Video: Further Points from Confident Evangelism

Hey friends!

My favorite cameraman and editor graciously set up his equipment to allow me to film a little supplementary material for our ongoing evangelism class. Several class members asked me to hit on a few questions that I had to skip during our class sessions due to time constraints.

Well, here you go. Now you can pause and play as you watch, filling in your workbooks with extra notes.

I can’t wait to see you all in class soon. (Workbook is here).

Grace,

Adam

Confident Evangelism: Roman Catholicism

Here is Week 6: A Confident Answer to Roman Catholicism.

The issue between the Reformation and Roman Catholicism is deeply complex, and easily overwhelming. Many Protestants and Romanists choose to wave away the differences between us as if we’re the same (we’re not), some choose to treat the other as an intractable enemy; but here in the lonely middle, some of us have a desire to find understanding, have evangelistic conversation, and to see them come to a saving knowledge of Christ in His true gospel. What’s your strategy for talking to the Romanist?

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Confident Evangelism: Meekness

Recently I began teaching a class at my local church, which I titled “Confident Evangelism without a PhD in Apologetics.” This is Week 5: Confidence in our Faith Leads to Meek Apologetics. I think you’ll really resonate with this one, my friends. In this lesson we hit on some key points regarding God’s sovereignty. Continue reading

Confident Evangelism: The Bible Hasn’t been Changed

Recently I began teaching a class at my local church, which I titled “Confident Evangelism without a PhD in Apologetics.” Thanks to the hard work of one of my church elders, we have it on film, so I wanted to put it up for anyone to enjoy.

My angle is to approach ALL evangelism topics beginning in Colossians 2:2-3 “that [your] hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

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A Brief Reflection on the Goodness of the Law and the Betterness of the Christ

The law(s) of the Lord is(are) pure, perfect, and holy, and we are not. Therefore the law is at enmity with us when we are dead in sins and trespasses, but in Christ by grace through faith, we are counted as being lawkeepers… AND… we have the law written in our new, circumcised hearts where the Holy Spirit produces new obedience! (Ezekiel nails it in 36:25-27).

So for the Christian, the law is kept by faith (and faith alone) in Christ, and the ethic of our life is now found in Christlikeness – by the outline of His nature and what love looks like as expressed throughout the New Testament imperatives. We don’t have to keep the commandments of God – but in Christ, we get to. We have the privilege of obeying Him to make Him known. Anyone who practices unrepentant sin does not know Him (1 John 3), for to know Jesus and to face Him in faith is to turn our backs on sin, selfishness, and Satan.

Jesus is our new Master, and the law is only seen correctly through His perfect life given to us by grace alone, through faith alone… to the glory of the beautiful God alone (Gal. 3:24-25).

Thank the Lord.

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

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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John’s Gospel Prologue: Jesus is the Focal Point of History

The biggest reason my blogs are flapping in the breeze without much activity lately is because I’m a full-time seminarian. We’re toward the end of the semester, when sleep is slim and pizza at 2 A.M. could maybe just work. But I digress.

This is the exegesis paper (don’t run!) that I just handed in today, concerning John 1:1-18. You think you know John’s prologue? Take a closer look! It has been a tremendous eye-opener to me, in how little I know texts of Scripture with which I think I’m familiar. With no further blah-blah, here’s the outline of John 1:1-18, and my 2,800 word analysis. Enjoy!

Scripture used is ESV.

How the Word relates to everything (vv. 1-5)

 

  • How the Word relates to God (vv. 1-2)

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.

  • How the Word relates to creation (vv. 3-5)

All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John the Baptist’s role in revealing God’s activity in the world (vv. 6-8)

 

  • John’s identity in relation to God (v. 6)

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

  • John points all to the activity of God in redemptive history (v. 7)

He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him.

  • John’s relation to the light (v. 8)

He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

The Word in the world before the incarnation (vv. 9-13)

 

  • The Word entering into and at work in the world before the incarnation (vv. 9-11)

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.

  • The Word effecting the new birth in those who received him (vv. 12-13)

12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

The Incarnation of the Word (vv. 14-18)

 

  • The Word became a man and is the Son of the Father in heaven (v. 14)

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

  • John declares Jesus Christ the Word incarnate as the source of grace and truth (vv. 15-17)

15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

  • Jesus is God at the Father’s side and makes the Father known (v. 18)

18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

Introduction to John 1:1-18—Purpose and Background

            Of the four Gospels in the New Testament, John alone presents an extended prologue to his material. His introductory focus is broader than that of the synoptics, and his theological framework more developed and explicit. The prologue begins by peering back into pre-history to locate in and through Christ the timeless activity of God. This passage is the revelation of Jesus as the lens through which cosmic and redemptive history must be seen and understood. Even its ambiguities are used as a literary device toward the goal of revealing Jesus for who he is.[1]

The late-first century author would have known that Gnosticism was becoming popular, Christians and Jews were forging separate identities, and that Christianity was coming into contact with cultures far abroad from Palestine.[2] Within the prologue, the author appropriates and redefines Gnostic language, alludes to pre-Christian Jewish literature, and sets forth Christ as the source of universal light for humankind.[3]

Commentators note that the prologue appears to be a hymn that the author has restructured as a fitting introduction to his Gospel, yet this is not the only reasonable hypothesis for the shifts in style.[4] In this paper I will be reading the text as having been written originally in the form it appears now.

The Form of the Prologue

The structure of the passage is indeed poetic. The first two verses contain the repetitious Word-Word-God-Word-God-God. From there, themes of life, light, darkness, and world (all characteristically Johannine) fill out the text, carrying along the revelation of who the Word is in relation to God and the world of humans. John the Baptist is introduced in layers of dissonant interruption to the poetic flow in vv.6-8 and 15, which for many commentators is evidence of redaction.[5] In verses 1 and 18, the author has made use of an inclusio to tie the entire prologue together as a unit—“the Word was with God” (v. 1), and “the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known” (v. 18).[6]

How the Word Relates to Everything (vv. 1-5)

The first two words of the passage, Ἐν ἀρχῇ (In the beginning), are identical to those of Genesis in the Septuagint. The thematic focus is also the same: God is at the center of the story, and he is active. The purpose of the author is immediately to connect his work with the Old Testament narrative of the origin of the cosmos. His aim is to join the work of God from Genesis to the presence and work of the Word, later identified as Jesus (v. 14, 17). This allusion is an indication that the author is dealing in Jewish literary currency.

In arguing that the entire prologue is Midrash, Daniel Boyarin demonstrates the passage as interacting with Genesis 1 as an expression of Jewish thought.[7] Boyarin notes that in pre-Christian Jewish theology, there were common categories for a divine Word (λόγος) whose presence with God did not conflict with monotheism.[8] The examples he cites, however, are not true parallels to the Christology of John, but rather loose comparisons. Even the Wisdom passages of Prov. 8:22-31, Sirach 24:1-34, et al would have served to have prepared the Jewish mind for the reality of different persons with God in his glorious state, but none of these gave place to a divine Son equal in glory to the Father.[9] Nevertheless, the environment of the author’s time was rich with Jewish and Hellenistic writings that would have prepared the cultured for the theology of John’s prologue.

The Genesis parallel sees God in the beginning, presupposed unapologetically, and John sees the Word in that same place, both being “with God,” and yet “the Word was God” (v. 1). Whatever God is, the Word is. This is brought forth into more clarity by repetition: “He was in the beginning with God” (v. 2). The Word’s relation to God, therefore, is one of pure unity, yet with substantive differentiation of personality.[10] His beginning is the same as God’s in that he has no temporal, creaturely beginning. Whenever God has been, so has been the Word.

Furthering the Genesis parallel, the author then relates the Word to the realm of creation. He writes redundantly “all things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made” (v. 3). The Word is then the instrument of the creative work of God, the indispensable person at the helm during the Genesis narrative. There is something more to John’s prologue, though, in comparison with Genesis. The very essence of life is mysteriously contained in him, and that principle is “the light of men” (v. 4b). In the cosmic creation of Genesis 1, the light is a created thing, brought forth in the physical realm, but in John 1 the light is eternal with the Word, and is the sentience of the human creature.[11] As the life in him is an essential characteristic of his eternality and thus divinity, and it is something that is in each human, so v. 4 echoes the imago Dei of Genesis 1:26.

Verse 5 introduces conflict into the prologue. Here the author indicates a shift in tense, as φαίνει (shines) is the first present-tense usage so far. What is communicated is that as “the light shines in the darkness” presently, “and the darkness has not overcome it” (v. 5). With this concept the present reader (timelessly), may identify his or her own experience. As such Schnackenburg claims that in Johannine literature, “darkness . . . means primarily the world estranged from God.”[12] This is the purpose of John’s Gospel: he has his eye on reader response from the beginning to the end (cf. 20:30-31).

Up through v. 4, the Word was in perfect harmony with God and with all created things, so the sudden introduction of darkness that would overcome the light is jarring. Here the word for overcome is ambiguous, and many English translations differ from each other accordingly, alternating between “overcome” and “comprehended,” or “grasped.” The evangelist most likely chose the word for its ambiguity, as a polyvalent meaning is only appropriate for such a complex subject.[13] Ironically, the commentator who gave such a strong definition of evil to John’s “darkness” has created a simplistic dichotomy between “overwhelm” and “grasp,” insisting that we must choose the latter, seeing as people did not “grasp” the Word by faith when they had the chance.[14] Yet as the darkness of humankind is the cause of estrangement from God, then the evangelist uses ambiguity here with both meanings: humankind, in darkness, would both comprehend and overcome the light (but by nature cannot). Conversely, the darkness would seem to be of such an extraordinary nature that even the light of the life in the Word has not yet reached its depths to extinguish it. Thus the relationship of the Word with God is perfect, yet the world of humans that he created is in some way at enmity with him.

John the Baptist’s Role in Revealing God’s Activity in the World (vv. 6-8)

As abruptly as the passage begins, so the flow is suddenly averted out of the abstract and cosmological to a lone figure standing on the stage of history. This man, “whose name was John,” was “sent from God” (v. 6). Though some commentators view this sudden shift away from the Wisdom Midrash of vv. 1-5 as a clear indication of it being a later addition, the evidence cited is merely speculative.[15] The jarring conflict introduced in v. 5 paves the way for a resolution—and John the Baptist plays the role of telling what it will be.[16] He has come in relation to God as “a witness about the light,” in order that “all might believe through him” in the light (v. 7).

The Baptist is the complete Old Covenant man, and his placement in this text indicates that the focus continues to be the history of the world before the Incarnation.[17] At the time of the writing of the Gospel of John, there would have still been pockets of the followers of John the Baptist, who had not believed that Jesus was the Messiah.[18] The author made clear that John was not himself the light, but rather had the unique role of “bear[ing] witness about the light” (v. 8b).

The Word in the World before the Incarnation (vv. 9-13)

            In contrast to John the Baptist there is one who is “the true light” (v. 9a). The conflict introduced into the text in v. 8 is resolved by distinguishing John from the true light. As redemptive history is only understood by seeing all things in light of Jesus’ person and work, this section is the beating heart of the prologue. Here the true light “gives light to everyone” (v. 9b). As Boyarin says, this section up through v. 13 is still “unexceptional non-Christian Jewish thought” wherein John’s place in announcing the true light as having been “coming into the world” through the Old Testament period would have easily comported with the theology of the first-century Jew.[19]

The text is ambiguous in v. 9; the Greek could allow that “the true light gives light to every human coming into the world,” as opposed to the ESV wherein the true light is the subject of “coming into the world.”  Here Barrett argues convincingly that the light’s coming into the world has been a continuous action, as by v. 10 “he was in the world” already.[20] Brodie also notes the inappropriateness of dividing “was coming” from the connotation of his having been arriving gradually throughout the time of the Old Testament.[21] Seeing as the prologue begins with “in the beginning,” it is reasonable to read this verse as describing his continual activity as Creator and Redeemer, coming into the world and shedding light on everyone. Barrett agrees that it was the true light which was coming into the world, but then claims it “is to be taken as a reference to the incarnation.”[22] It is odd that he would draw such a hard line here, seeing as v. 14 provides the decisive announcement that the Incarnation has occurred. Moloney sees it even more distinctly as a reference to the Incarnation, asserting “reference to the coming of the Word into the world cannot be put off till v. 14.”[23] He wrongly assumes and asserts that if the text states the Word was in the world that it must and can only be Jesus’ appearance in the flesh.

In reading v. 10 and calling into question the point in history that “the world did not know him,” Raymond Brown insists that the great Old Testament sin was “failure to obey Yahweh” over against the supposed sin of the New Testament, “failure to know” Jesus.[24] He seems to discount here the fact that the true light was giving light to “every human,” including Gentiles, and so the sin of “not knowing him” was as much a sin of the pre-Christian world as it is post-Incarnation.

Continuing to see the activity of God through his Word before the Incarnation, v. 11 indicates that he had been arriving in and throughout his world of humans, as the Creator who gives light. Yet the second half of the verse sharpens the focus to “his own people,” who is Israel. The testimony here is that neither those who were near (by covenant blessings), nor those who were far (Gentiles) were receiving him—yet in the beginning of v. 12 we see that some indeed received him.[25] It was to those who “receive[d] him” by “believ[ing] in his name” that “he gave the right to become children of God.” This stands in contrast to the idea of “his own people” in v. 11 who had not received him; yet there were always those who were his family by virtue of his redeeming work. The nature of the redemption of those who received him is seen in that they “were born” of the will “of God” (v. 13), not by any possible human means.

 The Incarnation of the Word (vv. 14-18)

            Here the radical nature of Christianity is revealed. This one who was eternally with God, who is God, has become a man of flesh. He who gave “the right to become children of God” (v. 12b) is himself the “only Son from the Father” (v. 14b), already in the family. His sonship is unique, and there is no one else in this category with him.[26] Furthermore, he is now seen as being “full of grace and truth” (v. 14c). This is the perfect answer to the conflict between God and humankind; John announces the nature and arrival of the light in the world, and here the Son himself arrives as a man full of grace and truth for the world who had not known him.

This grace and truth is not invisible; however, for the author claims “we have seen his glory” (v. 14b), and this is the glory of the unique Son from the Father. There is something new about this glory, as the light had been coming into the world (v. 9), but for the evangelist, the glory he perceived in the Incarnation was supreme and unmistakable. The glory of the Son is then connected to v. 14c, “full of grace and truth;” the glory is seen in his pre-existence and supremacy above John in v. 15, his fullness of grace in v. 16, his superseding of the Mosaic economy in v. 17, and his being the “only God, who is at the Father’s side” in v.18. In the Johannine angle on biblical theology, the glory of the Son is most fully revealed in his being “lifted up” on the cross to bear the sins of the world (12:32-33).[27]

John’s sudden reappearance in v. 15 is the evangelist’s means of orienting the reader once again to the historicity of these events. His proclamation that “he was before me” indicates that John knows something of the Son’s pre-existence before the Incarnation,[28] and that he sees the Son as the focal point of God’s redemptive activity in human history. V. 16 likely introduces the editorial voice of the author, but if it is still the Baptist speaking, the effect is the same: the ESV’s “grace upon grace” (χάριν  ἀντὶ  χάριτος) is a less-than-perfect translation of another ambiguous statement. The use of ἀντὶ for the preposition is unusual for this type of phrase, and carries with it the sense of grace replacing grace.

In v. 16a, the author appropriates the Gnostic term πληρώματος (fullness), and defines it as something the Son possesses. In Gnostic parlance, the πληρώματος was a hierarchy of divine messengers who brought forth the secret knowledge from on high, but in John’s prologue, it is entirely found in the Son.[29] In this context, the grace replacing grace is clarified in v. 17 as “the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” This is not to detract from the grace of the law given through Moses, but rather to contrast the fullness of grace now revealed in Jesus Christ.

In a final, absolute sense, the author finishes his prologue by inclusio with v. 1, reminding the reader that this Jesus Christ, the Word “who is at the Father’s side . . . has made him known” (v. 18) who would otherwise be unknowable, (as “no one has ever seen God”). Without Jesus’ becoming flesh, redemptive history would have remained a constantly unfolding tragedy of the darkness in humankind being unable to grasp the light.

Jesus as the Lens for Human Life

From this passage we may learn that without seeing, receiving, and believing in Jesus, there is only darkness for every person. The first half of the prologue reveals him as the Creator and Redeemer of the whole earth. John the Baptist appears in the Jewish prophetic tradition, which is a nod to the Jewishness of the Son Incarnate and to the Old Covenant promises given to Israel. It is clear then that God’s gracious activity in the world has been happening since creation, has carried on in the entire world, but has been focused on Israel. In the historical record of that nation, a man named Jesus walked in the flesh, and that man was God himself. All of human life ought to be turned toward this gospel story, as there is grace and truth in him, and only him.

The literal reading of this historical record is needed for the church to maintain the essential grounding of our faith. Seeing God’s merciful activity in the world since the beginning of time ought to be motivation to believe in his name, and to trust him for the grace that is needed to heal our world.

 


[1]. Thomas L. Brodie, The Gospel According to John: A Literary and Theological Commentary (New York: Oxford, 1993), 138.

 [2]. Charles Kingsley Barrett, The Gospel According to Saint John: An Introduction with Commentary and Notes on the Greek Text (2nd ed.; Philadelphia: Westminster, 1978), 152; Raymond E. Brown, The Gospel According to John (i-xii) (Anchor Bible Series 29; Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1966), 31; Andrew Lincoln, “The Gospel According to Saint John,” in Black’s New Testament Commentaries (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2005), 93.

 [3]. Barrett, St. John, 153.

[4]. Brodie, 134, contra Rudolf Schnackenburg, The Gospel According to Saint John: Introduction and Commentary on Chapters 1—4, vol. 1 (New York: Seabury, 1980), 221-232; n. 2-3. Brodie notes the reasonability of discerning a hymnic origin to the prologue based on the rhythm and structure of it, but also points out the fact that there has been little consensus among scholars as to the precise form or origin of the putative original. The details of this discussion are beyond the scope of my exegetical concerns.

[5]. E.g. Schnackenburg, St. John, 249 wherein his presupposition of a redacted hymn forces the interpretation of the intrusion of the Baptist in v. 6 as interpolation, rather than as the natural sequence of the author’s original writing.

 [6]. The reading of either “Son” or “God” due to the textual variant in v. 18 must lie beyond the scope of this paper, as the meaning is essentially the same whichever is original.

[7]. Daniel Boyarin, “Logos, A Jewish Word: John’s Prologue as Midrash,” in The Jewish Annotated New Testament (ed. Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Zvi Brettler; New York: Oxford, 2011), 549.

[8]. Ibid., 546-547.

[9]. Barrett, St. John, 153; Schnackenburg, St. John, 235.

 [10]. Ben Witherington, III, John’s Wisdom: A Commentary on the Fourth Gospel (Louisville: John Knox, 1995), 53 highlights the careful use of θεὸς (God) without the definite article as a means of distinguishing him from τὸν  θεόν (“the” God – not translated as such in English), yet without dividing them in essence.

[11]. Witherington, Wisdom, 55.

 [12]. Schnackenburg, St. John, 245.

[13]. Brodie, John, 138.

 [14]. Schnackenburg, St. John, 246.

[15]. Ibid., 249-250.

[16]. Barrett, St. John, 153.

 [17]. Brodie, John, 139.

 [18]. Acts 19:1-4 indicates a scattered presence of John the Baptist’s followers who were unclear about his role in revealing the true Christ.

[19]. Boyarin, Logos, 549.

 [20]. Barrett, St. John, 160.

 [21]. Brodie, John, 140.

[22]. Barrett, St. John, 161.

[23]. Francis J. Moloney, “The Gospel of John” in Sacra Pagina Series, vol. 4. (ed. Daniel J. Harrington; Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical, 1998), 37.

 [24]. Brown, John, 10.

[25]. Brodie, John, 140.

[26]. Witherington, Wisdom, 54.

 [27]. J. Richard Middleton, “Exegesis of John 1:1-18” (lecture, BIB512NE, Session #8, C4, Northeastern Seminary, May 2, 2013).

 [28]. Moloney, John, 40.

[29]. Ibid.

Leave any feedback you may have.

-Adam

The Jewish Messiah has Come: Tuesdays with Uncle Athanasius

AthanasiusAthanasius wrote a chapter in On the Incarnation refuting the unbelief of the Jews. In today’s excerpt, we see this mighty Church Father shaking the cage of the unbelieving Jewish nation, calling them to repent of their rejection of Jesus, and to see Him as their long-awaited Messiah.

In love and respect to those practicing post-Messiah Judaism, I stand as one in debt to your fathers, your Scriptures, your nation. It is history’s great irony that I am of the seed of Abraham, and you are not, though you be his children, and I am not. I urge you to drink deeply of Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, and God of Israel become Man.

Uncle Ath?

Yes, kids?

How would you challenge the Jews who reject their Messiah?

Well…

When did prophet and vision cease from Israel? Was it not when Christ came, the Holy One of holies? It is, in fact, a sign and notable proof of the coming of the Word that Jerusalem no longer stands, neither is prophet raised up nor vision revealed among them.

And it is natural that it should be so, for when He that was signified had come, what need was there any longer of any to signify Him? And when the Truth had come, what further need was there of the shadow? On His account only they prophesied continually, until such time as Essential Righteousness has come, Who was made the Ransom for the sins of all. For the same reason Jerusalem stood until the same time, in order that there men might premeditate the types before the Truth was known. So, of course, once the Holy One of holies had come, both vision and prophecy were sealed. And the kingdom of Jerusalem ceased at the same time, because kings were to be anointed among them only until the Holy of holies had been anointed.

Moses also prophesies that the kingdom of the Jews shall stand until His time, saying, “A ruler shall not fail from Judah nor a prince from his loins, until the things laid up for him shall come and the Expectation of the nations Himself.”

And that is why the Savior Himself was always proclaiming “The law and the prophets prophesied until John.” So if there is still king or prophet or vision among the Jews, they do well to deny that Christ is come; but if there is neither king nor vision, and since that time all prophecy has been sealed and city and temple taken, how can they be so irreligious, how can they so flaunt the facts, as to deny Christ Who has brought it all about?

Again, they see the heathen forsaking idols and setting their hopes through Christ on the God of Israel; why do they yet deny Christ Who after the flesh was born of the root of Jesse and reigns henceforward? Of course, if the heathen were worshipping some other god, and not confessing the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and Moses, then they would do well to argue that God had not come. But if the heathen are honoring the same God Who gave the law to Moses and the promises to Abraham—the God Whose word too the Jews dishonored, why do they not recognize or rather why do they deliberately refuse to see that the Lord of Whom the Scriptures prophesied has shone forth to the world and appeared to it in a bodily form? Scripture declares it repeatedly.

“The Lord God has appeared to us,” and again,

“He sent forth His Word and healed them.” And again,

“It was no ambassador, no angel who saved us, but the Lord Himself.”

The Jews are afflicted like some demented person who sees the earth lit up by the sun, but denies the sun that lights it up! What more is there for their Expected One to do when he comes? To call the heathen? But they are called already. To put an end to prophet and king and vision? But this too has already happened. To expose the God-denying-ness of idols? It is already exposed and condemned. Or to destroy death? It is already destroyed.

What then has not come to pass that the Christ must do? What is there left out or unfulfilled that the Jews should disbelieve so light-heartedly? The plain fact is, as I say, that there is no longer any king or prophet nor Jerusalem nor sacrifice nor vision among them; yet the whole earth is filled with the knowledge of God, and the Gentiles, forsaking atheism, are now taking refuge with the God of Abraham through the Word, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Surely, then, it must be plain even to the most shameless that the Christ has come, and that He has enlightened all men everywhere, and given them the true and divine teaching about His Father.

Thus the Jews may be refuted by these and other arguments from the Divine teaching.

His language may not be politically correct, but his arguments are surely potent. Be reconciled with the God of your fathers, Jewish friends. Jesus is Lord.

Thanks for reading,

-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