Friday, October 30, 2009

The Impeccability Of Christ

A few years back the film industry came out with a lot of productions showing the "humanness" of Christ, ignoring any pretense or hint to the fact of His deity as the Son of God. This would be expected of the lost world, but such tripe has a continuing negative effect on the natural man. Of course Satan loves it! He loves to picture Jesus as simply a "natural" man rather than "very God"!

Below is a short treatment on the fact of the Lord's impeccability, with translation work done on the major passages of Scripture. One important point: if Christ is not absolutely holy and completely without sin, the Bible surely would have hinted that He was only "partially" righteous, or simply "sometimes" lived righteous. Instead, the Bible by both positive statements and by silence as to Christ's potential "sinfulness," pictures Him instead as sinless in the absolute sense!

Definition of the word Impeccability
Webster's Dictionary says impeccable is a word that comes from the Latin: impeccabilis. The word means "not liable to sin, incapable of sin."

Theological Definition of Impeccability
Impeccability is a theological term and not a biblical word. But it is meant to convey a true theological concept, i.e. Christ was unable to sin, though evil could be placed before Him in the form of a normal temptation, but by His very nature, He could not and would not succumb to it. Christ could have certain physical limitations of weariness (John 4:6), hunger (Matt. 4:2; 21:18), thirst (John 19:28), tiredness (Matt. 8:24). "But at every stage of His life, infancy, boyhood, adolescence, manhood, He was holy and sinless." (Ryrie, Basic Theology, p. 303)

Testimony of those who observed Christ
Interestingly, those who were unbelievers or even to a degree enemies of Christ, admitted to His sinlessness. They could see nothing in His actions, mannerisms, attitudes, that would reflect evil or unrighteousness. Judas who betrayed Him told the elders and the chief priests, "I have sinned by betraying innocent blood" (Matt. 27:4). Pilate's wife had a dream that conveyed to her the fact of Christ's righteousness. Because of the dream she said to her husband: "Have nothing to do with that righteous Man; for last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him" (v. 19). Though pressured by the Jews to slay the Lord Jesus, Pilate had to admit to the Jewish leaders: "I am innocent of this Man's blood" (v. 24). Pilate caved into the Jewish leadership and had Christ crucified and yet he realized that He had done on wrong! The centurion seemed to realize this truth when he uttered at the close of Jesus' life: "Truly this was the Son of God!" (v. 54). One of the thieves who died with Christ appeared to understand something of the sinlessness of the Lord: He said to the cursing thief: "We are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong" (Luke 23:41).

While it could be argued that the testimonies mentioned above could, in context, simply be saying that Jesus was not a public evildoer, there seems to be more in what these witnesses are saying. If they had anything against Christ, it seems doubtful they could have uttered these words of His innocence without some kind of qualification about the imperfections of His life. The above may not be the strongest evidence for the Lord's impeccability, still it is evidence that can be considered in the overall discussion on the subject.

The Nature of the God/Man
Christ is the eternal Son of God, and yet He has two natures, the divine and the human, when He was born into the world of humanity. Jesus always spoke of Himself as One person, a single being, not two. He did not have a split personality. It must be that in conception the sin nature is passed down from the father and somehow not through the mother. While the Bible does not address this issue it would explain the "why" of the virgin birth. Christ's human nature came through Mary and His divine emplacement in her womb came through the Holy Spirit. Some may question this explanation of the virgin birth but this seems to be a logical conclusion.

Paul Enns rightly argues:

Christ's peccability could relate only to His human nature; His divine nature was impeccability. Although Christ had two natures, He was nonetheless one Person and could not divorce Himself of His deity. Wherever He went, the divine nature was present. If the two natures could be separated then it could be said that He could sin in His humanity, but because the human and divine natures cannot be separated from the Person of Christ, and since the divine nature cannot sin, it must be affirmed that Christ could not have sinned. (Enns, Moody Handbook of Theology, p. 237) 

Christ could be Tested but could not be Tempted as to fall
In order to testify and demonstrate the sinlessness of Christ, He was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit in order to undergo a tempting (peirazo) by the devil (Matt. 4:1). This happening was not to see if Jesus would fall into sin and listen to the words of Satan. It was to prove to us that the Lord could not and would not succumb to the devil's tempting thoughts. Francis Schaeffer argued that Christ could be tempted to actually sin yet He did not. Looking at all the evidence this is not a biblical conclusion.
God will have the victory over sin because of the perfect holiness of the One who died for us. The victory is sure. "The same is true of the temptation of Christ. One may attack a battleship with a canoe. The outcome of the attack is already certain, even though the attack is real. Even though gold may be subjected to a test and will always pass the test, the test is still valid. Jesus was tested, and He passed the tests victoriously." (Mal Couch, gen. ed., Ed Hindson, Matthew, p. 40)

The Holy One of God
The resurrection of the Messiah is predicted in Psalm 16:10. "For You will not allow Your Holy One to undergo decay." This is repeated and applied to Christ in Acts 2:25-28, 31; 13:35-39. "Holy" (chaseth) is better translated as "devout, faithful." Peter quotes Psalm 16:10 and for the word we translate "holy," he uses the Greek word hosios. This word can be translated undefiled by sin, free from wickedness, pure, holy. The Lord is therefore sinless. The Jews hearing Peter speak did not contest this meaning though they had other reasons for denying Christ.

Peter adds that David, who wrote Psalm 16, "looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ. … This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses" (Acts 2:31-32). Putting these verses together one would get the sense that the Messiah is not simply One who from time to time does righteous deeds, but instead, He is One who is holy and righteous innately. This is His very nature. This is why He could go to the cross for sinners. He was not dying for His sins but for the sins of others.

The Holy Child ("Thing")
At His birth the Lord would be given a special designation by the gospel writer Luke. The angel said to Mary, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you and for that reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35). This is a powerful verse that is more understandable when translated. The word "offspring" (some translations say "thing") is a Present, Passive, Participle, nominative, singular, neuter, from the Greek word gennao. By using the neuter gender, the point is the entire process of the birthing, the birthing process, now being performed in Mary's womb; it is a total holy happening! The Spirit is causing a holy birthing process that will activate conception and bring forth the Holy Son of God!

The passage is emphasizing the fact that the very work of the conception of the Christ child, the Son of God, is a holy work. He is Holy by His nature from the starting point of His earthly life.

The Spotless Lamb of God
The sacrificial lambs in the Old Testament all point to the coming of the true substitutionary Lamb of God for sin, the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ! In the New Testament Christ is called "the Lamb of God" (John 1:29, 36). Peter puts it this way: We are saved "with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ" (1 Pet. 1:19).

The sacrificial lambs were to be kept in a pen in order to test if they were blemished or sickly. This pictures of course the holiness, the sinlessness, of the Messiah who did not die for His sins, but for the sins of the world. That the sacrificial lamb was to be spotless is mentioned often in the Old Testament. For example: Exod. 29:1; Deut. 17:1; Ezek. 41:22; 43:23; 46:13; Heb. 9:14.

Righteousness comes through Christ who is the Righteous One
Paul points out that when we were helpless, because of sin, at just the right time Christ died for us, we who were the ungodly (Rom. 5:6). In contrast, Christ was the godly One! God loved us as sinners by sending Christ to die for us (v. 8). Because of Him "the gift of righteousness reigns through the One, Jesus Christ" (v. 17). He could not impart righteousness unless He Himself was, and is, righteous! By the obedience of Him, the One, "the many will be made righteous" (v. 19). If Christ was a sinner He would be dying for His own sins and not ours!

The Major Passages of Scripture
The New Testament continues this theme of the holiness of Christ. It points out the fact He was innately sinless, but also, that He practiced no sin in His life.

2 Corinthians 5:21. This verse tells us that God made Christ sin, He who knew no sin, on our behalf, "that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." Our sins were placed on Him. Christ was not innately a sinner but the Father placed on Him our sins so that He could be a substitute, carrying our sins under the wrath of God. In exchange, we receive the righteousness of God through and because of Him, placed on our account. He takes our sins; He gives to us His righteousness! This transaction does not make Him a sinner. He simply became a sin bearer. Being One without sin, He could die for others. He was not dying for His sins!

Hebrews 4:15. Christ could sympathize and understand us as sinners because He was also tempted "in all things as we are, yet without sin." Christ could not sin because He was the Holy One of God! He never responded with sin. Sin was not part of His constitution! "Sin had nothing in Him; He was free and separate from it." (Alford's Greek Testament, p. 89)

Hebrews 7:26-27. Jesus was "a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens." He was not like the earthly high priests who had to offer sacrifices for their own sins as well as for the people. He did not die "first for His owns sins, and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself." Verse 26 looks at the Lord's character, His nature-holy, innocent, and undefiled. He could not be lumped with the rest of mankind which was sinful. He was separated from them, though a part of them in His humanity but not with a sinful nature.

Hebrews 9:14. By the eternal Spirit of God, Christ offered up Himself, and His blood, as a sacrifice; He "offered Himself without blemish to God." Like the unblemished sacrificial lamb of the Old Testament offerings, Jesus was sinless and holy. As people examined His life they could find no flaw, from a sinful nature, and as well could not accuse Him of any sinful acts! This idea is repeated in 1 Peter 1:19. Christ offered Himself "with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ."

1 John 3:5. The purpose of Christ's first coming was "in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin." This verse is not focusing on sinful acts but on the fact of the essence of sin, the sin principle that controls all human beings. Christ was part of the human race but the sin principle was not part of His character or nature. The Lord Jesus was sinless in every way and that is why He could substitute for sinful people under the wrath of God. God's judgment fell on Christ because He was carrying our sins. He was a substitute though innocent, just like the sinless and innocent sacrificial lambs in the Old Testament.

"Christ was manifested to take away all sins, being Himself sinless. He came in the flesh to take away by one act, and entirely, all sin. Sin is altogether alien from Christ. He became incarnate that He might blot it out. He has no stain of it on Himself. He took away our sins by bearing them Himself." (Alford, pp. 464-65) Christ's sinlessness is one of the key proofs of His deity. He is not an ordinary man; He is the God/man, holy and perfect, and therefore able to die in our stead under the wrath of God. When we belief in that redemptive sacrifice, and trust in Him, we are given His righteousness, and receive eternal, unending new life!

Thursday, October 29, 2009


The administration of Barack Hussein Obama has just appointed what he says is "Two devout Muslims" to the Department of Homeland Security! Would the government ever call a Jew or a Christian "devout"? What in the world is going on? And since the terror against America and Israel is coming from the theology of orthodox Islam, how could such an appointment be justified? Our government is in denial, denying that what is taking place is really religious and theological! This fact is being covered over and ignored. The larger question: How do we stop the madness now going on in Washington? – Dr. Mal Couch (10-09)

The Inspired Prophecy of The Book of Daniel

The Issue: The book of Daniel for centuries has been under fire by the liberal critics and even often by conservative scholars. Daniel, along with Genesis and Deuteronomy, are regularly attacked for various reasons. But specifically, Daniel is attacked because of the incredible and accurate 70 Weeks of Daniel prophecy in chapter 9, and the detailed predictions of chapter 11 that were prophesied to come upon Israel in the period between the Old and the New Testaments.

Chapter 9 gives a calendar, time-specific prophecy of the rejection of Christ in the Passion Week just before His arrest and crucifixion. The Bible critic cannot tolerate this specificity because it points clearly to the fact that Daniel is inspired by God (as is all of the books of the Bible). Chapter 11 is also under attack because of the minute details given about what will happen with the nations surrounding Israel hundreds of years before they take place. Again, the authority, inspiration, and inerrancy of Daniel are denied because to admit to these doctrines, the critic has to confess that God is indeed the Author of world history!
The internal evidence of Daniel puts the writing of the book by or before 536 BC. The critic, with intellectual dishonesty, wants to put the writing of the book around 167 BC. By doing this, he can argue that the book was written during the time of the events of chapter 11. Thus, the Holy Spirit who inspired the Word of God is removed from the equation of how the book came about. Daniel then becomes simply a "naturalistic" book penned by mere men, pieced together like a scrap book, without any divine guidance and supernatural authorship!

External Evidence. It is enough to say here that anyone who studies Daniel with fairness can see how what is written came to pass in history. Criticisms about the book and history have long ago vanished. And yet the critic holds out because he cannot admit to the truth that God is at work in the giving of spiritual revelation. The historicity of the book, and its imprint in secular history, can stand the scrutiny of the doubter.

Internal Evidence. This study will focus on all the internal evidence of the book that over and over makes the claim to inspiration. Daniel recorded what he saw in visions, dreams, etc. One must call him a liar and a fraud if there is doubt as to what he is writing down for his readers. In some ways, the internal evidence for inspiration and revelation is the strongest of any book of the Bible.

Here are some important points that must be considered:

God "encircles" Daniel in order to make him a "special prophet":
Daniel and his friends were taken to Babylon in the first deportation of Nebuchadnezzar in 605 BC. The history of Daniel and the captivity of Judah was all orchestrated by God in His mysterious providence. It was the Lord who gave king Jehoiakim into the hands of the Babylonian tyrant, and this included the carrying away of the vessels of the temple that would, to Israel’s shame, be placed in the house of his god in the land of Shinar (1:2).
In God’s sovereignty He had a plan for Daniel. He is not in Babylon by accident. The text reads: "Now God granted Daniel favor and compassion in the sight o the commander of the officials" in the king’s court (v. 9). Along with his three friends, "God gave them knowledge and intelligence in very branch of literature and wisdom" (v. 17a). But it was Daniel who would be given a special gift so that he would be the chosen author of the book that bears his name. The Lord gave Daniel special understanding in all kinds of visions and dreams" (v. 17b).

Daniel’s prayer for a miracle happens:
When Nebuchadnezzar was troubled in his sleep with his night dreams, Daniel was brought forward to give the interpretation. It would only be by the Lord’s special providence that he would be given the message. Daniel knew his God was working through him. He and his friends prayed and requested that "the God of heaven" would reveal the mystery dream that was so bothering the king. Daniel had in mind the fact that the lost pagan wise men of the realm would die if the dream was not explained (2:18). Daniel knew that only his God could "reveal the profound and hidden things because light dwells with Him" (v. 22), therefore he pleaded that the Lord would make known to him and his companions "the king’s matter" (v. 23).

Even the pagan leadership recognized Daniel’s prophetic gift:
Arioch, the king’s lieutenant, was moved by the Lord to recognize the prophetic gift of Daniel. Speaking to the king, Arioch tells him he has found a man "among the exiles" who can interpret the king’s visions (2:25). The king questions Daniel and the young man replied that only God can reveal His own mysteries and revelations, but that too, He will show the interpretation to him (vv. 25-29). In his testimony to Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel makes it know that the revelation was given to him not because of any innate "wisdom residing in" him but simply to make known God’s work in history to this most powerful sovereign! (v. 30).

God’s thoughts will become Daniel’s thoughts which he will share with Nebuchadnezzar. And these revelations will be written down in the book of Daniel. This of course shows that the book is inspired. The messages God gives will be recorded and thus will become what we know as the Word of God!

The Revealer of mysteries uses Daniel:
God will make "known to king Nebuchadnezzar what will take place in the latter days" (2:28). And of course the instrument of this revelation will be Daniel! The dreams and visions were placed in the king’s mind (v. 28b) but then given to Daniel. Daniel, and then Nebuchadnezzar, would be given the final plans of history that will include what God will be doing with His people the Jews, and what He will be carrying out in judgments upon the pagan nations of the world. Daniel would be given both the dream and the interpretation of that dream to give knowledge to the king (v. 36).

The period of written revelation began with Job, then Moses, all the way down to the final book of Scripture, the book of Revelation. The Bible alone gives us the mind of the God of creation! Daniel is not speaking for himself; he is telling us in his book what the Lord has revealed. Nebuchadnezzar understood this and said, "Surely your God is a God of gods and a revealer of mysteries, since you have been able to reveal this mystery" (v. 47).

Prophecy immediately fulfilled:
Because of his pride Nebuchadnezzar would be judged and turned out into the wilderness like an animal (4:25). This is a phenomenon technically in medical terms called zoanthropy. It was given to Daniel to make this prediction of how the king would be so humiliated. This judgment could have been avoided if the king had broken "away from your sins by doing righteousness, and from your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor …" (v. 27). Instead of taking Daniel’s warning, Nebuchadnezzar bragged about "the might of [his] power and … the glory of [his] majesty" (v. 30).

With the boastful words of the king, Daniel’s prophecy came to pass instantly! There was no delay. "Immediately the word concerning Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled" and he was driven out of his palace like an animal (v. 33).

The book of Daniel is an inspired book. And the words of this prophecy and the historic consequences are recorded for us to read centuries later.

Daniel can interpret the written inscription:
Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson was Belshazzar. He was a vicious and licentious king who wallowed in his sins in his court. He paid no attention to what happened previously to his grandfather. The Lord got his attention with the handwriting on the wall displayed during one of his orgies. The king was terrified! But his wife the queen remembered there was a man in Nebuchadnezzar’s court who had a spirit of the holy gods, who was given "illumination, insight, and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods" (5:11). She added that this Jew had "an extraordinary spirit, knowledge and insight, interpretation of dreams, explanation of enigmas and solving of difficult problems" (v. 12).

Daniel was given the interpretation of the inscription on the wall and then told the king the bad news: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN, which meant that God had numbered the days of his kingdom, the king was found deficient, and that this very night the kingdom would be taken over and divided by the Medes and the Persians (vv. 24-28).
Again, this extraordinary event happened before the eyes of hundreds, interpreted by Daniel, and came to pass that very night. It was recorded by Daniel in his book for us to study today!

Daniel writes down his dreams and visions from God:
Daniel recorded his dreams and visions, sometimes in detail and sometimes simply in summary form. This clearly then is written revelation, whether given in full detail or simply summarized. During the reign of Belshazzar the prophet wrote what God showed to him. He stated in the third person: "Daniel saw a dream and vision in his mind as he lay on his bed; then he wrote the dream down and related the following summary of it" (7:1). Daniel did not write all the details but abbreviated the message for later generations to read and study.

What Daniel saw he wrote down. This was specifically stated in chapter 7 when he was given the vision of the coming reign and glorification of the "Son of Man" who entered the throne room of God at His ascension from earth. Daniel keeps saying, "I kept looking …" (vv. 6, 7, 9, 11 (2), 13, 21). He called this vision a revelation (v. 28). As he kept looking his mind was alarmed (v. 15), and he sought to know the exact meaning and "interpretation of these things" (vv. 16, 19).

Daniel generally could "see" the visions God gave him. He "gazed, saw, and observed" what the Lord set before him (8:1-8).

The angels spoke to Daniel with revelations:
Sometimes angelic beings spoke to him in dreams and sometimes they stood to him while he was awake. One angelic being was standing before him and spoke while Daniel was having his vision (7:15-16). He heard the voice of the angel (8:16), was approached by the angel (v. 17), given the messages about "the time of the end" (v. 17). More specifically the angel said: "Behold I am going to let you know what will occur at the final period of the indignation, for it pertains to the appointed time of the end" (v. 19). The visions he received often had to do with "many days in the future" (v. 26).

The angel Gabriel gave Daniel instructions and talked with him in order to give to him "insight with understanding" (9:22). Daniel was to "gain understanding of the vision" of the angel, and in this case, he was given the incredible revelation of what is called the Seventy Weeks prophecy (vv. 22-27). Daniel was to heed the message of this "prophecy" which would set the direction of world history for the end times (vv. 23-24). It would also reveal God’s final timetable judgments and restoration for the Jewish people.

The Lord "inspired" the prophecy of Jeremiah:
Daniel refers to the prophecy of the seer Jeremiah who predicted the seventy year captivity, i.e. the "completion of the desolation" (9:2). He "observed" this in the books, which refer to the sections of Jeremiah’s works that covered a long period of writing time (v. 2). Daniel calls the prophecy of Jeremiah "the word of the Lord to Jeremiah." The concepts of inspiration, authenticity, and revelation were clearly understood by Daniel and by the pious Jews of his day.

Having read Jeremiah’s seventy year captivity prophecy, Daniel became more curious and asks the Lord to reveal more. But before he does, he confesses the sins of Israel before God and claims His "compassion and forgiveness" (vv. 3-19).

The prophets of the past were inspired; they recorded God’s voice:
Daniel points out that God has had other servant prophets who spoke in the Lord’s name to "our kings, our princes, our fathers, and all the people of the land" (9:6), but the nation did not listen. These prophets were inspired and went about speaking the revelation and warnings directly from God to the rebellious population. Daniel is putting his firm stamp on the doctrine of inspiration and revelation of the prophets of the Old Testament.
When the people did not listen to the prophets they were rebelling and being unfaithful toward the Lord. What the prophets gave them was direct revelation from Him. The people did not "walk in His teachings which He set before us through His servants the prophets" (v. 10).

The Law of Moses inspired:
The people also did not listen to Moses. This was tantamount to "disobeying" God’s voice, thus, a curse was poured out upon the people. The Lord had made a judgment oath "which is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, for we have sinned against Him" (9:11). To sin against Him is to fail to keep the laws and words of Moses. God "confirmed His words which He had spoken against us and against our rulers …" (v. 12). Notice, "words" plural! The Bible does not just contain "the big ideas" alone, it contains also the very words of the Lord.

The directives in the law of Moses are specific. For "it is written in the law of Moses, all this calamity has come on us" because we did not give "attention to Thy truth" (v. 13). By not keeping the law of Moses "we have not obeyed His voice" (v. 14).
Conclusion: The writings of Moses are inspired. They are to be obeyed because they constitute His word. They are His truth. And to disobey the written word is "to bring calamity upon us" (v. 13).

Daniel recorded the instructions from God:
An angel from the Lord brought "instruction" from God and "talked with me" in order to give to Daniel "insight with understanding" (9:22). From this Daniel was "to know and discern" the Seventy Week prophecy (v. 25). This he recorded in his book which would become one of the most important prophecies of all of the Word of God!

True "messages" revealed:
In the third year of king Cyrus Daniel was given "a message" that was revealed to him (10:1). It came in the form of a vision that was to give him understanding. The angel (or possibly Christ Himself) was "seen" by Daniel (v. 5), in a vision (v. 7), but as well, he heard the words spoken to him "like the sound of a tumult" (v. 6). Daniel "heard the sound of his words" and then fell on his face (v. 9).

Daniel emphases the fact that the angel spoke "words" (plural) and this constituted a total "word" (singular) of divine information (vv. 11-15). The angel seems to continue his revelations in chapter 11. He says "And now I will tell you the truth …" (11:2). Specific historical revelations are then given about the In-Between-Period of the Testaments, from around 400 BC until the first century. Almost all commentaries believe verses 36-45 are about the Antichrist. The apostle Paul confirms this by quoting this section in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12.

Daniel to seal up the revelation: 12:4, 9
Daniel is told: "Conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time" (12:4). This tells us that the book of Daniel was seen by the prophet as a whole, an entire revelation, and not as a patch work of prophecies just thrown together. It is an entire revelation and its full meaning was to be concealed until the end times. Daniel would then die and "go his way" (v. 9). It would seem if now, slowly in our day, the revelation of his book is starting to make more and more sense. Daniel should be taken seriously because after all, the book is the very Word of God!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Order of Regeneration and Faith, and the Issue of Faith as a Gift of God! A Second Look!

For some reason it won’t go away—the issues dealing with the order of faith and regeneration and faith as a gift of God. If one believes that the saved are "chosen before the foundation of the world," these issues seem to be settled by the scriptural evidence. But the arguments persist. Bible scholars are split on the issues but those who hold to the absolute sovereignty and working providence of God in His world, all seem to come down on that side that God initiates the regeneration and the faith processes!

To repeat again, I find at least two verses that need to be examined with the idea that regeneration comes before faith. One is Titus 3:5. "He saved us by the washing of the again birth (born again, regeneration) and the renewing (remaking) of the Holy Spirit." The "again birth" in Greek is actually palinggevesia translated as "regeneration." While faith by God’s sovereignty is in the mix of the salvation process, Paul does not bring it up here in this verse. He just goes straight to the theological work of what "being born again" means. I also fall back on 2 Thessalonians 2:13 where Paul shows that we are chosen by God FROM THE BEGINNING FOR SALVATION "by means of" sanctification by the Spirit and "by means of" FAITH IN THE TRUTH. The sanctification of the Spirit would be the new birth (being born again) and the faith is our response brought about by God’s sovereignty. I do not understand what you mean about "unlimited atonement." I do not see the relationship of that with the issue of the order of regeneration and faith. I do not see the connection. I must be brain dead on this issue but I just don’t understand the big deal!
What I teach from the Greek text is that faith is merely the instrument by which we are saved, but it is clearly the gift of God. A. A. Hodge writes: "Faith is the gift of God—Eph. 2:8; Phil. 1:29." Thiessen writes:
From the divine side: The writer of Hebrews speaks of Jesus as being "the author and perfecter of faith" (Heb. 12:2). Clearly, faith is a gift of God (Rom. 12:3; 2 Pet. 1:1), sovereignly given by the Spirit of God (1 Cor. 12:9; cf. Gal. 5:22). Paul speaks of the whole aspect of salvation as being a gift of God (Eph. 2:8), and surely that includes faith. The former president of Wheaton College (where I attended and Walvoord also), James Buswell, said in his Systematic Theology: "Saving faith is a Gift of God. In Eph. 2:8 touto is neuter, showing that it is not merely grace, and not merely faith, but the entire concept of grace accepted by faith, which must be regarded as a gift of God."
Shedd in his Systematic Theology writes:
Election does not rest upon faith..., any more than upon a foreseen outward work. Faith is a gift of God to man (Eph. 1:8); therefore it cannot first be a gift of man to God, as the ground and reason of his electing act. If election depends upon foreseen faith, God does not first choose man, but man first chooses God, which is contrary to John 15:16. The Bible represents God as the author alone of election, regeneration, faith, and repentance (Rom. 9:16; 8:7; John 1:12-13; 3:5; 6:44, 65). I say what the Bible says. Both "saving" faith and faith "for Christian living" comes from God.

Before beginning to answer we must look at the issue of "Who is in charge" of this world, both in macro-management and micro-management? It is God! Whatever He has decreed will come to pass in every detail because He is at work. This world does not run on some kind of self-existence. He controls it and is bringing it to its conclusion.

Daniel said "And it is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings..." (Dan. 2:21).

After being restored, Nebuchadnezzar said "And all the inhabitants of the earth are as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?'" (4:35).

Now let's look at some passages on the giving of faith for the Christian life:
1 Corinthians 12:9. As those who are gifted in the body of Christ, some are given the gift of faith by the Spirit. This is not saving faith but a special dose of trust for some (but not all) for a specific reason: "To each one (individual) is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good" (v. 7). This gift of faith is given by God's sovereignty. "But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills" (v. 11), and, "God has placed the members, each one of them in the body [of Christ], just as He desired" (v. 18). So the question is: Who is in charge?

Now concerning the giving of faith for salvation:

Acts 13:48. "And as many as had been appointed to eternal life BELIEVED." The word appointed is a Perfect Passive Participle of the Greek word tasso. It could be translated: "And for those who have been progressively positioned, determined, classified, inscribed, enrolled in the past [with the action coming up to the present], these believed." Believed is an aorist tense of "pisteuo" and could be translated: "They definitely believed, began then to believe."

What caused the belief? It was the "positioning," the "appointment." This work started sometime in the past and came to fruition at some point in the present!

Most of the great commentators on Acts 13:48 of the past and the present agree that this passage is saying that salvation faith comes from God's appointment. For example:
  • John Polhill: "These Gentiles took an active role in believing, in committing themselves to Christ; but it was in response to God's Spirit moving in them, convicting them, appointing them for life. All salvation is ultimately only by the grace of God."
  • Mal Couch: In my Handbook to the Book of Acts I wrote: The verse "implies the sovereign work of God in salvation. The great Greek scholar J. A. Alexander believes it scandalous the ‘violent attempts which have been made to eliminate the doctrine of election and predestination from this verse.'"
  • C. K. Barrett: "Those believed who were appointed (the passive implies, by God) to do so."
  • F. F. Bruce: "The Gentiles who heard and believed the gospel—all in fact, who had been enrolled for eternal life in the records of heaven then believed (for this appears to be the sense of the words here used)."
  • Steven Ger (in my 21st Century Commentary series): "Luke uses the term ‘appointed' to reveal that God elects both Jew and Gentile according to His sovereign purpose. It is difficult to miss the doctrine of God's sovereign election in this verse."
Philippians 1:29 and Ephesians 2:8 are equally compelling. The Word of God is clear: The full package of salvation, including faith, is from start to finish the work of God!

My final thought is, "Let God be God!" He is totally in charge of salvation, from start to finish. And the best of the old giant Bible teachers concur on this issue!

Monday, October 26, 2009

What Brings God Glory?

All Glory Belongs to God 

The first mention of God's glory is found in Exodus 16:7. Moses said to the grumbling Israelites, "in the morning you will see the glory of the Lord." Psalm 148 is the praise psalm that gives Him honor in all He has made. The psalmist writes, let all give Him honor, "Let them praise the name of the Lord, for His name alone is exalted; His glory is above earth and heaven" (v. 13). 

The book of Revelation contains many anthems of praise to His glory. A heavenly chorus in cries out, "Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God" (19:1). The word hallelujah
is a Hebrew composite word meaning "Praise the everexisting One!" The word is a triumphant shout used at the end of many of the Psalms. The apostolic church picked this up for its use from the Hellenistic synagogues, and it became familiar even to the most unlearned of the early Christians.1 While there are eight Hebrew words for glory, the most common is the word kah' vohd. In the non-theological sense the word refers to weigthtiness, impressive appearance, something that has splendor, magnificence, like the forests of Lebanon (Isa. 10:18; 35:3). This word is the best way the Hebrews could describe the magnificence of the Lord, His grandeur and greatness. If something in the physical world was majestic, how much more the glory of the Lord!

The Greek word for glory is doxa and is parallel to the Old Testament word. The word is related to the idea "to think." Glory and honor are given to God when one thinks about Him! The word doxa may be translated splendor, magnificent .In the New Testament alone the word glory is used over 240 times as both verb and noun. Concerning the Father and glory: He is to be glorified forever (Phil. 4:20); feared and given glory (Rev. 14:7); His abode is glory (2 Cor. 4:;17); He is glorified in the church (Eph. 3:21); The Lord's salvation comes by the glorious gospel of Christ (2 Cor. 4:4); sinners fall short of His glory (Rom. 3:23); Christ was raised by the glory of the Father (6:4); and salvation brings forth "the praise of the glory of His grace " (Eph.1:6, 12, 14); and His glory will illumine the eternal New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:23). Putting it simply, He is the Father of glory (Eph. 1:17).

In the Old Testament it is said that: the Lord's glory filled His temple and house (2 Chron. 7:2), He is a shield and glory to David (Ps. 3:3); His name is to be glorified (66:2); His glory will be set among the nations (Ezek. 39:21); and He will be glorified in the midst of Israel (Zech. 2:5). It is said, "He who is the glory of Israel does not life or change His mind" (1 Sam. 15:29). The heavens declare His glory (Ps. 19:1); the angelic seraphs cry, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of His glory" (Isa. 6:3).
God's glory is unending. It never stops, nor is it diminished. While it is true to a degree people may receive glory,
the Bible, … mainly speaks of God's glory. When it does it refers to what God is in his essential being or nature. That is to say, God's glory is simply the inescapable "weight" of the sheer intrinsic Godness of God, inherent in the attributes essential to him as the Deity. As an application of this idiom, the Bible often substitutes the word "glory" for a specific attribute of God, the attribute intended having then to be determined from the context.2 His Son brings Him Glory The Lord Jesus brings glory to His heavenly Father, both by His obedience unto death, and when His millennial reign begins. For example, when He takes control of the earthly kingdom, the Son of Man will be given "dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples and nations, and men of every language might serve Him" (Dan. 7:14). His throne is called "a glorious throne" (Matt. 25:31).

Jesus is due His own glory, but He also reflects the glory of His Father, as when He manifested His "glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father" (John 1:14). When on earth He said of Himself, "'I did 'not seek My glory,'" but came to show the Father who is the One who judges (6:50). With certain miracles like the raising of Lazarus, both Christ and His Father were to receive glory. He said to Mary and Martha, "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified by it" (11:4).

Peter closes his first letter by speaking of "the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ" (1 Pet. 5:10).

The Salvation of the Church brings Him Glory
It is said of God the Father: "to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever" (Eph. 3:21). The church receives the "righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God" (Phil. 1:11), and because of Jesus, God supplies all the needs of the believer "according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus" (4:19).

The church is the redeemed company of Jews and Gentiles, who have been called out to salvation in this dispensation. This is a unique body, a special time, and an ingathering that is taking place worldwide. When the church age is over, the Lord God will particularly receive a great reception of honor and glory, but that very same glory will also be bestowed upon Christ. In the heavenly chorus singing just before the tribulation begins in Revelation 6, around the throne of God we hear,
"Worthy art Thou, our Lord [Jesus] and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy will they existed, and were created". (v. 11) Israel will bring Him Glory
No man, nor the nation of Israel, has intrinsic and innate glory . God in the Old Testament is Himself called by Samuel "the Glory" of the nation of Israel. In a rebuke for his stubbornness, Samuel reminded Saul, that the Lord was first of all looking for obedience, even above some statement of glorifying His name. God Himself is sufficient Glory for His people! Samuel said, "Also the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind" (1 Sam. 15:29).

In the book of Isaiah, to Israel the Lord calls Himself "your Redeemer, and the one who formed you [Israel] from the womb" (Isa. 44:24). In a future prophecy in verses 27-23, He says "the Lord will redeem Jacob and in Israel He will show forth His glory." When that redemption takes place for the Jewish people, the Lord says "I shall set My glory among the nations; and all the nations will see My judgment" (Ezek. 39:21).
When Ezekiel saw the millennial temple in a vision, he cried out, "And the Spirit lifted me up and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the Lord filled the house" (43:5).

Though Israel has been a sinful, rebellious, and scattered people, their re-gathering will bring glory to God for His grace and mercy toward them. He will be honored again through their redemption that will be witnessed by all the nations.

The completion of History will bring Him Glory
When the millennial kingdom begins, "the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea" (Hab. 2:14). This is the moment when the world will know of God's glory, "When, in God's time, He manifests Himself so that men acknowledge His Sovereignty, all violence will be swept from the earth."3 When this kingdom begins, God will gather the peoples of the earth. "The time is coming to gather all nations and tongues. And they shall come and see My glory. … [the tribes of earth] will declare My glory among the nations" (Isa. 66:18-19). On this passage the rabbis comment:
God's glory and power will be manifest over all the nations of the world who, as a tribute to His Sovereignty, will bring, with many marks of respect and honour, all the Israelites who lived among them in exile.4 Following the millennium, and the Great White Throne Judgment, the New Jerusalem comes down from heaven, "having the glory of God" (Rev. 21:11), with that glory illuminating the city (v. 23). The coming of this eternal New Jerusalem, history is capped off and finished, as we know it. The Lord will have the last word as history comes to an end, and He will receive glory and honor throughout the eons of eternity.

God is worthy of Worship
When the temple was dedicated by Solomon, the Scriptures tell us God sent fire down from heaven and consumed the burnt offer and the sacrifices, "and the glory of the Lord filled the house" (2 Chron. 7:1). The people fell back when the glory of the Lord filled the temple, and everyone "worshipped and gave praise to the Lord, saying, 'Truly He is good, truly His lovingkindness is everlasting" (v. 3). When the temple was restored, and Ezra was reading the Law to the crowd, "they bowed low and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground" (Neh. 8:6).

Throughout the book of Revelation, multitudes in heaven saw God in His throne room, and burst forth with praise and appreciation for who He is. Angels and the redeemed fall "on their faces before the throne and worshiped God" (Rev. 7:11). As the end of the tribulation is in sight, those in glory with the Lord again fall down and give Him glory and worship (11:16).
God's glory has attended Him from eternity past, and His glory shared with His Son and His Spirit will continue through eternity future (John 17:5; 1 Peter 5:10; 2 Peter 3:18). The Son has returned to His glory with the Father (Heb. 2:9). God now calls us to His eternal glory in Christ (1 Peter 5:10). Christ will bring "many sons to glory" (Heb. 2:10; cf. 2 Tim. 2:10). Then believers will forever be in glory and see the glory that the Father has given the Son (John 17:22, 24).5 Finally,
it is important to underscore the truth that when we speak of God's "infinite, eternal, unchangeable" being, etc., we are speaking of those attributes that comprise what the Scriptures intend when they speak of God's glory. That is to say, God's glory is the sum total of all his attributes as well as any one of his attributes. For the creature to deny him that without which he would no longer be God. Or to ascribe to him any attribute which he himself does not expressly claim to have, which ascription can only cancel out some attribute which he does claim to have, is again to represent him as something less than he is and thus is to attack his glory. For this reason it is imperative to listen carefully to God's description of himself in Scripture.6 _________________
  1. Mal Couch, gen. ed., A Bible Handbook to Revelation (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2001), 288.
  2. Robert L. Reymond, A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1998), 166.
  3. A. Cohen, The Twelve Prophets (London: Soncino, 1970), 222.
  4. ________, Isaiah (London: Soncino, 1972), 324.
  5. Mal Couch, gen. ed., The Fundamentals for the Twenty-First Century (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2000), 581.
  6. Robert L. Reymond, A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, 165.


The August 18, 2007 edition of World Magazine points out what I have been saying for years now. The socialist and communist garbage has been coming from our secular colleges and universities. Many faculty are Tenured Bigots who despise the Christian students in their classrooms. And they love to counter what the Christians are saying. By survey, it is shown that 53% of the faculty have an "unfavorable view toward Christian students." This is reported by Gary Tobin who is the president of the Institute for Jewish and Community Research. He writes: "The prejudice is so deep that faculty do not have any problem justifying [their hatred]. They tried to dismiss it and said they had a good reason for it." Tobin added: "I don't think that if I'd uncovered bigotry or social dissonance about Latinos, women, blacks, or Jews, they would have had that same response."

   Our universities have an "anti-evangelical" bias. The faculty hates what they call "Bible thumpers" or members of the "God squad."

   -- Dr. Mal Couch
(Oct., 09)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Restrainer

The question so often asked is, who is the restrainer of 2 Thessalonians 2:6-9? Various views have been offered with a wide range of possibilities that add intrigue to the subject of Bible prophecy. Because the suggestions have been so broad throughout the long history of the church, the answer has often eluded all those who tried to interpret the prophetic Scriptures. 

Some of the church fathers held that the restrainer was the power of the Roman Empire or some other form of law or governmental authority. Others thought it might be the moral restraining influence of the church itself. Many have held that it was the witness of the Christian who kept back the coming forth of the Antichrist. And finally, there are even those who ascribed the work of Satan as a form of restraint on the appearance of the evil personality known as the "man of lawlessness" or "the son of destruction" (v. 3). 

Dispensationalists point to the fact that the restrainer must be a unique, divine individual who is quite capable to hold back the coming of the evil worker who will exercise great power and authority over the religions of the entire world (v. 4). This would certainly be the Antichrist as described by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-9. The Roman Empire would not qualify because it is in itself a terror on the earth, but too, the Antichrist will actually rule and control the revived Roman Empire and use it to extend his rebellious authority worldwide. Furthermore, John F. Walvoord writes, "the Tribulation period is revealed as an era of absolute government in which everything social, religious, and economic is regimented" by the new Roman power. (40) 

In regard to the church Gerald B. Stanton says: "The church is at best an imperfect organism, perfect in standing before God, to be sure, but experientially before men, not always blameless, not always beyond reproach. Similar to human government, the church is being used of God to hinder the full manifestation of the Evil One in this present age, but he who effectively restrains is certainly not the believer himself, but the One who empowers the believer, the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 16:7; 1 Cor. 6:19). Apart from his presence, neither church nor government would have the ability to hinder the program and power of Satan." (61) 

A closer look at the 2 Thessalonian 2 passage will help answer the question as to the identity of the one who restrains. In 2:6 the Greek text best reads: "and the thing now holding (him) down (or restraining him) you know, so that he (is) to be revealed in his own time." Verse 7 says: "for the mystery of this lawlessness is already working only until the one now holding (him) down (or restraining him) shall get out of the way." The Greek word katecho is a compound word coming from kata (down) and echo (to have or to hold). From this we get the thought "to hold down or to restrain." Katecho can have the meaning: To hold back from action, to keep under control, to deprive of physical liberty, as by shackling, or arresting a criminal. The restrainer then is preventing the Antichrist from "breaking out" until his appointed time, which would be somewhere during or just before the beginning of the tribulation. 

In verse 6 to katechon is a neuter present participle, being translated "the thing now holding (him) down (or restraining him)," though in verse 7 the masculine present participle is used, ho katechon, and should be translated "the one now holding (him) down (or restraining him." This grammatical difference would certainly exclude the church because church is a feminine word in Greek. Some think the feminine gender in verse 6 refers to the Roman Empire while the masculine in verse 7 has to do with the Roman emperor. But this view is not plausible. While the word spirit (pneuma) is in the neuter gender, but when referring to the Holy Spirit the masculine pronoun is used. This is a common way of describing the Spirit of God in the New Testament. In John 14:26 the Spirit whom the Father will send in the name of Jesus is called the Paraclete (the One called alongside, the Counselor). The Paraclete is a masculine noun but the Spirit is a neuter noun. "The purposeful change in grammar emphasizes the personality of the Holy Spirit. There would be no reason to change from the neuter to the masculine unless the Spirit was understood to be a person." (Paul Enns, 249) 

The point of the 2 Thessalonian 2 passage seems clear. The Man of Sin, the Antichrist, cannot come forth until this restraining power gets out of the way! By divine providence, and by all the evidence of the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit characteristically restrains and strives against sin (Gen. 6:3). The Spirit presently abides in the world in a special way in this age through the church. The failure to see the restrainer as the Holy Spirit is another sign of the inadequate understanding of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit in general and His work in relation to the larger providential movements of God in human history. (John F. Walvoord, 44-45) 

One objection to the Holy Spirit as the restrainer is the phrase at the end of 2 Thessalonians 2:7 that says: "until he is taken out of the way." Many argue that it does not sound right that the Spirit of God is taken away or removed. But is this what the passage is saying? The Greek word translated "taken" is genetai and is an aorist middle subjunctive from ginomai, a deponent verb. Such verbs appear in the middle or passive form but are still translated as active, meaning the subject (which in this case is the restrainer) is doing the action. "The deponent verb does not denote removal by an outside force but rather a voluntary act on the part of the restrainer." (D. Edmond Hiebert, 207) "To be taken out of the way" should better read "to get out of the way." (R. C. H. Lenski, 421) The Holy Spirit is going to move out of the way. He is not going to be taken out of the way. 

When the Holy Spirit moves aside, or out of the way, "then that lawless one (the Antichrist) will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders" (vv. 8-9). The Antichrist will remain active throughout the seven year tribulation, but at the second coming of Christ, he will be slain and thrown into the lake of fire (Rev. 19:20). Known as the beast in Revelation, the Antichrist who deceived many by "the mark" will be tormented night and day with those who worshipped him and his image (14:9-11).
While it is probably correct to say the restrainer moves aside at the time of the rapture of the church so that the "in his time (the Antichrist) may be revealed" (2 Thess. 2:6), more than likely the Holy Spirit is still on earth to bring people to salvation. While the church is here He is active as the power working within the believers. However, those who come to the Lord in the tribulation are not part of the body of Christ that is removed to glory at the sound of the trumpet. The sound of the trumpet is the signal for the rapture and the resurrection of the church (1 Thess. 4:13-18).

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Beliefs That Deny God

The theism that we have by divine revelation gives the knowledge of an eternal, all-wise God, who exists in three Persons, and, who loves mankind so much that He created a gracious plan for eternal salvation. The triune God is revealed in limited form in the Old Testament, and more completely by progressive revelation in the New Testament.
Other theistic views are generally polytheistic, naturalistic, or pantheistic, and originate from the imaginations of the depraved human mind. Scripture tells us that our original ancestors, "even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or [gave] thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures" (Rom. 1:21-23). 

There are those who deny any divine being altogether. David said of them: "The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God,’ they are corrupt, and have committed abominable injustice" (Ps. 53:1). 

From what is stated above, we observe that the spectrum of unbelief can be both broad and deep. 

Atheism. Of atheism A. A. Hodge writes:
Atheism, according to its etymology, signifies a denial of the being of God. It was applied by the ancient Greeks to Socrates and other philosophers, to indicate that they failed to conform to the popular religion. In the same sense it was applied to the early Christians. Since the usage of the term Theism has been definitely fixed in all modern languages, atheism necessarily stands for a denial of the existence of a personal Creator and Moral Governor.1 The apostle Paul uses the word atheos only once. He speaks of the Gentiles who had no hope and were "without God" in the world (Eph. 2:12). Paul also says natural men are "haters of God" ("theostugys") (Rom. 1:30). And the lost are described as the godless sixteen times throughout the Scriptures. Job says, "the hope of the godless will perish" (Job 8:13). Though not all men are atheists, it is true that, "There is none who seeks for God" (Rom. 3:11b).

Agnosticism. The etymology of the word means simply not knowing. This view sets out to discredit any attempt to understand God. It stands firm in the belief that, if there is a God, one can never know of Him with certainty. "It is negative in every particular and therefore destructive in its effect upon truth which is gained by the normal functions of the human faculties."2

The spirit of agnosticism is reflected in the idolatrous Israelites who thought God, if He existed, could not see them worshipping their carved idols in the dark rooms of their houses. "The Lord does not see us; the Lord has forsaken the land" (Ezek. 8:12). Yet He asked the Jewish people, "’Am I a God who is near, and not a God far off? Can a man hide himself in hiding places, so I do not see him?’ declares the Lord" (Jer. 23:23).

However, to know God in an intimate way is to come to Him through the revelation of His Word. Though nature reveals His handiwork, to know Him spiritually one must come to Him in spirit, and in humility! And then the issue of sin must be dealt with through the intercessory work of Christ on the cross. Jesus becomes the way to finding God!
Chafer lists other isms and philosophies that attempt to cloud the knowledge of the true God, or deny His existence and being altogether: 3

Evolution. All matter, the universe, and life on earth, evolved by chance without the working of a wise God. Matter is unintelligent and mindless, but eons of time have brought about an "accidental" order of inter-locking forces. All of the mysteries of the universe are explained by random, blind happenings.

Materialism. Generally evolutionary in principle, materialism goes further and argues that nothing but natural laws rule the universe. It denies the existence of the soul, any form of spiritual realities, and denies the need of a God, or even an Absolute Spirit, who governs His creation. Any spiritual or mental life comes about only by physical or chemical synthesis. If science cannot explain reality, there is no other higher explanation to be sought.

Polytheism. This view holds that there are many gods, though there may be an ultimate deity that rules over the spiritual pantheon. Animism, fetichism, and Hinduism itself, are the most obvious expressions of polytheism.

Idealism and Realism. In idealism, nothing exists except in the thought or impression found in the mind. With realism, all objects of which the consciousness is aware are realities. There are no other realities. However, in Christianity there is such a thing as spiritualism realism, and this is found only in the Word of God.

Pantheism. This is found in the theology of many Indian cultures, and also in the religion of Hinduism. Matter originates everything and is even "God." Both Hinduism and Buddhism are pantheistic. In Hinduism, the entire universe is the Creator, comes from the Creator, and returns to him. The ultimate glory is to be "absorbed" into the deity, and lose all conscientiousness and distinction.
Pantheism has become the inheritance of every nation on earth and has curses the streams of human thought beyond all estimation. It assumes the eternity of matter and the absurdity that matter has power to originate life and spirit. … According to pantheism, the potter and the clay are one and the same thing—if they exist at all.4 Deism. To deists, God has wound up the cloak of creation, and walked away from its daily processes. God is not near in creation but transcends it. Deism rejects the Scriptures, personal prayer, and the providential working of God in His world. All knowing of God is restricted to deductions that can be made, with limitation, from creation.

Positivism. Human knowledge is restricted only to what be can see by observation—by phenomena. There can be no spiritual or philosophical speculations about God, an afterlife, or eternity. One just exists!

Monism. Everything is reduced to one source of being and existence; a one ultimate principle or substance. This has pantheistic shades, but is very uncomplicated and impersonal. The universe, the physical, and spiritual, are all explained by one driving force!

Dualism. In theological dualism, there are two compelling forces at work in the universe: two eternal and opposing principles, or divine beings, one good and the other evil. This view is found in ancient Zoroastrianism, and Gnosticism. In early Christianity, Nestorianism held that a divine Logos dwelt in Christ. He possessed two personalities, a divine and a physical. In Chinese theology, dualism was expressed in the two extremes, the good and bad—the Ying and the Yang!

Pluralism. There is a denial of a one-world unity. Pluralism denies the unity of the world and the universe. It argues that the mind makes its own world, and there are as many worlds as there are minds!
Chafer concludes:
Such in general are the naturalistic arguments pro and con for the existence of God, and the philosophical issues which they engender. From this, as important as it is, the spiritual mind turns with relief to the complete satisfying, and authoritative revelation of God as set forth in His own Word.5
  1. A. A. Hodge, Outlines of Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1957), 46-47.
  2. Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, 8 Vols. (Dallas: Dallas Seminary Press, 1976), 1:165.
  3. Ibid., 1:166-78.
  4. Lewis Sperry Chafer, 1:174-75.
  5. Ibid., 178.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Lord's Supper

The View of the Early Church
Examining the doctrine of the Lord's Supper, or any other teaching of the church, the student of Scripture must be careful to avoid buying without reservation what the early church taught. As with the church today, the bishops and elders were products of their own time and could easily slip into views that were not biblical, as they did with the extreme views of Gnosticism or mysticism. Very early Ignatius (35-107) was teaching the efficaciousness and necessity of the Lord's Supper for salvation. What he taught on the subject about Communion made a lasting impression on the early and Medieval Church. Later, even the Reformers struggled to see this ordinance as simply a memorial and not a requirement for redemption. 

Many believe Ignatius probably knew some of the disciples. However he certainly would not have gotten his aberrant views on Communion from them! Because of his influence, and the fact that he was highly revered, he was martyred in Rome around 110 or 115. On the Lord's Supper, he coined the term Eucharist (imparting good grace) which was seen as the "Communion ceremony" that constituted "a major aspect of the process of salvation."1 As he put it, the Lord's Supper became the ceremonial instrument that imparted eternal life—the medicine of immortality. The Eucharist became the "Communion meal," a sacrament—a means of grace that brought about a transformation of the one who was partaking.2 By all the evidence, this view became the guiding doctrinal principle for most of the early churches for both the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic persuasions. 

The Word Mass
Isidore of Saville (d. 636) first used the word missa to describe the partaking of the Lord's Supper. The Latin word refers to a "dismissal." The people in the audience who were not members of the congregation were dismissed or asked to leave when the Eucharist was celebrated. The word missa appears to be related to the Greek word leitourgia (liturgy), and in time, both words were used to describe the entire Eucharistic ceremony. 

The Middle Ages
The doctrine of the Eucharist was fleshed out and put into a total teaching during the predominant period of the growth and development of the Roman Catholic Church doctrinal system. By around A.D. 1200, this teaching became the all pervading belief that became the glue for the Catholicism. It taught that at the "tabernacle table" (the altar) in all churches, "the Lord is truly present, and so speak of the 'real presence' of Jesus in the Eucharist."3 And, "It is in the Eucharist that Jesus manifests himself and gives himself to his church more fully."4 Catholic theologians use John 6:53-57 to defend this view. The Lord said, "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves." Jesus explained earlier what He meant by this. He previously said, "I am the bread of life; he who come to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst." The coming to Him is the eating and the believing in Him is the drinking of Him! However, the Catholic Church ignored the full reading of the verses and the context of what Christ was trying to get across to the Jews. 

Salvation can be lost for the Catholic who does not partake of the Lord's Supper for an extended period of time. The Church says, "The Eucharist cures the diseases of the soul by purging it of venial sins and the temporal punishments due to sin. The remission of venial sins and of the temporal punishments of sins takes place immediately."5 The Catholic view of the Lord's Supper is labeled Transubstantiation, meaning that the real presence of Christ is "transferred" to the bread and wine, though both elements remain physically the same. 

The Reformation
Some of the Reformers attempted to retain some of the mystical elements in the Lord's Supper from the Catholic view. Luther held to certain mystical views and felt very strongly that the believer must take communion in order to finish the salvation process. Calvin taught that the entire person of Christ was in the communion not simply His flesh and blood. However, even the representation of the flesh and blood was neither physical nor local, "but only through the Holy Spirit, affecting the soul graciously."6 The "feeding" of the believer was not by the mouth but by faith of the soul! Many of the Reformers were content to see the Lord's Supper as a "remembrance" as described in Scripture. 

The Biblical Doctrine of the Lord's Supper
The Lord's Supper is an abbreviation of the ceremony of Passover commanded of the Jews in Exodus 12. Before leaving Egypt, the people were redeemed from bondage by the offering of a lamb or goat (v. 5). On the night of the escape from slavery the Lord passed through the land of Egypt and said, "When I see the blood [of the sacrificed animal] I will pass over you [the Israelites]" (v. 13). Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would be that sacrificial lamb and substitute for sin. He wrote, "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" (53:6). God's Anointed, His "Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities" (v. 11). 

Seeing Christ coming toward him, John the Baptist referred to Isaiah 53:6-7 when he said, "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29, 36). Taking Passover for the last time with His disciples, Jesus made it clear to these followers that He was about to die for sinners as the Passover lamb! While distributing the bread and wine to them He said:
This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me. ... This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood." (Luke 22:19-20) The biblical doctrine of the Lord's Supper is spelled out in great detail in 1 Corinthians 11:17-34. Apparently the Corinthian church had terribly distorted the ceremony. They used it as an excuse for eating and drinking, completely ignoring its spiritual significance for the assembly. Because most of the members of the Corinthian congregation were Gentiles, they may have had only limited understanding of its relation to the Jewish Passover. In these verses the apostle Paul sets forth a series of guidelines that are meant to make the Lord's Supper convey spiritual meaning to the entire church:

The Lord's Supper may or may not be taken at every church meeting. This may be Paul's emphasis when he writes: "When you come together" (vv. 18, 33), "For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup" (v. 26). Some churches believe the Lord's Supper should be taken every Sunday, but this may not be required by the apostle.

The Lord's Supper should not be taken when the church is going through strife and division. The Corinthian church had ongoing problems with divisions and factions (vv. 18-19). The congregation was at war with itself with fights and carnalities that were sapping its spiritual strength and destroying its witness (3:1-5).

The Lord's Supper had turned into a banquet or even an orgy with people coming simply to eat and get drunk. (11:20-22). Apparently they may have been getting a free meal because Paul writes that they should be taking their suppers at home and not in the church (v. 22). Also it seems that when the people arrived at the church they began to eat immediately and were not taking this time of remembering the Lord's death together as a group (vv. 33-34). Paul earlier referred to the real and the spiritual meaning of the Lord's Supper in 5:7-8. He calls Christ "our Passover" and refers to the Supper to be celebrated as a feast. Believers are to "Clean out the old leaven, that you can be a new lump" (v. 7), meaning a new spiritual being. Believers are to be like new leaven bread, and Christ is the one who was sacrificed. The unleaven bread is a reference to living the Christian life without sin and fault as much as is humanly possible.

The Lord's Supper was meant to be a remembrance. The apostle Paul does not indicate that the Lord's Supper was efficacious, i.e., that it was essential in someway for salvation. Neither did it impart some semblance of spirituality. Christ said it was to be done as a "remembrance of Me" (Luke 22:19). Paul repeats these words of Christ (1 Cor. 11:24, 25). Believers are to be continually looking back at the cross and living lives that honor His death for their sins.

The Lord's Supper emphasizes the fact that Christ's death signified the beginning of the new covenant. The Lord made this clear in Luke 22:20 and Paul repeats this thought in 2 Corinthians 3:1-9. The new covenant was prophesied in Jeremiah 31:31. It would replace the Mosaic covenant, the Law, and bring forth a final blessing to all who would believe in the Messiah! The Lord's Supper was meant to "proclaim the Lord's death until He comes" (1 Cor. 11:26). While it is true the church today partakes in the blessings of the new covenant, it was made first and foremost for the nation of Israel and will be finally fulfilled in the future millennial kingdom (Jer. 32:37, 40-41).7

The Lord's Supper requires a time of contemplation so that it is not demeaned by the partaker. While there may not be today a judgment and a condemnation on those who share in the Lord's Supper thoughtlessly, there was such a "discipline" laid upon the Corinthian church by the apostle Paul (1 Cor. 11:27-32). Some could even be stricken with illness or death, or rendered physically weak, by their almost blasphemous attitude toward the sharing of the Supper (v. 30)! Apparently Paul wanted to make an example of this church in how the ceremony and remembrance should be handled!

The Lord's Supper Today
Following the Roman Catholic tradition many Protestant churches call both the Lord's Supper and Baptism Sacraments, meaning that they are sacred in themselves. In reality they are not. They are but expressions, commanded reminders, and symbols, of historic events that are most important to the believers. With the slip of the tongue, many Christians may use the word sacrament to describe them. The word Ordinance is also often used but this word is more legitimate in that there is the ordering or commanding that they are to be practiced. Buswell rightly notes:
On the one hand, I do believe with all my heart that any legalistic or formalistic sacramentarianism should be avoided. The Lord's Supper is not magic. The elements have not in themselves any supernatural efficacy. The words recited are not magical incantations. The supreme matter of importance in the form of celebration of the Lord's Supper is that God's people call to remembrance our blessed Lord, and show forth as a testimony to all, His atoning death, looking forward to His glorious return.8 The High Churches, those who view the Lord's Supper with heavy sacramentalism (Catholic Church, Greek Orthodox, much of the Church of England), take a heavy redemptive view of the ordinance. The Lutheran and Presbyterian churches have a spiritually modifying view. Generally speaking, most other Protestant churches see it mainly as a remembrance of Christ's sacrifice. Some churches (1) practice closed communion, allowing only those who are members of the local congregation to partake.
(2) Others forbid those to share if there is blatant sin in their lives. And, (3) almost all churches would not urge or even welcome the unbeliever to join in on the communion service. What all attempt to stress is the spiritual contemplative nature of the ceremony. Buswell adds:
The quiet dignity of ... the institution of the Lord's Supper ought in itself, to counteract tendencies to disorderly conduct. Note that Paul does not lay down rules and regulations for the details of the administration. He recounts in a simple manner, what Jesus said and did in the essential parts of the sacrament. And he calls attention to the two explicit purposes: (1) in remembrance of Christ; (2) and proclaiming His death; both of which are to be remembered in view of the glad expectation of His coming again.9
It is interesting to note that when the three thousand souls were added to the church following Peter's great sermon about the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ (Acts 2:14-40), they continued to listen to the apostles' teachings and continued in fellowship and "the breaking of bread" and prayer (v. 42). Most of these converts probably had partaken in Passover earlier but this new "remembrance" was part of what happened after their conversion. (see also 20:11) Most churches today practice the Lord's Supper with simplicity and meaningful order. Dead formalism should be avoided.
Some have adopted the practice of a merely formal or ritualistic use of the ordinances, observing them as a custom or churchly performance, without any true conception of their intent. Such observance has no real value, for as ordinances they have an important relation to the experiences which they symbolize. And if there be no vital experiential reference point, there can be no true symbolism.10 Is the love feast of Jude 12 the Lord's Supper? Some commentators do not believe so, however Lightner believes that it was, or at least was a meal that had been later added on to Communion. Carnality seems to always follow the rituals set up by humans. Lightner writes:
In the early days of the church, the love feast was the setting for and a major part of the observance of the Lord's Table. These love feasts sometimes became occasions of greed and disorder and even immorality (cf. 1 Cor. 11:20-22). The false teachers, Jude declares, were like danger hidden in the water and would bring about spiritual shipwreck. They must have taken part in the communion service and that "without fear" (v. 12).11 Conclusion The Corinthian church was to be commended for holding on to the "traditions" passed down from the Lord Jesus (1 Cor. 11:2), yet they were due heavy and sharp criticism for the way in which they did so. In the ceremony of the Lord's Supper, the Corinthian assembly had become guilty of carnality (vv. 17-22), and were truly in need of correction (vv. 23-26). They stood in even mortal danger of being judged by the Lord (vv. 27-34). Christ's blood shed on the cross obtained eternal redemption for those who trust Him (Heb. 9:12). "The emphasis is on the blood. This signifies our Lord's death, which in turn signifies the ground on which eternal salvation is secured for the believing sinner. 'Do this, as often as you drink it' (v. 25). Note that the observance is commanded, but the frequency is not. ... The service at the Lord's Table looks both back and ahead. It recalls the accomplishments of Calvary and anticipates our Lord's glorious return."12 The Bible does not set out an order for the Lord's Supper that must be adhered to, but it does focus on its purpose and the spiritual message that is to be conveyed.

  1. Roger E. Olson, The Story of Christian Theology (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1999), 48.
  2. Ibid, 49.
  3. Alan Schreck, The Essential Catholic Catechism (Ann Arbor, MI: Servant Publications, 1999), 194.
  4. Ibid., 241.
  5. Ludwig Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Faith (St. Louis: Herder Book Co., 1962), 395.
  6. Archibald Alexander Hodge, Outlines of Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1957), 641.
  7. Paul Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago: Moody, 1989), 68.
  8. James Oliver Buswell, A Systematic Theology of the Christian Religion, 2 volumes on one (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1977), 2:275.
  9. Ibid. 2:277.
  10. Emery H. Bancroft, Elemental Theology (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1996), 310.
  11. Mal Couch & Ed Hindson, gen. eds., The Epistles of John & Jude, Robert Lightner (Chattanooga: AMG Publishers, 2003), 152-53.
  12. Mal Couch & Ed Hindson, gen. eds., The Book of First Corinthians, Dan Mitchell (Chattanooga: AMG Publishers, 2004), 167.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Demise of Systematic Theology

Evangelicals are in trouble! 

The beginning of the twenty-first century saw the Evangelical church move rapidly toward what is called the postmodern era. Postmodernism is an attitude that has been spawned by the intellectual elite who believes absolutes, especially in the moral and spiritual realm, cannot be known with certainty. The study of biblical doctrine then is no longer important or necessary. 

Paul R. Shockley, writing in The God of the Bible and Other Gods, defines the essentials of postmodernism: (1) absolute or objective truth does not exist, (2) reality is in the mind of the beholder, (3) humanity is molded or scripted by its own subcultures, (4) there is no objective, universal authority. Postmodernism is marked by (5) cynicism and (6) decision making on the ethical basis of feelings, emotions, and impressions.

Until recently it was understood by the evangelical world that God was the ultimate Author of the Bible, though He used as His instruments the prophets and the apostles. "God gave the Scriptures to communicate, not to confuse or bewilder."2 Despite the present doubt about the issue of knowing truth, the Bible remains the only vehicle for understanding God, ourselves, and the nature of eternal, spiritual fact and reality. Postmodernism is nothing but modern day literalism! To evangelicals, "Its ideas warrant illogical conclusions that do not correspond to reality."3

The Bible remains, divinely preserved. If we interpret the biblical text in its normal sense we will see once more that it truthfully meets the intrinsic needs of every person, since it was given by the unique Triune God, who is infinite, personal, and divinely authoritative.4 Since the Bible is the Word of God, where it speaks, God speaks!
Despite this assurance about scriptural revelation, a rapidly growing majority in the Western world holds different views.
It is hard to witness to truth to people who believe that truth is relative ("Jesus works for you; crystals work for her"). It is hard to proclaim the forgiveness of sins to people who believe that, since morality is relative, they have no sins to forgive.5 Near the turn of the twenty-first century, a survey was taken that found 66 percent of Americans believe that "there is no such thing as absolutes." But the surprise was that 53 percent of those who label themselves as evangelical Christians believe also that there are no absolutes.6 One expects such moral inversions to take place in the secular world, but not within Christendom.

What is the difference in today’s postmodern thinking about God and spiritual issues, and the way humanity has always thought about Him in the past?
While people have always committed sins, they at least acknowledged these were sins. A century ago a person may have committed adultery flagrantly and in defiance of God and man, but he would have admitted that what he was doing was a sin. What we have today is not only immoral behavior, but a loss of moral criteria. This is true even in the church. We face not only a moral collapse but a collapse of meaning. "There are no absolutes."7
By saying "no absolutes," we are saying that people no longer look to the authority of the Bible for the knowledge of truth. To throw away biblical truth is to throw away any knowledge of the personal God! He cannot be known by personal intuition, or by nature! He has revealed the intimate nature of Himself in the Word of God. And even in these Scriptures, He has revealed to us only what He wishes us to know, no more!
The psalmist well writes:

May Thy compassion come to me that I may live, for Thy law Is my delight. (Psa. 119:77)

Thy word is a lamp to my feet, And a light to my path. (v. 105)

Definition of Theology
The word theology comes from two Greek words, theos ("God"), and logos ("word," "study of"). Theology is the study of everything we can know about God, all of the revelation that is available in order to comprehend who He is! But theology also looks at how the God of the Scripture relates to His universe, its creation, and the progress of time that will someday end.
The aim of theology is the ascertainment of the facts respecting God and the relations between God and the universe, and the exhibition of these facts in their rational unity, as connected parts of a formulated and organic system of truth. As theology deals with objective facts and their relations, so is arrangement of these facts is not optional, but is determined by the nature of the material with which it deals. A true theology thinks over again God’s thoughts and brings them into God’s order, as the builders of Solomon’s temple took the stones already hewn, and put them into the places for which the architect had designed them.8 The Scriptures then will be the chief source of our understanding of God and of theology. Calvin states:
If true religion is to beam upon us, our principle must be, that it is necessary to begin with heavenly teaching, and that it is impossible for any man to obtain even the minutest portion of right and sound doctrine without being a disciple of Scripture. Hence the first step in true knowledge is taken, when we reverently embrace the testimony which God has been pleased therein to give of himself.9 Theology is not to be understood simply as the expression of a body of beliefs put forward by a denomination or fellowship of churches. It is not to be formulated by using only human logic and reasoning. Theology is not the inventive imaginations of the creative mind of some philosopher or mental genius. Evangelical theology must be biblical! Its sources are the ancient prophets who were inspired by the Holy Spirit of God!
Therefore Gill holds that we must be taught:
the divine authority and excellency of the sacred scriptures; that there but one God, and that he only is to be worshipped, and not angels; that God is the Triune God; that there are three Persons in the Godhead, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; that God is eternal, the Creator, and preserver of all things; that Christ is truly God and truly man; that he is Prophet, Priest and King; that men are by nature wretched, blind, naked, poor, and miserable; that some of all nations are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb; and that they are justified and washed from their sins in his blood; the articles of the resurrection of the dead, the last judgment, the sad estate of the wicked, and the happiness of the saints may be observed in it.10
There are several places in the New Testament where the concept of theology is expressed. Paul writes about the ta logia tou Theou (Rom. 3:2), "the oracles about God." Peter writes similarly when he speaks of the logia Theou (1 Pet. 4:11), "oracles about God." This reinforces the idea that theology of about one specific subject, namely God. "No consideration of God will be complete which does not contemplate His works and ways in the universe which He has created, as well as His Person."11

Definition of Theology Proper
Technically speaking, while the word theology specifically points to God, it may be very inclusive and encompass many other areas of theological studies. However, the expression Theology Proper has come to refer simply to the study about the God of the Bible, in terms of His person, nature, and activities.
Chafer further writes:
The term Theology Proper is a somewhat modern designation which represents the logical starting point in the study of Systematic Theology, being, as it is, its primary theme, namely, a scientific investigation into what may be known of the existence, Persons, and characteristics of the triune God—Father, Son, and Spirit.12 Scope of the Word Theology Ryrie argues that the Scriptures attest to two important facts: the incomphrehensibility of God and the knowability of God.13 God is far beyond us. He is Spirit and He is holy. Because of the curse of sin, human beings are cut off from contact with Him, unless He reveals Himself. And that revelation is based on the intercession of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. However, He also reveals Himself by His Word, and by other means that will be discussed later.
Ryrie correctly concludes:
God Himself is the Source of our knowledge of Him. To be sure, all truth is God’s truth. But that cliché should be more carefully stated and used than it generally is. Only true truth comes from God, for since sin entered the stream of history man has created that which he calls truth but which is not. Furthermore, he has perverted, blunted, diluted, and corrupted that which was originally true truth that did come from God. Fro us today the only infallible canon for determining true truth is the written Word of God. Nature, though it does reveal some things about God, is limited and can be misread by mankind. The human mind, though often brilliant in what it can achieve, suffers limitations and darkening. Human experience, even ones, lack reliability as sources of the true knowledge of God, unless they conform to the Word of God.14
All of Life Focuses in on God and Theology
Since God created the universe, the world, all physical life, the food we eat, ourselves, and our children—it only stands to reason that all of life and living is theological, i.e., it is about Him! Every day, and every hour, should bring about a love of Him, and a worshipful response to the salvation He has granted us in Christ!
But human beings, even born-again Christians, are incapable of a sustained response to the glory and the Being of our God. Our senses, mind-set, and pre-occupations, all lead us away from His grace that surrounds our existence.
The old Puritan scholar William Ames agrees that everything in life is theological. He said,
Man should rest in the ordaining power of God which he can know and trust. This power is not dimly stated in an hypothesis that God can do whatever he wills, but is full known in the assurance that he always wills and does certain things. … Let not man limit the ordaining power of God, for he who is "at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think" (Eph. 3:20).15 From knowing God through the Scriptures, believers in Christ should be loving, honoring, obeying, worshiping, praying to, and witnessing of the person of God the Father and of His grace in Christ Jesus! Anything less falls short of what He is due. To make this process happen, God has given His Holy Spirit who illumines what is true from Scripture about Himself. Paul says, "We have received not the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God" (1 Cor. 2:12).
But as the apostle John writes, the ultimate knowing has to do with God Himself. "We know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding in order that we might know Him who is true, and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. ‘This is the true God and eternal life’" (1 John 5:20).

Ames concludes:
Since the highest kind of life for a human being is that which approaches most closely the living and life-giving God, the nature of theological life is living to God. Man live to God when they live in accord with the will of God, to the glory of God, and with God working in them.16 And, the:
practice of life is so perfectly reflected in theology that there is no precept of universal truth, relevant to living well in domestic [life], morality, political life, or lawmaking which does not rightly pertain to theology.17 ______________________
  1. Robert P. Lightner, The God of the Bible and Other Gods (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1998), 198.
  2. Ibid., 205.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Gene Edward Veith, Jr., Postmodern Times (Wheaton: Crossway, 1994), 16.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid., 18.
  8. Augustus Hopkins Strong, Systematic Theology (Old Tappan, NJ: Revell, 1979), 2.
  9. John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993), 66.
  10. John Gill, A Body of Doctrinal and Practical Divinity (Paris, AR: Baptist Standard Bearer, 1995), xliii.
  11. Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, 8 Vol. (Dallas: Dallas Seminary Press, 1976), 1:3.
  12. Ibid., 1:129.
  13. Charles C. Ryrie, Basic Theology (Chicago: Moody, 1999), 27.
  14. Ibid., 27-28.
  15. William Ames, The Marrow of Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1997), 24.
  16. Ibid., 77.
  17. Ibid., 78.