As I write this column, a new academic year has begun at Miami University.  Sixteen thousand students have arrived on campus, reviving the sleepy college town of Oxford, Ohio.  There is excitement in the air as classes get underway.   I myself am enthusiastic about the opportunity to teach one of my favorite classes, a master's level course in a branch of mathematics called optimization theory.

I have been thinking lately about an interesting parallel between mathematics and theology.  In both of these disciplines, questions of existence and uniqueness loom large.  For example, a mathematician facing a complicated equation needs to determine whether the equation possesses a solution (existence), and if so, how many solutions the equation has (uniqueness).  Similarly, questions about the existence and nature of God are the most fundamental issues in theology. 

Jews and Christians share a belief in the existence and uniqueness (or oneness) of God (Deut. 6:4-9; I Tim. 2:5).  This is a life-changing conviction that causes believers to forsake all other masters and undertake lives of obedience to the one true God.  In all aspects of our lives, we seek to serve and glorify Him.

The oneness of God has profound theological consequences.  Since God is one, it stands to reason that He would carry out a single purpose and plan in the world.  We Christians assert that the focus of that plan is Jesus Christ, whom we identify as the prophesied Messiah whose coming is announced throughout the Hebrew Scriptures.  As the apostle John writes in Revelation 13:8, Jesus is ``the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.''  In this issue of Grace and Knowledge, we continue our examination of the key truths about Jesus Christ with a discussion of Christ's ascension and current activity as our heavenly high priest at the right hand of God the Father.

God's uniqueness and unity of purpose suggest that His revelation to mankind, the Holy Bible, should also be a unified whole.  As a result, Christians should not place an artificial dividing line between the Old and New Testaments or discount the great worth of the Hebrew Scriptures.  The three articles on Pentecost in this issue illustrate the value of studying God's inspired word in its totality.  In particular, our understanding and appreciation of the New Testament Pentecost can be greatly enhanced by knowledge of its background in Old Testament revelation and Jewish tradition.  What God began on one Pentecost at Mount Sinai was continued and came into its fullness nearly fifteen hundred years later with the founding of the New Testament church.                

For Jews, Pentecost commemorates God's gift of Torah at Mount Sinai.  For Christians, it celebrates the gift of the Holy Spirit, which writes Torah on our hearts.  Christians do not approach Torah as a binding legal code, but instead as a source of loving guidance and instruction that is rooted in the unchanging nature and character of the one God.  As we read in I Tim. 3:16-17 (NIV), ``All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.'' One article in this issue, ``The Ten Commandments of a Marriage Covenant,'' discusses how the principles of the Decalogue can enrich and strengthen our marriages.    

Application of Torah can be found in the writings of Solomon, including the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.  There is also much to learn from the Wisdom of Ben-Sirach (also known as Ecclesiasticus), an intertestamental book written by a Jewish teacher in around 200 B.C.  In the first of a projected series of articles on the Old Testament Apocrypha , Grace and Knowledge   consulting editor Jared L. Olar gives an enlightening and informative introduction to this book, highlighting some of the things that Christians can learn from it. 

We began this issue in May, during the Pentecost season.  Now the Feast of Tabernacles is fast approaching .  We at Grace and Knowledge would like to wish all of our readers a joyful and meaningful fall festival season.         

Issue 8


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