God as our Delight

If we perceive God as raw, selfish power, we will bow before Him in fear, but not in delight.

If we perceive God as loving and kind, but not as just and wrathful, we will perhaps worship Him for meaning well.

But if we see Him as He is: omnipotent, angry at sinners, and ready to judge as well as fiercely loving, faithful, and jealous for our hearts, then we see Jesus Christ crucified for us.

There, on the plain looking Roman cross some 2,000 years ago, a plain looking man was executed in a short time by a road outside Jerusalem, but what the eyes of the people could not see was Jesus, having become your sin and mine in the Father’s eyes, being wrenched away from the love and fellowship of His Father; there the Son was given the penalty for all you deserve in an eternal hell of fire. There the Son willingly, lovingly laid down His life as a physical, spiritual sacrifice to earn your acceptance with God. And there… the Father loved us infinitely.

Wrath and love. Power and mercy. Anger and love. God is worthy of our praises.

From Tim Keller’s Walking with God through Pain and Suffering:

“Jonathan Edwards once said: ‘God is glorified not only by His glory’s being seen, but by its being rejoiced in.’ It is not enough to say, ‘I guess he is God, so I have got to knuckle under.’ You have to see his beauty. Glorifying God does not mean obeying him only because you have to. It means to obey him because you want to — because you are attracted to him, because you delight in him. This is what C. S. Lewis grasped and explained so well in his chapter on praising. We need beauty.”(170)

Thanks for reading,

Adam

Did Jesus Die for Every Person?

Yes He did. But how if all are not saved?

Payment for all...

Payment for all…

Commercial/Pecuniary Model

This high-Calvinist model of the atonement defines the doctrine in commercial, or pecuniary terms. The word “pecuniary” is derived from the trade of cattle, and in regard to the atonement, refers to Jesus’ blood being just so efficacious so as to purchase all of the elect, but not one more person than that. Yet the Bible does not unambiguously define the atonement in such language.

So then in what way did He die for those who will end up in hell for eternity? We see that He died to propitiate the wrath of God, “not for our sins only, but also for the whole world” (1 John 2:2), and that in His death, He effectually purchased His entire elect people (Matt. 1:21; Eph. 5:25 et al).

We see that He “tasted death for everyone” (Heb. 2:9), but the atonement, we see, results directly in the salvation of the elect (Heb. 9:23-28).

So then does the effectual redemption of the elect preclude His having made a redemptive payment for all people? Scripture does not seem to draw the line of limitation here. The limiting of the atonement, rather, is in how it was designed to be applied – “to all who believe” (Rom. 1:16). If we pay careful attention to each passage that teaches us about what happened in the atonement, we nowhere see that the effectual redemption of the elect necessarily means a payment has not been made for the sins of all individuals at all times. The Calvinistic “L” in TULIP is a logical construct, but it fails to regard the full picture of redemption Christ accomplished.

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Receive God’s Sabbath or You will Never Find Rest

A family friend of ours is dying of cancer, and she is a lifelong Roman Catholic. Will she “Rest in Peace” if she dies trusting in the Roman Catholic teachings?

Hill Cumorah

Near to where I live, each July thousands of people stream into Palmyra, New York to see the Hill Cumorah pageant put on by the Mormon church. The festival goers are being drawn into the promise of eternal godhood – the possession of a planet and the peace of the celestial kingdom. Will these fine people find their rest in the doctrines of the prophet Joseph Smith and his scriptures?

Recently my wife and I had a married couple of the Jehovah’s Witnesses to our house for a discussion about the Bible.

JW tract

They smilingly shared with us of how Jehovah God is creating a paradise earth for all who will obey him and keep fellowship with their religion only. Will these sincere people eternally harvest corn, fruit, and soybeans on the new earth?

I’ve known scads of professing evangelicals who are relying on their own sincerity and obedience to God in hoping they can pull it off – hoping they might be good enough Christians (stay away from bad movies, respect your elders, and don’t drink alcohol) to please God and be found faithful on the last day… Continue reading

How Christians Keep or Violate the Sabbath

As the new covenant people of God, Christians are to keep the Sabbath. The fourth commandment is no less timeless than the other nine, and so we must keep it entirely. Yet the difference between old and new covenant Sabbath keeping is radical. Jesus fulfilled and redefined Sabbath keeping, having done away with the types and shadows. He has granted to His people the fullness of rest in Him.

Breaking the Sabbath in New Ways

Unfortunately, we Christians violate the fourth commandment  by our efforts to adjust our standing with God by the keeping of regulations. Regarding the Lord’s Sabbath rest, we are violating His law as we attempt to make our way to Him by our keeping of that law – including our special behaviors and rituals on Sundays.

If on Sundays we pray extra long, don’t stop to pump gas, and make sure not to fuss too much in the kitchen because we are attempting to gain something from Him, we have missed the point of Christ’s life, death, resurrection, and rest for us at the Father’s right hand.

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How I Answered 6 Arminian Questions

Our brother the Seeking Disciple posted 6 questions for Calvinists. I answered them in the best way I can, as someone not-quite Calvinist. Check it:

Rather than “Calvinist,” I qualify more so as monergist, or sovereign grace Baptist. Here’s my best attempt.

Arminian question #1. Why preach ‘repent or perish’ when the non-elect can’t repent and the elect can’t perish?

A) Because God is worthy of the repentance of every man, woman, and child on earth, and to command anything less would be to lessen His holy Law.

B) Because God uses means to accomplish His plan, and in order for His people to be saved, we must preach the gospel, and even lay down our lives to reach every tribe on earth

(2 Tim. 2:8-10 8 Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel, 9 for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained. 10 Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.)

C) Because Christ commanded it, and Christ is more loving than we can imagine. The preaching of the gospel is an expression of His love to every person, and His desire that all people would come to repentance. It is an error of rationalism to conclude that because God desires all people to come to repentance that therefore He makes equal provision for all. (More on that below.) Our hearts ought to be content in trusting our Father, that since He loved the world in such a way that He gave His only Son, that therefore every living person is a potentially “elect” person, and ought to be commanded and loved and plead with to enter the kingdom through repentance and faith. That is Calvinism as I know it, and as I practice it.

Arminian question #2. How can God hold the non-elect responsible for ‘not believing’ and damn them for it, when He deliberately did not give them the faith to enable them to believe in the first place?

The foundation of this question is flawed. God holds people responsible for knowing Him and suppressing that knowledge in unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18-21). Try asking this: how could God hold the angels who rebelled responsible for their continued rebellion when He sent them no Savior or redemption? Is that fair? The Calvinist (or monergist like me) does his best to refrain from putting God on the witness stand to be judged and questioned – and we marvel that not only are a few saved, but as John sees in Revelation, a sea of people are with Christ, too numerous to count. Hallelujah!

Arminian question #3. If Christ has already made an efficacious atonement for the sins of an elect person, is that elect person actually lost during the period prior to their being saved?

Yes. Eph. 2:3 we were once the children of wrath. Calvinists who believe in eternal justification are in serious error. Also, Calvinists in general do not express the atonement in a fully biblical language, in my understanding. Christ died for everyone, and the Father applies the atonement to whom He will. (This makes me a 4.5 pointer I think).

Arminian question #4. During the period before an elect person gets saved, how are they condemned already (for not believing) when their unbelief (which is a sin) has already been paid for by Christ on the cross?

Instead of rationalism, I choose a biblical doctrine to shape my thinking. Although Jesus atoned for all (or all the elect as Calvinists say), it is not effectual for their justification until applied by the Spirit, and when they repent and trust in Christ. To force eternal justification is to do major violence to all sorts of orthodox biblical categories.

Arminian question #5. If repentance is a gift only given to the elect, what did Jesus mean when He said that some of the people in hell would have repented if they had had the same opportunity as the people to whom He preached?

God knows in His wisdom exactly what type of application is needed from person to person to regenerate them. We have to take the statement at face value. Let’s turn it a little: If God knew what it would have taken for those in hell to have repented, why didn’t He do it? A blatant proof text for monergism/Calvinism.

Arminian question #6. Why does the Spirit of God strive and convict some sinners who later prove, by dying and going to hell, that they were non-elect? What is the purpose of such movings of the Spirit?

I believe (and this is piercing into the secret counsel of God a little bit Deut 29:29) that He is demonstrating His mercies and also the guilt/depravity of His enemies, that though they are given access to all the covenant graces of Christ, yet without His decisive, effectual grace of regeneration, they will ultimately persist in unbelief and sin. In a word, demonstration.

Grace in Christ,

-Justin

Crucifixion was Invented After it was Foreseen in the Hebrew Scriptures

I am pretty sure the internet is devoid of commentary on prophecy (that’s sarcasm, folks), so I’d better throw in a dash of red-hot, mind-blowing prophetic power to light up your life.

Peppers

Prophesy Friday is my attempt to counteract some of the atrocious sea of false prophecy and sensationalism out there. If these posts are a blessing to you, please consider sharing them with a friend.

…the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Rev. 19:10

Let’s strengthen our mutual faith together, brothers and sisters. Foresight and clarity of Bible prophecy is one of (if not the) greatest means of growing in our faith in the true God.

The earliest uses of crucifixion date to around the 6th century B.C., but was not in wide use until centuries later.

Think with me now. The Bible is plainly a supernatural work, and the predictive prophecy aspect of it is one of its strongest proofs for this. If someone in the Bible wrote predictive prophecy about someone being crucified long before it was invented, then it is logical to conclude that whoever wrote the prediction had a vision of a future reality.

Check these three Scriptures:

1) Psalm 22, circa 1000 B.C., which is over 1,000 years before Jesus was crucified.

It begins with the words Jesus shouted from the cross of His crucifixion:

My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?

The lament goes on detailing the forsakenness of the crucified one, and then He describes a bodily suffering which is particular to crucifixion:

14 I am poured out like water,
And all My bones are out of joint;
My heart is like wax;
It has melted within Me.
15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
And My tongue clings to My jaws;
You have brought Me to the dust of death.

He is suffering terrible pains of death – but then He says something that cannot be anything but a prophecy of God’s Son, nailed to the accursed tree, suffering the wrath of God in our place:

16 For dogs have surrounded Me;
The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me.

They pierced My hands and My feet;

17 I can count all My bones.
They look and stare at Me.

There was no such method of execution at the time this Psalm was written. But in case someone is still confused as to whom this Psalm refers, He goes on to observe as

18 They divide My garments among them,
And for My clothing they cast lots. (NKJV)

Just like the Roman soldiers did for Jesus’ clothing. Perfect, pure, prophecy.

2) Isaiah 53, circa 730 B.C, over 750 years before Jesus was crucified.

He was bearing our punishment on that cross. Look at what Isaiah said:

Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and Yahweh has laid on him
the iniquity of us all. (ESV)

Life-giving prophecy. Not the screwy, Harold Camping-type junk that fills the internet and “Christian” T.V. – just the pure Scripture of the Holy Spirit, telling us about our glorious Savior centuries before His birth, life, death, and resurrection.

3) Zechariah 12, circa 430 B.C., almost 500 years before Jesus’ crucifixion.

God speaks in the first person here. Think about that, and look:

10 And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. (NKJV)

Jesus, speaking in the first person as Yahweh, God of Israel. The only way they could look on God whom they pierced would be if He became a man, became “piercible.”

Look upon Him, and live.

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

Old Testament on Jesus’ Resurrection

I am pretty sure the internet is devoid of commentary on prophecy (that’s sarcasm, folks), so I’d better throw in a (just a pinch today) of red-hot, mind-blowing prophetic power to light up your life.

Green Red Hot Peppers

Prophesy Friday is my attempt to counteract some of the atrocious sea of false prophecy and sensationalism out there. If these posts are a blessing to you, please consider sharing them with a friend.

…the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Rev. 19:10

Let’s strengthen our mutual faith together, brothers and sisters. Foresight and clarity of Bible prophecy is one of (if not the) greatest means of growing in our faith in the true God.

In light of this past Resurrection Sunday, I’d like to highlight two passages of Old Testament Scripture that speak of the resurrection of Jesus.

1000 Years Before the Resurrection

As Peter preached his first Spirit-filled sermon on the day of Pentecost, he flourishes about his best friend Jesus, saying

Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know—23 Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; 24 whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. 25 For David says concerning Him:

‘I foresaw the Lord always before my face,
For He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken.
26 Therefore my heart rejoiced, and my tongue was glad;
Moreover my flesh also will rest in hope.
27 For You will not leave my soul in Hades,
Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
28 You have made known to me the ways of life;
You will make me full of joy in Your presence’ (Acts 2:22-28 NKJV).

There in verse 27, he quotes from Psalm 16, written 1,000 years before the resurrection. The Holy Spirit gave a glorious, though veiled reference to this central event in the victory of Jesus over sin, death, and the devil. This sermon of Peter’s was perfect, pure, and right in every way (having been written down as Scripture, it cannot be anything else), and he rightly cited the prophecy of David in writing about the resurrection of Jesus in veiled terms so long before.

750 Years Before the Resurrection

As with last week’s Prophecy Friday, Isaiah 53 is the controlling text of Old Testament prophecy about Jesus. Within this glorious passage, Jesus stands tall upon His atoning cross, and rises high from His grave. Look with me at 7-10a

7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, (to be killed)
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
He was taken from prison and from judgment,
And who will declare His generation?
For He was cut off from the land of the living; (He died)

For the transgressions of My people He was stricken. (He died in our place)

And they made His grave with the wicked— (He was buried)

But with the rich at His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was any deceit in His mouth.

10 Yet it pleased Yahweh to bruise Him;
He has put Him to grief. (God punished Jesus in our place to set us free)

OK, see all that? He died under the penalty we deserved. He was buried as a corpse.

But then Isaiah sees something strange, verses 10b-12

10 When You make His soul an offering for sin, (His life in the stead of ours, His pure, infinite life as a sin-offering for the impure, finite people He came to redeem)

He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, (How does someone who dies live to see a prolonging of His days?)

And the pleasure of Yahweh shall prosper in His hand.
11 He shall see the labor of His soul,and be satisfied.
By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many,
For He shall bear their iniquities. (There it is right there, friends. He both dies, and yet He lives. There is only one way for this to happen: resurrection)

12 Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great,
And He shall divide the spoil with the strong,
Because He poured out His soul unto death,
And He was numbered with the transgressors,
And He bore the sin of many,
And made intercession for the transgressors.

Glory to the risen Lamb. Read and re-read until a fire catches in your soul. Jesus lives.

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

You Can’t Keep a Good Savior Dead: Tuesdays with Uncle Athanasius

Resurrection Sunday is just past, and here we are, almost 2,000 years later still celebrating. What are we celebrating? We rejoice that an obscure carpenter from the middle of nowhere, who was brutally put to death by the Roman government, raised Himself from the dead on the third day after His crucifixion. We are celebrating that this obscure carpenter, this peasant man from backwater Galilee was Himself the eternal God in human flesh, and that He somehow managed to put away the enmity between God and rebellious humankind. How did He somehow manage that? He became sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

A divine exchange.

The innocent, offended party reached out to the seething hatred of humanity, and allowed Himself to become the satisfaction for our sin. The innocent for the guilty.

His life was poured out to death, and death swallowed Him whole. In the belly of death, as it began trying to digest Him (like everyone else who ever died), He instead came back to life, bursting the body of death from the inside. Death could not handle Him, this Jesus of Nazareth. He was more than a carpenter. His resurrection is a glorious mystery only partially understood – yet we know that in some mystical way we share in His resurrection – those of us who have called on Him as Lord and been baptized in His name will in like manner defeat death on the final day of history.

Yes, please.

Our dear uncle from almost 1,700 years ago, Athanasius of Alexandria, has so much gold to share with us newer folk. I post quotes from his magnum opus (On the Incarnation) each Tuesday, and so I hope you are in some way helped in your Christian faith by reading these glorious nuggets of theological contemplation. Let’s see what he has to say about all this I’ve been saying.

Uncle Ath?

Yes, kids?

How has death been doing since it met Jesus Christ?

I like this question, kids…

If, then, it is by the sign of the cross and by faith in Christ that death is trampled underfoot, it is clear that it is Christ Himself and none other Who is the Archvictor over death and has robbed it of its power.

Death used to be strong and terrible, but now, since the sojourn of the Savior and the death and resurrection of His body, it is despised; and obviously it is by the very Christ Who mounted on the cross that it has been destroyed and vanquished finally.

When the sun rises after the night and the whole world is lit up by it, nobody doubts that it is the sun which has thus shed its light everywhere and driven away the dark. Equally clear is it, since this utter scorning and trampling down of death has ensued upon the Savior’s manifestation in the body and His death on the cross, that it is He Himself Who brought death to nought and daily raises monuments to His victory in His own disciples.Uncle Athanasius

How can you think otherwise, when you see men naturally weak hastening to death, unafraid at the prospect of corruption, fearless of the descent into Hades, even indeed with eager soul provoking it, not shrinking from tortures, but preferring thus to rush on death for Christ’s sake, rather than to remain in this present life? If you see with your own eyes men and women and children, even, thus welcoming death for the sake of Christ’s religion, how can you be so utterly silly and incredulous and maimed in your mind as not to realize that Christ, to Whom these all bear witness, Himself gives the victory to each, making death completely powerless for those who hold His faith and bear the sign of the cross? No one in his senses doubts that a snake is dead when he sees it trampled underfoot, especially when he knows how savage it used to be; nor, if he sees boys making fun of a lion, does he doubt that the brute is either dead or completely bereft of strength.

These things can be seen with our own eyes, and it is the same with the conquest of death. Doubt no longer, then, when you see death mocked and scorned by those who believe in Christ, that by Christ death was destroyed, and the corruption that goes with it resolved and brought to end.

My favorite uncle.

This convicts me to not hold this life too tightly, and to not be too afraid to meet the toothless death who is powerless to keep me from my Savior and King.

Thanks for reading, and I hope to share in the resurrection of the just with you (are you trusting in Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins?).

-Justin

Beautiful Atonement: Prophesy Good Friday

Prophesy Friday is my attempt to counteract some of the atrocious sea of false prophecy and sensationalism out there. If these posts are a blessing to you, please consider sharing them with a friend.

For this Good Friday, it is only appropriate to call upon the greatest Old Testament prophecy about Jesus. Isaiah chapter 52:13-53:12 is the beautiful picture of the suffering Servant of Yahweh, the One who would be crushed for our iniquities.

Written 700 years before the first Good Friday, Isaiah had the honor of spelling out the means of God’s redemption of Israel. He would lay on Jesus the iniquity of us all.

Read with me the bare naked words of this prophecy, and read them aloud if possible. Read them slowly, with contemplation… and if you have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, read with gratitude. If you have not, here is proof that the Bible is supernatural, for how did a man write these words 700 years before they came true? Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and be baptized for the remission of sins.

I’ve included just a few words in the text [in brackets] which clarify a few obscure terms.

Rejoice.

Isaiah 52:13-53:12 (NKJV)

13 Behold, My Servant shall deal prudently;
He shall be exalted and extolled and be very high.
14 Just as many were astonished at you,
So His visage[face] was marred more than any man,
And His form more than the sons of men;
15 So shall He sprinkle many nations.
Kings shall shut their mouths at Him;
For what had not been told them they shall see,
And what they had not heard they shall consider.

1 Who has believed our report?

And to whom has the arm of Yahweh been revealed?

For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant,
And as a root out of dry ground.
He has no form or comeliness[beauty];
And when we see Him,
There is no beauty that we should desire Him.
He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement[punishment] for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And Yahweh has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
He was taken from prison and from judgment,
And who will declare His generation?
For He was cut off from the land of the living;
For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.
And they made His grave with the wicked—
But with the rich at His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was any deceit in His mouth.

10 Yet it pleased Yahweh to crush Him;
He has put Him to grief.
When You make His soul an offering for sin,
He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,
And the pleasure of Yahweh shall prosper in His hand.
11 He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied.
By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many,
For He shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great,
And He shall divide the spoil with the strong,
Because He poured out His soul unto death,
And He was numbered with the transgressors,
And He bore the sin of many,
And made intercession for the transgressors.

Good Friday

Glory to the Name of Jesus! Suffering Lamb of God! Died He for me, that I may live, and died He to bring me close to Him!

The cross of Jesus is precious because by it we get Jesus forever.

Thanks for reading,

-Justin