Arminian Today

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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus is Lord

Jesus Died

Charles Dickens opens A Christmas Carol by stating that old Marley was dead and this fact, writes Dickens, must be understood lest anything wonderful is to come of this story.  Dickens goes on to say that Marley was as “dead as a doornail.”  In other words, Marley was truly dead.  The rest of the story would be nothing without this fact.

The same is true of the resurrection of Jesus.  Before the empty tomb, there is a cross.  Jesus had to die.  He had to be truly dead.  If Jesus is not dead, the resurrection is not true.  The story of the resurrection is only wonderful if Jesus is truly dead.

The Gospel writers go to great lengths to prove that Jesus is dead.  Let us just quickly go through how the Gospel writers present the death of Jesus.

  1.  Matthew – Matthew presents Jesus first being scourged by the Romans (Matthew 27:26) which was a violet process of whipping with a whip with bones on the end.  Many died at this point as their skin was ripped of their backs and their inner organs were often exposed.  Jesus is next taken to the governor’s headquarters were He is mocked and beaten by the soldiers (Matthew 27:27-31).  Finally Jesus is led away to be crucified (Matthew 27:32-44) and He finally dies after hanging on the cross for several intense hours (Matthew 27:50).  Pilate orders the body of Jesus to be given to Joseph of Arimathea who places Him in his own new tomb (Matthew 27:57-61).
  2. Mark – After Jesus’ arrest, He is led before the Jewish council where they mock Him and beat Him (Mark 14:53-65).  Mark records that the Jews hand Jesus over to Pilate so that He might be killed.  Pilate releases Barabbas instead of Christ and has Jesus scourged before His crucifixion (Mark 15:1-15).  The Roman soldiers mock Jesus (Mark 15:16-20) before taking Him to crucify Him (Mark 15:21-32).  Jesus hangs on the cross for several hours before dying (Mark 15:33-39).  Pilate, who is surprised to hear that Jesus is dead already, orders His body to be given to Joseph who buries Him (Mark 15:42-47).
  3. Luke – Like Mark, Luke records that the Jews mock and beat Jesus (Luke 22:63-65).  The Jews condemn Jesus to death (Luke 22:66-71) and bring Him before Pilate (as Jews could not put anyone to death because of the Romans).  Pilate sends Jesus before Herod since that is his jurisdiction but Herod mocks Jesus as well (Luke 23:6-12).  Pilate releases Barabbas (an insurrectionist and murderer) instead of Jesus (Luke 23:18-25).  Jesus is led away to be crucified (Luke 23:26-38).  Darkness falls over the land for three hours while Jesus hangs on the cross (Luke 23:44-45).  Jesus dies (Luke 23:46).  Pilate releases the body of Jesus to Joseph who buries Him (Luke 23:50-56).
  4. John – After His arrest, Jesus is led before the Jewish rulers who question Him (John 18:12-14).  The Jews condemn Jesus and send Him before Pilate (John 18:28-32).  Pilate questions Jesus and releases Barabbas instead of Jesus (John 18:33-40).  Pilate has Jesus flogged (John 19:1) and the Romans mock Him (John 19:2-5) and the Jews join in with this mockery (John 19:6-16).  Jesus is taken and crucified (John 19:17-27).  Jesus finally dies after hanging on the cross for several hours (John 19:28-30).  Pilate orders the legs to be broken of those on the cross which would ensure their death by suffocation (John 19:31-33).  A soldier sees Jesus is dead and to make sure he pierces Jesus’ side (John 19:34).  This likely pierced the sack around Jesus’ heart and revealed that He was dead.  Jesus is buried by Joseph in his own tomb (John 19:38-42).

All four Gospels reveal that Jesus is dead.  People have often come up with various theories about the death of Jesus and most are still with us this day.  For example, many Muslims believe the Gnostic theory that Jesus did not die on the cross but it was made to seem that way and many Muslims believe that Judas and not Jesus died on the cross but God made Judas to appear to look like Jesus.  This theory is simply false without any historical basis.  All four Gospels record that it was Jesus who died on the cross.  Even unbelieving historians acknowledge that Jesus died on the cross.  It is the resurrection they doubt.

Others teach the “swoon theory” in which Jesus merely passes out.  I like the reply J. Vernon McGee gave to a woman about the swoon theory:

A woman wrote J. Vernon McGee, “Our preacher said that on Easter Jesus just swooned on the cross, and the disciples nursed him back to health. What do you think?”

McGee replied, “Dear Sister, beat your preacher with a leather whip for thirty-nine heavy strokes. Nail him to a cross. Hang him in the sun for six hours. Run a spear through his heart. Embalm him. Put him in an airless tomb for three days. Then see what happens.”

To be fair.  Jesus was not embalmed.  Instead, probably about 75 pounds of spices were wrapped with His body to prevent smelling during the decay process (John 19:39-40).  Yet still Jesus suffered much and for Him to rise up, take off the 75 pounds, roll away the stone, fight off the Roman guards placed there by Pilate himself, and be clean and in good health when He appears to the women on Sunday morning is a feat unto itself.

The truth is that the Gospels record the death of Jesus.  Some suppose He remains dead.  I believe with all that is in me that Jesus rose from the dead and He now sits at the right hand of God till His enemies be made His footstool (Psalm 110:1).  I believe that Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead (2 Timothy 4:1; Hebrews 9:28).  I believe that Jesus has conquered death by His resurrection from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:55-57).  I believe that Jesus arose bodily from the dead and He is alive forevermore (Revelation 1:17-18).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

03/25/2016 at 12:13 PM

Mere Christianity?

Dr. James White often refers to what he calls the “mere Christianity” movement where people try to make Christianity as small as you can make it.  In the 2000 years of the Church, orthodoxy has been the standard for what is deemed as Christian.  I grant you that at times this has not always been clear and sometimes people made non-essentials as essentials of the gospel.  In our day, mere Christianity has come to simply believe that if you affirm Jesus, you are a Christian.

I have been following a blogger for some time who I have seen him drifting this way.  His view is that Jesus is what matters yet it seems to me that he does not care what people believe about Jesus so long as they say they love Jesus and desire to follow Him.  While this blogger seems to affirm that the Bible is the Word of God (though I’m not sure if he holds to inerrancy or infallibility), he often muddles the water by using the liberal “red letter Christian” mantras.  It is as if this blogger makes Jesus someone that we should merely copy (and by that I mean be a hippie and be focused on “peace and love man”).  This blogger even has been writing about how he has seen Jesus in a Muslim friend of his and how this Muslim has taught him more about Jesus than many Christians.

This is the mere Christianity movement.  There is no focus on the doctrine of Christ nor about His atonement.  There is little emphasis placed on His perfection for our salvation.  There is nothing said about His death, His resurrection, His ascension to the right hand of the Father where He lives to make intercession for the saints.  There is nothing said about His coming again in glory to judge the living and the dead.  In fact, mere Christianity makes Jesus just someone that we should copy and imitate to have a better life.  Jesus becomes nothing more than a “great teacher” along with other “great teachers.”  Jesus’ own declarations are ignored.

I don’t assume that someone is a Christian simply because they name the name of Jesus.  Jesus Himself said that many would come in His name (Matthew 24:4-5).  John the Beloved wrote that many antichrists had come (1 John 2:18).  Antichrists are false christs.  Paul the Apostle issued curses on those who preach a false gospel (Galatians 1:6-9).  Thus we can see that there are false christs and false gospels.

Not everyone who says Jesus is truly His (Matthew 7:21-23).  Jesus said that those who are His are those who hear His words and put them into practice, who build their lives on His teachings (Matthew 7:24-27).  A disciple of Jesus is one who abides in His teachings (John 8:31-32).  This means that the disciple not only reads the Word of God (and not merely the “red letters”) but they study it as well.  I study God’s Word to know God, to love Him more and to obey Him better all by His Spirit and His grace.

So many claim Christ but they don’t even know the first thing about Him.  They don’t know His Word.  They don’t read His Word.  They don’t study His Word.  They don’t care to study His Word nor do they truly care to know Him because Jesus doesn’t fit our views when we read and study Him.  The perfect Son of God is not like us in that He is absolutely perfect, holy, blameless, and His ways are beyond our ways.  We seek to imitate Him (1 Peter 2:21-24; 1 John 2:6) but we recognize that He alone is perfect.  He is perfect for our salvation (2 Corinthians 5:21).  Because He remains forever perfect, He now stands before the Father in our defense (Hebrews 7:22-25).  As we abide in Jesus through faith (Romans 5:1; 1 John 2:24-25), we find that He is faithful to wash our sins away (1 John 1:7, 9).

The mere Christianity movement wants to place Jesus among others.  Jesus is far above all others (Colossians 1:15-20).  Every knee will bow to His glory alone (Philippians 2:5-11).  This includes all false teachers, all false prophets, all false religions.  Jesus is not equal among others.  Jesus is God (John 1:1, 18; Romans 9:5) and He is to be worshiped as God.

The mere Christianity movement has to dethrone Jesus to make Him equal among others.  For example, the Muslim view of Jesus is not at all equal with the biblical view.  The Quran teaches that Jesus is not God, that He is not even the Son of God.  Yes Islam says that Jesus is the Messiah but they deny His divinity and the Quran condemns to hell those who would say that God is a man or has a son.  The Quran falsely believes that the doctrine of the Trinity includes Mary.  The Quran denies that Jesus died for our sins.  Most Muslims believe that Jesus didn’t even die on the cross but rather Allah made someone else to appear as Jesus on the cross such as Judas.  While Islam teaches that Jesus will return, they believe that He will return and set up an Islamic kingdom on the earth.  The Islamic confession of faith is focused on Mohammad and not on Jesus.

And yet mere Christianity says that since a Muslim claims to love Jesus (the Jesus of the Quran and not the Jesus of the Bible), then they are “saved.”  If a Muslim denies the Quran’s teaching on Jesus and embraces the biblical view of Jesus then I would submit that they are not a Muslim but a Christian.  Of course, true salvation requires faith and repentance in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38-39; 3:19-20; 17:30-31).

One final point.  The mere Christianity movement especially detests evangelism.  After all, the evangelist is preaching that Jesus alone saves (John 14:6; Acts 4:12) and He alone is our mediator before a holy God (1 Timothy 2:5-6).  The evangelist preaches that faith and repentance are necessary for eternal life (Luke 13:5; John 5:24-25; 6:29; Romans 2:4; 2 Corinthians 7:10; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 John 5:13).  This goes against the mere Christian view that all religions are essentially good so long as they love Jesus.  It also goes against the postmodern mindset that there is no absolute truth since Jesus Himself claims to be the truth of God (John 14:6).  When religious people are confronted with their sins and with the truth of Jesus, they always strike back with a vengeance.  I have witnessed this myself. People don’t mind if you preach a peace and love Jesus but the moment you preach that a person must repent, they quickly turn on you.  People love Jesus but the Jesus they create in their own images but not the biblical Jesus.

I am often confronted by the biblical Jesus as I read.  I am confronted with my sins.  I am confronted with my lack of being like Jesus in all I do.  I am confronted with how wonderful Jesus truly is and the more that I study Him and the more that I seek Him, the more I find that I am not like Him, that He is God and worthy to be praised, and I will never truly grasp Him in this life.  Jesus is simply too wonderful, too mighty, too holy for me to perfectly understand but what I do know is this: He died for my sins (1 Corinthians 15:3; Galatians 1:4; 1 Peter 3:18) and He is coming again in glory (2 Timothy 4:1).  I long to see Him and worship Him forever.  I will continue to preach the biblical Jesus and preach against the false christs of this world.

The Gospel Plus Nothing Else

The gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16).  The gospel is focused on the work of the Lord Jesus Christ in shedding His blood for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; Galatians 1:4).  The gospel is about the wrath of God being satisfied through the offering of the Lord Jesus for our sins for everyone who repents and believes the gospel (Romans 5:1-11).  We can add nothing to the gospel nor take anything from it lest we fall under the condemnation of Paul the Apostle (Galatians 1:6-9).

Why then should we add to the gospel by adding works as part of the message?  Why add that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus but add you must be baptized in this church or you must do this or that?  When we add to the work of Christ, we take away the work of Christ (John 6:29).  The finished work of Christ is done (Hebrews 10:10, 14).  Hebrews 7:27 says that Christ offered Himself up “once for all.”  This work of salvation is complete.  There is nothing to add to this work.  We are now saved from the wrath of God though faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and by His grace alone through faith alone (Titus 3:5-7).

We need not add our theological systems in there either.  I know of a brother who once preached for all to come and repent and be saved (Revelation 22:17).  He gladly preached repentance to all people (Acts 17:30-31).  He called all to believe the gospel and be saved (1 Corinthians 1:21).  Yet somewhere along the way the guy started saying privately at first that only true Christians were Calvinists.  He then went public with his views and begin to rebuke anyone who was not a Calvinist saying that only Calvinists preach the gospel and only Calvinists are truly saved.  He now denies fellowship with anyone who is not a Calvinist and his acid test for true faith is Calvinism.

That is adding to the work of Christ.  If you have to say, “Repent and believe in the gospel but also believe in Calvinism as well to be saved” then you have added to the gospel and have denied the power of the gospel.  The gospel is not about Arminius or Wesley or Edwards or Spurgeon or MacArthur.  The gospel is all about Jesus as Lord.  The true disciple of Jesus (whether Arminian or not) professes the Lordship of Jesus and loves Him above all (Romans 10:9-13).  The disciple of Jesus is fixed on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2) since He is our salvation (1 Corinthians 1:30-31).

The gospel then is not about Jesus plus your goodness.  It is not about Jesus plus you must believe in unconditional election to be saved.  The gospel is all about Jesus and what He has already done in saving lost sinners (Luke 19:10).  This gospel produces godly repentance which leads to salvation (2 Corinthians 7:10).  This is the will of God (2 Peter 3:9).

So my friends let us all preach Jesus plus nothing else.  Let us not preach Jesus plus our isms or Jesus plus our church or Jesus plus faith in our favorite theologian or preacher.  Let us preach Jesus!  He alone is worthy!

Written by The Seeking Disciple

01/31/2016 at 5:01 PM

Is Jesus Just an Anointed Man?

There are those who want to deny that Jesus is God.  They teach that only the Father is God and that He alone is one true and living God but Jesus is just a man, albeit an anointed man used by God and even the Messiah but certainly not divine.  These groups will often claim that they hold that Jesus is the true Messiah and that He was born of the virgin Mary by the power of God but they deny that He was God or even claimed to be God.  Some of them believe Jesus was the Son of God but not eternally existent with the Father and distinct from the Father in any way.  The Oneness Pentecostals, for example, deny that the Son of God is eternal but rather that He came to exist in Bethlehem (Luke 1:35; Galatians 4:4).

You’ll find many of the Hebrews Roots Movement teachers denying that Jesus is God.  They hold to modalism but only that Yahweh is God but not Yeshua.  They teach that Jesus is the Messiah but He was not God nor did He claim to be God.  They view Jesus as anointed by Yahweh and the servant of Yahweh but He is not Yahweh and He is not divine.  Jesus is our example, a mighty prophet of God, the Messiah sent by Yahweh, but Jesus is not divine in their teachings.  They believe this protects the monotheism of Judaism and does not elevate a man above Yahweh.

Others teach, like the Oneness Pentecostals but in different terms, that the Father alone is God.  They point out the word of Jesus in such passages as Mark 12:29-30 or John 20:17.  It seems that Jesus is giving honor to the Father and alone to the Father thus He is not claiming equality with God nor is claiming to receive worship but He is pointing others to the Father who alone is God.

Let us briefly examine these claims.

Jesus Is Assigned Old Testament Designations of Yahweh.

When we compare the Old Testament texts with their New Testament fulfillment in Christ, we see that Jesus is indeed Yahweh.  Consider Matthew 1:23 from Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 3:3 with Isaiah 40:3; John 3:31 with Psalm 97:9; John 12:38-41 with Isaiah 6:10 and 53:1; Acts 3:14 with 1 Samuel 2:2; 1 Corinthians 1:30 with Isaiah 43:24 and Jeremiah 23:5-6; 1 Corinthians 2:8 with Psalm 24:7-10; 2 Corinthians 5:10 with Ecclesiastes 12:14; Ephesians 4:7-8 with Psalm 68:18; Philippians 2:9-11 with Isaiah 45:23; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 with Isaiah 2:10-19; Titus 2:13 with Hosea 1:7; Hebrews 1:8-9 with Psalm 45:6-7; Hebrews 13:20 with Isaiah 40:10-11; 1 Peter 3:15 with Isaiah 8:13; Revelation 1:17 with Isaiah 44:6.

Jesus Is Superior to Men and Angels.

Jesus is above men and angels.  He is not part of them.  The Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that Jesus is Michael from the Old Testament.  The Oneness Pentecostals teach that Jesus the Son is but a man and not the eternal God.  The Hebrews Roots Movement teaches that Jesus is a great prophet and even the Messiah of God but He is not God but is part of God’s creation.  Consider these texts: John 1:17; Ephesians 1:19-23; Philippians 2:9-11; Colossians 1:17-18; Colossians 2:10; Hebrews 1:4-6, 13; Hebrews 2:5-8; Hebrews 3:3; 1 Peter 3:21-22; Revelation 1:5.

Jesus Receives Prayer, Praise, and Worship.  

How can Jesus receive prayer, praise, and worship if He is not God?  This would violate the clear teachings of the Old Testament that forbids the people of God from praying to anyone but Yahweh (see Deuteronomy 4:39; 5:7-9; 13:1-5; Isaiah 43:11; 44:6-8; 45:22; etc.).  The Bible is clear that there is only one God (Deuteronomy 6:4) and there are no other gods.  So if Jesus received prayer, praise, and worship and He is not God, then men are praying, praising, and worshiping a man (even an exalted man by Yahweh but Yahweh alone is to receive worship).  This would be utter blasphemy (as Muslims point out) if Jesus is just a prophet, just a created being, even just the Messiah.  If Jesus is not God, why pray to Him or praise Him or worship Him?  This would be sinful.  Yet Scripture is clear that people did pray, praise, and worshipped Him:

Acts 3:16; 7:59-60; 22:16; Romans 1:7; 10:9-12; 1 Corinthians 11:24-25; 2 Corinthians 12:8-9; Galatians 1:3-5; 6:18; Ephesians 5:21; Philippians 2:10-11; 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17; 1 Timothy 1:2, 12; 2 Timothy 4:18, 23; Hebrews 1:6; 13:20-21; 1 Peter 3:15; 2 Peter 3:18; Revelation 5:14; 7:9-10; 15:3-4.

Consider the strong words of Matthew 28:17, “And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted.”  The Apostles worshiped Jesus?  These faithful Jewish men worshiped the Jewish Jesus.

Is Jesus His Own Father?

One cannot read the New Testament and see that Jesus is distinct from His Father.  He speaks of His Father, prays to His Father, and says that He has come to do the will of His Father.  Jesus said that His food “is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work” (John 4:34).  Jesus said that He does not nothing by His own initiative but He only spoke the things as His Father taught Him (John 8:28).  Jesus said that He proceeds from the Father to do the Father’s will (John 8:42).

And on and on it goes.  The Lord Jesus is portrayed as the Son of God, equal with the Father (John 10:30) but He is never said to be the Father.  The Father is God.  The Son is God.  The Holy Spirit is God.  Yet the Bible affirms that there is but one God (Deuteronomy 6:4; Ephesians 4:4-6).  1 Corinthians 8:6 has stumbled some but John MacArthur writes:

Paul repeats the truth that there is but one God.  He is the one from whom are all things, and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.  There is only one true God.  He has come to us in the person of the Son, Jesus Christ, and we are brought to the Father through the divine Son.  Everything comes from the Father, and all believers exist for the Father.  Everything is by the Son, and everyone who comes to the Father comes through the Son.  This is a powerful and clear affirmation of the equality of essence of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 8:6, rather than denying the Lordship and exaltation and deity of Jesus Christ, actually makes Him equal with the Father.

In Hebrews 1:2 tells us that God the Father made the world through the Lord Jesus Christ.  In Hebrews 1:3 it is Jesus who upholds the universe by His Word.  In Hebrews 1:8 the Father says about the Son that He is God.  In Hebrews 1:10 we read that Jesus is Yahweh (see Psalm 102:25-27).

So the question is whether Jesus is His own Father?  The Oneness Pentecostals and other modalists insist that Jesus as the Son is less than the Father and that the Father alone is truly the eternal God.  The Oneness Pentecostals teach that Jesus is the Father, Jesus is the Son, Jesus is the Holy Ghost.  In Oneness teachings, Jesus is God but He alone is God and God is unipersonal (meaning that there is only one Person in the Godhead; Colossians 2:9).  Trinitarians teach that there is only one God but we believe in three persons (unitarian versus trinitarian).  I reject the Oneness view that Jesus is His own Father.  I find nothing in the Bible to suggest that Jesus is His own Father nor can one find a passage without extreme twisting.

The closest text we have is Isaiah 9:6.  Oneness Pentecostals will quickly quote this verse when defending the idea that the Father is Jesus and Jesus is the Father.  They teach that one of the titles of the Lord Jesus would be “eternal Father.”  Yet Oneness Pentecostals are alone in their unique view of Isaiah 9:6.  The titles found in Isaiah 9:6 are part of who Jesus would be.  He would be like a wonderful counselor.  Jesus would be the mighty God.  Jesus would be like an eternal Father speaking of HIs Fatherly role as our Redeemer, and He would be the Prince of Peace.  These are not offices Jesus would be fulfilling but titles He would take upon Himself.

Consider this: does the New Testament ever say that Jesus is the Father or the Father is Jesus?

The Oneness view destroys so many precious doctrines.  The Person of Jesus suffers.  One has to read the New Testament with a weird “key” of trying to figure out if Jesus is speaking as the Father (as God) or as a man (as the Son).  The sacrifice of Jesus is not infinite in its value because Jesus is just a man who is dying on the cross for our sins rather than God manifested in the flesh (John 1:14).  The nature of true love is lost because the Lord Jesus is but a created being of the Father (who alone is God).  Prayer suffers as we pray to Jesus (the Father, the eternal God) in the name of Jesus (the Son, the flesh but not God) rather than seeing that Jesus is God the Son praying for the saint before the throne of God the Father through the power of God the Spirit.

In closing, let me state that as I write this I am listening to a oneness Pentecostal preacher preaching.  Ironically, he is shouting over and over again that Jesus is God, that Jesus alone is God, and that there is no God but Jesus.  Yet he is borrowing from a trinitarian presupposition by borrowing our language to speak of God.  He speaks of the Father and he preaches about praying in the name of Jesus and worshiping God through Jesus but all of this involves having to “split” Jesus up.  The oneness Pentecostal must borrow from the trinitarian view to make their theology work but they then must hate the Trinity lest they be a trinitarian (which condemns the sinner).  They must speak of Jesus as a unipersonal being with dual personalities (at least while on earth).

I rejoice in the doctrine of the Trinity.  It is a precious doctrine.  The Trinity makes sense of the Bible and helps us to see the infinite value of the atonement of Christ.  Further, the work of sanctification in the disciple is enhanced by understanding that the entire Trinity is involved not just in my salvation but in my sanctification.  I worship God and rejoice that He is wonderful and worthy.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

09/29/2015 at 7:24 PM

Doing Something With Jesus

I have often said that whenever the doctrine of the Trinity is denied, the group that does the denying must do something with Jesus.  The Father is usually not attacked.  The Father is usually held up as the eternal God but groups who deny the doctrine of the Trinity must do something with Jesus and it is Jesus who is usually attacked and demoted.  The Holy Spirit is often altogether ignored.

Consider two groups who are similar in many ways: the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Oneness Pentecostals.  Both are Arians.  Both find the theological heritage in Arius and his condemned teachings.  Arius said that there was a time when the Son was not.  Arius viewed God the Father as the eternal God and the one that we must worship but Jesus is viewed as a created being and less than the Father though still the Son of God.  Arius reasoned that since God is one and the Father is God, the Son cannot be God logically lest there be another god.  Therefore, the Son is a created being though exalted by the Father.

Now consider the Jehovah’s Witness (JW hereafter).  The JW’s teach that Jehovah God alone is God.  Jehovah is the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Jesus is the supreme creation of God and He is Michael in the Old Testament.  JW’s (after 1954) forbid people for worshipping Jesus Christ.  They teach that Jesus is wonderful, our example, our Savior but He is not God.  He is a creation of God and the firstborn of Jehovah’s creation (Colossians 1:15).  The New World Translation follows the JW bias but denying the Lord Jesus His full deity in passages such as John 1:1.  In JW teaching, Jesus is the Son of God but He had a beginning and He has an ending as well when in eternity Jehovah alone will be worshiped as the true and living God (John 17:3; 1 Corinthians 15:24).  The point here is that Jesus is less than the Father (Jehovah) and He is a created being.

Oneness Pentecostals are not much different.  They will declare that Jesus is God which makes them separate from JW’s but Jesus the Son is not eternal.  Only the Father is eternal.  In Oneness teaching, there is only one God (which is biblically true) and since there is only one God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are all the same God (true) but not persons but instead are manifestations of the one true God (this is a heresy called Sabellianism).  Jesus is the one true God in Oneness Pentecostal teaching but only Jesus is God.  Thus Jesus is the Father, Jesus is the Son, and Jesus is the Holy Ghost.  Jesus the Father alone is eternal.  The Son had a beginning in Oneness teaching.  The Son is not eternal but only came to be in Luke 1:35.  Until Jesus the Son was born in Bethlehem, He did not exist as the Son but only as the Father.  So the Son is not the eternal God but only the Father is the eternal God (Jehovah).

Do you see the link?  The JW’s teach that Jehovah alone is God (the Father) and the Oneness Pentecostals teach that only Jesus the Father is eternal.  Both deny that the Son is eternal.  Both teach that the Son had a beginning and has an ending.  Jesus the Son is not important as much as the Father is.

In Trinitarian theology, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all the one true and living God.  There is only one God and He is revealed in Scripture as three persons in the one Godhead.  While the mystery of the Trinity is not easy to grasp, we must do something with Jesus.  Jesus is called God in the Bible (John 1:1, 14, 18; 20:28; Romans 9:5) and He shares in many aspects of divinity along with the Father and the Spirit.  Jesus spoke of His Father as distant from Him but He never made Himself less than the Father.  Jesus viewed Himself equal to His Father (John 10:30) and yet as the Messiah, He was perfectly obedient to His Father (Hebrews 5:8).  Jesus said He came from heaven (John 3:13) and He said He came from the Father (John 17:5).  Hebrews 1:3 says that the Father created the entire worlds though Jesus Christ the Son.  If Jesus is a created being, how can this be?  Philippians 2:5-11 is clear that Jesus is equal to God and He took upon Himself the form of a servant to do the will of His Father.

Time does not permit me to defend the deity of the Spirit but He too shares in the personality of God.  The Spirit is not a force as in JW teaching or a part of Jesus the Father but instead the Spirit is very much a Person who does the works of God.  The Spirit is co-equal, co-eternal with the Father and with the Son.

Jesus is where we find our problems.  Those who deny the Trinity must denounce and dethrone Jesus.  Jesus has to become less than the Father or less than God.  In Islam, Jesus is a great prophet but certainly not God.  In JW, Jesus is a created being but not the eternal God.  In Oneness Pentecostalism, Jesus is the name of the one true God but Jesus the Son only came to be when the Holy Ghost caused Mary to be impregnated.  In Mormonism, Jesus is a son of God like we all are and in fact He is a son along with Lucifer.  In Arianism, Jesus was a created being who is less than the Father.  In Sabellianism Jesus is part of a manifestation or mode of God but certainly there is no Trinity.

We stumble over Jesus just as Scripture predicts (1 Peter 2:6-8).  We must do something with Jesus.  I choose to worship Him and adore Him and praise Him and preach Him (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

09/28/2015 at 12:11 AM

The Purpose of Signs and Wonders In the Ministry of Jesus

Why did Jesus do miracles?  What was the point of signs and wonders in the ministry of Jesus?  In Matthew 8 we get a reason from Matthew about why Jesus did miracles (at least just one among others as we shall see but this point is the overwhelming reason why Jesus did miracles).  In Matthew 8:16-17 we read:

16 That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.”

Here Matthew quotes from Isaiah 53:4.  Adam Clarke commented on Matthew 8:17:

Christ fulfils the prophecies in all respects, and is himself the completion and truth of them, as being the lamb and victim of God, which, bears and takes away the sin of the world. The text in Isaiah refers properly to the taking away of sin; and this in the evangelist, to the removal of corporeal afflictions: but, as the diseases of the body are the emblems of the sin of the soul, Matthew, referring to the prediction of the prophet, considered the miraculous healing of the body as an emblem of the soul’s salvation by Christ Jesus.

The Messiah would come and He would bear the sins of Israel (and the world; see John 1:29).  Part of this was to “reverse the curse” (Romans 5:17-18).  Part of the fall into sin is suffering, pain, and sickness.  In Revelation 21:4 assures us that in the new heavens and new earth, there will be no more pain, suffering, crying, death.  In fact, death will be destroyed completely according to Revelation 20:14.  Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8) and part of that work is death itself whom He abolished (2 Timothy 1:10).  Death has been swallowed up in victory through Christ (1 Corinthians 15:54) so that Jesus could say to Martha that He was the resurrection and the life even before the cross (John 11:25-26).

What point then does signs and wonders serve for the Messiah?  They point to Him being the true Messiah.  John the Apostle mentions “signs” in John 2:23.  The Greek word here is “semeion” which can be translated “sign, signal, mark.”  Jesus, by doing signs and wonders, was giving a sign, a signal, and a mark that He was in fact the Son of God.  In John 2:11 John the Apostle states that Jesus did these signs or signals or marks and His disciples put their faith in Him.  The signs and wonders of Jesus were not for a show.  They were to point to a greater, deeper meaning and that was that Jesus was the Messiah of God.  Jesus was the promised one from the Old Testament (Genesis 3:15).

When Jesus appeared on the scene, He was unlike any other who had ever been or will be.  I know some charismatics like to quote John 14:12 to say that we as believers can do greater works than Jesus but that was not the point of John 14:12.  I know of no charismatics who would claim to do greater miracles than Jesus.  Who can claim to be sinless?  Who can claim toward others that if they destroy them, they will raise themselves up again?  Who can truly make blind eyes open just by a touch?  Who can raise the dead by a word?  Who can claim to seeing the lame walk just by taking them by the hand?  Even the Apostles pointed to the Lord Jesus with their signs and wonders in Acts (more on that in the next post).

In the Bible, God allowed signs and wonders for a purpose.  In biblical history we only find three main times when miracles were rampant.  Moses.  Elijah and Elisha.  The Gospels and Acts.  In each case, the purpose was a sign from God.  For example, in Moses’ case the Lord was delivering His people out of Egypt and He gave great power to Moses as he led God’s people out.  While the Lord allowed Joshua, Moses’ aid and successor, to do miracles, they were not on the same level nor quantity as Moses.  The point of the signs and wonders was to point to Moses as God’s faithful servant and deliver (Exodus 4:1-9).

In the case of the Lord Jesus, He did miracles to point to Him being the true Messiah.  In Luke 4:18-19 Jesus appeals to the words of Isaiah 61:1-2 as about Himself.  The Jews take an exception to this (Luke 4:29) but Jesus escapes from their grasps (Luke 4:30).  Jesus points to the Old Testament Scriptures about Himself and to His miracles (John 5:36-40).  The purpose of the signs and wonders was to reveal that Jesus was in fact the Son of God who came down from heaven to do His Father’s will (John 5:30; 6:32).

So let me return to my original question: what is the purpose of signs and wonders in the ministry of Jesus?  They were to validate Him as the Messiah.  Yet if divine determinism is true, why is this necessary?  If God can make a person believe and make another not believe by His own determinism then why do we need signs and wonders?  The elect would believe because God makes them believe and not because of signs and wonders!

The very nature of signs and wonders in the life of Jesus points to the reality of contra-casual free will.  God was not making people believe or disbelieve.  He was sending His Son to redeem fallen humanity just as Isaiah stated in Isaiah 53.  This good news (gospel) would be for all people and not just the Jews (Luke 2:10).  All of humanity is under the curse of sin but Christ came to redeem us who were under the curse of sin (Galatians 3:13-14).  Just as Moses lifted up the serpent on the poll to redeem all who would look upon the poll, so the Lord Jesus was lifted up for all sinners so that whosoever can come and be saved by looking to Him alone to save them (John 3:14-15).  The purpose of signs and wonders is to point to the truth that Jesus is the Messiah and by believing you might have life in His name (John 20:31).  The signs and wonders are signs, signals, and marks that Jesus is the Son of God who gave Himself for our sins (Galatians 1:4; 2:20; 1 Peter 3:18).

If unconditional election were true what point would signs and wonders play?  The elect will believe because God makes them to believe (or at least makes them irresistibly willing to believe).  A Calvinist may argue that the purpose of signs and wonders is so that the elect will believe but if God chooses whom He will save and whom He will damn, the elect will believe no matter what by God’s determined decree.  The signs are not true signs then but just merely a show for the purpose of the Bible.  Even if Jesus never did miracles, the elect would believe if in fact divine determinism is true.  The very reason for signs and wonders points to free will.  The signs are to invoke people to consider Jesus and His claims.  The wonders are to cause people to question if Jesus is truly the Messiah.  Read John 9 and notice how signs and wonders play into the reasoning of the people about Jesus.  Jesus healed the blind man to provoke people to debating about Him.  The signs provoked the people as well in John 7:31 to consider Jesus.

One final point about signs and wonders.  The purpose of signs and wonders in the Gospels seems to me to be three-fold.  First and most obvious, the signs point to Jesus as the Messiah.  This is God manifested in the flesh (John 1:14) so we expect Him to do miracles since He is God.  This is the anointed one (Christ) of God who is sinless and is the perfect Son of God.  He does miracles to point to Him being both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:22, 36).

Secondly, signs and wonders provoked the Jews to consider Jesus as the Messiah.  I point again to John 9 as a case in point.  I would also point to Acts 10:38.

Thirdly, I believe that signs and wonders also provoked the Jews to kill Jesus.  We read this in John 12:36-43.  Some of the Jews (such as the Apostles) believed in Jesus because of His signs and wonders and His teachings but many Jews rejected Him as the Messiah and killed Him for it.  The signs worked to provoke some to faith while others to rejection.  This is still true today.  Why does God do this if in fact divine determinism is true?  Why does God need to harden the Jews according to John 12:40 if total depravity (in the Calvinist sense) is true?  If man is born depraved, dead in their sins, wicked sinners from birth then why would God need to provoke the Jews to harden their hearts toward His Messiah?  There is no logical answer for the Calvinist here.

In my next post I will jump into the purpose of signs and wonders among the Apostles.

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