When it comes to the Christian life, what exactly can we expect with regard to personal transformation?
Gary Millar addresses this most basic question. He explores the nature of gospel-shaped change, exposing the dangers of both promising too much and expecting too little. The central part of his study focuses on ‘life in the middle’ - between the change that is brought about when we become Christians, and the ‘final’ change in which we will be raised with Christ.
Millar reads the ‘character studies’ of major Old Testament figures as depicting a moral decline throughout their lives and their innate sinfulness and lack of change. This problem is resolved by a new covenant which promises both individual and corporate transformation in the power of the Spirit. This is presented in the New Testament as a rich and complex process, which cannot be contained or adequately described by one set of images. Transformation is real, and deep-rooted and far-reaching.
In developing an integrated biblical theology of transformation, Millar draws on the contributions of some key theologians, including Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, Edwards and Owen, and concludes with a careful synthesis.
Addressing key issues in biblical theology, the works comprising New Studies in Biblical Theology are creative attempts to help Christians better understand their Bibles. The NSBT series is edited by D. A. Carson, aiming to simultaneously instruct and to edify, to interact with current scholarship and to point the way ahead.
“The danger of an overreaction to the excesses of an over-realized eschatology is to minimize the importance of love, joy and hope, as well as the potential for real-time help, and most importantly for our purposes, change.” (Page 13)
“To advance the discussion we need to set all this against the fact that the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ both promises and demands change.” (Page 8)
“The connection with the language of sonship is fairly compelling, leading to the overall conclusion that the image language in Genesis 1 is a highly nuanced combination of both function (ruling in God’s place and acting as a priest) and relationship (ruling, etc., as God’s son).” (Page 33)
“the key strand of the story: Abraham was justified by faith as one who remained sinful to the end.” (Page 64)
“The relationship we have with the Father, in the Spirit through our union with the Son is by definition a transformative one, as we increasingly display his ‘family likeness’. The fact that we are united to Christ means that this can never be reduced to mere similarity of behaviour, but goes to the very core of our being. In union with him we share in his holiness (both definitively or positionally and progressively). Being united with Christ by faith alters our situation entirely. Personal transformation is rooted in and flows from our union with the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Page 219)
Gary Millar … not only traces the development of the theme of personal transformation across the canon, but also probes the extent to which such a vision has (or has not!) been captured by an array of thinkers in the history of the church. Then, reflecting his own commitments as a pastor-theologian, he puts together the whole and demonstrates that the best practical application emerges from the most integrated biblical theology.
—D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, USA
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