Goodbye, Howdershell. Hello, Wentzville.

Yesterday, at the invitation of Dr. David Norris, I had the privilege to teach a three hour Pneumatology class at Urshan Graduate School of Theology. The subject was the gifts of the Spirit. I realized this may be the last time I am ever on the Urshan campus before the move to the new campus in Wentzville, Missouri, this fall.

Although I retired from full time employment with UGST on July 1, 2018, it was with a mutual agreement with the school administration that, if there were a need to do so, the school could invite me to return to teach from time to time. Earlier this week, I accepted an invitation to teach a course on the Book of Psalms for this upcoming fall semester at the beautiful new forty three acre campus  in Wentzville.

I am pleased to have had the opportunity to teach during the final semester on the campus that long served Gateway College of Evangelism and, more recently, Urshan College and Urshan Graduate School of Theology. In addition, I am thankful for the privilege of teaching during the first semester on the new campus of the Urshan system.

It is possible to take classes from UGST as a guest or to audit classes. A person who wishes to explore the Book of Psalms with me next semester, but who is not enrolled as a student, could go to the website [www.ugst.edu], click “Admissions” on the menu bar, then click “Apply for admission,” “Apply as a guest or audit,” and then complete the form to obtain full information.

My history with the Howdershell, Florissant campus goes back quite a few years. Actually, I was on the original campus of Gateway College of Evangelism before the school moved to Howdershell. This was sometime during 1968 – 1970, when I served as Director of Promotions and Publications for the General Sunday School Division of the United Pentecostal Church, Inc., under the direction of  J. O. Wallace, the director of the division. I was on campus with the mission of developing some promotional material for the annual North American Sunday school attendance drive.

The school quickly outgrew the first campus and in 1971 moved to 700 Howdershell Road in Florissant, Missouri. This beautiful campus of some twenty acres had previously served the St. Stanislaus Seminary, the oldest college campus west of the Mississippi River.

In 1974, President W. C. Parkey invited me to join the Gateway faculty, where I would teach courses in Christian education. I also taught the Media Evangelism course, which published a tabloid sized newspaper for purposes of evangelism. The paper was called “The Good Word,” and the press run eventually reached 100,000.

Late in 1974, I think it was in November, I received a phone call from W. I. Black, the district superintendent of the Missouri district of the UPC. He asked if I were interested in pastoring. His call resulted in my seven and one-half year pastorate of the First Pentecostal Church in Dupo, Illinois. As a result, I taught for only one full semester at Gateway.

That was not the end of my involvement with the school, however. In the early 1980s, I worked with Gateway to develop a continuing education program. The purpose was to provide an opportunty for those who had some college but who had never completed a degree to do so by taking concentrated classes on campus and developing portfolios of their previous educational experiences. Several people graduated from this program.

In 1982, I moved my family from Illinois to California, where I was involved in administration and teaching until 2007 at Christian Life College. But even during this time, I was able to return to the Howdershell campus from time to time as an adjunct professor for Urshan Graduate School of Theology, located on the same campus as Gateway. As I recall, the first class I taught for UGST was a week long course in January 2001, the first year of the seminary’s operation.

My work as an adjunct continued until 2007, when Judy and I returned, with my mother, from California back to the St. Louis area, where I planned to serve as a part time faculty member at UGST in what I termed “semi-retirement.” This description of my work didn’t last long. Soon, I found myself serving as the academic dean in addition to teaching. Then, in addition to these responsibilities, I moved into a new office and also functioned as dean of administration.

So, I have quite a long and storied past relationship with Howdershell. I will always have fond memories of students and faculty and administrative friends. But it’s time to move on. The schools now occupying the campus – Urshan College and Urshan Graduate School of Theology – have outgrown the campus. I can honestly say I was there in the early days, and I am happy to still be around in some capacity in these days.

Goodbye, Howdershell. Hello, Wentzville.[archive]

 

Yahweh, Jehovah, and Jesus

On the day before yesterday, I submitted an article to the Pentecostal Life magazine titled “Yahweh, Jehovah, and Jesus.” I wrote the article by request, and it is scheduled to appear in the August 2019 issue, which will focus on the Oneness of God.

The objective of the article is to explore the use of quotations from the Old Testament in the New Testament that identify Jesus as Yahweh or Jehovah. The word Yahweh is the transliteration of the third person singular form of the Hebrew verb by which God revealed Himself to Moses, as recorded in Exodus 3. God told Moses to tell the Israelites in Egypt that he had been sent by I AM (Exodus 3:14), which is the first person singular form of the same verb. Yahweh means “He is” or “He will be.”

The word Jehovah is a transliteration of the same verb, taking into account the vowel pointing inserted into the four Hebrew consonants that form YHWH (i.e., Yahweh). There were no vowels in the Hebrew of the Old Testament, only consonants. In later biblical Hebrew, during the monarchy, some consonants began to represent traditional vowel sounds, and the Masoretes, scribes who worked from the sixth to the tenth centuries A.D., developed a system of pointing – we might call it “dots and dashes” to represent traditional vowel sounds. This system was employed in Hebrew manuscripts to insert the vowel sounds for the word Adonai into the Tetragrammaton (the four consonants of YHWH) to alert readers not to vocalize the name of God but to say “Adonai” instead. To pronounce the vowels of Adonai with the consonants for Yahweh resulted in Jehovah.

This post is not a duplication of the article. It is additional information. I hope you will read the article and the others that will appear in this issue of Pentecostal Life in August. If you’re not already a subscriber to the magazine, I recommend subscription. Each issue is filled with excellent articles, with a complete section designed to be used in small group Bible study.[archive]

A tender conscience

While doing some research for a book I am writing, tentatively titled The Holy Spirit: An Apostolic Perspective on Pneumatology, I came across the following quotation from John Morison in a book titled Conscience, written by Thomas Baird and published in 1914:

There is peril attending every step which is taken in the indulgence of any known sin, or in the neglect of any acknowledged obligation. A tender conscience will not trifle with its conviction, lest the heart should be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.[archive]

More on Psalm 110:1 and baptism

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On March 1, 2019, I posted some insights titled “Psalm 110:1 and Acts 2:38.” This was a result of my work for a book tentatively titled The Holy Spirit: An Apostolic Perspective on Pneumatology. As I looked carefully at Peter’s sermon in Acts 2, with its many quotations from the Old Testament and explanations of the meaning of those references, I noticed that the final verse he quoted was Psalm 110:1, the Old Testament verse most frequently quoted, paraphrased, and alluded to in the New Testament: “The LORD said to my Lord, sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”

After Peter quoted this verse, he declared, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” It seemed clear to me that there was something about Psalm 110:1 and the insight Peter drew from it that cut his hearers “to the heart,” causing them to know there was something they must do. What was it?

Peter’s answer was, of course, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized  in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

Then, I noticed that Peter reiterated the essence of the closing words of his message in response to the high priest who had imprisoned him and other apostles.

The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging him on a tree. Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him (Acts 5:30-32).

Psalm 110:1 is seen here in the reference to the exaltation of Jesus to the right hand of God. The statement about repentance and forgiveness of sins looks back to Peter’s words about the purpose of baptism. The phrase “so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him” connects with the promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:38.

During the week since the March 1 post I have been doing a lot of reading (as indicated by the pictures on this post!) on Psalm 110. This has resulted in new insights I plan to include in the book, because there are connections between the psalm and Jesus’ work of pouring out the Spirit. As we would expect, this also means there are connections between Psalm 110 and baptism. I will offer a couple examples here.

Peter referred to Psalm 110 not only in Acts 2 and Acts 5, but also in his teaching on baptism in I Peter 3:21-22. You will see it immediately:

There is also an antitype which now saves us – baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.

It is quite interesting that Peter associates baptism with Psalm 110:1 both in his first sermon and his first letter. But that is not the end of the story. If we continue to read his letter, we discover the context includes a reference to the Spirit that resonates with Acts 2:38:

For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit (I Peter 4:6).

But Peter is not alone in his interest in the significance of Psalm 110:1 and baptism. Paul has the same insights:

In him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. . . . If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God (Colossians 2:11-12; 3:1).

First century people of faith responded with repentance and baptism in the name of Jesus Christ upon hearing the message of Psalm 110:1, with its news of the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus. But those who rejected Jesus responded with anger and violence, as in the case of the martyrdom of Stephen, who, “being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.” Stephen said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” (Acts 7:55-56).

As those who have attended any of my classes on the Old Testament, the Poetic Books, or the Book of Psalms know, as well as those who have read my book The Messiah in the Psalms: Discovering Christ in Unexpected Places, I am convinced that the Psalter is rich with messianic insights, far richer than we have exhausted. I will continue to investigate these truths as they relate to the book I am now writing.


For those who may be interested in reading my additional work on I Peter, I have written a verse by verse commentary titled I Peter: Standing Fast in the Grace of God. It is available as a Kindle download, iBook, and at www.pentecostalpublishing.com, both as a hard copy and ebook.

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Psalm 110:1 and Acts 2:38

Now that I am basically finished with my work on the Spirit in the Old Testament, I’m pressing on with the intention of examining every reference to the Spirit in the New Testament. This project is to complete a manuscript tentatively titled The Holy Spirit: An Apostolic Perspective on Pneumatology for submission to the Pentecostal Publishing House by April 30 of this year. I hope, but cannot promise, that this book will be published in time for the general conference of the United Pentecostal Church International later this year.

At this moment, I’m working on chapter twenty, “The Holy Spirit in the Life and Ministry of Jesus.” I want to be very diligent in my treatment of Acts 2, where Peter announced, after referring to Psalm 132:11, “This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear” (Acts 2:32-33).

It is essential to note here that it was Jesus who poured out the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, a profound insight in view of Peter’s quotation from Joel 2, which affirms that God said, “I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh . . . I will pour out My Spirit in those days” (Acts 2:17-18). A look at the context of these words in Joel confirms that the word God refers to Yahweh. (See Joel 2:27, where Yahweh [sometimes pronounced as Jehovah] is rendered LORD).

Like you, I’ve read Acts 2 many times. But this time, wanting to pay careful attention to the fact that the Spirit was poured out by Jesus, I was captured by the fact that the final verse Peter quoted from the Old Testament, in a message rich in quotations from the Hebrew Scriptures, was the verse quoted, paraphrased, or alluded to more frequently in the New Testament than any other, Psalm 110:1. There was something about this verse that cut those who heard Peter to the heart, prompting them to say, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Peter’s answer is found, of course, in Acts 2:38.

What could there be in Psalm 110:1 that provoked such a response from Peter’s hearers? Here are Peter’s words:

For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself:

The LORD said to my Lord, sit at my right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.

Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:34-36).

You can find my comments on Psalm 110 in the Apostolic Study Bible, published by Word Aflame Press. But as I continued to work on the relationship between Psalm 110 and Acts 2, I noticed the similarity between between Peter’s words in Acts 2:32-38 and in Acts 5:30-32:

The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.

In both cases, Peter’s message is essentially the same. It focuses on the resurrection of Jesus, His exaltation as announced in Psalm 110:1, the consequence of which is the requirement of repentance, the promise of forgiveness, and the promise of the Holy Spirit for those who obey. Although Peter did not specifically mention baptism in this case, this is understood in the word “obey,” an apparent reference to the response of those who repented and were baptized as he commanded in Acts 2:38.

One of the resources I’ve looked at in my work is the book Jesus the Messiah: Tracing the Promises, Expectations, and coming of Israel’s King. The book is written by Herbert W. Bateman IV, Darrell L. Bock, and Gordon H. Johnston (Grand Rapids: Kregel Academic, 2012). Bateman is professor of New Testament at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; Darrell L. Bock is senior research professor of New Testament studies at Dallas Theological Seminary and a former president of the Evangelical Theological Society; Johnston is professor of Old Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary.

I think you would enjoy Bock’s comments on the last section of Peter’s words in Acts 2:

The allusion to Psalm 132:11 with its roots in 2 Samuel 7 points to God foreseeing, through the prophet David’s utterance, the resurrection of Christ (2:31), which leads to the exaltation of Jesus through the vindication of God to God’s right hand, where Psalm 110:1 is the key text. The proper response to this message is being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins (2:38). Now authority for forgiveness comes from God through Jesus and is not associated with regular sacrifices. Now forgiveness, a right of God to grant, comes through the name of Jesus, the One who is Lord and Christ [page 409].

And, by the way, the book also points out, on pages 94-95, that “the image of God’s right hand was often metaphorical for God’s power or favor.”

This is a major project, but I’m enjoying the work and some new discoveries along the way. The time to develop a new book is one of the great benefits of retirement![archive]