place.

        Harris, W. H., III, Ritzema, E., Brannan, R., Mangum, D., Dunham, J., Reimer, J. A., & Wierenga, M. (Eds.). (2012). The Lexham English Bible (Mt 5:17–18). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

        Heaven and earth are still here, right!
        So how does what we are taught, fit?

        I just put a Bible study on youtube this today, it is about 1 Kings 18, Elijah and Ahab, and the prophets of baal.

        lip service but the heart is far from Him

        We have a problem, with our teachings!
        Time to get it right, is running out!

        • Hey Will, found the following:


          interesting points to ponder…

          Salvation first, instructions later… disobedience and rebellion may get you kicked out (a la foolish virgins), not losing salvation but having to pass through the tribulation, instead of being in the royal chambers (heaven), after the wedding of the Lamb (wise virgins).


  • Thanks Hamilton;
    The way I read Matthew, the foolish virgins are out, the door is shut and when they return, they hear “I never knew you”.

    The Parable of the Ten Virgins
    25 “Then the kingdom of heaven may be compared to ten virgins who took their lamps and* went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Now five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 For when* the foolish ones took their lamps, they did not take olive oil with them. 4 But the wise ones took olive oil in flasks with their lamps. 5 And when* the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep. 6 But in the middle of the night there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ 7 Then all those virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish ones said to the wise ones, ‘Give us some of your olive oil, because our lamps are going out!’ 9 But the wise ones answered saying, “Certainly there will never be enough for us and for you! Go instead to those who sell olive oil* and buy some* for yourselves.’ 10 But while* they had gone away to buy it* the bridegroom arrived, and those who were ready went inside with him to the wedding celebration, and the door was shut. 11 And later the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open the door* for us!’ 12 But he answered and* said, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you!’ 13 Therefore be on the alert, because you do not know the day or the hour!

    Harris, W. H., III, Ritzema, E., Brannan, R., Mangum, D., Dunham, J., Reimer, J. A., & Wierenga, M. (Eds.). (2012). The Lexham English Bible (Mt 25:1–13). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

    23  For the mitzvah is a lamp, Torah is light,
    and reproofs that discipline are the way to life.

    Stern, D. H. (1998). Complete Jewish Bible: an English version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B’rit Hadashah (New Testament) (1st ed., Pr 6:23). Clarksville, MD: Jewish New Testament Publications.

    The foolish virgins didn’t have enough Torah, did they!

    What does Yahshua tell us?
    25 Jesus answered them, “I told you and you do not believe! The deeds that I do in the name of my Father, these testify about me. 26 But you do not believe, because you are not of my sheep! 27 My sheep listen to my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they will never perish ⌊forever⌋, and no one will seize them out of my hand.

    Harris, W. H., III, Ritzema, E., Brannan, R., Mangum, D., Dunham, J., Reimer, J. A., & Wierenga, M. (Eds.). (2012). The Lexham English Bible (Jn 10:25–28). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

    Do a word search on “voice” you will find it also means command, message, proclamation and declaration.
    I cannot find out how to show you, Deut 28:13, but “commandments ” is the same word in Greek for “voice”.
    13 And the LORD will make you the head and not the tail, and you shall only go up and not down, if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today, being careful to do them,

    The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Dt 28:13). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

    • Yes Will, I see what you are saying, but I think is a mistake to confuse “shut door” as in not going to the wedding of the Lamb, with being thrown in the lake of fire.

      Nowhere in Mt. does it say that the foolish virgins go to the lake of fire.

      So we can infer that there are two groups in the gentile Bride: foolish, and wise (virgins).

      Now note: the ones going to the wedding of the Lamb are given fine linen clothing.

      So we can assume that the ones that are not going to the wedding are not given that linen.

      So this opens the possibility that they go through the tribulation, because it says in Revelation that they went through it to wash their clothes.

      Note that the saints coming with Jesus Christ to save them foolish Virgins do wear fine linen (so most likely are the wise virgins who took part of the wedding).

      The oil and light in the parable (part of the New Covenant) is referring to the Holy Spirit.

      Note that in Revelation Jesus says to the Laodiceans (which coincidently are very similar in description to modern believers), “you are not cold nor hot, but luke warm (partial filling of oil as in the H.S.), because of the lukewarmness, they are spit (most likely into the tribulation).

      Being hot is about the filling of the Holy Spirit.

      Salvation is of God alone by Jesus Christ’s work.

      As mentioned in the article cited, instruction comes later. Why to instruct believers? to edify the Body of Christ, so that they can individually and collectively do the works prepared for them to walk in, before the foundation of the World.

      Got makes us part of His plan when He adopts us, it is a privilege, an honor, for us gentiles to be taken into the royal family of God.

      Once in the royal family, we must die to our gentile ways, and take up the ethos of the new citizenship, worthy of the calling in thinking, acting and the like, showing the royal spirit (Holy Spirit) that our redeemer Jesus showed.

      It is all about the Spirit.

      Think of this: in times past when a transaction was made, it was written in a paper and then ripped the longways.

      When time to complete the deal came, the two persons came together and they joined the paper parts, and they had to match.

      So did God with us: Jesus is the Promise of eternal life, after He died, the Holy Spirit came to us (going back to Him first in the resurrection).

      So when we get together to complete the eternal life deal, His Holy Spirit, has to match the one we have (being Hot with the Holy Spirit of God as required and shown in the letter to the Laodiceans).

      Without that Holy Spirit, you will not receive the eternal life, the Holy Spirit is the guarantor.

      As the Bible says: Torah, law, etc. perfected no one, and was weak, because it depended on human high priests.

      Israel was not about the law to gain salvation, it was about the Presence of God in the Temple, and people obeying the law to not die in the presence of a Holy God. It was a shadow of what was going to happen in the future in Heaven.

      Now Jesus Christ is the high priest, and the Spirit is the one that opens up the holy of holies for us to come and enter to humbly meet the Judge of the World to plea for our cases.

      Remember, I am with you in that we are not to become “workers of lawlessness”, and to me the ten commandments, and the sermon on the mount, are very important, relevant and applicable, but to me they are means for enabling the Body of Christ to engage appropriately in the Kingdom work assigned by God to us as a collective. (threatening someone of death if does not convert is not a valid Holy Spirit fruit way of doing Kingdom work).

      A common mistake I see in protestant circles is that some really believe that “the church is the hope of the world”.

      To me that is totally wrong, Jesus Christ is the only hope of the world, because He is the way, the truth and the life (living Torah), the church is but a fit aid, to help Him spread the message of the Kingdom, and to aid in the establishment of beach heads for the continuing conversion of the elected, until He comes to set things right.

      Remember, Jesus second mission after dying for us was not to teach hermeneutics, original languages, theological philosophical logic, nor more OT law.

      He came to baptize us with the Holy Spirit so our Koinonia with God could be reestablished,

      God has always been concerned about the weightier matters of the Law: Love of God in our hearts, mercy, justice, charity, break the yokes of injustice, walk humbly with your creator, have childlike faith that He is your reedemer, and sustainer, it is not rocket science…

      He gave very simple instructions for the New Covenant: Acts 2:38, that will result in what He has always wanted Romans 5:5, the love of Him in us with His Spirit indwelling us (we were created to be living stones part of a New Temple of God where the Holy Spirit (God’s presence) dwells forever).

      And note that being a living stone part of a New Temple (body of Christ), does not mean that we are the Spirit that dwells in that Temple. So deification theory, saying that we will be self existing like God eventually, is wrong.

      Even with eternal life, we will always be dependent on God’s grace for subsistence, we are not and will never be exactly like God ever. He is the creator, we are the creatures, our part is to walk humbly, fully enjoying our adopted children status in the royal family.


      • Hi Hamilton;
        I agree and know where you are coming from to!
        But the adoption thing has me confused.

        4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. 5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever.

        The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ro 9:3–5). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

        Where does scripture tell us the “nations” will be adopted in?

        Jeremiah tells us the the nations will be destroyed, and David will be king again.
        This is still to come.

        From Jacob on, it is all about Israel being His “treasured possession”, they are to stay away from the gods of the nations.

        • Yes remember we were far from the promises Ephesians 2:12-16, now we are close and part of it as an elected group from the gentiles (different from the non elected group you refer as gentiles dispersed).

          That was Peter’s main point in Pentecost Acts 2:16-18 : By the coming of the Holy Spirit, God was fulfilling the promise of His Spirit coming down to set things aright with Him.

          Note that in Acts something unusual happened: the Spirit also came on some elected gentiles (grafted-in branch).

          That really surprised Israelites, Jewish or whatever you label them. If God allowed that to happen, it means that He had a wider target, jibing perfectly with His early prophecy that the Spirit would be sent over a large group (as part of HIs plan).

          Now in another prophecy Deuteronomy 32:21, God made clear that because of Israel’s unfaithfulness to Him, He was going to make them jealous by going on to another Bride: the gentile one (LOL, the foolish ones… us) .

          Nations are different from elected gentiles that become the Bride of Christ to move Israel to jealousy Romans 10:19, Romans 11:11.

          If you see in Revelation, every tribe, ethnic group, etc Revelation 5:9. worships God, so we can infer that the majority of the Congregation there is gentile, because Israel is small in comparison. They are elected from the nations, not the nations.

          Remember that Jesus talked of another flock (elected gentiles) John 10:16, and that eventually there would be one big flock and only one Shepherd.

          And the way that happens is as shown in the narrative of Acts: the Holy Spirit falling on the elect on both Israel and the gentiles groups.
          see also 1 Corinthians 12:13.

          Those with that Spirit of God are the ones that will live in the New Jerusalem, or so it seems.

          Remember I do not claim to possess absolute truth come from Heaven directly, I am just trying to check all and retain what is good and jibes with the Bible and with the Character and Nature of God.

          But until a better theological construct comes my way, I must stay with the inferences based diachronically on the whole counsel of God.

          So important is the Holy Spirit, that some think that the seal on the 144,000 is that H.S. and note that we are talking about 12000 of each tribe, not gentiles at all.

          Will I think we are violating the guidelines of this blog, if you want start a Faithlife group to research, reflect and comment on different topics of your liking.


          • Will I think we are violating the guidelines of this blog,

            I think we are ok, this is an email I got from them;

            Hey Will,

            Thanks for your inquiry,

            Hey there Will we appreciate your feedback and it’s always good to hear from customers like yourself! Thanks for working with us!

            I must admit that Christian discourse is an older blog and is no longer up and running, I believe it has transformed into our new Logos blogs which are still excellent, just slightly different name and focus.

            I encourage you to enjoy the content here:

            theLAB — The Logos Academic Blog
            LogosTalk | The Logos Bible Software Blog


            Zach W

            So if I understand it right, this replaces CD.

            11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)—12 remember that at that time
            a) you were separate from Christ,
            b) excluded from citizenship in Israel
            c) and foreigners to the covenants of the promise,
            without hope
            d) and without God in the world.
            13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
            14 For he himself is our peace,
            who has made the two groups one
            and has destroyed the barrier,
            the dividing wall of hostility,
            15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations.
            His purpose was to create in himself
            one new humanity out of the two,
            thus making peace,
            16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross,
            by which he put to death their hostility.
            17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.
            18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
            19 Consequently,
            you are no longer foreigners and strangers,
            but fellow citizens with God’s people
            and also members of his household,
            20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets,
            with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

            The New International Version. (2011). (Eph 2:11–22). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

            The two becoming one is;
            19 say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am going to take the stick of Joseph—which is in Ephraim’s hand—and of the Israelite tribes associated with him, and join it to Judah’s stick. I will make them into a single stick of wood, and they will become one in my hand.’ 20 Hold before their eyes the sticks you have written on 21 and say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. 22 I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms. 23 They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding, z and I will cleanse them. They will be my people, and I will be their God.

            The New International Version. (2011). (Eze 37:19–23). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

            Who are the “far off” according to scripture?

            7 “Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you.

            The New International Version. (2011). (Da 9:7). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

            Judah is the “near” the northern 10, is the “far off!!!

            Hamilton said;

            “That was Peter’s main point in Pentecost Acts 2:16-18 : By the coming of the Holy Spirit, God was fulfilling the promise of His Spirit coming down to set things aright with Him.

            Note that in Acts something unusual happened: the Spirit also came on some elected gentiles (grafted-in branch).”

            2 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues x as the Spirit enabled them.

            5 Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.

            6 When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. 7 Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans?

            8 Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? 9 Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, d 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11

             (both Jews and converts to Judaism)

            Pentecost was the scattered Israelites from all the nations!!

            The New International Version. (2011). (Ac 2:1–11). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

            Hamilton said;

            “And the way that happens is as shown in the narrative of Acts: the Holy Spirit falling on the elect on both Israel and the gentiles groups.
            see also 1 Corinthians 12:13.”

            13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

            The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Co 12:12–13). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

            “Greeks” is ;
            1821 Ἑλληνιστής (Hellēnistēs), οῦ (ou), ὁ (ho): n.pr.masc.g; ≡ Str 1675; TDNT 2.504—LN 11.93 Greek-speaking Jew, Grecian Jew, a Hellenist (Ac 6:1; 9:29; 11:20+)

            Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Greek (New Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

            I hope this helps!

  • With all respect, maybe I’m not a PHD guy, but love to read my Bible and try to listening the voice of our Lord Jesus by His Holy Spirit, I don’t agree If I understand you, you said it’s only this promise to the Jews people, in one point yes it was because it was the time they was speaking to the people of God, but I think right now the old Testament and the new Testament is for all of us because when we accept our Lord Jesus we are part of the family of God, and again what I understand you trying to said you are divide the old Testament only for the Jews people and the new Testament for the new people we accept our Lord Jesus, that mean for me you are making a distinction from them and us, when the Bible express that we are only one family if we accept our Lord Jesus been our Saviour.

    • I’m with you: the promise is not to us, but it is for us. I wouldn’t say that the Old Testament is for the Jews alone, not at all. Yes, Jew and Gentile are blessedly one in Christ. Eph 2 makes this clear.

      But Romans 9–11 makes me and other Gentiles “grafted-in olive branches.” Paul is not shy to distinguish the two “portions” of the “one new man.” The promises we Gentiles get come to us through the Jews, through the Seed, himself a Jew.

      • Mark said;
        But Romans 9–11 makes me and other Gentiles “grafted-in olive branches.” Paul is not shy to distinguish the two “portions” of the “one new man.”

        But the two branches are not the Jews and the nations, that is not scriptural.
        Here are the two branches!

        One Nation Under One King
        15 The word of the LORD came to me: 16 “Son of man, take a stick of wood and write on it, ‘Belonging to Judah and the Israelites associated with him.’ Then take another stick of wood, and write on it, ‘Belonging to Joseph (that is, to Ephraim) and all the Israelites associated with him.’ 17 Join them together into one stick so that they will become one in your hand.
        18 “When your people ask you, ‘Won’t you tell us what you mean by this?’ 19 say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am going to take the stick of Joseph—which is in Ephraim’s hand—and of the Israelite tribes associated with him, and join it to Judah’s stick. I will make them into a single stick of wood, and they will become one in my hand.’ 20 Hold before their eyes the sticks you have written on 21 and say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. 22 I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms. 23 They will no longer defile themselves with their idols and vile images or with any of their offenses, for I will save them from all their sinful backsliding, z and I will cleanse them. They will be my people, and I will be their God.
        24 “ ‘My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees. 25 They will live in the land I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where your ancestors lived. They and their children and their children’s children will live there forever, and David my servant will be their prince forever. 26 I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever. 27 My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. 28 Then the nations will know that I the LORD make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever

        The New International Version. (2011). (Eze 37:15–28). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

        Need NT proof!
        28 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

        The New International Version. (2011). (Mt 19:28). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

        Only Israel!!!

        24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”

        The New International Version. (2011). (Mt 15:24). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

        51 He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, 52 and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. 53 So from that day on they plotted to take his life.

        The New International Version. (2011). (Jn 11:51–53). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

        You ask, who are the children of Elohim?

        1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
        To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:
        May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

        The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (1 Pe 1:1–2). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

        We can become like Rahab, and live as Israel and become as a native born.

        That would include
        Sabbath not Sunday
        YHWH’S Holy Days not the worlds holidays
        Dietary laws not eating unclean
        being Torah observant not just accept the gift
        YHWH not God and Lord

        We need to return to YHWH

      • Mark, again, I am sorry to say I have more questions that answers.

        I would be interested in your views on covenant theology, replacement theology and dispensational views and how you understand the differences to affect our preaching and application of Scripture?

        I would also be interested in your view on end times and how that effects the promises we claim for the church and the members of our congregations or not, with particular reference in the practical application of our preaching?

        Does Romans 9-11 focus on the incorporation of the church into all the covenants made to Israel including the Promised Land? Or is its focus referring to the faith of Abraham as in Romans 4 and the spiritual blessings that can only come through a faith like that of Abraham’s in the promised seed or our Lord Jesus Christ through whom the spiritual blessings are made available to every nation 1 Peter 2:9-10 as per the Abrahamic covenant of Genesis 22:18? Is Romans 9-11 not written to explain why unbelieving Israel rejected Christ Romans 9:6-8 and what God is and will do with Israel both now and in the future?

        Does Ephesians 2 justify the church claiming Old Testament promises of prosperity and success? Or simply make the point that through Christ there is now no distinct between Jew and Gentile and that both people groups may approach God on equal footing through Christ. Even as the analogy of Paul concerning the dividing wall in the temple being broken down taught?

        Is the phrase “The promise is not to us, but it is for us.” A board term that you apply to every Scripture or are there exceptions?

        • Hi Daniel:
          I know that you did not write for me. I do think that you ask excellent questions.
          Have you thought of starting a Faithlife group to explore such?
          It would be great to read what believers from different traditions have to say.

          Hope you consider the idea.

        • Oh boy!

          I’m going to have to punt on most of these questions, partly because my employer wants me to keep up with deadlines =) and partly because I’m not sure I’m ahead of you enough to give you answers that make it worth your while.

          Just a few thoughts:

          I see a convergence between Covenant Theology and Dispensationalism occurring—they’re moving toward each other. That encourages me. But my read of Jer 31 forces me to posit significant discontinuities between Israel and the church. Your questions suggest to me that you see the same ones. What gets me excited more than CT vs. Disp. is the redemptive-historical view of Scripture: the Bible tells one story. That simple idea has helped me more than any other in understanding God’s word. How I tell that story reflects where I land in that debate, yes, but I feel far closer to someone who sees the narratival arc of the Bible and relates (particularly OT) Bible stories to it than to someone who interprets passages of Scripture in an isolated way.

          But I will pick up your final questions, since it is a totally fair continuation of a theme I began with my post. Is the “OT promises are not to us, but they’re for us” thing applicable throughout the OT? And I do find the Psalms instructive here. They really do seem often to be purposefully “de-contextualized” and general. Even when the superscriptions detail a particular event out of which they arose, they are generally written in such a way that Christians can pick them up and use them “straight.” I see this as intentional on the part of the Spirit—and, to only a slightly lesser degree, on the part of the original authors. Therefore, I feel more comfortable saying that the statements and promises are given “to us.” Less “translation” is needed; sometimes it doesn’t seem necessary at all.

          So Psalm 20 starts with something that doesn’t seem to need much translation for New Covenant believers:

          May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble!
          May the name of the God of Jacob protect you!

          But immediately you get some statements that require translation:

          2 May he send you help from the sanctuary
          and give you support from Zion!
          3 May he remember all your offerings
          and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices! Selah

          Then back to general enough statements that they seem to apply to grafted-in olive branches just as immediately as native ones:

          4 May he grant you your heart’s desire
          and fulfill all your plans!
          5 May we shout for joy over your salvation,
          and in the name of our God set up our banners!
          May the LORD fulfill all your petitions!

          I don’t know that I can set up a rule here, other than perhaps, “Always ask yourself if a given promise can be safely claimed without translation”?

          What do you think? I bet you have an answer as to whether my suggested formulation (the promises are not to us, but they are for us) is useful and how often it’s useful.

          • To input in addition to a great clarification by Dr. Ward:

            Decontextualized (from the historical order) propositions , do seem to apply very much to those in the New Covenant.

            Now, to me, there is one context that not many talk about, is the context about the real author of the Bible: the Holy Spirit.

            The H.S. is not bound by time, culture, historical, grammatical, language context, etc.

            When through the inspiration given by the Holy Spirit, a man of God writes the “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” (rough paraphrase), then I know that the underlying principle applies to those that have met the God set requirement for the New Covenant.

            Thus I see that the underlying principle of God for us in Psalm 20 applies to believers now.

            Note the following: generations implies chosen ones throughout the ages, because the Holy Spirit is not bound:

            Isa 41:4 Who has performed and done this, calling the generations from the beginning? I, the LORD, the first, and with the last; I am he.

            Excellent discoursing, good questions Daniel, good answers Dr. Ward, thanks to both of you.

            Dr. Ward you should write a systematic theology for the common believer, allowing elements of the worldview enter within each area to allow for good christian orthopraxis for good fruit for the glory of God.


  • Thank you Dr. Ward & Hamilton for your attention,
    The original question of this article is what has come back to me time and again since Dr. Ward first published it. What Should New Testament Preachers do With Old Testament Promises? And how far should we as New Testament believers stretch in applying what we see in the Old Testament promises to ourselves?
    It is apparent to me that most of us will view these questions through our own presuppositions, worldviews, theological grids and church traditions. If we start with that premise, our conclusions are bound to be prejudice to our own personal views and preference. We like the Pharisees of Mark 7:7 may even fall into the trap of “teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.” And it is my desire that we approach our God with the attitude of King David in Psalm 139:23-24. What I think about a subject including its application is irrelevant but what God thinks is necessary for life both now and in eternity. So our pursuit then is to know God’s mind on this matter.
    So I viewed these questions more as a call by Dr. Ward to bring us all back to a responsible hermeneutic and to remind us all that careful Bible Study is the only means ordained of God to provide proper instruction on matters of spiritual growth, maturity and effectiveness.
    Still, the study of Scripture as in the case presented to us by Dr. Ward and in the comment by Jeremy Saber, are evidence to the fact that Scripture can and is often twisted, be it mistakenly by well-intended ministers who need grace to grow or by means of deception that people have fallen under or even sometimes purposefully for means of sinful personal gain driven by selfish ambition. 2 Peter 3:16, 1 Timothy 6:3-5, Philippians1:15-17 & 2 Timothy 3:13-17
    With this in mind, I do not see how a cautious accountably to Scripture could in anyway be binding on or restrictive to the ministry and or person of the Holy Spirit. Mr. Hamilton, it seems imperative to me that we bombard any text of Scripture with as many questions as possible including those of culture, grammar, geography, etc.
    Always considering when we approach our God, we must come with the honesty of King David in Psalm 139 and the humility spoken of by Peter as He demonstrates the proper use of the application of Old Testament principle which is not to be confused with an Old Testament promise in 1 Peter 5:5-7.
    Scripture is the Spirit’s own sword given to believers as a means of defense to the constant attacks of false religion and humanism even the demonically energized philosophies of the world. Ever since the fall, the battle for truth has raged on the basis of who we choose to listen to. Do we trust that which we know to be God’s revelation in our own Bibles or ourselves? Do we open ourselves up to mysticism and or even the thoughts of other men, such as church ministers and world leaders to direct us? Clearly Scripture and Church history are evidence that when we forsake Scripture the church is captured by false doctrine and even cultic thinking and many suffer.
    I view Scripture and its proper employment not as a means of restricting the Holy Spirit but as God’s means of protecting humanity from itself, the devil and protecting His Church from various individuals and influences (including ourselves) from within the church as well as without. We all need the grace to learn more of God and Scripture and find the means to live a pleasing life to God.
    This comes only by study of the Scripture and its proper application must be our pursuit and so we must make Scripture our authority and nothing else. It is by means of a proper hermeneutic as illumined by the Holy Spirit who uses His Word, that we are empowered to find the one interpretation of Scripture when possible for the finite mind seeking to know the infinite and the multiple applications that can reasonably be apply to us today. We might never understand God but He understands us and He has communicated to us in a manner which we can actually grasp if we are prepare to read and study His communication.
    So, I congratulate Dr. Ward in causing us to think carefully about how we observe, interpret or (translate) and apply Scripture, especially within the realm of public preaching. To publically call on one’s congregation to submit to an erroneous application casually throwing in a few Bible verses to support our personal preferences or seeking to apply to us that which is not truly Biblically supported is not merely a mistake by a well-intentioned minister to be set aside.
    We must recognize it as the spiritual danger that it is. However well-intentioned a minister maybe they will agree, that to erroneously apply Scripture is ultimately detrimental to the church and I have no doubt, that should a member of their congregation encourage them to consider their conclusions again that they would be willing to conform to the authority of Scripture when confronted in love. You will recall how satan has employed God’s Word and Scripture in an erroneous fashion in Genesis 3:1-5 & Matthew 4:5-7. Wrong applications to Scripture lead to great spiritual harm and in some cases death.
    It is therefore necessary that every believer arm themselves with the sword of the Holy Spirit but also learn to use it. The sad fact is that many believers simply rely on their preacher and do not make a study of God’s word for themselves and so they are venerable and they cheat their minister out of a valuable accountability partner.
    Not only should we sit under the teaching of the Word but we must be able to be in a personal study of the Word for ourselves and so the writer of Hebrews instructs us in Hebrews 5:11-14. We must call people to study God’s Word more so that by means of practice they will have their senses trained to discern good and evil.
    Can the Church learn from Old Testament Scripture? Categorically Yes, The apostles quoted the Old Testament even as they wrote the New Testament. Jesus Christ quoted the Old Testament and taught from the Old Testament. Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 3:16 that “ALL” Scripture is inspired and profitable. 1 Corinthians 10:1-11 is yet another interesting passage concerning the example of the nation of Israel as examples to the Church. So in this sense I understand Dr. Ward’s formulation “the promises are not to us, but they are for us”
    However the question is not if we can learn from the Old Testament but Can we the church claim the promises made in the Old Testament and this is a much more difficult topic. And Dr. Ward has given us a wise guidance to ask ourselves “Always ask yourself if a given promise can be safely claimed without translation?”
    For example, I cannot claim the promise to inherit the Promised Land made to Joshua and the nation of Israel by adhering to the Mosaic Law and receiving as a result prosperity and success in my conquering of ancient Palestine as I meditate and obey the commands given to Moses by God including all the sacrificial system and tabernacle practice as well as killing all nations that occupy the land including women and children. And to be honest that is not a promise I would want to claim and I am grateful God did not ask me to do it.
    But I can apply the principle that is taught through the example of Joshua. I can find blessing in reading and obeying God’s Word and commands as are meant for us as a church today finding that God word will guide me and help me with life and there is a very distinct difference between the promise made to Israel and the principle applied to the church.
    Believers live under the Law of Christ and not Moses according Galatians 2:16 & 6:2 and so our inheritance is secured by Christ and our instructions are to love not kill. The extent of our participation in the inheritance of Christ is further complicated by the various views of the church concerning the return of Christ and His kingdom. But that’s another question altogether.
    I would caution people not to claim the promises made to Israel unless God repeats them to the Church in the New Testament revelation and applies them directly to the church.

Written by Mark Ward