The Pactum Q&A (part 1) (2023)


This week’s episode is from the 2023 Pactum Conference, All Things New. This is a Q&A session with speakers, Michael Beck, Mike Abendroth, and Pat Abendroth.


Welcome to No Compromise Radio Ministry, my name is Mike Gabendroth, and my sinuses are so much better.
Welcome to Duplex Gratia Radio. You can write us, info at nocompromiseradio .com.
Just got a good email from someone down in Belize, Central America, and they want to start carrying
No Compromise Radio and some BBC sermons. That's good news. I told him 10 grand a year.
Just kidding. Today's a special episode. I was in Omaha, Nebraska with my brother,
Patrick Abendroth, for the Pactum Conference in 2023, October.
Daryl Hart was speaking, Michael Beck, myself, and Patrick James Abendroth, and we had a
Q &A for Sunday school. Daryl Hart had to leave, but Michael Beck, myself, and Pat did a
Q &A. Pat moderated it, and he's given me permission to play that on No Compromise Radio.
Maybe you've already listened to the Pactum, most of you probably do, and you've heard it, but we want to play it here on No Compromise Radio.
Part one of the Q &A on the Pactum. Maybe we'll do two parts, we'll see, but enjoy the show.
If the law is good, then why are there so many questions about it, not to mention controversies? The 2024
Pactum Conference will offer clear biblical answers and wise guidance to believers seeking to understand the divine law and how it applies to life in the 21st century.
2024 Pactum Conference, is that what you just said? 2024 Pactum Conference. It's already scheduled, already being promoted.
It's on the books. October 11th and 12th, and it will be called God's Good Law. God's Good Law, October 11th and 12th in Omaha, Nebraska.
Who's speaking? Who's speaking? We got J .V. Fesco coming. We have Dave Vandrunen. We have
Mike Abendroth and Pat Abendroth. I cannot wait. It's going to be awesome. It is going to be awesome.
Two of my favorite... Oh, I have to say three because it's my brother. Three of my favorite authors. No, it's going to be a great lineup.
We're going to do the Friday night, Saturday morning, like we've done in the past, but it's going to be on the 11th and 12th of October, 2024.
And we're also going to do a special luncheon and a couple of seminars for pastors during the lunch hour on Friday, October 11th.
So if you're a pastor and you're coming, come a little bit early for some good grub, but also for some good times together.
I think we're going to do something on preaching and sharpening your preaching skills with my brother as well as some other things.
So it should be awesome. Yes. Mark your calendars, save the dates. Pretty much can't wait.
Topics will include the law gospel paradigm. Hello. It's a pactum event. You wouldn't believe it.
Yeah. Guess who's going to speak on that one? So we're going to have natural law. Dave Andren has a new book on natural law.
We're going to talk about the three uses of the law, covenant theology and the law, legalism and antinomianism and the law.
Who knows, Mike, we might just get crazy and even talk about, well, you know, theonomy and the law.
Oh, hey. It is going to be a thing. It's going to be great. Absolutely.
So keep your eyes out for more information, more details. We'll let you know when registration opens up. It's going to be awesome.
Indeed. Well, speaking of conferences today, we are going to run episode 146, which is the last thing we're going to run from the 2023
Pactum Conference. Yes, it is. All Things New. And this is a discussion on the new creation and things related to the new creation, already not yet.
All kinds of things that we talked about during the conference. And it's a discussion with Michael Beck, Mike Abendroth and myself.
Yes. So enjoy this Q &A discussion from the conference. Well, the first thing is a fun fact. Over the weekend,
I was told that we were well caffeinated. We consumed 2 ,112 cups of coffee.
So great job for being stimulated. Praise the Lord. We're not Mormons. So or everyone would have been sleeping.
We would have had decaffeinated coffee or something like that. So with that in mind, I do have
Mike Abendroth and Michael Beck up here. Mike Abendroth is from Massachusetts, where he pastors.
He's also an author and also the host of No Compromise Radio, getting close to 4 ,000 episodes.
What do you do in your free time? And Michael Beck comes to us from New Zealand, where he pastors as well.
He's also an author and he hosts a podcast called To Age Sojourner. And so I'm thankful for both of their ministries.
Since you all are here and probably are willing to pray for them, maybe we could ask each of you to offer a prayer request.
So how can these folks here be praying for you, Michael Beck? You got a microphone right there. How can they be praying for you in the days ahead as you seek to pastor, to be a dad, a husband, churchman, professor?
You nailed it. That's exactly what they need to be praying for. Thank you. That would be amazing if you would pray for me because it's busy.
It's very, very busy. I think that's the big thing we're facing right now. We just obviously posturing full time.
The church is right in the heart of the city, a lot going on. I have five elders, which is great.
And I really lean on them and they help out. I'm very thankful for the team. And they release me to do a lot.
But it kind of creates another thing in that I'm sort of lecturing throughout the week. And then we got all these events moving through the year.
And then we've just had twins. So that's the thing on its own. And they're five months now.
And so we got five kids. And then we've also, just to kind of throw us over the edge, we've had my parents come over from South Africa, from South Africa originally, to live with us in their retirement years.
Not in our house, but on our property. We've sort of organized them a little flat there. And so they're loving it and everything's great.
And it's all harmonious and good, but it's busy. And so this is by far the busiest
I've ever been in my life. I'm just hoping to sustain the pace well and not burn out. So any prayer in that regard would be amazing.
Thank you. Mike. Beck always has to use the I have twins thing.
I do though. I have twins. I hate to be self -serving on this, because normally if people ask, you know, how can we pray for you?
And you might think about wisdom, right? Solomon asked for wisdom. Next week on my final blood test, before I start treatment for leukemia.
And so that starts in a week after that. And so I don't know what will happen. I'll try to preach. I'll try to do what
I need to do. But in a selfish respect, but maybe for my wife's sake and children, if you wouldn't mind praying for me, that'd be great.
Awesome. Michael Beck, tell us about Wellington, New Zealand. So we can get an image of what that's like and doing ministry there.
Wellington is, it's the capital of New Zealand. So if you know the two islands, it's right in the middle on the bottom of the
North Island. It's got a population. It's quite a small city. It's about 300 ,000,
I think was the last time, maybe not even. So not a high population, but it's really, it is a little hub and there's a lot of action there.
It's kind of the political center and all the students and a lot of arts and a lot of restaurants and very sort of, it tends to be where all the hipster action happens as well and all the progressive stuff and a lot of rioting.
And so, again, our church venue is right in the heart of all of that.
And you do feel that it feels much more normal being in other parts of New Zealand. And Wellington is known as this kind of hub of action.
And so it's good. It's a great place to live. It's beautiful. The winters can be a little bit brutal, a lot of earthquakes.
But other than that, it's really just this matter of, being the kind of right on the frontline of this aggressive secularism and progressivism.
And so you feel that in ministry. Almost anything that you can say that's not amenable is considered hate speech.
And so we don't keep signs outside of our church because that's gonna target all sorts of things and bring all sorts of trouble.
And more we could say about that. But yeah, it's just, it's getting worse and worse and worse. And as more laws get passed, it'll get more and more difficult to just preach the gospel as we do now and put our sermons online and whatnot.
So yeah, it's an interesting place to do ministry. Not a lot of, I should say as well, not a lot of nominalism.
If Christians, if they come to church, they're in. So we tend to have smaller churches, but fully committed.
They're a pleasure to pastor. And you can do a lot because everyone's just completely bought in.
You don't get any social points for being a Christian in New Zealand. So you know everyone who's there is there for the right reason.
Mike said on another occasion, Wellington is like Portland and San Francisco had a baby.
Yeah, that's how it looks anyway. I just think it was cool when he said, it's kind of a hipster place, riots.
Hipster riots, they go together. Skinny jeans riots. Okay, so let's shift gears a little bit and talk about theology.
So over the weekend, we've been focusing on the new creation. We've been focusing on things like Already Not Yet.
And Mike, you talked about the myth or you changed it because that's what older brothers do. The title was supposed to be
The Myth of Final Justification. He turned it into The Lie of Final Justification, which made me happy because that's what younger brothers do.
They're encouraged by older brothers, but I digress. So James chapter two would be an objection.
So as Mike's finding that passage. Is that in the New Testament? It is, it is.
And so Mike was boldly emphasizing Romans chapter eight, Romans chapter five, other such texts that we are justified, declared righteous by grace alone, through faith alone, on account of Christ alone, court of law kind of thing.
It's legal, it's forensic. And that future day of judgment, we already know because we're justified by faith in the finished work of Christ.
Nothing left to be done. What about James two? People say, well, actually James two contradicts that or you need to add some works because of James two.
Give us a good response. And then Mike and I will chime in and give our views if necessary. Okay, perfect.
Quickly, when you turn to the book of James, here's what you should be thinking. This is probably the first book in the
New Testament that was written, but the events of Jesus have already occurred, right?
Jesus around 30 AD, public ministry, 33 dies. And now 12 years later, 15 years later, you have the first book that you can actually read.
And so if the gospels of Jesus are about Jesus and his good news and his person, it's not surprising that the first book that's given to us in scripturated is full of all kinds of commands because we know who
Jesus is, gospel. And now we need law to guide us. So there's 104 verses with 52 imperatives in James and nothing about the death, burial and resurrection because the death, burial and resurrection has been talked about on earth.
We don't have Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John yet, but you come to James thinking it's chock full of imperatives, of course, because we need law to guide us.
And since Jesus is raised from the dead, count it all joy. Since you don't have to earn your salvation, but you do it out of gratitude, be doers of the word.
And that's how you read the book of James. So we come to James chapter two. And if we just pick it up in verse 14, what good is it my brothers, if someone literally the
Greek is, continually says he has faith, but continually does not have works, that faith can't save him.
And he gives a little illustration like James does learn from Jesus to do that. Verse 18, but someone will say, you have faith and I have works.
Now look at the language here of the show me and see and show. Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
You believe that God is one, you do well, even the demons believe in shudder. Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?
Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar?
You see that faith was active along with his works and faith was completed by his works.
And the scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.
And he was called the friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.
And he goes on to say a few more things. Can you see what he is trying to show you?
How do you know I'm a Christian? Well, you only know I'm a Christian because if you see my works, right?
God knows if I'm a Christian or not. He's not contradicting Romans chapter four, you're justified by faith alone.
And we see even here, Genesis 15, that's when we know Abraham was a believer when
God granted him faith. I get circumcised later. And so what James is trying to say is, people have a false faith, that's true.
But he's not trying to say you're justified by faith alone. He's trying to say what you see in someone would be a vindication.
Did you know that's another word we sometimes use justification. You could translate it a vindication.
And so good works, dear Christian, are a vindication of your saving faith. If you think about end times and the final judgment, you don't have another justification.
But will you be vindicated? As Christians, the answer is yes. So just read this by you see, you say, you see, shown.
And what we can see in people, because we can't see their faith internally, we can see the evidence of their faith, which vindicates their profession.
Yeah, just, it's almost like different concerns, as you pointed out there to Paul, when he's talking about justification by faith.
The question is not, are you justified by faith? The question is, is your faith justified, vindicated?
So I just like the way that that kind of, you know, has some parallel to it. And it's easy to remember. And you know, that brings both words into play there.
So yeah. It may also be helpful. I think it's R .C. Sproul that talks about this, that since it's
I'll show you, you show me, it's on the horizontal level of justification.
It's not on the vertical level of justification. So in the court of public opinion, since it's legal talk, in the court of public opinion justified, we're not talking about in the court of the divine judge, which would be a different kind of animal altogether.
So apples and oranges in one sense, not a contradiction at all. I heard a professor once say, it's like James and Paul are fighting two different enemies.
And they're standing back to back. And they both have a sword. And Paul is fighting. Do you think you can get saved by religious works or any other works?
No, it's by faith alone, because it's the Lord Jesus who does it. And then there's a faith that's not alone, right?
You're justified by faith alone. Category one justification. But that faith won't be alone.
Category of holy living. And so Paul is facing this enemy. James is facing that enemy.
They're on the same team, obviously, because we have a divine author. Super.
Michael Beck, what is meant by the statement, eschatology precedes soteriology?
Yeah, great. And they're just getting the coffee going. So explain the words even of the question.
2 ,110 cups. All right.
Eschatology is the doctrine of the last things. It's kind of usually, well, that's almost wrapped up in the word there in terms of what's being said.
The logos about the eschatos, the doctrine of the end. And what
Gerhardus Vass, who's largely regarded as kind of the grandfather or father of biblical theology in the reformed movement, he kind of rescued it from the liberals and put some good dogmatics to it.
But anyways, he came along and said, when we think about the doctrine of the end, we've gotta be careful that we don't only start thinking about that after the fall.
And because, let's be honest, that's kind of what we're normally prone to do. We're just gonna read the
Bible and then we're not even thinking about the end. Then we see the fall happens, then we go and we get to the end. And then we're rarely thinking about the end when we get to the book of Revelation.
But to really understand the book of Revelation, you see all these images of the beginning before the fall.
You see the tree, you see all of these things in the garden, all of that stuff that really happens right in the beginning.
And that's an important clue to deepening our insight about what the end is and what the fall is and what salvation is and all of these things that we care about.
So he said, we have to understand that in these opening pages of Scripture, and certainly by the time you get to the
Sabbath, and I'll say a little bit more about that in the sermon, but in the
Sabbath is where you have the end in mind. The goal of history was put before man right in the very beginning.
Just as surely as man is made in the image of God, man is made in the image of God to dwell with God forever in all eternity.
And that's the end. That's the glorious result that is again held forth in the book of Revelation, again with the tree of life, again, except all of that's now in terms of redemption because of what was lost in the fall.
So it's just a helpful way to see the unity of the Bible and to see a deepened insight as to what it is that Jesus came to do.
Super. I think it's also just helpful to have a, we call that a prophecy conference, just to kind of get people's minds thinking, provocative kind of thing.
But to have Mike Ebendroth talk about justification at an eschatology conference, to many of us doesn't make any sense.
But it needs to make a whole lot of sense because justification is an end times thing, but we're already experiencing it in the here and now.
Yeah, soteriology. Sorry, I forgot to explain that one. Salvation, the doctrine of salvation. So that's it, justification right there.
Eschatology precedes even this idea of thinking about justification. You won't get, what does it mean that we're justified?
What does it mean that we're saved? You know, well, we first have to understand what the goal is to see what was lost, to see what we have again.
Super. Either one of you, both of you, Mike Beck, you just mentioned, as if I could think straight right now, it's been a long weekend.
You just mentioned biblical theology. So talk about, a lot of times we hear biblical theology, we think, oh, theology that is biblical as opposed to unbiblical.
So let's talk about what biblical theology is, how it differs from systematic theology, why they're both important.
How about both of you talk about that? Go ahead and start. Go ahead. Okay, yeah. Yeah, that's a great point.
Biblical theology, we're talking here about a specific discipline. One of the most helpful ways
I've heard it described, there was a guy named Abraham Kuyper, Dutch theologian. He came up with this thing called the Encyclopedia of Theology, right?
And it's kind of this way of just getting your head around all of these disciplines. And I've just, ever since I read that,
I thought, oh, that's helpful, I'm gonna keep that. But if you imagine sort of a four quadrant kind of diagram, you would have systematic theology, which is, you know, the stuff we read about the doctrine of creation, doctrine of God, doctrine of scripture, doctrine of salvation, et cetera.
So systematic theology, historical theology. So if you're at the conference, Daryl Hart, historian, looking at, you know, historical figures and so forth, they have exegetical theology and then you have practical theology, right?
Practical theology is like missions and, you know, just pastoral theology and some ethics and all that sort of stuff.
And then in exegetical theology, which is concerned with the Bible, concerned with the languages, concerned with exegesis and concerned with the way it all fits together into textual studies and textual criticism, all these sub -disciplines, that's where you find biblical theology.
It's a way of doing exegesis, it's a way of doing hermeneutics, a way of interpreting the
Bible according to the Bible. My favorite definition of biblical theology, I love it because it's so simple.
I tell all the students, forget all these other ones, you know, just go with this one. This is the one I want on the test. It's just the
Bible's theology of the Bible, right? It's just a great way to, before, we're not saying you shouldn't take into account all these other disciplines, but start with exegesis or at least consider what the
Bible itself is saying about its own parts. And that, I think, is a helpful way to think about it.
There's all sorts of interesting discussions about, you know, what exactly is the difference between biblical theology and systematic theology.
Well, I think before you get into nutting those out, the big point is to say they're not opposed to one another.
They're, especially in the Reformed tradition, they welcome each other. One of my favorite stories is
Benjamin Warfield, right? He was a systematic theologian.
And Gerhardus Vass, who, of course, was a great biblical theologian. And apparently they used to walk during the breaks around the campus, arm in arm, having long discussions with one another and just hanging out.
And they became kind of a symbol of the friendship between these two disciplines. And I think that's the way it ought to be.
The biblical theology will give substance to your doctrines. Otherwise, you're just proof texting, right?
And biblical theology needs the rest of it to then move on and see how the
Spirit has worked through the church to interpret the Bible. And provide a collective wisdom in that sense.
So yesterday, during your sessions, they struck me as very much driven by biblical theology, right?
You were unpacking the storyline, the organic unity development within the scripture.
You didn't start with, whereas Mike's was more systematic. He started with the topic. The topic is justification. He was relying on the
Bible, but he started with it. The topic drove it. For you, it was the storyline, the narrative, the overtime, redemptive, historical stuff that was driving it.
Yeah. Can I show you a quick little illustration that's helped me to get my head around that exact difference?
Well, I suppose they're two, but anyway, let's try one. Oh, they're all coming to me now. I always remember these.
So imagine you were studying the human heart, right? At one level, you could have a doctor that's concerned with the way the human heart grows from the time in the womb to just a young child, to how the heart develops a little bit later, to when it hits full maturity, towards the later years.
It's an important area of study because there's gonna be some major differences and you want to know how it all unfolds.
That would be biblical theology. But then you get the systematician who does the heart surgery on a person of a certain age at that point.
So it's almost a cross -section, looking at that issue from that point. Same thing with etymology or the study of words.
You can look at a word diachronically. You could say, well, this is how the word was used then, and then it evolved, and then it kind of took on this meaning.
And when we look at this meaning, be careful not to confuse it with the earlier meaning, and we just keep going. Or you could just look at the dictionary, which is, again, the systematic theologian, just this is it, cross -section.
This is what it means right now. So again, both are studying the same thing. It's just a different approach. I find that super helpful, dude, yeah.
In our world, probably Omaha Bible Church world, Bethlehem Bible Church world, we kind of come from a background where a pastor will go through the
Bible verse by verse preaching and sometimes really slow down, right? I can't believe he preached four sermons on count it all, join my brethren when you encounter various trials.
And so what I like to do to help myself with biblical theology and that sweep and that flow and the organic nature of it, just read big sections of scripture.
Read big sections of the Old Testament and you'll begin to see that flow and you'll begin to see words that are similar.
And the same divine author, of course, is writing these things. And so in a very practical sense, if you read big swaths of scripture, you will be helped and augmented as you study certain topics.
I like to sometimes get on my phone and just have the ESV Bible just read, right?
I drive to the airport and I think, I'm just going to listen to all of Mark 1 through 16. Verse eight, and just big swaths that helps.
The other thing that helps, remember when you go to the grocery store at Easter and they have the peeps and you redeem the peeps with perfect, entire, exact, perpetual obedience.
When you go to the grocery store and you go to the produce section and it says organic, I want you to be thinking about biblical theology, the sweep of things.
Every time you see that word organic, because that's the word that Pat's use and Mike's use for biblical theology.
And again, biblical theology isn't the Bible's theology. It's this not point in time kind of theology, but this grand sweep of redemption.
Organic, natural development unfolding. There you go. Thanks for listening and being a part of the
Pactiverse. You can find us online on Instagram and Twitter. You can be emailing us, connect at thepactim .org.
We'll see you next week on The Pactim. Bye.