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The Apologetics of A B Bruce

Best remembered for his biblical expositons on the life of Jesus with His first disciples, The Training of the Twelve (1871), described by Dr. W. H. Griffith Thomas as 'one of the great Christian classics of the nineteenth century', his contribution to the field of apologetics should not be entirely forgotten. After sixteen years' service as a parish minister, he worked, from 1875 until his death, as Professor of Apologetics and New Testament Exegesis at the Free Church Divinity Hall, Glasgow (Trinity College). His interest in apologetics arose out of an early experience of wrestling with doubt which produced in him a particular sensitivity to the doubts of others. He was deeply affected by D. F. Strauss's Life of Jesus (English translation, 1846), an anti-supernatural approach which portrayed the gospel history as a collection of myths. Responding to Strauss's radically liberal approach, he placed a heavy emphasis on the historical reliability of the New Testament. His concentration on this issue was so great that other matters of apologetic interest were largely overlooked. A liberal evangelical, his work was received with suspicion in more conservative circles, e.g. the hostile reaction within his own communion to his book. The Kingdom of God (1889). Typical of this conservative criticism was B. B. Warfield's contention that he conceded too much to unbelief. Also disconcerting to conservative critics was the favourable reception of his works of New Testament scholarship, e.g. St. Paul's Conception of Christianity (1894) and The Epistle to the Hebrews: The First Apology (1899), among liberal critics from Germany. Conservative fears about his liberal views were increased with the posthumous publication of his article on 'Jesus' in Encyclopaedia Biblica (1901). The fact that his major work on apologetics - Apologetics or Christianity Defensively Stated (1892) - is nowhere near as well known as his work on the training of the twelve suggests that much, if not all, of his work on apologetics is now regarded as being somewhat dated.

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God continues to carry forward His great purpose of salvation.

Genesis 16:1-16
We move from salvation and the assurance of salvation to Satan and the activity of Satan. Sarai came with temptation - "Why don't you sleep with my slave? Maybe I can build a family through her." Abram gave in to temptation -"Abram agreed with Sarai (Genesis 16:2). The evil influence of Sarai continued: "Sarai mistreated Hagar so much that she ran away" (Genesis 16:6). When we read of Satan and his activity, we must not imagine, for a moment, that Satan wins the victory over the Lord and His purpose of salvation. This becomes clear as the story develops. The Lord's purpose will not be thwarted by the activity of Satan. The "Almighty Lord" will be victorious. This chapter ends with the birth of Ishmael. It is not a high- point in the purpose of God. It is a sign that Satan is trying to overthrow God and His gracious purpose. This leads to a 13-year gap in God's speaking to Abraham (Genesis 16:16-17:1), but that…

Isaac and Jesus

Genesis 22:1-24
Abraham was prepared to sacrifice Isaac - "You did not refuse to give Me your son, your only son" (Genesis 22:12). God did give His only Son for us - "God did not spare His only Son but handed Him over to death for us all" (Romans 8:32). While there may be comparisons made between the sacrifice of Isaac and the sacrifice of Jesus, we must emphasize the great difference - the sacrifice of Isaac did not happen, the sacrifice of Jesus did. For Isaac, there was a way out. For Jesus, there was no other way. Abraham's faith was proved genuine without the sacrifice of Isaac. Our faith only becomes a reality through the sacrifice of Christ (Galatians 2:20-21; Galatians 3:13-14).