[...] Christ not only acquired what Adam lost but also what Adam, in the way of obedience, would have gained.
Publisher: P&R (1988)
Genre: Biblical studies, hermeneutics, Old Testament
Reading Level: high school; very accessible; non-scholarly, non-dense
Worthy read? Yes!
Price: $7.99 @ WTS Books
Dr. Edmund Clowney, former president of Westminster Theological Seminary and professor of practical theology, summarizes the main goal of The Unfolding Mystery in his own words:
The purpose of this book is not to tell the whole story [of Jesus] from the beginning. There is a Book that does that! Rather, its aim is to follow the line of the plot, to touch on key episodes, and to offer a guide to the underlying story of all the stories, so that we may see the Lord of the Word in the Word of the Lord.
Clowney well accomplishes his stated purpose. With a deft storytelling ability and a keen wordsmith’s pen, Clowney focuses the reader’s attention on the Light of the World as He is veiled in the Old Testament and unveiled in the New. Whether discussing how Adam’s creation foreshadows Christ as the Second Adam or explaining the meaning of Jacob’s wrestling match with the Angel of the Lord or describing the significance of Moses’ striking the Rock in the wilderness, Dr. Clowney shows:
- how the whole Bible (even the Old Testament) “tells one great story, the story of Jesus” (9),
- that “the story of Jesus begins with the story of mankind” (10),
- that “the end is anticipated from the beginning” (11),
- and that the “story of Jesus, then, does not begin with the fulfillment of the promise, but with the promise itself, and with the acts of God that accompanied His word” (15).
Thus, like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, your heart will burn within you as you begin to see more clearly how Christ’s light shines from beginning to end of the Bible, how He is the Alpha just as much as He is the Omega.
The Unfolding Mystery is an enlightening and enjoyable read which will no doubt grow your ardor for Christ and His mighty Word, and I highly recommend it.
Related Resources Elsewhere
- View all of Dr. Clowney’s books, lectures, sermons, and commentaries at WTS books
- Listen to nearly 100 sermons by Clowney at Sermon Audio (HT: Faith by Hearing)
- Dr. R. Scott Clark recommends Clowney’s The Unfolding Mystery as an example of Reformed hermeneutics that is in accord with apostolic hermeneutics.
- Dr. Edward N. Gross recommends Clowney’s The Unfolding Mystery to preachers seeking to more powerfully communicate the gospel.
Listen to the debate or download the MP3s below:
Dr. Thomas Schreiner: Credo-Baptism (30 min.)
Dr. David VanDrunen: Paedo-Baptism (30 min.)
Q & A Session Between Schreiner & VanDrunen
- Listen to James White (Baptist view) and Bill Shisko (Presbyterian view) debate infant baptism.
- Listen to Dr. Robert Strimple (Presbyterian view) and Dr. Fred Malone (Baptist view) debate infant baptism.
- Free video online: Why Do We Baptize Our Children? — by Dr. Richard Pratt
- Purchase the DVD.
Books on Baptism
My paper seeks to answer this question from two angles: exegesis and covenant theology. First, exegetically, I attempt to build upon the work of Meredith Kline’s two articles on Revelation 20:1-6 (“The First Resurrection” and “The First Resurrection: A Reaffirmation“) by asking a question Kline did not ask himself, but hinted toward in another of his writings: Is Jesus’ paradoxical explanation in John 11:25-26 of death being the believer’s resurrection an exegetical parallel to the “first”/”second” eschatological pattern Kline argues for in his two articles on Revelation 20?
Second, theologically, I attempt to explore the implicit covenantal underpinnings of “the first resurrection” in Revelation 20:4-6. In other words, I’m asking how covenant theology–especially the believer’s union with Christ–facilitates understanding what happens to a believer when he or she dies.
Revelation 20 (and the rest of John’s Apocalypse) is not easy to interpret. Accordingly, I attempted to tread lightly. Nonetheless, the truths revealed therein offer the believer amazing promises, and he who hears what the Spirit is saying to the churches in Revelation 20 will no doubt be found in the same worshiping position as the artist Gallerie dell’Accademia depicted John in the painting shown here:
…St. John the Evangelist looks up from his writing to admire the Eternal in glory with the Lamb of God, surrounded by the symbols of the four Evangelists with wings covered with eyes, being worshipped [sic] by twenty-four venerable old men… (from the painting’s description at the Web Gallery of Art)
Read and Respond
The first three pages is my own exegetical outline and translation of Revelation 20:1-6, after which the paper follows.
- Download as a .PDF (187 KB). This is the recommended format.
- Read the paper online (via Google docs); requires these Greek fonts.
I welcome any critiques, comments, suggestions, etc.
(Artwork: Vision of St. John the Evangelist by Gallerie dell’Accademia (1360-90), Venice; © Web Gallery of Art.)
To understand the distinction between believers’ relation to the covenant of works and the covenant of grace it is necessary to first grasp Jesus’ relation to both. The following quote from Herman Bavinck explains well the former aspect of this question–how the Christ relates to the covenant of works:
Even more, as a human being Christ was certainly subject to the law of God as the rule of life; even believers are never exempted from the law in that sense. But Christ related himself to the law in still a very different way, namely, as the law of the covenant of works. Adam was not only obligated to keep the law but was confronted in the covenant of works with that law as the way to eternal life, a life he did not yet possess. But Christ, in virtue of his union with the divine nature, already had this eternal and blessed life. This life he voluntarily relinquished. He submitted himself to the law of the covenant of works as the way to eternal life for himself and his own.
The obedience that Christ accorded to the law, therefore, was totally voluntary. Not his death alone, as Anselm said, but his entire life was an act of self-denial, a self-offering presented by him as head in the place of his own. (Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, III: 379; emphases mine.)
While tracing the rich historical development of the Reformed doctrine of the covenant, Geerhardus Vos zooms out to scan the big picture and asks, “To what, then, does one attribute the fact that from the beginning this concept of the covenant appears so much in the foreground of Reformed theology?” Vos’ answer? Christian cosmology demands the covenant.
As the Reformers turned to the Scriptures during the Protestant Reformation, Vos argues that they found there a hermeneutical key which unlocked the majesties of Christian doctrine and unified the Christian worldview:
This root idea which served as the key to unlock the rich treasuries of the Scriptures was the preeminence of God’s glory in the consideration of all that has been created. . . . God does not exist because of man, but man because of God. This is what is written at the entrance of the temple of Reformed theology.
(Quotes from Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation: The Shorter Writings of Geerhardus Vos, ed. Richard Gaffin, pp. 241–42)
The glory of God provided the context for all of Reformation theology. Just as the beginning of a story sets the idealogical landscape for everything else within that story, so the context established by Christian cosmology–a cosmology of the triune, personal God creating the cosmos for his own glory–sets the stage for all of Christian theology and philosophy. (Compare the opening lines of these two short stories: (a) In a galaxy far, far away. . .; (b) Last Thursday evening at Starbucks…. The beginning sets the stage for all that follows in terms of characterization, plot development, etc.)
From this doorpost of the temple of Reformed theology, Vos draws out the following necessary deductions:
- All of man’s work has to rest on an antecedent work of God;
- In all of his works man has to show forth God’s image and be a means for the revelation of God’s virtues;
- The latter should not occur unconsciously or passively, but the revelation of God’s virtues must proceed by way of understanding and will and by way of the conscious life, and actively come to external expression. ((Redemptive History, 242.))
From Vos’ perspective, out of these basic cosmological demands flows the doctrine of the covenant: “We hope to show how this threefold demand has been reckoned with precisely in the doctrine of the covenant.” (To follow Vos along as he explains how this is so, tolle lege–take up and read!)
Those of us daring to humbly dawn the banner of “Reformed” would do well to remember the doorpost of the temple of Reformed theology–the glory of God. And those of us seeking to taste of the rich covenantal marrow of the Scriptures would do well to remember that Christianity’s cosmology drives, yea demands, its covenant theology.
Debate Topic: Baptism is only for those who have personally repented & believed in Christ.
Part 1 (MP3; 64MB)
- 0:00-11:00 Introduction
- 11:30-31:30 White’s opening affirmative statement
- 31:30-34:50 Shishko’s cross-examination
- 35:10- 55:00 Shishko’s opening statement
- 55:20-58:15 White’s cross-examination
- 58:55-1:13:50 White’s second affirmative statement
- 1:14:15-1:17:15 Shishko’s cross-examination
- 1:17:45-1:19:57 Shishko’s second negative statement (apparently the rest of Shishko’s statement and White’s 3 minute cross-examination were cut off and are not included in this audio.)
Part 2 (MP3; 59.9MB)
- 0:00-4:40 Continuation of Shishko’s 10 minute questions for White (first 6 minutes are not on the web recording)
- 4:55-14:50 White’s 10 minute questions for Shishko
- 15:15-25:00 Shishko’s rebuttal
- 25:24-35:17 White’s rebuttal
- 35:38-42:40 Shishko’s closing statement
- 42:50-49:50 White’s closing statement
- 51:00-1:14:00 Audience Q/A
(Source: Thanks to the Orthodox Presbyterian Church of Franklin Square, NY, for providing these audios to the public.)
- Listen to Dr. Robert B. Strimple (Presbyterian) and Dr. Fred Malone (Baptist) debate infant baptism.
- Listen to Dr. David VanDrunen (Presbyteran) and Dr. Thomas Schreiner (Baptist) debate infant baptism.
- Free online video: Why Do We Baptize Our Children? — by Dr. Richard Pratt
- Purchase the DVD.