Report from John Hepp, Jr., April 2006
Nature of My Ministry
In the Past. After graduating from Dallas Theological Seminary in 1956, I served awhile as interim pastor in a Hispanic church in Dallas. Later my wife Billie and I were asked by Central American Mission (now CAM International) to help begin a Bible School in Puebla, Mexico. By early 1959 we had moved there, where we worked in Spanish for twelve school years. That school (Instituto y Seminario Biblico) continues today.
In 1971 I accepted a call from TEAM to develop a Bible school curriculum in English, called LIT International (Leadership Instruction & Training). On college-entry level, LIT was carefully designed for self-study by students abroad who have learned English. Hundreds have studied LIT courses in India, Trinidad, and elsewhere. The first courses were nearly all based on existing texts; later we began to write our own texts. From Van, Texas I have written and/or edited all the extant courses. I continued this project until recently, even after it was transferred to Source of Light Mission and after I retired from TEAM. Currently LIT’s future is in doubt.
In the Present. Billie was taken to be with the Lord on February 6, 2006. I had the privilege of ushering her through her final illness and death, which glorified the Lord, as she wished. Every day now finds me deeply grieving my loss.
However, I must consider why the Lord left me behind. Probably one reason was for me to finish writing more Bible studies that show the unity of God’s revelation. Therefore, I have just finished my Survey of Romans while teaching that epistle to some teachers. It is available on the website my son Brad has set up: www.kingdominbible.com. I chose that title because the kingdom is the Bible’s major theme in both testaments. My general study of the kingdom (to be revised soon) shows how it ties the Bible together. I understand the kingdom the same way George N. H. Peters, Alva McClain, and Stanley D. Toussaint do. This view comes from the Bible itself, not from modern theology, which is often “christoplatonic” (Randy Alcorn’s word).
Fairly Recent Modifications of My Doctrinal Views
In general my theological framework has not changed; it is built on “literal” (normal) interpretation of Scripture. In details, however, I have modified and sharpened many views, as every constant Bible student and writer will do. Consider the last part of each of these three examples.
- As promised, God will give the nation of Israel a glorious and eternal future. First they will repent and Messiah will baptize them in the Spirit, as He does us now. Echoing the Old Testament, that baptism was promised for Israel in all four Gospels and Acts. In our case it makes us part of Messiah’s body, the ekklesia, which will rule with Him forever. Will it do the same for Israel? Of course!
- In Isaiah 65 and 66 “new heavens and new earth” describes even the first stage (the millennium) of the coming eternal kingdom. Therefore, we must not assume that it refers only to the perfected stage of that kingdom (that is, after the millennium) in 2 Peter 3 and Revelation 21.
- The Book of Romans was not written to present the gospel to the unsaved. That is done quite well in the four Gospels and Acts. Instead, the theme of Romans is the power of the gospel —not what it is but why it works!