C. Passion Week – Monday – Jesus cleanses the Temple

  1. On Monday, Jesus cleanses the temple.
  2. On the way back to Jerusalem Jesus curses the fig tree.
  3. When he arrives in Jerusalem, he cleanses the temple (though it’s debated, this is likely the area of the Royal Stoa, described by Josephus in Antiquitites 15.411–415, which ran the length of the southern wall of the Temple Mount).
  4. Jesus then did miracles in the temple and received challenges from the Jewish leaders and astonishment from the crowd.
  5. In the evening Jesus and the twelve return to Bethany.

The following synopsis is from Christian Classics Ethereal Library, written by Mark A. Copeland.


The Cleansing Of The Temple (John 2:13-25)


1. It is common to think of Jesus as a gentle, peace-loving man…

a. He certainly presented Himself as such on most occasions – e.g.,
Mt 11:28-30
b. People felt comfortable in bringing their children to Him – e.g.,
Mt 19:13-14

2. Yet on occasion Jesus displayed strong righteous indignation…
a. Such as when He visited Jerusalem during the Passover at the
beginning of His ministry
b. As He drove the moneychangers and merchandisers out of the temple
– Jn 2:13-15

[What prompted this outburst of anger? What gave Jesus the authority to
do this? What lessons might we glean from this event? As we seek to
find the answers let’s first note…]



1. The Lord’s rebuke reveals the reason for His outburst – cf. Jn 2:16
2. The sellers of oxen and sheep, along with the moneychangers,
had turned the temple into a house of merchandise
3. It was to be a house of prayer, they had turned it into a den
of thieves – cf. Mt 21:13
– The Lord was angered by the manner in which some used religion to make money

1. What if we attend church simply as a form of „networking”, to
make business contacts?
2. What if we take advantage of our relationship as brethren to
further a multilevel marketing business, a home-based business,
or any other financial enterprise?
– The Lord’s temple today is the church, we must be careful lest we defile it as well (cf. 1Co 3:16-17)

[The Lord has ordained that those who preach the gospel be supported (1 Col 9:14). But He is angered by those who view the Lord’s temple
(people) as a way to get rich. Next, we note that His anger was
prompted by…]


1. The disciples were reminded of an Old Testament prophecy – Jn 2:17; cf. Ps 69:9
2. Jesus had zeal (fervor) for God’s house, for it’s intended
purpose (a house of prayer)
– His great zeal for His Father’s house moved Him to action

1. Remember, today the Father’s house is the church – cf. 1 Ti 3:15
2. Do we have great zeal for the church?
a. That it fulfill it’s intended purpose (to make known God’s
will)? – cf. Ep 3:10-11
b. That we are troubled when we see people try to turn it into
something else, such as social club, or a purveyor of
– If we have zeal for the Lord’s house, we will not rest silent when others pervert its purpose

[Of course, the action we take may not be the same as what Jesus did.
Indeed, He took up „a whip of cords.” What right did He have to use
such a display of force? That’s what the Jews wanted to know…]


1. They wanted to know what sign (miracle) He could offer to prove
His right to cleanse the temple – Jn 2:18
2. Jesus offered His ability to rise from the dead as the ultimate
proof – Jn 2:19-22
a. Later, He would restate His claim to have this ability – Jn 10:17-18
b. His resurrection proved that He was the Son of God – cf. Ro 1:4
– He has been given the authority to exercise such judgment as cleansing the temple – cf. Jn 5:22,26-27

1. We are to judge with righteous judgment – Jn 7:24
a. At times we must distinguish between „hogs” and „dogs” – Mt 7:6
b. We can distinguish between good and bad fruit – Mt 7:15-20
2. But our authority to judge is limited – Mt 7:1-5
a. There are things we cannot judge in this life – 1Co 4:3-5
b. There are people we are not to judge – 1Co 5:11-13
c. Vengeance in particular belongs to the Lord – cf. Ro 12: 17-19
– While Jesus is our example (cf. 1Pe 2:21), there are some „steps” that He took that we cannot take

[The reason we cannot emulate the Lord in every case becomes evident as we consider…]


1. John mentions how many came to believe in Him because of His
signs – Jn 2:23
2. John also makes note of His unwillingness to commit Himself to
others at this time
a. He had no need to, because he knew all – Jn 2:24
b. He had no need to, because he knew what was in man – Jn 2:25
– Jesus is revealed as one who can discern the hearts of men – cf. Mt 9:4; Re 2:23

1. We cannot discern the hearts of men like the Lord can; note
these comments:
a. „Our Lord knew all men, their nature, dispositions,
affections, designs, so as we do not know any man, not even
b. „He knows his crafty enemies, and all their secret projects;
his false friends, and their true characters.”
c. „He knows who are truly his, knows their uprightness, and
knows their weaknesses.”
d. „We know what is done by men; Christ knows what is in them,
he tries the heart.”
– Matthew Henry Commentary
2. Since we cannot read the hearts of men, we must be careful
a. We are unable to always know the motives of others
b. We must approach those in opposition with humility – cf.
2Ti 2:24-26
c. We must approach brethren overtaken in a fault with
gentleness – cf. Ga 6:1


1. In contending for the faith (which is a solemn duty, Jude 3)…
a. Some often use the example of Jesus cleansing the temple to
justify their behavior
b. As they lash out in anger (righteous indignation?) towards those
teaching error

2. Is it right to appeal to Jesus’ example in this case…?
a. Can we appeal to every example of Jesus?
b. If so, are we justified to use a whip of cords as well?

3. The immediate context offers reasons to answer carefully…
a. Jesus possessed unlimited authority to judge man, proven by His
resurrection from the dead
b. Jesus possessed divine power to read the hearts of men, we
sometimes cannot even discern our own hearts

4. There are times for righteous indignation…
a. But some things must be left to the Lord, the righteous Judge
b. We must avoid what might actually be „self-righteous” indignation!

While we may not always be able to emulate the Lord’s prerogative to judge, we should certainly strive to copy His zeal for His Father’s house. Is our zeal for His church what it ought to be…?

Infallibility vs. Inerrancy of the Bible (Essential Reading)

photo form news.tiu.edu

This is a very helpful article, written by Kevin J. Vanhoozer is currently Research Professor of Systematic Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illonois. The article is from http://www.theologynetwork.org Dr. Vanhoozer shows that the Word of God, as it is written in the Bible can use the common language of the day, (by employing metaphors) without committing to its literal truth. as he shows in the example of the ‘rising sun’ metaphor:

In speaking of the sun rising, does not the Bible make a scientific mistake? To this objection it may be replied that using the common language of the day is not the same as committing oneself to its literal truth. One must not confuse a social convention with a scientific affirmation. To say that the sun rises is to employ a metaphor – one, moreover, that is true to human experience. The objection proves too much: if the inspired authors have used ancient thought forms that led to scientific errors, would not these same thought forms have led to errors in matters of faith and practice too? After all, ‘To err is human’ – or is it? Though proverbial wisdom equates humanity with fallibility , the paradigm of Christ’s sinless life shows that the one concept need not follow from the other. God’s Word, we may conclude, can take on human form -incarnate, inscripturate – without surrendering its claim to sinlessness and truth.

Read the full article below the photo:

photo by godzdogz.op.org

The Inerrancy of Scripture

Whereas inspiration concerns the origin of the Bible’s authority, inerrancy describes its nature. By inerrancy we refer not only to the Bible’s being ‘without error’ but also to its inability to err (we might helpfully illustrate this point by comparing it to the distinction between Jesus’ sinlessness or being without sin, on the one hand, and his impeccability or inability to sin on the other). Inerrancy, positively defined, refers to a central and crucial property of the Bible, namely, its utter truthfulness.

The basis for the doctrine of biblical inerrancy is located both in the nature of God and in the Bible’s teaching about itself. First, if God is perfect – all-knowing, all-wise, all-good – it follows that God speaks the truth. God does not tell lies; God is not ignorant. God’s Word is thus free from all error arising either from conscious deceit or unconscious ignorance. Such is the unanimous confession of the Psalmist, the prophets, the Lord Jesus and the apostles. Second, the Bible presents itself as the Word of God written.

Thus, in addition to its humanity (which is never denied), the Bible also enjoys the privileges and prerogatives of its status as God’s Word. God’s Word is thus wholly reliable, a trustworthy guide to reality, a light unto our path.

If the biblical and theological basis of the doctrine is so obvious, however, why have some in our day suggested that the inerrancy of the Bible is a relatively recent concept? Is it true, as some have argued, that the doctrine of inerrancy was ‘invented’ in the nineteenth century at Princeton by B B Warfield and Charles Hodge and is therefore a novelty in the history of theology? In answer to this question, it is important to remember that doctrines arise only when there is need for them. Doctrine develops when something implicit in the faith is denied; false teaching provokes an explicit rebuttal. This is as true of inerrancy as it is of the doctrines of the Trinity, or of justification by faith. The notion of the Bible’s truthfulness was implicitly assumed throughout the history of the church.

Theologians were only reflecting the view of the biblical authors themselves. Jesus himself quotes Scripture and implies that its words are true and trustworthy – wholly reliable. The New Testament authors share and reflect this high estimate of the Old Testament. The question is whether this ‘high estimate’ of Scripture pertained to its reliability in matters of faith and salvation only or whether it involved a trust in all matters on which the Bible speaks, including science and history. One difficulty with this question is that it is anachronistic: it reflects the concerns of our times (including the dubious dichotomy between fact and value) rather than that of the Fathers and Reformers. With regard to the Fathers, we know that they held to the divine authorship of Scripture. Behind the many voices of the human authors is the voice of the Holy Spirit, the ultimate author of Scripture. While some used this as an excuse to search for hidden truths through allegorical interpretation, if anything the tendency was to ascribe too much truth to Scripture rather than too little. For the Fathers, to suggest that there were errors in the Bible would have been unthinkable. Augustine, for instance, wrote that biblical authority would be overthrown if the authors had stated things that were not true. Though Augustine warned Christians not to hide their ignorance of scientific fact by easy appeals to Scripture, he also believed that the biblical writers did not make any scientific errors. True scientific discoveries will always be capable of being reconciled with the Scriptures. Augustine is at pains to show that there are no contradictions, either between one part of the Bible and another, or between the Bible and truth gleaned from elsewhere. Whatever we think of such attempts, they are at least compelling evidence of the widespread Patristic presupposition of the Bible’s truthfulness.
The Reformers similarly affirmed the truthfulness of the Bible. There is some debate among scholars whether Luther and Calvin limited Scripture’s truthfulness to matters of salvation, conveniently overlooking errors about lesser matters. It is true that Luther and Calvin are aware of apparent discrepancies in Scripture and that they often speak of ‘errors’. However, a closer analysis seems to indicate that the discrepancies and errors are consistently attributed to copyists and translators, not to the human authors of Scripture, much less to the Holy Spirit, its divine author. Calvin was aware that Paul’s quotations of the Old Testament (e.g Rom 10:6 and Dt 30:12) were not always exact, nor always exegetically sound, but he did not infer that Paul had thereby made an error. On the contrary, Calvin notes that Paul is not giving the words of Moses different sense so much as applying them to his treatment of the subject at hand. Indeed, Calvin explicitly denies the suggestion that Paul distorts Moses’ words.

Doctrines are formulated in order to refute error and to preserve revealed truth. Just as biblical authority only became part of Protestant confessions in the sixteenth century to counter the idea that tradition is the supreme authority of the church, so the doctrine of biblical inerrancy was only explicitly formulated to counter explicit denials of the Bible’s truthfulness. These denials arose about the same time as did modernity and the distinctively modern way of interpreting the Bible: biblical criticism. Many so-called ‘enlightened’ thinkers of the eighteenth century accepted the Deists’ belief that the source of truth was reason rather than revelation. Increasingly, the Bible came to be studied like any other book, on naturalistic assumptions that ruled out the possibility of divine action in history. Accordingly, biblical critics grew sceptical of Scripture’s own account of its supernatural origin and sought to reconstruct the historical reality. Advances in knowledge and a changed view of the world were thought to necessitate a rethinking of biblical authority. Historical-critics argued that the authors of the Bible were children of their age, limited by the worldviews that prevailed when they wrote. It was against this backdrop of widespread suspicion of the supernaturalist appearance of Scripture, and the virtually taken-for-granted denial of divine authorship, that the doctrine of biblical inerrancy, implicit from the first, was explicitly formulated (e.g. by Warfield and Hodge). What is explicitly expressed in the doctrine of biblical inerrancy, however, is not a theological novelty so much as an articulation of what was implicitly, and virtually always, presupposed through most of church history.
What then does the doctrine of biblical inerrancy explicitly articulate? We can refine our provisional definition of inerrancy in terms of truthfulness as follows: The inerrancy of Scripture means that Scripture, in the original manuscripts and when interpreted according to the intended sense, speaks truly in all that it affirms. These specifications, by identifying the conditions under which Scripture speaks truly, do not hasten the death of inerrancy by qualification; they rather acknowledge two crucial limitations that enable believers to keep the doctrine in its proper perspective. Let us examine these two qualifications in more detail.

First: the Bible speaks truly ‘in the original manuscripts’. We have already seen that the Reformers were able to affirm the truthfulness of the Bible and to acknowledge errors due to faulty translation or transmission. To the objection that we do not now possess the original manuscripts, it must be pointed out that textual critical studies have brought us extremely close to the original text. The relatively small number of textual variations do not for the most part affect our ability to recognize the original text. At the same time, it is important not to ascribe inerrancy to the copies of the originals, since these are the products of an all-too human process of transmission.

The second qualification is just as important: ‘when interpreted according to the intended sense’. It is often tempting to claim the same authority for one’s interpretations as for the biblical text itself. The thrust of the doctrine of inerrancy, however, like that of sola scriptura, is to stress the distinction between the Word of God and the words of men. Interpretations of the Bible fall under the category ‘words of men’. It is thus important not to ascribe inerrancy to our interpretations. To the objection that we do not possess the correct interpretation, we must appeal not to inerrancy but to the perspicuity of Scripture. What conflicts there are about biblical interpretation ultimately must be ascribed to the fallible interpreter, not to the infallible text.

Does inerrancy do justice to the humanity of the Scriptures? Some critics of inerrancy have suggested that God had to ‘accommodate’ his message to the language and thought-forms of the day in order effectively to communicate. In taking on forms of human language and thought, does God’s communication simultaneously take on outmoded views of the world or of human nature? For example, could God speak truthfully of the sun ‘rising’ when he knows full well that the sun does not move? In speaking of the sun rising, does not the Bible make a scientific mistake? To this objection it may be replied that using the common language of the day is not the same as committing oneself to its literal truth. One must not confuse a social convention with a scientific affirmation. To say that the sun rises is to employ a metaphor – one, moreover, that is true to human experience. The objection proves too much: if the inspired authors have used ancient thought forms that led to scientific errors, would not these same thought forms have led to errors in matters of faith and practice too? After all, ‘To err is human’ – or is it? Though proverbial wisdom equates humanity with fallibility , the paradigm of Christ’s sinless life shows that the one concept need not follow from the other. God’s Word, we may conclude, can take on human form -incarnate, inscripturate – without surrendering its claim to sinlessness and truth.

Does inerrancy therefore mean that every word in Scripture is literally true? There has been a great deal of confusion on this point, both in the media and in academia. It should first be noted that mere words are neither true nor false; truth is a property of statements. Second, those who oppose biblical inerrancy have all too often contributed to the confusion by caricaturing the notion of literal truth. Critics of inerrancy typically speak of ‘literal truth’ when what they really mean is ‘literalistic truth’. Defenders of inerrancy must take great care to distinguish the notion of literal truth from the kind of literalistic interpretation that runs roughshod over the intent of the author and the literary form of the text.

Perhaps the best way to resolve this confusion is to begin at the other end. What counts as an error? If I say that my lecture lasts an hour, when in fact it lasts only fifty-nine minutes, have I made an error? That depends on your expectation and on the context of my remark. In everyday conversation round figures are perfectly acceptable; no one would accuse me of getting my figures wrong. In other contexts, however, a different level of precision is required. A BBC television producer, for instance, would need to know the exact number of minutes. The point is that what counts as an error depends upon the kind of precision or exactness that the reader has a right to expect. ‘Error’ is thus a context-dependent notion. If I do not claim scientific exactitude or technical precision, it would be unjust to accuse me of having erred.

Indeed, too much precision (‘my lecture is fifty-nine minutes and eight seconds long’) can be distracting and actually hinder clear communication. Let us define error, then, as a failure to make good on or to redeem one’s claims. The Bible speaks truly because it makes good its claims. It thus follows that we should first determine just what kind of claims are being made before too quickly ruling ‘true’ or ‘false’. If error is indeed a context-dependent notion, those who see errors in Scripture would do well first to establish the context of Scripture’s claims. To interpret the Bible according to a wooden literalism fails precisely to attend to the kinds of claims Scripture makes. To read every sentence of the Bible as if it were referring to something in the world, or to a timeless truth, may be to misread much of Scripture. Just as readers need to be sensitive to metaphor (few would react to Jesus’ claim in Jn 10:9 ‘I am the door’ by searching for a handle) so readers must be sensitive to literary genre (e.g. to the literary context of biblical statements).

Is every word in Scripture literally true? The problem with this question is its incorrect (and typically unstated) assumption that ‘literal truth’ is always literalistic – a matter of referring to history or to the ‘facts’ of nature. It is just such a faulty assumption – that the Bible always states facts – that leads certain wellmeaning defenders of inerrancy desperately to harmonize what appear to be factual or chronological discrepancies in the Gospels. In the final analysis, what was new about the Princetonians’ view of Scripture was not their understanding of the Bible’s truthfulness but rather their particular view of language and interpretation, in which the meaning of the biblical text was the fact – historical or doctrinal – to which it referred. Their proof-texting was more a product of their view of language and interpretation than of their doctrine of Scripture.

What if the intent of the evangelists was not to narrate history with chronological precision? What if the evangelists sometimes intended to communicate only the content of Jesus’ teaching rather than his very words? Before extending the Bible’s truth to include history or astronomy, or restricting to matters of salvation for that matter, we must first ask, ‘What kind of literature is this?’ The question of meaning should precede the question of truth. We must first determine what kind of claim is being made before we can rule on its truthfulness. The point of biblical apocalyptic is quite distinct from the point of Jesus’ parables, from that of the Gospels themselves, or of Old Testament wisdom. We must, therefore, say that the literal sense of Scripture is its literary sense: the sense the author intended to convey in and through a particular literary form. Inerrancy means that every sentence, when interpreted correctly (i.e. in accordance with its literary genre and its literary sense), is wholly reliable.

The older term to express biblical authority – infallibility – remains useful. Infallibility means that Scripture never fails in its purpose. The Bible makes good on all its claims, including its truth claims. God’s Word never leads astray. It is important to recall that language may be used for many different purposes, and not to state facts only. Inerrancy, then, is a subset of infallibility: when the Bible’s purpose is to make true statements, it does this too without fail. Yet the Bible’s other speech acts – warnings, promises, questions – are infallible too.

The Bible’s own understanding of truth stresses reliability. God’s Word is true because it can be relied upon – relied upon to make good its claim and to accomplish its purpose. We may therefore speak of the Bible’s promises, commands, warnings, etc. as being ‘true’, inasmuch as they too can be relied upon. Together, the terms inerrancy and infallibility remind us that the Word of God is wholly reliable not only when it speaks, but also when it does the truth.

The not so nice side of the Maldives –

The people living on the island of Maldives don’t even have the Old Testament translated in their own language… the people working on that translation all died mysterious deaths… pray for the Gospel to reach the people living in the Maldives.


Maldives - Paradise-Island-Resort-Spa

Light Reveals Darkness

A Christian worker, who ministers in the Maldives, shares thoughts in this heartfelt letter.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

“How do I begin to share with you what is in my heart for the Islanders? Indeed there is much to tell. Let me begin by saying thank you. Thank you for taking a step into the faith adventure that will take you into the heart of paradise, the Maldives. Despite its beauty, you will be surprised to see that the true heart of the Islands is empty and dark, for it doesn’t have the light of the Lord Jesus Christ.

“The Body of Christ in Maldives is very weak and hurting. To be a Christian in this paradise country is a living hell. The few believers are scattered and in hiding for fear that they may lose family, friends, property, and rights if the authorities find out that…

Vezi articolul original 191 de cuvinte mai mult

John MacArthur – Isaiah 53 The Riddle of Redemption – Moody Founder’s Week 2013

Watch/read D A Carson’s message at Moody Founder’s Week 2013 here – When Jesus confronts the world 

Watch/read Tony Evans’s message at Moody Founder’s Week 2013 here – There is no more important place to know Christ than the struggles of lifeisaiah scroll
This is about Christ, and about knowing Christ. Martin Luther said,”There’s a chapter in the Bible that every Christian should memorize, if that Christian intends to know Christ.” The German theologian, in 1866 said, „There is the chapter of the Bible, that is the most central, the deepest, the loftiest that Scripture has ever achieved. That same chapter, others have called ‘The Gospel of all vocabulary’. There’s a chapter in the Bible that has such stirring predictions, so complex, that only God could have known them centuries before history unfolded them. There’s a chapter in the Bible that is the most comprehensive exposition of the cross in all of Scripture, the most complete description of the substitutionary vicarious sacrificial death of the Savior in all of Holy writ. This same chapter has a scope that extends from eternity past to eternity future, and gathers up a whole history of redemption by focusing on the redeemer. It sweeps from His position in the eternal trinity to His return to full glory with His redeemed in the new heavens and the new earth. There is a chapter that embraces His past glory, His incarnation, His humiliation, His rejection, His unjust treatment, His unfair trial, His mistreatment, His death sentence, His execution, His resurrection, His intercession, His exaltation, and His coronation.

What is this chapter? It is the first Gospel, and it’s not Matthew. Matthew is the second Gospel. This is a chapter that is sufficient to save sinners. In fact, it is a chapter that was used by Philip to explain the Gospel to an Ethiopian eunuch. This is a chapter that you know. It is Isaiah 53- the first Gospel.

The description of the atoning work of Jesus Christ in Isaiah 53 surpasses any single Scripture on those subjects in the epistles of the New Testament. Let me tell you about Isaiah. 66 chapters, same as the number of books of the Bible. It’s split into two parts: the first 39 and the second 27. Exactly the way the Bible is split: Old Testament 39 books, New Testament 27.

The first 39 are about judgment, much like the Old Testament. The last 27 chapters (of Isaiah) are about redemption, just like the New Testament – Salvation. The last 27 are divided into 3 – 9 – 9 – and 9. The first 9 is about the physical salvation of Israel, the last 9 are about the physical salvation of creation. And the middle 9 is about the spiritual salvation of sinners. (8) So, let’s go down into the middle 9, and the middle chapter is chapter 53, and the middle verse, essentially, is, „He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our inequities.” The Holy Spirit forces us right down into this incredible chapter. Isaiah 53 has been called the torture chamber of the rabbis. It has been called the guilty conscience of the Jews. And it is that. They run from this chapter like the black death.

This chapter, stepping back in history and the place that it occupies in Scripture, this chapter answers the most critical question that will ever be asked or answered, ever, by anyone, anytime. The most essential question, the most important question is answered by this chapter. Religion must answer this question correctly or it is form hell. Any religion that does not give the right answer to this question is right out of hell. What is the question? It’s the riddle of the Old Testament. Did you know there was a riddle in the Old Testament? Turn to Exodus 34. Moses comes before God and wants God to assure him, he wants God to show up and reveal His glory. In Exodus 34:5 we read „the Lord descended from a cloud and stood there as he called upon the name of the Lord.” Now, the Lord is going to introduce Himself. „The Lord passed by in front of Him and proclaimed, „The Lord God, compassionate, and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in loving kindness and truth, who keeps grace, loving kindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin.” And, by the way, „He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished.” That’s the riddle of the Old Testament.

That’s the riddle of redemption. How can God be gracious and punish the guilty? The answer to that is Isaiah 53. He will punish someone else. How can God, in the words of Paul, be just and the justifier of sinners? That is the question: How can a sinner be reconciled to a holy God? How can God love and bring to heavenly glory, sinners, without violating his righteousness? That is the question. If the right answer to that question is SAVED, then every other wrong answer DAMNS. That’s why I say that whoever doesn’t answer that question accurately is from hell. One more thing to say, about Isaiah 53. Just by way of introduction, if we think about it, this is a paralyzingly sad chapter. I don’t know of a sadder moment in all of redemptive history than the moment depicted in this chapter. It is horrific, beyond comprehension. This starts out as the most plaintive lament, the most extreme expression of sorrow. It is a kind of epic dirge. It is a funeral song with massive, sweeping implications. The crushing sorrow that is depicted in Isaiah 53 has no historic parallel, exceeds all other sorrows. (13:25)

The astonishing revelation

We start back in Isaiah 52 at verse 13. And, everything about this section is astonishing, absolutely astonishing. To start, in verse 13 we come to the very words of God. This section begins and ends with God speaking. God speaks in 52:13-15 and speaks half way through verse 11 and verse 12. So, what happens in the middle is bracketed by the words of God. God introduces and God sums up what’s in this great chapter. In 52:13-15, God Himself introduces the Messiah. He introduces His servant, His slave. First, it is an astonishing revelation. By the way, this is the 4th chapter that focuses on the servant or slave of God- the Messiah- vv. 42, 49, 50, 53. All servant songs, slave songs of the slave of God. He introduces Him: Behold because it is astonishing. „My slave will succeed”. Any reader of the Old Testament knows that that’s a Messianic title. Going all the way back to chapter 42, this is the Messiah. (15:29)

He will prosper. Actually, in Hebrew it is ‘act intelligently, act wisely’, succeed. It’s important that we understand that’s how God introduces this, because when He came, it looked like He didn’t succeed. It looked to the world like He failed. Then He begins to introduce Him. He will be high and lifted up, and greatly exalted. That identifies Him. Well, you say, isn’t that just repetitious? No, in the Hebrew, here’s what it says: He will be high, He will be higher, He will be highest. And those 3 designations in combination, only appear in one other place in all of Scripture. And those three designations refer to God. They only appear together in one other place- Isaiah 6. „I saw the Lord high, and higher, and highest.” So, now we know that the slave is God.

The astonishing humiliation

isaiah 53 5

The deity of Messiah is proclaimed. Verse 14 adds: Just as many were astonished at you My people, so His appearance was far more than any man.”  Now we know that He not only will be God, but He will also be man. The God man. He will be marred, that word in Hebrew means mutilated, it means distorted, it means disfigured. And, so extremely disfigured as to be literally beyond human recognition, looking like a beast, not a man. This servant is God? The eternal God: high, higher, highest. Exalted, loftiest, sitting on His throne. And, in the New testament, we know the writer of the Gospel of John tells us that the vision of Isaiah 6 is none other than Jesus Christ. He is God, lifted up and exalted. And He is man, marred, disfigured. This is the second riddle. Who is this Messiah? The Jews had a Messianic view, they had a concept of Messiah. I don’t know that they thought He would be God, but they assumed that He would be exalted. They had no sense that He would be marred, disfigured, far form it. But, that is only temporary.

His marring will be so severe, end of verse 14, that His form would be disfigured and distorted more than the sons of man. The implication of the language is- in face and form He will become subhuman. And we know that happened. All the brutality imposed upon Him. The physical distortion of His body, in all that He suffered and the distortion of His face, from sin bearing… We’re glad to get to verse 15. because the astonishing revelation, followed by the astonishing humiliation, brings us to the astonishing exaltation. (19:50)

The astonishing exaltation

„He will startle many nations.” Startle means to burst, to jump up. „He will startle many nations and Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him. What has not been told them, they will see, what they had not heard they will understand.” This is His final exaltation. So, God Himself, introduces His servant, His slave, the slave of Yahweh. the slave of Messiah, who is to come. He will be God, He will be man, He will be marred, He will be exalted. There is the career of the Lord Jesus in broad terms, from the mouth of God. This information is given to the Jews from Isaiah, 700 years before Jesus came. (21)

Isaiah 53

Now, let’s come to chapter 53. And, all of a suede something changes. Verses 13-15 ‘1st person- future’. „He will be”… „He will…” Kings will..”  „they will…”, „they will see..”. All future- speaking of the coming of the Messiah. Everything changes. This is one speaker: God, speaking of the future career of His servant. When you come to verse 1, everything changes. Everything now is in the past tense. And plural pronouns: „we”, „our”, „us”. The big question for us is, „Who is talking?” Not God. Who is speaking?

The Suffering Servant

53 Who has believed our message?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
And like a root out of parched ground;
He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
But 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.
All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him.

He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.
By oppression and judgment He was taken away;
And as for His generation, who considered
That He was cut off out of the land of the living
For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?
His grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet He was with a rich man in His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.

10 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.
11 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.
12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because He poured out Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors.

Who is saying this? Who is making this massive confession? What group of people is this? What group of people is this? This is plural ‘til you get down to verse 11, where God begins to speak again. Who is this? It is Israel.

What did we learn about Isaiah? Israel’s physical deliverance in the first 9 chapters of the second half, and Israel’s salvation in the second nine. You bore down to those 9 in the middle chapter and the middle verses- this is the prophecy, not the death of Christ. This is not a prophecy of the death of Christ, this is a prophecy of the future conversion of Israel, when they look back at the death of Christ and see who He really was. This is stunning. This leaps across the death and resurrection of Christ to the future conversion of Israel. That’s why Isaiah gave this. To give hope for the national salvation of his people.

Remember Ezekiel 36, when God promises salvation to Israel, a new heart, His spirit… you remember Jeremiah 31, the covenant passage promised to Israel, where God saves Israel. But, you might wanna think about this in terms of another prophecy. As you come to the end of the Old Testament, in Zechariah 12:10 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. 
And Zechariah sees the future day, when Israel has, by the sovereign purposes of God, the spirit of grace and supplication comes down from heaven and gives them life. And when God does that, they will look on the one they pierced and they will mourn. vv 11-14 11 In that day there will be great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the plain of Megiddo. 12 The land will mourn, every family by itself; the family of the house of David by itself and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself and their wives by themselves; 13 the family of the house of Levi by itself and their wives by themselves; the family of the Shimeites by itself and their wives by themselves; 14 all the families that remain, every family by itself and their wives by themselves. What are they all mourning about? That is the future work of God, when He saves the nation of Israel. Romans 11 „So, all Israel will be saved”. That’s the future promise of God.

When that day comes, what will they say? They will recite Isaiah 53. This is their confession. That’s why it’s in the past tense. Think of it this way, as we look at this incredible chapter. Why the mourning? Why the horror? Why does everybody mourn, from the lowest to the highest? From the King, the leader, always down to the humblest family? What is all this mourning and weeping, and sorrowing? It’s obvious. In that future day, when Israel is saved, they will look back over their history and realize that everyone that came before them and rejected Jesus Christ was damned forever. The horror. All the history of holocaust, all those people are lost. The mourning will be beyond comprehension. (transcript from first 30 min provided by our blog)

D A Carson – When Jesus confronts the world (Essential message)

photo ‘Sermon on the mount’ by James Tissot

Matthew 8:1-17 (this follows immediately after the sermon on the mount.

We become so used to thinking about Jesus, that we sometimes fail to recognize how utterly different Jesus and the world are. They’re thinking in different categories. They’re on different planes. The world is essentially self focused. Jesus is self emptying. SO much so, that He goes to the cross on our behalf. The world is time bound, and it’s temporary. Jesus enter time. The eternal Son enters time, but, one with God, He inhabits eternity. And, even now, at the Father’s right hand He upholds all things in heaven and on earth, by His powerful word.

d a carsonThe world needs saving. Jesus doesn’t need saving, He comes as the Savior. And so, we cold press on, and on, and on. But, one of the dimensions is which there is a perennial clash between the world and Jesus is in the dimension of authority. Who is boss? Who reigns? Who has the last say? What is authority? It’s actually quite a slippery word. In the verses I just read, Jesus demonstrates His authority, and these verses are linked to the verses in the sermon on the mount, which focus again on Jesus’s authority. At the end of the sermon on the mount, we read, in 7:28 „When Jesus finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at His teaching, because He taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.

The authority to judge

The way Jesus manifested His authority when He was speaking was on several levels. On the one hand, He didn’t use lesser authorities and footnotes. It was not uncommon in the day for someone to say, „Well, rabbi so and so says that rabbi so and so…says such and such”. And, you’ve got a string of authorities to enhance your authority. Jesus comes along and says, „You have heard that it was said, but I tell you,” with matchless, self conscious authority. He is the expert.. on everything on which He cares to speak. And, it’s more than that. It’s not simply that He’s more credible, because He’s more knowledgable, but He actually determines, Himself, who does not enter the Kingdom. A few verses earlier, in 7:21 „not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom, but only the one who does the will of my Father, who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons, and in your name perform many miracles?’ And I will tell you plainly ‘I never knew you, away from me you evildoers.'”

This is stunning. Jesus claims to have the authority of God Himself on the last day. He ultimately decides who enters the consummated kingdom and who does not. So, this is more than mere credibility because of superior knowledge. It’s the authority to judge, the authority of God Himself on the last day.

Earlier, in the sermon on the mount, He claims that He did not come to abolish the law of the prophets, but to fulfill them. That is, the law and the prophets point to Him, and He actually brings them to fulfillment. Or, again, in chapter 5, right at the beginning of the sermon on the mount, where He’s talking about persecution, He says, „Blessed are you when people insult you, accuse you, and say all kinds of evil against you BECAUSE OF ME. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven..” In other words, He is at the center of the conflict with the world. And, His followers will either side with Him and be persecuted, or they’ll side with the world and do the persecution the other way.

Now, that’s all the sermon on the mount. Then, we turn to Matthew 8, and following. And what we discover is that Jesus now demonstrates His authority, not simply by his teaching, but by His actions. And what is displayed is stunning. He has the power to heal, to cast out demons. He has the power to command nature. He has the power to bring in the consummated kingdom. He has the power to even delegate some of His authority to His followers in chapter 10. He gives to His disciples certain authority to cast out demons, to preach and teach themselves.

He has a genuine authority which entails both a moral center, and the power to make His word effective. In these first 17 verses, we learn 5 things about the authority of Jesus. (12:36) Transcript continues under the video.

1. The authority of Jesus to heal and transform

is implicit in His purpose, in His person, His mission. 

Jesus’s authority is absolutely unconstrained. It’s implicit in His person, in His majesty, His mission. The first three verses-Jesus comes down from the mountainside, where He has been teaching, which shows that in Matthew’s mind, he’s still connecting what He’s doing to the sermon on the mount, which He had preached up on the mountain. Large crowds follow Him. The man with leprosy, some kind of skin disease came and knelt before Him and said, „Lord, is you are willing, you can make me clean.” And Jesus heals the man. Now, this is bound up with prophesies from the Old Testament. When the Messiah ultimately comes, all of the brokenness of this world order will be itself broken. So, in Isaiah 11, which looks forward to a time when a shoot will come from the stump of Jesse. That is, a Davidic king will rise again from Jesse’s line. Amongst the things we read, then, are these: Righteousness will be His belt, faithfulness the sash around His waist, the wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat. The calf and the lion, and the yearling together. And the child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the cobra’s den. The child will put his hand into the viper’s nest, they will neither harm nor destroy. On all my holy mountain, the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.”

(This was) brought about by David’s greater son. Brought about by what He does. So that the healings that Jesus does during His earthly ministry are a kind of foretaste, an anticipation  of all the authority of God, mediated through Him, to reverse all the effects of sin, finally brought about in the consummation itself. In fact, it’s deeply hinted at in verses 2 and 3. We focus on the wrong thing in verse 2. „You are willing,” the man says, „You can make me clean.” So, we scratch our heads, „What does he mean ‘if Jesus is willing?'” Surely Jesus is willing. Wouldn’t He be willing? That’s not the point. The point is that the only thing that stops Him from doing it is His will. It’s not a question of His power. This man assumes that Jesus has the authority. He can do it, He can speak a word and it will be done. The only question is whether Jesus, at this point in redemptive history is going to do it in this particular case.

The authority, however, is matchless, unrestrained. Jesus says, „I am willing. BE CLEAN!”. This is of a piece of passage after passage in the New Testament.

  • He speaks to the storms on Galilee: Peace. BE STILL!” And immediately there was a great calm.
  • „I charge you, come out of him!” And the man is released.
  • „Lazarus, come forth!” And Lazarus comes forth from the tomb. WAG has said, „If Jesus hadn’t specified ‘Lazarus’, every tomb in Jerusalem would have been empty. (16:00)

Jesus’s authority is absolutely unconstrained. It’s implicit in His person, in His majesty, His mission.

2. The authority of Jesus, formally submissive to the law of Moses

in fact transcends it and fulfills it

Jesus has this remarkable authority even to overturn all the ravages of sin. He is the healer that only needs to will for it to be done.Verse 4 – „After Jesus healed this man, He says to him, ‘See that you don’t tell anyone, but go and show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them,'” The reference, of course, is to Leviticus 14. Skin diseases were not all leprosy, as we know it today. But, some of them were, and in any case, they could be highly contagious and run right through a camp or a city. So, the laws were put in place that those with certain skin conditions, then had to be banned, outside the camp. And, if then, those skin conditions got better, somehow, then there was a prescribed sacrifice. A sacrifice to offer things up in the temple and to check things out with a priest, who would inspect the wound and then wait 7 days, and inspect it all again. So, what Jesus tells this man is, „Do what the law says. I healed you, go to the Temple, offer the sacrifice. Do what it says.”

„Do it as a testimony to them.” What does that mean? Some think it should be interpreted positively, that is: As a testimony to them of who I am. Some think it should be interpreted negatively, as a testimony against them. That’ll put them in their place. I suspect the expression is most probably neutral. The end result is startling: In submitting to the law, to what the law itself demands, the cured leper becomes the occasion for the law to confirm Jesus’s authority. It’s not just confirming that the man is better. But, it is confirming, on the standard set by the law itself, that Jesus has this remarkable authority, even to overturn all the ravages of sin, all the ravages of disease. He is the healer that only needs to will for it to be done. Indeed, one of the stunning things, under the law, Jesus was not supposed to touch anyone who was impure or skin diseased. But, Jesus is the sort of person who, in touching a diseased person, does not Himself become diseased, but Himself, overturns the disease. The authority if Jesus is matchless, and when He exercises it, it turns out that although it is formally submissive to the law of Moses, in fact it transcends the law of Moses and fulfills it. (21:00)

3. The authority of Jesus is so sweeping,

when Jesus speaks God speaks

Jesus comes up to a centurion, a Roman soldier. Roughly the rank, of perhaps the rank of a captain here, conceivably a major. He says to Jesus, „My servant is at home paralyzed, suffering terribly. Jesus says, „Shall I come and heal Him?” Be explicit in what you’re asking for. And the centurion replies, „Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof.” That’s already startling, isn’t it? He doesn’t say, „I am quite an important person. You know, I am part of the overlord party in this country.” The least you can do is show me a bit of respect. Rather, he approaches Jesus with amazing humility, for an officer in the Roman legions. „Just say the word and my servant will be healed. Because, you see Jesus, I understand how this works. Because, I am a man under authority.” He stresses that he is under authority, not just that he has authority over others. But, rather, he’s under authority, and that gives him authority over others. So, when he says to a foot soldier, „Go,” the foot soldier goes. And when he says, „Come,” the soldier comes.

What the soldier means by this is that when he commands a foot soldier, it is not just this centurion speaking out of his personal authority, he speaks now for Rome. He is in an entire chain of command. When the centurion speaks, he speaks with the authority of the tribune over him, and over the tribune, senior officers all the way back to Caesar himself. When this soldier gives a legitimate command to a foot soldier under him, when he speaks Caesar speaks. When he speaks, Rome speaks. And, that’s why there is no way a foot soldier is going to thumb his nose at his centurion officer. And this is what he applies to Jesus.

You must not think that this centurion has got the doctrine of the trinity sorted out yet. He couldn’t of expounded incarnation, but he has watched Jesus enough to know that when Jesus speaks, God speaks. He does the Father’s will so absolutely perfectly, that when Jesus speaks, God speaks. And that word is so effective that Jesus doesn’t have to show up in person, or lay His hands. He speaks with the authority of God. When God says something and wants it to be effected, it is effective.

Jesus said He has not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. The authority of Jesus is so sweeping, when Jesus speaks God speaks. And that, brothers and sisters, means that not to listen to Jesus is to defy almighty God.

4. The authority of Jesus is a great comfort to the eyes of faith

and a great terror to the merely religious

Jesus praises the faith of this centurion. A Roman, without al of the background of what we now call the Old Testament and Scripture. „Truly, I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But, the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside into the darkness, where there will be weeping and the gnashing of teeth.” Now, He says this, after having said, just a few verses earlier at the end of the sermon on the mount that He has the authority to determine who enters the consummated kingdom and who does not. He is the one that will say, „Depart from me, you workers of iniquity, I never knew you.” And He is the one who grants entrance. And now He says, „On the last day, there will be many people there who will exhibit the same faith this centurion exhibited,” even though this centurion is not an Israelite, he’s a gentile, part of the overlord party. But, he has this faith is Jesus that is so transparently submissive to the authority of God in this God man, that he understands that when God speaks, Jesus speaks. It’s the same faith of an Abraham, who heard the voice of God and went out, not knowing where he was going. And thus, in the consummated kingdom, such people will gather around Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They will be part of this consummated glory, where elsewhere it is described as resurrection existence in the new heaven and the new earth- the home of righteousness.

And, meanwhile, many who have had the privilege of being part of that old covenant heritage, with all of its revelation and its sacrificial system, and its Godly prophets, and its wisdom literature, many who are absorbed into the kind of religiosity that really does not bow to the authority of Jesus, they will be cast out, we are told- where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Brothers and sisters in Christ, it is not popular today to talk about hell. Indeed, many Christians are trying to find ways of interpreting the Scripture in such a way that ‘hell becomes a little less embarrassing’: …maybe it doesn’t go on forever… maybe God’s love is so sweeping that somehow, eventually, everybody in hell will repent and hell will be emptied out.And God’s love will win.

Many, many voices like this are heard. It sounds so gentle, and so loving, but, it is very hard to square such notions with what Jesus Himself says. Most of the most startling metaphors for hell are first voiced in the Scripture by the Lord Jesus Himself. He is the one here, who speaks of outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Revelation 14 and Revelation 20 speak of hell as a place of ongoing terror. I think that one of the reasons why people will not face what Scripture plainly says is because we have talked ourselves into thinking that perhaps, that perhaps we should recognize that our sins can’t be eternal sins, or infinite sins. Our sins are finite, we’re finite people, who commit only finite sins, so, why should we be punished infinitely? And, if that’s the case, we must have some other explanation for infinite punishment. But, that presupposes that once we get to hell we all want to repent and we don’t want to sin anymore. But, I have ransacked Scripture and I cannot, for the life of me, find a single place anywhere in Scripture that suggests there’s a word of repentance in hell.

Even in the account of the rich man and Lazarus- he doesn’t want to be there. But, he lifts his eyes up, being in torment, the Scripture says, and somehow sees Abraham and Lazarus a far distance off. What do you think he will say? „Oh, Lazarus, did I get that one wrong? I am so sorry, would you forgive me please? I really did abuse you. I didn’t show any generosity, compassion. I left you ill and broken, and poor outside my gate, even though I was filthy rich. I really am very sorry. I do want to repent, I am so sorry.” Is that what he says?  No, what he says is, „Father Abraham,” playing the race card, „Father Abraham, why don’t you send Lazarus to dip his finger in some water, so that he can bring it to me?” Lazarus is still the ‘Joe’ boy, he’s still the menial. He doesn’t even address him. He’s gonna pull strings and get father Abraham… There’s not a hint of repentance anywhere. Hell is not filled with people who are deeply repentant and wanting to get out. It’s filled with broken rebels who still want to justify themselves and think of them selves as at the center of the universe for all of eternity- sinning and being punished, sinning and being punished, world without end. At the end of that conversation with Abraham, the rich man is actually contradicting Abraham, „No, father Abraham, your interpretation of things is wrong. Let me correct your theology.” This man, even in hell thinks he’s got a superior theology to Abraham in heaven. It’s unbelievable.

And, the person who is exclusively, finally responsible for making the decisions about who goes to heaven and who does not, and on what ground is Jesus Himself. The authority of Jesus is great comfort to the eyes of faith and a great terror to the merely religious. (32:00)

5. Jesus’s authority is in function of His work on the cross

verses 14-17 „When Jesus came into Peter’s house, He saw Peter’s mother in law lying in bed with a fever.” And so He heals her. Verse 16- When evening came, many who were demon possessed were brought to Him and He drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: „He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.” Now, many who are listening to me this morning will know that this quotation is from Isaiah 53, which New Testament writers, which Christians around the world tie to Jesus’s cross work. „He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities. He bore our sin on His own body on the tree,” the apostle Peter elsewhere writes.

But, here, we are told that when Jesus cast out demons and healed sick people, even before the cross, this was to fulfill what was spoken  through the prophet Isaiah: ‘He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.’ So, Jesus is fulfilling Isaiah 53, even as He’s healing people. And this before the cross. How does that make sense? How do you put all that together? And sometimes, in our theological discussions, we ask questions such as, „Is there healing in the atonement? By which we mean something like, „If Jesus paid for all the sin and its effects, including illness, if He paid for all of it, then shouldn’t it follow that we should be healed when we ask for it? There is healing in the atonement, in what Christ accomplished on the cross? Isn’t there? Doesn’t this text suggest the same? Well, yes and no.

Yes, of course there’s healing in the atonement. If you read the Bible as a whole, you discover that there’s resurrections existence in the atonement too. There is the new heaven and the new earth in the atonement. That is what assures resurrection existence for God’s people on the last day is the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus. What is at stake is a worldview consideration, that clashes massively with what this world thinks. That worldview consideration is this: Although God made all things good, with sin and the curse, there is not only guilt over moral defection, but there is death and suffering, and disease. Nature itself is out of order. There is disaster, there is war. For all that there is so many good things, the residue of the image of God still on us so that by common grace we can create art and perform music, and write books and work with our hands, and do skilled things.

Yet, the fact remains that we are a damned brood. And, biblically speaking, that means that every instance of disease and demon possession, and malice, and suffering, death itself is finally traceable to sin. I don’t mean that you get pancreatic cancer because you’ve committed a particular sin. It’s conceivable, but I have no way of demonstrating that. What I do know is that all kinds of people- good, bad and indifferent from a social perspective can succumb to the disease, and sometime decidedly wicked people can live to a ripe old age. The Psalmist observed the point himself. But, eventually, all of us end up dead. If you live long enough you will suffer. To suffer, all you’ve got to do is keep living. If you live long enough you will be bereaved. Your only options are to bereave someone else, or be bereaved yourself. That’s it. If you live long enough you’ll get cancer or alzheimer, or both. Because, not only morally are we a damned brood, but, we are under this curse which has to be lifted if we are to be reconciled to God. And the way it is lifted is by the visit from the God man who bore our sins in His own body on the tree.

And, that means that every time Jesus heals someone in His ministry, even before He had gone to the cross, every single time it was in function of what He was about to do on the cross. Not yet done. But, it was not just an act of power. It was an act of power, of authority that issued from the cross, that still lay around the corner. In that sense, every healing was prophetic of what the cross would achieve. And, the way we knew that Matthew understood it that way is because he cites Isaiah 53. This was done in order to fulfill what God had said through the prophet Isaiah: „He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.” This theme runs right through Matthew’s Gospel, and right through the New Testament. In chapter 1, Joseph is told, „You will give Him the name Jesus- „Yahweh saves” for He will save His people from their sins. To placard that in chapter 1 is the way of saying, „This is one of the controlling themes right through Matthew’s Gospel. This is the Gospel in which we show how Yahweh saves His people from their sins.

So that, when you read the sermon on the mount, one of the things that you should be reading is, one of the things you should be thinking is: Here is the word of the Messiah, whose name means „Yahweh saves”, who came to save people from their sins. This is what the new society in the consummated heaven and earth will look like . Already it is moving in that direction. The kingdom dawns. And here, He is fulfilling Scripture- Isaiah 53. In chapter 9 again, when a man is lowered to Him in a house. He says, „Take heart son, your sins are forgiven.” Who has the authority to forgive sins? But, He came to save His people form their sins.

And, when He overthrows the power of darkness, it shows what He is doing to save His people from their sins. It means more than just forgiving them. It means triumphing over these sins, thrashing down the death and decay, in anticipation of a time when sin and all of its effects , death itself will be utterly destroyed. All on the basis of the work on the cross of Christ Jesus. He will save His people from their sins, until, finally we find Him hanging on the cross, and over His head is the charge: „This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” This is meant to be deeply ironic, scandalously demeaning and belittling, when Pilate posts it up there. But, to the eyes of faith, we say: Yes indeed, this is Jesus, reigning from the cross, which was one of the churches great confessions during the first 3 centuries of its existence- Jesus reigning from the cross. He will save His people from their sins.

Do you want to know where the authority of Jesus is? Look at the cross. It is Jesus reigning from the cross. But, He doesn’t stay there. He rises again. And then, how does this Gospel end? „Al authority is given Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore, and make disciples. So that the authority of Jesus, thus is delegated. It is mandated. It is part of the elementary Christianity that we say „the Lord Jesus Christ”. We’re recognizing His authority. And we join with Christians across century, across ages, across nations. We share this common faith in, and submission to the Lord Jesus, whose authority enables us and authorizes us to preach the Gospel and throw back the powers of the darkness, by the preaching of the cross and the resurrection, in anticipation of the consummation on the last day. Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the age. It is this Gospel that finds Jesus saying in Matthew 16: I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. My friends Tim Keller likes to say: For Christians, optimism is naive. That’s because we really do see the power of sin in peoples lives.  Pessimism is atheistic, because we serve a God with absolute authority. This God whose authority comes and shatters the spear and the sword. This God who reverses death in anticipation now, in His ministry, of what He Himself will accomplish in the resurrection. And in anticipation of the mission He gives to us under His authority. In anticipation of the consummation on the last day. And so, the church of Jesus Christ bows before the Lord Jesus Himself, and says, „Yes, yes, yes. Even so, come Lord Jesus.

Listen to other recent messages by Don Carson at the  Gospel Coalition:

  1. When The Bible Is Silent
  2. When the Bible Is Silent Q&A
  3. Lessons from French Canadian Revivals
  4. Lessons from the French Canadian Revival Q&A
  5. The Implications of Complementarianism
  6. The Implications of Complementarianism Q&A
  7. Our Exalted Identity in a Holy Church
  8. Teach Us to Pray
  9. Our Exalted Relationship with Each Other

The Old Testament prophets: „Does Biblical Prophecy Fail?” Prophecy 101

Bio from here – http://www.tms.edu/FacultyIntroduction

Michael Grisanti is Professor of Old Testament at The Master’s Seminary where his scholarly interests include Deuteronomy, Old Testament theology, biblical ethics, the prophets, and the history of Israel. He has been actively involved in ministries around the world, which have brought him to Colombia, Honduras, Albania, France, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Russia, and Ukraine. For several years, he taught at Central Baptist Theological Seminary.

 Grisanti has contributed to The New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis,Eerdman’s Dictionary of the BibleBible Knowledge Key Word Study Set, and the Baker Handbook to the Bible. He wrote the forthcoming commentary on Deuteronomy in revised The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, and the forthcoming volume on the prophets in the Handbook on Old Testament Exegesis series.  He co-authored The Word and the World: An Introduction to the OT (B & H). He has also served as editor or co-editor of The Bible Version Debate: The Perspectives of Central Baptist Theological Seminaryand Giving the Sense: Understanding and Using Old Testament Historical Texts. He has written numerous articles on Old Testament topics which have been published in Bibliotheca SacraThe Master’s Seminary Journal, and the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society.
  • Professor of Old Testament
  • B.A., Pillsbury Baptist Bible College
  • M.Div., Central Baptist Theological Seminary
  • Th.M., Central Baptist Theological Seminary
  • Ph.D., Dallas Theological Seminary

Biblical Studies Symposium with Dr. Michael Grisanti

A lecture that helps us understand some of the more difficult parts of the Old Testament- The prophets. The points Dr. Grisanti answers are:

  1. To get a better understanding of prophetic passages, a part of the Bible believers find difficult to understand
  2. Not all statements of biblical prophets about the future are going to find fulfillment in the way it’s stated
  3. To understand why some prophetic predictions are not fulfilled and why nonfulfillment does not deny anything about God’s character as the all powerful God. It is not a question about His ability.
  4. To better handle the word of truth in prophetic literature through some of the key issues discussed

Published on Oct 3, 2012 by  The Liberty University School of Religion’s Biblical Studies Symposium hosted Dr. Michael Grisanti on September 17th, 2012. Dr. Grisanti, co-author of The World and the Word, joined us from the Master’s Seminary for the day. He addressed students and faculty in the Towns Alumni Lecture Hall on the topic of „Does Biblical Prophecy Fail?”

Here are some extensive NOTES from the Symposium:

I. Some basic issues in prophetic literature.

Of all the sections of the Bible, many believers struggle with understanding prophetic passages. It is also a section of the Old Testament where the debate rages. Since we live in challenging times and we have a biblical anticipation of God’s plan for the future, we want to understand God’s intention for the end times. Tonight I want to focus on only one primary issue that affects our understanding of the message of the prophets. And that is the issue of conditional predictions.

A. Key terms – Conditional and Contingent Predictions

Here are some key terms I want to talk about. In general, something that’s conditional is not guaranteed. Conditional love, for example is love that is dependent on  what someone else does. Unconditional love, like God’s love is not impacted by conduct. So, conditions introduce an „if” or a „maybe” to a statement, or a promise. The ideas „contingency” or „contingent” are near synonyms of conditional. If it is contingent, it depends on something else for it to take place. So, in what way do these terms „conditional” or „contingent” play a role in the prophetic statements? After all, don’t all prophetic promises or predictions find fulfillment? If a biblical prophet is speaking on God’s behalf, then, what’s the question? Aren’t all predictions either pointing to the Messiah, or providing information about an event on a prophetic calendar? As much as I am grateful for God bringing history to pass, through predictions made through Old Testament prophets, which I am totally confident in, a careful study of Old Testament predictive passages actually demonstrates that the function of these predictions is not just to affirm promises that God gave that these will happen, although that’s an important part of it.

B. Important Distinction: Forthtelling and Foretelling

Forthtelling – For years scholars have recognized a key distinction in prophetic writings between forthtelling and foretelling, or preaching and predicting. A majority of prophetic passages involve the biblical prophet addressing his immediate audience. The forthtelling, or preaching, which is often future oriented, the forthtelling or preaching by a prophet usually falls into two categories:

  1. First, he indicts God’s people for committing covenant treachery. They have betrayed their covenant Lord from the inside out. 
  2. Second, the prophet exhorts his fellow israelites to repent, or face covenant judgment, or cursing. Then finally he looks to future restoration after Israel experiences the promised judgment and repents of the rebellion.

The prophets are preaching to change lives. They are not just preaching to provide eschatological data. That’s part of what they do, but not all that they do. In a much smaller number of passages, the prophets provide detailed statements about what God will do in the future. Scholars have offered various estimates of how much of what a prophet declares involves long range predictions- 5% to, I would suggest 20-30% of the Old Testament prophetic passages deal with a more distant prediction. Just as an example: Think about the prophet Amos. Amos 1:1-9:10 focuses primarily on Amos’s immediate audience and the issue of their covenant disloyalty promises judgment. Only the last five verses (Amos 9:11-15) give attention to the distant future. And, we need to keep that in mind as we understand the prophets.

In addition to revealing God’s future intent, these predictions also give weight to God’s call for repentance. The idea is that it wasn’t just a hortatory (encouraging) function, that what God predicts isn’t just taking up space. What God predicts is meant to drive God’s people to repentance. While prophetic predictions can function i what’s called performatively, that is referring to something that God will unilaterally bring to pass, they can do that. A lot of predictive discourses are dynamic in tending to change the hearer’s personally. So, oracles of salvation present good news, providing incentive, motivating change. And then, judgment oracles presented the bad news are deterrents to refusing change.

Keep in mind that a number of prophetic statements concerning the future are not guaranteed to take place. They may have a built in conditionality, or contingency. We’ll spend more time at the end of this session to study how to sort out what might be conditional  and what is sure to find fulfillment. And also be sure to recognize that not all predictive statements involve predictions about the distant future. Prophets focus a great deal of their preaching in waiting and charging their current audience to repent from their rebellion and embrace the covenant relationship that the Lord offered them.

II. Where does the Bible Talk about Conditional Language?

Let’s examine some biblical passages that offer these conditional passages of contingency or conditionality  in prophetic literature(8:40):

Jeremiah 18:7-10 is a primary one: If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, 10 and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it. In Jeremiah 18, the Lord sent the prophet to the potter’s house to  provide an object lesson, for Jeremiah’s audience, then and now in verses 1-2. As the prophet was forming the clay into a certain kind of a jar, it didn’t meet his expectations. So, he shaped that same clay into a different jar.

The Lord’s object in this lesson was that just as the potter had the authority to reshape the clay in the kind of a jar the potter wanted, the Lord was able to carry out His will with Israel- directing their steps, demanding their allegiance, punishing their treachery, or blessing their obedience. Just like the potter who determines the shape of the clay will take, as the Creator and as the sovereign of Israel, Yahweh has absolute authority to determine the destiny for His chosen people, as well as any nation.  That brings us to the verses that describe God’s freedom to change the direction of intentions for His subjects- see above Jeremiah 18:7-10. I will relent occurs twice in the passage. The net Bible translates this verb as ‘cancel’. Scholars are reluctant to translate it „changing My mind”, because some see that as contradicting Numbers 23:19- God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? Remember that Jeremiah 18 is given under the Mosaic covenant, which connects blessings with obedience, curses with disobedience)

photo via http://www.faughnfamily.com

via http://www.faughnfamily.com

So, if we’re going to interpret biblical prophecy correctly, it’s important to understand that God’s intention sometime depends or is contingent upon the behavior of mankind. Not all prophetic predictions will come to pass. That understanding and realization raises a couple of other important points (12:00):

  1. While some predictions have explicit conditions, and there are a handful of them in many predictive passages- conditions are either implicit or totally unstated. In these cases, where there is no explicit statement on condition, one cannot assure from the form of the statement  whether it’s conditional or unconditional. For this reason, the recipient of such a message, at times does what is appropriate, declaring, „Who knows? The Lord may be gracious,” like in 2 Samuel 12:22 and in some other passages. In the book of Jonah, for example, there is no indication of God’s pronouncing judgment on Niniveh had a „maybe” clause. On the other side of the coin, Nathan’s announcement on the impending death of the child born to Bathsheba is an example of one that turned out being unconditional. The child, despite David’s repentance and grief passed away. But, still he acted as if there was hope. He prayed as if there was hope, but God’s will was for the child to pass away. As you can see, the conditional nature of a prophetic prediction  is not always clearly signaled in the passage. And that makes it challenging for us. 
  2. This is very important: The issue of conditionality’s or a contingency of  predictive statements never, NEVER represent a debate about what God CAN do. The biblical prophecy never questions God’s ability or power to bring to pass what they predicted. However, in many cases, they left room for a different outcome, especially if the conditions that had provoked the prophecy in the first place to change. In other words, it indicates the outcome of a prophecy is conditioned by the response of the people to the prophetic word. This does not indicate nay kind of failure on the part of God’s word. Indeed, God indicates in Jeremiah 18 that this conditionality is part of His sovereign will and relates to the sovereign right to do such things. And, I would suggest to you that a biblical prophet, when he announced a prediction, knowing that there’s this built in conditionality, would have regarded that as a word from God, and the listeners would have been challenged to accept it as having divine authority behind it, and something to be taken very seriously. (16:00)
  3. There’s some other indications of contingency in these verses. These are passages that have the word ‘perhaps’ in them: Ezekiel 12:3 there is this unknown feature, sometimes ‘perhaps’ was offering a condition. Since most of the Old Testament predictions take place against the back drop of the Mosaic covenant, they draw on that paradigm of blessing for obedience and cursing for disobedience Leviticus 16, Deuteronomy 28. So, consequently, outside of certain bedrock predictive realities, prophetic declarations of judgment and blessing that drew on the authority of the Mosaic Covenant possesses an element of built in contingency. If God’s people repented, God would spare them from promised judgment.If they rebelled, He would change blessing to cursing. The fact that a prophet of God declares a prediction does not bind God to bring about the fulfillment. Whether or not He fulfills a predictive statement ultimately depends on His character and will, and expectation of the subjects, and whether they choose to obey.

photo via http://www.ubdavid.org

So, while recognizing presence of  contingency or conditionality in almost all predictive prophecies that are couched against the backdrop of the Mosaic Covenant, let’s clarify some terms:

  1. A conditional prophecy represents a scenario that may or may not take place, depending on the response of the people. When I talk about conditional prophecy I am not saying that every predictive statement should have a „maybe” at the beginning- a significant degree of question.
  2. With unconditional prophecy, however, the fulfillment depends exclusively on the character of God, the basis of its realization.

How do we determine if a given prediction is conditional and will not take place, or it has some kind of unilateral nature, and can be expected as something that will happen.  Some predictions will come to pass exactly as predicted and I hope you will see that this prophetic conditionality is a biblical idea. God Himself leaves room in His intentions for mankind, depending on human conduct. Having said that, recognizing the issue of conditional prophecy leads to another passage we need to understand correctly. The issue of contingency and prophetic conditions written about in Jeremiah 18, and some other passages, may look like it comes into conflict with a true or divinely authorized prophecy, given in Deuteronomy 18.

Deuteronomy 18:21-2221 You may say in your heart, ‘How will we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’22 When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.

In this passage, Moses provides a simple two fold test when trying to determine whether or not a prophet spoke with God’s authority. (1) His message cohered with the rest of scripture and (2) any predictions he made came to pass. Whenever a prophet made a prediction, the failure of that prediction to come to pass was an absolute verdict about the prophet’s lack of  divine authority. While the fulfillment of the prediction, by itself did not prove the authenticity of the prophet, failed prophecies served as an unmistakable occasion of his treachery.

Critical scholars resolve this tension by regarding the Deuteronomic traditions as contradictory to the later biblical traditions. Deuteronomy 18 is out of place, and so, they get rid of it that way. Evangelicals generally view this prophetic criterion as a rule to which there are only rare exceptions. Some evangelicals would suggest that one should assume that Moses and his audience realized that unqualified predictions had implied conditions. If this dynamic was well known, then He would not have to repeat it explicitly when he offered his criterion in Deuteronomy 18. The point is, they would assume this conditionality is present. They would have understood that that whole idea of conditionality was assumed in the conversation. On the one hand, it’s quite clear that Moses’s prophetic test winds up taking into consideration the concept of conditional language, as we see in Jeremiah 18. And the fact that Yahweh was known as a God who relents from promised punishment in dozens of OT passages, that fact would provide the theological rationality to this understanding. It’s based in the character of God.

On the other hand, the passage seems to suggest that more often than not , especially in a short or near term, prophetic predictions by a true prophet would come to pass. Also, the criterion for fulfilled prophecy that would be most appropriate for short range prediction, rather than for those of the distant future. It would be hard to apply the test of Deuteronomy 18 to something beyond a prophet’s lifetime.

Having talked about the idea of contingency, and having looked at Jeremiah 18 and Deuteronomy 18, that they’re not in conflict with one another, that they cohere with one another, to look at additional examples of conditional prophecy. (24:00)

IV. Commonly Cited Examples of Conditional Prophecy

What do we do with those passages that have no explicit conditions?

A. Implicit conditions in the ministry of Jonah. Jonah 3:4- „In 40 days, Nineveh will be demolished.. ‘ No condition given. On two separate occasions the Lord commanded Jonah to preach against Nineveh. Jonah’s message sounded something like this: The clock is ticking and you people are doomed for sure. However, the people of Nineveh, and including their king, listened to Jonah’s message and repented of wickedness, acting out that sorrow, by putting on sackcloth and fasting. In light of this development, Yahweh had compassion on them, and did not bring upon them the destruction He had threatened in chap. 3:10, where it says, the Lord relented from this prophesied destruction. Now, the absence of any conditions embedded in the decree that God made to Jonah, does not preclude the contingency or the conditionality of the declaration. The possibility of the contingency or conditionality are part of the prophetic condition. Jonah’s response to Yahweh’s original command to preach to the Ninevites seemed to indicate belief in the implicit conditionality of this function. One of the purposes of the book of Jonah is to demonstrate  that Yahweh was able to exercise  His sovereign will, and even to modify His fulfillment of a prophetic declaration in spite of His great mercy and the repentance of a people to whom He gave His message of judgment.

B. The prophetic denunciation of King Ahab. In 1 Kings 21 Naboth, an Israelite from Jezreel refused to sell his vineyard to King Ahab. Queen Jezebel arranged for Naboth’s death, through deception and the King would have to go claim now his land, that had been a covenant stewardship, the land was a gift to Naboth from God. In the wake of that treachery, that involved land given by God Himself, Yahweh told Elijah, the prophet to tell Ahab in 1 Kings 21:19-22: 

 You shall speak to him, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Have you murdered and also taken possession?”’ And you shall speak to him, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord, “In the place where the dogs licked up the blood of Naboth the dogs will lick up your blood, even yours.”’”

20 Ahab said to Elijah, “Have you found me, O my enemy?” And he answered, “I have found you, because you have sold yourself to do evil in the sight of the Lord. 21 Behold, I will bring evil upon you, and will utterly sweep you away, and will cut off from Ahab every male, both bond and free in Israel; 22 and I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, because of the provocation with which you have provoked Me to anger, and because you have made Israel sin.

However, when they had heard the prophetic denunciations, as he acted out his repentance by tearing his clothes and putting on sack cloth and fasting; in response to that the Lord told Elijah: “Do you see how Ahab has humbled himself before Me? Because he has humbled himself before Me, I will not bring the evil in his days, but I will bring the evil upon his house in his son’s days.”  Eventually, Ahab did die in battle and the dogs did lick up his blood- at a different place, in Samaria, not Jezreel. But, the Lord did not bring an end to Ahab’s dynasty with him. It happened with 2 kings, 2 sons later. This change in God’s promise of judgment on Ahab indicates that God is willing to make national prophecies conditioned on human response.

C. God gives Hezekiah additional years of life

2 Kings 20:1-6 = Isaiah 38:1-6 And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live.’” Fairly cut and dry. Hezekiah asks God to remember his life and reign that was characterized by faithfulness, and he wept bitterly in verses 2-3. But, even before Isaiah has left the building, the Lord sent Isaiah back to tell Hezekiah of his grace and provision, and of 15 additional years of life in vv.4-6. Hezekiah’s request that God give him additional years of life was the human occasion of God granting Hezekiah request. Isaiah’s original statement was not a false prophetic declaration. But, one that God in His wisdom changed. (28:00)

D. Huldah’s prophecy of Josiah’s death

2 Kings 22:15-20 – 18 But to the king of Judah who sent you to inquire of the Lord thus shall you say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord God of Israel, “Regarding the words which you have heard, 19 because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before the Lord when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants that they should become a desolation and a curse, and you have torn your clothes and wept before Me, I truly have heard you,” declares the Lord. 20 “Therefore, behold, I will gather you to your fathers, and you will be gathered to your grave in peace, and your eyes will not see all the evil which I will bring on this place.”’” So they brought back word to the king.  Then we have the prophetess Huldah’s prophecy of Josiah’s death. Huldah said that Josiah would die in peace, but he died in a battle with the Egyptian army. Bob Chism contends that if we view Huldah’s prediction as performative- like a prediction, then we must conclude that Huldah’s prediction is an unfulfilled prophecy. If we regard the prophecy as implicitly conditional, and allow for human freedom, we can conclude that Josiah’s decision to become embroiled in international politics compromised God’s ideal. Even so, the promise was fulfilled i its essence for Josiah, for Josiah went to the grave without having to see Jerusalem’s downfall.

This is one of those examples that may not be, to me, a good example of conditional prophecy. After a lengthy announcement of the horrible disaster that would come upon Judah in chapter 22:15-19, Huldah tells Josiah he will die in peace. Huldah promises Josiah specifically that he will not go through this devastation. And, although there are predicitons that seem to be essentially other than totally fulfilled, Huldah’s prediction does not seem to be one of them. It makes good sense that Josiah’s death before the defeat of Jerusalem was the very privilege that Huldah had in mind. At the time of his death, Judah was still intact as a nation. Josiah did not have to experience the terrible tragedies to come upon the nation. In addition to this, Chronicles expands the incident and points out Josiah died in battle because he didn’t listen to those words from the mouth of God. We know that Yahweh sometimes uses foreign rulers to sometime carry out His plans. Apparently Josiah was rejecting the idea that Yahweh was sending the Egyptians or the Babylonians and jumped in the way.

E. Ezekiel’s Prophecy of the Babylonian Conquest of Tyre and Egypt

Ezekiel 26:3-14 – Three Panels.

In Ezekiel 26 God declares to Nebuchadnezzar that He will destroy and vanquish the city of Tyre, up in the land of modern Lebanon. However, 16 years later, Ezekiel receives another declaration in which the Lord promises Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar instead. Ezekiel 29:17-21. Did the first prophecy fail? That Nebuchadnezzar would utterly destroy Tyre? And, why doesn’t the penalty of Deuteronomy 18 apply to the prophet, because is happened in the near term? Now, although Nebuchadnezzar did beseech Tyre for 13 years, Chism suggests that his inability to conquer the fortress of Tyre- there was a mainland city and an island fortress. Nebuchadnezzar was predominantly able to conquer the mainland fortress, but the island fortress was untouched. Chism suggests that Nebuchadnezzar’s ability to conquer the island fortress of Tyre represents a non fulfillment of this prediction. In other words, the prediction in Ezekiel 26 was contingent, or conditional. Ezekiel himself writes, the Lord promised Nebuchadnezzar an abundance of spoils from Egypt, because of the siege of Tyre had not generated the expected plunder. Beyond that, Nebuchadnezzar invaded Egypt in 568-567 B.C. there is debate considering the impact of that invasion.

In addition to the ideas that Ezekiel’s 2 oracles against Tyre demonstrate the conditional narrative of predictive prophecy, another possibility is the language of the oracle in Ezekiel 29 involves hyperbolic or stereotypical language. The idea is that the language of destruction is meant to talk about the demise of Tyre as a power, not through the art of destruction. If so, the language that refers to the demise of Tyre does not anticipate all of the details, but, a central idea essential for fulfillment. The problem with this suggestion is that the graphic language and instruction in Ezekiel 26 which at least anticipates, at least the demise of Tyre as an independent city- which did not happen as a result of Nebuchadnezzar’s siege.

Another possibility is that Ezekiel 26:3-14 anticipates that other nations besides Nebuchadnezzar will serve as God’s instrument of judgment upon Tyre. As demonstrated in the text below, the first and third panels focus on „they”, the nations destroying Tyre with the middle section focusing on Nebuchadnezzar’s role and the destruction of Tyre. So we have these 3 panels.

My transcribing ends at the 35:00 minute mark. There are another 45 minutes of the symposium left. To watch the rest of it queue the start button at the 35 th minute.

Old Testament Prophecies Fulfilled by Christ

messianic prophecy

via Wilmington/Tyndale Guide to the Bible (P 350)

You can reverently see the mighty hand of God guiding men throughout thousands of years and inspiring them through His Holy Spirit as they lay ink to papyrus and lay down God’s Word in such a way as to see it come to pass in a (mind boggling) mathematically impossible improbability.

  1. Born of a virgin – Isaiah 7:14 Fulfilled in Matthew 1:22,23
  2. Given the throne of David – 2 Samuel 7:11-12; Psalm 132:11; Isaiah 9:6, 16:5,Jeremiah 23:5 Fulfilled in Luke 1:31-32
  3. This throne to be an eternal throne – Daniel 2:44, 7:14,27; Micah 4:7 Fulfilled in Luke 1:33
  4. To be called Emmanuel – Isaiah 7:14 Fulfilled in Matthew 1:23
  5. To have a forerunner – Isaiah 40:3-5; Maleachi 3:1 Fulfilled in Luke 1:76-78, 3:3-6; Matthew 3:1-3
  6. To be born in Bethlehem – Micah 5:2 Fulfilled in Matthew 2:5-6
  7. To be worshipped by wise men and be presented with Gifts – Psalm 72:10; Isaiah 60:3, 6, 9 Fulfilled in Matthew 2:11
  8. To be in Egypt for a season – Numbers 24:8, Hosea 11:1 Fulfilled in Matthew 2:15
  9. Birthplace to suffer a massacre of infants – Jeremiah 31:15 Fulfilled in Matthew 2:17-18
  10. To be called a Nazarene – Isaiah 11:1 Fulfilled in Matthew 2:23
  11. To be zealous for the Father – Psalm 69:9, 119:139 Fulfilled in John 2:16-17
  12. To be filled with God’s Spirit – Isaiah 11:2, 61:1-2; Psalm 45:7 Fulfilled in Luke 4:18-19
  13. To heal many – Isaiah 53:4 Fulfilled in Matthew 8:16-17
  14. To deal gently with the Gentiles – Isaiah 9:1-2, 42:1-3 Fulfilled in Matthew 12:17-21, 4:13-16
  15. To speak in parables – Isaiah 6:9-10 Fulfilled in Matthew 13:10-15
  16. To be rejected by His own – Isaiah 53:3, Psalm 69:8 Fulfilled in John 1:11, 7:5
  17. To make a triumphal entry into Jerusalem – Zechariah 9:9 Fulfilled in Matthew 21:4-5
  18. To be praised by little children – Zechariah 9:9 Fulfilled in Matthew 21:16
  19. To be the rejected cornerstone – Psalm 118:22-23 Fulfilled in Matthew 21:42
  20. That His miracles would not be believed – Isaiah 53:1 Fulfilled in John 12:37-38
  21. To be betrayed by His friend for 30 pieces of silver – Psalm 41:9, 55:12-14 Fulfilled in Matthew 26:14-16, 21-25
  22. To be a man of sorrows – Isaiah 53:3 Fulfilled in Matthew 26:37-38
  23. To be forsaken by His disciples – Zechariah 13:7 Fulfilled in Matthew 26:31, 56
  24. To be scourged and spat upon – Isaiah 50:6 Fulfilled in Matthew 26:67, 27:26
  25. His price money to be used to buy a potter’s field – Zechariah 11:12-13; Jeremiah 18:1-4, 19:1-4 Fulfilled in Matthew 27:9-10
  26. To be crucified between two thieves – Isaiah 53:12 Fulfilled in Matthew 27:38
  27. To be given vinegar to drink – Psalm 69:21 Fulfilled in Matthew 27:34, 48; John 19:36-40
  28. To suffer the piercing of hands and feet – Psalm 22:15; Zechariah 12:10 Fulfilled in Matthew 15:25; John 19:34,37, 20:25-27
  29. His garments to be parted and gambled for – Psalm 22:18 Fulfilled in Luke 23:34; John 19:23-24
  30. To be surrounded and ridiculed by His enemies – Psalm 22:7-8 Fulfilled in Matthew 27:39-44; Mark 15:29-32
  31. That He would thirst – Psalm 22:15 Fulfilled in John 19:28
  32. To commend His spirit to the Father – Psalm 31:5 Fulfilled in Luke 23:46
  33. No bones to be broken – Psalm 34:20; Exodus 12:46; Numbers 9:12 Fulfilled in John 19:33-36
  34. To be stared at in death – Zechariah 12:10 Fulfilled in John 19:37; Matthew 27:36
  35. To be buried with the rich – Isaiah 53:9 Fulfilled in Matthew 27:57-60
  36. To be raised from the dead – Psalm 16:10 Fulfilled in Matthew 28:2-8
  37. To ascend – Psalm 24:7-10; Isaiah 52:13 Fulfilled in Mark 16:19; Luke 24:51

Dr. Bruce Ware – Lecture 2 – Christology – Beholding the glory of the Christ – The Trinitarian Context (Pt 2)

photo from SBTS
Dr. Ware deals with the person of Christ (not the work of Christ) in the Trinitarian context. Dr. Ware says, „Even trained, educated Bible believers have not been taught to think of Jesus, in relation to the Father and the Spirit, and what that means in terms of how He lived His life. We’re going to be looking at it in this perspective, because I really think this was the perspective of the New Testament. You will see as we take a look at passages form the Bible, the Bible presents Jesus to us very clearly in relationship to the Father and in relationship to the Spirit. In seeing that, it gives us a richness as an understanding of who he is.”

  1. Trinitarian context: This first session is on the larger trinitarian theology and is a framework session about the doctrine of the trinity, for the basis of thinking about Christ in trinitarian terms, in relation to Father and Son. In the other three sessions (there are a total of 4) Dr. Ware takes a look at sort of chronological (order)
  2. Eternal Word – Who was the eternal Son of the Father in eternity past, who is this Son in relation to the Father and what did He do.
  3. Incarnate Son – The Son as He had come into the world and the life that He lived, the obedience that He rendered, the temptations that He resisted and the life of Christ, lived out among us as the incarnate Son of the Father, who lived out His life with the power of the Spirit.
  4. Reigning King – the One who has ascended, who is at the right hand of the Father, who is coming again as judge and King, and reigning over the church, and will bring consummation to all things.

See LECTURE  1  – The Trinitarian Concept  Part  1 here  

Some notes from the current Lecture 2:


We’re putting together a composite picture here. There’s one God, the Father is God, the Son is God. In time, the early church also developed a conviction that the Holy Spirit is God. Now, this took a while, just in terms of the early church councils that met, because, really, the front burner issue for them was: Who was Jesus? You can see why that is the case. We are Christians, we are not Father-ians or Pneuma-something or other. We are Christians. We announce the Gospel of Christ. We believe in the Lordship of Christ. We worship Christ who is Jesus. So that was clearly the dominant question that had to get settled in the early church. And, only after that was settled, were they able to focus attention on the Holy Spirit. But, in time, they came also to a clear conviction that the Holy Spirit also is God.

Here are some of the passages that came into consideration as they thought about this:

  • Acts 5:3-4 Ananias before Peter, and Peter says to him, „You have lied to the Holy Spirit. You’ve not lied to man, but to God”. So it’s a very clear connection between ‘the Holy Spirit is God’ and when you lie to the Holy Spirit, you lie to God. So He is God.
  • 1 Corinthians 2:10-11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except thespirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. So, the Spirit of God knows the thoughts of God. Wow! One thing that it indicates is He is personal, but, it also indicates He is deity, because no one can know the thoughts of God except God. He is omniscient. So this attributing of the knowledge of God to the Holy Spirit indicates He is personal and He is God.
  • 1 Corinthians 3:16 where Paul says, „You are a temple of God, as the Spirit dwells within you”. So, obviously, that image of temple from the Old Testament background, where the shekinah glory of  God was, and „I will dwell with My people in the Temple”. I mean, this is a vivid image of the presence of God with His people. Well, now we are the temple collectively and individually. Here in chapter 3 it’s collectively- „You”, plural. In chapter 6: „Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit? But that’s in chapter 6, though. Here, it’s collectively. You, together as a corporate whole are the temple of God. The Spirit of God dwells in you. So, Spirit is connected with „God dwelling with His people” thorough His Spirit, who is there. So the Spirit is God.
  • Hebrews 9:14 He was able to go to the cross. He was delivered by the eternal Spirit. Eternal is a kind of attribute. Remember 2 different categories of attributes (in Theology I class) One category is a kind of attribute that God has that  we too can possess in finite measure. Those are called communicable attributes. (Ex) Be holy, as I am holy. Love one another as I have loved you. So we are called to do those things that God does. Those are communicable. But, God also has attributes that only He possesses. Those are incommunicable attributes and eternality is one of those. Only God is eternal. The Holy Spirit is eternal, therefore the Holy Spirit is God. So, some indications of the deity of the Spirit.

The Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God. And then you add to that the early church, these actually were very important passages that were sometimes called triadic passages that put Father, Son, and Spirit in the same context, indicating deity. There are many in the New Testament, but these two are the most important:

  • Matthew 28:19-2o Jesus says, „Go into all the world, make disciples in all the nations, baptizing them in the name (notice it is singular). Name indicates nature: One God. But what is that One God’s name? Father, Son and Spirit. Baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. So that one God, that one name of God is Father, Son and Spirit. The three together comprise, or constitute that one God.
  • 2 Corinthians 13:14 The very last verse, the benediction of Paul, where basically, he is saying, „May God go with you”. But, here is how he says that. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God (shorthand for God, the Father), and the fellowship of the Spirit be with you. So, how does Paul say, „May God be with you?” May Father, Son and Spirit be with you. So, all three understood as one God.

When you put all those together you realize that the early church has its hands full because- do the math. There is one God. The Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God. How do you put this together? One God. But, each of these is fully God. So, unitarianism is out because it is three. But, tritheism is out because it’s one. So, how do you put together one God- Father, Son and Holy Spirit- where each is fully GodThat’s the challenge the early church faced in trying to put together this synthetic understanding from Scripture of who God is.

Lecture 2: Beholding the Glory of Christ: The Trinitarian Context, Part 2 from Southern Seminary on Vimeo.

IV – The first four councils of the early church

These are the most important councils that there were. There were 7 ecumenical councils altogether. At least, that is the way, we in the western church count them. But, the first four were the most formative of those councils. Nicaea, Constantinople, Ephesus, and Chalcedon (in that order). Here is just a summary of what happened at each of those councils as they met.

The Council at Nicaea 325

The first one  is the singularly most important council. The Council at Nicaea was convened by Constantine, who was emperor in Roma at the time. He was a Christian and he wanted to bring unity to the empire and part of that was to bring together theologians who come to an agreement on theological issues that were much disputed. And they focused on the Trinity. And, within Trinity, they focused on the Son. Who is the Son, in relation to the Father.

In the background at Nicaea are 2 heresies that were very prominent at the time. The first one was Sabellianism. Sebelius argued that there is one God, and the Father is God, and the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. Each of them is God successively, not simultaneously. That’s the problem. So for Sabellius, he was a monarchian. Modalistic monarchianism is sometimes the name given to Sabellianism. The monarchian view is that there is one God is monarch over all, the King over all. That’s the Father, the one God who is over all. And according to Sabellius, the Father chose to take on the form of the Son. And so, He came to earth as the Son. But, when the Son is here, then He’s no longer, as it were, Father who relates to Son. He is now the Son. And then, He ascends back to heaven when He is done with His work, and then He comes in the form of the Holy Spirit. So, it’s Father, then Son, then Holy Spirit. But, what you don’t have is Father, Son and Holy Spirit simultaneously existing as three distinct persons together. That’s rejected in Sabellianism.

The Sabellian heresy was not the focal point at Nicaea. For the most part, Christian people who read their Bible understood this is not going to work (Jesus’s baptism, praying to the Father, Jesus right now at the Father’s right hand). The other more prominent alternative was the Arian model. Arius was a bishop, although he was not during Nicaea, at 325 when that council met. He was not at that time seated as a bishop, so he couldn’t be seated formally at the council, but he exerted an enormous influence from behind the scenes and Arius held the views, again, he wants to uphold monotheism. What’s not to commend about that? We know, from the Old testament, there’s one God. And we know Jesus prayed to the Father. We know that the Father send Jesus into the world. We know that he did the will of the Father, so clearly the Father is God. There is one God, the Father is God, pretty simple. So, who is Jesus? Oh, the Son was the first and greatest of all of the creations of the Father. But He was a created being. A famous phrase went around at this time, that Arius would say about the Son: „There was a time when He was not”. Which you cannot say of the Father. There was never a time when He was not. He’s eternal. But, of the Son: There was a time when He was not. So, the Son is a created being, brought into existence at a point in time. But, given such great power, and splendor, and glory, that any of us, looking upon Him would think He’s God. But, He is not. He’s very much like God, but He’s a created being. So He’s not God. This was the position of Arius, that is sometimes called subordinationism or dynamistic monarchianism. Those are both terms used of Arius’s view. Dunamis- the power of God the Father given to the Son. Or subordinationism- the nature of the Son is inferior to, insubordinate to the nature of the father. The nature of the Father is eternal and infinite, the nature of the Son is temporal and finite, even though it has great power and splendor.

That was the dominant view at Nicaea, that was argued against by Athanasius, who was the hero at Nicaea. Now, Athanasius was not seated as a bishop either. He was young. I think he was about 25 years old at the time, with a fine mind and great exegetical ability, great rhetorical abilities, that God raised up to be the hero. The church was very pressed by Arius. The Arian model was widely held in churches across Asia minor and the like of the church in that day. So, it took a forceful person to be able to render arguments against Arius, and Athanasius was that man. If you never heard John Piper’s address that he gave on Athanasius (2005) at Desiring God, go to the website and download it.

Athanasius proposed that we have to understand the eternal Son not as a created being, but Himself fully God. But not 2 Gods. So, how do you have Him fully God, and the Father’s fully God, and yet, not 2 Gods. Well, it must be then, that each of them, that is, the Father and Son each possess the same nature. If they have 2 distinct natures, even if they’re equally deity, equally divine, then you’ve got bi-theism or (if) you add the Holy Spirit- tritheism. But we don’t hold to that. We hold to monotheism. So, what constitutes the oneness of God? One divine nature that is the full possession of the Father and that same nature is the full possession of the Son. So he proposed a word- homoousios. Homoousios- homo: one kind, on thing, like homogenized milk all mixed together.  Oousios- nature. Homoousios- same nature. This was an important term because at the very same council, there was kind of a middle position. At Nicaea, you had these moderates who were trying to propose a middle ground  between Arius and Athanasius. And they said, „How about if we adopt the term homoiousias? Similar nature. Athanasius was not okay with it. Similar is not good enough. He pressed the point and it won the day at Nicaea. There were only a few votes contrary, it passed overwhelmingly and from that time on that has been orthodoxy- the claim that the Son possesses the identically same nature.

By the way, nature- what is the nature that is the full possession of the Father and the Son? The easiest way to think of that is- the nature of God is the collection of all of the essential attributes of God comprise the nature of God. So, His holiness and righteousness, and justice. His knowledge and wisdom, His power, His love and His mercy. These attributes of God that constitute God is God. That without those attributes He wouldn’t be God. Can God be God if He doesn’t know everything? No. Can God be God if He isn’t holy? No. So these attributes that are essential for God to be God, comprise then the nature of God.

So, the Father possesses the one undivided nature fully. The Son possesses the one undivided nature fully.The Holy Spirit possesses the one undivided nature fully. So, Father and Son are homoousios, as declared here at Nicaea.

The Council of Contsantinople 381

Arius died in 336, just 11 years after Nicaea. He is off the scene, but Arius’s disciplesare still alive and well, and they’ve kind of shifted the battle now away from the Son. They lost the battle of the Son at Nicaea, but now they shifted the battle to the Holy Spirit. These followers of Arius, who deny the deity of the Holy Spirit have been called the pneumatomachians- spirit fighters. These are people who are fighting against the deity of the Holy Spirit. Arius’s followers, they view the Spirit as the presence of God, the power of God, but, not a distinct person of God. This is a tough argument because the OT and NT word for Spirit can also be translated ‘breath’, ‘wind’. Well, you wouldn’t interpret the breath of God any differently in terms of the kind of language that is from the hand of the Lord. You don’t turn the hand of the Lord into a person of the godhead. Or the strong right arm of the Lord, or the eyes of the Lord. So, the followers of Arius argued (that) this is not a distinct personof the godhead. This is rather just the presence of God, and His power, and His comfort, or His instruction. So, it’s just God manifest in one of His ways as the Spirit of the Lord, the breath of the Lord.

So, this had to be addressed. The people who took this on and won the day at Constantinople are called the Cappadocian Fathers. These three are highly esteemed by all christians for their role in the early church, but particularly in eastern orthodoxy. These three are Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa,  and Basel of Caesarea, also called Basel the Great. He was called that by contemporaries, not for his theological expertise,  although he had great theological acumen. He was rather called Basel the Great by his parishioners, who viewed his pastoral work in their lives, taking care of their needs, they viewed him a great bishop. Basel and Gregory of Nyssa were brothers. Gregory of Nazianzus was a friend of the two of them. They realized they had their hands full, trying to defend the deity of the Spirit, in light of the fact that so many arguments could be put forward by the followers of Arius, that the Spirit was the presence of God, rather than a separate person of the godhead.

So they argued that the Spirit of the Lors is not like the hand of the Lord. It’s not like the presence of God because we’re talking about something that is personal. They went to passages in the Bible that talked about, for example, grieving the Holy Spirit. Or, by the Spirit’s will we are given the gifts that we are given. (1 Corinthians 12) So the Spirit wills things, the Spirit knows things, the Spirit can be grieved about things. The Spirit has character qualities- the fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness and so on. So the Spirit is a person, and furthermore, the Spirit is God. So they argued the case for the deity of the Spirit strongly at Constantinople. But they were fearful (Basel and Gregory of Nyssa) that they might lose the vote and they knew a lot was at stake at this. So they insisted on using only biblical terms in their statement that they developed on the Holy Spirit, that would be voted on. Gregory of Nazianzus on the other hand, he was bold and brash, and forthright. He wanted badly to invoke the term homoousias- of the Spirit. That one nature is the nature of the Father and the Son and the Spirit. So why not invoke the term homoousias for the Spirit also? Well, Basel and Gregory of Nyssa said it’s not a biblical term, and because of that we might lose the vote. And so, they would not go that way. It angered Gregory of Nazianzus so much that he pulled out and left and he wasn’t there for the end of the council when the vote was finally taken.

So they put forth this addition to the third article of the Nicaean creed. The Nicaean creed has 3 articles for Father, Son and Holy Spirit- We believe in God the Father, Creator of all things, visible, invisible and so on… and one Lord Jesus Christ, who is begotten of the Father, who is God of God, light of light, who is one nature with the Father- homoousias.. and then you have the third article at Nicaea 325 on the Holy Spirit. You know what it says? We believe in the Holy Spirit. That’s all it said. So now, at 381, that third article is amplified. And here’s what’s added to it. Five articles, using biblical terms only. So homoousias, though they agreed it was true, they were not going to use it.

So five amplifications:

We believe in the Holy Spirit-

  1. the Lord (2 Cor. 3:18) But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are beingtransformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. Using the words  ‘Lord the Spirit’ indicates deity.
  2. the giver of life (John 3) you must be born again Titus 3:5- regeneration by the Spirit
  3. who proceeds from the Father (John 15:26) When the Holy Spirit comes, whom I will send to you form the Father, He will bear witness of me. By the way, they put that procession of the Spirit in to be equivalent to ‘the Son is the only begotten Son of the Father’, which is in the second article of the Nicaean creed. Well, if the Son is the only begotten Son you cannot say that the Spirit is begotten. But you want a relationship of Son to Father that is parallel to Spirit to Father. That is, they both have the same nature as the Father. The Son, because He is begotten of the Father, the Spirit because He proceeds. That word was actually Gregory Nazianzus’s before he left. He provided that word ‘who proceeds’ and that text- John 15:26.
  4. who with the Father and Son is worshipped and glorified. Matthew 28:19 „Baptize in the name of the Father, Son and Spirit”. So this act of worship, worshipping God, you bow to Him, you identify with this one God. And so, that act of worship in baptism is in the name of Father, Son and Spirit. So, who with the Father and Son are worshipped and glorified.
  5. who spoke by the prophets (all over the place, but 2 Peter 1:20-21) „Men, moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God„.

Unlike at Nicaea, where they purposefully used an extra biblical term,  Athanasius’s conviction was „if we don’t use this, Arius will probably win the day”, because there are texts Arius can go to, which clearly say who Jesus is. For example: The Father who sent Me is greater than Me. And Mark pointed to Mark 13:32- No one knoew the hour of the Second coming, not even the Son. Well, the Father is omniscient, but the Son is not omnscient. Therefore the Son is not God. So, it was Athanasius’s conviction that they had to use an extra biblical term to wrap up all of the indicators  in the Bible that the Son was equal to the Father and put those under the category of homoousias.But when it came time for Constantinople, they thought: If we try and do that we can’t win the day. We’ve got to have strictly biblical terms. So that’s what they did, arguing for the deity of the Spirit in that fashion.

One other thing happened at Constantinople  and that was a further decision in relation to Christology. And that was a decision in regard to the full humanity of Christ, as well as the full deity of Christ. The background here is apollinarianism. Apollinaris, who was committed to Nicaea, believed that the Son was one nature with the Father, committed to the deity of the Son, could not understand how, if He’s fully God, He could also be fully man. That sounds contradictory. So, Apollinaris argued that He was fully God, but, the incarnation was taken on merely the human body of a man. The soul, as it were, was the divine Logos. And so, the inner reality of Jesus Christ of Nazareth was fully God, who lived His life in a human body.

This is where the term docetism comes from. The Greek word ‘to seem’. Docetism- He seemed to be a man. He appeared to be a man. But He wasn’t really a man. That was Apollinaris’s view. And that was rejected at the Council of Constantinople. Instead, it was affirmed that Christ was fully God and fully man. He was two natures in one person. This was a huge development for Christology. You do realize that issues of Trinity and issues of Christology are really closely interrelated. Here we have Trinity: Father, Son, Spirit. But when you talk about Son, now you’re talking about two natures of the Son- so, He’s fully God and and fully man in one person. With the trinity then, we have singular nature and multiple persons. But, in Christology we have singular person and multiple natures.

Next, Council of Ephesus and Council of Chalcedon follows at the 36 minute mark. Length of lecture (video) is 74 minutes.


Immanuel – God with us – Timothy Warren at Dallas Theological Seminary


Isaiah 7:14  (NIV)

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

Matthew 1:23 (NIV)

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”(which means “God with us”).

Text: Isaiah 7:1-14 – Isaiah comes on the scene to warn Israel of coming judgement and to invite them to step into a world where God is present  even though He is transcendent. Although He is sovereign, He is immanent, here with us in this moment. And those who will repent, those who will acknowledge Him will be part of a remnant which will survive, and that He will bless and prosper. And those who will repent, those who will acknowledge Him will be part of a remnant which will survive and that He will bless and prosper.

Isaiah goes to a people who do not want to and will not see or hear the message. Really, Isaiah, then and today is presenting to us the choice between fear & fear induced behavior and faith resting in God, His promise of protection and His presence.

Preceded by
King of Judah
Coregency: 736 – 732 BC
Sole reign: 732 – 716 BC
Succeeded by

source (wikipedia)

Fact of life: Our natural response to threat is fear

There are a ton of things that can make us fearful and fear is a natural response in a time of threat. But, when we fear, when we’re overwhelmed with our fear, God shows up with a presence of his presence.

English: Ahaz was king of Judah, and the son a...

Verse 14 – ‘Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.‘ Before verse 14 had any meaning in the New Testament, as we relate it to Jesus, it had meaning for Ahaz and for Isaiah, and for the people of Judah at that time.

The promise from God: God tells Ahaz, „Ahaz, you can be part of the remnant. Your soul can be at peace. This threat to my people will not happen. And the reason all of that is true is because I am with you.”

When our normal response to our life is fear, God steps in and gives us the promise of His presence. He says, ‘I will be with you.”

What is our response to God’s promise of His presence?

What is our response to God’s promise of His presence, even when we face the fear of the threat that we so often do and will face for the rest of our lives? Sometimes we lie. Sometime we make bad choices.

We need to reject fear based behavior that will come back and bite us. Lying will come back and bite you. Ahaz’s fear induced behavior was to make an alliance with the King of Assyria. When God said in the last part of verse 9, „if you do not believe, you will not last,” there is a play on words in Hebrew. It says, „If you don’t have faith, then you will not faithfully stand. If you do not believe, you will not survive.” Because Isaiah knew and God knew that Ahaz has a plan and his plan was to go to the King of Assyria and make an alliance so that the King of Assyria would come and beat up on Syria and Israel. and keep Ahaz and Judah from being destroyed by them. God says, „That will come back and bite you”.

Look at verse 7. He says, „If you go that route, the Lord will bring upon you and upon your people, and upon your father’s house, some days as has never come since the days of Ephraim separated in Judah. That is the King of Assyria. If you compromise, if you default in your behavior, the compromise of alliance rather than trusting me, that will come back to bite you.”

The lesson of Isaiah 7- Trust God. He will protect you and provide for you.

The Land of Judah during the reign of the Kings- source

A sidenote: King Ahaz did not trust God and went on to defile the temple. He died at the age of 36 and was succeeded by his son, Hezekiah. Because of his wickedness he was „not brought into the sepulchre of the kings” (2 Chronicles 28:27) (he was not buried with . An insight into Ahaz’s neglect of the worship of the Lord is found in the statement that on the first day of the month of Nisan that followed Ahaz’s death, his son Hezekiah commissioned the priests and Levites to open and repair the doors of the Temple and to remove the defilements of the sanctuary, a task which took 16 days (2 Chronicles 29:3-20). (via)

You can also read more about idolatrous King Ahaz here – http://www.chabad.org Ahaz was twenty years old when he succeeded his father Jotham to the throne of Judea. He was a weak and idolatrous king. He even made his son walk through the fire of Moloch, aping the abominable custom of the Phoenicians. Another son, Hezekiah, who was to become king after Ahaz, was saved from the flames of the idol by his mother.

Published on Dec 6, 2012 dallasseminary Dr. Timothy Warren, Professor of Pastoral Ministries, DTS, explains how God is with His people.

A Systematic Look at the Connection Between Emotions and Singing for Christians

MusicIf you are involved in the music ministry print and read this article carefully and give it serious, prayerful thought. If you are not, print it anyways and share it with your music director and pastor. This is a valuable and thoughtful analysis for us all to consider.

This excellent article was just published in the Themelios Journal over at the Gospel Coalition titled- Music, Singing and Emotions- Exploring the Connections written by Rob Smith.  Rob Smith lectures in Systematic Theology and Music Ministry at Sydney Missionary & Bible College in Sydney, Australia.

First, a sample of a couple of gems from the article:

…singing not only helps us to engage the emotional dimensions of our humanity, but that singing truth helps us to engage with the emotional dimensions of reality, thus helping to bridge the gap between cognitive knowledge and experiential knowledge. (From point 2.2 Singing and emotions)

In terms of the implications for church life, it should be clear that music and singing whilst not of the esse(i.e., essence or being) of the church are vital for the beneesse (i.e., the health or well-being) of the church. So we would be foolish to neglect them-particularly when Scripture commends them so strongly. At the same time we must also be careful to protect them-for there is always the possibility of misusing music and song. As Jeremy Begbie astutely observes: ‘If the orientation is askew, or the emotion inappropriate, then manipulation, sentimentality, and emotional self-indulgence are among the ever-present dangers.’ (from point 5.2 Implications for Church life)

Smith points out that the Old Testament

reveals a profound link between the joy that results from experiencing God’s salvation and the making of music and the singing of songs. We see this first in Exodus 15 where after the LORD has rescued the people of Israel from the Egyptian army, Miriam takes a tambourine in hand (v. 20) and as all the women follow her with tambourines and dancing...

where there is salvation there is joy and where there is joy there is singing. They follow one another as night follows day and day follows night. For as people are taken from an experience of slavery to an experience of redemption, from an experience of God’s anger to an experience of his comfort, from a place of fear to a place of trust, they have every reason to rejoice. And out of their joy they sing and make music.

In the New testament he points to role and the fruit of the Spirit and it’s correlation to emotions:

When we come to the New Testament, the first thing to note is the emotional dimension of the Spirit’s fruit and the Spirit’s role, therefore, in bringing us to emotional maturity. That is, most (if not all) of the fruit of the Spirit listed by Paul in Galatians 5, whilst clearly not being exclusively emotional in nature, and profoundly practical and relational in their outworking, nonetheless have an irreducible emotional component to them. Furthermore, learning to bear such fruit is part and parcel of the process of being transformed into the likeness of Christ (2 Cor. 3:18) or growing up into Christ (Eph. 4:15). And this clearly involves growing up emotionally as part of the package. Jeremy Begbie puts the point well: ‘Through the Spirit, we are given the priceless opportunity of-to put it simply-growing up emotionally: having our emotions purged of sin and stretched, shaped, and reshaped.’

But does this have anything to do with music and song? Begbie certainly thinks so. In fact, he immediately follows the preceding statement with this one: ‘It is perhaps in worship and prayer, when we engage with God directly and consciously, that this will be (or ought to be) most evident.’ In a more recent essay he makes his thought even more explicit: ‘[M]usic is particularly well suited to being a vehicle of emotional renewal in worship, a potent instrument through which the Holy Spirit can begin to remake and transform us in the likeness of Christ, the one true worshipper.’

Read the entire article at the Gospel Coalition – Music, Singing and Emotions- Exploring the Connections written by Rob Smith

DTS Prof. Darrell Bock – What is the one thing preachers cannot afford to omit?

Here’s a short excerpt from this 12 minute video on the New testament books of Luke and Acts from Darrell Bock. Read the entire transcript directly below the video-

We tend to preach the Gospel as if it’s only about the forgiveness of sins. But, in fact, the whole point about having your sins forgiven is to reconnect you to God so that you can live the life He’s designed you to have. So, the gift of the Spirit is the enabler in that. And that was the missing dimension in the Hebrew Scriptures in the Old Testament and the Mosaic Covenant, is that God was working with the law, but, He wasn’t working inside the heart. So, He promised a New Covenant in Jeremiah. He says, „I’m gonna put the law in your heart, I’m gonna bring it inside of you. That’s the Gospel and that is the message of Acts 2. I say, „Preach it!” 

Darrell Bock Preaching from CPX on Vimeo.

Darrell Bock on preaching from Luke and Acts:

I think it is very important to make God and Jesus the main actors in the stories. Sometimes when we preach, we make the focus of the story ‘US’. But, if we do that, we actually lose the interactive dimension of being responsive to God in the process. In everything, Luke-Acts is being by God’s plan, by God’s direction. So, keeping God at the center of the story is really important.

We call the second book Luke wrote ‘The Acts of the Apostles’. But, it really is the acts of God through Jesus Christ. And everything that’s happening is a response to God’s direction. Every key turning point: Paul’s conversion, the entry of Gentiles into the community through Peter’s preaching to Cornelius is directed by God. Even God’s protection of Paul as he goes to Rome. So keep God at the center of the story.

What are some of the key things that we need to feature highly in preaching?

A key theme, which at first doesn’t seem relevant, but actually is is the whole issue of legitimization. Luke-Acts is written to substantiate or legitimate the christian faith. Because, in the Greco Roman world a new religion was problematic. A new religion needed to be time tested in order to have value. So, Luke is actually explaining how the program of God in Jesus Christ- this is something new- it’s part of the promises that go back centuries. It goes back, in fact, millennia to Abraham. And so, this long connection is important. Even the idea of including Jews and Gentiles was an evidence of the reconciliation that God is bringing through salvation is legitimated and substantiated  by the way Luke tells the story. And that’s important because what it shows is the point of the Gospel is this reconciliation that is going on, which is one of the points of salvation. To reclaim the creation and put it back in alignment with itself.

And if you know the history of Jews and Gentiles, what the history was before the time of Christ, the Gentiles tried to wipe out the Jewish faith- there was a lot of hostility. The idea of trying to reconcile those two very hostile groups is actually quite an assignment that Luke is saying, God is taking on.

There is also the very presentation of Jesus in the 2 volumes. I think Luke tells the story of Jesus, primarily from the earth up. We understand that He’s the Messiah in the beginning, that He fits in to the promises that were made to Israel at the start. Certain covenant commitments, we can get our hands around that. But, as we move through the story, we see Him do things that points to an authority that means He’s more than a Messiah. He’s more than a prophet. And so, He does things like- He has authority over the Sabbath. Well, who’s responsible for the Sabbath? God was. It was the picture of His seventh day of resting. It was in the 10 commandments. Yet, Jesus says the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath. He forgives sin. Well, who gets to forgive sins, but God alone? He calms the winds and the waves. Who’s able to do that? The Psalms tell us that God is responsible for calming the winds and the waves.

And then, there are other things. He changes the liturgy of Israel. The Exodus story, the passover gets changed into His own story. Well, who gives Him authority to do that? It’s one thing to write liturgy that expands on an event that is already in place. Jesus completely changes, He has the authority to do that. He walks into the temple and cleanses it. Who has the authority to do that and speak for God? And so, then, He finally says, „God’s gonna vindicate Me and give Me a seat with God in heaven.” Who gets to do that?

So, the whole point of Luke’s Gospel is to show how unique Jesus is and Acts shows Him pouring out the gift of salvation that is a sign of the new era of the Holy Spirit onto people, to claim a people for HImself and to enable and empower them to walk with God. That’s the story of Acts. The theme beyond Jesus-earth-up that’s important in Luke-Acts is how the Holy Spirit  and the coming of the Holy Spirit is the coming of a new era that comes through Jesus. And so, that makes Acts a pivot in the two volumes because that’s where the Spirit is poured out and that’s where Peter  and Israel can now know that God has made ‘this Jesus’ Lord and Christ. In other words, He’s made it evident that’s who He is.

What resonates with a modern audience from Luke-Acts?

There are all kinds of ethical dimensions to what Luke is doing in Luke-Acts that’s very important. I like to point out that in the very first chapter, when John the Baptist is introduced, in verses 16 & 17, it says ‘He’s gonna turn Israel to God’. Then, in the next verse it says ‘He’s gonna turn the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the righteous’. Normally, when you think of repentance, you think, „Well, that’s between me and God.” But, Luke is showing, „No, if you repent, there’s a response between you and God that’s gonna impact the way you’re relating to other people.” He reinforces this 2 chapters later in chap. 3:10-14, another unique part of Luke, where he’s discussing John the Baptist. We don’t have this in any of the other gospels.

And the people ask, „What are we supposed to do?’ after John asks them to „make fruit worthy of repentance”. The greek verb in both the statement and in the question is the same. It means to do or to make fruit. Every answer to the 3 different groups that ask the question has to do with how we are relating to other people and not how we’re relating to God. It actually reflects something we see in the Old Testament because the 10 commandments have 2 parts. There’s the part that deals with our relationship with God and there’s the part that deals with our relationship to others. And we’re supposed to see that as a whole. And even the 2 great commandments that Jesus taught go the same way: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul, and love your neighbor as yourself.

Jesus is saying, if there’s a transition in the way we live before God, that’s gonna impact the way we relate to others. So, He talks about how we relate to the poor, what we do with our possessions, how we deal with widows and people in need, so there are all kinds of acts of compassion. All this resonates at a core level in terms of what you can teach and preach in Luke-Acts.

How should you preach from Luke-Acts? 

I think you just present them, they are effective communication of what the message of the church is about. So, the preacher who preaches the sermons in Acts, in particular, and there a few sermons as well that Jesus gives, say, at the synagogue in Nazareth. Just present their content and make clear what it is that the speaker was getting at. I mean the whole idea of Acts 2- that the way we can know that the new era of God has come is by the gift of the Spirit that He gives to us as a result of forgiveness of sins. It makes a point of what the Gospel is.

This Gospel provides a life that is moral, it’s a life of integrity, it’s a life of quality, a life of giving. You’re not just taking. And you receive from God graciously, but because you understand what it is to receive- you give. And so, This is a very important part of the Gospel. Too much of our lives are oriented simply for being takers and taking in and consuming  and disposing. And then, everything else becomes an object that I utilize for my own purposes. Part of what happens in christianity is that you move outside yourself. And in moving outside yourself, you engage other people in a way that is completely different than the way they’re used to being engaged and you actually end up affirming them in the process if you do it well and if you do it with a good moral balance. So, it doesn’t suppress life at all. It actually releases life and it keeps you from destroying life.

Luke’s unique way of writing

I think we see an emphasis in the way Luke writes that is very important. We have hymns that shows how we praise God. We praise God by thanking Him for what He’s done. There’s a wonderful contrast between the hymns of the  material in which Mary praises God for reaching out to a humble girl like her. She was 13 years old or so when she becomes Joseph’s wife and has this child through the Holy Spirit. So, you’ve got that on the one hand. And the you’ve got the contrast with the Pharisee that says, „I thank you God that I’m such a great guy, that  I fast twice a week, and I tithe and I’m not like this sinner who’s over here, next to me praying. There’s a very stark difference in that and there’s a humility in that that Luke talks about that is a part of our worship.

When the centurion says to Jesus, through Jewish emissaries, „You don’t need  to come under my house, in order to heal, I’m not worthy to have You come in my house”. Or, when the sinful woman anoints Jesus, out of love and gratitude for the forgiveness of sins that Jesus has provided, that she couldn’t provide for herself. That humility, that lack of entitlement fills our spirit of worship, causes us to love God cause we appreciate the debt that He’s cancelled for us. In that love and in that devotion, there’s an allegiance that is a reflection of worship. That’s what Luke is getting at, in terms of how we respond to the message of the Gospel. And, certainly, that is something that should be emphasized as you preach through these 2 volumes.

Related articles

John Frame – Evangelical Reunion (free online book)

In this 145 page book, available in pdf form here – http://www.frame-poythress.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/FrameJohnEvangelicalReunion1991.pdf

John Frame

John Frame (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

John M. Frame traces the history of denominationalism way back to Jeroboam of the Old Testament, recounts it throughout the last 2 millenia and then speaks about the road back to unity:

even if complete unity is delayed until the return of Christ, we ought to be able to see the beginnings of that unity in the church today.

and how it might apply to our times:

We can be thankful then, that God’s sovereign power stands behind the movement toward church unity, weak as it may appear from a human viewpoint. God will surely bring it to pass, in his time. What of our time? God’s eternal intentions are secret to us. I do not know how much unity God intends to give to the church in this age, any more than I know what degree of moral maturity God intends to bestow upon the church in the next ten years. Yet in both cases, I believe God blesses efforts to achieve, when those efforts are rooted in his grace. He honors those who seek his goals, even when, for his mysterious reasons, he withholds from them success in their own time (cf. Deut. 29:29). Protestants honor Wycliffe and Huss, though their movements were unsuccessful by human standards. Thus, I believe that God honors those who work for church unity, even when their efforts bear no apparent fruit. As I argued earlier, God’s sovereignty is not opposed to human responsibility. Rather, the former undergirds the latter. We are encouraged to seek God’s kingdom, because we know that God himself is bringing his kingdom to the earth. We also know that God’s sovereign plan regularly makes use of human agents to accomplish the divine goals. So it is evident that God wishes us to do what we can to rid the church of its divisions. In the coming chapters I shall be making suggestions as to what human beings can do. But let us never
forget that the work is „not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit” (Zech. 4:6).

click to read book

so if you are a ‘scholar’ of church history, or if you enjoy reading about it, the first part of the book looks very intriguing- considering that for myself, this is the first book (and free at that) I have come across (as a layperson) that deals with the history of denominationalism, going back as far as the Old Testament. Whether you agree with the later premise of an attempt for church unity or not,(some will see this or any attempt at church unity before the coming of Christ as ecumenism) you will still find this book a worthwhile read.

An interesting thing to note is that Frame also left his PCUSA denominationin 1958 because of its liberal leaning:

…back to 1958, when I was just starting college. In that year, the
denomination of my childhood, the United Presbyterian Church of North America,
merged with the Presbyterian Church, U. S. A. The UPNA had been relatively
conservative in theology, the PCUSA strongly liberal, though with
some conservative congregations. Just about that time, the conviction began to
dawn on me that „liberalism” was not the Christian Gospel at all. I came to the conclusion that I could not remain in the PCUSA, especially since my PCUSA
presbytery at that time was demanding that its ministerial candidates receive
training (which I interpreted „brainwashing”) at liberal seminaries. I joined
an independent church at that point. But many of my closest friends and
respected teachers (notably John H. Gerstner) made other choices, forcing me to
rethink and rethink. So my earliest years of theological self-consciousness were
focused upon denominational and church questions: what is a true church? What
obligations are involved in church membership? In what sort of church would
God want me to minister?

This book was published in 1990, after the collapse of communism, having been born in one of those communist regimes that fell- Romania- and having seen the hand of God wake up the masses, I can see John Frame’s hope in the faith that church unity (in some small form) is not unachievable by the sovereign hand of the God who brought down communism. However, here we are 22 some years later when the world is a very differet place and christians are lamenting the downward slide away not only from christianity, but from any moral responsibility.

A W Pink – The Law and the Saint (Part 1)

This is part 1 of 3 from A. W. Pink’s book ‘The Law and the Saint’ which is now in the public domain. In this first part Pink contrasts OT and NT law:
The Old Testament saints and the New Testament
saints are both saved in the same way, and that is, by the grace of
God through Jesus Christ alone.
„Of course the people did not keep the law. It only brought sin to
light and proved that righteousness could not come that way, as Paul
points out in the Epistle to the Romans. It made all the more
evident that there was a need for the work of Christ. But Christ
came not to put the law aside and introduce another plan. I came not
to destroy’, He declared, but to fulfill’; not to dissolve the
obligations of the law and release us from them, but to substantiate
the law and make good all that it required. In the Sermon on the
Mount He expounded and expanded the law, in all its depth and
breadth, and in all its searching sweep. This Sermon spoke to His
disciples; it was His law for them. It was not intended for another
age and another people; it set forth the kind of life He expected
His own people to live in the present age.

Arthur and Vera pink July 20, 1928 (via amazon.com)


   It has been said that every unregenerate sinner has the heart of a
   Pharisee. This is true; and it is equally true that every unregenerate
   sinner has the heart of an Antinomian. This is the character which is
   expressly given to the carnal mind: it is "enmity against God"; and the
   proof of this is, that "it is not subject to the law of God, neither
   indeed can be" (Rom. 8:7). Should we be surprised, then, if we find the
   underlying principles of Phariseeism and Antinomianism uniting in the
   same mind? Surely not. There is no more real opposition between these
   apparently opposing principles, than there is between enmity and pride.
   Many a slothful servant has hated his master and his service, and yet
   had he pride and presumption enough to demand his wages. Phariseeism
   and Antinomianism unite, like Herod and Pilate did, against the Truth.
   The term Antinomian signifies one who is against the Law, hence, when
   we declare that ours is an age of lawlessness, it is only another way
   of saying that it is an age characterized by Antinomianism. There is
   little need for us to pause and offer proof that this is an age of
   lawlessness. In every sphere of life the sad fact confronts us. In the
   well-nigh total absence of any real discipline in the majority of the
   churches, we see the principle exemplified. Not more than two
   generations ago, thousands, tens of thousands, of the loose-living
   members whose names are now retained on the membership rolls, would
   have been dis-fellowshipped. It is the same in the great majority of
   our homes. With comparatively rare exceptions, wives are no longer in
   subjection to their husbands (Eph. 5:22, 24); and as for obeying them
   (1 Pet. 3:1, 2, 5, 6), why, the majority of women demand that such a
   hateful word be stricken from the marriage ceremony. So it is with the
   children--how could it be otherwise? Obedience to parents is almost
   entirely a thing of the past. And what of conditions in the world? The
   abounding marital unfaithfulness, Sunday trading, banditry, lynchings,
   strikes, and a dozen other things that might be mentioned, all bear
   witness to the frightful wave of lawlessness which is flowing over the
   What, we may well inquire, is the cause of the lawlessness which now so
   widely obtains? For every effect there is a cause, and the character of
   the effect usually intimates the nature of the cause. We are assured
   that the present wide-spread contempt for human law is the inevitable
   outgrowth of disrespect for Divine Law. Where there is no fear of God,
   we must not expect there will be much fear of man. And why is it that
   there is so much disrespect for Divine Law? This, in turn, is but the
   effect of an antecedent cause. Nor is this hard to find. Do not the
   utterances of Christian teachers during the last twenty-five years go
   far to explain the situation which now confronts us?
   History has repeated itself. Of old, God complained of Ephraim, "I have
   written to him the great things of My Law, but they were counted as a
   strange thing" (Hosea 8:12). Observe how God speaks of His Law: "The
   great things of My Law"! They are not precepts of little moment, but to
   be lightly esteemed, and slighted; but are of great authority,
   importance, and value. But, as then, so during the last few years--they
   have been "counted as a strange thing". Christian teachers have vied
   with each other in denouncing the Law as a "yoke of bondage", "a
   grievous burden", "a remorseless enemy". They have declared in trumpet
   tones that Christians should regard the Law as "a strange thing": that
   it was never designed for them: that it was given to Israel, and then
   made an end of at the Cross of Christ. They have warned God's people to
   have nothing to do with the Ten Commandments. They have denounced as
   "Legalists" Christians of the past, who, like Paul, "served the Law"
   (Rom. 7:25). They have affirmed that Grace rules the Law out of the
   Christian's life as absolutely as it did out of his salvation. They
   have held up to ridicule those who contended for a Christian Sabbath,
   and have classed them with Seventh-Day Adventists. Having sown the
   wind, is it any wonder that we are now reaping the whirlwind?
   The characters of the cause determinates the character of the effect.
   Whatsoever a man sowth that (the same in kind) shall he also reap. Unto
   them who of old regarded the great things of God's Law as a strange
   thing, God declared, "Because Ephraim hath made many alters to sin,
   alters shall be unto him to sin" (Hosea 8:11). And because many of our
   Christian leaders have publicly repudiated Divine Law, God has visited
   us with a wave of lawlessness in our churches, homes, and social life.
   "Be not deceived; God is not mocked"!! Nor have we any hope of stemming
   the onrushing tide, or of causing Christian leaders to change their
   position. Having committed themselves publicly, the examples of past
   history warn us that pride will keep them from making the humbling
   confession that they have erred. But we have a hope that some who have
   been under the influence of twentieth century Antinomianism will have
   sufficient spiritual discernment to recognize the truth when it is
   presented to their notice; and it is for them we now write.
   In the January 1923 issue of a contemporary, appeared the second
   article from the pen of Dr. McNichol, Principal of Toronto Bible
   School, under the caption of "Overcoming the Dispensations". The
   purpose of these articles is to warn God's children against the perils
   which lie "in the way of much of the positive pre-millennial teaching
   of the day". Quoting, Dr. McNicol says:
     "1. There is danger when the Law is set against Grace. No scheme of
     prophetic interpretation can be safe which is obliged to represent
     the dispensations of Law and Grace as opposing systems, each
     excluding the other and contrary to it. If this were the case, it
     would mean that God had taken opposing and contradictory attitudes
     towards men in these two different ages. In the last analysis this
     representation of the relation of law and grace affects the
     character of God, as everything which perverts the Scriptures,
     disturbing thereby the mirror of His mind, ultimately does.
     "So far from being opposing systems, law and grace as revealed in
     Scripture are parts of one harmonious and progressive plan. The
     present dispensation is spoken of as the age of grace, not because
     grace belongs to it exclusively, but because in it grace has been
     fully manifested. When John declared that the law was given by
     Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ', he was contrasting
     law and grace, not as two contrary and irreconcilable systems, but
     as two related parts of one system. The law was the shadow, Christ
     was the substance. The law was the pattern, Christ was the reality.
     The grace which had been behind the law came to light through Jesus
     Christ so that it could be realized. As a matter of fact, grace had
     been in operation from the beginning. It began in Eden with the
     first promise of redemption immediately after the fall. All
     redemption is of grace; there can be no salvation without it, and
     even the law itself proceeds on the basis of grace.
     "The law was given to Israel not that they might be redeemed, but
     because they had been redeemed. The nation had been brought out of
     Egypt by the power of God under the blood of the slain lamb, itself
     the symbol and token of His grace. The law was added at Sinai as the
     necessary standard of life for a ransomed people, a people who now
     belonged to the Lord. It began with a declaration of their
     redemption; I am the Lord thy God who brought thee out of the land
     of Egypt, out of the house of bondage' (Ex. 20:2). It rested on the
     basis of grace, and it embodied the principle that redemption
     implied a conformity to God's moral order. In other words, the very
     grace that redeemed Israel carried with it the necessity of
     revealing the law to Israel. The law was given that they might walk
     worthy of the relation in which they now stood to God, worthy of a
     salvation which was already theirs. The covenant of the law did not
     supersede the covenant of promise, but set forth the kind of life
     which those who were redeemed by the covenant of promise were
     expected to live.
     "The law was not a covenant of works in the sense that Israel's
     salvation depended upon obedience to it. The devout Israelite was
     saved by faith in the promise of God, which was now embodied in the
     tabernacle services. He looked forward through the sacrifices to a
     salvation which they foreshadowed, and by faith accepted it, as we
     look back to the Cross and by faith accept the salvation which has
     been accomplished. The Old Testament saints and the New Testament
     saints are both saved in the same way, and that is, by the grace of
     God through Jesus Christ alone.
     "Of course the people did not keep the law. It only brought sin to
     light and proved that righteousness could not come that way, as Paul
     points out in the Epistle to the Romans. It made all the more
     evident that there was a need for the work of Christ. But Christ
     came not to put the law aside and introduce another plan. I came not
     to destroy', He declared, but to fulfill'; not to dissolve the
     obligations of the law and release us from them, but to substantiate
     the law and make good all that it required. In the Sermon on the
     Mount He expounded and expanded the law, in all its depth and
     breadth, and in all its searching sweep. This Sermon spoke to His
     disciples; it was His law for them. It was not intended for another
     age and another people; it set forth the kind of life He expected
     His own people to live in the present age.
                                     Photo - Tissot's Sermon on the Mount
     "Of course we cannot fulfill the law of the Sermon on the Mount                                    
     as an outward standard of life. Our Lord did not leave it at 
     that. He was Himself going to make it possible for His 
     disciples to fulfill it, but He could not yet tell them how.      When He died and rose again and ascended into heaven, and His 
     Holy Spirit--the same Spirit which had fulfilled and                
     exemplified that law completely in His own life--came flowing 
     back into the lives of His disciples, then they
     had to keep it. The law was written on their hearts. Their 
     lives were conformed to the law, not by slavish obedience to an     
     outward standard, but by the free constraint of an inward 
     spirit. The ordinance of the law was fulfilled in them when 
     they walk not after the flesh but after the spirit.
     "It is this very feature of grace which seems to make it an entirely
     different and separate system from the law, for it did not exist in
     the Old Testament dispensation. It could not be realized before the
     redemptive work of Christ was done and the Holy Spirit came. The
     Israelites occupied a different position toward the law from that
     occupied by the Christian now. The law demanded an obedience which
     the natural heart could not give. In its practical working,
     therefore, the law necessarily came to stand over man as a creditor,
     with claims of justice which had not been satisfied. These claims
     Christ met on the Cross and put out of the way. More than that, by
     virtue of our union with Him in His death and resurrection, He has
     brought us out of the sphere where the law as an outward authority
     demands obedience of the natural man, into the sphere where the law
     is written upon the heart by the power of the Holy Spirit. He has
     created us a new man' whose nature it is to fulfill the law by an
     inward power and principle. This is what Paul meant when he said, I
     through the law died unto the law that I might live unto God' (Gal.
     2:19), and when he wrote to the Romans, Sin shall not have dominion
     over you, for ye are not under the law but under grace' (6:14).
     "This new revelation to the law has been created by the grace of God
     through the work of Jesus Christ. But the law still remains. It is
     the reflex of His own character and the revelation of His moral
     order. He cannot set it aside, for then He would deny Himself. The
     wonder and glory of grace consists in this, that it came in, not to
     oppose the law and substitute another plan, but to meet and satisfy
     all its claims and provide a way of fulfilling all its obligations.
     It has pleased the Lord by His grace to magnify the law and make it
   With the above remarks we are in hearty accord. [1] It is a superficial
   and erroneous conclusion that supposes the Old and New Testaments are
   antagonistic. The Old Testament is full of grace: the New Testament if
   full of Law. The revelation of the New Testament to the Old is like
   that of the oak tree to the acorn. It has been often said, and said
   truly, "The New is in the Old contained, the Old is by the New
   explained"! And surely this must be so. The Bible as a whole, and in
   its parts, is not merely for Israel or the Church, but is a written
   revelation from God to and for the whole human race. It is indeed sad
   to see how little this elementary truth is grasped today and what
   confusion prevails.
   Even the late Mr. F. W. Grant in his notes on Exodus 19 and 20 was so
   inconsistent with himself as to say, First, "It is plain that
   redemption, as bringing the soul to God, sets up His throne within it,
   and obedience is the only liberty. It is plain too, that there is a
   righteousness of the law' which the law itself gives no power to
   fulfill, but which is fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh but
   after the spirit' (Rom. 8:4). What is merely dispensational passes, but
   not that which is the expression of God's character and required by it.
   Nothing of that can pass ... grace still must affirm this, therefore,
   not set it (obedience) aside; but it does what law does not--it
   provides for the accomplishment of the condition. First of all, the
   obedience of Another, who owed none, has glorified God infinitely with
   regard to those who owed but did not pay. Secondly,--for this even
   could not release (nor could there be blessing in release) from the
   personal obligation,--grace apprehended in the heart brings back the
   heart to God, and the heart brought back in love serves of necessity"
   (italics ours).
   With the above quoted words from The Numerical Bible we are in entire
   accord, and only wish they might be echoed by Mr. Grant's followers.
   But second, and most inconsistently, and erroneously, Mr. Grant says:
   "In the wisdom of God, that same law, whose principle was do and live',
   could yet be the type of the obedience of faith in those who are
   subjects of a spiritual redemption, the principle of which is live and
   do'. Let us remember, however, that law in itself retains none the less
   its character as opposed to grace, and that as a type it does not
   represent law any longer: we are not, as Christians in any sense under
   the law, but under grace" (italics his). This is a mistake, the more
   serious because made by one whose writings now constitute in certain
   circles the test of orthodoxy in the interpreting of God's Word.
   What has been said above reveals the need for a serious and careful
   examination of the teaching of Holy Scripture concerning the Law. But
   to what do we refer when we speak of "The Law"? This is a term which
   needs to be carefully defined. In the New Testament there are three
   expressions used, concerning which there has been not a little
   confusion. First, there is "the Law of God" (Rom. 7:22, 25, etc.).
   Second, there is "the Law of Moses" (John 7:23; Acts 13:39, 15:5,
   etc.). Third, there is "the law of Christ" (Gal. 6:2). Now these three
   expressions are by no means synonymous, and it is not until we learn to
   distinguish between them, that we can hope to arrive at any clear
   understanding of our subject.
   The "Law of God" expresses the mind of the Creator, and is binding upon
   all rational creatures. It is God's unchanging moral standard for
   regulating the conduct of all men. In some places "the Law of God" may
   refer to the whole revealed will of God, but in the majority it has
   reference to the Ten Commandments; and it is in this restricted sense
   we use the term. This Law was impressed on man's moral nature from the
   beginning, and though now fallen, he still shows the work of it written
   in his heart. This law has never been repealed, and in the very nature
   of things, cannot be. For God to abrogate the moral Law would be to
   plunge the whole universe into anarchy. Obedience to the Law of God is
   man's first duty. That is why the first complaint that Jehovah made
   against Israel after they left Egypt was, "How long refuse ye to keep
   My commandments and My laws" (Ex. 16:27). That is why the first
   statutes God gave to Israel were the Ten Commandments, i.e. the moral
   Law. That is why in the first discourse of Christ recorded in the New
   Testament He declared, "Think not that I am come to destroy the Law, or
   the Prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill" (Matt 5:17),
   and then proceeded to expound and enforce the moral Law. And that is
   why in the first of the Epistles, the Holy Spirit has taught us at
   length the relation of the Law to sinners and saints, in connection
   with salvation and the subsequent walk of the saved: the word "law"
   occurs in Romans no less than seventy-five times, though, of course,
   not every reference is to the Law of God. And that is why sinners (Rom.
   3:19) and saints (Jas. 2:12) shall be judged by this Law.
   The "Law of Moses" is the entire system of legislation, judicial and
   ceremonial, which Jehovah gave to Israel during the time they were in
   the wilderness. The Law of Moses, as such, is binding upon none but
   Israelites. This Law has not been repealed. That the Law of Moses is
   not binding on Gentiles is clear from Acts 15.
   The "Law of Christ" is God's moral Law, but in the hands of the
   Mediator. It is the Law which Christ Himself was "made under" (Gal.
   4:4). It is the Law which was "in His heart" (Psa. 40:8). It is the Law
   which He came to "fulfill" (Matt. 5:17). The "Law of God" is now termed
   "the Law of Christ" as it relates to Christians. As creatures we are
   under bonds to "serve the Law of God" (Rom. 7:25). As redeemed sinners
   we are " the bondslaves of Christ" (Eph. 6:6), and as such we are under
   bonds to "serve the Lord Christ" (Col. 3:24). The relation between
   these two appellations, "the law of God" and "the Law of Christ" is
   clearly intimated in 1 Cor. 9:21, where the apostle states, that "he
   was not without Law to God," for he was "under the Law of Christ". The
   meaning of this is very simple. As a human creature, the apostle was
   still under obligation to obey the moral Law of God his Creator; but as
   a saved man he now belonged to Christ, the Mediator, by redemption.
   Christ had purchased him: he was His, therefore, he was "under the Law
   of Christ". The "Law of Christ", then, is just the moral Law of God now
   in the hands of the Mediator and Redeemer--cf Ex. 34:1 and what
   Should any object against our definition of the distinction drawn
   between God's moral Law and "the Law of Moses" we request them to
   attend closely to what follows. God took special pains to show us the
   clear line of demarcation which He has Himself drawn between the two.
   The moral Law became incorporated in the Mosaic Law, [2] yet was it
   sharply distinguished from it. The proof of this is as follows: -
   In the first place, let the reader note carefully the words with which
   Ex. 20 opens: "And God spake all these words." Observe it is not "The
   Lord spake all these words", but "God spake". This is the more
   noticeable because in the very next verse He says, "I am the Lord thy
   God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt", etc. Now the
   Divine titles are not used loosely, nor are they employed alternately
   for the purpose of variation. Each one possesses a definite and
   distinct signification. "God" is the creatorial title (see Gen. 1:1).
   "Lord" is God in covenant relationship, that is why it is "Lord God"
   all through Gen. 2. In Gen. 1 it is God in connection with His
   creatures. In Gen. 2 it is the Lord God in connection with Adam, with
   whom He had entered into a covenant--see Hos. 6:7, margin. The fact,
   then, that Ex. 20 opens with "And God spake all these words", etc.
   prove conclusively that the Ten Commandments were not and are not
   designed solely for Israel (the covenant people), but for all mankind.
   The use of the title "God" in Ex. 20:1 is the more forceful because in
   vv. 2, 5, 7, 10, 11, 12 "the Lord" is named, and named there because
   Israel is being addressed.
   In the second place, the Ten Commandments, and they alone, of all the
   laws Jehovah gave to Israel, were promulgated by the finger of God,
   amid the most solemn manifestations and tokens of the Divine presence
   and majesty.
   In the third place, the Ten Commandments, and they alone, of all
   Jehovah's statutes to Israel, were written directly by the finger of
   God, written upon tables of stone; and written thus to denote their
   lasting and imperishable nature.
   In the fourth place, the Ten Commandments were further distinguished
   from all those laws which had merely a local application to Israel, by
   the fact that they alone were laid up in the ark. A tabernacle was
   prepared by the special direction of God, and within it an ark was
   placed, in which the two tables of the Law were deposited. The ark,
   formed of the most durable wood, was overlaid with gold, within and
   without. Over it was placed the mercy-seat, which became the throne of
   Jehovah in the midst of His people. Not until the tabernacle had been
   erected, and the Law placed in the ark, did Jehovah take up His abode
   in Israel's midst. Thus did the Lord signify to Israel that the moral
   Law was the basis of all His governmental dealings with them.                                                  
   Thus it is clear beyond any room for doubt that the Ten Commandments,
   the moral Law of God, were sharply distinguished from "the Law of
   Moses." The "Law of Moses," excepting the moral Law incorporated
   therein, was binding on none but Israelites, or Gentile proselytes. But
   the moral Law of God, unlike the Mosaic, is binding on all men. Once
   this distinction is perceived, many minor difficulties are cleared up.
   For example: someone says, If we are to keep the Sabbath day holy, as
   Israel did, why must we not observe the other Sabbaths--the Sabbatic
   year, for instance? The answer is, Because the moral Law alone is
   binding on Gentiles and Christians. Why, it may be asked, does not the
   death penalty attached to the desecration of the Sabbath day (Ex.
   31:14, etc.) still obtain? The answer is, Because though that was a
   part of the Mosaic Law, it was not a part of the moral Law of God, i.e.
   it was not inscribed on the tables of stone; therefore it concerned
   none but Israelites.

Articole in Limba Romana


Psalm 69 – Doug Wilson

Doug Wilson’s sermon from Psalm 69 – among other points, it includes an analysis of why Judas betrayed Jesus and commentary on Jesus as ‘hell fire preacher’. Read more of my notes from Doug Wilson’s sermon below this video (international readers you can use google translater widget at the top right of the page). However, the best way is to watch the video for the entire message. Here’s a brief  excerpt from Wilson’s conclusion:

External religion – Sinners like to put on a show for God

External religion- how you set up the chairs, how you preach, how you do the liturgy, the music, all the things that we do out here, all those things are things that we can do better or worse. We can do them and we can feel that we have some sort of control in them. And, if we’re in better control of those things than that church down the road- if our doctrine is sounder, if our liturgy (our scripture reading) is more beautiful, if our music is more stupendous, we can feel like we’ve got something with handles that we can take pride in. And a certain kind of heart, an unconverted heart, a carnal heart latches on to those externals. Which is why the Bible tells us over and over and over again that God looks on the heart.

Now Jesus, when He talked about the pharisees who washed the outside of the cup- Jesus said, ‘Wash the inside of the cup’. If you wash the inside of a cup in such a way, the outside’s gonna get clean.

So why does God say, ‘I prefer this more than that?’ Because sinners would much rather have that than this. Sinners like to divide it and sinners like to pick the external. Sinners like to put on a show for God. We like to pretend that the doctrine of omniscience is not true. We like to pretend that God sees our outsides- God sees us singing, God sees us going through an open hymnal, God sees us with an open Bible, and, it makes us uncomfortable to know that God sees us with an open heart.

So, why? Because there is a natural predisposition on the part of sinful man to be religious.

Sermon: What Makes the Humble Glad | Psalm 69 (Douglas Wilson) from Canon Wired on Vimeo.

Some (of my) notes from sermon:

  • The wisdom of God found in Scripture is not just offensive to the carnal heart here and there, it is offensive to the carnal heart across the board and we’re gonna see a number of instances of this truth, this reality in this Psalm (Psalm 69)
  1. The first section of the Psalm is verses 1-4 and the psalmist is laying out his complaint for the Lord. He’s in trouble, he’s telling the Lord he’s in trouble, he’s telling the Lord he is sunk down in the mire; he needs deliverance. His enemies are numerous; this is a particular kind of affliction. We live in a fallen world, this applies to all sorts of affliction. But, this particular affliction the psalmist is going through is brought about by enemies, by adversaries, brought about by those who despise him.
  2. Verses 5-12: The thing that got him into trouble in the first place was the zeal that he had for the house of God. All of it is for God’s sake. We see in verse 5 that he is a sinner, in v. 5, we know he is not perfect. But the reason for the pushback is his righteousness, not his sinfulness.
  3. In the third section the psalmist is pleading for help, in verses 13-21 he is beseeching God for help. Reproach is what has broken his heart, it is the people coming after him and some of the people coming after him knew better, (they) understood that what they were saying was false.
  4. In the next section he calls for justice to be meted out against his adversaries, verses 22-28 he’s calling out for justice. The wrath of God is real in both testaments (vv. 24-25).
  5. In the last section in the psalm, he returns to his petitions and he anticipates, by faith, a positive response (v. 33). The Lord prefers true heart thanksgiving to external rituals.

This psalm has a number of anchor points. We need to pay close attention as to how the New Testament quotes the Old Testament.  What was Jesus’s favorite book? You could argue that Jesus’s favorite book was Deuteronomy. Why isn’t it our favorite book? We should let Jesus and the apostles point us to what we should be learning from and resorting to. The favorite books of the New Testament writers and Jesus were

  • Genesis
  • Isaiah
  • Psalms
  • Deuteronomy

This Psalm (69) has at least 4 quotations in the New Testament- and we learn quite a bit about this Psalm from the NT.

  1. We learn this Psalm is Messianic. It is about the Messiah. I would like to argue on another level that all the Psalms are about the Messiah, but some, explicitly so. At the same time, David’s life is a type. David’s life is a lived out prophecy and Jesus is the son of David. The difference between them is Jesus is sinless and His father David is not. So David is a type of the antitype who is Jesus, but you have to factor out certain things. One of the things you have to factor out is the sin. So, David is a fallen sinner. David stumbles, Jesus never does. At the same time there are a number of things that are true of both the type and the antitype. So, not every detail in the psalm is fulfilled in the life of the Messiah, but, much of it is. Jesus quotes verse 4 ‘They that hate Me without a cause are more than the hairs of my head‘. He expressly applies this psalm to Himself in John 15:25The same phrase is found in Psalm 35:19 If God knows the number of hairs on your head, and the enemies are the same as the hairs on your head, then God knows the number of your enemies.
  2. The first part of verse 9 is quoted as something that the disciples recalled after Jesus cleansed the temple. In the Gospel of John 2:17 the disciples remembered after Jesus cleansed the temple, „Zeal for your house is consuming”. The reason Jesus cleansed the temple is because Psalm 69 gave this pattern: Zeal for God’s house consumed Christ and so he cleansed the temple.
  3. The second half of verse 9 is quoted by Paul in Romans 15:3 and he applies it in another way to Christ. It says, ‘For even Christ pleased not Himself, but, as it is written- the reproaches of them that reproach thee fell on me’. That is referring to Jesus. What happened to David in a type, happened to Jesus in total fulfillment.
  4. The last 2 quotations – one is where David starts cursing his enemies. But, he is not cursing in his own authority. The difference between an autonomous, sinful curing is when you set your self up in your own name, to curse other people. You don’t have the authority to do that. When you relegate it, turn it over to God and ask God to do this, you’re inviting God’s judgement and it entails you in the judgement as well. If you’re asking God to do this unjustly, then God is not going to fulfill that curse and He’s going to chastise you instead. So, when Paul says in Galatians, „‘f we, or another angel from heaven preaches another Gospel, let him be accursed’, he’s committing it to God. This is a christian way of cursing. So, Paul, in Romans is talking about Israel having been closed off in unbelief. And he applies vv 22-23 to the judicial blindness and unbelief that had afflicted the Jewish nation at that time. And since that time, as Paul teaches, also in Romans 11, which affliction, which judicial blindness will one day be removed. But, in romans 11:9-10 we see that this judicial blindness is visited upon the Jews. We should note: The illusion in vinegar given as a drink, in verse 21, and we find in verse 25 cited in Acts 1:20, when Peter was explaining the fate of Judas. This would seem to entail Judas in the same kind of judicial blindness that had overtaken the jewish nation as a whole. So, in the earlier verses, the whole jewish nation was blinded as to the identity of the Messiah, or how the messiah was going to work.

Judicial blindness and Judas

And, it appears that Judas was caught up in that same kind of problem. Judas was not the universal sneak. He was not a character that was contextless. He was not a man without a nation. He was not a man without a background. He was not a man without political opinions. He was not a man without agendas. He wasn’t just a villain dropped into a story so that we might have someone to betray Jesus. Judas betrayed Jesus for a reason. Now, we don’t have this laid out explicitly, so we shouldn’t call it anything more than educated speculation. But, Judas realized these things we know from the Bible. Judas had seen the power of Jesus. He, Judas himself had cast out demons. When Jesus sends the disciples out, they all do what Jesus had commissioned them to do. Judas himself has cast out demons and it’s interesting that later Satan himself enters Judas. Judas had healed the sick himself. He saw Jesus walk on water, he saw Jesus feed the multitudes, he saw Lazarus come out of the grave. Judas knew Jesus was powerful. Judas knew that Jesus was blessed by God, the spirit of God was on Him. Jesus did remarkable things and Judas had front row seats. Combine all this with the fact that Judas knew Jesus was not going to fight the Romans, He was going to go to the cross. As soon as Judas sees that Jesus was condemned, he returns the money; he throws the money down and goes and hangs himself.

Now, why hang yourself if Judas’s intent was to betray Jesus and ‘let’s see Him get what’s coming to Him?’ If that was his (Judas’s) motive, why hang himself when the plot succeeded? Something else is going on. What was his motivation? I believe the only narrative that makes sense with the background of Psalm 69 is that Judas was trying to force Jesus’s hand. He was trying to make Jesus exercise His power in a particular way that would expel the Romans. He was trying to force Him, paint Him into a corner so that Jesus would have to do what He inexplicably wasn’t doing. Jesus has all this power. The Romans, the tyrants are here. We’re under this judgment. This evil pagans are here and Jesus can raise the dead, Jesus can walk on water for crying out loud, why isn’t He doing something about the Romans. Anybody, with any kind of sense would see that you have to do something about the Romans.

Now, part of the reason Judas was judicially blinded is not just the reason that he shared the assumptions that the jews of his era had about the Messiah. This was a common cultural assumption: When the Messiah comes He will expel the Romans. Jesus is clearly the Messiah, Judas knew and so He needs to expel the Romans, that’s what He has to do. And He’s not doing it, so let’s give Him a little encouragement, let’s put Him into a corner where He will surely reveal His power, He will surely rise up. But then, the Messiah is like a sheep that goes silently to the slaughter and Judas doesn’t get it. It’s inexplicable.

Personal motives- This is not just external cultural blindness that the whole jewish nation had. We also learn in John 12:6 that Judas was covetous- which also links to- if Jesus expels the Romans and we have a new Israel, I’m probably going to get a choice cabinet spot, I’m probably gonna be the secretary of the treasury and it’s not gonna be this little purse I’m carrying around with this itinerary preacher, but I’m gonna be in an important place , then I can really take advantage of that. John 12 tells us that Judas used to help himself to the money that was in the account of the disciples, Jesus and His band. So, we have personal motives for thinking the way he did.

Jesus as hell fire preacher 

There’s a glib assumption among many christians on this- yet, the curses of the OT are not eradicated with the NT. They are not erased by the Gospel, they are fulfilled in the arrival of the Gospel. Away with the notion that the OT God had problems and somewhere between Maleachi and Matthew He’s not angry anymore. No, these implications are fulfilled in the NT. Not only so, but, they are fulfilled in terrible ways. Damnation is a horrible reality and the hell fire damnation preacher of the entire Bible is the Lord Jesus. If you go from beginning to end (of the Bible) the hell fire preacher is the Lord Jesus. People like to think that Jesus was the original flower child preaching a simple message of love and peace and then He ran afoul of the authorities, because that’s what preaching peace and love will get you. And then, the apostle Paul comes along with his message of condemnation and all his severities and he somehow wrecks the pristine christianity. The problem with that is the apostle Paul never mentions hell once by name, in all of his letters. Jesus talks about it regularly. Jesus is the ‘hell fire, damnation’ preacher. People like to pretend that the God off the Old Testament was basically a God of wrath and the God of the New Testament is a God of love.

Where do we get this idea that flies in the face of the data? We get this idea because it’s flattering to us. We don’t like the idea of a final judgment, we don’t like the idea of God coming down and looking at our lives and being the kind of God who knows the hairs on our head and as it says in Psalms: If God were to mark iniquities, who could stand? So, if God is going to hold us in judgment  and is going to be severe, we NEED a SAVIOR! Well, mysteriously, wonderfully, there is a Savior presented, but we can’t avail ourselves of that Savior until we know the problem. We’re not gonna take the medication until we know that we’re sick and we’re not able to apply the solution until we understand the problem.

David resolves to give thanks to God with a Psalm

He calls down curses from God, he asks God to judge and then he gives thanks to God with a song (v 30). He then makes a comparison which lies at the heart of all evangelical religion. This is something the Bible does over and over and over again and does it for a reason. „I desire mercy and not sacrifices”, it says in Hosea. „To obey is better than sacrifice”, Samuel tells Saul. „Sacrifices and burnt offerings You do no require, but a humble and contrite heart”, we learn elsewhere in the Psalms. We have the same comparison here. David sets a thankful heart over against the external ritual ‘conformity’ to the sacrificial laws of God (v. 31). In v. 30- „I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving. This will please the Lord more than an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs. When the humble see it they will be glad.”

What makes humble hearts glad

This reality makes humble hearts glad. What makes humble hearts glad? To see heart religion preferred over externals. The sacrifices he’s talking about were  required by God. But God gives us the whole book (Bible), He gives us the whole world view and he expects us to respond to Him in faith and when our hearts are humble, we see that God prefers  heart religion to external religion.

Why is this contrast set up at all? Why does the Bible do this repeatedly? The reason is that there’s a kind of person out there who latches on o the external requirements that God gives us and he manipulates those externals in a way that is conducive to their pride. When something comes along that topples that pride, that is what makes humility rejoice.

External religion – Sinners like to put on a show for God

External religion- how you set up the chairs, how you preach, how you do the liturgy, the music, all the things that we do out here, all those things are things that we can do better or worse. We can do them and we can feel that we have some sort of control in them. And, if we’re in better control of those things than that church down the road- if our doctrine is sounder, if our liturgy (our scripture reading) is more beautiful, if our music is more stupendous, we can feel like we’ve got something with handles that we can take pride in. And a certain kind of heart, an unconverted heart, a carnal heart latches on to those externals. Which is why the Bible tells us over and over and over again that God looks on the heart.

Now Jesus, when He talked about the pharisees who washed the outside of the cup- Jesus said, ‘Wash the inside of the cup’. If you wash the inside of a cup in such a way, the outside’s gonna get clean.

So why does God say, ‘I prefer this more than that?’ Because sinners would much rather have that than this. Sinners like to divide it and sinners like to pick the external. Sinners like to put on a show for God. We like to pretend that the doctrine of omniscience is not true. We like to pretend that God sees our outsides- God sees us singing, God sees us going through an open hymnal, God sees us with an open Bible, and, it makes us uncomfortable to know that God sees us with an open heart.

So, why? Because there is a natural predisposition on the part of sinful man to be religious. Unconverted men love religion. You do not have a system where you’ve got christians over here and a bunch of atheists out there. Atheism is not usually the way men go. Men are religious. There’s true religion and false religion. And, even atheism veers into externals. They try to have some sort of ethical system. They try to have religiosity of some sort, even with an overt denial of God. But, most men don’t do that, they’re just very, very religious.

External religion is a sin. And when God works among men and when he establishes His true religion, our temptation is to go out to the pagans, get their attitude towards externals and import it to the church. We must have an external embodiment. We’re external, not just bodies and souls. We come here to a place and we sing and we hear, and we do things. We have to have an external manifestation of our faith. But, we must be constantly reminded that God prefers this to that, because untended we prefer that to this.

But, we can’t do it unless God provides something, unless God’s at work. And, this is why we must remember: Christ is not powerful to save you if you repent or if you do something. Christ is powerful to give you repentance. Christ is the one who does it. God gives repentance, God gives faith. When God moves… you see the beauty of the Christian faith. You see the beauty of the one true religion: God saves sinners. Which is very, very different than sinners preparing themselves to be saved. When the initiative lies with us: God will do this if you prepare your heart, or if you go through these motions. The sentence begins: …but God intervenes… but God sent His Son… but God gave repentance… If God gives Jesus to die on the cross, to be buried and come back from the dead so that you can be put right and He’s the one that put you right, using that means, that’s good news. But God, is good news. But I, is bad news. But I, is false Gospel.

A Little Toddy for the Body (alcohol) Addictions Part 5

Watch the first four parts here

In the Bible, in the English translation, in both the Old and New Testament uses the word ‘wine’ in different places.

Wine in OT – תִּירוֹשׁ tirosh (Hebrew)

In hebrew, there’s a word called תִּירוֹשׁ tirosh, predominantly refers to unfermented wine. It is found 38 times in the Old Testament. It is often associated with the produce of a field or orchard. It is  associated with grapes that are still in a cluster, because one of the verses in the Bible says ‘Look not upon the wine, when it’s hanging on the vine’. Proverbs 23:31. And it calls it wine, when it is still a grape hanging on a vine. It also refers to fresh juice, unfermented juice. Hebrew scholars and writers agree that תִּירוֹשׁ tirosh is the fruit of vines or grapes. Jewish encyclopedia says: תִּירוֹשׁ tirosh includes all kinds of sweet juices – must and does not include fermented wine. Here are some examples:

  • Deuteronomy 11:14 gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil
  • Proverbs 3:10  So your barns will be filled with plenty, And your vats will overflow with new wine
  • Isaiah 65:8 As the new wine is found in the cluster, And one says, ‘Do not destroy it, For a blessing is in it
  • Joel 2:24 The threshing floors shall be full of wheat, And the vats shall overflow with new wine and oil.
  • Deuteronomy  12:17 You may not eat within your gates the tithe of your grain or your new wine or your oil,
  • Joel 1:5, 10 …The field is wasted,.. The new wine is dried up,…

Wine in OT – יין כשר, yayin and שֵׁכָר shekar (Hebrew)

The second Hebrew word יין כשר, yayin is found 136 times. יין כשר, yayin is used when referring to grapes, raisins and unfermented or fermented grape juice

Another Hebrew word שֵׁכָר shekar is translated in the Bible when referring to strong drink made from dates. In the Old Testament wines, שֵׁכָר shekar, the strong drink was made from dates, not grapes. In other words, the traditional wine comes from the vine or the grape and the strong drink actually comes from the dates from the tree. We get our English word ‘sugar’  from the word שֵׁכָר shekar. It denotes taking the sap from a palm tree, just like we would take a maple tree and get syrup from it and make maple syrup. The sap from a palm tree is used to make what is also called שֵׁכָר shekar, a strong drink. The Popular and Critical Bible Encyclopedia says שֵׁכָר shekar is a luscious, saccharine drink or sweet syrup, especially sugar or honey of dates or of the palm tree; also by accommodation, occasionally the sweet fruit itself. The Mohamedan Traveler in AD 850 wrote, „Palm wine if drank fresh is sweet like honey, but if kept it turns to vinegar, meaning it will ferment. So they did drink what they called ‘palm wine’, but when we look at the word wine, we in the west always think of alcohol content, but in this particular reference, the palm wine was called ‘wine’ when it was still sweet.

I will never forget in Israel, my guide Gideon took me to an Arab village. In Islam there is a law prohibiting strong drink or wine, they brought out what had been from a great vineyard, it looked like jelly, grape jelly in a plastic container. They dipped in there and they took a spoonful and they mixed it with bottled water. I drank it and it was really delicious. He said this was actually something like a grape juice  and it’s made from a jam and to keep it going long they put it in there, they preserve it in a cold place. He said some of them call it wine. To me, in my western mentality, wine is in a bottle, and yet they’re calling this wine, when all it is here is grape from a jam that’s been here year after year mixed with water.

Wine in NT – οἶνος oinos (Greek)

Oinos οἶνος is the Greek word for wine which is used in the New Testament. It is used for wine, for wrath- see Revelation 14:10 and 19:15. This word is interesting because it never distinguishes between fermented or unfermented, like the Hebrew does. So in the New Testament when it says that Jesus turned water into wine- John 2:7-9 , by using the Greek word, it does not indicate fermented or unfermented. So to recap:

  • Hebrew Tirosh – unfermented wine
  • Hebrew Yayin – fermented wine
  • Greek Oinos – depends on the context used

The issue is not the wine itself, but the issue becomes the sugars that turn to alcohol and the alcohol content that is in what we call wine and strong drink. Depending on the type of wine here in America and the rest of the world, it could have 13-14% alcohol an some could have 18-20% alcohol. Here’s the part people don’t understand and will be a real surprise to some of you. When we in the west sit down to a table  and want to order a glass of wine, it comes out of a wine bottle from California or some other place where wine is made. We think that’s the same kind of wine that Jesus drank that came from a vineyard. But, it’s not how it was drunk at the time of Jesus vs the way it is drunk today in America.

In the ancient time, when you produced a grape harvest on your farm, there was only a certain amount of ‘wine’ that could be made from the grapes. Think about this, the grape harvest is really only one time a year and the big harvest is usually one time in Israel. They had to take it and put it in wine skins or some type of jars and store it in cool places, but it had to last for a long period of time. So, if they just go and guzzle up what’s there, it’s gonna be gone in a few months. Here’s what they did. This is what they did on a consistent basis. In the ancient days they took the wine from the wineskin and instead of drinking the whole thing, and I’m talking about ‘in a home’ and they mixed it with water. You can find it in historical writings.

Norman Geisler (moderate calvinist) in ‘A Christian perspective on wine drinking‘ says, „…wine in Homer’s day was 20 parts water and one part wine (Oddyssey 9.208-9). Pliny referred to wine as 8 parts water and one part wine (Natural history 14.6.54). According to Aristophanes, it was stronger: three parts water and two parts wine.”  In the ancient time, in the average place where wine was drunk, 3 parts water were mixed to 1 part wine . This is the reason. If it had been standing there for a long time and was fermented, it diluted the amount of alcohol that was in the wine. For example, in ancient time, anyone drinking wine  unmixed with water, drinking it straight, was considered a barbarian. So, in other words  to make the wine last longer, 3 parts up to 20 parts water and it dilutes the alcohol level down. I heard someone talk about this saying that it diluted the wine to about 1% alcohol, which is about the alcohol level of non alcoholic beer. This research was done by a leading university; because the wine in Jesus’ day is mixed with water, historians have studied this and understand this. The wine mixed with water in Jesus’s day, the alcoholic content is so low that you would have to drink 20 glasses of wine from Jesus’s time to equal the alcohol in 2 martini’s.

I’d like to stop and talk to the Christians out there thinking, „Well, Jesus drank or the disciples drank or they drank in the New testament; you’re drinking alcohol into your system and most of you have never heard what I just told you. Meaning that in Jesus’s day alcohol is mixed with water. I read in the ‘New testament Hebraic Talmud’ that in the ancient time in Passover, they put 3 parts water to 1 part wine to bring the alcohol content down because kids at the table were participating at Passover, sometimes (even) 4 parts water. Whatever alcohol is there, it is so diluted it doesn’t have the impact when the glass of wine is drunk.

Could people get drunk? Yes. Did people get drunk? Yes. People in the ancient time definitely got drunk. That’s ancient history. But what they had to do is drink it raw and drink it pure out of the wine skin or out of the jar instead of mixing it. Here’s the big argument people have. I hear it all the time. I am not here to condemn you because you have to answer to the Lord. It is not safe for you to do something that your kids and grandkids are watching you do. They’re going to be more liberal as time progresses. Why do something that’s not necessary? Here are some arguments about drinking wine:

  1. Jesus turned the water to wine (John chapter 2) He sure did. Here’s the question: Was it fermented or not? A marriage feast in Jesus’s day lasted for 7 days. Often times they could run out of food or drink. In this instance they ran out of wine. Jesus takes 6 pots of water and He turns it into wine, the governor saying, „you’ve saved the best for last”. I do not believe it’s alcoholic. I’ll give you a simple explanation: It takes somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 days in the dark to take grapes which are juice  and turn them into wine that has alcohol in it. This is an instant miracle which takes place, and he’s commenting on the taste not the alcohol content.
  2. In Luke 7:33-34 Jesus is called a wine bibber. He must have gotten drunk if he was called a wine bibber. Let’s use your theory. They called Him a glutton. Mark 2:15. Was Jesus a glutton? when gluttony is a sin according to Deuteronomy 21:20. So Jesus is going to break the law of His father and be a glutton cause they’re calling Him a glutton. They called Him a devil. Here’s the problem with the Pharisees, the Pharisees called him a glutton and a devil and a wine bibber cause He’s eating at a table with unsaved people who are absolutely as lost as they can be and they didn’t like the fact that He is associating with sinners. Just because someone called Jesus a wine bibber it doesn’t mean… it was an insult to be called a glutton and a wine bibber! They are actually insulting Him and not complimenting Him.
  3. Wine at the Last Supper. Most of you take communion in some form. We take communion with simple grape juice (non alcoholic). Let me tell you why. The picture of Jesus’s crucifixion is Passover, where you have unleavened bead and you have what we call wine. However, the unleavened bread has no leaven because leaven represents sin. Let’s look at the wine. Why is it that in Matthew 26:29, Mark 14:25 Luke 22:18 when Jesus is holding up the cup and they’re talking about the Lord’s supper, they call it the fruit of the vine because the term ‘fruit of the vine’ alludes to the pure fruit of the vine. If the bread represents the body of Christ, the body of Christ knew no sin, but he took it upon Himself our sins to be the righteousness of God  (2 Corinthians 5:21). However, the blood of Jesus had to be pure, if it was corrupted by sin (then) it’s no different than my blood and your blood. That’s why He had to be born of a virgin, because thourgh a virgin His blood would remain pure, not tainted by the earthly seed of a man to create Him. And so, the blood of Jesus was pure blood, never tainted by a sin. Here’s the reason I’m bringing this out. This may be why at the communion supper where they are serving what we call ‘the wine’, it is actually called in the Bible ‘fruit of the vine’, indicating the pure blood of the grape or indicating that there’s no kind of alcohol content in it, for this reason: in the alcohol content, the bacteria has to enter in and break the sugar molecules down to ferment it. To me, just leaven in the bread would be a picture of sin, (that’s in your Bible), then the breakdown of the alcohol sugars into fermentation would be a picture of His blood being tainted. When I go and take communion, I use pure grape juice because I have an understanding that if I were to use something else it would represent Christ’s blood being tainted and „He knew no sin” 2 Corinthians 5:21 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. His blood remained pure. If His blood did not remain pure it would be like any other blood of any other animal, a goat or a bull and would not have been sufficient to forgive mankind of his sins because „He was the Lamb”, the Bible says, „without spot and without wrinkle and without blemish”.
  4. 1 Timothy 5:23 No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach’s sake and your frequent infirmities. We do know that Paul wrote to Timothy in 1 Timothy 3:2-3 – a bishop is to be given to no wine. Timothy is a bishop; he’s not to drink any wine at all. That’s in your Bible. Apparently, because the Greek word does not distinguish between fermented and unfermented wine (the Hebrew words do) we can assume that Paul is saying, drinking wine here has nothing to do with juice here, it has to do with fermented wine. Timothy is in a place where he is having severe stomach difficulties so Paul says, „Timothy, take a little wine for your stomach’s sake and often infirmities”. Timothy is asking Paul for the permission to do something to try to help him in that area. So I ask a gentleman who is a Greek scholar, „How do you relate the difference here?” He said, Remember that in some countries back in that day there was a lot of bacteria in the water. So when they would mix a little bit of wine with the water, the acidic content of the wine would kill the bacteria in the water. So it doesn’t mean that Timothy is necessarily going out there and starting to guzzle for his stomach’s sake. There are people who use the excuse „Timothy used a little bit for his stomach’s sake” so I use a little bit for my stomach’s sake. Let me give you some advice: Pepto Bismol works really good. There’s other things you could drink that doesn’t have alcohol in it.

    (1) People always bring up these verse, „Yeah, but all through the Old Testament they drank. In the Old Testament they had slaves and even in the New Testament they had slaves (Romans 14:4), the American slaves were freed and we no longer believe in slavery anymore even though we find it in both testaments.

    (2) In the Old Testament (Exodus 21:24-25)  it was ‘an eye for an eye’ and ‘a tooth for a tooth’ but, in the new covenant (Matthew 6:12-15) we are to forgive those who wrong us.

    (3) In the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 17:2-5) couples were stoned for adultery and when they tried to stone a woman in John 8:1-11, Jesus refused to let her be stoned and forgave her and said, „Go and sin no more”.

    (4) In the Old Testament Abraham and Jacob had more than 1 wife and the News Testament says ‘one wife’ (1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:6)

    and so, what I would say to you is this: In the Old Testament certain things were permitted, like multiple wives, drinking, and there are verses where you do find that. However, under the new covenant certain things have changed. THE BOTTOM LINE: When we talk about all these things, the bottom line is this: If people are looking up to you as a Christian and they are looking up to you as someone who is serving God, I am not here to condemn you, and try to put this on you, but, if you have ever been with an alcoholic father and an alcoholic mother and you were raised that way, no one has to tell you how bad it can get. If you were ever an alcoholic and you’ve been delivered from it completely, no one ever has to say, „A little bit, in moderation won’t hurt you”. There is a spiritual principle here and it is this: It is better not to be involved in something that cause a brother or sister to stumble (that’s in your Bible). It’s better not to be involved in something that’s going to hurt your testimony. It’s better not to be involved in something that one day, your children can point to you and say, „I just got it from you. I’m just doing what you did. I saw you drink, you can’t tell me not to drink”. But, if you abstain and live a good life and be filled with the Holy Spirit, you’ll always be able to tell your children, „Children, you never saw mom and dad doing that”.

    Published on Jul 13, 2012 by 

F F Bruce – The Origin of the Bible

The first chapter of The Origin of the Bible edited by  Philip Wesley Comfort 

F.F. Bruce (Pages 3-12):

The word “Bible” is derived through Latin from the Greek word biblia (books), specifically the books that are acknowledged as canonical by the Christian church. The earliest Christian use of ta biblia (the books) in this sense is said to be 2 Clement 2:14 (c. A.D. 150): “the books and the apostles declare that the church . . . has existed from the beginning.” (Compare Dan. 9:2, “I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures,” where the reference is to the corpus of Old Testament prophetic writings.) Greek biblion (of which biblia is the plural) is a diminutive of biblos, which in practice denotes any kind of written document, but originally one written on papyrus.

A term synonymous with “the Bible” is “the writings” or “the Scriptures” (Greek hai graphai, ta grammata), frequently used in the New Testament to denote the Old Testament documents in whole or in part. For example, Matthew 21:42 says, “Have you never read in the Scriptures?” (en tais graphais). The parallel passage, Mark 12:10, has the singular, referring to the particular text quoted, “Haven’t you read this Scripture?” (ten graphen tauten). 2 Timothy 3:15 (RSV) speaks of “the sacred writings” (ta hiera grammata), and the next verse says, “All Scripture is God- breathed” (pasa graphe theopneustos). In 2 Peter 3:16 “all” the letters of Paul are included along with “the other Scriptures” (has loipas graphas), by which the Old Testament writings and probably also the Gospels are meant.


Among Christians, for whom the Old Testament and New Testa- ment together constitute the Bible, there is not complete agree- ment on their content. Some branches of the Syriac church do not include 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, Jude, and Revelation in the New Testament. The Roman and Greek communions include a number of books in the Old Testament in addition to those that make up the Hebrew Bible; these additional books formed part of the Christian Septuagint.

While they are included, along with one or two others, in the complete Protestant English Bible, the Church of England (like the Lutheran Church) follows Jerome in holding that they may be read “for example of life and instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine” (Article VI). Other Reformed Churches give them no canonical status at all. The Ethiopic Bible includes 1 Enoch and the book of Jubilees.

In the Roman, Greek, and other ancient communions the Bible, together with the living tradition of the church in some sense, constitutes the ultimate authority. In the churches of the Refor- mation, on the other hand, the Bible alone is the final court of appeal in matters of doctrine and practice. Thus Article VI of the Church of England affirms: “Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation; so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requi- site or necessary to salvation.” To the same effect the Westminster Confession of Faith (1.2) lists the 39 books of the Old Testament and the 27 of the New Testament as “all . . . given by inspiration of God, to be the rule of faith and life.”

THE TWO TESTAMENTS ________________

The word “testament” in the designations “Old Testament” and “New Testament,” given to the two divisions of the Bible, goes back through Latin testamentum to Greek diatheke, which in most of its occurrences in the Greek Bible means “covenant” rather than “testament.” In Jeremiah 31:31, a new covenant is foretold which will supersede that which God made with Israel in the wilderness (cf. Exod. 24:7ff). “By calling this covenant ‘new,’ he has made the first one obsolete” (Heb. 8:13). The New Testament writers see the fulfillment of the prophecy of the new covenant in the new order inaugurated by the work of Christ; his own words of institution (1 Cor. 11:25) give the authority for this interpretation. The Old Testament books, then, are so called because of their close asso- ciation with the history of the “old covenant;” the New Testament books are so called because they are the foundation documents of the “new covenant.” An approach to our common use of the term “Old Testament” appears in 2 Corinthians 3:14, “when the old covenant is read,” although Paul probably means the law, the basis of the old covenant, rather than the whole volume of Hebrew Scripture. The terms “Old Testament” and “New Testament” for the two collections of books came into general Christian use in the later part of the second century; Tertullian rendered diatheke into Latin by instrumentum (a legal document) and also by testa- mentum; it was the latter word that survived, unfortunately, since the two parts of the Bible are not “testaments” in the ordinary sense of the term.

The Old Testament

In the Hebrew Bible the books are arranged in three divisions: the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. The Law comprises the Pentateuch, the five “books of Moses.” The Prophets fall into two subdivisions: the “Former Prophets,” comprising Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings; and the “Latter Prophets,” comprising Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and “The Book of the Twelve Prophets.” The Writings contain the rest of the books: first are Psalms, Proverbs, and Job; then the five “Scrolls,” namely Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Esther; and finally Daniel, Ezra- Nehemiah, and Chronicles. The total is traditionally reckoned as twenty-four, but these twenty-four correspond exactly to our common reckoning of thirty-nine, since in the latter reckoning the Minor Prophets are counted as twelve books, and Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, and Ezra-Nehemiah as two each. There were other ways of counting the same twenty-four books in antiquity; in one (attested by Josephus) the total was brought down to twenty-two; in another (known to Jerome) it was raised to twenty-seven.

The origin of the arrangement of books in the Hebrew Bible cannot be traced; the threefold division is frequently believed to correspond to the three stages in which the books received canon- ical recognition, but there is no direct evidence for this.

In the Septuagint the books are arranged according to similar- ity of subject matter. The Pentateuch is followed by the historical books, these are followed by the books of poetry and wisdom, and these by the prophets. It is this order which, in its essential fea- tures, is perpetuated (via the Vulgate) in most Christian editions of the Bible. In some respects this order is truer to chronologi- cal sequence of the narrative contents than that of the Hebrew Bible; for example, Ruth appears immediately after Judges (since it records things that happened “in the days when the judges ruled”), and the work of the chronicler appears in the order Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah.

The threefold division of the Hebrew Bible is reflected in the wording of Luke 24:44 (“the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms”); more commonly the New Testament refers to “the Law and the Prophets” (see Matt. 7:12) or “Moses and the Prophets” (see Luke 16:29).

The divine revelation that the Old Testament records was conveyed in two principal ways—by mighty works and prophetic words. These two modes of revelation are bound up indissolubly together. The acts of mercy and judgment by which the God of Israel made himself known to his covenant people would not have carried their proper message had they not been interpreted to them by the prophets—the “spokesmen” of God who received and communicated his word. For example, the events of the Exodus would not have acquired their abiding significance for the Isra- elites if Moses had not told them that in these events the God of their fathers was acting for their deliverance, in accordance with his ancient promises, so that they might be his people and he their God. On the other hand, Moses’ words would have been fruitless apart from their vindication in the events of the Exodus. We may compare the similarly significant role of Samuel at the time of the Philistine menace, of the great eighth-century prophets when Assyria was sweeping all before her, of Jeremiah and Ezekiel when the kingdom of Judah came to an end, and so forth.

This interplay of mighty work and prophetic word in the Old Testament explains why history and prophecy are so intermingled throughout its pages; it was no doubt some realization of this that led the Jews to include the chief historical books among the Prophets. But not only do the Old Testament writings record this progressive twofold revelation of God; they record at the same time men’s response to God’s revelation—a response sometimes obedient, too often disobedient. In this Old Testament record of the response of those to whom the word of God came, the New Testament finds practical instruction for Christians; of the Isra- elites’ rebellion in the wilderness and the disasters which ensued Paul writes: “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come” (1 Cor. 10:11, NIV).

Regarding its place in the Christian Bible, the Old Testament is preparatory in character: what “God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets” waited for its completion in what was “spoken to us by his Son” (Heb. 1:1-2, NIV). Yet the Old Testa- ment was the Bible that the apostles and other preachers of the gospel in the earliest days of Christianity took with them when they proclaimed Jesus as the divinely sent Messiah, Lord, and Sav- ior: they found in it clear witness to Christ (John 5:39) and a plain setting forth of the way of salvation through faith in him (Rom. 3:21; 2 Tim. 3:15). For their use of the Old Testament they had the authority and example of Christ himself; and the church ever since has done well when it has followed the precedent set by him and his apostles and recognized the Old Testament as Christian Scripture. “What was indispensable to the Redeemer must always be indispensable to the redeemed” (G. A. Smith).

The New Testament

The New Testament stands to the Old Testament in the relation of fulfillment to promise. If the Old Testament records what “God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets,” the New Testament records that final word which he spoke in his Son, in which all the earlier revelation was summed up, confirmed, and transcended. The mighty works of the Old Testament revelation culminate in the redemptive work of Christ; the words of the Old Testament prophets receive their fulfillment in him. But he is not only God’s crowning revelation to man; he is also man’s perfect response to God—the high priest as well as the apostle of our confession (Heb. 3:1). If the Old Testament records the witness of those who saw the day of Christ before it dawned, the New Testament records the witness of those who saw and heard him in the days of his flesh, and who came to know and proclaim the significance of his coming more fully, by the power of his Spirit, after his resur- rection from the dead.

The New Testament has been accepted by the great majority of Christians, for the past 1,600 years, as comprising twenty-seven books. These twenty-seven fall naturally into four divisions: (1) the four Gospels, (2) the Acts of the Apostles, (3) twenty-one let- ters written by apostles and “apostolic men,” and (4) Revelation. This order is not only logical, but roughly chronological so far as the subject matter of the documents is concerned; it does not correspond, however, to the order in which they were written.

The first New Testament documents to be written were the earlier epistles of Paul. These (together, possibly, with the Epistle of James) were written between A.D. 48 and 60, before even the earliest of the Gospels was written. The four Gospels belong to the decades between 60 and 100, and it is to these decades too that all (or nearly all) the other New Testament writings are to be assigned. Whereas the writing of the Old Testament books was spread over a period of a thousand years or more, the New Testa- ment books were written within a century.

The New Testament writings were not gathered together in the form which we know immediately after they were penned. At first the individual Gospels had a local and independent existence in the constituencies for which they were originally composed. By the beginning of the second century, however, they were brought together and began to circulate as a fourfold record. When this happened, Acts was detached from Luke, with which it had formed one work in two volumes, and embarked on a separate but not unimportant career of its own.

Paul’s letters were preserved at first by the communities or indi- viduals to whom they were sent. But by the end of the first cen- tury there is evidence to suggest that his surviving correspondence began to be collected into a Pauline corpus, which quickly circu- lated among the churches—first a shorter corpus of ten letters and soon afterwards a longer one of thirteen, enlarged by the inclusion of the three Pastoral Epistles. Within the Pauline corpus the letters appear to have been arranged not in chronological order but in descending order of length. This principle may still be recognized in the order found in most editions of the New Testament today: the letters to churches come before the letters to individuals, and within these two subdivisions they are arranged so that the lon- gest comes first and the shortest last. (The only departure from this scheme is that Galatians comes before Ephesians, although Ephesians is slightly the longer of the two.)

With the Gospel collection and the Pauline corpus, and Acts to serve as a link between the two, we have the beginning of the New Testament Canon as we know it. The early church, which inherited the Hebrew Bible (or the Greek version of the Septua- gint) as its sacred Scriptures, was not long in setting the new evan- gelic and apostolic writings alongside the Law and the Prophets, and in using them for the propagation and defense of the gospel and in Christian worship. Thus Justin Martyr, about the middle of the second century, describes how Christians in their Sunday meetings read “the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets” (Apology 1.67). It was natural, then, that when Chris- tianity spread among people who spoke other languages than Greek, the New Testament should be translated from Greek into those languages for the benefit of new converts. There were Latin and Syriac versions of the New Testament by A.D. 200, and a Coptic one within the following century.


The Bible has played, and continues to play, a notable part in the history of civilization. Many languages have been reduced to writ- ing for the first time in order that the Bible, in whole or in part, might be translated into them in written form. And this is but a minor sample of the civilizing mission of the Bible in the world.

This civilizing mission is the direct effect of the central message of the Bible. It may be thought surprising that one should speak of a central message in a collection of writings that reflects the history of civilization in the Near East over several millennia. But a central message there is, and it is the recognition of this that has led to the common treatment of the Bible as a book, and not simply a collection of books—just as the Greek plural biblia (books) became the Latin singular biblia (the book).

The Bible’s central message is the story of salvation, and throughout both Testaments three strands in this unfolding story can be distinguished: the bringer of salvation, the way of salvation, and the heirs of salvation. This could be reworded in terms of the covenant idea by saying that the central message of the Bible is God’s covenant with men, and that the strands are the mediator of the covenant, the basis of the covenant, and the covenant people. God himself is the Savior of his people; it is he who confirms his covenant-mercy with them. The bringer of salvation, the mediator of the covenant, is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The way of salvation, the basis of the covenant, is God’s grace, calling forth from his people a response of faith and obedi- ence. The heirs of salvation, the covenant people, are the Israel of God, the church of God.

The continuity of the covenant people from the Old Testa- ment to the New Testament is obscured for the reader of the com- mon English Bible because “church” is an exclusively New Testament word, and he naturally thinks of it as something which began in the New Testament period. But the reader of the Greek Bible was confronted by no new word when he found ekklesia in the New Testament; he had already met it in the Septuagint as one of the words used to denote Israel as the “assembly” of the Lord’s people. To be sure, it has a new and fuller meaning in the New Testament. The old covenant people had to die with him in order to rise with him to new life—a new life in which national restrictions had disappeared. Jesus provides in himself the vital continuity between the old Israel and the new, and his faith- ful followers were both the righteous remnant of the old and the nucleus of the new. The Servant Lord and his servant people bind the two Testaments together.

The message of the Bible is God’s message to man, communi- cated “at many times and in various ways” (Heb. 1:1, NIV) and finally incarnated in Christ. Thus “the authority of the holy scripture, for which it ought to be believed and obeyed, depen- deth not upon the testimony of any man or church, but wholly upon God (who is truth itself), the author thereof; and therefore it is to be received, because it is the word of God” (Westminster Confession of Faith, 1.4).

Good advice on how to deal with Bible difficulties

Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, Gleason L. Archer, 1982, p15-17 via http://www.bible.ca/b-alleged-bible-contradictions-refuted.htm.

In dealing with Bible problems of any kind, whether in factual or in doctrinal matters, it is well to follow appropriate guidelines in determining the solution. This is most easily done by those who have carefully and prayerfully studied the Bible over a number of years and have consistently and faithfully memorized Scripture. Some guidelines are as follows:

  1. Be fully persuaded in your own mind that an adequate explanation exists, even though you have not yet found it. The aerodynamic engineer may not under-stand how a bumble bee can fly; yet he trusts that there must be an adequate explanation for its fine performance since, as a matter of fact, it does fly! Even so we may have complete confidence that the divine Author preserved the human author of each book of the Bible from error or mistake as he wrote down the original manuscript of the sacred text.
  2. Avoid the fallacy of shifting from one a priori to its opposite every time an apparent problem arises. The Bible is either the inerrant Word of God or else it is an imperfect record by fallible men. Once we have come into agreement with Jesus that the Scripture is completely trustworthy and authoritative, then it is out of the question for us to shift over to the opposite assumption, that the Bible is only the errant record of fallible men as they wrote about God. If the Bible is truly the Word of God, as Jesus said, then it must be treated with respect, trust, and complete obedience. Unlike all other books known to man, the Scriptures come to us from God; and in them we confront the ever-living, ever-present God (2 Tim. 3:16-17). When we are unable to understand God’s ways or are unable to comprehend His words, we must bow before Him in humility and patiently wait for Him to clear up the difficulty or to deliver us from our trials as He sees fit. There is very little that God will long withhold from the surrendered heart and mind of a true believer.
  3. Carefully study the context and framework of the verse in which the problem arises until you gain some idea of what the verse is intended to mean within its own setting. It may be necessary to study the entire book in which the verse occurs, carefully noting how each key term is used in other passages. Compare Scripture with Scripture, especially all those passages in other parts of the Bible that deal with the same subject or doctrine.
  4. Remember, no interpretation of Scripture is valid that is not based on careful exegesis, that is, on wholehearted commitment to determining what the ancient author meant by the words he used. This is accomplished by a painstaking study of the key words, as defined in the dictionaries (Hebrew and Greek) and as used in parallel passages. Research also the specific meaning of these words in idiomatic phrases as observed in other parts of the Bible. Consider how confused a foreigner must be when lie reacts in a daily American newspaper: „The prospectors made a strike yesterday up in the mountains.” „The union went on strike this morning.” „The batter made his third strike and was called out by the umpire.” „Strike up with the Star Spangled Banner.” „The fisherman got a good strike in the middle of the lake.” Presumably each of these completely different uses of the same word go back to the same parent and have the same etymology. But complete confusion may result from misunderstanding how the speaker meant the word to be used. Bear in mind that inerrancy involves acceptance of and belief in whatever the biblical author meant by the words he used. If he meant what he said in a literal way, it is wrong to take it figuratively; but if he meant what he said in a figurative way, it is wrong to take it literally. So we must engage in careful exegesis in order to find out what he meant in the light of contemporary conditions and usage. That takes hard work. Intuition or snap judgment may catch one up in a web of fallacy and subjective bias. This often results in heresy that hinders the cause of the Lord one professes to serve.
  5. In the case of parallel passages, the only method that can be justified is harmonization. That is to say, all the testimonies of the various witnesses are to be taken as trustworthy reports of what was said and done in their presence, even though they may have viewed the transaction from a slightly different perspective. When we sort them out, line them up, and put them together, we gain a fuller understanding of the event than we would obtain from any one testimony taken individually. But as with any properly conducted inquiry in a court of law, the judge and jury are expected to receive each witness’s testimony as true when viewed from his own perspective-unless, of course, he is exposed as an untrustworthy liar. Only injustice would be served by any other assumption-as, for example, that each witness is assumed to be untruthful unless his testimony is corroborated from outside sources. (This, of course, is the assumption made by opponents of the inerrancy of Scripture, and it leads them to totally false results.)
  6. Consult the best commentaries available, especially those written by Evangelical scholars who believe in the integrity of Scripture. A good 90 percent of the problems will be dealt with in good commentaries (see Bibliography). Good Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias may clear up many perplexities. An analytical concordance will help establish word usage (e.g., Strong’s, Young’s).
  7. Many Bible difficulties result from a minor error on the part of a copyist in the transmission of the text. In the Old Testament such transmissional errors may have resulted from a poor reading of the vowels; Hebrew was originally written in consonants only, and the vowel signs were not added until a thousand years after the completion of the Old Testament canon. But there are also some consonants that are easily confused because they look so much alike (e.g., [d, daleth] and 1 [r, resh] or ” [y, yod] and 1 [w, waw]). Besides that, some words are preserved in a very old spelling susceptible of misunderstanding by later Hebrew copyists. In other words, only a resort to textual criticism and its analysis of the most frequent types of confusion and mistake can clear up the difficulty (for bibliography on this, cf. Introduction). This takes in confusion of numerals also, where statistical errors are found in our present text of Scripture (e.g., 2 Kings 18:13).
  8. Whenever historical accounts of the Bible are called in question on the basis of alleged disagreement with the findings of archaeology or the testimony of ancient non-Hebrew documents, always remember that the Bible is itself an archaeological document of the highest caliber. It is simply crass bias for critics to hold that whenever a pagan record disagrees with the biblical account, it must be the Hebrew author that was in error. Pagan kings practiced self-laudatory propaganda, just as their modern counterparts do; and it is incredibly naive to suppose that simply because a statement was written in Assyrian cuneiform or Egyptian hieroglyphics it was more trustworthy and factual than the Word of God composed in Hebrew. No other ancient document in the B.C. period affords so many clear proofs of accuracy and integrity as does the Old Testament; so it is a violation of the rules of evidence to assume that the Bible statement is wrong every time it disagrees with a secular inscription or manuscript of some sort. Of all the documents known to man, only the Hebrew-Greek Scriptures have certified their accuracy and divine authority by a pattern of prediction and fulfillment completely beyond the capabilities of man and possible only for God.

Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, Gleason L. Archer, 1982, p15-17

Read the entire article here –

http://www.bible.ca/b-alleged-bible-contradictions-refuted.htm. The site also offers a chart which resolves the alleged contradictions of:

  1. Why Mary didn’t know what had happened to Jesus’ body when she left the tomb.
  2. It is impossible to assume that Mary had left the group early.
  3. The Gospel of John contradicts the other three.

Print and Save Bible Timeline

TO ENLARGE CHART: click on photo. Click again to enlarge.

from http://visualunit.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/bible_timeline1.jpg

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