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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
who fed thousands with 5 fish. He has provided for us a way. grace and power. 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. we have to accept (regardless of how skeptical we as humans are by nature) the fact that what it says. • On an academic footing then. accuracy and integrity. even begin to understand and grasp the enormity of GOD? Yet. 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. if we reject His love. as far as we can possibly prove. we need to examine its contents.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. PROPHECY • About 30% of the Bible's contents concern prophecy . eternal suffering. and that more than 30 000 original manuscripts exist!! By comparison then. who turned water to wine. with much “wailing and gnashing of teeth. 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. if He was who He claimed to be. How can we. must therefore doubt all historical literature written in the last 3 millennia. Having established therefore. Both the authenticity and the general integrity of these works may now be finally established and proved. 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.foretelling the future. and verified by scholars as factual history. anyone who denies that these books are factual and genuine. travail and torment” – this . who walked on water. Many of these facts are verified by other historical documents of the same period. as mere mortals. but this God of ours is Sovereign. 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. probably to be the most authentic historical documents known to man. including much Hebraic literature and even the Qu’ran. all capable and all consuming. really happened. who parted the seas. because there is not a single historical document that has anywhere near the scientific credentials that the Bible has as being authentic. that God created man and a son called Jesus who was God incarnate. we will burn in Hell forever. It sounds all hocus-pocus. that if Jesus was real. authentic. that we can understand and believe – His Living Word. who made men who were born without eyes see. who raised the dead. according to irrefutable scientific and academic evidence that the Bible is. based on its authenticity. within our mortal scope of intelligence and understanding. Roman History becomes a mere 'fairy tale' when compared to the Bible for authenticity. who performed so many incredible miracles that really only a God could perform and who selflessly died for man’s fallen nature. What the Bible actually says (to cut a long story short!) is that it’s contents are the Word of God. airy-fairy stuff.” !! One therefore has to go beyond mere skepticism about the authenticity of these Books – in fact.
However. death before sin is theologically inconsistent with the rest of Christian doctrine. as one can thoroughly investigate. Richard Bozarth. 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. in the American Atheist magazine. 38 The field is the world. Without the original sin. In Romans 5:12. Regardless of the scientific issues that now plague the evolutionary belief system. "The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. so it will be at the end of the age. The following excerpts come from “The Meaning of Evolution” (September 1979. With evolution. (Being a dentist. and thus death has spread through the whole human race because everyone has sinned. the gnashing of teeth didn’t sound too appealing!) Matthew 13: 37 He answered. decay and disease before Adam even came on the scene. we envision millions and millions of years of death. and Christianity must fight with its full might against the theory of evolution. 30): "Christianity is .totally committed to the special creation as described in Genesis. let him hear. 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. 2. If you cannot believe these much evidences. and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. we read that “sin entered the world through one man. Evolution means a development from one form to the next to meet the ever-changing challenges from an ever-changing nature. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels. 42 They will throw them into the fiery furnace. and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. who needs to be redeemed? Without Adam's fall into a life of constant sin terminated by death. The weeds are the sons of the evil one.very pitty on you sir….” The whole justification of Jesus' life and death is predicated on the existence of Adam and the forbidden fruit he and Eve ate. and through sin death.is the Bible’s description of hell. . this picture is not consistent with the “very good” earth created by God. More importantly. what purpose is there to Christianity? None. p. And here is why.. 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. 40 "As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire.must be! . and the harvesters are angels. The harvest is the end of the age. you are lost…. Original Sin: An Atheist Evolutionist Got it Right “Original Sin” and its relation to evolutionary theory was discussed by an outspoken evolutionist. He who has ears. where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. There is no fall from a previous state of sublime perfection. the whole message of Christianity starts with mankind’s fall from paradise into death through Adam’s sin.
REDEMPTION & SALVATION Before we can understand the Biblical concept of Redemption as it applies to Jesus Christ and His work on the cross. But. There have been many religions through the ages who’ve seen their earthly circumstances as being restrictions upon the freedom of expressing themselves.a word that was in everyday usage . at least. disease. redemption does not win absolute freedom but is specific in its work. and naturalistic trial and error. had four basic characteristics a. extremely restricted. then. without the original sin.and. Paradise was the original state of Adam’s garden on God’s “very good” earth. even though that ‘free’ state may still have had limitations imposed that had previously existed before the bondage came about. when you think about it. all men and women have some form of restriction placed upon them whether self-made (fidelity to the marriage vow. it was used to describe God’s dealings with mankind. a freer life elsewhere. Through this genetic defect we all inherited death -. whether we think of ‘God’ as the Person revealed to us in the Bible or of other belief systems. . but the word doesn’t conjure up any complete understanding of the concepts behind the word. so that a return to the original state of affairs was required for them to experience ‘freedom’. Some have even gone so far as to end this life suddenly in order that they might have. secondarily. Jesus Christ picked the right planet – and thank God for that! 3. Through Jesus Christ. what they suppose to be. Redemption. Redemption has come to be used as a specifically religious term. of demonstrating the ‘real’ them. the concepts are still very much with us. then. we all have the ability to conquer this genetic defect – sin and death – and be reconnected to God eternally.Without Adam. The freedom that was once available to them was non-existent or. 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. not millions and millions of years of death. 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. That is to say. only having the time available to do one thing and not another) or obligatory (we can’t live forever or fly to the moon). Like a lot of words within today’s Church.both physical and spiritual – and were separated from God. decay. Although the use of the word has largely gone out of fashion in common everyday language. Bondage Something or someone was in bondage.
in more common terms a ‘buyer’ or a ‘purchaser’ who must pay a price (the ransom .this can’t be said of articles for sale. usually by other men and women.see the next point) to secure the release of an object or person. d. b. we’re primarily thinking about the bondage that’s a restriction placed upon an individual’s freedom in this life. you find yourself subjected to restrictions imposed upon you by the One who created all things. when you enter it. It was usually a ‘monetary’ payment but it could be material objects (such as quantities of certain crops or land . so it was thought.the type of monetary system that we now have rarely existed in those days) or even. 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. It didn’t bring a newness of situation but a . but which also contains the possibility that the bondage may be removed by a completed work of redemption. though. 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. Far better that. its primary state. the blood sacrifice (the ransom) bought for them a release from the anger of the god and a freedom that had previously been experienced. independent person. in this life. as we shall see.Death brings no real solution if. Redeemer One who would get involved in the liberation of what was in bondage. But we shouldn’t think that. a person’s life. In ancient times. The redeemer could even be the one that was in bondage. The price paid by the redeemer secures a freedom that was in existence before the bondage was imposed upon it . In that way. 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. but usually it was another. The redeemer is. for instance. on rare occasions. we restrict ourselves to be pleasing to Him and then find release and freedom for eternity when we die. In secular usage of the term bondage. 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. c.
not of bringing about a newness of experience that had previously been unknown.taken from ancient times . Forms of redemption in ancient times We shall be returning to all these examples of manumission under part d and there. 2. In the Old Testament Lev 25:47-55 When a Jew became poor and sold himself into slavery. ‘Jubilee’ referred to every fiftieth year in the Jewish calendar when a special type of release took place).and which the people understood as accomplishing redemption. he also had the right to redeem himself (see my notes on ‘Jubilee’ for an extensive explanation of this year). hopefully. . aspects of that freedom will be restored that had been lost to individuals in their own lives. upon the next Jubilee. show how the cross of Jesus Christ has paid the price (the ransom) for each of them. Here we have the concept of redemption in one short sentence using the four keywords that are characteristic of it. the slave had to be set free with no ransom being paid (this shall be looked at under the subject .very simply.restoration. the fulness of the freedom available will be seen to be that which existed only for the first man and woman on the earth. Manumission (the freeing of slaves) i. Even if the slave wasn’t to be redeemed. before the first sin was committed. . 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. For now.)(. though. This is quite important. a release. Summarising. Though we may see many people throughout the world being brought into situations that are a better expression of freedom. then. However. a. even so. But. redemption primarily concerned itself with the restoration of what was once available. If the slave prospered. the action of the redeemer by paying the ransom effected freedom from bondage. 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. when we go on to look at the redemption that has been secured through Christ on the cross. These characteristics are evident in the following examples in section 2 .
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. 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. However.Therefore. but that’s not to say that their slavery was transferred to the god of the temple.The purchase. Having saved up the ‘redemptionvalue’. with a price of 3 minae of silver and a half-mina. This sum was known as the ransom. the victors would carry away captive prisoners of war . a female slave. Having been ‘bought’ by a god. Apollo the Pythian bought from Sosibius of Amphissa. One such inscription is reproduced in Morris and runs ‘Date. weren’t suited to the menial drudgery of service for they were the rulers and royalty.. by their very appearance. 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 . for freedom.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. ii. 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. Inscriptions within the temples themselves have survived which are records of such transactions. but many slaves availed themselves of their right to redeem themselves ‘for freedom’ with a ransom price. the leaders and older ruling men. To increase the spoils of war. 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 . Many of these POWs were put to forced labour.this was expressly stated when the transaction took place. there were certain duties that the freed slave was then obligated to perform on certain occasions. In the Greek world In the Greek world. becoming slaves within the foreign nation. Prisoners of war (POWs) When war was ended.. whose name is Nicaea. some preferring to stay under the protection of their master. b. others. Names of witnesses follow’ Of course...Nicaea hath committed unto Apollo. for freedom. manumission wasn’t a compulsory obligation. by race a Roman..
a ransom might be laid upon him (even though this was not obligatory . The ox owner Ex 21:28-32 If an ox had been accustomed to gore in the past. in table form. 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 owner of the ox was to be held accountable for the life of the one that the ox had killed . If the Jew prospered whose property it was. if it had not been ransomed before. a single label summarising the type of bondage is written in block capitals. but the owner hadn’t taken any action to remove the possibility that it might take human life. In each example. c.the punishment of death rested upon him. the forms of redemption as detailed in section 2. Chart The chart below shows. Though we’ve spoken of both of them above as ‘having the right’ to redeem the land. He was ‘redeemed’ out of the enemy’s hands to be a free citizen in his own land. Though it doesn’t say who exactly it was to be paid to. then. 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’). the ox owner redeemed himself from the condemnation of death that rested upon him . he had the right to redeem it himself. they swapped it for their comrade.the first consideration was death) and it was to be paid. .would ask). 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. 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).he was as free as he was before the incident took place. The actual Scripture lays an obligation upon the brother and the individual. d. However. at the year of Jubilee. 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. if it should kill. In this way.
God spoke directly to him warning him (Gen 4:6-7) that .3. 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. 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. Redemption in Christ Having seen how the ancients understood the concept of redemption. a. Bondage to sin i.
you are the slaves of the one whom you obey.when man has found himself in a situation where he gets angry because one person has more favour than another. It’s not enough to simply say just that we are by nature sinners (Cp Mark 7:15 . if we had chosen righteousness.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). but you must master it’ The language is that of sin being like a wild animal. have a ‘morality’ that they like to think that they live up to .. Though only on very rare occasions would most of us scheme murder. In prison. the normal reaction is to plot to ‘put down’ the other. But the story of mankind both here and in subsequent generations is that we’ve never mastered it. which must be tamed and mastered. the real crux is that. we often choose to submit our will to it and so become its slave. if we are ‘religious’. Even people who’ve never read the Bible and do not therefore know what God has said. Written to believers but equally applicable to all men and women.even though mankind has the resources (the will and the determination) to take authority over sin. ii. Sin becomes a person’s master because it has its way in a person’s life . where we would think that most people have no morals. This is a voluntary slavery and nothing that’s forced upon us. there’s still a form of . waiting at the door of Cain’s life. so a sinner is one who obeys the will of sin.but of which they often fall short. it becomes our master and we its slave. the mind is the battle zone where such actions are plotted (Mtw 5:21-22). either of sin. we sin. Rom 6:16 reads ‘If you yield yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves. Just as a slave is one who obeys the will of a master.sin is crouching at the door.that is. which leads to righteousness’ When we submit our wills to the way of sin. its desire is for you. 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). The same is true today as it was all those years ago . or of obedience. but that even when we have a free choice. a person chooses sin’s will for themselves. 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’. in every circumstance.. Facing up to the reality If we have the Law (that is. we were unwilling to pay the consequences that would have been brought upon us if we had chosen the ‘right way’. bringing more sin into the world by the outworking of our own free choice.‘. which leads to death. There’s a freedom of choice in every sin committed .
. what little we think we are...we are descendants of Abraham. Paul can say with conviction (Rom 3:23 . When Jesus spoke to the Pharisees in the Temple at the Feast of Tabernacles about the truth setting them free (John 8:31-34). neither to mask the truth of his situation and try to rely upon false words. they retorted with the statement (v. and have never been in bondage to anyone.. Johntask writes ‘Man’s greatest need. if we don’t have the Law (if we have no recognised moral code by which we live our lives). lies and deceit..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..33) ‘. So.in one of his ‘greatest hits’!) that ‘.moral code in the life of even the grossest individual (in the world’s eyes)...34) that ‘. are one and the same). man needs to face up to the reality of his dilemma and not to rely upon any false hopes or ideals.’ not realising the bondage to sin that Jesus had in mind.. still. even the ‘light’ we perceive about God we don’t live up to (Rom 1:18-21ff).. He replied by pointing out (v. But.. when all’s said and done.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.is to know what is his greatest need’ That is.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. 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 . Therefore. further than this. 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. we fail to be.all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ and that (Rom 3:9) ‘. But the scenario is not one that just belongs to ‘then’ . But. When individuals look around themselves and perceive what’s plainly evident to them..
Impossibility and promise In the examples in section 2. and lacking in a dependence upon the work of Christ. then. but that it’s necessary for him to acknowledge it before Christ who’s able to minister redemption to him in the situation.poor bloke who’s a greater sinner than we are) . has now been made known (Heb 11:39-40). for He will receive me’ even though just how God is going to do it is not explained to us. is not just that he’s subject to the bondage of sin. however. The work of the Holy Spirit of ‘conviction of sin’ is of primary importance as a forerunner to a person being ‘born again’ . 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. this is an impossibility even though Judaism tried to obtain it by works of the Law (Rom 9:30-32). With regard to sin. Ps 49:7-9 tells us that ‘. Nevertheless. this being unambiguous and straightforward .. there’s nothing that man can pay that will redeem him from the sentence that hangs over him. Man’s dilemma. further on in the psalm previously quoted. But. 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. we saw that in OT times there were instances when a man was able to redeem both himself and his possessions out of bondage. So. we read the sons of Korah stating quite unequivocally (Ps 49:15) that ‘God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol. b. or give to God the price of his life.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. a bondage that he cannot permanently break free from.man’s response to God’s work of conviction must be repentance. what they felt was going to certainly happen. And in Hosea 13:14 (quoted this way in the NT in I Cor 15:55) we read God saying ..no man can redeem the life of another. 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. when we come to look at our relationship with God. if there was no possibility of self-redemption from sin.but all such arguments are lacking in a recognition of individual human responsibility.
c. death and life) and we’ll list these first (my italics throughout) before going on to discuss their relevance.. i. and don’t directly refer to sin ... according to the riches of His grace which He lavished upon us’ Rev 5:9 .. legalistic observance/Oral law = self-redemption]...[the Lamb] was slain and by Thy blood didst ransom men for God from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.but (I Cor 15:56) ‘the sting of death is sin.‘I shall ransom them from the power of Sheol. sin]. more than this. Blood Jesus shed His blood.. But.‘In [Christ] we have redemption through His blood... Eph 1:7-8 .‘. from death.with the precious blood of Christ... O Death..’ and (Rom 5:12) ‘. The Redeemer and the ransom In this section..sin when it is full grown brings forth death’ The promise of a redemption from the bondage of sin necessarily deals with death.sin came into the world through one man and death through sin. 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 ‘. where are your plagues? O Sheol.the Church of God which He purchased with the blood of His own Son’ . for it’s in death that sin finally triumphs and keeps us eternally absent from the presence of God..‘.. the forgiveness of our trespasses [that is. if sin is to be defeated. To defeat death. like that of a lamb without blemish or spot’ Acts 20:28 .you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers [that is. the curse of physical death must be broken (Gen 3:19).‘. sin must be dealt with.. 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 Peter 1:18-19 . therefore. There are three words that are spoken of as being the ransom (blood. where is your destruction?’ These verses speak of a redemption from the grave. I shall redeem them from death.
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.spiritual and physical. 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..Himself.He knew what sin is but He knew no sin by experience.. ‘Death’ and ‘Life’ are the three words that are used to describe the sacrificial offering of Christ to God on the cross. ‘He shed His blood’.. Jesus was made to be sin even though He knew no sin . Heb 9:15 .ii. Jesus took that death upon Himself.gave Himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity’ Jesus had nothing else to give us but Himself. therefore.‘. neither did He have any riches or personal possessions that were of any great worth.. Death Jesus died on the cross. Jesus is both our ransom and our Redeemer and. . 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.)(. ‘Blood’. Therefore. The Bible says ‘not so’ and becomes offensive to a lot of its readers. iii. so He gave the one thing that He did have in exchange for mankind’s salvation ... there may have been a small allocation of land where they grew some crops). We read. ‘He gave His life’ and ‘He died on our behalf’ are three phrases which are synonymous . Mark 10:45 .. the people before Christ came]’ The penalty of sin. as head of Joseph’s family. He hadn’t committed sin (II Cor 5:21). Life Jesus gave His life. under the Law.if you lay down your life by the shedding of your blood. Acts 4:12).. Jesus owned no land or property that we know of (though. so paying the price for our freedom. that (Titus 2:14) Jesus ‘. is death .‘.the Son of man came. more than this. On the cross.to give His life as a ransom for many’ . you die.
Paul writes (Gal 5:1) ‘For freedom Christ has set us free. while the Bible makes use of redemption imagery to explain one aspect of the accomplishment of the cross. To save repeating too much from the previous section. it makes no mention as to whom payment was made.Jesus Ransom .The blood. indeed. 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 . 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. The question is very much like the question that’s also often asked about Jesus concerning whether there was ever a possibility that. i. d. it may be advisable to quickly reread the relevant definitions. He could have sinned. why have You forsaken Me?’ He was spiritually separated from the presence of God (Mtw 27:45-46). being God.When Jesus cried out (Mtw 27:45-46) ‘My God.From sin We should note in closing that theologians throughout history have sought to theorise on who the ransom (Jesus Christ) was paid to. But. Stand fast therefore and do not submit yourselves again to a yoke of slavery’ .sin Redeemer . cut off out of the land of the living (Isaiah 53:8). many arriving at the conclusion that it was satan. taking the punishment that our sin deserved and paying the price that we should rightly have paid as a consequence of our sins. 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. then. that’s all that can be said to go further is to stray into speculation that will draw us into error. death and life of Jesus Freedom . Concluding. ‘The ransom was paid’ is all that the Scriptures tell us and. My God. Manumission Freedom from the rule of a master (sin) Using the phraseology of the Greek world of slavery.
he shouldn’t be misconstrued as such. So. 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. if we’re ‘in Christ’. Yet. [we] have become slaves of righteousness. When Jesus says (Luke 4:18) ‘He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives’ ... 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..having been set free from sin..where the ‘yoke of slavery’ mentioned is a reference to the legalistic observance of a written code .you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God. It’s often asserted that satan is the real enemy but.God has bought a people (I Cor 6:20. residing in His camp. obligated to be obedient to the God who bought us out of that state.’ and that (Rom 6:22) ‘. II Peter 2:1) ‘for freedom’. so we also have become slaves of God. Having been set free by Christ from sin’s power and dominion over us. self-redemption. at the same time.. 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!)... Therefore Paul writes (Rom 6:18) that ‘. then we’re free from sin (the master) and free from any effort on our part to redeem ourselves and yet. so the imagery is the same . in the context in which we’re considering redemption. 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. which separates us from the reality of God’s presence and everything that goes with Him (Isaiah 59:2).. ii. we’re back on God’s side and back in God’s army. Just as the pagan temple bought a slave ‘for freedom’.’ 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. Prisoners of War (POWs) Freedom from out of the hand of the enemy (sin) Mankind’s enemy is sin. just as the Greek slave was obligated to perform certain duties and functions towards the god that had bought him. 7:23.that is.
if we continue to do things that are offensive to God) for (I Cor 15:56) ‘the sting of death is sin’ But. first and foremost. because sin is dealt with in Jesus Christ. it has been taught that satan rules over a kingdom ‘below’ and that he receives the souls that follow him upon death. certainly not! The answer lies in Rom 8:22 where we read that . Having said what we have about satan above. for sin is death’s power. 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. 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). that which brings us into captivity is sin. Therefore he can be said to have ‘the power of death’.. 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. being set free from the fear of physical death. we who once were afraid to die need no longer be fearful (Heb 2:14-15 .note that satan is out to destroy mankind. Temptation is his weapon and a response from an individual produces sin which is his intention and purpose. 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.we should realise that the Greek word for ‘captive’ used here means ‘prisoner of war’. so much of the teaching that comes under the previous heading ‘manumission’ is equally applicable here.’ Why is this? Because we have redeemed ourselves by works of the Law? No. iii. 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). A POW is also a type of slave. Therefore. However.. Death is not an experience to be welcomed if we live in sin (that is. but he took no action to prevent the event from happening. By this verse. 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.
God ransomed us from the one thing that bound us into an existence away from His presence in Christ... yet again.. though the effect of previously committed sin upon our lives needs also to be dealt with... 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’ ..’ 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 Father. every believer).that is.He breaks the power of cancelled sin. 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...’ which. uses the redemption imagery to tell us a further truth about our new position. As Charles Wesley put it in the hymn ‘O for a thousand tongues to sing’ ‘.. Because Christ has fulfilled the just requirements of the Law by taking the penalty upon Himself.‘.. It’s by one Man’s obedience that we receive back what is rightfully ours in Christ. self-redemption. iv....has qualified us to share in the inheritance of saints in light’ and Heb 9:15 proclaims to us that ‘.those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance since a death has occurred which redeems them. 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 . there no longer need rest the condemnation of death upon our lives. Col 1:12 tells us that ‘. 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 we found ourselves serving under before acknowledging that we couldn’t redeem ourselves from the consequences of our own actions.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..
Separation from the Creator/God of humanity. Such separation from the Creator/God occasioned by the sinful actions of all humanity (by disobeying and ignoring the commands of the Creator/God). 2. salvation is a rescue or deliverance of humanity from a specific condition and from a specific destination. peril or life threatening hazard from which rescue must be accomplished on an imminent basis. 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. a saving or being saved. 4. In each and every generation. 3. 1. Such punishment being separation from God. pp. 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. sauvation. and assignment in company with Satan and all his followers in the region of Hell. . rescue. 2. a person or thing which is a means. to save]. never to be reconsidered. in theology. OFr. salvatio < salvatus. or source of preservation or rescue. In Christian doctrine. jeopardy. n. of salvare. L.with. Salvation presumes that there is a danger. both in congress and individually. changed or revoked. Conclusion Concluding this study on redemption. salvacioun. 3. 2. The DESTINATION from which humanity must be rescued:: 1. SALVATION DEFINITION AND NECESSITY OF SALVATION sal•va•tion (sal vâ/shen). redemption. saving of the soul through the atonement of Jesus. 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. when the early Church tried to express the work of the cross in realistic terms to the society in which they lived. preservation from destruction. spiritual rescue from sin and death. Such assignment to be eternal in nature. The sinful human actions necessitate that the Creator/God pronounce a judgment on all humanity as a punishment for those actions taken. The CONDITION from which humanity must be rescued: 1. cause. [ME.
A. They were not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil Genesis 2:17 3.Genesis 1:28.Genesis 3:11-13. Eve was placed in a subservient position to her husband. Eve ate the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 1:26-30. They were to subdue the earth . Eve was given pain in childbirth . 17. Romans 5:12 6.Genesis 3:12 F. They were to eat from any tree in the garden . Adam denied responsibility for his disobedience and blamed God and his wife .Genesis 2:16 EXCEPT E. D.Genesis 3:13 In Relation To The Action Of God Against Adam and Eve 1.Genesis 3:23-24 . They were to rule over the earth . Eve denied responsibility for her disobedience and blaming deception by the serpent . a position that she had not occupied prior to her disobedience .Genesis 3.3 B.Genesis 3:16 3. God created Adam and Eve in the image of Himself. Adam and Eve became afraid of God because of their actions Genesis 3:10 E.Genesis 1:28 B.THE REASON FOR THE CONDITION OF HUMANITY In Relation To The Federal Heads Of The Human Race . 23-24 2. Adam and Eve would spiritually and physically die .Adam and Eve. 21-25 2. 2:7. Adam was to work for his food .Genesis 3:17-19 5. Adam and Eve disobeyed and transgressed the precepts and commandments from God that had been made known to them: A.Genesis 1:28 C. Both individuals were called to accountability by God for their actions. disobeying the command of God for reasons unknown . Adam and Eve were sent out of the garden of paradise .Genesis 3:8 D.Genesis 3:19.Genesis 3:6 C.Genesis 3:16 4. 1. Where God had commanded Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God created Adam and Eve with a moral nature. Adam and Eve had shame for their actions . Adam ate the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.Genesis 3:6 B. were judged guilty for their actions and punished in accord with the law of God . through which they were responsible to obey the precepts of the Creator/God which were made known to them. Eve told the serpent that He had told them not to eat and not to touch it . Eve changed the words of God. disobeying the command of God for selfish reasons . They were to produce children .
Titus 1:14-15 C. but all have failed to attain to the standard of God. Body: is defiled . Their progeny. 4. The entire being of humanity is affected by sin: mental. moral. Mind: understanding is diminished . 1.2 Corinthians 7:1 D.1 John 3:7-8. which is perfection of character. 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.Isaiah 59:3. All human beings are separated from God to the extent that they are not children of God.. their relationship was severed and they needed a redeemer in order to restore the relationship that they once had.Romans 3:10-20. The progeny of Adam were born in his likeness . All human beings are condemned by God.. they had a correct and righteous relationship with God. It is the nature of all human beings to sin. by nature and by personal action. not being able to overcome the power of sin by their own efforts .Genesis 5:3-4 2. Heart: the core being is corrupted . As a result of their sin. spiritual and physical. Spirit: is unclean .Jeremiah 17:9-10.Romans 7:18 D.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. because all sinned. All human beings are sinners. John 8:31-36. Some may sin to a greater or lesser degree. and death through sin. but all men sin as a result of the action of Adam. the human race. but by virtue of their paternity. 1 John 5:19.Romans 3:9-10 2. and so death spread to all men. being the children of Adam. This separation is reason enough for humanity to also need a redeemer in order to be reconciled back to God. for sins committed. All human beings are captives and slaves to the sin in their lives. 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 . Will: is weak . Romans 5:12 (NAS) When Adam and Eve were first created. Ephesians 2:3 3. 5. and none are righteous. subject to His divine judgment and wrath . Mark 7:20-23 C. not because of sins committed. spiritual righteousness and performance . as a result of the fallen condition inherited by being the children of Adam and Eve. A.Ephesians 4:17-18 B. The condition of all human beings is connected with the sin of Adam and Eve Therefore. just as through one man sin entered into the world. but of the devil . because of which they had no need of salvation.Romans 7. John 8:44. Conscience: is defiled . are born separated from God.
p. "The MacArthur Study Bible". the supernatural One reduced Himself to the natural. The judgment has already been pronounced by God and the penalty is death. 1964. Herbert Lockyer. undiminished deity in human form as a man. He is both God and man. And the Word [Jesus Christ] became flesh. but became God in human flesh." "All The Doctrines Of The Bible". He would have been disqualified as the Redeemer of sinful men. He had to be free from any evil taint of humanity. John MacArthur editor. "Be ye therefore perfect. so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. In the incarnation. The state of captivity. 1 Peter 1:17-19. 1 Timothy 2:5-6. the Word did not cease to be God. took on the nature of humanity in addition to His deity. this is a ransom. and in order to be free. Humanity is "sold under sin" (Romans 7:14) and therefore fall under the judgment of God. brought about by the sinful condition of humanity. This reality is surely the most profound ever because it indicates that the infinite became finite. Matthew 20:28. (cf. revealed in the incarnation. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NAS) In order to redeem man from sin. the Eternal was conformed to time. The ransom is paid to God. i. 48 3.THE ATONEMENT 1. Had He committed only one sin. is like a slave market where people are sold as the possession of the purchaser. the Invisible became visible. The Holy Bible. by which Jesus Christ as deity. The atonement is provided by Jesus Christ because of His voluntary death on the cross. The atonement is provided by Jesus Christ because of the nature of His being. Zondervan. both physically and spiritually. Galatians 3:13) . the slave must pay for a release or deliverance. however. John 1:14 (NAS) While Christ as God was uncreated and eternal. full of grace and truth. Christ professed the highest conceivable standard of character and conduct for His followers. The death of Jesus Christ is the ransom paid in order to redeem the human race from the penalty of sin. the word "became" emphasizes Christ's taking on humanity. and we saw His glory. 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. Perfect Himself. as a payment for the release of humanity from the penalty of their sinful state. The Holy Bible.. He [God] made Him [Jesus Christ] who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf. The atonement is provided by Jesus Christ because of His sinless life.e. and dwelt among us. glory as of the only begotten from the Father. commentary on John 1:14 2.
though He committed none. 2:11-14). In pagan religions. Thus. except by spending eternity in hell.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. John MacArthur editor. 1964. 3:10-13. commentary on Romans 3:25 AS A RECONCILIATION By committing sins. 53:4-6. He was treated as if He were guilty of all the sins ever committed by all who would ever believe. assuming human nature. Gal. The Heb[rew] equivalent of this word was used to describe the mercy seat . commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:19 AS A SUBSTITUTION Because Jesus Christ was fully deity and fully man. Christ. On the cross. but remained as holy as ever. 53:11. He did not become a sinner (as some suggest). Zondervan. "The MacArthur Study Bible". man is incapable of satisfying God's justice apart from Christ. "All The Doctrines Of The Bible". 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. 1 Pet. 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. Reconciliation was not necessary from God's side. 191 God by His own will and design used His Son. which all have their direction toward God. p. God the Father. "The MacArthur Study Bible". someone had to make possible a reconciliation. The perfect and sinless life of Jesus Christ is the substitute for that of sinful human beings. and therefore has no need to be reconciled. Herbert Lockyer. Crucial to the significance of Christ's sacrifice.in this case Christ's violent death satisfied the offended holiness and wrath of God against those for whom Christ died (Is. 2:24). as an enemy. it is the worshiper not the god who is responsible to appease the wrath of the offended deity. It is Jesus Christ who becomes the mediator of the reconciliation between man to God. and he has been at enmity with Him. Is.the cover to the ark of the covenant . Man has ever been the offender. this word [propitiation] carries the idea of appeasement or satisfaction . His death was substitutionary on behalf of humanity. and through our acceptance of Him as Saviour we are received into favor again with an offended God. But in reality. the only acceptable and perfect sacrifice. and had Him die as a substitute to pay the penalty for the sins of those who believe in Him (cf. 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. His sin estranged him from god. satisfied divine justice for our sins at Calvary. as the means to reconcile sinners to Himself. He never departed from man. John MacArthur editor. Col.AS A PROPITIATION The justice of god demands that a penalty for sin be paid. treated Christ as if He were a sinner though He was not. and his death is also a substitute for the eternal spiritual death that has been pronounced as the judgment against all sinful human beings. using the principle of imputation. humanity has become separated and alienated from God. The wrath of God was exhausted on Him and the just requirement .
It was a necessity that Jesus Christ be raised from the dead. 1 Thessalonians 4:14 (NIV) . John MacArthur editor. Jesus Christ said to His disciples. THE AUTHORITY OF SCRIPTURES CONFIRMED After His resurrection. Luke 24:44-47 (NAS) THE SUFFICIENCY OF THE SACRIFICE BY CHRIST ACCEPTED BY GOD Without being accepted by God. who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh. which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures. through whom also we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. so that He might provide the means of atonement through His life." Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. 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. "The MacArthur Study Bible". God demonstrated His acceptance and approval of the work that Christ had accomplished. that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day. a mediator cannot mediate and one to provide reconciliation between God and man. Paul. set apart for the gospel of God. the sacrifice of Christ would have been meaningless. cannot do so from the grave. since we have been justified through faith. Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 1:1-4 (NAS) The resurrection of Jesus Christ assures the believer in His gospel that they are also accepted by God. called as an apostle. according to the spirit of holiness. beginning from Jerusalem. concerning His Son. "These are My words which I spoke to you." The Holy Bible. 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. that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. a bond-servant of Christ Jesus. and He said to them. THE REASON FOR HIS RESURRECTION A redeemer who remains in the grave cannot redeem." The Holy Bible.of God's law met for those for whom He died. while I was still with you. "Thus it is written. The Holy Bible. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God The Holy Bible. Therefore. The atonement is provided by Jesus Christ because of His resurrection from the dead.. and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations. By the resurrection of Christ. commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:21 4.
so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for god to lie. Holy The> In the same way God. not only in this age but also in the one to come. where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us." With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ. so that you will know what is the hope of His calling. then Jesus Christ can exalt the believer and bring them to heaven. 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. The Holy Bible. which is His body. An He put all things in subjection under His feet. with the glory which I had with You before the world was. John 17:5 (NKJ) I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened. the world will not see Me anymore. THE REASON FOR HIS ASCENSION THAT GOD WOULD ACCOMPLISH THE EXALTATION OF CHRIST Jesus Christ. we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. that where I am. THAT JESUS CHRIST WOULD BE THE FORERUNNER OF BELIEVERS TO FOLLOW Jesus Christ is the pattern for those believers who will follow. desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose. and every name that is named. who had willingly suppressed the position and power of His deity while in the form of a man. Ephesians 1:18-23 (NAS) THAT JESUS CHRIST WOULD EXHIBIT HIS ONENESS WITH GOD Just as Christ is one with the Father. Just as He had prayed during the Last Supper. and gave Him as head over all things to the church. The Holy bible." The Holy Bible. I will come again and receive you to Myself. when he raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places. The atonement is provided by Jesus Christ because of His ascension to heaven. a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil. what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints. O Father. there you may be also. believers can be one in Christ. was restored to His former glory by God. therefore I have spoken. interposed with an oath. If God can exalt Jesus Christ. the Father accomplished at the ascension of Christ: "And now. and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. That is the statement of Jesus Christ and it is confirmed by His ascension and exaltation by God. having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.It is written: "I believed. far above al rule and authority and power and dominion. "If I go and prepare a place for you. the fullness of Him who fills all in all. glorify Me together with Yourself. but you will see Me. Hebrews 6:17-20 (NAS) . John 14:19 (NIV) 5. The Holy Bible. you also will live. Because I live."< 14:3 John Bible. The Holy Bible. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul. 2 Corinthians 4:13-14 (NIV) Before long.
because He continues forever. on the other hand. holy. separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens. but our Savior. For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest. The Holy Bible. made perfect forever. and peace to those who were near. I would have told you. Hebrews 7:20-28 (NAS) Jesus' entering within the veil signifies His entering the Holy of Holies. on the one hand. inviolable heavenly sanctuary. for I go to prepare a place for you. Moody Press. there you may be also. Not only are our souls anchored within the impregnable. who does not need daily. If I go and prepare a place for you. in god's mind. Our anchored soul is. In other words. having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the vail. having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. undefiled. which came after the law. existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing. Under the Old Covenant it was made yearly by the high priest. MacArthur. Such absolute security is almost incomprehensible. 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. In My Father's house are many dwelling places. but you are fellow citizens with the saints. is growing into a holy temple in the Lord. 1:3). When Jesus entered the heavenly Holy of Holies. the Lord Jesus Christ. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens. "The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind. pp. 168-169 THAT CHRIST WOULD PROVIDE ACCESS TO GOD FOR THE BELIEVER And he came and preached peace to you who were far away. but the word of the oath. For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak. but "He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high" (Heb. but He with an oath through the One who said to Him. The Holy Bible.THAT JESUS CHRIST WOULD PREPARE A PLACE FOR BELIEVERS TO FOLLOW "Do not let your heart be troubled. because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. with our souls. in whom you also are being built ." The Holy Bible. Under the New it has been made once for all time by Christ's sacrifice on the cross. innocent. but Jesus. I will come again and receive you to Myself. if it were not so. where the sacrifice of atonement was made. 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. since He always lives to make intercession for them. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Hebrews. 'You are a priest forever'"). so much the more also Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant. Hebrews 6:19-20 And inasmuch as it was not without an oath (for they indeed became priests without an oath. that where I am. secure within His eternal sanctuary. The former priests. in whom the whole building being fitted together. hold His priesthood permanently. and are of god's household. believe in God. Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone. appoints a Son. Jesus remains there forever as Guardian of our souls. first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people. That is good cause to come all the way to salvation and to enjoy its security. for through Him we both have our access in one spirit to the Father. already secure within the veil. Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to god through Him. 1983. Jesus Christ. like those high priests. believe also in Me. to offer up sacrifices. John F. where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us. he did not leave after the sacrifice as did the Aaronic high priests.
and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Ephesians 2:17-22 (NAS) This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord. brethren. Therefore. You are those who have stood by Me in My trials. If it were. and since we have a great priest over the house of god. having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. the judgment of God will condemn the person to an eternity without God and without hope for rescue from hell. and for this I came into the world. to the glory of god the Father. Luke 22:28-30 (NAS) Jesus said. Ephesians 3:11-12 (NAS) Now where there is forgiveness of these things. It is the atonement which brings about the means of salvation. The Holy Bible. The provisions of the atonement are obtained by means of salvation. But now my kingdom is from another place. to testify to the truth. In fact. 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. let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith. John 18:36-37 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name. critical and inevitable judgment of a holy and righteous God against humanity for sins . and just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me. my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. there is no longer any offering for sin. The Holy Bible. in heaven and on earth. Salvation is defined as the rescue of a person from the imminent. and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. His flesh. The Holy Bible. by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil. 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. and it is salvation that brings about the benefits of the atonement into the life of the believer. The Holy Bible. "My kingdom is not of this world. "You are right in saying I am a king. that is. since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus. which is secured through faith in Jesus Christ. The Holy Bible. that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow. for this reason I was born." You are a king then!" said Pilate. in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. I grant you that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom. Without a reconciliation." The Holy Bible. Jesus answered.together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.
being understood through what has been made. through the creation and by revelation. is in relation to turning around. "I'm sorry. Repentance. but carries actions indicating that the person has turned in the opposite direction from the sins committed. so that they are without excuse. 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. concerning sin. have been clearly seen . Repentance is not only saying that a person is sorry. 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. for God made it evident to them. has as its root rebellion against God and is ultimately a sin committed against God. for if I do not go away. and concerning judgment. and concerning righteousness. Why will you die. because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me." The Holy Bible. he said to them. Ezekiel 18:30-32 (NAS) But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism. Salvation has several components that define its meaning: 1. who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore . when He comes. "Therefore.committed and unrepented. then sin will not be your downfall. As a consequence. I will send Him to you. and that knowledge is provided by God Himself. And He. declares the Sovereign Lord. each one according to his ways." because words come very cheap. repentance. and also revealed by the Spirit of God. The Holy Bible. "You brood of vipers. Repentance is not simply saying. Romans 1:18-20 (NAS) "But I tell you the truth. and get a new heart and a new spirit. in its full meaning. His eternal power and divine nature. 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. the Helper will not come to you. John 16:7-11 (NAS) 2. It is the knowledge that reveals the guilt and confirms the judgment of God against the sinner. because they do not believe in Me. because the ruler of this world has been judged. will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment. REPENTANCE AND CONFESSION OF SIN REPENTANCE All sin. I will judge you. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes. Repent and live!" The Holy Bible. 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. regardless of how it was committed or against whom. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed. or a reversal of action. O house of Israel. declares the Sovereign Lord. O house of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses. it is to your advantage that I go away.
Matthew 3:7-9 (NAS) Repentance also carries with it a condition of true remorse and regret. and his full surrender to Christ. Irrespective of nationality. He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper. It involves an action that signifies the validity and truthfulness of the repentance in that the person turns away from. 'We have Abraham for our father'. what concern. The Holy Bible. 24:47. Proverbs 28:13 (NAS) When I was silent about my sin. 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. Matthew 9:13. that is given from God.bear fruit in keeping with repentance. "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord". what indignation. the giving up of his own thoughts. II Peter 3:9). 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. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me. and that leads to the process of confession of sin to God. for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. but worldly sorrow brings death. 26:20. what readiness to see justice done. sinners are called to repentance (Acts 5:31. a sorrow that involves a regret for the commission of the sin itself. I acknowledged my sin to You. position or condition. or rejects the sin in their life. The Holy Bible. what eagerness to clear yourselves. what alarm. but because it was committed against God. It is no protracted agony of soul. not just the negative results of that sin. It involves a response from the innermost being of a person. . but a repentance to the acknowledging of the truth (II Timothy 2:24.25). 2 Corinthians 7:10-11a (NAS) As can be see. But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion. and my iniquity I did not hide.19. This expression of remorse reaches to the core of a person's being. my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves." The Holy Bible. Luke 15:17. 20:21. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret. I said." 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 longing. It is through repentance that a person understands that only by pleading to the grace of God can a standing before God be obtained. Saving repentance is the sinner's forsaking of his own ways. my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. Repentance is not something the sinner must do to win god's compassion. not just because of the consequences of the sin. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness.
for inner peace. Zondervan Publishing.in Saul's case. Only when the Lord confronted him dramatically on the Damascus road did his need become known and felt . he who believes in Me will live even if he dies. for unless you believe that I am He. If he is without Christ. he had a great need for salvation. The Holy Bible. "I am the resurrection and the life. even to those who believe in His name. 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." The Holy Bible.who were born. Often a person's felt need is only partial. so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. you will die in your sins." All The Doctrines Of The Bible. John 8:24 (NAS) Jesus said to her. For God so loved the world.Repentance ushers in pardon for the sinner-it makes way for God's pardoning grace (Acts 5:31). He knew he needed something from the Lord. to them He gave the right to become children of God. that whoever believes in Him shall not perish. riches and honor. but of God. Faith involves a knowledge of the claims of Jesus Christ who is the object. . Pardon is the richest of blessings for the repentant. "Pardoning mercy is the sauce that makes all other mercies taste the sweeter. He was thoroughly convinced he was doing god's will. Luke 1:12-13 (NAS) "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness. John 11:25-27 (NAS) THE THREE REQUIREMENTS OF FAITH The faith that God honors. but have eternal life. The most important thing is that a person realize that the answer . Do you believe this?" She said to Him. and commitment. The first feeling of need may only be for a purpose in life or for someone to love us and care for us. He simply knew that something was desperately wrong in his life and that the answer was in God." The Holy Bible. and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. FELT NEED Faith cannot begin until a person realizes his need for salvation. even so must the Son of Man be lifted up. very deeply. When Saul was persecuting the church. that He gave His only begotten Son. I have believed that You are the Christ. content. the Son of God. be clearly understood. When David was humbled and broken because of his sin. 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. 1964. Lord. the faith that is from a sincere heart. Knowledge About Claims of Jesus Christ So faith comes from hearing. at first. On the Damascus road. p. it sweetens our health. even He who comes into the world. an agreement as to the validity of those claims and an appropriation of those claims into the life of the person." The holy Bible. But he will not have reason to believe until his need is felt. he needs salvation whether he recognizes it or not. until it is recognized. Or it may be a sense of need for forgiveness and removal of guilt. "The Lord hath put away they sin" (II Samuel 12:13). and hearing by the word of Christ. believing sinner. requires three things: felt need. not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man.174 Repentance is the preparation that leads to faith and the resultant appropriation of the benefits provided through the atonement. Herbert Lockyer. Hebrews 11:6 (NAS) Appropriation Of The Claims Of Jesus Christ But as many as received Him. The Holy Bible. John 3:14-16 "Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins. The need may not. The Holy Bible. for he who comes to god must believe that He is and that he is a rewarder of those who seek Him. "Yes. but he certainly felt no need of it.
but inadequate on its own. totally commit his life to the Lord Jesus Christ. Without hesitation or reservation. MacArthur. My father often told the story of a tightrope walker who liked to walk a wire across Niagara Fallspreferably with someone on his back. the man had totally committed his body to the chair. piles up truth upon truth and presents Jesus as the Jews' promised Messiah. The idea of "blind faith" sounds spiritual. pp. a person who does not feel a need for salvation. But God does not demand faith without giving reason for faith. He must know the gospel. "When I returned home. some of them rather superficial. Professing Christ. no matter how good his theology. and they continued working until early morning. Pollock went to bed. The missionary asked him what the word would be for what he had just done. he was convinced that the chair provided a place for rest. He was bothered b his friend's question. John F. passionately in love with Jesus Christ. he said. but it is not biblical. but he does need the gospel truth (1 Cor. One day a man who was working for him came into the house and flopped down into a big chair. telling the story to the friend. But when they came. is not saving faith. The writer of Hebrews. 264-265 6. Jesus met all their needs. he had felt his need for rest. They may have felt only a need for physical healing. vague as it was. After reading the gospel of Mark through. but could not sleep. 1983. that the old sacrifices were ineffective. CONTENT A person does not have to comprehend the full knowledge and understanding of the doctrine of salvation before he can be saved. Even great persons of faith will not know many of the things about God until they see their Lord face to face in heaven. he got dressed and walked the streets until dawn. without commitment to Christ. when they parted. I found myself on my knees. Mr. something in the work they were doing caused the friend to say to Pollock. saving faith. but He also offered spiritual healing. Pollock was collaborating with another author in writing a play. a well-known playwright. Hebrews. but he always had a difficult time getting a volunteer to climb up on him.to his need is in God. The following story is told of Channing Pollock. Later. He finally got out of bed and searched the apartment until he found a New Testament. and that only the new sacrifice can bring a person to God-and so on and on. and he committed himself to the chair for rest. People came to Jesus for many reasons. As a missionary translator in the New Hebrides. He also shows that the New Covenant is far superior to the Old. On the other hand. simple and casual though it seemed. only a sincere heart that knows it needs salvation. in the same way. 15:1-5) that he is lost in sin and needs the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The word the man gave in reply was the one Paton used for faith in his translation of the New Testament. if far from faith in God. Many people express complete confidence in Christ but never trust themselves to Him. A believer must. Only then is faith. RESURRECTION . he then looked at the truth and its evidence-and believed. "Have you ever read the New Testament?" Pollock said he had not. Felt need does not require theological understanding of the doctrine of salvation. for example. John Paton was frustrated in his work for a long time because the people had no word for faith. As they were working late one night in Pollock's New York apartment. Many people on the bank expressed complete confidence in his ability to do it. Moody Press. COMMITMENT The climax of faith is commitment. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary. Felt need is essential." Beginning with a felt need.
In advocating their case for the gospel. . In subsequent weeks. Many have chosen simply to ignore the central issue of the resurrection. was judged a political criminal. The writers of the four Gospels either had themselves been witnesses or else were relating the accounts of eyewitnesses of the actual events. From that foundation." I answered. was arrested. why can't you refute Christianity?" "For a very simple reason. A student at the University of Uruguay said to me.Evidence for the Resurrection by Josh McDowell For centuries many of the world's distinguished philosophers have assaulted Christianity as being irrational. "I am not able to explain away an event in history--the resurrection of Jesus Christ." 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. Those people could certainly have confirmed or denied the accuracy of such accounts. heartless hoaxes ever foisted on the minds of human beings--or it is the most remarkable fact of history. a word that means "good news. and was crucified. Three days after His death and burial. Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire and has continued to exert great influence down through the centuries. vicious. 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. His disciples claimed that God had raised Him from the dead and that He appeared to them various times before ascending into heaven. Here are some of the facts relevant to the resurrection: Jesus of Nazareth. But the historical evidence just can't be discounted. Others have tried to explain it away through various theories. some women who went to His tomb found the body gone. "Professor McDowell. superstitious and absurd." the apostles appealed (even when confronting their most severe opponents) to common knowledge concerning the facts of the resurrection. a Jewish prophet who claimed to be the Christ prophesied in the Jewish Scriptures. I have come to the conclusion that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is either one of the most wicked.
the possible presence of hostile witnesses in the audience would have served as a further corrective. . 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. F. . archaeological discoveries had confirmed the accuracy of the New Testament manuscripts. an abundance of other manuscripts came to light (over 24. The body of Jesus.D. About 100 pounds of aromatic spices. Rylands professor of biblical criticism and exegesis at the University of Manchester. 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. Sir William Ramsay. Those findings increased scholarly confidence in the reliability of the Bible. My approach to Classics is historical. finally concluded: "Luke is a historian of the first rank . E. in accordance with Jewish burial custom. and to refute the reliability of the New Testament." IS THE NEW TESTAMENT RELIABLE? Because the New Testament provides the primary historical source for information on the resurrection. William F. were applied to the wrappings of cloth about the body. and the resurrection of Christ is better authenticated than most of the facts of ancient history . the death. . Discoveries of early papyri bridged the gap between the time of Christ and existing manuscripts from a later date. . who in his day was the world's foremost biblical archaeologist. And I tell you that the evidence for the life. was wrapped in a linen cloth. an extremely large stone was rolled against the entrance . however. This author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians. who spent 15 years attempting to undermine Luke credentials as a historian. many critics during the 19th century attacked the reliability of these biblical documents. M. Blaiklock Professor of Classics Auckland University BACKGROUND The New Testament witnesses were fully aware of the background against which the resurrection took place. two full generations before the date between 130 and 150 given by the more radical New Testament critics of today.000 copies of early New Testament manuscripts are known to be in existence today). mixed together to form a gummy substance. Bruce." Coinciding with the papyri discoveries. By the end of the 1 9th century. " I claim to be an historian. The historian Luke wrote of "authentic evidence" concerning the resurrection. 80. Albright.F. After the body was placed in a solid rock tomb.
the falsity would be evident. the first obvious fact was the breaking of the seal that stood for the power and authority of the Roman Empire. Jesus' disciples displayed signs of cowardice when they hid themselves. People feared the breaking of the seal. They reported that He appeared to them during a period of 40 days. Consider these facts: FACT #1: BROKEN ROMAN SEAL As we have said. The followers of Jesus said He had risen from the dead. crucifixion. he could . this means that if a source admits a fact decidedly not in its favor. Peter. Paul Maier calls this "positive evidence from a hostile source. burial. Anyone trying to move the stone from the tomb's entrance would have broken the seal and thus incurred the wrath of Roman law. 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. if the emptiness of the tomb had not been established as a fact for all concerned. This guard affixed on the tomb the Roman seal. which was meant to "prevent any attempt at vandalizing the sepulcher. The FBI and CIA of the Roman Empire were called into action to find the man or men who were responsible." Paul Althaus states that the resurrection "could have not been maintained in Jerusalem for a single day." Dr." Gamaliel. A Roman guard of strictly disciplined fighting men was stationed to guard the tomb. for a single hour. In essence. which is the strongest kind of historical evidence. Large stones weighing approximately two tons were normally rolled (by means of levers) against a tomb entrance. put forth the suggestion that the rise of the Christian movement was God's doing." Both Jewish and Roman sources and traditions admit an empty tomb.of the tomb. But three days later the tomb was empty. then that fact is genuine. The consequences of breaking the seal were extremely severe. sealing. one of these disciples. The empty tomb was "too notorious to be denied. entombment. the Sanhedrin. FACT #2: EMPTY TOMB As we have already discussed. If they were apprehended. the majority of whom were still alive and who could confirm what Paul wrote. where. showing Himself to them by many "infallible proofs. it meant automatic execution by crucifixion upside down. Those resources range from Josephus to a compilation of fifth-century Jewish writings called the "Toledoth Jeshu. The disciples of Christ did not go off to Athens or Rome to preach that Christ was raised from the dead. went out and denied Christ three times. So many security precautions were taken with the trial. if what they were teaching was false. Rather. they went right back to the city of Jerusalem." Paul the apostle recounted that Jesus appeared to more than 500 of His followers at one time. another obvious fact after the resurrection was the empty tomb. who was a member of the Jewish high court.
There exists no document from the ancient world. 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. George Currie. was actually empty on the morning of the first Easter. wrote that fear of punishment "produced flawless attention to duty. if all the evidence is weighed carefully and fairly. when Roman military discipline was so exceptional? Justin. if the disciples had wanted to come in. or if the Sanhedrin knew the whereabouts of Christ's body. How can their attrition he explained. or archaeology that would disprove this statement." . And no shred of evidence has yet been discovered in literary sources. . . . it is indeed justifiable. They left their place of responsibility. Skepticism regarding the historical credentials of Christianity is based upon an irrational bias. especially in the night watches. tiptoe around the sleeping guards. in which Jesus was buried. It was in such a position that it looked as if it had been picked up and carried away. 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. how could they have done that without the guards' awareness? FACT #4: ROMAN GUARD GOES AWOL The Roman guards fled. a student of Roman military discipline. Dr. Paul Maier observes that " . If it was not apparent which soldier had failed in his duty. in Digest #49. I ask you. All the Gospel writers mention it." 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. to conclude that the sepulcher of Joseph of Arimathea. . and then roll the stone over and steal Jesus' body. epigraphy. Now.not have done that if the tomb were still occupied. witnessed by so excellent a set of textual and historical testimonies . according to the canons of historical research. then lots were drawn to see which one would be punished with death for the guard unit's failure. Certainly the entire unit would not have fallen asleep with that kind of threat over their heads. but from the entire massive sepulcher. mentions all the offenses that required the death penalty. The fear of their superiors' wrath and the possibility of death meant that they paid close attention to the minutest details of their jobs.
Paul reminded them that the majority of those people were still alive and could be questioned. looked over to the place where the body of Jesus had lain. FACT #6: JESUS' APPEARANCES CONFIRMED Christ appeared alive on several occasions after the cataclysmic events of that first Easter . For instance. Dr. but rather the empty grave clothes--undisturbed in form and position. and place them in a courtroom. against all statements to the contrary. associate professor of history at Miami University in Oxford. in the form of the body. When studying an event in history. Edwin M. and there were the grave clothes. 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. and a later police report turns out to he a fabrication of lies. One of the earliest records of Christ's appearing after the resurrection is by Paul. OVER 500 WITNESSES Several very important factors arc often overlooked when considering Christ's postresurrection appearances to individuals.FACT #5: GRAVECLOTHES TELL A TALE In a literal sense. Paul says in effect. John. If the number of eyewitnesses is substantial. 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 first thing that stuck in the minds of the disciples was not the empty tomb. John never did get over it. the event can he regarded as fairly well established. 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. ." Let's take the more than 500 witnesses who saw Jesus alive after His death and burial. St. including cross-examination. HOSTILE WITNESSES Another factor crucial to interpreting Christ's appearances is that He also appeared to those who were hostile or unconvinced.' 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. a disciple of Jesus. Ohio. To know this is obviously helpful in ascertaining the accuracy of the published report. That's enough to make a believer out of anybody. 'If you do not believe me. The apostle appealed to his audience's knowledge of the fact that Christ had been seen by more than 500 people at one time. we as eyewitnesses can refute it. Do you realize that if each of those 500 people were to testify for only six minutes. The first is the large number of witnesses of Christ after that resurrection morning. you can ask them. Yamauchi. slightly caved in and empty--like the empty chrysalis of a caterpillar's cocoon. if we all witness a murder. the tomb was not totally empty--because of an amazing phenomenon.
No author or informed individual would regard Saul of Tarsus as being a follower of Christ. would not have been mistaken about the location. It was a lifeshattering experience when Christ appeared to him. and arguments from silence can be dangerous. Nor would the Roman guards. We may be certain. their authenticity would generally be regarded as beyond all doubt. Although he was at the time not a disciple. but the problems inherent in unbelief present even greater difficulties. F. one of the greatest witnesses for the truth of the resurrection. who asked for a Roman guard to be stationed at the tomb to prevent Jesus' body from being stolen. The difficulties of belief may be great. Bruce Manchester University The argument that Christ's appearances were only to followers is an argument for the most part from silence. 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. then the disciples who went to check up on the women's statement must have also gone to the wrong tomb. they actually help to build confidence in the truth of the resurrection. they attempt to water down the overwhelming impact of the multiple eyewitness accounts. he later became the apostle Paul. If the New Testament were a collection of secular writings. The facts show the exact opposite. The theories advanced to explain the resurrection by "natural causes" are weak.Over and over again. If so. No one acquainted with the facts can accurately say that Jesus appeared to just "an insignificant few. the Jewish authorities would have lost no time in producing the body from the proper tomb. F. I have read or heard people comment that Jesus was seen alive after His death and burial only by His friends and followers. thus effectively quenching for all time any rumor resurrection." Christians believe that Jesus was bodily resurrected in time and space by the supernatural power of God. Using that argument. HALLUCINATIONS? Another attempted explanation claims that the appearances of Jesus after the resurrection . Saul despised Christ and persecuted Christ's followers. however. But that line of reasoning is so pathetic it hardly deserves comment. for they were there! If the resurrection-claim was merely because of a geographical mistake. It is equally possible that all to whom Jesus appeared became followers. that Jewish authorities.
this theory also does not coincide with the historical situation. Again. Roman historians have long taken it for granted. Unsupported by the psychological principles governing the appearances of hallucinations. 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. even in matters of detail. when the disciples were preaching the resurrection in Jerusalem. didn't they explain: "Wait! We moved the body. could have given to the disciples the impression that He was a Conqueror over death and the grave. popularized by Venturini several centuries ago. the confirmation of historicity is overwhelming. he merely fainted from exhaustion and loss of blood. and who still at last yielded to His sufferings. strengthening and indulgence. why. Sherwin-White Classical Roman Historian an impression which lay at the bottom of their future ministry. A. why didn't they recover the corpse. Such a resuscitation could only have weakened the impression which He had made upon them in life and in death. see. Any attempt to reject its basic historicity. wanting medical treatment. have elevated their reverence into worship. is often quoted today. who required bandaging. N. Everyone thought Him dead. where was the actual body. This is the swoon theory. and wheel it through the . why didn't they explain exactly where Jesus' body lay? If this failed. which says that Jesus didn't die. who crept about weak and ill." THE BODY STOLEN? Then consider the theory that the body was stolen by the disciples while the guards slept. but later He resuscitated and the disciples thought it to be a resurrection. If the authorities had the body in their possession or knew where it was. 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. but could by no possibility have changed their sorrow into enthusiasm.were either illusions or hallucinations. 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. at the most could only have given it an elegiac voice. He didn't rise from the grave"? And if such a rebuttal failed. put it on a cart. For the New Testament of Acts. the Prince of Life. They were in no mood to attempt anything like that. and why wasn't it produced? DID JESUS SWOON? Another theory. must now appear absurd.
for their whole-hearted and total allegiance to this "risen Christ . Every conceivable method was used to stop them from talking. author of the famous. 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 I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort. for 14 years a headmaster of Rugby. no one comes to the Father but through Me" (John 14:6). wealth. increased social status or material benefits--we might logically attempt to account for their actions. they laid down their lives as the ultimate proof of their complete confidence in the truth of their message. tortured and crucified. . but in the womb! THE RESURRECTION IS A FACT Professor Thomas Arnold. and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them. it is not too much to say that there is no historic incident better or more variously supported than the resurrection of Christ. said: "raking all the evidence together.center of Jerusalem? Such an action would have destroyed Christianity--not in the cradle. Yet. and the truth. Jesus told him: "I am the way." REAL PROOF: THE DISCIPLES' LIVES But the most telling testimony of all must be the lives of those early Christians. 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. than the great sign which God hath given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead. however. an English scholar. those early Christians were beaten. to the understanding of a fair inquirer." Brooke Foss Westcott. and the life. History of Rome. 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. Nothing but the antecedent assumption that it must be false could have suggested the idea of deficiency in the proof of it. This great scholar said: "I have been used for many years to study the histories of other times. stoned to death." As a reward for their efforts. was well acquainted with the value of evidence in determining historical facts. thrown to the lions. and appointed to the chair of modern history at Oxford.
" 7. These same things Christ continues to do through His new Body—the church. It is the proof of His victory (Ephesians 4:8). If you have never trusted Christ. What did Jesus do? He tells us when He read Himself into His messianic office at the Nazareth synagogue (Luke 4:18-21). . Luke was a careful historian who verified his evidence. It is the permanent place of power (Acts 2:33). Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. . 1 Peter 1:21). Luke tells us about “all that Jesus began to do and teach. These are based on solid historical evidence. Make me the kind of person You want me to be. Thank You that I can trust You. The book of Acts tells what He continues to do and teach through His body of believers. you can do so right now. who would be so foolhardy as to reject Him? Christ is alive! He is living today. 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. The prayer I prayed is: "Lord Jesus. Prayer is talking with God. He is the exalted Son of God at the right hand of the Father (Luke 24:26. 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). I need You. until the day when He was taken up .” (Acts 1:1-2). 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. and rest. I open the door of my life and trust You as my Savior. and considering the fact that Jesus offers forgiveness of sin and an eternal relationship with God. He is now in the position of honor in heaven at the right hand of His Father (Psalm 110:1).On the basis of all the evidence for Christ's resurrection. . The Ascension of Christ is the consummation and the culminating point of Christ’s redemptive work (Hebrews 8:1). God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart. ASCENSION Acts 1:9-11 Ascension of Jesus Christ Dr. You can trust God right now by faith through prayer. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. happiness (Psalm 26:11). All that Jesus began to do and teach. CHRISTIANITY IS CHRIST The Ascension is Christ's exaltation and glory after His saving work on earth had been accomplished (Philippians 2:9).
. Jesus said. but then Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to them. but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (v. It was a real documented historical event. by many convincing proofs. He appeared to them as one who had risen from the dead. He is one and the same. 4). 5. He “showed Himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that He was alive” (v. The resurrection of Jesus is based on historical facts. The resurrection has been demonstrated by ten convincing proofs to the five senses. “He also presented Himself alive. Christianity is based on historical facts. These are historical facts. Each person of the Godhead is referred to in these verses. 3). and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). The Christ of faith is the Jesus of history. From a secular historian’s point of view. Jesus told the believers to “wait for what the Father had promised . He has been proven over and over again by scholars to be an extraordinary historian.” (v. . It is impossible to separate the Christ of faith from the historical Jesus. 3). There were eyewitnesses that Jesus was alive and appeared and disappeared before people over a period of 40 days. Luke 1:1-4 tells us how he went about his gathering evidence and evaluating it. Luke says he had “convincing proofs” or demonstrative proofs of the resurrection of Christ. Luke is an accurate. 5). 4. appearing to them over a period of forty days. saw Him dead with their own eyes on the cross and in the grave. They knew He had died. and rose from the dead. 6. “for John baptized with water. The Trinity is emphasized in vv.Jesus died and rose again from the dead. The promise of the Father will be fulfilled in the baptism of the Holy Spirit. He lived a perfect life on this earth in Jerusalem and was crucified on a Roman cross. . credible historian. Essentials of the kingdom of God The resurrected Christ taught the disciples essential things about the kingdom of God (v. Jesus rose from the dead. after His suffering.
why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus. It was a “strained intent. and even to the remotest part of the earth” (v. and they never saw Him again. "And after He had said these things. but the people who were watching Him had their eyes fixed on. either. who has been taken up from you into heaven. There were eyewitnesses to the ascension of Jesus Christ. 6-7). two men in white clothing stood beside them. “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you ." These witnesses died because they were already martyrs.” The special enabling by the Holy Spirit is to make them. Jesus did not deny the restoration Jesus gave His commission to go and make disciples in all the earth (v. A cloud “took under Him. It is not as though Jesus was suddenly snatched away out of . 9). or gazing upon Him. and a cloud received Him out of their sight.” The word dunamis literally means. . or experienced something. As the disciples were standing on the Mount of Olives they saw Jesus suddenly ascend into a cloud.” (vv. “received up” (v. 1-2a). Their eyes were fixed on Him as He ascended.The disciples kept asking Jesus about the restoration of the kingdom of Israel (vv. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going. will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven’” (Acts 1:9-11. NASB 1995). The word “witness” means to affirm that one has seen.” Jesus was “taken up” (v. Jesus ascended into heaven. Verses 9-11 reads.” They were stretching to look “intently into the sky while He was departing. 8). Jesus “was lifted up while they were looking on. . behold. ‘Men of Galilee. until the day when He was taken up .” from “to be able. He was lifted up while they were looking on. He just disappeared. He didn’t go beyond the cloud.” Luke used the word "looking" (blepo) meaning to see. and a cloud received Him out of their sight. he is not a spectator. “went” (v. and in all Judea and Samaria. A “witness” is one who bears testimony by his death. . . They also said. “My witnesses both in Jerusalem. denoting a continuous steadfast attention. so there could be no mistake about an event so supernatural. to look. “to enable them. to tell what one has learned first hand personally. The fires of persecution revealed them. to direct the eyes and the attention upon an object. 11). The Gospel of Luke teaches us “about all that Jesus began to do and teach. disappeared. 8). 10). or heard. Our English word “martyr” is a transliteration of the Greek word for "witness.” He seems to be supported by the cloud. The function of an apostle was to give witness to the resurrection.
their sight.” “Two men in white clothing stood beside them. however the implication is that He would not immediately appear again. One day this same Jesus will return in glory and every eye shall see Him. Most Bible scholars say these men were angelic messengers since we encounter them frequently in Acts (5:19-20. L. 30-32. 27:23). ‘Men of Galilee. The cloud served only to hide Jesus. Matt. ascension and second coming of Christ are related. He was no longer perceived by physical sight or sensation. and they also said. but by spiritual insight. Their teaching period was over and there was now an awareness that He was with them all the time. They just couldn’t see His presence with physical sight. 1:7).” “This same Jesus” is coming back. Rev. "This same Jesus" would indeed come back in the way in which He went. 11). The onlookers “were gazing intently” meaning “looked intently at someone or something. 11:13-14. The essential fact of the Ascension of Christ is that He departed and disappeared from view. 26:64. Phillips translates: “He was lifted up before their eyes till a cloud hid Him from their sight. 12:7-10. The ascension is the abiding proof that the resurrection of Jesus was more than a temporary resuscitation. Moody suggested they were Moses and Elijah (cf. why do you stand looking into the sky?’” (v. Our Lord withdrew from a world of limitations to where God is. who has been taken up from you into heaven. Heaven is at once a place and a state and personality necessarily implies locality. In reality there truly was no disappearance of Christ. Christ will come again on clouds of glory (Matt. will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven” (v. 17:2-3). 24:30. ascended visibly into heaven and disappeared from their sight.” Who were these “two men in white clothing” standing there speaking to the disciples? D. The heavenly messenger says. He did not vanish as He had done when leaving His disciples during the forty days after His resurrection. 11) It does not read angels. The “cloud” that received Jesus from their sight was no doubt the Shekinah cloud of glory. “this Jesus. It was the visible symbol of God’s glory that received Him and hid Him from their eyes. Observe how closely the resurrection. 23. but “men. 10:3-7. 8:26. The two men told the disciples. . the transfiguration of Jesus. Jesus Christ ascended into heaven. He bade His followers good-by. The distance and direction is really of no importance. It conveyed to His followers that the appearances that had occurred over the 40-day period had come to an end. The “royal chariot” was the cloud closely associated with the divine presence in other parts of the Scriptures.
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
2:18. 4. 9:12. 7:24-25). Because He ascended to heaven. 6. The very presence of Christ at the right hand of the Father pleads on our behalf. and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit. undelegated. If my assessment of the situation is correct. The primary purpose of this introductory lesson is to convince you that our study of the church is well worth your time and mine. Let us listen well to the Word of God. your study and mine. 5. . you can see the problem that we face. 2:19). and of our place in it. 8:6) and advocate with the Father (1 Jn. He pleads by His presence on His Father’s throne. When Jesus ascended into heaven He did not go to some distant planet in space. and He is able to save to the uttermost through His intercession. He is right here with us right now. or about how I change a timing belt on a car. Very few people find this doctrine all that exciting. 15. Christ is the head and Lord of His church (Eph. which speaks to us of Christ. Heb. 2:1). Jesus simply stepped into a different dimension of existence. we must first be convinced of its importance. There is an essential relationship between the ascension of Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. NASB 1995). Just how important is a study of the church? It is as important as the church is in God’s program for this world. For many. and for the world to come. 1:22. If we are going to really engage ourselves in this study. 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. Unless I am convinced otherwise. In a moment. intramissible priesthood (Heb. Here we are. 3. setting out on a study of the church (ecclesiology). 4:15. Our ascended High Priest is the perfect mediator between God and men (1 Tim. let alone define. 7:25). ecclesiology is the doctrine of the church. CHURCH Ecclesiology is a word most of us can hardly spell.Christ is a human and divine High Priest who is able to sympathize. 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. and neither is the throne of God and the greatness of His power. comfort and save the sinner (Heb. Because Jesus ascended into heaven you and I can have all of Him right now. 7. Col. He will step back again into visibility. a study of the church is about as exciting as a visit to the doctor for an annual checkup. Even so. Will we see Him today? 8. and thus in our lives. He has poured forth this which you both see and hear" (Acts 2:33. And just think of it—Just as Jesus stepped into invisibility. Simply put. 4:10. of His church. Lord Jesus. There is an invisible spiritual kingdom which surrounds us on every side. because of His perpetual life and His inviolable. come. The invisible spiritual life is imparted to us by the Holy Spirit who came as a result of Christ’s leaving this earth. Jesus is not far away. 2:5. in the twinkling of an eye He will suddenly appear. Heaven is not several billion light-years away. Instead. "Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God.
before the foundation of the world (1:4). 10. (2) These blessings have God the Father as their source. 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. 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. 1:4. 9.The Church in the Book of Ephesians It is generally agreed that the Book of Ephesians has two parts. who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms in Christ. (4) We have been predestined and saved unto good works. 11 In Christ we too have been claimed as God’s own possession. 7. Who seals us until our day of redemption (1:13-14). 11. I believe that the church is central in both sections of Ephesians. 6. . 5. Indeed these blessings have been “lavished” upon us (1:8). 13) and are assured through the Holy Spirit. according to “the riches of His grace” (1:7). The NET Bible). until the redemption of God’s own possession to the praise of his glory (Ephesians 1:1-14.2 These verses are rich with doctrinal truths. but our purpose here is to summarize the nature of the spiritual blessings of salvation that God has bestowed on us. 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. to the saints [in Ephesus]. the forgiveness of our trespasses. Let us begin by focusing on the doctrinal portion of Ephesians. the faithful in Christ Jesus. according to the riches of his grace 8 that he lavished on us in all wisdom and insight. (1) Our spiritual blessings are indeed bountiful. 9 He did this when he revealed to us the secret of his will. 14 who is the down payment of our inheritance. We are blessed with “every spiritual blessing” (1:3). who were the first to set our hope on Christ. 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. may be to the praise of his glory. He predestined us to adoption as sons (1:5). 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. 5 He did this by predestining us to adoption as his sons through Jesus Christ. Chapters 1-3 lay a doctrinal foundation and chapters 4-6 spell out the practical ramifications of this doctrine. an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God. with God and with men The divine purpose of salvation – the glory of God Ephesians 1 1 From Paul. according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ. He purposed that we should be “holy and unblemished in his sight” (1:4). 4 For he lovingly chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world that we may be holy and unblemished in his sight. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood. to head up all things in Christ—the things in heaven and the things on earth. (3) The blessings of salvation are accomplished through the person and work of Jesus Christ (1:3. 10 toward the administration of the fullness of the times. It is He who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing (1:3). It is He who chose us in eternity past. which are “freely bestowed on us” (1:6). 12.
and that we are His possession (1:11).(5) We have been saved according to the will of God (1:4-5. a fact that is evident. 18 —since the eyes of your heart have been enlightened—so that you may know what is the hope of his calling. 19 and what is the incomparable greatness of his power toward us who believe. Now here. the Father of glory. (I should also point out that Paul will once again turn to this subject of God’s power in 3:14-21. to accomplish His foreordained purposes (1:6. subordinate to His purposes. Who chose to save a people for Himself. 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. because the Ephesians have come to faith. At verse 15. Paul prays for three things. and the eyes of their heart have been enlightened. so that He is preeminent in and over all creation (1:9-10). 12). praying that they might come to a deeper knowledge of Him through the spiritual wisdom that God supplies (1:17).3 Look at what accompanies the resurrection and ascension of our Lord: He is seated at . 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).” but God giving us life through His Son. (7) Our salvation is a part of God’s program to exalt and glorify Christ. and he gave him to the church as head over all things. To put it in a different way. 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. not only in this age but also in the one to come. It is this third request that Paul chooses to elaborate upon in the verses that follow. 9. Paul is ceaseless in his prayers of thanksgiving. since I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints. Do we wonder why we have so many “consumer-oriented” saints. Salvation is more about God than it is about me. and for His glory. It is not “inviting God into our life. what is the wealth of his glorious inheritance in the saints. in part. but rather God sending His Son to the cross for His pleasure. and to bring praise and glory to Himself. by their love for all the saints (this all will be pursued further in chapter 2. It is not Jesus dying on the cross because He could not bear the thought of living without me. 9). (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). 11). 9-12). He also petitions God for their spiritual growth. 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you when I remember you in my prayers. may give you spiritual wisdom and revelation in your growing knowledge of him. It is the work of God. 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. It is time for us to see that we have been saved by a sovereign God. 15 For this reason. (1) He prays that they might come to know more fully the hope of their calling – that is. 23 Now the church is his body. Specifically. as displayed in the exercise of his immense strength. for His own pleasure. that they might come to grasp the marvelous future that God has for them. (6) We have been saved for God’s pleasure (1:5. and for the praise of His glory (1:6. (2) Paul prays that they might come to a fuller knowledge of the “wealth of God’s glorious inheritance in the saints” (1:18). based upon the fact that they are now saved through faith in Jesus Christ. nor to our choice. in verses 11-22). 22 And God put all things under Christ’s feet. Salvation is neither attributed to our goodness. the fullness of him who fills all in all (Ephesians 1:15-23). my friend. Salvation is about a gracious God. Paul writes of his prayers for the Ephesian saints. is a view of salvation that we hear all too seldom. the doctrine of the church must be grounded in the doctrine of salvation.
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. The church can be assured that what God purposes to do in and through His church will be accomplished. Who is Lord over all. who said he would like to help supply this missionary with a car. Jesus Christ is the “Head over all things. Colossians 1:18). All of the fullness of the Father dwells in the Son. Let me seek to illustrate what Paul is saying here. I was attempting to purchase a car for a missionary who was returning to the United States for a period of time. But Paul takes this one additional step in the final verse of chapter 1. Several years ago. 4 Thus he became so far better than the angels as he has inherited a name superior to theirs (Hebrews 1:1-4. and exaltation of our Lord. He informs his readers that the church is the body of Christ. I asked the salesman if the total price of the car would fall within the amount of money we had to work with. and through whom he created the world. Elsewhere. The Son thus manifests all that the Father is.” and He is also the Head over the church. 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). the owner of a car dealership in the area. He points to the power that was exercised in the resurrection.” The owner of the company was “head over all things” so far as that car dealership was concerned. I was introduced to a man. but that is not exactly what Paul is saying here in the closing verses of Ephesians 1. Who has greater power and authority than this? God subjected all things under Christ’s feet. but over all things. is also the Head of the church. 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. 23 Now the church is his body. he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. It is one thing for someone to be the head of the church. in addition to being the Head over all things (just as Paul stated earlier in 1:20-21). but also for the age to come. exalting Him as Lord over all.the right hand of God. He then referred me to his best salesman. “the fullness of him who fills all in all” (1:23). and so when he had accomplished cleansing for sins. . whom he appointed heir of all things. the fullness of him who fills all in all (Ephesians 1:22-23). The salesman replied in words to this effect. and he sustains all things by his powerful word. It is something even greater when that person is not just head over the church alone. emphasis mine). ascension. exalted above “every rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named” (1:21). He will accomplish because He is Head over all things. 3 The Son is the radiance of his glory and the representation of his essence. “If the owner of this company tells me to sell you a car for so much. Paul has prayed that the Ephesians would come to grasp the power of our Lord toward the saints. 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. then you can be assured that will be the price. and he gave him to the church as head over all things. If we are members of His church by faith in Him. the question of price came up. so I was assured that I would find a car for the right price. In the last two verses of chapter 1. Whatever it is that our Lord purposes to do in and through His church. Jesus is the Head of the church. He then tells us that Jesus Christ. We can be assured that He will employ His power to accomplish His purposes in and through His church. 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. When the right car came along.
we became partakers with Christ in His exaltation. indulging the desires of the flesh and the mind. In other words. It was the outworking of God’s love as He mercifully saved us by His grace (2:4-10). we were dead in our sins – not sick. show us the Father. ‘Show us the Father’? (John 14:7-9). The church is “the fullness of Him who fills all in all. being rich in mercy. “Have I been with you for so long. 9 it is not of works. it is the gift of God. we were under bondage to the “ruler of the kingdom of the air. the flesh. In Ephesians 2. we were raised up with Him and seated with Him in the heavenly realms. and thereby we were doomed to eternal wrath.” What an amazing statement! Paul has just told us how great our Lord Jesus Christ is. dead. and the church is the fullness of Christ. the ruler of the spirit that is now energizing the sons of disobedience. His fullness. and he concludes by telling us that the church is His body. 8 For by grace you are saved through faith. Paul describes our salvation in terms of sinful men being reconciled to God through faith in Christ.” 9 Jesus replied.To see the Son is to see the Father: 7 If you have known me. and we will be content. And from now on you do know him and have seen him. living in accordance with the world. . according to the ruler of the kingdom of the air. 10 For we are his workmanship. We pursued the pleasures of the flesh. The tragedy of our lost condition is that we didn’t even know we were lost and in desperate need of salvation. And so I ask the question. Our salvation was not of our own doing. who even now inspires and empowers those who are lost. To sum it all up. Paul is telling us that the church is the body of Christ. we were enslaved by the world. 2 in which you formerly lived according to this world’s present path. He made us alive by joining us with Christ in His saving work on our behalf. Even though we were dead in our sins. In reality. In verses 1-10.” the devil. Ephesians 2 Salvation from a Human Perspective 1 And although you were dead in your transgressions and sins. Paul describes our salvation from a human perspective. We marched to the beat of a deadly drum. 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 you have not known me. And because we were conformed to the world. 3 among whom all of us also formerly lived out our lives in the cravings of our flesh. and were by nature children of wrath even as the rest… 4 But God. and the devil. you will know my Father too. 7 to demonstrate in the coming ages the surpassing wealth of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Philip? The person who has seen me has seen the Father! How can you say. having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them (Ephesians 2:1-10). “Lord. without even knowing we were in bondage to the flesh. which was described in Ephesians 1:19-23. we were enslaved to our fleshly passions and lusts. we who were dead in our sins were made alive. so that no one can boast. the “sons of disobedience” (2:2). the One who fills all in all.” 8 Philip said. because of his great love with which he loved us. In Him. We lived our lives thinking we were free. Before we came to faith. In Him. which demonstrates our desperate need for grace. “How important is a study of the church?” Answer: It is as important as the church is. 5 even though we were dead in transgressions. He describes our complete inability to save ourselves in verses 1-3. and this is not of yourselves.
In Ephesians 2:1-3. 11 Therefore remember that formerly you. Paul describes our salvation in terms of sinful men being reconciled to God through faith in Christ. Now. being joined together. 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) . the hostility. but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of God’s household. 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. Paul emphasizes that the salvation we have experienced is the work of God on our behalf. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who used to be far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. In the Jewish mind. 7 to demonstrate in the coming ages the surpassing wealth of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (2:6-7. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. Paul described the hopeless condition of his readers by virtue of the fact that they were sinners. We were saved by grace. Paul informs us that our salvation is not primarily for our benefit. alienated from the citizenship of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise. both now and in the ages to come. the flesh. 15 when he nullified the law of commandments in decrees. 18 so that through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. Paul describes our salvation in terms of our reconciliation with others. through faith. thus making peace. Specifically. in his flesh. 16 and to reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross. in Ephesians 2:11-12. 19 So then you are no longer foreigners and noncitizens.Paul makes two things abundantly clear in the first half of Ephesians 2. from the standpoint of their separation from Israel. First. Notice all that the Gentiles lacked. no one could be more lost than a Gentile (see Galatians 2:15). Paul speaks of the salvation God accomplished in Christ Jesus as that which reconciles Jews and (their bitter counterparts) the Gentiles.” that is. Second. having no hope and without God in the world. God saved us to manifest His grace and kindness. Paul does not minimize the “lostness” of his Gentile readers who have been converted. 21 In him the whole building. those who were destined to God’s eternal wrath because of their sin. enslaved by the world. with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. the pawns of sin and of Satan. which made them enemies of God. “children of wrath. emphasis mine). 22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit (Ephesians 2:11-22). by which the hostility has been killed. and not the result of any works we have done. 20 because you have been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. We were dead in our sins. the one who turned both groups into one and who destroyed the middle wall of partition. and not of any work on our part (Ephesians 2:8-9). They were. 14 For he is our peace.5 In verses 1-10. Paul describes his readers’ hopeless condition as Gentiles. Now. in verses 11-22. from a Jewish point of view. 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. without a doubt. and the devil. Even the good works that we may accomplish as Christians are the works He prepared beforehand (2:10). and thus to bring glory to Himself. He did this to create in himself one new man out of two. grows into a holy temple in the Lord.
In this temple. God dwelling in the midst of His redeemed people: 1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying: “Look! The residence of God is among men and women. You can understand. then. for the first heaven and earth had ceased to exist. on the one hand. We were once “illegal aliens” so far as God’s covenant promises were concerned. the One common point of reference by which the building can be constructed. God also brought about reconciliation between these very hostile groups. This temple is described as still under construction (by way of evangelism). Christ is the One Who is to be preeminent as the Head of the church (Ephesians 1:20-23. and God himself will be with them as their God” (Revelation 21:1-3). now based upon Paul’s teaching in Ephesians 2. made ready like a bride adorned for her husband. as the One who brought the church into existence. The wall which separated Jews and Gentiles in the temple has symbolically been torn down in Christ. Paul declares that the saving work of Christ at Calvary reconciles Jews and Gentiles who trust in Him. making them participants in the blessings promised to the patriarchs. and they will be his people. The mere thought of God including Gentiles in His blessings sent the Jews into a frenzy (see Luke 4:16-30. in Christ (2:14-15).” (see also 3:5). In the final verses of chapter 2. 4:15. composed of both Jewish and Gentile Christians. The end result is a “holy temple” which serves as a dwelling place for God through His Holy Spirit (2:2122). Notice that once again the church is the finished product of God’s redemptive work. 5:23. why “uncircumcised Gentiles” were looked down upon by the circumcised Jews. a temple. Paul once again chooses to bring his argument to a climax by turning our attention to Christ and to His church. From the Jewish point of view. hostility has been done away with. The foundation of this spiritual temple is the apostolic preaching of the cross. Lost (dare I say heathen) Gentiles who were formerly “far away” have been “brought near” through the blood of Christ (2:13). and God’s only way of salvation for sinners. but in Christ we are now fellow citizens. We are not two “separate but equal” groups. Believing Jews and Gentiles are.… without God in the world (2:12). Nevertheless. Christ is the One Who is preeminent. more than anything. He is the One Who ties the whole building together. a dwelling place in which He would reside by the Holy Spirit. The imagery now changes from a family.” 2:16). “How important is the church. The church is the temple of God. . who proclaimed the shed blood of Jesus Christ as God’s remedy for sin. His saving work was intended to produce a church. Not only did God bring salvation to lost Gentiles through the work of Christ. on the other they are one building – a temple (2:20-21). They were in bad shape. Through the body of Christ (“one body. The “apostles and prophets” are the New Testament “apostles and prophets. they were hopelessly lost. or household. to a temple (2:21). Those who were once bitter enemies find peace and harmony. who have been reconciled to God and to each other through the saving work of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the cornerstone (2:20). He will live among them. members of God’s household. and thus our study of the church?” The church is God’s dwelling place. Heaven is. one new man (2:15). They were considered unworthy of the blessings God promised Abraham and his descendants. I would ask again. “one new man” (2:15). believing Jews and Gentiles have been reconciled. But God’s work at Calvary was meant to produce more than a multitude of individual saints. Acts 22:21-23). and the sea existed no more. I do not mean to say that the church is to be preeminent. 2 And I saw the holy city—the new Jerusalem—descending out of heaven from God. We now all have access to the Father through the same Holy Spirit. Colossians 1:18). but a new creation.
as was His resurrection. 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. This is not because Jesus never said anything about dying. a mystery is something at which God has been hinting. so that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. and on the third day be raised. because you are not setting your mind on God’s interests. and experts in the law. Satan! You are a stumbling block to me. Amen (Ephesians 3:1-21. which is your glory. 15 from whom every family in heaven and on the earth is named.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter. A mystery is not something which has never been mentioned before. emphasis mine). or being raised from the dead. “Get behind me. 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. 12 in whom we have boldness and confident access to God because of Christ’s faithfulness. as I wrote before briefly. 13 For this reason I ask you not to lose heart because of what I am suffering for you. 3 that by revelation the divine secret was made known to me. 19 and thus to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge. but on man’s” (Matthew 16:21-23). but which men have not understood. and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus. so that. . forever and ever. Paul. 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. to head up all things in Christ—the things in heaven and the things on earth (Ephesians 1:9-10). but only to show how important the church is in each chapter. 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. fellow members of the body. Now it is important to understand what a mystery is. In chapter 3. 14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father. you will be able to understand my insight into this secret of Christ. according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ. Lord! This must not happen to you. 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.The church is as close to heaven as men will ever get on earth. 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. 21 to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations. Paul has been privileged to reveal the “secret” or the “mystery” that was hidden in times past. chief priests. 22 So Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 4 When reading this. It is not our purpose to give a full exposition of these first chapters of Ephesians. 6 namely. 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. 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. by being rooted and grounded in love. 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. saying. Ephesians 3 1 For this reason I. and be killed. through His Spirit. 10 toward the administration of the fullness of the times. 8 To me—less than the least of all the saints—this grace was given. 18 you may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth. “God forbid. 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. that through the gospel the Gentiles are fellow heirs. 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.
the salvation of Jews and Gentiles should come as no surprise. and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:5-6). the realization of what God had in mind from the beginning. from Genesis to Revelation. the “mystery” was the “secret” of His church. “The root of Jesse will come.” 10 And again it says: “Rejoice. 40 For God had provided something better for us [New Testament saints]. but to actually preach the gospel to the Gentiles. the completion of what God had predestined in eternity past. The church is the culmination and climax of God’s eternal plan. no one saw the church coming. fellow members of the body. . and I will sing praises to your name. this sense of culmination is not something reached independently of God’s Word. it would not be welcomed). made up of both Jews and Gentiles. “Praise the Lord all you Gentiles. sandwiched between God’s working with the Israel in the Old Testament and His working with Israel in the future. and the one who rises to rule over the Gentiles. 7 Receive one another. and let all the peoples praise him. 9 and thus the Gentiles glorify God for his mercy. then. that through the gospel the Gentiles are fellow heirs. O Gentiles. but as a result of reading His Word. 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. 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 Scriptures had spoken of this. 6 namely. It was a great surprise. But looking forward. something to occupy mankind while God prepares to save Israelites. with his people. It is the consummation of God’s purposes. Looking back. yet they did not receive what was promised.” 13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in him. Paul was privileged not only to proclaim this mystery (a proclamation that was not always welcomed – see Acts 22:21-23). As I was reading this week. But this is not the impression I get from Paul at all. My theological training predisposed me to think of the church as a kind of parenthesis. in him will the Gentiles hope.The “secret” which God privileged Paul to announce was the “mystery” of His bringing all things to a head in Christ. so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:5-13). to God’s glory. 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. The church is not a parenthesis but an exclamation point! The church is not just an interlude or intermission. I found that I was not alone in this conclusion: “Several times I have read the Bible straight through.”6 As Philip Yancey puts it. Put differently. “Because of this I will confess you among the Gentiles. 6 so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. just as Christ also received you. 39 And these [Old Testament saints] all were commended for their faith. and each time it strikes me that the church is a culmination. so that they would be made perfect together with us (Hebrews 11:39-40).” 11 And again. This mystery is great—but I am actually speaking with reference to Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:32). but not so clearly that men would understand (and even if it were clearly revealed. as we can see from Paul’s quotations from the Old Testament in Romans 9-11.” 12 And again Isaiah says. As it is written.
Is the church worthy of our study of this doctrine? Most definitely. 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. 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. Ephesians 4 Someone may very well ask. personally. as well as His body. let’s consider what role the church might play in the practical outworking of the doctrine Paul has taught in chapters 1-3. 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). The gospel is the good news that faith in Jesus Christ not only reconciles one to God. emphasis mine). For this reason a woman should have a symbol of authority on her head. 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. The gospel is the “mystery. 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. Amen (Ephesians 3:20-21. forever and ever. The church is the climax of God’s eternal purpose. He saved us to become a part of His church. emphasis mine). but also with believing Jews. 3:5). and thus makes every believer a part of God’s temple. it is the place where God is glorified (Ephesians 2:20-21). “So what does Ephesians have to say to me?” That is always a good question. burial and resurrection. God’s dwelling place. The inclination of our flesh is to be self-centered. 11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord (Ephesians 3:10-11). doctrine which places a great emphasis on the church. The gospel is the good news that faith in Jesus Christ joins one to the body of Christ. As we conclude our study. Communion likewise is not merely an individual experience: . The gospel is glorious. but it can also reveal an improper perspective and focus. the church. 10 Concerning this salvation. Baptism is not just about us. 21 to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations. Paul speaks of his sufferings for the sake of the gospel as being the glory of the Ephesians. The church is not only the place where God dwells.” which is proclaimed by Paul.” now revealed. and so we immediately seek to see how the Bible impacts me. individually. 12 They were shown that they were serving not themselves but you. along with the apostles and the prophets (Ephesians 2:20. it is about us being joined with Christ’s body – His body in His literal death. The church is the stage in human history upon which the wisdom of God is displayed before the celestial beings. the prophets who predicted the grace that would come to you searched and investigated carefully. What we need to see is that God did not save us to become little islands in the sea of His grace. Conclusion Now we know that Ephesians 4-6 has to do with application. because of the angels (1 Corinthians 11:10).This “mystery. Suffering for the gospel is glorious. which is your glory (Ephesians 3:13. the church.
The church is the body of Christ. Paul applies the doctrine he has taught to the church corporately. I would be so bold as to say that there is more corporate emphasis than individual. It is the whole body which is to grow up into Christ (4:15). “When he ascended on high he took captives. we are to strive to promote the good of others at our expense. he gave gifts to men. 11 It was he who gave some as apostles. but rather to facilitate unity. Paul begins his application by emphasizing the urgency of maintaining the unity within the church: 1 I. who is the head. made up of individual believers whose gifts and ministries are diverse. who is over all and through all and in all (Ephesians 4:1-6).” 9 Now what is the meaning of “he ascended. that is the unity which resulted from the reconciliation God brought about between Jews and Gentiles. 14 So we are no longer to be children. 5 one Lord. by design. In Ephesians 4-6. we will in all things grow up into Christ. to build up the body of Christ. This becomes apparent as we begin to think our way through chapters 4-6. but maintaining this unity is something for which all the saints must strive. The church grows corporately as the church functions corporately. and it is the temple in which God dwells by His Spirit. rather. urge you to live worthily of the calling with which you have been called. as well as to saints individually. 7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of the gift of Christ. . We in the West tend toward rugged individualism. It is “one new man” made up of Jews and Gentiles. that is. We are not to seek our own good at the expense of others. bearing with one another in love. The remainder of chapter 4 contains Paul’s instructions to the church pertaining to relationships with one another. in Christ. 8 Therefore it says. The spiritual growth Paul speaks about here is not individual. one faith. and some to be pastors and teachers. Note how central the church is here. This diversity of gifting is not designed to undermine unity. 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry. The unity of which Paul speaks must surely be the unity that he described in Ephesians 2:11-22. 2 with all humility and gentleness.” except that he also descended to the lower parts of the earth? 10 He. some as prophets. In fact. This is very different from the sense of community that one finds in the East. just as you too were called to the one hope of your calling. 3 making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. but corporate. the prisoner for the Lord. 4 There is one body and one Spirit. is also the one who ascended above all the heavens. in order to fill all things. with patience. The church not only comes from very diverse backgrounds. attaining to the measure of Christ’s full stature. who come from very different cultures. fitted and held together through every supporting ligament. especially in Asia. 6 one God and Father of all. the body grows in love (Ephesians 4:7-16). the church is. some as evangelists. therefore. 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. The work of Christ at Calvary accomplished a great reconciliation. 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God—a mature person.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. one baptism. As each one does its part. 16 From him the whole body grows. It is brought about as each individual member of the body utilizes his gift for the building up of the whole body (4:16). and who have lived all their lives in hostility toward each other. for we all share the one bread (1 Corinthians 10:16-17). we who are many are one body. the very one who descended. 15 But practicing the truth in love. It is the growth of all (4:12-13).
16 taking advantage of every opportunity. 47 praising God and having the good will of all the people. We are told that many who heard this promise trusted in Jesus Christ and were added to the church (Acts 2:41. and for all who are far away. How does this filling of the Spirit evidence itself? Is it something individual. Paul has more instructions for the church. I see the same thing in the early church following Pentecost: 38 Peter said to them. 17 For this reason do not be foolish. 19 speaking to one another in psalms. Those who are Spirit-filled walk in wisdom. The filling of the Spirit is evident in the corporate life of the church. to the breaking of bread and to prayer. The relationship between our Lord and His church is the pattern for the way husbands and wives relate to each other in their marriage. 18 And do not get drunk with wine. And the Lord was adding to their number every day those who were being saved (Acts 2:41-47). the doctrine of the church which Paul expounded earlier is applied to marriage. and many wonders and miraculous signs came about by the apostles. 43 Reverential awe came on everyone. Those who are Spirit-filled grasp God’s will (5:15). and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 5:3-14). as many as the Lord our God will call to himself” (Acts 2:38-39). hymns. What were the evidences of the Spirit’s presence and power in the church? 41 So those who accepted his message were baptized. rather than in individual terms. We are to love others as Christ loved us (5:1-2). so that people look at us. because the days are evil. which is debauchery. 21 and submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:15-21). . and each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. 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 speak and sing spiritual truths to one another. but be filled by the Spirit. singing and making music in your hearts to the Lord. 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. Paul now instructs the church to be “filled with the Spirit” (5:18). In Ephesians 5:22-33. and spiritual songs. Here is an interesting thought. so that people conclude that we are spiritual? No. and they make the most of the opportunities to live righteously (5:15-16).Ephesians 5 In chapter 5. breaking bread from house to house. as anyone had need. 44 All who believed were together and held everything in common. Here is the promise of salvation for all who will believe. They are characterized by thanksgiving and by submission to one another. as Christ loved His church (5:25-31). a promise which includes the gift of the Holy Spirit. 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for each other in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 47). and that day about three thousand people were added. 46 Every day they continued to gather together by common consent in the temple courts. The manifestations of the filling of the Spirit are described in corporate terms. 39 For the promise is for you and your children. sharing their food with glad and humble hearts. Paul said earlier that the church is the dwelling place of God in the Spirit (2:22). 45 and they began selling their property and possessions and distributing the proceeds to everyone. 42 They were devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship. 15 Therefore be very careful how you live—not as unwise but as wise. We are likewise to stand apart from this world. “Repent. the world which once enslaved us (2:1-3. but be wise by understanding what the will of the Lord is.
Let us remember our Lord’s first words regarding His church in Matthew: 16 Simon Peter answered. and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. “You are blessed.” 20 Then he instructed his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ (Matthew 16:16-20).Christian marriage is the application of the church truth taught in the first half of Ephesians. and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God courageously (Acts 4:23-31). but rather urges the Ephesians to join with him in his warfare against the kingdom of darkness. Paul does not wish to go it alone. and to bring about miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus. But seeing the corporate (church) emphasis in Ephesians. pay attention to their threats. and the rulers assembled together. Simon son of Jonah. whom you anointed. but my Father in heaven! 18 And I tell you that you are Peter. . the Son of the living God. because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you. and grant to your servants to speak your message with great courage.’ 27 “For both Herod and Pontius Pilate. against the Lord and against his Christ. it is true. This strongly suggests to me that our spiritual warfare should not be individualistic. 25 who said by the Holy Spirit through your servant David our forefather. Whatever you bind on the earth will have been bound in heaven. 28 to do as much as your power and your plan had decided beforehand would happen. they raised their voices to God with one mind and said. 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). Lord. The first thing that Jesus says about the church is that “the gates of Hades will not overpower it” (Matthew 16:18). The church is a corporate body. When I come to the “spiritual warfare” section of Ephesians (6:10-20). All have a unique stewardship as a result of being a part of the larger body. slaves and their masters. 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. Peter’s great confession (that Jesus was the promised Messiah. 24 When they heard this. but these seem to stem from the corporate nature of the church. There are implications for individuals. and everything that is in them. and whatever you release on earth will have been released in heaven. “Master of all. you who made the heaven and the earth and the sea. but corporate.” 17 And Jesus answered him. ‘Why do the nations rage. and on this rock I will build my church. as well as for Paul (verses 19 and 20). 30 while you extend your hand to heal. and the peoples plot foolish things? 26 The kings of the earth stood together. the body of Christ. Peter and John went to their fellow believers and reported everything the high priests and the elders had said to them. It is the church that will withstand the attacks of Satan. When the apostles faced persecution for preaching Christ.” 31 When they had prayed. 29 And now. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. with the Gentiles and the people of Israel. I am obliged to consider these instructions as having a corporate dimension. “You are the Christ. I must admit that I have always viewed these instructions as individual. the Son of the living God) was the foundation of the church. where did they go as soon as possible? Was it not to the church? 23 When they were released. Should we therefore not wage our spiritual warfare as a part of the church. encompassing a very diverse group of people: parents and their children. assembled together in this city against your holy servant Jesus. the place where they were assembled together was shaken.
May God grant that we might better grasp the glorious relationship between Christ and the church. MISSION Theology of Mission “Identify and defend the significant elements in your theology of Christian mission. they came to the iron gate leading into the city. “Put on your cloak and follow me.” and then he left and went to another place (Acts 12:8-17). I believe Christian mission is about: • Who we are: followers of Jesus and children of God. 13 When he knocked at the door of the outer gate. and explain the ways in which you seek to express this theology in your practice of ministry. he did not realize that what was happening through the angel was real. It opened for them by itself. His glory. We do not live our lives in some autonomous fashion.” Peter did so. they encouraged them and then departed (Acts 16:40). 4:15-20). His bride. but as a part of the church of our Lord Jesus Christ. and they went outside and walked down one narrow street. where many people had gathered together and were praying. the mother of John Mark. When they came out of the prison. “You’ve lost your mind!” But she kept insisting that it was Peter. He said. 14 When she recognized Peter’s voice. he went to the house of Mary. “Tell James and the brothers these things. she was so overjoyed she did not open the gate. “Fasten your belt and put on your sandals. His body. In summary. • How we live: the methods and techniques we use. • Where we are going: the Kingdom of God is both a present reality and a future destination. Paul understood that the church was intimately involved with him in the preaching of the gospel (Philippians 1:3-5. and when they saw the brothers. and when they opened the door and saw him. “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. But have we not made the point that the doctrine of ecclesiology (the doctrine of the church) is vitally important? It was to Paul. “It is his angel!” 16 Now Peter continued knocking. His dwelling place. convinced that this is an endeavor well worth the time and effort required. he said.” Identifying the significant elements in my theology of Christian mission is relatively straightforward. but thought he was seeing a vision. they returned to report to the church (Acts 14:25-28). 11 When Peter came to himself. It was the church that sent out missionaries (Acts 13:1-3). 15 But they said to her. We could go on to show other ways in which the doctrine of the church is applied in Ephesians 46. 10 After they had passed the first and second guards. they entered Lydia’s house.8 The angel said to him. and when they had completed their mission. as we can see from the Book of Ephesians. then we should proceed with our study of the church. 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. a slave girl named Rhoda answered. and they kept saying. 9.” 9 Peter went out and followed him. but ran back in and told them that Peter was standing at the gate. Then the angel said to him. 19. they were greatly astonished. Should it not be important to us as well? If so. .” 12 When Peter realized this. when at once the angel left him. His fullness.
the description of how I seek of express this theology is to be understood in the context of my work at Crisis Centre Ministries. this mission must take a primary. 2000:140]. • 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. because Jesus consistently called people to give Him the primary place in their lives. but if we follow. central and inescapable place in our lives. Since a commitment to Jesus is also a commitment to His mission. it is generally the case that the task of identifying must also include an amount of explaining how I interpret that element. He did not say “If you feel really enthusiastic. because following Jesus has a determining influence on all other aspects of our lives. I need to briefly identify some other frameworks. All the other elements of my theology of mission flow out of this one. It is all about following Jesus Christian mission must be about the mission of the Christ. we cannot choose to opt out of any aspect or area of discipleship. . As I understand it. I do so as part of my description and interpretation. 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. also. • The elements of my theology are only present because they fit into a wider framework of doctrine and practice. We may choose whether or not we follow Jesus. these three points are too complex to function as ‘elements’ and need to be broken down into their key parts. the rejection of which plays a significant part in my choice of significant elements.However. you may want to consider going into all the world…”) Central. climactic. We are not called to exercise the same ministry as Jesus. While the question does not explicitly ask about this framework. Finally. Primary. The earliest creed was probably the simplest: ‘Jesus is Lord’: He is our absolute master. Where this seems necessary. Jesus had a mission. then we accept His mission as our own. decisive” [Wright.1. Elements of Christian Mission 1. the task of defending the significant elements in my theology of Christian mission must involve the following aspects. (Despite our missionary recruitment strategies. 1. and if we choose to follow Him.
“Incarnational community action” [Green. It is about relationships We tend to focus on the external details of activities and strategies and doctrines. the presence of the Spirit of God in power. The incarnation is central to NT doctrine and practice. even by his critics – see. and how we live matters because it affects our relationships. 1999: 110]. ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. His entire ministry flowed from this self-understanding and relationship. The atonement is important because it restores a broken relationship: “you are no longer strangers and aliens. God consistently works through incarnation. . 2001: 31. Wright’s assessment of Jesus’ self-understanding as a key issue is largely accepted. because there is only one category of membership.”’ (John 20:21-22. the most important things to note are not what He said or what He did. In considering Jesus. John 3:16 is about the incarnation. but we are all called to work towards achieving the same goal.2. priests and people. Paul’s letters can be seen as explorations of what it means to be ‘in Christ. the Church has been divided into doers and watchers: clergy and laity. and love your neighbour. Traditionally.” [Newbigin. but it can only be properly understood in the context of the incarnation. and the giving of the Spirit is also linked to the incarnation: “‘as the Father has sent Me. Doctrines matter because they affect how we live. Bock in [Newman.3. Our mission is primarily about God being present for people. but who He was. NASB) 1. Jesus summarises the law of Moses in terms of two relationships: love God. and the relationship He had with his Father. I also send you. but there is no (justifiable) basis for this in the New Testament. 1. The cross is vital. His power is made perfect in weakness.’ And when He had said this. And in that human life. for example. Not only Jesus’ ministry but also the whole of the New Testament is primarily about relationships.Inescapable. He breathed on them and said to them. but… of God’s household” (Ephesians 2:19). When He wants to do something. He is present for people because He is present in His people.’ “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. 1989:119] The ‘new reality’ became present in Jesus through the incarnation. We each have different roles to play. Jesus’ pivotal discourse after the Last Supper is a meditation on the meaning and importance of incarnation: “Abide in me”. It is about incarnation and crucifixion Incarnation and crucifixion go together. He becomes present in a human being. 55] is the only form of authentically Christian community action.
1. He returned to some key themes and issues many times in his ministry. Jesus’ mission led Him to engage the political and economic systems of His day: He taught about money. we are expected to function as active members of society and not withdraw from it into selfsufficient monasteries or communes. It is about serving others Jesus’ own ministry was about encountering other people and serving them in appropriate ways.7. and at times He used encounters with individuals as an example or teaching aid (“See this child?”). but He never used the individual. and always put the needs of the people He met before his own agenda of teaching and demonstrating the Kingdom. There is no suggestion in the Gospels that Jesus was trying to impose a predefined agenda on the people He met. This sounds simple and obvious. It is about the whole person In modern terms. 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. or the national lottery). 1. Jesus exercised a ‘holistic’ ministry: his activity was neither purely focussed on the spiritual (preaching and praying) nor on the physical (feeding and healing). tax and inheritance rights. Jesus chose not to join the Essenes. But still. was central to both Jesus’ preaching and His wider mission. 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 I have encountered many Evangelical Christian who do not believe that this aspect of His ministry is normative for us. It is about the Kingdom of God I take it as self-evident that the Kingdom of God.4. however we are to understand this concept. Jesus saw His own role as that of a servant (Luke 22: 27).Perhaps most significantly. 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. 1. . but it is not simple in practice.5. While we may choose to disengage from some aspects of society (such as food sacrificed in pagan temples.” [Kostenberger & O’Brien 2001: 260] 1.6.
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. Jesus sent out the disciples in pairs. we read. 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). 1998:163] both locally and elsewhere. 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 does provide a framework for mentioning three alternative approaches I reject in principle.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. Defending (1): Alternative Approaches What I would like to do at this point is respond in detail to Bosch . Of course. 1. 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. where would the sense of smell be? (1 Corinthians 12: 17b) 1. 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. Christian ministry is always undertaken as a corporate activity. “The legacy . I do not have space to explain and justify my interpretation of this verse and the surrounding passage. It is about working together We are united in a real way with our fellow members of the society in which we live. in each new church Elders (plural) were appointed.8. 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. this brief statement ignores a major ‘chicken and egg’ issue (such as I describe below under ‘Eschatology’). 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.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. 2. The Church as an institution While the church clearly is an institution. 2. and so on. the Apostles worked in groups. but space does not permit.9. For example. but in a deeper way with our fellow Christians.
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. 1996: 116-121]. if the model is for society as a whole to be Christian. the value of martyrdom. but in reality this transformation took place much earlier. if the whole of society belongs to the church. they showed very little concern for mission and evangelism: in the Didache. 1968: 144-150] is a good example. or two days if it really necessary” [:233]. 1991: 226] 2. 1996:90].’ According to the written records.” [Bosch. there is no place for Christian mission within the ‘Christian’ society. for example. I acknowledge the inspirational work of many Christians. commerce. It is all about ‘the care of the faithful. and also has a number of serious and unfortunate consequences. and church practice: the letter of Polycarp [Staniforth. but we do not have room to pursue that question here. Firstly. health and education [Walker. It can be argued that Protestant churches accepting “compartmentalized living” [Gibbs & Coffey. in Saaymon & Kritzinger. the differences between Christian and non-Christian values and lifestyle. The Church as a ghetto Many people outside the Church have declared it to be irrelevant. Two of these consequences are particularly relevant here. 2. 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. And secondly.3. 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. and then it is only to warn that a true ‘missioner’ will never stay as a guest “more than a day. the missionaries arriving with Cortés and Pizarro were clearly involved in “a continuation of the crusades. The early Church Fathers were very concerned about matters such as the characteristics of a holy lifestyle. For example. then ‘Christian’ mission must result in the destruction and re-creation of the culture of any non-Christian society. Mission in this context is not about serving people but conquering them. . such as St Francis.2. who gave themselves to this task. Verduin ) that the identification of Church with society is mistaken. The Church as the whole society I am persuaded by various arguments (see.that Christendom bequeathed to the church was effectively to reduce it to the status of an institution for the care of the faithful” [Shenk.
creation. Consequently. and also to deny the relevance of much writing . So I wish to simultaneously affirm that authentic Christian mission is an engagement in spiritual warfare. 3. in Larkin & Williams. 1998: 240] The Father sends the Son. in the power of the Holy Spirit. and mistakes or biases in interpreting any one area will have an impact on our understanding of all other areas. The work of God (in. 1978:31]. 3. 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. 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. for example. In seeking to understand Christian mission. who is the way to the Father. the Son has a mission.1. and invites us to join Him in it. 3. Defending (2): ‘Missing’ Elements All Christian truth is inter-related. 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. Books on the subject tend to treat it as a specialist activity for the spiritual elite. Spiritual warfare Much teaching about spiritual warfare is dangerously misguided.3. The trinity The New Testament clearly teaches that we follow Jesus. and while I wholeheartedly believe in the triune God. While many writers consider belief in the trinity to be foundational or a “fundamental belief” [Newbigin. I do not want to exclude any Biblical material or concept: everything is relevant. But it is equally obvious that the NT does not contain a doctrine of the trinity.” [Williams. but does not define or determine it. and it took the Church centuries of prayer. or the calling of Abraham) may inform our understanding of Christian mission. it must be of secondary rather than primary importance. But the Father’s mission is “wrapped up first and foremost in God’s act of sending his Son.2. and every doctrine can make an important contribution when considering some aspect of Christian mission. and even then. 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. the filioque controversy was never resolved. debate and conflict before the Athanasian Creed was formulated and widely accepted.3.
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 . And both sides can argue convincingly that their position provides the greatest impetus for missionary activity. For example. In this. 3.4. It is easy to establish a logical connection between eschatological theories and the practice of mission (or the lack of it). it seems to me that what is really being spoken about much of the time is the closely-related concept of incarnation. primarily in the context of mission and evangelism. From my personal experience. If we widen the concept of election from the confines of the CalvinistArmenian debate.5. but those who take an eschatological starting point offer no consistent model or guidance. “God’s way of universal salvation… must be accomplished by the way of election – of choosing. Eschatology I believe and teach what I affirmed above: that our beliefs affect the way we live. Election Both Calvinists and Armenians have been deeply involved in Christian mission: Wesley and Whitfield are the classic examples. the people who tithed tended to believe in tithing. whatever was taught from the pulpit.” [Newbigin. Expressing the Theology 4. if you want to overturn the current social framework. In all the evangelical churches I have known well. as can be seen from the tragedy of Münster in 1534-5 [Williams. eschatology is one of those areas where people tend to believe what is convenient to them and the group they belong to. a belief in an imminent millennial kingdom is very useful. however important to the individual the doctrine of election may be.1. but “neither the eschatologization nor the historicization of mission satisfies” [Bosch. calling and sending one to be the bearer of blessing for all. It is very easy to claim that your lack of engagement in society is a consequence of your doctrine.on the subject. I have spent a great deal of time talking with people about eschatology. 3. I am indebted to Forster – see [1997: 7] for example. 1978: 78-79] 4. But the opposite is also true: we tend to believe the doctrines which support the way we choose to live. 1962: 362-381]. as in many areas. Conversely. it is clearly not an essential part of an understanding of Christian mission. So. 1991:508] because there must be an eschatological dimension to our missionary activity.
Jesus worked within a social and cultural context. as they only have to distinguish between work and personal life. so the boundary between our work. we must follow Jesus. in functional terms. Much of what we do. but when someone phones up in distress we spend time responding to them before trying to point them towards more specialised help. have retained the ‘soup’ and ‘soap’ but the ‘salvation’ part of their heritage is almost exclusively confined to their Christian meetings. but especially for a Christian project where we are seeking to follow Jesus. At times the boundaries will be arbitrary (many projects for young people help those up to 25 years old. we are set up to work with homeless people. 4. So it is valid for us to aim to work within certain boundaries. we seek to work within our context. most of the time He accepted it as a given. Following Jesus is like marriage: we are committed to Him. Ordinary church leaders have an easier time here. and few organisations are attempting it. alongside all the other organisations and agencies. 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. .2. Holistic ministry There are serious problems in undertaking an holistic ministry in the UK at the present time. 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). for example) and often the boundaries will be blurred and subjective (many charities help people with ‘serious’ financial hardship). How do you set boundaries. even though we do not know what this will mean or where He will lead. while others will not be. Christian volunteers working in our local hostel are not allowed to talk about their faith with the homeless people they serve. Very few embrace both aspects and seek to integrate them. but we can also be flexible in applying those boundaries.were set up to deal with. but very few ever do so. This creates difficulties for any project. One thing is clear: we are committed to following Jesus first. founded on this principle. The Salvation Army. Where there is a conflict. and operating a ministry second. but those boundaries did not stop Him responding to the Syrophoenician woman. our personal life and our Christian service gets blurred. sometimes this means we work as Christians outside the ministry. Similarly. 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). Thus. and while He challenged aspects of that culture. is to act as a referral agency: putting people in contact with more specialist help. 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. not seeking to replace or undermine them.
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. Communicating this is not easy. then why not pray it? But if a commitment to Jesus is also a commitment to His mission. and if praying a prayer might get God on your side and provide what you are looking for. if it does not work. Helping people is only possible if they want to be helped. 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. I am not sure what many people mean when they pray ‘the’ prayer. . Incarnation and relationship are central to all we do. 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. but we can live with that. physical and mental illnesses cured. I know that often God works in miraculous ways in our clients lives. I am also sure that many people pray ‘the’ prayer because there is no reason not to: if it works. 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. and I describe some of them in appendix 2.There are many reasons for this. The practice of evangelism I said at the beginning that “a commitment to Jesus is also a commitment to His mission. If the only thing that matters in your life is getting off the street tonight or finding your next fix. we are working with people who have made some form of Christian commitment.3. or something similar. nothing has been lost. helping them understand what it means to be a follower of Jesus: evangelism. their lives will be transformed.4. Conversion is not about a ticket to Heaven and getting God on your side. and real internal change generally comes about through relationships with other people. It makes filling in forms and telling stories of ‘successes’ very difficult. and God does step in and help them. discipleship and pastoral care get all mixed up. whatever their spiritual condition. 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. the power of addiction broken.” This statement has major implications for our doctrine of salvation and our practice of evangelism. then wonderful. 4. 4. then we are not in the business of asking people to pray a prayer. Much of the time. as well as what we mean by mission.
they can identify with us. I have handled enough pastoral crises to know this is not true. the Christians at Thessalonica became worried that the Christians who died would miss out on Jesus' return.Ministry from a position of confidence and strength. but the illusion of respectable success has a powerful hold on most modern churches. Let's examine the apostle Paul's explanation about the dead and Judgment Day: But I do not want you to be ignorant. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again. One of the key problems our clients have with most ordinary churches is that the people in them are far too successful. but as a powerless nobody. 10. All Saints from All Time will be Carried to Heaven During the New Testament times. successful in their work and secure in their marriages. . while it fits well with the modern goal-driven and achievement-oriented world. “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. Theological certainty can cause the same problems.” [Koyama. 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. lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. concerning those who have fallen asleep. 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. everyone is happy. Therefore. the poor and the weak may recognise in our lives the presence of a God who can reach down to where they are. does not fit well with the manger in Bethlehem or the cross. When our clients see us as a ministry constantly struggling to survive. From the outside. 1976: 33] God revealed Himself in Jesus not as a powerful King or avenging Judge. LAST JUDGEMENT Judgment Day Introduction Judgment Day marks the end of time. brethren. even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. and our words have relevance to them in their struggles. let us examine a few passages to see what the Bible has to say. 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.
will be destroyed. in his letter. 3. since all these things will be dissolved. and turn it into a paradise. The heavens will alsso be destroyed. both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout. and with the trumpet of God. which encompass the entire universe. this passage explains that it will be a total destruction. 2. "Therefore. However. 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. Judgment day will be signaled by a shout and trumpet Christ will descend The dead will arise first Then. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. we will look at another passage that tells a little about what Judgment Day will look like from heaven's perspective. all that is above our atmosphere. Some wonder."For this we say to you by the word of the Lord. Nothing will be left of the universe and reality that we now live in. The Annihilation of the Earth "But what about the earth? "Will anything be left of. we learn that the earth and the heavens will totally be destroyed. being on fire. 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. because of which the heavens will be dissolved. with the voice of of an archangel. and the elements will melt with fervent heat?" II Peter 3:10-13 From this passage. Later. what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness. A New Body . the things that comprise this world. 4. "Therefore. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. those alive will join them and Christ in the air This passage describes a little about Judgment Day from our perspective on earth. and the elements will melt with fervent heat. if God will preserve the earth. And the dead in Christ will rise first. or on the earth?" The apostle Peter. restore it for his faithful. looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God.
that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. read it to learn more about how wonderful . small and great. from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. So. and this mortal must put on immortality.all people both good and evil. For this corruptible must put on incorruption." I Corinthians 15:50-53 In addition to confirming what we have learned."So what happens to our bodies and all of the dead people's bodies?" The Bible teaches that all will receive new bodies . One supporting argument that was proposed was that our bodies will decay in the grave. but even that is not explained further. Once we are assembled before God's throne. A beautiful vision of heaven is painted through a symbol found following the above passage in Revelation 21:1-22:5 . 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. the Christians in the city of Corinth were faced with a false doctrine that denied that there would be resurrection. And anyone not found written in the Book of LIfe was cast into the lake of fire. which is the Book of Life. the resurrected dead and all those still alive will be given a new. nor does corruption inherit incorruption. at the last trumpet. brethren. We already know that we have immortal bodies and this plane of existence is destoyed. and we shall be changed. immortal body. Please. standing before God. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. And there was found no place for them. and the dead will be raised incorruptible. by the things which were written in the books. in the book of Revelation. It is in this body that we will stand before God and live out the remainder of eternity. then we will each be judged and sent to either heaven or hell. This is the second death. and books were opened. but we shall all be changed . And they were judged." Revelation 20:11-15 From this symbolic representation. I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep. 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. 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. we learn how Judgment Day will appear from heaven's viewpoint. And I saw the dead. in the twinkling of an eye. before we even leave this earth. Behold. In New Testament times. And the dead were judged according to their works. And another book was opened. each one according to his works. a day of judgment is described. So. "The sea gave up the dead who were in it. However. we also discover that we will all be given new bodies when the trumpet is sounded. how could there be a resurrection. For the trumpet will sound.in a moment. and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them.
heaven will be. but My Father only. the apostle Peter addressed when the last day would occur: "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night . "But as the days of Noah were. 25:3146 ).we do not know when a thief will break into our house. so also will the coming of the Son of Man be" . until the day that Noah entered the ark. teaching about the final judgement and separation between the good and evil (Matthew 13:24-30 ." II Peter 3:10 When does a thief rob your house? The answer . so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Jesus was also asked this question by his apostles (Matthew 24:3 ).. he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. and did not know until the flood came and took them all away. The reality of heaven will be more beautiful than our mortal minds can now comprehend. We do not know when it will occur. "Watch therefore. does the Bible say anything about the end of the world? In one of the passages that we looked at earlier. While on earth. the failure of these prophecies alone teach us at the very least to be wary and skeptic of such predictions. In view of such passages. not even the angels of heaven. But know this. "Therefore." Matthew 24:36-44 Jesus clearly speaks about the last day being similar to a thief breaking into our house.. but please keep in mind that this is symbol. so we must be ready at all times. for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. it becomes difficult. But. or could ask is. they were eating and drinking. Jesus alos told many parables about Judgment day.. the second most important questions that we should. "When will Judgment Day come? "Will there be a sign?" Many people have speculated and even affirmed specific days as the last day. 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. The analogy is again the same . However..you don't know! It happens suddenly and unpredictably. . For as in the days before the flood. but hell will equally be even more terrible than the symbol of a lake that burns with fire and is not quenched. even impossible to believe that someone can predict the occurrence of Judgment Day. Please listen to the similar answer: "But of that day and hour no one knows. you also be ready. marrying and giving in marriage.
Jesus said that no man knows what day it will occur. The Trinity Illustrated in Nature It is no wonder that when God. that all Hebrew letters have a numeric value. the two usages are always simultaneous.). Why? Because they are not Christians. 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). We all know man to be one being.Conclusion Judgment Day will be both a glorious and fearful day. The Hebrew name for God used in all known manuscriptsis ELOHIM. etc. Some groups profess to be Christian and do not believe in the Trinity. Since the word Trinity is used to represent God as a triune being. what is triune? Noah Webster defined the word triune to mean. TRINITY Since God is a triune being. Man is composed of a body. in spite of his triune composition. Just as God is composed of three. theologians use the word Trinity to represent the complex doctrine through which man comprehends His existence. Romans 1:20. but we must always live like it is tomorrow. so Genesis 1:1 could read. said in Genesis 1:26. 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. The word ELOHIM has both a singular and a plural usage in Hebrew. many argue that the doctrine of the Trinity is not a Biblical one. uniquely. three and one. so is man. it only makes sense that all Christian churches would believe in and defend the doctrine of the Trinity." This means that God. The Bible went on to say we should have nothing to do with them. however. Note also. not three." that He then created man to be a triune being. "a form of godliness but denying the power thereof" (II Timothy 3:5). ELOHIM. and a spirit. ELOHIM is an interesting word in that it has two values. The . "three in one. This does not mean we can not love them and share the gospel with them. 10. exists in a plural manner. "In the beginning ELOHIM created the heaven and the earth. a soul. It will be the end of all time and a day of reckoning for all people before their Creator. The word ELOHIM can never be used in the plural form without implying the singular and viceversa. However. The doctrine of the Trinity is believed by all Christian groups. Let us make man in our image. none of these groups are truly Christian because their various perversions of the gospel cause them to have. all Hebrew words also have value." The word ELOHIM means three in one. This is why the term Godhead is often used in scripture (Acts 7:19. God's very name implies His triune existence. Collosians 2:9. "And God said. so let us always be wary of those who prophesy that the end of the world is near. after our likeness. it simply means we are not to fellowship with them as brothers in Christ. a singular being. The concept of the Trinity is the very concept of the existence of God. and since God reveals himself to his children.
body is separate from the soul which is separate from the spirit." This shows God to exist in two forms. We understand ourselves. The Father. let us read I John 5:7. how we exist. 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. 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. The word God in this passage refers to ELOHIM. God the Son takes this plan out of eternity and brings it into time. Just as God created man in His own image. and God the Holy Ghost who is often referred to as the Holy Spirit." Thus we have proof: His name ELOHIM (meaning three in one) is proof. they are each a separate aspect to the overall personality of God. everything operates because of and to fulfill his eternal plan. and this understanding is what helps us to understand the existence of God. God the Word or God the Son. and the Word was God.. It is composed of protons. "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God. "and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. Each part of the atom is independent of the other two. administering the various aspects of the . 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. The building block of the universe is the atom. The Word. So man has always understood the concept of the Trinity. the design of nature is proof. John 1:1 says. however they still make one man.. or to God as a whole. who is Jesus Christ.) full of grace and truth. How The Members of the Trinity Function The members of the Trinity work together in complete unity. and The Holy Ghost: and these three are one. neutrons. Through science we are learning of our environment and how the things around us exist. and electrons. yet it remains only one object. They are each independently divine. The atom is a triune object. totally dependant and yet totally interdependence of each other. (and we beheld his glory. God is a triune being composÍed of God the Father. "For there are three that bear record in heaven. a proton can not exist without an accompanying neutron and electron and vice-versa. he had also created the universe in the same fashion. yet they are combined to make one singular being. God is the creator of the entire universe. The word Word refers to God the Son. This is shown in verse fourteen.as of the only begotten of the Father. and in scripture there is proof. Man was only one of God's many creations." Having established that God is a singular being with a plural existence. God the Father is the sovereign ruler of the entire universe.
"In the Beginning (present tense) God created (past tense) the heaven and the earth. God the Son who as the Word brings the will of God into time. This is why Genesis 1:1 says. Let us just summarily say that God the father had willed and fulfilled creation somewhere in eternity past. meaning the Word who is God the Son. God the Holy Spirit makes this eternal plan. so I will not." God was doing in time what He had already done in eternity.. and in eternity already had ( our future is already God's past).. .." This spoken word of God the Son introduced the Father's eternal plan to time.. "according to the Word of the Lord.. Throughout the Old Testament we read: "The Word of the Lord came unto Abram. resulted in salvation." (Genesis 15:1).. this is found in Genesis 1:2. it is God the Father who has sovereignly determined the course of the universe in eternity. 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). God knew He would create everything. God the Father had already created the universe somewhere in eternity past before the existence of time as we know it. 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. the will of God. it did in eternity (remember. The Holy Spirit was waiting upon the face of the earth to fulfill the Word. 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. The creation had been the will of God for all eternity. These functions can be illustrated many times in the Bible. The word was given in Genesis 1:3. Why? Because God knew it would happen so it was as good as done. It was God the Son who brought the will of God into time. as the Lord commanded Moses" (Numbers 3:51). As soon as Jesus spoke the word. John chapter one teaches that God the son is the Word. all that was needed to bring that eternal reality into the reality of time was the spoken word. God the Son brought creation into time. God had known about before the fact. The Function of the Members of the Trinity in the Old Testament Just as in creation. and verse three says. real to men. the Spirit fulfilled the word. etc. Noah had built the Ark before ever the earth was formed. In God the Father's perspective.plan. The Function of the Members of the Trinity in Creation In his omnipotence. "and God said. and it is the Holy Spirit who makes God's will real to man. eternity has no concept of time). making it real to man. This is why God in Genesis 3:15 was able to offer salvation to Adam. Even though the universe did not physically exist in time. "all things were made by him".. so also had Moses and the Children of ÆIsrael crossed the Red Sea.
had established redemption in eternity past. the first was in rejecting the Messiah and the second has been in failing to lead gentiles to the Messiah. Israel failed in it's task in two ways. it was however God's way to in grace bestow upon us unworthy gentiles the blessing. "Wist not that the Lord had departed from him" in Judges 16:20. God had also established the Church in eternity past. . 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). In the Old Testament era. the blessing of preaching the gospel and seeing people saved. "and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him. Instead. The creation of the church does not infringe upon God's promises to Israel as some Christians believe. 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). they still enjoy the privileges of being God's chosen. knowing man would one day sin. " The Word of the Lord came unto Nathan" (II Samuel 7:4). after Israel choose not to take advantage of the opportunity. just as He has established His entire work. Jesus brought the plan into time when He fulfilled His work on the cross (John chapters 19 and beyond)." Thus." (I Samuel 3:21). "Take not thy Holy Spirit from me" in Psalms 51:11. "The Word of the Lord came unto Solomon" (I Kings 6:11). etc. Judges 14:6 says. "slain before the foundation of the world.) God the Father. This is also the reason King David prayed. This is why we read that Samson. the Spirit came upon a man in order that he may be empowered to do God's will. " Upon this rock I will build my Church" in Matthew 16:18. A good illustration is the story of Samson. It was then the Holy Spirit who enabled these men to fulfill the Word which God the Son had given them. This is why Revelation 13:8 says that Christ was. The Son brought the Church into time when He spoke the words. etc. 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.. (Israel is still God's chosen nation. 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. etc." This is once again how He was able to justify Adam in the garden. i. then the Spirit would leave when the work was completed or when the man sinned."The Lord revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the Word of the Lord. the Holy Spirit did not continually abide with the believer as He does now.e.. and this is how the Old Testament saints were saved. Unfortunately.
Christ Jesus". I can no longer fear: . He ever lives above. His dear anointed one. He is the true standard of Holiness and the judge of all that is. O forgive. and tells me I am born of God.The Function of the Members of the Trinity Today God the Father is the Sovereign ruler over all the affairs of the universe. the one through whom all men may receive justification before God. The bleeding sacrifice in my behalf appears. for me to intercede.. They strongly plead for me: " Forgive him. His all redeeming love. Received on Calvary. and sprinkles now the throne of grace. God the Son is the Savior. "There is.. He can not turn away The presence of His Son: His Spirit answers to the Blood. " Nor let that ransomed sinner die!" The Father hears Him pray. I Timothy 2:5. He owns me for His child. Jesus also acts as an advocate to the Father on behalf of the believer. Arise My Soul Arise: Arise my soul . Five bleeding wounds He bears. My God is reconciled. Before the throne my surety stands-My name is written on His hands. His pardoning voice I hear.one mediator. Charles Wesley best defined the present day role and relationship of God the Father and God the Son when he penned the classic hymn.." they cry. They pour effectual prayers. His precious blood to plead: His blood atoned for all our race.arise! Shake off thy guilty fear's..
He answers our prayers on behalf of. and God the Holy Spirit who are equal in eternity. Multiplied volumes have attempted such an undertaking.. And "Father. God the Son. 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." (Acts 8:26-27). empowering men to preach the gospel (Acts 1:8). He subsists in three persons. The Holy Spirit could correctly be referred to as our prayer partner. I Corinthians 2:10). each possessing all the divine attributes and yet having properties which distinguish them within the unity of the Trinity. 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. the eternal security of the believer. keeping the believer secure in Christ until the Second Coming (i. the president of Dallas Theological Seminary. Abba. however." Dear Brother. Ephesians 1:12-14). "God is one numerically. and finally. so it is to be given it's own sub-heading. 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. Father!" cry. Arguments wont bring you deleverence in your life and wont give you peace. "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. or because of our relationship with His Son. "Our Father which art in Heaven" (Matthew 6:9). quickening the spirit of repentant sinners (I Peter 3:18. Unfortunately this does not even begin to expound on the deep truths of God. "Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name. comforting the believer (John 14-15). Its only FAITH in Christ will give you peace and joy and a complete security to enter into the Kingdom of God…. 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). the Spirit never forsakes the believer (I Corinthians 6:15-20). because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. being the very essence of Christ indwelling the believer (John 14:16-18). And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit. . Perhaps the best definition which man has given for the Trinity is found in the writings of Dr.With confidence I now draw nigh.e. God the Father. God the Father answers all of our prayers. I think there is no more to argue on these issues. He will give it you" (John 16:23). The Holy Spirit is currently engaged in the work of enabling believers to fulfil the work of the Church (I Corinthians 12-14). power and glory. hence we pray in Jesus name. hence we are taught to pray to. John F. Walvoord. the subject is so deep that all attempts will fail in revealing all of it's depths. its your turn…….
God will speak to you through your circumstances.. Many of your failures will speak to you that you need a SAVIOUR…… and that is Jesus Christ... from today you are in my prayer list….. ...May God open your eyes to realize these facts and you may be saved.
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