Monday, August 19, 2019

Is Penal Substitutionary Atonement Cosmic Child Abuse?

        Liberal theologians object to penal substitution on the grounds that no just legal system would ever try an innocent victim in the place of wrenched criminals. It is claimed that the doctrine portrays God as some vengeful and bloodthirsty tyrant who wants to punish His Son for crimes that He never even committed. In other words, a philosophical objection to penal substitution is that this theory of atonement undermines God's love and righteousness.

        First and foremost, it needs to be understood that Jesus Christ, being God in the flesh, took the punishment of sin upon Himself. The Godhead paid off our infinite debt of sin so that we did not have to suffer eternal condemnation. Our problem is that we have sinned against God, who is holy. So He as a result of His love enabled a means of redemption through the shed blood of His Son Jesus Christ.

         Jesus, knowingly and willingly, took on human flesh to make atonement for our sins (John 10:17-18). He died to make reparation for our sins and to bring glory to the Triune God. The members of the Trinity worked together as one to bring about our salvation. So, the claim that penal substitution is cosmic child abuse is a false analogy by its very nature. Our forgiveness came at a great expense: the death of God the Son. He was raised bodily from the grave to bring about our justification (Romans 5:18-19).

         If God does not punish the ungodly, then He cannot simply be regarded as morally right and fair. He would be compromising His holiness if He left evil to its own device. Sin results in judgement, and there is no reason for God not to do so (Ezekiel 18). If God has love for the ungodly, then it follows that there must also be a way for Him to satisfy His justice. There has to be grounds on which God can forgive us. Love is not a weakness in God's character. Neither is mercy incompatible with vengeance and judgement. Jesus Christ, being without sin, was qualified in every way to bear the punishment and guilt of sin on our behalf. The court room language has a considerable connection with Christ's atoning sacrifice, but does not fit every element of His atoning work.

Christ Is Reconciling All Things To Himself

[Colossians] 1:20 to reconcile all things to Himself. Christ is the remedy for alienation from God, and eventually all things will be changed and brought into a unity in Him, even though this will involve judgement (1 Cor. 15:24-28).

1:24 Because of the union of believers with Christ, Paul's sufferings for the sake of the church can be called Christ's afflictions as well.

1:25 the stewardship, assignment, office (1 Cor. 4:1).

1:26-27 the mystery. The secret unknown in OT times but known now only by divine revelation of the indwelling of Christ. See note on Eph. 3:3

1:28 Complete. Mature. The word was used by the mystery religions to designate those who had been initiated into the "secrets" of those religions. In Christ all can have wisdom and maturity.

The Ryrie Study Bible [New American Standard Bible], p. 1476

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Comments On The Greek Term Kenosis As Found In Philippians 2:5-11

[Philippians] 2:5-11 This passage on the humility of Christ is the high mark of the epistle. Unlike the informal, conversational style of the rest of the letter, verses 5-11 are highly polished. It is also noteworthy in that they convey in a few verses Paul's conception of the uniqueness of the person and work of Christ. Paul's point is that the disposition, the temper, of church members ought always to be that of Christ's.

2:6 In the form of God. Christ is the same nature and essence as God. to be grasped. The verse may be paraphrased: "Who, though of the same nature as God, did not think this something to be exploited to His own advantage."

2:7 emptied Himself. The kenosis (emptying) of Christ during is incarnation does not mean that He surrendered any attributes of deity, but that He took on the limitations of humanity. This involved a veiling of His preincarnate glory (John 17:5) and the voluntary nonuse of some of His divine prerogatives during the time He was on earth (Matt. 24:36). form. The same word as in verse 6. He was completely God and truly man. To deny either the deity or humanity of Christ requires denying the other.

2:8 a cross. I.e., a cross kind of death, the most despicable.

2:9 Through self-denial and obedience Christ won sovereignty over all peoples and things (v. 10).

The Ryrie Study Bible [New American Standard Bible], p.1469-1470

Friday, August 16, 2019

An Answer For Catholic Answers On Sola Scriptura And 1 Corinthians 4:6

  • Defining The Issues:
          -Roman Catholic apologist Patrick Madrid once wrote an article for Catholic Answers titled Going Beyond in response to a Protestant minister, who apparently claimed in a letter that the text of 1 Corinthians 4:6 "fits the bill" to save the doctrine of Sola Scriptura from "the realm of myth". Mr. Madrid proposed a number of objections against the citation of 1 Corinthians 4:6 as being an argument in defense of Sola Scriptura, all of which will be addressed in this article. If the entailments of Sola Scriptura (perspicuity, material sufficiency, formal sufficiency, and ultimate authority of Scripture) can be demonstrated from Scripture, then Patrick Madrid's position on the placement of biblical authority in the Christian church ("three-legged stool", meaning Scripture has equal authority with Sacred Tradition and the Magisterium) is in utter jeopardy. Without a doubt, 1 Corinthians 4:6 does "fit the bill" for the validation of Sola Scriptura. That passage most certainly weakens the Roman Catholic concept of tradition.
  • Presenting The Case For Sola Scriptura From 1 Corinthians 4:6:
          -The Church of Corinth was starting to obey the commandments of men, rather than the teachings of God as presented through divine Scripture. In other words, many brethren in the congregation to whom this epistle was addressed were guilty of living according to the flesh. The Corinthian Christians were divided into factions over morals, doctrine, and who their rightful leader was (1 Corinthians 1:10-13). Thus, the Apostle Paul wrote (Scripture) to help the people who constituted the Church of Corinth change their ways of living and thinking to conform to the will of God. The inspired author of the epistle desired that they be like minded in Jesus Christ.
          -In the previous context of this epistle, the Apostle Paul figuratively spoke of the apostles as being fellow servants and custodians of the gospel. He did so with the intention of explaining to the Corinthian Christians their designated purpose, preaching the gospel. This was done because the church of Corinth had elevated the status of the apostles and their closest associates to a level which they were not. They were simply human beings, as were the Christians being addressed in the epistle. The people of the first century who advanced the Cause of Christ were instruments used to accomplish God's purpose. While Paul had described himself and his fellow Christian laborers as planting the seeds of spiritual conversion in the minds of the doubting and unbelieving, he gave all the credit and glory to God for success in ministry (1 Corinthians 3:5-15). While the apostles planted, God was causing the growth. It is only by the power of God that the apostles were able to carry out their mission in the efficacious manner as they did. So let us not be puffed-up (as were the Christians at the church of Corinth) with so-called human wisdom (1 Corinthians 3:3-4). Dependency on God leads to true humility, as well as repentance from sin.
          -The Corinthian Christians needed to depend on the wisdom of God, not man. In other words, they needed to learn how to keep their thinking in alignment with God's will as revealed through the Bible. The church of Corinth needed to only use the written Word of God as the standard of judging leaders in the church. Furthermore, the message set forth by Paul in 1 Corinthians 4:6 can definitely be applied to the Christian church as a whole today.
          -Many professing Christians evaluate the quality of authoritative figures in the church by using factors such as humor, how they persuade, how they entertain, how they look, and by their intelligence. These points of consideration, however, are completely unbiblical standards by which we judge the validity of ministry and thus violate the principle set forth by the Apostle Paul in this text. Neither should we elevate ministers to a status that is not scripturally warranted. Furthermore, we have been instructed to formulate every doctrine off the teachings of the Bible. That is precisely of Paul's phrase: "not to think beyond what is written". Scripture is not the only source of authority, but is the ultimate standard of authority by which all things are tested. The Apostle Paul was using Scripture as the means of addressing issues such as pride, selfishness, and worldly wisdom. In other words, 1 Corinthians 4:6 prescriptively assumes the principle of Sola Scriptura as being necessary for the establishment of sound doctrine. It contains a general principle by which we are to observe. Any teaching that is not contained in Scripture did not originate from the Spirit of God.
          -The church of Corinth was beginning to follow unbiblical standards to judge the apostles, and was morally perverted. Thus the church had developed bitter contentions. This is a direct mirror reflection of the church's condition in modern times. But if Christians stay within the boundaries of scriptural revelation, then schisms will not develop because we could not muster enough pride to elevate the reputation of mere human beings to scripturally forbidden levels and follow man made traditions which in reality nullify the commandments of God. Scripture is what keeps our thinking in accordance to God's will. It is the source of doctrinal certitude. It equips the man of God for every good work. Consequently, rightfully practicing Sola Scriptura should produce doctrinal unity in the shining light of the gospel.
  • Is The Phrase "What Is Written" Mentioned In 1 Corinthians 4:6 An Allusion To The Book Of Life?:
          -Roman Catholic apologist Patrick Madrid mentions the fact that some biblical commentators have interpreted the phrase "what is written" as being a reference to the Book of Life (Revelation 20:12). This interpretation is rooted in the point that the four previous verses of the context superficially mention the concept of divine judgment. But connecting the phrase "what is written" with the "Book of Life" is highly problematical, since it would involve the Apostle Paul instructing the Corinthian Christians to not go beyond a book that they never even had access to in the first place. The Book of Life is located by God's throne in His heavenly kingdom. What is even more, is that the only place in Scripture where Paul had ever mentioned the Book of Life was very briefly in Philippians 4:3. In light of all this, it would be most reasonable to identify "what is written" as being a reference to Scripture . Other Bible versions render the phrase in 1 Corinthians 4:6 differently. The King James Version translates it to be, "not to think of men above that which is written." The New American Bible translates the phrase in question to be, "not to go beyond what is written." The New International Version translates it as, "Do not go beyond what is written." The Everyday Bible translates it as, "Follow only what is written in the Scriptures." The New Jerusalem Bible translates it to be, "Nothing beyond what is written." The text of 1 Corinthians 4:6 is quite straightforward in that it is referring to Scripture. It is abundantly clear that the inspired author of the epistle was assuming the principle of Sola Scriptura. On the contrary, the Church of Rome flatly contradicts the scriptural pattern set forth by the apostle in this verse because it elevates the authority of men to unbiblical levels and has throughout history defined the meaning of several dogmas that far transcend the boundaries of written revelation. But why would God want us to go beyond any book inspired by Him, anyway?
  • The Footnotes Of The Roman Catholic New American Bible Identify The Phrase "What Is Written" In 1 Corinthians 4:6 To Be Scripture. So Catholics Cannot Simply Claim That The Text Being Discussed At Hand Is Speaking Of The Book Of Life:
          -"That you may learn from us not to go beyond what is written...It probably means that the Corinthians should avoid the false wisdom of vain speculation, contending themselves with Paul's proclamation of the cross, which is the fulfillment of God's promises in the Old Testament (what is written). Inflated with pride: literally, 'puffed-up,' i.e., arrogant, filled with a sense of self-importance. The term is particularly Pauline, found in the New Testament only in 1 Cor 4, 6. 18-19; 5, 2; 8, 1; 13, 4; Col 2, 18 (ch the related noun at 2 Cor 12, 20). It sometimes occurs in conjunction with the theme of 'boasting,' as in vv 6-7 here."
  • The Author Of The Article At Catholic Answers Claims That Citing 1 Corinthians 4:6 As Biblical Support For Sola Scriptura Would Also Require (Logically Speaking) Rejecting The Inspiration Of Subsequent Canonical Writings Which Comprise The New Testament:
          -It needs to be understood that the Old Testament was sufficient, but not the exhaustive content of divine revelation. In other words, the Old Testament Scriptures are sufficient for the establishment of doctrine. Jesus Christ Himself always appealed to the Scriptures as the final court of authority in spiritual matters. That is in fact the constant pattern recorded in Scripture. In truth, a logical parallel can be formulated to demonstrate the logically absurd nature of this objection to the citation 1 Corinthians 4:6 in favor of Sola Scriptura: "the present pope does not have the authority to infallibly define doctrine because there are future successors yet to be elected." The point is that the effectiveness of authority is not determined by its extent. Scripture has always been a sufficient rule of faith. The phrase "what is written" cannot simply be limited to the Old Testament writings, but Scripture in general. If the canon of Scripture is still open, then it follows that more divine revelation will be communicated in writing. It is not as though the apostles did not believe their writings to be divinely authoritative. All Scripture is breathed out by God (2 Timothy 3:16). Moreover, Jesus Christ rebuked the so-called "Jewish Magisterium" of His day for its failure to understand the biblical doctrine regarding the resurrection of the dead (Matthew 22:32). Indeed, the Roman Catholic view of authority is identical to that of the Scribes and Pharisees whom Christ had rebuked (Matthew 15:1-9; Mark 7:1-13). Contrary to the bold proclamations of Roman Catholic apologists on the issue of Sola Scriptura, the text of 1 Corinthians 4:6 affirms in a straightforward manner the ultimate authority of Scripture: "not to exceed what is written."
  • Evaluating The Roman Catholic Case For Sacred Tradition:
          -Roman Catholic apologist Patrick Madrid objected to 1 Corinthians 4:6 as being supportive of Sola Scriptura on the grounds that the Apostle Paul taught orally to first century Christian churches (1 Corinthians 11:2). However, the underlying problem with this objection is that Sola Scriptura is not a denial of authoritative oral traditions. It is not a denial that the Word of God was once communicated orally. Furthermore, we cannot know which traditions are inspired apart from Scripture. Neither can it be proven that the references to traditions by the apostles were different in substance from what is taught in written revelation. The Bible is sufficient to reveal all the things that we need to know concerning salvation. Quite frankly, there is no reason for Roman Catholics to conclude the text of 1 Corinthians 4:6 to be obscure when the Apostle Paul mentions tradition. That is simply a false dilemma. All these passages are crystal clear. Interpreting them in a literal sense does not result in a contradiction. These "traditions" are not mysterious or extra-biblical. And we know beyond any shadow of a doubt that the phrase "what is written" is a reference to Scripture. The point of the apostles mentioning tradition was not to substantiate any notion of a twofold partim source of divine revelation, but to distinguish their doctrines from the teachings of apostates who claimed to accurately represent the gospel. We know that the apostles received divine teachings from God, whereas traditions upheld by Roman Catholicism such as the Immaculate Conception (1854 A.D.) and Assumption of Mary (1950 A.D.) are obviously of spurious origin.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

A Simple Rejoinder To The Roman Catholic Marian Interpretation Of Luke 1:28

  • Discussion:
          -Roman Catholics commonly appeal to the text of Luke 1:28 as biblical evidence for their Mariology, which is presented as follows:

          "And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

          In response, it should be pointed out that women in the Old Testament Book of Judges are also referred to as "most blessed":

          "Blessed above women shall Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite be, blessed shall she be above women in the tent." (Judges 5:24)

          Surely, Roman Catholics would not argue that these women were immaculately conceived and assumed bodily into heaven.

          Obviously, the mere fact that Mary was called "blessed" by the Angel Gabriel is not an acceptable justification for the Roman Catholic Church's teachings concerning her.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Archaeological Discovery Helps Prove Babylonian Conquest Of Israel

The current find is one of the oldest and perhaps the most prominent in its historical significance, as the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem is a major moment in Jewish history.

Archaeologists have unearthed evidence pointing to the validity of the Babylonian Conquest of the Holy City of Jerusalem in 587/586 BCE, as described by the Bible, according to a release published earlier this week.

A team of researchers from the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, who have been excavating the hill known as Mount Zion in Jerusalem, say they have discovered arrowheads dating from the period, layers of ash, Iron Age potsherds, as well as a "significant" piece of jewelry - a gold silver tassel or earring - archetypal of the period in question.

"The team believes that the newly-found deposit can be dated to the specific event of the conquest because of the unique mix of artifacts and materials found -- pottery and lamps, side-by-side with evidence of the Babylonian siege represented by burnt wood and ashes, and a number of Scythian-type bronze and iron arrowheads which are typical of that period," the UNC archaeological team wrote in a statement.

The Mount Zion Archaeological Project is co-directed by UNC Charlotte professor of history Shimon Gibson, Rafi Lewis, a senior lecturer at Ashkelon Academic College and a fellow of Haifa University, and James Tabor, UNC Charlotte professor of religious studies. The group has been working in the area for more than a decade and has made numerous significant finds relating to the ancient city's many historical periods.

In July 2019, the archaeologists found evidence concerning the sack of the city during the First Crusade.

The current find is one of the oldest and perhaps the most prominent in its historical significance, as the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem is a major moment in Jewish history. The researchers say that the unique mix of artifacts and materials found, together with the way they were found - covered in layers of ash - solidify both the time period and that there was some type of destructive event that took place at that time.

"Alternative explanations for the artifacts can be eliminated," the researchers claim in their release. "Nobody abandons golden jewelry and nobody has arrowheads in their domestic refuse. Frankly, jewelry is a rare find at conflict sites, because this is exactly the sort of thing that attackers will loot and later melt down.

Gibson explained that the arrowheads are known as "Scythian arrowheads," and have been found at other archaeological conflict sites from the 7th and 6th centuries BCE.

"They were fairly commonplace in this period and are known to be used by the Babylonian warriors," he explained. "Together, this evidence points to the historical conquest of the city by Babylon because the only major destruction we have in Jerusalem for this period is the conquest of 587/586 BCE."

The potsherds help date the discovery further, considering the lamp shards found are typical to the period.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Romans 10:9-10 And Public Confession

       "If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved." (Romans 10:9-10)

       What is the relationship between salvation and confession? The connection between believing on Jesus Christ and publicly confessing His name is that both are perfectly consistent with each other. We confess His name by faith. Confession is not a meritorious deed. Confession is not something that we attach to faith as a requirement or prerequisite for salvation. It is not something that completes salvation. Rather, confession is simply an expression of faith. The baptism of the Ethiopian eunuch illustrates this point quite well (Acts 8:34-39).

        Audible confession of Christ's Lordship is evidence of a changed heart, as such will certainly bring about persecution. In context, the Apostle Paul is giving particular emphasis to the simplicity of receiving the righteousness of God. The gospel message is so simple that even children can properly make sense of it. Receiving His forgiveness comes by faith, not by keeping the Law. We are saved because God is gracious. We are to place our trust in the work of His Son Jesus Christ. The object of our faith is Him. The foundation of our hope is Him. And a saving faith comes through the preaching of the gospel (Romans 10:14-17).

        Justification before God is by faith alone, apart from the merit of good works. However, faith and works cannot be totally divorced from each other. If we have a heartfelt faith which results in salvation, then it follows that we will also recognize our need for a Savior. That is brought about through the repentance of sin. A faith that reflects trust in God cannot exist apart from repentance. So there can be no salvation apart from confession. All of this is simply inherent characteristics of a saving faith and the fruit of a regenerate heart. These things are inextricably connected. The Apostle Paul is not hereby placing faith and confession in a sequential or chronological fashion, but resorting to parallelism. The Reformation Study Bible has this useful footnote:

        "10:9, 10 confess . . . believe . . . believes . . . confesses. In the parallelism of v. 10 Paul reverses the order of verbs in v. 9 and thereby indicates that heart-belief and mouth-confession belong together for justification (“righteousness”) and salvation."

Monday, August 12, 2019

Celibacy Advances The Priesthood's Culture Of Compromised Truths

In the 2015 movie "Spotlight," the voice of Richard Sipe (played by Richard Jenkins) says over the speaker phone, “If you really want to understand the crisis, you need to start with the celibacy requirement.” He continues, “That was my first major finding. Only 50% of the [Catholic] clergy are celibate. Now, most of them are having sex with other adults. But the fact remains that this creates a culture of secrecy that tolerates and even protects pedophiles."

Sipe, the former priest and psychologist, who died in August 2018, devoted much of his life to the psychological treatment of priests. He wrote extensively on priestly celibacy. In 1990, he published A Secret World: Sexuality and the Search for Celibacy. He estimated then that at any given time only 50% of priests, monks and bishops are actually celibate. This contributes to a culture of mendacity (lying).

In a 2016 letter to San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy, Sipe wrote:

Sooner or later it will become broadly obvious that there is a systemic connection between the sexual activity by, among and between clerics in positions of authority and control, and the abuse of children. … When men in authority — cardinals, bishops, rectors, abbots, confessors, professors — are having or have had an unacknowledged-secret-active-sex life under the guise of celibacy, an atmosphere of tolerance of behaviors within the system is made operative.

In other words, priests and bishops are not going to expose others because they may be guilty themselves. The recent cases of former cardinal Theodore McCarrick and Bishop Michael Bransfield of West Virginia prove this point. How could they rise so high and allegedly endure so long in their double lives? Perhaps because people who knew were also compromised by sexual activity.

Related: The priesthood is being crucified on the cross of celibacy

In our 2016 novel Strange Gods: A Novel About Faith, Murder, Sin and Redemption, which I wrote with Msgr. Jack Myslinski, the character of Msgr. Matthew Ackerman says:

The problem is being celibate. Celibacy turns us all into liars. … The whole thing is built on mendacity. …

Celibacy leaves a wound. Some people kid themselves into thinking it doesn't, but it does. You try to compensate, but you are never really whole. Some priests drown their sorrows in alcohol or pills. A lot of them overeat and get obese. … Some guys travel all the time to escape. Others take secret lovers. Some redecorate the rectory over and over again. That's a classic clerical tradition, decorating. Just look at all the frescoes in the Vatican. It's a kind of retail therapy that has been going on for centuries.

Again, the cases of McCarrick and Bransfield illustrate this "celibacy wound" compensation. Both men decorated lavishly and traveled luxuriously. Both allegedly carried on secret sexual liaisons, evidently trying to heal their "celibacy" wound.

In 1994, I wrote an article about celibacy for The Washington Post following several priest sexual scandals in Washington. I said then:

In light of recent sexual scandals involving priests, I find some skepticism about priestly celibacy. Among skeptics, I get one of two reactions. Some people think priest are liars. Others think we are fools. Some of the time, of course, they are right.

Don't think that this is just an American problem. It is a universal problem as scandals in Poland, Ireland, France, India, Philippines, Kenya, Congo, and Costa Rica, etc. have shown. In Africa, where some of the fiercest defenders of celibacy are to be found, it is widely reported that priests routinely live double lives, keeping "secret" families in homes far from their parishes.

On June 1, The Washington Post reported that Fr. Peter Njogu is publicly leading a breakaway Renewed Universal Catholic Church in Kenya over the issue of celibacy. He is married and has established himself as a bishop of a schismatic church. Twenty priests have followed him along with more than 2,000 Catholics in several congregations. He said in The Post, "They (his followers) are tired of the hypocrisy. Some of our people call us the 'Church of the Future.' " Njogu says that other priests tell him, "The problem with you is that you went public. And I say, 'I am not the problem: I am the solution. Join me.' "

In Latin America I have encountered the same phenomenon. People openly express skepticism about celibacy because they know or suspect that Padre has a secret family. Look at Legionaries of Christ founder Marcial Maciel Degollado, who had not one but two secret families in Mexico.

Celibacy is not essential to holiness. Many saints were married and had children. The Second Vatican Council said there is a universal call to holiness. If celibacy were essential to holiness, then most of the church could not be holy. Sex is an essential part of holiness in the sacrament of matrimony. We say that marriages are "consummated" by a sexual relationship.

Celibacy is not essential to Catholic priesthood. It is only mandated in two of the 24 "autonomous churches" in communion with Rome; the Latin Rite and the Ethiopian Rite. All of the others — the Ukrainian Rite, Syrian Rite, Maronite Rite, Coptic Rite, etc. — allow their priests to marry prior to ordination. Are 22 churches of the East not also holy?

St. Peter was not celibate. Much of the clergy for the first 1,000 years of Christianity were not celibate.

Celibacy was not mandated for diocesan clergy until the first Lateran Council (1123) and reaffirmed by the second Lateran Council (1139). Both of those decrees were brought on by the fact that many clergy, especially in rural areas, had wives or concubines. Often they gave church property to their families. Celibacy then was honored more in the breach than the observance.

At least seven popes were married. Several others had children either before or during their papacies. Pope Julius II, the pope who commissioned Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel, fathered three daughters. There was even a father and son pope combination, Pope Hormisdas (514-523) who was father to Pope Silverius, (536-537) who himself fathered an illegitimate daughter.


Today we have many married priests in the Roman Rite who have come to us from the Anglican or Lutheran traditions. The Washington Archdiocese, like many American dioceses, has several married priests who were first ordained in the Episcopal church and then received into the Roman church. If they can be married, why not others?

Luke 17:7-10 Is Biblical Support For Justification By Faith Alone

  • For The Professing Christians Who Try To Refute The Doctrine Of Justification By Faith Apart From The Merit Of Works (Sola Fide), They Need To Consider The Text Of Luke 17:7-10:
           -“Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’” (Luke 17:7-10)

          The Lord Jesus Christ was in this passage speaking in regard to our faith. Christians in fulfilling the process of disciplining do not claim for themselves God's kindness and favor. Believers are simply doing as He had commanded them, independently of whether the quality of their work is that of perfection. It is not by good works that we earn the right to approach God. Rather, such is granted to us through His Son Jesus Christ.

          We are mere servants of God, who will reward us for our holy conduct in this life. All growth that we experience in sanctification is a result of His divine grace. Any and all blessings that we receive are from Him. Our good works have no value in of themselves. Self-righteous or vainglorious thoughts should be absent from our minds in obeying our Master. Our good works cannot contribute to our salvation, nor should they be done just to satisfy inner longings for admiration and approval.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

One Of The Greatest Questions Ever Asked

        "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Mark 8:36-37)

        We live in a culture that is obsessed with material gain. Many in human civilization waste hordes of time daily on keeping up with the latest fashion trends or vehicle models. Commercials that we hear on the radio and on television oftentimes announce various ways to improve the quality of virtually every facet of our lives. Businesses concentrate on accumulating large masses of wealth. Gullible customers concentrate on getting the best material items possible. This all points to the fact that an inherent part of human nature is a desire to find a source of ultimate fulfillment.

        There is one thing of utmost importance that society has totally overlooked, however. That is the Person of Jesus Christ as proclaimed through the gospel. The vast majority of people in society seem to be utterly oblivious to or unconcerned regarding their sinful condition and need of a Redeemer. This is the underlying reason that should motivate us to preach God's Word to this lost world. Moreover, our Lord Jesus Christ eloquently and with great simplicity made known the futility of striving to reach top dog status according to worldly standards.

        Even if a person became so popular that he or she could instantaneously claim possession of the entire world, that position of earthly supremacy would be worthless in the sight of God. Nothing is more precious than the human soul. Nothing in this life should be considered more important than our eternal destiny, for the things of this world are passing away before our very eyes. We must seek and worship God on His own terms. If people do not repent at the preaching of the gospel, then they will perish for all eternity. Material possessions can always be stolen or destroyed. We cannot take them with us into the supernatural realm. All things created by man rightfully belong to God alone, since He at the beginning of time formed all the particulates which constitute the composition of everything that we can observe. He even gave us the ability to grow in intellect and capabilities.

        If a person gathers from this lecture that we cannot find enjoyment in the things we do have, then he or she has misunderstood this message. The idea being stressed here is that we are not to allow our material possessions to rule over us. We are not to allow ourselves to become preoccupied with them to the point where they control our lives. In that case, possessions become idols and demons. Our chief focus should be on God who is above. We should thank Him continually for the things that we do have, as He has the power to take everything away just as quickly as He imparted those same gifts to us. We should be rejoicing in Him continually. The material achievements of man are as a small island in comparison to the oceans of eternity. Our hope should rest on the solid foundation of the eternal promises set forth by Jesus Christ.