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I don’t know who has written this, but after reading the lines, it was very clear that the person has a very shallow understanding of Bible and its Theology. Lines could give me an impression about the person as follows:1. He might have gone through several failures in his personal life, which might have made him sick towards Theism (God) 2. He don’t have a proper study about Bible, but just got some garbage from the internet sites to glare on to the Biblical truths. 3. He is a person, who is searching the treasure in the darkness without the torch. 4. He is not a constructive critic but a destructive critic because he could not maintain the ethics of criticism. 5. His attempt is not to understand the truth of Jesus Christ but it is just to beat around the bushes for entertainment, and so in actual he don’t deserve an answer to his foolish arguments, but then its my ultimate responsibility to put the truth in front of him, expecting a repentance in his life, so that he may also come into the saving grace of Lord Jesus Christ. 6. Still God loves him…. And expecting a comeback to God’s Kingdom Now the precise answers of the arguments:1. Bible alone is truth:Yes, Christianity is the one true religion. That may sound awfully dogmatic and narrow-minded, but the simple truth is that Christianity is the only true religion. Jesus said that He alone was the way to the Father (John 14:6), that He alone revealed the Father (Matt. 11:27; Luke 10:22). Christians do not go around saying Christianity is the only way because they are arrogant, narrow-minded, stupid, and judgmental. They do so because they believe what Jesus said. They believe in Jesus, who claimed to be God (John 8:58; Exodus 3:14), who forgave sins (Mark 2:5; Luke 5:20; 7:48), and who rose from the dead (Luke 24:24-29; John 2:19f). Jesus said that He was the only way. Jesus is unique. He was either telling the truth, He was crazy, or He was a liar. But since everyone agrees that Jesus was a good man, how then could He be both good and crazy, or good and a liar? He had to be telling the truth. He is the only way. Christianity is not just a religion; it is a relationship with God. It is a trusting in Jesus and what He did on the cross (1 Cor. 15:1-4), not on what you can do for yourself (Ephesians 2:8-9). Buddha didn't rise from the dead, nor did Confucius or Zoroaster. Muhammad didn't fulfill detailed prophecy. Alexander the Great didn't raise the dead or heal the sick. And though there is far less reliable information written about them, people believed in them.
The scripture is right when it says in 1 Pet. 2:7-8, "This precious value, then, is for you who believe. But for those who disbelieve, 'The stone which the builders rejected, this became the very corner stone,' and, 'A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense'; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed." (NASB).
The Mathematical Odds of Jesus Fulfilling Prophecy
"The following probabilities are taken from Peter Stoner in Science Speaks (Moody Press, 1963) to show that coincidence is ruled out by the science of probability. Stoner says that by using the modern science of probability in reference to eight prophecies, ‘we find that the chance that any man might have lived down to the present time and fulfilled all eight prophecies is 1 in 1017." That would be 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000. In order to help us comprehend this staggering probability, Stoner illustrates it by supposing that "we take 1017 silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas. They will cover all of the state two feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state. Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one silver dollar and say that this is the right one. What chance would he have of getting the right one? Just the same chance that the prophets would have had of writing these eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man." Stoner considers 48 prophecies and says, "We find the chance that any one man fulfilled all 48 prophecies to be 1 in 10157, or 1 in 10,00,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 000,000,000." 1 The estimated number of electrons in the universe is around 1079. It should be quite evident that Jesus did not fulfill the prophecies by accident. He was who He said He was: the only way (John 14:6). Origin of the Bible - The Truth About Translations
To many, the origin of the Bible can be summed-up as follows: "A mere translation of a translation of an interpretation of an oral tradition" - and therefore, a book with no credibility or connection to the original texts. Actually, the foregoing statement is a common misunderstanding of both Christians and non-christians alike. Translations such as the King James Version are derived from existing copies of ancient manuscripts such as the Hebrew Masoretic Text (Old Testament) and the Greek Textus Receptus (New Testament), and are not translations of texts translated from other interpretations. The primary differences between today's Bible translations are merely related to how translators interpret a word or sentence from the original language of the text source (Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek). Origin of the Bible - The Reliability of Ancient Manuscripts Another challenge against the origin of the Bible is the reliability of the manuscripts from which today's Bibles are translated. Remarkably, there is widespread evidence for absolute reliability. There are more than 14,000 existing Old Testament manuscripts and fragments copied
throughout the Middle East, Mediterranean and European regions that agree dramatically with each other. In addition, these texts agree with the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, which was translated from Hebrew to Greek some time during the 3rd century BC. The Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered in Israel in the 1940's and 50's, also provide phenomenal evidence for the reliability of the ancient transmission of the Jewish Scriptures (Old Testament) before the arrival of Jesus Christ. The Hebrew scribes who copied the Jewish Scriptures dedicated their lives to preserving the accuracy of the holy books. These scribes went to phenomenal lengths to insure manuscript reliability. They were highly trained and meticulously observed, counting every letter, word and paragraph against master scrolls. A single error would require the immediate destruction of the entire text. The manuscript evidence for the New Testament is also dramatic, with over 5,300 known copies and fragments in the original Greek, nearly 800 of which were copied before 1000 AD. Some manuscript texts date to the early second and third centuries, with the time between the original autographs and our earliest existing copies being a remarkably short 60 years. Interestingly, this manuscript evidence far surpasses the manuscript reliability of other ancient writings that we trust as authentic every day. Look at these comparisons: Julius Caesar's "The Gallic Wars" (10 manuscripts remain, with the earliest one dating to 1,000 years after the original autograph); Pliny the Younger's "History" (7 manuscripts; 750 years elapsed); Thucydides' "History" (8 manuscripts; 1,300 years elapsed); Herodotus' "History" (8 manuscripts; 1,300 years elapsed); Sophocles (193 manuscripts; 1,400 years); Euripides (9 manuscripts; 1,500 years); and Aristotle (49 manuscripts; 1,400 years). Homer's "Iliad", the most renowned book of ancient Greece, has 643 copies of manuscript support. In those copies, there are 764 disputed lines of text, as compared to 40 lines in all the New Testament manuscripts (Norman L. Geisler and William E. Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible, Moody, Chicago, Revised and Expanded 1986, p. 367). In fact, many people are unaware that each of William Shakespeare's 37 plays (written in the 1600's) have gaps in the surviving manuscripts, forcing scholars to "fill in the blanks." This pales in textual comparison with the over 5,300 copies and fragments of the New Testament that, together, assure us that nothing's been lost. In fact, all of the New Testament except eleven verses can be reconstructed from the writings of the early church fathers in the second and third centuries. (A General Introduction to the Bible, Ch. 24.) Origin of the Bible - The Power of Prophecy The origin of the Bible is God. It is a historical book that is backed by archeology, and a prophetic book that has lived up to all of its claims thus far. The Bible is God's letter to humanity collected into 66 books written by 40 divinely inspired writers over a period of over 1,600 years. The claim of divine inspiration may seem dramatic (or unrealistic to some), but a careful and honest study of the biblical scriptures will show them to be true. Powerfully, the Bible validates its divine authorship through fulfilled prophecies. An astonishing 668 prophecies have been fulfilled and none have ever been proven false (three are unconfirmed). God decided to use prophecy as His primary test of divine authorship, and an honest study of biblical prophecy will compellingly show the supernatural origin of the Bible. Skeptics must ask themselves, "Would the gambling industry even exist if people could really tell the future?" Again, no other holy book comes even close to the Bible in the amount of evidence supporting its credibility, authenticity and divine authorship.
IS THE BIBLE AUTHENTIC?
Why should we believe that the Bible is God's Word and not something concocted by humans? Below is a table containing information on some important volumes of historical literature:
SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE How do we gauge the authenticity of an historical document? • Firstly, we need to find out the time span elapsed from when it happened/ when it was written, to when the first copy was found. Obviously, the shorter the time span, the less room for error and corruption of the original story by folklore or by fraudulent/ falsified copies. Secondly, we need to find out how many original manuscripts there were. The more manuscripts there are concerning the same story, especially when written at the same time, but in different geographic locations, obviously adds to the integrity/ authenticity of the document.
This is briefly how historians and scientists evaluate a document's authenticity. • From the table above, we see that the earliest existing documents concerning Roman history were found 900 years (almost 1 whole millennium!!) after the events happened, and that only 20 original copies exist. Yet, how is it that we all believe
o He has warned us personally throughout His Word of the consequences of our pride and skepticism: if we reject His awesome promise of salvation through His Son. What the Bible actually says (to cut a long story short!) is that it’s contents are the Word of God. that we can understand and believe – His Living Word. eternal suffering. with much “wailing and gnashing of teeth. Both the authenticity and the general integrity of these works may now be finally established and proved. as mere mortals. travail and torment” – this . The last foundation for any doubt that the scripts of the Old and New Testaments have come down to us substantially as they were written has now been removed. especially when compared to the dates of academically accepted Historical documents such as those detailing Roman History. all capable and all consuming. accuracy and integrity. Having established therefore. we need to examine its contents. as far as we can possibly prove. who turned water to wine. we will burn in Hell forever. must therefore doubt all historical literature written in the last 3 millennia. if He was who He claimed to be.without question that Roman Historical literature (Julius Caesar etc) IS the factual Truth? • Consider then that the Bible manuscripts date from only 30 -150 years after they happened. who performed so many incredible miracles that really only a God could perform and who selflessly died for man’s fallen nature. Roman History becomes a mere 'fairy tale' when compared to the Bible for authenticity.foretelling the future. allpowerful. then we have to pretty darn stupid not to believe in Him and accept His promised gift of everlasting life through Him dying on the cross for us. • On an academic footing then. really happened. even begin to understand and grasp the enormity of GOD? Yet.” !! One therefore has to go beyond mere skepticism about the authenticity of these Books – in fact. grace and power. who fed thousands with 5 fish. Many of these facts are verified by other historical documents of the same period. but this God of ours is Sovereign. who made men who were born without eyes see. He has provided for us a way. who parted the seas. airy-fairy stuff. and verified by scholars as factual history. The late Professor FF Bruce was one of the world’s foremost Textual History critics (and a non-Christian) at the time that he said: “The interval then between the dates of original composition and the earliest extant evidence becomes so small as to be in fact negligible. according to irrefutable scientific and academic evidence that the Bible is. including much Hebraic literature and even the Qu’ran. How can we. that if Jesus was real. within our mortal scope of intelligence and understanding. It sounds all hocus-pocus. if we reject His love. and that more than 30 000 original manuscripts exist!! By comparison then. anyone who denies that these books are factual and genuine. based on its authenticity. that God created man and a son called Jesus who was God incarnate. authentic. who walked on water. probably to be the most authentic historical documents known to man. we have to accept (regardless of how skeptical we as humans are by nature) the fact that what it says. because there is not a single historical document that has anywhere near the scientific credentials that the Bible has as being authentic. o There are 371 predictions/prophecies in the Old Testament about the Messiah – all written at least 600-800 years before Jesus lived and most of which were fulfilled by Jesus! How is this possible without God’s intervention? o We have to admit to ourselves too. who raised the dead. PROPHECY • About 30% of the Bible's contents concern prophecy .
43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. ORIGIN SIN Original Sin: Why Creation and Evolution Cannot Coexist in Christianity “Original Sin” is one of the core theological reasons that a Christian cannot embrace the theory of evolution. There is no fall from a previous state of sublime perfection. If you cannot believe these much evidences. this picture is not consistent with the “very good” earth created by God. . In Romans 5:12. in the American Atheist magazine. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels. 40 "As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire. Original Sin: An Atheist Evolutionist Got it Right “Original Sin” and its relation to evolutionary theory was discussed by an outspoken evolutionist. Richard Bozarth. More importantly. The following excerpts come from “The Meaning of Evolution” (September 1979. The harvest is the end of the age. we read that “sin entered the world through one man. so it will be at the end of the age. And here is why.is the Bible’s description of hell. Without the original sin.very pitty on you sir…. death before sin is theologically inconsistent with the rest of Christian doctrine. However. where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Regardless of the scientific issues that now plague the evolutionary belief system. the gnashing of teeth didn’t sound too appealing!) Matthew 13: 37 He answered. "The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. and the harvesters are angels. as one can thoroughly investigate. p. 30): "Christianity is . and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. what purpose is there to Christianity? None. the whole message of Christianity starts with mankind’s fall from paradise into death through Adam’s sin. 42 They will throw them into the fiery furnace. 38 The field is the world. who needs to be redeemed? Without Adam's fall into a life of constant sin terminated by death. He who has ears. we envision millions and millions of years of death. decay and disease before Adam even came on the scene.. you are lost…. The weeds are the sons of the evil one. let him hear. and through sin death.totally committed to the special creation as described in Genesis. 2.must be! . With evolution. and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. and Christianity must fight with its full might against the theory of evolution. (Being a dentist. Even a high school student knows enough about evolution to know that nowhere in the evolutionary description of our origins does there appear an Adam or an Eve or an Eden or a forbidden fruit.” The whole justification of Jesus' life and death is predicated on the existence of Adam and the forbidden fruit he and Eve ate. and thus death has spread through the whole human race because everyone has sinned. Evolution means a development from one form to the next to meet the ever-changing challenges from an ever-changing nature.
REDEMPTION & SALVATION Before we can understand the Biblical concept of Redemption as it applies to Jesus Christ and His work on the cross. but in ancient times it was primarily secular . we must understand the basic meaning that the word brought to the mind of most ancient people.a word that was in everyday usage . There have been many religions through the ages who’ve seen their earthly circumstances as being restrictions upon the freedom of expressing themselves. The freedom that was once available to them was non-existent or. Through Jesus Christ. what they suppose to be. the concepts are still very much with us. of demonstrating the ‘real’ them. Through this genetic defect we all inherited death -. Paradise was the original state of Adam’s garden on God’s “very good” earth. without the original sin. disease. whether we think of ‘God’ as the Person revealed to us in the Bible or of other belief systems. decay. so that a return to the original state of affairs was required for them to experience ‘freedom’. but the word doesn’t conjure up any complete understanding of the concepts behind the word. we all have the ability to conquer this genetic defect – sin and death – and be reconnected to God eternally. Like a lot of words within today’s Church. But. only having the time available to do one thing and not another) or obligatory (we can’t live forever or fly to the moon). then. That is to say. . at least. Bondage Something or someone was in bondage. extremely restricted. Redemption has come to be used as a specifically religious term. redemption does not win absolute freedom but is specific in its work. secondarily. had four basic characteristics a. Some have even gone so far as to end this life suddenly in order that they might have. and naturalistic trial and error. Jesus Christ is reduced to a man with a mission on a wrong planet!" Original Sin: A Genetic Defect we all Share Original Sin is the genetic defect we all inherited from Adam and Eve.and.Without Adam. a freer life elsewhere. it was used to describe God’s dealings with mankind. all men and women have some form of restriction placed upon them whether self-made (fidelity to the marriage vow. even though that ‘free’ state may still have had limitations imposed that had previously existed before the bondage came about.both physical and spiritual – and were separated from God. when you think about it. Although the use of the word has largely gone out of fashion in common everyday language. Jesus Christ picked the right planet – and thank God for that! 3. Redemption. not millions and millions of years of death. then.
The redeemer is. the blood sacrifice (the ransom) bought for them a release from the anger of the god and a freedom that had previously been experienced. The price paid by the redeemer secures a freedom that was in existence before the bondage was imposed upon it . you find yourself subjected to restrictions imposed upon you by the One who created all things. It was usually a ‘monetary’ payment but it could be material objects (such as quantities of certain crops or land . independent person.see the next point) to secure the release of an object or person. usually by other men and women. we’re primarily thinking about the bondage that’s a restriction placed upon an individual’s freedom in this life. so it was thought. human sacrifice played a major part of the religion of cultures who had a distorted concept of the character of God and who used to offer sacrifice as the ultimate price to secure favours from their gods. Freedom What had been a bondage was removed and the individual person or object was restored into its original freedom. Ransom A price paid by the redeemer to cancel the bondage that existed. though. the purchasing of an item in a department store or corner shop is a demonstration of redemption for there’s no freedom that the item is being brought into that existed before it was offered for sale. when you enter it. its primary state. in more common terms a ‘buyer’ or a ‘purchaser’ who must pay a price (the ransom . c.Death brings no real solution if. as we shall see. Far better that. for instance. The redeemer could even be the one that was in bondage. more especially when the harvest or crops failed and when it was understood to be a sign that the gods were displeased with their worshippers. In that way. In ancient times.the type of monetary system that we now have rarely existed in those days) or even. b. in this life. But we shouldn’t think that.this can’t be said of articles for sale. we restrict ourselves to be pleasing to Him and then find release and freedom for eternity when we die. but which also contains the possibility that the bondage may be removed by a completed work of redemption. but usually it was another. d. Redeemer One who would get involved in the liberation of what was in bondage. a person’s life. It didn’t bring a newness of situation but a . In secular usage of the term bondage. on rare occasions.
redemption primarily concerned itself with the restoration of what was once available.)(. even so. upon the next Jubilee.taken from ancient times . the slave had to be set free with no ransom being paid (this shall be looked at under the subject . before the first sin was committed. . one of his brothers (and various other members of the family) had the right to redeem him out of slavery with a price that was based upon a consideration of how long it was until the next year of Jubilee. though. Though we may see many people throughout the world being brought into situations that are a better expression of freedom. Even if the slave wasn’t to be redeemed. For now. Summarising. aspects of that freedom will be restored that had been lost to individuals in their own lives. . ‘Jubilee’ referred to every fiftieth year in the Jewish calendar when a special type of release took place). a release. If the slave prospered. 2.restoration. a. In the Old Testament Lev 25:47-55 When a Jew became poor and sold himself into slavery. the fulness of the freedom available will be seen to be that which existed only for the first man and woman on the earth. But. not of bringing about a newness of experience that had previously been unknown. when we go on to look at the redemption that has been secured through Christ on the cross. hopefully. However. This is quite important. Manumission (the freeing of slaves) i.and which the people understood as accomplishing redemption. These characteristics are evident in the following examples in section 2 . Here we have the concept of redemption in one short sentence using the four keywords that are characteristic of it. the action of the redeemer by paying the ransom effected freedom from bondage. it’s only necessary to show the differing forms that redemption took in the ancient world before we look at how the Bible talks about the cross of Christ being a type of redemption.very simply. then. show how the cross of Jesus Christ has paid the price (the ransom) for each of them. Forms of redemption in ancient times We shall be returning to all these examples of manumission under part d and there. he also had the right to redeem himself (see my notes on ‘Jubilee’ for an extensive explanation of this year).
with a price of 3 minae of silver and a half-mina.The purchase. b. becoming slaves within the foreign nation..this was expressly stated when the transaction took place. the leaders and older ruling men. whose name is Nicaea. some preferring to stay under the protection of their master. the price that the master was to pay for the initial purchase of the slave would have been estimated according to the number of years that were still to pass before that year.warriors and rulers of the opposing side captured in battle.... slaves (whether born in slavery or bought into it) were allowed to buy their freedom via the intermediary of a pagan god. To increase the spoils of war. for freedom.Nicaea hath committed unto Apollo.. others. Prisoners of war (POWs) When war was ended. The slave was bought ‘for freedom’ (this being a translation of the technical term that was used) and not to become just another menial servant in the temple service . manumission wasn’t a compulsory obligation. Many of these POWs were put to forced labour. If the losing camp was able to raise this amount (and it depended entirely on how well they thought that the captive was thought of in their home territory as to how much they . One such inscription is reproduced in Morris and runs ‘Date. However. Inscriptions within the temples themselves have survived which are records of such transactions. the slave would deposit the money in a pagan temple which would then use it to buy that slave from his master on behalf of the god of the temple. but that’s not to say that their slavery was transferred to the god of the temple.Therefore. Names of witnesses follow’ Of course. Apollo the Pythian bought from Sosibius of Amphissa. ii. by their very appearance. by race a Roman. there were certain duties that the freed slave was then obligated to perform on certain occasions. weren’t suited to the menial drudgery of service for they were the rulers and royalty. In the Greek world In the Greek world. the victors would carry away captive prisoners of war . Having been ‘bought’ by a god. the victors would make it known in the opposing camp that they had ‘such and such’ a person and were willing to release him for a certain sum. for freedom. This sum was known as the ransom. but many slaves availed themselves of their right to redeem themselves ‘for freedom’ with a ransom price. a female slave. Having saved up the ‘redemptionvalue’.
The reason was that property wasn’t exchangeable absolutely but was an eternal inheritance to be freed to its rightful owner upon payment of the ransom as soon as that ransom was able to be paid or. a single label summarising the type of bondage is written in block capitals. c. if it had not been ransomed before. Though it doesn’t say who exactly it was to be paid to. the forms of redemption as detailed in section 2. the passage actually says that the brother ‘shall come and redeem’ (Lev 25:25) and the subsequent instruction to the Jew who sold it doesn’t appear to give him any choice in the matter (Lev25:26-27). In each example. However. he had the right to redeem it himself. we imagine that it must have been some relative or other who was either directly related to the deceased person or who was the head of the family or tribal unit. In this way. his next of kin had the right to redeem the property with a price based upon the time left until the next year of Jubilee (see above and also the subject ‘Jubilee’). d.the punishment of death rested upon him. The inheritance Lev 25:25-28 When a Jew became poor and sold his inheritance (which had been given to him as an everlasting inheritance). The actual Scripture lays an obligation upon the brother and the individual. If the Jew prospered whose property it was. .would ask). Though we’ve spoken of both of them above as ‘having the right’ to redeem the land. a ransom might be laid upon him (even though this was not obligatory . the owner of the ox was to be held accountable for the life of the one that the ox had killed . then. at the year of Jubilee. in table form. Chart The chart below shows. He was ‘redeemed’ out of the enemy’s hands to be a free citizen in his own land.he was as free as he was before the incident took place.the first consideration was death) and it was to be paid. the ox owner redeemed himself from the condemnation of death that rested upon him . The ox owner Ex 21:28-32 If an ox had been accustomed to gore in the past. if it should kill. but the owner hadn’t taken any action to remove the possibility that it might take human life. they swapped it for their comrade.
God spoke directly to him warning him (Gen 4:6-7) that .3. a. Bondage to sin i. Redemption in Christ Having seen how the ancients understood the concept of redemption. The choice to sin When Cain became angry that the offering he’d brought to the Lord had been unacceptable whereas the offering of his brother Abel was accepted. we now look at what the Bible talks of as the redemption we have in Christ before returning to the last section to see how Christ has paid the price for each situation previously described.
But the story of mankind both here and in subsequent generations is that we’ve never mastered it. ii. there’s still a form of . Rom 6:16 reads ‘If you yield yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves. but you must master it’ The language is that of sin being like a wild animal. The same is true today as it was all those years ago . It’s not enough to simply say just that we are by nature sinners (Cp Mark 7:15 . which leads to righteousness’ When we submit our wills to the way of sin. the mind is the battle zone where such actions are plotted (Mtw 5:21-22). which must be tamed and mastered.. if we had chosen righteousness. a person chooses sin’s will for themselves. bringing more sin into the world by the outworking of our own free choice. in every circumstance. if we have a belief system and a life that’s based upon even some laws and regulations that are Biblical) we do not keep it (Rom 2:21-24).even though mankind has the resources (the will and the determination) to take authority over sin. Even people who’ve never read the Bible and do not therefore know what God has said. which leads to death. you are the slaves of the one whom you obey. Facing up to the reality If we have the Law (that is. we often choose to submit our will to it and so become its slave. if we are ‘religious’. but that even when we have a free choice. waiting at the door of Cain’s life. it becomes our master and we its slave..sin is crouching at the door. In prison. There’s a freedom of choice in every sin committed . Written to believers but equally applicable to all men and women. where we would think that most people have no morals. so a sinner is one who obeys the will of sin. This is a voluntary slavery and nothing that’s forced upon us.‘.the ‘sinful nature’ or ‘flesh’ was dealt with by Jesus on the cross when we were crucified with Him see also my notes on Baptism for an explanation of Rom 6:6).that is. have a ‘morality’ that they like to think that they live up to . we sin. either of sin. Though only on very rare occasions would most of us scheme murder. Just as a slave is one who obeys the will of a master. its desire is for you. Even though we like to think of ourselves as victims of circumstance and plead that we had no choice in the matter but to ‘sin’. the normal reaction is to plot to ‘put down’ the other. Sin becomes a person’s master because it has its way in a person’s life . the real crux is that.when man has found himself in a situation where he gets angry because one person has more favour than another.but of which they often fall short. or of obedience. we were unwilling to pay the consequences that would have been brought upon us if we had chosen the ‘right way’.
they retorted with the statement (v..everyone who continues in [so the meaning] sin is a slave to sin’ By their reaction to Jesus’ words it’s obvious that the Jews present refused to acknowledge the truth about themselves as individuals and corporately as a nation. Therefore. man needs to face up to the reality of his dilemma and not to rely upon any false hopes or ideals. Paul can say with conviction (Rom 3:23 . But.we are all under the power of sin’ Man’s great problem is not that he’s living in bondage but that he won’t accept that he’s in bondage. what little we think we are. He replied by pointing out (v.. and have never been in bondage to anyone.. even the ‘light’ we perceive about God we don’t live up to (Rom 1:18-21ff).. When Jesus spoke to the Pharisees in the Temple at the Feast of Tabernacles about the truth setting them free (John 8:31-34). But the scenario is not one that just belongs to ‘then’ .we are descendants of Abraham.. lies and deceit. still..moral code in the life of even the grossest individual (in the world’s eyes)...all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ and that (Rom 3:9) ‘.33) ‘.’ not realising the bondage to sin that Jesus had in mind...each of us would like to see Jesus’ teaching as pointing to ‘him’ or ‘her’ but certainly not to ‘me’ or ‘us’ because that convicts us of the situation that we’re in and begins to wake us up to the fact that we need to change. further than this. when all’s said and done. Some people rely on doing good (hoping that somehow their good deeds may outweigh the evil they do) or even on not being as bad as another (and we can always find some . When individuals look around themselves and perceive what’s plainly evident to them.is to know what is his greatest need’ That is.34) that ‘. if we don’t have the Law (if we have no recognised moral code by which we live our lives)... we fail to be. But. they still suppress that truth and replace it by an image that doesn’t resemble either the nature that we were created in or the nature of God (which.in one of his ‘greatest hits’!) that ‘. Johntask writes ‘Man’s greatest need. So. are one and the same). neither to mask the truth of his situation and try to rely upon false words.
The work of the Holy Spirit of ‘conviction of sin’ is of primary importance as a forerunner to a person being ‘born again’ . So. this is an impossibility even though Judaism tried to obtain it by works of the Law (Rom 9:30-32). we read the sons of Korah stating quite unequivocally (Ps 49:15) that ‘God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol. we saw that in OT times there were instances when a man was able to redeem both himself and his possessions out of bondage. And in Hosea 13:14 (quoted this way in the NT in I Cor 15:55) we read God saying .but all such arguments are lacking in a recognition of individual human responsibility.poor bloke who’s a greater sinner than we are) .no man can redeem the life of another. Ps 49:7-9 tells us that ‘. there’s nothing that man can pay that will redeem him from the sentence that hangs over him. a bondage that he cannot permanently break free from.man’s response to God’s work of conviction must be repentance. For the ransom of his life is costly and can never suffice that he should continue to live on forever and never see the pit’ It hardly seems necessary to quote any further Scriptures. this being unambiguous and straightforward . Man’s dilemma.though there may be occurrences where a man may redeem himself on earth by paying a price to another man for something that has happened. Nevertheless. for He will receive me’ even though just how God is going to do it is not explained to us. further on in the psalm previously quoted. is not just that he’s subject to the bondage of sin. but that it’s necessary for him to acknowledge it before Christ who’s able to minister redemption to him in the situation. or give to God the price of his life. then. however. Impossibility and promise In the examples in section 2.. and lacking in a dependence upon the work of Christ. b. if there was no possibility of self-redemption from sin. has now been made known (Heb 11:39-40). there was in the OT the promise that God would redeem His creation from out of sin’s bondage that had been inflicted upon it. With regard to sin.. when we come to look at our relationship with God. a turning away from sin (see my notes on ‘Repentance’) but this can only be achieved if there’s an acknowledgement of that individual’s state. what they felt was going to certainly happen. But.
[the Lamb] was slain and by Thy blood didst ransom men for God from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. where are your plagues? O Sheol.’ I Peter 1:18-19 . the forgiveness of our trespasses [that is.‘. legalistic observance/Oral law = self-redemption].. and don’t directly refer to sin . if sin is to be defeated. To defeat death.but (I Cor 15:56) ‘the sting of death is sin. for it’s in death that sin finally triumphs and keeps us eternally absent from the presence of God. But. O Death.. like that of a lamb without blemish or spot’ Acts 20:28 .. There are three words that are spoken of as being the ransom (blood.’ and (Rom 5:12) ‘..you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers [that is. The Redeemer and the ransom In this section. Eph 1:7-8 ... where is your destruction?’ These verses speak of a redemption from the grave.. according to the riches of His grace which He lavished upon us’ Rev 5:9 . sin must be dealt with. I shall redeem them from death.. more than this. the curse of physical death must be broken (Gen 3:19). therefore..‘I shall ransom them from the power of Sheol. sin].with the precious blood of Christ....sin came into the world through one man and death through sin.the Church of God which He purchased with the blood of His own Son’ .. from death..‘.‘.sin when it is full grown brings forth death’ The promise of a redemption from the bondage of sin necessarily deals with death.‘In [Christ] we have redemption through His blood. we’re going to simply look at the passages that use redemption imagery to speak of the death of Christ and so begin to understand how the work of the cross can be taken to have been a ransom paid that’s acceptable to God that frees men and women from sin and its consequences. i... and so death spread to all men because all men sinned’ Death is spoken of as a direct consequence of sin in the Romans’ verse and we find the same in James 1:14-15 which states that ‘. Blood Jesus shed His blood. c. death and life) and we’ll list these first (my italics throughout) before going on to discuss their relevance.
‘He gave His life’ and ‘He died on our behalf’ are three phrases which are synonymous . Jesus owned no land or property that we know of (though. Jesus was made to be sin even though He knew no sin .ii. as head of Joseph’s family. you die. They’re so integrated in their meaning that we’re virtually saying the same thing no matter which one of the three words that we choose to use.He knew what sin is but He knew no sin by experience. the people before Christ came]’ The penalty of sin. Jesus is both our ransom and our Redeemer and. Jesus took that death upon Himself.‘. Mark 10:45 . so paying the price for our freedom. Heb 9:15 .. iii. . more than this. Therefore. ‘Blood’. this believer’s claim is quite shocking in our modern society that likes to court the favour of many gods and see in each and every religion a way to God that’s both relevant and acceptable..)(.Himself.. On the cross. that (Titus 2:14) Jesus ‘.the Son of man came. there may have been a small allocation of land where they grew some crops). redemption is only found in Him even though we may try and find it elsewhere and in different people who now exist or who have existed throughout history (Rom 3:23-24..a death has occurred which redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant [that is. Acts 4:12). is death . ‘He shed His blood’. neither did He have any riches or personal possessions that were of any great worth. ‘Death’ and ‘Life’ are the three words that are used to describe the sacrificial offering of Christ to God on the cross.if you lay down your life by the shedding of your blood.‘.. therefore. Life Jesus gave His life..gave Himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity’ Jesus had nothing else to give us but Himself. He hadn’t committed sin (II Cor 5:21). We read...spiritual and physical. Death Jesus died on the cross. so He gave the one thing that He did have in exchange for mankind’s salvation . The Bible says ‘not so’ and becomes offensive to a lot of its readers. under the Law.to give His life as a ransom for many’ .
Paul writes (Gal 5:1) ‘For freedom Christ has set us free. death and life of Jesus Freedom . ‘The ransom was paid’ is all that the Scriptures tell us and. Concluding. taking the punishment that our sin deserved and paying the price that we should rightly have paid as a consequence of our sins. My God. being God. many arriving at the conclusion that it was satan. d. Manumission Freedom from the rule of a master (sin) Using the phraseology of the Greek world of slavery. To save repeating too much from the previous section. that’s all that can be said to go further is to stray into speculation that will draw us into error. But. why have You forsaken Me?’ He was spiritually separated from the presence of God (Mtw 27:45-46). it may be advisable to quickly reread the relevant definitions.The blood. cut off out of the land of the living (Isaiah 53:8). it makes no mention as to whom payment was made. the fourfold concept of redemption that we looked at in section 1 can be used to match the work of Christ on the cross as shown on the chart above as Bondage .From sin We should note in closing that theologians throughout history have sought to theorise on who the ransom (Jesus Christ) was paid to. The question is very much like the question that’s also often asked about Jesus concerning whether there was ever a possibility that. Stand fast therefore and do not submit yourselves again to a yoke of slavery’ . then. while the Bible makes use of redemption imagery to explain one aspect of the accomplishment of the cross.Jesus Ransom . Freedom We must now go back to our original consideration of ancient examples of redemption and see how the Bible says that the freedom obtainable through them was a type of that which is now available in Christ. He could have sinned. i.When Jesus cried out (Mtw 27:45-46) ‘My God.sin Redeemer . But the question is invalid for all that the Bible tells us is that Jesus didn’t sin and we can go no further than this. indeed.
Just as the pagan temple bought a slave ‘for freedom’. So. [we] have become slaves of righteousness.. so we also have become slaves of God.. which separates us from the reality of God’s presence and everything that goes with Him (Isaiah 59:2). We can think of freedom in abstract or real terms but don’t often make the connection that the culture that it sprang from already had a procedure in place that Jesus became the ultimate solution for.’ and that (Rom 6:22) ‘.that is. It’s often asserted that satan is the real enemy but.God has bought a people (I Cor 6:20. we’re back on God’s side and back in God’s army. he shouldn’t be misconstrued as such. Having been set free by Christ from sin’s power and dominion over us. so the imagery is the same . they nevertheless did proclaim that the real slavery of mankind is to sin and that true freedom can only be experienced when it’s dealt with through the cross of Christ. II Peter 2:1) ‘for freedom’. Prisoners of War (POWs) Freedom from out of the hand of the enemy (sin) Mankind’s enemy is sin. When Jesus says (Luke 4:18) ‘He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives’ . ii. 7:23. obligated to be obedient to the God who bought us out of that state.’ It’s very easy to read passages like these from a modern viewpoint and so fail to miss the depth of what Paul is actually trying to convey to us. at the same time. Yet.. if we’re ‘in Christ’..having been set free from sin. Therefore Paul writes (Rom 6:18) that ‘. Though the NT writers never did campaign to abolish physical slavery in their day (and they would probably not have got very far had they done so!). responding to His love in Christ through our initial commitment to give our lives over to Him but also from that moment onwards being obedient to the will of Him who bought us..you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God. just as the Greek slave was obligated to perform certain duties and functions towards the god that had bought him.where the ‘yoke of slavery’ mentioned is a reference to the legalistic observance of a written code . then we’re free from sin (the master) and free from any effort on our part to redeem ourselves and yet... self-redemption. residing in His camp.. in the context in which we’re considering redemption.
The Ox owner Freedom from the condemnation of death (sin) The ox owner stood under the condemnation of death because he knew that what was in his possession had the potential to kill. we who once were afraid to die need no longer be fearful (Heb 2:14-15 . Through temptation he entices us to sin that he may gain an advantage and bring his authority and leading into our lives (see also under section iii below) but. Having said what we have about satan above. that which brings us into captivity is sin. so much of the teaching that comes under the previous heading ‘manumission’ is equally applicable here. iii.. we should note that the enemy who takes captive must also be satan but only in the secondary sense that he only has power over mankind as a result of sin. However. A POW is also a type of slave. Therefore. Therefore he can be said to have ‘the power of death’. but he took no action to prevent the event from happening. it has been taught that satan rules over a kingdom ‘below’ and that he receives the souls that follow him upon death. being set free from the fear of physical death. for sin is death’s power. Temptation is his weapon and a response from an individual produces sin which is his intention and purpose.’ Why is this? Because we have redeemed ourselves by works of the Law? No. because sin is dealt with in Jesus Christ.we should realise that the Greek word for ‘captive’ used here means ‘prisoner of war’.note that satan is out to destroy mankind. if we continue to do things that are offensive to God) for (I Cor 15:56) ‘the sting of death is sin’ But. certainly not! The answer lies in Rom 8:22 where we read that . first and foremost.. we can echo the words of Paul when he says (Rom 8:1) that ‘there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. this is a distortion of the Biblical record which tells us that both satan and those who do what is displeasing to God shall be rewarded in one and the same place with no distinction being made between the two Revelation chapter 20). not just someone who’s ‘bound up’ as can be seen from the use of the same root word in Luke 21:24 (Vines comments that the literal meaning of the word is ‘one taken by the spear’ which brings the meaning home to us with an economy of words). By this verse. Death is not an experience to be welcomed if we live in sin (that is.
the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death’ where the highlighted words refer us back to the legalistic observance of a written code.... Because Christ has fulfilled the just requirements of the Law by taking the penalty upon Himself..’ and can be summarised as a fulfilment of the OT concept of the ‘Year of Jubilee’ (see the study on ‘Jubilee’ for an exposition of this facet of Jesus’ work on the cross).. The inheritance Freedom from an exile away from the inheritance (the result of sin) It was by sin that we lost the inheritance in the garden.that is. But it’s sin that lies as the foundation stone that needs dealing with in a person’s life by Christ before the subsequent structure of bondage that has been built upon it can be dealt .. uses the redemption imagery to tell us a further truth about our new position.. It’s by one Man’s obedience that we receive back what is rightfully ours in Christ. We can be free to ‘look forward’ to the day of our death because its ‘sting’ (our sin) has been dealt with. By dealing with sin. Col 1:12 tells us that ‘. though the effect of previously committed sin upon our lives needs also to be dealt with. As Charles Wesley put it in the hymn ‘O for a thousand tongues to sing’ ‘.. iv.‘.. there no longer need rest the condemnation of death upon our lives.has qualified us to share in the inheritance of saints in light’ and Heb 9:15 proclaims to us that ‘. self-redemption.He breaks the power of cancelled sin.. that we found ourselves serving under before acknowledging that we couldn’t redeem ourselves from the consequences of our own actions.those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance since a death has occurred which redeems them.. God ransomed us from the one thing that bound us into an existence away from His presence in Christ..’ which. We’re free to participate in His eternal inheritance with all the saints (where the Biblical meaning of the word ‘saint’ is ‘all who have been called and set apart to serve God’ . every believer)..the Father.. yet again.
. when the early Church tried to express the work of the cross in realistic terms to the society in which they lived. Separation from the Creator/God of humanity. saving of the soul through the atonement of Jesus. peril or life threatening hazard from which rescue must be accomplished on an imminent basis. 2. we should realise not just that the Bible presents Jesus as the Redeemer who pays Himself as the ransom to redeem mankind from the bondage of sin but that. 4. changed or revoked. cause.with. they did so in language that was secular and didn’t employ purely religious terms that were specifically christian and which the ordinary man in the street would have failed to understand. Such punishment being separation from God. both in congress and individually. The sinful human actions necessitate that the Creator/God pronounce a judgment on all humanity as a punishment for those actions taken. The DESTINATION from which humanity must be rescued:: 1. SALVATION DEFINITION AND NECESSITY OF SALVATION sal•va•tion (sal vâ/shen). n. Salvation presumes that there is a danger. preservation from destruction. In Christian doctrine. 1. the challenge of presenting the Gospel to society is not to use language that’s largely ignorant of everyday English usage but to use words and concepts that mean something to the normal man in the street. In each and every generation. 3. and assignment in company with Satan and all his followers in the region of Hell. Such separation from the Creator/God occasioned by the sinful actions of all humanity (by disobeying and ignoring the commands of the Creator/God). jeopardy. salvacioun. or source of preservation or rescue. 2. L. redemption. sauvation. of salvare. in theology. never to be reconsidered. salvatio < salvatus. 3. 2. a saving or being saved. The CONDITION from which humanity must be rescued: 1. rescue. pp. [ME. Conclusion Concluding this study on redemption. OFr. Such assignment to be eternal in nature. a person or thing which is a means. salvation is a rescue or deliverance of humanity from a specific condition and from a specific destination. to save]. spiritual rescue from sin and death.
Eve ate the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.Genesis 3:17-19 5. They were to produce children . They were to eat from any tree in the garden . disobeying the command of God for reasons unknown .Genesis 3:12 F. They were to subdue the earth . Adam and Eve disobeyed and transgressed the precepts and commandments from God that had been made known to them: A. Adam denied responsibility for his disobedience and blamed God and his wife . Eve was placed in a subservient position to her husband.Genesis 3:6 B.Genesis 1:28 B. Adam ate the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. a position that she had not occupied prior to her disobedience . through which they were responsible to obey the precepts of the Creator/God which were made known to them.Genesis 3:6 C. Eve denied responsibility for her disobedience and blaming deception by the serpent . They were not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil Genesis 2:17 3.Genesis 2:16 EXCEPT E.Genesis 1:28. Both individuals were called to accountability by God for their actions.Genesis 3:8 D. 17. God created Adam and Eve in the image of Himself. God created Adam and Eve with a moral nature. 1.Adam and Eve. They were to rule over the earth . A.Genesis 3:16 3.Genesis 3:23-24 .Genesis 3:11-13.Genesis 3:19.Genesis 3:13 In Relation To The Action Of God Against Adam and Eve 1.Genesis 1:28 C. D. Genesis 1:26-30. disobeying the command of God for selfish reasons . 21-25 2. Eve told the serpent that He had told them not to eat and not to touch it . 23-24 2. 2:7. Romans 5:12 6. Adam and Eve would spiritually and physically die .3 B.Genesis 3. Eve was given pain in childbirth . Eve changed the words of God. Adam and Eve were sent out of the garden of paradise . Where God had commanded Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam and Eve became afraid of God because of their actions Genesis 3:10 E. were judged guilty for their actions and punished in accord with the law of God . Adam and Eve had shame for their actions . Adam was to work for his food .THE REASON FOR THE CONDITION OF HUMANITY In Relation To The Federal Heads Of The Human Race .Genesis 3:16 4.
As a result of their sin.1 John 3:7-8. Conscience: is defiled . Some may sin to a greater or lesser degree. for sins committed. their relationship was severed and they needed a redeemer in order to restore the relationship that they once had. 1.2 Corinthians 7:1 D. moral. are born separated from God. spiritual righteousness and performance . Will: is weak . and death through sin. This separation is reason enough for humanity to also need a redeemer in order to be reconciled back to God. Mind: understanding is diminished . 1 John 5:19. by nature and by personal action. they had a correct and righteous relationship with God.Jeremiah 17:9-10. 5. subject to His divine judgment and wrath . Heart: the core being is corrupted . as a result of the fallen condition inherited by being the children of Adam and Eve. Mark 7:20-23 C.Romans 7:18 D. John 8:44. but by virtue of their paternity. All human beings are sinners. not because of sins committed. Body: is defiled . The condition of all human beings is connected with the sin of Adam and Eve Therefore. John 8:31-36. In Relation To The Action Of God Against The Human Race For Sins Committed By Them Against His Commands All men have not sinned in the action of Adam. James 3:6 THE "SALVATION" OR PROVISION PROVIDED BY GOD THAT WILL REESTABLISH AND BRING MAN INTO A RIGHT RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD IS ACCOMPLISHED THROUGH THE ATONEMENT . but of the devil .Genesis 5:3-4 2. Ephesians 2:3 3.Romans 3:9-10 2.. because all sinned. Spirit: is unclean . which is perfection of character. just as through one man sin entered into the world. the human race. All human beings are captives and slaves to the sin in their lives. and so death spread to all men. not being able to overcome the power of sin by their own efforts . and none are righteous. The entire being of humanity is affected by sin: mental. Romans 5:12 (NAS) When Adam and Eve were first created..Romans 7. The progeny of Adam were born in his likeness . spiritual and physical. 4. but all have failed to attain to the standard of God. All human beings are separated from God to the extent that they are not children of God. A.Ephesians 4:17-18 B.Titus 1:14-15 C. because of which they had no need of salvation.Romans 3:10-20. but all men sin as a result of the action of Adam.Isaiah 59:3.In Relation To The Action Of God Against The Human Race Because Adam and Eve Were The Federal Heads Of All Human Beings To Follow 1. All human beings are condemned by God. being the children of Adam. It is the nature of all human beings to sin. Their progeny.
1 Peter 1:17-19. The atonement is provided by Jesus Christ because of the nature of His being. THE REASON FOR HIS DEATH AS A RANSOM Sin places humanity into a state of captivity from which a price must be paid in order that a person might be redeemed or purchased out of that state. This reality is surely the most profound ever because it indicates that the infinite became finite. but became God in human flesh. The judgment has already been pronounced by God and the penalty is death. however. He had to be free from any evil taint of humanity. the Invisible became visible. undiminished deity in human form as a man.e. and in order to be free. the Word did not cease to be God. commentary on John 1:14 2. both physically and spiritually. Galatians 3:13) . 1 Timothy 2:5-6. "The MacArthur Study Bible". The state of captivity. The atonement is provided by Jesus Christ because of His sinless life. The Holy Bible. 48 3. John 1:14 (NAS) While Christ as God was uncreated and eternal. the Eternal was conformed to time. this is a ransom. so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. the word "became" emphasizes Christ's taking on humanity. Herbert Lockyer. revealed in the incarnation. The atonement is provided by Jesus Christ because of His voluntary death on the cross. Zondervan. the slave must pay for a release or deliverance. The death of Jesus Christ is the ransom paid in order to redeem the human race from the penalty of sin. full of grace and truth. i. The ransom is paid to God. the supernatural One reduced Himself to the natural.. John MacArthur editor. "Be ye therefore perfect. glory as of the only begotten from the Father. The Holy Bible. brought about by the sinful condition of humanity. took on the nature of humanity in addition to His deity. Humanity is "sold under sin" (Romans 7:14) and therefore fall under the judgment of God. He is both God and man. Matthew 20:28. by which Jesus Christ as deity. In the incarnation. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NAS) In order to redeem man from sin. He [God] made Him [Jesus Christ] who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf. (cf. and we saw His glory. Perfect Himself. as a payment for the release of humanity from the penalty of their sinful state. is like a slave market where people are sold as the possession of the purchaser. Christ professed the highest conceivable standard of character and conduct for His followers. He would have been disqualified as the Redeemer of sinful men. p.THE ATONEMENT 1." "All The Doctrines Of The Bible". and dwelt among us. 1964. Had He committed only one sin. And the Word [Jesus Christ] became flesh.
and through our acceptance of Him as Saviour we are received into favor again with an offended God. God the Father. Man has ever been the offender. this word [propitiation] carries the idea of appeasement or satisfaction . His sin estranged him from god. In pagan religions. "The MacArthur Study Bible". Col. and his death is also a substitute for the eternal spiritual death that has been pronounced as the judgment against all sinful human beings. but is Jesus Christ as a propitiation that satisfies the justice of God and allows Him to forgive sinful human beings through His mercy and grace. "The MacArthur Study Bible". On the cross. using the principle of imputation. But in reality. He was treated as if He were guilty of all the sins ever committed by all who would ever believe. Herbert Lockyer. and had Him die as a substitute to pay the penalty for the sins of those who believe in Him (cf. as the means to reconcile sinners to Himself. humanity has become separated and alienated from God. 2:24). Christ. the only acceptable and perfect sacrifice. 3:10-13. The Heb[rew] equivalent of this word was used to describe the mercy seat . John MacArthur editor. Crucial to the significance of Christ's sacrifice. 191 God by His own will and design used His Son. someone had to make possible a reconciliation. man is incapable of satisfying God's justice apart from Christ.where the High-Priest sprinkled the blood of the slaughtered animal on the Day of atonement to make atonement for the sins of the people. 2:11-14). The perfect and sinless life of Jesus Christ is the substitute for that of sinful human beings. Thus. 1 Pet. God initiates the change in the sinner's status in that He brings him from a position of alienation to a state of forgiveness and right relationship with Himself. A reconciliation cannot be effected because humanity cannot meet the requirements of God in a sinful state and cannot be removed from the authority of judgment by God. assuming human nature. except by spending eternity in hell. commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:19 AS A SUBSTITUTION Because Jesus Christ was fully deity and fully man. and he has been at enmity with Him. p. Gal. 53:11. He did not become a sinner (as some suggest).AS A PROPITIATION The justice of god demands that a penalty for sin be paid. Reconciliation was not necessary from God's side. 53:4-6. satisfied divine justice for our sins at Calvary.the cover to the ark of the covenant . "All The Doctrines Of The Bible". John MacArthur editor.in this case Christ's violent death satisfied the offended holiness and wrath of God against those for whom Christ died (Is. which all have their direction toward God. as an enemy. It is Jesus Christ who becomes the mediator of the reconciliation between man to God. 1964. Zondervan. The wrath of God was exhausted on Him and the just requirement . treated Christ as if He were a sinner though He was not. Is. it is the worshiper not the god who is responsible to appease the wrath of the offended deity. though He committed none. commentary on Romans 3:25 AS A RECONCILIATION By committing sins. His death was substitutionary on behalf of humanity. He never departed from man. but remained as holy as ever. and therefore has no need to be reconciled.
of God's law met for those for whom He died. THE REASON FOR HIS RESURRECTION A redeemer who remains in the grave cannot redeem." The Holy Bible. "These are My words which I spoke to you. while I was still with you. which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures. God demonstrated His acceptance and approval of the work that Christ had accomplished. "The MacArthur Study Bible". who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh. set apart for the gospel of God. Jesus Christ said to His disciples. commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:21 4. we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead. The Holy Bible. concerning His Son. 1 Thessalonians 4:14 (NIV) . since we have been justified through faith. The atonement is provided by Jesus Christ because of His resurrection from the dead." Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God The Holy Bible. cannot do so from the grave. called as an apostle. John MacArthur editor. Jesus Christ our Lord. "Thus it is written. beginning from Jerusalem. and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations. according to the spirit of holiness. THE AUTHORITY OF SCRIPTURES CONFIRMED After His resurrection. Therefore. and He said to them. Paul. a mediator cannot mediate and one to provide reconciliation between God and man. so that He might provide the means of atonement through His life.. By the resurrection of Christ. a bond-servant of Christ Jesus. that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled. through whom also we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.. It was a necessity that Jesus Christ be raised from the dead. the sacrifice of Christ would have been meaningless. Romans 1:1-4 (NAS) The resurrection of Jesus Christ assures the believer in His gospel that they are also accepted by God." The Holy Bible. Luke 24:44-47 (NAS) THE SUFFICIENCY OF THE SACRIFICE BY CHRIST ACCEPTED BY GOD Without being accepted by God. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. Romans 4:25-5:2 (NIV) ASSURES LIFE AND IMMORTALITY FOR THE BELIEVER IN CHRIST We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him. that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day.
but you will see Me. desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose. then Jesus Christ can exalt the believer and bring them to heaven. The Holy Bible. believers can be one in Christ. the Father accomplished at the ascension of Christ: "And now. so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for god to lie. Ephesians 1:18-23 (NAS) THAT JESUS CHRIST WOULD EXHIBIT HIS ONENESS WITH GOD Just as Christ is one with the Father. the world will not see Me anymore. John 17:5 (NKJ) I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened. If God can exalt Jesus Christ. and gave Him as head over all things to the church. a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil. far above al rule and authority and power and dominion. Hebrews 6:17-20 (NAS) . there you may be also." With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak. with the glory which I had with You before the world was. so that you will know what is the hope of His calling. I will come again and receive you to Myself. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ. An He put all things in subjection under His feet. who had willingly suppressed the position and power of His deity while in the form of a man. "If I go and prepare a place for you. glorify Me together with Yourself."< 14:3 John Bible. and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in His presence. that where I am. therefore I have spoken. The atonement is provided by Jesus Christ because of His ascension to heaven. 2 Corinthians 4:13-14 (NIV) Before long. we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us. when he raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places. Holy The> In the same way God. was restored to His former glory by God. The Holy bible. THAT JESUS CHRIST WOULD BE THE FORERUNNER OF BELIEVERS TO FOLLOW Jesus Christ is the pattern for those believers who will follow. The Holy Bible. having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. which is His body. That is the statement of Jesus Christ and it is confirmed by His ascension and exaltation by God. Just as He had prayed during the Last Supper. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul. THE REASON FOR HIS ASCENSION THAT GOD WOULD ACCOMPLISH THE EXALTATION OF CHRIST Jesus Christ. the fullness of Him who fills all in all. and every name that is named." The Holy Bible. O Father. interposed with an oath.It is written: "I believed. John 14:19 (NIV) 5. not only in this age but also in the one to come. The Holy Bible. you also will live. what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints. Because I live.
MacArthur. since He always lives to make intercession for them. I will come again and receive you to Myself. having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. so much the more also Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant. if it were not so. already secure within the veil." The Holy Bible. but "He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high" (Heb. but Jesus. in whom you also are being built . where the sacrifice of atonement was made. inviolable heavenly sanctuary. the Lord Jesus Christ. Hebrews 6:19-20 And inasmuch as it was not without an oath (for they indeed became priests without an oath. existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing. appoints a Son. separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens. Not only are our souls anchored within the impregnable. because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. made perfect forever. that where I am. That is good cause to come all the way to salvation and to enjoy its security. secure within His eternal sanctuary. to offer up sacrifices. 1983. Our anchored soul is. pp. 1:3). The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Hebrews. John 14:1-3 (NAS) THAT JESUS CHRIST COULD ACT IN THE PLACE OF AN ETERNAL HIGH PRIEST This hope we have as an anchor of the soul. but He with an oath through the One who said to Him. on the other hand. a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the vail.THAT JESUS CHRIST WOULD PREPARE A PLACE FOR BELIEVERS TO FOLLOW "Do not let your heart be troubled. having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. like those high priests. innocent. For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest. which came after the law. he did not leave after the sacrifice as did the Aaronic high priests. who does not need daily. Jesus remains there forever as Guardian of our souls. and are of god's household. Moody Press. in whom the whole building being fitted together. in god's mind. for through Him we both have our access in one spirit to the Father. In My Father's house are many dwelling places. When Jesus entered the heavenly Holy of Holies. stands guard over them as well! How can the Christian's security be described as anything but eternal? Truly we can trust God and His Savior. but you are fellow citizens with the saints. The former priests. Jesus Christ. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens. In other words. The Holy Bible. I would have told you. Such absolute security is almost incomprehensible. holy. Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone. believe in God. 'You are a priest forever'"). there you may be also. on the one hand. but our Savior. where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us. and peace to those who were near. Under the Old Covenant it was made yearly by the high priest. For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak. 168-169 THAT CHRIST WOULD PROVIDE ACCESS TO GOD FOR THE BELIEVER And he came and preached peace to you who were far away. undefiled. because He continues forever. for I go to prepare a place for you. first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people. The Holy Bible. believe also in Me. is growing into a holy temple in the Lord. "The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind. Under the New it has been made once for all time by Christ's sacrifice on the cross. John F. If I go and prepare a place for you. Hebrews 7:20-28 (NAS) Jesus' entering within the veil signifies His entering the Holy of Holies. hold His priesthood permanently. with our souls. Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to god through Him. but the word of the oath.
Everyone on the side of truth listens to me. to testify to the truth. "My kingdom is not of this world. there is no longer any offering for sin.together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit. critical and inevitable judgment of a holy and righteous God against humanity for sins . But now my kingdom is from another place. The Holy Bible. It is the atonement which brings about the means of salvation. my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. His flesh. You are those who have stood by Me in My trials. in heaven and on earth. and just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom. Philippians 2:9-11 TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE PROVISIONS OF THE ATONEMENT A person can and must take advantage of the provisions of the atonement in order that they can be reconciled to God. let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith. and it is salvation that brings about the benefits of the atonement into the life of the believer. Ephesians 2:17-22 (NAS) This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord. In fact. and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. The Holy Bible. and for this I came into the world. I grant you that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom. that is. Luke 22:28-30 (NAS) Jesus said. Without a reconciliation. The provisions of the atonement are obtained by means of salvation. and since we have a great priest over the house of god. Therefore. The Holy Bible. since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus." The Holy Bible. Ephesians 3:11-12 (NAS) Now where there is forgiveness of these things. which is secured through faith in Jesus Christ. by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil. The Holy Bible. "You are right in saying I am a king. to the glory of god the Father. brethren. that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow. John 18:36-37 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name. Hebrews 10:19-22 (NAS) THAT CHRIST WOULD RULE A KINGDOM FROM HIS THRONE It is the purpose of Jesus Christ to be an eternal mediator between God and man through His office as an eternal high priest. If it were. Jesus answered. the judgment of God will condemn the person to an eternity without God and without hope for rescue from hell. in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. Salvation is defined as the rescue of a person from the imminent. for this reason I was born. having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. The Holy Bible." You are a king then!" said Pilate.
so that they are without excuse. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses. is in relation to turning around. "You brood of vipers. each one according to his ways. who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore . for God made it evident to them. As a consequence. for if I do not go away. has as its root rebellion against God and is ultimately a sin committed against God.committed and unrepented. regardless of how it was committed or against whom. "Therefore." because words come very cheap. declares the Sovereign Lord. but carries actions indicating that the person has turned in the opposite direction from the sins committed. I will judge you. or a reversal of action. REPENTANCE AND CONFESSION OF SIN REPENTANCE All sin. And He. Repentance. John 16:7-11 (NAS) 2. will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment." The Holy Bible. because they do not believe in Me. and concerning judgment. have been clearly seen . concerning sin. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed. he said to them. Salvation has several components that define its meaning: 1. Repentance is not simply saying. declares the Sovereign Lord. and get a new heart and a new spirit. in its full meaning. it is to your advantage that I go away. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. but if I go. Repent and live!" The Holy Bible. and also revealed by the Spirit of God. repentance. Repentance is not only saying that a person is sorry. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes. I will send Him to you. Knowledge of the sinful condition of all human beings is the prerequisite to salvation. because that which is known about God is evident within them. "I'm sorry. repentance is required by God and confession to Him of offenses committed is necessary so that the full import and gravity regarding the serious nature of the offenses can be understood. O house of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone. The Holy Bible. Romans 1:18-20 (NAS) "But I tell you the truth. Why will you die. the Helper will not come to you. CONVICTION AND CERTAINTY OF SIN IN THE LIFE OF A PERSON It is presumed by the Scripture that all human beings have a knowledge of sin that is both innate to their being. O house of Israel. and concerning righteousness. because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me. His eternal power and divine nature. It is the knowledge that reveals the guilt and confirms the judgment of God against the sinner. being understood through what has been made. Ezekiel 18:30-32 (NAS) But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism. when He comes. and that knowledge is provided by God Himself. then sin will not be your downfall. because the ruler of this world has been judged. through the creation and by revelation.
and his full surrender to Christ. II Peter 3:9). Irrespective of nationality. The Holy Bible. and You forgave the guilt of my sin. repentance involves an act of obedience and an agreement with God regarding the necessity of Repentance. what alarm. but worldly sorrow brings death. Proverbs 28:13 (NAS) When I was silent about my sin. the giving up of his own thoughts. Saving repentance is the sinner's forsaking of his own ways. The Holy Bible.bear fruit in keeping with repentance. my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. what indignation. But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion. Repentance is not something the sinner must do to win god's compassion. or rejects the sin in their life. but a repentance to the acknowledging of the truth (II Timothy 2:24. He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper. Luke 15:17. my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. It is through repentance that a person understands that only by pleading to the grace of God can a standing before God be obtained. It involves an action that signifies the validity and truthfulness of the repentance in that the person turns away from.25). for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. Matthew 3:7-9 (NAS) Repentance also carries with it a condition of true remorse and regret. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness. what readiness to see justice done. It involves a response from the innermost being of a person. I acknowledged my sin to You. not just because of the consequences of the sin. This expression of remorse reaches to the core of a person's being. 20:21. . 26:20. what concern. "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord". Matthew 9:13. a sorrow that involves a regret for the commission of the sin itself. that is given from God. It is repentance that brings the person to a position of submission to God and a realization that separation from God is a reality and that reconciliation is not possible through human effort. not just the negative results of that sin. what eagerness to clear yourselves. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me. and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves. sinners are called to repentance (Acts 5:31. what longing. I said. Psalm 32:3-5 (NAS) On what basis are Confession and Repentance made? How does these elements bring a person closer to appropriation of the benefits inherent in the Atonement? The benefits are appropriated through the gift of Faith. and my iniquity I did not hide. It is no protracted agony of soul. and that leads to the process of confession of sin to God." The Holy Bible. 24:47." The Holy Bible.19. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret. 'We have Abraham for our father'. but because it was committed against God. 2 Corinthians 7:10-11a (NAS) As can be see. position or condition.
p. the faith that is from a sincere heart. Knowledge About Claims of Jesus Christ So faith comes from hearing." The Holy Bible. He was thoroughly convinced he was doing god's will. and hearing by the word of Christ. that He gave His only begotten Son. Romans 10:17 (NAS) Agreement As To The Validity Of The Claims Of Jesus Christ And without faith it is impossible to please Him. Nathan said." The holy Bible. For God so loved the world. but he certainly felt no need of it. 1964. content." The Holy Bible. "I am the resurrection and the life. He knew he needed something from the Lord. you will die in your sins. Do you believe this?" She said to Him. Lord. but of God. he had a great need for salvation. he who believes in Me will live even if he dies. The Holy Bible. . Pardon is the richest of blessings for the repentant. riches and honor. "Pardoning mercy is the sauce that makes all other mercies taste the sweeter. The most important thing is that a person realize that the answer . The first feeling of need may only be for a purpose in life or for someone to love us and care for us. so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. but have eternal life. The need may not. Faith involves a knowledge of the claims of Jesus Christ who is the object. Often a person's felt need is only partial. at first. that whoever believes in Him shall not perish. If he is without Christ. FELT NEED Faith cannot begin until a person realizes his need for salvation. Only when the Lord confronted him dramatically on the Damascus road did his need become known and felt . believing sinner. John 3:14-16 "Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins. But he will not have reason to believe until his need is felt. The Holy Bible.Repentance ushers in pardon for the sinner-it makes way for God's pardoning grace (Acts 5:31). he needs salvation whether he recognizes it or not. for unless you believe that I am He. Luke 1:12-13 (NAS) "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness. On the Damascus road. be clearly understood. I have believed that You are the Christ. John 8:24 (NAS) Jesus said to her. until it is recognized. even to those who believe in His name. Herbert Lockyer. "Yes. for inner peace. Saul could not have explained his spiritual need in the way that he was able to do some years later when he wrote the book of Romans. to them He gave the right to become children of God. The Holy Bible. John 11:25-27 (NAS) THE THREE REQUIREMENTS OF FAITH The faith that God honors. and commitment. even so must the Son of Man be lifted up. not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man. an agreement as to the validity of those claims and an appropriation of those claims into the life of the person. When Saul was persecuting the church. for he who comes to god must believe that He is and that he is a rewarder of those who seek Him. He simply knew that something was desperately wrong in his life and that the answer was in God.in Saul's case. "The Lord hath put away they sin" (II Samuel 12:13). Zondervan Publishing. requires three things: felt need.who were born. Or it may be a sense of need for forgiveness and removal of guilt.174 Repentance is the preparation that leads to faith and the resultant appropriation of the benefits provided through the atonement. very deeply." All The Doctrines Of The Bible. it sweetens our health. and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. even He who comes into the world. Hebrews 11:6 (NAS) Appropriation Of The Claims Of Jesus Christ But as many as received Him. When David was humbled and broken because of his sin. the Son of God.
On the other hand. he got dressed and walked the streets until dawn. CONTENT A person does not have to comprehend the full knowledge and understanding of the doctrine of salvation before he can be saved. Many people on the bank expressed complete confidence in his ability to do it." Beginning with a felt need. COMMITMENT The climax of faith is commitment. People came to Jesus for many reasons. totally commit his life to the Lord Jesus Christ. that the old sacrifices were ineffective. when they parted. Pollock was collaborating with another author in writing a play. and that only the new sacrifice can bring a person to God-and so on and on. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary. But when they came. "Have you ever read the New Testament?" Pollock said he had not. Later. and he committed himself to the chair for rest. the man had totally committed his body to the chair. 15:1-5) that he is lost in sin and needs the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. but it is not biblical. I found myself on my knees. MacArthur. he had felt his need for rest. he then looked at the truth and its evidence-and believed. John Paton was frustrated in his work for a long time because the people had no word for faith. he said. The idea of "blind faith" sounds spiritual. without commitment to Christ. no matter how good his theology. piles up truth upon truth and presents Jesus as the Jews' promised Messiah. RESURRECTION . Mr. but He also offered spiritual healing. Only then is faith. only a sincere heart that knows it needs salvation. and they continued working until early morning. My father often told the story of a tightrope walker who liked to walk a wire across Niagara Fallspreferably with someone on his back. some of them rather superficial. He must know the gospel. simple and casual though it seemed. He was bothered b his friend's question. passionately in love with Jesus Christ. Without hesitation or reservation. Professing Christ. John F. But God does not demand faith without giving reason for faith. vague as it was. Moody Press. but he does need the gospel truth (1 Cor. As a missionary translator in the New Hebrides. in the same way. but inadequate on its own. Felt need does not require theological understanding of the doctrine of salvation. telling the story to the friend. for example. if far from faith in God. but he always had a difficult time getting a volunteer to climb up on him. a well-known playwright. but could not sleep. is not saving faith. "When I returned home. Hebrews. 264-265 6.to his need is in God. The word the man gave in reply was the one Paton used for faith in his translation of the New Testament. He finally got out of bed and searched the apartment until he found a New Testament. he was convinced that the chair provided a place for rest. One day a man who was working for him came into the house and flopped down into a big chair. He also shows that the New Covenant is far superior to the Old. The writer of Hebrews. As they were working late one night in Pollock's New York apartment. something in the work they were doing caused the friend to say to Pollock. Even great persons of faith will not know many of the things about God until they see their Lord face to face in heaven. They may have felt only a need for physical healing. pp. The following story is told of Channing Pollock. Felt need is essential. After reading the gospel of Mark through. Jesus met all their needs. 1983. a person who does not feel a need for salvation. The missionary asked him what the word would be for what he had just done. saving faith. A believer must. Many people express complete confidence in Christ but never trust themselves to Him. Pollock went to bed.
Many have chosen simply to ignore the central issue of the resurrection. A student at the University of Uruguay said to me. vicious. was arrested." How can we explain the empty tomb? Can it possibly be accounted for by any natural cause? A QUESTION OF HISTORY After more than 700 hours of studying this subject. From that foundation. why can't you refute Christianity?" "For a very simple reason. I have come to the conclusion that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is either one of the most wicked. Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire and has continued to exert great influence down through the centuries." I answered. . was judged a political criminal. LIVING WITNESSES The New Testament accounts of the resurrection were being circulated within the lifetimes of men and women alive at the time of the resurrection. Those people could certainly have confirmed or denied the accuracy of such accounts." the apostles appealed (even when confronting their most severe opponents) to common knowledge concerning the facts of the resurrection. superstitious and absurd. "I am not able to explain away an event in history--the resurrection of Jesus Christ. a word that means "good news. some women who went to His tomb found the body gone.Evidence for the Resurrection by Josh McDowell For centuries many of the world's distinguished philosophers have assaulted Christianity as being irrational. But the historical evidence just can't be discounted. Three days after His death and burial. heartless hoaxes ever foisted on the minds of human beings--or it is the most remarkable fact of history. Others have tried to explain it away through various theories. His disciples claimed that God had raised Him from the dead and that He appeared to them various times before ascending into heaven. In advocating their case for the gospel. The writers of the four Gospels either had themselves been witnesses or else were relating the accounts of eyewitnesses of the actual events. In subsequent weeks. and was crucified. a Jewish prophet who claimed to be the Christ prophesied in the Jewish Scriptures. "Professor McDowell. Here are some of the facts relevant to the resurrection: Jesus of Nazareth.
says concerning the value of the New Testament records as primary sources: "Had there been any tendency to depart from the facts in any material respect. an abundance of other manuscripts came to light (over 24. and the resurrection of Christ is better authenticated than most of the facts of ancient history . . The body of Jesus. were applied to the wrappings of cloth about the body. Those findings increased scholarly confidence in the reliability of the Bible. said: "We can already say emphatically that there is no longer any solid basis for dating any book of the New Testament after about A. This author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians. however." Coinciding with the papyri discoveries. 80. finally concluded: "Luke is a historian of the first rank .000 copies of early New Testament manuscripts are known to be in existence today). the death. mixed together to form a gummy substance. M. " I claim to be an historian. By the end of the 1 9th century. Rylands professor of biblical criticism and exegesis at the University of Manchester. And I tell you that the evidence for the life. Discoveries of early papyri bridged the gap between the time of Christ and existing manuscripts from a later date. the possible presence of hostile witnesses in the audience would have served as a further corrective. an extremely large stone was rolled against the entrance . After the body was placed in a solid rock tomb.D. archaeological discoveries had confirmed the accuracy of the New Testament manuscripts. who spent 15 years attempting to undermine Luke credentials as a historian. who in his day was the world's foremost biblical archaeologist. and to refute the reliability of the New Testament. Albright." IS THE NEW TESTAMENT RELIABLE? Because the New Testament provides the primary historical source for information on the resurrection. two full generations before the date between 130 and 150 given by the more radical New Testament critics of today.F. many critics during the 19th century attacked the reliability of these biblical documents. in accordance with Jewish burial custom. William F. . E. Blaiklock Professor of Classics Auckland University BACKGROUND The New Testament witnesses were fully aware of the background against which the resurrection took place. Bruce. The historian Luke wrote of "authentic evidence" concerning the resurrection. Sir William Ramsay. . About 100 pounds of aromatic spices. F. My approach to Classics is historical. was wrapped in a linen cloth. .
they went right back to the city of Jerusalem. The FBI and CIA of the Roman Empire were called into action to find the man or men who were responsible. showing Himself to them by many "infallible proofs." Gamaliel. this means that if a source admits a fact decidedly not in its favor. he could . crucifixion." Both Jewish and Roman sources and traditions admit an empty tomb. Jesus' disciples displayed signs of cowardice when they hid themselves. it meant automatic execution by crucifixion upside down. The followers of Jesus said He had risen from the dead. if the emptiness of the tomb had not been established as a fact for all concerned. the Sanhedrin. They reported that He appeared to them during a period of 40 days. People feared the breaking of the seal. where. which is the strongest kind of historical evidence. This guard affixed on the tomb the Roman seal. who was a member of the Jewish high court. then that fact is genuine. The empty tomb was "too notorious to be denied. Paul Maier calls this "positive evidence from a hostile source. In essence. So many security precautions were taken with the trial. The disciples of Christ did not go off to Athens or Rome to preach that Christ was raised from the dead.of the tomb. burial. the first obvious fact was the breaking of the seal that stood for the power and authority of the Roman Empire. which was meant to "prevent any attempt at vandalizing the sepulcher." Paul the apostle recounted that Jesus appeared to more than 500 of His followers at one time." Dr. Peter. entombment. the majority of whom were still alive and who could confirm what Paul wrote. for a single hour. Large stones weighing approximately two tons were normally rolled (by means of levers) against a tomb entrance. Those resources range from Josephus to a compilation of fifth-century Jewish writings called the "Toledoth Jeshu. Rather. Anyone trying to move the stone from the tomb's entrance would have broken the seal and thus incurred the wrath of Roman law. the falsity would be evident. if what they were teaching was false. Consider these facts: FACT #1: BROKEN ROMAN SEAL As we have said. If they were apprehended. went out and denied Christ three times. The consequences of breaking the seal were extremely severe. another obvious fact after the resurrection was the empty tomb." Paul Althaus states that the resurrection "could have not been maintained in Jerusalem for a single day. FACT #2: EMPTY TOMB As we have already discussed. and guarding of Christ's tomb that it becomes very difficult for critics to defend their position that Christ did not rise from the dead. put forth the suggestion that the rise of the Christian movement was God's doing. A Roman guard of strictly disciplined fighting men was stationed to guard the tomb. sealing. But three days later the tomb was empty. one of these disciples.
if the disciples had wanted to come in. Paul Maier observes that " . One way a guard was put to death was by being stripped of his clothes and then burned alive in a fire started with his garments. ." FACT #3: LARGE STONE MOVED On that Sunday morning the first thing that impressed the people who approached the tomb was the unusual position of the one and a half to two ton stone that had been lodged in front of the doorway. tiptoe around the sleeping guards. Skepticism regarding the historical credentials of Christianity is based upon an irrational bias." . And no shred of evidence has yet been discovered in literary sources. a student of Roman military discipline. It was in such a position that it looked as if it had been picked up and carried away. Now. then lots were drawn to see which one would be punished with death for the guard unit's failure. They left their place of responsibility. in which Jesus was buried. If it was not apparent which soldier had failed in his duty. how could they have done that without the guards' awareness? FACT #4: ROMAN GUARD GOES AWOL The Roman guards fled. epigraphy. All the Gospel writers mention it. Dr.not have done that if the tomb were still occupied. according to the canons of historical research. . was actually empty on the morning of the first Easter. witnessed by so excellent a set of textual and historical testimonies . to conclude that the sepulcher of Joseph of Arimathea. . when Roman military discipline was so exceptional? Justin. How can their attrition he explained. especially in the night watches. in Digest #49. Clark Pinnock Mcmaster University Those who observed the stone after the resurrection describe its position as having been rolled up a slope away not just from the entrance of the tomb. and then roll the stone over and steal Jesus' body. or archaeology that would disprove this statement. wrote that fear of punishment "produced flawless attention to duty. mentions all the offenses that required the death penalty. I ask you. or if the Sanhedrin knew the whereabouts of Christ's body. There exists no document from the ancient world. if all the evidence is weighed carefully and fairly. . George Currie. but from the entire massive sepulcher. it is indeed justifiable. The fear of their superiors' wrath and the possibility of death meant that they paid close attention to the minutest details of their jobs. Certainly the entire unit would not have fallen asleep with that kind of threat over their heads.
The first is the large number of witnesses of Christ after that resurrection morning. John never did get over it. St. you can ask them. against all statements to the contrary. Paul says in effect. and place them in a courtroom. emphasizes: "What gives a special authority to the list (of witnesses) as historical evidence is the reference to most of the five hundred brethren being still alive. Dr. Ohio. Yamauchi. FACT #6: JESUS' APPEARANCES CONFIRMED Christ appeared alive on several occasions after the cataclysmic events of that first Easter ." Let's take the more than 500 witnesses who saw Jesus alive after His death and burial.' Such a statement in an admittedly genuine letter written within thirty years of the event is almost as strong evidence as one could hope to get for something that happened nearly two thousand years ago. but rather the empty grave clothes--undisturbed in form and position. If the number of eyewitnesses is substantial. and there were the grave clothes. we as eyewitnesses can refute it. Do you realize that if each of those 500 people were to testify for only six minutes. Paul reminded them that the majority of those people were still alive and could be questioned. a disciple of Jesus. For instance. in the form of the body. HOSTILE WITNESSES Another factor crucial to interpreting Christ's appearances is that He also appeared to those who were hostile or unconvinced. it is important to know whether enough people who were participants or eyewitnesses to the event were alive when the facts about the event were published. The apostle appealed to his audience's knowledge of the fact that Christ had been seen by more than 500 people at one time. One of the earliest records of Christ's appearing after the resurrection is by Paul. slightly caved in and empty--like the empty chrysalis of a caterpillar's cocoon. and a later police report turns out to he a fabrication of lies. including cross-examination. you would have an amazing 50 hours of firsthand testimony? Add to this the testimony of many other eyewitnesses and you would well have the largest and most lopsided trial in history. the tomb was not totally empty--because of an amazing phenomenon. . OVER 500 WITNESSES Several very important factors arc often overlooked when considering Christ's postresurrection appearances to individuals. if we all witness a murder. 'If you do not believe me. To know this is obviously helpful in ascertaining the accuracy of the published report. That's enough to make a believer out of anybody. When studying an event in history.FACT #5: GRAVECLOTHES TELL A TALE In a literal sense. the event can he regarded as fairly well established. The first thing that stuck in the minds of the disciples was not the empty tomb. associate professor of history at Miami University in Oxford. Edwin M. John. looked over to the place where the body of Jesus had lain.
they actually help to build confidence in the truth of the resurrection." Christians believe that Jesus was bodily resurrected in time and space by the supernatural power of God. but the problems inherent in unbelief present even greater difficulties. THE WRONG TOMB? A theory propounded by Kirsopp Lake assumes that the women who reported that the body was missing had mistakenly gone to the wrong tomb. Although he was at the time not a disciple. The difficulties of belief may be great. thus effectively quenching for all time any rumor resurrection. Bruce Manchester University The argument that Christ's appearances were only to followers is an argument for the most part from silence. It is equally possible that all to whom Jesus appeared became followers. one of the greatest witnesses for the truth of the resurrection. then the disciples who went to check up on the women's statement must have also gone to the wrong tomb. I have read or heard people comment that Jesus was seen alive after His death and burial only by His friends and followers. No one acquainted with the facts can accurately say that Jesus appeared to just "an insignificant few. they attempt to water down the overwhelming impact of the multiple eyewitness accounts. the Jewish authorities would have lost no time in producing the body from the proper tomb. But that line of reasoning is so pathetic it hardly deserves comment. Using that argument. would not have been mistaken about the location. The theories advanced to explain the resurrection by "natural causes" are weak. that Jewish authorities. their authenticity would generally be regarded as beyond all doubt. and arguments from silence can be dangerous. who asked for a Roman guard to be stationed at the tomb to prevent Jesus' body from being stolen. for they were there! If the resurrection-claim was merely because of a geographical mistake. No author or informed individual would regard Saul of Tarsus as being a follower of Christ.Over and over again. F. HALLUCINATIONS? Another attempted explanation claims that the appearances of Jesus after the resurrection . It was a lifeshattering experience when Christ appeared to him. If so. F. Saul despised Christ and persecuted Christ's followers. If the New Testament were a collection of secular writings. Nor would the Roman guards. he later became the apostle Paul. The facts show the exact opposite. however. We may be certain.
the confirmation of historicity is overwhelming. The depression and cowardice of the disciples provide a hard-hitting argument against their suddenly becoming so brave and daring as to face a detachment of soldiers at the tomb and steal the body. see. This is the swoon theory. Sherwin-White Classical Roman Historian an impression which lay at the bottom of their future ministry. He didn't rise from the grave"? And if such a rebuttal failed. If the authorities had the body in their possession or knew where it was. popularized by Venturini several centuries ago. who crept about weak and ill. wanting medical treatment. why. could have given to the disciples the impression that He was a Conqueror over death and the grave. They were in no mood to attempt anything like that. when the disciples were preaching the resurrection in Jerusalem. why didn't they recover the corpse. Skeptic David Friedrich Strauss--certainly no believer in the resurrection--gave the deathblow to any thought that Jesus revived from a swoon: "It is impossible that a being who had stolen half-dead out of the sepulchre. he merely fainted from exhaustion and loss of blood. put it on a cart. strengthening and indulgence. and wheel it through the . didn't they explain: "Wait! We moved the body. A. at the most could only have given it an elegiac voice. Everyone thought Him dead. must now appear absurd." THE BODY STOLEN? Then consider the theory that the body was stolen by the disciples while the guards slept. this theory also does not coincide with the historical situation. why didn't they explain exactly where Jesus' body lay? If this failed. is often quoted today. Roman historians have long taken it for granted. Unsupported by the psychological principles governing the appearances of hallucinations. Again. but later He resuscitated and the disciples thought it to be a resurrection. The theory that the Jewish or Roman authorities moved Christ's body is no more reasonable an explanation for the empty tomb than theft by the disciples. and why wasn't it produced? DID JESUS SWOON? Another theory.were either illusions or hallucinations. the Prince of Life. have elevated their reverence into worship. but could by no possibility have changed their sorrow into enthusiasm. Such a resuscitation could only have weakened the impression which He had made upon them in life and in death. which says that Jesus didn't die. who required bandaging. For the New Testament of Acts. and who still at last yielded to His sufferings. where was the actual body. Any attempt to reject its basic historicity. even in matters of detail. N.
" As a reward for their efforts. than the great sign which God hath given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead. for 14 years a headmaster of Rugby. We must ask ourselves: What caused them to go everywhere telling the message of the risen Christ? Had there been any visible benefits accrued to them from their efforts--prestige. and appointed to the chair of modern history at Oxford. History of Rome. no one comes to the Father but through Me" (John 14:6). however. increased social status or material benefits--we might logically attempt to account for their actions. an English scholar. to the understanding of a fair inquirer. This great scholar said: "I have been used for many years to study the histories of other times.center of Jerusalem? Such an action would have destroyed Christianity--not in the cradle. and I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort. it is not too much to say that there is no historic incident better or more variously supported than the resurrection of Christ. was well acquainted with the value of evidence in determining historical facts. and the truth. . they laid down their lives as the ultimate proof of their complete confidence in the truth of their message. Nothing but the antecedent assumption that it must be false could have suggested the idea of deficiency in the proof of it." REAL PROOF: THE DISCIPLES' LIVES But the most telling testimony of all must be the lives of those early Christians. those early Christians were beaten. stoned to death. Jesus told him: "I am the way. and the life. thrown to the lions." Brooke Foss Westcott. tortured and crucified. Yet. for their whole-hearted and total allegiance to this "risen Christ . said: "raking all the evidence together. Every conceivable method was used to stop them from talking. author of the famous. WHERE DO YOU STAND? How do you evaluate this overwhelming historical evidence? What is your decision about the fact of Christ's empty tomb? What do you think of Christ? When I was confronted with the overwhelming evidence for Christ's resurrection. but in the womb! THE RESURRECTION IS A FACT Professor Thomas Arnold. wealth. I had to ask the logical question: "What difference does all this evidence make to me? What difference does it make whether or not I believe Christ rose again and died on the cross for my sins!' The answer is put best by something Jesus said to a man who doubted-Thomas. and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them.
Luke was a careful historian who verified his evidence. The Ascension of Christ is the consummation and the culminating point of Christ’s redemptive work (Hebrews 8:1). If you have never trusted Christ. happiness (Psalm 26:11). These same things Christ continues to do through His new Body—the church. and considering the fact that Jesus offers forgiveness of sin and an eternal relationship with God.” (Acts 1:1-2). 1 Peter 1:21). God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart. you can do so right now. and rest. Thank You that I can trust You. ASCENSION Acts 1:9-11 Ascension of Jesus Christ Dr." 7. Make me the kind of person You want me to be. You can trust God right now by faith through prayer. who would be so foolhardy as to reject Him? Christ is alive! He is living today. He is now in the position of honor in heaven at the right hand of His Father (Psalm 110:1). It took place after 40 days of resurrection appearances when Jesus ascended from the Bethany side of the ridge of Mount of Olives (Acts 1:12). Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Prayer is talking with God. He is the exalted Son of God at the right hand of the Father (Luke 24:26. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. CHRISTIANITY IS CHRIST The Ascension is Christ's exaltation and glory after His saving work on earth had been accomplished (Philippians 2:9). I open the door of my life and trust You as my Savior. until the day when He was taken up . These bodily appearances of Jesus came to an end when Christ ascended into heaven and resumed His position He had before His becoming incarnate man. . It is the proof of His victory (Ephesians 4:8). I need You. He and the other writers recorded for us the bodily appearances of the risen Lord to men for 40 days between His resurrection and His ascension.On the basis of all the evidence for Christ's resurrection. It is the permanent place of power (Acts 2:33). The book of Acts tells what He continues to do and teach through His body of believers. What did Jesus do? He tells us when He read Himself into His messianic office at the Nazareth synagogue (Luke 4:18-21). . . These are based on solid historical evidence. Luke tells us about “all that Jesus began to do and teach. All that Jesus began to do and teach. The prayer I prayed is: "Lord Jesus.
Jesus died and rose again from the dead. Christianity is based on historical facts. 4). 3). From a secular historian’s point of view. but then Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to them. He lived a perfect life on this earth in Jerusalem and was crucified on a Roman cross. saw Him dead with their own eyes on the cross and in the grave. It is impossible to separate the Christ of faith from the historical Jesus. He is one and the same. 5. The resurrection of Jesus is based on historical facts. They knew He had died. . Luke is an accurate. “He also presented Himself alive. Luke 1:1-4 tells us how he went about his gathering evidence and evaluating it. 5). credible historian. . after His suffering. Jesus rose from the dead. and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). 6. The resurrection has been demonstrated by ten convincing proofs to the five senses. He appeared to them as one who had risen from the dead. 3).” (v. Jesus said. Each person of the Godhead is referred to in these verses. Jesus told the believers to “wait for what the Father had promised . There were eyewitnesses that Jesus was alive and appeared and disappeared before people over a period of 40 days. but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (v. appearing to them over a period of forty days. and rose from the dead. “for John baptized with water. The Trinity is emphasized in vv. Essentials of the kingdom of God The resurrected Christ taught the disciples essential things about the kingdom of God (v. He has been proven over and over again by scholars to be an extraordinary historian. 4. It was a real documented historical event. The promise of the Father will be fulfilled in the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The Christ of faith is the Jesus of history. . These are historical facts. He “showed Himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that He was alive” (v. by many convincing proofs. Luke says he had “convincing proofs” or demonstrative proofs of the resurrection of Christ.
either. “My witnesses both in Jerusalem. will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven’” (Acts 1:9-11. The word “witness” means to affirm that one has seen. Jesus did not deny the restoration Jesus gave His commission to go and make disciples in all the earth (v. 8). .” The special enabling by the Holy Spirit is to make them. why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus.” Jesus was “taken up” (v. or heard. to look. . The fires of persecution revealed them. A cloud “took under Him. 8). 10). and even to the remotest part of the earth” (v. but the people who were watching Him had their eyes fixed on.” He seems to be supported by the cloud. . and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 6-7). Jesus ascended into heaven. “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you . Verses 9-11 reads. As the disciples were standing on the Mount of Olives they saw Jesus suddenly ascend into a cloud. ‘Men of Galilee. 1-2a). and in all Judea and Samaria. He didn’t go beyond the cloud. “to enable them. They also said. disappeared.” Luke used the word "looking" (blepo) meaning to see. There were eyewitnesses to the ascension of Jesus Christ. 11). so there could be no mistake about an event so supernatural. The Gospel of Luke teaches us “about all that Jesus began to do and teach. who has been taken up from you into heaven." These witnesses died because they were already martyrs. “received up” (v. A “witness” is one who bears testimony by his death. or experienced something. NASB 1995). He was lifted up while they were looking on. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going. The function of an apostle was to give witness to the resurrection.The disciples kept asking Jesus about the restoration of the kingdom of Israel (vv. and a cloud received Him out of their sight. two men in white clothing stood beside them. He just disappeared. and they never saw Him again. 9). behold.” from “to be able. Jesus “was lifted up while they were looking on. until the day when He was taken up . It is not as though Jesus was suddenly snatched away out of . or gazing upon Him. "And after He had said these things.” The word dunamis literally means. he is not a spectator.” (vv. “went” (v. . denoting a continuous steadfast attention. Their eyes were fixed on Him as He ascended. It was a “strained intent. Our English word “martyr” is a transliteration of the Greek word for "witness. to tell what one has learned first hand personally. to direct the eyes and the attention upon an object.” They were stretching to look “intently into the sky while He was departing.
their sight. 11) It does not read angels. It was the visible symbol of God’s glory that received Him and hid Him from their eyes. Moody suggested they were Moses and Elijah (cf. The “royal chariot” was the cloud closely associated with the divine presence in other parts of the Scriptures. He did not vanish as He had done when leaving His disciples during the forty days after His resurrection. Our Lord withdrew from a world of limitations to where God is. The distance and direction is really of no importance. The “cloud” that received Jesus from their sight was no doubt the Shekinah cloud of glory. Observe how closely the resurrection. The essential fact of the Ascension of Christ is that He departed and disappeared from view. "This same Jesus" would indeed come back in the way in which He went. Christ will come again on clouds of glory (Matt. . The ascension is the abiding proof that the resurrection of Jesus was more than a temporary resuscitation. however the implication is that He would not immediately appear again.” “Two men in white clothing stood beside them. will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven” (v. One day this same Jesus will return in glory and every eye shall see Him. ascension and second coming of Christ are related. Rev. 11). Most Bible scholars say these men were angelic messengers since we encounter them frequently in Acts (5:19-20. In reality there truly was no disappearance of Christ. ascended visibly into heaven and disappeared from their sight. Jesus Christ ascended into heaven. ‘Men of Galilee. but by spiritual insight. 27:23). The cloud served only to hide Jesus. The two men told the disciples. Phillips translates: “He was lifted up before their eyes till a cloud hid Him from their sight. He was no longer perceived by physical sight or sensation. “this Jesus. The heavenly messenger says. 26:64.” Who were these “two men in white clothing” standing there speaking to the disciples? D. 30-32. He bade His followers good-by. 1:7). The onlookers “were gazing intently” meaning “looked intently at someone or something. They just couldn’t see His presence with physical sight. why do you stand looking into the sky?’” (v. and they also said. but “men. 12:7-10. Matt. It conveyed to His followers that the appearances that had occurred over the 40-day period had come to an end. Their teaching period was over and there was now an awareness that He was with them all the time. the transfiguration of Jesus. 11:13-14. 24:30. 17:2-3). L. Heaven is at once a place and a state and personality necessarily implies locality. 10:3-7. who has been taken up from you into heaven. 8:26.” “This same Jesus” is coming back. 23.
Whatever, therefore, may be said of the Resurrection in regard to the laws of nature applies equally to the Ascension. Our Lord’s resurrection and body of ascension was different from the body laid in the tomb, yet it was essentially the same. It could be seen, touched, handled, recognized; He could eat and drink, appear and disappear, etc. It was just like He just stepped off into a place where they could no longer see Him, yet He was there all the time.
THE FACT OF THE ASCENSION IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
The Ascension of Christ was anticipated in both the Old Testament and the teachings of Jesus.
Anticipated in the Psalms
The Ascension of Christ is anticipated in the Royal Psalms in the Old Testament (2, 18, 20, 21, 45, 61, 72, 89, 110, 132). They looked forward to the exaltation of David’s greater Son. The apostle Peter quotes Ps. 110:1 in Acts 2:34 as part of his great Pentecost sermon. Compare also Ps. 110:1 with Hebrews 1:13; 10:12, 13; Ps. 16:8-11 with Acts 2:25-33; and Ps. 68:18 with Eph. 4:8.
Anticipated in the Gospels
The Ascension of Christ was anticipated by Christ (Lk. 9:31, 51; John 6:62; 7:33; 12:32; 14:12, 28; 16:5, 10, 17, 28; 10:17). Jesus’ ascension is implied in the allusions to His coming to earth on clouds of heaven when He returns (Matt. 24:30; 26:64). To His grumbling disciples Jesus said, “What if you should behold the Son of Man ascending where He was before?” (Jn. 6:62). Jesus said to Mary, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren, and say to them, ‘I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God’ ” (John 20:17, NASB 1995). Jesus said, “It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you” (John 16:7). It is by means of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling in us that Jesus makes His life available to each of us so intimately and personally.
Basis for New Testament Teaching
The New Testament writers base their teachings on the fact of the Ascension (Acts 1:612). Christ was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of the sight of the people who witnessed His ascension (v. 9). At His Ascension His resurrection body was uplifted till it disappeared. Christ’s session in heaven as our High Priest is a position of authority and honor at God’s right hand and is based on the ascension of Christ. Jesus was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. In his Gospel Luke says, “And it came about that
while He was blessing them, He parted from them” (24:51). The Ascension attempts to put into words what is beyond words, describes what is beyond description. In Acts 1:9 he continues with the same thought, “And after he had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.” Those who had been listening to the blessing “were gazing intently into the sky while He was departing . . .” (v. 10). The ascension is the culmination of Christ’s glorification after His resurrection, and was necessary for His heavenly exaltation. The resurrection of Christ demanded the ascension and is the culmination of the incarnation of Christ. The ascension was the entrance into a wider work of Christ as Lord and High Priest (Jn. 7:39; 16:7). The gift of the Holy Spirit came from the ascended Christ. He and the Father had promised the coming of the Holy Spirit to every believer.
The apostle Peter
The apostle Peter says in Acts 2:33 Jesus was “exalted to the right hand of God.” The epistles of Paul tell us Christ will be in heaven until He returns (1 Thess. 4:16; cf. Peter in Acts 3:21). The glorification of believers is guaranteed “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been made subjected to Him” (1 Pet. 3:21-22). Stephen who lay dying by stoning as the first Christian martyr “gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and he said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55-56). Saul of Tarsus “was in hearty agreement with putting him to death” (8:1).
The apostle Paul
Saul of Tarsus was persecuting Christians on the road to Damascus when he suddenly saw “a light from heaven” and “heard a voice.” When Saul inquired the origin the voice from heaven told him, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:3-5). The apostle Paul wrote in Romans 8:34, “Christ is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.” He places strong emphasis on the Ascension of Christ in his letters. Ephesians 1:20-21 says God “raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion . . .” There Christ is sovereign over all and “head over all thing to the church” (v. 22). We believers are raised up with Him and “Seated” with Him “in the heavenly places” (2:6). “He who descended is Himself also who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things” (Eph. 4:10).
Christ was exalted after the extreme humiliation of the crucifixion (Phil. 2:6-11). “God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name.” “Our citizenship (or commonwealth) is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (3:20). Christ is in heaven and He is coming for us (1 Thess. 1:10; 2:19; 3:13; 4:16-18). Christ who was “revealed in the flesh . . . .” was “taken up in glory,” writes the apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 3:16.
The writer of Hebrews tells us more about the ascension than any other part of the New Testament. “When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb. 1:3b). Christ enjoys a position of authority in heaven as the Son of God (1:4-13). All things are subjected to Him (2:8). Jesus has been “crowned with glory and honor” (2:9). Our “great high priest” has “passed through the heavens” (perfect tense). He has entered within the veil for us and serves there on our behalf. “He abides forever, holds His priesthood permanently” (7:24) “since He always lives to make intercession for them” (v. 25). He is “exalted above the heavens” (v. 26) because He is “a Son, made perfect forever” (v. 28). What is the central idea in Hebrews? “Now the main point in what has been said is this: we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a minister in the sanctuary, and in the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man” (8:1-2). He ministers in “the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation. . . . in heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us” (9:12, 24). Jesus, “having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God” (10:12). In order to win the Christian race we must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus who “sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (12:20).
The apostle John
Our Advocate in heaven (1 John 2:1) is “coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him . . .” (Rev. 1:7). Remember how He went up? (Acts 1:9-11). He is the “Lamb standing, as if slain” at the throne in heaven (Rev. 5:5-6) who took the scroll, and they sang a new song in heaven saying, “Worthy is the Lamb” (vv. 5-14). “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion, forever and ever” (v. 13). Such exaltation of our Lord in heaven necessarily involves His prior Ascension.
OUR LORD’S PRESENT LIFE IN HEAVEN
Christ is exalted to the presence of the Father in heaven, but His activity on earth is evident. 1. Christ is seated on the right hand of the Father (Col. 3:1; Heb. 1:3; 8:1; 10:12).
2. Christ bestowed the gift of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 4:9, 33). 3. Christ added disciples to the church (Acts 2:47). 4. He works with disciples in evangelism (Mk. 16:20). 5. Christ healed the impotent man (Acts 3:16). 6. He stood to receive the martyr Stephen (Acts 7:56). 7. He appeared to Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:5). 8. Christ makes intercession for His people (Rom. 8:26; Heb. 7:25). 9. Christ comes to the aid to those who are tempted (Heb. 2:18). 10. Christ sympathizes with our weaknesses (Heb. 4:15). 11. Christ is able to save to the uttermost (Heb. 7:25). 12. Christ lives forever (Heb. 7:24; Rev. 1:18). 13. He is our Great High Priest (Heb. 7:26; 8:1; 10:21). 14. He abides forever and possesses an eternal, permanent priesthood (Heb. 7:24). 15. Christ appears in the presence of God for us (Heb. 9:24). 16. Christ is our Advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1). 17. He is waiting until all opposition to Him is overcome (Heb. 10:13).
SOME ABIDING PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS
1. We are always in the presence of Christ. We are never out of His sight, and therefore out of His mind. There are no earthly limitations of space and time with our ascended Lord and Savior. We can draw near and dwell in His presence. “Lo, I am with you always” (Matt. 28:20). Christ is living and in His life we live and have our being (Gal. 2:20). In His life we enjoy fellowship with God and victory in the Christian life. We have free access through grace into God’s presence and we can draw near and keep near to Him. 2. The ascension is the demonstration of the all-sufficiency of the righteousness of Christ on behalf of the believer. The atoning sacrifice of Christ has removed our sin and guilt, and His righteousness has provided our acceptance with the Father (2 Cor. 5:21). The atonement of Christ was a “once for all” complete and perfect atonement. Jesus
3. Jesus is not far away. and He is able to save to the uttermost through His intercession. If my assessment of the situation is correct. because of His perpetual life and His inviolable. and for the world to come. 2:19). Will we see Him today? 8. He is right here with us right now. Because Jesus ascended into heaven you and I can have all of Him right now. Even so. 4:15. ecclesiology is the doctrine of the church. The very presence of Christ at the right hand of the Father pleads on our behalf. your study and mine. Here we are. Very few people find this doctrine all that exciting. 4. and thus in our lives. you can see the problem that we face. If we are going to really engage ourselves in this study. come. When Jesus ascended into heaven He did not go to some distant planet in space. In a moment. I am about as likely to commence a study on the church as I am to initiate a conversation with my wife about how she makes a dress. CHURCH Ecclesiology is a word most of us can hardly spell. Instead. of His church. 7. setting out on a study of the church (ecclesiology). 6. He will step back again into visibility. Jesus simply stepped into a different dimension of existence. Lord Jesus. which speaks to us of Christ. Just how important is a study of the church? It is as important as the church is in God’s program for this world. Heaven is not several billion light-years away. a study of the church is about as exciting as a visit to the doctor for an annual checkup. Let us listen well to the Word of God. . 4:10. 2:1). let alone define. and neither is the throne of God and the greatness of His power. 1:22. intramissible priesthood (Heb. in the twinkling of an eye He will suddenly appear. Our ascended High Priest is the perfect mediator between God and men (1 Tim. and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit. NASB 1995). "Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God. 2:18. Because He ascended to heaven. 7:24-25). I have chosen to focus on the Book of Ephesians in this lesson because I believe that in this great epistle Paul underscores the importance of the church in God’s program. 7:25). And just think of it—Just as Jesus stepped into invisibility. Christ is the head and Lord of His church (Eph. and of our place in it. 15. or about how I change a timing belt on a car. Unless I am convinced otherwise. 5. Heb. undelegated.Christ is a human and divine High Priest who is able to sympathize. There is an invisible spiritual kingdom which surrounds us on every side. He pleads by His presence on His Father’s throne. 9:12. For many. There is an essential relationship between the ascension of Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. 8:6) and advocate with the Father (1 Jn. 2:5. Simply put. we must first be convinced of its importance. The primary purpose of this introductory lesson is to convince you that our study of the church is well worth your time and mine. Col. comfort and save the sinner (Heb. The invisible spiritual life is imparted to us by the Holy Spirit who came as a result of Christ’s leaving this earth. He has poured forth this which you both see and hear" (Acts 2:33.
It is He who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing (1:3). with God and with men The divine purpose of salvation – the glory of God Ephesians 1 1 From Paul. Let us begin by focusing on the doctrinal portion of Ephesians. according to “the riches of His grace” (1:7). 11. to the saints [in Ephesus]. 13 And when you heard the word of truth (the gospel of your salvation)—when you believed in Christ—you were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit. Who seals us until our day of redemption (1:13-14). (3) The blessings of salvation are accomplished through the person and work of Jesus Christ (1:3. 5 He did this by predestining us to adoption as his sons through Jesus Christ. an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God. 13) and are assured through the Holy Spirit. before the foundation of the world (1:4). 10.The Church in the Book of Ephesians It is generally agreed that the Book of Ephesians has two parts. 7. until the redemption of God’s own possession to the praise of his glory (Ephesians 1:1-14. the forgiveness of our trespasses. . 10 toward the administration of the fullness of the times. who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms in Christ. 6. I believe that the church is central in both sections of Ephesians. 11 In Christ we too have been claimed as God’s own possession. since we were predestined according to the one purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will 12 so that we. according to the pleasure of his will— 6 to the praise of the glory of his grace that he has freely bestowed on us in his dearly loved Son. He purposed that we should be “holy and unblemished in his sight” (1:4). (1) Our spiritual blessings are indeed bountiful. We are blessed with “every spiritual blessing” (1:3). which are “freely bestowed on us” (1:6). according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ.2 These verses are rich with doctrinal truths. who were the first to set our hope on Christ. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood. I understand that chapters 1-3 expound on the subject of salvation from three points of view: Ephesians 1 Ephesians 2 Ephesians 3 The source of our salvation – the sovereignty of God in salvation The outcome of our salvation – reconciliation. Indeed these blessings have been “lavished” upon us (1:8). 4 For he lovingly chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world that we may be holy and unblemished in his sight. He predestined us to adoption as sons (1:5). according to the riches of his grace 8 that he lavished on us in all wisdom and insight. may be to the praise of his glory. 9. 2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! 3 Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (4) We have been predestined and saved unto good works. the faithful in Christ Jesus. 5. (2) These blessings have God the Father as their source. but our purpose here is to summarize the nature of the spiritual blessings of salvation that God has bestowed on us. It is He who chose us in eternity past. 1:4. The NET Bible). Chapters 1-3 lay a doctrinal foundation and chapters 4-6 spell out the practical ramifications of this doctrine. to head up all things in Christ—the things in heaven and the things on earth. 9 He did this when he revealed to us the secret of his will. 14 who is the down payment of our inheritance. 12.
(5) We have been saved according to the will of God (1:4-5. Salvation is about a gracious God. may give you spiritual wisdom and revelation in your growing knowledge of him. and to bring praise and glory to Himself. and that we are His possession (1:11). nor to our choice. At verse 15. what is the wealth of his glorious inheritance in the saints. and the eyes of their heart have been enlightened. for His own pleasure. It is the work of God. Now here. and he gave him to the church as head over all things. my friend. and for the praise of His glory (1:6. the Father of glory. 9-12). by their love for all the saints (this all will be pursued further in chapter 2. 18 —since the eyes of your heart have been enlightened—so that you may know what is the hope of his calling. It is not Jesus dying on the cross because He could not bear the thought of living without me. the doctrine of the church must be grounded in the doctrine of salvation. It is not “inviting God into our life. the fullness of him who fills all in all (Ephesians 1:15-23). since I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints. praying that they might come to a deeper knowledge of Him through the spiritual wisdom that God supplies (1:17). 23 Now the church is his body. 17 I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ.) Paul does not leave us in the dark as to the kind of power he is talking about. Paul prays for three things. because the Ephesians have come to faith. It is time for us to see that we have been saved by a sovereign God. subordinate to His purposes. (1) He prays that they might come to know more fully the hope of their calling – that is. 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you when I remember you in my prayers. in part. in verses 11-22). 19 and what is the incomparable greatness of his power toward us who believe. a fact that is evident. Paul writes of his prayers for the Ephesian saints. 12). (I should also point out that Paul will once again turn to this subject of God’s power in 3:14-21. Who chose to save a people for Himself.” but God giving us life through His Son. that they might come to grasp the marvelous future that God has for them. Salvation is neither attributed to our goodness. (3) Paul prays that the Ephesian saints might come to a deeper grasp of the immensity of God’s power toward the saints (1:19). (2) Paul prays that they might come to a fuller knowledge of the “wealth of God’s glorious inheritance in the saints” (1:18). To put it in a different way. He also petitions God for their spiritual growth. Do we wonder why we have so many “consumer-oriented” saints. is a view of salvation that we hear all too seldom. 9. as displayed in the exercise of his immense strength. and for His glory. Salvation is more about God than it is about me. 15 For this reason. (7) Our salvation is a part of God’s program to exalt and glorify Christ. so that He is preeminent in and over all creation (1:9-10). 9). 20 This power he exercised in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms 21 far above every rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named. The immeasurable power of God available to us is that same power that can be seen in the resurrection and ascension of our Lord (1:20-23). based upon the fact that God has chosen them and called them to salvation (see 1:3-5). 11). based upon the fact that they are now saved through faith in Jesus Christ. It is this third request that Paul chooses to elaborate upon in the verses that follow.3 Look at what accompanies the resurrection and ascension of our Lord: He is seated at . (6) We have been saved for God’s pleasure (1:5. not only in this age but also in the one to come. to accomplish His foreordained purposes (1:6. but rather God sending His Son to the cross for His pleasure. 22 And God put all things under Christ’s feet. Specifically. who shop around for the church that will offer them the most benefits? It is because we have too many misguided folks who think that God needs them. Paul is ceaseless in his prayers of thanksgiving.
Whatever it is that our Lord purposes to do in and through His church. then you can be assured that will be the price. exalted above “every rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named” (1:21).” and He is also the Head over the church. The church can be assured that what God purposes to do in and through His church will be accomplished. What does this mean? Consider these words written by Paul in Colossians 1: For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in the Son (Colossians 1:19). but also for the age to come. who said he would like to help supply this missionary with a car. I asked the salesman if the total price of the car would fall within the amount of money we had to work with. Paul has prayed that the Ephesians would come to grasp the power of our Lord toward the saints. and he sustains all things by his powerful word. Jesus Christ is the “Head over all things.the right hand of God. In the last two verses of chapter 1. the fullness of him who fills all in all (Ephesians 1:22-23). the question of price came up. “the fullness of him who fills all in all” (1:23). Jesus is the Head of the church. “If the owner of this company tells me to sell you a car for so much. Who is Lord over all. Several years ago. he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. exalting Him as Lord over all. It is something even greater when that person is not just head over the church alone. The salesman replied in words to this effect. 2 in these last days he has spoken to us in a son. we are told that our Lord is the Head of the church (Ephesians 5:23. 3 The Son is the radiance of his glory and the representation of his essence. He points to the power that was exercised in the resurrection. is also the Head of the church. The Son thus manifests all that the Father is. Colossians 1:18). and so when he had accomplished cleansing for sins. He then referred me to his best salesman. whom he appointed heir of all things. and through whom he created the world. We can be assured that He will employ His power to accomplish His purposes in and through His church. the owner of a car dealership in the area. so I was assured that I would find a car for the right price. ascension.” The owner of the company was “head over all things” so far as that car dealership was concerned. and exaltation of our Lord. emphasis mine). 23 Now the church is his body. All of the fullness of the Father dwells in the Son. I was introduced to a man. and he gave him to the church as head over all things. He will accomplish because He is Head over all things. just as we read in Hebrews: 1 After God spoke long ago in various portions and in various ways to our ancestors through the prophets. but that is not exactly what Paul is saying here in the closing verses of Ephesians 1. I was attempting to purchase a car for a missionary who was returning to the United States for a period of time. Paul stresses the relationship between our Lord’s sovereign authority and power and His leadership of the church: 22 And God put all things under Christ’s feet. Is there anything or anyone that is not subjected to His authority?4 The exaltation of our Lord over earthly and celestial powers is not just for this age. He then tells us that Jesus Christ. When the right car came along. Let me seek to illustrate what Paul is saying here. . 4 Thus he became so far better than the angels as he has inherited a name superior to theirs (Hebrews 1:1-4. He informs his readers that the church is the body of Christ. in addition to being the Head over all things (just as Paul stated earlier in 1:20-21). But Paul takes this one additional step in the final verse of chapter 1. Elsewhere. If we are members of His church by faith in Him. but over all things. Who has greater power and authority than this? God subjected all things under Christ’s feet. It is one thing for someone to be the head of the church.
and the devil. And so I ask the question. In Him. who even now inspires and empowers those who are lost. it is the gift of God.” 8 Philip said.” the devil. and the church is the fullness of Christ. 3 among whom all of us also formerly lived out our lives in the cravings of our flesh. “Have I been with you for so long. being rich in mercy. and were by nature children of wrath even as the rest… 4 But God. 9 it is not of works.” 9 Jesus replied. Paul describes our salvation in terms of sinful men being reconciled to God through faith in Christ.” What an amazing statement! Paul has just told us how great our Lord Jesus Christ is. made us alive together with Christ—by grace you are saved!— 6 and he raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus. and this is not of yourselves. Even though we were dead in our sins. dead. and you have not known me. because of his great love with which he loved us. In Ephesians 2. We pursued the pleasures of the flesh. “How important is a study of the church?” Answer: It is as important as the church is. the “sons of disobedience” (2:2). We marched to the beat of a deadly drum. “Lord. In Him. To sum it all up. living in accordance with the world. and thereby we were doomed to eternal wrath. we became partakers with Christ in His exaltation. indulging the desires of the flesh and the mind. 5 even though we were dead in transgressions. having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them (Ephesians 2:1-10). we were enslaved by the world. the flesh. according to the ruler of the kingdom of the air. We lived our lives thinking we were free. and he concludes by telling us that the church is His body. . In verses 1-10. without even knowing we were in bondage to the flesh. 8 For by grace you are saved through faith. And because we were conformed to the world. Paul is telling us that the church is the body of Christ. ‘Show us the Father’? (John 14:7-9). It was the outworking of God’s love as He mercifully saved us by His grace (2:4-10). we were under bondage to the “ruler of the kingdom of the air. The tragedy of our lost condition is that we didn’t even know we were lost and in desperate need of salvation. the ruler of the spirit that is now energizing the sons of disobedience. Before we came to faith. Our salvation was not of our own doing.To see the Son is to see the Father: 7 If you have known me. Paul describes our salvation from a human perspective. And from now on you do know him and have seen him. 10 For we are his workmanship. the One who fills all in all. In reality. show us the Father. 2 in which you formerly lived according to this world’s present path. Philip? The person who has seen me has seen the Father! How can you say. we were raised up with Him and seated with Him in the heavenly realms. we were dead in our sins – not sick. 7 to demonstrate in the coming ages the surpassing wealth of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2 Salvation from a Human Perspective 1 And although you were dead in your transgressions and sins. which was described in Ephesians 1:19-23. He made us alive by joining us with Christ in His saving work on our behalf. His fullness. you will know my Father too. we who were dead in our sins were made alive. so that no one can boast. The church is “the fullness of Him who fills all in all. we were enslaved to our fleshly passions and lusts. which demonstrates our desperate need for grace. In other words. He describes our complete inability to save ourselves in verses 1-3. and we will be content.
enslaved by the world. He did this to create in himself one new man out of two. 15 when he nullified the law of commandments in decrees.Paul makes two things abundantly clear in the first half of Ephesians 2. Paul informs us that our salvation is not primarily for our benefit. They were. in verses 11-22. Paul emphasizes that the salvation we have experienced is the work of God on our behalf. 14 For he is our peace. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. in Ephesians 2:11-12. Paul described the hopeless condition of his readers by virtue of the fact that they were sinners. 22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit (Ephesians 2:11-22). “children of wrath. 16 and to reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross. They were … … without circumcision (2:11) … without the Messiah (2:12) … without citizenship in Israel (2:12) … without the covenants made with the patriarchs (2:12) … without hope (2:12) . which made them enemies of God. the pawns of sin and of Satan. Paul describes his readers’ hopeless condition as Gentiles. In the Jewish mind. First. without a doubt. Now. through faith. and the devil. God saved us to manifest His grace and kindness. having no hope and without God in the world. grows into a holy temple in the Lord. Paul describes our salvation in terms of sinful men being reconciled to God through faith in Christ. 11 Therefore remember that formerly you. Now. those who were destined to God’s eternal wrath because of their sin. in his flesh. the flesh. but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of God’s household. both now and in the ages to come. In Ephesians 2:1-3. Paul describes our salvation in terms of our reconciliation with others. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who used to be far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. We were dead in our sins. 19 So then you are no longer foreigners and noncitizens. Even the good works that we may accomplish as Christians are the works He prepared beforehand (2:10). We were saved by grace. the Gentiles in the flesh—who are called “uncircumcision” by the so-called “circumcision” that is performed in the body by hands— 12 that you were at that time without the Messiah. Paul does not minimize the “lostness” of his Gentile readers who have been converted. 7 to demonstrate in the coming ages the surpassing wealth of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (2:6-7. but for God’s benefit: 6 and he raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus. from the standpoint of their separation from Israel.5 In verses 1-10. the one who turned both groups into one and who destroyed the middle wall of partition. 20 because you have been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. and not the result of any works we have done. emphasis mine). 21 In him the whole building. and not of any work on our part (Ephesians 2:8-9). Paul speaks of the salvation God accomplished in Christ Jesus as that which reconciles Jews and (their bitter counterparts) the Gentiles. by which the hostility has been killed. from a Jewish point of view. with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. 18 so that through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. being joined together. no one could be more lost than a Gentile (see Galatians 2:15). and thus to bring glory to Himself. Second.” that is. Notice all that the Gentiles lacked. thus making peace. Specifically. the hostility. alienated from the citizenship of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise.
Lost (dare I say heathen) Gentiles who were formerly “far away” have been “brought near” through the blood of Christ (2:13). but in Christ we are now fellow citizens. Notice that once again the church is the finished product of God’s redemptive work. From the Jewish point of view. Not only did God bring salvation to lost Gentiles through the work of Christ. making them participants in the blessings promised to the patriarchs. In the final verses of chapter 2. The end result is a “holy temple” which serves as a dwelling place for God through His Holy Spirit (2:2122). God also brought about reconciliation between these very hostile groups. Paul declares that the saving work of Christ at Calvary reconciles Jews and Gentiles who trust in Him. the One common point of reference by which the building can be constructed. Believing Jews and Gentiles are. Colossians 1:18). The foundation of this spiritual temple is the apostolic preaching of the cross. In this temple. . and thus our study of the church?” The church is God’s dwelling place. The mere thought of God including Gentiles in His blessings sent the Jews into a frenzy (see Luke 4:16-30. made ready like a bride adorned for her husband. more than anything. We now all have access to the Father through the same Holy Spirit. Nevertheless. then. on the other they are one building – a temple (2:20-21). Those who were once bitter enemies find peace and harmony. 5:23. now based upon Paul’s teaching in Ephesians 2. Heaven is. Through the body of Christ (“one body. 4:15. and God’s only way of salvation for sinners. they were hopelessly lost. The imagery now changes from a family. “How important is the church.” (see also 3:5). on the one hand. and the sea existed no more. This temple is described as still under construction (by way of evangelism). who proclaimed the shed blood of Jesus Christ as God’s remedy for sin. to a temple (2:21). The “apostles and prophets” are the New Testament “apostles and prophets. The church is the temple of God. and God himself will be with them as their God” (Revelation 21:1-3). who have been reconciled to God and to each other through the saving work of Jesus Christ. His saving work was intended to produce a church. Christ is the One Who is to be preeminent as the Head of the church (Ephesians 1:20-23. They were considered unworthy of the blessings God promised Abraham and his descendants. God dwelling in the midst of His redeemed people: 1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. He will live among them. We were once “illegal aliens” so far as God’s covenant promises were concerned. We are not two “separate but equal” groups. and they will be his people. I would ask again.” 2:16). believing Jews and Gentiles have been reconciled. why “uncircumcised Gentiles” were looked down upon by the circumcised Jews. Christ is the One Who is preeminent. a temple. The wall which separated Jews and Gentiles in the temple has symbolically been torn down in Christ. as the One who brought the church into existence.… without God in the world (2:12). Jesus Christ is the cornerstone (2:20). 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying: “Look! The residence of God is among men and women. in Christ (2:14-15). a dwelling place in which He would reside by the Holy Spirit. 2 And I saw the holy city—the new Jerusalem—descending out of heaven from God. or household. Acts 22:21-23). Paul once again chooses to bring his argument to a climax by turning our attention to Christ and to His church. He is the One Who ties the whole building together. for the first heaven and earth had ceased to exist. members of God’s household. hostility has been done away with. composed of both Jewish and Gentile Christians. one new man (2:15). They were in bad shape. but a new creation. “one new man” (2:15). You can understand. I do not mean to say that the church is to be preeminent. But God’s work at Calvary was meant to produce more than a multitude of individual saints.
saying. Paul. Amen (Ephesians 3:1-21. which is your glory. 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. and experts in the law. 21 to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations. 5 Now this secret was not disclosed to mankind in former generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. 14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father. forever and ever. fellow members of the body. because the church is the place where God has chosen to dwell. One might say that our Lord’s death on the cross of Calvary was a mystery to the disciples. but only to show how important the church is in each chapter. and be killed.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter. 19 and thus to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge. 13 For this reason I ask you not to lose heart because of what I am suffering for you. to proclaim to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ 9 and to enlighten everyone about the divine secret’s plan—a secret that has been hidden for ages in the God who has created all things. through His Spirit. and on the third day be raised. and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus. 10 The purpose of this enlightenment is that through the church the multifaceted wisdom of God should now be disclosed to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly realms. Lord! This must not happen to you. a mystery is something at which God has been hinting. 16 I pray that according to the wealth of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner man. by being rooted and grounded in love. “Get behind me. A mystery is not something which has never been mentioned before. 15 from whom every family in heaven and on the earth is named. but on man’s” (Matthew 16:21-23). 12 in whom we have boldness and confident access to God because of Christ’s faithfulness. so that. so that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. It is not our purpose to give a full exposition of these first chapters of Ephesians. emphasis mine). “God forbid. It is because the disciples had a very different kind of “king” and “kingdom” in mind: 21 From that time on Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders. as I wrote before briefly. 7 I became a servant of this gospel according to the gift of God’s grace that was given to me by the exercise of his power. Paul spells out what he has already alluded to in chapter 1: 9 He did this when he revealed to us the secret of his will. but which men have not understood. 18 you may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth. Paul has been privileged to reveal the “secret” or the “mystery” that was hidden in times past. you will be able to understand my insight into this secret of Christ. or being raised from the dead. 10 toward the administration of the fullness of the times. This is not because Jesus never said anything about dying. according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ.The church is as close to heaven as men will ever get on earth. to head up all things in Christ—the things in heaven and the things on earth (Ephesians 1:9-10). chief priests. 22 So Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 3 that by revelation the divine secret was made known to me. Satan! You are a stumbling block to me. 20 Now to him who by the power that is working within us is able to do far beyond all that we ask or think. In chapter 3. . 6 namely. that through the gospel the Gentiles are fellow heirs. as was His resurrection. the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— 2 if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you. Ephesians 3 1 For this reason I. 8 To me—less than the least of all the saints—this grace was given. because you are not setting your mind on God’s interests. 11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 4 When reading this. Now it is important to understand what a mystery is.
that through the gospel the Gentiles are fellow heirs. My theological training predisposed me to think of the church as a kind of parenthesis. through faith in Jesus Christ: 5 Now this secret was not disclosed to mankind in former generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. sandwiched between God’s working with the Israel in the Old Testament and His working with Israel in the future. . 7 Receive one another. As I was reading this week.” 12 And again Isaiah says. so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:5-13). This mystery is great—but I am actually speaking with reference to Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:32).” 10 And again it says: “Rejoice. 6 namely. and let all the peoples praise him.The “secret” which God privileged Paul to announce was the “mystery” of His bringing all things to a head in Christ. it would not be welcomed). I found that I was not alone in this conclusion: “Several times I have read the Bible straight through. “Because of this I will confess you among the Gentiles. so that they would be made perfect together with us (Hebrews 11:39-40). O Gentiles. It was a great surprise.” 13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in him. yet they did not receive what was promised. the completion of what God had predestined in eternity past. The Scriptures had spoken of this. and each time it strikes me that the church is a culmination. The church is not a parenthesis but an exclamation point! The church is not just an interlude or intermission. But this is not the impression I get from Paul at all. It is the consummation of God’s purposes. and the one who rises to rule over the Gentiles. 8 For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of God’s truth to confirm the promises made to the fathers. but not so clearly that men would understand (and even if it were clearly revealed. in him will the Gentiles hope. fellow members of the body. Consider whether or not these texts don’t also point to the same conclusion: 5 Now may the God of endurance and comfort give you unity with one another in accordance with Christ Jesus. “The root of Jesse will come.” 11 And again. But looking forward. just as Christ also received you. 6 so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 and thus the Gentiles glorify God for his mercy. and I will sing praises to your name. with his people. but to actually preach the gospel to the Gentiles. 39 And these [Old Testament saints] all were commended for their faith. and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:5-6). from Genesis to Revelation. Paul was privileged not only to proclaim this mystery (a proclamation that was not always welcomed – see Acts 22:21-23). 40 For God had provided something better for us [New Testament saints]. but as a result of reading His Word. this sense of culmination is not something reached independently of God’s Word. As it is written. made up of both Jews and Gentiles. the salvation of Jews and Gentiles should come as no surprise. “Praise the Lord all you Gentiles. Put differently. The church is the culmination and climax of God’s eternal plan. as we can see from Paul’s quotations from the Old Testament in Romans 9-11. something to occupy mankind while God prepares to save Israelites. the realization of what God had in mind from the beginning. no one saw the church coming. Looking back. the “mystery” was the “secret” of His church.”6 As Philip Yancey puts it. to God’s glory. then.
let’s consider what role the church might play in the practical outworking of the doctrine Paul has taught in chapters 1-3. Amen (Ephesians 3:20-21. Suffering for the gospel is glorious. The gospel is the “mystery. Conclusion Now we know that Ephesians 4-6 has to do with application. but it can also reveal an improper perspective and focus. The church is the stage in human history upon which the wisdom of God is displayed before the celestial beings. doctrine which places a great emphasis on the church. the church. personally. 11 They probed into what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he testified beforehand about the sufferings appointed for Christ and his subsequent glory. God’s dwelling place. For this reason a woman should have a symbol of authority on her head.” which is proclaimed by Paul. Paul speaks of his sufferings for the sake of the gospel as being the glory of the Ephesians. but also with believing Jews. it is about us being joined with Christ’s body – His body in His literal death. to the glory of God: 10 The purpose of this enlightenment is that through the church the multifaceted wisdom of God should now be disclosed to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly realms. because of the angels (1 Corinthians 11:10). Ephesians 4 Someone may very well ask. as well as His body. The gospel is the good news that faith in Jesus Christ joins one to the body of Christ. What we need to see is that God did not save us to become little islands in the sea of His grace. The church is the climax of God’s eternal purpose. and thus makes every believer a part of God’s temple. Baptism is not just about us. Communion likewise is not merely an individual experience: . 12 They were shown that they were serving not themselves but you. 11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord (Ephesians 3:10-11). 20 Now to him who by the power that is working within us is able to do far beyond all that we ask or think. and so we immediately seek to see how the Bible impacts me. Is the church worthy of our study of this doctrine? Most definitely. emphasis mine). the prophets who predicted the grace that would come to you searched and investigated carefully. along with the apostles and the prophets (Ephesians 2:20. 21 to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations. burial and resurrection. in regard to the things now announced to you through those who evangelized you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things angels long to catch a glimpse of (1 Peter 1:10-12).” now revealed.This “mystery. which is your glory (Ephesians 3:13. it is the place where God is glorified (Ephesians 2:20-21). 10 Concerning this salvation. The inclination of our flesh is to be self-centered. “So what does Ephesians have to say to me?” That is always a good question. He saved us to become a part of His church. The gospel is glorious. The gospel is the good news that faith in Jesus Christ not only reconciles one to God. individually. The church is not only the place where God dwells. As we conclude our study. forever and ever. puts Paul’s persecution in a different light: 13 For this reason I ask you not to lose heart because of what I am suffering for you. 3:5). the church. emphasis mine).
We are not to seek our own good at the expense of others. tossed back and forth by waves and carried about by every wind of teaching by the trickery of people who craftily carry out their deceitful schemes. who come from very different cultures. that is. we will in all things grow up into Christ. The unity of which Paul speaks must surely be the unity that he described in Ephesians 2:11-22. is also the one who ascended above all the heavens. The church grows corporately as the church functions corporately. in order to fill all things. This is very different from the sense of community that one finds in the East. the prisoner for the Lord. 7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of the gift of Christ. he gave gifts to men. the body grows in love (Ephesians 4:7-16). as well as to saints individually. 15 But practicing the truth in love. “When he ascended on high he took captives. It is the growth of all (4:12-13). but rather to facilitate unity. 5 one Lord. The work of Christ at Calvary accomplished a great reconciliation. 11 It was he who gave some as apostles. with patience. Note how central the church is here. who is the head. We in the West tend toward rugged individualism. rather. Paul applies the doctrine he has taught to the church corporately. . 3 making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. The spiritual growth Paul speaks about here is not individual. the church is. 14 So we are no longer to be children. In fact. As each one does its part. 8 Therefore it says. It is “one new man” made up of Jews and Gentiles. just as you too were called to the one hope of your calling. The remainder of chapter 4 contains Paul’s instructions to the church pertaining to relationships with one another. 6 one God and Father of all.16 Is not the cup of blessing that we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread that we break a sharing in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread. therefore. and who have lived all their lives in hostility toward each other. 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God—a mature person. It is the whole body which is to grow up into Christ (4:15). but maintaining this unity is something for which all the saints must strive. who is over all and through all and in all (Ephesians 4:1-6). we who are many are one body. especially in Asia. bearing with one another in love. that is the unity which resulted from the reconciliation God brought about between Jews and Gentiles.” except that he also descended to the lower parts of the earth? 10 He. but corporate. I would be so bold as to say that there is more corporate emphasis than individual. by design. 4 There is one body and one Spirit. 2 with all humility and gentleness. fitted and held together through every supporting ligament. made up of individual believers whose gifts and ministries are diverse. It is brought about as each individual member of the body utilizes his gift for the building up of the whole body (4:16). The church is the body of Christ. one faith. 16 From him the whole body grows. some as evangelists. This becomes apparent as we begin to think our way through chapters 4-6. the very one who descended. in Christ. This diversity of gifting is not designed to undermine unity. some as prophets. and it is the temple in which God dwells by His Spirit. to build up the body of Christ. In Ephesians 4-6. Paul begins his application by emphasizing the urgency of maintaining the unity within the church: 1 I. one baptism. urge you to live worthily of the calling with which you have been called. The church not only comes from very diverse backgrounds. we are to strive to promote the good of others at our expense. and some to be pastors and teachers. attaining to the measure of Christ’s full stature. for we all share the one bread (1 Corinthians 10:16-17).” 9 Now what is the meaning of “he ascended. 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry.
The relationship between our Lord and His church is the pattern for the way husbands and wives relate to each other in their marriage. We are to love others as Christ loved us (5:1-2). and spiritual songs. 18 And do not get drunk with wine. What were the evidences of the Spirit’s presence and power in the church? 41 So those who accepted his message were baptized. 19 speaking to one another in psalms. as Christ loved His church (5:25-31). They speak and sing spiritual truths to one another. 47). a promise which includes the gift of the Holy Spirit. so that people look at us. 17 For this reason do not be foolish. 5:3-14). Here is the promise of salvation for all who will believe. I see the same thing in the early church following Pentecost: 38 Peter said to them. rather than in individual terms. 15 Therefore be very careful how you live—not as unwise but as wise. because the days are evil. Paul has more instructions for the church. the doctrine of the church which Paul expounded earlier is applied to marriage. 43 Reverential awe came on everyone. as many as the Lord our God will call to himself” (Acts 2:38-39). so that people conclude that we are spiritual? No. The manifestations of the filling of the Spirit are described in corporate terms. the world which once enslaved us (2:1-3. breaking bread from house to house. which is debauchery. but be filled by the Spirit. 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for each other in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 44 All who believed were together and held everything in common. to the breaking of bread and to prayer. as anyone had need. and many wonders and miraculous signs came about by the apostles. hymns. We are likewise to stand apart from this world. Paul said earlier that the church is the dwelling place of God in the Spirit (2:22). singing and making music in your hearts to the Lord. We are told that many who heard this promise trusted in Jesus Christ and were added to the church (Acts 2:41. 45 and they began selling their property and possessions and distributing the proceeds to everyone. Paul now instructs the church to be “filled with the Spirit” (5:18). 21 and submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:15-21). Those who are Spirit-filled walk in wisdom. 42 They were devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship.Ephesians 5 In chapter 5. and that day about three thousand people were added. Here is an interesting thought. And the Lord was adding to their number every day those who were being saved (Acts 2:41-47). and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. In Ephesians 5:22-33. and each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. The filling of the Spirit is evident in the corporate life of the church. Those who are Spirit-filled grasp God’s will (5:15). and for all who are far away. How many different kinds of marriage counseling exist today? How many approaches are there to marriage? It would seem to me that a good marriage would be established on the basis of Ephesians 1-3. They are characterized by thanksgiving and by submission to one another. . 39 For the promise is for you and your children. “Repent. 46 Every day they continued to gather together by common consent in the temple courts. 16 taking advantage of every opportunity. How does this filling of the Spirit evidence itself? Is it something individual. 47 praising God and having the good will of all the people. but be wise by understanding what the will of the Lord is. and they make the most of the opportunities to live righteously (5:15-16). Verses 1-5 speak of our responsibility to love one another in a way that is very different from the “love” of those who are lost in their sins. sharing their food with glad and humble hearts.
25 who said by the Holy Spirit through your servant David our forefather. There are implications for individuals. and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God courageously (Acts 4:23-31). Let us remember our Lord’s first words regarding His church in Matthew: 16 Simon Peter answered. the Son of the living God) was the foundation of the church. and not merely as an individual? The last verses of Paul’s instructions regarding spiritual warfare call for our prayers “for all the saints” (verse 18). Peter and John went to their fellow believers and reported everything the high priests and the elders had said to them. The first thing that Jesus says about the church is that “the gates of Hades will not overpower it” (Matthew 16:18). and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. and on this rock I will build my church. encompassing a very diverse group of people: parents and their children. Peter’s great confession (that Jesus was the promised Messiah. where did they go as soon as possible? Was it not to the church? 23 When they were released.” 20 Then he instructed his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ (Matthew 16:16-20). and the peoples plot foolish things? 26 The kings of the earth stood together. Should we therefore not wage our spiritual warfare as a part of the church. But seeing the corporate (church) emphasis in Ephesians. When I come to the “spiritual warfare” section of Ephesians (6:10-20). This strongly suggests to me that our spiritual warfare should not be individualistic. but rather urges the Ephesians to join with him in his warfare against the kingdom of darkness. the place where they were assembled together was shaken. it is true.” 31 When they had prayed. you who made the heaven and the earth and the sea. I must admit that I have always viewed these instructions as individual. ‘Why do the nations rage. I am obliged to consider these instructions as having a corporate dimension. “Master of all. . 24 When they heard this. pay attention to their threats. and the rulers assembled together. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. All have a unique stewardship as a result of being a part of the larger body.Christian marriage is the application of the church truth taught in the first half of Ephesians. When the apostles faced persecution for preaching Christ. It is the church that will withstand the attacks of Satan. Lord. 29 And now. because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you.” 17 And Jesus answered him. the Son of the living God. Whatever you bind on the earth will have been bound in heaven. assembled together in this city against your holy servant Jesus. the body of Christ. but corporate. but these seem to stem from the corporate nature of the church. against the Lord and against his Christ. whom you anointed. The church is a corporate body. 28 to do as much as your power and your plan had decided beforehand would happen. as well as for Paul (verses 19 and 20). and whatever you release on earth will have been released in heaven. “You are blessed. slaves and their masters. they raised their voices to God with one mind and said. 30 while you extend your hand to heal. Paul does not wish to go it alone.’ 27 “For both Herod and Pontius Pilate. “You are the Christ. and to bring about miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus. and grant to your servants to speak your message with great courage. Simon son of Jonah. but my Father in heaven! 18 And I tell you that you are Peter. with the Gentiles and the people of Israel. Can you believe it? Ecclesiology is the key to a godly marriage! Ephesians 6 One may think that in Ephesians 6 Paul finally gets to the individual application. and everything that is in them.
“Fasten your belt and put on your sandals. they encouraged them and then departed (Acts 16:40). he said. • How we live: the methods and techniques we use. 17 He gave them a signal with his hand to be quiet and then related to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. Paul understood that the church was intimately involved with him in the preaching of the gospel (Philippians 1:3-5.” Peter did so. 9. convinced that this is an endeavor well worth the time and effort required. “You’ve lost your mind!” But she kept insisting that it was Peter.” 9 Peter went out and followed him. they entered Lydia’s house. MISSION Theology of Mission “Identify and defend the significant elements in your theology of Christian mission. It was the church that sent out missionaries (Acts 13:1-3). 15 But they said to her.8 The angel said to him. and they went outside and walked down one narrow street. 11 When Peter came to himself. “Put on your cloak and follow me. they returned to report to the church (Acts 14:25-28). Then the angel said to him. a slave girl named Rhoda answered. “Tell James and the brothers these things. and explain the ways in which you seek to express this theology in your practice of ministry. . 13 When he knocked at the door of the outer gate. but ran back in and told them that Peter was standing at the gate.” 12 When Peter realized this. she was so overjoyed she did not open the gate. 19. the mother of John Mark. May God grant that we might better grasp the glorious relationship between Christ and the church. and they kept saying.” Identifying the significant elements in my theology of Christian mission is relatively straightforward. His glory. as we can see from the Book of Ephesians. It opened for them by itself. and when they opened the door and saw him. In summary. 14 When she recognized Peter’s voice. His dwelling place. His fullness. where many people had gathered together and were praying. His bride. “It is his angel!” 16 Now Peter continued knocking. But have we not made the point that the doctrine of ecclesiology (the doctrine of the church) is vitally important? It was to Paul. but thought he was seeing a vision. they came to the iron gate leading into the city. When they came out of the prison. • Where we are going: the Kingdom of God is both a present reality and a future destination. he went to the house of Mary. He said. I believe Christian mission is about: • Who we are: followers of Jesus and children of God. when at once the angel left him. Should it not be important to us as well? If so. he did not realize that what was happening through the angel was real. they were greatly astonished. 10 After they had passed the first and second guards. 4:15-20). then we should proceed with our study of the church. “Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from everything the Jewish people were expecting to happen. We could go on to show other ways in which the doctrine of the church is applied in Ephesians 46. and when they saw the brothers. and when they had completed their mission. His body. but as a part of the church of our Lord Jesus Christ.” and then he left and went to another place (Acts 12:8-17). We do not live our lives in some autonomous fashion.
because Jesus consistently called people to give Him the primary place in their lives. The earliest creed was probably the simplest: ‘Jesus is Lord’: He is our absolute master. Where this seems necessary.1. then we accept His mission as our own. these three points are too complex to function as ‘elements’ and need to be broken down into their key parts. climactic. I do so as part of my description and interpretation. this mission must take a primary. While the question does not explicitly ask about this framework. (Despite our missionary recruitment strategies. • The elements of my theology are only present because they fit into a wider framework of doctrine and practice. . and if we choose to follow Him. We are not called to exercise the same ministry as Jesus. Elements of Christian Mission 1. Finally. • Explaining why I believe each significant element to be significant. • Some further explanation is needed as to why I have left out some other elements other people consider to be significant. we cannot choose to opt out of any aspect or area of discipleship. All the other elements of my theology of mission flow out of this one. the rejection of which plays a significant part in my choice of significant elements. but if we follow. It is all about following Jesus Christian mission must be about the mission of the Christ. decisive” [Wright. because following Jesus has a determining influence on all other aspects of our lives. you may want to consider going into all the world…”) Central. it is generally the case that the task of identifying must also include an amount of explaining how I interpret that element. I need to briefly identify some other frameworks. As I understand it. the task of defending the significant elements in my theology of Christian mission must involve the following aspects. central and inescapable place in our lives. Primary. 2000:140]. Jesus had a mission. Since a commitment to Jesus is also a commitment to His mission. We may choose whether or not we follow Jesus. also. He did not say “If you feel really enthusiastic. 1. but His practice of ministry is to be normative for us: “our task is simply to imitate him” even though what He did was “unique.However. the description of how I seek of express this theology is to be understood in the context of my work at Crisis Centre Ministries.
The cross is vital. 2001: 31. Bock in [Newman. and the giving of the Spirit is also linked to the incarnation: “‘as the Father has sent Me. Wright’s assessment of Jesus’ self-understanding as a key issue is largely accepted. and how we live matters because it affects our relationships. In considering Jesus. even by his critics – see. the Church has been divided into doers and watchers: clergy and laity. but there is no (justifiable) basis for this in the New Testament. but who He was.’ “It is impossible to stress too strongly that the beginning of mission is not an action of ours but the presence of a new reality. The atonement is important because it restores a broken relationship: “you are no longer strangers and aliens.2. Traditionally. but we are all called to work towards achieving the same goal. His entire ministry flowed from this self-understanding and relationship.Inescapable. . priests and people. I also send you. and the relationship He had with his Father.” [Newbigin. Paul’s letters can be seen as explorations of what it means to be ‘in Christ. Not only Jesus’ ministry but also the whole of the New Testament is primarily about relationships. It is about relationships We tend to focus on the external details of activities and strategies and doctrines. 1989:119] The ‘new reality’ became present in Jesus through the incarnation. Doctrines matter because they affect how we live.3. because there is only one category of membership.”’ (John 20:21-22. 1999: 110]. And in that human life. His power is made perfect in weakness. When He wants to do something. It is about incarnation and crucifixion Incarnation and crucifixion go together. “Incarnational community action” [Green. for example. Jesus’ pivotal discourse after the Last Supper is a meditation on the meaning and importance of incarnation: “Abide in me”. We each have different roles to play. He becomes present in a human being. but… of God’s household” (Ephesians 2:19). God consistently works through incarnation.’ And when He had said this. Our mission is primarily about God being present for people. NASB) 1. but it can only be properly understood in the context of the incarnation. ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. John 3:16 is about the incarnation. Jesus summarises the law of Moses in terms of two relationships: love God. 55] is the only form of authentically Christian community action. The incarnation is central to NT doctrine and practice. the presence of the Spirit of God in power. and love your neighbour. the most important things to note are not what He said or what He did. He breathed on them and said to them. 1. He is present for people because He is present in His people.
Jesus’ mission led Him to engage the political and economic systems of His day: He taught about money.Perhaps most significantly. 1. Jesus chose not to join the Essenes.” [Kostenberger & O’Brien 2001: 260] 1. But still. 1. and always put the needs of the people He met before his own agenda of teaching and demonstrating the Kingdom. we see in the John 20:21 text quoted above that Jesus “makes his own relationship with the Father the basic paradigm for the disciples’ relationship with Jesus in the pursuit of their mission. and at times He used encounters with individuals as an example or teaching aid (“See this child?”). was central to both Jesus’ preaching and His wider mission. we are expected to function as active members of society and not withdraw from it into selfsufficient monasteries or communes. Jesus saw His own role as that of a servant (Luke 22: 27). It is about the Kingdom of God I take it as self-evident that the Kingdom of God. 1. It is about engagement in society Jesus and the Apostles worked to reach and transform individuals: there is no suggestion that they planned to transform the society they lived in. . There is no suggestion in the Gospels that Jesus was trying to impose a predefined agenda on the people He met. tax and inheritance rights. His focus was not primarily on His own spiritual life and health (although these things clearly did matter to Him) but on the concerns and needs of the people around Him – both His disciples and those who did not follow Him. or the national lottery).6. however we are to understand this concept. It is about serving others Jesus’ own ministry was about encountering other people and serving them in appropriate ways. He returned to some key themes and issues many times in his ministry. and I have encountered many Evangelical Christian who do not believe that this aspect of His ministry is normative for us.5. Jesus exercised a ‘holistic’ ministry: his activity was neither purely focussed on the spiritual (preaching and praying) nor on the physical (feeding and healing). but He never used the individual. While we may choose to disengage from some aspects of society (such as food sacrificed in pagan temples. This sounds simple and obvious. It is about the whole person In modern terms. but it is not simple in practice.4.7.
Of course. we read. this brief statement ignores a major ‘chicken and egg’ issue (such as I describe below under ‘Eschatology’). The Church as an institution While the church clearly is an institution. but in a deeper way with our fellow Christians. For example. 1989:234] The ministry and gifting of each individual Christian is seen in the context of the Body of Christ. it is more than an institution. 1. but it does provide a framework for mentioning three alternative approaches I reject in principle. a discussion which closely parallels my use of the phrase “unique and united” which has been repeated many times since first preaching a sermon on that theme in 1987. the Apostles worked in groups. I do not have space to explain and justify my interpretation of this verse and the surrounding passage.9. Jesus sent out the disciples in pairs. While it is not entirely true that “there are no lone Christians in the Bible” (the Ethiopian eunuch seems to be the exception that proves the rule).8. Defending (1): Alternative Approaches What I would like to do at this point is respond in detail to Bosch . I have long held the view that most of our errors in doctrine and practice can be traced to a misunderstanding of the nature of the church. 2. “The legacy . 1998:163] both locally and elsewhere. 2. where would the sense of smell be? (1 Corinthians 12: 17b) 1. in each new church Elders (plural) were appointed. and so on. but space does not permit. Christian ministry is always undertaken as a corporate activity.1. Our unity is not only a vital doctrine. The reduction of the church in practice to no more than a human institution is often identified with the Constantinian revolution. It is about working together We are united in a real way with our fellow members of the society in which we live. It is about the ‘Ephesians Four’ ministries I believe that the ministries listed by Paul in Ephesians 4:11 are all vital components of both church life and Christian mission. but it testifies to and authenticates the message we preach: “the only effective hermeneutic of the gospel is the life of the congregation which believes it” [Newbigin. but it seems to me that this passage is talking about “a total mobilisation of the entire membership of the Church for ministry to the world and building up the body” [Johnstone.The term ‘engagement’ should be understood in the context of Warren’s linking of “distinctive and engaged” [1995: 29]. and each member needs the other members to make up what is lacking: “If the whole were hearing.
2. I acknowledge the inspirational work of many Christians. for example. only chapter 11 touches on these concerns. but the battles they had to fight within the church to justify their activities adequately demonstrates my point. such as St Francis. and also has a number of serious and unfortunate consequences. if the whole of society belongs to the church. The Church as a ghetto Many people outside the Church have declared it to be irrelevant. It is all about ‘the care of the faithful.’ According to the written records. or two days if it really necessary” [:233]. 2. but the real problem is that much of the Church believes itself to be irrelevant to modern life and society as a whole: the private world of personal identity and meaning is not functionally connected with the public world of the state. Two of these consequences are particularly relevant here. 1996:90]. commerce. 1968: 144-150] is a good example. but in reality this transformation took place much earlier. And secondly. . who gave themselves to this task. the missionaries arriving with Cortés and Pizarro were clearly involved in “a continuation of the crusades. Firstly. then ‘Christian’ mission must result in the destruction and re-creation of the culture of any non-Christian society. the value of martyrdom. Mission in this context is not about serving people but conquering them. 2000: 37] is a natural consequence of the Reformers’ unquestioning acceptance of the Roman Catholic understanding of the Church carried forward into a world in which every congregation owes more to the gathered Church of the Anabaptists than the parish church of Christendom. health and education [Walker. and church practice: the letter of Polycarp [Staniforth. It can be argued that Protestant churches accepting “compartmentalized living” [Gibbs & Coffey. For example. 1991: 226] 2. but we do not have room to pursue that question here. The Church as the whole society I am persuaded by various arguments (see. the differences between Christian and non-Christian values and lifestyle. The early Church Fathers were very concerned about matters such as the characteristics of a holy lifestyle.” [Bosch. and then it is only to warn that a true ‘missioner’ will never stay as a guest “more than a day. they showed very little concern for mission and evangelism: in the Didache. Verduin ) that the identification of Church with society is mistaken. there is no place for Christian mission within the ‘Christian’ society. if the model is for society as a whole to be Christian. in Saaymon & Kritzinger.that Christendom bequeathed to the church was effectively to reduce it to the status of an institution for the care of the faithful” [Shenk. 1996: 116-121].3.
But it is equally obvious that the NT does not contain a doctrine of the trinity. 3. and mistakes or biases in interpreting any one area will have an impact on our understanding of all other areas. and invites us to join Him in it.3. the filioque controversy was never resolved. The trinity The New Testament clearly teaches that we follow Jesus. and even then. and it took the Church centuries of prayer. Books on the subject tend to treat it as a specialist activity for the spiritual elite. So I wish to simultaneously affirm that authentic Christian mission is an engagement in spiritual warfare.1. but does not define or determine it. in the power of the Holy Spirit. I do not want to exclude any Biblical material or concept: everything is relevant. for example. Consequently. in Larkin & Williams.” [Williams. it must be of secondary rather than primary importance. The mission of God It seems to me that much of the discussion of the ‘mission of God’ improperly confuses the works of the Father and the Son. creation. while in the NT it is used as one metaphor among many for the ‘normal Christian life’ that all followers of Christ are called to. and every doctrine can make an important contribution when considering some aspect of Christian mission. and while I wholeheartedly believe in the triune God.3. debate and conflict before the Athanasian Creed was formulated and widely accepted. the Son has a mission. But the Father’s mission is “wrapped up first and foremost in God’s act of sending his Son. Defending (2): ‘Missing’ Elements All Christian truth is inter-related. and also to deny the relevance of much writing . or the calling of Abraham) may inform our understanding of Christian mission. I cannot believe that a doctrine that Jesus and the Apostles never (to our knowledge) taught can be central to any vital aspect of Christian life or teaching. In seeking to understand Christian mission.2. The work of God (in. 3. 1998: 240] The Father sends the Son. While many writers consider belief in the trinity to be foundational or a “fundamental belief” [Newbigin. The following items are only excluded from my list of significant elements because they are less significant to me in establishing a theology of Christian mission than the elements identified above. who is the way to the Father. 3. 1978:31]. Spiritual warfare Much teaching about spiritual warfare is dangerously misguided.
But the opposite is also true: we tend to believe the doctrines which support the way we choose to live. So. Election Both Calvinists and Armenians have been deeply involved in Christian mission: Wesley and Whitfield are the classic examples. whatever was taught from the pulpit. primarily in the context of mission and evangelism. In this. as can be seen from the tragedy of Münster in 1534-5 [Williams. 1962: 362-381]. 1991:508] because there must be an eschatological dimension to our missionary activity. For example. Eschatology I believe and teach what I affirmed above: that our beliefs affect the way we live. but those who take an eschatological starting point offer no consistent model or guidance. however important to the individual the doctrine of election may be. the people who tithed tended to believe in tithing.on the subject. it is clearly not an essential part of an understanding of Christian mission. if you want to overturn the current social framework. It is very easy to claim that your lack of engagement in society is a consequence of your doctrine. 1978: 78-79] 4.4. From my personal experience. In all the evangelical churches I have known well. I have spent a great deal of time talking with people about eschatology. 3. as in many areas. I am indebted to Forster – see [1997: 7] for example. Following Jesus One of the chief difficulties in planning any social action project is the question of boundaries: some of the problems you come across will be what you .5. Expressing the Theology 4. a belief in an imminent millennial kingdom is very useful. “God’s way of universal salvation… must be accomplished by the way of election – of choosing. calling and sending one to be the bearer of blessing for all. It is easy to establish a logical connection between eschatological theories and the practice of mission (or the lack of it). 3. it seems to me that what is really being spoken about much of the time is the closely-related concept of incarnation. Conversely.1. eschatology is one of those areas where people tend to believe what is convenient to them and the group they belong to. If we widen the concept of election from the confines of the CalvinistArmenian debate. And both sides can argue convincingly that their position provides the greatest impetus for missionary activity. but “neither the eschatologization nor the historicization of mission satisfies” [Bosch.” [Newbigin.
but when someone phones up in distress we spend time responding to them before trying to point them towards more specialised help. most of the time He accepted it as a given. but very few ever do so. we are set up to work with homeless people. but those boundaries did not stop Him responding to the Syrophoenician woman.were set up to deal with. Christian volunteers working in our local hostel are not allowed to talk about their faith with the homeless people they serve. Ordinary church leaders have an easier time here. Jesus worked within a social and cultural context. we seek to work within our context. and operating a ministry second. alongside all the other organisations and agencies. At times the boundaries will be arbitrary (many projects for young people help those up to 25 years old. while others will not be. but we can also be flexible in applying those boundaries. as they only have to distinguish between work and personal life. is to act as a referral agency: putting people in contact with more specialist help. so the boundary between our work. not seeking to replace or undermine them. The Salvation Army. our personal life and our Christian service gets blurred. So it is valid for us to aim to work within certain boundaries. founded on this principle. How do you set boundaries. Very few embrace both aspects and seek to integrate them. for example) and often the boundaries will be blurred and subjective (many charities help people with ‘serious’ financial hardship). The Bristol Methodist Centre operates on very similar lines to the Kaleidoscope Project in London: clients are welcome to attend a service if they wish. One thing is clear: we are committed to following Jesus first. how do you refuse to help people in Jesus’ name? It is important to recognise that Jesus Himself set boundaries: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24). Much of what we do. Following Jesus is like marriage: we are committed to Him. Similarly. and while He challenged aspects of that culture. This creates difficulties for any project. we must follow Jesus. but especially for a Christian project where we are seeking to follow Jesus. Most Christian projects are either firmly secular (providing practical help but no spiritual input) or firmly Christian (seeking to win souls but offering little practical help). Where there is a conflict. . in functional terms. He told the leper “Show yourself to the Priest” (Matthew 8:4): He did not attempt to take the job of the Priest for Himself. and few organisations are attempting it. Holistic ministry There are serious problems in undertaking an holistic ministry in the UK at the present time. Thus.2. sometimes this means we work as Christians outside the ministry. have retained the ‘soup’ and ‘soap’ but the ‘salvation’ part of their heritage is almost exclusively confined to their Christian meetings. even though we do not know what this will mean or where He will lead. 4.
we are working with people who have made some form of Christian commitment. I know that often God works in miraculous ways in our clients lives. Those Christians who bring to our ministry a belief in the primacy of the spiritual over the physical see our task primarily as bringing lost souls to salvation: they encourage our clients to confess that they are sinners and pray ‘the’ prayer asking Jesus into their hearts. 4. their lives will be transformed. whatever their spiritual condition. Much of the time. . and God does step in and help them. Communicating this is not easy. physical and mental illnesses cured. helping them understand what it means to be a follower of Jesus: evangelism. then why not pray it? But if a commitment to Jesus is also a commitment to His mission. then wonderful. but we can live with that. The practice of evangelism I said at the beginning that “a commitment to Jesus is also a commitment to His mission. discipleship and pastoral care get all mixed up. Conversion is not about a ticket to Heaven and getting God on your side. or something similar. I am also sure that many people pray ‘the’ prayer because there is no reason not to: if it works. the power of addiction broken.4. but of taking the costly step of changing sides so that you reject the deceit and pleasures of this world to be a part of God’s redeeming community in challenging and transforming the world. The assumption is that if they have ‘really’ prayed the prayer. and they will immediately want to start contributing to society through work and taxes. and I describe some of them in appendix 2. and if praying a prayer might get God on your side and provide what you are looking for.There are many reasons for this. Incarnation and relationship are central to all we do. and real internal change generally comes about through relationships with other people. nothing has been lost. It makes filling in forms and telling stories of ‘successes’ very difficult. and that a heroin addict with the social skills of a cornered rat before accepting Jesus becomes a saved heroin addict with the social skills of a cornered rat after accepting Jesus.” This statement has major implications for our doctrine of salvation and our practice of evangelism. then we are not in the business of asking people to pray a prayer. as well as what we mean by mission. Incarnation and relationship The big question we face each day is: how do we make God present for the people we serve? The hopeless can only gain hope from meeting a God who is both powerful and loving. if it does not work. 4. Helping people is only possible if they want to be helped. I am not sure what many people mean when they pray ‘the’ prayer. If the only thing that matters in your life is getting off the street tonight or finding your next fix.3.
everyone is happy. even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. What will occur on that day? Do we know when it will transpire? Will there be any warning? Many people may have opinions and speculations. Theological certainty can cause the same problems. “I have often been puzzled by missionaries persuading their Asian friends to change their faith from Buddha to Jesus Christ… They themselves are not ready to change one iota of their rigid theological position or denominational security and self-identity. Both the incarnation and the cross show us a God who comes to us in weakness so that He can touch us weak creatures and change us. One of the key problems our clients have with most ordinary churches is that the people in them are far too successful. the poor and the weak may recognise in our lives the presence of a God who can reach down to where they are. 10. brethren. All Saints from All Time will be Carried to Heaven During the New Testament times. let us examine a few passages to see what the Bible has to say. but as a powerless nobody. When our clients see us as a ministry constantly struggling to survive. . I have handled enough pastoral crises to know this is not true. while it fits well with the modern goal-driven and achievement-oriented world. Therefore. does not fit well with the manger in Bethlehem or the cross. and our words have relevance to them in their struggles. From the outside.Ministry from a position of confidence and strength. concerning those who have fallen asleep. 1976: 33] God revealed Himself in Jesus not as a powerful King or avenging Judge. Let's examine the apostle Paul's explanation about the dead and Judgment Day: But I do not want you to be ignorant. LAST JUDGEMENT Judgment Day Introduction Judgment Day marks the end of time. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again. lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. but the illusion of respectable success has a powerful hold on most modern churches.” [Koyama. the Christians at Thessalonica became worried that the Christians who died would miss out on Jesus' return. successful in their work and secure in their marriages. they can identify with us. but only the Bible is the authority that can answer these questions for us. When we admit our spiritual struggles and weaknesses. They were afraid those who died ceased to exists.
or on the earth?" The apostle Peter. comfort one another with these words" I Thessalonians 4:13-18 We learn the following points from this passage: 1. Even the "elements" of both the heavens and earth. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 2. we learn that the earth and the heavens will totally be destroyed. that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. "Therefore. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Some wonder. restore it for his faithful. what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness. since all these things will be dissolved. 3. The Annihilation of the Earth "But what about the earth? "Will anything be left of. all that is above our atmosphere. being on fire. and the elements will melt with fervent heat?" II Peter 3:10-13 From this passage. and the elements will melt with fervent heat. "Therefore. in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise. in his letter. and with the trumpet of God. this passage explains that it will be a total destruction. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. warns of the final destruction of the earth on the last day: But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night. both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. if God will preserve the earth. and turn it into a paradise. looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God. Nothing will be left of the universe and reality that we now live in. those alive will join them and Christ in the air This passage describes a little about Judgment Day from our perspective on earth. A New Body . Judgment day will be signaled by a shout and trumpet Christ will descend The dead will arise first Then. Later. 4. we will look at another passage that tells a little about what Judgment Day will look like from heaven's perspective. which encompass the entire universe. The heavens will alsso be destroyed. because of which the heavens will be dissolved. However. will be destroyed. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout. with the voice of of an archangel. the things that comprise this world."For this we say to you by the word of the Lord.
the resurrected dead and all those still alive will be given a new. at the last trumpet. It is in this body that we will stand before God and live out the remainder of eternity. and books were opened. each one according to his works. Once we are assembled before God's throne. immortal body. "The sea gave up the dead who were in it."So what happens to our bodies and all of the dead people's bodies?" The Bible teaches that all will receive new bodies ." I Corinthians 15:50-53 In addition to confirming what we have learned. then we will each be judged and sent to either heaven or hell. but we shall all be changed . Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. we learn how Judgment Day will appear from heaven's viewpoint. And anyone not found written in the Book of LIfe was cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And they were judged. and we shall be changed. A beautiful vision of heaven is painted through a symbol found following the above passage in Revelation 21:1-22:5 . Behold. and this mortal must put on immortality. from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. Please. brethren. And I saw the dead. In New Testament times. a day of judgment is described. nor does corruption inherit incorruption. God's Throne and the Final Judgment "So what happens once we leave this earth and it is destroyed? "Where do we go?" It is difficult to understand the answer because it involves a plane that transcends all that we know and understand. which is the Book of Life. in the twinkling of an eye. And the dead were judged according to their works. and the dead will be raised incorruptible. in the book of Revelation. However.all people both good and evil. the Christians in the city of Corinth were faced with a false doctrine that denied that there would be resurrection. And another book was opened. small and great. We already know that we have immortal bodies and this plane of existence is destoyed. One supporting argument that was proposed was that our bodies will decay in the grave. standing before God. since our bodies will be destroyed? The apostle Paul responded to this false doctrine by explaining that we will receive new bodies: "Now this I say. and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. read it to learn more about how wonderful . I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep. And there was found no place for them. For the trumpet will sound. So. For this corruptible must put on incorruption. but even that is not explained further. how could there be a resurrection. we also discover that we will all be given new bodies when the trumpet is sounded. This day of judgment is symbolic of what will transpire that day: "Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it.in a moment. before we even leave this earth. by the things which were written in the books." Revelation 20:11-15 From this symbolic representation. So.
you don't know! It happens suddenly and unpredictably. for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. you also be ready. the failure of these prophecies alone teach us at the very least to be wary and skeptic of such predictions.. does the Bible say anything about the end of the world? In one of the passages that we looked at earlier. but My Father only. but please keep in mind that this is symbol. teaching about the final judgement and separation between the good and evil (Matthew 13:24-30 .. that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come. "When ?" Besides wondering if we will be ready for Judgement Day. "When will Judgment Day come? "Will there be a sign?" Many people have speculated and even affirmed specific days as the last day. "Watch therefore.we do not know when a thief will break into our house. "But as the days of Noah were. for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. the apostle Peter addressed when the last day would occur: "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night . Jesus alos told many parables about Judgment day. But. However. so also will the coming of the Son of Man be" . The reality of heaven will be more beautiful than our mortal minds can now comprehend. even impossible to believe that someone can predict the occurrence of Judgment Day. so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Jesus was also asked this question by his apostles (Matthew 24:3 ). But know this. While on earth. Please listen to the similar answer: "But of that day and hour no one knows. or could ask is.. In view of such passages. but hell will equally be even more terrible than the symbol of a lake that burns with fire and is not quenched. he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. "Therefore. and did not know until the flood came and took them all away. not even the angels of heaven." II Peter 3:10 When does a thief rob your house? The answer . it becomes difficult. The analogy is again the same . until the day that Noah entered the ark.heaven will be.. marrying and giving in marriage. For as in the days before the flood. the second most important questions that we should. We do not know when it will occur. 25:3146 ). so we must be ready at all times. they were eating and drinking. ." Matthew 24:36-44 Jesus clearly speaks about the last day being similar to a thief breaking into our house.
). three and one. when a person comes to understand the theory that is embodied in the terminology they can not help but find proof of the Trinity throughout the Bible. what is triune? Noah Webster defined the word triune to mean. it only makes sense that all Christian churches would believe in and defend the doctrine of the Trinity. Let us make man in our image. that all Hebrew letters have a numeric value. it simply means we are not to fellowship with them as brothers in Christ. Collosians 2:9. The Bible went on to say we should have nothing to do with them. "three in one. This does not mean we can not love them and share the gospel with them. The word ELOHIM can never be used in the plural form without implying the singular and viceversa. none of these groups are truly Christian because their various perversions of the gospel cause them to have. The Hebrew name for God used in all known manuscriptsis ELOHIM. after our likeness. the two usages are always simultaneous. many argue that the doctrine of the Trinity is not a Biblical one. "a form of godliness but denying the power thereof" (II Timothy 3:5). This is why the term Godhead is often used in scripture (Acts 7:19. theologians use the word Trinity to represent the complex doctrine through which man comprehends His existence. and a spirit. but we must always live like it is tomorrow. Since the word Trinity is used to represent God as a triune being." The word ELOHIM means three in one. Jesus said that no man knows what day it will occur. The word ELOHIM has both a singular and a plural usage in Hebrew." that He then created man to be a triune being. a soul. God's very name implies His triune existence. all Hebrew words also have value.Conclusion Judgment Day will be both a glorious and fearful day. "In the beginning ELOHIM created the heaven and the earth. so let us always be wary of those who prophesy that the end of the world is near. exists in a plural manner. said in Genesis 1:26. The Trinity Illustrated in Nature It is no wonder that when God. It will be the end of all time and a day of reckoning for all people before their Creator. The doctrine of the Trinity is believed by all Christian groups. however. ELOHIM. Romans 1:20. TRINITY Since God is a triune being. We all know man to be one being. Some groups profess to be Christian and do not believe in the Trinity. so is man. 10. The . so Genesis 1:1 could read. a singular being. The concept of the Trinity is the very concept of the existence of God. Since the word Trinity is not found anywhere in the received text or in it's offspring (the Authorized Version and other biblical translations derived from the received text). However. Note also." This means that God. in spite of his triune composition. Man is composed of a body. uniquely. not three. etc. Why? Because they are not Christians. and since God reveals himself to his children. Just as God is composed of three. ELOHIM is an interesting word in that it has two values. "And God said.
) full of grace and truth. neutrons.. They are each independently divine. he had also created the universe in the same fashion. Just as God created man in His own image. and the Word was God. The atom is a triune object. they are each a separate aspect to the overall personality of God." Having established that God is a singular being with a plural existence. let us read I John 5:7. The building block of the universe is the atom. God the Father is the sovereign ruler of the entire universe. and this understanding is what helps us to understand the existence of God. a proton can not exist without an accompanying neutron and electron and vice-versa." Thus we have proof: His name ELOHIM (meaning three in one) is proof." This shows God to exist in two forms. who is Jesus Christ. Each part of the atom is independent of the other two. the design of nature is proof. The Father. God the Word or God the Son. God the Son takes this plan out of eternity and brings it into time. (and we beheld his glory. The word God in this passage refers to ELOHIM. yet they are combined to make one singular being. Any object in the universe when broken down to it's smallest form has been discovered to be nothing more than a complexly designed series of atoms. We understand ourselves. It is composed of protons. "and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.as of the only begotten of the Father. "For there are three that bear record in heaven. How The Members of the Trinity Function The members of the Trinity work together in complete unity. The Word. God is a triune being composÍed of God the Father. everything operates because of and to fulfill his eternal plan. and God the Holy Ghost who is often referred to as the Holy Spirit. administering the various aspects of the . God is the creator of the entire universe. how we exist. and in scripture there is proof. and The Holy Ghost: and these three are one. So man has always understood the concept of the Trinity.body is separate from the soul which is separate from the spirit. The word Word refers to God the Son. Through science we are learning of our environment and how the things around us exist. The Trinity Illustrated in the Bible The concept of God being triune can be illustrated in the Bible just as easily as it can be illustrated in nature. and electrons. "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God. Man was only one of God's many creations. This is shown in verse fourteen. or to God as a whole. however they still make one man. totally dependant and yet totally interdependence of each other. and understanding that the term "Word" (capitalized to represent deity) in John chapter one refers to God the Son who is the Lord Jesus Christ. yet it remains only one object. John 1:1 says..
The creation had been the will of God for all eternity. it is God the Father who has sovereignly determined the course of the universe in eternity.. Let us just summarily say that God the father had willed and fulfilled creation somewhere in eternity past. The word was given in Genesis 1:3. and in eternity already had ( our future is already God's past). making it real to man. This is why Genesis 1:1 says... so I will not. God knew He would create everything. The Holy Spirit was waiting upon the face of the earth to fulfill the Word. Why? Because God knew it would happen so it was as good as done. In God the Father's perspective. etc. This is why God in Genesis 3:15 was able to offer salvation to Adam. These functions can be illustrated many times in the Bible. so also had Moses and the Children of ÆIsrael crossed the Red Sea. As soon as Jesus spoke the word. Noah had built the Ark before ever the earth was formed. it did in eternity (remember. The theory of omnipotence and God's eternal existence could not be adequately understood if I were to write a million pages on the subject." God was doing in time what He had already done in eternity. God had known about before the fact. "all things were made by him"." (Genesis 15:1). the Spirit fulfilled the word. "according to the Word of the Lord. "In the Beginning (present tense) God created (past tense) the heaven and the earth. "and God said. resulted in salvation. Even though the universe did not physically exist in time. God the Son who as the Word brings the will of God into time. The Function of the Members of the Trinity in Creation In his omnipotence. the will of God. God the Holy Spirit makes this eternal plan. eternity has no concept of time). all that was needed to bring that eternal reality into the reality of time was the spoken word. God the Father had already created the universe somewhere in eternity past before the existence of time as we know it. It was God the Son who brought the will of God into time. this is found in Genesis 1:2. and it is the Holy Spirit who makes God's will real to man.. and verse three says. It will be left to the reader to research the subject of God's omnipotence and eternal existence independently of this paper (it is of course assumed that all who read this work will already possess adequate understanding of these concepts). The Function of the Members of the Trinity in the Old Testament Just as in creation. John chapter one teaches that God the son is the Word." This spoken word of God the Son introduced the Father's eternal plan to time. as the Lord commanded Moses" (Numbers 3:51).. God the Son brought creation into time. He knew in eternity past that Man would sin and that Jesus would be the atonement for sin (read Revelation 13:8) so Adam placing his (present tense) faith in Christ's future act that. . Throughout the Old Testament we read: "The Word of the Lord came unto Abram... real to men.plan. meaning the Word who is God the Son.
Israel failed in it's task in two ways. . This is why Revelation 13:8 says that Christ was. etc. In the Old Testament era. A good illustration is the story of Samson. the blessing of preaching the gospel and seeing people saved. "slain before the foundation of the world. The Holy Spirit makes redemption real to men as He reveals the gospel to their soul and quickens their previously dead spirit (I Peter 3:18). (Israel is still God's chosen nation. i. the Spirit came upon a man in order that he may be empowered to do God's will. The Holy Spirit has made God's will real to men by empowering them with special gifts to fulfill the work of the Church (read I Corinthians chapters twelve through fourteen). This is also the reason King David prayed. just as He has established His entire work. It was then the Holy Spirit who enabled these men to fulfill the Word which God the Son had given them. etc. then the Spirit would leave when the work was completed or when the man sinned. "Wist not that the Lord had departed from him" in Judges 16:20. they still enjoy the privileges of being God's chosen.) God the Father. " Upon this rock I will build my Church" in Matthew 16:18. had established redemption in eternity past. etc. after Israel choose not to take advantage of the opportunity. the first was in rejecting the Messiah and the second has been in failing to lead gentiles to the Messiah. the Holy Spirit did not continually abide with the believer as He does now. Judges 14:6 says. the will of the Father revealed by the Word of the Son was made real to Samson when the Holy Spirit empowered him to fulfill it. Jesus brought the plan into time when He fulfilled His work on the cross (John chapters 19 and beyond)." Thus. Unfortunately. and this is how the Old Testament saints were saved."The Lord revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the Word of the Lord.. "and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him. God had also established the Church in eternity past. "The Word of the Lord came unto Solomon" (I Kings 6:11).. The Function of the Members of the Trinity in the New Testament The primary activity of God in the New Testament was to provide for man's redemption and establish Local Churches to replace Israel as God's ambassadors to the world. The Son brought the Church into time when He spoke the words.e. knowing man would one day sin. "Take not thy Holy Spirit from me" in Psalms 51:11." This is once again how He was able to justify Adam in the garden. This is why we read that Samson. it was however God's way to in grace bestow upon us unworthy gentiles the blessing. Instead." (I Samuel 3:21). The creation of the church does not infringe upon God's promises to Israel as some Christians believe. " The Word of the Lord came unto Nathan" (II Samuel 7:4).
Received on Calvary. Before the throne my surety stands-My name is written on His hands. I can no longer fear: . Five bleeding wounds He bears.. Charles Wesley best defined the present day role and relationship of God the Father and God the Son when he penned the classic hymn.. My God is reconciled. the one through whom all men may receive justification before God. Arise My Soul Arise: Arise my soul . God the Son is the Savior. O forgive. His pardoning voice I hear. He is the true standard of Holiness and the judge of all that is. for me to intercede..arise! Shake off thy guilty fear's. and sprinkles now the throne of grace.The Function of the Members of the Trinity Today God the Father is the Sovereign ruler over all the affairs of the universe. The bleeding sacrifice in my behalf appears." they cry.. "There is. He ever lives above.Christ Jesus". His dear anointed one.one mediator. " Nor let that ransomed sinner die!" The Father hears Him pray. His all redeeming love. His precious blood to plead: His blood atoned for all our race. He can not turn away The presence of His Son: His Spirit answers to the Blood. Jesus also acts as an advocate to the Father on behalf of the believer. He owns me for His child. They strongly plead for me: " Forgive him. They pour effectual prayers. and tells me I am born of God. I Timothy 2:5.
each possessing all the divine attributes and yet having properties which distinguish them within the unity of the Trinity. so it is to be given it's own sub-heading. hence we pray in Jesus name. the Spirit never forsakes the believer (I Corinthians 6:15-20). Ephesians 1:12-14). "God is one numerically. its your turn……. Arguments wont bring you deleverence in your life and wont give you peace. or because of our relationship with His Son. The Holy Spirit is currently engaged in the work of enabling believers to fulfil the work of the Church (I Corinthians 12-14). The Modern Day Work of the Members of the Trinity in Prayer Prayer is the primary expression of the relationship between God and the saved man." Dear Brother. "we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." (Acts 8:26-27). He subsists in three persons. I Corinthians 2:10). Unfortunately this does not even begin to expound on the deep truths of God. It will not be until we get to heaven and we finally see God face to face that we will comprehend the subject in it's entirety. "Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name. comforting the believer (John 14-15). And we pray through the power of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 26:41) revealing our needs to the Father with the help of the Spirit. Perhaps the best definition which man has given for the Trinity is found in the writings of Dr. keeping the believer secure in Christ until the Second Coming (i. He answers our prayers on behalf of. Father!" cry. I think there is no more to argue on these issues. "Our Father which art in Heaven" (Matthew 6:9). He will give it you" (John 16:23). Its only FAITH in Christ will give you peace and joy and a complete security to enter into the Kingdom of God…. and God the Holy Spirit who are equal in eternity. God the Father answers all of our prayers. hence we are taught to pray to. The Holy Spirit could correctly be referred to as our prayer partner.With confidence I now draw nigh. the eternal security of the believer. however. God the Son. the subject is so deep that all attempts will fail in revealing all of it's depths. Conclusion The proof of God's triune existence has been plainly presented along with the mechanics of the doctrine of the Trinity emphasizing God's relationship to His creation (primarily man).. God the Father. being the very essence of Christ indwelling the believer (John 14:16-18). the president of Dallas Theological Seminary. Multiplied volumes have attempted such an undertaking. And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit. John F. empowering men to preach the gospel (Acts 1:8). Walvoord. because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. Abba. and finally. power and glory.e. And "Father. . quickening the spirit of repentant sinners (I Peter 3:18.
from today you are in my prayer list…. Many of your failures will speak to you that you need a SAVIOUR…… and that is Jesus Christ..May God open your eyes to realize these facts and you may be saved...... . God will speak to you through your circumstances.
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