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Thinking on Scripture with Dr. Steven R. Cook

English, Religion, 1 season, 81 episodes, 3 days, 12 hours, 47 minutes
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Providing verse by verse analysis of Scripture and discussions about Christian theology.
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Soteriology Lesson 47 - What Must I Believe to Be Saved Part 3

     During the time of Jesus’ life and ministry—but prior to His death on the cross—people were directed to believe the gospel of the kingdom (Matt 3:1-2; 4:17; Mark 1:14-15). The gospel of the kingdom directed Israelites to look to Jesus as the promised Messiah. This meant looking to Jesus as the “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29; cf. Isa 53:4-11). Faith in Jesus would result in their spiritual and eternal salvation. The object of their faith is Christ alone. John wrote, “whoever believes in Him will have eternal life” (John 3:15), and “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16), and “He who believes in the Son has eternal life” (John 3:36). And Jesus pointed others to Himself, saying, “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:40), and “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life” (John 6:47; cf., John 10:28).      The gospel of the kingdom also pertained to Israel’s theocratic kingdom, where God would rule over His people through Jesus, the descendant of David and rightful King of the nation (2 Sam 7:16; Psa 89:3-4, 35-37; Isa 9:6-7; Jer 23:5; 33:15; Luke 1:31-33; Matt 19:28; 25:31; Rev 11:15; 20:4-6). John the Baptist preached, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt 3:2). To be “at hand” meant the earthly kingdom was being offered to Israel. Additionally, the gospel of the kingdom was preached by Jesus and His disciples even after John had been arrested. Mark wrote, “Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel’” (Mark 1:14-15; cf. Matt 9:35; 10:5-7). Norman Geisler correctly states, “The messianic kingdom is a visible, earthly, political kingdom promised to Israel in which Christ, her Messiah, will reign from a throne in Jerusalem over the whole earth, with His apostles and other disciples serving Him.”[1] Merrill F. Unger states, “The Gospel of the Kingdom [is] the good news that God’s purpose is to establish an earthly mediatorial kingdom in fulfillment of the Davidic covenant (2 Sam 7:16).”[2] If the leadership and people Israel would change their minds (i.e., repent) and accept Jesus as their rightful King, they would experience national deliverance from Gentile tyranny, which they were experiencing, being under the rule of Rome. According to Arnold Fruchtenbaum, “Jesus went around Israel, city to city and synagogue to synagogue, proclaiming His Messiahship and preaching the gospel of the Kingdom. He was offering to Israel the Kingdom of the Jewish prophets, but the Kingdom was preconditioned by Israel’s acceptance of Him as the Messianic King.”[3] We know that Israel rejected Jesus as the Messiah (Matt 12:24-32; 27:20-23),[4] and the result was the kingdom offer was taken away (Matt 21:43), and judgment was pronounced upon them (Matt 23:37-39; Rom 11:25-26). Afterwards, Jesus was crucified for the sins of the world (John 3:16; 1 John 2:2), was buried, and raised again on the third day (1 Cor 15:3-4). The crucifixion of Jesus was part of God’s predetermined plan for the redemption of humanity, regardless of Israel’s response. The gospel of the kingdom was postponed until the time of the Tribulation. According to Merrill F. Unger: "Two proclamations of the gospel of the kingdom are mentioned, one already past, beginning with the ministry of John the Baptist, carried on by our Lord and His disciples, and ending with the Jewish rejection of the Messiah. The other preaching is yet future (Matt 24:14), during the Great Tribulation, and heralding the second advent of the King."[5]      The gospel of the kingdom that was preached by John the Baptist, and Jesus and His disciples, cannot be the gospel of grace that is preached by Christians today. Why? The content of the gospels are different. Paul preached “the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24), which was “to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Rom 1:16), whereas the gospel of the kingdom was solely “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt 10:6). Furthermore, the gospel of grace includes “the cross of Christ” (1 Cor 1:17), telling us that “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3-4). But the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus was not communicated by the disciples when they preached the “gospel of the kingdom” (Matt 4:23). How do we know this? After Jesus had been rejected by the leadership of Israel, Matthew tells us, “Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day” (Matt 16:21). Apparently the disciples did not like what Jesus said, as Matthew tells us, “Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You’” (Matt 16:22). For a brief moment, Peter was an enemy of the cross, trying to prevent Jesus from going to the cross, and he was rebuked for it. The Lord said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s” (Matt 16:23). If Peter had had his way, Jesus would never have gone to the cross. The second time Jesus spoke about the events of His crucifixion (Matt 17:22-23), we’re told the disciples “were deeply grieved” (Matt 17:23b), implying they did not fully understand the significance of the cross. Jesus mentioned His crucifixion to His disciples a third time (Matt 20:18-19), but there was no response. Later, Peter tried to defend Jesus with a sword to prevent His arrest, which implied he did not understand the significance of the cross (Matt 26:51-52). Though they were saved by faith alone in Christ alone, they did not grasp the significance of the cross, for if they had, they would not have opposed His arrest or crucifixion. In fact, the disciples did not understand Jesus’ resurrection until after it happened (John 20:1-8), which is what John revealed, saying, “For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead” (John 20:9). After Jesus’ resurrection, they finally understood His words.      If the gospel of the kingdom that was preached by John the Baptist and Jesus’ disciples included the death burial and resurrection of Jesus, then Peter would not have been surprised and reacted so strongly to Jesus’ words. He would have thought, “oh yeah, that’s what we’ve been preaching all along, and now the time is near for His death.” But that was not Peter’s reaction. Peter tried to stop Jesus from going to the cross (Matt 16:22; 26:51-52). Renald Showers correctly notes, “The language indicates that although the disciples had already been preaching one gospel [of the kingdom], up to this point Jesus had never told them about His coming death, burial, and resurrection. Therefore, the first gospel contained nothing concerning Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.”[6] Dr. Steven R. Cook     [1] Norman L. Geisler, Systematic Theology, Volume Four: Church, Last Things (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2005), 461. [2] Merrill F. Unger, “Gospel,” ed. R.K. Harrison, The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1988), 493. [3] Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiah: A Study of the Sequence of Prophetic Events, Rev. ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2003), 294. [4] Arnold Fruchtenbaum notes, “From biblical times to the present, the Jewish people have labored under a ‘leadership complex,’ meaning, whichever way the leaders went, the people were sure to follow. This can be seen clearly in the Hebrew scriptures: When a king did that which was right in the eyes of the Lord, the people follow. Conversely, when a king did that which was evil in the eyes of the Lord, they also followed…In New Testament times, the leadership complex was very strong because of the stranglehold Pharisaism had upon the masses through the Mishna…[The people] were looking for their leaders to give them direction.” (Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Yeshuah: The Life of Messiah from a Messianic Perspective, Vol. 2, San Antonio, TX. 2019, Ariel Ministries, p. 371) [5] Merrill F. Unger, “Gospel,” ed. R.K. Harrison, The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1988). [6] Renald E. Showers, There Really Is a Difference!: A Comparison of Covenant and Dispensational Theology (Bellmawr, NJ: The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, Inc., 1990), 3–4.
5/19/20241 hour, 3 minutes, 16 seconds
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Soteriology Lesson 46 - What Must I Believe to Be Saved - Part 2

The Content of Saving Faith      Eternal salvation has always been by grace alone through faith alone; however, the content of faith (i.e., what is believed), has changed throughout the ages. According to Arnold Fruchtenbaum, “Indeed, there always was, always is, and always will be only one means of salvation: by grace through faith.”[1] Though grace and faith are constants, the content of faith has changed over time, depending on what God revealed to each person or generation, as divine revelation came in stages. William MacDonald sates, “From Adam to Christ, God saved those who put their faith in Him on the basis of whatever revelation He gave them. Abraham, for example, believed God, and it was reckoned to him for righteousness (Gen 15:6).”[2] According to Norman Geisler, “the revealed content of the gospel varied from age to age in the progress of revelation.”[3] Charles Ryrie notes, “The basis of salvation is always the death of Christ; the means is always faith; the object is always God (though man’s understanding of God before and after the Incarnation is obviously different); but the content of faith depends on the particular revelation God was pleased to give at a certain time.”[4] Thomas Constable adds, “The basis of salvation is always the death of Christ. No one is saved except by what He accomplished at Calvary. The requirement for salvation is always faith. It is never works. The object of faith is always the Person of God. The content of faith is always a promise from God.”[5] The following examples demonstrate that the content of faith has changed over time.      First, after the historic fall of Adam and Eve (Gen 3:1-7), the content of saving faith was God’s promise of an offspring of Eve who would crush the head of the serpent. In the presence of Adam and Eve, God told Satan, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel” (Gen 3:15). This is commonly regarded as the protoevangelium; that is, the first gospel message. The crushing of Satan’s head—a fatal blow—was accomplished by the Lord Jesus at the cross where He triumphed over sin and death. How much Adam and Eve understood about this prophecy is not known. However, it is assumed they trusted God at His word concerning the future offspring that would crush the serpent’s head. Shortly after giving the promises, God killed an animal, which meant shedding its blood,  and made clothes from its hide and gave it to them to wear (Gen 3:21). Arnold Fruchtenbaum notes, “The covering of animal skins, which required the shedding of blood to give them the atonement, replaced the covering of fig leaves. Then the verse states: and clothed them. Physically, He clothed their nakedness, but spiritually, He also covered their sin by making for them their atonement.”[6] And according to Charles Ryrie, “When Adam looked upon the coats of skins with which God had clothed him and his wife, he did not see what the believer today sees looking back on the cross of Calvary.”[7]We should not assume that Adam and Eve understood the death, burial, and resurrection of Messiah. What they understood was God’s promise of a future offspring who would crush the serpent, and then they witnessed God killing an animal, taking its skin, and making clothing for them. When they believed God’s promise and accepted His provision, it resulted in their salvation.      Second, in the book of Genesis we have the record of Abraham’s salvation. Moses wrote that Abraham “believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness” (Gen 15:6). The content of Abraham’s faith was the promise of God concerning the Abrahamic covenant (Gen 12:1-3), especially as it related to God giving him a biological descendant (Gen 15:1-6). Abraham accepted God’s promise as true and reliable, which meant he trusted in God Himself. And when Abraham believed in Yahweh, we’re told that God “reckoned it to him as righteousness” (Gen 15:6b).[8] Concerning Abraham’s faith in God, Arnold Fruchtenbaum states, “The content of his faith was the promises of God. The object of his faith was Jehovah.”[9] According to J. Carl Laney Jr., “God had just promised Abraham, an elderly man with a barren wife, that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars. In spite of the physical hindrances to the fulfillment of this promise, Abraham trusted God…Because Abraham accepted God’s word as true and reliable, God declared him righteous, and therefore acceptable.”[10] Paul cited Genesis 15:6 in Romans (Rom 4:3) and Galatians (Gal 3:6) when making his case that believers are justified by faith alone, and not by any works of the Law (Rom 4:4-5).      Third, in the book of Ruth we find a good example of a Gentile who came to trust in the Lord. Ruth told her mother-in-law, Naomi, “Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God” (Ruth 1:16). Here is an expression of faith in the Lord Himself. God directed Israel to serve as His witnesses (Isa 43:10), telling others, “I, even I, am the LORD, and there is no savior besides Me” (Isa 43:11). For a Gentile to be saved, it meant trusting in Yahweh alone and not pagan idols, of which there are none. It also meant not trusting in works, which is what pagan idolatry required. Concerning this verse, Warren Wiersbe states, “Ruth’s statement in Ruth 1:16-17 is one of the most magnificent confessions found anywhere in Scripture…[as] she confessed her faith in the true and living God and her decision to worship Him alone.”[11] And Arnold Fruchtenbaum notes, “Ruth invoked the name of God in her oath and not the name of Chemosh. This shows in whom she truly believed.”[12] What’s interesting is that after Ruth married Boaz (Ruth 4:13), she was brought into the family line that led to King David (Ruth 4:18-22), and the Messiah Himself (Matt 1:1, 5). Ruth was among the Gentiles in the OT who believed in Yahweh and were saved. Other Gentile believers include Melchizedek (Gen 14:18), Rahab (Matt 1:5; Heb 11:31), and likely the Queen of Sheba (1 Ki 10:1-13), Naaman the Aramean (2 Ki 5:15-19), the Ninevites (Jonah 3:5, 9-10), Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 2:47; 3:29; 4:34-37),[13] and the Magi who came from the east to worship Messiah (Matt 2:1-2, 11). Dr. Steven R. Cook   [1] Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Ariel’s Bible Commentary: The Book of Genesis, 1st ed. (San Antonio, TX: Ariel Ministries, 2008), 275. [2] William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments, ed. Arthur Farstad (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1995), 1690. [3] Norman L. Geisler, Systematic Theology, Volume Four: Church, Last Things (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2005), 484. [4] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Dispensationalism, Rev. and expanded. (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1995), 140. [5] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Ex 12:43. [6] Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Ariel’s Bible Commentary: The Book of Genesis, 110. [7] Charles C. Ryrie, Dispensationalism, 134. [8] In his commentary on Genesis, Allen Ross notes, “The text does not necessarily mean that Abram came to faith here. Hebrews 11:8 asserts that he left Ur by faith. Genesis 15:6 simply reports at this point the fact that Abram believed, and for that belief God had credited him with righteousness.” (Allen P. Ross, Creation and Blessing: A Guide to the Study and Exposition of Genesis, Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1998, 310). [9] Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Ariel’s Bible Commentary: The Book of Genesis, 275. [10] J. Carl Laney Jr., “Soteriology”, Understanding Christian Theology, 238–239. [11] Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Committed, “Be” Commentary Series (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1993), 21. [12] Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Ariel’s Bible Commentary: The Books of Judges and Ruth, 1st ed. (San Antonio, TX: Ariel Ministries, 2006), 300. [13] It’s very likely that Nebuchadnezzar trusted God after being humbled by the Lord (see Daniel 4:1-37). Throughout the decades of Nebuchadnezzar’s life, he’d had interactions with Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, and the king gained knowledge about God. From his own mouth, Nebuchadnezzar said to Daniel, “Surely your God is a God of gods and a Lord of kings” (Dan 2:47), and to Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah he declared, “no other god is able to deliver in this way” (Dan 3:29). After the king had suffered for seven years, he eventually came to the place where he said, “I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever” (Dan 4:34), and “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise, exalt and honor the King of heaven” (Dan 4:37). Though one cannot be dogmatic, Nebuchadnezzar’s final words strongly imply salvific faith in God—at least as he understood Him from his interactions with the Hebrews—and the result was one of worship to the Lord. If one accepts Nebuchadnezzar’s words as an expression of his conversion, it means he trusted in the God of Israel.
5/12/20241 hour, 4 minutes, 26 seconds
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Soteriology Lesson 45 - What Must I Believe to Be Saved?

The Terms of Salvation      God requires that certain information be received and believed before He saves someone. This means saving faith requires content. From the divine side, God has done several things to bring about our salvation. From eternity past it was planned by God the Father (Eph 1:4; 2 Tim 1:9; 1 John 4:9-10, 14), executed in time by God the Son (John 3:16; Mark 10:45; Luke 19:10), and applied to those who believe by God the Holy Spirit (John 3:6; 1 Cor 12:13; Gal 3:27; Tit 3:5; 1 Pet 1:3). It was necessary that God the Son come into the world in hypostatic union, as undiminished deity and perfect humanity (John 1:1, 14; Col 2:9; Heb 1:8; 10:5; 1 Pet 2:24), be born of a virgin (Isa 7:14; Luke 1:30-35), live a sinless life (2 Cor 5:21; Heb 4:15; 1 Pet 2:22; 1 John 3:5), willingly go to the cross (Isa 53:10; John 10:11, 17-18), die a penal substitutionary atoning death on behalf of all humanity (Rom 5:8; 1 Cor 15:3-4; Heb 2:9; 10:10-14; 1 John 2:2), and be buried and resurrected on the third day (Matt 16:21; Rom 6:9; 1 Cor 15:3-4; 12-20). This was done to satisfy God’s righteousness and justice regarding our sin (Rom 3:25; 1 John 2:2), and to display His love for us as lost sinners for whom Christ died (John 3:16; Rom 5:8). This was necessary because we are totally corrupted by sin and helpless to save ourselves (1 Ki 8:46; Eccl 7:20; Isa 59:2; 64:6; Rom 3:10, 23; 5:12; Eph 2:1-2; Jam 1:14-15), and if God had not acted in love (John 3:16; 1 John 4:9-10), we would all be damned forever to the lake of fire (Rev 20:15).      God, who is infinitely loving, good, and gracious, offers us salvation freely, as a gift (Rom 3:24; 6:23), by grace (Eph 2:8-9), and conditions it on faith alone in Christ alone (John 14:6; Acts 4:12), and “not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph 2:9; cf., Rom 11:6). According to Lewis Chafer, “salvation in all its limitless magnitude is secured, so far as human responsibility is concerned, by believing on Christ as Savior. To this one requirement no other obligation may be added without violence to the Scriptures and total disruption of the essential doctrine of salvation by grace alone.”[1] Charles Ryrie adds: "More than 200 times in the New Testament, salvation is said to be conditioned solely on the basis of faith—faith that has as its object the Lord Jesus who died as our substitute for sin (John 3:16; Acts 16:31). Salvation is a free gift; therefore, any statement of the terms must carefully avoid implying that we give God something. He gives it all; we receive that gift through faith (John 1:12)."[2] John Walvoord states: "The terms of salvation are limited to faith in Christ because of the inadequacy and insufficiency of any other approach. Salvation is pictured therefore as a gift (Rom 6:23), as obtained by those “dead through … trespasses and sins” (Eph 2:1). Salvation is therefore not a work of man for God or a work of God assisted by man, but rather a work of divine salvation effective on those who are willing to receive Jesus Christ as Savior."[3] J. Dwight Pentecost states: "The gospel is characterized by its simplicity. When the Apostle Paul declared the terms of salvation to the Philippian jailer, he said “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved …” (Acts 16:31). The Apostle Peter, speaking concerning salvation, declared, “… there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12)—none other but the name of Jesus. Sinners, confronted with their need of salvation, frequently stumble over the very simplicity of the salvation which God offers. Since Satan cannot take away anything from the conditions of salvation or the plan of salvation—for God has already reduced it to an irreducible minimum—if Satan is to confound the minds of the sinners he must do so by addition, not subtraction. If conditions were placed by God to salvation, Satan might take away those conditions so that men would not be saved. But since there are no conditions, and salvation is a simple fact to be believed, Satan’s method of deceiving men has been to add to the simplicity of the gospel. That is why some will teach that salvation is by faith and good works; or, salvation is by faith and baptism; or, salvation is by faith plus church membership; or, salvation is by faith plus repentance. These are all attempts to darken the mind of the man who needs to be saved concerning the central issue and the basic plan of redemption."[4]      Though faith alone is the only requirement by God, the content of faith has changed throughout the ages, depending on what God revealed at a particular time. What God revealed to Adam and Eve was different than what He revealed to Abraham, and what He revealed to Abraham was different than what He reveals to us. Before addressing the content of saving faith, let’s look at what it means to believe. What it Means to Believe      The word believe, in the OT, derives from the Hebrew verb aman (אָמַן) which means “to regard something as trustworthy, to believe in.”[5] And in the NT, the Greek verb pisteuō (πιστεύω) means “to consider something to be true and therefore worthy of one’s trust.”[6] In Genesis we see where Abraham “believed [aman] in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness” (Gen 15:6). When citing this passage in the NT  (Rom 4:3; Gal 3:6; Jam 2:23), the writers used the Greek verb pisteuō (πιστεύω) in place of the Hebrew verb aman (אָמַן), which shows the words are synonymous. Faith, as a verb, is used of trust in God (Gen 15:6; Heb 11:6; cf. Rom 4:3), trust in Jesus (Acts 16:31; 1 Pet 1:8), and trust in Scripture (John 2:22).[7]Biblically, faith means having an attitude of confidence in God, being certain that He will keep His Word and do as He promised, for He cannot lie (Num 23:19; Heb 6:18; Tit 1:2). When faith is exercised, it trusts solely in the object and no one else. Abraham is an example of a believer who trusted God at His Word, for “with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform” (Rom 4:20-21).      To believe is to have a mental conviction that a testimony is true or that someone or something is reliable and worthy of confidence. Faith starts with mental assent and results in placing one’s faith in the object itself. For example, one can assent that a chair is structurally sound and able to support a person, and then, by faith, sit in the chair and relax. Or one can assent that an automobile is safe to drive, and then, trusting the car, get behind the wheel and drive it to a desired destination. Faith always demands an object, is exercised with a view to receiving a benefit, and the object gets the credit for doing what it was supposed to do. For Christians, Jesus is the object of our faith, eternal life is the benefit we receive, and Christ gets all the glory as the One who saves. When we believe in Jesus, we acknowledge that He is the incarnate Son of God (John 1:1, 14), that our salvation was accomplished by means of His death, burial, and resurrection (1 Cor 15:3-4), and we trust in Him alone to save us eternally (Acts 4:12; 16:31). Christ alone saves. Nothing more. The following illustration is helpful: "Many people misunderstand what the Bible means by “believe.” Belief basically means trust. As an example, imagine you are stranded on one side of a river. The only way across is via a tightrope suspended overhead. A man on the other side has a wheelbarrow and says he can rescue you. Being a skilled acrobat, he crosses the tightrope with the wheelbarrow successfully. Now, you believe that the man himself can cross the tightrope, but in order to be saved, you have to trust him to get you over the tightrope in the wheelbarrow! Will you believe in him or not? Similarly, trusting Jesus for salvation means trusting him to do for you what you cannot do for yourself. There’s no way we can earn heaven; we must trust Jesus to carry us there."[8]  Dr. Steven R. Cook     [1] Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, vol. 3 (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1993), 371. [2] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, A Survey of Bible Doctrine (Chicago: Moody Press, 1972). [3] John F. Walvoord, “The Doctrine of Assurance in Contemporary Theology,” Bibliotheca Sacra 116 (1959): 200–201. [4] J. Dwight Pentecost, Things Which Become Sound Doctrine (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1996), 61. [5] Ludwig Koehler et al., The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1994–2000), 64. [6] William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 816. [7] The NT also presents faith as a noun (πίστις pistis), which often refers to “that which evokes trust and faith…the state of being someone in whom confidence can be placed, faithfulness, reliability, fidelity” (BDAG 818). The word is used with reference to God who is trustworthy (Rom 3:3; 4:19-21), and of people who possess faith (Matt 9:2, 22; 21:21), which can be great (Matt 15:28; cf. Acts 6:5; 11:23-24), small (Matt 17:19-20), or absent (Mark 4:39-40; cf. Luke 8:25). It is also used of Scripture itself as a body of reliable teaching (i.e. Acts 14:22; 16:5; Rom 14:22; Gal 1:23; 2 Tim 4:7). And we see faith as an adjective (πιστός pistos), which describes someone “being worthy of belief or trust, trustworthy, faithful, dependable, inspiring trust/faith” (BDAG 820). The word is used God (1 Cor 1:9; 10:13; 2 Tim 2:13; Heb 10:23; Rev 1:5), and of people (Matt 25:23; 1 Cor 4:17; Col 1:7; 1 Tim 1:12; 2 Tim 2:2; Heb 3:5). [8] Michael Klassen and William W. Klein, “Romans,” in The Apologetics Study Bible for Students, ed. Sean McDowell (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 1410.
5/5/20241 hour, 27 minutes, 49 seconds
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Soteriology Lesson 44 - Unlimited Atonement

Unlimited atonement is the view from Scripture that Jesus died for everyone, and even though His death is sufficient to save everyone, the benefits of the cross are applied only to those who believe in Him as Savior. In contrast to this is the teaching of limited atonement, that Christ died only for those whom God has elected to salvation. Though there are Christians who hold to limited atonement, and have written well on other theological matters, it is the view of this writer that they err on this subject, relying more on human logic than the testimony of Scripture. Arnold Fruchtenbaum states, “Those who hold to limited atonement do not come to their conclusion based upon the exegesis of Scripture because the fact is that there is no passage anywhere in the Bible that says He died only for the elect…The defense for limited atonement is not based upon exegesis; it is based upon logic.”[1] According to David Allen: "Limited atonement is a doctrine in search of a text. No one can point to any text in Scripture that states clearly and unequivocally that Christ died for the sins of a limited number of people to the exclusion of others. Most Calvinists admit this. Alternatively, a dozen clear texts in the New Testament explicitly affirm Christ died for the sins of all people, and another half dozen plus that indirectly suggest it."[2]      Jesus’ atonement for sins is the basis for reconciliation, because God has judged our sins in the Person of Christ who died on the cross in our place. Jesus is “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29), and “who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4), and “who gave Himself as a ransom for all” (1 Tim 2:6), and tasted “death for everyone” (Heb 2:9), and “is the Savior of all men, especially of believers” (1 Tim 4:10), “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men” (Tit 2:11), and “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world” (1 John 2:2; cf., 1 John 4:10), and “the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world” (1 John 4:14). Peter wrote of “false prophets” and “false teachers” who “deny the Master who bought them” (2 Pet 2:1).      Because Christ died for everyone, everyone is savable. But though the death of Christ is sufficient to save everyone, only those who believe will benefit from His work on the cross. And when people believe in Jesus, accepting the fact the He died for their sins, was buried, and raised again on the third day, they receive forgiveness of sins (Acts 10:43; Eph 1:7), the gift of righteousness (Rom 5:17; 2 Cor 5:21; Phil 3:9), and the eternal life (John 3:16; 10:28). Human volition is the key, as “God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent” (Acts 17:30). This means they must not trust in themselves or any system of good works to save, but trust in Christ alone to save.      Biblically, we should understand that Jesus is the God-Man (Isa 7:14; John 1:1, 14; Heb 1:8), that “in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form” (Col 2:9). Furthermore, He was conceived in the womb of the virgin Mary (Isa 7:14; Luke 1:30-35; Gal 4:4), was born without the taint of sin and lived a sinless life (2 Cor 5:21; Heb 4:15; 1 Pet 2:22; 1 John 3:5), which qualified Him to go to the cross and pay the ransom price for our sins by means of His shed blood (Mark 10:45; 1 Tim 2:6; 1 Pet 1:18-19). When the divinely appointed time came for Him to go to the cross (John 12:23; 13:1), Jesus willingly went and died in our place and paid the penalty for our sins (John 10:18; Rom 5:8). Peter wrote, “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet 3:18). After Jesus paid for our sins, “He said, ‘It is finished!’ And He bowed His head, and gave up His spirit” (John 19:30). Jesus died, was placed in a grave, and was resurrected to life on the third day (Acts 2:23-24; 4:10; 10:40; 1 Cor 15:3-4), never to die again (Rom 6:9). Salvation is now available to everyone, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). The only sin that keeps a person out of heaven is the sin of unbelief. The apostle John wrote, “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18). Jesus, speaking to unsaved persons, said, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life” (John 5:39-40). And Jesus pointed out that the world as a whole is convicted by God the Holy Spirit of one sin, the sin of unbelief, “because they do not believe in Me” (John 16:9). For those who reject Christ as Savior, their future is one of eternal separation and punishment away from God for all eternity, for “if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Rev 20:15). This need not happen. Hell is avoidable to the one who trusts in Christ as Savior, believing the gospel message “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3-4). And this salvation is a gift from God (Rom 3:24; 6:23), offered by grace alone (Eph 2:8-9), through faith alone (Gal 2:16; 3:26; 2 Tim 3:15), in Christ alone (John 14:6; Acts 4:12), totally apart from human works (Rom 4:5; Eph 2:8-9; Tit 3:5). Once we understand who Christ is and what He’s accomplished for us on the cross, we can then exercise our faith by trusting in Him as our Savior (and not a fake Jesus like that of Mormon’s and Jehovah Witnesses). Once we have trusted in Christ for salvation, God then bestows on us forgiveness of sins (Acts 10:43; Eph 1:7), the gift of righteousness (Rom 5:17; Phil 3:9), eternal life (John 10:28), and many other blessings (Eph 1:3). For lost sinners, the matter is simple, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). Dr. Steven R. Cook   [1] Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, God’s Will & Man’s Will: Predestination, Election, & Free Will, ed. Christiane Jurik, 2nd Edition. (San Antonio, TX: Ariel Ministries, 2014), 44. [2] David L. Allen, “A Critique of Limited Atonement,” in Calvinism: A Biblical and Theological Critique, ed. David L. Allen and Steve W. Lemke (Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2022), 71.
4/28/20241 hour, 27 minutes, 32 seconds
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When a Christian Turns to a Sinful Lifestyle

     As a Christian, it is possible to have correct thinking (orthodoxy) and not live by it. James wrote, “To one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin” (Jam 4:17). There are times when believers know God’s Word, but because of negative volition, do not apply it. Solomon, a true believer, is a good example of this. God called Solomon “My son” (2 Sam 7:14), heard his prayer (2 Ch 1:8-10), made him king over Israel (2 Ch 1:11), granted him “wisdom and knowledge” (2 Ch 1:12), used him to write three books of the Bible (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon), directed him to build the temple in Jerusalem over a period of seven years (1 Ki 6:38), made him ruler of Israel for forty years (1 Ki 11:42), and we are told that “Solomon loved the LORD and walked in the statutes of his father David” (1 Ki 3:3a). These are all signs of a true believer. However, according to Scripture, Solomon disobeyed God’s command for the king of Israel, which stated, “He shall not multiply wives for himself” (Deut 17:17a). Despite this directive, Solomon practiced polygamy, having “seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines, and his wives turned his heart away” (1 Ki 11:3).[1] Solomon’s disobedience was not a singular event but extended over many years, persisting until the end of his days. By the conclusion of his life, Solomon had forsaken his wisdom, as “his wives turned his heart away after other gods” (1 Kings 11:4a). Because Solomon consented to their corrupting pagan influence, he was “not wholly devoted to the LORD his God” (1 Ki 11:4b). Because he had negative volition, “Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the LORD” (1 Ki 11:6). Idolatry is evil business. It is the sin of substitution in which people devote themselves to worship something or someone in the place of God. It is foremost a sin of a covetous heart that leads people to desire more than what God provides, and to trust something or someone lesser than God to satisfy their wants and needs. Solomon’s evil practices demonstrate that a true believer—who cannot forfeit his salvation—can completely turn away from the Lord and commit himself to a life of sin. After Solomon turned away from the Lord and worshipped idols, Scripture reveals God severely disciplined him for his sin (1 Ki 11:11-43). As Christians, we should not be like our brother Solomon, who corrupted his ways and pursued idolatry, knowing that God will discipline us severely if we commit egregious sin (Heb 12:6).      Biblically speaking, it is possible for believers to commit any sin an unbeliever can commit. For example, Aaron led the Israelites to worship an idol (Ex 32:1-6). Gideon made an ephod which became an object of worship in Israel (Judg 8:27). Samson slept with prostitutes (Jud 16:1-4). David had an affair with Bathsheba and had Uriah, her husband, murdered (2 Sam 11:1-21). Peter tried to prevent Jesus from going to the cross (Matt 16:21-23), and later denied the Lord three times (Matt 26:34-35; 69-75). Christians at Corinth engaged in quarrels (1 Cor 1:11), jealousy and strife (1 Cor 3:1-3), fornication (1 Cor 5:1-2), disputing in public courts (1 Cor 6:1-8), behaved selfishly (1 Cor 11:17-20), got drunk in church (1 Cor 11:21), and misused their spiritual gifts (1 Cor 14:1-40). The church at Ephesus is said to have left its first love, Christ (Rev 2:1-7). The church at Pergamum tolerated false teaching and engaged in immorality (Rev 2:12-17). The church at Thyatira was led by a wicked woman named Jezebel who enticed them into sexual immorality (Rev 2:18-29). The church at Sardis was rebuked for lacking good works (Rev 3:1-6). The church at Laodicea was rebuked for being lukewarm and spiritually impoverished (Rev 3:14-22). The apostle John twice bowed down and worshipped an angel (Rev 19:10; 22:8-9).      Beyond these particular instances of sin, Christians are instructed, “do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness” (Rom 6:12-13a), “flee sexual immorality” (1 Cor 6:18), “he who steals must steal no longer” (Eph 4:28), “let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth” (Eph 4:29), “do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God” (Eph 4:30), “Do not quench the Spirit” (1 Th 5:19), put aside “anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth” (Col 3:8), “abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul” (1 Pet 2:11), “make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler” (1 Pet 4:15), “do not love the world nor the things in the world” (1 John 2:15), and “little children, guard yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21). These commands would be pointless if it were not possible for Christians to commit all these sins. It is never the will of God that we sin (1 John 2:1), but if we sin, and “there is no man who does not sin” (1 Ki 8:46), it is God’s will that we confess our sins (1 John 1:9), accept responsibility for our actions, and get back to learning God’s Word (2 Tim 2:15; 1 Pet 2:2; 2 Pet 3:18), living by faith (2 Cor 5:7; Heb 10:38), and pursuing holiness (1 Pet 1:15-16), and righteousness (1 Tim 6:11; 2 Tim 2:22). Consequences for Sin      It is difficult for some to understand, but when Christians sin, we are not in danger of condemnation (Rom 8:1; 35-39), we do not forfeit the free gift of eternal life (John 10:28; Rom 3:24; 6:23), and we do not cease to possess the righteousness of God that was given to us at the moment of faith in Christ (Rom 5:17; Phil 3:9). When Christians sin, we are walking in darkness and have broken fellowship with God (1 John 1:5-6), and stifled the work of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us (Eph 4:30; 1 Th 5:19). If we continue in sin, or leave our sin unconfessed, we are in real danger of divine discipline from God (Psa 32:3-4; Heb 12:6; 1 John 5:16-17; cf. Dan 4:37). Even though David was forgiven for his sin with Bathsheba (2 Sam 12:13), he still faced earthly consequences that impacted him and his family (2 Sam 12:10-14). Serious sin, and ongoing sin, can eventuate in divine discipline to the point of physical death (1 John 5:16; cf., Lev 10:1-2; Acts 5:3-5; 1 Cor 11:30), as well as the loss of eternal rewards (1 Cor 3:10-15; 2 John 1:8). These are serious punishments by the Lord which impact a  believer in time and eternity; however, the sinning saint is not in danger of losing salvation.[2] A Better Way      As Christians, God calls us to “pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (2 Tim 2:22; cf. 1 Tim 6:11), to “present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God” (Rom 6:13b), and to “present your members as slaves to righteousness” (Rom 6:19a). Addressing the Christians at Ephesus, Paul wrote, “you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light, for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth, trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord” (Eph 5:8-10). Peter also wrote, “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Pet 2:24a). Righteous living—that’s what God desires from us. He wants our thoughts, words, and actions to align with His righteous character and written Word as it applies to us as Christians. But this requires positive volition and a commitment to the Lord (Rom 12:1-2), to learn His Word (2 Tim 3:16-17; 1 Peter 2:2) and live His Word by faith (2 Cor 5:7; Heb 10:38).      For us as Christians, God has done everything for us to live spiritually successful lives (i.e., giving a new nature, the Holy Spirit, and divine revelation). But God does not force us to live spiritually, as we must choose to live out the new life. And, like Solomon, we are always in danger of being corrupted by others (1 Cor 15:33), by Satan’s world-system (1 John 2:15-16), and our fleshly natures within (Rom 13:14; Col 3:9; Gal 5:16-17; 1 John 1:8). To be faithful to the Lord to the end of our days (as God directs), one needs thinking that is properly calibrated according to Scripture (Rom 12:1-2). God has already blessed us with everything we need to live spiritually (Eph 1:3), but it’s up to us to lay hold of what He’s provided and to advance to spiritual maturity.      The successful Christian life starts with positive volition. Jesus said, “If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself” (John 7:17). The word “willing” translates the Greek verb thelō (θέλω), which means “to desire to have or experience something.”[3]To be “willing” to know and do God’s will is the starting place for our advance to spiritual maturity. Our next step is to dig into God’s Word and learn it. Jeremiah expressed positive volition when he said, “Your words were found and I ate them, and Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart” (Jer 15:16a). A psalmist wrote, “How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psa 119:103), and “The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces” (Psa 119:72). Peter wrote, “like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation” (1 Pet 2:2). Learning God’s Word serves as the basis for right living (Rom 12:1-2). But once we learn it, we must walk in it, which means applying it to our life, and this by faith (2 Cor 5:7; Heb 10:38; 11:6). Ezra is a good example of a believer who learned and lived God’s Word, as it is written, “Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel” (Ezra 7:10). This is the proper order. When a Christian has a right will (orthothely), and operates with right thinking (orthodoxy), it establishes the basis for right behavior (orthopraxy). Positive volition, divine viewpoint thinking, and the walk of faith is what the Lord wants.      As God’s people, let us constantly learn His Word (Psa 1:2-3; Ezra 7:10; 2 Tim 2:15; 1 Pet 2:2), recalibrate our thinking to align with Scripture (Rom 12:1-2), discipline our minds (2 Cor 10:5), live by faith (2 Cor 5:7; Heb 10:38; 11:6), confess our sins as needed (1 John 1:9), be filled with the Spirit (Eph 5:18), walk in the Spirit (Gal 5:16), submit ourselves to the Lord (Jam 4:7), do good (Gal 6:10), serve others (Phil 2:3-4), rejoice always (1 Th 5:16), pray without ceasing (1 Th 5:17), be thankful in everything (1 Th 5:18), maintain fellowship with other Christians (Heb 10:25), share our wealth to promote Christian ministry (1 Tim 6:17-19), and advance to spiritual maturity (Heb 6:1). If we do this, we’ll glorify the Lord, bless others, and live righteously as God’s expects.      Lordship Salvation proponents typically emphasize that genuine faith naturally leads to good works and obedience to God. They argue that while believers are capable of sinning, a pattern of unrepentant sin and disobedience raises doubts about the authenticity of one’s faith. Therefore, although believers may struggle with sin, true believers are expected to ultimately repent and return to God, rather than persisting in a lifestyle of sin. This means that all true believers will persevere in good works until the very end to ensure their entrance into heaven. The biblical examples provided in this article illustrate how severely a true believer can sin. Additionally, the example of Solomon demonstrates that a genuine believer can commit egregious sins, such as polygamy and idolatry, and continue in that sin until the end of his days. Though sinning saints should fear God’s discipline, such believers should not fear the dangers of hell, as they are truly saved and that is never a threat to them. Dr. Steven R. Cook     [1] Scripture also reveals King David had eight wives: Michal (1 Sam 18:27), Abigail (1 Sam 25:39-42), Ahinoam (1 Sam 25:43), Bathsheba (2 Sam 12:24), Maacah, Haggith, Abital and Eglah (2 Sam 3:2-5), and “David took more concubines and wives from Jerusalem” (2 Sam 5:13). As far as I can tell, David married only women within the Israelite community, and these did not tempt him into idolatry. [2] Even when the prodigal son lived in the world (Luke 15:11-13), and though he lived like an unbeliever, he never ceased to be a son (Luke 15:14-16), and when he came to his senses and returned home (Luke 15:17-19), his father recognized him as his son and welcomed him back (Luke 15:20-24). A child of God is always a child of God, even if we fall into worldly living. [3] Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 287.
4/27/20241 hour, 18 minutes, 4 seconds
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Soteriology Lesson 43 - Total Depravity

     Total depravity is the biblical doctrine that sin permeates all aspects of our being—mind, will, and sensibilities, and renders us helpless to save ourselves. It does not mean we are as bad as we can be, for there are many moral unbelievers in the world. Being contaminated by sin means whatever morality we produce can never measure up to the perfect righteousness God expects. Is there any person who can say, “I have cleansed my heart, I am pure from my sin?” (Prov 20:9). The answer is an emphatic No! The human heart is corrupt, for “the heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick” (Jer 17:9). And “Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins” (Eccl 7:20), and “There is none righteous; not even one. There is none who understands; there is none who seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become useless. There is none who does good, there is not even one” (Rom 3:10-12; cf. Rom 8:8). Some might argue that we can perform good works and help to save ourselves. This is wrong. Scripture states, “your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God” (Isa 59:2), “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; and all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away” (Isa 64:6). Salvation does not come by human works; rather, we are “justified by faith apart from works of the Law” (Rom 3:28), and salvation comes “to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly” (Rom 4:5), and we are “not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified” (Gal 2:16), “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph 2:8-9), and God “has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity” (2 Tim 1:9), and “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit” (Tit 3:5). By human standards, even the worst person can do some good. But human estimation is lower than God’s estimation and it is God’s standards that define what is truly good. According to Charles Ryrie, “Total depravity must always be measured against God’s holiness. Relative goodness exists in people. They can do good works, which are appreciated by others. But nothing that anyone can do will gain salvational merit or favor in the sight of a holy God.”[1] Calvinist View of Total Depravity      For Calvinists, total depravity means total inability. They regard people as totally unable to respond to the things of God; like a physical corpse. Notable scholars such as B. B. Warfield, R. C. Sproul, John Piper, Wayne Grudem, John Frame, John MacArthur, and J. I. Packer hold this view. B. B. Warfield wrote, “nothing is more fundamental in the doctrine of the Reformers than the complete inability of man and his absolute need of divine grace.”[2] John Frame states, “We can never come to God out of our own resources. We are helpless to do anything to save ourselves. This condition is sometimes called total inability” (italics his).[3] J. I. Packer states, “Total depravity entails total inability, that is, the state of not having it in oneself to respond to God and his Word in a sincere and wholehearted way (John 6:44; Rom 8:7–8).”[4] That is, lost sinners cannot respond to God at all, as they are spiritually unable (dead) to respond apart from God’s granting life and the ability to believe. This leads Calvinists to conclude two things. First, God sovereignly acts by Himself to regenerate the spiritually dead and make them spiritually alive. Second, God gives the newly regenerate a special kind of faith whereby they can and will trust in Christ as Savior. According to Wayne Grudem, regeneration is “the act of God awakening spiritual life within us, bringing us from spiritual death to spiritual life. On this definition, it is natural to understand that regeneration comes before saving faith. It is in fact this work of God that gives us the spiritual ability to respond to God in faith.”[5] According to John MacArthur, “Our response in salvation is faith, but even that is not of ourselves [but is] the gift of God. Faith is nothing that we do in our own power or by our own resources...Paul intends to emphasize that even faith is not from us apart from God’s giving it.”[6] The result of these divine actions in God’s elect means they will produce good works and will persevere in those works throughout their lives until they die. John MacArthur states, “The same power that created us in Christ Jesus empowers us to do the good works for which He has redeemed us. These are the verifiers of true salvation.”[7] Thus, good works from regeneration to the end of one’s life are the proof of salvation. Failure to produce ongoing good works until the end of one’s life is offered as proof he was never saved (Matt 7:21). The Biblical View of Total Depravity      The correct biblical view is that total depravity means total unworthiness, not total inability to respond in faith to God’s offer of salvation. Despite the profound impact of sin on human nature, the Bible does not portray people as entirely incapacitated. Yes, all mankind is “dead” in their sins (Eph 2:1); but death does not mean total inability, but total separation from God, for even those who were dead still “walked according to the course of this world” (Eph 2:2). Mankind is totally depraved in the sense that sin corrupts every part of our being, intellect, will, and sensibility. However, it does not mean that fallen people are unable to respond in faith to the gospel of grace.      The first example of spiritual death in the Bible is found in the Garden of Eden. God had warned Adam and Eve, saying, “from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die” (Gen 2:17). The warning was that if they disobeyed God, on that very day, they would die (and death means separation, not cessation). Adam and Eve experienced spiritual death at the moment they disobeyed God. Yet, immediately after the fall, in their state of spiritual death, they could sense God’s presence in the Garden, as they “heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden” (Gen 3:8). Furthermore, Adam heard God’s voice when He “called to the man” (Gen 3:9), and Adam responded to Him, saying, “I heard the sound of You in the garden” (Gen 3:10a). Though they could not undo their newly fallen sinful state, it did not render them totally unable to perceive God or to respond to Him when He called out to them. And they did respond positively to the Lord when He promised to provide a descendant, a Seed of the woman, who would crush the head of the serpent (Gen 3:15). They also responded positively by accepting God’s provision of clothing after He killed an animal, took its skin, and covered their nakedness (Gen 3:21).      Furthermore, God made mankind in His image, as Scripture states, “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Gen 1:27). Even after the historic fall of Adam and Eve, all people are said to be “in the image of God” (Gen 9:6), and “in the likeness of God” (Jam 3:9). Despite the fall of humanity into sin, the image of God in humanity remains intact, implying that humans still retain some moral capacity, which includes the ability to accept God’s offer of salvation by faith. Though people are deeply affected by sin, they still possess some capacity for moral choice and responsibility, thus arguing against the notion of total depravity meaning total inability.      Regeneration is entirely the work of God in saving lost sinners who cannot save themselves (Rom 5:6-10). The sinner brings nothing of worth to salvation, but receives all that God has to offer by grace. John Walvoord states, “Regeneration is wholly of God. No possible human effort however noble can supply eternal life.”[8] Paul Enns states, “Succinctly stated, to regenerate means ‘to impart life.’ Regeneration is the act whereby God imparts life to the one who believes.”[9] Regeneration occurs in the one who believes in Christ as Savior. According to Charles Ryrie, “Salvation is always through faith, not because of faith (Eph 2:8). Faith is the channel through which we receive God’s gift of eternal life; it is not the cause. This is so man can never boast, even of his faith. But faith is the necessary and only channel (John 5:24; 17:3).”[10] The Bible teaches there is only one kind of faith, and that only those who place their faith in Christ will be saved. Faith does not save. Christ saves. The Strict-Calvinist believes there are two kinds of faith, one that is common to all, and another that is special and imparted only to God’s elect. Believe to Receive Eternal Life      There are numerous passages in the Bible that place faith as the necessary prerequisite to regeneration. It is written, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16), and Jesus said, “This is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life” (John 6:40), and “he who believes has eternal life” (John 6:47). Paul wrote to Timothy about “those who would believe in Him for eternal life” (1 Tim 1:16). In these and other instances, “eternal life” is given after we believe in Jesus as our Savior. Furthermore, people are condemned, not because God has not made a way for them to be saved, but because of their unwillingness to come to Christ as Savior. The issue is individual choice, not inability. The apostle John said, “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18). Jesus, speaking to unsaved persons, said, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life” (John 5:39-40). Jesus said the Holy Spirit convicts everyone of sin (John 16:8), particularly the sin of unbelief, “because they do not believe in Me” (John 16:9). There is only one sin that keeps a person out of heaven, and that is the sin of unbelief; of rejecting Jesus as the only Savior. Apparently unbelievers may resist the Holy Spirit, as Stephen said in his sermon, “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit” (Acts 7:51a).      Scripture reveals that “God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent” (Acts 17:30). This means they must not trust in themselves or any system of good works to save, but must trust in Christ, and Christ alone to save. Faith does not save. Christ saves. Faith is the non-meritorious instrument by which we receive eternal life. The Strict-Calvinist believes Christ died only for the elect (Matt 1:21; John 10:15), and only the elect are savable. The Bible teaches that Christ died for everyone (John 3:16; Heb 2:9; 1 John 2:2); therefore, everyone is savable. Paul said, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men” (Tit 2:11), and that God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4). Peter stated, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Pet 3:9). Anyone can be saved by believing the gospel message “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3-4). Jesus is Free from Sin      Concerning total depravity and the transmission of original sin, Jesus is the sole exception, for Mary’s virgin conception (Isa 7:14; Luke 1:30-35) meant Jesus was not born with the taint of original sin. Being free from original sin, Jesus also had no sin nature. Furthermore, Jesus lived His entire life and committed no personal sin. Scripture reveals Jesus “knew no sin” (2 Cor 5:21), was “without sin” (Heb 4:15), “committed no sin” (1 Pet 2:22), and in whom “there is no sin” (1 John 3:5). His sinless life qualified Him to die a substitutionary death in our place, “the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet 3:18). Jesus died for everyone and paid the penalty for our sin (John 3:16; Heb 2:9; 1 John 2:2). Though His death is sufficient for all to be saved (unlimited atonement), the benefits of the cross are applied only to those who believe in Him, which includes forgiveness of sins (Acts 10:43; Eph 1:7), the gift of righteousness (Rom 5:17; Phil 3:9), and eternal life (John 10:28). Dr. Steven R. Cook   [1] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Basic Theology, 253. [2] Benjamin B. Warfield, The Plan of Salvation: Five Lectures (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1915), 44. [3] John M. Frame, Salvation Belongs to the Lord: An Introduction to Systematic Theology (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2006), 112. [4] J. I. Packer, Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1993), 84. [5] Wayne A. Grudem, Systematic Theology (Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House, 2004), 702. [6] John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary on Ephesians (Chicago, Ill. Moody Press, 1986), 98. [7] Ibid., 101. [8] John F. Walvoord, The Holy Spirit (Grand Rapids, Mich. Zondervan Publishing, 1977), 132. [9] Paul P. Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1989), 338. [10]
4/21/20241 hour, 10 minutes, 35 seconds
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Soteriology Lesson 43 - Total Depravity

     Total depravity is the biblical doctrine that sin permeates all aspects of our being—mind, will, and sensibilities, and renders us helpless to save ourselves. It does not mean we are as bad as we can be, for there are many moral unbelievers in the world. Being contaminated by sin means whatever morality we produce can never measure up to the perfect righteousness God expects. Is there any person who can say, “I have cleansed my heart, I am pure from my sin?” (Prov 20:9). The answer is an emphatic No! The human heart is corrupt, for “the heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick” (Jer 17:9). And “Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins” (Eccl 7:20), and “There is none righteous; not even one. There is none who understands; there is none who seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become useless. There is none who does good, there is not even one” (Rom 3:10-12; cf. Rom 8:8). Some might argue that we can perform good works and help to save ourselves. This is wrong. Scripture states, “your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God” (Isa 59:2), “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; and all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away” (Isa 64:6). Salvation does not come by human works; rather, we are “justified by faith apart from works of the Law” (Rom 3:28), and salvation comes “to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly” (Rom 4:5), and we are “not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified” (Gal 2:16), “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph 2:8-9), and God “has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity” (2 Tim 1:9), and “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit” (Tit 3:5). By human standards, even the worst person can do some good. But human estimation is lower than God’s estimation and it is God’s standards that define what is truly good. According to Charles Ryrie, “Total depravity must always be measured against God’s holiness. Relative goodness exists in people. They can do good works, which are appreciated by others. But nothing that anyone can do will gain salvational merit or favor in the sight of a holy God.”[1] Calvinist View of Total Depravity      For Calvinists, total depravity means total inability. They regard people as totally unable to respond to the things of God; like a physical corpse. Notable scholars such as B. B. Warfield, R. C. Sproul, John Piper, Wayne Grudem, John Frame, John MacArthur, and J. I. Packer hold this view. B. B. Warfield wrote, “nothing is more fundamental in the doctrine of the Reformers than the complete inability of man and his absolute need of divine grace.”[2] John Frame states, “We can never come to God out of our own resources. We are helpless to do anything to save ourselves. This condition is sometimes called total inability” (italics his).[3] J. I. Packer states, “Total depravity entails total inability, that is, the state of not having it in oneself to respond to God and his Word in a sincere and wholehearted way (John 6:44; Rom 8:7–8).”[4] That is, lost sinners cannot respond to God at all, as they are spiritually unable (dead) to respond apart from God’s granting life and the ability to believe. This leads Calvinists to conclude two things. First, God sovereignly acts by Himself to regenerate the spiritually dead and make them spiritually alive. Second, God gives the newly regenerate a special kind of faith whereby they can and will trust in Christ as Savior. According to Wayne Grudem, regeneration is “the act of God awakening spiritual life within us, bringing us from spiritual death to spiritual life. On this definition, it is natural to understand that regeneration comes before saving faith. It is in fact this work of God that gives us the spiritual ability to respond to God in faith.”[5] According to John MacArthur, “Our response in salvation is faith, but even that is not of ourselves [but is] the gift of God. Faith is nothing that we do in our own power or by our own resources...Paul intends to emphasize that even faith is not from us apart from God’s giving it.”[6] The result of these divine actions in God’s elect means they will produce good works and will persevere in those works throughout their lives until they die. John MacArthur states, “The same power that created us in Christ Jesus empowers us to do the good works for which He has redeemed us. These are the verifiers of true salvation.”[7] Thus, good works from regeneration to the end of one’s life are the proof of salvation. Failure to produce ongoing good works until the end of one’s life is offered as proof he was never saved (Matt 7:21). The Biblical View of Total Depravity      The correct biblical view is that total depravity means total unworthiness, not total inability to respond in faith to God’s offer of salvation. Despite the profound impact of sin on human nature, the Bible does not portray people as entirely incapacitated. Yes, all mankind is “dead” in their sins (Eph 2:1); but death does not mean total inability, but total separation from God, for even those who were dead still “walked according to the course of this world” (Eph 2:2). Mankind is totally depraved in the sense that sin corrupts every part of our being, intellect, will, and sensibility. However, it does not mean that fallen people are unable to respond in faith to the gospel of grace.      The first example of spiritual death in the Bible is found in the Garden of Eden. God had warned Adam and Eve, saying, “from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die” (Gen 2:17). The warning was that if they disobeyed God, on that very day, they would die (and death means separation, not cessation). Adam and Eve experienced spiritual death at the moment they disobeyed God. Yet, immediately after the fall, in their state of spiritual death, they could sense God’s presence in the Garden, as they “heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden” (Gen 3:8). Furthermore, Adam heard God’s voice when He “called to the man” (Gen 3:9), and Adam responded to Him, saying, “I heard the sound of You in the garden” (Gen 3:10a). Though they could not undo their newly fallen sinful state, it did not render them totally unable to perceive God or to respond to Him when He called out to them. And they did respond positively to the Lord when He promised to provide a descendant, a Seed of the woman, who would crush the head of the serpent (Gen 3:15). They also responded positively by accepting God’s provision of clothing after He killed an animal, took its skin, and covered their nakedness (Gen 3:21).      Furthermore, God made mankind in His image, as Scripture states, “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Gen 1:27). Even after the historic fall of Adam and Eve, all people are said to be “in the image of God” (Gen 9:6), and “in the likeness of God” (Jam 3:9). Despite the fall of humanity into sin, the image of God in humanity remains intact, implying that humans still retain some moral capacity, which includes the ability to accept God’s offer of salvation by faith. Though people are deeply affected by sin, they still possess some capacity for moral choice and responsibility, thus arguing against the notion of total depravity meaning total inability.      Regeneration is entirely the work of God in saving lost sinners who cannot save themselves (Rom 5:6-10). The sinner brings nothing of worth to salvation, but receives all that God has to offer by grace. John Walvoord states, “Regeneration is wholly of God. No possible human effort however noble can supply eternal life.”[8] Paul Enns states, “Succinctly stated, to regenerate means ‘to impart life.’ Regeneration is the act whereby God imparts life to the one who believes.”[9] Regeneration occurs in the one who believes in Christ as Savior. According to Charles Ryrie, “Salvation is always through faith, not because of faith (Eph 2:8). Faith is the channel through which we receive God’s gift of eternal life; it is not the cause. This is so man can never boast, even of his faith. But faith is the necessary and only channel (John 5:24; 17:3).”[10] The Bible teaches there is only one kind of faith, and that only those who place their faith in Christ will be saved. Faith does not save. Christ saves. The Strict-Calvinist believes there are two kinds of faith, one that is common to all, and another that is special and imparted only to God’s elect. Believe to Receive Eternal Life      There are numerous passages in the Bible that place faith as the necessary prerequisite to regeneration. It is written, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16), and Jesus said, “This is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life” (John 6:40), and “he who believes has eternal life” (John 6:47). Paul wrote to Timothy about “those who would believe in Him for eternal life” (1 Tim 1:16). In these and other instances, “eternal life” is given after we believe in Jesus as our Savior. Furthermore, people are condemned, not because God has not made a way for them to be saved, but because of their unwillingness to come to Christ as Savior. The issue is individual choice, not inability. The apostle John said, “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18). Jesus, speaking to unsaved persons, said, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life” (John 5:39-40). Jesus said the Holy Spirit convicts everyone of sin (John 16:8), particularly the sin of unbelief, “because they do not believe in Me” (John 16:9). There is only one sin that keeps a person out of heaven, and that is the sin of unbelief; of rejecting Jesus as the only Savior. Apparently unbelievers may resist the Holy Spirit, as Stephen said in his sermon, “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit” (Acts 7:51a).      Scripture reveals that “God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent” (Acts 17:30). This means they must not trust in themselves or any system of good works to save, but must trust in Christ, and Christ alone to save. Faith does not save. Christ saves. Faith is the non-meritorious instrument by which we receive eternal life. The Strict-Calvinist believes Christ died only for the elect (Matt 1:21; John 10:15), and only the elect are savable. The Bible teaches that Christ died for everyone (John 3:16; Heb 2:9; 1 John 2:2); therefore, everyone is savable. Paul said, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men” (Tit 2:11), and that God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4). Peter stated, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Pet 3:9). Anyone can be saved by believing the gospel message “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3-4). Jesus is Free from Sin      Concerning total depravity and the transmission of original sin, Jesus is the sole exception, for Mary’s virgin conception (Isa 7:14; Luke 1:30-35) meant Jesus was not born with the taint of original sin. Being free from original sin, Jesus also had no sin nature. Furthermore, Jesus lived His entire life and committed no personal sin. Scripture reveals Jesus “knew no sin” (2 Cor 5:21), was “without sin” (Heb 4:15), “committed no sin” (1 Pet 2:22), and in whom “there is no sin” (1 John 3:5). His sinless life qualified Him to die a substitutionary death in our place, “the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet 3:18). Jesus died for everyone and paid the penalty for our sin (John 3:16; Heb 2:9; 1 John 2:2). Though His death is sufficient for all to be saved (unlimited atonement), the benefits of the cross are applied only to those who believe in Him, which includes forgiveness of sins (Acts 10:43; Eph 1:7), the gift of righteousness (Rom 5:17; Phil 3:9), and eternal life (John 10:28). Dr. Steven R. Cook   [1] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Basic Theology, 253. [2] Benjamin B. Warfield, The Plan of Salvation: Five Lectures (Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1915), 44. [3] John M. Frame, Salvation Belongs to the Lord: An Introduction to Systematic Theology (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2006), 112. [4] J. I. Packer, Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1993), 84. [5] Wayne A. Grudem, Systematic Theology (Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House, 2004), 702. [6] John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary on Ephesians (Chicago, Ill. Moody Press, 1986), 98. [7] Ibid., 101. [8] John F. Walvoord, The Holy Spirit (Grand Rapids, Mich. Zondervan Publishing, 1977), 132. [9] Paul P. Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1989), 338. [10] Charles C. Ryrie, Basic Theology (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1999), 377.
4/21/202424 minutes, 34 seconds
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Soteriology Lesson42 - The Meaning of Sin

     Our salvation is necessary because of the problem of sin. The word sin is found throughout Scripture, and both the Hebrew and Greek share the same basic meaning. The Hebrew word chata (חָטָא) means “to miss the target, or to lose the way,”[1] and the Greek word hamartanō (ἁμαρτάνω) is defined as “miss the mark, err, or do wrong.”[2] In Judges 20:16 the Hebrew word is used of skilled soldiers who do not miss their target, and in Proverbs 19:2 of a man who hurries and misses his way.[3] Sin is when we transgress God’s law and depart from His intended path.[4] The apostle John states, “Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4). Sin is a failure to conform to the holy character of God, a deviation from His righteous will.      Divine laws are a reflection of the righteousness of God. The righteousness of God may be defined as the intrinsic, immutable, moral perfection of God, from which He commands all things, in heaven and earth, and declares as good that which conforms to His righteousness and as evil that which deviates. God’s character is the basis upon which all just laws derive; either divine laws from God Himself or human laws which conform to His righteousness.[5] Merrill F. Unger states: "The underlying idea of sin is that of law and of a lawgiver. The lawgiver is God. Hence sin is everything in the disposition and purpose and conduct of God’s moral creatures that is contrary to the expressed will of God (Rom 3:20; 4:15; 7:7; Jam 4:12, 17). The sinfulness of sin lies in the fact that it is against God, even when the wrong we do is to others or ourselves (Gen 39:9; Psa 51:4)."[6] Robert B. Thieme Jr. states: "Man’s sin is disobedience to, or falling away from, God’s perfect standard and expressed will. Regardless of the sinner’s action or intent, all sin is ultimately directed against God (Gen 39:9; Psa 51:4). The temptation for sin comes from the sin nature, but only when volition consents is the sin committed. Knowingly or unknowingly, man transgresses divine standards because he wills to do so."[7] The First Sin      God is sovereign and permits sin, but is never the author of it. Sin is the expression of a creaturely will that is set against God. The first sin occurred in heaven, by Lucifer, an angel of the class of cherubim.  Scripture reveals that Lucifer “had the seal of perfection, and was full of wisdom and perfect in beauty” (Ezek 28:12). Lucifer personally served in the presence of God (Ezek 28:13-14), until he sinned. God said of him, “You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created until unrighteousness was found in you” (Ezek 28:15). Being the first creature to fall away from God, his sin was purely volitional and self-actuated, as there was no temptation or sin apart from the first sin he committed. And the first sin he committed was a mental attitude sin, as God says of him, “You were internally filled with violence, and you sinned” (Ezek 28:16). Satan’s violence was connected with his pride, as the Lord states, “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor” (Ezek 28:17). Satan is brilliant in mind and appearance, but his pride is his weakness, as it corrupts his ability to reason. And Satan, having an inflated sense of himself, thought he could be God, and sought to usurp the Lord’s place over the creation (Isa 14:12-14). Satan also convinced a third of the angels to follow him in his rebellion (Rev 12:4, 7). Satan operates from a base of power, which takes priority over all else. And he will employ reason to the degree that it accommodates his power; however, if his power is threatened, he will abandon reason and resort to lies, manipulation, and brute force if needed. The Fall of Humanity      Satan’s kingdom of darkness was expanded to include the earth when he persuaded Adam and Eve to follow him rather than God (Gen 3:1-8). The first human sin occurred in the Garden of Eden. God had warned Adam and Eve, saying, “from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die” (Gen 2:17). The warning was that if they disobeyed God, on that very day, they would die. When Satan came into the Garden of Eden, he engaged Eve through discussion, posing a question, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden?’” (Gen 3:1), and after hearing Eve’s reply (Gen 3:2-3), Satan responded, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen 3:4-5). Of course, this was a bold lie, and Eve, rather than trust the Lord, trusted Satan, and “she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate” (Gen 3:6). Adam and Eve experienced spiritual death at the moment they disobeyed God (Gen 3:7). Though both sinned, Adam’s act of disobedience was greater than Eve’s because he was the spiritual head of the marriage, and whereas Eve  was deceived (1 Tim 2:14), Adam was not deceived. Because of Adam’s disobedience, sin and death were introduced into the human race (Gen 3:1-7; Rom 5:12, 18-19; 1 Cor 15:22).      At the time of the fall (Gen 3:1-6), the first humans—God’s theocratic administrators (Gen 1:26-28)—gave Satan the title deed to the earth (Luke 4:6). This explains why Jesus referred to Satan as “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). And other passages of Scripture call Satan “the god of this world” (2 Cor 4:4), and “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph 2:2), informing us “that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). Satan rules by deception, oppression, and enslavement. Scripture reveals he has “weakened the nations” (Isa 14:12), and currently “deceives the whole world” (Rev 12:9; cf. Rev 20:3). And because he is a finite creature, he relies on others—fallen angels and people—to help him advance his kosmos world-system (1 John 2:15-16), a philosophical and moral structure that is inherently and systemically corrupt, hostile to God, and completely opposed to anything divine.      As Christians living in Satan’s world system, who still retain our sinful flesh (Rom 6:6; 13:14; Gal 5:17, 19; Eph 4:22; Col 3:9), we are constantly tempted to sin and act contrary to the character and will of God. The sin we commit may be mental, verbal, or physical. It may be private or public, impacting one or many, with short or lasting results. Below are biblical examples of sin: Adam and Eve disobeyed the command not to eat the fruit from “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Gen 2:15-17; 3:1-7). Lot’s daughters got him drunk and had sex with him (Gen 19:30-38). Aaron led the Israelites to worship an idol (Ex 32:1-6). Moses struck the rock when the Lord told him to speak to it (Num 20:8-12). Samson slept with prostitutes (Judg 16:1-4). David had an affair with Bathsheba and had her husband, Uriah, murdered (2 Sam 11:1-21). Solomon worshiped idols (1 Ki 11:1-10). James and John (nicknamed Boanerges, or “Sons of Thunder”; Mark 3:17) wanted to call fire down from heaven to kill the residents of a Samaritan city (Luke 9:51-55). The mother of James and John requested special treatment for her sons, that they might have a place of prominence seated on thrones to the right and left of Jesus (Matt 20:20-21). This upset the other disciples (Matt 20:24). The disciples argued amongst themselves as to who was greatest in the kingdom (Luke 9:46). Peter tried to prevent Jesus from going to the cross (Matt 16:21-23). Peter publicly denied the Lord three times (Matt 26:34-35; 69-75). The Christians at Corinth engaged in quarrels (1 Cor 1:11), jealousy and strife (1 Cor 3:1-3), fornication (1 Cor. 5:1-2), selfishness and drunkenness (1 Cor 11:21).  Peter engaged in hypocrisy and was publicly rebuked by Paul (Gal. 2:11-14). The Apostle John twice worshipped an angel and was rebuked for it (Rev 19:10; 22:8-9).      The above list is a just a sampling of sins in the Bible. Biblically, every person is a sinner in God’s sight (1 Ki 8:46; Prov 20:9; Isa 53:6; Rom 3:9-10; 23; 5:12, 18-19). Jesus is the single exception. Jesus, because of His divine nature (John 1:1, 14; Col 2:9), and the virgin conception (Isa 7:14; Luke 1:30-35), is the only person ever born without sin and who committed no sin (2 Cor 5:21; Heb 4:15; 1 Pet 2:22; 1 John 3:5). His perfect humanity and sinless life qualified Him to go to the cross and die in our place. Sin separates us from God and renders us helpless to merit God’s approval. We are helpless to solve the sin problem and save ourselves (Rom 5:6-10; Eph 2:1-3). Good works have no saving merit before God (Isa 64:6; Eph 2:8-9; Tit 3:5). We cannot save ourselves any more than we can jump across the Grand Canyon or throw rocks and hit the moon. Sadly, many people buy into the lie that they can help save themselves by doing good works. The biblical teaching is that salvation is never based on good works or adherence to law, but by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone (John 3:16; 14:6; Acts 4:12; 16:31). Scripture states, we are “not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified” (Gal 2:16; cf. Rom 3:20, 28), for “if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly” (Gal 2:21).      According to Norman Geisler, “Sin is the precondition for salvation; salvation isn’t necessary unless there are sinners in need of being saved. As to the origin of salvation, there is universal agreement among orthodox theologians: God is the author of our salvation, for whereas human sin originated with human beings on earth, salvation originated with God in heaven.”[8] And according to Robert Lightner, “The Bible is explicit about the condition of all who have not been born again. They are lost (Luke 19:10), condemned (John 3:18), under God’s wrath (John 3:36), dead in trespasses and sin (Eph 2:1), having no hope, and without God in the world (Eph 2:12), and unrighteous (Rom 1:19-32).”[9] It matters little what people think of themselves. God provides the only true estimation of people, and His Word declares that we are utterly lost in sin and helpless to save ourselves. According to Lewis Chafer: "The greatest problem for the infinite God was to provide the reconciliation of the cross: the greatest problem for man is simply to believe the record in its fulness. To reject the Savior is not only to refuse the gracious love of God, but is to elect, so far as one can do, to remain under the full guilt of every sin as though no Savior had been provided, or no sacrifice had been made. No more terrible sin can be conceived of than the sin of rejecting Christ."[10] Salvation from Sin and its Consequences      Eternal salvation is available to us because Jesus went to the cross and died in our place and bore the punishment that rightfully belongs to us. God is holy, and we are guilty sinners who stand condemned before Him, contaminated by sin and utterly helpless to change our fallen condition (Rom 5:6-8). But God is love (1 John 4:8), and He loves us so much that He sent His Son into the world to pay the sin debt we cannot pay. We’re told that “God sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him” (1 John 4:9). And because of Jesus’ death on the cross, God “canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross” (Col 2:14). Jesus paid our sin debt in full, “For Christ died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet 3:18a). There’s nothing for us to add to Jesus’ work on the cross. The sole condition of salvation is to believe in Christ as our Savior. The good news is that Jesus died for us, was buried, and rose again on the third day (1 Cor 15:3-4). Salvation is not Jesus plus anything we do. It’s Jesus alone. He saves. Our contribution to the cross was sin and death, as Jesus took our sin upon Himself and died in our place. Salvation is never what we do for God; rather, it’s what He’s done for us through the cross of Christ. That’s all. It’s a gift that is received by faith alone in Christ alone, for “the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 6:23). And God’s gift is available to everyone, for “whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). The matter is simple: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). Dr. Steven R. Cook   [1] Ludwig Koehler et al., The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, 305. [2] William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 49. [3] G. Herbert Livingston, “638 חָטָא,” ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 277. [4] Other Hebrew and Greek words related to sin include: evil (רָע ra – Gen 3:5), wicked (רָשָׁע rasha – Prov 15:9), rebel (מָרָה marah – Deut 1:26), transgress (פָּשַׁע pasha – Isa 1:2), iniquity (עָוֹן avon – Isa 53:6), error (שָׁגָה shagah – Lev 4:13), guilt (אָשַׁם asham – Lev 4:22), go astray (תָּעָה taah – Psa 58:3), sin (ἁμαρτία hamartia – 1 Cor 15:3), bad (κακός kakos – Rom 12:17), evil (πονηρός poneros – Matt 7:11), ungodly (ἀσεβής asebes – Rom 4:5), guilty (ἔνοχος enochos – 1 Cor 11:27), unrighteousness (ἀδικία adikia – Rom 1:18), lawless (ἄνομος anomos – 1 Tim 1:9), transgression (παράβασις parabasis – Gal 3:19), ignorance (ἀγνοέω agnoeo – Acts 17:23), go astray (πλανάω planao – 1 Pet 2:25), trespass (παράπτωμα paraptoma – Rom 5:15), and hypocrisy (ὑπόκρισις hupokrisis – 1 Tim 4:2). [5] If there is no God, then there is no absolute standard for right and wrong and we are left with arbitrary laws based on manufactured values. [6] Merrill F. Unger, “Sin,” The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, 1198. [7] Robert B. Thieme, Jr. “Personal Sin”,  Thieme’s Bible Doctrine Dictionary, 196. [8] Norman L. Geisler, Systematic Theology, Volume Three: Sin, Salvation, 181. [9] Robert P. Lightner, Handbook of Evangelical Theology, 188. [10] Lewis Sperry Chafer, Salvation, 52–53.
4/7/20241 hour, 1 minute, 50 seconds
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Soteriology Lesson 41 - Biblical Meaning of Repentance

     In the OT, the word repent translates the Hebrew verb nacham (נָחַם) which commonly means “to comfort…to find consolation, regret…to be sorry, come to regret something…to console oneself.”[1] This speaks of one’s mental attitude, and was used of people (Gen 24:67; 27:42) and God (Gen 6:6; Deut 32:36). However, nacham also means to “change one’s mind,”[2] and was used of the Lord who changed His mind about some action He was going to take. For example, Moses wrote, “So the LORD changed His mind [nacham] about the harm which He said He would do to His people” (Ex 32:14). In this way, nacham corresponds to the Greek word metanoeō (μετανοέω), which means to “change one’s mind.”[3]      The word repent also translates the Hebrew verb shub (שׁוּב), which means to “turn; return, go back…revert; turn back.”[4] The word is used of an Israelite who restores a lost oxen or sheep to a fellow countryman (Deut 22:1-2), or returns a cloak to a poor man (Deut 24:12-13). The word is also used of God’s people responding positively to His discipline and returning to Him in obedience (Deut 30:2-3, 9-10). Sometimes shub and nacham are used together, such as when God told Jeremiah, “if that nation against which I have spoken turns [shub] from its evil, I will relent [nacham] concerning the calamity I planned to bring on it” (Jer 18:8). Jonah recorded something similar concerning the Ninevites, saying, “When God saw their deeds, that they turned [shub] from their wicked way, then God relented [nacham] concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it” (Jonah 3:10). In these passages, repentance is national and refers to a collective change of mind by the leadership and citizenry that leads to a cooperative change in behavior, a turning from evil that spares them God’s wrath. The salvation given to the Ninevites (i.e., Assyrians) was national and temporary. The Assyrians eventually returned to their evil practices and destroyed Israel nearly 37 years later in 722 B.C. This shows that the repentance of one generation is merely the repentance of one generation, and that believing and humble parents does not guarantee believing and humble children. Eventually, God would destroy the Assyrians in 612 B.C. Repentance for the Unsaved      For the unsaved who are destined for the lake of fire, repentance is necessary concerning salvation if one understands it to mean having a change of mind that salvation is obtained solely in Christ. Unbelievers cannot stop sinning, which means they cannot save themselves, and their good works have no saving merit (Isa 64:6; Gal 2:16; Eph 2:8-9; Tit 3:5). The lost need to understand that salvation is 100% in Christ alone. Peter said, “there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). And when the Philippian Jailer asked Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30), the simple reply was given, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). The gospel is simple. It means believing in the One who died for our sins, was buried, and raised again on the third day, as Scripture teaches (1 Cor 15:3-4). And salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone (John 3:16), and not by any human effort (Eph 2:8-9; Tit 3:5), for “the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness” (Rom 4:5). For Christians, turning from a life of sin and producing good works should follow salvation (Eph 2:10; Gal 6:10), but they are never a condition of it. Arnold Fruchtenbaum states, “When the term ‘repentance’ is used as a synonym for faith…it is a condition for salvation. For example, one has to change one’s mind about who the Messiah is in order to be saved. So if repentance is meant as a synonym for belief, then yes, repentance is necessary for salvation.”[5] Robert B. Thieme Jr., states, “Salvation repentance occurs when the unbeliever hears the Gospel, understands it, and makes a decision to accept Christ’s saving work (Luke 13:3, 5; Acts 17:30; 2 Pet 3:9). Believing in the Gospel message and repenting inherently operate together (Acts 20:21; Mark 1:14–15).”[6] According to Charles Ryrie: "Is repentance a condition for receiving eternal life? Yes, if it is repentance or changing one’s mind about Jesus Christ. No, if it means to be sorry for sin or even to resolve to turn from sin, for these things will not save. Is repentance of sin a precondition to faith? No, though a sense of sin and the desire to turn from it may be used by the Spirit to direct someone to the Savior and His salvation. Repentance may prepare the way for faith, but it is faith that saves, not repentance (unless repentance is understood as a synonym for faith or changing one’s mind about Christ)."[7]      When people hear God’s Word accurately taught, it challenges them to change their mind about God and themselves. Paul, when speaking to the elders of the church at Ephesus spoke of “testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21). Concerning this verse, J. Dwight Pentecost notes, “A change of attitude toward the revealed truth of God that produced a faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ was the substance of Paul’s teaching there before the Ephesian elders.”[8] Should Fruit Follow in a New Believer?      Should we expect to see a change in one’s values and behavior after being born again? Yes. We should expect to see a change in behavior. John the Baptist told his hearers, “Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matt 3:8). And Paul’s message to the Gentiles was “that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance” (Acts 26:20). Ryrie notes, “Certainly when one changes his mind about Christ and receives Him as Savior, changes will follow in his life. All believers will bear fruit, so changes will follow.”[9] Zane Hodges states: "Of course, there is every reason to believe that there will be good works in the life of each believer in Christ. The idea that one may believe in Him and live for years totally unaffected by the amazing miracle of regeneration, or by the instruction and/or discipline of God his heavenly Father, is a fantastic notion—even bizarre. I reject it categorically."[10]      Such fruit in the life of believers assumes positive volition and takes time. Sometimes the fruit of the new life is invisible to others, as God works in the hearts of His children to lead them into right thinking and values that conform to His character and directives. Sometimes fruit is invisible, being merely a mental activity (Rom 12:1-2), in which believers know certain things to be true based on God’s revelation, such as God being the One who created the universe (Gen 1:1), or claiming promises that stabilize the soul in the midst of adversity (Isa 26:3; Phil 4:6-9). Other times fruit is visible, such as when believers act in conformity with God’s directives, speaking the truth in love (Eph 4:15), learning God’s Word (2 Tim 2:15; 3:16-17), walking by faith (2 Cor 5:7; Heb 10:38), and advancing to spiritual maturity (Heb 6:1). When believers operate in carnality, this will produce sin and make them indistinguishable from unbelievers (Col 3:1-3), as they produce the fruit of the flesh (Gal 5:16-21). If such believers fail to confess their sin (1 John 1:9) and resume their walk with the Lord (Gal 5:16), they will fall into divine discipline (Heb 12:6), suffer loss of reward (1 Cor 3:10-15; 2 John 1:8), and may even die the sin unto death (1 Cor 11:30; 1 John 5:16). Repentance for God’s Children      God commands His people to walk in His righteous ways, obeying Him and doing His will. A command implies intelligence to understand and volition to obey. It also implies that one has the capacity to refuse the command and turn away from God’s will. It is possible for a righteous person to turn to a life of iniquity. Ezekiel warned about this on several occasions, saying, “When the righteous turns [shub] from his righteousness and commits iniquity, then he shall die in it” (Ezek 33:18; cf., Ezek 3:20, 18:24, 26). The Hebrew verb shub (שׁוּב), translated turn, here refers to the believer who “turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity” (Ezek 33:18a). That is, the believer changes his mind about living righteously and decides to pursue sin. The prophet warns that the righteous who turn to a lifestyle of iniquity will face God’s punishment, perhaps even to the point of death, saying, “he shall die in it” (Ezek 33:18b).      Repentance is also used of Christians who are operating in a state of carnality and walking according to Satan’s world system. For example, the Christians living in Ephesus were commanded by the Lord Jesus, “remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first” (Rev 2:5). Failure for Christians to repent of their carnality means they are subject to divine discipline. The Lord Jesus told Christians in Laodicea, “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent” (Rev 3:19). In these cases, repentance means prioritizing God and His Word and submitting to His authority and pursuing a life of righteousness as God expects. The believer who does this will be devoted to learning Scripture (2 Tim 2:15; 1 Pet 2:2), walking by faith (2 Cor 5:7; Heb 10:38), being filled with the Spirit (Eph 5:18), walking in the Spirit (Gal 5:16), and will manifest the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23), secure rewards for eternity (1 Cor 3:10-15; 2 John 1:8), be a blessing to others (Matt 5:16; Gal 6:10), and glorify the Lord (1 Cor 10:31; 2 Cor 9:13). This is how believers should live. Does Sorrow Accompany Repentance?      Is there sorrow that leads to repentance? Yes, there can be true sorrow that leads to repentance. In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul said, “the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death” (2 Cor 7:10). Though sorrow may lead to repentance, it does not always do so, as “the sorrow of the world produces death” and not salvation (2 Cor 7:10b). That is, one may be sorrowful, and yet never turn to Christ. Judas, when he betrayed Christ, “felt remorse” for his actions (Matt 27:3), and then “went away and hanged himself” (Matt 27:5). Fruchtenbaum notes, “Sorrow may accompany repentance, but the word itself does not mean ‘sorrow.’ It simply means ‘to change one’s mind’ (Acts 8:22; 11:18; 20:21; 26:20; Heb 6:1, 6; 12:17; Rev 9:20).”[11] He further states, “If repentance is used merely as a synonym for believing in the Messiah—the way the Bible uses it—only in that sense is it truly a condition for salvation. But if—as some groups use it—repentance means ‘to feel sorry for one’s sins,’ then it indeed becomes a false addition to salvation.”[12] Concerning 2 Corinthians 7:10, Lewis Chafer states: "The common practice of reading into this word the thought of sorrow and heart-anguish is responsible for much confusion in the field of Soteriology. There is no reason why sorrow should not accompany repentance or lead on to repentance, but the sorrow, whatever it may be, is not repentance. In 2 Corinthians 7:10, it is said that “godly sorrow worketh repentance,” that is, it leads on to repentance; but the sorrow is not to be mistaken for the change of mind which it may serve to produce."[13] Dwight Pentecost adds: "You will observe from that verse that sorrow and repentance are not the same at all. Sorrow does its work, and when sorrow has done its work the product of sorrow is repentance and the product of the change of mind is salvation. The Apostle, then, has set up a progression: sorrow, repentance, and salvation. But the sorrow is not repentance, and the repentance is not salvation…Such a sorrow is not repentance, and we will miss the important teaching of the Word of God unless we are clear on the Scriptural concept that, in the Word of God, repentance is a change of mind."[14]      Repentance (a change of mind) and faith are like two sides of the same coin where one assumes the other. Lewis Chafer states, “It is asserted that repentance, which is a change of mind, enters of necessity into the very act of believing on Christ, since one cannot turn to Christ from other objects of confidence without that change of mind.”[15]Charles Ryrie adds: "What kind of repentance saves? Not a sorrow for sins or even a sorrow that results in a cleaning up of one’s life. People who reform have repented; that is, they have changed their minds about their past lives, but that kind of repentance, albeit genuine, does not of itself save them. The only kind of repentance that saves is a change of mind about Jesus Christ. People can weep; people can resolve to turn from their past sins; but those things in themselves cannot save. The only kind of repentance that saves anyone, anywhere, anytime is a change of mind about Jesus Christ."[16] Joseph Dillow notes: "Is repentance necessary for personal salvation? It depends upon what one means by “repentance.” If it means turn from sin and submit to the Lordship of Christ, it is not necessary. But…if repentance means to admit that one is guilty and needs a Savior from sin, of course repentance is necessary. This is clearly taught in the Gospel of John (John 16:8-9) where we are told that the Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin. That means He brings them to a sense that they are wrong, they are guilty, and they need a Savior. That is repentance. No one comes to the Lamb of God who takes away sin (John 1:29), if he is not convinced that he is guilty and needs a Savior to take away his sin."[17]      In summary, the term “repent” is derived from the Hebrew word “nacham” and the Greek word “metanoeō,” both meaning “to change one’s mind.” The term is employed both of people (Ex 13:17) and God (Ex 32:14; Jonah 3:10). Repentance, in the context of salvation, signifies a shift in mindset that recognizes Christ as the sole means of salvation. This understanding aligns with the gospel message of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, and not by works (Rom 4:4-5; Gal 2:16; Eph 2:8-9). Repentance in salvation entails a recognition that God is holy, we are sinful, we cannot save ourselves, and we need a Savior. When one repents, they will believe the gospel message that Christ died for their sins, was buried, and resurrected on the third day (1 Cor 15:3-4), and will  trust in Christ alone as their Savior (Acts 4:12; 16:31). Dr. Steven R. Cook   [1] Ludwig Koehler et al., The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, 688–689. [2] William D. Mounce, Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words, 993. [3] William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 640. [4] Willem VanGemeren, ed., New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology & Exegesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1997), 55. [5] Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Faith Alone: The Condition of Our Salvation: An Exposition of the Book of Galatians and Other Relevant Topics, ed. Christiane Jurik, Second Edition. (San Antonio, TX: Ariel Ministries, 2016), 91. [6] Robert B. Thieme, Jr. “Repentance”, Thieme’s Bible Doctrine Dictionary, 218. [7] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, So Great Salvation: What It Means to Believe in Jesus Christ (Chicago: Moody Press, 1997), 89–90. [8] J. Dwight Pentecost, Things Which Become Sound Doctrine, 64. [9] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, So Great Salvation: What It Means to Believe in Jesus Christ, 89. [10] Zane C. Hodges, A Free Grace Primer: The Hungry Inherit, The Gospel Under Siege, Grace in Eclipse, ed. Robert N. Wilkin (Denton, TX: Grace Evangelical Society, 2011), 274. [11] Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Faith Alone: The Condition of Our Salvation: An Exposition of the Book of Galatians and Other Relevant Topics, 92. [12] Ibid., 92. [13] Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, 372. [14] J. Dwight Pentecost, Things Which Become Sound Doctrine, 63. [15] Ibid., 378. [16] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, So Great Salvation, 85. [17] Joseph C. Dillow, Final Destiny: The Future Reign of the Servant Kings.
3/31/20241 hour, 19 minutes, 40 seconds
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Soteriology Lesson 40 - Reconciliation with God & Redemption of Christ

Reconciliation      Atonement for sins is the basis for reconciliation, because God has judged our sins in the Person of Christ who died on the cross in our place. The death of Christ has forever satisfied God’s righteous demands for our sin and it is on this basis that He can accept sinners before His throne of grace. Paul wrote, “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation” (Rom 5:10-11). And, “Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (2 Cor 5:18-19). In both of these passages on reconciliation, Paul employs the Greek verb katallassō (καταλλάσσω), and the noun katallage (καταλλαγή) which, according to Louw-Nida, means “to reconcile, to make things right with one another, reconciliation.”[1] But this reconciliation does not bring Him down to us, as though God is reconciled to the world. Rather, it means God has changed us, so that we are reconciled to Him, and this through the death of His Son, Jesus, Who bore our sin on the cross (Rom 5:8; 1 Cor 15:3-4) and gives us His righteousness as a gift at the moment we trust in Christ as our Savior (Rom 5:17; 2 Cor 5:21; Phil 3:9). According to G.W. Bromiley: "God is neither reconciled to the world, nor does He reconcile Himself to it. He reconciles the world to Himself (2 Cor 5:19). He loves us even while we are sinners, offering His Son so that we might be forgiven and saved from His wrath (Rom 5:8-10). But God Himself does not change. While He remains implacably opposed to sin, nevertheless, He does not abandon His love for sinners. Instead, He acts to bring about their reconciliation according to an eternal purpose."[2] Paul Enns adds: "God is the one who initiated this change or reconciliation; He moved to reconcile sinful man to Himself (2 Cor 5:18, 19). On the other hand, man is the object of reconciliation. It was man who had moved out of fellowship with God; therefore, man needed to be restored. This reconciliation has been provided for the whole world, but it is effective only when it is received by personal faith."[3]      Because Jesus’ death satisfies God’s righteousness demands for sin, sinners can approach God who welcomes them in love. God has cleared the way for sinners to come to Him for a new relationship, and this is based completely on the substitutionary work of Christ. God has done everything to reconcile us to Himself. The sin debt that we owed to God has been paid in full by the blood of Christ. Paul Enns states: "The emphasis of reconciliation is that of making peace with God. Man who was estranged from God is brought into communion with God. Sin had created a barrier between man and God and rendered man hostile toward God (Isa 59:1-2; Col 1:21, 22; Jam 4:4). Through Christ that enmity and the wrath of God was removed (Rom 5:10). Reconciliation may thus be defined as “God removing the barrier of sin, producing peace and enabling man to be saved.”[4]      There are two aspects of God’s reconciliation. The first is objective and is referred to as provisional reconciliation in which God, through the work of Jesus on the cross, makes humanity savable by means of His judgment of sin in Christ. This means God has removed the barrier that alienated us from Him. The second is subjective and is referred to as experimental reconciliation in which lost sinners are brought into a relationship with God when they believe in Christ as their Savior. They are, at that moment, reconciled to God. According to Robert Lightner, “Because of sin in Adam the entire human race is out of balance, at odds with God. Christ reconciled the world to himself, but each individual must appropriate that work before it benefits him (2 Cor 5:18).”[5] Merrill F. Unger states: "By the death of Christ the world is changed in its relationship to God. Man is reconciled to God, but God is not said to be reconciled to man. By this change lost humanity is rendered savable. As a result of the changed position of the world through the death of Christ the divine attitude toward the human family can no longer be the same. God is enabled to deal with lost souls in the light of what Christ has accomplished…When an individual sees and trusts in the value of Christ’s atoning death, he becomes reconciled to God, hostility is removed, friendship and fellowship eventuate."[6]      For those of us who have trusted Christ as our Savior, we have the privilege of sharing the gospel of grace with others, that they too might trust in Jesus as their Savior and be reconciled to God. Paul wrote that God “has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Cor 5:19b-20). When we come by faith alone in Christ alone, we are fully reconciled to God.   Redemption      Redemption means a price has been paid by one person to liberate another. The Greek words lutroō (λυτρόω), lutron (λύτρον), antilutron (ἀντίλυτρον), and apolutrōsis (ἀπολύτρωσις) are used by NT writers to communicate the truth that Jesus purchased our freedom from the slave-market of sin by means of His sacrificial death on the cross. In the NT, this word group occurs 21 times and apolutrōsis (ἀπολύτρωσις) accounts for roughly half of those uses. Jesus said, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom [lutron] for many” (Mark 10:45). Here, the Greek word lutron refers to “price of release, ransom.”[7]Prior to faith in Christ, we were held captive in Satan’s slave-market of sin, but Christ released us by His shed blood. Paul states, “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption [apolutrōsis], the forgiveness of sins” (Col 1:13-14). And, “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom [antilutron] for all, the testimony given at the proper time” (1 Tim 2:5-6). Paul wrote, “In Him we have redemption [apolutrōsis] through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph 1:7). According to BDAG, the Greek word apolutrosis (ἀπολύτρωσις) originally referred to “buying back a slave or captive, i.e. making free by payment of a ransom.”[8] Hoehner notes, “The NT usage of ἀπολύτρωσις refers to one set free on the basis of a ransom paid to God by Christ’s death.”[9] According to Paul Enns, “The word is used to describe the believer being purchased out of the slave market of sin and set free from sin’s bondage. The purchase price for the believer’s freedom and release from sin was the death of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 6:20; 7:23; Rev 5:9; 14:3, 4).”[10] The whole idea of redemption implies antecedent slavery. A slave could obtain freedom if redeemed by a free person. All humanity is enslaved to sin, Jesus being the sole exception, as He was sinless (2 Cor 5:21; Heb 4:15; 1 Pet 2:22; 1 John 3:5). Since Jesus was free from sin, He was able to purchase our freedom and liberate us from our bondage to Satan and sin (Acts 26:18; Col 1:13-14). Merrill Unger states: "Redemption from this bondage is represented in the Scriptures as both universal and limited. It is universal in the sense that its advantages are freely offered to all. It is limited in the sense that it is effectual only with respect to those who meet the conditions of salvation announced in the gospel. For such it is effectual in that they receive forgiveness of sins and the power to lead a new and holy life. Satan is no longer their captor, and death has lost its sting and terror. They look forward to the redemption of the body (see Heb 2:9; Acts 3:19; Eph 1:7; Acts 26:18; 2 Tim 2:26; 1 Cor 15:55–57; Rom 8:15–23)."[11]      Biblically, we observe that God’s forgiveness is not arbitrary, as though He simply releases someone from their sin-debt without any payment for the offenses that were committed. Nor was the payment for sin made by us, as though we had something of worth to give to God. Peter states, “you were not redeemed [lutroō] with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (1 Pet 1:18-19). God’s forgiveness was made possible by the blood of Christ, which refers to His sacrificial atoning death on the cross where He died in our place, where “Christ died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet 3:18). And the blood of Christ is the only coin of the heavenly realm that the Father accepts as payment for our sin debt. Lightner states, “The means of redemption from sin in Scripture is always through the shed blood of Christ, and is therefore related to his death (Gal 3:13; Eph 1:7; Col 1:14; Heb 9:12, 15; 1 Pet 1:18–19; Rev 5:9). His sinless life demonstrated his qualification to be the sin-bearer. One flaw in his character would have disqualified him.”[12] Harold Hoehner notes: "The OT writings very carefully indicated that the shedding of blood was involved in sacrifice. Sacrificial animals were not killed by strangulation. The shedding of blood is necessary (Lev 17:11; Eph 2:13; 1 Pet 1:19) for without it there is no forgiveness of sins (Heb 9:22), and Paul makes it clear that God has been propitiated in Christ’s redemption, which was in connection with his blood (Rom 3:24–25), and that one is justified by means of Christ’s blood (Rom 5:9). Therefore, the ransom price in connection with deliverance was the sacrificial death of Christ."[13]      Jesus paid our sin debt while He was on the cross dying in our place. But in some mysterious way, we who have believed in Christ as our Savior, are said to have been “crucified with Him” (Rom 6:6) and “died with Christ” (Rom 6:8; cf., 2 Tim 2:11). From the divine perspective (which encompasses all time and space), God the Father sees us dying with Christ while He was on the cross. Dr. Steven R. Cook   ___ [1] Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, 501. [2] G. W. Bromiley, “Reconcile; Reconciliation,” The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised, 55. [3] Paul P. Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology, 324. [4] Ibid., 324. [5] Robert P. Lightner, Handbook of Evangelical Theology, 195. [6] Merrill F. Unger, “Reconciliation,” The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, 1067. [7] William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 605. [8] Ibid., 117. [9] Harold W. Hoehner, Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary, 206. [10] Paul P. Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology, 323. [11] E. McChesney, “Redemption,” The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, 1069. [12] Robert P. Lightner, Handbook of Evangelical Theology, 195. [13] Harold W. Hoehner, Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary, 207.
3/24/20241 hour, 14 minutes, 37 seconds
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Soteriology Lesson 39 - Penal Substitution & Propitiation for Sins

Penal Substitution      Penal substitution is the idea that Jesus bore the penalty for our sins on the cross. He was judged in our place and bore the wrath of God that rightfully belongs to us. The record of Scripture is that “He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed” (Isa 53:5), and “the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him” (Isa 53:6), for “by His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities” (Isa 53:11), and “the LORD was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering” (Isa 53:10a). Jesus is presented in the NT as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). We’re also told that God “made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf” (2 Cor 5:21), and that “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us” (Gal 3:13), and that “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross” (1 Pet 2:24). In this way, the sins of all humanity were imputed to Christ while He was on the cross, suffering as our substitute. And we must always remember that the sacrifice of Christ was purely voluntary, as He said, “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep” (John 10:11), and “No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative” (John 10:18). And Jesus has “been offered once to bear the sins of many” (Heb 9:28), and “Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust” (1 Pet 3:18).      Louis Berkhof states, “The Bible certainly teaches that the sufferings and death of Christ were vicarious, and vicarious in the strict sense of the word that He took the place of sinners, and that their guilt was imputed, and their punishment transferred, to Him.”[1] And Charles Ryrie adds, “Only the substitutionary death of Christ can provide that which God’s justice demands and thereby become the basis for the gift of eternal life to those who believe.”[2] And according to Lewis Chafer, “The doctrine of satisfaction embodies the conception of Christ’s death, that it was a penal substitution which had the objective purpose of providing a just and righteous ground for God to remit the sins of those for whom Christ died.”[3] John Walvoord agrees, saying: "This point of view, variously described as vicarious or penal, holds that the atonement is objectively directed toward God and the satisfaction of His holy character and demands upon the sinner. It is vicarious in the sense that Christ is the Substitute who bears the punishment rightly due sinners, their guilt being imputed to Him in such a way that He representatively bore their punishment. This is in keeping with the general idea of sacrifices in the Old Testament and is explicitly taught in the New Testament (see John 1:29; 2 Cor 5:21; Gal 3:13; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 2:24)."[4] Robert B. Thieme, Jr. states: "The punishment incurred by Adam when he sinned—spiritual death—is passed down to the entire human race. Everyone is born under this penalty of sin, hopelessly in debt to God. The debt has been paid by the perfect humanity of Christ, whose substitutionary spiritual death on the cross “canceled out the certificate of debt” (Col 2:14). Man now stands free to accept Jesus Christ and receive the gift of an eternal relationship with God."[5]      What’s unique about Jesus is that He is both our High Priest as well as the sacrifice for our sins. In the OT, priests would offer animals to die as the sacrifice, but Jesus offered “Himself as a guilt offering” (Isa 53:10) in order to take away sins. The writer to the Hebrews states, “Christ appeared as a high priest” (Heb 9:11), and this in order “to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Heb 9:26), and this was a once-for-all sacrifice, as He “offered one sacrifice for sins for all time” (Heb 10:12).      Sin is the breaking of God’s law, for “Everyone who commits sin also breaks the law; sin is the breaking of law” (1 John 3:4 CSB). The penalty for breaking God’s law is death, for “the wages of sin is death” (Rom 6:23). Jesus took our sins upon Himself and “bore our sins in His body on the cross” (1 Pet 2:24), and He “died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet 3:18). And He died for the sins of everyone, for “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). Though Christ died for everyone, the benefits of the cross are applied only to those who believe, and “everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins” (Acts 10:43; Eph 1:7). Additionally, we receive “the gift of righteousness” (Rom 5:17), and “eternal life” (John 10:28). At the moment of faith in Christ, we are “justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Rom 3:24).   Propitiation      Jesus’ death on the cross was a satisfactory sacrifice to God which completely paid the price for our sin. We owed a debt to God that we could never pay, and Jesus paid that debt in full when He died on the cross and bore the punishment that rightfully belonged to us. In Romans, Paul states that we “are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith (Rom 3:24-25a ESV). Here, Paul used the Greek word hilasterion (ἱλαστήριον)—translated propitiation—to show that Jesus’ shed blood completely satisfied God’s righteous demands toward our sin, with the result that there is nothing more for the sinner to pay to God. Jesus paid our sin-debt in full. The Apostle John tells us “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world” (1 John 2:2; cf., 4:10). Jesus’ death on the cross forever satisfied God’s righteous demands toward the sins of everyone for all time! God has “canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross” (Col 2:14). Regarding Christ’s death, J. Dwight Pentecost states: "You can be adjusted to God’s standard, because God made Christ to become sin for us. The One who knew no sin, the One in whose lips had never been found guile, took upon Himself our sin in order that He might bear our sins to the cross and offer Himself as an acceptable substitute to God for us—on our behalf, in our place. And when Jesus Christ identified Himself with sinners and went to the cross on their behalf and in their place, He was making possible the doctrine of reconciliation. He was making it possible for God to conform the world to Himself, to adjust the world to His standard so that sinners in the world might find salvation because “Jesus paid it all.” You can be adjusted to God, to God’s standard, through Christ, by His death, by His cross, by His blood, and by His identification with sinners."[6] John Walvoord adds: "The work of Christ in salvation has still another major aspect of what is called in the Bible “propitiation,” “the sacrifice of atonement,” or satisfying God’s righteous demands or judgment upon a sinner. Illustrations of this can be found in Romans 3:25 and 1 John 2:2; 4:10. The idea of propitiation is that God as a righteous God must demand punishment for those who sin against Him. Christ in His death on the cross provided propitiation, atonement, or satisfaction of that claim, so that God is fully satisfied now in saving a person who does not deserve to be saved."[7] Robert Lightner states: "The death of Christ satisfied the righteous demands of God the Father. Because of sin His holiness had been offended, and only a sinless sacrifice could meet His righteous demands. Jesus Christ the Righteous One provided in Himself the perfect sacrifice. Paul set forth Christ as the propitiation for the remission of sins (Rom 3:25). Because of the blood He shed Christ provided in Himself the appointed place where a holy God could meet sinful man. Christ is now our place of meeting—our mercy seat (cf. 1 John 2:2; 4:10). The need for propitiation stems from the sin of man and the holiness of God. It is man who needs to be reinstated or reconciled with God. God’s holiness and righteous demands remain unchanged. Since there must be a basis upon which God may receive sinners, satisfaction must be made for sin: propitiation provided just such a basis through the death of Christ."[8] Paul Enns states: "Propitiation means that the death of Christ fully satisfied all the righteous demands of God toward the sinner. Because God is holy and righteous He cannot overlook sin; through the work of Jesus Christ God is fully satisfied that His righteous standard has been met. Through union with Christ the believer can now be accepted by God and be spared from the wrath of God."[9]      There are several concepts at work in the doctrine of propitiation. First, God is holy which means He is completely set apart from sin and cannot look on wickedness with favor. The Scripture states, “Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, and You cannot look on wickedness with favor” (Hab 1:13), and “This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). Because all mankind is marked by sin, we are all in danger of the fires of hell, unless we turn to Christ as our Savior. Second, God made a way for His righteousness to be satisfied, and this through the cross of Christ. As Christians, we “are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith” (Rom 3:24-25a ESV). And John tells us “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 2:2a; cf., 4:10). God is forever satisfied with the death of Christ. Third, the wrath of God is removed because Jesus was judged in our place and bore the punishment that rightfully belongs to us. Paul wrote, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him” (Rom 5:8-9). Dr. Steven R. Cook     ___ [1] Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 376. [2] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Basic Theology, 357. [3] Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, vol. 3, 143. [4] John F. Walvoord, Jesus Christ Our Lord, 157. [5] Robert B. Thieme, Jr. “Barrier”, Thieme’s Bible Doctrine Dictionary, 22. [6] J. Dwight Pentecost, Things Which Become Sound Doctrine, 89. [7] John F. Walvoord, What We Believe (Galaxie Software, 2007), 76. [8] Robert P. Lightner, Handbook of Evangelical Theology, 195. [9] Paul P. Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology, 325.
3/17/20241 hour, 4 minutes, 29 seconds
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Soteriology Lesson 38 - The Love of God that Saves

     Love is an intrinsic attribute of God that motivated Him to reach into time and space and offer salvation to lost sinners who have offended Him. This was a voluntary act of love on the part of God, as He was in no way compelled to act. But He did act for our benefit, and this is most pronounced in the sending of His Son to die for us. In Scripture, we are told, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Here, the apostle John used the Greek verb agapao (ἀγαπάω), which speaks of God’s love for lost sinners, and His love was manifest toward us by providing His uniquely born Son as an atoning sacrifice for sin so that we might not spend eternity in the lake of fire. Instead, we might believe in His Son and come to possess eternal life. Love here is universal, extending to all of humanity. It is gracious because the object is undeserving (Rom 5:8). It is giving, as God gave His precious Son to die for us. It is simple, being received by faith alone in Christ alone (Acts 4:12; Eph 2:8-9). And it is salvific, saving those who accept God’s Son as their Savior (John 1:12; Gal 3:26).      However, when referring to people possessed with negative volition, agapao (ἀγαπάω) becomes a commitment to that which is evil. John wrote, “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved [agapao] the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). And, he wrote of weak believers who “loved [agapao] the approval of men rather than the approval of God” (John 12:43). In both these passages, agapao denotes a commitment to that which is selfish and sinful. This commitment to evil finds similar usage in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew OT, ca. 250 BC), where agapao is used of Samson who loved a prostitute (Judg 16:4), and Solomon who loved the wives that turned his heart away from the Lord (1 Ki 11:2). It is said that unbelievers “do not have the love of God” within them” (John 5:42). Their love is a commitment to self-interest and sin, which is characteristic of the world’s love. And Christians are warned, “Do not love the world nor the things in the world” (1 John 2:15), which shows that born again believers have the capacity to love that which is contrary to God.      But God, being holy, righteous, and good, cannot love anything contrary to His nature. And because God is immutable (Mal 3:6), His love never changes. This means He does not love us more at one moment and less at another. When God loves us, it means He desires our best, and that He is committed to our wellbeing and spiritual growth. Sometimes this means comforting us (2 Cor 1:3-4), but other times it means discipling us (Heb 12:6). His love is always perfect. Robert B. Thieme, Jr., states: "Divine love, like every other attribute of God, is eternal, unchanging, and unfailing (1 Ch 16:34; Psa 57:10; 136). Even God’s complete knowledge of the sins and failures of His creatures cannot disappoint, frustrate, or diminish His love. God’s love can never be compromised, for it is governed by His perfect integrity (Psa 89:14a; Jer 9:24). Infinitely superior to human love, divine love always functions in a rational manner, free from emotion and sentimentality (Ex 34:6; Psa 86:15; Eph 2:4)."[1]      God is interested in saving lost sinners because He loves them and wants what is best for them. In John 3:16, love is seen as that beneficial act of God, borne out of His eternal attribute of love, whereby He seeks to save lost sinners by directing them to Christ as their Savior. God’s love is based entirely on His character and not in the beauty or worth of the object. The apostle Paul wrote, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). According to W. E. Vine, “In respect of agapao as used of God, it expresses the deep and constant ‘love’ and interest of a perfect Being towards entirely unworthy objects.”[2] And Christopher A. Beetham notes, "God is essentially love (1 John 4:8), and His purpose right from the beginning has been one of love. The love of the Father for the Son is therefore the archetype of all love. This fact is made visible in the sending and self-sacrifice of the Son (John 3:16; 1 John 3:1, 16) …God’s primary purpose for the world is His compassionate and forgiving love, which asserts itself despite the world’s hostile rejection of it.”[3]      The apostle John wrote, “By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:9-10). Our salvation was not earned by anything we did, but rather, by the love He showed to us by sending His Son to be the satisfying sacrifice for our sins. W. E. Vine states, “God’s love is seen in the gift of His Son (1 John 4:9-10). But obviously this is not the love of complacency, or affection, that is, it was not drawn out by any excellency in its objects (Rom 5:8). It was an exercise of the divine will in deliberate choice, made without assignable cause save that which lies in the nature of God Himself.”[4] God loves because of who He is, as it is natural for Him to love, for “God is love” (1 John 4:16). Geisler states, “The Bible says that ‘God is love’ (1 John 4:16). If love is defined as ‘that which wills the good of its object,’ then God is good.”[5] The Christian Application of Love      God’s love can be experienced in the heart of believers and can, in turn, manifest itself toward others in a similar way. Lewis Chafer wrote, “A human heart cannot produce divine love, but it can experience it. To have a heart that feels the compassion of God is to drink of the wine of heaven.”[6] The apostle John wrote, “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16). As Christians, we are called to manifest love in its ideal form. Paul described this love, saying, “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails” (1 Co 13:4-8a). Paul directs Christian husbands to look to Christ as their role model for love, saying, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (Eph 5:25). This means he sacrifices himself for her, always seeking her best interests, helping to lead her into God’s will, and showing “her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life” (1 Pet 3:7).      Christians should be marked by love for each other, which is predicated on the love of Christ. Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35). And love should be shown even to our enemies. Jesus said, “I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matt 5:44-45). Here, love is not an emotion, but a commitment to love others graciously, as God loves us, and to manifest that love by seeking their best interests (through prayer, sharing the gospel, helping to meet their needs, etc.).      Love should be shown to Israel, God’s chosen people. God Himself loves Israel, declaring, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness” (Jer 31:3). God is eternal, and His love is eternal, which means it never fades for His people, Israel. To possess the love of God is to love that which He loves. One cannot claim to have God’s love, and simultaneously hate Israel, His chosen people. There is no place for anti-Semitism in the heart of anyone, especially the Christian! According to Lewis S. Chafer, “When the Christian loves with a divine compassion he will acknowledge what God loves. Therefore, he too must love Israel.”[7]      We also display God’s love for the lost by sharing the gospel of grace, with the hope and prayer that they will believe in Christ as their Savior and have forgiveness of sins (Acts 10:43; Eph 1:7), and eternal life (John 3:16; 10:28). We demonstrate God’s love for other Christians when we give of our resources to help meet their needs. John wrote, “whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth” (1 John 3:17-18). And we display love for others by praying for them (2 Th 1:11), doing good (Gal 6:10), encouraging them (1 Th 5:11), and helping them in their walk of faith (Col 2:5-7). Dr. Steven R. Cook --     [1] Robert B. Thieme, Jr. “Essence of God”, Thieme’s Bible Doctrine Dictionary, 87. [2] W. E. Vine, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 382. [3] Christopher A. Beetham, ed., “Ἀγαπάω,” Concise New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis, Vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic, 2021), 111. [4] W. E. Vine, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 381–382. [5] Norman L. Geisler, Systematic Theology, Volume Three: Sin, Salvation, 111. [6] Lewis Sperry Chafer, He That Is Spiritual (Moody Press: Chicago, 1918), 41. [7]Lewis S. Chafer, “Israel” in Systematic Theology, Vol. 7 (Grand Rapids, MI., Kregel Publications, 1993), 206.
3/10/202459 minutes, 12 seconds
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Soteriology Lesson 37 - Justification Before God

     At the moment of faith in Christ, God’s righteousness is gifted to the believer (Rom 5:17; cf. 2 Cor 5:21; Phil 3:9), and he is at once made right with God and declared just in His sight. Divine justification is not by human works at all, “for there is none righteous, not even one” (Rom 3:10), “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). Rather, Paul reveals we are “justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Rom 3:24). Like our spiritual birth, justification is a one-and-done event, perfect in itself, not to be confused with our experiential sanctification, which occurs over time. According to Norman Geisler, “Justification is an instantaneous, past act of God by which one is saved from the guilt of sin—his record is cleared and he is guiltless before the Judge” (Rom 8:1).”[1] And Charles Bing states, “Justification is the act of God that declares a sinner righteous in God’s sight. It is a legal term that speaks of one’s right standing in God’s court of justice.”[2]      Being justified in God’s sight is by faith alone and not by any human works, for “by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight” (Rom 3:20a). Rather, “to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness” (Rom 4:5), for “a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified” (Gal 2:16).[3] J. I. Packer states: "Justification is a judicial act of God pardoning sinners (wicked and ungodly persons, Rom 3:9–24; 4:5), accepting them as just, and so putting permanently right their previously estranged relationship with himself. This justifying sentence is God’s gift of righteousness (Rom 5:15–17), his bestowal of a status of acceptance for Jesus’ sake (2 Cor 5:21)."[4] Louis Berkhof agrees, stating: "Justification is a judicial act of God, in which He declares, on the basis of the righteousness of Jesus Christ, that all the claims of the law are satisfied with respect to the sinner. It is unique in the application of the work of redemption in that it is a judicial act of God, a declaration respecting the sinner, and not an act or process of renewal, such as regeneration, conversion, and sanctification. While it has respect to the sinner, it does not change his inner life. It does not affect his condition, but his state."[5] Merrill F. Unger adds: "Justification is a divine act whereby an infinitely Holy God judicially declares a believing sinner to be righteous and acceptable before Him because Christ has borne the sinner’s sin on the cross and has become “to us … righteousness” (1 Cor 1:30; Rom 3:24). A justified believer emerges from God’s great courtroom with a consciousness that another, his Substitute, has borne his guilt and that he stands without accusation before God (Rom 8:1, 33–34)."[6] Paul Enns states: Whereas forgiveness is the negative side of salvation, justification is the positive side. To justify is to declare righteous the one who has faith in Jesus Christ. It is a forensic (legal) act of God whereby He declares the believing sinner righteous on the basis of the blood of Christ. The major emphasis of justification is positive and involves two main aspects. It involves the pardon and removal of all sins and the end of separation from God (Acts 13:39; Rom 4:6–7; 5:9–11; 2 Cor 5:19). It also involves the bestowal of righteousness upon the believing person and a title to all the blessings promised to the just. Justification is a gift given through the grace of God (Rom 3:24) and takes place the moment the individual has faith in Christ (Rom 4:2; 5:1). The ground of justification is the death of Christ (Rom 5:9), apart from any works (Rom 4:5). The means of justification is faith (Rom 5:1). Through justification God maintains His integrity and His standard, yet is able to enter into fellowship with sinners because they have the very righteousness of Christ imputed to them.[7]      The process is faith in Christ (John 3:16; Acts 4:12; 16:31), imputed righteousness (Rom 5:17; cf. 2 Cor 5:21; Phil 3:9), and the declaration by God that the believer is now justified in God’s sight (Rom 3:24; 4:5; Gal 2:16). Robert B. Thieme Jr., states: "Anyone who expresses faith alone in Christ alone is instantly justified before the bench of God’s justice. The mechanics of justification follow three logical steps, though they all occur simultaneously. First, the person believes in Christ; second, God the Father credits, or imputes, His righteousness to that person; and third, God recognizes His righteousness in the believer and pronounces him “justified”— vindicated, righteous (Rom 5)."[8]      The imputation of God’s righteousness to believers means we are declared righteous, but not made righteous in conduct. To be righteous in conduct is the lifelong process of sanctification whereby the believer advances to spiritual maturity and lives in conformity with the character and will of God as revealed in His Word. This is the walk of faith. But though we are righteous in God’s sight because of the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, at the same time we continue to possess a sin nature that continually causes internal temptation and conflict (Rom 6:6; 7:14-25; 13:14; Col 3:9; Gal 5:16-17, 19-22; 1 John 1:8), and we commit personal acts of sin (1 Ki 8:46; Eccl 7:20; 1 John 1:10; 2:1). Though the power of the sin nature is broken (Rom 6:11-14), the presence of the sin nature is never removed from us until God takes us from this world and gives us a new body like the body of Jesus (Phil 3:20-21; 1 John 3:2, 5). Martin Luther understood this duality and coined the Latin phrase simul iustus et peccator, which translates as, “simultaneously righteous and a sinner.” Though Christians are declared righteous in God’s sight, sin will constantly be present (Eccl 7:20; 1 John 1:8, 10), to varying degrees, depending on the status of the believer’s spiritual walk with the Lord. Timothy George states: "The believer is not only both righteous and sinful at the same time but is also always or completely both righteous and sinful at the same time. What does this mean? With respect to our fallen human condition, we are, and always will be in this life, sinners. However, for believers, life in this world is no longer a period of doubtful candidacy for God’s acceptance. In a sense we have already been before God’s judgment seat and have been acquitted on account of Christ. Hence we are also always righteous."[9]      I agree with the phrase simul iustus et peccator, that a Christian is “simultaneously righteous and a sinner.” I think a better phrase is semper iustus et peccator, that we are “always righteous and a sinner.” Both are true. Always. As a Christian, I am righteous because I have received God’s “gift of righteousness” (Rom 5:17). This is “the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith” in Christ (Phil 3:9). God gave me His righteousness at the moment I trusted Christ as my Savior, and like all of God’s gifts, it can’t be given back, “for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Rom 11:29). As one who possesses God’s righteousness, I am forever justified in His sight. The matter is settled in heaven. God has made it so. After being saved, the issue for every Christian is to advance to spiritual maturity (Heb 6:1), which glorifies God and edifies others. Dr. Steven R. Cook ------- [1] Norman L. Geisler, Systematic Theology, Volume Three: Sin, Salvation, 235. [2] Charles C. Bing, Grace, Salvation, and Discipleship: How to Understand Some Difficult Bible Passages (Brenham, TX: Lucid Books, 2015). [3] Some in the early church thought righteousness came through adherence to the Mosaic Law. The apostle Paul dealt with this, saying, “if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly” (Gal 2:21), for “if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law” (Gal 3:21).    Salvation comes to the one who simply trusts in Christ as Savior and receives it as a free gift, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph 2:8-9). [4] J. I. Packer, Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs, 164. [5] Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans publishing co., 1938), 513. [6] E. McChesney and Merrill F. Unger, “Justification,” The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, 729. [7] Paul P. Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology, 326. [8] Robert B. Thieme, Jr. “Justification”, Thieme’s Bible Doctrine Dictionary, 153. [9] Timothy George, Theology of the Reformers (Nashville, Tenn., Broadman and Holman publishers, 2013), 72.
3/3/20241 hour, 1 minute, 35 seconds
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Soteriology Lesson 36 - The Imputation of God's Righteousness

     The Bible reveals that God imputes His righteousness to the believer at the moment of salvation. The word imputation itself is an accounting term used both in the Old Testament and the New Testament (Gen 15:6; Psa 32:2; Rom 4:3-8; Gal 3:6). Biblically, there are three major imputations that relate to our standing before God.      First is the imputation of Adam’s original sin to every member of the human race. Paul wrote, “through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Rom 5:12), for “through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men” (Rom 5:18a), for “by a man came death” (1 Co 15:21a), and “in Adam all die” (1 Cor 15:22a). This means every biological descendant of Adam is charged/credited with the sin he committed in the Garden of Eden which plunged the human race into spiritual and physical death. Jesus is the only exception, for though He is truly human (Matt 1:1; Luke 3:23-38), He was born without original sin, without a sin nature, and committed no personal sin during His time on earth (2 Cor 5:21; Heb 4:15; 1 Pet 2:22; 1 John 3:5). Adam is the head of the human race and his fall became our fall. This is the basis for death and for being estranged from God. Robert B. Thieme states: "[Adam’s Original Sin refers to] the initial act of willful, cognitive disobedience to God committed by the first man, Adam, when he violated God’s mandate to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden (Gen 2:17; 3:6). The initial human sin resulted in Adam’s immediate spiritual death, the formation of the sin nature, and loss of his relationship with God (Gen 3:7; Rom 6:23). Since Adam is the physical and representative head of the human race, his corrupt sin nature is genetically passed on through procreation to all his descendants (Rom 5:12). At each person’s physical birth, God imputes Adam’s original sin to the sin nature, resulting in the condemnation of spiritual death (Rom 5:19; 1 Cor 15:21-22). The only exception is the humanity of Jesus Christ, who was conceived by means of the Holy Spirit, born without the sin nature, and thus did not receive the imputation of Adam’s original sin."[1]      Second is the imputation of all sin to Jesus on the cross (Isa 53:4-6, 10; 2 Cor 5:21; Heb 2:9; 1 Pet 2:21-24; 1 John 2:2). God the Father judged Jesus in our place (Mark 10:45; 1 Cor 15:3-4; 1 Pet 3:18), cancelling our sin debt by the death of Christ (Col 2:13-14; 2 Cor 5:18-19). This was a voluntary imputation on the part of Christ who freely went to the cross and took our sins upon Himself (John 1:29; 10:11, 15, 17-18). Thieme explains: "On the cross, the justice of God the Father imputed all the sins of mankind to His beloved Son, Jesus Christ (1 Pet 2:24). This was a judicial imputation because sin has no affinity with the impeccable humanity of Christ, no home in Him. To complete the judicial action, the Father’s justice immediately judged every one of those sins in Christ. Our personal sins are never imputed to us for judgment. Rather, the perfect humanity of Christ was “pierced through for our transgressions,” taking upon Himself the penalty that rightfully belonged to all men (Isa 53:5). This substitutionary work satisfied God’s righteousness and justice and made possible our so-great salvation (2 Cor 5:21; 1 John 2:2)."[2]      Third is the imputation of God’s righteousness to those who believe in Jesus for salvation (Rom 4:3-5; 2 Cor 5:21; Phil 3:8-9). The righteousness of God imputed to the believer at the moment of faith in Christ results in the believer being justified before God (Rom 3:22, 24, 28; 4:1-5). Moses wrote of Abraham, saying, “Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned [חָשַׁב chashab] it to him as righteousness” (Gen 15:6). David writes, “How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute [חָשַׁב chashab] iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit” (Psa 32:1-2). Moses and David both use the Hebrew chashab (חָשַׁב) which, according to HALOT, means “to impute, reckon to.”[3] Moses uses the verb in a positive sense of that which God imputes to Abraham, namely righteousness, and David uses the verb negatively, of that which God does not credit to a person, namely iniquity. Allen P. Ross comments on the meaning of chashab (חָשַׁב) in Psalm 32:2 and Genesis 15:6: "Not only does forgiveness mean that God takes away the sins, but it also means that God does not “impute” iniquity to the penitent: “Blessed is the one to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity.” The verb (חָשַׁב) means “impute, reckon, credit”; it is the language of records, or accounting—in fact, in modern usage the word is related to “computer.” Here the psalm is using an implied comparison, as if there were record books in heaven that would record the sins. If the forgiven sins are not imputed, it means that there is no record of them—they are gone and forgotten. Because God does not mark iniquities (Psa 130:4), there is great joy. The same verb is used in Genesis 15:6 as well, which says that Abram “believed in the LORD, and he reckoned it (וַיַּחְשְׁבֶ֥הָ) to him as righteousness.” The apostle Paul brings that verse and Psalm 32:2 together in Romans 4 to explain the meaning of justification by faith: when people believe in the Lord, God reckons or credits them with righteousness (Paul will say, the righteousness of Jesus Christ), and does not reckon their sin to them."[4]      The apostle Paul cites Abraham’s faith in God as the basis upon which he was declared righteous before Him, saying, “For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited [logizomai] to him as righteousness’” (Rom 4:3).[5] Paul uses the Greek verb logizomai (λογίζομαι) which, according to BDAG, means “to determine by mathematical process, reckon, calculate, frequently in a transferred sense.”[6] Abraham believed God’s Word, and God reckoned, or transferred His righteousness to him. After pointing to Abraham as the example of justification by faith, Paul then extrapolates that we are justified in the same way, saying, “Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited [logizomai] as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited [logizomai] as righteousness” (Rom 4:4-5; cf. Gal 3:6). Paul then references David, saying, “David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits [logizomai] righteousness apart from works: ‘Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, and whose sins have been covered. ‘Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account [logizomai]’” (Rom 4:6-8).      Paul twice used the Greek verb ellogeō (ἐλλογέω) to communicate the idea of an exchange between persons (Rom 5:13; Phm 1:18). According to BDAG, the verb ellogeō (ἐλλογέω) means “to charge with a financial obligation, charge to the account of someone.”[7] Paul told his friend, Philemon, concerning his runaway slave Onesimus, “if he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge [ellogeō] that to my account” (Phlm 1:18). Paul had not wronged Philemon, nor did he owe him anything; however, Paul was willing to pay for any wrong or debt Onesimus may have incurred. J. Dwight Pentecost notes: "Paul is giving us an illustration of that which God has done for us in Christ Jesus. As the Apostle assumed the debt of Onesimus and invited Philemon—who had been wronged—to charge that debt to him, so the Lord Jesus Christ took the debt that we owed to the injured One—to God—and He charged Himself with our debt and set His righteousness down to our account."[8]      In a similar way, Jesus paid for our sin so that we don’t have to, and in exchange, we receive God’s righteousness. This idea of an exchange between persons means that one person is credited with something not antecedently his/her own. Our sin is our sin, and Christ’s righteousness is His righteousness. When Jesus took our sin upon himself at the cross, He voluntarily accepted something that belonged to another, namely us. Jesus took our sin upon Himself. On the other hand, when we receive God’s righteousness as a gift, we are accepting something that belonged to another, namely God. By faith, we accept that which belongs to God, namely, His righteousness. God’s righteousness becomes our righteousness. Paul references the exchange that occurred at the cross when Jesus died for our sin, saying, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor 5:21), and he personally spoke of the righteousness “which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith” (Phil 3:9).[9] Once we receive God’s righteousness, we are instantaneously justified in God’s sight.      Some might raise the question: how can a holy God justify unworthy sinners? How can He give something to someone who deserves the opposite? How is this just? The answer is found in Jesus and what He accomplished for us at the cross. At the cross, God judged our sin as His righteousness requires, and saves the sinner as His love desires. At the cross Jesus voluntarily died a penal substitutionary death. He willingly died in our place and bore the punishment that was rightfully ours. Our guilt became His guilt. Our shame became His shame. The result of the cross is that God is forever satisfied with the death of Christ. There’s no additional sacrifice or payment needed. Jesus paid it all. When we believe in Jesus, we are forgiven all our sins (Acts 10:43; Eph 1:7; Col 1:14; 2:13; Heb 10:10-14), and then God imputes His righteousness to us. The apostle Paul calls it “the gift of righteousness” (Rom 5:17; cf. 2 Cor 5:21; Phil 3:9). God’s righteousness is not earned; rather, it is freely gifted to us who believe in Jesus as our Savior.      It is sometimes difficult to accept this biblical teaching, because our behavior does not always reflect our righteous standing before God. However, God’s Word defines reality, and we are justified in His sight because His righteousness has been gifted to our account. The righteousness of God is credited to us who have trusted in Jesus as our Savior. Dr. Steven R. Cook   [1] Robert B. Thieme, Jr. “Adam’s Original Sin”, Thieme’s Bible Doctrine Dictionary, 1-2. [2] Ibid., 137. [3] Ludwig Koehler, Walter Baumgartner, M. E. J. Richardson, et al., The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1994–2000), 360. [4] Allen P. Ross, A Commentary on the Psalms, Vol. 1, (Grand Rapids, Mich., Kregel Publications, 2011), 710-711. [5] The translators of the Septuagint use logizomai (λογίζομαι) as a reliable synonym for chashab (חָשַׁב) both in Genesis 15:6 and Psalm 32:2. Paul then uses logizomai (λογίζομαι) when making his argument that justification is by faith alone in God (Rom 4:3-5; Gal 3:6). [6] William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker, and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 597. [7] Ibid., 319. [8] J. Dwight Pentecost, Things Which Become Sound Doctrine, 40. [9] Though the word “impute” is not used in some passages, the idea is implied. Isaiah writes of the Suffering Servant Who “will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities” (Isa 53:11), and of God as the One Who “has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness” (Isa 61:10). And Paul writes of “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe” (Rom 3:22), and of being “justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Rom 3:24; cf. 5:17; 9:30; 10:3-4; 1 Cor 1:30; Gal 2:16; 3:11, 24).
2/25/20241 hour, 16 minutes, 19 seconds
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Soteriology Lesson 35 - The Holiness of God

     The Bible reveals God is holy.[1] God declares of Himself, “I am holy” (Lev 11:44), and the psalmist says, “holy is the LORD our God” (Psa 99:9), and the Seraphim declare, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts” (Isa 6:3). In these verses, the word “holy” translates the Hebrew word qadōsh (קָדוֹשׁ), which means “to be holy, [or] separated.”[2] James Swanson says it refers “to being unique and pure in the sense of superior moral qualities and possessing certain essential divine qualities in contrast with what is human.”[3] God’s holiness is closely linked with His righteousness, justice, and perfection. Holiness denotes moral purity.      Because God is absolutely holy (Psa 99:9; Isa 6:3; Rev 15:4), it is written, “no evil dwells with You” (Psa 5:4). By definition, evil is “any act or event that is contrary to the good and holy purposes of God…Moral evil refers to acts (sins) of creatures that are contrary to God’s holy character and law.”[4] According to Merrill F. Unger, moral evil “is the failure of rational and free beings to conform in character and conduct to the will of God.”[5]George Howley states, “God is separate from all evil and is in no way responsible for it…[and] It can only be attributed to the abuse of free-will on the part of created beings, angelic and human.”[6] Evil originates in the heart (Gen 6:5; Zech 8:17), can result in evil actions (Neh 13:17; Prov 24:8; 1 Pet 3:12), lead to proneness of evil (Ex 32:22; Deut 9:24), and mark an entire generation of people (Deut 1:35; Matt 12:45).      Being holy means God cannot be affixed to anything morally imperfect. This means the Lord cannot condone sin in any way. Scripture reveals, “Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, and You cannot look on wickedness with favor” (Hab 1:13), and “God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). Everett Harrison states: "The basic idea conveyed by the holiness of God is His separateness, i.e., His uniqueness, His distinction as the Wholly Other, the One who cannot be confused with the gods devised by men (Ex 15:11), the One who stands apart from and above the creation. Secondarily the holiness of God denotes His moral perfection, His absolute freedom from blemish of any kind (Psa 89:35)."[7]      The third Person of the Trinity bears the specific title of the Holy Spirit (John 14:26), which emphasizes His righteousness and separateness from sin (Isa 63:10; Eph 4:30). Jesus, as the Son of God, embodies the holiness of God in human form. Scripture tells us that Jesus was “holy, innocent, pure, and set apart from sinners” (Heb 7:26). Jesus lived and interacted with sinners (i.e., eating with them, attending weddings, etc.), but He never had sinful thoughts, spoke sinful words, or acted in sinful ways. No matter what was happening around Him, Jesus never crossed the line into sin. Without abandoning righteousness, He loved and spoke truth, displayed compassion, helped the weak, and rebuked the arrogant. He was always holy in thought, word, and deed, and though near to others, He was still “set apart from sinners” (Heb 7:26).      In one sense, a person or group is holy—set apart to God—simply by being part of the covenant community. It was said of Israel, “all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is in their midst” (Num 16:3). According to Allen Ross, “They were holy, because the Lord who set them apart was holy.”[8] Merrill F. Unger notes, “God has dedicated Israel as His people. They are ‘holy’ by their relationship to the ‘holy’ God. All of the people are in a sense ‘holy,’ as members of the covenant community, irrespective of their faith and obedience.”[9] Being set apart to God, the Lord expected His people to be set apart from the world and behave in conformity with His righteous character and directives. Unger states, “Based on the intimate nature of the relationship, God expected His people to live up to His ‘holy’ expectations and, thus, to demonstrate that they were a ‘holy nation.’”[10] The Lord told His people, “you are to be holy to Me, for I the LORD am holy; and I have set you apart from the peoples to be Mine” (Lev 20:26). According to Allen Ross, “The means of developing holiness required faith and obedience on their part. But because it was a nation of very human and often stubborn individuals, progression toward holiness did not develop instantly or easily, and for some it did not develop at all.”[11]      This is also true of Christians who are called “saints”, not because we act saintly, but because of our relation to God as part of the church, the body of Christ. Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, “to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling” (1 Cor 1:2). The word “saints” here translates the Greek hagios (ἅγιος), which pertains “to being dedicated or consecrated to the service of God.”[12] In this passage, hagios is a synonym for a believer in Christ, not a description of their character. All Christians are saints (Rom 1:7; 1 Cor 1:1-2; 2 Cor 1:1; Eph 1:1; Phil 1:1; Col 1:2). The Christians at Corinth were saints (positionally), even when they were behaving like mere men (1 Cor 3:1-3). Warren Wiersbe states: "The church is made up of saints, that is, people who have been “sanctified” or “set apart” by God. A saint is not a dead person who has been honored by men because of his or her holy life. No, Paul wrote to living saints, people who, through faith in Jesus Christ, had been set apart for God’s special enjoyment and use. In other words, every true believer is a saint because every true believer has been set apart by God and for God."[13]      Christians living in the dispensation of the church age are called to holy living. Peter wrote, “like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘you shall be holy, for I am holy’” (1 Pet 1:15-16). God, who is our Father, is holy, and He calls for His children to live holy lives. For Christians, living holy to the Lord is accomplished by advancing to spiritual maturity and living as obedient-to-the-Word believers (Heb 6:1). It means learning God’s Word (Psa 1:2-3; Ezra 7:10; 2 Tim 2:15; 3:16-17; 1 Pet 2:2), living in submission to Him (Rom 12:1-2; Jam 4:7), walking by faith (2 Cor 5:7; Heb 10:38; 11:6), being filled with the Spirit (Eph 5:18), walking by means of the Spirit (Gal 5:16), accepting trials that help us grow (Jam 1:2-4), being devoted to prayer (Col 4:2; 1 Th 5:17; Eph 6:18), worship (Heb 13:15), being thankful (1 Th 5:18), fellowshipping with other believers (Heb 10:24-25), serving others (Gal 5:13; 6:10; 1 Pet 4:10; Phil 2:3-4), and taking advantage of the time we have (Eph 5:15-16). On the negative side, it means not loving the world (Jam 4:4; 1 John 2:15-16), nor quenching the Spirit (1 Th 5:19), nor grieving the Spirit (Eph 4:30). If we turn to sin—and that’s always a possibility—it means we are not living holy lives as God expects. When Christians sin, it does not result in loss of salvation, but loss of fellowship with God. It also means that if we continue to live sinfully, that God may discipline us (Heb 12:5-11), and deny us eternal rewards (1 Cor 3:10-15; 2 John 1:8). Humble believers acknowledge their sin, and God restores them to fellowship when they confess it to Him, seeking His forgiveness (1 John 1:9). Dr. Steven R. Cook   [1] The apostle Paul referred to the Bible as “the holy Scriptures” (Rom 1:2), and “the sacred writings” (2 Tim 3:15). The terms “holy” and “sacred” mean the Bible is a special book in that it conveys divine revelation from God to mankind (2 Tim 3:16-17). Though written by human authors under the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit (2 Pet 1:20-21), the end product is “the word of God, which performs its work in you who believe” (1 Th 2:13). [2] Willem VanGemeren, ed., New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology & Exegesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1997), 868. [3] James Swanson, “קָדוֹשׁ”, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997). [4] Stanley Grenz, David Guretzki, and Cherith Fee Nordling, Pocket Dictionary of Theological Terms (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999), 48. [5] Merrill Frederick Unger, R. K. Harrison, Howard Frederic Vos, et al., The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1988). [6] George Howley, “Evil,” ed. D. R. W. Wood et al., New Bible Dictionary (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 349. [7] Everett. F. Harrison, “Holiness; Holy,” ed. Geoffrey W Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1979–1988), 725. [8] Allen P. Ross, Holiness to the Lord: A Guide to the Exposition of the Book of Leviticus (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2002), 378. [9] W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, and William White Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996), 113. [10] Ibid., 113. [11] Allen P. Ross, Holiness to the Lord: A Guide to the Exposition of the Book of Leviticus, 48. [12] William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 10. [13] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1, 568.
2/18/20241 hour, 1 minute, 45 seconds
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Soteriology Lesson 34 - Guilt Before God

     Biblically speaking, guilt implies one has acted contrary to God’s moral character and laws. Divine laws are a reflection of the righteousness of God. The righteousness of God may be defined as the intrinsic, immutable, moral perfection of God, from which He commands all things, in heaven and earth, and declares as good that which conforms to His righteousness and as evil that which deviates. God’s character is the basis upon which all just laws derive; either divine laws from God Himself or human laws which conform to His righteousness.[1] The Bible reveals “the LORD is righteous and He loves righteousness” (Psa 11:7). We’re informed that at a future time, “He is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in His faithfulness” (Psa 96:13), and He will “judge the living and the dead” (2 Tim 4:1). The problem is that all humanity is corrupt, for “are all under sin” (Rom 3:9), and “there is none righteous, not even one” (Rom 3:10), for “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). Sin may be defined as the breaking of God’s moral laws. John wrote, “Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4). Sin is when we transgress God’s law and depart from His intended path. According to J. I. Packer, “Sin may be comprehensively defined as lack of conformity to the law of God in act, habit, attitude, outlook, disposition, motivation, and mode of existence.”[2]The motivation behind sin is self-interest. It means we set our wills against the will of God; that we desire our interests above His interests and are willing to act contrary to His directives. According to Augustus Strong, “the sinner makes self the center of his life, sets himself directly against God and constitutes his own interest the supreme motive and his own will the supreme rule.”[3] Samuel Harris notes four characteristics of sin, namely, “It is self-sufficiency, the opposite of Christian faith…It is self-will, the opposite of Christian submission…It is self-seeking, the opposite of Christian benevolence…It is self-righteousness, the opposite of Christian humility and reverence.”[4] Merrill F. Unger states: "The underlying idea of sin is that of law and of a lawgiver. The lawgiver is God. Hence sin is everything in the disposition and purpose and conduct of God’s moral creatures that is contrary to the expressed will of God (Rom 3:20; 4:15; 7:7; Jam 4:12, 17). The sinfulness of sin lies in the fact that it is against God, even when the wrong we do is to others or ourselves (Gen 39:9; Psa 51:4)."[5]      As sinners before a holy and righteous God, we bear an objective guilt because we have violated His holy character and righteous demands. We are responsible to God for what we have, what we are, and what we do. We have Adam’s original sin, which has been imputed to our account (Rom 5:12-13; cf. 1 Cor 15:21-22), we are sinners by nature (Psa 51:5; Jer 17:9; Rom 7:14-25; 13:12-14), and we do sin personally (Prov 20:9; Eccl 7:20; Isa 59:2; 64:6; Jam 1:14-15). God holds us accountable for our sinfulness. Our guilt is based on what God says about us and not our subjective impressions of ourselves. J. C. Moyer states, “Guilt is both the legal and moral condition that results from breaking God’s law.”[6]Louis Berkhof adds, “Guilt is the state of deserving condemnation or of being liable to punishment for the violation of a law or a moral requirement. It expresses the relation which sin bears to justice or to the penalty of the law.”[7] C.W. Stenschke states: "In biblical language and thought guilt and sin are closely related. While sin usually denotes an action of personal failure (in deed, word or thought), guilt is a legal term that denotes the state resulting from this action. Guilt is an objective fact and arises when God’s standards have not been met, when the creator’s claim on his creation is neglected or refused whether willfully or unintentionally."[8]      Being guilty before God is a fact and not a feeling. It is based on the objective truth of God’s Word and not our subjective impressions or fluctuating emotions. Our emotions are a blessing from the Lord, but only when properly calibrated to the truth of His revelation, otherwise they can be an impediment to our relationship with Him.      Humanism rejects God and His revelation and places mankind at the center of morality and meaning. Francis Schaeffer explains humanism as “Man beginning from himself, with no knowledge except what he himself can discover and no standards outside of himself. In this view Man is the measure of all things, as the Enlightenment expressed it.”[9] But atheism creates a problem concerning moral absolutes, for if there is no God, then there is no moral absolute Law-giver; and if there is no moral absolute Law-giver, then there are no moral absolutes, and we are left to conclude that what is, is right, and any further discussion about right and wrong becomes nothing more than opinion.[10] Francis Schaeffer is correct when he states: "If there is no absolute moral standard, then one cannot say in a final sense that anything is right or wrong. By absolute we mean that which always applies, that which provides a final or ultimate standard. There must be an absolute if there are to be morals, and there must be an absolute if there are to be real values. If there is no absolute beyond man’s ideas, then there is no final appeal to judge between individuals and groups whose moral judgments conflict. We are merely left with conflicting opinions."[11]      Those who reject God are left to create and impose arbitrary values on others, and the tyrants of the world are glad to bully and control others by means of strong arm tactics, whether social intimidation, economic coercion, or brute physical force. The only objective standard for measuring righteousness or guilt is set forth in God’s Word which defines reality. The Bible reveals God is “the Judge of all the earth” (Gen 18:25), and He “is a righteous judge” (Psa 7:11), and He “judges righteously” (Jer 11:20), and “will by no means leave the guilty unpunished” (Ex 34:7). Yet, the Bible also reveals God is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth” (Psa 86:15), and One “Who pardons all your iniquities” (Psa 103:3), when we come to Him in honesty and humility. And for those who come to Him in humility, who are like the tax collector, who “was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’” (Luke 18:13), will find Him to be merciful. For those of us who trust in Christ as Savior, we are blessed with “forgiveness of sins” (Eph 1:7; cf., Acts 10:43), the “gift of righteousness” (Rom 5:17; cf., 2 Cor 5:21; Phil 3:9), “eternal life” (John 10:28), and become “children of God” (John 1:12), with a promise that we will spend eternity in heaven with Him (John 14:1-3). J. Dwight Pentecost notes, “If you should be without Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, you stand guilty before God because you are still in Adam’s race. Even though Christ bore that sin, it means nothing to you until you are related to Him by faith. The righteousness of Christ cannot be imputed to you unless you personally receive Jesus Christ as your Savior.”[12] If you have not yet trusted in Christ as your Savior, then I “beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Cor 5:20). Dr. Steven R. Cook     [1] If there is no God, then there is no absolute standard for right and wrong and we are left with arbitrary laws based on manufactured values. [2] J. I. Packer, Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs, 82. [3] Augustus Hopkins Strong, Systematic Theology (Philadelphia: American Baptist Publication Society, 1907), 572. [4] Samuel Harris, “The Christian Law of Self-Sacrifice,” Bibliotheca Sacra 18, no. 69 (1861): 149. [5] Merrill F. Unger, et al, “Sin,” The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, 1198. [6] J. C. Moyer, “Guilt; Guilty,” ed. Geoffrey W Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised, 580. [7] Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans publishing co., 1938), 232. [8] C. W. Stenschke, “Guilt,” in New Dictionary of Biblical Theology, ed. T. Desmond Alexander and Brian S. Rosner, electronic ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 529. [9] Francis A. Schaeffer, A Christian Manifesto (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2005), 24. [10] God does exist, as “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands” (Psa 19:1). And though people may “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom 1:18), the reality is, “that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse” (Rom 1:19-20). [11] Francis A. Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live?: The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture, 50th L’Abri Anniversary Edition. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2005), 145. [12] J. Dwight Pentecost, Things Which Become Sound Doctrine (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1996), 48.
2/4/20241 hour, 22 minutes, 39 seconds
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Soteriology Lesson 33 - God's Grace

     Grace is found through the Old Testament and New Testament. The Hebrew noun chen (חֵן) appears 69 times and is commonly translated as favor (Gen 6:8; 19:19; 32:5; 33:8; 34:11; 47:25; Ex 12:36). The Hebrew verb chanan (חָנָן) appears 56 times and is commonly translated as gracious (Gen 43:29; Ex 22:27; 33:19; 34:6). God’s loyal or faithful love, chesed (חֶסֶד) is often used in connection with His demonstrations of grace (Psa 51:1-3). The Greek word charis (χάρις) appears 155 times in the New Testament and is most commonly translated grace or favor (John 1:14; Rom 4:4). The word is also used to express thanks (1 Cor 15:57; 2 Cor 9:15), or attractiveness (Luke 4:22; Col 4:6). Paul uses the word 130 times. Grace refers to “a beneficent disposition toward someone, favor, grace, gracious care/help, [or] goodwill.”[1] This definition speaks of the attitude of one who is characterized by grace. A gracious act is “that which one grants to another, the action of one who volunteers to do something not otherwise obligatory.”[2] Jesus is an example of grace, in that He cared for others, healing and feeding many (Matt 4:24; 14:15-21), even to those who refused to show gratitude (Luke 17:12-19). He acted out of His own goodness, for the benefit of others, with a full knowledge the majority would reject Him and abuse His kindness (John 3:19; 12:37). Others may not understand or accept what is offered by grace, but this is not for want of a gracious attitude or action on the part of the giver, where the benefactor freely confers a blessing upon another and the kindness shown finds its source in the bounty and free-heartedness of the giver. Once grace is received, it can, in turn, lead to gracious acts to others (Matt 5:43-45; Luke 6:32-36). In this way, grace leads to grace. The greatest expression of grace is observed in the love God shows toward underserving sinners for whom He sent His Son to die in their place so we might have eternal life in Christ (1 John 3:1; cf., John 3:16-19; Rom 5:8).        Everyone needs God’s grace, because we are all born in sin. We are sinners in in Adam (Rom 5:12-21), sinners by nature (Psa 51:5; Rom 7:19-21; Eph 2:3), and sinners by choice (1 Ki 8:46; Eccl 7:20; Isa 59:2; Rom 3:10, 23; 1 John 1:8, 10). Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden is the first and greatest of them all. Because of Adam’s rebellion against God, sin and death entered the human race (Rom 5:12, 19; 1 Cor 15:21-22) and spread throughout the universe (Rom 8:20-22). All of Adam’s descendants are born into this world spiritually dead in “trespasses and sins” (Eph 2:1), and are by nature “children of wrath” (Eph 2:3), “separate from Christ…having no hope and without God in the world” (Eph 2:12), “alienated” from God (Col 1:21), helpless, ungodly, sinners, and enemies of God (Rom 5:6-10). From a biblical perspective, we are all born totally depraved. According to Lewis Chafer, “Theologians employ also the phrase total depravity, which does not mean that there is nothing good in any unregenerate person as seen by himself or by other people; it means that there is nothing in fallen man which God can find pleasure in or accept.”[3]Total depravity means we are corrupted by sin and completely helpless to save ourselves.        God’s grace does not ignore righteousness or judgment. God is righteous and He must condemn sin. He can either condemn sin in the sinner, or in a substitute. According to Merrill F. Unger, “since God is holy and righteous, and sin is a complete offense to Him, His love or His mercy cannot operate in grace until there is provided a sufficient satisfaction for sin. This satisfaction makes possible the exercise of God’s grace.”[4] Christ is our substitute. He bore the penalty of all our sins and satisfied every righteous demand of the Father, for “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world” (1 John 2:2; cf. Rom 3:24-25; 1 John 4:10). According to Lewis Chafer, “grace is what God may be free to do and indeed what He does accordingly for the lost after Christ has died on behalf of them.”[5] God’s love for sinners moved Him to provide a solution to the problem of sin, and that solution is Christ who died in our place. Once we have trusted in Christ for salvation—and trusted in Him alone—God then bestows on us forgiveness of sins (Acts 10:43; Eph 1:7), eternal life (John 10:28), and many other blessings (Eph 1:3). For those who reject God’s salvation by grace, they are left to trust in themselves and their own good works to gain entrance into heaven, and this will fail miserably for those who elect this course. In the end, these will be judged by their works, and because those works never measure up to God’s perfect righteousness, they will be cast in the Lake of Fire forever (Rev 20:11-15).        There is a common grace God extends to everyone, whether they are good or evil. God simply extends grace to all, and all receive it. Jesus said of the Father, “He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matt 5:45). Paul said, “In the generations gone by He permitted all the nations to go their own ways [in rebellion]; and yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 14:16-17). In these passages, God’s grace is freely given to all, and this because He is gracious by nature.        However, there is special grace given to those who will welcome it. Special grace refers to those blessings that God freely confers upon those who, in humility, turn to Him in a time of need. First, there is saving grace that God provides for the lost sinner who turns to Christ in faith alone. Paul wrote, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph 2:8-9). Second, there is a growing grace for the humble believer who studies and lives God’s Word. Peter tells us to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet 3:18). Third, there is a grace God gives—a divine enablement—to help a believer cope with some life stress. Paul, when facing a difficulty, cried out to the Lord (2 Cor 12:7-8), and the Lord said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9). Humility and positive volition are necessary requisites for those who would receive God’s special grace, for “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (1 Pet 5:5; cf. Jam 4:6).        God’s saving grace is never cheap. Our salvation is very costly. Jesus went to the cross and died in our place and bore the punishment that rightfully belongs to us. He is righteous. We are lost sinners. He paid our sin debt in full. There’s nothing for us to add to what He accomplished. The sole condition of salvation is to believe in Christ as our Savior. He died for us, was buried, and rose again on the third day (1 Cor 15:3-4), and we know “that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again” (Rom 6:9). Salvation is not Jesus plus anything we do. It’s Jesus alone. He saves. Our contribution to the cross was sin and death, as Jesus took our sin upon Himself and died in our place. Peter wrote, “Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet 3:18). We are brought to God solely by the death of Christ. His shed blood on the cross made the way possible. Salvation is never what we do for God; rather, it’s what He’s done for us through the cross of Christ. All of this consistent with the character of God, for He is gracious by nature. Scripture reveals, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Ex 34:6), and, “You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth” (Psa 86:15). God the Father is described as “the God of all grace” (1 Pet 5:10), who sits upon a “throne of grace” (Heb 4:16), who “gives grace to the afflicted” (Prov 3:34), and provides salvation “by grace” through faith in Jesus (Eph 2:8-9; cf., Acts 15:11; Rom 3:24). Jesus is said to be “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14), and the Holy Spirit is called “the Spirit of grace” (Heb 10:29).        In order for us to be reconciled to God, we must simply trust in Jesus as our Savior (John 3:16; 20:30-31; Acts 4:12; 16:30-31). When we trust in Christ as our Savior, we are forgiven all our sins (Eph 1:7; Col 1:14), given eternal life (John 3:16; 10:27-28), and receive the righteousness of God as a free gift (Rom 5:17; 2 Cor 5:21; Phil 3:9).   Dr. Steven R. Cook     [1] William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 1079. [2] Ibid., 1079. [3] Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol. 7, 118–119. [4] Merrill F. Unger et al., “Grace” in The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, 504. [5] Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, vol 7, 178.
1/28/20241 hour, 16 minutes, 35 seconds
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Soteriology Lesson 32 - Forgiveness of Sins

     Jesus’ substitutionary death on the cross is the basis for our forgiveness of sins. Scripture reveals, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph 1:7). Forgiveness translates the Greek word aphesis (ἄφεσις), which, according to BDAG, refers to “the act of freeing from an obligation, guilt, or punishment, pardon, cancellation.”[1] It means releasing someone from a debt they cannot pay. Paul wrote that God has “forgiven us all our transgressions, having erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it out of the way by nailing it to the cross” (Col 2:13b-14). In Colossians 2:13, the word forgiveness translates the Greek word charizomai (χαρίζομαι), which means, “to show oneself gracious by forgiving wrongdoing, forgive, pardon.”[2] This reveals the loving and gracious heart of God toward lost sinners, for whom Christ died (Rom 5:8). Warren Wiersbe states, “When He shed His blood for sinners, Jesus Christ canceled the huge debt that was against sinners because of their disobedience to God’s holy Law…In this way His Son paid the full debt when He died on the cross.”[3] According to Norman Geisler: "The Greek word for forgiveness is aphesis, which means “to forgive” or “to remit” one’s sins. Hebrews declares that God cannot forgive without atonement, for “the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Heb 9:22). Paul announced: “Through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you” (Acts 13:38). Forgiveness does not erase the sin; history cannot be changed. But forgiveness does erase the record of the sin. Like a pardon, the crime of the accused is not expunged from history but is deleted from his account. Hence, it is “in [Christ Jesus that] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” (Eph 1:7; cf. Col 1:14)."[4] Paul Enns adds: "Forgiveness is the legal act of God whereby He removes the charges that were held against the sinner because proper satisfaction or atonement for those sins has been made. There are several Greek words used to describe forgiveness. One is charizomai, which is related to the word grace and means “to forgive out of grace.” It is used of cancellation of a debt (Col 2:13). The context emphasizes that our debts were nailed to the cross, with Christ’s atonement freely forgiving the sins that were charged against us. The most common word for forgiveness is aphiemi, which means “to let go, release” or “send away.” The noun form is used in Ephesians 1:7 where it stresses the believer’s sins have been forgiven or sent away because of the riches of God’s grace as revealed in the death of Christ. Forgiveness forever solves the problem of sin in the believer’s life—all sins past, present, and future (Col 2:13). This is distinct from the daily cleansing from sin that is necessary to maintain fellowship with God (1 John 1:9). Forgiveness is manward; man had sinned and needed to have his sins dealt with and removed."[5]      Under the OT system of sacrifices, we are told, “in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed” (Rom 3:25). The animal sacrifices did not remove sin. It was a temporary arrangement whereby God “passed over” the sins of His people until the time when Christ would come and die for the sins of the world. Concerning Romans 3:25, Hoehner states this “has the idea of a temporary suspension of punishment for sins committed before the cross, whereas ἄφεσις is the permanent cancellation of or release from the punishment for sin because it has been paid for by Christ’s sacrifice.”[6] Merrill F. Unger adds: "The great foundational truth respecting the believer in relationship to his sins is the fact that his salvation comprehends the forgiveness of all his trespasses past, present, and future so far as condemnation is concerned (Rom 8:1; Col 2:13; John 3:18; 5:24). Since Christ has vicariously borne all sin and since the believer’s standing in Christ is complete, he is perfected forever in Christ. When a believer sins, he is subject to chastisement from the Father but never to condemnation with the world (1 Cor 11:31–32)."[7]      Though Christ died for everyone (Heb 2:9; 1 John 2:2), the benefit of forgiveness is available only to those who trust in Him as Savior. Thiessen notes, “The death of Christ made forgiveness possible, but not necessary, since Christ died voluntarily…God is still entitled to say on what conditions man may receive forgiveness.”[8] Judicial forgiveness of sins is available to all, but each person must exercise their own volition and turn to Christ, and Christ alone, for salvation. The record of Scripture is that “there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12), and “everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins” (Acts 10:43). Familial Forgiveness of Sins      From the moment of our spiritual birth until we leave this world for heaven, we are in Christ and all our sins are judicially forgiven (Eph 2:5-6; Col 2:13). In addition, we have a new spiritual nature (2 Cor 5:17; Gal 6:15), and the power to live righteously in God’s will (Rom 6:11-14). However, during our time in this world, we still possess a sin nature (Rom 7:14-25; Gal 5:17), and occasionally yield to temptation (both internal and external) and commit sin. According to William MacDonald, “Conversion does not mean the eradication of the sin nature. Rather it means the implanting of the new, divine nature, with power to live victoriously over indwelling sin.”[9] Our acts of sin do not jeopardize our eternal salvation which was secured by the Lord Jesus Christ (John 10:28), but is does hurt our walk with the Lord (1 John 1:5-10), and stifles the work of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us (1 Cor 3:16; Eph 4:30; 1 Th 5:19). Though we try to keep our sins small and few, the reality is that we continue to sin, and some days more than others. As we grow spiritually in our knowledge of God’s Word, we will pursue righteousness more and more and sin will diminish, but sin will never completely disappear from our lives. Living in the reality of God’s Word, we know three things are true when we sin.      First, there is no condemnation (Rom 8:1). Though we have sinned against God, our eternal security and righteous standing before Him is never jeopardized. We are eternally secure (John 10:28), and continue to possess the righteousness of God that was imputed to us at the moment of salvation (Rom 4:1-5; 2 Cor 5:21; Phil 3:9).      Second, we have broken fellowship with God (1 John 1:5-6). When we sin, as a Christian, we have broken fellowship with God and stifled the work of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us (1 John 1:5-6; Eph 4:30; 1 Th 5:19). If we continue in sin, or leave our sin unconfessed, we are in real danger of divine discipline from God (Psa 32:3-4; Heb 12:5-11; 1 John 5:16-17; cf. Dan 4:37), which can eventuate in physical death (1 John 5:16; cf., Lev 10:1-2; Acts 5:3-5).      Third, if we confess our sin to God, He will forgive that sin and restore us to fellowship (1 John 1:9; cf. Psa 32:5). Being in fellowship with God means walking in the sphere of His light (1 John 1:5-7), being honest with Him about our sin (1 John 1:8, 10), and coming before His “throne of grace” (Heb 4:16) in transparent humility and confessing that sin in order to be forgiven familially (1 John 1:9). God is faithful and just to forgive our sins every time we confess them because of the atoning work of Christ who shed His blood on the cross for us (1 John 2:1-2). John wrote, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Concerning 1 John 1:9, William MacDonald states: "The forgiveness John speaks about here [i.e. 1 John 1:9] is parental, not judicial. Judicial forgiveness means forgiveness from the penalty of sins, which the sinner receives when he believes on the Lord Jesus Christ. It is called judicial because it is granted by God acting as Judge. But what about sins which a person commits after conversion? As far as the penalty is concerned, the price has already been paid by the Lord Jesus on the cross of Calvary. But as far as fellowship in the family of God is concerned, the sinning saint needs parental forgiveness, that is, the forgiveness of His Father. He obtains it by confessing his sin. We need judicial forgiveness only once; that takes care of the penalty of all our sins—past, present, and future. But we need parental forgiveness throughout our Christian life."[10]      God’s grace compels us to pursue righteousness and good works (Tit 2:11-14), which God has prepared for us to walk in (Eph 2:10). But since we still have a sinful nature and live in a fallen world with temptation all around, we occasionally fall into sin. When we sin, we agree with God that we have sinned and we confess it to Him seeking His forgiveness. When we sin against others and wrongly hurt them, we confess our sin to them and ask for their forgiveness. Because our sin hurts others (and their sin hurts us), there is a need for love, patience, humility, and ongoing forgiveness among the saints. The apostle Paul wrote “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful” (Col 3:12-15). Dr. Steven R. Cook   [1] William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 155. [2] Ibid., 1078. [3] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2, 127. [4] Norman L. Geisler, Systematic Theology, Volume Three: Sin, Salvation, 227. [5] Paul P. Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology, 325–326. [6] Harold W. Hoehner, Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2002), 207. [7] Merrill F. Unger, et al, “Forgiveness,” The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary, 440. [8] Henry Clarence Thiessen and Vernon D. Doerksen, Lectures in Systematic Theology, 276. [9] William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments, 2310. [10] Ibid., 2310-11.
1/21/20241 hour, 31 minutes, 43 seconds
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Saved by Grace Alone, Through Faith Alone, in Christ Alone

     The gospel is the solution to a problem. The problem for us is that God is holy, mankind is sinful, and we cannot save ourselves. Salvation is never what we do for God; rather, it’s what He’s done for us through the Person and work of Jesus who is the Son of God incarnate (John 1:1, 14; 20:28; Heb 1:8; 1 John 4:2), whose sacrificial death on the cross atoned for our sins (Rom 6:10; 1 Pet 3:18; 1 John 2:2), who was resurrected (Rom 6:9; 1 Cor 15:3-4), and who grants eternal life to those who place their trust solely in Him (John 3:16-18; 10:28; Acts 4:12; 16:31). Jesus died for everyone (John 3:16; Heb 2:9; 1 John 2:2), but the benefits of the cross, such as forgiveness of sins (Eph 1:7), and eternal life (John 10:28), are applied only to those who believe in Him as Savior. God is Absolutely Righteous and Hates Sin      The Bible reveals God is holy, which means He is righteous and set apart from all that is sinful and can have nothing to do with sin except to condemn it. It is written, “For the LORD is righteous, He loves righteousness” (Psa 11:7), and “Exalt the LORD our God and worship at His holy hill, for holy is the LORD our God” (Psa 99:9; cf. Isa 6:3). Habakkuk wrote, “Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, and You cannot look on wickedness with favor” (Hab 1:13). And, “God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). This means God is pure and free from all that is sinful.      Being absolutely righteous, God can only hate and condemn sin. God Himself said, “Pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverted mouth, I hate” (Prov 8:13b), and “let none of you devise evil in your heart against another, and do not love perjury; for all these are what I hate, declares the LORD” (Zech 8:17). And of God is it written, “everyone who acts unjustly is an abomination to the LORD your God” (Deut 25:16b), and “You hate all who do iniquity” (Psa 5:5), and “You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness” (Psa 45:7), and “the way of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD” (Prov 15:9a), and “evil plans are an abomination to the LORD” (Prov 15:26), and “You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness” (Heb 1:9a).[1] All Mankind is Sinful      To be saved, a person must accept the divine viewpoint estimation of himself as sinful before God. The Bible reveals “there is no man who does not sin” (1 Ki 8:46), and “no man living is righteous” (Psa 143:2), and “there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins” (Eccl 7:20), and “your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear” (Isa 59:2), and “all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; and all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away” (Isa 64:6), and “there is none righteous, not even one” (Rom 3:10), and “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23), and “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8), and “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us” (1 John 1:10). Solomon asked, “Who can say, ‘I have cleansed my heart, I am pure from my sin?’” (Prov 20:9). The answer is: no one! God is righteous and we are guilty sinners. Biblically, we are sinners in Adam (Rom 5:12; 1 Cor 15:21-22), sinners by nature (Rom 7:18-21; Gal 5:17; Eph 2:1-3), and sinners by choice (1 Ki 8:46; Prov 20:9; Isa 53:6; Rom 3:9-23). Sin separates us from God and renders us helpless to merit God’s approval. We Cannot Save Ourselves      All humanity is quite competent to produce sin, but utterly inept and powerless to produce the righteousness God requires for acceptance. Scripture reveals we are helpless, ungodly, sinners, and enemies of God (Rom 5:6-10), and prior to our salvation, we were dead in our trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1). We cannot save ourselves. Only God can forgive sins (Eph 1:7; Col 1:13-14), and only God can give the gifts of righteousness (Rom 5:17; 2 Cor 5:21; Phil 3:9) and eternal life (John 10:28) that make us acceptable in His sight. Our good works have no saving merit, as God declares righteous “the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly” (Rom 4:5a), for “a man is not justified by the works of the Law…since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified” (Gal 2:16), for “by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph 2:8-9), and God saves us, but “not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness” (Tit 3:5a). We cannot save ourselves any more than we can stop the rotation of the earth, jump across the Grand Canyon, or run at the speed of light. Christ alone saves. No one else. Nothing more. Salvation is by Grace Alone, Through Faith Alone, in Christ Alone      The Bible teaches that we are “justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Rom 3:24), and “justified by faith apart from works of the Law” (Rom 3:28). Salvation is free, and it is received freely by “the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness” (Rom 4:5). Our salvation was accomplished entirely by Jesus at the cross when He shed His blood at Calvary, for we are redeemed “with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (1 Pet 1:19). And because our salvation was accomplished in full at the cross, it means there’s nothing for us to pay. Nothing at all. Salvation is a gift, given freely to us who don’t deserve it. That’s grace, which is unmerited favor, underserved kindness, unwarranted love, unearned generosity, and unprovoked goodness. Scripture reveals, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph 2:8-9). Salvation is never what we do for God; rather, it’s what He’s done for us by sending His Son into the world to live a righteous life and die a penal substitutionary death on the cross in our place, “the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet 3:18).      Our faith needs to be in Jesus alone. This, of course, is the Jesus of the Bible, for no other Jesus will do. A false Jesus does not save anyone, such as the Jesus of Mormonism or Jehovah’s Witness. The Jesus of Scripture is the second member of the Trinity, God the Son (John 1:1; Heb 1:8), who added perfect humanity to Himself two thousand years ago (John 1:14; 1 John 4:2), was born of a virgin (Isa 7:14; Luke 1:26-35), in the prophesied city of Bethlehem (Mic 5:2; Matt 2:1, 6), a descendant of Abraham and David (Matt 1:1), as the Jewish Messiah (Matt 1:1, 17), who lived a sinless life (2 Cor 5:21; Heb 4:15; 1 Pet 2:22; 1 John 3:5), and willingly went to the cross and died for us (John 10:18; Rom 5:8; 1 Pet 3:18), atoning for our sins (Rom 6:10; Heb 7:27; 1 Pet 1:18-19), and was raised again on the third day (Acts 10:40-41; 1 Cor 15:3-4; 1 Th 4:14), never to die again (Rom 6:9). This is the Jesus of Scripture, the One who saves those who trust solely in Him for salvation. No one else can save. Scripture says of Jesus, “whoever believes in Him will have eternal life” (John 3:15), and “whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16), and “He who believes in Him is not judged” (John 3:18), and “He who believes in the Son has eternal life” (John 3:36). Jesus Himself said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life” (John 6:47), and “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies” (John 11:25), and “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved” (John 10:9), and “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6), The apostle John wrote, “He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life” (1 John 5:12). These passages emphasize that eternal life is obtained through belief in Jesus Christ. Salvation is exclusively in Jesus. Those who reject Jesus as Savior will spend eternity away from God in the lake of fire, for “These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Th 1:9; cf., Rev 20:15).      To be saved, one must turn to Christ alone for salvation and trust Him 100% to accomplish what we cannot – to rescue us from eternal damnation. We must believe the gospel message, “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3-4). Knowing the good news of what God accomplished for us, we must then “Believe in the Lord Jesus” (Acts 16:31), and trust exclusively in Him, for “there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). We should not look to ourselves for salvation, for there is nothing in us that can save us. Nothing at all. Christ alone saves. No one else. Nothing more. Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Walk Worthy of the Lord      God’s children are called “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called” (Eph 4:1), to “conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Phil 1:27), to “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Col 1:10), and to “walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory” (1 Th 2:12). In biblical language, the term “walk” often represents one’s way of life or conduct. It’s a metaphor for the journey of life and how one navigates it. To walk “worthy” emphasizes the importance of living in a manner that is fitting or appropriate for the calling we have received as Christians. We are children of God by faith in Christ (Gal 3:26), adopted brothers and sisters to the King of kings and Lord of lords, and our performance in life should match our position in Christ. Salvation is free. It’s a gift, paid in full by the Lord Jesus who died on Calvary. God’s gift is received freely, by grace, no strings attached, and is received by faith alone in Christ alone (John 3:16; Acts 4:12; 16:31; Eph 2:8-9). That’s all. However, living the sanctified life as a new Christian is radical and calls for commitment to God. This requires positive volition and dedication to learning and living God’s Word on a daily basis. It means prioritizing and structuring our lives in a way that factors God and His Word into everything. It means bringing all aspects of our lives—marriage, family, education, work, finances, resources, entertainment, etc.—under the authority of Christ. This is the sanctified life when we learn Scripture (Psa 1:2-3; Jer 15:16; Ezra 7:10; 2 Tim 2:15; 3 :16-17; 1 Pet 2:2; 2 Pet 3:18), walk by faith (2 Cor 5:7; Heb 10:38; 11:6), and advance to spiritual maturity (Heb 6:1). As we advance, God’s Word will saturate our thinking and govern our thoughts, values, words, and actions. A sign of maturity is when God and His Word are more real and dominant than our experiences, feelings, or circumstances. This is the place of spiritual maturity and stability.      Unfortunately, not everyone answers the call to Christian service, as our justification does not guarantee sanctification. But for those who have positive volition and who answer the call, there is no better life, no higher calling, no nobler pursuit, than that which we live in our daily walk with the God of the universe who has called us “out of darkness and into His marvelous light” (1 Pet 2:9; cf. Eph 4:8-9). As those who are now “the saints in Light” (Col 1:12), we need to act like it, “for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light; for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth, trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord” (Eph 5:8-10). And we are to “lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light” (Rom 13:12), and learn to function “in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world” (Phil 2:15). Being a light in the world means helping those who are positive to God to know Him. It means sharing Scripture with them. It means sharing the gospel of grace to the lost who want to know God so they might be saved (John 3:16; Acts 4:12; 16:31; 1 Cor 15:3-4; Eph 2:8-9). And for Christians who want to grow spiritually, it means helping them know God’s Word so they can advance to spiritual maturity (Heb 6:1; cf., 2 Tim 3:16-17; 1 Pet 2:2; 2 Pet 3:18). This life honors the Lord, edifies others, and creates within us a personal sense of destiny that is tied to the infinite, personal, creator God who has called us into a relationship and walk with Him. Dr. Steven R. Cook     [1] The atheist rejects the existence of God; therefore, in his mind, there is no One to whom he must account for his life. In the mind of the atheist, good and evil are merely artificial constructs that can be arbitrarily adjusted to suit one’s life. Apart from the atheists, there are many who desire to be religious, but do not acknowledge or accept the true God, which was the case with the scribes, Sadducees and Pharisees. Religion is man, by man’s efforts, trying to win the approval of God. Worldly religion is a works-based salvation where a person tries to live a good-enough-life to gain entrance into heaven. A false god is always self-serving and rarely condemns. And if the man feels condemned by his false god, there’s always a way for him to correct his wrong, pay some penance, and save himself by his own good works. Salvation by good works tells you the person worships a false god and not the God of the Bible.
1/17/20241 hour, 29 minutes, 8 seconds
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Soteriology Lesson 31 - Assurance of Salvation

     At the moment of faith in Christ, we have eternal life. This is a fact, even if we don’t fully understand it. In truth, most people will not understand what they have from God or find assurance of their salvation until they’ve studied God’s Word and learned to live by faith. Doctrinal ignorance and/or false teaching will lead to fear and doubt. For those who have trusted Christ as their Savior, subsequent knowledge of God’s Word and trust in it will yield assurance of their salvation. And, as one advances spiritually, there will also be a noticeable change within, and this too may provide a subjective assurance of salvation. Objective Assurance of Salvation      The Bible reveals God is absolutely righteous and set apart from all that is sinful (Psa 11:7; 99:9; Hab 1:13; 1 John 1:5) and He hates and condemns sin (Deut 25:16; Psa 5:5; 45:7; Prov 8:13; 15:9, 26; 20:9; Zech 8:17; Rom 1:18; Col 3:6; Heb 1:9). The problem for us is that all mankind is sinful (Gen 6:5; 8:21; 1 Ki 8:46; Psa 143:2; Eccl 7:20; Isa 59:2; 64:6; Jer 17:9; Rom 3:10; 3:23; Eph 2:1-2; 1 John 1:8, 10). Not only are we sinful, but our good works have no saving merit (Rom 4:4-5; Gal 2:16; Eph 2:8-9; Tit 3:5). Our salvation was accomplished 100% by Jesus who died on the cross for our sins. Salvation is never what we do for God, but what He’s done for us at the cross (Rom 5:8; 6:10; 1 Cor 15:3-4; 1 Pet 3:18). God offers to justify and save us freely as a gift, totally apart from any good works we may perform (Rom 3:24, 28, 4:5; Gal 2:16; Eph 2:8-9; Tit 3:5; 1 Pet 3:18). God’s salvation comes to us who have trusted in Christ as our Savior (John 3:15-18; 6:40; 10:28; 11:25; 14:6; Acts 4:12; 16:31; 1 John 5:12). Salvation means we have forgiveness of sins (Eph 1:7), the gift of righteousness (Rom 5:17; 2 Cor 5:21; Phil 3:9), eternal life (John 10:28), are part of the family of God (Gal 3:26; 1 John 3:1), are blessed with many spiritual blessings (Eph 1:3), and will never face condemnation (Rom 8:1, 33).      When we understand these truths by studying Scripture and accept them by faith, we have assurance of our salvation because we trust in God and His Word (Psa 119:160; John 17:17). The apostle Paul wrote, “I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day” (2 Tim 1:12). The apostle John wrote, “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life” (1 John 5:11-12). The assurance of salvation does not come by looking to ourselves, but to the One who saved us. John also wrote, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). Assurance of salvation is not a guessing game for those who have trusted in Jesus as their Savior, but is a confidence that is rooted in the revelation of God’s Word. For those of us who have trusted in Jesus as our Savior—believing He died for our sins, was buried, and raised again on the third day—we have eternal life. According to Zane Hodges, “It should be said here that all true assurance of salvation and eternal life must rest on the ‘testimony of God,’ for only that testimony has full reliability and solidity.”[1] What Calvinists and Arminians Generally Believe      Arminians are those who believe they are eternally secure in Christ, as long as they remain faithful in their walk with God. Like Catholics, they believe faith + works = salvation. They believe their salvation can be lost due to intentional, egregious, ongoing sin; therefore, they cannot have assurance of salvation because there’s always the chance they may turn away from God and forfeit their salvation. This stands in contrast to the Calvinistic doctrine of perseverance of the saints, which teaches that those whom God has chosen will persevere in faith until the end.      Calvinists believe God gives His elect a special kind of faith that guarantees they will persevere to the end of their lives and be saved eternally; however, knowing they are among the elect is always a question in their minds that cannot be finally answered until they die. If they have persevered until the end, not having denied the Lord, and continued in good works, then they can know they were among the elect. If they fall into serious and prolonged sin, especially to the end of their lives, it strongly argues they were not among the elect who are said to persevere to the end. Kenneth D. Keathley notes, “Arminians know they are saved but are afraid they cannot keep it, while Calvinists know they cannot lose their salvation but are afraid they do not have it.”[2] Norman Geisler correctly notes: "Arminians and strong Calvinists have much in common on this issue. Both assert that professing believers living in gross, unrepentant sin are not truly saved. Both insist that a person cannot be living in serious sin at the end of his life if he is truly saved. And both maintain that no one living in grave sin can be sure of his salvation."[3]      Though Christians may, to some degree, advance spiritually by learning and living God’s Word, and bear the fruit of the Spirit in their lives, this will never be consistent, because the taint of sin is also present in the life of every Christian, and this to varying degrees. Christians are never free from sin (1 John 1:8, 10), and God never promises to make us completely sinless during our time on earth, so consistency of performance is lacking. Because of our imperfect knowledge and imperfect life, our ability to analyze ourselves accurately will not always be consistent. John Walvoord notes: "The difficulty is that human experience may be far from a norm, may be inaccurately analyzed, and may be made the basis of an induction which in the last analysis is based only on fragmentary evidence…The only sure basis for salvation is the promise of God in the inspired Word of God which properly accepted by faith gives validity to assurance. One clear promise sustained by “Thus saith the Lord” is better than a thousand testimonies of human conviction without a specific ground. A proper doctrine of assurance of salvation is therefore inseparable from a belief in the inspired Word of God."[4]      The Word of God is the objective basis for what we believe, and our focus should always be on learning and living His Word so that we can expunge any false ideas and properly calibrate our thinking to align with His divine revelation. Jesus said we have “eternal life…and will never perish” (John 10:28); therefore, there is no danger of us losing our salvation, for there is “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1), and “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies” (Rom 8:33). The matter of our eternal destiny was settled at the cross when Jesus paid the penalty for all our sins. And Jesus’ work on the cross was perfectly applied to us at the moment we trusted in Him as our Savior.[5] Subjective Assurance of Salvation      Christians who are advancing spiritually may enjoy a subjective assurance of their salvation. Paul wrote, “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rom 8:16). According to William MacDonald, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with the believer’s spirit that he is a member of God’s family. He does it primarily through the Word of God. As a Christian reads the Bible, the Spirit confirms the truth that, because he has trusted the Savior, he is now a child of God.”[6] This experience is valid only for believers who are in submission to God (Rom 12:1-2), learning and living Scripture (2 Tim 3:16-17; 1 Pet 2:2), walking by faith (2 Cor 5:7; Heb 10:38; 11:6), and advancing to spiritual maturity (Heb 6:1).      As believers, we have been “born again” (1 Pet 1:23), “made alive” spiritually (1 Cor 15:22), and are a “new creature” in Christ Jesus (2 Cor 5:17). At the moment of salvation, God the Holy Spirit indwells us and gives us a new nature that, for the first time in our lives, has the capacity and desire to obey God. Paul wrote of his new nature in Christ when he said, “I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man” (Rom 7:22). Since we have the Spirit within us, as well as new spiritual life, it is natural to expect there will be some change in attitude and behavior. The degree to which this change occurs, in part, depends on our staying positive to the Lord. According to John Walvoord adds: "The ground of assurance as stated in Scripture is something more than an intellectual comprehension of the theology of salvation and more than a conviction that the terms of salvation have been met. Scriptures make plain that there is a corresponding experience of transformation which attends the work of salvation in a believer. Some aspects of this are nonexperimental, but the new life in Christ is manifested in many ways. The believer in Christ possesses eternal life and a new divine nature which tends to change his whole viewpoint. He is indeed “a new creature: the old things are passed away; behold, they are become new” (2 Cor 5:17). The believer in Christ is indwelt by the Spirit of God, which opens a whole new field of spiritual experience. He now knows what it is to have fellowship with his heavenly Father and with His Savior the Lord Jesus Christ. His eyes are opened to spiritual truth, and the Scriptures take on a true living character as the Spirit of God illuminates the written Word. He experiences a new relationship to other believers as he is bound to them by ties of love and common faith and life. The believer is relieved from the load of condemnation for sin and experiences hope and peace such as is impossible for the unbeliever. His experiences include deliverance from the power of sin and from opposition of Satan. He enters into the joy of intercessory prayer and experiences answers to prayer. The new life in Christ, therefore, provides a satisfying and Biblical new experience which is a confirming evidence of the fact of his salvation and a vital and true basis for assurance."[7]      As Christians, our assurance of eternal life is, first and foremost, based on the salvific work of Jesus on the cross (Acts 4:12; Rom 5:8; 1 Cor 15:3-4), and the revelation of Scripture that we, who have trusted in Christ as our Savior (Acts 4:12, 16:31), “may know that [we] have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). This assurance is objective and constant, because God’s Word is sure and does not change. Dr. Steven R. Cook     [1] Zane Clark Hodges, The Epistle of John: Walking in the Light of God’s Love (Irving, TX: Grace Evangelical Society, 1999), 228. [2] Kenneth D. Keathley, “Perseverance and Assurance of the Saints,” in Whosoever Will, ed. David L. Allen and Steve W Lemke (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2010). [3] Norman L. Geisler, Systematic Theology, Volume Three: Sin, Salvation (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2004), 302. [4] John F. Walvoord, “The Doctrine of Assurance in Contemporary Theology,” Bibliotheca Sacra 116 (1959): 198. [5] The Bible reveals that when we sin, we are walking in darkness and have broken fellowship with God (1 John 1:5-6), and stifled the work of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us (Eph 4:30; 1 Th 5:19). If we continue in sin, or leave our sin unconfessed, we are in real danger of divine discipline from God (Psa 32:3-4; Heb 12:5-11; 1 John 5:16-17; cf. Dan 4:37), which can eventuate in physical death (1 John 5:16; cf., Lev 10:1-2; Acts 5:3-5; 1 Cor 11:30), and the loss of eternal rewards (1 Cor 3:10-15; 2 John 1:8). If we confess our sin directly to God, He will immediately forgive it and restore us to fellowship (1 John 1:9; cf. Psa 32:5). Being in fellowship with God means learning and living His Word (2 Tim 2:15; 3:16-17; 1 Pet 2:2), walking by faith (2 Cor 5:7; Heb 10:38; 11:6), being honest with Him about our sin (1 John 1:8, 10), and coming before His “throne of grace” (Heb 4:16) in transparent humility and confessing it in order to be forgiven (1 John 1:9; cf. Heb. 4:16). God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins every time we confess them because of the atoning work of Christ who shed His blood on the cross for us (1 John 1:9; 2:1-2). [6] William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments, ed. Arthur Farstad (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1995), 1711. [7] John F. Walvoord, “The Doctrine of Assurance in Contemporary Theology,” Bibliotheca Sacra 116 (1959): 201–202.
1/14/20241 hour, 21 minutes, 16 seconds
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Soteriology Lesson 30 - Faith in the Bible

The word faith is used three ways in Scripture: Faith as a noun (pistis πίστις), often refers to “that which evokes trust and faith.”[1] The word is used with reference to God who is trustworthy (Rom 3:3; 4:19-21), and of people who possess faith (Matt 9:2, 22; 21:21), which can be great (Matt 15:28; cf. Acts 6:5; 11:23-24), small (Matt 17:19-20), or absent (Mark 4:39-40; cf. Luke 8:25). It is also used of Scripture itself as a body of reliable teaching (i.e. Acts 14:22; 16:5; Rom 14:22; Gal 1:23; 2 Tim 4:7). Paul was said to preach “the faith which he once tried to destroy” (Gal 1:23). Richard Longenecker notes that Paul “uses πίστις in Galatians in an absolute sense…to mean the content of the Christian gospel.”[2] Faith as a verb (pisteuō πιστεύω), which means “to consider something to be true and therefore worthy of one’s trust, believe…to entrust oneself to an entity in complete confidence, believe (in), trust.”[3]The word is used of trust in God (Gen 15:6; Heb 11:6; cf. Rom 4:3), trust in Jesus (Acts 16:31; 1 Pet 1:8), and trust in Scripture (John 2:22). According to J. Carl Laney Jr., “Believing in Christ means we acknowledge Him as God’s Son and Messiah and trust His person and work in securing our personal salvation. Believing in Christ means that we rely on Jesus alone to bring us safely through life to heaven.”[4] Faith as an adjective (pistos πιστός), which describes someone “being worthy of belief or trust, trustworthy, faithful, dependable, inspiring trust/faith.”[5] The word is used of God (1 Cor 1:9; 10:13; 2 Tim 2:13; Heb 10:23; Rev 1:5), and of people (Matt 25:23; 1 Cor 4:17; Col 1:7; 1 Tim 1:12; 2 Tim 2:2; Heb 3:5).      Faith demands an object as it must have something or someone upon which to rest. To receive salvation, the unbeliever is told to “believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31a). For the unbeliever, faith in Christ is exercised with a view to receiving a benefit, and that benefit is eternal life (John 3:16). Faith does not save. God saves. Faith is merely the means by which the unsaved person receives salvation, as God alone does the saving. Though we may exercise faith and receive a benefit, the object always gets the credit, and in the case of our salvation, God alone gets the glory. And faith is never blind, but is an intelligent act of the will by the believer who hears and understands God’s Word. Paul tells us “faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Rom 10:17; cf. 14:23; Heb 4:2; Jam 1:22). According to Charles Swindoll: "To believe in Christ is, first, to accept what He says as truth. Second, and more importantly, pisteuō means “to trust,” “to rely upon,” or “to derive confidence in” something or someone. When I say I believe in Jesus Christ, I declare that I trust Him, I rely upon Him, I have placed my complete confidence in Him; everything I know about this life and whatever occurs after death depends upon His claims about Himself and my positive response to His offer of grace."[6] John Walvoord adds: "[Faith] is illustrated by the use of an elevator. A person may believe that the elevator is in good working order and would take him to the top floor of the building if he chose to get on board; but as long as he is outside the elevator, his belief that the elevator would take him to the top floor does not do him any good. Faith would mean that he stepped in the elevator and put his weight into it and committed himself to its mechanical perfections. Likewise, there is more than mere assent in the matter of believing in Christ."[7]      As Christians enter into phase two of their salvation, they learn to live by faith (Heb 10:38), submit to God (Rom 12:1), claim promises (Rom 8:28; 1 Cor 10:13; 1 John 1:9), give their cares to God (1 Pet 5:6-7), overcome fear (Deut 31:6-8; Isa 41:10-13), love others (1 Th 4:9), learn to rejoice (1 Th 5:16), pray continually (1 Th 5:17), be thankful (1 Th 5:18), and live with a relaxed mental attitude (Isa 26:3; Phil 4:11). Biblically, we know faith will be tested (1 Pet 1:6-7), is the only thing that pleases God (Heb 11:6), and should be exercised daily as we learn to “walk by faith” (2 Cor 5:7). Dr. Steven R. Cook     [1] William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 818. [2] Richard N. Longenecker, Galatians, vol. 41, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1990), 42. [3] William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 817. [4] J. Carl Laney Jr., et al, “Soteriology”, Understanding Christian Theology, 240. [5] William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 820. [6] Charles R. Swindoll, Acts, Swindoll’s Living Insights New Testament Commentary (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2016), 147. [7] John F. Walvoord, What We Believe (Galaxie Software, 2007), 87.
1/7/20241 hour, 17 minutes, 4 seconds
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Soteriology Lesson 29 - Eternal Life & Expiation

Eternal Life      John wrote, “whoever believes will in Him have eternal life” (John 3:15), and “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). And Jesus pointed others to Himself, saying, “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:40), and “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life” (John 6:47; cf., 10:28). Jesus, when saying the believer “has” eternal life in John 6:47, used the Greek verb echō (ἔχω – to have or possess), which is in the present tense, meaning it’s a right-now-truth. That is, eternal life is what the believer possesses at the moment of faith in Christ. This eternal life is connected with being in a relationship with Jesus Christ. John wrote, “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life” (1 John 5:11-12).      We should also understand that eternal life does not merely refer to our unending existence in which we spend eternity with God in heaven, but that there’s a qualitative dimension to it. Jesus said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10), and “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3). Merrill C. Tenney states, “Eternal, the new life God gives, refers not solely to the duration of existence but also to the quality of life as contrasted with futility. It is a deepening and growing experience. It can never be exhausted in any measurable span of time, but it introduces a totally new quality of life.”[1] In its entirety, eternal life is a free gift offered by God to those who trust in Christ as Savior (John 3:16; Eph 2:8-9), an experience to be enjoyed now (John 10:10), and a future reward for a life of sacrifice (Luke 18:29-30). As we advance spiritually in our walk with the Lord by learning His Word (2 Tim 2:15; 3:16-17; 1 Pet 2:2; 2 Pet 3:18), being filled with the Spirit (Eph 5:18), walking obediently by faith (2 Cor 5:7; Heb 10:38; 11:6), praying often (Eph 6:18; 1 Th 5:17), developing an attitude of gratitude (Eph 5:20; 1 Th 5:18), fellowshipping with other believers (Acts 2:42; Heb 10:25), engaging in worship (Eph 5:19; Heb 13:15), and allowing trials to shape us spiritually (Jam 1:2-4), we will experience what Paul told Timothy, when he instructed him to “take hold of the eternal life to which you were called” (1 Tim 6:12). This is the quality of life of believers who, in time, operate with positive volition toward God as their divine Parent and obey His directives to advance to spiritual maturity. Wiersbe notes, “We have ‘eternal life’ and need to take hold of it and let it work in our experience.”[2] MacDonald adds, “He is to lay hold on eternal life. This does not mean that he is to strive for salvation. That is already his possession. But here the thought is to live out in daily practice the eternal life which was already his.”[3] Joseph Dillow states: "Possessing eternal life is one thing in the sense of initial entrance, but “taking hold” of it is another. The former is static; the latter is dynamic. The former depends on God; the latter depends on us. The former comes through faith alone; “taking hold” requires faith plus “keeping commandments” (1 Timothy 6:14). Those who are rich in this world and who give generously “will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life” (1 Timothy 6:19). Eternal life is not only the gift of regeneration; it is also “true life” that is cultivated by faith and acts of obedience."[4] Expiation      The doctrine of expiation is closely related to propitiation. Propitiation means satisfaction and refers to God the Father’s approval of the death of Christ on behalf of sinners. Expiation emphasizes the removal of sin, as well as its guilt and punishment. Because God is holy and just, sin is an offense that demands His punishment. According to John Stott, God’s wrath refers to “His steady, unrelenting, unremitting, uncompromising antagonism to evil in all its forms and manifestations.”[5] By means of the penal substitutionary atoning death of Jesus, God’s wrath is satisfied concerning His righteous demands for our sin, and when we turn to Christ as Savior, all our sins are forgiven (Eph 1:7), and we are reconciled to God (Rom 5:10; 2 Cor 5:18-20). Jesus is “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29), and we know “He appeared in order to take away sins” (1 John 3:5), and that Jesus “released us from our sins by His blood” (Rev 1:5). Bruce Demarest states, “the focus of propitiation is Godward—Christ’s sacrifice pays the penalty of sin so as to appease God’s wrath. But the focus of expiation is humanward—Christ’s sacrifice removes the stain of sin and the sinner’s liability to suffer sin’s punishment.”[6] Charles Hodge adds, “Expiation and propitiation are correlative terms. The sinner, or his guilt is expiated; God, or justice, is propitiated.”[7]      Propitiation is a word that speaks to our relationship with the Father. He was angry with us prior to our coming to Jesus, as we were “enemies” of God (Rom 5:10), spiritually “dead” in our trespasses (Eph 2:1; cf., Col 2:13), and “children of wrath” (Eph 2:3). But now, because of the death of Christ, the Father accepts those who have trusted in Jesus as Savior, and has “forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross” (Col 2:13b-14). Robert B. Thieme, Jr. states: "Expiation describes the work of Christ on the cross that canceled mankind’s debt owed for the penalty of sin. Man’s penalty for sin is spiritual death, total separation from God. This is the status of every human being at birth due to Adam’s fall (Rom 6:23a; Eph 2:1). The penalty placed all fallen humanity hopelessly in debt to God and incapable of paying the obligation. The only one qualified to pay was Jesus Christ, the Lamb without sin. He “bore our sins in His body on the cross” and was judged by God the Father (1 Pet 2:24a; cf. Isa 53:6b). Jesus Christ Himself covered the cost of man’s spiritual death and “canceled out the certificate of debt” (Col 2:14). As a result, every human being is released from obligation and free to accept or reject the grace gift of salvation."[8] Dr. Steven R. Cook     [1] Merrill C. Tenney, “John,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: John and Acts, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 9 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 50. [2] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 236. [3] William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments, ed. Arthur Farstad (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1995), 2101. [4] Joseph C. Dillow, Final Destiny: The Future Reign of the Servant Kings, 4th Edition (Houston, TX: Grace Theology Press, 2018). [5] John R. W. Stott, The Cross of Christ (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2006), 171. [6] Bruce A. Demarest, The Cross and Salvation: The Doctrine of Salvation, Foundations of Evangelical Theology (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1997), 180. [7] Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, vol. 2 (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997), 478. [8] Robert B. Thieme, Jr. “Expiation”,  Thieme’s Bible Doctrine Dictionary, 94.
12/31/20231 hour, 4 minutes, 13 seconds
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Soteriology Lesson 28 - Adoption & Deliverance from Sin

Adoption      As those who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ, we have been transferred from Satan’s “domain of darkness” (Col 1:13) and placed into the family of God. Our new status is as “children of God” (John 1:12; cf., Rom 8:16; Phil 2:15). John wrote, “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are” (1 John 3:1a). We do not come into the world as natural born children of God; rather, we are naturally born “in Adam” (1 Cor 15:21-22), as “sons of disobedience” (Eph 2:2), and are “by nature children of wrath” (Eph 2:3). But at the moment of faith in Christ, we receive “adoption as sons” (Rom 8:15; cf. Gal 4:5; Eph 1:5). The term adoption derives from the Greek word huiothesia (υἱοθεσία) which, according to BDAG, refers to “those who believe in Christ and are accepted by God as God’s children…with full rights.”[1] For the first time, as children of God, we have the privilege and right to cry out to God as “Abba! Father!” (Rom 8:15). This adoption by God is an act of love and grace, for “He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will” (Eph 1:5). Our position in God’s family should lead to a new and better performance of life. God calls us to mature spiritually (Heb 6:1) and to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet 3:18). Norman Geisler states: "Adoption (Grk: huiothesia) means “placing as a son”; it signifies, literally, “a legal child” (Ex 2:10) and is used five times in the New Testament. Theologically, adoption (Gal 4:5) refers to the act of God that places a person as a son in God’s family. Adoption is a term of position whereby one becomes a son by the new birth (John 1:12–13), is redeemed from the bondage of the law (Gal 4:1–5), and, although only a child (Grk: teknion), is by adoption made an adult son (Grk: huios), which is fully manifested at the resurrection of the body (Rom 8:23; cf. 1 John 3:2)."[2] R.B. Thieme Jr., adds: "God’s bestowal of sonship and heirship upon believers is a grace gift at the moment of salvation (John 1:12–13; Gal 4:5–7; Eph 1:5). Through union with Christ, every Church Age believer, male or female, is adopted into God’s royal family and granted joint heirship with God the Son, who is the “heir of all things” (Heb 1:2). Even though the new believer is a spiritual infant, adoption recognizes his position not as nepios, a young child, but as huios, an adult son (Gal 4:1–7). This royal son of God receives the full privileges and responsibilities of spiritual aristocracy, along with an eternal inheritance (Rom 8:23; Eph 1:14; Col 3:24; Rev 21:7)."[3]      Though fully adopted as God’s children, there is an eschatological aspect to our adoption that is pending our future glorified bodies. Paul wrote, “the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption” (Rom 8:21), and then draws a parallel with our status as children, saying, “even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body” (Rom 8:23). We are children by position, and will experience our freedom from sin when we receive our glorified bodies (Phil 3:20-21; 1 John 3:2, 5).   Deliverance From Sin      Concerning the Christian’s spiritual deliverance, the NT describes it in three tenses. Because we have trusted Christ as our Savior, we have been saved from the penalty of sin (Rom 5:16; 8:1, 33-34; Eph 2:8-9), are saved from the power of sin that we might live righteously (Rom 6:11; Col 3:5), and will, ultimately, be saved from the presence of sin when we leave this world and enter heaven (Phil 3:20-21; 1 John 3:2, 5). These three aspects of our salvation are also referred to as justification (declared just before God once for all), sanctification (progressive righteousness over time), and glorification (removal of the sin nature after we leave this world). According to Charles Ryrie: "The inclusive sweep of salvation is underscored by observing the three tenses of salvation. (1) The moment one believed he was saved from the condemnation of sin (Eph 2:8; Tit 3:5). (2) That believer is also being saved from the dominion of sin and is being sanctified and preserved (Heb 7:25). (3) And he will be saved from the very presence of sin in heaven forever (Rom 5:9-10)."[4]      The first and third aspects of our salvation (i.e., justification and glorification) are accomplished by God without any human assistance. Concerning our justification, Scripture reveals that “God is the one who justifies” (Rom 8:33), and “who justifies the ungodly” (Rom 4:5). This is a work of God alone. No works are required for the one who trusts in Christ as Savior (Rom 4:4-5; Eph 2:8-9; Tit 3:5). Concerning our glorification, Jesus Christ is the One “who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory” (Phil 3:21), and “We know that when He appears, we will be like Him” (1 John 3:2), and that “in Him there is no sin” (1 John 3:5). This means our future heavenly body will have no sin nature. This also is a work of God alone. However, the second aspect of our salvation, our sanctification, requires positive volition on our part. This is made obvious by the use of NT verbs that are in the imperative mood (i.e., a command), which requires the Christian to obey. As believers, we play a role in our sanctification as we learn and live God’s Word (2 Tim 2:15; 3:16-17; 1 Pet 2:2; 2 Pet 3:18), yield to God the Holy Spirit (Eph 5:18; Gal 5:16, 25), walk by faith (2 Cor 5:7; Heb 10:38; 11:6), and advance to spiritual maturity (Heb 6:1).      After being justified (and awaiting glorification), it is possible for the Christian to go negative to God, not learn or live His Word, and remain a carnal Christian (1 Cor 3:1-3). Such a one will be subject to divine discipline (Heb 12:5-11), even to the point of physical death if their sinful lifestyle becomes egregious (1 Cor 11:30; 1 John 5:16-17), and they will forfeit future rewards (1 Cor 3:10-15; 2 John 1:8). Dr. Steven R. Cook   [1] William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 1024. [2] Norman L. Geisler, Systematic Theology, Volume Three: Sin, Salvation, 226. [3] Robert B. Thieme, Jr. “Adoption”, Thieme’s Bible Doctrine Dictionary, 3. [4] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Basic Theology, 318–319.
12/17/20231 hour, 9 minutes, 29 seconds
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Soteriology Lesson 27 - The Value of Jesus’ Death for God and Christians

     Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross has both infinite and eternal value for both God the Father as well as those trust in Christ as their Savior. According to Francis Schaeffer, “Christ’s death in space-time history is completely adequate to meet our need for refuge from the true moral guilt that we have. It is final because of who He is. He is the infinite second person of the Trinity; therefore, His death has infinite value.”[1]Though Jesus suffered for our sins for only a few hours on the cross, His death had infinite and eternal value and saves forever those who trust in Him as Savior. Geisler states, “Being by nature the infinite God, Christ’s death had infinite value, even though His suffering and death occurred in a finite amount of time. Time is not a mandatory measure of worth—birth, for instance, happens over a relatively short span but produces something of extraordinary value. One death in limited time achieved something of limitless value for all eternity.”[2] Paul Enns states, “At the heart of orthodox belief is the recognition that Christ died a substitutionary death to provide salvation for a lost humanity. If Jesus were only a man He could not have died to save the world, but because of His deity, His death had infinite value whereby He could die for the entire world.”[3]      As a result of what Christ accomplished, there is great benefit for us who have trusted in Him as our Savior. By His work on the cross, Christians become the recipients of great blessings, both in time and eternity. Though He blesses some Christians materially (1 Tim 6:17-19), His main focus is on giving us spiritual blessings which are far better. Paul wrote that God “has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Eph 1:3). According to Harold Hoehner, “Every spiritual blessing (eulogia) refers to every spiritual enrichment needed for the spiritual life. Since these benefits have already been bestowed on believers, they should not ask for them but rather appropriate them by faith.”[4] Some of the spiritual blessings mentioned in Scripture are as follows: We are the special objects of His love: “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8), and “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). We are forgiven all our sins: “When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross” (Col 2:13-14; cf. Eph 1:7; Heb 10:10-14). We are given eternal life: Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand (John 10:27-28; cf. John 3:16; 6:40; 20:31). We are made alive together with Christ: “God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ” (Eph 2:4-5). We are raised up and seated with Christ: God “raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:6). We are the recipients of God’s grace: “For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace” (John 1:16), “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph 2:8-9). We are created to perform good works: “So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith” (Gal 6:10), and “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Eph 2:10; cf., Tit 2:11-4). We are given freedom in Christ: “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal 5:1), “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Gal 5:13; cf., 1 Pet 2:16). We are given a spiritual gift to serve others: “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Pet 4:10; cf. Rom 12:6-8; Eph 4:11). We are children of God: “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are” (1 John 3:1a), “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:26). We are made ambassadors for Christ: “We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Cor 5:20). We are gifted with God’s righteousness: “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor 5:21), “and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith” (Phil 3:9; cf. Rom 4:3-5; 5:17). We are justified before God: “Being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus…For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law” (Rom 3:24, 28), and “knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified” (Gal 2:16). We have peace with God: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:1). We will never be condemned: “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18), “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (John 5:24), “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1). We are given citizenship in heaven: “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil 3:20). We are transferred to the kingdom of Christ: “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Col 1:13; cf. Acts 26:18), and “walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory” (1 Th 2:12). We are all saints in Christ Jesus: we are “saints by calling” (1 Cor 1:2), and “saints in Christ Jesus” (Phil 1:1), and “are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household” (Eph 2:19). We are made priests to God: “He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father—to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen” (Rev 1:6). We are God’s chosen: “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him” (Eph 1:4), “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Col 3:12). We are the recipients of His faithfulness: “He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you’” (Heb 13:5), and even “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself” (2 Tim 2:13). We have been called to walk in newness of life: “We have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom 6:4), and “walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love” (Eph 4:1-2). We are members of the Church, the body of Christ: “For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (Rom 12:4-5), and “He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Eph 1:22-23; cf. Col 1:18). We are indwelt with the Holy Spirit: “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Cor 3:16), “your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you” (1 Cor 6:19). We are sealed with the Holy Spirit: “having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Eph 1:13b; cf. 2 Cor 5:5). We are enabled to walk with God: “I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh” (Gal 5:16), and “Since we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit” (Gal 5:25). We are empowered to live godly: “His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence” (2 Pet 1:3). We have Scripture to train us in righteousness: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16-17). We are guaranteed a new home in heaven: “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2-3). We are guaranteed resurrection bodies: “I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Cor 15:51-53). We have special access to God’s throne of grace: “Let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4:16). We will be glorified in eternity: “When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory” (Col 3:4), for Christ “will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself” (Phil 3:21). Dr. Steven R. Cook   [1] Francis A. Schaeffer, Joshua and the Flow of Biblical History, Second U.S. edition. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2004), 206. [2] Norman L. Geisler, Systematic Theology, Volume Four: Church, Last Things (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2005), 403. [3] Paul P. Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1989), 225. [4] Harold W. Hoehner, “Ephesians,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 616.
12/10/20231 hour, 14 minutes, 45 seconds
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Soteriology Lesson 26 - The Trials, Beatings, Mockings, and Death of the Messiah

What Jesus Suffered by Men      Jesus loved the Father (John 14:31) and submitted Himself to do the Father’s will (Matt 26:39-44; cf. Rom 5:19; Phil 2:5-8), which included enduring the illegal trials of His accusers, as well as the eventual mockings, beatings, and crucifixion. All that Jesus suffered was prophesied in Scripture (Gen 3:15; Psa 22:16-18; Isa 50:4-7; 52:14; 53:3-12; Mark 10:32-34). God the Father was in complete control of the circumstances surrounding the trials and crucifixion of Jesus (Acts 2:23; 4:27-28). Though unjustly attacked, Jesus knew He was doing the Father’s will (John 6:38; 10:14-18; 12:27; 18:11) and did not retaliate against His attackers (1 Pet 2:21-23). The four Gospels record the arrest, trials, mocking, crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Matthew, Mark and Luke refer to events taking place according to Jewish time in which the day ends at sunset; whereas John relies on Gentile time in which the day ends at midnight. A brief chronology of Jesus’ trials, mockings, beatings, crucifixion and burial is as follows: Jesus was arrested during the night—perhaps around midnight—and faced six illegal trials, three religious and three civil.[1] The trials must have happened relatively early, as they concluded “about six in the morning” (John 19:14 CSB).[2] During the religious trials, the chief priest and Sanhedrin tried to secure false testimony about Jesus so they might have grounds to crucify Him (Matt 26:59). Jesus was beaten in the face and mocked during His Jewish trial (Matt 26:67-68). After Pilate agreed to the demands of the mob (Matt 27:17-25), he had Jesus scourged (Matt 27:26a), and then “handed Him over to be crucified” (Matt 27:26b). Jesus was mocked and beaten by Roman soldiers (Matt 27:27-30), and then was led away to be crucified (Matt 27:31). Jesus was crucified by 9:00 AM (Mark 15:25). Jesus was judged by the Father and bore our sins on the cross from 12:00 to 3:00 PM (Matt 27:45; Mark 15:33; Luke 23:44). Jesus died about 3:00 PM (Matt 27:46-50; Mark 15:34-37). Jesus’ body was placed in the grave before 6:00 PM (i.e. sunset) because the Jews did not want His body on the cross for the Sabbath (John 19:31, 38-42).[3]      The Jewish trials declared Jesus guilty, whereas the Gentile trials found Him innocent. Jesus was crucified by Gentiles because of the pressure of the Jewish leadership. The crucifixion of Jesus was physically horrendous and involved not only great physical pain, but also psychological anguish and social humiliation. According to William Hendriksen, crucifixion included “severe inflammation, the swelling of the wounds in the region of the nails, unbearable pain from torn tendons, fearful discomfort from the strained position of the body, throbbing headache, and burning thirst (John 19:28).”[4] What Jesus Suffered by the Father      As previously mentioned, Jesus was not a helpless victim, but willingly laid down His life for us. Jesus said, “I lay down My life for the sheep” (John 10:15), and “No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative” (John 10:18). Scripture reveals that God the Father sent His Son “as an offering for sin” (Rom 8:3), and once Jesus was on the cross, made Him “to be sin on our behalf” (2 Cor 5:21a), and was “smitten of God, and afflicted” (Isa 53:4), as “the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him” (Isa 53:6), and “the LORD was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering” (Isa 53:10). Thieme states: "At the third hour of crucifixion, noontime, ordinarily the brightest period of the day, an impenetrable “darkness fell upon all the land” (Matt 27:45; Mark 15:33; Luke 23:44). For the following three hours, so intense was the suffering of Jesus Christ that the Father hid the Son’s face from view. Jesus had borne in silence the scourging, the ridicule, and the agony of crucifixion (Isa 53:7; Acts 8:32–35), but the anguish of bearing the sins of the world caused Him to scream out again and again, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matt 27:46; Mark 15:34; cf. Psa 22:1). The Father had to turn His back on the Son in order to judge Him on our behalf (2 Cor 5:21)."[5] Geisler adds: "At the center of Christianity is the Cross; it is the very purpose for which Christ came into the world. Without Him salvation is not possible, and only through His finished work can we be delivered from our sins (Rom 3:21–26). Jesus suffered unimaginable agony and even separation from His beloved Father (Heb 2:10–17; 5:7–9); anticipating the Cross, His “sweat became as it were great drops of blood” (Luke 22:44). Why the Cross and all this suffering unless there is a hell? If there is no hell to shun, then the Cross was in vain. Christ’s death is robbed of its eternal significance unless there is a hellish eternal destiny from which sinful souls need to be delivered."[6] Jesus Died Twice on the Cross      There are different kinds of death mentioned in Scripture. Biblically, death means separation. Three major kinds of death are mentioned in Scripture, and these include: 1) spiritual death, which is separation from God in time (Gen 2:16-17; 3:1-7; Rom 5:12; 1 Cor 15:22; Eph 2:1-2; Col 2:13-14), 2) physical death, which is the separation of the human spirit from the body (Gen 35:18; Eccl 12:7; 2 Cor 5:8; Phil 1:23-24; 2 Tim 4:6; Jam 2:26), and 3) the second death (aka eternal death), which is the perpetuation of physical and spiritual separation from God for all eternity (Rev 20:11-15). Spiritual and physical death were introduced into God’s creation when the first human, Adam, sinned against God. God told Adam, “from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die” (Gen 2:17). Adam’s sin instantly brought spiritual death (Gen 2:15-17; 3:1-7), but not immediate physical death, as he tried to hide physically from God (Gen 3:8-10). Later, Adam died physically at the age of nine hundred and thirty (Gen 5:5). Though Adam was made spiritually alive again (Gen 3:21), his single sin introduced death, in every form, into the world (Rom 5:12-14; 1 Cor 15:21-22). Except for Christ, all are born in Adam (1 Cor 15:21-22), inherit his original sin (Rom 5:12), and are spiritually dead and separated from God in time (Eph 2:1-2). Those who reject Jesus as Savior will experience the second death in the lake of fire.      Because all humanity experiences spiritual and physical death as consequences of sin, it seems that if Jesus is to be our Savior, then He must experience the same kind of death that that we experience. Both physical and spiritual death relate to Jesus’ humanity and not His deity. In His humanity, Jesus’ fellowship with the Father was temporarily broken during the three hours He was being judged for our sin. This was while God the Father poured out His wrath upon His Son who paid the penalty for our sins. Jesus’ spiritual death should not be understood to mean that there was a break in the essence of the Trinity, for that is not possible. In the hypostatic union, Jesus is undiminished deity and perfect humanity, and it was only His humanity that bore our sin, not His deity, for sin cannot be imputed to deity, for that would contaminate and corrupt God Himself. The writer to the Hebrews cites the words of God the Son as He was about to enter the world, saying, “Therefore, when He comes into the world [in hypostatic union], He says, ‘Sacrifice and offering You have not desired, but a body You have prepared for Me’” (Heb 10:5). Because animal sacrifices under the OT law code could never take away sin, a perfect and sinless body was prepared for Jesus, so that by His personal sacrifice, our sins could be atoned for. Peter tells us that Jesus “Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross” (1 Pet 2:24). Jesus’ spiritual death meant His humanity was—for three hours—disconnected from the Father while He was on the cross bearing our sins. Geisler states, “Death is separation, and spiritual death is spiritual separation from God.”[7] W.E. Vine adds, “while the physical death of the Lord Jesus was of the essence of His sacrifice, it was not the whole. The darkness symbolized, and His cry expressed, the fact that He was left alone in the Universe, He was ‘forsaken.’”[8] According to Thieme, “Separated from God the Father, the humanity of Christ died spiritually, and this was the price paid to redeem fallen mankind from the penalty of sin (Rom 6:23a).”[9] Arnold Fruchtenbaum states, “The Righteous One suffered and died in place of unrighteous ones, in order to bring them to God. The Messiah died a violent physical death, and He also died a spiritual death.”[10] J. Dwight Pentecost states: "The penalty for disobedience to God was death (Gen 2:17). This death was the separation of the sinner from God—that is, spiritual death—and physical death was the result of prior spiritual death. Therefore if Jesus Christ was to satisfy the demands of God’s holiness, righteousness, and justice to provide salvation for people who are dead, He would have to experience the same death that separated them from God. He must enter into spiritual death, as anticipated in the prophetic 22nd Psalm where the sufferer cried, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Psa 22:1)…Since only that kind of separation or spiritual death could satisfy the demands of a holy, just God, Christ could not have been praying that He would be spared that which was essential."[11] Paul Karleen adds: "Jesus actually died twice. He was first forsaken by the Father during His time on the cross. This is described in Psa 22:1–21, especially v. 1, the cry of dereliction He quoted on the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt 27:46). This separation from the Father was spiritual death, experienced for others as He was “made” sin (2 Cor 5:21)…The father/son relation had been broken for a few hours as sin was being dealt with…That period of forsaking, involving spiritual death, was what actually paid for sins."[12]      Jesus’ physical death occurred afterwards, when “He said, ‘It is finished!’ And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit” (John 19:30). When Jesus died physically, there was a separation of His human spirit from His body. To prove He was physically dead, Scripture records that a Roman soldier “pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out” (John 19:34). William Hendricksen notes: "In order to insure that not the slightest possibility would exist that any life had remained in the body of Jesus, one of the soldiers with his lance or spear pierces the side of Jesus. If the spear was held in the right hand, as is probable, it was in all likelihood the left side of Jesus that was pierced. Immediately there came out blood and water. John enlarges upon this fact, devoting no less than four verses to it. He must have had a purpose in doing so. It is altogether probable that he was trying to tell his readers that Christ, the Son of God, actually died (according to his human nature). The death of Jesus was not a mere semblance; it was real. The apostle had been there himself, and had seen the blood and the water flowing from the side of the Lord."[13]      There is great complexity and mystery in the suffering of Jesus on the cross. The complexity of the issue is that Jesus is fully God and man. Sin cannot be imputed to deity, as that would corrupt His divine nature. Yet, without corrupting His divine nature, Jesus somehow “bore our sins in His body on the cross” (1 Pet 2:24) and died in our place, “the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet 3:18). Jesus died physically when “He bowed His head and gave up His spirit” (John 19:30). Our ability to reason these things takes us only so far, as our minds are woefully inadequate to grasp the infinitude of the matter. Here, faith must rest in what God has revealed through His written Word. Dr. Steven R. Cook   [1] Jesus’ religious trials: 1) Annas (John 18:12-24), 2) Caiaphas (Matt 26:57-66), and 3) the Sanhedrin (Matt 27:1-2). Jesus’ civil trials: 1) Pilate (John 18:28-40), 2) Herod Antipas (Luke 23:6-12), and 3) Pilate (Luke 23:11; John 19:1-16). [2] This CSB assumes John calculates events using Roman time (where the day begins after midnight) rather than Jewish time (where the day starts at sunrise). The ESV and NAU translate the Greek literally, “about the sixth hour,” whereas the NET and NIV translate it, “about noon.” If the sixth hour is calculated by Roman time, then it would be about 6:00 AM, and if calculated by Jewish time, it would be about 12:00 PM. This author favors the CSB translation. [3] After His death, Jesus was resurrected on the third day and appeared to numerous persons over a period of forty days (Matt 28:1-10; John 20:10-29; 1 Cor 15:5-7). Afterwards, Jesus ascended bodily into heaven (Acts 1:9-12). It is recorded that God the Father “raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places” (Eph 1:20). [4] William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, Exposition of the Gospel According to John, vol. 2, New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001), 427. [5] Robert B. Thieme, Jr. “Cross and Crucifixion”,  Thieme’s Bible Doctrine Dictionary, (Houston, TX., R. B. Thieme, Jr., Bible Ministries, 2022), 50. [6] Norman L. Geisler, Systematic Theology, Volume Four: Church, Last Things (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2005), 336–337. [7] Norman L. Geisler, Systematic Theology, Volume Three: Sin, Salvation (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2004), 126. [8] W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, and William White Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996), 149. [9] Robert B. Thieme, Jr. “Cross and Crucifixion”,  Thieme’s Bible Doctrine Dictionary, (Houston, TX., R. B. Thieme, Jr., Bible Ministries, 2022), 50. [10] Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Israelology: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology, Rev. ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 1994), 999. [11] J. Dwight Pentecost and Ken Durham, Faith That Endures: A Practical Commentary on the Book of Hebrews, Rev. ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2000), 96. [12] Paul S. Karleen, The Handbook to Bible Study: With a Guide to the Scofield Study System (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987), 264–265. [13] William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, Exposition of the Gospel According to John, vol. 2, New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001), 437.
12/3/20231 hour, 21 minutes, 10 seconds
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Soteriology Lesson 25 - The Suffering, Crucifixion, and Death of Christ

     Just prior to crucifixion, a person was scourged with a whip which had thongs that were braided with sharp objects such as nails. As an act of public humiliation, criminals carried their own cross to the place of execution, and once there, were stripped naked before being fastened to the cross, either with rope or nails. Being tied to a cross with ropes was less painful in the beginning, but would leave the victim to hang for a longer period of time, even days, which would make the experience more painful in the end. Some who were tied to the cross are recorded to have lasted for nine days. Nailing a person to a cross was more painful from the beginning and would have led to a quicker death. The body would hang between three to four feet from the ground. Sometimes a soporific was given to the victim to help numb the senses. In Jesus case, it was “wine mixed with myrrh” (Mark 15:23), which our Lord rejected because it would have clouded His thinking (Matt 27:34). In some situations the Romans would break the victim’s legs which would hasten death, but according to Scripture, Jesus was already dead by the time the soldiers considered doing this (John 19:32-34). Unger notes, “In most cases the body was allowed to rot on the cross by the action of the sun and rain or to be devoured by birds and beasts.”[1] We know that Joseph of Arimathea, a disciple of Jesus, came to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body, that he might bury it, and Pilate granted his request (Matt 27:57-60). It’s most likely that Jesus was crucified in April, AD 33.[2]      The cross of Christ became central to the message of the gospel. The apostle Paul was sent by the Lord Jesus “to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void” (1 Cor 1:17). Paul was not concerned with human sophistry, winning arguments, or impressing his audience by means of rhetorical prowess, but merely with presenting the simple message of the cross of Christ, which brings eternal salvation to those who trust in Jesus as their Savior. Paul continued his line of reasoning, saying, “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God...[and] we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor 1:18; 23-24). Paul summarized his message when he said, “I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Cor 2:2). The image of a crucified Savior seems entirely foolish to a world that creates its saviors out of strong heroes; strong in the human sense of one who can save himself and others. Jesus is certainly strong; after all, He’s God! And He does save forever those who come to Him in faith. However, the humility of the cross, with all its offense and shame, leaves no place for human wisdom or pride; for one must admit it was his sin that placed Messiah on the cross to be judged and die. To come to Jesus as a crucified Messiah requires humility, for one must honestly look at oneself from the divine perspective and admit he is a lost sinner in need of a Savior. A Savior who was willing to lay down His life and bear the punishment of the guilty. This requires truth, to see oneself from the divine perspective as utterly sinful and lost. And it requires humility, to admit one it powerless and cannot save himself from a damnable future to which he is certainly headed. It is the work of Messiah that saves. Nothing more is required. Jesus paid it all. W. E. Vine notes, ‘“The Cross of Christ’ does far more than express the fact of the infinite love of God to man in the death of His Son; it exposes the enmity of the human heart against God, reveals the true nature of sin as in the sight of God, and makes known the impossibility of bridging, by any human effort, the chasm that separates unregenerate man from God.”[3]Wendell Johnston adds: "The cross stands at the center of Paul’s theology (1 Cor 1:23). He saw this humiliating and cruel instrument in a new light—as the extraordinary opportunity to boast in his Savior (Gal 6:14). The shameful cross stood for everything the world despised and thus His allegiance to Christ separated him from the world. Jesus’ death was like a magnet drawing the outcasts of the world to Christ (John 12:32). It makes human wisdom foolish (1 Cor 1:27) and weak people strong (1 Cor 1:25), and it breaks the spirit of the proud and lifts up the meek and humble (1 Cor 1:28). Because of His death Jesus breaks the shackles of those in bondage who believe in Him. The Cross brings peace to those in fear (Heb 2:14–15), and it unites Jews and Gentiles into one body (Eph 2:16). The Cross brought complete fulfillment to the system of the Mosaic Law and did away with all the regulations standing against humanity (Col 2:14–18). Because of the Cross, God gives eternal life to those who believe (Rom 5:18). The Cross, which to the world seemed proof of defeat, became the means of triumph (Col 2:15)."[4]      The cross represents the love of the Father, as “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). And it represents the love of Jesus for us, as Paul wrote of “the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Gal 2:20b).      Paul saw himself as crucified with Jesus, as he wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ” (Gal 2:20a). The words “crucified with” translates the Greek verb sustauroō (συσταυρόω), which means one is crucified with another. This is used in a literal sense of persons crucified in physical proximity to each other, such as “The robbers who had been crucified with Him”, that is, Jesus (Matt 27:44; cf., Mark 15:32; John 19:32). But Paul uses the word in Galatians 2:20 in a spiritual sense, in which he is identified with Christ on the cross. This same spiritual identification truth is for all who have trusted in Christ as our Savior, for to be “crucified with Christ” means that we are identified with our Lord in His death, burial, and resurrection. God sees us there are the cross, with Christ, dying with Him. Paul states, “our old self was crucified with Him” (Rom 6:6), and “we have died with Christ” (Rom 6:8). Furthermore, we partook of His burial, resurrection, and ascension, for “we have been buried with Him” (Rom 6:4), and “raised up with Christ” (Col 3:1; cf., Eph 2:6a), and even now are seen to be seated “with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:6b). Concerning Galatians 2:20, William MacDonald states: "The believer is identified with Christ in His death. Not only was He crucified on Calvary, I was crucified there as well—in Him. This means the end of me as a sinner in God’s sight. It means the end of me as a person seeking to merit or earn salvation by my own efforts. It means the end of me as a child of Adam, as a man under the condemnation of the law, as my old, unregenerate self. The old, evil “I” has been crucified; it has no more claims on my daily life."[5] Who Crucified Jesus?      The question is sometimes raised as to who crucified Jesus? According to Chafer, “Closely related to the contrast between the divine and human sides of Christ’s death, is the question: Who put Christ to death? As already indicated, the Scriptures assign both a human and a divine responsibility for Christ’s death.”[6] According to the testimony of Scripture, Jesus’ death on the cross was the result of: 1) God the Father who sent Him, 2) Jesus who willingly went to the cross, 3), Satan who worked through others to help crucify Him, 4) unbelieving Jews, and 5) unbelieving Gentiles. The Bible verses that address the various persons involved in the crucifixion of Jesus are intermixed. That is, a passage might address God the Father and Jesus, or Jews and Gentiles, or Satan and Jews, etc. It is from these Scripture passages that the following categories as recognized. God the Father Sent Christ to Die      Who crucified Jesus? The ultimate answer is God the Father. The Father was motivated by His love for us to save us; therefore, His plan of salvation involved sending His Son into the world to die in our place. The record of Scripture is, “But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief” (Isa 53:10a), and “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16a), and “this Man [Jesus], was delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23a), and Peter, praying to the Father, said, “For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur” (Acts 4:27-28), and “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all” (Rom 8:32). Chafer notes, “Human hands might inflict physical suffering and death as any victim would die, but only the hand of God could make Christ a sin offering, or could lay on Him the iniquity of others (2 Cor 5:21; Isa 53:6).”[7] Jesus Willingly Went to the Cross      Though the Father sent Jesus into the world to be an atoning sacrifice for sin, He did not force Him onto the cross. Jesus consented to come into the world and go to the cross and die for us. He voluntarily laid down His life. The writer of Hebrews states, “Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says, ‘Sacrifice and offering You have not desired, but a body You have prepared for Me’” (Heb 10:5). Jesus, in hypostatic union, speaking from His humanity, said, “Behold, I have come (in the scroll of the book it is written of Me) to do Your will, O God” (Heb 10:7). Constable notes, “Jesus was not some dumb animal that offered its life without knowing what it was doing. He consciously, voluntarily, and deliberately offered His life in obedience to God’s will.”[8] Jesus’ voluntary death on the cross is found in several passages. Jesus said, “I lay down My life for the sheep” (John 10:15), and “no one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative” (John 10:18). Paul wrote, “Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (Eph 5:2), and “Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (Eph 5:25), and “the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Gal 2:20), and “who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed” (Tit 2:14). The writer to the Hebrews tells us that Christ “offered up Himself” (Heb 7:27; cf., Heb 9:14). Satan Was Instrumental in Jesus’ Crucifixion      The very first prophesy related to the cross is found in Genesis, when God told Satan, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel” (Gen 3:15). Concerning Genesis 3:15, Chafer notes, “it is implied that Satan did what he could in the exercise of his power—directly, or indirectly, through human agents—against the Savior.”[9] Satan’s seed refers to all those who reject God and Christ and are part of Satan’s kingdom of darkness.[10] Jesus said to unbelieving Jews, “You are of your father the devil” (John 8:44), and all unbelievers are “the sons of the evil one” (Matt 13:38). These were used by Satan to help in the crucifixion of Christ. On the night before Jesus’ crucifixion, John records, “During supper, the devil had already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him” (John 13:2). During the meal, Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly, truly, I say to you, that one of you will betray Me” (John 13:21), and “After the morsel, Satan then entered into him. Therefore Jesus said to him, ‘What you do, do quickly’” (John 13:27). Here we observe a coalescence of Satanic and human activity to betray Jesus to those who would crucify Him. In this regard, Satan was the motivating force behind Judas, his willing instrument, to bring about the death of Jesus.[11]      In the Garden of Gethsemane, the chief priests, officers of the temple, and Jewish elders came to arrest Jesus (Luke 22:52a), and He said to them, “While I was with you daily in the temple, you did not lay hands on Me; but this hour and the power of darkness are yours” (Luke 22:53). Those who came physically to “lay hands” on Jesus were the Jewish authorities who conspired to kill Him. God, in His sovereignty, permitted this to happen, because it served His greater purposes to bring about salvation through the cross. But even though it was their hour to act, these men were not acting alone, as Luke’s reference to “the power of darkness” demonstrates that Satan was behind them, driving them on as his agents of lies and destruction. Later, Luke would use the term darkness as a symbol of the sphere of Satan’s authority (Acts 26:18), as would Paul (Col 1:13). Unbelieving Jews Crucified Jesus      Though it was the Romans who actually placed Jesus on the cross and drove the nails, it was, according to Scripture, unbelieving Jews who conspired and lied about Jesus to have Him crucified (Matt 26:3-4; John 11:53). At the time of Jesus’ trial before Pilate, the Jews who were present all shouted, “Crucify Him” (Matt 27:22). God permitted Jesus’ crucifixion, both by the Jews and Romans, because it served His greater purpose. Luke recorded Peter, who said, “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know—this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death” (Acts 2:22-23). Clearly this address was to the “Men of Israel,” who rejected Jesus and “nailed [Him] to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death” (Acts 2:23; cf. Acts 4:10; 5:30; 10:39). In Acts 4:27, Luke recorded that there were “gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus…the peoples of Israel” (Acts 4:27), to crucify Him. Paul wrote about “the Jews, who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets” (1 Th 2:14b-15a). Unbelieving Gentiles Crucified Jesus      Though many unbelieving Jews were directly responsible for collaborating in the crucifixion of Jesus, it was Gentiles who actually did the work of placing Him on the cross. That’s what Jesus foretold His disciples, saying, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death, and will hand Him over to the Gentiles to mock and scourge and crucify Him, and on the third day He will be raised up” (Matt 20:18-19). It was said of the Roman soldiers, “After they had mocked Him, they took the scarlet robe off Him and put His own garments back on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him” (Matt 27:31). Luke records in Acts, “truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel” (Acts 4:27).      As Christians, we must not see Christ dying at a distant time or place. We should see our own hands driving the nails that put Him there and then lifting the cross. The crucifixion was not only for us, but by us. It was our sin that necessitated His death and judgment. We must see Jesus bearing all our sin and paying the penalty of the Father’s wrath that rightfully belongs to us. In May 2006, I wrote the following poem as I thought about the role I played in placing Jesus on the cross. Christ to the Cross (by Dr. Steven R. Cook) I and the Father led Christ to the cross, Together we placed Him there; I pushed Him forward, no care for the cost, His Father’s wrath to bear. Christ in the middle not wanting to die, Knelt in the garden and prayed; Great tears of blood the Savior did cry, Yet His Father He humbly obeyed. So He carried His cross down a dusty trail, No words on His lips were found; No cry was uttered as I drove the nails, His arms to the cross were bound. I lifted my Savior with arms spread wide, He hung between heaven and earth; I raised my spear and pierced His side, What flowed was of infinite worth. Like a Lamb to the altar Christ did go, A sacrifice without blemish or spot; A knife was raised, and life did flow, In a basin the blood was caught. Past the incense table and the dark black veil, To that holy of holy places; The blood of Christ was made to avail, And all my sins it erases. Now this Lamb on a cross was a demonstration Of the Father’s love for me; For the Savior’s death brought satisfaction, Redeemed, and set me free. Now I come to the Savior by faith alone, Not trusting in works at all; Jesus my substitute for sin did atone, Salvation in answer to His call.   Dr. Steven R. Cook   [1] Merrill Frederick Unger et al., “Cross”, The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1988), 264. [2] See Harold Hoehner’s book, Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ, pages 95-114. [3] W. E. Vine and C. F. Hogg, Vine’s Topical Commentary: Christ (Nashville, TN; Dallas; Mexico City; Rio de Janeiro: Thomas Nelson, 2010), 108-109. [4] Wendell G. Johnston, “Cross,” ed. Charles R. Swindoll and Roy B. Zuck, The Theological Wordbook, Swindoll Leadership Library (Nashville, TN: Word Publishing, Inc., 2000), 77–78. [5] William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments, ed. Arthur Farstad (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1995), 1880. [6] Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, vol. 3 (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1993), 49. [7] Ibid., 51. [8] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Heb 10:5. [9] Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, vol. 3, 49. [10] The seed of Satan ultimately relates to the coming Antichrist, who will, during the time of the Tribulation, seek to destroy Israel and prevent the coming of Jesus to rule over the earth. See Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s comments on Genesis 3:15 in his book, The Book of Genesis, Ariel’s Bible Commentary. [11] On a separate occasion, after Jesus was born, Satan wanted to kill the baby Jesus. The apostle John—operating from divine viewpoint—records that Satan, “stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth, he might devour her child” (Rev 12:4). But Satan’s attack was not direct; rather, King Herod was his tool to accomplish the nefarious deed. Matthew records the account in his Gospel (Matt 2:1-23). Herod was the human agent who wanted to kill Jesus, but Satan was the motivating force behind the attack.
11/19/202357 minutes, 51 seconds
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Soteriology Lesson 24 - The Suffering, Crucifixion, and Death of Christ

     When God the Son added perfect humanity to Himself, this enabled Him to experience suffering and death with, and on behalf of, humanity. The suffering of Christ may be viewed in at least two ways: 1) His suffering during His time on earth prior to the cross, and 2) the suffering of the cross. As the God-Man, Jesus was perfectly holy in all His thoughts, words, and actions. Such perfect holiness brought with it a special form of suffering in this world that the rest of us could never know, since we are capable of yielding to the pressures of sinful temptation. When the time of His death was nearing, Jesus told His disciples “that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day” (Matt 16:21; cf., Mark 8:31; Luke 9:22). It’s noteworthy that Jesus said His suffering, dying, and resurrection were things that “must” happen to Him. The use of the Greek verb dei (δεῖ) here denotes divine necessity, which meant it was the will of God the Father that these things happen to Christ. Thomas Constable notes, “Jesus said that it was necessary (Gr. dei) for Him to go to Jerusalem. He had to do this because it was God’s will for Messiah to suffer, die, and rise from the dead. He had to do these things to fulfill prophecy (Isa 53; cf. Acts 2:22–36).”[1] The absolute necessity of Jesus’ death on the cross further emphasizes our helplessness to save ourselves, for if our salvation could have been secured by any other means, then the death of Christ would have been unnecessary.      While in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed to God the Father, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will” (Matt 26:39). In His humanity, Jesus struggled to face the cross, understanding the scope of what it meant and the agony associated with it. Jesus prayed a second time, saying, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done” (Matt 26:42). The reference to the “cup” speaks of the suffering of the cross. John A. Witmer states, “In the Old Testament a ‘cup’ sometimes symbolized wrath (Jer 25:15), and so Jesus was aware that His coming death meant He would bear the wrath of God the Father against sin. Though Christ had no sin (2 Cor 5:21), He bore the sins of the world on Himself (1 Pet 2:24). Thus He was made ‘a curse for us’ because of His being hanged on a tree (Gal 3:13).”[2]      While on the cross, Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matt 27:46). This was the cry of Jesus from His humanity. Peter tells us that Jesus “Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross” (1 Pet 2:24). Peter’s reference to Jesus’ “body” indicates humanity, not deity. Sin cannot be imputed to deity. Humanity can bear sin. It was while Jesus was on the cross that He bore the wrath of the Father as He died in our place and bore the punishment that rightfully belongs to us. And the Spirit sustained Jesus’ humanity while He bore our sins. Robert G. Gromacki states, “God the Son incarnate suffered and died. The Father did not suffer and die. Nor did the Holy Spirit suffer and die, even though He filled Christ when the Savior suffered and died.”[3] The suffering and death of Jesus on the cross was salvific, as Jesus was made “sin on our behalf” (2 Cor 5:21). Mark wrote, “When the sixth hour came, darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour. At the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ which is translated, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’” (Mark 15:33-34; cf., Matt 27:45-46; Luke 23:44-46). Concerning this moment on the cross, Witmer states, “It was at this point, as Jesus bore the sin of the world, that God, the Judge of sin, turned away from Jesus Christ, His incarnate Son, the Sin-bearer, as far as the personal consciousness of Jesus was concerned.”[4] But there is some mystery at work here, for God the Father could not forsake God the Son, as a separation within the Trinity is not possible. Yet, somehow, the humanity of Christ—not His deity—was forsaken at the time of the judgment on the cross, otherwise the words of Jesus would be meaningless. But Jesus’ suffering and death did happen, and it was His time on the cross that brought about our salvation; a salvation that is applied to us at the moment we trust in Christ as our Savior.      Even after Jesus’ resurrection, Jesus said to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, “Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” (Luke 24:26). In the book of Acts, Luke records that Jesus “presented Himself alive after His suffering” (Acts 1:3). Peter said, “the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled” (Acts 3:18). And Paul reasoned “from the Scriptures, explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead” (Acts 17:2b-3; cf., Acts 26:23). Jesus’ suffering and death were necessary for salvation to be available to humanity.  The Cross & Crucifixion      The cross overshadowed the life of Jesus, and He knew dying for lost sinners was the ultimate purpose of the Father. When facing the cross, Jesus said, “Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour ‘? But for this purpose I came to this hour” (John 12:27). For lost sinners, the cross of Christ is both personal and purposeful. It is personal, because “Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8), “for our sins” (1 Cor 15:3), and “not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). And His death was purposeful, as Christ “died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet 3:18), and that we might “reconciled to God through the death of His Son” (Rom 5:10). The cross is God’s righteous solution to the problem of sin, as well as His greatest display of love toward sinners. At the cross, God judged our sin as His righteousness required, and pardons the sinner as His love desires. To understand the cross of Christ is to understand the heart of God toward a fallen world He wants to save.      The word “cross” translates the Greek noun stauros (σταυρός), which refers to “a pole to be placed in the ground and used for capital punishment, cross.”[5] The word “crucify” translates the Greek verb stauroō (σταυρόω), which means, “to fasten to a cross, crucify.”[6] Crucifixion was practiced by ancient cultures such as the Egyptians (Gen 40:19), Persians (Est 7:10), Assyrians and Greeks. By the time of Christ, the Romans had used crucifixion as a means of death more than previous cultures. According to John Stott: "Crucifixion seems to have been invented by “barbarians” on the edge of the known world and taken over from them by both Greeks and Romans. It is probably the most cruel method of execution ever practiced, for it deliberately delayed death until maximum torture had been inflicted. The victim could suffer for days before dying. When the Romans adopted it, they reserved it for criminals convicted of murder, rebellion or armed robbery, provided that they were also slaves, foreigners or other nonpersons."[7]      Just prior to crucifixion, a person was scourged with a whip which had thongs that were braided with sharp objects such as nails. As an act of public humiliation, criminals carried their own cross to the place of execution, and once there, were stripped naked before being fastened to the cross, either with rope or nails. Being tied to a cross with ropes was less painful in the beginning, but would leave the victim to hang for a longer period of time, even days, which would make the experience more painful in the end. Some who were tied to the cross are recorded to have lasted for nine days. Nailing a person to a cross was more painful from the beginning and would have led to a quicker death. The body would hang between three to four feet from the ground. Sometimes a soporific was given to the victim to help numb the senses. In Jesus case, it was “wine mixed with myrrh” (Mark 15:23), which our Lord rejected because it would have clouded His thinking (Matt 27:34). In some situations the Romans would break the victim’s legs which would hasten death, but according to Scripture, Jesus was already dead by the time the soldiers considered doing this (John 19:32-34). Unger notes, “In most cases the body was allowed to rot on the cross by the action of the sun and rain or to be devoured by birds and beasts.”[8] We know that Joseph of Arimathea, a disciple of Jesus, came to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body, that he might bury it, and Pilate granted his request (Matt 27:57-60). It’s most likely that Jesus was crucified in April, AD 33.[9]      The cross of Christ became central to the message of the gospel. The apostle Paul was sent by the Lord Jesus “to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void” (1 Cor 1:17). Paul was not concerned with human sophistry, winning arguments, or impressing his audience by means of rhetorical prowess, but merely with presenting the simple message of the cross of Christ, which brings eternal salvation to those who trust in Jesus as their Savior. Paul continued his line of reasoning, saying, “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God...[and] we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor 1:18; 23-24). Paul summarized his message when he said, “I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Cor 2:2). The image of a crucified Savior seems entirely foolish to a world that creates its saviors out of strong heroes; strong in the human sense of one who can save himself and others. Jesus is certainly strong; after all, He’s God! And He does save forever those who come to Him in faith. Dr. Steven R. Cook   [1] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Mt 16:21. [2] John A. Witmer, “Jesus Christ”, Understanding Christian Theology (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2003), 352. [3] Robert G. Gromacki, “The Holy Spirit”, Understanding Christian Theology (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2003), 468–469. [4] John A. Witmer, “Jesus Christ”, Understanding Christian Theology, 352. [5] William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 941. [6] Ibid., 941. [7] John R. W. Stott, The Cross of Christ (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2006), 29. [8] Merrill Frederick Unger et al., “Cross”, The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1988), 264. [9] See Harold Hoehner’s book, Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ, pages 95-114.
11/12/20231 hour, 2 minutes, 10 seconds
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Soteriology Lesson 23 - The Role of God the Holy Spirit in Regenerating, Indwelling, Baptizing, and Sealing New Believers

The Spirit’s Regeneration, Indwelling, Baptizing, and Sealing Ministry At the moment of salvation, God the Holy Spirit performs several acts for new believers, which include regeneration (John 3:6; Tit 3:5; 1 Pet 1:3), indwelling (John 14:16-17; 1 Cor 3:16; 6:19), baptizing (1 Cor 12:13; Gal 3:27), and sealing (Eph 4:30). Regeneration The word regeneration itself occurs only twice in the Bible (Matt 19:28 and Tit 3:5). In both places the Greek word used is paliggenesia (παλιγγενεσία), which means, “the state of being renewed… [the] experience of a complete change of life, rebirth of a redeemed person.”[1] Regeneration means new believers receive spiritual life at the moment they trust in Christ alone as their Savior. Geisler states, “The new birth of which Jesus speaks is the act of regeneration, whereby God imparts spiritual life to the believer’s soul (1 Peter 1:23).”[2] Paul Enns agrees, saying, “Succinctly stated, to regenerate means ‘to impart life.’ Regeneration is the act whereby God imparts life to the one who believes.”[3] Ryrie notes: "Although the word regeneration is used only twice in the Bible (Titus 3:5, where it refers to the new birth, and Mt 19:28 where it refers to the millennial kingdom), the concept of being born again is found in other passages, notably John 3. Technically, it is God’s act of begetting eternal life in the one who believes in Christ. While faith and regeneration are closely associated, the two ideas are distinct, faith being the human responsibility and the channel through which God’s grace is received, and regeneration being God’s supernatural act of imparting eternal life."[4] David Anderson adds: "The NT uses a number of different words and images to convey the doctrine of regeneration. The noun palingenesia is used just twice: Matthew 19:28 and Titus 3:5. In Matthew, Jesus is speaking of the regeneration which will occur at His second coming. He refers to setting up His kingdom, placing the twelve over the twelve tribes of Israel, and rewarding those who have sacrificed for His cause. But in Titus 3:5, we have a direct reference to the rebirth of the believer: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.”[5] To the concept of regeneration, the Greek words anothen (ἄνωθεν) and anagennao (ἀναγεννάω) can be added. Jesus, while speaking to Nicodemus, said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again [anothen] he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3; cf., John 3:7). The word anothen (ἄνωθεν) generally means “from a source that is above.”[6] That is, from a heavenly source. (At least two English translations, NET & YLT, render the word “from above”). Because Nicodemus confused physical birth with spiritual birth (John 3:4), Jesus clarified His statement, saying, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). Jesus was talking about spiritual birth, or regeneration, which comes from the source of heaven. Peter used the Greek word anagennao (ἀναγεννάω) when he wrote about Christians who have been “born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Pet 1:3), and who “have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Pet 1:23). The basic meaning of anagennao (ἀναγεννάω) is to “beget again, cause to be born again.”[7] In both instances the word denotes imparting new life. This work of the Spirit is directly related to the believer’s salvation. According to Walvoord, “The work of regeneration can be assigned to the Holy Spirit as definitely as the work of salvation can be assigned to Christ.”[8]And the believer’s new life is the basis for a new walk with the Lord. Ryrie notes, “Regeneration does not make a man perfect, but it places him in the family of God and gives him the new ability to please his Father by growing into the image of Christ. Fruit from the new nature is proof that regeneration has occurred (1 John 2:29).”[9] Lighter states: "The means by which regeneration is accomplished eliminates all human endeavor. Though personal faith in Christ as Savior is necessary, faith does not produce the new life; it does not regenerate. Only God regenerates. Human faith and divine regeneration occur at the same time, but the one is man’s responsibility as he is enabled by the Holy Spirit, and the other is the work of God imparting the divine life."[10] Indwelling The indwelling ministry of the Holy Spirit for every believer was an innovation that was future from the time of Jesus’ ministry on earth. Jesus said, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water’” (John 7:38). And John tells us, “But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:39). The Spirit would begin His special ministry on the day of Pentecost, and it would involve His personal indwelling of every believer. Prior to His crucifixion, Jesus spoke of this, saying, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you” (John 14:16-17). Notice that Spirit would not only be with them, would be in them. Merrill Tenney writes, “This distinction marks the difference between the Old Testament experience of the Holy Spirit and the post-Pentecostal experience of the church. The individual indwelling of the Spirit is the specific privilege of the Christian believer.”[11] This new indwelling ministry by God the Holy Spirit is different than His work in believers in the OT. Under the Mosaic Law, only a select few received the Holy Spirit (Ex 31:1-5; Num 11:25; 27:18; 1 Sam 16:13), and that was conditioned on His sovereign purposes. But now, in the dispensation of the church age, God the Holy Spirit would personally indwell both the local church (1 Cor 3:16-17), as well as each individual believer (1 Cor 6:19). Paul wrote to the Christians living in Corinth, saying, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Cor 3:16). Concerning the Spirit’s indwelling the church in 1 Corinthians 3:16, Radmacher states: "There are two words translated temple in the NT. One refers to the temple building and all its courts; the other refers strictly to the Most Holy Place where no one but the high priest could go. Paul uses the latter term to describe the local church, in whom God dwells. Unlike 1 Corinthians 6:19, where the word temple refers to the individual believer, and Ephesians 2:21, where the word speaks of the church universal, these verses speak of the local church as God’s temple. God takes very seriously our actions in the church. destroy: Any person who disrupts and destroys the church by divisions, malice, and other harmful acts invites God’s discipline (1 Cor 11:30-32)."[12] Paul also describes the Spirit’s indwelling each Christian in 1 Corinthians 6:19, where he wrote, “do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” According to Constable, “Previously Paul taught his readers that the Corinthian church was a temple (naos; 1 Cor 3:16). The believer’s body is also a temple. The Holy Spirit is actually indwelling each of these temples (Rom 8:9; cf. Matt 12:6; 18:15–20; 28:16–20; Mark 13:11; John 14:17, 23).”[13] What we find in the church age is that all three Persons of the Godhead indwell every believer (John 14:16-17, 20, 23); however, the Holy Spirit has a special ministry which began on the day of Pentecost (Acts 1:4-5; 2:1-4; 11:15-16; 1 Cor 12:13; Gal 3:26-28), and will continue until the church is raptured to heaven (2 Th 2:7; cf. John 14:1-3; 1 Th 4:13-18; Tit 2:13). Chafer states: "The Spirit made His advent into the world here to abide throughout this dispensation. As Christ is now located at the right hand of the Father, though omnipresent, so the Spirit, though omnipresent, is now locally abiding in the world, in a temple, or habitation, of living stones (Eph 2:19-22). The individual believer is also spoken of as a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19). The Spirit will not leave the world, or even one stone of that building until the age-long purpose of forming that temple is finished…The Spirit came on the Day of Pentecost and that aspect of the meaning of Pentecost will no more be repeated than the incarnation of Christ. There is no occasion to call the Spirit to “come,” for He is here."[14] Baptizing The subject of baptism has been, and continues to be, a subject of confusion. The word baptize is a transliteration of the Greek verb baptizo (βαπτίζω) which broadly means to “plunge, dip, [or] wash,”[15] and is often used “of the Christian sacrament of initiation after Jesus’ death.”[16] The Greek noun baptisma (βάπτισμα) refers to the result of a dipping or immersing. In Classical Greek literature, the verb baptizo (βαπτίζω) “was used among the Greeks to signify the dyeing of a garment, or the drawing of water by dipping a vessel into another.”[17] The Greek poet Nicander (ca. 200 B.C.) used both bapto (βάπτω) and baptizo (βαπτίζω) when describing the process of making pickles. According to James Strong, “When used in the New Testament, this word more often refers to our union and identification with Christ than to our water baptism.”[18]  There are numerous baptisms mentioned in the Bible, some are wet and some are dry. John the Baptist said, “I baptize you with water” (Matt 3:11a), clearly making the baptism wet. But then, John the Baptist spoke of Jesus, saying, “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matt 3:11b). These latter two baptisms are both dry, where no one gets placed into water. A few other baptisms mentioned in Scripture include the baptism of the cross (Mark 10:35-38; Luke 12:50), the baptism of Moses (1 Cor 10:1-2), and the baptism of Christians (Matt 28:16-20). For the Christian, water baptism is a picture of the believer’s spiritual union and identification with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection (Rom 6:3-7; Col 2:11-12). Water baptism does not save (1 Cor 1:17). It never has and never will. God saves at the moment believers place their faith solely in Jesus (John 3:16; 1 Cor 15:3-4). At the moment of faith in Christ, God the Holy Spirit unites new believers spiritually to Christ, adding them to the church, the body of Christ. Paul wrote, “For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Cor 12:12-13). Lewis Chafer states, “As a ground upon which the certainty of eternal security rests, the baptism of the Spirit should be recognized as that operation by which the individual believer is brought into organic union with Christ. By the Spirit’s regeneration Christ is resident in the believer, and by the Spirit’s baptism the believer is thus in Christ.”[19] Merrill F. Unger comments: "This momentous spiritual operation is set forth in the NT as the basis of all the believer’s positions and possessions “in Christ” (Eph 1:3; Col 2:10; 3:1–4; etc.). The operation is prophetic in the gospels (Matt 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16–17; John 1:33–34, where Christ is the baptizer), historic in the Acts (cf. Acts 1:5 with Acts 11:16), and doctrinal in the epistles (1 Cor 12:13, where the Spirit is named specifically as the agent; Rom 6:3–4; Gal 3:26–27; Col 2:9–12; Eph 4:5). The Spirit’s baptizing work, placing the believer “in Christ,” occurred initially at Pentecost at the advent of the Spirit, who baptized believing Jews “into Christ.” In Acts 8, Samaritans were baptized in this way for the first time; in Acts 10, Gentiles likewise were so baptized, at which point the normal agency of the Spirit as baptizer was attained. According to the clear teaching of the epistles, every believer is baptized by the Spirit into Christ the moment he is regenerated. He is also simultaneously indwelt by the Spirit and sealed eternally, with the privilege of being filled with the Spirit, as the conditions for filling are met."[20] Sealing Several times Paul used the Greek verb sphragizo (σφραγίζω) when writing to Christians. Paul wrote of God “who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge” (2 Cor 1:22). To the Christians at Ephesus he wrote, “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Eph 1:13), and “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Eph 4:30). In each of these uses the verb sphragizo (σφραγίζω) means “to mark with a seal as a means of identification…so that the mark denoting ownership also carries with it the protection of the owner.”[21] Laney Jr., states, “In ancient times a seal was used as an identifying mark, indicating the rightful ownership of the object sealed. And so the sealing ministry of the Spirit marks believers as God’s own possession, guaranteeing their security for eternity.”[22] Concerning Paul’s use of sphragizo (σφραγίζω) in Ephesians 1:13, Harold Hoehner comments: "God seals the believers in Christ with the promised Holy Spirit when they have not only heard but also believed the gospel of salvation. The sealing with the Spirit must not be confused with the other ministries of the Spirit. The indwelling of the Spirit refers to his residence in every believer (Rom 8:9; 1 John 2:27). The baptizing ministry of the Spirit places believers into the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:13). The filling by the Spirit is the control of the Spirit over believers’ lives (Eph 5:18). The sealing ministry of the Spirit is to identify believers as God’s own and thus give them the security that they belong to him (Eph 1:13; 4:30; 2 Cor 1:22). The very fact that the Spirit indwells believers is a seal of God’s ownership of them."[23] The Holy Spirit is Himself the seal that marks us as owned by God and guarantees our future redemption and glory (Eph 1:13-14; 4:30). These blessings are completely the work of the Holy Spirit for the benefit of Christians and occur at the moment believers trust Jesus as their Savior. These are facts based on objective statements in Scripture and are accepted by faith, not ever-changing subjective feelings. Though Christians can grieve and/or quench the Holy Spirit with personal sin (Eph 4:30; 1 Th 5:19), and though they may suffer divine discipline because of personal sin (Heb 12:5-11), they cannot grieve Him away. Joseph Dillow notes: "The ancient practice of using seals is behind the figurative use of the word here. A seal was a mark of protection and ownership. The Greek word sphragizō is used of a stone being fastened with a seal to “prevent its being moved from a position” (BDAG). In fact, this was apparently the earliest method of distinguishing one’s property. The seal was engraved with a design or mark distinctive to the owner. The seal of ownership or protection was often made in soft wax with a signet ring. An impression was left on the wax signifying the owner of the thing sealed. When the Holy Spirit seals us, He presses the signet ring of our heavenly Father on our hearts of wax and leaves the mark of ownership. We belong to Him. He certifies this by His unchangeable purpose to protect and own us to the day of redemption. In Ephesians 1:13-14, we are told that the Holy Spirit Himself is the seal. He is impressed upon us, so to speak. His presence in our lives is thus a guarantee of God’s protection and that we are owned by God. A broken seal was an indication that the person had not been protected. The Holy Spirit cannot be broken. He is the seal of ownership. In Ephesians 4:30, we are told that we are sealed unto the day of redemption. This sealing ministry of the Spirit is forever and guarantees that we will arrive safely for the redemption of our bodies and entrance into heaven (Romans 8:23). He is the seal that we are now owned and protected by God until the day of redemption."[24] Dr. Steven R. Cook     [1] William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 752. [2] Norman L. Geisler, Systematic Theology, Volume Three: Sin, Salvation (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2004), 123. [3] Paul P. Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1989), 338. [4] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, A Survey of Bible Doctrine (Chicago: Moody Press, 1972). [5] David R. Anderson, Free Grace Soteriology, ed. James S. Reitman, Revised Edition. (Grace Theology Press, 2012), 235. [6] William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 92. [7] Ibid., 59. [8] John F. Walvoord, The Holy Spirit, 131. [9] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, A Survey of Bible Doctrine (Chicago: Moody Press, 1972). [10] Robert P. Lightner, Handbook of Evangelical Theology: A Historical, Biblical, and Contemporary Survey and Review, 199. [11] Merrill C. Tenney, “John,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: John and Acts, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 9, 147. [12] Earl D. Radmacher, Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary, 1464–1465. [13] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), 1 Co 6:18. [14] Lewis S. Chafer, He that is Spiritual (Grand Rapids, Mich. Zondervan Publishing, 1967), 26. [15] William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 164. [16] Ibid., 164. [17] W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, and William White Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996), 50. [18] James Strong, βάπτω bapto, Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon (Woodside Bible Fellowship, 1995). [19] Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, vol. 3, 337. [20] Merrill F. Unger and R.K. Harrison, “Baptism of the Spirit,” The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1988). [21] William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 980. [22] Charles R. Swindoll and Roy B. Zuck, Understanding Christian Theology (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2003), 206. [23] Harold W. Hoehner, Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2002), 240. [24] Joseph C. Dillow, Final Destiny: The Future Reign of the Servant Kings, 4th Edition (Houston, TX: Grace Theology Press, 2018).
11/5/202359 minutes, 30 seconds
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Soteriology Lesson 22 - The Role of God the Holy Spirit in Convicting the World of Sin, Righteousness, and Judgment

     In the NT, God the Holy Spirit took on a new ministry after Jesus returned to heaven (John 16:7-15; cf., Acts 1:6-8; 2:1-4; 15:7-9). Part of His ministry is to believers, and part is to unbelievers. Concerning the Spirit’s ministry to believers, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you” (John 16:7). The Helper is the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus will send (future tense of the Greek verb pempo) to believers. The Spirit’s work in Christians would be multifaceted and would relate to their sanctification and godly influence in a fallen world. After Pentecost (Acts 2), God the Holy Spirit would work in and through His church to other Christians, to help with their sanctification, and to unbelievers, to share the gospel of grace that they might be saved. Wiersbe states: "The Holy Spirit does not minister in a vacuum. Just as the Son of God had to have a body in order to do His work on earth, so the Spirit of God needs a body to accomplish His ministries; and that body is the church. Our bodies are His tools and temples, and He wants to use us to glorify Christ and to witness to a lost world."[1]      This is very encouraging, because Christians know that God the Holy Spirit is working through them to help lead the lost to Christ. But there is also a special work the Holy Spirit is doing in the hearts of unbelievers to help prepare them to turn to Christ as Savior. Concerning this special work, Jesus said, “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8). Jesus’ statement about the Holy Spirit is in the future tense (He will convict), which implies the Spirit’s special ministry was not active at the time Jesus uttered His statement. This special convicting ministry would be inaugurated on the day of Pentecost. The word convict translates the Greek word elegcho (ἐλέγχω), which means, “to bring a person to the point of recognizing wrongdoing, convict, [or] convince someone of something.”[2] Jesus said the Spirit’s convincing work would fall into three areas: 1) “concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me” (John 16:9), 2) “concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me” (John 16:10), and 3) “concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged” (John 16:11). Let’s look at these in order. The Sin of Unbelief      The sin mentioned by Jesus in John 16:8 does not refer to a catalogue of sins one might be guilty of (i.e., lust, greed, worry, gossip, stealing, etc.), but rather, one specific sin, which is unbelief, as Jesus said, “because they do not believe in Me” (John 16:9). The word for sin is hamartia (ἁμαρτία), which in Jesus’ statement is a singular noun that refers to a specific crime; namely, unbelief. Sylva notes, “Here sin is unbelief. Jesus faces people with a decision for or against himself: by belief or unbelief a person decides either for life or for death (John 8:24; 9:41; 16:8–9).”[3] There is only one sin that keeps a person out of heaven, and that’s the sin of unbelief. Wiersbe states: "The Holy Spirit convicts the world of one particular sin, the sin of unbelief. The law of God and the conscience of man will convict the sinner of his sins (plural) specifically; but it is the work of the Spirit, through the witness of the believers, to expose the unbelief of the lost world. After all, it is unbelief that condemns the lost sinner (John 3:18–21), not the committing of individual sins. A person could “clean up his life” and quit his or her bad habits and still be lost and go to hell."[4]      The Spirit always performs His work perfectly in the hearts of the lost, but because people have volition, and their hearts are corrupt, the vast majority of people suppress His message (Matt 7:13-14; John 5:39-40; Rom 1:18-32). Only the Holy Spirit can reveal to the human heart the truth about Jesus, as well as the truth about their sin of unbelief. To suppress the Spirit’s work about Jesus as the Son of God and Savior is the greatest of sins possible, as well as the most fatal sin that forever condemns a person to hell. Lightner states: "Apart from God the Father there would have been no plan of salvation. Without God the Son there would have been no provision for salvation. Apart from the work of God the Spirit there would be no application of this great salvation to man’s needs. It is the third member of the Godhead who procures salvation for all who believe."[5] The Righteousness of Jesus      God alone sets the standard for righteousness, not people. Divine righteousness may be defined as the intrinsic, immutable, moral perfection of God, from which He commands all things, in heaven and earth, and declares as just that which conforms to His righteousness and as sinful that which deviates. Borchert is correct when he states, “Humanity is not in control either of the future or of setting the standards for life. That is the work of God.”[6] And Merrill C. Tenney states, “Apart from a standard of righteousness, there can be no sin; and there must be an awareness of the holiness of God before a person will realize his own deficiency.”[7] Though Jesus was rejected and treated as a criminal, God the Father declared Him righteous and welcomed Him to heaven, His natural home. Jesus is “the Holy and Righteous One” (Acts 3:14), and throughout His life “knew no sin” (2 Cor 5:21), was “without sin” (Heb 4:15), “committed no sin” (1 Pet 2:22), and in whom “there is no sin” (1 John 3:5). The rejection and crucifixion of Jesus was the greatest miscarriage of justice in the history of the human race. Jesus said those who rejected and crucified Him would “rejoice” (John 16:20), but as Borchert notes, “their rejoicing at being finished with Jesus turned out to be the rejoicing of the damned.”[8] William Hendriksen offers the following insights: "The world, represented by the Jews, was about to crucify Jesus. It was going to say, “He ought to die” (John 19:7); hence, in the name of righteousness it was going to put him to death. It proclaimed aloud that he was anything but righteous. It treated him as an evil-doer (John 18:30). But the exact opposite was the truth. Though rejected by the world, he was welcomed by the Father, welcomed home via the cross, the cross which led to the crown…By means of the resurrection the Father would place the stamp of His approval upon His life and work (Acts 2:22, 23, 33; Rom 1:4). He, the very One whom the world had branded as unrighteous, would by means of His victorious going to the Father be marked as the Righteous One (8:46; Acts 3:14; 7:52; 2 Cor 5:21; 1 Pet 3:18; 1 John 2:1; and cf., Luke 23:47). Thus, the world would be convicted with respect to righteousness."[9]      Christians do not need to struggle to convince people about the perfect righteousness of Christ, nor of the sinner’s failed righteousness before a holy God. They need only to communicate the biblical truth about Christ and fallen humanity, and leave the Spirit to do what only He can do, to convince them of the truth about Christ as the only Savior of mankind. If unbelievers suppresses the work of the Holy Spirit in their hearts, then no amount of reasoning or argumentation on the part of Christians will advance the gospel even one inch. The Judgment of the Ruler of this World      A third area where the Holy Spirit is working in the hearts of unbelievers concerns judgment, “because the ruler of this world has been judged” (John 16:11). Satan has been judged and found guilty before God. This means that Satan and his world-system is condemned. Being the ruler of this world, Satan naturally rules in the hearts of all unbelievers. Three times Jesus referred to Satan as “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). Other passages of Scripture call Satan “the god of this world” (2 Cor 4:4), and “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph 2:2), informing us “that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). Satan rules as a tyrant who has “weakened the nations” (Isa 14:12), and currently “deceives the whole world” (Rev 12:9). Satan continues to attack God’s people today (1 Pet 5:8), practices deception (2 Cor 11:13-15), and has well developed strategies of warfare (Eph 6:10-12). Furthermore, humanity is living in an “evil age” (Gal 1:4), under “the dominion of Satan” (Acts 26:18), whose sphere of influence is called “the domain of darkness” (Col 1:13). But Satan has been judged and his punishment is pending execution. Furthermore, those who side with Satan in this life will be judged with him in eternity. According to Ryrie, “At the cross, Christ triumphed over Satan, serving notice on unbelievers of their judgment to come.”[10] Radmacher notes, “Satan was judged at the Cross, and the Holy Spirit would convince people of the judgment to come. Satan has been judged, so all who side with him will be judged with him. There is no room for neutrality. A person is either a child of God or a child of the devil.”[11] Merrill Tenney states: "To convince any unbeliever of sin, righteousness, and judgment is beyond human ability. It may be possible to fix upon him the guilt of some specific sin if there is sufficient evidence to bring him before a jury; but to make him acknowledge the deeper fact, that he is a sinner, evil at heart, and deserving of punishment because he has not believed in Christ, is quite another matter. To bring a man to some standard of ethics is not too difficult; for almost every person has ideals that coincide with the moral law at some point. To create in him the humiliating consciousness that his self-righteousness is as filthy rags in comparison with the spotless linen of the righteousness of God cannot be effected by ordinary persuasion. Many believe in a general law of retribution; but it is almost impossible to convince them that they already stand condemned. Only the power of the Holy Spirit, working from within, can bring about that profound conviction which leads to repentance. The Spirit anticipates and makes effective the ministry of the disciples in carrying the message to unbelievers."[12] Dr. Steven R. Cook   [1] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 362. [2] William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 315. [3] Moisés Silva, ed., New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014), 260. [4] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1, 362. [5] Robert P. Lightner, Handbook of Evangelical Theology: A Historical, Biblical, and Contemporary Survey and Review (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1995), 196. [6] Gerald L. Borchert, John 12–21, vol. 25B, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2002), 167. [7] Merrill C. Tenney, “John,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: John and Acts, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 9 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 157. [8] Gerald L. Borchert, John 12–21, vol. 25B, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2002), 167. [9] William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, Exposition of the Gospel According to John, vol. 2, New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001), 326. [10] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Ryrie Study Bible: New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, Expanded ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1995), 1712. [11] Earl D. Radmacher, Ronald Barclay Allen, and H. Wayne House, Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary (Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers, 1999), 1350. [12] Merrill C. Tenney, John: The Gospel of Belief, The New International Commentary on the Old and New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1976), 237.
10/29/20231 hour, 13 minutes, 21 seconds
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Soteriology Lesson 21 - The Role of God the Holy Spirit in Sustaining the Humanity of Christ

     In addition to the blinding effects of sin resident in every human heart is the veiling work of Satan. Paul wrote, “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor 4:3-4). The blinding work of Satan in the minds of the lost, coupled with negative volition (i.e., the unbelieving heart), creates a double wall of resistance that cannot be penetrated by human effort. Attempts to breach these walls, or to break them down by human effort alone, has resulted in great frustration. The lost can only be saved when the Spirit performs His work in their hearts and they respond positively and freely to the gospel of grace. Lewis Chafer states, “It is as definitely contended that, apart from this divine influence, no unregenerate person will ever turn to God. From this it will be seen that, next to the accurate and faithful presentation of the gospel of saving grace, no truth is more determining respecting all forms of evangelism than this.”[1]The Spirit must do His work in the hearts of the unsaved, and the lost must respond to His work before salvation can occur. Then, and only then, will the evangelist be effective in winning souls, and this when he presents the gospel of grace clearly to the willing heart.      Prior to the present work of the Spirit in the world today, He was working in the life of Jesus to sustain His humanity until He completed the Father’s mission (Matt 3:16; 4:1; 12:28; Luke 4:14, 18). Naturally, His work with God the Son to complete our salvation preceded His work of applying that salvation to all who turn to Christ in simple faith, believing the gospel, and trusting in Christ to save. The Spirit’s Sustaining Ministry      The coming of God the Son into the world marked a shift in human history (John 1:1, 14, 18), and God the Holy Spirit was involved in His human conception (Luke 1:26-35), sustained Him during His time of ministry (Luke 4:14; cf. Matt 12:28; Mark 1:10-12), and upheld Him during His time of death on the cross (Heb 9:14). John Walvoord notes: "There is implication that the whole process of the incarnation leading to the cross was related to the work of the Holy Spirit. As Christ was sustained in life, so also in death the Holy Spirit sustained Christ. In the difficult hours of Gethsemane and all the decisive moments leading to the cross, the Holy Spirit faithfully ministered to Christ."[2]      God the Holy Spirit was helping Christ fulfill the Father’s mission of going to the cross and dying in the place of sinners. Of Jesus’ time on the cross, the writer of Hebrews states, “how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Heb 9:14).[3] William Lane notes, “The fact that his offering was made ‘through the eternal Spirit,’ implies that he had been divinely empowered and sustained in his office.”[4] God the Holy Spirit helped to sustain the humanity of Jesus in hypostatic union, which enabled Him to complete the Father’s mission of going to the cross and dying as a substitute for lost humanity. According to Walvoord: "The work of the Holy Spirit in relation to the sufferings of Christ on the cross consisted, then, in sustaining the human nature in its love of God, in submission to the will of God and obedience to His commands, and in encouraging and strengthening Christ in the path of duty which led to the cross. In it all the ministry was to the human nature, and through it to the person of Christ. The inquiring mind must ever confess that this truth is infinite and beyond our complete comprehension."[5] Dr. Steven R. Cook   [1] Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, vol. 3 (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1993), 210. [2] John F. Walvoord, “The Holy Spirit in Relation to the Person and Work of Christ,” Bibliotheca Sacra 98 (1941): 52. [3] There is some debate about whether the “the eternal Spirit” refers to Jesus’ Spirit (Fruchtenbaum) or the Holy Spirit (Radmacher). [4] William L. Lane, Hebrews 9–13, vol. 47B, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1991), 240. [5] John F. Walvoord, The Holy Spirit (Galaxie Software, 2008), 101.
10/22/20231 hour, 13 minutes, 6 seconds
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Soteriology Lesson 20 - The Role of God the Holy Spirit in Our Salvation

     The Holy Spirit is God and He displays the characteristics of personhood. When referring to the Holy Spirit (John 16:13-14), Jesus used the demonstrative masculine pronoun “He” (ekeinos ἐκεῖνος), which indicates personhood. In addition, Scripture reveals the Holy Spirit can be lied to. In the book of Acts, the apostle Peter accused Ananias of lying “to the Holy Spirit” (Acts 5:3). In the very next verse Peter said, “You have not lied to men but to God” (Acts 5:4). One cannot lie to a force (such as electricity), but only to a person. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit can be grieved (Eph 4:30), quenched (1 Th 5:19), resisted (Acts 7:51), and blasphemed (Matt 12:31). These activities can be done only to a person. The Bible reveals the Holy Spirit was involved in the creation (Gen 1:2), brought about the birth of Jesus (Luke 1:35), guided the writers of Scripture (2 Sam 23:2; 2 Pet 1:21), convicts unbelievers of the sin of unbelief (John 16:8-11), regenerates believers at the moment of faith in Jesus (John 3:6; 6:63), baptizes them into union with Christ (1 Cor 12:13), indwells (John 14:16-17; 1 Cor 3:16; 6:19), seals (Eph 1:13; 4:30), gives spiritual gifts (1 Cor 12:7-11), glorifies Jesus (John 16:13-15), empowers (Eph 5:18), sustains the spiritual walk (Gal 5:16-18, 25), loves Christians (Rom 15:30), prays for them (Rom 8:26-27), comforts them (John 14:26), teaches and guides (John 14:26; 16:13-15), and makes Scripture understandable (1 Cor 2:11-13). According to Norman Geisler: "All the elements of personhood are attributed to the Holy Spirit in Scripture. He has a mind (John 14:26): “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you.” He has will (1 Cor 12:11): “All these are the work of one and the same spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines”; and He has feeling (Eph 4:30): “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”[1]      Prior to the coming of God the Son into the world (John 1:1, 14), the Holy Spirit had been active in the lives of saints such as Artisans (Ex 31:1-5), Judges (Num 11:25-29; Judg 3:9-10), Prophets (Ezek 2:2), and Kings (1 Sam 10:6; 16:13). In the OT, the Spirit did not indwell every believer, and could be removed as an act of divine discipline (1 Sam 16:14-16; Psa 51:11). The loss of the Spirit in the life of an OT saint did not mean forfeiture of salvation; rather, it meant loss of empowerment to a task. This would be especially onerous to a king, like Saul (1 Sam 16:14-16), because it meant he would continue to serve as king, but would lack the divine enablement necessary to perform the work. Thus, the king would having nothing more to rely upon than his human resources, and this would prove woefully inadequate, considering the huge responsibility of leadership. Without the enabling power of God the Holy Spirit, the king would be vulnerable to great anxiety and eventual collapse. David feared this discipline when he’d sinned against the Lord (Psa 51:11).[2]      In the dispensation of the church age (starting in Acts 2), God the Holy Spirit plays a key role in the salvation of the lost. Though we are not given all the particulars, and there is some mystery as to the details of how He works, it is still clear from the NT that He has a special ministry related to the salvation of the lost, and apart from His work, none can be saved. The zealous evangelist who seeks to win to the souls of the lost may, from a heart of compassion, employ every passage of Scripture related to salvation along with every compelling line of good reason and yet, in the end, fail to bring one person to Christ. Chafer speaks to this as follows: "Every soul-winner becomes aware, sooner or later, of the fact that the vast company of unsaved people do not realize the seriousness of their lost estate; nor do they become alarmed even when the most direct warning and appeal is given to them. They may be normally intelligent and keen to comprehend any opportunity for personal advancement in material or intellectual things; yet there is over them a spell of indifference and neglect toward the things that would secure for them any right relation to God. All the provisions of grace with the present and future blessedness of the redeemed are listened to by these people without a reasonable response. They are, perhaps, sympathetic, warm-hearted and kind; they are full of tenderness toward all human suffering and need; but their sinfulness before God and their imperative need of a Savior are strangely neglected. They lie down to sleep without fear and awaken to a life that is free from thought or obligation toward God. The faithful minister soon learns, to his sorrow, that his most careful presentation of truth and earnest appeal produces no effect upon them, and the question naturally arises: “How, then, can these people be reached with the Gospel?”[3]   [1] Norman L. Geisler, Systematic Theology, Volume Two: God, Creation (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2003), 287–288. [2] The OT is basically silent concerning the role the Holy Spirit played in the salvation of OT saints; however, it is assumed He was active, albeit quietly in the background. [3] Lewis Sperry Chafer, True Evangelism (New York: Gospel Publishing House, 1911), 71–72.
10/15/20231 hour, 3 minutes, 49 seconds
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Soteriology Lesson 19 - Eschatological Aspects of Soteriology Pertaining to the Role of God the Son

Jesus’ Return for His Saints      The eschatological subject of the Rapture of the church is briefly presented here under the study of Soteriology because it is regarded as a form of deliverance. When Messiah returns at the end of the church age, He will deliver His church from an evil world and a coming judgment that will last for seven years. A distinction is here drawn between Jesus coming for His saints at the Rapture, and Jesus coming with His saints at His Second Coming (Dan 7:13-14; Matt 19:28; 25:31; Rev 19:11-21). Jesus is now in heaven preparing a place for believers to be with Him there (John 14:1-3). Paul revealed Jesus will return for His church and that all Christians will be “caught up” to meet the Lord in the air (1 Th 4:13-18).      The doctrine of the Rapture was first presented by the Lord Jesus when He provided new information to His apostles on the night before His crucifixion. After speaking of His soon departure (John 13:33), Jesus comforted them, saying, “Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:1-3). The place where Jesus was going was heaven. The purpose of His going was to prepare a place for them. And, at some unspecified time, Jesus promised He would come again to receive them to Himself, that they may be with Him.      Paul described this as a time when “we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.  For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Cor 15:51-53). And, when writing to the church at Thessalonica, Paul  explained, “the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Th 4:16b-17). The meaning of caught up (ἁρπάζω) is “to grab or seize suddenly so as to remove or gain control, snatch/take away.”[1] John Walvoord states, “The important point is that the verse says Christ will come for believers and take them from the earth to heaven, where they will be in His presence till they return with Him to the earth to reign. The Rapture will mean that all believers ‘will be with the Lord forever,’ enjoying Him and His presence for all eternity.”[2]      As Christians, we are “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus” (Tit 2:13). This Rapture is immanent, meaning it may occur at any time and without prior notice. All Christians who are alive at the time of the Rapture will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air, will go with Him to heaven, and be saved from the wrath to be poured out during the seven-year Tribulation. Our future is not one of judgment; rather, we are assured we will be saved from God’s future wrath, both in time and eternity (Rom 5:9; 1 Thess 1:10; 5:9; Rev 3:10). Jesus’ Return with His Saints      When Jesus returns to the earth after the time of the seven year Tribulation, He will establish His kingdom on earth.[3] This is a time when humanity will be saved from the tyranny of Satan who currently rules over the earth.[4] At His Second Coming, it is written, “And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses” (Rev 19:14). Concerning this passage, Radmacher states, “The armies in heaven may be angelic hosts (Rev 5:11; Matt 26:53), but Revelation 17:14 speaks of those with the Lord at His coming as being ‘called, chosen, and faithful,’ all terms for believers (Rom 1:7; Eph 1:1; 1 Pet 2:9).”[5] Wiersbe adds, “Certainly the angels are a part of this army (Matt 25:31; 2 Th 1:7); but so are the saints (1 Th 3:13; 2 Th 1:10).”[6] Norman Geisler states: "Before the Tribulation, Christ comes for His bride (1 Th 4:16–17; John 14:3); then, at the end of the Tribulation, He will return with all His saints. Jude wrote, “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones” (Jude 1:14; cf., Matt 24:29–31). He cannot come with them until He has first come for them; we have identified the time interval between these events as seven years."[7] Wayne House comments: "It is important to remember that when we say “the second coming” of Christ, we are not talking about the rapture that occurs prior to the second coming. The rapture is most clearly presented in 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18. It is characterized in the Bible as a “translation coming” (1 Cor 15:51–52; 1 Th 4:15–17) in which Christ comes for His church. The second advent is Christ returning with His saints, descending from heaven to establish His earthly kingdom (Zech 14:4–5; Matt 24:27–31)."[8]      At His Second Coming, Jesus will put down all rebellion, both human and satanic. The two main leaders of the world, the Antichrist and his false prophet, will be defeated and “thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone” (Rev 19:20). Furthermore, those people who followed Antichrist “were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh” (Rev 19:21). Afterwards, the Lord will send one of His angels to arrest and imprison Satan (Rev 20:1-3). John wrote about this angel, saying, “And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer” (Rev 20:2-3a). This will be a time of global deliverance from evil as Messiah reigns over all the earth in perfect righteousness.   Dr. Steven R. Cook   [1] William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 134. [2] John Walvoord, eds. Charles R. Swindoll and Roy B. Zuck, Understanding Christian Theology (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2003), 1265. [3] The subject of Messiah’s earthly kingdom is found throughout the OT (Dan 2:44; 7:13-14; 2 Sam 7:16; Psa 89:3-4, 34-37; Isa 9:6-7; Jer 23:5-6) and the NT (Matt 6:9-10; 19:28; 25:31; Luke 1:31-33; Rev 19:11-16; Rev 20:4-6). [4] Three times Jesus referred to Satan as “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). Other passages of Scripture call Satan “the god of this world” (2 Cor 4:4), and “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph 2:2), informing us “that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). Satan rules as a tyrant who has “weakened the nations” (Isa 14:12), and currently “deceives the whole world” (Rev 12:9). Satan continues to attack God’s people today (1 Pet 5:8), practices deception (2 Cor 11:13-15), and has well developed strategies of warfare (Eph 6:10-12). Furthermore, humanity is living in an “evil age” (Gal 1:4), under “the dominion of Satan” (Acts 26:18), whose sphere of influence is called “the domain of darkness” (Col 1:13). [5] Earl D. Radmacher, Ronald Barclay Allen, and H. Wayne House, Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary (Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers, 1999), 1762. [6] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 618. [7] Norman L. Geisler, Systematic Theology, Volume Four: Church, Last Things (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2005), 618–619. [8] H. Wayne House and Timothy J. Demy, Answers to Common Questions about Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2011), 75–76.
10/8/20231 hour, 13 minutes, 6 seconds
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Soteriology Lesson 18 - Jesus’ Resurrection, Ascension and Session

Jesus’ Resurrection      Jesus’ resurrection is an essential element in soteriology. In fact, every writer of the NT assumes that Jesus was resurrected from the grave and treat it as an event that took place in time and space. Paul wrote that Jesus “was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:4), that He was “the first fruits of those who are asleep” (1 Cor 15:20), and that “having been raised from the dead, is never to die again” (Rom 6:9). After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to numerous persons over a period of forty days (Acts 1:3), namely, Mary Magdalene and other women (Matt 28:1-10; John 20:10-18), two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-32), the disciples without Thomas (John 20:19-25), the disciples with Thomas (John 20:26-29), the disciples by the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1-23), Peter, James, and more than 500 brethren at one time (1 Cor 15:5-7). After these appearances, Jesus ascended bodily into heaven (Luke 24:50-51; Acts 1:9-11). It is recorded that God the Father “raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places” (Eph 1:20). Ralph Earle notes the importance of Jesus’ resurrection as follows: "Without the Resurrection the Crucifixion would have been in vain. It was the Resurrection which validated the atoning death of Jesus and gave it value. Paul describes it strikingly this way: “Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Rom 4:25). The resurrection of Jesus proved that his sacrifice for sins had been accepted. The whole redemptive scheme would have fallen apart without it. For by his resurrection Jesus Christ became the first fruits of a new race, a new humanity."[1] Charles Ryrie adds: "In the classic passage, 1 Corinthians 15:3–8, Christ’s death and resurrection are said to be “of first importance.” The Gospel is based on two essential facts: a Savior died and He lives. The burial proves the reality of His death. He did not merely faint only to be revived later. He died. The list of witnesses proves the reality of His resurrection. He died and was buried; He rose and was seen. Paul wrote of that same twofold emphasis in Romans 4:25: He was delivered for our offenses and raised for our justification. Without the Resurrection there is no Gospel…If Christ did not rise then our witness is false, our faith is without meaningful content, and our prospects for the future are hopeless (1 Cor 15:13–19). If Christ is not risen then believers who have died would be dead in the absolute sense without any hope of resurrection. And we who live could only be pitied for being deluded into thinking there is a future resurrection for them."[2]      The resurrection of Jesus is an essential element of the Christian gospel. Paul wrote, “Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you” (1 Cor 15:1). And the content of the gospel Paul preached was “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3-4). Believing the gospel message means accepting this information as true, and then trusting in Christ as one’s Savior. According to R.B. Thieme Jr., “First Corinthians 15:3-4 defines the boundaries of the Gospel, beginning with the work of Christ and ending with His resurrection…Any Gospel message that strays from the cross or denies Jesus Christ’s resurrection from physical death is inaccurate and out of bounds.”[3]      Amazingly, there were some at the church in Corinth who taught “that there is no resurrection of the dead” (1 Cor 15:12). Paul addressed this issue head on, saying, “if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is useless…For if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.” (1 Cor 15:13-14, 17). The clear teaching of Scripture is that “Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep” (1 Cor 15:20), and being “raised from the dead, is never to die again” (Rom 6:9). By His resurrection, Jesus proved that He overcame sin and death. Robert Mounce states: "Having been raised from the dead, Christ cannot die again. His resurrection was unlike that of Lazarus, who had to meet death once again. But Christ’s resurrection broke forever the tyranny of death. That cruel master can no longer exercise any power over him. The cross was sin’s final move; the resurrection was God’s checkmate. The game is over. Sin is forever in defeat. Christ the victor died to sin “once for all” and lives now in unbroken fellowship with God."[4] Jesus’ Ascension and Session      After Jesus’ resurrection, he appeared to many on several occasions. His final appearance was to His apostles. Luke wrote, “And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven” (Luke 24:50-51). And in Acts we’re told, “He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9). It’s important to note that Jesus ascended bodily into heaven, and that He will return the same way. Jesus’ ascension into heaven was the beginning of His session at the right hand of God. Concerning Jesus’s session, R. B. Thieme Jr. notes, “At His session, the humanity of Christ was ‘crowned with glory and honor’ and exalted to a position far higher than the angels (Heb 2:9). The Father put all powers and authorities in subjection to His Son and confirmed the ultimate subjugation of all who oppose Him.”[5] Jesus is, right now, “at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him” (1 Pet 3:22; cf., Eph 1:20), and He was “crowned with glory and honor” (Heb 2:9), and holds the title of “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Rev 19:16). According to Werner Foerster, “Session at the right hand of God means joint rule. It thus implies divine dignity, as does the very fact of sitting in God’s presence.”[6] And Ryrie notes, “By His resurrection and ascension our Lord was positioned in the place of honor at the right hand of the Father to be Head over the church, His body (Eph 1:20–23).”[7] Walvoord notes: "In the ascension of the incarnate Christ to heaven, not only was the divine nature restored to its previous place of infinite glory, but the human nature was also exalted. It is now as the God-Man that He is at the right hand of God the Father. This demonstrates that infinite glory and humanity are compatible as illustrated in the person of Christ and assures the saint that though he is a sinner saved by grace he may anticipate the glory of God in eternity."[8]      Ryrie states, “The Ascension marked the end of the period of Christ’s humiliation and His entrance into the state of exaltation…The Ascension having taken place, Christ then was ready to begin other ministries in behalf of His own and of the world.”[9] Lewis Chafer notes seven aspects of Jesus’ current ministry in heaven. "Seven aspects of His present ministry are to be recognized, namely: (1) exercise of universal authority. He said of Himself, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matt 28:18); (2) Headship over all things to the Church (Eph 1:22–23); (3) bestowment and direction of the exercise of gifts (Rom 12:3–8; 1 Cor 12:4–31; Eph 4:7–11); (4) intercession, in which ministry Christ contemplates the weakness and immaturity of His own who are in the world (Psa 23:1; Rom 8:34; Heb 7:25); (5) advocacy, by which ministry He appears in defense of His own before the Father’s throne when they sin (Rom 8:34; Heb 9:24; 1 John 2:1); (6) building of the place He has gone to prepare (John 14:1-3); and (7) “expecting” or waiting until the moment when by the Father’s decree the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdom of the Messiah—not by human agencies but by the resistless, crushing power of the returning King (Heb 10:13)."[10] Dr. Steven R. Cook   [1] Ralph Earle, “The Person of Christ: Death, Resurrection, Ascension,” in Basics of the Faith: An Evangelical Introduction to Christian Doctrine, ed. Carl F. H. Henry, Best of Christianity Today (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2019), 184. [2] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Basic Theology, 308. [3] Robert B. Thieme, Jr. “Gospel”, Thieme’s Bible Doctrine Dictionary, (Houston, TX., R. B. Thieme, Jr., Bible Ministries, 2022), 113 [4] Robert H. Mounce, Romans, vol. 27, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 152. [5] Robert B. Thieme, Jr. “Session of Jesus Christ”, Thieme’s Bible Doctrine Dictionary, (Houston, TX., R. B. Thieme, Jr., Bible Ministries, 2022), 238. [6] Werner Foerster and Gottfried Quell, “Κύριος, Κυρία, Κυριακός, Κυριότης, Κυριεύω, Κατακυριεύω,” ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–), 1089. [7] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Basic Theology, 313. [8] John F. Walvoord, Jesus Christ Our Lord (Galaxie Software, 2008), 121–122. [9] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Basic Theology, 312. [10] Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol. 7 (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1993), 82.
10/1/20231 hour, 5 minutes, 8 seconds
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Soteriology Lesson 17 - Jesus’ Sinlessness Life, Willingness to Die, and Substitutionary Atoning Death

Jesus’ Sinless Life      The record of Scripture is that Jesus “knew no sin” (2 Cor 5:21), was “without sin” (Heb 4:15), “committed no sin” (1 Pet 2:22), and in whom “there is no sin” (1 John 3:5). But why was the sinless humanity of Jesus necessary? The biblical teaching is that all mankind is sinful and separated from God (Rom 3:10-23). We are sinners in Adam (Rom 5:12; 1 Cor 15:21-22), sinners by nature (Rom 7:14-25; 13:12-14), and sinners by choice (Isa 59:2; Jam 1:14-15). Because of our fallen sinful state, we are completely helpless to solve the sin problem and save ourselves (Rom 5:6-10; Eph 2:1-3), and good works have no saving merit before God (Isa 64:6; Rom 4:4-5; Eph 2:8-9; Tit 3:5). Being completely sinless, Jesus was qualified to go the cross as “a lamb unblemished and spotless” (1 Pet 1:19) and die a substitutionary death in our place, “the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet 3:18). Charles Lee Feinberg states, “Though tempted in all points as we are, He was nevertheless without sin (Heb 4:15); indeed, we are told, He was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners (Heb 7:26). In short, the combined testimony of Scripture reveals that in Him is no sin (1 John 3:5).”[1] According to R. B. Thieme Jr.: "As true humanity living on earth, Christ was free from all three categories of human sinfulness: the sin nature, Adam’s original sin, and personal sins. The first two categories were eliminated from our Lord’s life through the virgin birth, but personal sin remained an issue throughout the Incarnation. Scripture confirms that our Lord can “sympathize with our weaknesses,” because He “has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). The temptation to personal sin did not come from within, because the humanity of Christ had no inherent sin nature. He did, however, receive temptation from outside His person—even being tempted by Satan himself…By constantly relying on the provisions of the spiritual life (the same provisions available to us), Jesus Christ was able to resist every temptation and remain perfect (1 John 3:3, 5)."[2]      Sinners need salvation, but cannot save themselves, nor can they save another. All are trapped in sin and utterly helpless to change their condition. But God the Son did what we cannot do for ourselves. He obeyed the Father and stepped into time and space, taking true and sinless humanity to Himself, and living a perfect life before the Father. Then, at a point in time, He surrendered Himself to the cross and died a penal substitutionary death on behalf of all humanity, bearing the wrath of God in their place. Then He was placed in a grave and rose again to life on the third day, never to die again. The benefits of the cross are applied to those who come to Jesus with the empty hands of faith, believing He died for them, was buried, and raised again on the third day. When they place their faith in Him as Savior, they have forgiveness of sins and eternal life. This is given freely by grace. R. B. Thieme Jr. states: "Every human being needs to be saved, because everyone enters this world in a state of spiritual death, total depravity, and total separation from God. Because man is born hopelessly lost from God and helpless to do anything about it, God, in His grace, designed a perfect plan to reconcile man to Himself. God the Son took the burden of responsibility: He became true humanity and remained sinless so that He could be judged for the sins of the world (1 Pet 3:18). While Jesus Christ hung on the cross, God the Father poured the full wrath of His justice upon the Son He loved so perfectly (Matt 27:46; Rom 5:8–10; 2 Cor 5:21). Christ “bore our sins in His body” (1 Pet 2:24) and took the punishment in our place. God’s righteous standard approved of Jesus’ sacrifice as payment for all human sins."[3] Jesus’ Willingness to Die      Jesus was not forced to go to the cross, but willingly went and bore our sin (Isa 53:4-11; John 10:17-18; 1 Pet 2:24). Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep” (John 10:11), and “No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative” (John 10:18a). It was the will of the Father for Jesus to die a penal substitutionary death, and Jesus willingly accomplished it. Jesus said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me” (Heb 10:5). And once in hypostatic union, Jesus said, “Behold, I have come to do your will” (Heb 10:9). It was necessary for Jesus to be fully human and free from sin to be the atoning sacrifice. Thomas Constable states, “Jesus willingly offered Himself; no human took His life from Him. However, He offered Himself in obedience to the Father’s will.”[4] According to Leon Morris, “The Lord’s death does not take place as the result of misadventure or the might of his foes or the like. No one takes his life from him. Far from this being the case, he himself lays it down, and does so completely of his own volition.”[5] William MacDonald adds: "No one could take the Lord’s life from Him. He is God, and is thus greater than all the murderous plots of His creatures. He had power in Himself to lay down His life, and He also had power to take it again. But did not men kill the Lord Jesus? They did. This is clearly stated in Acts 2:23 and in 1 Thessalonians 2:15. The Lord Jesus allowed them to do it, and this was an exhibition of His power to lay down His life. Furthermore, He “gave up His Spirit” (John 19:30) as an act of His own strength and will."[6] Jesus’ Substitutionary Atonement      Atonement is a very important concept in the Bible. In the OT, the word atonement translates the Hebrew verb kaphar (כָּפַר) which means to “cover over, pacify, propitiate, [or] atone for sin.”[7] Theologically, it means “to bring together in mutual agreement, with the added idea, in theology, of reconciliation through the vicarious suffering of one on behalf of another.”[8] The animal sacrificial system—which was part of the Mosaic Law—taught that sin must be atoned for. The idea of substitution was clearly taught as the sinner laid his hands on the animal that died in his place (Lev 4:15, 24; 16:21). The innocent animal paid the price of death on behalf of the guilty sinner.      The animal sacrificial system under the Mosaic Law taught that God is holy, man is sinful, and that God was willing to judge an innocent creature as a substitute in place of the sinner. The animal that shed its blood gave up its life in place of the one who had offended God, and it was only through the shed blood that atonement was made. A life for a life. The animal sacrificial system under the Mosaic Law was highly symbolic, temporary, and pointed forward to the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. The Levitical priests would regularly perform their temple sacrifices on behalf of the people to God, but being a symbolic system, the animal sacrifices could never “make perfect those who draw near” to Him, for the simple reason that “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Heb 10:1, 4). For nearly fourteen centuries the temple priests kept “offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins” (Heb 10:11), until finally Christ “offered one sacrifice for sins for all time” (Heb 10:12), and through that one offering “perfected for all time those who are sanctified” by it (Heb 10:14). What the Mosaic Law could never accomplish through the sacrifice of symbols, Christ did once and for all time through His substitutionary death on the cross when he died in the place of sinners.      Jesus’ death on the cross was a satisfactory sacrifice to God which completely paid the price for our sin. We owed a debt to God that we could never pay, and Jesus paid that debt in full when He died on the cross and bore the punishment that rightfully belonged to us. In Romans 3:25 Paul used the Greek word hilasterion (ἱλαστήριον)—translated propitiation—to show that Jesus’ shed blood completely satisfied God’s righteous demands toward our sin, with the result that there is nothing more for the sinner to pay to God. Jesus paid our sin-debt in full. The Apostle John tells us “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world” (1 John 2:2; cf., 1 John 4:10). Jesus’ death on the cross forever satisfied God’s righteous demands toward the sins of everyone for all time! God has “canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross” (Col 2:14). Regarding Christ’s death, J. Dwight Pentecost states: "You can be adjusted to God’s standard, because God made Christ to become sin for us. The One who knew no sin, the One in whose lips had never been found guile, took upon Himself our sin in order that He might bear our sins to the cross and offer Himself as an acceptable substitute to God for us—on our behalf, in our place. And when Jesus Christ identified Himself with sinners and went to the cross on their behalf and in their place, He was making possible the doctrine of reconciliation. He was making it possible for God to conform the world to Himself, to adjust the world to His standard so that sinners in the world might find salvation because “Jesus paid it all.” You can be adjusted to God, to God’s standard, through Christ, by His death, by His cross, by His blood, and by His identification with sinners."[9]      In the NT, the idea of substitution is observed in the use of two Greek prepositions. The first is the preposition huper (ὑπὲρ), translated “for,” which means “in behalf of, for the sake of someone.”[10] The idea of Jesus dying as a substitute in the place of sinners is seen in Romans 5:8 where Paul wrote, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” The second preposition that denotes substitution is anti (ἀντὶ), also translated “for,” which expresses the idea “that one person or thing is, or is to be, replaced by another, instead of, in place of.”[11] The preposition anti (ἀντὶ) is seen in Jesus’ statement, “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matt 20:28). According to Robert Lightner: "The biblical view of the Savior’s death is that he died to satisfy the demands of the offended righteousness of God. The Savior died in the sinner’s place. This is an essential, indispensable truth in evangelicalism. It is true that Christ died for the sinner’s benefit, but that does not fully describe the nature and purpose of his finished work. He gave his life in the sinner’s place. He died as the sinner’s substitute. The strongest expression of Christ’s substitutionary death is given with the Greek preposition anti, translated “for.” Christ himself used this word when he said, “even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Matt 20:28; cf. Matt 26:28; 1 Tim 2:6). Christ died in the sinner’s place. He died instead of the condemned."[12]      Jesus’ atonement for sins is the basis for reconciliation, because God has judged our sins in the Person of Christ who died on the cross in our place. The death of Christ has forever satisfied God’s righteous demands for our sin and it is on this basis that He can accept sinners into heaven. The blood of Christ is the only coin in the heavenly realm that God accepts as payment for our sin-debt, and Christ paid our sin debt in full. That’s good news!      Because Jesus’ death satisfied God’s righteousness demands for sin, the sinner can approach God who welcomes him without reservation. God has cleared the way for sinners to come to Him for a new relationship, and this is based completely on the substitutionary work of Christ. God has done everything to reconcile humanity to Himself. The debt that was owed to God was paid in full by the blood of Christ.  Dr. Steven R. Cook   [1] Charles Lee Feinberg, “The Hypostatic Union,” Bibliotheca Sacra 92 (1935): 423. [2] Robert B. Thieme, Jr. “Impeccability of Christ”,  Thieme’s Bible Doctrine Dictionary, (Houston, TX., R. B. Thieme, Jr., Bible Ministries, 2022), 135. [3] Robert B. Thieme, Jr. “Salvation”,  Thieme’s Bible Doctrine Dictionary, (Houston, TX., R. B. Thieme, Jr., Bible Ministries, 2022), 232. [4] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Jn 10:18. [5] Leon Morris, The Gospel according to John, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1995), 456. [6] William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments, ed. Arthur Farstad (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1995), 1526. [7] Francis Brown, S.R. Driver and Charles A. Briggs, The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew-English Lexicon (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers 1979), 497. [8] G. W. Bromiley, “Atone; Atonement,” ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1979–1988), 352. [9] J. Dwight Pentecost, Things Which Become Sound Doctrine (Grand Rapids, Mi., Kregel Publications, 1965), 89. [10] William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 1030. [11] Ibid., 87. [12] Robert P. Lightner, Handbook of Evangelical Theology: A Historical, Biblical, and Contemporary Survey and Review (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1995), 194.
9/24/20231 hour, 34 seconds
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Soteriology Lesson 16 - Jesus’ Humility and Sinlessness

Jesus’ Humility      It is only natural that the subject of Jesus’ humility be discussed after examining His position as the Suffering Servant. W. H. Griffith Thomas notes: "In the Old Testament our Lord is called “the Servant of Jehovah,” and in the New Testament He is described as having taken “the form of a servant.” In order to do the will of God and redeem mankind, it was necessary for Him to humble Himself and become a “Servant,” so that along the pathway of service He might come to that Cross which was at once the exemplification of devoted duty, redeeming grace, and Divine love."[1]      Matthew records Jesus’ mental attitude of humility when He said, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart” (Matt 11:29). The word humble translates the Greek adjective tapeinos (ταπεινός), which denotes being “lowly, undistinguished, of no account.”[2] Jesus’ mental attitude of humility was in contrast with that of the world which regards the virtue of humility in a negative way. Moisés Silva notes, “In the Greek world, with its anthropocentric approach, lowliness is looked on as shameful, to be avoided and overcome by act and thought. In the NT, with its theocentric perspective, the words are used to describe our relationship with God and its effect on how we treat fellow human beings.”[3] For Jesus, being humble meant He was more concerned with doing the Father’s will than that of the world around Him, or even His own will (Luke 22:42). And there was no greater act of humility than Jesus being obedient to the point of death on the cross. Paul wrote that Jesus “humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:8). Wiersbe states, “His was not the death of a martyr but the death of a Savior. He willingly laid down His life for the sins of the world.”[4] Homer Kent notes, “He was so committed to the Father’s plan that he obeyed it even as far as death (Heb 5:8). Nor was this all, for it was no ordinary death, but the disgraceful death by crucifixion, a death not allowed for Roman citizens, and to Jews indicative of the curse of God (Deut 21:23; Gal 3:13).”[5] And Earl Radmacher comments: "Jesus came to the earth with the identity of a man. Here the word appearance points to the external characteristics of Jesus: He had the bearing, actions, and manners of a man. He humbled Himself: Jesus willingly took the role of a servant; no one forced Him to do it. Obedient: Although He never sinned and did not deserve to die, He chose to die so that the sins of the world could be charged to His account. Subsequently He could credit His righteousness to the account of all who believe in Him (2 Cor 5:21; Gal 1:4)."[6]      As stated before, Jesus was not forced to go to the cross, but willingly went to the cross and bore our sin (Isa 53:4-11; John 10:17-18; 1 Pet 2:24). As God, He could have avoided the cross altogether, or even stepped down from the cross if He’d wanted. Jesus died on a cross to accomplish the Father’s will. To be an atoning sacrifice for our sins, so that we could receive forgiveness and eternal life and enjoy heaven forever with Him. His being humble to the point of death was for our wellbeing. He died for us, “the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet 3:18). Walvoord notes: "No one else has ever come from infinite heights of glory to such a shameful death. If there had been a better way or another way by which the sin of the whole world could have been taken away, surely God would not have required His beloved Son to submit to such a death. This was the only way. There had to be a perfect sacrifice, an atonement of infinite value. This could be accomplished only by a person who was both God and man, who was without sin and yet was truly a man representing the human race. No other could take the place of Christ, no act of devotion, however unselfish, no act of ordinary man, however courageous, for  sin. As we contemplate the mind of Christ which made Him willing to die on the cross, we must realize that if Christ had not died men would still be in their sins with a hopeless eternity and facing just as certain a judgment as that which is the lot of the lost angels who know nothing of salvation."[7] Jesus’ Sinless Life      The record of Scripture is that Jesus “knew no sin” (2 Cor 5:21), was “without sin” (Heb 4:15), “committed no sin” (1 Pet 2:22), and in whom “there is no sin” (1 John 3:5). But why was the sinless humanity of Jesus necessary? The biblical teaching is that all mankind is sinful and separated from God (Rom 3:10-23). We are sinners in Adam (Rom 5:12; 1 Cor 15:21-22), sinners by nature (Rom 7:14-25; 13:12-14), and sinners by choice (Isa 59:2; Jam 1:14-15). Because of our fallen sinful state, we are completely helpless to solve the sin problem and save ourselves (Rom 5:6-10; Eph 2:1-3), and good works have no saving merit before God (Isa 64:6; Rom 4:4-5; Eph 2:8-9; Tit 3:5). Being completely sinless, Jesus was qualified to go the cross as “a lamb unblemished and spotless” (1 Pet 1:19) and die a substitutionary death in our place, “the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet 3:18). Charles Lee Feinberg states, “Though tempted in all points as we are, He was nevertheless without sin (Heb 4:15); indeed, we are told, He was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners (Heb 7:26). In short, the combined testimony of Scripture reveals that in Him is no sin (1 John 3:5).”[8] According to R. B. Thieme Jr.: "As true humanity living on earth, Christ was free from all three categories of human sinfulness: the sin nature, Adam’s original sin, and personal sins. The first two categories were eliminated from our Lord’s life through the virgin birth, but personal sin remained an issue throughout the Incarnation. Scripture confirms that our Lord can “sympathize with our weaknesses,” because He “has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Heb 4:15). The temptation to personal sin did not come from within, because the humanity of Christ had no inherent sin nature. He did, however, receive temptation from outside His person—even being tempted by Satan himself…By constantly relying on the provisions of the spiritual life (the same provisions available to us), Jesus Christ was able to resist every temptation and remain perfect (1 John 3:3, 5)."[9]      Sinners need salvation, but cannot save themselves, nor can they save another. All are trapped in sin and utterly helpless to change their condition. But God the Son did what we cannot do for ourselves. He obeyed the Father and stepped into time and space, taking true and sinless humanity to Himself, and living a perfect life before the Father. Then, at a point in time, He surrendered Himself to the cross and died a penal substitutionary death on behalf of all humanity, bearing the wrath of God in their place. Then He was placed in a grave and rose again to life on the third day, never to die again. The benefits of the cross are applied to those who come to Jesus with the empty hands of faith, believing He died for them, was buried, and raised again on the third day. When they place their faith in Him as Savior, they have forgiveness of sins and eternal life. This is given freely by grace. R. B. Thieme Jr. states: Every human being needs to be saved, because everyone enters this world in a state of spiritual death, total depravity, and total separation from God. Because man is born hopelessly lost from God and helpless to do anything about it, God, in His grace, designed a perfect plan to reconcile man to Himself. God the Son took the burden of responsibility: He became true humanity and remained sinless so that He could be judged for the sins of the world (1 Pet 3:18). While Jesus Christ hung on the cross, God the Father poured the full wrath of His justice upon the Son He loved so perfectly (Matt 27:46; Rom 5:8–10; 2 Cor 5:21). Christ “bore our sins in His body” (1 Pet 2:24) and took the punishment in our place. God’s righteous standard approved of Jesus’ sacrifice as payment for all human sins.[10] Dr. Steven R. Cook   [1] W. H. Griffith Thomas, The Christian Life and How to Live It (Chicago: The Bible Institute Colportage Association, 1919), 59–60. [2] William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 989. [3] Moisés Silva, ed., New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014), 452. [4] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 75. [5] Homer A. Kent Jr., “Philippians,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 124. [6] Earl D. Radmacher, Ronald Barclay Allen, and H. Wayne House, Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary (Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers, 1999), 1550–1551. [7] John F. Walvoord, To Live Is Christ (Galaxie Software, 2007), 45. [8] Charles Lee Feinberg, “The Hypostatic Union,” Bibliotheca Sacra 92 (1935): 423. [9] Robert B. Thieme, Jr. “Impeccability of Christ”,  Thieme’s Bible Doctrine Dictionary, (Houston, TX., R. B. Thieme, Jr., Bible Ministries, 2022), 135. [10] Robert B. Thieme, Jr. “Salvation”,  Thieme’s Bible Doctrine Dictionary, (Houston, TX., R. B. Thieme, Jr., Bible Ministries, 2022), 232.
9/17/202357 minutes, 42 seconds
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Acts 10:9-23 - The Lord Teaches Peter a Lesson

Introduction      In the previous pericope, we saw where God worked providentially to connect Cornelius, a Roman Centurion living in Caesarea, with Peter, who was living in Joppa (30 miles south). Cornelius is described as a God-fearer (Acts 10:2, 22). God-fearers were Gentiles who were drawn to the simplicity of monotheism and the high morality offered through the Mosaic Law in Judaism. The Greeks and Romans were polytheistic and their fickle and violent gods were often at war with each other. Their gods were little more than amplified representations of humanity, and the multiplicity of gods made their whole religious system unstable. As a God-fearer, Cornelius showed signs of positive volition, and he sought the Lord in prayer and through acts of kindness. Prayer and acts of charity in an unbeliever have no saving value; however, in the case of Cornelius, they demonstrated positive volition toward God, so the Lord sent him gospel information so he could believe in Christ for salvation (Acts 10:24-44). Cornelius was not saved, but he would be, after hearing and responding to the gospel of grace (Acts 11:13-14). What follows is the account of God’s providence to orchestrate an evangelistic opportunity. Text      Luke tells us, “On the next day, as they were on their way and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray” (Acts 10:9). We observe these events occurring in time and space as Luke employs the words day and hour, city and housetop. Cornelius’ servants had traveled the 30 miles south from Caesarea to Joppa in a day, which either meant they were on horseback, or travelled all night. The sixth hour was about noontime and may have reflected a pattern in Peter’s prayer life. Other godly believers had a habit of prayer at certain times of the day (Psa 55:17; Dan 6:10). The Lord would use this situation to teach Peter a theological truth.  But he became hungry and was desiring to eat; but while they were making preparations, he fell into a trance, 11 and he saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground, 12 and there were in it all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air. A voice came to him, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat!” 14 But Peter said, “By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean” (Acts 10:10-14)      In the vision, Peter saw the sky open up and saw what appeared to him something like a great sheet descending to the ground. On the sheet was a variety of animals, crawling creatures and birds. Peter heard the Lord’s voice instruct him, saying, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat!” (Acts 10:12b). The Lord’s directive was a command with two verbs in the imperative mood (θῦσον καὶ φάγε). The Mosaic Law distinguished between clean and unclean animals, and if one touched or ate an unclean animal, one became ceremonially unclean (see Lev 11). The primary reason for the vision was to teach Peter that he was now to accept the Gentiles as equal in the body of Christ, and that he “should not call any man unholy or unclean” (Acts 10:28). In the Church Age, God has declared all foods clean (Mark 7:19; Rom 14:14; Col 2:16; 1 Tim 4:4). But old habits die hard, and Peter was challenged to conform to the new standard, and this was not the first time Peter resisted the Lord (Matt 16:22). Ultimately, God was teaching Peter that He has declared Gentiles and Jews equal in the body of Christ, and that the wall of division had been removed (see Acts 10:28; cf., Gal 3:26-29; Eph 2:14-16). God used repetition for emphasis as well as to seat the matter in Peter’s mind.      And God was gracious and persistent, as Luke tells us, “Again a voice came to him a second time, ‘What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.’ This happened three times, and immediately the object was taken up into the sky” (Acts 10:15-16). The timing of the vision was intended to prepare Peter for what followed. Luke tells us, “Now while Peter was greatly perplexed in mind as to what the vision which he had seen might be, behold, the men who had been sent by Cornelius, having asked directions for Simon’s house, appeared at the gate, and calling out, they were asking whether Simon, who was also called Peter, was staying there” (Acts 10:17-18). Here we see God’s providence at work, as He prepares Peter and Cornelius’ servants to meet for the first time. But Peter did not know Cornelius’ men were at the gate, so “While Peter was reflecting on the vision, the Spirit said to him, ‘Behold, three men are looking for you. But get up, go downstairs and accompany them without misgivings, for I have sent them Myself’” (Acts 10:19-20). This shows that God the Holy Spirit is behind evangelism.      Peter, being positive to the Lord and His directives, obeyed and did as He was told. Luke records, “Peter went down to the men and said, ‘Behold, I am the one you are looking for; what is the reason for which you have come?’ They said, ‘Cornelius, a centurion, a righteous and God-fearing man well-spoken of by the entire nation of the Jews, was divinely directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and hear a message from you” (Acts 10:21-22). The result was, “So he invited them in and gave them lodging. And on the next day he got up and went away with them, and some of the brethren from Joppa accompanied him” (Acts 10:23). Peter displayed hospitality to his guests by inviting them in and giving them a place to sleep for the night. This was a big change for Peter, for Jews normally did not entertain Gentiles, let alone lodge them in their home for the night. They left the next morning and journeyed from Joppa to Caesarea, and some of Peter’s Jewish brethren came along with him. One wonders why God did not use Philip to preach to Cornelius and family, since Philip was already in Caesarea (Acts 8:40). Whatever the reason, God always works through the right servant at the right time, and Peter was His selection for evangelism. Summary of Acts 10:9-23:      The Central Idea of the Text is that God revealed to Peter that Gentiles and Jews are both equally acceptable to Him in Christ. Present Application God is the One who works to create evangelistic opportunities as He works behind the scenes, creating and controlling circumstances for His purposes. Here we observe an example where an angel was used as a “ministering spirit, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation” (Heb 1:14). Though God used an angel to tell Cornelius what to do, the sharing of the gospel is a privilege for humans, and Peter was the Lord’s man to share that salvific information. By God’s sovereign will He controls all the events of our lives, and the things we consider mundane or coincidence are used by Him to direct us to the places and people He has predetermined. In this, we know there are no accidental events in our lives, nor chance encounters with other people, for God is working “all things after the counsel of His will” (Eph 1:11; cf. Psa 103:19; 135:6; Dan 4:35), and causing “all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom 8:28). God used a visual aid and repetition as pedagogical tools to help Peter uproot a lifetime of thinking that was now a hindrance to his spiritual service. The Lord was changing His historical program through the institution of the Church, and the separation that existed historically between Jews and Gentiles was removed (Gal 3:26-29; Eph 2:11-16; Col 3:11). Peter, having originally said to God, “By no means, Lord” (Acts 10:14; cf. Matt 16:21-23; John 13:8), soon revealed himself as teachable and willing to adjust his theology and life as God corrected him. Theology must have application, and the correction to Peter’s theology became evident when he actually went with the Gentiles to the house of Cornelius (Acts 10:23-48). It’s tough to make personal changes in ministry because we’re challenged to unseat longstanding values and traditions which may have served us well at one time, but are no longer useful. Inertia is easier and requires no action to change. However, if we’re unwilling to change, the end result is death to ministry. In Peter’s case, inertia would have rendered him useless as a servant of the Lord, and may have brought divine discipline. Gospel Presentation      If you are here this morning without Christ, without hope, and without eternal life, I want you to know that when Jesus was on the cross, He had you personally in mind as He bore your sin and paid the price for it. He died and paid the penalty for your sins so that you would not have to. Scripture reveals, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8), and “Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet 3:18). The good news for us is that “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3-4), and if we place our faith in Him as the only Savior (John 14:6; Acts 4:12), we are promised forgiveness of sins (Eph 1:7), eternal life (John 10:28), and place in heaven forever (John 14:1-3). I “beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Cor 5:20).            
8/30/202333 minutes, 49 seconds
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Soteriology Lesson 15 - The Suffering Servant

     It is in the understanding of the suffering and death of Christ that the sinner appreciates God’s great love and the price that was paid for our salvation. Christ suffered in our place, bearing the penalty that rightfully belongs to us. Scripture tells us that “Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet 3:18a). Perhaps no section of Scripture in the Old Testament bears greater testimony to this truth than Isaiah 52:13 through 53:12, in which the prophet reveals the Messiah as the Suffering Servant. Isaiah 53 is mentioned several times in the New Testament as specifically referring to Christ (Matt 8:17; John 12:38; Acts 8:30-35; Rom 10:16; 1 Pet 2:22-25), so that there is no mistake in the minds of the New Testament writers that the passage points to Jesus. According to John Stott, “The New Testament writers quote eight specific verses as having been fulfilled in Jesus…eight verses out of the chapter’s twelve are all quite specifically referred to Jesus.”[1] And Arnold Fruchtenbaum notes: "It was Isaiah the Prophet who first provided the hope that the day would come when the burden will be lifted. In Isaiah 53, God declared that the Suffering Servant, the Messiah, would be the sacrifice for sin…The point of Isaiah 53 is basically this: The animal sacrifices under the Mosaic Law were intended to be of temporary duration, a temporary measure only. God’s intent was for there to be one final blood sacrifice, and that would be the sacrifice of the Messiah Himself."[2]      In Isaiah 53:10 we observe the Father’s judgment on Christ for our sin, and Christ’s willingness to be judged in our place. Isaiah wrote, “But the LORD was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand” (Isa 53:10). It was the Father’s will for the Son to go to the cross to die for sinners, but we must also realize that Christ willingly went to His death and bore the Father’s wrath in our place. It is simultaneously true that God sent and Christ went. Jesus was not forced upon the cross, but willingly, in love, surrendered His life and died in our place. Jesus said, “I lay down My life for the sheep” (John 10:15), and “no one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative” (John 10:18). Paul wrote, “Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (Eph 5:2), and “Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (Eph 5:25), and “the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Gal 2:20). The writer to the Hebrews tells us that Christ “offered up Himself” (Heb 7:27), and “offered Himself without blemish to God” (Heb 9:14).      As a result of Jesus bearing the sin of many, Isaiah wrote, “He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand” (Isa 53:10b). When Isaiah said, “He will see His offspring”, it meant that Christ’s death would bear the fruit of spiritual offspring as people turn to Him as Savior and are born again (cf. John 3:3; 1 Pet 1:3, 23). Fruchtenbaum notes, “The Servant’s seed would be those who benefit from His death by spiritual rebirth. The moment they accept for themselves His substitutionary death for their sins, they are born again spiritually by the Holy Spirit. By this spiritual rebirth, they become the Servant’s seed.”[3] And the phrase, “He will prolong His days” refers to Jesus’ bodily resurrection, never to die again. And the phrase, “the good pleasure of the LORD” most likely speaks of heaven’s wealth that will be known to those whom Christ will justify and who will share in His riches and heavenly estate (John 14:1-3; 1 Pet 1:3-4).      Though Jesus suffered greatly on the cross, His death was infinitely purposeful, as it satisfied the Father’s demands toward our sin, and also justified the many who would trust in Christ as Savior. Isaiah wrote, “As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; by His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities” (Isa 53:11). Here is a picture of substitutionary atonement, as the Suffering Servant will “justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities” (Isa 53:11b). Peter also reveals the doctrine of substitution when he states, “Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet 3:18). It is important to grasp that Christ bore our sin, but this did not make Him a sinner in conduct. On the other hand, we are declared righteous in God’s sight because of the righteousness of Christ imputed to us at the moment of salvation, but this does not make us righteous in conduct. God gives us “the gift of righteousness” (Rom 5:17) at the moment we trust Christ as our Savior. This is what Paul meant when he stated, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor 5:21). Paul understood the doctrine of substitution, that Christ died in the place of sinners and that sinners are declared righteous because of the work of Christ credited to their account. This explains Paul’s desire to “be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith” (Phil 3:9). Concerning Isaiah 53:11, Edward Young states: "When the servant bears the iniquities of the many and has been punished for the guilt of these iniquities, the act of bearing the iniquities in itself has not changed the character of those whose iniquities are borne. When the iniquities are borne, i.e. when the guilt those iniquities involved has been punished, the servant may declare that the many stand in right relationship with God. Their iniquities will no longer be able to rise up and accuse them, for the guilt of those iniquities has been punished. Thus, they are justified. They are declared to be righteous, for they have received the righteousness of the servant and they are received and accepted by God Himself. Of them God says that they no longer have iniquities, but they do have the righteousness of the servant. This can only be a forensic justification."[4]      If we had stood at the trials of Jesus, seen His beatings, seen His crucifixion and sat at the foot of the cross, surely we would have wept at the injustice and brutal cruelty of it all. However, the Scripture reveals that it was the will of God that Christ go to the cross and die for sinners (Acts 2:23; 4:28), that His death would be an atoning sacrifice that satisfied every righteous demand of the Father (Rom 3:25; 1 John 2:2). In the willing death of Christ, we have the Father’s righteousness displayed toward our sin as well as His love toward us, the sinner, whom He seeks to save.      There is a purpose to the suffering of Christ. He suffered that we might have forgiveness of sins and eternal life. His substitutionary death propitiated the Father’s righteous demand for justice concerning our sin and now we can come to God with the empty hands of faith and receive the free gift of eternal life and be clothed in perfect righteousness. This was accomplished while we were helpless, ungodly, sinners and enemies of God (Rom 5:6-10). God graciously acted toward us to reconcile us to Himself, and this was accomplished through the suffering of Christ.   [1] John R. W. Stott, The Cross of Christ (Downers Grove, Ill. Intervarsity Press, 1986), 145. [2] Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Messianic Christology: A Study of Old Testament Prophecy Concerning the First Coming of the Messiah (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 1998), 130. [3] Arnold Fruchtenbaum, The Book of Isaiah: Exposition from a Messianic Jewish Perspective (San Antonio, TX. Ariel Ministries, 2021), 577-578. [4] Edward Young, The Book of Isaiah, Chapters 40–66, vol. 3 (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1972), 358.
8/27/20231 hour, 1 minute, 46 seconds
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Soteriology Lesson 14 - The Role of God the Son in Our Salvation

     At a point in time, the eternal Son of God added humanity to Himself, simultaneously becoming God and man, Creator and creature, the unique theanthropic person (John 1:1, 14, 18; 8:58; 10:33; 20:28; Col 2:9; Heb 1:8). Jesus is the God-man and exists in hypostatic union, as a single Person with a divine and human nature (John 1:1, 14; 1 John 4:2-3), both natures being distinct and preserved, not mixed or confused, fully God and fully man. The hypostatic union is forever, from conception onward. Jesus was supernaturally conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the virgin Mary (parthenogenesis – Isa 7:14; Matt 1:23; Luke 1:26-38), who is the mother of Jesus’ humanity (Christotokos – bearer of Christ). Some see Mary as the mother of God (Theotokos – bearer of God), and though Jesus is God, His divine nature is without origin and eternal. Being the mother of Jesus’ humanity honors Mary without elevating her to a place beyond what the Scriptures teach. And Jesus was a Jew, born a son of Abraham, in the line David (Matt 1:1), the promised Messiah (Matt 1:17). Jesus grew in wisdom (Luke 2:40, 52), and lived a perfectly righteous life before God and man. The record of Scripture is that Jesus “knew no sin” (2 Cor 5:21), was “without sin” (Heb 4:15), “committed no sin” (1 Pet 3:22), and “in Him there is no sin” (1 John 3:5). In His humanity, Jesus walked in perfect conformity to God the Father’s holy character and divine revelation. Cults such as Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witness deny the full humanity and deity of Jesus, and for this reason are not within the true Christian community. Thiessen states: "The Council of Chalcedon, in AD 451, established what has been the position of the Christian church. There is one Jesus Christ, but He has two natures, the human and the divine. He is truly God and truly man, composed of body and rational soul. He is consubstantial with the Father in His deity and consubstantial with man in His humanity, except for sin. In His deity He was begotten of the Father before time, and in His humanity born of the virgin Mary. The distinction between the natures is not diminished by their union, but the specific character of each nature is preserved and they are united in one person. Jesus is not split or divided into two persons; He is one person, the Son of God."[1] His Deity      The Bible presents Jesus as God. In the OT, the proper name of God is Yahweh (יהוה) and is generally translated LORD, using all capital letters. When the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew OT) was written around 250 B.C., the translators chose the Greek word kurios (κύριος) as a suitable substitute for the Hebrew name Yahweh (יהוה). Though kurios (κύριος) is sometimes used in the NT to mean sir (John 4:11; Acts 16:30), and master (Col 3:22), it is also used to refer to the deity of Jesus Christ (compare Isa 40:3 with John 1:23; and Deut 6:16 with Matt 4:7; cf. John 20:28; Rom 10:11-12; Phil 2:11). According to Thiessen, “Although the second person of the trinity often appears in the Old Testament, He is never referred to as Christ. Instead, we have the names Son, Jehovah, and the angel of Jehovah. In Psalm 2:7 Jehovah calls him His Son. More frequently He is called Jehovah.”[2]The NT writers clearly saw Yahweh-God from the OT as referring to Jesus.      Concerning the NT evidence, the apostle John wrote, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1, 14). And “the Word” which became flesh also existed with the Father “before the world was” (John 17:5). The Jews of Jesus’s day understood His claims to deity, that He “was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God” (John 5:18). On another occasion they said to Jesus, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God” (John 10:33). The apostle Thomas, after seeing the resurrected Jesus, said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). Paul wrote of Jesus, saying, “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form” (Col 2:9), and elsewhere said that He is “our great God and Savior” (Tit 2:13). And the writer to the Hebrews said of Jesus, “But of the Son He says, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever’” (Heb 1:8).      As God, Jesus created the universe, for “He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being” (John 1:2-3). And Paul wrote, “For by Him [Jesus] all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Col 1:16-17).      As God, Jesus accepted the worship of men and angels. The magi who came to see the newborn Jesus said, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him” (Matt 2:2), and “after coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him” (Matt 2:11a). On three separate occasions the disciples worshipped Jesus. Matthew wrote, “And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, ‘You are certainly God’s Son!’” (Matt 14:33), “And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him” (Matt 28:9), and “When they saw Him, they worshiped Him” (Matt 28:17a). And after Jesus healed a lame man, we are told “he worshiped Him” (John 9:38). And of the angels it is written, “Let all God’s angels worship him” (Heb 1:6). It follows that Jesus is God, since only God can receive worship. Walvoord states, “In any orthodox statement of the doctrine of the Trinity, the second Person is described as possessing all the attributes of the Godhead, being distinguished as the second Person in contrast to the first or third Persons of the Trinity and as the eternal Son in contrast to the Father or the Holy Spirit.”[3] Hypostatic Union      The apostle John wrote, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1, 14). At a point in time, God the Son added to Himself humanity, forever uniting His divine nature with a perfect sinless human nature, becoming the God-man (John 1:1, 14, 18). In the field of systematic theology, this is called the hypostatic union. Chafer states, “Though His deity is eternal, the humanity was gained in time. Therefore, the theanthropic Person—destined to be such forever—began with the incarnation.”[4] God the Son did not indwell a human, but forever added humanity to Himself. According to Paul Enns, “When Christ came, a Person came, not just a nature; He took on an additional nature, a human nature—He did not simply dwell in a human person. The result of the union of the two natures is the theanthropic Person (the God-man).”[5] Reading through the Gospels, there were times that Jesus operated from His divine nature (Mark 2:5-12; John 8:56-58; 10:30-33), and other times from His human nature (Matt 4:2; Luke 8:22-23; John 19:28). Concerning both natures, Paul Enns wrote: "The two natures of Christ are inseparably united without mixture or loss of separate identity. He remains forever the God-man, fully God and fully man, two distinct natures in one Person forever. Though Christ sometimes operated in the sphere of His humanity and in other cases in the sphere of His deity, in all cases what He did and what He was could be attributed to His one Person. Even though it is evident that there were two natures in Christ, He is never considered a dual personality. In summarizing the hypostatic union, three facts are noted: (1) Christ has two distinct natures: humanity and deity; (2) there is no mixture or intermingling of the two natures; (3) although He has two natures, Christ is one Person."[6]      Jesus is the God-Man. He is eternal God (Isa 9:6; John 8:56-58), yet He was born of a woman in time and space (Gal 4:4). As God, He is omniscient (Psa 139:1-6), but as a boy, He grew in knowledge (Luke 2:52). As God, He created the universe (Gen 1:1; John 1:3; Col 1:15-16), but as a man, He was subject to weakness (Matt 4:2; John 19:28). Walvoord notes, “When the second Person of the Godhead became incarnate there was immediately introduced the seemingly insuperable problem of uniting God with man and combining an infinite and eternal Person with one that is finite and temporal.”[7] Concerning the complexity of the union, Lewis Chafer states: "The reality in which undiminished Deity and unfallen humanity united in one Theanthropic Person has no parallel in the universe. It need not be a matter of surprise if from the contemplation of such a Being problems arise which human competency cannot solve; nor should it be a matter of wonder that, since the Bible presents no systematized Christology but rather offers a simple narrative with its attending issues, that the momentous challenge to human thought and investigation which the Christ is, has been the major issue in theological controversy from the beginning to the present time."[8]      As finite humans, we struggle to comprehend the union of God and Man; however, it is with certainty that the Bible portrays Him this way (John 1:1, 14; 20:28; Heb 1:8 cf. Luke 1:31-33; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15), and this truth is essential to Christianity.  As God, Jesus is worthy of all worship and praise (Luke 24:51-52; John 9:38; 20:28; Heb 1:6). As a perfect sinless Man, He went to the cross and died a substitutionary death in our place (Mark 10:45; Rom 5:6-10; 1 Cor 15:3-4; 1 Pet 3:18), and bore the wrath of God that rightfully belongs to us (Isa 53:1-12), so that we might have the gifts of righteousness and eternal life (John 3:16; 10:28; 2 Cor 5:21; Phil 3:9). Dr. Steven R. Cook   [1] Henry Clarence Thiessen and Vernon D. Doerksen, Lectures in Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1979), 208. [2] Ibid., 209. [3] John F. Walvoord, Jesus Christ Our Lord (Chicago, Ill; Moody Press, 1969), 106. [4] Lewis S. Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 1993), 383. [5] Paul P. Enns, Moody Handbook of Theology, (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1989), 227. [6] Paul P. Enns, Moody Handbook of Theology, 225. [7] John F. Walvoord, Jesus Christ Our Lord (Galaxie Software, 2008), 107. [8] Lewis S. Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol. 1, 387.
8/20/20231 hour, 4 minutes, 53 seconds
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Acts 9:32-43 - Serving Others

Introduction      After Saul’s conversion to Christ (Acts 9:1-19), he stopped persecuting the church and began to preach Jesus as “the Son of God” (Acts 9:20). This resulted in peace throughout the region. Luke records, “the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase” (Acts 9:31). In the following pericope (Acts 9:32-43), Luke records the spreading of the gospel and Peter’s ministry outside of Jerusalem, specifically in the cities of Lydda and Joppa. Text      Luke, turning from Saul’s conversion, recounts an event with Peter in the city of Lydda. Luke wrote, “Now as Peter was traveling through all those regions, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda” (Acts 9:32).[1]      That there were saints (ἅγιος hagios) in Lydda shows that the gospel had been preached there and some had believed in Jesus as Savior. The word saint is a synonym for a believer in Christ, not a description of one’s character. All Christians are saints (Rom 1:7; 1 Cor 1:1-2; 2 Cor 1:1; Eph 1:1; Phil 1:1; Col 1:1). After Peter had arrived in Lydda, Luke tells us, “There he found a man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden eight years, for he was paralyzed” (Acts 9:33). That Luke described Aeneas as “a man” (ἄνθρωπος anthropos) and not a saint or disciple might imply he was not a believer. Luke tells us Aeneas had been paralyzed for eight years, which meant he was totally dependent on others for help. Aeneas, being paralyzed, could not sit up, dress, feed, or clean himself. Someone had to care him. If he were transported anywhere, someone had to move him and care for him along the way. Apparently the man had a support structure in place to assist him during his years of paralysis; most likely his family. Caring for others can bring great stress. First, there is the mental and emotional stress of caring for a loved one who is in a declining situation. The caregiver will experience states of mental frustration and emotional exhaustion. In addition, there are the ongoing physical demands of caring for them, a commitment to be physically present, the financial costs, and a loss of independence by the caregiver as he/she surrenders personal interests to care for their loved one.      Luke recounts Peter’s interaction with Aeneas, informing us, “Peter said to him, ‘Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; get up and make your bed.’ Immediately he got up” (Acts 9:34). This account is similar to that of the Lord Jesus who had healed a paralytic in Capernaum, telling the man to take up his bed and go home (Matt 9:6; Mark 2:11; Luke 5:24), and also the paralytic at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:8). This healing of Aeneas was done specifically in the name of Jesus Christ, which was intended to draw attention to Jesus as the living One who had authority over physical maladies. This healing was immediate and total, as Luke uses the Greek adjective eutheos (εὐθέως), which, according to Mounce, means “immediately, instantly, at once.”[2] The healing of Aeneas brought instantaneous health to the man, and also brought relief to his caregiver(s) who had provided for him over the eight years. Though this was certainly a blessing to Aeneas and his loved ones, God intended a greater purpose, which was the salvific healing of souls. Luke records, “And all who lived at Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord” (Acts 9:35). Lydda was the city, and Sharon was the coastal region where the city was located. All those who knew the paralyzed man now saw him in perfect health. The result was, “they turned to the Lord,” which is theological shorthand meaning they believed in Christ as their personal Savior. It may also connote they were obedient in baptism and became disciples. Thomas Constable notes: The phrase “believed in the Lord” is similar to “turned to the Lord” (Acts 9:35; cf. Acts 11:21; 15:19). It is another way of saying that they became Christians, and both phrases emphasize that the Person they believed in was the Lord Jesus. Notice that “turned” is equated with “believed,” and that Luke mentioned no other condition for salvation.[3]      Sometimes God heals people for His purposes, and sometimes He does not. He is sovereign and “works all things after the counsel of His will” (Eph 1:11). If/when God does not heal someone, it is for His own purposes, and sometimes sickness leads to death, which is the vehicle He uses to bring His children home to heaven (2 Ki 13:14).      Luke transitions to his next account of Peter’s ministry, saying, “Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which translated in Greek is called Dorcas); this woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did” (Acts 9:36). Joppa was a coastal town that once had a thriving seaport; however, it lost much of its trade when Herod built the seaport of Caesarea in honor of his friend, Caesar. Of course, Joppa was known in the OT as the place where Jonah fled when disobeying the Lord’s call to preach to Gentiles (Jonah 1:3). Luke tells us about a woman named Tabitha, who also had the Greek name Dorcas (both names mean Gazelle). That Tabitha was a disciple meant she was a believer. This woman was loved and greatly known in her community as Luke tells us she “was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did” (Acts 9:36b). Whereas Luke had previously focused on a paralyzed man as one who needed help, here he focuses on a woman who was a caregiver and provided help to others. Her work was not to a family member, but to the community where she lived. This means she had a heart of compassion as well as a sense of responsibility to help meet the physical needs of others. This is true of many healthy Christian ministries which have outreach services for those in the communities around them.      Luke tells us, “And it happened at that time that she fell sick and died; and when they had washed her body, they laid it in an upper room” (Acts 9:37). This was a tragedy for others who lost this gracious woman. But the account is also unusual, as we’re informed after “they had washed her body, they laid it in an upper room” (Acts 9:37b). This is unusual as the dead were commonly buried in short time to mitigate the experience of the sights and smells of decaying flesh. It’s possible this was an act of faith by those who cared for her body, as perhaps they’d heard about the miracle in Lydda and thought the Lord may perform a miracle for them as He’d done there. Luke states, “Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, having heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him, imploring him, ‘Do not delay in coming to us’” (Acts 9:38).      When Peter received word from the disciples in Joppa, we’re told, “So Peter arose and went with them. When he arrived, they brought him into the upper room; and all the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing all the tunics and garments that Dorcas used to make while she was with them” (Acts 9:39). Here we observe Peter as a leader who was willing to serve others and responded quickly to their call for help. Those who are not willing to serve are not qualified to lead (see Matt 23:11; Luke 22:26; John 13:14-15; 1 Pet 4:10). This is true today, as the church has an obligation to help the needy, as “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans: and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world” (Jam 1:27). And, “while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith” (Gal 6:10).      After Peter arrived, we’re told, “But Peter sent them all out and knelt down and prayed, and turning to the body, he said, ‘Tabitha, arise.’ And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up. 41 And he gave her his hand and raised her up; and calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive” (Acts 9:40-41). This account is parallel to Mark’s account of Jesus raising Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:37-43). Regarding the similarity of these two events, Warren Wiersbe notes, “In both cases, the mourning people were put out of the room; and the words spoken are almost identical: “talitha cumi: little girl, arise; Tabitha cumi: Tabitha, arise.”…In both instances, it was the power of God that raised the person from the dead, for the dead person certainly could not exercise faith.”[4]      Furthermore, we’re told that after Tabitha had been resuscitated, that Peter called “the saints and widows” back into the room and there “he presented her alive” (Acts 9:41). This is similar to the account where Elijah resuscitated the son of the widow of Zarephath and then afterwards gave “him to his mother” (1 Ki 17:23), and Jesus, after resuscitating the son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:11-14), “gave him back to his mother” (Luke 7:15). The restoration of a deceased child to a widow mother was a blessing, and here, Peter’s restoration of Tabitha was a blessing to the widows of Joppa. Luke tells us the outcome of the miracle, that “It became known all over Joppa, and many believed in the Lord” (Acts 9:42). Though these poor widows were blessed to have their friend and provider back, the greater blessing was that others came to believe in the Lord, and as a result, came to have forgiveness of sins and eternal life.      Though the Bible presents many miracles, historically they are rare and usually mark a historical shift where God is grabbing the attention of His people to let them know He’s doing something new. This was true during the Exodus, wilderness wanderings, and the time of conquest under Joshua. It was also true during the time of ministry for Elijah and Elisha when God was turning the nation from egregious idolatry. And also during the time of Jesus and His apostles to mark the coming of the Messiah as well as the shift from Law to Grace. God still continues to act supernaturally in people’s lives, but often behind the scenes in ways that people often do not detect, or detect later in their lives when hindsight is clearer. John Walvoord states: With the completion of the New Testament, and its almost universal acceptance by those true to God, the need for further unusual display of miraculous works ceased. The preacher of today does not need the outward evidence of ability to heal or speak with tongues to substantiate the validity of his gospel. Rather, the written Word speaks for itself, and is attended by the convicting power of the Spirit.[5]       Luke closes out this pericope, saying, “And Peter stayed many days in Joppa with a tanner named Simon” (Acts 9:43). Peter’s staying with a tanner would have been regarded as scandalous by many of the religious Jews who considered the practice unclean (Lev 11:35-40). This might also express a shift in Peter’s theology and practices as he was moving from the dispensation of Law to Grace. Thomas Constable notes: Evidently Peter remained in Joppa for quite some time (“many days”) in order to confirm these new converts and to help the church in that town. His willingness to stay with a tanner shows that Peter was more broad-minded in his fellowship than many other Jews. Many Jews thought that tanners practiced an unclean trade because they worked with the skins of dead animals, so they would have nothing to do with them.[6] Summary:      The Central Idea of the Text is that Peter traveled to Lydda and Joppa and performed miracles in order to draw attention to Christ so others might believe in Him and be saved.  Personal Application: Below are a few principles of ministry extrapolated from the Tabitha narrative: Tabitha was a believer who was marked by acts of kindness and charity towards others. Though some ministries are corporate in nature, Tabith’s appears to be singular and personal, as she actively sought to meet the needs of those near her, displaying compassion and generosity in tangible ways. Tabitha’s work revealed a heart of love and sacrifice as she gave of her resources, talents, and time to make clothing that blessed others. The display of Tabith’s tunics and garments by the widows reveals how deeply they were impacted by her kindness. This shows that a ministry’s impact can partly be measured in the lives of people who have been impacted. Tabitha also displayed a sense of personal responsibility and leadership, as she did not wait for others to act, but took it upon herself to meet the needs of those around her. When God resuscitated Tabitha as a result of Peter’s prayer, it is assumed she restarted her ministry to others. No ministry lasts forever; and a ministry that has diminished or died can be revived if the Lord wills it. The Gospel      If you are here this morning without Christ, without hope, and without eternal life, I want you to know that when Jesus was on the cross, He had you personally in mind as He bore your sin and paid the price for it. He died and paid the penalty for your sins so that you would not have to. Scripture reveals, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8), and “Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet 3:18). The good news for us is that “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3-4), and if we place our faith in Him as the only Savior (John 14:6; Acts 4:12), we are promised forgiveness of sins (Eph 1:7), eternal life (John 10:28), and place in heaven forever (John 14:1-3). I “beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Cor 5:20).     [1] Charles R. Swindoll, Acts, Swindoll’s Living Insights New Testament Commentary (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2016), 183. [2] William D. Mounce, Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006), 1159. [3] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Acts 9:42. [4] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 444. [5] John F. Walvoord, The Holy Spirit (Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan Publishing, 1965), 174. [6] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible, Acts 9:43.
8/16/202335 minutes, 57 seconds
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Soteriology Lesson 13 - The Role of God the Father in Our Salvation

     God the Father is seen as the initiator, planner, and orchestrator of the salvation of mankind, and this because He is loving, merciful, and kind, and “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4), and is “not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Pet 3:9). Salvation is necessary because of the problem of sin in the human race. All mankind is utterly helpless to bring about a remedy by human effort (Rom 3:10, 23; 5:6-10; Gal 2:16, 21; 3:21-22). Everyone is said to be “darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart” (Eph 4:18), and “dead” in their “trespasses and sins” (Eph 2:1; cf., Col 2:13). This refers to spiritual death, which means separation from God. We are trapped in sin and stand guilty before a holy and righteous God and are completely unable to save ourselves. Wiersbe observes: The unbeliever is not sick; he is dead! He does not need resuscitation; he needs resurrection. All lost sinners are dead, and the only difference between one sinner and another is the state of decay. The lost derelict on skid row may be more decayed outwardly than the unsaved society leader, but both are dead in sin—and one corpse cannot be more dead than another! This means that our world is one vast graveyard, filled with people who are dead while they live (1 Tim 5:6).[1] If God had not made a way for us to be saved, we would be forever lost. Lightner states: God is the only one who could solve the problem which man’s sin presented to Him. After man’s fall God the Father began in time the plan of salvation which He devised before time began. This divine plan centered in his divine Son: “He gave His only begotten Son” because He “so loved the world” (John 3:16). “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us” (1 John 3:16). “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only-begotten Son into the world that we might live through Him” (1 John 4:9).[2]      But God intervened. He broke into time and space and displayed His mercy, love, and grace upon mankind. The apostle Paul wrote: But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Eph 2:4-9)      The Father’s actions are based on His love for all mankind. He loves because of who He is and not because of the beauty or worth of the object. Scripture reveals that “God is Love” (1 John 4:8), which means love is part of His nature. God loves because it is His nature to love. The Father’s eternal plan for salvation      God the Father’s soteriological work is traced back to what He planned before time began. He was motivated to provide for our salvation before we existed. According to Lightner, “We are often led to believe that our salvation began when we made our decision to trust Christ as Savior. The fact is, God was at work on our behalf long before that time.”[3] Paul wrote that God the Father “chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him” (Eph 1:4). That the Father elected us to salvation is straightforward in this passage, and the doctrine of election will be addressed later in this work. For now, this passage is noted because it speaks of the Father’s salvation-work “before the foundation of the world.” According to Lightner: God the Father’s work in salvation centers primarily in what he did before time began. With infinite love and compassion he acted on our behalf even before we were born. Paul told the Ephesian Christians that they had been chosen in Christ by the Father before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4). To the Roman Christians the same apostle wrote about the Father’s foreknowledge, predestination, and call of them before time (Rom 8:29–30). Peter, writing to saints scattered throughout Asia Minor, described them as “elect” of God the Father (1 Pet 1:2). While evangelicals differ on how these and other such passages are to be understood, they all agree that God the Father initiated the plan of salvation in eternity past.[4]      God’s election starts with His sovereign choice, but also includes the individual choices of those who trust in Christ as Savior. Both are true. Though there is tension at this point—and this because of limited information and limited human capacity to comprehend—both God’s sovereignty and human volition must be acknowledged at the same time. Lightner states, “God the Father is sovereign. He must be to be God. Human responsibility is just as biblical as divine sovereignty. Jesus stressed both. Jesus said no one can come to him unless drawn by the Father but he also said none who come to him would be cast out (John 6:37).”[5]And Paul Enns states, “While there is human responsibility in salvation, there is first a divine side to salvation in which God sovereignly acts to secure the sinner’s salvation.”[6]The Christian must be content to live with this tension and not try to force a solution one way or another.      The salvation of mankind, with all its details, was fully comprehended and planned by God the Father from eternity past. It’s not as though God was surprised by the fall of Lucifer and mankind. He is eternal, and His plan is eternal. Lightner states, “We must never view salvation as an afterthought or as the only possible way out of a hopeless dilemma on the part of God. The plan of salvation is as eternal as God is. God was not shocked when Satan and then man fell. He is eternal, and his plan is from eternity past to eternity future.”[7] God the Father commissioned God the Son      God the Father commissioned God the Son to provide our salvation. God the Son agreed to the Father’s mission, came into the world, added humanity to Himself, and executed the Father’s plan perfectly. Though Jesus said and did many things during His time on earth, of which many books have been written, His primary mission was to save sinners. Jesus said, “the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10), and “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Jesus lived a sinless life and then sacrificed Himself on the cross as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of humanity. Through His death, burial, and resurrection, salvation is offered to all who believe in Him as Savior. Bruce Ware notes, “In eternity, the Father commissioned the Son who then willingly laid aside the glory He had with the Father to come and purchase our pardon and renewal.”[8] God the Father sent the Son to die      It was the Father’s will for the Son to go to the cross to die for lost sinners, and the Son willingly went to His death and bore the Father’s wrath in our place. This was explained in Isaiah, where the prophet wrote about the Suffering Servant, saying, “But the LORD was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering” (Isa 53:10a). It is simultaneously true that the Father sent and the Son went. In the Gospel of John, we’re told, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him” (John 3:16-17). Jesus said, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent” (John 6:29), and “I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:38). The apostle John wrote, “God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:9-10), and “the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world” (1 John 4:14). Walvoord states: Jesus Christ’s main purpose in coming to the world…was to provide salvation for those who put their trust in Him. Jesus expressed this in Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” In His public ministry Jesus spoke of many truths, and His teachings were so comprehensive that a systematic theology could be written based on what He said and taught. However, this was a background to His dying on the cross for our sins. In this supreme act of dying, He fulfilled His main purpose in becoming incarnate, of being “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).[9]     [1] Ibid., 18. [2] Robert P. Lightner, Handbook of Evangelical Theology: A Historical, Biblical, and Contemporary Survey and Review (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1995), 189–190. [3] Ibid., 192. [4] Ibid., 191. [5] Ibid., 191. [6] Paul P. Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1989), 328. [7] Robert P. Lightner, Handbook of Evangelical Theology, 192. [8] Bruce A. Ware, “Tampering with the Trinity: Does the Son Submit to His Father?,” in Biblical Foundations for Manhood and Womanhood, ed. Wayne Grudem, Foundations for the Family Series (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2002), 248. [9] John F. Walvoord, What We Believe, 73.
8/13/20231 hour, 1 minute, 1 second
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Soteriology Lesson 12 - The Work of the Trinity in Our Salvation

In Christian theology, the Bible reveals there is one God who exists as three distinct Persons within the Trinity (Gen 1:26; 11:6-7; Matt 28:19; 2 Cor 13:14; 1 Pet 1:2): God the Father (Gal 1:1; Eph 6:23; Phil 2:11), God the Son (John 1:1, 14, 18; 8:58; 20:28; Col 2:9; Heb 1:8), and God the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3-4; 1 Cor 2:11-12; 2 Cor 13:14). God is three in Person, but one in essence, sharing the same attributes. The use of the Hebrew numeral echad (אֶחָד) reveals, in some contexts, the idea of a complex one, which supports the doctrine of the Trinity (Deut 6:4; cf., Gen 2:24; Ezra 3:1; Ezek 37:17). All three are co-equal, co-infinite, co-eternal, and worthy of all praise and service. According to John Walvoord: In contrast to the polytheism of the heathen world with its many gods and idols, the Christian faith centers in one God. This God, however, is revealed to be a Trinity, including the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. As such, we distinguish the Father from the Son and both of them from the Holy Spirit…All students of scriptural truth labor to understand the doctrine of the Trinity, but it eludes them because it is beyond anything that they experience in this life…Accordingly, the best procedure is to accept the Bible as true and accept the fact that there is one God who exists in three persons and leave the explanation of this to the life after this.[1]      The three Persons of the God-head are one in essence (Deut 6:4; Isa 43:10; 44:6; 45:5-6), and share the same divine attributes. The attributes of God consist of intrinsic characteristics that are equally representative of the God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. God’s attributes are revealed in Scripture, which means they are objective and can be learned by God’s people. Furthermore, the attributes of God explain His actions. And we cannot separate or elevate one attribute above another. The Bible reveals God is: Living, which means “He is the living God and the everlasting King” (Jer 10:10), He “has life in Himself” (John 5:26; cf. Psa 42:2; 84:2; Matt 16:16; John 1:4) and is the ultimate source of life. Paul states, “for in Him we live and move and exist” (Acts 17:28). This attribute takes priority, for if God is not living, none of the other attributes are possible. Self-existent (aseity), which means His existence depends on nothing outside of Himself (Ex 3:14). Moses said, “from everlasting to everlasting, You are God” (Psa 90:2). There is no prior cause that brought God into existence, He will never cease to be, and He depends on nothing outside of Himself. Holy (Lev 11:44; Psa 99:9; Isa 45:5-19), which means God is morally perfect and separate from all that is sinful. Spirit (John 4:24; 2 Cor 3:17), which means the nature of God’s being is spirit, not material. Sovereign (Psa 115:3; Isa 46:9-11; Dan 4:35; Acts 17:24-28), which means God acts freely as He pleases, always as He pleases, and only as He pleases. Immutable (Psa 102:26-27; Mal 3:6), which means God’s essential nature does not change. Eternal (Deut 33:27; 1 Tim 1:17), which means God has always existed, does exist, and forever will exist. Infinite (1 Ki 8:27; Jer 23:24), which means God exists in space and beyond space. Omniscient (Psa 139:1-4; Matt 6:31-33), which means God knows all things and is infinite in knowledge. Omnipresent (Psa 139:7-10; Jer 23:24), which means He is equally and fully everywhere present. Omnipotent (Job 42:2; Isa 40:28), which means God is all-powerful and able to accomplish all He desires. Righteous (Psa 11:7; 119:137), which refers to His intrinsic moral perfection, from which He commands all things in heaven and earth, and declares as good that which conforms to His righteousness and as evil that which deviates. Just (Psa 9:7-8; 19:9), which refers to the outworking of His righteousness in which He justifies or condemns, blesses or curses, that which does or does not conform to His righteous character. True (Jer 10:10; John 17:3), which means He is genuine, in contrast to false idols. This means He truthful (2 Sam 7:28; John 17:17). His knowledge and declarations define reality and help us make sense of what is. Love (Jer 31:3; 1 John 4:7-8), which means He is committed to us, desires our best, and acts for our benefit. Good (Psa 100:5; 145:9; Nah 1:7; Jam 1:17), which means all He does is good, and that He is the ultimate source of all that is good. Faithful (Deut 7:9; Lam 3:21-23), which means He is reliable in all He says and does, always keeping His Word. Merciful (Psa 86:15; Tit 3:5), which means He is kind toward us and does not judge us as we deserve. Gracious (Psa 111:4; 116:5), which means He treats us better than we deserve.      All three Persons of the Godhead are involved in providing salvation. Our salvation is said to be planned and initiated by God the Father, agreed upon and executed by God the Son, and imparted to each person by God the Holy Spirit. According to Lewis Chafer: [It] is essential to recognize that the “salvation [which] is of Jehovah” includes the three Persons of the Godhead as actively engaged in the realization of this stupendous undertaking…In every aspect of saving grace the three Persons are concurring. Even when hanging on the cross, the Son was not alone in His vast achievement. It was God who was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself; the Father was offering His Lamb; and that sacrifice was offered through the eternal Spirit (Heb 9:14).[3] Robert Lightner states: Evangelical Christians, in harmony with the historic orthodox Christian faith, worship God who is one in three and three in one, one in essence and three in person. The entire Godhead—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—is involved in the salvation of the sinner. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died for sinners. He is the Savior! It is customary in evangelical circles to put such emphasis on the second person’s part in our salvation that the roles of the Father and the Spirit are often slighted…Even though it is not always expressed in the same way, evangelicals agree that man’s salvation is the product of the Holy Trinity.[4] Warren Wiersbe adds: You will note that all three Persons in the Godhead are involved in our salvation (see also 1 Peter 1:3). As far as God the Father is concerned, you were saved when He chose you in Christ in eternity past. But that alone did not save you. As far as God the Son is concerned, you were saved when He died for you on the cross. As far as God the Spirit is concerned, you were saved when you yielded to His conviction and received Christ as your Savior. What began in eternity past was fulfilled in time present, and will continue for all eternity![5]      In the following lessons, special attention will be given to the specific members of the Trinity and their work in salvation.   [1] John F. Walvoord, What We Believe (Grand Rapids, Mi; Discovery House Publishers, 1990), 38-39. [2] Paul P. Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1989), 200. [3] Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, vol. 3 (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1993), 207. [4] Robert P. Lightner, Handbook of Evangelical Theology: A Historical, Biblical, and Contemporary Survey and Review (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1995), 190–191. [5] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 11.
8/6/20231 hour, 1 minute, 45 seconds
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Soteriology Lesson 11 - Salvation from What?

Saved from God’s wrath      Being saved from God’s wrath means we will never experience eternal separation from Him in the lake of fire. John wrote, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36). And Paul said, “having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him” (Rom 5:9). Also, When writing to the Christians at Thessalonica, Paul assured them they would be saved “from the wrath to come” (1 Th 1:10). This last verse could refer to the eternal wrath all unbelievers will experience because they have rejected Christ as their Savior, which is the lake of fire (Rev 20:15). However, it could also refer to the wrath of the Tribulation (Rev 6-18), whereby God will judge the world after the rapture of the church (1 Cor 15:51-53; 1 Th 4:13-18). Christians living in the dispensation of the church age will be spared from both forms of God’s wrath, so there is no need to be concerned with this. Saved from Satan’s domain of darkness      As Christians, we are also saved from “from the dominion of Satan to God” (Act 26:18), and transferred from Satan’s “domain of darkness” (Col 1:13a) into “the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Col 1:13b). This transference happens at the moment of faith in Christ and is a spiritual reality that is true for all Christians. The kingdom of Christ mentioned here does not refer to the future eschatological kingdom that will come, in which Jesus, a biological descendant of David, is prophesied to rule over the world in righteousness.[1] Rather, it refers to the current spiritual kingdom where God rules in the hearts of His people. Concerning this passage, Ryrie states, “It refers to the kingdom into which all believers have been placed (Col 1:13), and it is entered by the new birth. The Ruler is Christ; in this concept of the kingdom He rules over believers only; and the relationship exists now.”[2] And Fruchtenbaum adds, “The Spiritual Kingdom is composed of all believers, and only believers, of all time. The means of entering this Kingdom is by regeneration by the Holy Spirit. In the present age, from Acts two until the Rapture, the Spiritual Kingdom and the Church are synonymous, but only during the period between Acts two and the Rapture.”[3] Saved from the coming tribulation      Jesus, when speaking to the church at Philadelphia, said, “Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth” (Rev 3:10). The hour of testing here refers to the time of the future Tribulation that follows the rapture of the church. Robert Thomas affirms this, saying, the hour of trial refers to “the future period of trouble just before Christ’s personal return to earth.”[4] Charles Ryrie adds, “The promise of Revelation 3:10 not only guarantees being kept from the trials of the Tribulation period but being kept from the time period of the Tribulation. The promise is not, “I will keep you from the trials.” It is, “I will also keep you from the hour of trial” (NIV).”[5] Fruchtenbaum states: "In this passage, the Church is promised to be kept from the period of trial that is about to fall upon the whole earth. In the context of the Book of Revelation, it is the Tribulation found in chapters 6–19 that is this period of trial that is to fall upon the whole earth. It is from this period of trial that the Church is to be kept. This verse does not say that the Church will be merely kept safe during the trial, but it will be kept from the very hour of the trial, that is, from the very time of it."[6] Saved from hell      Scripture reveals we are saved from hell. Jesus talked about hell (Matt 5:22, 29-30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15, 33), saying, “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt 10:28). The word hell translates the Greek word Gehenna (12x in the NT), which means “a place of fire.”[7] Biblically, it is a place of eternal torment. Moisés Sylva notes, “Gehenna is elsewhere referred to by such phrases as ‘the blazing furnace’ (Matt 13:42, 50), ‘the eternal fire’ (Matt 25:41), and ‘the fiery lake’ (Rev 19:20 et al.). Gehenna is distinguished from Hades, which evidently houses the souls of the dead before the last judgment; indeed, Hades along with death will be thrown into the lake of fire (Rev 20:14).”[8]      Hell is that final place of suffering where all unbelievers go. Speaking to unbelievers at the end of the Tribulation, Jesus said, “Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt 25:41), and of them He said, “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matt 25:46). John tells us, “if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Rev 20:15). Concerning hell, J. I. Packer wrote: It is thought of as a place of fire and darkness (Jude 7, 13), of weeping and grinding of teeth (Matt 8:12; 13:42, 50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30), of destruction (2 Th 1:7–9; 2 Pet 3:7; 1 Th 5:3), and of torment (Rev 20:10; Luke 16:23)—in other words, of total distress and misery. If, as it seems, these terms are symbolic rather than literal (fire and darkness would be mutually exclusive in literal terms), we may be sure that the reality, which is beyond our imagining, exceeds the symbol in dreadfulness. New Testament teaching about hell is meant to appall us and strike us dumb with horror, assuring us that, as heaven will be better than we could dream, so hell will be worse than we can conceive. Such are the issues of eternity, which need now to be realistically faced.[9] What about those who never hear the gospel?      Someone might say, “What about those who never hear the gospel message about Jesus? Are they condemned to hell?” The Bible reveals that God is “the Judge of all the earth” (Gen 18:25; Psa 58:11), that He “is a righteous judge” (Psa 7:11), and is “righteous in all His ways” (Psa 145:17a). This means God is absolutely fair to everyone, and no one will go to hell who did not choose it.      God has revealed Himself to everyone. In a general sense, He has made Himself known through His creation. Knowledge of God’s existence is clearly revealed through His creation.[10] David wrote, “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. 2 Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge” (Psa 19:1-2). God is declared and revealed through His creation, much like a painter is revealed through a masterpiece painting. The apostle Paul wrote of God’s wrath which is revealed toward those who reject Him after they come to the know about Him through His creation. Paul wrote, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them” (Rom 1:18-19). There’s nothing wrong with God’s revelation of Himself through his creation. The problem lies in people “who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom 1:18b). Furthermore, God has made Himself known “within them”, which means that each person with normal mental capacity intuitively knows that God exists. In theology, we call this the sensus divinitatis, or sense of the divine. Paul continues his line of reasoning, saying, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse” (Rom 1:20). Those who reject God after becoming aware of Him, are held morally responsible and are “without excuse” for their choices before a holy and righteous God who will hold them accountable. Robert Mounce states: Seeing the beauty and complexity of creation carries with it the responsibility of acknowledging the Creator both as powerful and as living above the natural order. Disbelief requires an act of rebellion against common sense. It displays fallen humanity’s fatal bias against God. Although the created order cannot force a person to believe, it does leave the recipient responsible for not believing.[11]      Of those who are negative to God, three times it is written that He “gave them over” to “the lusts of their hearts” (Rom 1:24), and “to degrading passions” (Rom 1:26), and “to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper” (Rom 1:28). Once God permits a person to operate by his sinful passions, that person is given a measure of freedom to live as he wants, but not without consequence, both in time and eternity.      If someone is positive and wants to know God personally, then He will make certain that person receives gospel revelation in order to be saved. If the person goes negative and does not want to know Him, then God—who is no bully—will let that person go his own way, but will hold him accountable for his decision. For those who are negative to God and reject Him after coming to know about Him through His creation, that rejection is sufficient to condemn that soul forever. The only heaven they will ever know—if we can call it heaven—is the life they’ll enjoy in this world during their fleeting time on earth. But after they die, all unbelievers will suffer for eternity in hell, forever separated from God, with no hope of their situation changing. Robert W. Yarbrough states: Jesus spoke repeatedly of ‘the fire of hell’ (Matt 5:22) and ‘eternal fire’ (Matt 18:8). He urged his followers, ‘Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell’ (Luke 12:5). The double-edged nature of Jesus’ ministry is well summarized in John 3:36: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” Those who reject God’s righteousness become targets of his wrath (Rom 1:18, 24, 26, 28; Eph 5:6; Col 3:6; Heb 10:26–31; Rev 19:11–21).[12]      Those who spend eternity in hell are there by choice and not by chance. According to J. I. Packer, “Scripture sees hell as self-chosen; those in hell will realize that they sentenced themselves to it by loving darkness rather than light, choosing not to have their Creator as their Lord, preferring self-indulgent sin to self-denying righteousness, and (if they encountered the gospel) rejecting Jesus rather than coming to Him (John 3:18–21; Rom 1:18, 24, 26, 28, 32; 2:8; 2 Th 2:9–11).”[13]      Those who stand before the great white throne for judgement (Rev 20:11) will know the One who is sitting on that throne, and they will know they are there to be judged for their sins. Not a single person will ask, “Who are you?” For they will all know Who He is, and that they are there to face judgment for eternity. All this is avoidable if one will only acknowledge God and respond positively to the gospel of grace and believe in Christ as Savior. One needs only to believe in Christ as Savior to avoid eternity in hell. God has made a way for all to be saved, so if any are not, it’s by their choice and not because there was no divine provision available. When one turns to Christ as Savior, he has forgiveness of sins (Eph 1:7) and eternal life (John 3:16; 10:28). These have their names written “in the Lamb's book of life” (Rev 21:27). But the opposite is true, for “if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Rev 20:15). Dr. Steven R. Cook   [1] The Lord focused specifically on David, promising that one of his descendants would rule forever (2 Sam 7:16; Psa 89:3-4, 34-37; Jer 23:5-6; 33:14-15). This descendant would be a righteous king (Isa 9:6-7; 11:1-9; Jer 23:5-6; 33:14-18), and his kingdom will last forever (Dan 2:44; 7:13-14; 1 Cor. 15:24). Jesus is identified as that king (Luke 1:30-33). When Jesus came, He repeatedly offered the earthly kingdom to Israel (Matt 3:1-2; 4:17; 10:5-7), a literal kingdom that was future (Matt 6:10; Luke 19:11; Acts 1:3-6). But they rejected Him and His offer (Matt 11:20; 12:14; Mark 15:12-15; John 19:15); therefore, the earthly kingdom was postponed for a future time (Matt 21:43; cf. Matt 19:28; 25:31; Luke 22:28-30; Acts 1:3-6; Rev 20:4-6). [2] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1999), 461–462. [3] Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiah : A Study of the Sequence of Prophetic Events, Rev. ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2003), 663. [4] Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 1-7: An Exegetical Commentary (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1992), 284. [5] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1999), 563–564. [6] Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiah : A Study of the Sequence of Prophetic Events, Rev. ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2003), 153. [7] Moisés Silva, ed., “Gehenna” New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014), 548. [8] Moisés Silva, ed., “Gehenna” New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014), 548. [9] J. I. Packer, Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1993), 261–262. [10] God has also revealed Himself in special ways in the person of Christ (John 1:18; Heb 1:1-3), through the Scriptures (Luke 16:31), and through the lives of His people (Matt 5:16). However, if the unbeliever goes negative at the moment of God consciousness, he/she may never know anything more about God through special revelation, as He is under no obligation to reveal Himself further.  [11] Robert H. Mounce, Romans, vol. 27, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 78. [12] R. W. Yarbrough, “Atonement,” in New Dictionary of Biblical Theology, ed. T. Desmond Alexander and Brian S. Rosner, electronic ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 390. [13] J. I. Packer, Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1993), 262–263.
7/30/202358 minutes, 47 seconds
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Acts 9:1-19a - The Conversion of Saul

Introduction      Previously, Saul had been persecuting Christians. But his efforts to crush them were frustrated, and the gospel spread further and further. In this pericope, Luke recorded Paul’s conversion (Acts 9:1-19). Paul gave personal accounts of his conversion in Acts 22:4-21 and 26:12-18. It was at Paul’s conversion that he personally saw the Lord Jesus (1 Cor 9:1).   Text      Luke opens this section, saying, “Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest, 2 and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem” (Acts 9:1-2). Saul, contrary to his tremendous education, was spiritually blind and was serving as an instrument of Satan to attack the church. The believers here are called disciples of the Lord (Acts 9:1) and belonging to the Way (Acts 9:2; cf., Acts 19:9, 23; 22:4; 24:14, 22). In this pericope Luke will also use the terms saints (Acts 9:13), and brother (Acts 9:17). Later they will also be called Christians (Acts 11:26).      Saul thought he was doing God’s will in chasing down Christians and arresting them and bringing them back to Jerusalem. According to Warren Wiersbe, “Like many others of his countrymen, he stumbled over the Cross (1 Cor 1:23) because he depended on his own righteousness and not on the righteousness of God (Rom 9:30–10:13; Phil 3:1–10). Many self-righteous religious people today do not see their need for a Savior and resent it if you tell them they are sinners.”[1] Damascus was 135 miles north of Jerusalem and a seven-day journey. It’s thought that there were as many as forty Jewish synagogues in Damascus at this time. That there were Christians in Damascus shows how quickly the gospel message was spreading. The Christian gospel was proving effective.      It was during the time when Saul was persecuting Christians that the Lord interrupted his life for the better. Luke states, “As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; 4 and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’” (Acts 9:3-4). Later, Paul described the light as occurring at noontime (Acts 22:6), and being brighter than the sun (Acts 26:13). Paul also said that when the Lord spoke to him, it was in Hebrew (Acts 26:14). The flash of light startled Saul and he lost his balance and fell to the ground. It’s true that God sometimes knocks us down so that we’ll look up. Saul then heard a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” (Acts 9:4b). This statement is theologically rich, for it shows that an attack upon a Christian is an attack upon the Lord Jesus Himself. This adds significance to the understanding that when we are spiritually baptized into Christ, we become part of His spiritual body, the church, and are one with Him. How we treat other Christians is how we treat the Son of God.      Saul did not understand who he was talking with, “And he said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:5). Saul called Jesus Lord (κύριος kurios), which was more than a show of respect (i.e., sir), and meant he understood he was talking with God. What a shock it must have been for Saul to hear the words, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:5a). This second reference to Saul’s persecution against Jesus reinforced His identity with Christians as part of His body. But rather than destroy Saul, Jesus treated him in grace and sent him on a mission, saying, “get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do” (Acts 9:6). Wiersbe states, “Some thirty years later, Paul wrote that Christ had ‘apprehended him’ on the Damascus road (Phil 3:12). Saul was out to arrest others when the Lord arrested him. He had to lose his religion before he could gain the righteousness of Christ.”[2]      Luke follows on, saying, “The men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one” (Acts 9:7). Saul’s traveling companions were dumbfounded and speechless. They’d heard the voice, but saw no one. Later, when recounting his conversion, Paul said, “those who were with me saw the light, to be sure, but did not understand the voice of the One who was speaking to me” (Acts 22:9). I take it to mean Saul’s companions heard the words of Jesus but did not grasp the significance of what was being said. Next, we’re told, “Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus” (Acts 9:8). The aggressive and hostile Saul appears here as a docile lamb who had to be led by the hand like a little child. His physical eyes had been closed, though his spiritual eyes were opened. And once in the city, we’re informed, “And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank” (Acts 9:9). No doubt Saul’s Pharisaic theology was rocked to the core. All he thought he knew about God was shaken to the foundation. His theological presuppositions were smashed and now he had to rework his entire theological framework from the ground up. The three days Saul spent in Damascus waiting on the Lord were probably filled with many theological reasonings.      Luke shifts his account and introduces us to a man named Ananias whom the Lord would use as a conduit of His truth and grace. Luke states, “Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and the Lord said to him in a vision, ‘Ananias.’ And he said, ‘Here I am, Lord’” (Acts 9:10). Here, Ananias is presented as a willing servant of the Lord who responded positively when called. Luke recounts, “And the Lord said to him, ‘Get up and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying, 12 and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, so that he might regain his sight’” (Acts 9:11-12). In this situation, the Lord told Ananias that Saul was praying and that he’d already received a vision from the Lord that Ananias was coming to him. Ananias’ going to Saul was so certain to happen, that God told him it would come to pass, even before he called upon Ananias to go. Ananias had positive volition and the Lord selected him because He knew he would do as he’d been directed. Luke’s account reveals God working at both ends of these events and orchestrating the outcome that He desired.      But there was hesitation by Ananias, as Luke tells us, “But Ananias answered, ‘Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Your saints at Jerusalem; 14 and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name’” (Acts 9:13-14). Ananias spoke honestly with the Lord about his concern. Ananias had heard about Saul and the harm he’d done to the Lord’s saints, and that he also operated with the authority of the Sanhedrin to arrest God’s people. Luke informs us, “But the Lord said to him, ‘Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; 16 for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake’” (Acts 9:15-16). Here, to be chosen (ἐκλογή ekloge) denotes divine selection. Saul did not choose God. God chose Saul; and He chose him to salvation, service, and suffering. And Saul displayed positive volition and obeyed the Lord; not only in the moment for salvation, but also for a lifetime of service. Saul was one of those people who trusted Christ as Savior and at the same time submitted to Him for a lifetime of service. Concerning election, God is sovereign and people have volition. The Lord calls His people to Himself, and they respond positively in faith.      Saul’s calling was to a lifetime of suffering for Christ, as the persecutor would become the persecuted (2 Cor 11:23-29). Upon hearing this, Ananias did as the Lord directed. Luke states, “So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit’” (Acts 9:17). Laying on of hands was a form of identification. In this way, Paul was personally identified with the Christians he’d been persecuting. The touch would have brought comfort to Saul, as a human touch does. And, Ananias called Saul his brother, which was an expression of faith by Ananias, as well as a word of relief to Saul. Here was grace in both the touch and the word. The Lord who had met Saul on the road to Damascus was the very one who had sent Ananias to him that he might regain his sight. Sometimes the Lord works directly in the lives of people, and other times works through secondary agents to accomplish His will. Jesus could have spoken directly to Saul (as He’d already done), but instead, chose to speak through Ananias, His divinely appointed representative. And by God’s power, Saul’s sight was restored. Saul was also “filled with the Holy Spirit”, which meant God Himself had welcomed Paul into His family and empowered him for his new mission. After Ananias had spoken with Saul and laid his hands on him, Luke tells us, “And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized; 19 and he took food and was strengthened” (Acts 9:18-19a). God worked through Ananias to touch the life of Saul, who, in turn, has touched the lives of millions of people. The godly actions of one person can change the course of world history for the better and bring many people to faith in Jesus. After Saul regained his vision, his first act was to be obedient by way of water baptism. Saul’s water baptism preceded his caring for himself, as we are told that after he had been baptized, he then “took food and was strengthened” (Acts 9:19a). Thomas Constable wrote: "Saul later wrote that immediately following his conversion he did not consult with others about the Scriptures but went into Arabia—and later returned to Damascus (Gal 1:15–17). “Arabia” describes the kingdom of the Nabateans that stretched south and east from Damascus beyond Petra. Damascus was in the northwest sector of Arabia. After Saul’s conversion and baptism, he needed some time and space for quiet reflection and communion with God. He had to rethink the Scriptures, receive new understanding from the Lord, and revise his Pharisaic theology."[3] Conclusion      The Central Idea of the Text is that Saul set out to destroy the church at Damascus, but the Lord stopped him, humbled him, saved him, and called him into Christian service by means of an obedient disciple named Ananias. Personal Application Though people may violently rage against God’s church and His children, it is the Lord who sovereignly determines whether they are permitted to have their way or not. Stephen was allowed to face a martyr’s death with honor, but the Lord overruled the intentions of Saul and put a stop to his madness. Rather than kill Saul for his violence against the church, the Lord of grace called him to salvation, Christian service, and a lifetime of suffering for the name of Christ. Though saved by grace and effective in Christian ministry, Paul never fully overcame his sense of shame for having persecuted the church of God and four times mentioned his lifestyle prior to his conversion (Acts 22:4-5; 26:9-11; 1 Cor 15:9; Gal 1:13). When attacked for our faith, the Christian is “never to pay back evil for evil to anyone” (Rom 12:17), and is commanded “never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written ‘vengeance is mine, I will repay’ says the Lord” (Rom 12:19; cf., 2 Th 1:6). There is no place for violent retaliation in the Christian life, as the Lord Himself will execute vengeance in His time and way. The Gospel      If you are here this morning without Christ, without hope, and without eternal life, I want you to know that when Jesus was on the cross, He had you personally in mind as He bore your sin and paid the price for it. He died and paid the penalty for your sins so that you would not have to. Scripture reveals, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8), and “Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet 3:18). The good news for us is that “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3-4), and if we place our faith in Him as the only Savior (John 14:6; Acts 4:12), we are promised forgiveness of sins (Eph 1:7), eternal life (John 10:28), and place in heaven forever (John 14:1-3). I “beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Cor 5:20). Dr. Steven R. Cook     [1] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 438. [2] Ibid., 439. [3] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Ac 9:18.
7/26/202347 minutes, 52 seconds
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Soteriology Lesson 10 - Salvation from What?

     The first and third aspects of our salvation (i.e., justification and glorification) are accomplished by God without any human assistance whatsoever. Concerning our justification, Scripture reveals that “God is the one who justifies” (Rom 8:33), and “who justifies the ungodly” (Rom 4:5). This is a work of God alone. No works are required for the one who trusts in Christ as Savior (Rom 4:4-5; Eph 2:8-9; Tit 3:5). Concerning our future glorification, Jesus Christ is the One “who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory” (Phil 3:21), and “We know that when He appears, we will be like Him” (1 John 3:2), and that “in Him there is no sin” (1 John 3:5). This means our future heavenly body will have no sin nature. This also is a work of God alone. However, the second aspect of our salvation, our sanctification, requires positive volition on our part. This is obvious by the use of NT verbs that are in the imperative mood (i.e., commands), which require the Christian to obey. As believers, we play a role in our sanctification as we learn and live God’s Word (2 Tim 2:15; 3:16-17; 1 Pet 2:2; 2 Pet 3:18), yield to God the Holy Spirit (Eph 5:18; Gal 5:16, 25), walk by faith (2 Cor 5:7; Heb 10:38; 11:6), and advance to spiritual maturity (Heb 6:1). After being justified (and awaiting glorification), it is possible for the Christian to go negative to God, not learn or live His Word, and remain a carnal Christian (1 Cor 3:1-3). These Christians will be subject to divine discipline (Heb 12:5-11), even to the point of physical death if their sinful lifestyle becomes egregious (1 Cor 11:30; 1 John 5:16-17), and they will forfeit future rewards (1 Cor 3:10-15; 2 John 1:8). Paul, speaking to believers who will be present in heaven at the bema seat of Christ, said, “If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire” (1 Cor 3:15). The work Paul refers to here is the lifetime production of the Christian who fails to live spiritually and advance to maturity. His work is the production of the flesh and not the Spirit, and such work will be “burned up” at the bema seat evaluation, and “he will suffer loss” of reward in eternity. Yet, this same Christian “will be saved, yet so as through fire” (1 Cor 3:15c). This is a worst case scenario for the Christian and one which fails to glorify God and bless others. The best case scenario is seen in the believer who lays hold of his spiritual blessings in Christ (Eph 1:3), daily learns and lives God’s Word (2 Tim 2:15; Jam 1:22), and advances to spiritual maturity (Heb 6:1). Dr. Steven R. Cook
7/23/202354 minutes, 18 seconds
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Soteriology Lesson 9 - Salvation from What?

Three tenses of salvation      Concerning the Christian’s spiritual deliverance, the NT describes it in three tenses (past, present, and future). Because we have trusted Christ as our Savior, we have been saved from the penalty of sin (John 5:24; Rom 8:1, 33-34; Eph 2:8-9), are being saved from the power of sin that we might live righteously (Rom 6:11-13; Col 3:5), and will be saved from the presence of sin when we leave this world and enter heaven (Phil 3:20-21; 1 John 3:2, 5). These three aspects of our salvation are also referred to as justification (declared just before God once for all), sanctification (our progressive righteousness over time), and glorification (removal of the sin nature after we leave this world). According to Chafer, “In its broadest significance, the doctrine of salvation includes every divine undertaking for the believer from his deliverance out of the lost estate to his final presentation in glory conformed to the image of Christ.”[1] Charles Ryrie adds: "The inclusive sweep of salvation is underscored by observing the three tenses of salvation. (1) The moment one believed he was saved from the condemnation of sin (Eph 2:8; Tit 3:5). (2) That believer is also being saved from the dominion of sin and is being sanctified and preserved (Heb 7:25). (3) And he will be saved from the very presence of sin in heaven forever (Rom 5:9-10)."[2]      The first and third aspects of our salvation (i.e., justification and glorification) are accomplished by God without any human assistance whatsoever. Concerning our justification, Scripture reveals that “God is the one who justifies” (Rom 8:33), and “who justifies the ungodly” (Rom 4:5). This is a work of God alone. No works are required for the one who trusts in Christ as Savior (Rom 4:4-5; Eph 2:8-9; Tit 3:5). Concerning our future glorification, Jesus Christ is the One “who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory” (Phil 3:21), and “We know that when He appears, we will be like Him” (1 John 3:2), and that “in Him there is no sin” (1 John 3:5). This means our future heavenly body will have no sin nature. This also is a work of God alone. However, the second aspect of our salvation, our sanctification, requires positive volition on our part. This is obvious by the use of NT verbs that are in the imperative mood (i.e., commands), which require the Christian to obey. As believers, we play a role in our sanctification as we learn and live God’s Word (2 Tim 2:15; 3:16-17; 1 Pet 2:2; 2 Pet 3:18), yield to God the Holy Spirit (Eph 5:18; Gal 5:16, 25), walk by faith (2 Cor 5:7; Heb 10:38; 11:6), and advance to spiritual maturity (Heb 6:1). Dr. Steven R. Cook   [1] Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, vol. 3 (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1993), 6. [2] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1999), 318–319.
7/16/202359 minutes, 7 seconds
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Acts 8:9-24 - Simon the Magician

Introduction      Previously, the church had come under persecution by Saul (Acts 8:1-3), and the result was, “those who had been scattered went about preaching the word” (Acts 8:4). Philip—one of the seven Hellenistic Jews chosen in Acts 7—showed himself to be an obedient-to-the-word believer who shared the gospel with others who were willing to listen (Acts 8:5-8). Philip relied on the Holy Spirit to create witnessing opportunities and engaged people through normal conversation. Text      As Luke continues to recount Philip’s evangelistic ministry, he focuses on a particular person named Simon, saying, “Now there was a man named Simon, who formerly was practicing magic in the city and astonishing the people of Samaria, claiming to be someone great; and they all, from smallest to greatest, were giving attention to him, saying, ‘This man is what is called the Great Power of God’” (Acts 8:9-10). Here, Luke records the first of three encounters with the occult in the book of Acts (cf., Acts 8:8-9; 13:8; 16:16). This magic that Simon practiced was not mere sleight of hand, but had demonic powers working through him. This led many people to focus on him and to be misled by his activities. According to Stanley Toussaint: "Because of his “sorcery,” the ability to exercise control over nature and/or people by means of demonic power, people called him the Great Power. They may or may not have thought of him as possessing deity. At any rate Simon boasted that he was someone great, and the people of Samaria believed him. Furthermore, he accepted their adulation."[1]      Luke continues, saying, “And they were giving him attention because he had for a long time astonished them with his magic arts” (Acts 8:11). Apparently Simon was performing his “magic arts” by means of demonic forces. Biblically, there are examples of when Satan empowered his false messengers to perform miracles in order to deceive. For example, when Moses was executing God’s plagues upon Egypt, it is recorded that three times “the magicians of Egypt did the same with their secret arts” (Ex 7:10-11; cf., 7:21-22; 8:6-7). Later, Moses warned the Israelites who were about to enter the land that they should guard themselves against false prophets and dreamers of dreams who arise and give them a “sign or wonder” and then seek to lead them away from God (Deut 13:1-4). Jesus warned of future “false Christs and false prophets who will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect” (Matt 24:24). And Paul spoke of the coming Antichrist, “whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved” (2 Th 2:9-10). Those who know God’s Word and live by it will guard themselves against the deceiving power of false miracle workers.      Luke informs us that Simon began to lose some of his followers, saying, “But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike” (Acts 8:12). Here were people turning from Simon’s deceptive practices to the true and living God as they believed Philip’s message concerning the good news about “the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 8:12b). The kingdom of God here refers to the coming future earthly kingdom that Christ will bring in at His second coming (Acts 1:3, 6; Rev 20:4-6). Of course, Jesus Christ is the Savior and coming King who will rule over the earth in righteousness. Stanley Toussaint states, “‘The name of Jesus Christ’ looks to His position as Messiah (cf., 8:5, ‘the Christ,’ lit., the Messiah). In other words, the message meant that some Samaritans would become heirs of the Millennium by faith in Jesus, the Messiah.”[2] Apparently, Philip’s message about Jesus included His work on the cross as well as a future hope of a better world when He returns and rules the world in righteousness (Rev 20:4-6). Here was a contrast between Simon and Philip. Whereas Simon sought to bring attention to himself, Philip pointed others to Christ.      Interestingly, Luke tells us, “Even Simon himself believed; and after being baptized, he continued on with Philip, and as he observed signs and great miracles taking place, he was constantly amazed” (Acts 8:13). I take this passage as Simon’s conversion experience, as the text states he “believed” the good news message Philip was preaching and he was “baptized” as a new convert. Stanley Toussaint thinks Simon was not saved because of his sinful actions that follow (see his notes in the Bible Knowledge Commentary). However, I tend to agree with Thomas Constable, who wrote, “Even Simon believed. I see no reason to conclude that Simon’s faith was spurious. The text says that he believed just as the others Luke mentioned (Acts 9:12), and there is no reason to doubt the reality of their faith.”[3] Charles Swindoll notes, “Luke says plainly, ‘Simon himself believed’ (Acts 8:13). He expects us to take that statement at face value; after all, Philip didn’t doubt the man’s authenticity. Simon was baptized in water and then followed Philip like a disciple, observing the deacon’s ministry of preaching, healing, and casting out demons.”[4]      Luke continues, saying, “Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit. 16 For He had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they began laying their hands on them, and they were receiving the Holy Spirit” (Acts 8:14-17). This account reveals the Samaritans had been accepted by God just as the Jewish believers. But why was the Holy Spirit withheld from the Samaritans until Peter and John came down from Jerusalem? According to Charles Swindoll, “God didn’t bring the apostles to Samaria to bestow the Holy Spirit but to witness the Samaritans receiving the Holy Spirit. The Lord delayed the falling of the Holy Spirit for the apostles’ benefit, to assure them that He had accepted the Samaritans’ belief and had made them full-fledged brothers and sisters in the kingdom.”[5]Stanley Toussaint states: "Perhaps the most important aspect of God’s withholding the Spirit till apostolic representatives came from the Jerusalem church was to prevent schism. Because of the natural propensity of division between Jews and Samaritans it was essential for Peter and John to welcome the Samaritan believers officially into the church. The contrast between John’s attitude here and in Luke 9:52–54 is significant."[6]      Luke then brings Simon back into the account, saying, “Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, ‘Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit’” (Acts 8:18-19). What Simon visually witnessed is uncertain. Perhaps the Holy Spirit was manifesting Himself through these new converts by means of tongues, just as He did when He came upon those on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:4). Whatever Simon saw, it moved his carnal heart to seek to have that power himself, so he offered Peter and John some money, thinking they could transfer this ability to him. The purchase of knowledge or power for personal gain was and is a worldly practice. Here, Simon was operating from a state of carnality and seeking to monopolize God’s power for personal advantage. Toussaint notes, “The term simony, which is the buying or selling of things considered religious or sacred such as an ecclesiastical office, comes from Simon’s desire to purchase the ability to impart the Holy Spirit to others.”[7]      But things did not go as Simon had hoped, as “Peter said to him, ‘May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21 You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God” (Acts 8:20-21). Simon was worldly minded and did not understand grace. He was governed by selfish pride for personal gain rather than selfless humility for the service of others. The pronouncement of Peter that Simon perish (ἀπώλεια apoleia – to be destroyed) could refer either to eternal destruction (John 3:16), or to premature physical death such as happened with Ananias and Saphira (Acts 5:1-10). If Simon was not a Christian, then it speaks to his eternal damnation. If Simon was a Christian, then it refers to the sin unto death which a believer can experience (1 Cor 11:30; 1 John 5:16-17).      Do God’s children ever behave sinfully? Yes. Throughout Scripture, we observe examples of God’s children behaving sinfully, yet they were true believers. For example, Abraham twice lied and jeopardized the safety of his wife, Sarah (Gen 12:10-20; 20:1-11). Samson slept with several women (Judg 16:1, 4), and lied to his parents (Judg 14:5-9). David had an adulterous affair with Bathsheba and then murdered her husband, Uriah (2 Sam 11:1-17), followed Satan’s temptation and “sinned greatly” by taking an unauthorized census in Israel  (1 Ch 21:1, 8), and even practiced the sin of polygamy contrary to the Law of Moses (Deut 17:17). Solomon practiced polygamy and “had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines” (1 Ki 11:3a), and went “after other gods” to worship them (1 Ki 11:4). Jonah disobeyed the Lord and temporarily fled His calling (Jonah 1:1-3). The apostles James and John suggested to Jesus that a Samaritan city be destroyed by fire (Luke 9:51-54). Peter rebuked the Jesus and tried to stop Him from going to the cross (Matt 16:21-23), and later publicly denied Him three times (Matt 26:69-75). The apostle John, while receiving divine revelation, was twice rebuked for worshipping an angel (Rev 19:10; 22:8-9).      We cannot know with 100% certainty whether Simon was saved, but at the end of the day, “The Lord knows those who are His” (2 Tim 2:19). The problem is, if we doubt the statement here about Simon’s faith in Jesus, it opens the door for us to doubt the faith of anyone who believes, including ourselves. In this way, we can easily become fruit inspectors who spend our time analyzing people’s lives and thinking they are not saved because we don’t immediately see the fruit of a changed life. Taking the passage in a straightforward way, it’s easier to see Simon as a carnal baby believer who has a lot to learn.      Peter’s advice for Simon was, “Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity” (Acts 8:22-23). Simon was jealous of the Apostle’s ability and wanted the power for himself. To be in the gall of bitterness is to be deeply envious of someone to such an extent that it results in bitterness and bondage because they have something you don’t, and the thought of it drives you to mental madness. Simon was in the “bondage of iniquity.” However, after being rebuked by Peter, Simon seems to display some humility, as Luke records, “But Simon answered and said, ‘Pray to the Lord for me yourselves, so that nothing of what you have said may come upon me’” (Acts 8:24). This seems to be a genuine cry of concern from Simon, which might further argue his conversion was true. Conclusion      Many Samaritans had believed in Christ as their Savior, but the giving of the Holy Spirit was intentionally delayed until the Apostles could arrive. This was a special occasion, as the baptism, indwelling and sealing of the Holy Spirit would occur at Salvation for future believers (1 Cor 12:13; cf., 1 Cor 6:19; Eph 1:13; 4:30). The Samaritans received the Holy Spirit through the laying on of the Apostle’s hands to reveal a unity and new Christian identity as part of the church. The new spiritual identity created by God the Holy Spirit destroyed the hostilities that had existed for centuries between the Jews and Samaritans.      Prior to believing in Christ, Simon was involved in the occult and had the ability—through demonic forces—to perform supernatural acts to manipulate people and circumstances for his self-interest and self-glory (Acts 8:9-10). In contrast, the Apostles performed miracles by means of God’s power, always giving credit to God and pointing men to Christ for salvation (see Acts 3:12, 16; 4:10). Though Simon had “believed” and been “baptized” along with the others at Samaria, he was still governed by pride and worldly viewpoint. Simon reveals his theological ignorance when he requested to buy the ability to dispense the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands. Peter strongly rebuked Simon who failed to understand God’s grace, and thought to turn it into a system of self-centered glory. Simon became fearful after Peter’s rebuke and asked Peter to pray for him, hoping to avoid the punishment. Present Application      Taking Simon as a believer, it demonstrates the point that regeneration does not automatically produce humility or the divine viewpoint necessary for Christian service. After being born again, the Christian must begin the process of expunging a lifetime of human viewpoint thinking and replacing it divine viewpoint. This is accomplished only through consistent study and the application of God’s Word over time (see Rom 12:1-2; Eph 4:11-16; 2 Tim 2:15; 3:16-17; 1 Pet 2:2; 2 Pet 3:18). The Gospel      If you are here this morning without Christ, without hope, and without eternal life, I want you to know that when Jesus was on the cross, He had you personally in mind as He bore your sin and paid the price for it. He died and paid the penalty for your sins so that you would not have to. Scripture reveals, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8), and “Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet 3:18). The good news for us is that “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3-4), and if we place our faith in Him as the only Savior (John 14:6; Acts 4:12), we are promised forgiveness of sins (Eph 1:7), eternal life (John 10:28), and place in heaven forever (John 14:1-3). Dr. Steven R. Cook               [1] Stanley D. Toussaint, “Acts,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 372. [2] Ibid., 372–373. [3] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Ac 8:13. [4] Charles R. Swindoll, Acts, Swindoll’s Living Insights New Testament Commentary (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2016), 145. [5] Ibid., 145. [6] Stanley D. Toussaint, “Acts,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, vol. 2, 373. [7] Ibid., 373.
7/12/202343 minutes, 10 seconds
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Soteriology Lesson 8 - Salvation from What?

     Most Christians think of salvation in the spiritual sense in which we are saved from the lake of fire (Rev 20:15), and look forward with confidence to our heavenly home (John 14:1-3; 17:24).[1] This is accurate; however, salvation throughout Scripture varies, depending on the suffering or danger caused by sin or sinful people. In the OT, God delivered His people from military attacks (2 Sam 22:3-4; 1 Ch 16:35; Psa 3:6-8), fear (Psa 34:4), troubles (Psa 34:17), and death (Psa 56:13). The same is true in the NT, where God delivered people from physical harm (Matt 8:25-26; 14:30-33; Mark 13:20; John 11:12; Acts 27:20, 31, 44), and diseases (Matt 9:20-22; Luke 6:8-9; Jam 5:15). These records of salvation are wonderous, and God is worthy of all the praise and honor. But Scripture also reveals there were times when God, according to His sovereignty, did not rescue His people physically, but allowed them to suffer, even to the point of a martyr’s death. The writer to the Hebrews reveals that some of God’s faithful people “were tortured…and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground” (Heb 11:35-38). As believers, they were saved from the greatest danger of all, eternal separation from God in the lake of fire, but not from the pains and hardships of living in a sinful and hostile world where persecution is normal for those who pursue godliness (2 Tim 3:12). Though these faithful saints were not physically rescued from their hardship, God gave them grace (i.e., divine enablement) to cope with whatever suffering they faced, so that they were strengthened and sustained in their inner person. The Lord told Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Cor 12:9), and for all Christians, we are instructed to draw near to God’s “throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4:16).  Three tenses of salvation      Concerning the Christian’s spiritual deliverance, the NT describes it in three tenses (past, present, and future). Because we have trusted Christ as our Savior, we have been saved from the penalty of sin (John 5:24; Rom 8:1, 33-34; Eph 2:8-9), are being saved from the power of sin that we might live righteously (Rom 6:11-13; Col 3:5), and will be saved from the presence of sin when we leave this world and enter heaven (Phil 3:20-21; 1 John 3:2, 5). These three aspects of our salvation are also referred to as justification (declared just before God once for all), sanctification (our progressive righteousness over time), and glorification (removal of the sin nature after we leave this world). According to Chafer, “In its broadest significance, the doctrine of salvation includes every divine undertaking for the believer from his deliverance out of the lost estate to his final presentation in glory conformed to the image of Christ.”[2] Charles Ryrie adds: "The inclusive sweep of salvation is underscored by observing the three tenses of salvation. (1) The moment one believed he was saved from the condemnation of sin (Eph 2:8; Tit 3:5). (2) That believer is also being saved from the dominion of sin and is being sanctified and preserved (Heb 7:25). (3) And he will be saved from the very presence of sin in heaven forever (Rom 5:9-10)."[3]      The first and third aspects of our salvation (i.e., justification and glorification) are accomplished by God without any human assistance whatsoever. Concerning our justification, Scripture reveals that “God is the one who justifies” (Rom 8:33), and “who justifies the ungodly” (Rom 4:5). This is a work of God alone. No works are required for the one who trusts in Christ as Savior (Rom 4:4-5; Eph 2:8-9; Tit 3:5). Concerning our future glorification, Jesus Christ is the One “who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory” (Phil 3:21), and “We know that when He appears, we will be like Him” (1 John 3:2), and that “in Him there is no sin” (1 John 3:5). This means our future heavenly body will have no sin nature. This also is a work of God alone. However, the second aspect of our salvation, our sanctification, requires positive volition on our part. This is obvious by the use of NT verbs that are in the imperative mood (i.e., commands), which require the Christian to obey. As believers, we play a role in our sanctification as we learn and live God’s Word (2 Tim 2:15; 3:16-17; 1 Pet 2:2; 2 Pet 3:18), yield to God the Holy Spirit (Eph 5:18; Gal 5:16, 25), walk by faith (2 Cor 5:7; Heb 10:38; 11:6), and advance to spiritual maturity (Heb 6:1). Dr. Steven R. Cook   [1] For the child of God, our spiritual deliverance from sin is the most important deliverance we can know, as we will never experience God’s wrath (John 3:36; Rom 5:9), condemnation (Rom 8:1), or eternal separation from Him (Matt 25:46). After we die, our physical body returns to the dust, and our spirit immediately goes to heaven (Eccl 12:7). Paul wrote, “For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Cor 5:1). When we die, we are “absent from the body” and immediately “at home with the Lord” (2 Cor 5:8), waiting in heaven for our future resurrection body (1 Cor 15:42-44). [2] Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, vol. 3 (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1993), 6. [3] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1999), 318–319.
7/9/20231 hour, 2 minutes, 56 seconds
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Soteriology Lesson 7 - Who Saves?

     There are four basic views concerning who saves. First is autosoterism (auto = self + soter = savior) which is a belief that entrance into heaven is entirely by good works. Autosoterists don’t feel they need salvation from an outside source. Their good works are enough. Second is syntheosoterism (syn = with + theo = God + soter = savior) which is a belief that people partner with God and contribute to their initial salvation by good works, or a promise to perform them. These frontload the gospel with some human requirement in addition to faith in Jesus (i.e., turn from all their sin, keep the Sabbath, water baptism, etc.). Third is posttheosoterism (post – after + theo = God + soter = savior) which is the belief that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, but later, after being saved, the Christians are persuaded they must perform good works to keep themselves saved (like the Christians in Galatia). Last is solatheosoterism (sola = alone + theo = God + soter = savior), which is the belief that salvation is entirely a work of God through Christ and is provided by grace alone, though faith alone, in christ alone, plus nothing more. In this view, salvation is a gift from God, freely given and freely received with no requirement of good works before, during, or after receiving salvation. These understand that good works should follow salvation (Eph 2:10), but they are never the condition of it.      The autosoterists believe that, from beginning to end, they save themselves by adhering to a moral code that will secure their entrance into heaven. In this system of thought, the Bible becomes a moral guide to one’s path to heaven (perhaps among other guides). I’ve personally heard people say, “I’ll keep the Ten Commandments and hope God lets me into heaven”, or “I’ll love God and my neighbor and trust that He will let me into His kingdom when I die.” Historically, this would be similar to Pelagianism, a teaching derived from a British monk named Pelagius who lived and preached in Rome circa A.D. 400. According to Ryrie, Pelagius “believed that since God would not command anything that was not possible, and that since He has commanded men to be holy, everyone therefore can live a life that is free from sin.”[1] In this teaching, a person needs only follow God’s laws to be saved from hell and accepted into heaven. From beginning to end, this is a works-salvation.      The problem with autosoterism—among several—is that those who think they can save themselves by works fail to grasp God’s absolute standard of righteousness to gain entrance into heaven. The Bible reveals God is holy (Psa 99:9; Isa 6:3), which means He is perfectly righteous and completely set apart from sin (Psa 99:9; 1 Pet 1:14-16). Because God is holy, He cannot have anything to do with sin except to condemn it. The Scripture states, “Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, and You cannot look on wickedness with favor” (Hab 1:13), and “This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). Autosoterists also fail to understand the biblical teaching about sin and total depravity, in which sin permeates every aspect of our being—intellect, body, will, and sensibilities—and that we are helpless to correct our fallen position. The biblical teaching is that all mankind is sinful and separated from God (Rom 3:10-23). We are sinners in Adam (Rom 5:12; 1 Cor 15:21-22), sinners by nature (Rom 7:14-25; 13:12-14), sinners by choice (Isa 59:2; Jam 1:14-15), and completely helpless to solve the sin problem and save ourselves (Rom 5:6-10; Eph 2:1-3). Good works have no saving merit before God (Isa 64:6; Rom 4:4-5; Eph 2:8-9; Tit 3:5). Paul wrote, “we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law” (Rom 3:28), and “a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified” (Gal 2:16).      Furthermore, autosoterists are trapped in a vague system of rules-for-salvation that can never provide assurance of their salvation. No matter how much good they do, there is always that nagging question, “have I done enough?” The reason they can never have assurance of their salvation is because the Bible does not teach that salvation is by human works, either in total or in part. Those who approach God by their works are in want of any passage of Scripture that can provide them assurance they’ve done enough to secure their place in heaven. For if one performs a hundred good works during a lifetime, how do  they know that God doesn’t require a hundred and one, or a hundred and two? They don’t, because the Bible does not teach salvation by works. Autosoterists are not saved, as they trust entirely in their good works to save them.      The syntheosoterists are those who think good works are required in addition to their initial act of faith in Jesus. These teach faith in Christ, but then muddy the gospel by adding something we do, such as turning from sins, keeping the Sabbath, water baptism, promising to live a moral life, joining a church, receiving sacraments, etc. I don’t believe these persons are saved, as human activity is added to the gospel message from the beginning. We observe an example of this in the early church in which “Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, ‘Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved’” (Acts 15:1). This teaching caused a huge reaction in Paul and Barnabas, who had “great dissension and debate with them” (Acts 15:2). The simple gospel message was: “we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 15:11). But some Judaizers from Judea were presenting a false gospel which frontloaded the message with a requirement to follow to the Law of Moses; specifically, circumcision. Concerning Acts 15:1, Arnold Fruchtenbaum states: "Verse 1 describes the issue that led to the debate: Gentile circumcision. After their first missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas gave a report to the church of Antioch and spent some time with the Believers there. Eventually, certain men came down from Judea. They were members of the “circumcision party,” mentioned earlier, in Acts 11:2, who had challenged Peter about going into the home of an uncircumcised Gentile. Acts 15:24 makes it clear that these men had not been sent by the church of Jerusalem, but that they simply came down to Antioch of their own accord. In Galatians 2:4, Paul made reference to this same Jerusalem Council and describe these men as false brethren. They came to Antioch to teach. The Greek tense of the verb “teach” means they began to teach, and they kept at it with determination. The false teachers picked on the brethren, meaning the Gentile believers, because they were not circumcised. To these Gentile believers, they said: except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. This was the Judaizers dictum: Believing Gentiles are not saved until they are circumcised. Today certain groups teach another heresy, namely, that believers are not saved until they have been baptized. Both statements are equally wrong. Both involve salvation by works and salvation through ritual."[2]      If any human works or religious rituals are added to the simple gospel message, it is rendered null and void. A gospel message that includes human works is no gospel at all. Such a message saves no one. Warren Wiersbe states: "God pronounces a solemn anathema on anyone who preaches any other Gospel than the Gospel of the grace of God found in Jesus Christ His Son (Gal 1:1–9). When any religious leader says, “Unless you belong to our group, you cannot be saved!” or, “Unless you participate in our ceremonies and keep our rules, you cannot be saved!” he is adding to the Gospel and denying the finished work of Jesus Christ. Paul wrote his Epistle to the Galatians to make it clear that salvation is wholly by God’s grace, through faith in Christ, plus nothing!"[3]      The posttheosoterists are those who believe they are saved initially by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, but then later adopt a works-system to continue to be saved. I think many in this camp were saved when they heard and responded positively to the simple gospel message (perhaps as a child), placing their faith in Christ alone for salvation, but then later were persuaded to accept a system of legalistic teaching that told them they must do good works to continue to be saved. These would be similar to the Christians Paul wrote to in Galatia, who said, “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel” (Gal 1:6). These were believers whom Paul called brethren (Gal 1:11; 2:4; 3:15; 4:12, 28, 31; 5:11, 13; 6:1, 18), declaring they were “sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:26). The Christians in Galatia had trusted in Christ as their Savior; however, some “false brethren” (Gal 2:4) came among them and taught they must adhere to the Law of Moses to be saved. These were false teachers. According to Fruchtenbaum, “The problem that Paul was dealing with in his epistle to the Galatians concerns a group that has come to be known as ‘the Judaizers.’ These people felt that the Gentiles must obey the Law of Moses in order to be saved (Acts 15:1 and 5).”[4]Paul, in an effort to correct the false teaching, posed a few simple questions to the Galatian Christians, saying, “This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Gal 3:2-3). The Christians in Galatia had trusted in Christ as their Savior and had received the Holy Spirit. They were saved. Yet, the legalism of the Judaizers had corrupted the concept of faith alone in Christ alone. Fruchtenbaum notes, “Too many believers think they can and need to add to their salvation. By grace through faith alone does not seem to satisfy. People add the keeping of some of the laws of Moses to their salvation. Others believe their baptism plays a role in it. Again others throw what is commonly known as Lordship salvation into the mix.”[5] I think posttheosoterism describes many Christians today, who truly trusted Christ as their Savior, but then later were led to believe they needed good works to keep themselves saved. Chafer states, “True salvation is wholly a work of God. It is said to be both a finished work and a gift, and, therefore, it lays no obligation upon the saved one to complete it himself, or to make after payments of service for it.”[6]      I personally trusted Christ as my Savior at age eight; however, shortly afterwards I was taught I needed to keep myself saved by ceasing to sin and also by doing good works. Though I did not lose my salvation (which is impossible), the joy I had when I trusted Christ as my Savior was lost, as I became trapped in a vicious system of trying to keep my salvation by good works. Subsequently, I believed I lost my salvation every time I sinned (which  was daily), and felt I needed to come groveling back to God as a failure, and trusting Christ over and over again in order to be saved. Eventually, exhaustion took its toll, and after several years I walked away from God, thinking the Christian life was impossible. It was not until roughly fifteen years later that my assurance of salvation rested in Christ alone, and the joy of my salvation was restored.      Because pride is the default setting of the human heart; it’s our natural proclivity to think we can fix the problem of sin and righteousness and either earn God’s approval by our own efforts, or at least participate in the effort. Pride must die for salvation to occur, as we come to God with the empty hands of faith, offering nothing, but only receiving the salvation which He offers to us by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Human efforts to save are useless. Lewis Chafer notes, “No one under any circumstances could forgive his own sin, impart eternal life to himself, clothe himself in the righteousness of God, or write his name in heaven.”[7]      Solatheosoterism is the correct biblical view. This teaches that our spiritual salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, plus nothing more. No good works are required for our salvation before, during, or after we trust in Christ. As stated before, good works should follow salvation (Eph 2:10), but they are never the condition of it. This is the record of Scripture in the OT, as “Salvation belongs to the LORD” (Psa 3:8), and “Our God is a God of salvation” (Psa 68:20 CSB), and “Salvation is from the LORD” (Jon 2:9). In the NT we read about Jesus, and that “He will save His people from their sins” (Matt 1:21), and “He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Col 1:13a), and “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit” (Tit 3:5), and it is “God who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity” (2 Tim 1:8b-9). In these verses, salvation is always in one direction, from God to us.      Scripture reveals we are helpless, ungodly, sinners, and enemies of God (Rom 5:6-10), and prior to our salvation, we were dead in our trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1). Salvation is never what we do for God; rather, it’s what He’s done for us through the death of His Son, who paid the full penalty for all our sins on the cross at Calvary. Having paid the full price for our sins, there is nothing that remains for us to pay. Christ paid it all, and our spiritual salvation was completed at the cross, where Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:30). According to Francis Schaeffer, “Salvation is the whole process that results from the finished work of Jesus Christ as He died in space and time upon the cross.”[8]And Lewis Chafer notes, “As for revelation, it is the testimony of the Scriptures, without exception, that every feature of man’s salvation from its inception to the final perfection in heaven is a work of God for man and not a work of man for God.”[9]      No one has the means to redeem his own soul, nor the soul of another. Jesus asked, “what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt 16:26). The answer is nothing! If Jesus had not paid our sin-debt to God, there would be no hope of ever being liberated from spiritual slavery, for “no man can by any means redeem his brother or give to God a ransom for him—for the redemption of his soul is costly, and he should cease trying forever” (Psa 49:7-8). However, Paul writes of the “redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Rom 3:24b), and this speaks to the payment He made on behalf of sinners. The word redemption translates the Greek apolutrosis which means to “release from a captive condition.”[10] Redemption refers to the payment of a debt that one gives in order to liberate another from slavery. Jesus declared “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45), and the apostle Paul tells us that Jesus “gave Himself as a ransom for all” (1 Tim 2:6). When we turn to Christ as our only Savior “we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses” (Eph 1:7; cf. Col 1:13-14). Because Jesus died in our place, He is able to set us free from our spiritual bondage and give us eternal life, but it is only because of His shed blood on the cross that He can do this, for we “were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold…but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (1 Pet 1:18-19). The blood of Christ is necessary, for “without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Heb 9:22). And the blood of Christ is the coin of the heavenly realm that paid our sin debt. He paid it all, and there’s nothing more for us to pay. Salvation is a gift from God. If we have to pay for it, it ceases to be a gift. Dr. Steven R. Cook   [1] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1999), 254. [2] Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Book of Acts (San Antonio, TX, Published by Ariel Ministries, 2022), 316. [3] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 461. [4] Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Faith Alone: The Condition of Our Salvation: An Exposition of the Book of Galatians and Other Relevant Topics, ed. Christiane Jurik, Second Edition. (San Antonio, TX: Ariel Ministries, 2016), 9. [5] Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Faith Alone: The Condition of Our Salvation: An Exposition of the Book of Galatians and Other Relevant Topics, ed. Christiane Jurik, Second Edition. (San Antonio, TX: Ariel Ministries, 2016), 1. [6] Lewis Sperry Chafer, Satan (New York: Gospel Publishing House, 1909), 111. [7] Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, vol. 3 (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1993), 7. [8] Francis A. Schaeffer, Death in the City (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2002), 100. [9] Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, vol. 3 (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1993), 6. [10] Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, rev. and ed. Frederick W. Danker, 3rd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 117.
7/2/202357 minutes, 42 seconds
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Soteriology Lesson 6 - Who Saves?

     There are four basic views concerning who saves. First is autosoterism (auto = self + soter = savior) which is a belief that entrance into heaven is entirely by good works. Autosoterists don’t feel they need salvation from an outside source. Their good works are enough. Second is syntheosoterism (syn = with + theo = God + soter = savior) which is a belief that people partner with God and contribute to their initial salvation by good works, or a promise to perform them. These frontload the gospel with some human requirement in addition to faith in Jesus (i.e., turn from all their sin, keep the Sabbath, water baptism, etc.). Third is posttheosoterism (post – after + theo = God + soter = savior) which is the belief that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, but later, after being saved, the Christians are persuaded they must perform good works to keep themselves saved (like the Christians in Galatia). Last is solatheosoterism (sola = alone + theo = God + soter = savior), which is the belief that salvation is entirely a work of God through Christ and is provided by grace alone, though faith alone, in christ alone, plus nothing more. In this view, salvation is a gift from God, freely given and freely received with no requirement of good works before, during, or after receiving salvation. These understand that good works should follow salvation (Eph 2:10), but they are never the condition of it.      The autosoterists believe that, from beginning to end, they save themselves by adhering to a moral code that will secure their entrance into heaven. In this system of thought, the Bible becomes a moral guide to one’s path to heaven (perhaps among other guides). I’ve personally heard people say, “I’ll keep the Ten Commandments and hope God lets me into heaven”, or “I’ll love God and my neighbor and trust that He will let me into His kingdom when I die.” Historically, this would be similar to Pelagianism, a teaching derived from a British monk named Pelagius who lived and preached in Rome circa A.D. 400. According to Ryrie, Pelagius “believed that since God would not command anything that was not possible, and that since He has commanded men to be holy, everyone therefore can live a life that is free from sin.”[1] In this teaching, a person needs only follow God’s laws to be saved from hell and accepted into heaven. From beginning to end, this is a works-salvation.      The problem with autosoterism—among several—is that those who think they can save themselves by works fail to grasp God’s absolute standard of righteousness to gain entrance into heaven. The Bible reveals God is holy (Psa 99:9; Isa 6:3), which means He is perfectly righteous and completely set apart from sin (Psa 99:9; 1 Pet 1:14-16). Because God is holy, He cannot have anything to do with sin except to condemn it. The Scripture states, “Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, and You cannot look on wickedness with favor” (Hab 1:13), and “This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). Autosoterists also fail to understand the biblical teaching about sin and total depravity, in which sin permeates every aspect of our being—intellect, body, will, and sensibilities—and that we are helpless to correct our fallen position. The biblical teaching is that all mankind is sinful and separated from God (Rom 3:10-23). We are sinners in Adam (Rom 5:12; 1 Cor 15:21-22), sinners by nature (Rom 7:14-25; 13:12-14), sinners by choice (Isa 59:2; Jam 1:14-15), and completely helpless to solve the sin problem and save ourselves (Rom 5:6-10; Eph 2:1-3). Good works have no saving merit before God (Isa 64:6; Rom 4:4-5; Eph 2:8-9; Tit 3:5). Paul wrote, “we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law” (Rom 3:28), and “a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified” (Gal 2:16).      Furthermore, autosoterists are trapped in a vague system of rules-for-salvation that can never provide assurance of their salvation. No matter how much good they do, there is always that nagging question, “have I done enough?” The reason they can never have assurance of their salvation is because the Bible does not teach that salvation is by human works, either in total or in part. Those who approach God by their works are in want of any passage of Scripture that can provide them assurance they’ve done enough to secure their place in heaven. For if one performs a hundred good works during a lifetime, how do  they know that God doesn’t require a hundred and one, or a hundred and two? They don’t, because the Bible does not teach salvation by works. Autosoterists are not saved, as they trust entirely in their good works to save them.      The syntheosoterists are those who think good works are required in addition to their initial act of faith in Jesus. These teach faith in Christ, but then muddy the gospel by adding something we do, such as turning from sins, keeping the Sabbath, water baptism, promising to live a moral life, joining a church, receiving sacraments, etc. I don’t believe these persons are saved, as human activity is added to the gospel message from the beginning. We observe an example of this in the early church in which “Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, ‘Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved’” (Acts 15:1). This teaching caused a huge reaction in Paul and Barnabas, who had “great dissension and debate with them” (Acts 15:2). The simple gospel message was: “we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 15:11). But some Judaizers from Judea were presenting a false gospel which frontloaded the message with a requirement to follow to the Law of Moses; specifically, circumcision. Concerning Acts 15:1, Arnold Fruchtenbaum states: "Verse 1 describes the issue that led to the debate: Gentile circumcision. After their first missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas gave a report to the church of Antioch and spent some time with the Believers there. Eventually, certain men came down from Judea. They were members of the “circumcision party,” mentioned earlier, in Acts 11:2, who had challenged Peter about going into the home of an uncircumcised Gentile. Acts 15:24 makes it clear that these men had not been sent by the church of Jerusalem, but that they simply came down to Antioch of their own accord. In Galatians 2:4, Paul made reference to this same Jerusalem Council and describe these men as false brethren. They came to Antioch to teach. The Greek tense of the verb “teach” means they began to teach, and they kept at it with determination. The false teachers picked on the brethren, meaning the Gentile believers, because they were not circumcised. To these Gentile believers, they said: except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. This was the Judaizers dictum: Believing Gentiles are not saved until they are circumcised. Today certain groups teach another heresy, namely, that believers are not saved until they have been baptized. Both statements are equally wrong. Both involve salvation by works and salvation through ritual."[2]       If any human works or religious rituals are added to the simple gospel message, it is rendered null and void. A gospel message that includes human works is no gospel at all. Such a message saves no one. Warren Wiersbe states: "God pronounces a solemn anathema on anyone who preaches any other Gospel than the Gospel of the grace of God found in Jesus Christ His Son (Gal 1:1–9). When any religious leader says, “Unless you belong to our group, you cannot be saved!” or, “Unless you participate in our ceremonies and keep our rules, you cannot be saved!” he is adding to the Gospel and denying the finished work of Jesus Christ. Paul wrote his Epistle to the Galatians to make it clear that salvation is wholly by God’s grace, through faith in Christ, plus nothing!"[3]   Dr. Steven R. Cook   [1] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1999), 254. [2] Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Book of Acts (San Antonio, TX, Published by Ariel Ministries, 2022), 316. [3] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 461.
6/25/202359 minutes, 41 seconds
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Soteriology Lesson 5 - Salvation Defined in the OT & NT

Definition of Salvation in the Old Testament      The most common word for salvation in the Hebrew OT is yasha (sometimes as yeshuah) which means “deliverance, rescue, salvation, also safety, [and] welfare.”[1] God is said to deliver His people from military attacks (2 Sam 22:3-4; 1 Ch 16:35; Psa 3:6-8), fear (Psa 34:4), troubles (Psa 34:17), or physical death (Psa 56:13).[2] Earl Radmacher notes, “Often the words save and salvation refer to physical not spiritual deliverance. This is especially true in the Old Testament. People were ‘saved’ (rescued or delivered) from enemies on the battlefield (Deut 20:4), from the lion’s mouth (Dan 6:20), and from the wicked (Psa 59:2).”[3] According to Charles Ryrie: "The most important Hebrew root word related to salvation in the Old Testament is yasha. Originally it meant to be roomy or broad in contrast to narrowness or oppression. Thus it signifies freedom from what binds or restricts, and it came to mean deliverance, liberation, or giving width and breadth to something. Sometimes this deliverance came through the agency of man (e.g., through judges, Judg 2:18; 6:14; 8:22; or kings, 1 Sam 23:2), and sometimes through the agency of Yahweh (Pss 20:6; 34:6; Isa 61:10; Ezek 37:23). Sometimes salvation is individual (Psa 86:1–2) and sometimes corporate, that is, of the nation (Isa 12:2, though all the world will share in it, Isa 45:22; 49:6)."[4]      Yahweh is repeatedly referred to as the “the God of my salvation” (Psa 18:46; cf., Psa 25:5; 27:9; 51:14; 88:1; Isa 12:2; 17:10; Mic 7:7; Hab 3:18), and Jonah said, “Salvation is from the LORD” (Jon 2:9). In helpless situations, only God could save His people (Isa 43:11; cf., Isa 45:5-7, 22), and He saved them primarily for His own glory and reputation, as the psalmist states, “He saved them for the sake of His name, that He might make His power known” (Psa 106:8).      When delivering His people from a military threat, there were times when God called His people to do nothing, but watch Him fight their battles (2 Ch 20:17; Hos 1:7). When Israel left Egypt and Pharaoh’s army pursued them, Moses told the people, “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation [yeshuah] of the LORD which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent” (Ex 14:13-14). Here, the Lord fought alone, killing the Egyptian soldiers who were pursuing His people for the purpose of killing them (see Ex 14:22-31). However, there were times when God required His people to take up arms and engage their enemy, and in those moments He would fight with them, ensuring their victory. For example, when Israel was to enter the land of Canaan, Moses told the people, “the LORD your God is the one who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save [yasha] you” (Deut 20:4). As Israel’s army fought the wicked Canaanites, God would be with them to secure their victory. And David, when standing against Goliath, said, “the battle is the LORD’S and He will give you into our hands” (1 Sam 17:47), and then he picked up his sling and a stone and struck his enemy with a mortal blow (1 Sam 17:48-49). God brought salvation through David, His servant. Liefeld states, “Although military leaders and others bring salvation in specific circumstances, ultimately it is God alone who is the true Savior. Israel had to learn not to trust human wisdom or military strength but to recognize God as the only source of deliverance.”[5] Solomon states the matter well, saying, “The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but victory belongs to the LORD” (Prov 21:31). Today, we might say, the soldier is to train well and keep his weapons clean, ready for action, but always realize it is ultimately God who gives the victory.      When God rescued His people from danger, it was often followed with a natural expression of worship to Him. According to Hartley: "Singing gives expression to the joy attending God’s salvation. Joy is frequently mentioned as man’s inner response to God’s victory (e.g., Psa 13:5). Further those who have received Yahweh’s help feel compelled to share it with others; “I have not hid thy saving help within my heart, I have spoken of thy faithfulness and thy salvation” (Psa 40:10). Thus God’s salvation fills life with meaning and joy."[6]      There was also a spiritual and eternal salvation for individuals who placed their faith in God. For example, in Genesis 15:6, we’re informed that Abram “believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness” (Gen 15:6). Henry Morris states, “Here is the great principle of true salvation, set forth for the first time in the Bible. Not by works do men attain or manifest righteousness, but by faith. Because they believe in the Word of God, He credits them with perfect righteousness and therefore enables sinful men to be made fit for the fellowship of a holy God.”[7] And Ryrie adds, “Faith was the necessary condition for salvation in the Old Testament as well as in the New. Abraham believed in the Lord, and the Lord counted it to him for righteousness (Gen 15:6). The Hebrew prefix beth indicates that Abraham confidently rested his faith on God (cf. Ex 14:31; Jon 3:5).”[8] Definition of Salvation in the New Testament      The concept of salvation in the NT derives from three words. First is the word sozo (verb), which refers to the act of physical deliverance in some biblical passages (Matt 8:25; 14:30; Mark 13:20; Luke 6:9; John 11:12; Acts 27:20, 31), and spiritual deliverance in others (Luke 7:50; 19:10; John 12:47; 1 Cor 1:21; Tit 3:5). As to our spiritual deliverance, we are saved from the penalty of sin (Rom 8:1, 33-34; Eph 2:8-9), the power of sin (Rom 6:11; Col 3:5), and ultimately the presence of sin (Phil 3:20-21; 1 John 3:2, 5). Second is the word soter (noun), which means Savior, and refers to the agent of salvation, the one who rescues or delivers another from harm or danger (Luke 2:11; John 4:42; Acts 5:31; 13:23; Eph 5:23; Phil 3:20). Third is soteria (noun), which refers to the provision of salvation, rescue, or deliverance brought by another (Luke 1:69; 19:9; John 4:22; Acts 7:25; 13:26, 47; Rom 1:16; 2 Cor 1:6; 6:2; Eph 1:13; Phil 1:28; 2:12; 2 Tim 2:10; Heb 1:14; 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5, 9; 2 Pet 3:15).      The Greek words in the NT communicate the basic meaning of yasha in the Hebrew OT. Radmacher notes, “In the New Testament the verb sōzō (“to save”) and the nouns sōtēr (“Savior”) and sōtēria (“salvation”) parallel the Hebrew word and its derivatives. Thus the Old Testament concept of deliverance is carried over to the New Testament.”[9] Ryrie agrees, saying: "In both the Septuagint and the New Testament the Greek verb sōzō and its cognates sōtēr and sōtēria usually translate yasha˒ and its respective nouns. However, a number of times the sōzō group translates shalom, peace or wholeness, and its cognates. Thus salvation can mean cure, recovery, remedy, rescue, redemption, or welfare. This can be related to preservation from danger, disease, or death (Matt 9:22; Acts 27:20, 31, 34; Heb 5:7)."[10] Earl Radmacher adds: "A number of times, however, sōtēria translates síālôm (“peace” or “wholeness”), which broadens the idea of rescue or deliverance to include recovery, safety, and preservation. There is a progression in these concepts: (a) rescue from imminent and life-threatening danger to (b) a place of safety and security and (c) a position of wholeness and soundness. The narrowness and restriction created by danger is replaced by the “breadth” of liberation in salvation. Visualize a person on the Titanic facing the imminent expectation of drowning and death, but then being placed in a lifeboat. That is rescue. Then picture the person now in the lifeboat removed from danger and death. That is safety. Now picture an ocean liner coming alongside the lifeboat and hoisting it and its passengers aboard ship. Now they enjoy security and soundness of mind. All three ideas are included in the biblical concept of salvation."[11]      The majority of usages of salvation in the NT refer to physical healing or deliverance from what injures, restricts, or threatens harm. For example, when Jesus was traveling between Samaria and Galilee, He healed ten men of leprosy (Luke 17:11-14), and when one of them returned to thank Him (Luke 17:15-16), He told the man, “your faith has made you well [sozo]” (Luke 17:19). In this context, the Greek verb sozo refers to physical deliverance from an infirmity. On another occasion, when Jesus was approaching the city of Jericho, a blind man called out for Jesus to have mercy on him (Luke 18:35-41), and Jesus healed the man, saying, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well [sozo]” (Luke 18:42). Again, this refers to physical healing. An example of deliverance from physical danger is observed when Jesus came to His disciples when they were on a stormy sea (Matt 14:22-27). When Peter saw Jesus walking on the water, he called out to the Lord and asked to come to Him (Matt 14:28-29). However, as Peter was walking on the water, He took his eyes off Jesus and began looking at the stormy wind, and “he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me! [sozo]’” (Matt 14:30). Peter was not asking for forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life; rather, he was asking Jesus to save him from physical harm as he sinking into the sea. Earl Radmacher states: "When the New Testament uses save and salvation to refer to physical deliverance, those instances are more individual than national. Also the New Testament occurrences suggest not only rescue but also remedy and recovery. A graphic example of rescue from imminent death is God’s sparing Paul’s life in the shipwreck on his way to Rome (Acts 27:20, 31, 34). This case is of special interest in that God promised deliverance in advance (Acts 27:23–24), and Paul confidently moved ahead on those promises (Acts 27:25, 34). In a physical sense salvation refers to being taken from danger to safety (Phil 1:19), from disease to health (Jam 5:15), and from death to life (Jam 5:20)."[12]      Often, as Christians, we think of salvation in the spiritual sense, in which we are delivered from our sins and made right with God because of the finished work of Christ on the cross. As believers, we have been “reconciled to God through the death of His Son” (Rom 5:10). We have been made spiritually alive, and “born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Pet 1:3). We should realize our salvation appears in three tenses. Chafer states: "In its broadest significance, the doctrine of salvation includes every divine undertaking for the believer from his deliverance out of the lost estate to his final presentation in glory conformed to the image of Christ. Since the divine objective is thus all-inclusive, the theme is divided naturally into three tenses: (a) The Christian was saved when he believed (Luke 7:50; Acts 16:30–31; 1 Cor 1:18; 2 Cor 2:15; Eph 2:8; 2 Tim 1:9). This past-tense aspect of it is the essential and unchanging fact of salvation. At the moment of believing, the saved one is completely delivered from his lost estate, cleansed, forgiven, justified, born of God, clothed in the merit of Christ, freed from all condemnation, and safe for evermore. (b) The believer is being saved from the dominion of sin (Rom 6:1–14; 8:2; 2 Cor 3:18; Gal 2:20; 4:19; Phil 1:19; 2:12; 2 Th 2:13). In this second tense of salvation the believer is being divinely preserved and sanctified. (c) The believer is yet to be saved from the presence of sin when presented faultless in glory (Rom 13:11; 1 Th 5:8; Heb 1:14; 9:28; 1 Pet 1:3–5; 1 John 3:1–3). To this may be added other passages which, each in turn, present all three tenses or aspects of salvation—1 Corinthians 1:30; Philippians 1:6; Ephesians 5:25–27; 1 Thessalonians 1:9–10; Titus 2:11–13."[13]      Our salvation is entirely the work of God through Christ (John 3:16), who took our sin upon Himself on the cross and paid the penalty for it, having been judged in our place; “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet 3:18). And this salvation is found exclusively in Christ, for “there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). One needs only Christ to be saved. Concerning the word salvation, Ryrie notes, “the word usage does not begin to fathom all that the biblical revelation declares about salvation. Other concepts like sacrifice, redemption, reconciliation, propitiation, and justification are vital to a full understanding of the doctrine.”[14] Dr. Steven R. Cook ----------------------------------   [1] Francis Brown, Samuel Rolles Driver and Charles Augustus Briggs, Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, electronic ed. (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 2000), 447. [2] For other Hebrew words, see W. L. Liefeld, “Salvation,” The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised, vol. 4, (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1979–1988), p. 289. [3] Earl Radmacher, eds. Charles R. Swindoll and Roy B. Zuck, “Salvation”, Understanding Christian Theology (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2003), 806. [4] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1999), 321. [5] W. L. Liefeld, “Salvation,” ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised, vol. 4 (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1979–1988), 289. [6] John E. Hartley, “929 יָשַׁע,” ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 416. [7] Henry M. Morris, The Genesis Record: A Scientific and Devotional Commentary on the Book of Beginnings (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1976), 325. [8] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Basic Theology, 321. [9] Earl Radmacher, eds. Charles R. Swindoll and Roy B. Zuck, “Salvation” Understanding Christian Theology (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2003), 805. [10] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Basic Theology, 321–322. [11] Earl Radmacher, eds. Charles R. Swindoll and Roy B. Zuck, “Salvation”, Understanding Christian Theology, 805–806. [12] Earl Radmacher, eds. Charles R. Swindoll and Roy B. Zuck, “Salvation”, Understanding Christian Theology, 806. [13] Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, vol. 3 (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1993), 6. [14] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Basic Theology, 321–322.
6/18/202358 minutes, 16 seconds
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Acts 7:9-16 - Joseph’s Suffering and Exaltation

Introduction      In the previous section (Acts 7:1-8), Stephen presented the first part of his message which demonstrated God’s work in history through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who fathered the twelve patriarchs (Acts 7:8). In the following sections, Stephen is showing God’s work through Joseph (Acts 7:9-16), Moses (Acts 7:17-43), and that He ultimately does not dwell in human structures such as the tabernacle and temple (Acts 7:44-50). The final part of Stephen’s message was intended to show God’s work in Jesus, the Righteous One, who was betrayed and killed by the Jewish leadership (Acts 7:51-53).       In the current section (Acts 7:9-16), Stephen briefly explains how the patriarchs rejected and mistreated Joseph. However, the one they had rejected, was the one whom God had chosen to be their deliverer. And though they had rejected Joseph the first time, they welcomed him the second time (Acts 7:13). We will see Stephen repeat this narrative with Moses (Acts 7:17-43), who Israel rejected the first time, but welcomed the second time (Acts 7:35). The final part of Stephen’s message will point out that his generation was guilty of rejecting and murdering Jesus, the Righteous One whom God had chosen to be their deliverer (Acts 7:51-53). Biblically, we know Jesus was rejected at His first coming, but will be accepted at His second coming. Text      Stephen opens this pericope with a brief overview of the Joseph narrative, saying, “The patriarchs became jealous of Joseph and sold him into Egypt. Yet God was with him” (Acts 7:9). Though the Jewish leaders would not make the connection until later, Stephen was comparing them with ten of Joseph’s brothers who had become jealous and sold him into slavery. Likewise, it was because of a similar mental attitude of sin the Jewish leadership had mistreated Jesus, as Matthew records, it was “because of envy they had handed Him over” to Pilate to be crucified (Matt 27:18). Though Joseph was mistreated by ten of his brothers, we are told that “God was with him” (Acts 7:9b).      Because God was with Joseph, He “rescued him from all his afflictions, and granted him favor and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and he made him governor over Egypt and all his household” (Acts 7:10). Historically, we know God rescued Joseph, but only after allowing Joseph to suffer unjust persecution for a time. Joseph suffered at the hands of his brothers (Gen 37:23-28), Potiphar’s lying wife (Gen 39:7-19), and was placed in prison for two years (Gen 39:20). Though Joseph suffered at the hands of wicked people, God used their sinful choices to bring about a greater good. Similarly, God worked through wicked leaders—both Jews and Gentiles—to bring about the death of Christ and our salvation (Acts 2:22-24; 4:26-28). Throughout Joseph’s time in Egypt, God was with Him “and granted him favor and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh, king of Egypt” (Acts 7:10b). God has a way of directing His people to meet others. We should realize there are no accidental encounters in this life, but that God directs our lives in such a way that everyone we meet is part of His sovereign plan. The possession of wisdom in God’s servants is an indication of His favor toward them. And God, who had granted Joseph wisdom and favor in the sight of Pharoah, made Joseph “governor over Egypt and all his household” (Acts 7:10c). God was in charge of Joseph’s advancement, and this is true of all believers. We read in Hannah’s prayer, “The LORD makes poor and rich; He brings low, He also exalts. He raises the poor from the dust, He lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with nobles, and inherit a seat of honor” (1 Sam 2:7-8). Peter’s instruction to believers is, “humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time” (1 Pet 5:6).      While God was advancing Joseph in Egypt, He was also controlling the regional weather that would result in a drought and famine over the land. Prior to the famine, God had given Pharoah two dreams that revealed He would cause seven years of prosperity to come and then He would bring seven years of drought and famine on the land (Gen 41:25-31). From Genesis to Revelation, God governs the lives of people and nations. Human rulers exist because of His plan, for “It is He who changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men and knowledge to men of understanding” (Dan 2:21). Joseph told Pharoah, “God has shown to Pharaoh what He is about to do” (Gen 41:28), and “as for the repeating of the dream to Pharaoh twice, it means that the matter is determined by God, and God will quickly bring it about” (Gen 41:32). It is this historical event that Stephen draws from, focusing on the time of the famine, stating, “Now a famine came over all Egypt and Canaan, and great affliction with it, and our fathers could find no food” (Acts 7:11).      Stephen tells us, “But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our fathers there the first time” (Acts 7:12). Jacob was moved by the hunger pains God controlled, and in this way, the Lord moved His people geographically to the place He wanted. The suffering from the famine was the vehicle God used to get His people to Egypt in order to full His promise to Abraham (Gen 15:13). When Joseph’s brothers visited him the first time, they did not recognize him, and he did not make himself known. But Stephen tells us, “On the second visit Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and Joseph’s family was disclosed to Pharaoh” (Acts 7:13). According to John Polhill: "What Stephen did emphasize, however, was the seemingly insignificant detail that the brothers made two visits and only recognized Joseph on the second. Why this emphasis? The same would be true of Moses later on in Stephen’s speech. His fellow Israelites did not recognize him either on his first visit but rejected him (Acts 7:27-28). Only on his second visit did they recognize him as the one God had sent to deliver them from Egypt (Acts 7:35-36)."[1] Charles Ryrie adds: "Stephen then passed to Joseph (Acts7:9-16) possibly because Joseph is such a good type of Christ. He was sold because of envy (cf., Mark 15:10) but God was with him (cf., Acts 10:38); there was a famine, which pictured Israel’s condition at that time; and it was the second time when Joseph was revealed to his brethren just as it will be at our Lord’s second coming that Israel will recognize Him."[2]      Historically, we know Jesus was rejected by His people when He came the first time. John tells us, “He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him” (John 1:11). However, when Jesus comes to earth a second time, Israel will receive Him. Through Zechariah, God said, “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn” (Zec 12:10). And John wrote, “Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen” (Rev 1:7). God has not broken His covenant with Israel, for “God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew” (Rom 11:2). For though “a partial hardening has happened to Israel” (Rom 11:25), and they are currently under God’s judgment (Matt 23:37-39), there will come a time in the future, after the Tribulation, that “all Israel will be saved” (Rom 11:26), and this according to God’s sovereign plan.      After Joseph had revealed himself to his brothers, he invited the whole family to come to him, that he might care for them. Stephen says, “Then Joseph sent word and invited Jacob his father and all his relatives to come to him, seventy-five persons in all” (Acts 7:14). This is amazing, for the one who had been treated with hostility, rejected, and sold into captivity, was the very one who became the deliverer of those who mistreated him. This is love. This is grace. According to Warren Wiersbe, “Joseph and Moses…have this in common: they were both rejected as deliverers the first time, but were accepted the second time.”[3] Jon Courson states: "During a time of famine, Joseph’s brothers went to Egypt for help. They stood before the Prime Minister of Egypt, not recognizing him to be their own brother. As Joseph began to question them when they appeared before him a second time, they admitted that they had sinned greatly against their brother. Then, in that powerful emotional scene, Joseph said, “I am Joseph” (Gen 45:4). It wasn’t until the second time they saw him that Joseph’s brothers realized who he was. So, too, after going through a time of famine, drought, and tribulation, Israel will finally recognize Jesus in His Second Coming (Rom 11:26)."[4]      At first glance (prima facie), there seems to be a discrepancy between Stephen’s record of “seventy-five persons in all” (Acts 7:14b), and the account by Moses who told us there were “sixty-six persons in all” (Gen 46:26b). How do we explain this? Earl Radmacher offers the following solution: "Stephen stated that seventy-five people in all went to Egypt. Genesis 46:26 indicates that sixty-six people accompanied Jacob to Egypt, not including Jacob, Joseph, and the two sons of Joseph. Stephen derived the number seventy-five from the Septuagint translation of the OT. The translators apparently added nine wives (Gen 46:26 says the number sixty-six did not include the wives). It was only nine and not twelve because the wives of Judah and Simeon had died and Joseph’s wife was already in Egypt."[5]      Stephen skips ahead in his message and mentions the death of Jacob and the patriarchs, saying, “And Jacob went down to Egypt and there he and our fathers died” (Acts 7:15). And then jumping ahead four hundred years, he says, “From there they were removed to Shechem and laid in the tomb which Abraham had purchased for a sum of money from the sons of Hamor in Shechem” (Acts 7:16). Being removed from Egypt occurred during the time of the Exodus, when God was working through Moses to liberate His people from Egyptian bondage. But we seem to have a problem as Stephen states that Jacob was buried at Shechem (Acts 7:16), whereas Moses wrote in Genesis that his sons “buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah” (Gen 50:13), which was where “Abraham buried Sarah his wife” (Gen 23:19), and where Abraham himself was buried (Gen 25:9). After Israel had entered the land under the leadership of Joshua, we’re told “they buried the bones of Joseph, which the sons of Israel brought up from Egypt, at Shechem” (Josh 24:32). In Acts 7:16, Stephen reports that Abraham purchased the tomb in Shechem, whereas Moses records that Jacob “bought the piece of land…for one hundred pieces of money” (Gen 33:19). So who bought the burial place at Shechem, Abraham or Jacob? Warren Wiersbe wrote, “The simplest explanation is that Abraham actually purchased both pieces of property and that Jacob later had to purchase the Shechem property again. Abraham moved around quite a bit and it would be very easy for the residents of the land to forget or ignore the transactions he had made.”[6]      In summary, Stephen revealed how the patriarchs were jealous of Joseph and mistreated him by selling him into slavery. But God was with Joseph and endowed him with wisdom and favor in the sight of others and, over time, elevated him to the position of governor of Egypt under Pharoah. Eventually, God created and controlled a famine that moved His people geographically to Egypt in order that they might be saved and cared for by the very one whom they’d rejected. In this way, Joseph becomes a type of Christ, Who was mistreated and rejected by His people, but will be accepted at His second coming. Present Application      Stephen thought and spoke from a biblical worldview, seeing God at work in the details of people’s lives. He personally saw himself in the historical flow of God’s plan, and could therefore see himself speaking and acting for God. Likewise, believers today who live in the biblical worldview develop a personal sense of destiny, seeing our lives as part of the fabric of God’s eternal plan that is being worked out moment by moment in the everyday details of human history. The circumstances of our lives are not accidents, but divine appointments, designed by God to grow us spiritually and to advance His eternal plan for His glory and the edification of others.      Though Joseph suffered at the hands of his jealous brothers (Acts 7:9a), we’re told that “God was with him” (Acts 7:9). As Christians, we too know that God is with us, as God Himself said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you” (Heb 13:5). So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?” (Heb 13:6). And though Joseph suffered unjustly for a time in prison, we’re told that God “rescued him from all his afflictions, and granted him favor and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and he made him governor over Egypt and all his household” (Acts 7:10). God, in His sovereignty will, on occasion, bring a person low in order to humble him, but then later exalt him to a place of honor where he can serve as a trophy of His grace (see 1 Sam 2:7-8).      Though Joseph was mistreated by his brothers, later in his life, he interpreted their behavior from the divine perspective, telling his brothers, “Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life” (Gen 45:5). And Joseph repeated himself a second time, saying, “God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God” (Gen 45:7-8a). And later, he told them a third time, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive” (Gen 50:20). As Christians, we are called to renovate our thinking and learn to operate from the divine perspective (Rom 12:1-2). When we do this, we experience a paradigm shift that allows us to be able to frame life in way that gives us a confidence to face difficulties, for “we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom 8:28). Operating from divine viewpoint allows us to rise above the trials and hardships of life and to live by faith and not feelings. In this way, we can live as God intends and find stability and purpose in the details of life that He controls.  Dr. Steven R. Cook   [1] John B. Polhill, Acts, vol. 26, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 192. [2] Charles C. Ryrie, Acts of the Apostles, Everyman’s Bible Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1961), 46. [3] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 431. [4] Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2003), 674. [5] Earl D. Radmacher, Ronald Barclay Allen, and H. Wayne House, Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary (Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers, 1999), 1379–1380. [6] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1, 431–432.
6/13/202333 minutes, 36 seconds
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Soteriology Lesson 4 - Introduction

     Election is another doctrine within the scope of soteriology. Election is a biblical teaching that every serious student of the Bible must address at some time. It addresses issues related to God’s sovereignty and human volition, sin and salvation, justice and mercy, foreknowledge and faith. Election is a difficult doctrine to fully understand. And, when discussing it with others, it’s always best to keep love and grace in the discussion. Lewis Chafer states, “The doctrine of Election is a cardinal teaching of the Scriptures. Doubtless, it is attended with difficulties which are a burden upon all systems of theology alike. However, no word of God may be altered or neglected. No little help is gained when it is remembered that revelation and not reason is the guide to faith. When the former has spoken the latter is appointed to listen and acquiesce.”[1] Charles Ryrie adds, “No human mind will ever harmonize sovereignty and free will, but ignoring or downplaying one or the other in the interests of a supposed harmony will solve nothing.”[2] From the doctrinal statement of Tyndale Theological Seminary, it is noted, “The sovereignty of God also extends to the doctrine of divine election whereby those chosen by the council of the Lord’s own will, shall come to Him in faith. And yet, even though difficult to reconcile in human understanding, the sovereignty of God does not remove the responsibility of man.”[3] Election does not remove the responsibility to believe in Christ as Savior (Rom 10:13-14). Faith is non-meritorious, having no saving value in itself. Christ alone saves. In order for people to be saved, they must believe in Jesus as the Savior (1 Cor 15:3-4). From the human side of salvation, faith in Jesus is the necessary response to God’s call, and no one can be saved any other way (John 14:6; Acts 16:31).      God’s gospel message is simple in its presentation (1 Cor 15:3-4). It is a message of love and grace (John 3:16-17; Eph 2:8-9). It centers at the cross where Jesus died for all our sins (1 Cor 1:18, 21; 15:3-4; Col 2:13-14; 1 Pet 2:24). The gospel message only makes sense when we understand that God is holy, all mankind is sinful, and that Jesus necessarily died as our substitute. When presenting the gospel it is essential to proclaim that salvation is completely the work of God. Salvation is a free gift to us, paid in full by the Lord Jesus, who died in our place, the “just for the unjust” (1 Pet 3:18), and bore the punishment that rightfully belongs to us. This means we bring nothing to God. Nothing at all! Scripture reveals we are “justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Rom 3:24), and “the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 6:23). Paul states, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph 2:8-9). The good news is that we are saved completely by what Jesus accomplished for us at the cross and not by any good works we produce before, during, or after salvation. Chafer states, “Most emphatic is the truth thus declared, that salvation is a divine undertaking on the basis of pure grace in which no human works or merit may enter.”[4]      We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Grace is God’s unmerited favor toward us. Grace is sometimes used as an acronym for God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. The challenge for us is to turn from human works, whatever they may be, and to cast ourselves completely on Christ as our Savior. Fruchtenbaum states, “In more than two hundred cases where the Scriptures give a condition for salvation, faith or belief is the one and only condition. This is important to remember. If there are ‘problem passages,’ one should not interpret the two hundred clear passages by the few minor problem passages. Rather, one should try to interpret the few problem passages by the two hundred clear passages.”[5] Salvation is “the gift of God” (Eph 2:8), “according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity” (2 Tim 1:9), and “according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit” (Tit 3:5). God has prepared good works to follow our salvation (Eph 2:10), but they are never the condition of it. The matter is simple: Salvation comes to those who believe in Christ as their Savior (John 3:16; 20:31; Acts 16:30-31). And when we trust in Christ as our Savior, God saves from the penalty of sin (John 5:24; Rom 6:23; 8:1), the power of sin (Rom 6:11; 8:13), and ultimately the presence of sin (Phil 3:21; 1 John 3:2, 5).      The gospel that saves spiritually is specific in its content. And to preach any other gospel will not only result in a failure for the lost to obtain that which is necessary for entrance into heaven, but it will bring great judgment upon the one who proclaims it. The apostle Paul wrote, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!” (Gal 1:8-9). It is noteworthy that Paul includes himself in this warning, as the gospel that was delivered to him, once it was received, could not be changed, even by one so great as the apostle Paul himself. Concerning this verse, Arnold Fruchtenbaum comments: "In verses 8–9, Paul pronounces the anathema, which is a rebuke against false teachers. Anyone who teaches a gospel that is different from the gospel they have received is to be anathema. Another gospel is any gospel other than the gospel of the grace of God. Any addition to the simple statement that salvation is by grace through faith is another gospel. Any addition to the gospel—be it baptism, tongues, ceremonies, church membership, repentance—perverts the gospel and is anathema."[6] Lewis Chafer adds: "This anathema has never been revoked, nor could it be so long as the saving grace of God is to be proclaimed to a lost world. From the human point of view, a misrepresentation of the gospel might so misguide a soul that the way of life is missed forever. It behooves the doctor of souls to know the precise remedy he is appointed to administer. A medical doctor may, by an error, terminate what at best is only a brief life on earth. The doctor of souls is dealing with eternal destiny. Having given His Son to die for lost men, God cannot but be exacting about how that great benefit is presented, nor should He be deemed unjust if He pronounces an anathema on those who pervert the one and only way of salvation which was purchased at so great a cost. A sensitive man, when realizing these eternal issues, might shrink from so great a responsibility, but God has not called His messengers to such a failure. He enjoins them to “preach the word” and assures them of His unfailing presence and enabling power. Probably at no point in the whole field of theological truth is the injunction more applicable which says, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15).[7]      In conclusion, the gospel is the solution to a problem. There are two parts to the problem. First, God is holy (Psa 99:9; Isa 6:3), which means He is positively righteous and completely set apart from sin (Psa 99:9; 1 Pet 1:14-16). Because God is holy, He cannot have anything to with sin except to condemn it. The Scripture states, “Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, and You cannot look on wickedness with favor” (Hab 1:13), and “This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). Second, all mankind is sinful and separated from God (Rom 3:10-23). We are sinners in Adam (Rom 5:12; 1 Cor 15:21-22), sinners by nature (Rom 7:14-25; 13:12-14), and sinners by choice (Isa 59:2; Jam 1:14-15). To further complicate the problem, we are helpless to solve the sin problem and save ourselves (Rom 5:6-10; Eph 2:1-3). Good works have no saving merit before God (Isa 64:6; Eph 2:8-9; Tit 3:5). We cannot save ourselves any more than we can jump across the Grand Canyon or throw rocks and hit the moon. But God, because of His mercy and love toward us (John 3:16; Eph 2:3-7), did for us what we cannot do for ourselves. He provided a solution to the problem of sin, and that solution is the cross of Christ (1 Cor 1:18). God the Son—the second Person of the Trinity—came into the world by virgin human birth (Luke 1:26-38; cf., John 1:1, 14), lived a perfectly righteous life (Matt 5:17; John 17:4), and willingly died in our place and bore the punishment for our sins. Jesus solved both problems: 1) He lived the righteous life that God demands and committed no sin (2 Cor 5:21; Heb 4:15; 1 Pet 2:22; 1 John 3:5), and 2) He died for us on the cross and paid the penalty for all our sins (Mark 10:45; Rom 5:6-10; 1 John 2:2). The gospel message is that “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3-4).  Jesus died in our place, “the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet 3:18). In order for us to be reconciled to God, we must simply trust in Jesus as our Savior (John 3:16; Acts 16:30-31). When we trust in Christ as our Savior, we are forgiven all our sins (Eph 1:7; Col. 1:14), given eternal life (John 3:16; 10:27-28), and receive the righteousness of God as a free gift (Rom 5:17; 2 Cor 5:21; Phil 3:9). And when we trust in Christ as our Savior, God saves us from the penalty of sin (John 5:24; Rom 6:23; 8:1), the power of sin (Rom 6:11; 8:13), and ultimately the presence of sin (Phil 3:21; 1 John 3:2, 5).      Soteriology touches a number of biblical topics such as the holiness of God, the sinfulness of mankind, election, atonement, penal substitution, redemption, faith, regeneration, forgiveness, expiation, justification, propitiation, and reconciliation, just to name a few. These and other topics will be addressed throughout this volume.   [1] Lewis S. Chafer, “Biblical Theism Divine Decrees” Bibliotheca Sacra, 96 (1939): 268. [2] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1999), 359. [3] Doctrinal Statement, Tyndale Theological Seminary and Biblical Institute, https://tyndale.edu/about/doctrine/ [4] Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, vol. 3, 7. [5] Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Faith Alone: The Condition of Our Salvation: An Exposition of the Book of Galatians and Other Relevant Topics, ed. Christiane Jurik, Second Edition. (San Antonio, TX: Ariel Ministries, 2016), 5. [6] Ibid., 12–13. [7] Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, vol. 3, p. 10.
6/11/20231 hour, 1 minute, 41 seconds
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Soteriology Lesson 3 - Introduction

     Concerning the transmission of original sin, Jesus is the sole exception, for Mary’s virgin conception meant Jesus was not born with the taint of original sin. Being free from original sin, Jesus also had no sin nature. Furthermore, Jesus lived His entire life and committed no personal sin. Scripture reveals Jesus “knew no sin” (2 Cor 5:21), was “without sin” (Heb 4:15), “committed no sin” (1 Pet 2:22), and in whom “there is no sin” (1 John 3:5). His sinless life qualified Him to die a substitutionary death in our place, “the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet 3:18). Jesus died for everyone and paid the penalty for our sin (John 3:16; Heb 2:9; 1 John 2:2). Though His death is sufficient for all to be saved (unlimited atonement), the benefits of the cross are applied only to those who believe in Him.      Related to the subject of sin is the biblical concept of total depravity, which means that sin permeates every aspect of our being; our mind, will, sensibilities and flesh are all contaminated by sin. Total depravity does not mean we are as bad as we can be, for there are many moral unbelievers in the world. Being contaminated by sin means whatever morality we produce can never measure up to the perfect righteousness God expects. Is there any person who can say, “I have cleansed my heart, I am pure from my sin?” (Prov 20:9). The answer is an emphatic NO! The human heart is corrupt, for “the heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick” (Jer 17:9). And “Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins” (Eccl 7:20), and “There is none righteous; not even one. There is none who understands; there is none who seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become useless. There is none who does good, there is not even one” (Rom 3:10-12; cf. Rom 8:8). Some might argue that we can perform good works and help to save ourselves. This is wrong. Scripture states, “your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God” (Isa 59:2), “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; and all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away” (Isa 64:6), and we are “justified by faith apart from works of the Law” (Rom 3:28), and salvation comes “to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly” (Rom 4:5), and we are “not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified” (Gal 2:16), “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph 2:8-9), and God “has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity” (2 Tim 1:9), and “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit” (Tit 3:5). By human estimation, even the worst person can do some good. But human estimation is lower than God’s estimation and it is God’s standards that define what is truly good. According to Ryrie, “Total depravity must always be measured against God’s holiness. Relative goodness exists in people. They can do good works, which are appreciated by others. But nothing that anyone can do will gain salvational merit or favor in the sight of a holy God.”[1] J. I. Packer states: "The phrase total depravity is commonly used to make explicit the implications of original sin. It signifies a corruption of our moral and spiritual nature that is total not in degree (for no one is as bad as he or she might be) but in extent. It declares that no part of us is untouched by sin, and therefore no action of ours is as good as it should be, and consequently nothing in us or about us ever appears meritorious in God’s eyes. We cannot earn God’s favor, no matter what we do; unless grace saves us, we are lost."[2]   [1] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Basic Theology, 253. [2] J. I. Packer, Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1993
6/4/20231 hour, 2 minutes, 22 seconds
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Acts 6:8-15 - Facing Persecution

Introduction      Luke had previously addressed the conflict that arose in the early church between the Hellenistic Jews and the native Jews over the matter of food distribution to the widows in the community (Acts 6:1). To resolve the issue, the apostles directed “the congregation of the disciples” (Acts 6:2) to select seven men of “good reputation” who would make sure the widows were being cared for on a daily basis (Acts 6:2-3). The apostle’s reason was so they could devote themselves “to prayer and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4). The seven men who were selected were described as being “full of the Spirit and of wisdom” (Act 6:3), and “full of faith and of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 6:5), and were approved by the apostles for their ministry (Acts 6:6). Afterwards, we’re told, “The word of God kept on spreading; and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem” (Acts 6:7). In the following pericope, Luke singled out Stephen, who was a transitional figure in the early church. Stephen takes up such a large section in Acts because he is the first Christian martyr and his death marks the beginning of the great church persecution that scattered Christians all over the world. Text      Luke wrote, “And Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people” (Acts 6:8). Previously, Stephen was among those who were said to be “full of the Spirit and of wisdom” (Acts 6:3), and specifically was “a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 6:5). And here, Stephen was said to be “full of grace and power” (Acts 6:8). The Greek adjective πλήρης pleres, translated full of, appears 16 times in the NT, with half of the occurrences in Acts. According to Mounce, the word means to be “completely under the influence of, or affected by.”[1] Stephen was marked by the good qualities one would like to see in a godly leader. The word grace translates the Greek word χάρις charis, which commonly denotes unmerited favor or undeserved kindness, but here means “a winning quality or attractiveness … charm, winsomeness.”[2] Furthermore, Stephen was under the influence of God’s power, Who was working through His servant to perform “great wonders and signs among the people” (Acts 6:8b). It is assumed these signs and wonders were similar to those performed by the apostles, and that it was done to promote the gospel message to others in the community. According to Charles Swindoll, “In faith, Stephen submitted himself to the direction of the Holy Spirit and worked to serve the church. This is exactly the kind of faithful Christian God loves to use to do big things. Stephen took his faith seriously, and he yielded to the Holy Spirit’s control. That’s what it means to be ‘full’ in this way.”[3] But godliness does not come without resistance. According to Arnold Fruchtenbaum, “Because of his actions in this context, Stephen ended up being the first member of the church to qualify for the martyr’s crown. The main purpose of the book of Acts is to tell the story of Peter and Paul, and Stephen is the link between these two key apostles: he was appointed by Peter, but Paul will be consenting to his death.”[4]      Because the church exists in a fallen world, where Satan is ruling in a limited way (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; 2 Cor 4:4; Eph 2:2; 1 John 5:19), and where many people are resistant to God’s work (Matt 7:13; John 3:19; Rom 1:18), it was only a matter of time before a conflict arose. Luke informs us, “But some men from what was called the Synagogue of the Freedmen, including both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and some from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and argued with Stephen” (Acts 6:9). Here, we have some men who were from a specific synagogue called “the Synagogue of the Freedmen”, which consisted either of Jewish men who had previously been slaves and were now free, or were the sons of those who’d previously been freed. Their common bond was their freedom from physical slavery, yet they were hostile to Stephen who offered them spiritual freedom in Christ (Acts 6:9-14; cf. Acts 26:18; Col 1:13). Thomas Constable notes, “Like local churches today, these synagogues tended to attract people with similar backgrounds and preferences. Many families that had experienced liberation from some kind of slavery or servitude evidently populated the Synagogue of the Freedmen.”[5] And Charles Swindoll states: "Synagogues not only held services for worship and teaching, but they also served as community centers where people met socially. This made them ideal locations to discuss theology. Stephen and the other believers regularly frequented synagogues, looking for opportunities to testify about Jesus the Messiah and His resurrection from the dead. Stephen quickly demonstrated a remarkable ability to debate, which infuriated these freedmen (Acts 6:10)."[6]      That these men “rose up and argued with Stephen” means they opposed his preaching, not necessarily his grace or good works. We’re not told exactly what Stephen was preaching, but from their opposing arguments that follow, it was related to Jesus, the Mosaic Law, and the temple. The apostle Paul was a “Jew of Tarsus in Cilicia” (Acts 21:39) and may have fellowshipped in this particular synagogue. If so, it would make sense why he was listed among those who approved of Stephen’s killing in the next chapter (Acts 7:58).      But these Jewish men, collectively, could not adequately defend their position against Stephen’s well-reasoned and robust teaching. Luke tells us, “But they were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking” (Acts 6:10). Because Stephen was so proficient in his presentation of God’s Word, showing from Scripture that Jesus is the Christ, he threatened the theological base of those who opposed him. Stephen appears as an unusually gifted teacher who was able to communicate God’s Word. Apparently Stephen presented his case with such compelling force that the Hellenistic Jews were unable to cope with his wisdom. Luke’s comment about Stephen speaking by “the Spirit” implies his words were divinely sanctioned. That is, they originated with God the Holy Spirit and were truth. This appears to be a display of what Jesus told His disciples, saying, “I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute” (Luke 21:15). Rational words only work with rational minds, and those given over to sin are not always rational. Furthermore, winning an argument does not mean winning a heart, as some who are recalcitrant and committed to their sinful ways will not be persuaded by solid biblical reasoning, but will only dig in their heels (cf., Jer 25:3; John 3:19). That Stephen spoke by the wisdom of the Holy Spirit meant his detractors were actually arguing with God, and thus it was an unfair debate. When the Jews from the Synagogue of the Freedmen could not win their debate by rational means—since they were governed by pride—they resorted to sinful practices that are common to the world. Luke wrote: "Then they secretly induced men to say, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.” 12 And they stirred up the people, the elders and the scribes, and they came up to him and dragged him away and brought him before the Council. They put forward false witnesses who said, “This man incessantly speaks against this holy place and the Law; for we have heard him say that this Nazarene, Jesus, will destroy this place and alter the customs which Moses handed down to us.” (Acts 6:11-14)      Stephen was treated the same as the Lord Jesus, where Jewish leaders employed false witnesses to testify against Him, declaring He would destroy the temple. Mark tells us in his Gospel, “Some stood up and began to give false testimony against Him, saying, We heard Him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands, and in three days I will build another made without hands’” (Mark 14:57-58). Though it was Stephen standing before the Sanhedrin, it was as though Jesus were on trial all over again. However, before the supreme court of heaven, and God, “the Judge of all the earth” (Gen 18:25), it was these unbelieving Jewish men and the Sanhedrin itself that was on trial. Apparently the Sanhedrin had so elevated Moses, that they considered one who spoke against him as worthy of capital punishment. Josephus says of them, “What they most of all honor, after God himself, is the name of their legislator [Moses]; whom, if any one blaspheme, he is punished capitally.”[7]      Those who opposed Stephen, assuming they knew the Law at all, might have been thinking of when Moses wrote, “the person who does anything defiantly, whether he is native or an alien, that one is blaspheming the LORD; and that person shall be cut off from among his people” (Num 15:30). Of course, these men only used the Scripture as a means of controlling others and destroying their enemies. Luke tells us these men 1) “secretly induced men to say” false things about Stephen (Acts 6:11), 2) “stirred up the people, the elders and the scribes” (Acts 6:12a) 3) “dragged him away and brought him before the Council” (Acts 6:12b), and 4) “put forward false witnesses” to accuse him (Acts 6:13).      These wicked men violated the Scripture in order to protect their power. It was evil that they secretly induced men to spread lies about Stephen, which is a direct violation of the ninth commandment, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Ex 20:16). Spreading a lie and stirring up the people was their tactic to manipulate the situation and win local support, which they felt they needed to overpower Stephen and the influence he was having on those who heard him. It’s noteworthy that such actions are a common tactic among the wicked, as David prayed to the Lord, saying, “Do not deliver me over to the desire of my adversaries, for false witnesses have risen against me, and such as breathe out violence” (Psa 27:12). Once they had their false charges and the support of others, they grabbed Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. Luke employs the Greek word συναρπάζω sunarpazo (translated dragged away) which, according to BDAG, means “to take hold of forcibly, to seize someone.”[8] One can imagine a group of strong men approaching Stephen and grabbing him by force and dragging him through the city to bring him before the Sanhedrin. This reveals the physical actions some people will resort to when dealing with God’s people, all because they feel threatened by divine revelation and will seek to shut down those who communicate it by whatever means necessary.      Once the false witnesses were put before the Sanhedrin, they said, “we have heard him say that this Nazarene, Jesus, will destroy this place and alter the customs which Moses handed down to us” (Acts 6:14). The charge that was brought against Stephen echoed that which had been brought against Jesus a few months earlier (Mark 14:57-58). For the Sanhedrin, this was Déjà vu all over again. According to Stanley Toussaint: "The false witnesses were not necessarily outright liars. Stephen had probably said the things they accused him of; however, they misrepresented the intentions and imports of his statements (cf. Matt 26:61; Mark 14:58; John 2:19). The Lord Himself predicted the destruction of the temple (Matt 24:1–2; Mark 13:1–2; Luke 21:5–6), though He never said He would do it. The other half of the allegation against Stephen involved the temporary nature of the Mosaic system. Undoubtedly he saw the theological implications of justification by faith and the fulfillment of the Law in Christ. Furthermore, if the gospel was for the whole world (Acts 1:8), the Law had to be a temporary arrangement."[9]      Luke closed out this pericope, saying, “And fixing their gaze on him, all who were sitting in the Council saw his face like the face of an angel” (Acts 6:15). The Sanhedrin, fixing their collective stares at Stephen, were probably trying to intimidate him. That, along with the false charges, would normally frighten anyone in that situation. But Luke tells us they “saw his face like the face of an angel” (Acts 6:15b). This could very well be God’s shekinah glory, resting on Stephen as it had rested on Moses after he’d spoken with the Lord, and whose “face shone” for others to see (Ex 34:29). It could also be Luke’s way of saying that Stephen displayed a calmness in the face of his accusers. If so, it reveals a relaxed mental attitude in the face of hostility. No doubt, the Lord was with Stephen, and His Word saturated his thinking, so much so, that Stephen remained calm in the face of great pressure. Present Application      As God’s people, we must be faithful to Him in those moments when we have opportunity to share Christ and His Word. When we share Christ with others, it gives them the opportunity believe in Him as their Savior, believing He died for them, was buried, and raised again on the third day (1 Cor 15:3-4). Once they believe in Jesus as their Savior, they receive forgiveness of sins (Eph 1:7), eternal life (John 10:28), the gift of righteousness (Rom 5:17; Phil 3:9), and many other blessings (Eph 1:3). However, we must also keep in mind that we live in a fallen world that is largely governed by Satan (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; 2 Cor 4:4; Eph 2:2; 1 John 5:19), and where the vast majority of people are under “the dominion of Satan” (Act 26:18), and reside in his “domain of darkness” (Col 1:13). It is in this realm that we live our lives and must proclaim the truth of God’s Word, as lights in a dark world (Eph 5:8-10; Phil 2:5). Sadly, the majority of people in this world will seek to suppress the truth in unrighteousness (Rom 1:18), and to silence God’s messengers by whatever means they can. Yet we must be strong, for God has told us, “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Heb 13:5); therefore, we take courage, for “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid” (Heb 13:6a). Knowing God’s Word and walking with Him erects a fortress in our souls that enables us to stand in the face of great pressure. Dr. Steven R. Cook   [1] William D. Mounce, Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006), 1246. [2] William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 1079. [3] Charles R. Swindoll, Acts, Swindoll’s Living Insights New Testament Commentary (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2016), 126. [4] Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Book of Acts (San Antonio, TX, Published by Ariel Ministries, 2022), 153. [5] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Ac 6:9. [6] Charles R. Swindoll, Acts, Swindoll’s Living Insights New Testament Commentary, 126. [7] Flavius Josephus and William Whiston, The Works of Josephus: Complete and Unabridged (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1987), 606. [8] William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 966. [9] Stanley D. Toussaint, “Acts,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 368–369.
6/1/202346 minutes, 16 seconds
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Soteriology Lesson 2 - Introduction

     Those who have trusted Christ as Savior are “justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Rom 3:24).      It’s important to understand that Christ died for only one kind of person: the lost sinner who stands condemned before a holy and righteous God. If we don’t see ourselves from the divine perspective, as lost and in need of a Savior, then Christ and His work on the cross will be rejected. The cross is God’s righteous solution to the problem of sin, as well as His greatest display of love toward sinners. At the cross, God judged our sin as His righteousness required, and pardons the sinner as His love desires. To understand the cross of Christ is to understand the heart of God toward a fallen world He wants to save.      We don’t earn or deserve God’s kindness in any way, for the record of Scripture is that we are helpless, ungodly, sinners, and enemies of God (Rom 5:6-10) who were reconciled to Him “through the death of His Son” (Rom 5:10). Salvation is never what we do for God; rather, it’s what He’s done for us through the death of His Son, who paid the full penalty for all our sins on the cross at Calvary. Salvation is a work of God alone. We bring nothing of worth to God. Nothing at all. Our contribution to salvation is sin and death, both of which Christ bore on the cross. Jesus freely took our sins upon Himself on the cross, and paid the penalty for our sins and died the death we deserve. That’s love. That’s grace. If we got what we deserved in this life, we would all be dead and forever condemned in the lake of fire. Salvation is based entirely on the merit of Christ, not on anything we do. It is the work of Christ and nothing else. Robert B. Thieme Jr. states: "Every human being needs to be saved, because everyone enters this world in a state of spiritual death, total depravity, and total separation from God. Because man is born hopelessly lost from God and helpless to do anything about it, God, in His grace, designed a perfect plan to reconcile man to Himself. God the Son took the burden of responsibility: He became true humanity and remained sinless so that He could be judged for the sins of the world (1 Pet 3:18). While Jesus Christ hung on the cross, God the Father poured the full wrath of His justice upon the Son He loved so perfectly (Matt 27:46; Rom 5:8–10; 2 Cor 5:21). Christ “bore our sins in His body” (1 Pet 2:24) and took the punishment in our place. God’s righteous standard approved of Jesus’ sacrifice as payment for all human sins. Hence, when every last transgression had been judged, Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:30). Salvation work was complete."[2]      Some erroneously think salvation is offered to those who are worthy, who live a good life and please God through good works. The Bible does not teach this. The claim of Scripture is that “there are none righteous, not even one” (Rom 3:10), “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). Sin is anything that is contrary to the holy character of God. The Bible teaches that everyone is a sinner (1 Ki 8:46; Prov 20:9; Eccl 7:20; Isa 53:6; 64:6; Jer 17:9; Mark 7:20-23; Rom 3:9-23; 7:18-21; Gal 3:22; Eph 2:1-3; 1 John 1:8-10). Sin separates us from God and renders us helpless to save ourselves (Isa 59:2; Rom 5:6-10; Eph 2:1-3). Lightner states, “Man’s need of salvation is occasioned by his sin and God’s estimate of him. Since it is God who must be pleased, it does not matter what man thinks of himself or how he proposes to be acceptable to God. What really matters is what God thinks, what he has done to save man, and what he expects, and in fact, demands of man.”[3] When the subject of sin is studied, it results in a basic threefold classification that we are sinners in Adam (Psa 51:5; Rom 5:12, 19; 1 Cor 15:21-22), sinners by nature (Rom 7:14-25; Gal 5:17), and sinners by choice (Jam 1:14-15).      To be sinners in Adam means his original sin, the sin that was committed in the garden of Eden, is transmitted to all his descendants (Gen 2:16-17; 3:1-24). Adam is the head of the human race. When Adam sinned, we all sinned with him. His fallen position is our fallen position. His guilt is our guilt. Adam’s sin is imputed to all his offspring, for “through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Rom 5:12; cf., 1 Cor 15:21-22). David wrote, “I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me” (Psa 51:5). Concerning this verse, Allen Ross states, David “was affirming that from the very beginning of his existence there had never been a time that he had not been in a sinful state—he was human after all. The verse does not mean that a little baby is a wicked sinner; but it does mean that everyone who is born is born in a state or condition of sin, and that state unchecked will naturally lead to acts of sin.”[4] Being born in Adam means we are born with a sinful nature. Ryrie notes, “Adam’s original sin produced that moral corruption of nature that was transmitted by inheritance to each succeeding generation.”[5] The sin nature is resident in every person; both saved and unsaved, and is the source of internal temptation. Warren Wiersbe states, “The flesh refers to that fallen nature that we were born with, that wants to control the body and the mind and make us disobey God.”[6] Since the fall of Adam, every person is born with a sin nature, and it is this nature that internally motivates us to rebel against all legitimate forms of authority, both human and divine. When we yield to temptation, we produce personal sin, which is any thought, word, or action that is contrary to the holy character of God. James wrote, “each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin” (Jam 1:14-15a). Dr. Steven R. Cook   [2] R. B. Thieme, Jr. “Salvation”,  Thieme’s Bible Doctrine Dictionary, (Houston, TX., R. B. Thieme, Jr., Bible Ministries, 2022), 232. [3] Robert P. Lightner, Handbook of Evangelical Theology: A Historical, Biblical, and Contemporary Survey and Review (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1995), 189. [4] Allen P. Ross, A Commentary on the Psalms 1–89: Commentary, vol. 2, Kregel Exegetical Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Academic, 2011–2013), 187. [5] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Basic Theology, 252. [6] Warren Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary: New Testament, Vol. 2 (Colorado Springs, Col., Victor Publishing, 2001), 18.
5/28/20231 hour, 3 minutes, 47 seconds
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Soteriology Lesson 1 - Introduction

Introduction to Soteriology      Soteriology is the study of salvation. The word soteriology is derived from the Greek words soter, which means savior, and logos, which means a word about, or the study of something. The word salvation is used throughout the Bible of physical deliverance as well as spiritual deliverance. It means one is saved from a real harm or danger, and rescued to a safe place. Salvation in all forms is necessary because of our weakness and inability to help ourselves in a dangerous situation. According to Lewis S. Chafer, “With respect to the meaning of the word salvation, the Old and New Testaments are much alike. The word communicates the thought of deliverance, safety, preservation, soundness, restoration, and healing; but though so wide a range of human experience is expressed by the word salvation, its specific, major use is to denote a work of God in behalf of man.”[1] And McChesney adds: "In the OT the term refers to various forms of deliverance, both temporal and spiritual. God delivers His people from their enemies and from the snares of the wicked (see Psa 37:40; 59:2; 106:4). He also saves by granting forgiveness of sins, answers to prayer, joy, and peace (Psa 79:9; 69:13; 51:12)…In the NT salvation is regarded almost exclusively as from the power and dominion of sin. And of this Jesus Christ is the author (see Matt 1:21; Acts 4:12; Heb 2:10; 5:9)."[2]      The most notable act of salvation in the OT was Yahweh’s deliverance of Israel from the Egyptian army that was marching against them. Moses told his people, “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the LORD which He will accomplish for you today” (Ex 14:13). The salvation was entirely of the Lord, as Moses said, “The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent” (Ex 14:14). This was a physical deliverance from a military attack. In the NT, we observe Peter being delivered from a physical drowning when he cried out to Jesus, saying, “Lord, save me!” (Matt 14:30). As Peter was sinking into the water, he was not asking for forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life. He was asking to be delivered from physical drowning. We’re told “Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him” (Matt 14:31) and brought him safely into the boat. Thus, Peter was physically saved from harm.      As Christians, when we think of salvation, it most often pertains to our spiritual deliverance from the lake of fire in which we are eternally separated from God, to which all humanity is destined unless we turn to Christ and are rescued. John tells us, “if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Rev 20:15). Spiritual salvation is the most important kind of salvation mentioned in the Bible, for it matters little if one is rescued a thousand times from physical danger, but ultimately fails to receive deliverance from the danger of hell. God loves everyone and is “not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Pet 3:9). And He has made a way for lost sinners to be saved from hell and brought to heaven, and this through His Son, Jesus, for “there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Charles Ryrie notes: "The Bible indicates at least three reasons that God wanted to save sinners. (1) This was the greatest and most concrete demonstration of the love of God. His good gifts in nature and through His providential care (great as they are) do not hold a candle to the gift of His Son to be our Savior. John 3:16 reminds us that His love was shown in His gift, and Romans 5:8 says that God proved conclusively that He loved us by the death of Christ. (2) Salvation also gives God a display of His grace throughout all eternity (Eph 2:7). Each saved person will be a special trophy of God’s grace forever. Only redeemed human beings can provide this display. (3) God also wanted a people who would do good works in this life and thus give the world a glimpse, albeit imperfect, of God who is good (Eph 2:10). Without the salvation Christ provided, these things would not be possible."[3]      God’s love for lost humanity is what motivated Him to act. Scripture reveals, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). And, “By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:9-10). And, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). Chafer states, “The greatest of all motives which actuates God in the exercise of His saving grace is the satisfying of His own infinite love for those ruined by sin. In this may be seen the truth that the salvation of a soul means infinitely more to God than it could ever mean to the one who is saved.”[4]      God saves us because we are lost in sin and helpless to save ourselves. If we could save ourselves, then the death of Christ would have been unnecessary. But we cannot save ourselves, as our sin renders us helpless before God. According to Norman Geisler, “Sin is the precondition for salvation; salvation isn’t necessary unless there are sinners in need of being saved. As to the origin of salvation, there is universal agreement among orthodox theologians: God is the author of our salvation, for whereas human sin originated with human beings on earth, salvation originated with God in heaven.”[5] A weak understanding of God’s work in salvation will produce a weak gospel, one that tends to emphasize human good and man’s ability to save himself, or to participate in that salvation. When we understand the total depravity of all mankind, and that we are totally lost and unable to save ourselves, only then does the work of God through Christ come into its full glory, and love and grace become so pronounced, that lost sinners realize their utterly helpless condition, and turn to Christ alone for that salvation which cannot be secured by any other means. According to Robert Lightner, “The Bible is explicit about the condition of all who have not been born again. They are lost (Luke 19:10), condemned (John 3:18), under God’s wrath (John 3:36), dead in trespasses and sin (Eph 2:1), having no hope, and without God in the world (Eph 2:12), and unrighteous (Rom 1:19-32).”[6]      The price of our salvation was very costly to God. It cost Him His Son, Who came into the world and took upon Himself humanity (Matt 1:1, 18; Luke 1:26-38; John 1:1, 14), lived a sinless life (2 Cor 5:21; Heb 4:15; 1 Pet 2:22; 1 John 3:5), willingly went to the cross and bore our sin (Isa 53:4-11; John 10:17-18; 1 Pet 2:24), was buried and raised again on the third day (Luke 24:46; 1 Cor 15:3-4), never to die again (Rom 6:9). Jesus paid our sin debt in full (Rom 6:10; Heb 9:28; 10:12, 14), and now salvation is offered as a free gift to all who will accept it by faith alone in Christ alone. Lightner states, “Salvation is the most wonderful gift in all the world. To be saved, or born again, is to be translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God’s dear Son (Col 1:13). It is to be made acceptable before God. His salvation is complete and without cost to the sinner. The total price has been paid. The work is finished!”[7]Those who have trusted Christ as Savior are “justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Rom 3:24).      It’s important to understand that Christ died for only one kind of person: the lost sinner who stands condemned before a holy and righteous God. If we don’t see ourselves from the divine perspective, as lost and in need of a Savior, then Christ and His work on the cross will be rejected. The cross is God’s righteous solution to the problem of sin, as well as His greatest display of love toward sinners. At the cross, God judged our sin as His righteousness required, and pardons the sinner as His love desires. To understand the cross of Christ is to understand the heart of God toward a fallen world He wants to save.   [1] Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, vol. 3 (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1993), 5. [2] E. McChesney, “Salvation,” ed. Merrill F. Unger and R.K. Harrison, The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1988), 1114. [3] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1999), 318–320. [4] Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, vol. 3, 7. [5] Norman L. Geisler, Systematic Theology, Volume Three: Sin, Salvation (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2004), 181. [6] Robert P. Lightner, Handbook of Evangelical Theology: A Historical, Biblical, and Contemporary Survey and Review (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1995), 188. [7] Ibid., 185.
5/21/20231 hour, 1 minute, 2 seconds
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Acts 5:33-42 - Rejoicing When Suffering

Introduction      Luke had previously revealed the persecution of the apostles at the hand of the Sanhedrin (Acts 5:17-18), and how God had supernaturally rescued them from jail so they could continue to preach about Jesus (Acts 5:19-20). Afterwards, the Sanhedrin gathered together and had the apostles arrested a second time in order to question them (Acts 5:21-27). After being reminded that they were commanded to stop preaching in Jesus’ name (Acts 5:28), Peter stated they were under divine orders and said, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). Peter proceeded to share the gospel, saying, “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross” (Acts 5:30), revealing that God had exalted Jesus to His right hand (Acts 5:31), and that the apostles were witnesses of these things (Acts 5:32). Luke recorded the response of the Sanhedrin and the apostles in the following verses. Text      Recording the hostility of the Sanhedrin, Luke wrote, “But when they heard this, they were cut to the quick and intended to kill them” (Acts 5:33). Here we see the wicked hearts of the Sanhedrin—at least a portion of them—as they wanted to murder the apostles as they had murdered Jesus. But the Sanhedrin was a divided group. Josephus said of the Pharisees and Sadducees, “The Pharisees are friendly to one another, and are for the exercise of friendliness and concern for the public. But the behavior of the Sadducees one towards another is in some degree wild; and their conversation with those that are of their own party is as barbarous as if they were strangers to them.”[1]      Being a divided group, Luke informs us about one of their esteemed members, saying, “But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law, respected by all the people, stood up in the Council and gave orders to put the men outside for a short time” (Acts 5:33-34). Gamaliel was a prominent leader in Israel at this time, and he was also the teacher of Saul, who later became Paul (Acts 22:3). Whereas earlier the high priest had “rose up” in defiance of the apostles (Acts 5:17), here Gamaliel “stood up” against some in his own party and argued for moderation (Acts 5:34). In a calm manner, Gamaliel asked that the apostles be put out “for a short time”, which indicated his confidence that it would not take long for him to argue his case. Luke records the words of Gamaliel as follows: And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men. 36 For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about four hundred men joined up with him. But he was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. 37 After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census and drew away some people after him; he too perished, and all those who followed him were scattered” (Acts 5:35-37)      Modern historians do not know anything about Theudas mentioned here by Gamaliel. Josephus mentioned a Theudas in his writings, but that was a different man who lived decades later. Gamaliel’s mentioning two men, Theudas and Judas, was to present historical precedents for men who rose up within the Jewish community and had followers, but who failed in their efforts. Both of these men “came to nothing” and “were scattered” among the people. Charles Swindoll states: "Beginning with a short history of other failed movements, he reminded the men that their noninterference policy had served them well in the past. As each would-be messiah or populist movement had surfaced, the Sanhedrin had refused to lend its support for fear of Rome’s wrath. But they had also avoided taking sides with Rome to avoid angering the people. In each case, the deceptive leader was killed, his movement fell apart, and the crisis passed without the Sanhedrin’s involvement (Acts 5:35–37)."[2]      Warren Wiersbe notes, “In spite of the fact that Gamaliel tried to use cool logic rather than overheated emotions, his approach was still wrong. To begin with, he automatically classified Jesus with two rebels, which means he had already rejected the evidence. To him, this ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ was just another zealous Jew, trying to set the nation free from Rome.”[3]      Gamaliel argued for a response of noninterference, saying, “So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God” (Acts 5:38-39). Here was an argument for moderation and not hostility. It could be that God was working through this religious non-Christian to mitigate the hostility that was put forth. According to Thomas Constable: "Gamaliel’s point was that if God was not behind the apostles, their influence would peter out in time. Obviously Gamaliel believed that this was the case, or else he would likely have become a Christian. He offered the theoretical option that if the apostles were of God, the Sanhedrin would find itself in the terrible position of fighting against God by opposing them. Obviously Gamaliel believed in the sovereignty of God. He advised his brethren to wait and see. He did not believe that the apostles presented as serious a threat to the leaders of Judaism as the Sadducees believed they did."[4]       Apparently, Gamaliel’s rational response was received by the Sanhedrin, as Luke records, “They took his advice; and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them” (Acts 5:40). Though the majority in the Sanhedrin backed off from killing the apostles, they still wanted their pound of flesh, so they ordered them to be whipped and commanded them not to preach any more in the name of Jesus. There was legal precedent under the Mosaic Law that permitted the flogging of a wicked person (Deut 25:2-3). Of course, this was an incorrect application and was unjustly applied. The flogging usually required the victim to be stripped of his shirt and be placed in a kneeling position, whipped both on the chest and back, with one whip on the chest for every two whips on the back.      Though Gamaliel represented a portion of the Pharisees, apparently they did not all share his view on non-involvement. Later, we will learn about another Pharisee named Saul of Tarsus who took a different view than that of Gamaliel, and rather than live in peace with the early Christians, sought to exterminate them (Acts 8:1, 3; 9:1-2). This shows that there was not always agreement within the parties. Though Gamaliel seemed to advocate neutrality, he was actually against Jesus, Who said, “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters” (Matt 12:30). Jesus had previously prophesied this persecution would happen (Matt 10:17; 23:34; Mark 13:9).      Luke records the faith response of the apostles, saying, “So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5:41). Here was a faith response as they were able to frame their suffering from a biblical perspective. Scripture reveals that those who wish to live righteously will suffer persecution (Matt 5:10-12; Phil 1:29; 2 Tim 3:12). Part of the reason for their rejoicing was because they knew God was working through them to bring others to salvation. Furthermore, Christians are called to the very difficult task of not retaliating when attacked. We are to obey the words of Jesus, who tells us to “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:27-28). It is okay to hurt, but not to hate. Operating from divine viewpoint, we walk by faith and trust God to handle the injustice, knowing He is the “Judge of all the earth” (Gen 18:25) and that “it is just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you” (2 Th 1:6), as God states, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay” (Rom 12:19b). In this way, we follow the example set by Jesus, who, “while being reviled, He did not revile in return; and while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Pet 2:23).      And the apostles continued to follow Jesus’ directive to preach, as Luke tells us, “And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ” (Acts 5:42). The courage of the disciples was evident, considering their prior hiding during Jesus’ trial and crucifixion. What happened? Where did their courage come from? First, they had seen what the afterlife was like, having beheld Jesus in His resurrection body over many days. Second, the Holy Spirit had fallen on them and empowered them to be witnesses for Jesus. Third, they had Jesus’ promise that He was directing them and was with them, saying, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt 28:19-20). To be encouraged is to receive courage from an outside source. To know that God is with us, for us, and will sustain us in our trials, is to be encouraged to do His will, trusting He will guide and strengthen us along the way, no matter the hardships of life. Present Application      God has rescued His people on many occasions (Heb 11:32-35a), but the record of Scripture is that there are numerous times in which He has chosen to permit them to face persecution, even to the point of death (Heb 11:35b-40). Whether rescued from harm or delivered to persecution and death, God always provides grace to the believer who lives by faith in the midst of adversity (Dan 3:16-18; Psa 23; Isa 26:3; ; 2 Cor 12:7-10; Phil 4:6-8). Rejoicing in the midst of suffering is a sign of faith under pressure (Acts 5:40-41; 16:22-25; Rom 5:3-5; Jam 1:2-4). It’s also a sign of spiritual maturity, as the advancing Christian disciplines his/her mind to look to the Lord and His Word rather than people, the world, or the circumstances of this life (Prov 3:5-6; Isa 26:3; 2 Cor 10:3-5; Phil 4:6-8; Col 3:1-2)      Paul wrote, “we exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom 5:3-5). And James wrote, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, [5] knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing” (Jam 1:2-4). Exulting in tribulations and counting it all joy when we encounter various trials is a discipline of the mind and will, in which “we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor 10:5). Warren Wiersbe states: "Our values determine our evaluations. If we value comfort more than character, then trials will upset us. If we value the material and physical more than the spiritual, we will not be able to “count it all joy.” If we live only for the present and forget the future, then trials will make us bitter, not better. Job had the right outlook when he said, “But He knows the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10). So, when trials come, immediately give thanks to the Lord and adopt a joyful attitude. Do not pretend; do not try self-hypnosis; simply look at trials through the eyes of faith. Outlook determines outcome; to end with joy, begin with joy."[6]      Weakness is a blessing if it teaches us to look to God more and to ourselves less. And we cease to be the victim when we see suffering as divinely purposeful. This is not always easy, but the alternative to faith is fear, and fear brings mental slavery to the circumstances of life. It is true that God desires to bless us; and of course, we enjoy this. Jesus said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10b). But it’s also God’s will to advance us spiritually, and this means He will send trials that are intended to burn away the dross of weak character and refine those golden qualities He wants to see in us. We trust that when God turns up the heat, He also keeps His hand on the thermostat, regulating the temperature. And when we desire and pursue spiritual maturity as an important goal in our Christian life, then we can become content and rejoice in the hardships, because we know God controls them and sends them our way for our good. This is done by faith, not feelings.      If we’re not careful, we can easily fall into a pattern of complaining, and this can prove harmful, not only to us, but those around us, for our lives influence others, for better or worse. Scripture states, “Do all things without complaining or arguing” (Phil 2:14). That’s a big order. How do we do this? By an act of faith; that’s how. Though the pressure can be great at times, we must consciously make the choice not to complain; instead, we must choose to “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; and in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Th 5:16-18). These divine expectations appear elsewhere in Scripture, as we are called to “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil 4:4a), “Devote yourselves to prayer” (Col 4:2a), and “Give thanks always for all things” (Eph 5:20a).      These commands are relatively easy to accomplish when life is good, and we should certainly praise God for His many blessings. But what about those times when life is difficult; such as when we’ve lost our health, work is overly stressful, or we’re experiencing unjust persecution? Are we to rejoice, pray, and give thanks even during those times? Yes! Especially during those times. It’s in difficult moments that we need to operate by faith, not feelings. In fact, feelings can work against us when we’re experiencing difficulty. When feelings rise up, faith must rise higher. As we commit to obeying the Word, our feelings will eventually get in line. It’s only when we understand and obey these commands by faith that we rise above our difficult circumstances. Though we aren’t physically removed from the hardship, mentally we’re lifted above it and experience a joy that is free from it. Jesus said, “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt 5:11-12). This is exactly what the apostles did when they were persecuted and flogged, for Luke tells us, “So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5:41). And when Paul and Silas had been beaten and thrown into jail (Acts 16:22-24), we’re told they “were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them” (Act 16:25). Elsewhere, Paul wrote, “we exult in our tribulations” (Rom 5:3a), and “I rejoice in my sufferings” (Col 1:24). One of the reasons we can rejoice in suffering is because we know God is using it to develop our character in order to mature us spiritually. God sometimes uses the furnace of affliction to burn away the dross of weak character and to refine those golden qualities He wants to see in us. As Christians operating on divine viewpoint, it’s our responsibility to live by faith when the trials come.      This may seem impossible to do, especially if we’re accustomed to living by our feelings and reacting to circumstances. However, living by faith is possible, and is the only way Scripture can be obeyed, especially in difficult circumstances. Living by faith is liberating, because it frees us from the tyranny of difficult circumstances over which we have no control, and from the knee-jerk reaction of hurt feelings that naturally rise up in such situations. If we stay the course of learning God’s Word and living by faith, we will reach a place in our spiritual development where His Word becomes more real than our circumstances and feelings. This is the place of freedom and joy, as long as we remain there.  Dr. Steven R. Cook   [1] Flavius Josephus and William Whiston, The Works of Josephus: Complete and Unabridged (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1987), 608. [2] Charles R. Swindoll, Acts, Swindoll’s Living Insights New Testament Commentary (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2016), 108–109. [3] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 426. [4] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Ac 5:38. [5] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2, 338. [6] Ibid., 338.
5/17/202343 minutes, 51 seconds
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Acts 5:12-16 - Signs and Wonders in the Early Church

Introduction      Luke, having presented the ideal Christians, who were loving, selfless, and giving (Acts 4:32-37), in contrast with those who were carnal (Acts 5:1-11), now offers a summary statement that describes the growth of the church over the first few months (Acts 5:12-16). In defiance of the Sanhedrin’s command not to preach, the apostles continued to proclaim Jesus and His resurrection to those who would listen. Being entirely Jewish believers, they gathered at the temple in an area known as the portico of Solomon, the place where Peter and John had previously been arrested.      The ongoing preaching of Jesus and His resurrection, the miracles being performed through the apostles, and the growing number of new believers, concerned the members of the Sanhedrin and, no doubt, threatened their positions and perceived authority. The initial healing of the lame man triggered their concerns (Acts 3:1-10; 4:1-3), and in this pericope Luke will inform us about many others who were healed (Acts 5:12-16). Text      This section opens with the statement, “At the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were taking place among the people; and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s portico” (Acts 5:12). This action by the apostles was in direct defiance of the Sanhedrin, who had “commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus” (Acts 4:18). God was working through His apostles to perform signs and wonders (σημεῖα καὶ τέρατα semeia kai terata) (Acts 5:12). The term sign (σημεῖον semeion) appears thirteen times in Acts (Acts 2:19, 22, 43; 4:16, 22, 30; 5:12; 6:8; 7:36; 8:6, 13; 14:3; 15:12) and denotes “a miracle of divine origin, performed by God himself, by Christ, or by men of God.”[1] The noun wonders (τέρας teras) appears 9 times in Acts (Acts 2:19, 22, 43; 4:30; 5:12; 6:8; 7:36; 14:3; 15:12), only in connection with a sign (σημεῖον semeion), and refers to “something that astounds.”[2] The purpose of the signs and wonders was to harness the attention of the witness. Whereas a sign demonstrated a supernatural occurrence, the wonder represents the human response. And these signs and wonders were taking place publicly “among the people” and in “Solomon’s portico.” Furthermore, they were not intended to be an end in themselves, but to point people to Jesus for salvation.      We must remember that Satan empowers his false prophets to perform miracles in order to deceive. When Moses was executing God’s plagues upon Egypt, it is recorded that three times “the magicians of Egypt did the same with their secret arts” (Exo 7:10-11; cf., 7:21-22; 8:6-7). Moses warned the Israelites who were about to enter the land that they should guard themselves against false prophets and dreamers of dreams who arise and give them a “sign or wonder” and then seek to lead them away from God (Deut 13:1-4). Jesus warned of future “false Christs and false prophets who will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect” (Matt 24:24). And Paul spoke of the coming Antichrist, “whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved” (2 Th 2:9-10). Those who know God’s Word and live by it will guard themselves against the deceiving power of false miracle workers.      Luke continues his report, saying, “But none of the rest dared to associate with them; however, the people held them in high esteem” (Acts 5:13). Why were some reluctant to associate with the apostles? It’s possible they were afraid because of what happened to Ananias and Sapphira who lied to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:1-11). It could also be they were concerned about being arrested and mistreated by the religious authorities, as Peter and John had been (Acts 4:1-3). The passage does not give us a reason, only that some held their distance. I tend to think these were believers, as they held the apostles in “high esteem.”      Such distancing of believers is not unheard of in Scripture. Elsewhere, there were some people who believed in Christ as Savior, but lacked the moral courage to confess Him openly. In the Gospel of John, we’re told, “many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue” (John 12:42). Of course, there we’re given the reason, as “they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God” (John 12:43). We also read about Joseph of Arimathea, who was “a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one for fear of the Jews” (John 19:38). One could argue that Peter was hiding from persecution when he denied the Lord three times (Matt 26:33-35, 69-75).         Throughout Scripture, hiding from persecution was not necessarily wrong. By faith, Moses’ parents hid him from Pharaoh (Ex 2:1-2). The writer of Hebrews comments on this act, saying, “By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s edict” (Heb 11:23). By faith, Rahab protected the two spies that came to her house, for “she had brought them up to the roof and hidden them in the stalks of flax which she had laid in order on the roof” (Josh 2:6; cf. Heb 11:31). When David was being persecuted by King Saul, Jonathan told David, “Saul my father is seeking to put you to death. Now therefore, please be on guard in the morning, and stay in a secret place and hide yourself” (1 Sam 19:2). During the days of Elijah, “when Jezebel destroyed the prophets of the LORD, Obadiah took a hundred prophets and hid them by fifties in a cave, and provided them with bread and water” (1 Ki 18:4). These were true prophets, for a false prophet would not have been afraid of the public hostility of Ahab and Jezebel. It is recorded that Jesus “hid Himself” (κρύπτω krupto) from an attack by the Jewish leadership (John 8:59). Certainly there was no sin in Jesus’ action. There was another time when Jesus “hid Himself” (κρύπτω krupto), though the text does not say why (John 12:36).       Luke tells us the church was growing numerically, saying, “And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number” (Acts 5:14). Previously, Luke mentioned three thousand (Acts 2:41), and five thousand (Acts 4:4) who had believed in Jesus. Here, he simply states, “multitudes of men and women” were being added. Jesus, prior to His death, burial, and resurrection, had explained to His apostles, “I will build My church” (Matt 16:18). What we witness in Acts is the work of the Lord Jesus through His obedient apostles. Those who came to faith in Christ are now in heaven, partly because of the work of the Lord’s servants who were willing to do His will.      Luke continues his summary report by telling us that many were coming to the apostles “to such an extent that they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and pallets, so that when Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on any one of them” (Acts 5:15). Here was faith. The apostles were God’s conduits of truth and grace, and those who came near them, even as close as a shadow, could taste the Lord’s goodness. Here was blessing by association.      It is only natural that people who were sick, or knew someone who was sick, would want to bring them for healing. And there were many who came. So many that there was no room at the temple, so they “carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and pallets.” Were there people being healed who did not come to faith in Christ? That’s possible. We know Jesus healed many and fed thousands, and it’s likely that not everyone who was blessed by Him ultimately turned to Him in faith. Though this verse does not say people were healed as Peter’s shadow fell on them, then next verse answers it by revealing that those who came were “all being healed” (Acts 5:16). According to Earl Radmacher, “In the ancient world many people believed that a person’s shadow could possess magical healing powers. The people referred to in this verse were not necessarily Christians, but those who believed that Peter, as an advocate of a new religion, had magical powers. The people imposed their superstitions upon this new faith.”[3]This is not surprising, for even if they were believers, human viewpoint and pagan superstitions are not automatically expunged from the mind and replaced with divine viewpoint. Such renovation of the mind occurs in phase two of salvation as the believer studies God’s Word and learns to operate by it (Rom 12:1-2; 2 Tim 2:15; 1 Pet 2:2; Jam 1:22). What we observe in this passage is that God graciously healed people, even those whose theology was somewhat questionable.      Not only were people in Jerusalem bringing their sick loved ones, but “Also the people from the cities in the vicinity of Jerusalem were coming together, bringing people who were sick or afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all being healed” (Acts 5:16). This is reminiscent of Jesus’ ministry where multitudes were coming to Him for healing, and they were not disappointed. Mark records: "When they had crossed over they came to land at Gennesaret, and moored to the shore. When they got out of the boat, immediately the people recognized Him, and ran about that whole country and began to carry here and there on their pallets those who were sick, to the place they heard He was. Wherever He entered villages, or cities, or countryside, they were laying the sick in the market places, and imploring Him that they might just touch the fringe of His cloak; and as many as touched it were being cured." (Mark 6:53-56)      Luke tells us later in Acts about God working through the apostle Paul in miraculous ways, saying, “God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out” (Acts 19:11-12). According to Warren Wiersbe: "It is significant that all of these people were healed. There were no failures and nobody was sent away because he or she “did not have faith to be healed.” These were days of mighty power when God was speaking to Israel and telling them that Jesus of Nazareth was indeed their Messiah and Savior. “For the Jews require a sign” (1 Cor. 1:22), and God gave signs to them. The important thing was not the healing of the afflicted, but the winning of lost souls, as multitudes were added to the fellowship. The Spirit gave them power for wonders and power for witness (Acts 1:8), for miracles apart from God’s Word cannot save the lost."[4]      These miracles were a sign of a dispensational shift. We saw God perform signs and wonders when calling His people out of Egypt, when Elijah and Elisha began a new era of prophets, when Jesus offered His kingdom, and now through the apostles at the beginning of the church age. Is God producing signs and wonders through apostles today?      To be an apostle necessitated seeing the risen Christ (1 Cor 9:1), which no one can honestly claim today. Paul told the Christians at Corinth, “The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance, by signs and wonders and miracles” (2 Co 12:12). If there were true apostles today, one would expect to see the kind and volume of miracles performed by those in the early church. But there are none, because there are none. According to Warren Wiersbe: "One of the qualifications for an apostle was that he had seen the risen Christ (Acts 1:22; 1 Cor 9:1); and, since nobody can claim that experience today, there are no apostles in the church. The Apostles and prophets laid the foundation for the church (Eph 2:20), and the pastors, teachers, and evangelists are building on it. If there are no apostles, there can be no “signs of an apostle” as are found in the Book of Acts (2 Cor 12:12)…This certainly does not mean that God is limited and can no longer perform miracles for His people! But it does mean that the need for confirming miracles has passed away. We now have the completed Word of God and we test teachers by their message, not by miracles (1 John 2:18–29; 4:1–6). And we must keep in mind that Satan is a counterfeiter and well able to deceive the unwary. In the Old Testament, any prophet who performed miracles but, at the same time, led the people away from God’s Word, was considered a false prophet and was killed (Deut 13). The important thing was not the miracles, but whether his message was true to the Word of God."[5]       It is true that God still heals and performs miracles today, but not as a means of confirming an apostle, as was the case in the early church. It seems that the powers of an apostle phased out during the first century while the apostles were alive. Paul mentions his friend, Trophimus, whom he “left sick at Miletus” (2 Tim 4:20). And Paul could not heal himself of his “thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor 12:7-10). The important thing to look for is not signs and wonders, but the accurate teaching of God’s Word, which can lead people to salvation by faith in Jesus (1 Cor 15:3-4), and help them advance to spiritual maturity (Heb 6:1).   [1] William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 920. [2] Ibid., 999. [3] Earl D. Radmacher, Ronald Barclay Allen, and H. Wayne House, Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary (Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers, 1999), 1375. [4] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 424. [5] Ibid., 423.
5/14/202333 minutes, 3 seconds
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Deuteronomy 34:1-12 - The Death of Moses

Introduction      For thirty three chapters, Moses has been speaking to his people, Israel, and informing them about their special God who is unique (Deut 4:35, 39; Isa 45:5-6), His love for them (Deut 7:7-9; 10:15-19), their liberation from slavery (Deut 5:6; 15:15), God’s calling them into a special relationship with Him (Lev 11:45), and His directives that would set them above the nations of the world and bring His blessing if they obey (Deut 11:26-28; 30:15-20). Those who love Him will follow His directives (Deut 6:4-9). In this chapter, the voice of Moses falls silent, as God calls His servant home. According to Daniel Block: "By this point in the drama, Moses has done all he could do to set his house in order. He has commissioned a successor (Deut 31:1-8, 23), provided a written transcript of his farewell pastoral sermons and arranged for the regular reading of this Torah in the future (Deut 31:9-13, 24-29), taught the people a national anthem (Deut 31:14-22, 30; 32:47), and pronounced his benediction on the tribes (Deut 33:1-29). All that remains is the report of his death and the people’s response to his passing."[1] Text      In this closing section, we observe Moses ascending Mount Nebo, where he will see the land of Canaan from a distance. We read, “Now Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And the LORD showed him all the land, Gilead as far as Dan, 2 and all Naphtali and the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah as far as the western sea, 3 and the Negev and the plain in the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar” (Deut 34:1-3).      Having walked the earth for 120 years, Moses was about to take his final journey, a walk from which he would not return, for he would soon die. And, as Moses ascended the mountain, he would have been able to look over his shoulder and see the Israelites’ camp below. Moses’ destination was “the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho” (Deut 34:1b). And once on top of the mountain, “the LORD showed him all the land” of Canaan (Deut 34:1c). The words showed him translates the Hebrew verb רָאָה raah, which, in the hiphil form, means “to let someone see something, to show someone.”[2] Here we observe God’s permissive will, as He allowed Moses to see the land of Canaan, which He had promised to His people, Israel. Moses visually surveyed the land in a counter clockwise manner from north to south.      Having observed all the land, “Then the LORD said to him, ‘This is the land which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants’; I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there’” (Deut 34:4). The land Moses saw was the very land God promised to Abraham (Gen 13:15; 17:8), Isaac (Gen 26:3), Jacob (Gen 28:13), and to their descendants as an everlasting possession (Gen 15:18; 24:7; Deut 1:8). Here we observe God’s active will, in which He, by His sovereign choice and omnipotent power, gives to His people. Though Israel would get to enter the land, God reminded Moses that he was not going to let him enter it, saying, “you shall not go over there” (Deut 34:4b; cf., Deut 3:27; 32:52). Though Moses would not set foot on the land, he would leave the world stage knowing he’d been employed by the Lord to get His people there. Moses’ Epitaph      What follows in the closing verses of the book of Deuteronomy was written by someone other than Moses, perhaps Joshua, to inform us about the details of Moses’ death. We are told, “So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD” (Deut 34:5). Moses was faithful to the end of his life. Even though Moses was under divine discipline and would not enter the land, he is still described as the “servant of the LORD” ( עֶֽבֶד־יְהוָ֛ה- ebed Yahweh), an honorable title held by others who submitted themselves to God and walked with Him (Josh 24:29; 2 Sam 3:18; Job 1:8; Isa 20:3). This title was formalized in the name Obadiah, which means servant of Yahweh. God had been with Moses throughout his ministry, and others saw the Lord was with him. Though Moses would die alone, away from others, he was not alone, for God was with Him to the end, to accompany His servant as he left this earth and entered heaven.      After Moses died, the Lord took his limp, lifeless body, “And He buried him in the valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor; but no man knows his burial place to this day” (Deut 34:6). That God personally attended to the burial of Moses speaks of an intimacy and tenderness the Lord had for His prophet. God took Moses’ body from the mountain top and brought it down into “the valley in the land of Moab.” There are some things God does not want us to know (Deut 29:29), that He keeps hidden from us for His own reasons, and the burial place of Moses is one of them. This is one of the mysteries of the Bible. But why hide Moses’ body? The text does not say. It’s possible that God knew the idolatrous hearts of the Israelites and that they would venerate Moses’ grave as a holy place in itself. According to Charles Swindoll, “Moses is the only person in the Bible whom God personally buried. Did you know that? And then the Lord hid the tomb. Why did He do that? Because that grave would have become a second Mecca. They would still be beating a path up Nebo to this day, building shrines, selling popcorn and peanuts, offering all sorts of rides, maybe running a tram up there, with big banners announcing, ‘Moses’ burial place!’”[3]      To add to the mystery around Moses’ death, Jude wrote about “Michael the archangel” who “disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses” (Jude 1:9a). Apparently Michael, the archangel, was somehow involved in Moses’ burial, and had a dispute with Satan over the body. Why Satan would want the body of Moses is not known, as Jude does not elaborate on the details. It’s possible Satan wanted to use Moses’ body for idolatrous purposes. Whatever the reason, God would not permit Satan to have his way. Here we observe God’s overruling will.      We know that Moses’ spirit, at his death, went into the presence of the Lord, and later appeared with Elijah at the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt 17:1-3). Matthew wrote about the event, saying, “Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves” (Matt 17:1). And while they were on the mountain, Jesus “was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light” (Matt 17:2). And during the time of Jesus’ glorification, Matthew tells us, “And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him” (Matt 17:3). Though Moses’ body was still in a grave, his spirit was alive and well, and here, along with the spirit of Elijah, was interacting with Jesus. Warren Wiersbe informs us, “Moses did arrive in the Holy Land centuries later when he and Elijah joined Jesus in glory on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt 17:1–3; Luke 9:28–31).”[4]      The writer informs us that Moses did not die because of old age or infirmity, as he states, “Although Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died, his eye was not dim, nor his vigor abated” (Deut 34:7). Moses died because God put him to death. Within God’s divine plan, it was simply Moses’ time to die, so the Lord ended his life and brought his servant home. This occurred, in part, because it was God’s time to bring Israel into the land of Canaan, which the Lord had told Moses he would not see because of his disobedience in the wilderness (Num 20:1-12).      Though Moses had died, God and His Word remained, and the people had all they needed for a life of success if they would follow Yahweh. Sadly, the book of Judges shows they did not stay true to the Lord, and even Moses’ grandson, “Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Moses” (Judg 18:30; cf., Ex 2:21-22), would later turn away from the Lord and lead the people into idolatry (Judg 18:30-31). In this way, Jonathan was acting more like Aaron, his great uncle, than his grandfather, Moses, for Aaron had led the people into idolatry and the worship of the golden calf (Ex 32:1-6).      And after Moses’ death and burial, we’re told, “So the sons of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days; then the days of weeping and mourning for Moses came to an end” (Deut 34:8). The people of Israel—at least the second generation since the exodus—loved Moses and mourned his passing. They also mourned Aaron for thirty days as well (Num 20:29), which was longer than the customary seven days (cf., Gen 50:10).      Switching focus to Joshua, the writer states, “Now Joshua the son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him; and the sons of Israel listened to him and did as the LORD had commanded Moses” (Deut 34:9). To have “the spirit of wisdom” meant Joshua had been divinely enabled to take up the leadership role and move forward, as God intended. Fortunately, the Israelites listened to Joshua and followed his directives. In this way, they “did as the LORD had commanded Moses” (Deut 34:9b).      In closing out this book, we’re told, “Since that time no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, 11 for all the signs and wonders which the LORD sent him to perform in the land of Egypt against Pharaoh, all his servants, and all his land, 12 and for all the mighty power and for all the great terror which Moses performed in the sight of all Israel” (Deut 34:10-12). As a prophet, Moses was in a class by himself because: 1) the Lord knew Moses face to face, 2) Moses had performed miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt, 3) the mighty power God worked through Moses in the sight of all Israel. According to Peter Craigie, “Moses was a prophet, but in his epitaph it is not his knowledge of God that is stressed, but rather the Lord’s knowledge of him. God had sought him out and appointed him to a particular task; over the years, the relationship had become intimate, so that to those Israelites who knew Moses, it was evident that his highest communion was with God.”[5]Warren Wiersbe adds, “Moses was faithful to walk with God, and he spoke to God as a man speaks to his friend (Ex 33:11; Num 12:7–8). The secret of his life wasn’t his own abilities—he claimed he had none—or even his education in Egypt (Acts 7:22), but his humble walk with the Lord. He spent time with God, he listened to God’s Word, and he followed God’s orders.”[6] And Daniel Block notes: "The account of the death and burial of Moses on the mountain forces the reader to ask, “Now what?” The answer lies in the recognition that in the end, Israel’s fate is not in the hands of Moses. He is not the one who actually brought them out of Egypt and sustained them through the desert wanderings, and he will not complete the mission by delivering the Promised Land into their hands. The rest of the Scriptures are commentary not only on how Israel responded, but also on the fidelity of Yahweh, who will complete the present mission without Moses and who will patiently work with his people. Moses has merely been his mouthpiece, the interpreter of his great and gracious revelatory acts, whose aim was always to point his people to Yahweh their Redeemer."[7] Summary      In this closing section, we observe a brief account of Moses’ death and burial. Unlike other rulers throughout history, who have erected great memorials to themselves that others might remember them, Moses’ death is simple and without a monument. Moses was not concerned that people remember him, but that they remember the Lord, learn His Word, and follow His directives. Moses is remembered as God’s servant who was faithful to carry out his mission (Heb 3:5). Present Application      From Genesis to Revelation, God governs the lives of people and nations. People exist because God gives them life. David wrote, “Know that the LORD Himself is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves” (Ps. 100:3). And God determines the duration of each person’s life, having final control over the day and cause of their death. The Lord states, “It is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded and it is I who heal, and there is no one who can deliver from My hand” (Deut 32:39). And Job said, “Like a flower he comes forth and withers. He also flees like a shadow and does not remain” (Job 14:2). And Hannah, in her stately prayer says, “The LORD kills and makes alive; He brings down to Sheol and raises up” (1 Sam 2:6).  People live and die as God decides, “for in Him we live and move and exist” (Acts 17:28).      Furthermore, God controls the exact days of our life. David wrote, “in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them” (Ps. 139:16). The writer of Hebrews states, “it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Heb 9:27). The word appointed translates the Greek verb ἀπόκειμαι apokeimai, which means “it is certain, is destined.”[8] Apart from Enoch (Gen 5:24), Elijah (2 Ki 2:11), and the rapture generation (1 Cor 15:51-52; 1 Th 4:13-18), all humanity will face death. God brings His children to heaven by numerous means, and sometimes uses sickness, as He’d done with Elisha, who “became sick with the sickness of which he was to die” (2 Ki 13:14a). And we know that “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His godly ones” (Psa 116:15). For believers who die, we are instantly transported into the presence of the Lord, for “to be absent from the body” means we are instantly “at home with the Lord” (2 Cor 5:8; cf., Phil 1:21-23). Our last breath here is followed by our first breath in heaven. And though the departing of a loved one leaves us with the sorrow of loss, we realize this is temporary, as we will see them again. David, who lost his son, said “I will go to him, but he will not return to me” (2 Sa 12:23). This is our hope as well, for we, as Christians, know our loved ones are in heaven, and that at a future time we will be reunited with them forever (1 Th 4:13-17). At the time of the rapture of the church, “the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Th 4:16-17). For this reason, Paul said, “Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Th 4:18).      There is wisdom in thinking about death and the afterlife. David wrote, “For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust. As for man, his days are like grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourishes. When the wind has passed over it, it is no more, and its place acknowledges it no longer” (Psa 103:14-16). And in another place he said, “LORD, make me to know my end and what is the extent of my days; let me know how transient I am” (Psa 39:4). And Moses said to the Lord, “Teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom” (Psa 90:12). Wisdom is found in the one who contemplates the Lord, the brevity of life, and the eternal resting place of heaven. Solomon wrote, “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, because that is the end of every man, and the living takes it to heart” (Eccl 7:2). But in all this, we must not forget to live, nor to realize that what we do in time touches things eternal, for one life will soon be past, and only what’s done for Christ will last. So live, and live well, and above all, live for the Lord. There’s no better life than the one lived in daily fellowship with God, learning and living His Word, and this we will do until the end of our days. Charles Swindoll notes: "When you’re planning on retirement, don’t plan on checking out with people or with God’s Word. If you do, you’ll be moving away from that which is eternal, and that’s the wrong direction, my friend. So stay in touch. Give until you don’t have anything else to give, and then tap into God’s reservoirs and give some more. This is what lengthens the meaning and purpose—and sometimes the years—of life."[9]     [1] Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Deuteronomy, ed. Terry Muck (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012), 806. [2] Ludwig Koehler et al., The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1994–2000), 1161. [3] Charles R. Swindoll, Moses: A Man of Selfless Dedication (Nashville, Tenn., Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2009), 346. [4] Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Equipped, “Be” Commentary Series (Colorado Springs, CO: Chariot Victor Pub., 1999), 197. [5] Peter C. Craigie, The Book of Deuteronomy, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1976), 406. [6] Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Equipped, “Be” Commentary Series, 198. [7] Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Deuteronomy, 815. [8] William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 113. [9] Charles R. Swindoll, Moses: A Man of Selfless Dedication, 348.
4/30/20231 hour, 18 minutes, 11 seconds
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Deuteronomy 33:1-29 - Moses Blessing Israel

Map of the Tribes of Israel Introduction      Throughout the book of Deuteronomy, Moses’ death has loomed like a shadow over the nation. The book as a whole is his farewell address, as he imparts to them all that is needed for a life of success after he dies. Moses, after having communicated the core of the law to Israel, appointed Joshua as his successor and received the Lord’s command to ascend Mount Nebo and die, is left only to offer his blessings to the nation before his graduation to heaven. Moses’ blessing in Deuteronomy 33 reveals the heart of this great leader for God’s people, Israel. The blessings were not predictive, but rather, express Moses’ desires of what he wished for the nation. According to Eugene Merrill, “Moses’ utterances concerning the tribes were in the nature of prayerful intercession. They express what he fervently desired for his people and what he confidently expected that God would do.”[1] Of course, under the Mosaic Law, Israel’s blessing were conditional on the obedience of his people. The Blessing Introduction      “Now this is the blessing with which Moses the man of God blessed the sons of Israel before his death” (Deut 33:1). This opening verse sets the tone for what follows, as it is Moses’ blessing on the nation just prior to his death. The word blessing translates the Hebrew word בְּרָכָה berakah, which means to bless or favor someone. The blessing derived from Moses revealed his wish or prayer for the future of God’s people. Of course, this was conditional, as they would receive the blessing if they would “listen to the commandments of the LORD your God, which I am commanding you today” (Deut 11:27). Though Moses sought their best interests, he can do no more than give them God’s directives and encourage them to walk by them, knowing the Lord’s blessings would follow if they obeyed.        Moses continued, saying, “The LORD came from Sinai, and dawned on them from Seir; He shone forth from Mount Paran, and He came from the midst of ten thousand holy ones; at His right hand there was flashing lightning for them’” (Deut 33:2). Here, God is portrayed as the Divine Warrior who goes before His people, and this is seen elsewhere in Scripture (Judg 5:4-5; Psa 68:7-8). That God shone forth (יָפַע yapha – brightness, splendor) at various times and places revealed His glory in theophanic form. The holy ones mentioned in this verse refer to angels. The reference to flashing lightning could be a manifestation of the angels as they come with the Lord and do His work. This picture of God as Divine Warrior was intended to instill confidence among His people that He was with them, and to instill fear among Israel’s enemies who sought to thwart God’s purposes among His people.      Of the Lord, Moses said, “Indeed, He loves the people; all Your holy ones are in Your hand, and they followed in Your steps; everyone receives of Your words” (Deut 33:3). Here, Moses emphasized God’s love for His people (cf. Deut 7:7-8), which is what motivated Him to set them apart. The holy ones in this verse refer to the nation of Israel, whom God had created as special (Isa 43:1, 15), to be set apart from the other nations and to walk with Him in righteousness (Deut 7:6, 11). The text continues, saying, “Moses charged us with a law, a possession for the assembly of Jacob. 5 And He was king in Jeshurun, when the heads of the people were gathered, the tribes of Israel together” (Deut 33:4-5). Moses had given Israel God’s law (תּוֹרָה torah – law, instruction, direction), which was their special possession (Lev 27:34), which gave them everything they needed for a life of righteousness. And God was their king (Isa 33:22), the One who ruled over them, to provide, guide, and protect them in all things. The term Jeshurun (יְשֻׁרוּן Yeshurun) means upright one and was a nickname for Israel. Here, the word is used of how Israel was intended to be, as Moses hoped they would be, as upright to the Lord. In the NT we see where God’s people are called saints (ἅγιος hagios – sacred, holy; Rom 1:7; 1 Cor 1:2; Eph 1:1), and the ideal Christian is one whose performance is that of his/her position in Christ (Eph 4:1; Col 1:10). Blessing the Tribes Reuben      Moses’ first wish of blessing fell to Reuben, as he says, “May Reuben live and not die, nor his men be few” (Deut 33:6). Reuben was Jacob’s firstborn son (Gen 29:32; 49:3). As the firstborn son, the birthright and blessing naturally fell to him. However, we know that Reuben committed a terrible sin when he had sex with his father’s concubine (Gen 35:22), and for this he was cursed by Jacob just before he died (Gen 49:4), which meant he’d forfeited his inheritance. Reuben’s descendants were judged, as they followed in the footsteps of their progenitor. Though there are always exceptions, children often model their parents values and behavior, and worldly parents tend to produce worldly children. According to Thomas Constable, “Reuben (v. 6) was the firstborn son of Jacob, but he did not enjoy greatness among the tribes because of his sin. He lost his father’s birthright and blessing. Furthermore, no great civil or military leader or prophet ever came from this tribe, as far as Scripture records.”[2] Judah      Next in the order of Moses’ blessings was Judah, where it reads, “And this regarding Judah; so he said, ‘Hear, O LORD, the voice of Judah, and bring him to his people. With his hands he contended for them, and may You be a help against his adversaries’” (Deut 33:7). Judah was Jacob’s fourth son (after Simeon and Levi) and was singled out for blessing, from whom would come Messiah (Gen 49:8-12). Moses asked God to help Judah, to hear his voice, and to “bring him to his people” (Deut 33:7). This phrase likely refers to the safe return of Judahites after a military campaign. According to the book of Numbers, Judah was to lead the other nations in battle, as “They shall set out first” (Num 2:9b). This meant Judah would take the lead and be in a dangerous position, militarily speaking. It’s natural that as they went into battle, they would ask to be returned safely to their people and that God would “be a help against his adversaries” (Deut 33:7b). Ultimately, through Judah would come David, and through David would come Jesus, the Messiah (Matt 1:1, 6, 16). Levi Concerning the tribe of Levi, Moses said: Of Levi he said, “Let your Thummim and Your Urim belong to Your godly man, whom You proved at Massah, with whom You contended at the waters of Meribah; 9 who said of his father and his mother, ‘I did not consider them’; and he did not acknowledge his brothers, nor did he regard his own sons, for they observed Your word, and kept Your covenant. 10 They shall teach Your ordinances to Jacob, and Your law to Israel. They shall put incense before You, and whole burnt offerings on Your altar. 11 O LORD, bless his substance, and accept the work of his hands; shatter the loins of those who rise up against him, and those who hate him, so that they will not rise again.” (Deut 33:8-11)      The tribe of Levi is mentioned here without regard to the tribe of Simeon. Previously, in the book of Genesis, Moses had recorded Jacob’s genealogy and listed Simeon and Levi together, as the second and third sons in the lineage. Of those brothers, Jacob had said, “Simeon and Levi are brothers; their swords are implements of violence” (Gen 49:5). This refers to Simeon and Levi’s exaggerated violence against the Shechemites, whose leader had raped their sister, Dinah (Gen 34:1-29). Jacob, having cursed his two sons for their violence (Gen 49:6-7a), said, “I will disperse them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel” (Gen 49:7). Though Levi retained land in Israel, Simeon was incorporated into the tribe of Judah (Josh 19:1, 9). Concerning this, Eugene Merrill states, “The effect of this is evident even here in the blessing of Moses because Simeon is lacking entirely in the list, and Levi appears without reference to territory of its own. Moreover, Simeon had already become involved in idolatry at Baal Peor (cf. Num 25:6–15), a sin that brought such devastating population loss that the whole tribe eventually became assimilated into Judah.”[3]      Though the tribe of Levi did not own land, they were blessed by Moses and became the tribe that was given to Aaron and his sons to help them in their priestly duties (Num 3:6-10; 18:1-7). The selection of the tribe of Levi came because of their faithfulness to God during the incident of the golden calf in which they stood with the Lord and Moses (Ex 32:25-29). In this way, they had been faithful to God’s covenant (Deut 33:9b). Both Moses and Aaron were from the tribe of Levi. Part of Moses’ blessing referred to the function of the high priest who was given the Urim and Thummim to wear inside a pouch on his chest and was occasionally used to discern a divine answer (Ex 28:29-30; cf. 1 Sam 28:6).[4] One of the functions of the priests was to teach God’s Word to the other tribes (Lev 10:8-11; Deut 31:9-13; 33:10; 2 Ch 17:7-9; Ezra 7:10; Mal 2:7). Another function of the priests was to offer sacrifices to the Lord, as Moses wrote, “They shall put incense before You, and whole burnt offerings on Your altar” (Deut 33:10b; cf., Leviticus chapters 4, 9, 16). Moses closed out this section on Levi, saying, “O LORD, bless his substance, and accept the work of his hands; shatter the loins of those who rise up against him, and those who hate him, so that they will not rise again” (Deut 33:11). To accept the work of Levi’s hands meant God approved of their work. And to shatter the loins of their enemies meant they would be destroyed completely without descendants. Benjamin      Moses blessed Benjamin, the last of Jacob’s sons (Gen 49:27), saying, “Of Benjamin he said, ‘May the beloved of the LORD dwell in security by Him, Who shields him all the day, and he dwells between His shoulders” (Deut 33:12). Moses’ blessing was that Benjamin would dwell in security in the land. And God would be the One to shield him, as he dwelt “between His shoulders” (Deut 33:12b). Eugene Merrill notes, “The anthropomorphism here is suggestive of the most tender compassion and solid security at the same time. The phrase speaks not of carrying on the back but of being held close to the breast or bosom.”[5] Benjamin’s safety in battle came, not because of his military prowess, but because of His closeness to God. Joseph (i.e., Ephraim and Manasseh) Moving on to Joseph, Moses wrote: Of Joseph he said, “Blessed of the LORD be his land, with the choice things of heaven, with the dew, and from the deep lying beneath, 14 and with the choice yield of the sun, and with the choice produce of the months. 15 And with the best things of the ancient mountains, and with the choice things of the everlasting hills, 16 and with the choice things of the earth and its fullness, and the favor of Him who dwelt in the bush. Let it come to the head of Joseph, and to the crown of the head of the one distinguished among his brothers. 17 As the firstborn of his ox, majesty is his, and his horns are the horns of the wild ox; with them he will push the peoples, all at once, to the ends of the earth. And those are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and those are the thousands of Manasseh.” (Deut 33:13-17)      Here, Joseph is represented by his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh (Deut 33:17). Living in Canaan meant relying on the weather—rain, dew, sun—to bring forth fertile crops. Moses’ wishes for Joseph—i.e., Ephraim and Manasseh—was that their land would be blessed with fertility and production of vegetation (Deut 33:13-16). Moses also asked that they be given strength whereby they might judge other nations, perhaps in battle, as the Lord’s instrument of judgment (Deut 33:17). The reference to “the ends of the earth” (Deut 33:17b), according to Merrill, “suggests an eschatological rather than historical fulfillment, a time when God’s kingdom would rise above and rule over the kingdoms of the earth (cf. 1 Sam 2:10; Psa 2:8; 59:13; 72:8; Mic 5:4).”[6] Zebulun and Issachar      Next, Moses blessed Zebulun and Issachar, saying, “Of Zebulun he said, ‘Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going forth, and, Issachar, in your tents. 19 They will call peoples to the mountain; there they will offer righteous sacrifices; for they will draw out the abundance of the seas, and the hidden treasures of the sand’” (Deut 33:18-19). Zebulun and Issachar were the sixth and fifth sons of Jacob by his wife, Leah (Gen 30:18-20), here blessed by Moses in reverse order. Jacob also blessed them in reverse order of their birth (Gen 49:13-15), These two brothers were close, and so were their descendant tribes, as their land was near to each other. Both were to rejoice; Zebulun in their “going forth” and Issachar in their “tents” (Deut 33:18). The phrase forms a merism, a figure of speech with includes all activities of life. In this way, Moses wished for their blessings to be wherever they went and in all they did. These tribes would bring blessings to Israel by offering “righteous sacrifices” that were in conformity with God’s directives, and by drawing out “the abundance of the seas, and the hidden treasures of the sand” (Deut 33:19). That is, their wealth was shared with their brethren, and in this way were a blessing to others. Gad      Moses’ blessing on Gad was, “Blessed is the One who enlarges Gad; he lies down as a lion, and tears the arm, also the crown of the head. 21 Then he provided the first part for himself, for there the ruler’s portion was reserved; and he came with the leaders of the people; he executed the justice of the LORD, and His ordinances with Israel” (Deut 33:20-21). When entering the land of Canaan under the leadership of Joshua, all Israel proved faithful to fight, but apparently some fought harder than others and they were blessed in a special way with more land. Gad was known “as a lion” that was ferocious in battle. According to Peter Craigie, “The blessing indicates that Gad was to play an important part in the battle, and that as a result the tribe would deserve a lion’s share of the fruit of victory.”[7] The tribe of Gad (as well as Manasseh and Reuben) requested to live east of the Jordan River, and Moses granted their request, but only on the condition they would help their brothers complete the military conquest into Canaan beyond the Jordan River (Deut 3:18). They would help their fellow Israelites by leaving their wives, children, and livestock behind (Deut 3:19). After victory was obtained, they could return to their own land (Deut 3:20). We know from the book of Joshua that they were faithful to help their brothers (Josh 22:1-6). Dan      Moses continued, “Of Dan he said, ‘Dan is a lion’s whelp, that leaps forth from Bashan’” (Deut 33:22). As a lion’s whelp, the tribe of Dan would display timidity early on, but would become strong and eventually leap forth as a powerful lion. Jacob, when blessing Dan, used similar language, saying, “Judah is a lion’s whelp; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He couches, he lies down as a lion, and as a lion, who dares rouse him up?” (Gen 49:9). Naphtali      Moses’ next blessing was for Naphtali, and “Of Naphtali he said, ‘O Naphtali, satisfied with favor, and full of the blessing of the LORD, take possession of the sea and the south’” (Deut 33:23). This tribe was to be satisfied with the Lord’s favor (רָצוֹן ratson – goodness, favor). The result of the Lord’s full blessing was their taking “possession of the sea and the south” (Deut 33:23b). The sea is a reference to the Sea of Galilee. Eugene Merrill notes, “The Galilee region embraced by Naphtali did indeed enjoy many temporal and material riches (cf. Josh 20:7; 2 Chr 16:4; Isa 9:1), but by far the most abundant blessing was the fact that the Messiah spent most of his life and exercised much of his ministry there or in nearby Zebulun (cf. Matt 4:12–17).”[8] Asher      Moses continued, saying, “Of Asher he said, ‘More blessed than sons is Asher; may he be favored by his brothers, and may he dip his foot in oil. 25 Your locks will be iron and bronze, and according to your days, so will your leisurely walk be” (Deut 33:24-25). The tribe of Asher was blessed more than others and had good relations with his brothers (i.e. was favored). To dip his foot in oil was a reference to the many olive trees of that region as well as the overall fertility of the land and its produce. The reference to locks of iron and bronze meant the tribe would dwell in safety and would enjoy the leisure of their wealth. Conclusion to Moses’ Blessings      Moses concludes this section, saying, “There is none like the God of Jeshurun, Who rides the heavens to your help, and through the skies in His majesty. 27 The eternal God is a dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms; and He drove out the enemy from before you, and said, ‘Destroy!’ 28 So Israel dwells in security, the fountain of Jacob secluded, in a land of grain and new wine; His heavens also drop down dew” (Deut 33:26-28). Israel’s God is unique and there are none like Him (Isa 45:5-6). He is pictured as the Divine Warrior “Who rides the heavens to your help, and through the skies in His majesty” (Deut 33:26b). According to Earl Radmacher, “Like a soldier, the Lord is constantly on the lookout for ways to defend His people from attack. The Divine Warrior is always providing protection because He is eternal. God is a refuge or fortress for the people to flee to in times of distress (Psa 90:1; 91:9).”[9] And the eternal God would be Israel’s “dwelling place” where they would find refuge and safety “underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deut 33:27a). The same arms that brought them to safety would be the ones used to drive out their enemies and would “destroy” those who opposed. Because of their relationship with Yahweh and their walk with Him, Israel would dwell in safety and seclusion (Deut 33:28a), and would live in a land blessed by the Lord, “in a land of grain and new wine” where “His heavens also drop down dew” (Deut 33:28b). Concerning this section, Peter Craigie notes, “The substance of verse 26-28 expresses once again the apparent paradox of Israel’s existence. The path lying ahead was not one of peaceful existence and quiet solitude, but it was one beset on every side with danger. Yet it was within this danger and war that Israel would find its safety (v. 28), because the path of danger was the path in which the presence and help of God would be found.”[10]      Moses closed his blessing, saying, “Blessed are you, O Israel; who is like you, a people saved by the LORD, Who is the shield of your help and the sword of your majesty! So your enemies will cringe before you, and you will tread upon their high places’” (Deut 33:29). Israel’s blessings were possible only because of their relationship with God, as He shielded them from danger and would defeat their enemies when they walked with Him in righteousness. And Israel’s enemies would cringe in fear, knowing God was with them to grant them victory as they would “tread upon their high places” (Deut 33:29b). Summary      Moses, the man of God, blessed the sons of Israel before his death. He spoke about the Lord’s love for His people and called for them to obey His law (Deut 33:1-5). Moses also made specific blessings for each tribe of Israel (Deut 33:6-25). And in conclusion, praised the greatness of God and how He protected Israel from their enemies and would allow them to dwell in safety (Deut 33:26-28). Moses ended his blessing by declaring the blessedness of the people of Israel, who were saved by the Lord and would tread upon their enemies Deut 33:29). Present Application      As Moses’ death approached, his great concern was for the success of Israel in the days after his departure. The Lord had worked through Moses to liberate the people from Egyptian slavery, to guide them for forty years in the wilderness, and to educate them in the law of the Lord that they might walk with Him and know success (Deut 11:26-28; 28:1-2; 30:15-16). But God revealed to Moses that after his death the nation would turn away from Yahweh and pursue idols (Deut 31:16; cf., Judg 2:11-12; 2 Ki 18:11-12). Though this news saddened Moses, it did not hinder his efforts to guide them into righteousness, giving them what they needed for success—the Word of God.      Likewise, we see something similar in the life and ministry of the apostle Paul. Paul had taught in Ephesus for several years (Acts 19:10; 20:31), and as his ministry was nearing an end, he called for the elders of the church to come to him (Acts 20:17). He reminded them about his faithfulness to serve the Lord and to teach them the Word of God (Acts 20:18-21), and that he was about to leave for Jerusalem where he would suffer persecution (Acts 20:22-24). He told the elders of the church they would no longer see him (Acts 20:25), which was upsetting news. He also told them he was innocent of harming anyone (Acts 20:26), and that he had been faithful to declare to them “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). Afterwards, Paul gave them heavy news, saying, “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:29-30). Knowing this, Paul instructed them to “be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears” (Acts 20:31). Paul was leaving, but he was not leaving them emptyhanded, as he said, “I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (Acts 20:32). Though Paul was leaving, God and His Word remained, and that was sufficient for a life of success. The church at Ephesus did well after Paul’s departure, and he gave thanks for their faith and love (Eph 1:15-16). However, the generation that followed did not continue in their love, as Jesus said of them, “I have this against you, that you have left your first love” (Rev 2:4). This shows that the faith of one generation does not automatically continue into the next, as each generation must choose for themselves whether they will learn and live God’s Word.      As Christian leaders (whether pastors, parents, or teachers), we bear special responsibility for our own spiritual growth which comes by studying God’s Word (2 Tim 2:15; 1 Pet 2:2), learning from gifted teachers (Eph 4:11-14), and applying His Word by faith (2 Cor 5:7; Heb 10:38; Jam 1:22), which leads to spiritual maturity (Heb 6:1). Furthermore, we seek to communicate His Word to others who will listen (Mark 16:15; Matt 28:19-20; Eph 6:4; 2 Tim 4:2; cf., Ezra 7:10). Once we’ve fulfilled our duty to the Lord, we then entrust our loved ones to Him, knowing that the Lord and His Word provides a fortress of truth and love that will protect their souls as they advance to spiritual maturity. Our desires and prayers for our loved ones are that they will “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet 3:18) and learn to “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Col 1:10). Dr. Steven R. Cook   [1] Eugene H. Merrill, Deuteronomy, vol. 4, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 431–432. [2] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Dt 33:6. [3] Eugene H. Merrill, Deuteronomy, vol. 4, 438. [4] Only a descendant of Aaron could serve as the high priest (Ex 28:1; 40:13-15), and the non-Aaronic priests came from the tribe of Levi (Deut 17:18; 18:1; 24:8; 27:9). All priests were Levites, but not all Levites were priests. The priesthood consisted of men who could not have any physical defects (Lev 21:17-23), and restricted to the age of twenty-five to fifty (Num 8:24-25). [5] Eugene H. Merrill, Deuteronomy, vol. 4, 440. [6] Ibid., 442–443. [7] Peter C. Craigie, The Book of Deuteronomy, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1976), 400. [8] Eugene H. Merrill, Deuteronomy, vol. 4, 445–446. [9] Earl D. Radmacher, Ronald Barclay Allen, and H. Wayne House, Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary (Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers, 1999), 269. [10] Peter C. Craigie, The Book of Deuteronomy, 403.
4/23/20231 hour, 7 minutes, 38 seconds
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Acts 4:32-37 - Barnabas the Man of Grace and Encouragement

Introduction      In the previous section (Acts 4:13-31), the Sanhedrin had evaluated Peter and John (whom they regarded as uneducated men), and after asking them to leave the Council briefly, began to discuss how a noteworthy miracle had been performed in Jerusalem that was witnessed by many. The Sanhedrin were impressed by their confidence and recognized that they had been with Jesus. Despite being ordered to stop speaking about Jesus, Peter and John refused to obey and continued to preach. This shows that some acts of civil disobedience are required by God’s people when the civil authorities command something that is contrary to the will of God. After Peter and John left the Council, they reported their encounter to their companions, and they all prayed together for boldness and were filled with the Holy Spirit. The place where they prayed shook, as a sign of God’s approval, and they continued to speak the Word of God with confidence. Following Text “And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them” (Acts 4:32).      This newly formed group of believers experienced a radical change of heart, and Luke tells us they were of one heart and soul (καρδία καὶ ψυχὴ μία - kardia kai psuche mia). The heart (καρδία) does not refer to the physical organ, but to the “center and source of the whole inner life, with its thinking, feeling, and volition.”[1] The NT usage of the soul (ψυχὴ) is sometimes difficult to distinguish from the heart, as it too can refer to “the inner life of a person and its various faculties.”[2] When combined together, the heart and soul “denotes the common mind that caused the church to be united at the deepest human level.”[3] The result was an abandonment of self and self-interest, as “not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them.” Here we witness an outward behavior that reflects a transformed heart.       God continued to work through His apostles, as Luke tells us, “And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all” (Acts 4:33). The main purpose of the apostles was witnessing for Jesus. And their witness came with great power (δυνάμει μεγάλῃ dunamei megale), which, considering the context, refers to miracles God was performing through them. The miracles were not an end in themselves, but were intended to be a testimony (μαρτύριον marturion) for the Lord Jesus, specifically concerning His resurrection (ἀνάστασις anastasis) from the dead. The apostles were not pointing others to themselves, but to Jesus. True Christian ministry must always start with Jesus. And referencing only the resurrection seems to be a form of evangelistic shorthand that, by implication, assumes Jesus’ death and burial. One cannot have resurrection without the former events, and when taken together, communicates the core of the gospel message.      That Jesus is here called Lord (κύριος kurios) is a reference to His divinity. The Bible presents Jesus as God. In the OT, the proper name of God is YHWH (called the tetragrammaton) and is translated LORD, using all capital letters. When the Septuagint was written around 250 B.C. (the Greek translation of the Hebrew OT) the translators chose the Greek word κύριος kurios as a suitable substitute for the Hebrew name YHWH. Though the word is sometimes used in the NT to mean sir (John 4:11; Acts 16:30), and master (Col. 3:22), it is also used to refer to the deity of Jesus Christ (compare Isa 40:3 and John 1:23; or Deut 6:16 and Matt 4:7; cf. John 20:28; Rom 10:11; Phil 2:11).      And we are told that abundant grace (χάρις τε μεγάλη charis te megale) was upon them all (Acts 4:33b). Grace generally refers to the unmerited favor or kindness that one person freely confers on another without regard to the beauty or worth of the object. Grace has more to do with the heart of the giver who blesses others from the bounty of his/her own goodness. The word grace appears 17 times in the book of Acts and commonly denotes divine enablement to perform a task, which gives success to the ones so blessed (cf., Acts  6:8; 11:23; 13:43; 14:3, 26; 15:11, 40; 18:27; 20:24, 32). God’s grace took material form in the early church, as Luke tells us, “For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales 35 and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need” (Acts 4:34-35).      Meeting needs meant providing the basics of food and clothing. James tells us, “If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?” (Jam 2:15-16). Paul wrote, “If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content” (1 Tim 6:8). It’s fine if God blesses us with more than these things, but we should always learn to be content with the basics (Phil 4:11-13). It is assumed in this passage that those who were in need either lacked the ability or opportunity to care for themselves. Biblically, it was expected that if one could work, they should (Deut 24:19-21). Working for food is a biblical principle, as Paul said, “if anyone is not willing to work, neither shall he eat” (2 Th 3:10). No work means no food. Of course, this assumes one has the physical and cognitive ability as well as the opportunity. Naturally, a special dispensation would be granted to those who could not help themselves because of a disability. Later, we’re told the apostles were using some of the monetary gifts to help care for widows in “the daily serving of food” (Acts 6:1).      In Acts 4:34-35, we observe that God did not provide for the needy by means of supernatural acts, such as manna or money coming down from heaven to provide for them. No. God chose to meet the needs of the community of believers through His own people, whom He’d blessed greatly with material wealth. These wealthy and openhanded believers served as conduits of His grace, as they sold their land and houses that were of little personal benefit and gave it to help meet the needs of others. In this way, they were making an investment in their future, as God promises to reward such activities in the eternal state (Matt 6:2-4; 1 Cor 3:10-15). It’s likely this selling of property lasted over a period of time, perhaps several months, and was limited to those who were willing to give of their resources. Meeting the needs of fellow Christians arose from a heart of compassion, not group coercion. The practice of giving to meet the needs of others was wholly voluntary. Charles Ryrie states: “Money talks!” And it did in the early church. The fellowship was strengthened and needs met by the voluntary agreement to hold things in common. This is not “Christian communism.” The sale of property was quite voluntary (Acts 4:34). The right of possession was not abolished. The community did not control the money until it had voluntarily been given to the apostles. The distribution was not made equally but according to need. These are not communistic principles. This is Christian charity in its finest display.[4]      It is not a sin to be wealthy, as God sometimes blesses His people with great riches. He certainly gave great wealth to Abraham (Gen 13:5-6), Isaac (Gen 26:12-14), Jacob (Gen 32:9-10; 33:11), Job (Job 1:1-3), David (1 Ch 29:1-5), Solomon (1 Ki 10:1-25), among others. Sometimes this wealth came suddenly, such as when God liberated the Israelites from Egyptian slavery (Deut 5:6), and persuaded the Egyptians to give His people vast amounts of silver, gold, and clothing (Ex 3:22). Afterwards, God gave His people the land of Canaan (Deut 4:1; 9:6), which included cities, houses, wells and vineyards for which they did not work (Deut 6:10-11). The Bible also gives wisdom on how to achieve wealth by hard work (Prov 28:19) and investment (Eccl 11:1-2).      It is worth nothing that in the early church, some wealthy Christians continued to own homes, which shows that the selling of property was limited to those who were willing. In acts 12 we’re told about Mary, who used her home for godly purposes by opening it for Christians to gather and pray (Acts 12:12). Furthermore, Mary had a “servant-girl named Rhoda” who functioned as her maid (Acts 12:13). This implies the continued possession of wealth. In Acts 16 we’re also told about a wealthy woman named Lydia who was a business owner, who was “a seller of purple fabrics” (Acts 16:14), and who later opened her home to Paul and Silas (Acts 16:40). In the Gospel of Luke, we learn there were some wealthy women who financially supported Jesus and His disciples, namely, “Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their support out of their private means” (Luke 8:2-3). These did not cease to be wealthy, but used their wealth for God’s purposes.      I know some whom God has gifted with great business acumen. These He has blessed with the “power to make wealth” (Deut 8:18). These same skilled men and women have been generous in their giving to help others, and in this way, have followed Paul’s instruction to “those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to set their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy; and to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share” (1 Tim 6:17-18). Being wealthy can be a blessing from the Lord, but how one handles that wealth either honors or dishonors Him. And, “A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, and favor is better than silver and gold” (Prov 22:1). The healthy Christian heart is one that looks for needs in others and then seeks to meet them. Paul wrote, “Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor” (1 Cor 10:24). The heart of love “does not seek its own interests” (1 Cor 13:5), but the interests of others. As God’s children, “do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil 2:4).      Personally, I wonder if I lost everything I own and were reduced to the basics of food and clothing, would I be content? Would I trust the Lord, knowing and accepting that “God works all things to work together for good to those who love Him, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom 8:28). Would I obey the biblical directives to “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; and in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Th 5:16-18). Would I “Do all things without complaining or disputing” (Phil 2:14). Would I acknowledge God’s sovereignty over my life, realizing “The LORD makes poor and rich; He brings low, He also exalts” (1 Sam 2:7). And, would I praise Him, like Job who said, “Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21). The truth is, “we brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either” (1 Tim 6:7), and it helps produce mental and emotional stability if we hold loosely the material things of this life, realizing God owns everything, and that we are but stewards of what He’s provided. Meet Barnabas      In the closing verses of this pericope, Luke introduces us briefly to  Barnabas, who will play an important role in the development of the early church. Luke wrote, “Now Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means Son of Encouragement), and who owned a tract of land, sold it and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet”  (Acts 4:36-37). According to the Mosaic Law, Levites were not to own land (Num 18:20, 24); however, this seems to apply only to land in Israel. Joseph was from the island of Cyprus, and Luke tells us he “owned a tract of land” on the island.      The name Barnabas (probably from ברנבו) actually means son of a prophet. The question among some Bible scholars is how this could translate as Son of Encouragement? I think Paul helps us here when he spoke to prophets at the church of Corinth, saying, “For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be encouraged” (1 Cor 14:31). The idea is that a prophet of the Lord would function as one who encouraged others to walk with the Lord and remain faithful to Him.      Concerning Barnabas’ character, Luke describes him as a godly man who was noted for his encouragement and willingness to give of his own resources for the benefit of others. Here, the word encouragement translates the Greek noun παράκλησις paraklesis, which, according to BDAG, denotes “emboldening another in belief or course of action, encouragement, exhortation…[the] lifting of another’s spirits.”[5]      It would seem Barnabas’ life reflected what He saw and experienced in his relationship with God. In Scripture, we learn that God the Father is described as “the God of all grace” (1 Pet 5:10), Who sits upon a “throne of grace” (Heb 4:16), Who “gives grace to the afflicted” (Prov 3:34), and provides salvation “by grace” through faith in Jesus (Eph 2:8-9; cf. Acts 15:11; Rom 3:24). Jesus is said to be “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14), and the Holy Spirit is called “the Spirit of grace” (Heb 10:29). Grace (χάρις charis) is undeserved favor. It is the love, mercy, or kindness that one person freely confers upon another who does not deserve it (Matt 5:44-45; Rom 11:6; Eph 1:6; 2:1-9; 2 Tim 1:9; Tit 3:5-7). And there is nothing more powerful or encouraging than God’s grace to warm and motivate His people to action. For what flows down from God to his children, when received with an open heart, will find natural outward expression to others, who will “encourage one another and build up one another” (1 Th 5:11a), and will “encourage one another day after day” (Heb 3:13a). I believe Barnabas was one who drank deeply from the well of God’s grace and goodness, and being blessed and encouraged by the Lord, was motivated to do the same to others.      Barnabas’ first act of encouragement was witnessed in his willingness to give of his own resources for the benefit of others; specifically, we are told he “owned a tract of land, sold it and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet” (Acts 4:37). Being a man of grace, he sold his property and gave it to the apostles to be used for ministry purposes. Later, in Acts, we’re told that the church at Jerusalem sent Barnabas to Antioch (Acts 11:22), and “when he arrived and witnessed the grace of God” (Acts 11:23a), he “rejoiced and began to encourage them all with resolute heart to remain true to the Lord” (Acts 11:23b). Here, the word encourage translates the Greek verb παρακαλέω parakaleo, which means to “call to one’s side.”[6] The picture is that of one person who comes alongside others and encourages them to accomplish a task or finish a race. In this case, it meant encouraging these Christians to press on and do God’s will. Encouraging other believers “to remain true to the Lord” is what healthy encouragement looks like.      And Barnabas was pivotal to the early church as seen in other passages. For example, it was Barnabas who supported Paul shortly after his conversion, even though others had reservations about him (Acts 9:27). It was Barnabas who bridged the relationship between the church in Jerusalem and the church in Antioch (Acts 11:22). It was Barnabas who connected with Paul and formed a teaching ministry in Antioch that lasted for a year (Acts 11:25-26). It was Barnabas—along with Paul—who was entrusted to deliver a financial donation to suffering Christians in Judea (Acts 11:27-30). It was Barnabas who helped launch the first significant missionary journey into the Gentile world (Acts 13:1-4). It was Barnabas who helped resolve the first major theological issue facing the church (Acts 15:1-25). It was Barnabas who supported Mark, even after he’d failed (Acts 15:37-38), and unfortunately, his support resulted in a major conflict with Paul that resulted in their breaking fellowship for a while (Acts 15:39-41). However, from later biblical passages we know that Barnabas and Paul—men who were both known for their grace and love—reconciled their differences and were reunited in fellowship and ministry (1 Cor 9:6; Gal 2:9). Overall, Barnabas was noted as being an encourager (Acts 11:23), “a good man”, one who was “full of the Holy Spirit and of faith” (Acts 11:24), and one who “risked” his life “for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 15:26). Barnabas was not without his flaws; however, he possessed the qualities one would like to see in a Christian leader, as he sought to build the Christian community by means grace, love, and solid biblical instruction. Churches and Christians need people like Barnabas, who will stand with them, give them wise counsel, and encourage them in their walk with the Lord.      Though some wealthy Christians in the early church had a right attitude about wealth, and operated with humility and grace to meet the needs of fellow Christians (such as Barnabas), what follows in the next chapter reveals that some had impure hearts and suffered from approbation lust, where by deceit they sought the approval of others rather than God. These paid a heavy price for their sin. Summary of Acts 4:32-37:      The early church had a sense of Christian community within itself and those who had wealth voluntarily shared with those who were in need (Acts 4:32-37). Love was the motivation for sharing, as there was no command from heaven and no human pressure from the church leadership to give. What we see is descriptive, not prescriptive.  Passages like Acts 4:32-37 provide an ideal picture of what the church should look like in its everyday functions.     [1] William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 508. [2] Moisés Silva, ed., New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014), 730. [3] Ibid., 732. [4] Charles C. Ryrie, Acts of the Apostles, Everyman’s Bible Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1961), 35–36. [5] William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian, 766. [6] Ibid., 764.
4/19/202335 minutes, 55 seconds
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Deuteronomy 32:44-52 - The Word of God is the Source of Life & Moses’ Punishment for Disobedience

Introduction      Moses, having delivered the song to the nation (Deut 32:1-43), now directs and encourages his audience to receive the message for themselves. If the people of Israel would accept the message, follow it, and teach it to their children, they would know blessing in the land of Canaan, to which they were about to enter and possess (Deut 32:44-47). God had placed before them everything they needed for a life of success and prosperity, both for them and their children, but they had to commit themselves to the Lord and follow His directives set forth in the Torah (Deut 11:26-28; 30:15-20). The last few verses of this chapter close out with God directing Moses to go up to Mount Nebo, where he will see the land of Canaan from a distance, and then die (Deut 32:48-52). Text      In the opening of this pericope, Moses reiterates what he’d said at the beginning of the song (Deut 31:30), saying, “Then Moses came and spoke all the words of this song in the hearing of the people, he, with Joshua the son of Nun” (Deut 32:44). “When Moses had finished speaking all these words to all Israel, 46 he said to them, ‘Take to your heart all the words with which I am warning you today, which you shall command your sons to observe carefully, even all the words of this law’” (Deut 32:45-46).        Moses, after speaking God’s Word to all Israel, directs them to accept the revelation for themselves, saying, “Take to your heart all the words with which I am warning you today” (Deut 32:46a). The word take translates the Hebrew verb שׂוּם sum, which means to “put, set, place…deposit.”[1] The form of the verb is a Qal imperative, which means it’s a command to be obeyed, as the believer intentionally deposits God’s Word to their own heart (לֵבָב lebab). For the believer with positive volition, it means he/she is mentally focusing on something of importance and paying careful attention to it. And what Moses was telling his audience to pay careful attention to? Specifically, it’s “all the words” he was communicating to them, adding the oft repeated reference to “all the words of this law” (Deut 32:46b; cf., Deut 17:19; 27:3, 8, 26; 28:58; 29:29; 31:12, 24). And after telling his audience that they are personally responsible to place God’s Word into their own hearts, he gives them an added responsibility, saying, “you shall command your sons to observe carefully, even all the words of this law” (Deut 32:46b). According to Eugene Merrill, “Not only were his hearers to pledge themselves to its stipulations, but they were to command their descendants to do the same. Over and over again the people of Israel were reminded that the faith and commitment of any one generation were not sufficient for all the generations to come. Each must have its own time of covenant renewal (cf. Deut 4:9–10; 5:29; 6:2, 7; 11:19, 21; 12:25, 28; 30:19).”[2]Though the parents were directed to command their children to learn and observe God’s directives, it was up to the children themselves to exercise their own volitions and accept God’s Word and walk in it. The command from the parents to the children was the highest display of love for them, for to give them the Word of God was to give them the source of life and blessing, for “man does not live by bread alone, but lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord” (Deut 8:3).      Moses drives the point further, saying, “For it is not an idle word for you; indeed it is your life. And by this word you will prolong your days in the land, which you are about to cross the Jordan to possess” (Deut 32:47; cf. Deut 4:40). Here we see repeated words that Moses has been stressing throughout the book (cf., Deut 6:24-25; 11:26-28; 30:15-20). As stated previously, the faith of one generation does not guarantee the faith of the next. Still, Moses was concerned about his generation, and instructed them to teach their children—which was a display of love for them—that they might continue in obedience to the Lord and know His blessings as well (See Deut 4:9-10; 5:29; 6:2, 7; 11:19, 21; 12:25, 28; 30:19). Concerning this passage, Peter Craigie states, “The law did not bind men in a straitjacket of legalism, but pointed toward that life which God purposed for them. In the law lay the secret of Israel’s longevity and prosperity in the promised land which they were soon to possess.”[3] Prediction of Moses’ Death      In this closing section, the Lord spoke directly to Moses and directed him to ascend to Mount Nebo, where he would see the land of Canaan from a distance and then die. This discourse from God reiterates what Moses had said before about the Lord’s punishment on him (see Deut 3:23-28; 31:2, 14). There are four commands given here to Moses: 1) go up to Mount Nebo (Deut 32:49a), 2) look at the land of Canaan (Deut 32:49b), 3) die on the mountain (Deut 32:50a), and 4) be gathered to your people (Deut 32:50b).      The pericope opens, telling us, “The LORD spoke to Moses that very same day, saying, 49 ‘Go up to this mountain of the Abarim, Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab opposite Jericho, and look at the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the sons of Israel for a possession’” (Deut 32:48-49; cf., Num 27:12-14). The Abarim was a mountain range located in Moab, east of Canaan. According to Eugene Merrill, “The ‘Abarim Range’ refers to the high plateau area east of the Jordan River and Dead Sea, the highest peak of which was Pisgah, a part of Mount Nebo (cf., Deut 34:1). This peak, with an elevation of over 2,600 feet, is about twenty miles from Jericho as the crow flies and affords an unobstructed view of nearly all the promised land (cf. Deut 34:1–3).”[4]      For Moses, being able to see the land of Canaan allowed him to know his mission of leading the people there had been accomplished. It was now up to Joshua to lead the Israelites into Canaan, which God was “giving to the sons of Israel for a possession” (Deut 32:49). God then told Moses, “Then die on the mountain where you ascend, and be gathered to your people, as Aaron your brother died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people” (Deut 32:50). And God reminded Moses of the reason he could not enter the land of Canaan, saying, “because you broke faith with Me in the midst of the sons of Israel at the waters of Meribah-kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin, because you did not treat Me as holy in the midst of the sons of Israel” (Deut 32:51). God reminded Moses that he had disqualified himself from entering the land of Canaan because he: 1) “broke faith” with God, and 2) did not treat the Lord as “holy in the midst of the sons of Israel.” Concerning this passage, Daniel Block states: "In striking the rock Moses had misrepresented Yahweh publicly, violated his own representative role, and failed to respect Yahweh’s unique and sacred status. To Yahweh, striking the rock reflected a cavalier disposition toward him, as though Moses could adapt Yahweh’s commands as he wanted. Moreover, in relating directly to the rock rather than the Rock, he had committed an idolatrous act. Yahweh’s present indictment highlights the communal implications of Moses’ actions; he had publicly failed to uphold Yahweh’s holiness. As leader of the people and representative of Yahweh, he had struck the rock when Yahweh had commanded him to speak to it. While his act may have been a gesture of frustration, to God it involved publicly usurping what is otherwise a divine agenda. Remarkably, it worked—water issued from the rock. Moses may have looked like a magician—but it cost him his life and his mission."[5]      The Lord tells Moses, “For you shall see the land at a distance, but you shall not go there, into the land which I am giving the sons of Israel” (Deut 32:52). These final words to Moses show that all who were under the covenant, even Moses, was not exempt from divine punishment if he broke faith with God and was disobedient. By his disobedience, Moses did not forfeit his salvation, but his reward of entering the promised land. However, we also see here a display of God’s grace, as He allowed Moses to see the land from a distance, just east of the Jordan River.      Though Moses’ failure to honor God had cost him his right to enter the land of Canaan, overall, Moses is remembered for his faithfulness to the Lord, as the writer of Hebrews tells is, “Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant” to the Lord (Heb 3:5). The Lord called Moses His “friend” (Ex 33:11), and described him as His servant, who “is faithful in all My household” (Num 12:7). To be a friend of God means one follows His directives. Jesus said something similar to His disciples, saying, “You are My friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:14). By the end of his life, Moses would die at the ripe age of one hundred and twenty years with vigor  of life (Deut 34:7), and would tower above the prophets of Scripture who would follow after him (Deut 34:10-12).      Though Moses was about to leave the company of Israel and go to the mountain, and there leave this world, he was leaving behind a powerful legacy that would serve as the foundation for all Israel’s success and prosperity in the years ahead, if they would accept it. Just before going up to the top of Mount Nebo, Moses would pronounce blessings on the nation (Deut 33), and then he would ascend the mountain—to die (Deut 34). Summary      In Deuteronomy 32:44-47, Moses directs his people to take all the words of God’s law to heart, for they are not meaningless words, but are the very source of life and blessing, both for them and their children, if they will follow the Lord and walk in righteousness. In Deuteronomy 32:48-52, the Lord calls Moses to ascend Mount Nebo to look upon the land of promise, informing him that he will not enter the land, because of an event in which he broke faith with God and did not treat Him as holy, informing Moses that he will die on the mountain and be gathered to his people. Present Application      God gives us His Word to light our paths (Psa 119:105; Prov 6:23), to revive our hearts (Psa 119:25, 107), and to direct us in the path of righteousness (2 Tim 3:16). Being plugged into God’s Word is paramount to the believer’s successful walk. Moses knew this, and he stressed it over and over to his audience. He told them, “Take to heart all these words I am giving as a warning to you today, so that you may command your children to carefully follow all the words of this law. For they are not meaningless words to you but they are your life, and by them you will live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess” (Deut 32:46-47 CSB; cf. Deut 4:40). The Scriptural teaching is “that man does not live by bread alone, but lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD” (Deut 8:3). But only those with positive volition will accept God’s Word, live by faith, and walk in righteousness.      Of the one with positive volition it is said, “his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night” (Psa 1:2). The benefit of such a lifelong meditation is that “He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers” (Psa 1:3). Elsewhere, David said, “I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your Law is within my heart” (Psa 40:8). And Jeremiah said, “Your words were found and I ate them, and Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I have been called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts” (Jer 15:16). To eat God’s Word is a picture of positive volition, as Jeremiah welcomed the divine revelation into himself, and once received, it delighted his heart.      When the human heart is receptive to God’s Word, it transforms that person from the inside out, and this is both cognitive and experiential. God says, “Is not My word like fire? declares the LORD, and like a hammer which shatters a rock?” (Jer 23:29). His Word is powerful and accomplishes what He desires (Isa 55:10-11; Heb 4:12), and it lights a fire in the heart of those who are positive. For example, after His resurrection, Jesus walked for several miles with two disciples and gave them a Bible lesson which lasted for several hours (Luke 24:14-35). This Bible lesson occurred as they traveled “to a village named Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:13). Luke reveals how Jesus taught them, “beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures” (Luke 24:27). After His Bible lesson, the two disciples said, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32). The heart that is positive to God receives His Word and is excited by what is learned. But hearts that are negative suppress God’s truth (Rom 1:18-32), and this to their own harm.      Learning Scripture must be followed by faith, as we become “doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude” ourselves” (Jam 1:22). This means learning and living His Word day by day (Psa 1:2; Ezra 7:10; 2 Tim 2:15; 3:16-17; 1 Pet 2:2), walking by faith (Heb 10:38; 11:1-6), advancing to spiritual maturity (Heb 6:1), and living the righteous life He intends. Such a life glorifies God, edifies others, and creates in us a personal sense of destiny tied to the God of universe, Who is directing history to the return of Jesus and the establishment of His earthly kingdom.     [1] Willem VanGemeren, ed., New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology & Exegesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1997), 1237. [2] Eugene H. Merrill, Deuteronomy, vol. 4, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 428. [3] Peter C. Craigie, The Book of Deuteronomy, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1976), 390. [4] Eugene H. Merrill, Deuteronomy, vol. 4, The New American Commentary, 429–430. [5] Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Deuteronomy, ed. Terry Muck (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012), 779.
4/16/20231 hour, 15 minutes, 13 seconds
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A Survey of Christians Theology - Lecture #27 - The Great White Throne & New Heavens and Earth

     Every Christian should have a basic knowledge of the doctrines found in God’s Word. This series of lectures will provide some of the basics of Christian Theology and is intended to help the growing believer advance in his/her knowledge of God and His Word. A complete set of my study notes can be found here: https://thinkingonscripture.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/A-Survey-of-Theology-Lecture-Notes-1.pdf 
4/14/202347 minutes, 30 seconds
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A Survey of Christian Theology - Lecture #26 - Millennial Kingdom & Judgment of Satan and Demons

     Every Christian should have a basic knowledge of the doctrines found in God’s Word. This series of lectures will provide some of the basics of Christian Theology and is intended to help the growing believer advance in his/her knowledge of God and His Word. A complete set of my study notes can be found here: https://thinkingonscripture.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/A-Survey-of-Theology-Lecture-Notes-1.pdf 
4/10/20231 hour, 5 minutes, 30 seconds
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A Survey of Christian Theology - Lecture #25 - Resurrections & Judgements of Israel and Gentiles

     Every Christian should have a basic knowledge of the doctrines found in God’s Word. This series of lectures will provide some of the basics of Christian Theology and is intended to help the growing believer advance in his/her knowledge of God and His Word. A complete set of my study notes can be found here: https://thinkingonscripture.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/A-Survey-of-Theology-Lecture-Notes-1.pdf 
4/6/20231 hour, 2 minutes, 23 seconds
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A Survey of Christian Theology - Lecture #24 - The Great Tribulation & Second Coming of Christ

Every Christian should have a basic knowledge of the doctrines found in God’s Word. This series of lectures will provide some of the basics of Christian Theology and is intended to help the growing believer advance in his/her knowledge of God and His Word. A complete set of my study notes can be found here: https://thinkingonscripture.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/A-Survey-of-Theology-Lecture-Notes-1.pdf 
4/3/202356 minutes, 55 seconds
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Acts 4:5-12 - Salvation is Found Only in Jesus

Introduction      In the previous lesson, Peter had healed a lame man, and this afforded him the opportunity to preach Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection to his fellow Israelites. This message had two responses, one negative and one positive. The first response came from those marked by negative volition. This came from the priests and Sadducees who were “greatly disturbed” because Peter and the other apostles “were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead” (Acts 4:2). And their negative attitude was followed by destructive action as “they laid hands on them and put them in jail until the next day” (Acts 4:3). Though the text does not say, it’s possible the man who had been healed was also arrested, for he appears before the Sanhedrin the next day along with the Peter and the apostles (see Acts 4:10). But the second group who heard Peter’s preaching responded positively, and “many of those who had heard the message believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand” (Acts 4:4). These two reactions, to varying degrees, are the norm throughout human history, and should be expected by those preach God’s Word. Text      Luke tells us, “On the next day, their rulers and elders and scribes were gathered together in Jerusalem” (Acts 4:5). Here we observe events that took place in time and space, as they occurred “the next day” and “in Jerusalem.” This is real history. The rulers consisted of 24 Sadducees who were the chief priests, and the elders and scribes consisted of the Pharisees. The place where the Sanhedrin convened, according to Josephus, was known as the Hall of the Hewn stones, or Chamber of Hewn stones (Josephus, Antiquities, 4:2). According to Alfred Edersheim, “The highest tribunal was that of seventy-one, or the Great Sanhedrin, which met in one of the Temple-Chambers, the so-called Lishkath haGazith—or Chamber of Hewn Stones.”[1]      The Sanhedrin was the highest Jewish court in Jerusalem, and Luke provides some of their names, which included “Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of high-priestly descent” (Acts 4:6). We know from the gospel of John that Annas and Caiaphas were two of the Jewish rulers responsible for the illegal trial and crucifixion of Jesus (John 18:24). Though we know about Annas and Caiaphas, we’re not able to accurately identify “John and Alexander.” It’s possible they were relatives of the high priest, and that’s why their names are mentioned. Annas had served as high priest from A.D. 6 to 15, and his son-in-law, Caiaphas, was made high priest after A.D. 18. However, though Annas was no longer the high priest, apparently he retained great influence (Luke 3:2; John 18:13–24), so much so that Luke continued to refer to him as the high priest. According to Warren Wiersbe, “The court was essentially composed of the high priest’s family. The Jewish religious system had become so corrupt that the offices were passed from one relative to another without regard for the Word of God. When Annas was deposed from the priesthood, Caiaphas his son-in-law was appointed. In fact, five of Annas’ sons held the office at one time or another.”[2] Here we see where the leaders of Israel, including Caiaphas and Annas, were nothing more than religious thugs who wielded their authority as tyrants. Spiritual leaders are to teach others about God, serve as examples of godliness and lead others into God’s will, not control others for selfish interests or act as lords to be served (cf., 1 Pet 5:2-3).      After Peter and John stood before the Sanhedrin, Luke informs us, “When they had placed them in the center, they began to inquire, ‘By what power, or in what name, have you done this?’” (Acts 4:7). Ideally, the convening of such a meeting would be necessary if someone performed a miracle and then started teaching others, as such teachers were subject to doctrinal examination out of concern the miracle had been performed by a spiritual source other than God and the doctrine would lead people into idolatry (Deut 13:1-5). However, the Sanhedrin had already demonstrated they were not concerned with doctrinal purity or justice, but with maintaining their legal authority.      Luke informs us, “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ‘Rulers and elders of the people” (Acts 4:8). This is the third reference to the filling of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts (Acts 2:4; 3:10). And, as usual, the filling of the Holy Spirit is followed by speech that communicates divine viewpoint. Though the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a one-time event that occurs at the moment of salvation, the filling of the Holy Spirit is repeated over and over. While filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter addressed the Sanhedrin, saying, “if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well,  10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health” (Acts 4:9-10).        Peter began his address with a first class conditional clause (εἰ ei + indicative), which, for the sake of argument, assumed they were on trial “for a benefit done to a sick man.” And the benefit done to the sick man was that he had been made well. The words made well translates the Greek verb σῴζω sozo, which in many passages of Scripture refers to the act of physical deliverance (Matt 8:25; 14:30; Mark 13:20; Luke 6:9; John 11:12; Acts 27:20, 31), and in other passages refers to spiritual deliverance (John 12:47; 1 Cor 1:21; Tit 3:5). Context always determines the meaning of a word, and here it refers to the man being made well physically. And the form of the verb σῴζω sozo is perfect/passive/indicative. The perfect tense looks at the past action but places emphasis on the abiding results. That is, the lame man had been made well, and continued to be well at the time Peter and the apostles were on trial. The passive voice means the lame man had received the healing, and the indicative mood is declarative for a statement of fact.      And Peter’s public declaration was to be known to the Sanhedrin (i.e., to all of you), and to the nation as a whole (i.e., to all the people of Israel). And what were they to know? Peter declares, “that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health.” The name of Jesus—mentioned several times in this this chapter (Acts 4:10, 18, 30)—was the last name the Sanhedrin wanted to hear. And that Jesus was called a Nazarene was a sticking point for the leadership of Israel, for Nazareth had an unsavory reputation (see John 1:45-46). This was the Jesus whom they had crucified, but God countermanded their rejection and killing of Messiah by raising Him from the dead. To mention the resurrection upset the Sadducees, for they did not hold to that teaching, though the Pharisees did (See Acts 23:8). But this was more than a declaration concerning the lame man’s physical wellbeing, for Peter was putting the Sanhedrin on trial for the death of Messiah. According to Arnold Fruchtenbaum, “The apostle charged the leadership of Israel with out and out murder. While the Sadducees in leadership did not perform the actual crucifixion, they did turn Yeshua over to the Romans, who put Him to death. God's response to their act of crucifixion was to raise Yeshua from the dead. This answers the question of the leaders: ‘by what power?’”[3] Peter’s confidence reflected Jesus’ statement that He would guide them concerning what they would say when they were called to stand before rulers (Luke 21:12-15). Peter’s point was that the risen Jesus, working through His apostles, was the reason the lame man had been made well and “stands here before you in good health.” One can imagine Peter pointing to the lame man who was present during the trial.      Next, Peter cited Psalm 118:22, saying, “He is the STONE WHICH WAS REJECTED by you, THE BUILDERS, but WHICH BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone” (Acts 4:11). This passage from Psalm 118:22 is later used by Peter in his first epistle (1 Pet 2:7). And it was also used by the Lord Jesus during His time of ministry (Matt 21:42). Though Israel’s leadership had rejected Jesus as Messiah, God’s decision was that He be the chief cornerstone. The chief cornerstone refers to the stone that joined two walls together; thus, it was the starting point and guiding stone for the whole building. According to Arnold Fruchtenbaum: "It needs to be noted that Peter did not directly quote Psalm 118:22, but paraphrased the verse with an application to the Jewish leaders before whom he stood...The builders in Acts 4:11 where the Jewish leaders who were guilty of rejecting the Messiahship of Yeshua. They were also guilty of leading the nation and doing the same. But this very One whom they rejected has now been made “the head of the corner.”[4]      Peter, having moved from the lame man’s physical healing and accusation against the Sanhedrin, now transitions to the need for spiritual salvation, saying, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Here, Peter dogmatically states that salvation is found only in Jesus Christ. The Jesus that the Sanhedrin had rejected and crucified (Acts 4:10-11), but Who was raised and made the cornerstone by God, is the Jesus that has been given to mankind for salvation. The word must translates the Greek verb δεῖ dei, which connotes divine necessity. It is necessary to come to Jesus, and Jesus alone, for our salvation, “for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” They need only Christ to be saved. And to be saved (σῴζω sozo) calls for one action only, and that is to trust in Christ as their Savior, believing He died for their sins, was buried, and raised again on the third day (1 Cor 15:3-4). And if they trust in Jesus as their Savior, they will have forgiveness of sins (Eph 1:7), and eternal life (John 10:28). Here is grace, as Peter offers salvation to those who had previously rejected and crucified Jesus as the Messiah, which was the greatest miscarriage of justice in the history of humanity. And yet, because of God’s grace and mercy, they could be forgiven and made right with God. The good news of the gospel is that Jesus died for everyone (1 John 2:2), which means everyone is savable. That’s unlimited atonement. But though Christ died for everyone, the benefit of salvation is given only to those who believe in Jesus as their Savior. These are the elect.      The gospel message is simple, and even a child can understand it and be saved. If you’ve not trusted in Jesus as Savior, then, like Paul, I “beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Cor 5:20). Turn to Christ as your Savior, believing He died for your sins, was buried, and raised again on the third day (1 Cor 15:3-4). And no matter what your past sins may be, no matter how many or egregious, God will forgive you (Eph 1:7), give you eternal life (John 10:28), and bless you with a portfolio of spiritual assets that will open for you the most wonderful life you can have in this world; a life in relationship with God. And this all starts when you simply believe in Christ as your Savior.   [1] Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, vol. 2 (New York: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1896), 554. [2] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 416. [3] Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Book of Acts (San Antonio, TX, Published by Ariel Ministries, 2022), 107. [4] Ibid., 107.
4/2/202330 minutes, 53 seconds
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Deuteronomy 32:1-43 - The Song of Moses

Introduction      Deuteronomy 32:1-43 presents the Song of Moses and Joshua (Deut 31:30; 32:44), which was communicated to Israel on the plains of Moab just prior to Moses’ death. Though it’s commonly called the Song of Moses, it was communicated by God and might also be called the Song of Yahweh. The song recorded in Deuteronomy 32:1-43 is didactic, revealing the rebellious hearts of the Israelites, not just in the moment, but in the years that would follow. As the nation would experience blessing and prosperity in Canaan, they would turn away from the Lord and pursue idols, and God would enter into judgment with them. However, when they cried out for mercy, He would deliver them and judge their enemies instead. The song emphasizes God’s just character, Israel’s duty to serve the Lord, and judgment upon them if they disobeyed. The song represents, in condensed form, what Moses taught through the years he’d been with his people. Daniel Block notes the “song serves as a sort of national anthem, intended to function as a ‘witness’ in perpetuity (Deut 31:21) by reminding the people that they owed their existence to Yahweh and warning against abandoning Him in favor of other gods. Moses had personally performed these functions for the past forty years, but once he is gone, the Song must take over and keep the people on spiritual course.”[1] According to Warren Wiersbe, “The song has four major divisions: the character of God (Deut 32:1–4); the kindness of God to His people (Deut 32:5–14); the faithfulness of God to chasten His people (Deut 32:15–25); and the vengeance of God against His adversaries (Deut 32:26–43).[2] Text      Moses opens his song, saying, “Give ear, O heavens, and let me speak; and let the earth hear the words of my mouth” (Deut 32:1). The heavens is likely a reference to the angelic host; those spirit beings who operate in the presence of God and in an unseen realm. The earth would be the realm of mankind. Together, they would serve as a witness to God’s character (cf., Deut 4:26; 30:19; Isa 1:2; Jer 6:19; Mic 1:2), Israel’s obligations, and the judgments that would follow if the nation turned away from the Lord. The song served as a reminder of the legal contract Israel had with Yahweh. Throughout, God is seen as righteous and just, whereas Israel is seen as being in violation of God’s laws.      Using picturesque language, Moses said, “Let my teaching drop as the rain, My speech distill as the dew, as the droplets on the fresh grass and as the showers on the herb” (Deut 32:2). The similes of rain, dew, droplets and showers, speak of the refreshing qualities of Moses’ teaching that would invigorate them if their hearts were open to it. Pointing the Israelites to God, he declared, “For I proclaim the name of the LORD; ascribe greatness to our God! 4 The Rock! His work is perfect, for all His ways are just; a God of faithfulness and without injustice, righteous and upright is He” (Deut 32:3-4). The “name of the LORD” ( שֵׁ֥ם יְהוָ֖ה shem Yahweh) refers to His character and reputation. Whereas the gods of the pagan nations were fickle and impotent, God was stable, perfect, and just in all His ways, which meant He was predictable and could be relied upon. Those who cling to Him will find stability in an unstable world.      Describing Israel, Moses said, “They have acted corruptly toward Him, they are not His children, because of their defect; but are a perverse and crooked generation. 6 Do you thus repay the LORD, O foolish and unwise people? Is not He your Father who has bought you? He has made you and established you” (Deut 32:5-6). In contrast to God, Israel would act in a corrupt and perverse manner. Such behavior would be foolish, considering it was God who purchased their freedom from slavery in Egypt and established them as His people. According to Eugene Merrill, “Yahweh’s charges against Israel were that they had become so disobedient that they no longer acted like his children but, to the contrary, had repudiated him as their Father and Creator.”[3]      Moses gave the people the key to avoiding foolishness and future judgment by the Lord. Moses said, “Remember the days of old, consider the years of all generations. Ask your father, and he will inform you, your elders, and they will tell you” (Deut 32:7). As in previous comments by Moses, Israelites were directed by God to remember their heritage and that they were once an oppressed people. The word remember translates the Hebrew verb זָכַר zakar, which means to call to mind, and implies intentionality. God’s people were commanded to remember their past servitude in Egypt, and that memory was to have a positive influence on of their behavior (Deut 5:15; 15:15; 16:3; 24:22). Israel’s special relationship with Yahweh was a part of His master plan. Moses alludes to the Tower of Babel, “When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of man” (Deut 32:8a); cf., Gen 11:8-9). He then references the land of Canaan which the Lord had portioned off for His people, Israel, as “He set the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel” (Deut 32:8b). Eugene Merrill states, “God from the beginning carved out a geographical inheritance for his elect people and arranged the allotments of all other nations, especially those of Canaan, to accommodate that purpose. Not only was Canaan itself, then, set apart from the beginning to be the land of promise, but its very extent was established on the basis of Israel’s ‘number,’ that is, their population and other requirements (v. 8b).”[4] Furthermore, Israel was selected for God Himself, as Moses wrote, “For the LORD’S portion is His people; Jacob is the allotment of His inheritance” (Deut 32:9). Earl Radmacher notes, “This designation for God’s supremacy is unique to Deuteronomy. He is the sovereign God over all, even the boundaries of the nations. the Lord’s portion: While it is the Lord’s will for many nations to exist, He has favored Israel with His special grace, promises, and covenant.”[5] Moses highlights God’s selection of Israel, saying: He found him in a desert land, and in the howling waste of a wilderness; He encircled him, He cared for him, He guarded him as the pupil of His eye. 11 Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that hovers over its young, He spread His wings and caught them, He carried them on His pinions. 12 The LORD alone guided him, and there was no foreign god with him. 13 He made him ride on the high places of the earth, and he ate the produce of the field; and He made him suck honey from the rock, and oil from the flinty rock, 14 curds of cows, and milk of the flock, with fat of lambs, and rams, the breed of Bashan, and goats, with the finest of the wheat-- and of the blood of grapes you drank wine (Deut 32:10-14).      God had not only delivered His people from bondage, but He also cared for them and provided great blessings. Jack Deere explains this beautiful passage, saying, “The metaphor of the eagle speaks of God’s wise and loving parental care. As an eagle must force its young out of the nest if they are to learn to fly and fend for themselves so the Lord led His people into the harsh life of Egyptian bondage and afterward through wilderness wanderings that they might become strong. And like an eagle, the Lord remained ready to ‘catch them’ when necessary.”[6] The references to honey and oil from the rocks meant that God would bless His people, even in barren places that appeared to lack bountiful resources. Other blessings included curds, milk, lambs, rams, goats, wheat, grapes and wine. With God’s blessings, Israel should have stayed close to the Lord, which would have provided security in a hostile world. But in a great act of stupidity, His people would turn away from the Lord, as Moses wrote: But Jeshurun grew fat and kicked—you are grown fat, thick, and sleek—then he forsook God who made him, and scorned the Rock of his salvation. 16 They made Him jealous with strange gods; with abominations they provoked Him to anger. 17 They sacrificed to demons who were not God, to gods whom they have not known, new gods who came lately, whom your fathers did not dread. 18 You neglected the Rock who begot you, and forgot the God who gave you birth. 19 The LORD saw this, and spurned them because of the provocation of His sons and daughters” (Deut 32:15-19).      The term Jeshurun (יְשֻׁרוּן Yeshurun) means upright one, and is probably used here with a touch of irony. When Israel would grow fat, thick, and sleek, they would turn away from the Lord and forsake Him. Only the wisest and most mature believers can handle prosperity without compromising their walk with the Lord. Most believers can handle the adversity tests, but few past the test of prosperity. Jack Deere correctly states, “Many believers learn that prosperity is a more dangerous trial than adversity. In adverse circumstances a believer is reminded of how desperately he needs God’s help, but in time of prosperity he may easily forget God.”[7] Israel’s future infidelity would provoke God’s anger as they would turn to strange gods. But turning to the idols and offering sacrifices was actually an act of demon worship. This shows the corrupting influence that demons—which operate in the unseen realm—have upon the religions and cultural norms of the world. Because God’s people would neglect Him and embrace pagan values, this would provoke Him to anger. Moses described God’s response, saying: Then He said, “I will hide My face from them, I will see what their end shall be; for they are a perverse generation, sons in whom is no faithfulness. 21 They have made Me jealous with what is not God; they have provoked Me to anger with their idols. So I will make them jealous with those who are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation. 22 For a fire is kindled in My anger, and burns to the lowest part of Sheol, and consumes the earth with its yield, and sets on fire the foundations of the mountains” (Deut 32:20-22).      Seeing the foolishness of Israel, God would show His disapproval by hiding His face from them, which meant His blessings would cease. And though His people have no integrity and are faithless, yet He regards them as His children, in whom He has great love. God’s anger is a reflection of His righteousness, for He expects His people to be holy in conduct. Being provoked Himself, God will in turn “provoke them to anger with a foolish nation” (Deut 32:21b). This implies Israel would be harmed by a pagan nation, which would have never happened if they’d been faithful to the Lord. Moses describes some of the Lord’s judgments as follows, saying: I will heap misfortunes on them; I will use My arrows on them. 24 They will be wasted by famine, and consumed by plague and bitter destruction; and the teeth of beasts I will send upon them, with the venom of crawling things of the dust. 25 Outside the sword will bereave, and inside terror-- both young man and virgin, the nursling with the man of gray hair. 26 I would have said, “I will cut them to pieces, I will remove the memory of them from men. 27 Had I not feared the provocation by the enemy, that their adversaries would misjudge, that they would say, ‘Our hand is triumphant, and the LORD has not done all this’” (Deut 32:23-27).      Here we see God promising to implement the cursing aspects of the Mosaic covenant spelled out in Deuteronomy 28:15-68. Famine, plagues, attacks by wild beasts, and military defeat will come upon young and old alike, “Both young man and virgin, the nursling with the man of gray hair” (Deut 32:25). The judgments would be so severe that the nation would come to the brink of destruction (Deut 32:26), but God will not destroy them, lest His reputation become tarnished, as the pagan nations would misjudge their military success over Israel, and say to themselves, “Our hand is triumphant, and the LORD has not done all this” (Deut 32:27). By sparing them, God will protect His reputation. For they are a nation lacking in counsel, and there is no understanding in them. 29 Would that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would discern their future! 30 How could one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, unless their Rock had sold them, and the LORD had given them up? 31 Indeed their rock is not like our Rock, even our enemies themselves judge this. 32 For their vine is from the vine of Sodom, and from the fields of Gomorrah; their grapes are grapes of poison, their clusters, bitter. 33 Their wine is the venom of serpents, and the deadly poison of cobras. (Deut 32:28-33)      Because Israel lacked wise counsel and understanding, this made them vulnerable to all sorts of troubles which they would bring upon themselves. God desired that they would be wise and discerning about their future and would make good choices to mitigate their harm. If God had remained as their Rock, then they would be able to perform impossible tasks, such as a single person putting an army of a thousand to flight, and two persons putting ten thousand to flight. But their failure to have military success over their enemies was because God had given them over to their sinful ways. By their own choices they made themselves weak and vulnerable to the dangers of this world. And God would use the pagan nations, who were as evil and hostile as Sodom and Gomorrah, to judge and humble His people.        Though God would punish His people for their sin by using Gentile nations, He would also judge those foreign nations for their sins as well. Moses said, “Is it not laid up in store with Me, sealed up in My treasuries? 35 ‘Vengeance is Mine, and retribution, in due time their foot will slip; for the day of their calamity is near, and the impending things are hastening upon them.” (Deut 32:34-35). As the “Judge of all the earth” (Gen 18:25), God stands ready to render punishment upon all who transgress His righteousness.      God promises to have compassion on His people, but only after their human strength was gone and there was no other place to turn. Moses said, “For the LORD will vindicate His people, and will have compassion on His servants, when He sees that their strength is gone, and there is none remaining, bond or free” (Deut 32:36). And then, in a mocking manner, the Lord will ridicule the pagan idols Israel had been worshipping. Moses wrote, “And He will say, ‘where are their gods, the rock in which they sought refuge? 38 Who ate the fat of their sacrifices, and drank the wine of their drink offering? Let them rise up and help you, let them be your hiding place!’” (Deut 32:37-38).      There are no gods besides the God (Isa 45:5-6), and He is sovereign over all His creation (Psa 135:6; 115:3; Dan 4:35). Moses wrote, “See now that I, I am He, and there is no god besides Me; it is I who put to death and give life. I have wounded and it is I who heal, and there is no one who can deliver from My hand” (Deut 32:39). And then, in anthropomorphic language, God is pictured as swearing an oath, saying, “Indeed, I lift up My hand to heaven, and say, as I live forever” (Deut 32:40). God is Spirit and does not have human hands (John 4:24); however, this is language of accommodation to help us understand the legal aspects of the Mosaic covenant and that God Himself swears an oath to keep His Word. And since God cannot lie (Tit 1:2; Heb 6:18), He will do what He has promised.      And what has God promised? He has promised that He will execute just vengeance on the enemies of His people, rendering judgment upon the nations for their wickedness. God said, “If I sharpen My flashing sword, and My hand takes hold on justice, I will render vengeance on My adversaries, and I will repay those who hate Me. 42 I will make My arrows drunk with blood, and My sword will devour flesh, with the blood of the slain and the captives, from the long-haired leaders of the enemy” (Deut 32:41-42). Here, God is talking about those nations who are hostile to Him and His people. But for those Gentile nations who are positive to God and His people, the Lord says, “Rejoice, O nations, with His people; for He will avenge the blood of His servants, and will render vengeance on His adversaries, and will atone for His land and His people” (Deut 32:43). Those who are positive to God and His people, Israel, should celebrate when He judges and punishes those wicked nations for their wickedness. Summary      The Song of Moses, in Deuteronomy 32:1-43, was to be taught to the Israelites—both present and future generations—to serve as a perpetual reminder of their covenant relationship with Yahweh. The song reveals God’s kindness toward His people, the prediction that Israel would turn away from the Lord and pursue idols, His just character to punish them for their disobedience, and His integrity and compassion to preserve His people, and to execute vengeance on their enemies. By memorizing and singing this song, the Israelites would acknowledge their duty to obey Yahweh and the just and certain punishment that would come upon them if they turned away from Him and pursued idols. Present Application      As God’s people, we are greatly blessed by the Lord (Eph 1:3). In Christ, we have been rescued “from the domain of darkness, and transferred to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Col 1:13). In Jesus we have forgiveness of sins (Eph 1:7), eternal life (John 10:28), the gift of righteousness (Rom 5:17; Phil 3:9), and will never face eternal condemnation (Rom 8:1).  As God’s children, He calls us to live by the “law of Christ” (1 Cor 9:21; Gal 6:2), and to pursue biblical virtues such as righteousness, goodness, humility, and love. Peter says, “like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior” (1 Pet 1:15). And Paul instructs us “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love” (Eph 4:1-2). Such a life does not happen automatically in the believer, but comes as we devote ourselves to the Lord (Rom 12:1-2), schedule regular time to study His Word (Psa 1:2; Jer 15:16; 2 Tim 2:15; 3:16-17; 1 Pet 2:2), and apply it by faith to every aspect of our lives (Heb 10:38; 11:6). Discipline of mind and will leads to good habits, good habits produce godly character, and godly character  glorifies God, edifies others, and creates stability in our souls. And we can expect heavenly rewards when we are obedient to the Lord (1 Cor 3:10-15; 2 John 1:8). But, there is a real danger to us if we fail to learn and live God’s Word (Heb 4:1-2; Jam 1:22), and He will discipline us if we turn away from Him and live like the world (Heb 12:5-11). Such discipline is borne out of the heart of a Father who loves us and wants our best. He wants us to become spiritually mature Christians who are governed by biblical virtues, not worldly values or sinful passions. Those who are positive to God will advance spiritually, operate by divine viewpoint, live by faith, develop cognitive and emotional stability, and model the best virtues of biblical Christianity.     [1] Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Deuteronomy, ed. Terry Muck (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012), 748. [2] Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Equipped, “Be” Commentary Series (Colorado Springs, CO: Chariot Victor Pub., 1999), 182. [3] Eugene H. Merrill, Deuteronomy, vol. 4, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 410. [4] Ibid., 413. [5] Earl D. Radmacher, Ronald Barclay Allen, and H. Wayne House, Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary (Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers, 1999), 266. [6] Jack S. Deere, “Deuteronomy,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 318. [7] Jack S. Deere, “Deuteronomy,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, 319.
4/2/20231 hour, 12 minutes, 44 seconds
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A Survey of Christian Theology - Lecture #23 - Israel; & Events Preceding the Second Coming

Every Christian should have a basic knowledge of the doctrines found in God’s Word. This series of lectures will provide some of the basics of Christian Theology and is intended to help the growing believer advance in his/her knowledge of God and His Word. A complete set of my study notes can be found here: https://thinkingonscripture.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/A-Survey-of-Theology-Lecture-Notes-1.pdf 
3/30/20231 hour, 6 minutes, 16 seconds
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A Survey of Christian Theology - Lecture #22 - Sabbath & Lord’s Day - Gentiles in History & Prophecy

Every Christian should have a basic knowledge of the doctrines found in God’s Word. This series of lectures will provide some of the basics of Christian Theology and is intended to help the growing believer advance in his/her knowledge of God and His Word. A complete set of my study notes can be found here: https://thinkingonscripture.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/A-Survey-of-Theology-Lecture-Notes-1.pdf 
3/27/20231 hour, 1 minute, 42 seconds
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Deuteronomy 31:14-30 - Defining Success in Godly Leadershio

Introduction      As God’s chosen leader for Israel, Moses had provided everything the people needed for a life of success and prosperity (Deut 11:26-28; 30:15-18). However, in this pericope, the Lord informs Moses and Joshua that after Moses dies and Joshua leads the nation into Canaan, the people will abandon the Lord and pursue idols to their own harm. And this will happen after the Lord demonstrates His goodness to them and blesses them greatly. This shows that godly leadership does not guarantee others will follow. Nevertheless, God’s leadership must maintain faithfulness to their appointed task, even when they know those they lead will fail to live by the virtues they are taught. This requires commitment and integrity before the Lord. Text      This new section opens with Moses’ death being mentioned and the appointment of Joshua as his successor. The text reads, “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Behold, the time for you to die is near; call Joshua, and present yourselves at the tent of meeting, that I may commission him.’ So Moses and Joshua went and presented themselves at the tent of meeting. 15 The LORD appeared in the tent in a pillar of cloud, and the pillar of cloud stood at the doorway of the tent” (Deut 31:14-15). The “tent of meeting” was a special place located outside the camp where Moses would meet with God for instruction and direction (Ex 33:7-11; Num 11:16, 12:4). The “pillar of cloud” was the visible presence of God for Israel during this time (Ex 13:21-22). Whereas Moses had previously commissioned Joshua publicly as his successor (Deut 31:7-8), here the meeting was private, with only Moses and Joshua presenting themselves to the Lord. In what follows, the Lord speaks first to Moses (Deut 31:16-21), and then to Joshua (Deut 31:23).      The text reads, “The LORD said to Moses, ‘Behold, you are about to lie down with your fathers; and this people will arise and play the harlot with the strange gods of the land, into the midst of which they are going, and will forsake Me and break My covenant which I have made with them’” (Deut 31:16). The Lord revealed to Moses that after his death, the people of Israel would begin the journey of apostasy in which they would turn away from the Lord and worship idols. In this way, they would break their covenant promise to the Lord and turn away from Him (cf., Judg 2:17). This must have been sad news to Moses, who had spent his years as a faithful and godly leader who instructed and encouraged his people to know the Lord and walk with Him (Deut 11:26-28; 28:1; 30:15-16). The Lord continued to inform Moses, saying: "Then My anger will be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them and hide My face from them, and they will be consumed, and many evils and troubles will come upon them; so that they will say in that day, ‘Is it not because our God is not among us that these evils have come upon us?’ 18 But I will surely hide My face in that day because of all the evil which they will do, for they will turn to other gods." (Deut 31:17-18)      Because Israel would act wickedly by turning from the Lord and worshipping idols, He would execute the curses of the covenant (Deut 28:15-68). His people would incorrectly think their problems came upon them because God had abandoned them, saying, “Is it not because our God is not among us that these evils have come upon us?” (Deut 31:17b). It’s true the nation would experience great suffering, but not because God had failed, but because they had. The Lord declared, “I will surely hide My face in that day because of all the evil which they will do, for they will turn to other gods” (Deut 31:18). Earl Radmacher correctly notes, “The principal reason for God’s judgment on His people was their continual idolatry. They abandoned His grace and willingly embraced the evil religious practices of the Canaanites.”[1]When God hides His face, it is the opposite of blessing, in which He causes His face to shine upon them for their good (Num 6:24-26).      In order for Israel to correctly assess their circumstances from the divine perspective, the Lord instructed Moses and Joshua to write a song and to teach it to Israel. The Lord said, “Now therefore, write this song for yourselves, and teach it to the sons of Israel; put it on their lips, so that this song may be a witness for Me against the sons of Israel” (Deut 31:19). Here, the directive was for Moses and Joshua to write the song together. The song itself is recorded in Deuteronomy 32:1-43. The phrase, “put it on their lips” means, “have them recite it” (CSB), which denotes memorizing it in order to be able to recall it from memory. The Lord gives the reason, saying, “For when I bring them into the land flowing with milk and honey, which I swore to their fathers, and they have eaten and are satisfied and become prosperous, then they will turn to other gods and serve them, and spurn Me and break My covenant” (Deut 31:20). Earl Kalland notes: “Teach it to the Israelites and have them sing it” (Deut 31:19) implies sufficient repetition to fix it in the minds of the people. Only then would they be able to sing it, and only then would it be a witness to the Lord’s admonition, not only to those of that generation, but to their descendants who will not have forgotten it (Deut 31:21). The song was to be taught nationally from generation to generation.[2]      Unfortunately, the people who welcomed the Lord’s prosperity, would develop a sense of independence, and because the human heart is corrupt, they would turn away from the Lord and pursue idols to their own harm. There is wisdom in the prayer of Agur, who asked the Lord, “Two things I asked of You, do not refuse me before I die: Keep deception and lies far from me, give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is my portion, that I not be full and deny You and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or that I not be in want and steal, and profane the name of my God” (Prov 30:7-9).      The Lord continued to inform Moses and Joshua, saying, “Then it shall come about, when many evils and troubles have come upon them, that this song will testify before them as a witness (for it shall not be forgotten from the lips of their descendants); for I know their intent which they are developing today, before I have brought them into the land which I swore” (Deut 31:21). God knew the hearts of His people were corrupt and that they would turn away from Him after they’d enter the land of Canaan and experienced His blessings. Peter Craigie states: "The words that the Lord addresses to Moses on the eve of his death must have caused great sadness in the aging leader. The substance of his long address to the Israelites had been faithfulness to God and a warning against the dangers of resorting to foreign gods and their cults. But now, about to die, Moses is told that this people will rise up and consort with gods foreign to the land. The words of God are not primarily prophetic; they portray rather divine insight into the basic character of the people and their constant tendency to unfaithfulness."[3]      As God’s faithful leader, “Moses wrote this song the same day, and taught it to the sons of Israel” (Deut 31:22). God’s call for His leaders to be faithful must be obeyed, even when they know those they lead tend toward corruption and will fall away and pursue evil the first chance they get. Godly leaders are responsible to the Lord, to be faithful to Him, to maintain godly output, even when those under their care are defiant. This is true for national leaders, pastors, business leaders, teachers, parents, etc.      After giving Moses specific instructions, the Lord commissioned Joshua the son of Nun, saying, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall bring the sons of Israel into the land which I swore to them, and I will be with you” (Deut 31:23). Even knowing the future failure of His people, the Lord commissioned Joshua to be Moses’ successor and to lead the people into righteousness. Failure among the people was not for want of direction and provision by the Lord. No doubt, after Moses’ death, Joshua would feel the burden of leadership. His only consolation was that God was with him, to strengthen and guide him along the way, and that his duty was to be faithful to the Lord. According to Peter Craigie, “Of the forms of loneliness that a man can experience, there are few so bleak as the loneliness of leadership. But Joshua assumed his lonely role with an assurance of companionship and strength. God’s presence with him would be sufficient to enable him to meet boldly every obstacle that the future could bring.”[4]      Next, we learn, “It came about, when Moses finished writing the words of this law in a book until they were complete, 25 that Moses commanded the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, saying, 26 ‘Take this book of the law and place it beside the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may remain there as a witness against you’” (Deut 31:24-26). Here, again, we have a clear statement concerning Mosaic authorship of the book of Deuteronomy (cf., Deut 31:9). Moses gave the book of the Law to the Levites who were to carry it along with the ark of the covenant. Having this written record served a purpose, “that it may remain there as a witness against you” (Deut 31:26b). Truth is objective, and God’s judgments are based on fixed standards of righteousness. Moses then spoke to the people, saying: "For I know your rebellion and your stubbornness; behold, while I am still alive with you today, you have been rebellious against the LORD; how much more, then, after my death? 28 Assemble to me all the elders of your tribes and your officers, that I may speak these words in their hearing and call the heavens and the earth to witness against them. 29 For I know that after my death you will act corruptly and turn from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days, for you will do that which is evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking Him to anger with the work of your hands." (Deut 31:27-29)      Later, near the end of Joshua’s life, he encouraged the people to adhere to the Law of Moses so that they might know success and blessing (Josh 23:6-11), with a warning of judgment if they disobeyed (Josh 23:12-16; 24:20-24). Though Israel’s journey of apostasy would begin with the death of Moses, it would gain full steam after the death of Joshua. Historically, we know Israel failed to drive out the Canaanites as God directed (Judg 1:21; 28-33). And because of their disobedience to drive them out, Israel was negatively influenced by the Canaanites who corrupted their values, and they repeatedly did evil in the sight of the Lord by worshipping idols (Judg 2:11; 3:7, 12; 4:1; 6:1; 10:6; 13:1). Sadly, each successive generation got worse and worse (Judg 2:19). And each time Israel fell into idolatry,  God gave them into the hands of their enemies to punish them (Judg 3:8, 12; 4:2; 6:1; 10:6-7; 13:1). But when they cried out to the Lord, He graciously delivered them (Judg 3:9, 15; 4:3; 6:6; 10:12), and for a while they experienced peace. The cycle of sin, suffering, prayer, salvation, and a period of peace was repeated six times in the book of Judges over a period of approximately 350 years.      In anticipation of the next chapter, we read, “Then Moses spoke in the hearing of all the assembly of Israel the words of this song, until they were complete” (Deut 31:30). As God’s faithful servant, Moses wrote the song as he’d been directed by the Lord. Present Application      In this chapter we have a glimpse into some of the issues related to godly leadership. When called to lead others according to God’s values, it’s important to know there will be times when those under our care will not follow us into God’s will, but will turn away from the Lord, and this to their own harm and the harm of others. Furthermore, ministry to the Lord can be marked by great hardship; however, integrity demands that we stay the course, no matter the difficulty of our situations. Below are a few examples of godly leaders whose leadership was rejected by others.      In Scripture, we learn Noah was faithful to the Lord and preached His Word for one hundred and twenty years with very minimal results (2 Pet 2:5), and God’s judgment fell upon the world in a global deluge, with the result that only “eight persons were brought safely through the water” (1 Pet 3:20). The prophet Samuel was faithful to the Lord and tried to dissuade his generation from rejecting the Lord as their King, as they’d requested a human king in order that they might be like the other nations (1 Sam 8:4-17). But they rejected Samuel’s leadership, and “the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel, and they said, ‘No, but there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations’” (1Sa 8:19-20a). God gave them Saul, a king after their own hearts, and the nation suffered.      Perhaps one of the most frustrating ministries found in Scripture is that of the prophet Isaiah. The prophet had heard the Lord’s calling to ministry and accepted it wholeheartedly (Isa 6:8). Isaiah knew his generation needed to hear the Lord’s Word, and perhaps hoped they’d respond in humility as he’d just responded to the Lord’s vision in the temple (Isa 6:1-7). God informed Isaiah that his ministry would be met with negative volition. When God’s people turned away from Him, choosing a path of darkness and closing their ears to His Word, He added to their blindness and deafness as a form of judgment (Isa 6:9-10). Isaiah’s ministry to his people would result in a further hardening of their hearts. Hearing this difficult news, Isaiah asked, “Lord, how long?” (Isa 6:11a). The answer came from the Lord, “Until cities are devastated and without inhabitant, houses are without people and the land is utterly desolate, the LORD has removed men far away, and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land” (Isa 6:11b-12). But God, in His sovereignty and grace, would preserve a remnant of His people alive (Isa 6:13). According to Earl Radmacher, “The more the prophet would proclaim the word of God, the less response he would get from the people. This was a call to a discouraging ministry. In truth, the call of God is for faithfulness to Him, to His Word, and to the call itself.”[5] Warren Wiersbe offers a similar statement, saying, “God does not deliberately make sinners blind, deaf, and hard-hearted; but the more that people resist God’s truth, the less able they are to receive God’s truth. But the servant is to proclaim the Word no matter how people respond, for the test of ministry is not outward success but faithfulness to the Lord.”[6]      Jeremiah is another example of a godly servant who faithfully preached God’s Word for twenty-three years, but his generation would not listen. Jeremiah said, “these twenty-three years the word of the LORD has come to me, and I have spoken to you again and again, but you have not listened” (Jer 25:3). The result was that Judah was destroyed by the Babylonians and went into captivity in 586 B.C. Biblically, we know God is gracious, compassionate, and slow to anger (Neh 9:17; Psa 86:15; 103:8); however, His gentle qualities do not last forever, and when people persist in their sin and there is no hope of them turning to Him, His judgment falls (Psa 9:7-8; 96:13; Acts 17:31).      Of course, there’s no greater display of leadership than our Lord Jesus, Who spoke perfect truth all the time and called others to trust in Him and to follow Him. Jesus repeatedly offered His kingdom to the nation (Matt 4:19; 10:7); yet, the majority of those who heard His message rejected Him (Matt 12:24; John 3:19; 12:37), and He pronounced judgment upon that generation (Matt 23:37-39). The result was that Jerusalem was destroyed in A.D. 70 when the Romans attacked the city and destroyed the temple.      As God’s people, we control the output of our message, but never the outcome. What the recipients do with God’s Word is between them and the Lord. As God’s children, we are to be faithful to learn His Word (2 Tim 2:15; 3:16-17; 1 Pet 2:2), communicate it in love to others (Eph 4:15), and then let it do its work in the hearts of those who hear (Isa 55:10-11). However, we realize this will result in mixed outcomes, depending on the hearts of others. Charles Spurgeon said, “The same sun that softens wax also hardens clay.” By this he meant that God’s Word, which gives light like the sun, has different effects depending on the material exposed to it. The reality is that some hearts are positive to God (wax) and these grow soft when exposed to the light of His Word, but other hearts are negative to God (clay) and exposure to His Word only makes them harder. As God’s people, we are only responsible for our output of lifestyle and message, not the outcome of results. God measures our success by our willingness to submit to Him and our faithfulness to walk with Him moment by moment, learning His Word and doing His will. We want to be among those whom Jesus says, “Well done, good and faithful slave” (Matt 25:21a).   [1] Earl D. Radmacher, Ronald Barclay Allen, and H. Wayne House, Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary (Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers, 1999), 266. [2] Earl S. Kalland, “Deuteronomy,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 3 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1992), 195. [3] Peter C. Craigie, The Book of Deuteronomy, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1976), 372. [4] Ibid., 373. [5] Earl D. Radmacher, et al., Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary, 814. [6] Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Comforted, “Be” Commentary Series (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 30.
3/26/20231 hour, 5 minutes
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A Survey of Christian Theology - Lecture #21 - Ecclesiology III

Every Christian should have a basic knowledge of the doctrines found in God’s Word. This series of lectures will provide some of the basics of Christian Theology and is intended to help the growing believer advance in his/her knowledge of God and His Word. A complete set of my study notes can be found here: https://thinkingonscripture.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/A-Survey-of-Theology-Lecture-Notes-1.pdf 
3/24/20231 hour, 3 minutes, 37 seconds
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A Survey of Christian Theology - Lecture #20 - Ecclesiology II

Every Christian should have a basic knowledge of the doctrines found in God’s Word. This series of lectures will provide some of the basics of Christian Theology and is intended to help the growing believer advance in his/her knowledge of God and His Word. A complete set of my study notes can be found here: https://thinkingonscripture.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/A-Survey-of-Theology-Lecture-Notes-1.pdf 
3/21/20231 hour, 2 minutes, 49 seconds
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Acts 2:25-47 - Peter’s Message that Jesus is the Risen Messiah

Introduction      In this pericope, Luke continues to present Peter’s message to the Israelites whom he declares are guilty—as are all mankind—of rejecting Jesus as the Messiah and placing Him upon a cross to be crucified (Acts 2:22-24; cf., Acts 4:27-28). But Peter, operating from the divine perspective, also declared that Jesus’ crucifixion was part of God’s sovereign will and predetermined plan. After Jesus’ crucifixion and death, God raised Him up, never to die again (Rom 6:9) and Jesus ascended to heaven, where He is now seated next to the Father (cf., Eph 1:20; Col 3:1). To make this point, Peter cites Psalm  16:8-11 to argue that Jesus is the Messiah. For David says of Him, “I SAW THE LORD ALWAYS IN MY PRESENCE; FOR HE IS AT MY RIGHT HAND, SO THAT I WILL NOT BE SHAKEN. 26 ‘THEREFORE MY HEART WAS GLAD AND MY TONGUE EXULTED; MOREOVER MY FLESH ALSO WILL LIVE IN HOPE; 27 BECAUSE YOU WILL NOT ABANDON MY SOUL TO HADES, NOR ALLOW YOUR HOLY ONE TO UNDERGO DECAY. YOU HAVE MADE KNOWN TO ME THE WAYS OF LIFE; YOU WILL MAKE ME FULL OF GLADNESS WITH YOUR PRESENCE.” (Acts 2:25-28)      The above psalm was written by David and was intended to reveal that Messiah would not undergo decay in the grave, but that the Father would raise Him up. It is literal prophesy with literal fulfillment. Peter continues his address, saying: "Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 And so, because he was a prophet and knew that GOD HAD SWORN TO HIM WITH AN OATH TO SEAT one OF HIS DESCENDANTS ON HIS THRONE, 31 he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that HE WAS NEITHER ABANDONED TO HADES, NOR DID His flesh SUFFER DECAY. 32 This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses." (Acts 2:29-31)      Peter’s main point is that David had died and was buried, so he did not refer to himself, but to his descendant, Jesus, who is the Messiah. God had promised to seat one of David’s descendants upon his throne (2 Sam 7:12, 16; cf., Isa 9:6-7; Jer 33:15), and we know this is Jesus, who will rule forever (Luke 1:30-33; cf., Rom 1:3; 2 Tim 2:8; Rev 22:16). Peter reinforces his argument by declaring that Jesus, after His resurrection, had been seen alive by His apostles (Acts 2:32). Biblically we know that after Jesus’ resurrection, He was seen alive by many eyewitnesses, which included Mary Magdalene and other women (John 20:11-18; Matt 28:8-9), two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-32), the disciples without Thomas (John 20:19-25), the disciples with Thomas (John 20:26-29), the disciples by the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1-23), Peter, James, and more than 500 brethren at one time (1 Cor 15:5-7), the disciples at Jerusalem before His ascension (Acts 1:3-9), Stephen (Acts 7:56), Paul (Acts 9:1-6; 1 Cor 15:8), and John on the island of Patmos (Rev 1:9-18). The overwhelming argument of Scripture is that Jesus is alive and in heaven, awaiting His return to earth. Peter continued his message, saying: "Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear [the miraculous sign of tongues/foreign languages]. 34 “For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: ‘THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, “SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, 35 UNTIL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR YOUR FEET [Psa 110:1].”’ 36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified [Matt 27:23-25].” 37 Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” 38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins [i.e. sins regarding the rejection and crucifixion of Christ; cf. Acts 2:23, 36]; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:33-38)      Jesus, having been exalted to heaven and to the right hand of the Father, sent forth the Holy Spirit to begin His special ministry in the world, which was inaugurated with the miraculous sign of tongues the Jews in Jerusalem were witnessing (Acts 2:33-35). Peter placed the guilt of Jesus’s crucifixion squarely on his audience, fellow Israelites (Acts 2:36). Of course, they did not act alone, but in concert with Gentiles (Acts 4:27). And his audience possessed positive volition and were “pierced to the heart” and asked Peter and the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). Peter’s answer demonstrated God’s grace, whereby his hearers could be forgiven and made right with God for the sin they’d committed. Peter said, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). The Greek verb repent (μετανοέω metanoeo), according to BDAG, means to “change one’s mind.”[1] Many Bible teachers argue the word denotes a change of behavior, and though this is the likely outcome, it starts with a change of mind. In this context, Peter is calling his hearers to change their minds about Christ and to accept Him as the Messiah. According to Stanley Toussaint, “This verb (metanoēsate) means ‘change your outlook,’ or ‘have a change of heart; reverse the direction of your life.’ This obviously results in a change of conduct, but the emphasis is on the mind or outlook. The Jews had rejected Jesus; now they were to trust in Him.”[2] The next part of the verse reads, “and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38b). Concerning Acts 2:38, Arnold Fruchtenbaum states: "Peter answered that they [the Jews] must do two things. First, they must repent, which means they had “to change their minds” (v. 38a). What they needed to change their minds about was the accusation that Yeshua was demon possessed and therefore could not be the Messiah (Matt 12:22-45). In this first imperative, Peter used the second person plural, ordering, Repent ye. By doing so, he pointed out that the first of the two things they must do had priority. These Jewish people listening to Peter were part of the nation and part of “that generation” that had committed the unpardonable sin. As such they were under divine judgment. But while the sin was unpardonable nationally, it was pardonable for the individual. If these Jewish individuals would repent, that is, change their minds about Yeshua, they would be saved spiritually. Second, they had to be baptized (vs. 38b). Addressing the people as every one of you, Peter used the third person singular in the verb baptistheto, which shows that this was a lesser priority. To baptize means “to change one’s association.” In a Jewish context to baptize or immerse meant to identify oneself with a message and/or a person and/or a group. True repentance demanded the witness of water baptism. For the individual Jew of that generation, to escape the judgment that was coming in the year A.D. 70, he must sever his connection with the Judaism that rejected the Messiahship of Yeshua. The means of separating himself from rabbinic Judaism was water baptism. By means of water baptism, the believers would identify themselves with a new group; so, it would mean separation from the old group. Every time the scriptures connect baptism so closely with salvation, the topic being addressed is to a Jewish audience. This is true here in Acts 2:38 and is also true in Acts 22:16. It is important to note that this baptism with a view to salvation referred to the physical salvation from the coming judgment. Baptism would not save anyone spiritually, but it would physically save the Jewish individuals of that generation from the A.D. 70 judgment. Peter then added that this baptism must be in the name of Yeshua the Messiah as the new association. This would distinguish the baptism of those who believed in the Messiahship of Yeshua from all other baptisms, such as proselyte baptism or John’s baptism."[3]      This is a helpful understanding, for there are some Christians who confuse water baptism with spiritual salvation (i.e., Catholics, Anglicans, Church of Christ, etc.). Such an understanding would deny many passages of Scripture that reveal salvation is by grace alone (Eph 2:8-9), through faith alone (Rom 3:28), in Christ alone (Acts 4:12). According to Lewis Sperry Chafer, “the New Testament declares directly and without complication in at least 150 passages that men are saved upon the sole principle of faith.”[4] The apostle Peter continued his message to his Jewish audience, saying: "For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself. 40 And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation!” 41 So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls." (Acts 2:39-41)      Though many Israelites had acted corruptly by rejecting Jesus as their Messiah and having Him crucified (see Acts 2:23, 36; 4:27), they could be saved from their “perverse generation” by changing their minds about Him and trusting in Him as Messiah. Thankfully, many accepted Peter’s message and trusted in Christ and were publicly baptized. The result was about three thousand people were added to the Church, the body of Christ. The following verses reveal the fellowship that was experienced by the first Christian church in Jerusalem. "They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. 44 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45 and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need." (Acts 2:42-45)      Here we observe the basic activities of the early church as they devoted themselves to: 1) the apostle’s teaching, 2) fellowship, 3) the breaking of bread (i.e. the Lord’s Supper), and 4) prayer (Acts 2:42). The words continually devoting themselves translates the Greek word προσκαρτερέω proskartereo, which means to “busy oneself with, be busily engaged in, be devoted to… to hold fast to, continue in, persevere in something.”[5] Here was a commitment in the heart of these believers to gather themselves to the apostles whenever they taught and to practice what they’d learned. Orthodoxy (correct doctrine) precedes orthopraxy (correct living). This is always the proper order, for we cannot live what we do now know, as learning God’s Word necessarily precedes living His will. And all this took place within the context of the Christian community as believers fellowshipped together, partook of the Lord’s Supper, and prayed for each other.      Luke records that everyone had a sense of awe as God continued to work through His apostles, as “many wonders and signs were taking place” through them (Acts 2:43). And there was a sense of community and personal responsibility for each other, as “all those who had believed were together and had all things in common” (Acts 2:44). It appears these Christians were very grace oriented and open-handed with each other and were sharing material goods and helping each other as needed, meeting and sharing meals “from house to house” (Acts 2:45). According to Charles Ryrie, “This community of goods seems to have been limited to the early years of the Jerusalem church only. It may have been necessitated by the many pilgrims who lingered in Jerusalem to learn more of their new Christian faith.”[6]      Some have argued that this section in Acts promotes a communistic model. But such an understanding is wrong, as the believers were willingly giving of their resources to help meet the needs of other Christians. According to Earl Radmacher, “In communism the state uses the police power to accomplish the desired result. Here, the pooling of resources was not obligatory but a free expression of love to those who were poor and hurting. Communism desires a permanent restructuring of society, while the distribution in this case was limited and temporary until the severe crisis was dealt with because of the great influx of Christian converts.”[7]      These Christians continued in fellowship together and the church continued to grow. Luke tells us, “Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:46-47). Here is a picture of loving fellowship. Thomas Constable notes: "This progress report summarizes the growth of the church thus far. It is one of seven in Acts, each of which concludes a major advance of the church in its worldwide mission (cf. Acts 6:7; 9:31; 12:24; 16:5; 19:20; 28:30–31). The believers met with one another daily and enjoying the unity of the Spirit. They congregated in the temple area, probably for discussion and evangelization (cf. Acts 3:11; 5:12). Probably these Jewish believers considered themselves the true remnant within Israel until they began to realize the distinctiveness of the church. They ate meals and observed the Lord’s Supper together in homes."[8]      We know from Acts 2:46 and other passages that the early church met in homes as a regular practice (cf., 1 Cor 16:19; Col 4:15; Philemon 1:2). Here, the general attitude is seen as ideal, as these Christians “were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people” (Acts 2:46b-47a). And since God was building His church at this time, Luke tells us, “the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47b).   [1] William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 640. [2] Stanley D. Toussaint, “Acts,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 359. [3] Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Book of Acts (San Antonio, TX, Publish by Ariel Ministries), 79. [4] Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, vol. 3 (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1993), 392–393. [5] William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 881. [6] Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Ryrie Study Bible: New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, Expanded ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1995), 1731. [7] Earl D. Radmacher, Ronald Barclay Allen, and H. Wayne House, Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary (Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers, 1999), 1371. [8] Tom Constable, Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Acts 2:46.
3/19/202341 minutes, 18 seconds
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D90 - Deuteronomy 31:1-13 - Opening to Moses’ Final Speech Concerning his Death and Appointing Joshua as his Successor

Introduction      In these final four chapters (31-34), we transition from Moses to Joshua as the leader of Israel, as God will work through Joshua to bring His people into the land of Canaan. In these closing chapters, Moses gives great attention to the Torah as God’s Word which provides a framework for the covenant relationship between God and His people. The Torah is the basis for success, if the people are positive to God and and walk in obedience to His Word (Deut 11:26-28). According to Eugene Merrill, “Israel was not to be a nation of anarchists or even of strong human leaders. It was a theocratic community with the Lord as King and with his covenant revelation as fundamental constitution and law. The theme of this section is the enshrinement of that law, the proper role of Mosaic succession, and the ultimate authority of covenant mandate over human institutions.”[1]Lastly, these final chapters will focus largely on Moses’ pending death and his encouraging Joshua to take his place as the nation’s leader. Peter Craigie states: "The approaching decease of Moses, which has already been anticipated (see Deut 1:37–38 and 3:23–29), now becomes the central focus for the remaining chapters of the book. Moses is aware of his approaching death, and in the light of that fact he once again encourages the people in their faith and takes care of some final practical matters relating to the covenant community. First he encourages the people as a whole (vv. 1–6), and then, in the presence of the people, he encourages Joshua in particular, who would soon be assuming the role of leadership (vv. 7–8)."[2] Text      This pericope opens with Moses speaking to the nation of Israel as a whole. The text reads, “So Moses went and spoke these words to all Israel. 2 And he said to them, ‘I am a hundred and twenty years old today; I am no longer able to come and go, and the LORD has said to me, “You shall not cross this Jordan’” (Deut 31:1-2). Here, we see Moses reminding his people, for the third time, that God has not granted him permission to enter the land of Canaan because of his prior disobedience (Deut 1:37; 3:23-29; 31:2). Earl Kalland states, “Moses did not die because his natural strength was gone (Deut 34:7) but because the time for Israel’s entrance into Canaan had come, and Moses was not to enter the land. That was precluded by his arrogance before the people at the waters of Meribah when he struck the rock twice to bring out water though the Lord had told him only to speak to the rock.”[3]And Eugene Merrill notes: "With his admission that he was a hundred and twenty years old, Moses was tacitly preparing the people for his death. He was forty when he fled Egypt to find refuge in Midian (Acts 7:23), eighty at the time of the exodus (i.e., forty years earlier than the present time; cf. Deut 2:7; 29:5), and now three times forty. There was no mistaking the meaning of this periodizing of Moses’ life. The first two eras culminated in escapes from mortal danger into the deserts. This time, however, there was no escape, for his sin in the desert had effectively closed that door (cf. Num 20:12; 27:12–14). The urgent need for orderly succession was most apparent."[4]      Moses continues his address, saying, “It is the LORD your God who will cross ahead of you; He will destroy these nations before you, and you shall dispossess them. Joshua is the one who will cross ahead of you, just as the LORD has spoken. 4 The LORD will do to them just as He did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, and to their land, when He destroyed them. 5 The LORD will deliver them up before you, and you shall do to them according to all the commandments which I have commanded you” (Deut 31:3-5). Though Joshua was going to lead God’s people into the land, everyone was to know it was ultimately the Lord who was leading them to victory and blessing (Deut 31:3; cf., Deut 1:30; 9:3; 20:1-4).      Moses provides divine viewpoint to the nation so they would be strengthened in their inner person to face the challenges ahead. Moses told them, “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you” (Deut 31:6). Here was a promise of God’s presence and protection as they followed His directives and went into the land of Canaan. According to Earl Radmacher, “The Lord was the Divine Warrior, the commander-in-chief of Israel’s forces. He will not leave you nor forsake you: Moses reminded the people that God had promised to remain with them, to protect them, bless them, and fight for them (Josh 1:5; 1 Ki 8:57).”[5] The confidence of the Israelites was not drawn from their own abilities, but from the Lord’s ability to lead them and to give them victory. This required them to maintain mental focus on God throughout the journey, even when they were facing their enemies in combat. The Israelites were to focus on God while slaying their enemies. This requires discipline of mind and will.      Next, Moses called to Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land which the LORD has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall give it to them as an inheritance. 8 The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed” (Deut 31:7-8). Here again is divine viewpoint given to Joshua to strengthen and encourage him to the task ahead. This helps us see Moses’ greatness, for rather than be bitter that he could not enter the land, he graciously hands the mantle of leadership over to his successor, Joshua. And Joshua had been known by the people for many decades. Warren Wiersbe states: "Joshua wasn’t a stranger to the people of Israel, for he’d been serving them well ever since they left Egypt. He was Moses’ servant long before he became Moses’ successor (Ex 33:11; see Matt 25:21). It was Joshua who led the Jewish army in defeating the Amalekites when they attacked the nation after the Exodus (Ex 17:8–16), and he had been with Moses on Mount Sinai (Ex 24:13; 32:17). Joshua was one of the twelve spies who scouted out Canaan, and he and Caleb stood with Moses and Aaron in encouraging the people to trust God and claim the land (Num 13–14). In answer to Moses’ prayer for a leader to succeed him, God appointed Joshua and Moses commissioned him before the whole congregation (Num 27:12–23)."[6]      The text informs us, “So Moses wrote this law and gave it to the priests, the sons of Levi who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel” (Deut 31:9). Here we have one of the clearest statements in Scripture about Mosaic authorship, as the text tells us, “Moses wrote this law” and handed it over to the priests for safekeeping (cf., Deut 31:24-25). The written law is mentioned elsewhere in the book (Deut 28:58; 29:20-21, 27). God created language which He intended to serve as a means of theological expression between Himself and mankind. Sin has corrupted the human nature, and fallen mankind often uses language contrary to God’s original purposes, either excluding Him from their thoughts and words, or creating a god of their own imaginations and worshipping the creature rather than the Creator.      The law was for the nation as a whole, to educate and guide them into the Lord’s will, as they learned and lived it day by day. Next, we learn, “Then Moses commanded them, saying, ‘At the end of every seven years, at the time of the year of remission of debts, at the Feast of Booths, 11 when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God at the place which He will choose, you shall read this law in front of all Israel in their hearing’” (Deut 31:10-11). Under the Mosaic Law, all financial debts were forgiven every seven years (cf. Deut 15:1-2). God had established a seven-year cycle the nation was to follow, and this ended when the Feast of Booths was celebrated. At the end of every seven years, those Israelites who had made loans to others within the covenant community were to release them from any remaining debt. The Hebrew word for remission is שְׁמִטָּה shemittah, which means a letting drop. According to Eugene Merrill, “The lender must simply forgive the debt as a necessary consequence of God’s declaration of a “time for canceling debts” (Deut 15:2). This was, as already noted, at the end of seven years, a period not necessarily commencing with the making of the loan but, as v. 9 makes clear, a universally recognized year of release (cf. Ex 23:10–11; Lev 25:2–4).”[7]      The Feast of Booths (סֻכָּה sukkah – hut, shelter) was also known as the Feast of Tabernacles and was an autumn festival that took place in the month of Tishri, which corresponded to September-October. The tabernacles were basically huts constructed of tree branches and foliage, and the Israelites were to live in these temporary structures for seven days (Lev 23:39-43). At the end of every seven years, during the time of the Feast of Booths, Israelites were to cancel any debts owed by their fellow Israelites (Deut 15:1-3; 31:10). According to Earl Radmacher, “These sacred feasts were celebrated by all people and were joyous expressions of gratitude to God (2 Chr. 30:21). They included processions, dancing, and the enjoyment of food and drink (Lev 23:40, 41; Judg 21:19–21).”[8]      It was during this time of remission of debts that the priests in Israel were to read the Torah publicly so that God’s people would know how they were to live before the Lord and experience His blessings (cf., Ezra 7:10; Neh 8:1-6; Mal 2:4-7). God gave His Word to His people, but they were to be responsible with how they handled it. The priests were to communicate it to the nation as a whole (Deut 31:10-11), and parents were to teach it to their children (Deut 6:6-7). These public readings of God’s Word would serve to educate future generations about the Lord and their covenant relationship with Him. Of course, the clear communication of God’s Word to others must be met with positive volition by succeeding generations for God’s blessings to follow. Daniel Block notes that “future readings of the Torah will provide succeeding generations with regular opportunities for renewal and actualization of their covenant relationship with Him.”[9]      Moses concludes this pericope, saying, “Assemble the people, the men and the women and children and the alien who is in your town, so that they may hear and learn and fear the LORD your God, and be careful to observe all the words of this law. 13 Their children, who have not known, will hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as you live on the land which you are about to cross the Jordan to possess” (Deut 31:12-13). All the residents of the nation were to assemble every seven years for the public reading of the book of Deuteronomy. Earl Kalland correctly notes: "Attendance at the feast was to be a joyous occasion for all the people: men, women, sons, daughters, menservants, maidservants, Levites, aliens, fatherless, and widows (Deut 16:14). The law was to be read before all these people (Deut 31:12). The children were singled out for special mention because they did not know the law (Deut 31:13). This reading of the law once every seven years would not be sufficient to inculcate its teachings in the minds of either the children or the adults. This septennial reading does not obviate the teaching ministry of the home (Deut 6:1-9) or that of the priests (Deut 17:11; 24:8; Lev 10:11). It is meant, rather, to strengthen these other teaching procedures, to focus the attention of the people as a nation on the revelation of God on a dramatic and joyful occasion. It would also dramatize the learning of the law for those children and others who had not been reached by the other teaching procedures in home and tabernacle."[10]      The nation’s future blessings were dependent on their knowledge of God’s Word and regular application of it to everyday life. For those who were older and knew the Lord’s Word, it would serve to remind them and reinvigorate them in their relationship with God. For those who were younger, it would introduce them to God and His Word and provide the basis for a blessed life (Deut 11:26-28). Based on God’s directives to His people, it is assumed three groups of people possessed copies of the Law. First were the priests, who were required to teach it to others (Deut 31:9; cf., Ezra 7:10; Neh 8:1-6; Mal 2:4-7), and help adjudicate legal matters (see Deut 21:5). Second was the king, who was required to write out his own copy of the law and carry it with him all his life and to study and live by it (Deut 17:18-20). Third were the parents in the home who were instructed to teach it to their children day by day (Deut 6:6-7). According to Jack Deere, “It was rare for an individual to possess a copy of the Scriptures. A person gained a knowledge of the Scriptures through being taught by his parents and the priests and through its public reading at times like this. So the public reading of the Law was of great significance.”[11] Learning God’s Word was to lead to a healthy fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord is a repeated theme throughout Deuteronomy (Deut 6:1-2, 24; 10:12, 20; 14:23; 17:18-19). Present Application      As God’s people, we are reminded over and over that God is with us (Heb 13:5), and for us (Rom 8:31). God, who helped His people in the past, still helps His people today, “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,’ so that we confidently say, ‘the Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?’” (Heb 13:5-6). When the writer to Hebrews says, “so that we confidently say”, he’s referring to the self-talk that goes on in our heads when we face a challenging situation. We do well to remember that adverse situations are inevitable, but stress in the soul is optional, as we can take up “the shield of faith” (Eph 6:16) and protect ourselves from the enemy’s attacks. Living every moment in the light of that truth helps to strengthen us to face each day with confidence. This requires a disciplined mind and a walk of faith as we intentionally bring God and His Word into every event. Christian courage is the result of a mind saturated with God’s Word and operates by faith in the face of adversity. When faced with a crisis, focus of mind and faith in God operate together like a hand in a glove. And whatever the crisis we’re facing, whether the charge of the elephant or the charge of the mosquito, we can stand confidently on God’s Word and be courageous in the moment.      And, as God’s people, we are to “encourage one another and build up one another” on a regular basis (1 Th 5:11; cf. Heb 3:13). To encourage (in-courage) someone is to impart courage to them so they can be sustained in a difficult situation. It is to cheer them on, to build them up, to boost their morale, to strengthen them internally so they will move forward to achieve a goal. Athletes understand the power a coach or fans have when cheering them on. Words are often the most common means of encouraging others. Solomon tells us, “Anxiety in a man’s heart weighs it down, but a good word makes it glad” (Prov 12:25), and “The Lord GOD has given Me the tongue of disciples, that I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word” (Isa 50:4a). Christian courage is not the absence of fear; rather, it’s the overcoming of fear to do that which God says is right. Let us always be good students of God’s Word so that we can operate on divine viewpoint and obey His directives. In this way, we will learn to live righteously in a fallen world and to encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ to walk in truth and love, and to be a light for others by sharing the Gospel and communicating His Word to those who will listen.     [1] Eugene H. Merrill, Deuteronomy, vol. 4, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 395. [2] Peter C. Craigie, The Book of Deuteronomy, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1976), 369. [3] Earl S. Kalland, “Deuteronomy,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 3 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1992), 191. [4] Eugene H. Merrill, Deuteronomy, vol. 4, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 397. [5] Earl D. Radmacher, Ronald Barclay Allen, and H. Wayne House, Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary (Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers, 1999), 265. [6] Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Equipped, “Be” Commentary Series (Colorado Springs, CO: Chariot Victor Pub., 1999), 178. [7] Eugene H. Merrill, Deuteronomy, vol. 4, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 243. [8] Earl D. Radmacher, Ronald Barclay Allen, and H. Wayne House, Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary (Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers, 1999), 265. [9] Daniel I. Block, The NIV Application Commentary: Deuteronomy, ed. Terry Muck (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012), 725–726. [10] Earl S. Kalland, “Deuteronomy,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 & 2 Samuel, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 3 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1992), 193–194. [11] Jack S. Deere, “Deuteronomy,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 317.
3/19/20231 hour, 3 minutes, 43 seconds
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A Survey of Christian Theology - Lecture #19 - Ecclesiology I

Every Christian should have a basic knowledge of the doctrines found in God’s Word. This series of lectures will provide some of the basics of Christian Theology and is intended to help the growing believer advance in his/her knowledge of God and His Word. A complete set of my study notes can be found here: https://thinkingonscripture.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/A-Survey-of-Theology-Lecture-Notes-1.pdf 
3/18/20231 hour, 25 minutes, 39 seconds
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Survey of Christian Theology - Lecture #18 - Divine Election

Every Christian should have a basic knowledge of the doctrines found in God’s Word. This series of lectures will provide some of the basics of Christian Theology and is intended to help the growing believer advance in his/her knowledge of God and His Word. A complete set of my study notes can be found here: https://thinkingonscripture.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/A-Survey-of-Theology-Lecture-Notes.pdf 
3/15/202357 minutes, 12 seconds
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Survey of Christian Theology - Lecture #17 - Assurance and Security of the Believer

Every Christian should have a basic knowledge of the doctrines found in God’s Word. This series of lectures will provide some of the basics of Christian Theology and is intended to help the growing believer advance in his/her knowledge of God and His Word. A complete set of my study notes can be found here: https://thinkingonscripture.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/A-Survey-of-Theology-Lecture-Notes.pdf
3/12/20231 hour, 2 minutes, 7 seconds
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Survey of Christian Theology - Lecture #16 Sanctification & Spiritual Growth

Every Christian should have a basic knowledge of the doctrines found in God’s Word. This series of lectures will provide some of the basics of Christian Theology and is intended to help the growing believer advance in his/her knowledge of God and His Word. A complete set of my study notes can be found here: https://thinkingonscripture.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/A-Survey-of-Theology-Lecture-Notes.pdf
3/9/20231 hour, 20 minutes, 57 seconds
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Survey of Christian Theology - Lecture #15 - Soteriology

Every Christian should have a basic knowledge of the doctrines found in God’s Word. This series of lectures will provide some of the basics of Christian Theology and is intended to help the growing believer advance in his/her knowledge of God and His Word. A complete set of my study notes can be found here: https://thinkingonscripture.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/A-Survey-of-Theology-Lecture-Notes.pdf
3/6/20231 hour, 4 minutes, 23 seconds
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The Beginning of the Church - Acts 2

     In acts chapter 2, we observe the beginning of the Church and the shift to a new dispensation. Luke wrote. “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them” (Acts 2:1-3). The Day of Pentecost was ten days after the Lord’s ascension into heaven. And the physical manifestation of the Holy Spirit was observed as tongues of fire that rested upon each person, an event that occurred only once in Scripture.      Luke continues to ell us, “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance” (Acts 2:4). To be filled with the Holy Spirit means to be under His guiding influence. The phrase, filled with, is used elsewhere in Scripture. We learn that the Pharisees were “filled with rage” (Luke 6:11), which meant they were controlled by rage. And later the Sadducees were said to be “filled with jealousy” (Act 5:17), which meant they were controlled by jealousy. Likewise, to be “filled with the Holy Spirit” meant the apostles were controlled by the Holy Spirit. The filling of the Holy Spirit is to be distinguished from the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit. According to Stanley Toussaint, “The filling with the Holy Spirit is separate from the baptism of the Spirit. The Spirit’s baptism occurs once for each believer at the moment of salvation (cf. Acts 11:15-16; Rom 6:3; 1 Cor 12:13; Col 2:12), but the Spirit’s filling may occur not only at salvation but also on a number of occasions after salvation (Acts 4:8, 31; 6:3, 5; 7:55; 9:17; 13:9, 52).”[1] An interesting occurrence is noted throughout the Scriptures in which the filling of the Spirit is followed by speech, in which the person communicates divine viewpoint revelation (Luke 1:41-42, 67; Acts 2:4; 4:8, 31; 13:9-10; Eph 5:18-19).      To speak with other tongues (γλῶσσα glossa – the tongue, a foreign language) meant God the Holy Spirit was working supernaturally through them to speak a foreign language. Biblically, these were human languages (cf., Acts 10:46; 19:6). According to Earl Radmacher, “The word translated ‘tongues’ here is the normal Greek word for known languages. Speaking in ‘tongues’ or diverse languages underscored the universal outreach of the church. These witnesses were speaking foreign dialects to the people who had gathered for Pentecost from other nations.”[2] Stanley Toussaint agrees, saying, “An evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit was other tongues (heterais glōssais; cf. 11:15–16). These were undoubtedly spoken living languages; the word used in 2:6, 8 is dialektō, which means ‘language’ and not ecstatic utterance.”[3]      This writer believes the church began in Acts 2. The believer is added to the church, the body of Christ, by means of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, in which the Spirit places the believer into union with Christ. Paul wrote, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Cor 12:13). The body is none other than the body of Christ. Paul, in Ephesians, wrote about “the church, which is His body” (Eph 1:22-23). The body and the church are one. Understanding this, we consider Luke’s words in Acts 1:4-5, in which he describes the baptizing work as yet future, saying that Jesus “commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, ‘Which,’ He said, ‘you heard of from Me; 15 for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now’” (Acts 1:4-5). The “not many days” was the Day of Pentecost. Later, when Peter was recalling his preaching to Cornelius, he explained, “as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as He did upon us at the beginning [in Acts 2:1-4]. 16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit’” (Acts 11:15-16). According to Stanley Toussaint: "This event marked the beginning of the church. Up to this point the church was anticipated (Matt 16:18). The church is constituted a body by means of Spirit baptism (1 Cor 12:13). The first occurrence of the baptism of the Spirit therefore must indicate the inauguration of the church. Of course Acts 2:1-4 does not state that Spirit baptism took place at Pentecost. However, Acts 1:5 anticipates it and Acts 11:15-16 refers back to it as having occurred at Pentecost. The church, therefore, came into existence then."[4] Lewis Sperry Chafer agrees, saying: "The Spirit made His advent into the world here to abide throughout this dispensation. As Christ is now located at the right hand of the Father, though omnipresent, so the Spirit, though omnipresent, is now locally abiding in the world, in a temple, or habitation, of living stones (Eph 2:19-22). The individual believer is also spoken of as a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19). The Spirit will not leave the world, or even one stone of that building until the age-long purpose of forming that temple is finished…The Spirit came on the Day of Pentecost and that aspect of the meaning of Pentecost will no more be repeated than the incarnation of Christ. There is no occasion to call the Spirit to “come,” for He is here."[5]      It seems fairly straight forward that the church began in Acts 2:1-4, though some of our beloved brothers and sisters in Christ hold to different views. Most Reformed/Covenant  believers hold that the church began with the first convert in the OT, arguing that the church consists of all believers of all time. Some Baptists believe the church began with John the Baptist. And, some ultra-dispensationalists believe the church began in Acts 13, or after Acts 28. Though we may disagree with others on this matter, there should always be love and grace. Acts 2:5-13 reads as follows: Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own [human] language. 7 They were amazed and astonished, saying, “Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans [typically unilingual]? 8 “And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born? 9 “Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God [i.e. the gospel message].” 12 And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others [cynics] were mocking and saying, “They are full of sweet wine.” (Acts 2:5-13)      Here we observe the supernatural work of God the Holy Spirit working through the apostles in which the mighty deeds of God were being proclaimed. According to Charles Ryrie, “At first the people were amazed (literally, wide-open astonishment, v. 7). Then they were perplexed or at a loss to understand what they were witnessing (v. 12). They knew that they did not know what was going on, and since ignorance is always a blow to man’s pride, they were driven to criticism (v. 13). They concluded that the disciples were drunk (cf. Eph. 5:18).”[6] Summary In Acts 2:1-13, God poured forth His Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost just as He promised, and the church was born (cf., Matt 16:18; Acts 1:4-5). In Acts 2 the church was purely Jewish, but Acts 8, 10 and 15 will reveal that Gentiles have an equal place in the body of Christ (cf., 1 Cor 10:32; Gal 3:26-28). Acts 2 also marks the transition from the Mosaic Law to the Church age. According to Acts chapter 2, tongues refer to human languages that the disciples were able to speak for the benefit of sharing God’s revelation with others. The foreign language was unknown to the speaker, but was plainly understood to the hearer. In all, about fifteen different human languages are mentioned in Acts chapter 2. At the Tower of Babel God supernaturally divided the languages of men in order to scatter them (Gen 11:7-9), but here, God is temporarily reversing it to unite them. The coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost marked major spiritual changes for believers in the church age, which include: Regeneration (John 3:6; Tit 3:5; 1 Pet 1:3; 23). Spirit-baptism (Acts 1:4-5; 11:15-16; 1 Cor 12:13; Gal 3:27-28). Indwelling (Rom 8:9; Eph 1:13-14; 1 Cor 6:19). Sealing (2 Cor 1:21-22; Eph 1:13; 4:30). Providing a spiritual gift (Rom 12:4-8; 1 Cor 12:27-31; Eph 4:11; 1 Pet 4:10). Illuminating the believer’s mind to Scripture (1 Cor 2:11-15). Filling (i.e., guiding) each believer for service (Eph 5:18). Walking with (i.e., directing) each believer (Gal 5:16, 21).      The first five activities by the Holy Spirit occur at the moment of salvation and are never repeated. However, the illuminating, filling, and walking ministries of the Holy Spirit are ongoing throughout the believer’s life from regeneration onward until he/she is taken to heaven. The Holy Spirit never forces Himself on the Christian and can be quenched or grieved (1 Th 5:19; Eph 4:30). It is only the submissive believer who is learning and living God’s Word on a regular basis who knows the spiritual walk.     [1] Stanley D. Toussaint, “Acts,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 357. [2] Earl D. Radmacher, Ronald Barclay Allen, and H. Wayne House, Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary (Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers, 1999), 1368. [3] Stanley D. Toussaint, “Acts,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, 357. [4] Ibid., 357. [5] Lewis S. Chafer, He that is Spiritual (Grand Rapids, Mich. Zondervan Publishing, 1967), 26. [6] Charles C. Ryrie, Acts of the Apostles, Everyman’s Bible Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1961), 19–20.
3/5/202343 minutes, 20 seconds