The Gay Revolution

In light of the recent Supreme Court decision on Homosexual “Marriage,” Jeff Durbin of Apologia Studios sat down with Dr. James White of aomin.org and Dr. Michael Brown to discuss the church’s way forward.  Watch that video here.

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What is Sanctification? [Part 3]

Sanctification is the ongoing process by which the Spirit of God conforms or molds a believer into the image of Jesus Christ. Where Justification is the one time act whereby a person is made right before God, sanctification continues from the moment of regeneration and justification until death. This process involves both the individual who has the Spirit within them and the Spirit Himself. The Spirit works within the individual to will and to do of His good pleasure, conforming us to the Son’s image day by day. The individual strives, by the power of the Spirit within them, to resist sin and to live in a manner worthy of the calling to which we have been called.

First Corinthians 6:11 says, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” This is a continued thought from the preceding verses in which Paul labels what men used to look like prior to the life-changing act of regeneration. The main phrase here is, “and such were some of you.” Through the process of sanctification, the Spirit leads us into all holiness and Godly living. We are not who we used to be, nor do we continually desire the things that we used to desire. Second Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Once we are justified by the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we are the new creation that Paul writes about. Our old selves have passed away and we are made new.

The struggle that we have as believers is that we are not yet glorified. Because sanctification is an ongoing process, we continue to struggle day by day as our flesh battles against the Spirit within us. This side of Heaven, we will not be perfect nor will we completely defeat sin in our own lives. However, because it is the Spirit of the Living God that lives within us, day by day, we will be pressed toward the goal of perfection, being sanctified by that very same Spirit. Paul writes in his letter to the church at Philippi, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”[1] Paul was certain that the very change wrought in our hearts by the Holy Spirit would be brought to completion. This insinuates an ongoing process that leads to completion. It does not mean that we have been made perfect, nor will we be in our current state. However, what God began in us, He will carry it on to completion.

We also see in Paul’s writings that sanctification is not just an option tacked on to the process of salvation. It is, in fact, what God has foreordained for every believer and it will take place in every believer. Paul says in his book to the church at Rome, “for those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”[2] Paul proves that sanctification is not just an accident, but it is the very will of the Father to conform His children to the image of His Son.

[1] Phil 1:6 (English Standard Version)

[2] Rom 8:29

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Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

Their foot shall slide in due time. Deuteronomy 32:35.

 

In this verse is threatened the vengeance of God on the wicked unbelieving Israelites, that were God’s visible people, and lived under means of grace; and that, notwithstanding all God’s wonderful works that he had wrought towards that people, yet remained, as is expressed, v. Deuteronomy 32:28, “void of counsel,” having no understanding in them; and that, under all the cultivations of heaven, brought forth bitter and poisonous fruit; as in the two verses next preceding the text.

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Perseverance of the Saints

Can you lose your salvation?  This is a common question and one that must be answered daily in the life of a believer.  More importantly, it must be answered from the inspired text of Scripture.  I will attempt to answer this question in 2 ways.  First, I will walk through one passage of Scripture, asserting that one CANNOT lose salvation, and second, I will address a “problem verse” that, at first glance, can give a Christian reason to question this doctrine.

The Foundation

So let’s start with another question that will help to lay the foundation for answering the former.  What is salvation?  (For a lengthy response, see this article by Matt Slick)  The short answer is that salvation is the process by which a sinner is saved from the righteous judgment of God.  A believer can rightly say that he/she is saved, is being saved and will be saved, for we differentiate justification (the one time act of being made right before God, where Christ’s righteousness is imputed to the sinner and he/she is now declared righteous; see Romans 3:21-26) from sanctification (the continual/ongoing act of being conformed and molded into the image of Christ; see Romans 6-7) and both of these from glorification (the one time act where our mortal bodies are exchanged for immortal ones; see 1 Corinthians 15:50-58).  So to ask the question, “Can I lose my salvation?,” implies that justification can be lost, and one is no longer in a right standing before God.  So is justification something that we accomplish on our own, is it something that we do with the assistance of the divine, or is it something that God alone accomplishes?  I will posit that Justification, by the Biblical definition, is something that God alone accomplishes, and therefore, what God has accomplished, cannot be undone.

John 6 – “I will lose none…”

36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
(John 6:36-40 ESV)

Jesus, while talking to his disciples and the masses in John 6, says, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” (John 6:37)  Jesus, here, is addressing a crowd who, earlier in the chapter, had made a “profession of faith” in Jesus as the Messiah.  But Jesus, knowing their hearts, said in the preceding verse, “But I said to you that you have see me and yet do not believe.” (Jn 6:36)  Why did these people not believe?  They were following him, they were saying the right things.  Why were they not believing?  Jesus gives his answer in verse 37.  “All that the Father gives me …”  The reason the crowd is not believing, is that it has not been given to the Son, by the Father.  “…will come to me…”  For the ones who ARE given to the Father WILL come to Him.  Salvation, itself, involves coming to the Father, through the Son, for Christ says in John 14:6, “…I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”  However, the end of this verse in John 6, gets to the heart of the question at hand.  “…and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”  The believing ones, who come to Christ, will never be cast out because of the FINISHED work of Christ on Calvary.  Jesus says that He will never cast them out.  Never.  But maybe I will backslide; Never.  What if I lie about my job?  Never.  What if my marriage crumbles?  Never.  But, what if… NEVER.  The emphasis in these verses must be noted.  It is the Father who has given, the Son who receives, and the Son who never casts out.  Not once is there an emphasis on an individual sinners actions that warrant being given to the Son, or a hypothetical casting out.  All the action is in the hands of God and because it is God the Father who gives to God the Son, it is a perfect action which cannot be undone.  “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.  And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me,…” (Jn 6:38-39b)  Jesus is not saying here that He has a different will than the Father, but He is simply submitting to the “better” will.  He is proclaiming, that He is not alone in this thought, that he and the Father are one (Jn 17:21), and that their wills are undivided and complete.  Isaiah 14:27 states, “For the LORD of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate it? And as for His stretched-out hand, who can turn it back?” (NASB)  God’s will is perfect and unable to be thwarted.  Thus, Jesus says that it is the will of the Father to lose NOTHING of ALL that the Father has given to Him.  We have been sealed by the Holy Spirit for the day of redemption (Eph 4:30).  SEALED!  It’s a done deal!  Yet, Christ does not stop there; He continues to drive the point home.  …”but raise it up on the last day.” (Jn 6:39c)  The will of the Father and the Son is to raise up every soul, given to the Son, by the Father, on the last day.  If those words weren’t enough, He continues, “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (Jn 6:40)  Praise God that He raises up EVERY soul given to him by the Father on the last day.  My actions do not determine the giving, rather the giving of my soul to the Son determines my actions.  Therefore, the giving, by the Father, to the Son, is a closed deal.  It is finished.  It is done.  There are no take-backs.  It can’t be undone.  Case closed.

But Hebrews 6!

A common objection to the doctrine of eternal security, is the book of Hebrews.  More specifically, Hebrews 6 and Hebrews 10 offer a challenge to the doctrine, if not read in the context of the entire book/argument of Hebrews.  I will look at chapter 6, with the understanding that the verses in chapter 10 (vs. 26-31), give the same argument.  If one is refuted, they are both refuted.  With this stated, we will press forward.

1 Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do if God permits. 4 For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.
(Hebrews 6:1-6)

 

To understand the warning here in Hebrews Chapter 6, we must go back to the warnings beginning in Chapter 3 where the author quotes Psalms 95:7-11 when he says,

7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,
“Today, if you hear his voice,
8 do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
on the day of testing in the wilderness,
9 where your fathers put me to the test
and saw my works for forty years.
10 Therefore I was provoked with that generation,
and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart;
they have not known my ways.’
11 As I swore in my wrath,
‘They shall not enter my rest.’”

(Hebrews 3:7-11)

And again the writer of Hebrews says,

12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. 15 As it is said,

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

16 For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? 17 And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19 So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.

(Hebrews 3:12-19)

The warnings here in Chapter 3 are given a “visible church.”  The differentiation must be made here between the “visible church” and the “invisible church.”  The “visible church” is the people which can be seen in a local congregation.  Though we cannot see into the hearts of people, by their words and actions, they appear to be a part of the universal church of Christ.  The “invisible church” is that body of believers within the “visible church” that are truly born again.  They are the ones who, as stated above, have been given to the Son, by the Father and will raised up on the last day.  We see this weekly in our home fellowships, where we know that, not everyone who walks through the door is a believer.  The book of 1 John clarifies this by saying that those who once walked among us, once fellowshipped with us, and once partook in the table with us, yet have since walked away from us, were never of us.  They did not lose their justification before God – They never had it. (1 Jn 2:18-21)  So here, in Hebrews Chapter 3, the author warns the church at large, or the “visible church” against falling away, showing from their history, how often the nation of Israel has done this very thing.  Verse 14 is a telling verse, differentiating between those whom are under God’s wrath and shall not enter His rest (8-11) and those who do not harden their hearts, but are obedient to Christ.  For how do we know if “we have come to share in Christ?” “… if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.”  We know that we share in Christ if we persevere to the end.  It DOES NOT imply that we have lost our standing before Christ, but that we never had right standing before Him.  So with that as the context, we look to Chapter 6.

*As a side note on these verses, notice the very intentional use of the pronouns in these verses.  In speaking of the ones who disobeyed and were under the wrath of God, he uses the pronoun, “they.”  However, in verse 14, he uses the personal pronoun, “we.”  “They” were under the wrath of God, but “we” are not to turn from our calling.

In Chapter 6, the writer gives another warning, giving the same emphasis he gives in Chapter 3.  “Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.” (Hebrews 6:1-2)  As believers, we are to grow from the initial act of justification, in sanctification, being formed more and more into the image of Christ.  Just as a baby is nursed at the breast of its mother, given small amounts of soft food as a toddler and rejoices in a steak as a teenager, we, as Christ-followers, are to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord.  “And this we will do if God permits.” (Hebrews 6:3)  This is a point that must not be overlooked.  It is by the grace and mercy of a loving God that any of us are saved.  James R. White has said of Romans 9:13, “The amazing thing is not, ‘Esau have I hated…’, the amazing thing is, ‘Jacob have I loved.'”  White’s point in this is that God has every right to send each and every person, man or woman, infant or elderly, to hell for eternity.  It is Biblical that God hates those who oppose His will.  The truly amazing thing is that God loves any of us.  It is amazing that He saves even one of us.  It is by God’s grace that we are justified.  It is by God’s grace that we grow in maturity.  It is by God’s grace that we leave elementary doctrines, not relaying foundation after foundation, but building a structure, founded on Christ and reflecting His glory in all we do.

“For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come…” (Hebrews 6:4-5)  Understanding the context, of the writer speaking to the visible church, John Gill in his commentary on Hebrews, says this, “such are meant, who are so enlightened as to see the evil effects of sin, but not the evil that is in sin; to see the good things which come by Christ, but not the goodness that is in Christ; so as to reform externally, but not to be sanctified internally; to have knowledge of the Gospel doctrinally, but not experimentally; yea, to have such light into it, as to be able to preach it to others, and yet be destitute of the grace of God:” (John Gill, Commentary on Hebrews – http://biblehub.com/commentaries/gill/hebrews/6.htm )  Again, we can see in our own churches, those who have once professed faith, been baptized, hosted Bible Studies and even taught Sunday School, only to one day, walk away from the very Gospel they proclaimed.  So, they are those who have seen a glimpse, have tasted the heavenly gift, but found it sour, and were given gifts by the Spirit in an external since, but used them for selfish gain.  For Jesus says in Matthew 7, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? ’And then will I declare to them, ‘I NEVER knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:21-23) [emphasis mine]  Again, these are “those” who assent to the word of God but have a superficial knowledge of the doctrines of Christ and the cross. They have seen the powers of the age to come, but seeing and believing are on completely different levels.

“And then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.” (Hebrews 6:6)  In its context, the ones, who were never given to the Son, by the Father, they have fallen away from this temporary standing within the visible church.  Dr. James R. White has said that apostasy is a blessing.  To have a false convert within the walls of the church, pretending to be saved, whether convincing themselves their “experience” was real, or deceiving the invisible church of their standing before God can be detrimental to a body of believers.  What apostasy accomplishes is to alert every believer that the apostate is NOT in right standing before God, that justification IS needed and any false teachings associated with the apostate can be addressed and dealt with.  When the apostate “falls away,” the church is enlightened to be able to deal with the truth of the situation.  For the one who falls away is taking advantage of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, not realizing that Christ died, as the writer of Hebrews later states, “But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,” and he says, “For by a single offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified,” and “Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.” (Hebrews 10:12,14,18)  The sacrifice of Christ was effectual and complete.  It was for an intended purpose and people.  It accomplished exactly what the Father intended for it to accomplish.

Closing Remarks…

The question, “Can I lose my salvation?” is a question that can and must be answered Biblically.  Christ’s death on the cross was effectual in that it didn’t simply make salvation a possibility – it actually saves.  Justification, acquired by Christ’s death on the cross which fully and completely satisfied the wrath of God against sinful man, is given by the Father.  Justification is not something earned by man.  Because it is not something we earn, neither can we lose it.

“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” (John 6:37)

More Resources

For more information on the doctrine of “Perseverance of the Saints,” you can follow the links provided:
CARM – Perseverance of the Saints
CARM – Doctrinal Differences
John Samson on the Dividing Line (video)
CARM – Once Saved, Always Saved

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A Homosexuality Rebuttal

homosexuality

I want to address each of these issues, one by one and rather than labor the points myself, others have gone before me and labored these exact rebuttals in full.  For one 18 minute response, see James White’s response to this very graphic, here:


The rest will be individual responses to these assertions.

  1. So, to begin, “Jesus never speaks on homosexuality…”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bAOCjKqzAKk
    https://carm.org/did-jesus-talk-about-homosexuality
  2. The OT says not to eat shellfish, etc… Be Consistent! – Or something like that…
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WG3-SNty4Nc
    https://carm.org/leviticus-homosexuality-old-testament-law
  3. (This is a 2 parter as it deals with 2 completely different issues, so first…)
    A.  The meaning of “arsenokoitai.”
    https://www.facebook.com/robert.a.gagnon.56/posts/10155637933520045?_rdr=p
    (This is a facebook post, but is by one of the world’s foremost scholars in the greek language.)
    B.  Head Coverings and Women’s roles in the church
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KhmFmCOMA0A&feature=youtu.be
    http://www.headcoveringmovement.com/articles/why-head-coverings-reason-1-creation-order
  4. God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!
    Well, first, this is a bad way of saying what the very first article I posted says. This phrase doesn’t move either side forward and needs to be dropped.  However, the thought behind it is, in contrast to the negative verses against HOMOsexuality, there are positive verses affirming HETEROsexuality.  (Again, see the first article posted, as well as the next…)
  5. The Bible doesn’t clearly define what marriage is… in fact, it affirms polygamy, etc…
    https://answersingenesis.org/family/marriage/what-about-polygamy-in-the-bible/
    https://carm.org/what-does-bible-teach-about-divorce
  6. It disgusts me.
    My own sin disgusts me.  However, the argument is faulty in that I am not the final authority.  My feelings don’t make something right or wrong.  I am not the standard.  The Scriptures must be our Sole infallible rule of our faith.  (See first video link above)
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Justified in Christ (Part 2)

justification

Continuing the four-part series on Salvation, we attempt to answer the question, “What is the meaning of Being Justified in Christ?”  These are also the papers I had to write for Evangelism 102 at Fruitland Baptist Bible College. (www.fruitland.edu)  So without further ado, here is part 2…Justified in Christ.

 

What is the meaning of “Being Justified in Christ?” To answer this question, one must first rightly comprehend our standing before a Holy God. As sinful creatures, we stand in condemnation before our Creator. Our sin has separated us from the Father, and according to the law, our sin must be punished.

Paul writes in the book of Romans, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”[1] and again, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”[2] For us to be in a right standing before God, we must be justified. Because God is holy and just, our sin must be punished. Brushing our sin under the rug simply won’t do. Just passing over our sin won’t do.

Neither does our righteousness, or good deeds, outweigh our sinfulness for Paul writes in Galatians, “yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.”[3] Punishment is required. A sacrifice must be made.

Jesus Christ was that perfect sacrifice and has justified us in 2 ways. He lived a perfect, sinless life that we were unable to live, and died the sacrificial death as the perfect Lamb, without spot or blemish. So we have been justified by Christ’s death and it has been counted to us as righteousness. Paul writes in the second letter to the church in Corinth, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”[4] Isaiah explains how our sins were to be laid on the coming Messiah when he writes, “But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.”[5]

Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, we no longer are at enmity with God. No longer are we estranged. No longer are we under condemnation, for Romans tells us, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”[6] Now, when God the Father looks at us, He doesn’t see our sin, He sees His Son and His righteousness. Christ’s righteousness has been imputed to us and we are now counted as righteous.

This is what it means to be justified in Christ. Paul sums it up this way, “[We] are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith, for we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.”[7]

[1] Rom 3:23 (English Standard Version)

[2] Rom 6:23

[3] Gal 2:16

[4] 2 Cor 5:21

[5] Is 53:5

[6] Rom 8:1

[7] Rom 3:24-28

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How Is Man Made Right with God? (Part 1)

Shackled

This begins a four-part series on Salvation.  These are also the papers I had to write for Evangelism 102 at Fruitland Baptist Bible College. (www.fruitland.edu)  So without further ado, here is part 1… How Is Man Made Right With God?

 

“How is a man made right with God?” This is a question that has plagued the curiosity of man since the fall of Adam and Eve. But, we must first start with the question, “Why is man not in correct standing with the Triune God?”

When God created the heavens and the earth, He finished creation with the prize of His creation, namely man. Adam, created first, and Eve, from the rib of Adam, were given a command by their Creator, not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. After being tempted by Satan, Eve, knowingly and willfully sinned against God by disobeying His command. Adam, likewise, ate of the fruit and sin entered the world. “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.”[1]   Likewise, Paul writes in the book of Ephesians, “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world…”[2] This is man’s condition. This is man’s nature.

God demands perfection. Man, in his sinful and fallen state, attempts any and every way to reach a holy God, but all of our feeble attempts fall short of God’s glory. Romans 3:23 states, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”   Man attempts sacrifice after sacrifice to appease the wrath of God, all to no avail. The writer in Hebrews said, “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” [3]

So how is man made right with God? Paul teaches in Ephesians, “…He [God] chose us in him before the foundation of the world,”[4] and later, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.”[5] Man can only be made right with a holy God by a propitiatory sacrifice. God demands a perfect sacrifice. Jesus Christ was that perfect sacrifice. Paul says in Romans, “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly,” [6] and again, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” [7]

Jesus’ own words tell us exactly what we must do. “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” [8] Likewise, Peter echoes the words of Jesus when he says, “repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out.” [9]   The Bible is clear that man must repent and believe the Gospel, or Good News, to be in right standing with the Father. Romans tells us, “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” [10]

Thanks be unto God for the reconciliation that He brings! A man can be made right with a holy God by the blood of His son, Jesus. Summing up this reconciliation, Paul says in Romans, “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”[11]

[1] Rom 5:12 (English Standard Version)

[2] Eph 2:1

[3] Heb 10:4

[4] Eph 1:4

[5] Eph 1:7

[6] Rom 5:6

[7] Rom 5:8

[8] Mark 1:15

[9] Acts 3:19

[10] Rom 10:9-10

[11] Rom 5:10-11

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An Essay on the Deity of Christ

is-Jesus-God

The question of the relevance of Christ’s deity ultimately asks a much more foundational question. Is God’s Word sufficient for yesterday, today and forever? Paul writes in his second letter to Timothy, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” (2 Tim 3:16 (English Standard Version)) As one looks at Scripture we must stand on the foundation that God has spoken, literally “breathed out,” and the canon is closed. If this is not the case, then one is to assert that Jesus is God today but tomorrow, a new revelation could change our view on the matter. We see this very thing happening in many cults, not just in times past, but also today in our neighbors, our workplaces, and even in our churches. Today, Jehovah’s Witnesses are some of the most noted people who deny the deity of the Son and yet continue to align themselves with the “Christian” title.

So, how is this doctrine relevant for today? Millard J. Erickson writes, “For since Christians are by definition believers in and followers of Christ, their understanding of Christ must be central and determinative of the very character of the Christian faith.”[1] The deity of Christ is central to the Christian faith and to deny a central truth of the Christian faith is to deny the very subject of the Christian faith, namely Jesus Christ.

Jesus, in His own words to the Samaritan woman, says, “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24) This is a basis for answering the question of relevance and the follow up question, “can a person be saved and still deny the deity of Christ?” Jesus’ own words offer a very direct answer to these questions. For one to worship God, it must be done in spirit and in truth. His response has defined for us what is truth. “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” (John 8:58) Jesus took on the very name that God the Father used solely for Himself in Exodus 3.[2] Jesus also tells the Jewish crowd in John, “I and the Father are one,” (John 10:30) to which the Jewish leaders responded by picking up stones to stone him for blasphemy.

There are many today who would claim to be saved and yet deny the deity of Jesus. To deny His deity is to deny the basis of our salvation. Yet, by the very words of Jesus, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) To deny His deity is to deny who Jesus claimed to be and therefore, it follows that one who denies His deity worships a false Christ. Paul warns against this very thing when he writes, “for if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed…you put up with it readily enough,” (2 Cor 11:4) and again, “if anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” (Gal 1:9) Warning after warning is given in the New Testament against following a false Christ. When Jesus responds to Satan in the midst of temptation, He explains that God alone is to be served. He alone is to be worshipped. (Matt 4:10) Yet, Jesus accepts worship when Thomas exclaims, “My Lord and my God.” (John 20:28) To worship the person of Christ is to worship the triune God of Scripture. To worship a created being, that being an elevated person, but not deity, is to worship creation over the Creator. So to deny the fully God, fully human person of Christ is to worship a false Christ. To worship God in spirit and in truth is to worship Him, as He exists, not as we would like for Him to be. [3] It is to worship an idol of our own making.

So why is this doctrine relevant? As there are many who would deny the deity of Jesus and still claim to be Christians, we are called to confront heresy with the truth; the truth that Jesus is fully man and fully God, “for in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.” (Col 2:9)

To confront this heresy, we must teach, even at a young age, this doctrine with clarity and resolve. To describe the deity and humanity of Jesus is no small task, yet we must begin with a basic understanding of the Trinity. James R. White defines the Trinity this way, “Within the one Being that is God, there exists eternally three coequal and coeternal persons, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”[4] First, we understand that there is only one Being of God, but three persons share this one Being. Second, we see that the three persons are not only coequal, but also coeternal. This is essential to understand that Jesus Christ not only is God, but also has eternally existed as the second person of the Trinity.   To continue to defend His deity, the prologue of John comes to mind. John 1:1 tells us of Jesus’ eternal nature by stating, “In the beginning was the Word.” The Greek rendering literally interprets this phrase as a continuous action in the past, with no point of origin.[5] “The Word was with God,” translates from the Greek, “face to face” and “the Word was God,” tells us the Word “shared the nature and Being of God.”[6] So a literal rendering of John 1:1 would say, “The Word has eternally existed, face to face with the Father, sharing the nature and Being of God.”

To explain the humanity of Christ, Paul writes in his letter to the church at Philippi, “Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant.”[Emphasis mine] (Phil 2:5-7) Paul here uses the same term as John, showing no point of origin in describing Jesus as, “in the form of God.” However, we will focus on a later phrase that points to his humanity. The phrase, “emptied himself” does not mean that He ceased to be God, but along side the next phrase, “taking the form”, shows us that Jesus “took on” human flesh.   Paul uses the same word “form” in verses six and seven to emphasize He was eternally in the form, God, and took on another form, man, at the Incarnation.[7] John uses the same language in his gospel when he says, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14) There was at the same time, an emptying and a taking on. The emptying referring to Him voluntarily laying aside the privileges that were His, and the taking on of humanity. Jesus remained fully God while becoming fully human.

Because the Bible is the revelation of who God is, we must look solely to it as our source of truth in all matters of doctrine. One can conclude from Biblical evidence that Jesus is the eternal second person of the Godhead and yet, at the Incarnation, he took on the form of a servant. He took on humanity. Jesus is fully man and fully God. To deny either, is to deny the coequal, coeternal, second person of the trinity; Jesus Christ Himself.

[1] Millard J. Erickson, Introducing Christian Doctrine, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2001), 216.

[2] Ibid., 217.

[3] James R. White, The Forgotten Trinity (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 1998) 18.

[4]Ibid., 26.

[5] Ibid., 50

[6] Ibid., 57

[7] Ibid., 125

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Justice and Michael Brown

In light of the recent court decision in Ferguson, and my Facebook page blowing up with cries of injustice, my flesh resonates with the cries, while the Spirit within me reminds me where true justice originates.

Why do we have such a desire for justice to be done?  Why do we want others to receive their just due?  Why does it seem to be engrained in us to desire and seek for justice?

Is it not the image of the invisible God bearing on and in and through us?  Is it not that “…His invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse” (Romans 1:21 ESV)?

While my flesh cries “foul”, while my heart says “unfair”, the Spirit within me convicts me to the core and reminds me of this ultimate truth….”YOU do not get what YOU deserve because I took YOUR punishment and paid YOUR debt on Calvary.  When YOU deserved death, I traded MY life for YOURS.  The wages of YOUR sin is death, but MY free gift to YOU is eternal life.  I am the propitiation for YOUR sins.  When the wrath of a just GOD was on YOU, I called YOU, I justified YOU.  YOU have not gotten what YOU deserve.  YOU have received my righteousness.”

This is the Mighty God I serve.
This is Jesus Christ.
This is Justice.

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