Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Is Homosexuality A Sin That God Cannot Forgive?

        "[Pastor Steven] Anderson rejects the ex-gay movement because he believes in a reprobate doctrine that homosexuals cannot cease to be homosexual because they have been turned over to a "reprobate mind," and seeks instead to kill homosexuals under what Anderson describes as a "righteous government." (https://www.conservapedia.com/Steven_Anderson)

        Scripture reserves the Kingdom of God for any and all people who place their trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross (John 3:16; Acts 16:31; 1 John 1:7-9). The only factor that would exclude one from salvation would be unbelief. Our Savior is greater than the sin that separates us from God.

       In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, the Apostle Paul provides a list of sins that are damning, if not repented of. Homosexuality is one of them. In verse 11, he said of his audience, "Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ..." Thus, we have a clear disproof of the notion that homosexuals are beyond the forgiveness of God.

Saturday, November 7, 2020

A Commentary On Romans 3:24-26

(1.) It is for the glory of his grace (Romans 3:24): Justified freely by his grace--dorean te autou chariti. It is by his grace, not by the grace wrought in us as the papists say, confounding justification and sanctification, but by the gracious favour of God to us, without any merit in us so much as foreseen. And, to make it the more emphatic, he says it is freely by his grace, to show that it must be understood of grace in the most proper and genuine sense. It is said that Joseph found grace in the sight of his master (Genesis 39:4), but there was a reason he saw that what he did prospered. There was something in Joseph to invite that grace but the grace of God communicated to us comes freely, freely it is free grace, mere mercy nothing in us to deserve such favours: no, it is all through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ. It comes freely to us, but Christ bought it, and paid dearly for it, which yet is so ordered as not to derogate from the honour of free grace. Christ's purchase is no bar to the freeness of God's grace for grace provided and accepted this vicarious satisfaction.

(2.) It is for the glory of his justice and righteousness (Romans 3:25,26): Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation, &c. Note, [1.] Jesus Christ is the great propitiation, or propitiatory sacrifice, typified by the hilasterion, or mercy-seat, under the law. He is our throne of grace, in and through whom atonement is made for sin, and our persons and performances are accepted of God, 1 John 2:2. He is all in all in our reconciliation, not only the maker, but the matter of it--our priest, our sacrifice, our altar, our all. God was in Christ as in his mercy-seat, reconciling the world unto himself. [2.] God hath set him forth to be so. God, the party offended, makes the first overtures towards a reconciliation, appoints the days-man proetheto--fore-ordained him to this, in the counsels of his love from eternity, appointed, anointed him to it, qualified him for it, and has exhibited him to a guilty world as their propitiation. See Matthew 3:17,17:5. [3.] That by faith in his blood we become interested in this propitiation. Christ is the propitiation there is the healing plaster provided. Faith is the applying of this plaster to the wounded soul. And this faith in the business of justification hath a special regard to the blood of Christ, as that which made the atonement for such was the divine appointment that without blood there should be no remission, and no blood but his would do it effectually. Here may be an allusion to the sprinkling of the blood of the sacrifices under the law, as Exodus 24:8. Faith is the bunch of hyssop, and the blood of Christ is the blood of sprinkling. [4.] That all who by faith are interested in this propitiation have the remission of their sins that are past. It was for this that Christ was set forth to be a propitiation, in order to remission, to which the reprieves of his patience and forbearance were a very encouraging preface. Through the forbearance of God. Divine patience has kept us out of hell, that we might have space to repent, and get to heaven. Some refer the sins that are past to the sins of the Old-Testament saints, which were pardoned for the sake of the atonement which Christ in the fulness of time was to make, which looked backward as well as forward. Past through the forbearance of God. It is owing to the divine forbearance that we were not taken in the very act of sin. Several Greek copies make en te anoche tou Theou--through the forbearance of God, to begin Romans 3:26, and they denote two precious fruits of Christ's merit and God's grace:--Remission: dia ten paresin--for the remission and reprieves: the forbearance of God. It is owing to the master's goodness and the dresser's mediation that barren trees are let alone in the vineyard and in both God's righteousness is declared, in that without a mediator and a propitiation he would not only not pardon, but not so much as forbear, not spare a moment it is owning to Christ that there is ever a sinner on this side hell. [5.] That God does in all this declare his righteousness. This he insists upon with a great deal of emphasis: To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness. It is repeated, as that which has in it something surprising. He declares his righteousness, First, In the propitiation itself. Never was there such a demonstration of the justice and holiness of God as there was in the death of Christ. It appears that he hates sin, when nothing less than the blood of Christ would satisfy for it. Finding sin, though but imputed, upon his own Son, he did not spare him, because he had made himself sin for us, 2 Corinthians 5:21. The iniquities of us all being laid upon him, though he was the Son of his love, yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him, Isaiah 53:10. Secondly, In the pardon upon that propitiation so it follows, by way of explication: That he might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth. Mercy and truth are so met together, righteousness and peace have so kissed each other, that it is now become not only an act of grace and mercy, but an act of righteousness, in God, to pardon the sins of penitent believers, having accepted the satisfaction that Christ by dying made to his justice for them. It would not comport with his justice to demand the debt of the principal when the surety has paid it and he has accepted that payment in full satisfaction. See 1 John 1:9. He is just, that is, faithful to his word.

Excerpts taken from Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Freedom And Liberation From The Law

[Romans 7] 7:25 The Law is holy and its commandment is holy and just and good (12). But sin, that diabolic power, manifests itself in its true colors (12) by using just that good Word of God to rouse in man the dormant will of opposition to God which destroys him. Paul illustrates this working of the Law (as misused by the power of sin) from his early life (7-13). Paul also shows us the working of the Law from his own experience with the Law as a Christian (14-25). It was contact with the Law, confronting him as the commandment, that first gave sin its deadly power in his life (9-11). Paul as a Christian, when confronted by the Law, becomes a man rent by an agonizing struggle (14-24) from which only Christ can and does release him from this hard fought struggle (25).

Martin Franzmann and Walter H. Roehrs, Concordia Self-study Commentary [commentary on Romans], p. 131

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Love One Another As Christ Has Loved Us

"The “as I have loved you” part of the command is not an issue of degree (“as much as I have loved you”) but an issue of relationship (“in the same way that I loved you”). When so understood, the command can be fulfilled. The Lord was saying, “Just as my love held you together in the past, so now in my absence, your love for each other must hold you together. You are family.” It is in this sense that His words can be called a charter for the local church. His words were a command because He wanted them to stop competing and start teaming up like brothers. His words were a provision because He knew they would need each other after He went away. They would not be alone. They would have each other. If they would stand together as brothers, they could withstand the attacks of the enemy and spread the Gospel far and wide. Their love and unity would show the world that they were His disciples (v. 35)."

Understanding the Church, by Joseph M. Vogl and John H. Fish III, p. 104-105

Monday, October 19, 2020

How The Gospel Brings About Unity

"One of the defining characteristics of modern cults is the turning of the convert against his family, and the cutting off of that convert from his parents. The true gospel does not do that. We teach young converts to honor their fathers and mothers, even when those parents oppose the Gospel. Unlike the modern cults, the alienation comes only when unbelieving parents disown, expel, or disenfranchise believing children. In such cases, the family of the local assembly is all the more important. The original family has cast out the new believer."

Understanding the Church, by Joseph M. Vogl and John H. Fish III, p. 98

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Pillar And Ground Of The Truth

"The word pillar (στῦλος, stylos) would have special significance to the Ephesians in that their city was the site of the Temple of Diana which had 127 marble pillars upon which announcements were regularly affixed. The local church was a pillar upon which the truth was to be held up that all might see it. By “truth” (ἀληθεία, alētheia) Paul means the full revelation of God in Christ as [1 Timothy] verse 16 makes clear...The church is a household called to manifest the truth in its message and to conform to it in its conduct. Paul adds that the church is the “support” or buttress (ἑδραίωμα, hedraiōma) of the truth. The church, the Apostle implies, exists to maintain the faith and protect it from all danger."

Understanding the Church, by Joseph M. Vogl and John H. Fish III, p. 49

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Office Of Overseer Or Overseership In 1 Timothy 3:1?

 "It should be noted that 1 Timothy 3:1 does not use the term "office." The term ἐπίσκοπος ("office of overseer," NASB) is rare in secular Greek and never has the sense of "office." Knight (The Pastoral Epistle, 153) has "position of overseer." The NIV is perhaps best: "If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer...." As Schweizer (Church Order in the New Testament, 171-80) notes, nowhere in the New Testament do the apostles refer to elders or deacons as "officers." This is striking in that the Greek language has a wealth of terms for “office” or “officer,” e.g. ἀρχή (“one at the head, ruler”), ἄρχων (“ruler”), τιμή (“position of dignity”), τέλος (“power of office”), λειτουργός (“priestly office”), πρᾶξις (“public office”), ἱερατεία (“priest’s office”). The caution of the apostles is due to the fact that they viewed the work of elders and deacons as tasks, functions or ministries, not as official platforms that distinguished the leaders from the people in a clergy-laity fashion. If by office, however, one simply means a formally recognized position with appropriate duties, then the elders and deacons were “officers” in the church. Cf. David Mappes, “The New Testament Elder, Overseer, and Pastor,” BS 154 (April 1997): 169."

Understanding the Church, by Joseph M. Vogl and John H. Fish III, p. 41

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Would Jesus Have Us Submit To The Roman Catholic Magisterium In Order To Properly Understand Scripture?

        The Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church says the following in regards to the role of who interprets Scripture: 

        "The task of interpreting the Word of God authentically has been entrusted solely to the Magisterium of the Church, that is, to the Pope and to the bishops in communion with him." (CCC # 100)

        "The mission of the Magisterium is linked to the definitive nature of the covenant established by God with his people in Christ. It is this Magisterium's task to preserve God's people from deviations and defections and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the true faith without error. Thus, the pastoral duty of the Magisterium is aimed at seeing to it that the People of God abides in the truth that liberates." (CCC # 890)

        The reasoning comprising the above quoted excerpts runs contrary to how Jesus Christ Himself addressed people and false teaching. He made individuals interpret Scripture for themselves and held them accountable when they applied them wrongly.

        Jesus Christ expected an expert in the Law to properly interpret Scripture for himself (Luke 10:26). He asked His challenger, "What is written in the law?"

        Jesus held the Pharisees accountable for their misinterpretation of the Scriptures in regards to working on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:3-5). He asked them, "Have you not read in the Law?"

        Jesus expected the Pharisees to interpret the Scriptures for themselves when He answered them on the matter of marriage and divorce (Matthew 19:5). He asked them, "Have you not read...?"

        Christ answered the Sadducees on marriage and the resurrection of the dead (Matthew 22:22-32). He told them that they neither understood Scripture nor the power of God. He asked them, "Have you not read?"

        After telling the Parable of the Tenants, Jesus asked those who had listened to Him, "Did you never read in the Scriptures?" (Matthew 21:42) 

        If Jesus Christ restricted private interpretation of Scripture to an elitist church hierarchy, then His questions would have been meaningless. He never pointed anyone to an office to be infallibly taught biblical doctrine. He made people interpret Scripture for themselves rather than simply spoon-feeding them divine truth.

        The Apostle Paul in Galatians 1:6-12 subjugated angels and apostles themselves to a standard of divine revelation as he said "even if we" in condemning false gospels. We clearly must resort to the use of our own reasoning faculties in order to test the messages of ministers. The substance of teaching has greater weight than the one who teaches.

       Christ defeated the devil by appealing to Scripture three times, "It is written" (Matthew 4:1-11). Why not emulate His perfect moral example in spiritual discernment? If a child like Timothy could understand Scripture (2 Timothy 3:15), then why cannot the same be true of us?

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Non-Christians And Church Attendance

"Nowhere in the New Testament is there any indication that the church met to preach the gospel. Rather the church met to worship, to teach the word, to pray, to have fellowship. The meeting of the church was to edify believers and to glorify God. But it was not to preach the gospel to unbelievers. Rather the saints went out into the world to preach the gospel. … there is no biblical mandate for an “evangelistic service” when the church comes together. There is a mandate to equip the saints to preach the gospel. The work of Christians is not to invite unbelievers to church so that they might hear the gospel. It is to preach the gospel themselves."

Understanding the Church, by Joseph M. Vogl and John H. Fish III, p. 132

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Conversion Entails Spiritual Change

"If conversion to Christianity makes no improvement in a man’s outward actions—if he continues to be just as snobbish or spiteful or envious or ambitious as he was before—then I think we must suspect that his “conversion” was largely imaginary; and after one’s original conversion, every time one thinks one has made an advance, that is the test to apply. Fine feelings, new insights, greater interest in “religion” mean nothing unless they make our actual behavior better; just as in illness “feeling better” is not much good if the thermometer shows that your temperature is still going up."

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, p. 207

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Dave Armstrong's Utter Hypocrisy On Sola Scriptura And Private Interpretation

        Roman Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong claims that Sola Scriptura is not an adequate means of resolving heresy and mentions William Lane Craig's upholding of Monothelitism as an example to prove his point:

        "The Protestant appeals to his own (sometimes heretical) interpretation of Scripture, which for him trumps any apostolic tradition of the Church; thumbing his nose even at (Craig’s phrase) “Nicene orthodoxy.” It’s a prime example of how sola Scriptura can lead to heresy (has no final answer against it): even very serious heresy involving the theology of God: theology proper, and Christology. This is what can and does happen by denying the infallibility of the Church and ecumenical councils."

        The irony of Dave Armstrong's reasoning is that he himself appeals to the Scriptures in refuting this christological heresy:

       "Jesus distinguishes His human will from His Divine Will, but completely subordinates the former to the latter. According to Ludwig Ott in Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma (p. 148), here are the scriptural proofs of the orthodox Catholic (and mainstream Protestant) position (with one or two of my own added) [Matthew 26:39; Luke 22:42; John 5:30; 6:38; John 4:34; 5:19; 8:29; 14:31; Romans 5:19; Philippians 2:8; Hebrews 10:9; John 10:18; Matthew 7:21; 12:50; 18:14; John 6:39-40; etc.]."

        If the principle of Sola Scriptura is inadequate to address Monothelitism, then what purpose or reason is there for this Roman Catholic apologist to use Scripture to refute this theology? He is, in essence, contradicting himself. His argument is self-refuting.

        The only way Scripture alone would be insufficient to refute Monothelitism is if it had nothing to say on that subject at all. However, plenty of arguments against this doctrine can be made from Scripture itself and thus it is sufficient to address heresy.

Examining The Catholic Doctrine Of The Real Presence In Light Of Scripture

        "Christ becomes present in the Sacrament of the Altar by the transformation of the whole substance of the bread into His Body and of the whole substance of the wine into His blood...This transformation is called Transubstantiation.” (Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, p. 379)

        The Apostle Paul's language of "proclaim His death" and "until He comes" (1 Corinthians 11:26) logically suggests that the body of Jesus Christ is physically absent from the world at this point in time. He will return again to establish everlasting peace. If transubstantiation is true, then this passage of Scripture has been violated and devoid of substance because Christ would be coming down from heaven on a daily basis by the command of ordained ministerial priests.

        The Lord Jesus Christ told His disciples that they would not see Him in the flesh after His ascension into heaven (John 7:33; 16:10; Acts 1:8-9). If He comes down from His throne at the command of a priest, then He would be contradicting Himself because He would be descending on a daily basis for believers to behold under the appearance of bread and wine.

        Paul stated that Christ is sitting at the right hand of God the Father (Colossians 3:1). If he believed in the Roman Catholic doctrine of the real presence, then it would have been perfectly reasonable for him to provide an exception to that idea. But he does not. Paul said elsewhere, "...even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer." (2 Corinthians 5:16).

        If belief in the real presence of Jesus Christ during communion is meant to be an article of the Christian faith, then why is this notion not found in the biblical accounts of the Last Supper? These contexts do not say anything about Him being physically present in the church in future generations. In fact, Jesus warned His disciples of people who would claim to have encountered Him after His physical departure from this world and to not be fooled by seemingly miraculous signs performed in such scenarios (Matthew 24:23-26).

        What can be inferred from the text of Scripture is Christ being present amongst believers in a spiritual sense (Matthew 18:20; 28:20). He is made present in our minds as we bring into remembrance the significance of His atoning work. Christ does not need to come down from heaven to be orally consumed in order to impart grace or nourish our faith.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Distinguishing Between Water Baptism And Baptism Of The Holy Spirit

Which Spirit also filled John the Baptist even from his mother’s womb; and it fell upon those who were with Cornelius the centurion before they were baptized with water. Thus, cleaving to the baptism of men, the Holy Spirit either goes before or follows it; or failing the baptism of water, it falls upon those who believe.

Anonymous Treatise on Re-baptism (254-257 A.D.)

Friday, September 25, 2020

One Reason Baptismal Regeneration Is False

"And what wilt thou determine against the person of him who hears the word, and haply taken up in the name of Christ, has at once confessed, and has been punished before it has been granted him to be baptized with water? Wilt thou declare him to have perished because he has not been baptized with water? Or, indeed, wilt thou think that there may be something from without that helps him to salvation, although he is not baptized with water? They thinking him to have perished will be opposed by the sentence of the Lord, who says “Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father which is in heaven;” because it is no matter whether he who confesses for the Lord is a hearer of the word or a believer, so long as he confesses that same Christ whom he ought to confess...therefore nobody can confess Christ without His name, nor can the name of Christ avail any one for confession without Christ Himself."

Anonymous Treatise on Re-baptism (254-257 A.D.)

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Why People Need Not Be Baptized Twice

And so there was this same presumption concerning Christ in the mind of the disciples, even as Peter himself, the leader and chief of the apostles, broke forth into that expression of his own incredulity. For when he, together with the others, had been asked by the Lord what he thought about Him, that is, whom he thought Him to be, and had first of all confessed the truth, saying that He was the Christ the Son of the living God, and therefore was judged blessed by Him because he had arrived at this truth, not after the flesh, but by the revelation of the heavenly Father; yet this same Peter, when Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders, and priests, and scribes and be killed, and after the third day rise again from the dead; nevertheless that true confessor of Christ, after a few days, taking Him aside, began to rebuke Him, saying, “Be propitious to thyself: this shall not be;” so that on that account he deserved to hear from the Lord, “Get thee behind me, Satan; thou art an offence unto me, because he savoured not the things which are of God, but those things which are of men.” Which rebuke against Peter became more and more apparent when the Lord was apprehended, and, frightened by the damsel, he said, “I know not what thou sayest, neither know I thee;” and again, when using an oath, he said this same thing; and for the third time, cursing and swearing, he affirmed that he knew not the man, and not once, but frequently denied Him. And this disposition, because it was to continue to him even to the Lord’s passion, was long before made manifest by the Lord, that we also might not be ignorant of it. Again, after the Lord’s resurrection, one of His disciples, Cleopas, when he was, according to the error of all his fellow-disciples, sorrowfully telling what had happened to the Lord Himself, as if to some unknown person, spoke thus, saying of Jesus the Nazarene, “who was a prophet mighty in deed and in word before God and all the people; how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and fastened Him to the cross. But we trusted that it had been He which should have redeemed Israel.” And in addition to these things, all the disciples also judged the declaration of the women who had seen the Lord after the resurrection to be idle tales; and some of them, when they had seen Him, believed not, but doubted; and they who were not then present believed not at all until they had been subsequently by the Lord Himself in all ways rebuked and reproached; because His death had so offended them that they thought that He had not risen again, who they had believed ought not to have died, because contrary to their belief He had died once. And thus, as far as concerns the disciples themselves, they are found to have had a faith neither sound nor perfect in such matters as we have referred to; and what is much more serious, they moreover baptized others, as it is written in the Gospel according to John.

Anonymous Treatise on Re-baptism (254-257 A.D.)

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

The Example Of the Apostles As An Argument Against Baptismal Regeneration

"...but all the disciples, to whom, though already baptized, the Lord afterwards says, that “all ye shall be offended in me,” all of whom, as we observe, having amended their faith, were baptized after the Lord’s resurrection with the Holy Spirit…the baptism of water, which is of less account provided that afterwards a sincere faith in the truth is evident in the baptism of the Spirit, which undoubtedly is of greater account."

Anonymous Treatise on Re-baptism (254-257 A.D.)

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Baptism Is Not A Requirement For Salvation

And there will be no doubt that men may be baptized with the Holy Ghost without water, as thou observest that these were baptized before they were baptized with water; that the announcements of both John and of our Lord Himself were satisfied, forasmuch as they received the grace of the promise both without the imposition of the apostle’s hands and without the laver [baptismal font], which they attained afterwards. And their hearts being purified, God bestowed upon them at the same time, in virtue of their faith, remission of sins; so that the subsequent baptism conferred upon them this benefit alone, that they received also the invocation of the name of Jesus Christ, that nothing might appear to be wanting to the integrity of their service and faith.

Anonymous Treatise on Re-baptism (254-257 A.D.)

The Forgiveness Of God For Lapses In Faith

And now blush if thou canst, Novation; cease to deceive the unwary with thy impious arguments; cease to frighten them with the subtlety of one particular. We read, and adore, and do not pass over the heavenly judgment of the Lord, where he says that He will deny him who denies Him. But does this mean the penitent? And why should I be taking pains so long to prove individual cases of mercies? Since the mercy of God is not indeed denied to the Ninevites, although strangers, and placed apart from the law of the Lord, when they beseech it on account of the overthrow announced to their city. Nor to Pharoah himself, resisting with sacrilegious boldness, when formerly he was stricken with plagues from heaven, and turning to Moses and to his brother, said, “Pray to the Lord for me, for I have sinned.” At once the anger of God was suspended from him. And yet thou, O Novation, judgest and declarest that the lapsed have no hope of peace and mercy.

A Treatise Against the Heretic Novatian by an Anonymous Bishop

Monday, September 21, 2020

Atheism And The Origin Of Life

  • The Big Bang Theory:
         -States that the universe began as a very hot, small, and dense ball of cosmological matter, called a singularity, which expanded and transformed into what we call the universe. The universe is continuing to cool down as it continues to spread out further.
          *Why did this happen?
          *Where did the particles of matter which helped to cause the explosion of matter come from? How did everything originate? Something cannot come from nothing.
          *What caused the big bang to go into motion? Something cannot put itself into motion.
          *It would be more reasonable to believe in an uncreated first cause, God.
  • Oscillating Universe Theory:
         -States that the universe expands from a singularity, collapses back again, and repeats the same cycle for all eternity.
          *The universe is not closed and consequently continues to expand outward. In fact, the accelerating force has kept on increasing. We have no evidence for a decreasing speed.
          *A beginningless series of events is logically impossible. The concept of an eternal universe is irrational at face value, for that would mean we could never have reached a point in time when this paper could be written.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

John 6:47 And Soul Sleep

If "a person" ends at death there can be no such thing as "eternal life" for persons who die. Those persons are gone, period. This is not the teaching of the New Testament. Jesus said,

Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life (Jn. 6:47).

In Greek, "has" is present, indicative active, indicating eternal life is a present reality.

Dale Ratzlaff, Truth about Adventist "Truth," p. 63

Answering Jimmy Akin On Sola Scriptura And The Bereans

  • Discussion:
          -Roman Catholic apologist Jimmy Akin wrote an article on the text of Acts 17:11-12 as it relates to Sola Scriptura and why he thinks that text should not be cited to support the doctrine. Following are his remarks alongside with a critique:

          "...the contrast isn’t between the skeptical Bereans, who insisted on Scriptural proof of what Paul was saying, and the credulous Thessalonians, who accepted it without question. Instead, the contrast is between the open-minded Bereans, who were willing and eager to examine the Scriptures and see if what Paul was saying was true, versus the hostile Thessalonians, who started a riot and got Paul in trouble with the authorities, even though he had proved from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ."

          Acts 17:11-12 does indeed support Sola Scriptura in that the Bereans had tested the validity of the Apostle Paul's message by comparing it to the Old Testament Scriptures. If this method of discernment is not allowable, then it would make no sense at all for Luke to give these people a good reputation by calling them noble. Contrasting the response of certain people from Thessalonica does not change the argument. In fact, the context records Paul himself as appealing to those same Scriptures as the final court of authority in debating Jews (Acts 17:1-3).

          "There is also another reason why this passage isn’t a good proof text for sola scriptura, which is this: The Christian faith contains doctrines that aren’t found in the Old Testament. What’s why even those who favor doing theology “by Scripture alone” don’t favor doing it “by the Old Testament alone.” While the Old Testament does contain prophecies that point forward to Jesus as the Messiah, the Christ, it doesn’t contain the whole of the Christian faith."

          Saying that Paul and Silas did not have a compiled New Testament in their hands is nothing but a red herring. The fact that Jesus Christ was proven from the Old Testament to be the promised Jewish Messiah does not refute Sola Scriptura. The original intent of an author does not rule out a present application to broader conditions. It is therefore not out of bounds to cite Acts 17:11-12 as a supporting text for Sola Scriptura. It can be inferred from this text that written revelation is the only safe and reliable guide for doctrine. The question regarding the extent of the canon, while related, is a separate issue.

          The Bereans had used the Old Testament Scriptures to discern the message delivered by Paul and Silas. They had a love for God and His Word in their hearts. The Scriptures were read and searched out by these people in humility and eagerness. However, in Roman Catholicism it is maintained that scriptural proof is not necessary in order for a dogma to be true. The "laypeople" are not allowed to interpret Scripture for themselves:

          "The task of interpreting the Word of God authentically has been entrusted solely to the Magisterium of the Church, that is, to the Pope and to the bishops in communion with him." (CCC # 100)

          This kind of ideology is not in line with what we see taking place during the encounter with the Bereans and them accepting the gospel message. Paul did not direct these people to an infallible teaching office in order for them to test the validity of his message. The Old Testament Scriptures were sufficient for the purposes of Paul as he witnessed to the people as they verified the message that he delivered.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Why God Cannot Tolerate The Presence Of Sin

        There are many idols in our society. One in particular that is prevalent throughout the world of evangelicalism is a god who cannot render judgement because of his love and thus condones sin. Is such a deity even worthy of paying homage to?

        If God is unable to judge sinners as a result of being overwhelmed by sentiment, then He must be a weak and miserable God. He would be slave to His emotions. If God were to accept the sinful ways of mankind, then He would cease to be righteous and just. He would be very much like us.

        Such a portrayal of God does not come about in consequence of thinking critically about the biblical text and taking it in its entirety. The love of God is made evident as He provides for both the just and the unjust:

        "...for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." (Matthew 5:45)

        If, however, we fail to take into account the character of God in its entirety, then we will inevitably reach a wrong conclusion as to who He is and worship a false god. It is a truth that God judges the wicked (Revelation 20). He is holy by His very nature.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Christ Our Wisdom And Righteousness

        "But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption." (1 Corinthians 1:30)

        Jesus Christ is the fountainhead of salvation and all graces that follow from therein. He is the outward manifestation of God's love and mercy.

        He imparts to us wisdom regarding salvation, which is demonstrated through His work on the cross.

        We receive a righteous standing before God on the basis of Christ's imputed righteousness.

        Sanctification is progressive. Redemption refers to our future glorification where we will be made perfect as Christ Himself is perfect.

        In the Old Testament, the Law is called wisdom and righteousness (Deuteronomy 4:6; 6:25). Christ is our wisdom and righteousness.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

A Backdrop For Understanding Eating Flesh And Drinking Blood In John 6

These ideas would be quite normal to anyone brought up in ancient sacrifice. The animal was very seldom burned entire. Usually only a token part was burned on the altar, although the whole animal was offered to the god. Part of the flesh was given to the priests as their perquisite; and part to the worshipper to make a feast for himself and his friends within the temple precincts. At that feast the god himself was held to be a guest. More, once the flesh had been offered to the god, it was held that he had entered into it; and therefore when the worshipper ate it he was literally eating the god. When people rose from such a feast they went out, as they believed, literally god-filled. We may think of it as idolatrous worship, we may think of it as a vast delusion; yet the fact remains these people went out quite certain that in them there was now the dynamic vitality of their god. To people used to that kind of experience a section like this presented no difficulties at all.

Further, in that ancient world the one live form of religion was to be found in the Mystery Religions. The one thing the Mystery Religions offered was communion and even identity with some god. The way it was done was this. All the Mystery Religions were essentially passion plays. They were stories of a god who had lived and suffered terribly and who died and rose again. The story was turned into a moving play. Before the initiate could see it, he had to undergo a long course of instruction in the inner meaning of the story. He had to undergo all kinds of ceremonial purifications. He had to pass through a long period of fasting and abstention from sexual relationships.

At the actual presentation of a passion play everything was designed to produce a highly emotional atmosphere. There was carefully calculated lighting, sensuous incense, exciting music, a wonderful liturgy; everything was designed to work up the initiate to a height of emotion and expectation that he had never experienced before. Call it hallucination if you like; call it a combination of hypnotism and self hypnotism. But something happened; and that something was identity with the god. As the carefully prepared initiate watched he became one with the god. He shared the sorrows and the griefs; he shared the death, and the resurrection. He and the god became for ever one; and he was safe in life and in death.

Some of the sayings and prayers of the Mystery Religions are very beautiful. In the Mysteries of Mithra the initiate prayed: "Abide with my soul; leave me not, that I may be initiated and that the holy spirit may dwell within me." In the Hermetic Mysteries the initiate said: "I know thee Hermes, and thou knowest me; I am thou and thou art I" In the same Mysteries a prayer runs: "Come to me, Lord Hermes, as babes to mothers' wombs." In the Mysteries of Isis the worshipper said: "As truly as Osiris lives, so shall his followers live. As truly as Osiris is not dead, his followers shall die no more."

We must remember that those ancient people knew all about the striving, the longing, the dreaming for identity with their god and for the bliss of taking him into themselves. They would not read phrases like eating Christ's body and drinking his blood with crude and shocked literalism. They would know something of that ineffable experience of union, closer than any earthly union, of which these words speak. This is language that the ancient world could understand--and so can we.

William Barclay, The Gospel of John (Volume 1), p. 221-223

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Does Unlimited Atonement Necessitate Universalism?

        Christ's death for all men denotes divine judgement to the same extant because we have all been commanded to repent and believe on the gospel (Mark 1:15; Acts 17:26-31).

        Just as the Jewish people had to look at the bronze serpent in order to be physically healed, so we must turn to Christ in order to have our spiritual infirmities removed (Numbers 21:9; John 3:14-16). Thus, no decision to receive salvation means no application of soteriological benefits.

        God made atonement even for those whom He foreknew would not repent because of His love and graciousness. He blessed Adam and Even in the Garden of Eden even though He knew beforehand that they would fall. He sent prophets to admonish the Jews even though He knew beforehand that they would reject them.

        God is, in the present tense, bringing about all things to His glory (Romans 8:28-30). If He specifically determined that the benefits of the cross be applied to all who repent and believe, then the gospel and His power are not undermined by belief in unlimited atonement.

Monday, September 7, 2020

A Biblical Presentation On The Doctrine Of Adoption

        Adoption is the act of God by which He considers us to be members of His eternal family. We are deemed His children by faith. Adoption is a legal term, figure of speech used to describe a change in our standing before Him. Like justification, it is an undeserved, unmerited favor of God:

        "But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God." (John 1:12-13)

        It is not by physical descent or by human efforts that one becomes a child of God, but by faith. He took action to redeem us by sending God the Son into this world. We obtain an inheritance in heaven that cannot perish or fade away.

        Interestingly, the New American Bible Revised Edition has this footnote on a manuscript variant reading of John 1:13:

        "...The variant “he who was begotten,” asserting Jesus’ virginal conception, is weakly attested in Old Latin and Syriac versions."

        The Apostle Paul used adoption as a metaphor to communicate that we as believers partake of the inheritance that belongs to Jesus Christ:

        "and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him." (Romans 8:17)

        "But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons." (Galatians 4:4-5)

        Christ has possession over everything. We shall partake in His glory and riches as we have been included as members of the kingdom of heaven (John 17:22; 2 Corinthians 8:9). We are adopted as children of God in Christ:

        "He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will." (Ephesians 1:5)

        His shed blood brings about both our justification and adoption by God the Father. We belong to Him and He belongs to us.

Saturday, September 5, 2020

More Than Conquerors In Christ

How has God shown himself to be "for us"? Verse 32 answers this with some of the greatest truths of the gospel. The Father did not spare His own Son! He "delivered Him over to us all." Interestingly the phrase "in our behalf" (ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν) is placed first, putting some kind of emphasis upon the substitutionary element of the atonement of Christ in behalf of "us." As Murray put it,

The Father contemplated all on behalf of whom he delivered up the Son in the distinctiveness of the sin, misery, liability, and need of each. If we had been submerged in the mass, if we had not been contemplated in the particularity that belongs to us, there would be no salvation. The Father had respect to all of us when he delivered up the Son.

The giving of the Son on behalf of God's people is the fullest, most inarguable demonstration of His being for us that could possibly be given. And in light of the giving of His Son in our place, does it not follow that He will not along with Him freely give us all things? His point is obvious: God is for us and will not withhold from us anything necessary to life and godliness. He has given us Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, who has become to us our all-in-all. Murry commented,

If the Father did not spare his own Son but delivered him up to the agony and shame of Calvary, how could he possibly fail to bring to fruition the end contemplated in such sacrifice. The greatest gift of the Father, the most precious donation given to us, was not things. It was not calling, nor justification, nor even glorification. It is not even the security with which the apostle concludes his peroration (vs. 39). These are favours dispensed in the fulfillment of God’s gracious design. But the unspeakable and incomparable gift is the giving up of his own Son. So great is that gift, so marvellous are its implications, so far-reaching its consequences that all graces of lesser proportion are certain of free bestowment.…Since he is the supreme expression and embodiment of free gift and since his being given over by the Father is the supreme demonstration of the Father’s love, every other.

James R. White, The God Who Justifies, p. 247-248

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Romans 3:22 And The Deity Of Christ

"A testimony to the deity of Christ is found in the use of the term "faith" here in Romans 3:22. When Paul speaks of saving faith in Romans 4:5, the object is "the God who justifies," and in context this would be the Father. Yet here we have saving faith expressed with the object being Jesus Christ. Surely such faith could not be placed in a mere creature."

James R. White, The God Who Justifies, p. 188

Monday, August 31, 2020

Does Hebrews 10:26-27 Teach That Apostates Cannot Be Forgiven?

        The Epistle to the Hebrews was originally addressed to Christian converts from a Jewish background. This is made evident by its preface: "...the fathers and the prophets" (Hebrews 1:1-2). 

        The overall context of Hebrews 10:26-30 regards those who were tempted to return to Judaism and thereby dismiss as inadequate the atonement of Jesus Christ for sin. That is the reason for the author exhorting his audience to keep a clean conscience and to not forsake the assemblies of God (Hebrews 10:19-25).

        The restoration of blood temple sacrifices and ordinances that were operative under the Old Covenant would entail rejecting the message of the gospel. All those things were mere pointers and found their fulfillment in Christ. 

        To reject the gospel would be the greatest act of insolence possible against God, and hence a terrifying expectation of judgement awaits those who deliberately do such a thing. That was the purpose of the author posing this vividly phrased rhetorical question:

        "Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?" (Hebrews 10:28-29)

        If a man does not have faith in Jesus Christ, then it goes without saying that he cannot be saved as long as he remains in that state of heart. God no longer accepts Levitical offerings. He has already made His plan of redemption fully known in Christ:

        "And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high." (Hebrews 1:3)

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Editors Should Pay Attention When King David Bursts Into News 3,000 Years Later

Merriam-Webster’s definition 2(b) of the term “peg,” as a noun states: “something (such as a fact or issue) used as a support, pretext, or reason,” for example “a news peg for the story.”

When it comes to media peg-manship and the Bible, it certainly appears that any old pretext will do.

Yet news pegs of any kind are remarkably absent with the most recent example of the genre, in The New Yorker dated June 29. The 8,500-worder by Israeli freelance Ruth Margalit consumes 10 pages of this elite journalistic real estate.

The cute headline announces the pitch: “Built On Sand.” Subhed: “King David’s story has been told for millennia. Archeologists are still fighting over whether it’s true.”

Was David the grand though flawed monarch the Bible depicts, or merely some boondocks bandit or sheik?

The debate affects current Israeli-vs.-Palestinian settlement politics, but in archaeology the last major news peg on David occurred 15 years ago while this pretext-free article appears in most news-crazed year imaginable.

That should tell media strategists something. Margalit’s reputation as a writer and skill at story pitches presumably helped, but the magazine’s editors knew that multitudes gobble up this stuff. The New Yorker’s long-form journalism is well suited to exploring such matters.

Pegs from the past? Any claims that David never even existed were all but eradicated by the 1993 discovery of the “House of David” inscription within a century of the king’s reign. A 1996 paper by Margalit’s central personality, Israel Finkelstein of Tel Aviv University, contended that though there was a David the Bible’s account of him is mostly exaggerated fiction. (Finkelstein later co-authored a 2006 book on this for popular audiences.)

Then in 2005, Eilat Mazar of Hebrew University made a dramatic announcement about unearthing what she believes is the foundation of David’s Jerusalem palace, indicating the grand scope of the Phoenecian building project the Bible describes. Finkelstein dissents.

Margalit is a sure-footed guide through these and other disputes among top archaeologists over the decades. She does not cite any Orthodox thinkers who accept the entirety of the Bible narrative as factual. The best scholarly book from that viewpoint is the readable “On The Reliability of the Old Testament” by British Egyptologist K. A. Kitchen of the University of Liverpool, a conservative evangelical.

Kitchen argues for the plausibility of David’s story in the context of broader Mideast history, surveys the scant material evidence, and explains why that’s so. An archaeologist’s maxim tells us “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” and Jerusalem’s many rounds of destruction reinforce the importance of the point.

Mazar depicted her find in 2006 for Biblical Archaeology Review, which followed with updates and coverage of archaeologists who doubt the claim.

Religion writers should be subscribers or at least familiar with this magazine, which is written for lay readers and blessedly free of technical jargon. It’s a prime source for keeping on top of new developments and story ideas in this field.

https://www.getreligion.org/getreligion/2020/6/30/editors-should-pay-attention-when-king-david-bursts-into-mainstream-press-3000-years-laternbsp

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Proclaiming The Lord's Death And Resurrection

And so he was lifted up upon a tree and an inscription was attached indicating who was being killed. Who was it? It is a grievous thing to tell, but a most fearful thing to refrain from telling. But listen, as you tremble before him on whose account the earth trembled! He who hung the earth in place is hanged. He who fixed the heavens in place is fixed in place. He who made all things fast is made fast on a tree. The Sovereign is insulted. God is murdered. The King of Israel is destroyed by an Israelite hand. This is the One who made the heavens and the earth, and formed mankind in the beginning, The One proclaimed by the Law and the Prophets, the One enfleshed in a virgin, the One hanged on a tree, the One buried in the earth, the One raised from the dead and who went up into the heights of heaven, the One sitting at the right hand of the Father, the One having all authority to judge and save, through Whom the Father made the things which exist from the beginning of time. This One is "the Alpha and the Omega," this One is "the beginning and the end." The beginning indescribable and the end incomprehensible. This One is the Christ. This One is the King. This One is Jesus. This One is the Leader. This One is the Lord. This One is the One who rose from the dead. This One is the One sitting on the right hand of the Father. He bears the Father and is borne by the Father. "To him be the glory and the power forever. Amen.

Melito of Sardis, On the Passover

Is The Church Spiritual Israel?

                                                        By Rev. Fred Klett

Much fuss has been made in our Jewish evangelism circles regarding "replacement" theology, the idea that the church has "replaced" the Jewish people in the plan of God. Some have even accused all who think New Covenant believers are "Spiritual Israel" as being guilty of this "replacement theology", that is, of replacing the Jewish people with the church. Charges have been made that this idea of "Spiritual Israel" leads to anti-semitism.

Ironically my first exposure to the idea of all believers being spiritually Israel came about through involvement in "Messianic Judaism"! Way back in 1975 I attended a seminar by Manny Brotman, president of the "Messianic Jewish Movement International" on "How to Share the Messiah". In the seminar notes I read: "When a Gentile asks the Messiah into his heart and life, he is accepting the Jewish Messiah, the Jewish Bible, and the Jewish blood of atonement and could be considered a proselyte to biblical Judaism and a child of Abraham by faith!" Isn't this essentially a statement of the "Spiritual Israel" idea?

Getting The Big Picture

We must submit our thinking to the scriptures and derive even our method of interpreting of the Bible from the Bible itself! We must learn how the text interprets itself! Many have not done this. We can't base our understanding of doctrine on "spiritual" intuition or emotional arguments. We must strive, asking wisdom from the Spirit, to interpret the word of God correctly, and this certainly means we submit to the approach used by the apostles the Messiah appointed to represent Him. And we must understand how the whole Bible fits together and derive our doctrine of Israel within that framework.

God has had one purpose and plan for mankind ever since the Fall: to restore a people for Himself from fallen humanity through Messiah Jesus. Because of the Fall of Adam we have all come under the curse of God, or as the Puritans put it "through Adam's Fall sinned we all". The Jewish people, and ultimately the Jewish Messiah, brought to the world the Abrahamic promise of blessing to redeem us from the curse of the Fall. Jesus brought the blessings of Abraham "first to the Jew" and then expanded the blessing "also to the Gentile" (see Galatians 3:14 and Romans 1:16). There are not two sets of Covenant promises and Covenant obligations, one for Jewish believers and one for Gentile believers, there is one New Covenant people and one faith (Eph. 2:16 and 4:5).

God has had but one program from the beginning: salvation through Jesus. God purposed to restore blessing once again to a cursed world. The core of the Abrahamic promise was to bring a restoration of blessing to all peoples through the seed of Abraham. This seed is ultimately the King of Israel, the Messiah. Psalm 72:17 tells us this by applying the very words of the Abrahamic promise to the Son of David: "May his name endure forever...all nations will be blessed through him, and they will call him blessed".

National and ethnic Israel can only find true meaning within the larger context of the renewal of all things through the Messiah. God's purposes are one. God created the Jewish people to bring Messiah to the world. You cannot divorce any of the promises to Israel from the "big picture" of redemption from the Fall through Messiah.

God has not withdrawn His promises to the Jewish people. Rather, Paul clearly tells us, "no matter how many promises God has made, they are "yes" in Messiah" (2 Cor. 1:20). The New Covenant promise of eternal life through faith in Jesus is greater than any other blessing of God ever given. Indeed this is the fulfillment of the blessing promised to Abraham. The curse of death and separation from God is overturned through Messiah. Paul clearly says "He redeemed us in order that THE BLESSING PROMISED TO ABRAHAM MIGHT COME TO THE GENTILES through Messiah Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit" (Galatians 3:14). Only through Jesus can people truly come to the blessings of Abraham, life in the Spirit.

Whether we are Jews by birth or Gentiles, we who trust Messiah Jesus have one common faith. As Paul put it "There is one body and one Spirit -- just as you were called -- one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in all." (Eph. 4:4-6)

Some Jews who are for Jesus call their movement "Messianic Judaism". A few of these Jewish believers distinguish "Messianic Judaism" from "Christianity". I believe it would be better theology to distinguish between a culturally Jewish expression of New Covenant Judaism and a culturally Gentile expression of New Covenant Judaism. Our New Covenant faith is the true, Biblical Judaism.

Gentiles who come to believe in the Jewish Messiah convert to Biblical Judaism! Our New Covenant faith is the fulfillment of the Old Covenant faith. Christianity is New Covenant Judaism, the true religion of the Jewish people -- even if most Jewish people don't know it yet! The concept of "Spiritual Israel" is a Biblical doctrine. It doesn't mean "replacement"...it means EXPANSION! God has joined Gentiles to the true faith of Israel --He has expanded the nation spiritually!

Kingdom Blessings Depend Upon Following The King

To be a member of a kingdom means to swear allegiance to its king. Jesus is the King of Israel and those who follow him are members of his kingdom. Consider the implications of these passages:

John the Baptizer, said: "For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham" (Luke 3:8).

The Scriptures teach that all those who believe are Jesus' brothers (Romans 8:29 and Hebrews 2:10-11). Jesus said "whoever who does God's will is my brother and sister and mother" (Mark 3:35). Jesus said he had other sheep, not of that flock (10:16). All believers are Jesus' family and the sheep of His flock.

Paul says Gentile believers are grafted in to the tree of Israel, become Abraham's children by faith, become heirs to the blessing of Abraham and are citizens of Israel (Romans 4:16-18; 11:17-21; Galatians 3:14; and Ephesians 2:19).

So, we see that every believer is a brother of Jesus, a child of Abraham, part of the flock of the Shepherd of Israel, grafted into the tree of Israel, an heir to the promise given to Abraham, and a citizen of the commonwealth of Israel! How wonderful to have become, spiritually, part of Israel!

The New Covenant

We are all covenant breakers before God. God made a covenant with Adam and we have all followed in the footsteps of our first father. What was said of Israel is also true of us "They like Adam have transgressed the covenant (1)". We can only be saved from the curse of the first covenant of Works made with Adam if God provides a Covenant of Grace for us. This is what is in focus in the covenant made with Abraham (2). The blessings promised to the nations refers to the reversal of the curse we came under through Adam. The New Covenant (3) brings to fruition the promise of blessing for the nations made to Abraham (4). Without the New Covenant all are in Adam and under the curse. Yet, the New Covenant is made with the house of Israel and the House of Judah (5)! Gentiles must join themselves to the Holy Nation in order to be a part of this covenant. Yet amazingly I have been told by an opponent of the "Spiritual Israel" doctrine that Gentile believers do not have the New Covenant! He told me that since the covenant was made with Israel only Jewish people have it! Oy Vey! Do you see where the denial of the doctrine of "Spiritual Israel" logically leads?

Can it really be doubted that all believers are spiritually Israel? The scriptures tell us that Gentile believers are spiritual members of the Jewish family of faith along with the remnant of Jewish believers, even if most of the natural family members have temporarily left the household of faith by rejecting the New Covenant. By adoption Gentiles come into a relationship with the Jewish people and so should have a concern for the estranged members of their own faith family, just as they should be concerned for the spiritual return of children of Christian parents who have departed from the faith.

How can anyone reasonably deny that through the great salvation provided through the Jewish Messiah, Gentile believers have become spiritually Israel? This is the truth Jesus taught and this is the doctrine Paul taught -- pretty good theological company to find oneself in!

A Key Passage: Romans 11

Though all believers are spiritually Israel, if we truly understand Romans 11 there should be no question about the fact that God still has a claim on the Jewish people. The natural children of Abraham are still in some way chosen because of the patriarchs, even in unbelief. He will restore the Jewish people to faith one day. Romans 11:28 clearly tells us "As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account, but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs." Consider these comments by leading Covenantal theologians:

John Calvin

"I extend the word Israel to all the people of God, according to this meaning, -When the Gentiles shall come in, the Jews also shall return from their defection to the obedience of faith; and thus shall be completed the salvation of the whole Israel of God, which must be gathered from both; and yet in such a way that the Jews shall obtain the first place, being as it were the first born in God's family.

...as Jews are the firstborn, what the Prophet declares must be fulfilled, especially in them: for that scripture calls all the people of God Israelites, it is to be ascribed to the pre-eminence of that nation, who God had preferred to all other nations...God distinctly claims for himself a certain seed, so that his redemption may be effectual in his elect and peculiar nation...God was not unmindful of the covenant which he had made with their fathers, and by which he testified that according to his eternal purpose he loved that nation: and this he confirms by this remarkable declaration, -that the grace of the divine calling cannot be made void. (6)"

Charles Hodge

"The second great event, which, according to the common faith of the Church, is to precede the second advent of Christ, is the national conversion of the Jews....that there is to be such a national conversion may be argued...from the original call and destination of that people. God called Abraham and promised that through him, and in his seed, all the nations of the earth should be blessed...A presumptive argument is drawn from the strange preservation of the Jews through so many centuries as a distinct people.

As the rejection of the Jews was not total, so neither is it final. First, God did not design to cast away his people entirely, but by their rejection, in the first place, to facilitate the progress of the gospel among the Gentiles, and ultimately to make the conversion of the Gentiles the means of converting the Jews...Because if the rejection of the Jews has been a source of blessing, much more will their restoration be the means of good...The restoration of the Jews to the privileges of God's people is included in the ancient predictions and promises made respecting them...The plan of God, therefore, contemplated the calling of the Gentiles, the temporary rejection and final restoration of the Jews...

He shows that the rejection of the Jews was not intended to result in their being finally cast away, but to secure the more rapid progress of the gospel among the heathen, in order that their conversion might react upon the Jews, and be the means of bringing all, at last, within the fold of the Redeemer...

The future restoration of the Jews is, in itself, a more probable event than the introduction of the Gentiles into the church of God. This, of course, supposes that God regarded the Jews, on account of their relation to him, with peculiar favor, and that there is still something in their relation to the ancient servants of God and his covenant with them, which causes them to be regarded with special interest. As men look upon the children of their early friends with kinder feelings than on the children of strangers, God refers to this fact to make us sensible that he still retains purposes of peculiar mercy towards his ancient people.

As the restoration of the Jews is not only a most desirable event, but one which God has determined to accomplish, Christians should keep it constantly in view even in their labors for the conversion of the Gentiles. (7)"

John Murray

"To the Jew first, and also to the Greek...It does not appear sufficient to regard this priority as that merely of time. In this text there is no suggestion to the effect that the priority is merely that of time. The implication appears to be rather that the power of God unto salvation through faith has primary relevance to the Jew, and the analogy of Scripture would indicate that this peculiar relevance to the Jew arises from the fact that the Jew had been chosen by God to be the recipient of the promise of the gospel and that to him were committed the oracles of God...

While it is true that in respect of the privileges accruing from Christ's accomplishments there is now no longer Jew or Gentile and the Gentiles "are fellow-heirs, and fellow-members of the body, and fellow-partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel" (Eph. 3:6), yet it does not follow that Israel no longer fulfills any particular design in the realization of God's worldwide saving purpose...

Israel are both "enemies" and "beloved" at the same time, enemies as regards the gospel, beloved as regards the election..."Beloved" thus means that God has not suspended or rescinded his relation to Israel as his chosen people in terms of the covenants made with their fathers.

Unfaithful as Israel have been and broken off for that reason, yet God still sustains his peculiar relation of love to them, a relation that will be demonstrated and vindicated in the restoration. (8)"

Geerhardus Vos

"The elective principle, abolished as to nationality, continues in force as to individuals. And even with respect to national privilege, while temporarily abolished now that its purpose has been fulfilled, there still remains reserved for the future a certain fulfillment of the national elective promise. Israel in its racial capacity will again in the future be visited by the saving grace of God [Rom. 11.2, 12, 25]....such conversions (of Jewish people) remain for the present but sporadic examples, though at bottom expressive of a divine principle intended to work itself out on the largest of scales at the predetermined point in the future. (9)"

Let us recognize with these great men of theology God's continuing love for the Jewish people, yet not center our theology on ethnic Israel. Speaking of "replacement theology", let's not replace Jesus with Israel, or even put it on an equal footing with him in the plan of God! (10)

God has not replaced the Jewish people with the church. Quite to the contrary, God has grafted Gentile branches into the tree of believing Israel, a tree made up of all true believers, both Jewish and Gentile, a tree rooted in the faith of the patriarchs (Romans 11:17-24). God has expanded Israel, not replaced it.

It precisely because of the fact that Gentile believers have been grafted into the tree of Israel, a tree foreign to their nature, that they have an obligation to the Jewish people, those natural branches which were cut off and which will be grafted in again. The doctrine of spiritual Israel should never be abused to imply God is finished with the Jewish people -- quite the contrary! It is expressly because of the truth of this doctrine we must stand by the natural branches and pray for their grafting in again!

And how foolish is any form of anti-semitism on the part of some so-called "Christian!" For a Christian to hate Jewish people is to hate his own adopted family and nation -- and even His own Jewish Lord and Savior!

Towards A Commonwealth Theology

How do we reconcile a view of the church being "Spiritual Israel" with a belief that God still has a place for the physical descendants of Abraham? This is where "Commonwealth Theology" comes in (11). The church might be compared to a commonwealth. Consider the British Commonwealth in it's heyday. Indians and Pakistanis became citizens of the British Commonwealth, even while living in India and Pakistan. These people were under the dominion of the King of Great Britain, and were therefore part of the Commonwealth. They weren't English, but they were British citizens. So it is with those who are ruled by the Jewish Messiah. Have they not submitted to the King of Israel? Are they not voluntary members of His Kingdom, under His rule and in His service? Those who believe have accepted Israel's King and are now members of His Kingdom, known as the Commonwealth of Israel. Israel is the Kingdom of the King of Israel. Ethnic Israel is at the core, it is the root (12), but the greater Commonwealth of Israel is made up of all who believe. Gentile believers are citizens of the commonwealth, even if not resident in the land and not physically "Jewish", just as one could be a citizen of the commonwealth of Great Britain without living in the British Isles and not being English, Scottish, or Welsh.

Spiritual Israel is made up of Jews and Gentiles submitting to the King of Israel. Physical Israel is made up of those who are Jewish, most of whom do not presently submit to the King. All who submit to the King are under His blessing. All who don't submit are not under His blessing and have cut themselves off from any participation in the eternal blessings of the Covenant of Grace. However God certainly seems to have a special place in His heart for the natives of the center of the original borders of the commonwealth, even in unbelief, just as the King of the British Isles would have a special place in his heart for natives of the British Isles and be more upset at their rebellion than at the rebellion of India or Pakistan. But rebellion is rebellion, whether conducted by natives of the home territories or members of the commonwealth. Ultimately, God's glory is at stake. Messiah will re-conquer his original territory for the sake of his own Glory. Tell me, how is such a concept in any way either showing an unbalanced ethnic favoritism on the one hand or anti-semitic on the other? Isn't this consistent with what Paul says in Ephesians 2:19? He says that Gentile believers are "no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people (13)".

Messiah, The True Israel

To expand Israel it first had to be narrowed down to one person. The scriptures teach that Jesus is the ultimate Israel. In Matthew 2:15 the Holy Spirit quotes a verse referring to national Israel "Out of Egypt I called my son" (Hosea 11:1) and says Jesus fulfills this prophecy! We are being told Jesus is the true faithful Israel of God. He alone is worthy of the covenant blessings. Messiah is the supreme seed of Abraham (Galatians 3:16). Paul explicitly says: "The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say `and to his seeds', meaning many people, but `and to his seed' meaning one person, who is Messiah". It is only through faith in Jesus that we come into the fullness of the promise to Abraham. This is to the Jew first, and also as for Gentiles.

Understanding The Prophets Biblically (Spiritually)

Alfred Edersheim, the greatest Messianic Jewish theologian ever, said:

"..we have the glowing descriptions by all the prophets, but especially in the Book of Isaiah, of the time of the new covenant, with its blessings to Israel and to mankind. That these bear reference to a spiritual world-wide dispensation in the Messianic days needs scarcely argument, any more than that all the conditions of it have been fulfilled in that dispensation which was introduced under the New Testament." (14)

Edersheim's statement that through the New Covenant we have come to the glorious fulfillment of Messianic promises given to Israel by the prophets is clearly true to the scriptures. Consider these Biblical truths:

Israel was told "the meek will inherit the land" (Psalm 37:11). Jesus said the meek would inherit the whole earth (Mt. 5:5). Paul says Abraham was to inherit "the world" (Rom. 4:13).

God promised Israel a city named Jerusalem. We are told we have come to a glorious heavenly Jerusalem, the community of the redeemed, superior (when seen through spiritual eyes) to anything experienced under the Old Covenant administration (Hebrews 12:22-23).

Paul says the true Jerusalem, the one which fulfills Isaiah 54, is the heavenly (spiritual) Jerusalem. (See how Isaiah 54:1 is interpreted in Galatians 4:26-27). This heavenly city, the church, is the congregation of the faithful (Hebrews 12:22-24).

Israel was promised a Temple; the New Covenant promises to both Jews and Gentiles (and still to the Jew first) that they can actually be the Temple! (1 Peter 2:5)

According to Isaiah 56:3 and the following verses Gentiles are admitted to God's people and come into the Temple. Hebrews says the old Temple has found fulfillment in the new. (See Hebrews 7:18, 8:13 and the whole rest of the book of Hebrews!)

Israel was promised a king -- God sent the world the King of Kings!

Certainly Edersheim was right to say of the New Covenant community: "all that had been national, preparatory, symbolic, typical, would merge into the spiritual reality of fulfillment." (15)

According to this great Jewish Christian theologian, the promises to national Israel have been realized in a glorious spiritual way through the Messiah! Even Rabbi Maimonides said: "All similar expressions used in connection with the Messianic age are metaphorical. In the days of King Messiah the full meaning of those metaphors and their allusions will become clear to all." (16)

Israel's Hope Fulfilled Beyond Expectation

Through Jesus we have more than could be conceived of by the prophets or their ancient readers. Peter says: "Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Messiah in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Messiah and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things" (1 Peter 1:10-12). Amazing! God says the Old Testament prophets were speaking us that salvation which we have received! Our current experience of salvation was spoken of by the Hebrew prophets!

Why didn't most Jewish leaders recognize it? They interpreted the promises in worldly terms rather than understanding the deeper spiritual meanings. This is still the case with the Orthodox rabbis today, who openly claim to be heirs to the Pharisees. The Orthodox rabbis today say God did not bring about the fulfillment of the messianic promises through Jesus, therefore either Jesus is not Messiah or God is a liar.

Did God fail to deliver what He promised to the Jewish people? Consider this example: What if you expected me to give you a hamburger and then I gave you filet mignon? What if you were told you would inherit an apple tree, but instead you inherited a whole glorious orchard? What if you thought I promised you $10, but then I delivered a million? What if I promised a child a typewriter when he turned 18 and when the time came I gave him the latest computer. Would I be a liar? No! When someone gives IMMEASURABLY MORE than that expected, the gift giver is no liar. God has given an even greater gift through Jesus, superior to what many think was promised!

Sadly, even many believers today do not fully understand how much greater the New Covenant redemption is that Jesus brought to Israel and the world. Why dine on hamburger when you can have filet mignon? Why settle for a single tree, when you can have the whole orchard? Why stress the $10 when there is $1,000,000 available? Why use an old Underwood manual typewriter when you can have the latest personal computer and laser printer? The Messiah and His Eternal Kingdom are the great blessings promised to Israel.

All of what God was doing in the Tenach (Old Testament) and all of the promises of God to bring redemption throughout the ages are centered in Jesus. "No matter how many promises God has made, they are "yes" in Messiah" (2 Cor. 1:20). God has something better in mind for the Jewish people, the $1,000,000 rather than the $10. Messiah offers the Jewish people (and Gentiles who believe) a greater redemption which makes the old look small in comparison.

The greatest gift and blessing of all is offered: eternal salvation through Jesus, the only name by which people can be saved. Through Messiah we are heirs to the glorious kingdom of the New Jerusalem (see Galatians 4:26 -- and notice carefully how Paul, under the Spirit's inspiration, interprets the original prophecy, Isaiah 54:1!)

The Kingdom of God is more magnificent than anything experienced under David. The past splendor of the Davidic kingdom is but a shadow of what God has done, is now doing, and will do through the Messiah (Hebrews 10:1). If we miss how God's promises reach their greater fulfillment in the New Covenant we rob Jewish and Gentile believers of a deeper understanding of the our glorious identity as sons of God through Messiah!

We must always be vigilant to combat the danger of diminishing the centrality of Jesus in the plan of God. Anything which takes the spotlight off of Jesus or diminishes the glory He is due should disturb us. Jesus alone saves us from death and Hell. He alone is the hope of the world. He alone should occupy the center of our theology. Nothing should ever take His place.

All creation groans in waiting for God's sons to be revealed. This will be the ultimate expression of the Passover liberation Messiah has brought. Renewal of all creation has already begun in those who believe -- and when Jesus returns He will liberate this creation from its bondage to decay (2 Cor. 5:17, Romans 8:17-23). The curse of the Fall is being replaced with the blessing of salvation as the kingdom of Messiah goes forward.

Let's affirm the great expansion of blessing the Messiah has brought. He has tremendously expanded the promises to Israel, and He has greatly enlarged Israel by bringing Gentiles into His spiritual commonwealth, the Kingdom of God. This was promised to Israel by Isaiah when he said "You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy...of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end" (9:3 and 7) and "Let no foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD say, `The LORD will surely exclude me from his people...these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer" (56:3 and 7). We have now come to "Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God...to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn..." (Hebrews 12:22-23)

Through Jesus Israel has been expanded in a glorious way, not replaced. Fulfillment of the promise to Abraham has come and will go forward until its completion when Messiah returns. Jesus must reign until all his enemies are placed under his feet. He will conquer all nations, including the Jewish nation with the gospel. Therefore, let us recommit ourselves to bringing the message of restoration to blessing "to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile"!

"You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy...For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be upon his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this." (17)

1. Hosea 6:7

2. Genesis 12:3 and 22:18.

3. Jeremiah 31:31ff

4. Galatians 3:14.

5. Jeremiah 31:31.

6. (Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. XIX, Epistle to the Romans, Baker Book House, 1981, p. 434-440.)

7. (Systematic Theology V.3, James Clark & Co. 1960, p. 805. and A Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, by Charles Hodge Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1836, pp. 270-285 passim. Now Published by Banner of Truth Trust)

8. (The Epistles to the Romans, John Murray, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1984, Vol. I, p. 28 and Vol. II pp. xiv-xv and 76-101, passim.)

9. (Biblical Theology, Old and New Testaments, by Geerhardus Vos (c)1948 Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Tenth Printing, page 79 and The Pauline Eschatology, by Geerhardus Vos, (c) 1979 Baker Book House, page 88.)

10. This is the sin of ethnolatry. Anything can become an idol, even good things, even Israel.

11. See Ephesians 2:12

12. Romans 11:18

13. I take the phrase "God's people" to mean Jewish believers in Jesus in tis context.

14. Quoted from Prophecy and History in Relation to the Messiah, Baker Book House, 1955, page 180.

15. Prophecy... page 174.

16. Speaking of Isaiah 11:6 "And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb". From Guide to the Perplexed, III, ch. 11; also II, ch. 29. Quoted in A Maimonides Reader, by Isadore Twersky, page 224, Behrman House Publishers, Copyright 1972.

17. Isaiah 9: verses 3, 6 and 7.

http://www.chaim.org/xpansion.htm

Monday, August 24, 2020

The Epistle To Diognetus And Penal Substitution

And so, when our unrighteousness had come to its full term, and it had become perfectly plain that its recompense of punishment and death had to be expected, then the season arrived in which God had determined to show at last his goodness and power. O the overflowing kindness and love of God toward man! God did not hate us, or drive us away, or bear us ill will. Rather, he was long-suffering and forbearing. In his mercy, he took up the burden of our sins. He himself gave up his own Son as a ransom for us—the holy one for the unjust, the innocent for the guilty, the righteous one for the unrighteous, the incorruptible for the corruptible, the immortal for the mortal. For what else could cover our sins except his righteousness? In whom could we, lawless and impious as we were, be made righteous except in the Son of God alone? O sweetest exchange! O unfathomable work of God! O blessings beyond all expectation! The sinfulness of many is hidden in the Righteous One, while the righteousness of the One justifies the many that are sinners. In the former time he had proved to us our nature's inability to gain life; now he showed the Saviour's power to save even the powerless, with the intention that on both counts we should have faith in his goodness, and look on him as Nurse, Father, Teacher, Counselor, Healer, Mind, Light, Honor, Glory, Might, Life—and that we should not be anxious about clothing and food.

Mathetes to Diognetus, 9

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Debunking Trent Horn's Assertions About The Apocrypha And Old Testament Canon

  • Discussion:
          -This article serves as a rebuttal to a number of claims set forth by Trent Horn of Catholic Answers regarding whether the apocryphal books belong in the Old Testament canon. Following are excerpts from the author alongside with a critique:

          "The authors of the deuterocanonical books did not believe the Hebrew canon was closed or that there was a set of books called “the Writings,” to which no more could be added. The prologue to Sirach only references “the law and the prophets and the others that followed them” and “the law itself, the prophecies, and the rest of the books.” Second Maccabees describes Judas the Maccabee encouraging his troops only with words “from the law and the prophets” (15:9)."

          This attempt at refutation by Trent Horn is ridiculous and manufactured. The quoted excerpts from the deuterocanonicals are so clear as to require no commentary. Even the Roman Catholic New American Bible Revised Edition says the following regarding 2 Maccabees 15:9 and the Prologue of Sirach:

          "15:9 The law and the prophets: the first of the three parts of the Hebrew Scriptures, called the sacred books (1 Mc 12:9; 2 Mc 2:14)."

          "Foreword The Law, the prophets, and the authors who followed them: an indication of the eventual tripartite division of the Hebrew Scriptures: Law (torah), Prophets (nebi’im), and Writings (ketubim), shortened in the acronym Tanak. Thirty-eighth…Euergetes: 132 B.C. The reference is to Ptolemy VII, Physkon Euergetes II (170–163; 145–117 B.C.)."

          The Old Testament used by Protestants is identical in substance to the Tanakh, which does not include the Roman Catholic apocrypha.

          "According to Old Testament scholar Otto Kaiser, the deuterocanonical books “presuppose the validity of the Law and the Prophets and also utilize the Ketubim, or ‘Writings’ collection, which was, at the time, still in the process of formation and not yet closed.” In fact, the Dead Sea Scrolls, which contain Jewish writings from the years 400 B.C. to A.D. 100, include copies of deuterocanonical books like Sirach, Tobit, and Baruch, which shows they were considered to be part of the Writings."

          Alex Andersen, in his essay titled Reconsidering the Roman Catholic Apocrypha, notes the following regarding the Essene community and the Dead Sea Scrolls:
       
          "...scholars do not know what authority the Essene community granted to the apocryphal books found among the Dead Sea Scrolls (Schnabel 17). In addition, Beckwith wrote that “the inspiration claimed at Qumran [i.e., within the Essene community] was an inspiration to interpret the Scriptures, not to add to them” (2582). The Essenes only believed that they knew the proper interpretation of the Hebrew canon, not that they could create a new and improved Hebrew canon (Beckwith 2582). That the Essenes did not consider the books in the Roman Catholic Apocrypha to be canonical is also evinced by the fact that the Essenes introduced quotations from the books of the Hebrew canon with unique phrases (Beckwith 2578). Because of these facts, and because the Essenes did not attempt to intersperse any books from the Roman Catholic Apocrypha among the books of the Hebrew canon, the books from Roman Catholic Apocrypha which are found among the Dead Sea Scrolls should be considered at most as an interpretative appendix to the Hebrew Scriptures (Beckwith 2578). Hence, the Essenes accepted the limits of the Hebrew canon."

          "Scholar Emanuel Tov argues that this special style indicates which documents among the Dead Sea Scrolls were considered by their authors were considered to be biblical, like Sirach, and which were not: “There is a special layout for poetical units that is almost exclusive to biblical texts (including Ben Sira [Sirach]), and is not found in any of the non-biblical poetical compositions from the Judean desert."

          Hundreds of manuscripts of non-biblical material have been discovered in the Qumran caves. It was comparable to a library which contains many different genres of literature. So one cannot appeal to the Dead Sea Scrolls as grounds for including the apocrypha in the Old Testament canon.

          "Hebrews 11:35 describes people in the Old Testament who “were tortured, refusing to accept release, that they may rise again to a better life.” These people are only described in 2 Maccabees 7, which describes brothers who accept torture instead of eating pork and violating Jewish law. Since the context of Hebrews 11 includes “the men of old [who] received divine approval” (v. 2), this means the books describing the Maccabean martyrs were part of the Old Testament that was used by the author of the Letter to the Hebrews."

          The author of Hebrews could have referenced the Maccabeean Revolt for the reason this rebellion took place in more recent history and not that he ascribed canonical status to 2 Maccabees. It would make sense for one to consult that work for historical purposes due to that event having a particular significance to an audience with a Jewish background. Furthermore, there could have been multiple sources or family traditions from which the author of Hebrews gathered his information.

          "The idea that the early Church viewed the deuterocanonical books as Scripture is even more evident in the writings of early Church fathers like Clement of Rome, Irenaeus, Athenagoras, Clement of Alexandria, Methodius, Cyprian, and Origen. Moreover, these fathers cited these books as “Scripture” or “holy Scripture,” and none of the pre-Nicene Church fathers ever declares the deuterocanonical books to be uninspired or non-canonical. St. Jerome even tells us that at the Council of Nicaea the deuterocanonical work of Judith was considered to be a part of the canon of Scriptures."

         The books of the apocrypha were sometimes called "Scripture," not because they were accorded canonical status, but that they were included in the Septuagint. This would be analogous to one citing a marginal note from a study Bible and saying that it is in the Bible (without meaning that it is the actual text of Scripture). Some church fathers were not familiar with the Hebrew canon and so mistakenly thought the deuterocanonicals to have been accepted as inspired Scripture by the Jews. A distinction was made between the canonical books of the Old Testament and the deuterocanonicals as early as the second century which lasted until the timing of the Council of Trent.

Did God Abandon Jesus Christ At The Cross?

"The words of Jesus at Matthew 27:46 have come in for many kinds of interpretation. Unfortunately, many of the theories have compromised the Bible's teachings on the nature of the relationship between the Father and the Son. The Father was never separated from or abandoned the Son. This truth is clear from many sources. Jesus uses the second person when speaking to the Father-"why have You forsaken Me?" rather than "why did He forsake Me?" as if the Father is no longer present. Immediately on the heels of this statement Jesus speaks to the Father ("Father, into your hands. . "), showing no sense of separation. Whatever else Jesus was saying, He was not saying that, at the very time of His ultimate obedience to the Father, the Father abandoned Him. Rather, it seems much more logical to see this as a quotation of Psalm 22 that is meant to call to mind all of that Psalm, which would include the victory of v. 19ff, as well as verse 24, which states, "For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither has He hidden His face from him; but when he cried to Him for help, He heard."

James R. White, The Forgotten Trinity: Recovering The Heart Of Christian Belief, p. 215, note 1 for chapter 11

Saturday, August 22, 2020

The Person And Work Of The Holy Spirit

"There is one concept used of the Spirit that is often thrown out as evidence against the His personhood. We often hear, "The Spirit cannot be a person, because we are baptized in the Spirit and hence, you can't be baptized in a person, but in a substance or a force." Yet, in reality, the Bible speaks of our being baptized into Christ Jesus in Romans 6:3 and Galatians 3:27, and neither passage is ever cited to make the point that Jesus is not a person. All through the New Testament we are said to be "in Christ" or "in Him," and this is never taken to mean that Jesus is not a person. Likewise, being baptized in the Holy Spirit does not deny He is a person-rather, it speaks to His omnipresence and spirituality."

James R. White, The Forgotten Trinity: Recovering The Heart Of Christian Belief, p. 148

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

The Personality Of The Holy Spirit And Neuter Gender

"...the argument that is often heard is that the phrase "Holy Spirit" in Greek is in the neuter gender, and it is. But Greek genders do not necessarily indicate personality. Inanimate things can have masculine genders, and personal things can have the neuter gender. We cannot automatically insert the pronoun "it" when referring to every neuter noun any more than we should always insert the pronoun "she" for "love," since love in Greek is feminine. Instead, we determine whether the Holy Spirit is personal the same way we would demonstrate that the Father or the Son is a person."

James R. White, The Forgotten Trinity: Recovering The Heart Of Christian Belief, p. 141

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Using The Exodus To Illustrate Imputed Righteousness

        The purpose of the Passover meal was to bring into the hearts and minds of the Jews their deliverance by God from captivity in Egypt. He was moved with compassion to redeem His people as they cried out to Him as a result of brutal enslavement by the Pharaoh (Exodus 3:9).

        Being the final part of a series of plagues, God required that the Jewish people sacrifice lambs and apply blood to their doorposts in order that He pass by those houses and leave the firstborn children unharmed (Exodus 12:7; 12-13; 21-24; 27). The Pharaoh lost his firstborn son as the Lord cast judgement on Egypt.

         This incident is illustrative of the imputation of Jesus Christ's righteousness to those who have placed their trust in Him. We have a righteous status credited to our account before God because we have been covered by the shed blood of His Son.

        We are not under divine judgement, but forgiven of our sins. Just as the blood of the lambs was applied to the doors of the houses to spare the oppressed people of judgement, so the blood of Christ is applied to us by faith to enable access to God.