Abiding In Christ: A Dispensational Theology Of The Spiritual Life (Part 1 Of 3) -- By: Robert Dean, Jr.
CTSJ 7:1 (January 2001) p. 25
Abiding In Christ: A Dispensational Theology Of The Spiritual Life (Part 1 Of 3)
Robert Dean, Jr., earned a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary. He is Pastor-Teacher of Preston City Bible Church, Preston, CT, and visiting Professor at Faith Evangelical Seminary, Tacoma, WA. He also serves on the board of advisors for Chafer Theological Seminary. His email address is email@example.com
Jesus’ discourse on the vine (John 15:1-6) has been a perennial theological battlefield. Calvinists and Arminians traditionally debate whether or not the removal of the unfruitful branches indicates the loss of eternal salvation.1 Within the Reformed tradition itself other skirmishes have been fought over the hermeneutical framework: Does the discourse address salvation and thus the consequent and necessary bearing of fruit by the genuine believer, or does the discourse address the believer’s necessity of maintaining fellowship with Christ in order to produce fruit in the spiritual life?2 The majority of Reformed commentators have adopted the view that this passage addresses the inevitability of fruit bearing in the genuinely saved believer, thus making ‘abiding’ a semantic equivalent of ‘believe’ and fruit production a necessary evidence of genuine saving faith. This is also the position of Lordship salvation advocates who follow the Reformed position. These issues are paramount because they become a watershed for key soteriological and sanctification models.
The purpose of this paper is to present the ‘abiding is fellowship’ view as the most consistent with a literal interpretation of the passage, a distinction between Israel and the Church, and
CTSJ 7:1 (January 2001) p. 26
the glory of God as the overall purpose of Scripture and the be-liever’s life. Since these three distinctives comprise the sine qua non of dispensationalism, it follows that this interpretation is most consistent with a dispensational theology.3
Before any application from John 15:1-6 can be made several key questions must first be addressed to insure a proper interpretation. Is the vine imagery for the nation Israel in the Old Testament the background for interpreting the vine analogy? What do these key terms mean: “In Him,” “abide,” “taken away?” Are the branches all believers? Are the fruit bearing branches the only believers? Are there two types of branches or three? Is the fire of verse You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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