Joseph Dillow JCD 2013-06-13

This extensive work is an expanded version of Dillow’s book The Reign of the Servant Kings, published in 1982. Dillow divides this work into three sections. Volume 1 “deals with the doctrine of salvation” including “passages related to faith and works” (p. 3). Volume 2 discusses issues related to assurance of salvation and eternal security. Volume 3 discusses rewards and their relation to salvation.

Volume 1 discusses questions such as these: Does repentance mean salvation by works? What did Paul mean when he said people must confess with their mouth that Jesus is Lord? Are denying oneself and taking up one’s cross conditions for entrance into heaven? Was Jesus teaching salvation by works when He told the rich young ruler that to have eternal life he must obey the Mosaic law? What did James mean when he said faith without works is dead?

Volume 2 (chaps. 29–47) discusses issues such as these: Does the Bible teach believers to examine their faith to see if their faith is genuine? Does the Bible teach that there are carnal Christians? Can a Christian commit apostasy? What is the basis of salvation and assurance? Can a Christian lose his salvation? Does casting fruitless branches into the fire refer to loss of salvation? Does Hebrews 6:4–6 teach that a believer can lose salvation? How should Hebrews 3:6; 10:26–39; and 2 Peter 2:20–22 be understood in relation to eternal security? Are all Christians overcomers?

Volume 3 (chaps. 48–66) discusses the judgment seat of Christ and the parable of the wedding banquet in Matthew 22:1–14, with attention to the view that those guests who were cast into darkness and who wailed and gnashed their teeth were not cast into the lake of fire but were experiencing profound regret and remorse (pp. 769–71). In chapter 51 Dillow presents the view that the virgins who had no oil refers not to loss of salvation but to lack of being prepared for the Lord’s coming. Dillow also discusses the parable of the talents and the nines (chap. 52) and the parable of the sheep and the goats (chap. 53).

In discussing the meaning of gehenna (chaps. 54–57) Dillow suggests that the judgment of body and soul being cast into gehenna (lit., the Valley of Hinnom, the burning garbage dump south of Jerusalem) “cannot refer to eternal damnation, for then annihilationism would be taught” (p. 889). Dillow says that in Matthew 10:28 and Luke 12:5 Jesus “was referring to a spiritual disgrace, ‘saved through fire’ (1 Corinthians 3:15), and losing ‘what we have accomplished’ (2 John 8) at the judgment seat of Christ. . . . But can believers experience shame at the judgment seat of Christ . . . ? Yes!” (p. 891). “The ‘destruction’ of the soul and body in the Valley of Hinnom is a metaphor for the total ruin of one’s life work and significance. . . . He is ‘ruined.’ His opportunities for service for Christ in the kingdom and capacity for enhanced ministry with God are lost” (pp. 891–92). And this is the point Jesus made in Matthew 10:39. Not all readers will agree with this view, but it is worth considering.

In chapter 58 Dillow discusses the meaning of “accursed” (anavqema) in 1 Corinthians 16:22 and Galatians 1:8 and suggests that it means being “subjected to some kind of temporal judgment including severance from fellowship with Christ” (p. 909). Rewards for believers in heaven will include enhanced intimacy with God, honor and praise from Christ, and expanded opportunities to serve Him and minister throughout all eternity (chaps. 60–62). Chapter 54 discusses six facts about rewards that believers will receive in heaven.

The interpretations supported in this book are called the Partners view, based on the words in Hebrews 3:14 about being partners (mevtacoi) of Christ. Partners are faithful Christians who will reign with Christ in the coming millennial kingdom. Subscribers to the Partners view hold to the eternal security of Christians and believe the warning passages in the New Testament apply to Christians. If Christians live carnal lives, they will not lose their salvation, but will forfeit future rewards. On the other hand Arminians believe individuals can lose their salvation. For Calvinists (or Experimental Predestinationists, as Dillow calls them), the affirmation “I am saved” is tested by the experiment of whether one gives some evidence of sanctification. Yet another view teaches that good works are not just the result of justification, as Experimental Predestinationism maintains, but are necessary as the way of justification.

In the Partner view justification is by faith alone, assurance of one’s salvation is based on looking to Christ, some Christians lapse into carnality, the warning passages are addressed to regenerate people not professing Christians, and believers can never lose their salvation. Also “the motive for godly living is not to be found in either fear of losing salvation (Arminian) or wondering if one is saved (Experimental Predestinarian). Rather, it is to be found negatively in the fear of disapproval, and positively in gratitude for a salvation already assured, anticipating the Master saying, ‘Well done!’ ” (p. 416).

When James wrote that “faith without works is dead” (2:26), he meant it is useless, not that it is nonexistent (p. 416).

These are a few of the many Bible passages and theological issues discussed in this massive work. Dillow has presented a most thorough presentation of the free grace position. Readers may not agree with all the points presented, but they will appreciate the thoroughness of the work and the careful analysis of the many passages related to salvation, discipleship, eternal security, works, sanctification, assurance, fellowship, carnality, apostasy, warning passages, perseverance, overcomers, various parables, gehenna, treasure in heaven, rewards, and the resurrection life.

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