Category Archives: Biblical Theme/Topic

The Case for the Historicity and Deity of Jesus (Free Bible Insert)

187In a world filled with people skeptical about the claims of the Bible related to Jesus, it’s sometimes helpful to review the cumulative case for the historicity and deity of Christ. Like all collective cases, the power of the argument rests on the robust assembly of historical evidences. I’ve assembled some of these in this blog post and created a Bible “insert” (a half-sheet printable summary that fits in your Bible) to help you remember the case:

Ancient Non-Christian Historians Agreed that Jesus Lived
Ancient “pagan” historians wrote about Jesus and his followers and the statements of these historians and writers corroborate the claims of the Bible related to Jesus:

(1) The Historical Record of Thallus (52AD)
(2) The Historical Record of Pliny the Younger (61-113AD)
(3) The Historical Record of Suetonius (69-140AD)
(4) The Historical Record of Tacitus (56-120AD)
(5) The Historical Record of Mara Bar-Serapion (70AD)
(6) The Historical Record of Phlegon (80-140AD)
(7) The Historical Record of Lucian of Samosata: (115-200 A.D.)
(8) The Historical Record of Celsus (175AD)

Ancient Jewish Historians Agree that Jesus Lived
Even though most ancient Jewish accounts of Jesus are hostile, they still affirm much about the historicity of Jesus, even as they attempt to vilify His character:

(1) The Historical Record of Josephus (37-101AD)
(2) The Historical Record of the Jewish Talmud (400-700AD)
(3) The Historical Record of The Toledot Yeshu (1000AD)

Jesus Claimed to Be God
While some skeptics deny Jesus ever identified Himself as God to His first century audience, the evidence demonstrates just the opposite:

(1) He Prefaced His Statements As Though He Was God (Matthew 5:18)
(2) He Identified Himself With God’s Own Name, “I Am” (John 8:49-58)
(3) He Talked As Though He Was Equal With God (John 14:6-9)
(4) He Said That He and God Were One (John 10:25-29)

Jesus Demonstrated that He Had the Nature of God
Jesus possessed a unique authority with those who knew him; an authority that far exceeded that of other important Rabbis. The authority of Jesus was based in his deity:

(1) He Demonstrated Omniscience (John 4:16-30)
(2) He Demonstrated Omnipresence (Matthew 28:20)
(3) He Demonstrated Omnipotence (John 11:38-44, Mark 6:48)

Jesus Was Worshiped As God by Those Who Knew Him
In a first century Jewish culture that rejected the worship of anyone (or anything) other than the one true God, Jesus was repeatedly worshiped by those who encountered him:

(1) The wise men worshiped him at his birth (Matthew 2:10-12)
(2) The leper worshiped Him at his healing (Matthew 8:2)
(3) The synagogue ruler worshiped Him (Matthew 9:18-19)
(4) The disciples worshiped him in the boat (Matthew 14:32-33)
(5) The mother of James and John worshiped Him (Matthew 20:20-21)
(6) The blind man worshiped Him at his healing (John 9:35-38)
(7) The women worshiped Him at the empty tomb (Matthew 28:8-10)

Jesus Fulfilled Old Testament Messianic Prophecies
The disciples and first witnesses of Jesus were repeatedly amazed by the number of ways Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophecy related to the coming Messiah:

(1) The Messiah Will Appear After the Jews Return to Israel (Jeremiah 23:3-6)
(2) The Messiah Would Be Born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2)
(3) The Messiah Would Be Preceded By a Messenger (Isaiah 40:3)
(4) The Messiah Would Enter Jerusalem While Riding on a Donkey (Zech 9:9)
(5) The Messiah Would Suffer and Be Rejected (Isaiah 53:3)
(6) The Messiah Would Be Betrayed for 30 Pieces of Silver( Zech 11:12-13)
(7) The Messiah Would Be Silent Before His Accusers (Isaiah 53:7)
(8) The Messiah Would Be Wounded, Whipped and Crucified (Isaiah 53:5)

The cumulative case for the historicity and deity of Jesus is compelling when viewed in its entirety. This brief thumbnail sketch is a helpful reminder: The Christian worldview is evidentially verifiable. Be sure to download your free Bible insert by visiting the Cold Case Christianity homepage and selecting the link in the right toolbar. A new, free, downloadable Bible Insert is posted every month.

J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of Cold-Case Christianity, Cold-Case Christianity for Kids, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith.

Source: The Case for the Historicity and Deity of Jesus (Free Bible Insert)

Why Should I Believe that Jesus Rose from the Dead?

The following is adapted from Michael Horton, “Risen Indeed.”

In answering this question, it’s helpful for us to return to the “facts of the case.” Here, speculation is useless. It does not matter what we thought reality was like: whether we believed in thirty gods or none. It doesn’t matter what we find helpful, meaningful, or fulfilling. This is not about spirituality or moral uplift. Something has happened in history and we cannot wish it away. It either happened or it did not happen, but the claim itself is hardly meaningless or beyond investigation. Let’s look at the facts of the case.

The earliest Christians testified to the following elements of the resurrection claim, even to the point of martyrdom:

View article →

Fools and Wise Men: Aggressive Antagonism

Matthew 2:1-12

Code: B161212
by Jeremiah Johnson

As we enter the Christmas season again, we’re sure to hear the usual platitudes about Jesus in His infancy. Much of the secular world can tolerate and even celebrate Christ as a helpless newborn. They can embrace the humility of His makeshift maternity ward and other familiar imagery from the incarnation—so long as the baby stays in the manger and they’re never forced to deal with the man He became.

But the details of Christ’s life and work cannot be subdivided or sanitized. How you respond to Christ—even in His infancy—sets the course for your eternity. Nothing is more important.

In essence, there are only three ways to respond to Jesus. And all three of them are depicted in the aftermath of His birth, as recorded in Matthew 2:1-12.

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east, and have come to worship Him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet, ‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; for out of you shall come forth a Ruler who will shepherd My people Israel.’”

Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.” After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.

In his commentary on that passage, John MacArthur writes:

In this brief text we see examples of the three basic responses that men made to Jesus when He was on earth, and the same three responses that men throughout history have made to the Lord. Some, like Herod, are hostile to Him; some, like the chief priests and scribes, are indifferent to Him; and some, like the magi, worship Him. [1] John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Matthew 1–7 (Chicago: Moody Press, 1985), 24.

This week we’re going to consider all three responses, and how they’re mirrored in the way modern men and women react to Jesus. Today we’ll focus on Herod’s response.

The Paranoid Ruler

In his commentary, John paints a vivid portrait of the man whom Rome had appointed as the king of the Jews:

He was a clever and capable warrior, orator, and diplomat. . . . But Herod was also cruel and merciless. He was incredibly jealous, suspicious, and afraid for his position and power. Fearing his potential threat, he had the high priest Aristobulus, who was his wife Mariamne’s brother, drowned-after which he provided a magnificent funeral where he pretended to weep. He then had Mariamne herself killed, and then her mother and two of his own sons. Five days before his death (about a year after Jesus was born) he had a third son executed. [2] The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Matthew 1–7, 26.

Herod held the title of king, but like any occupying force, he knew his power was always under threat. Clearly, such desperation to maintain authority breeds a maniacal paranoia. Who knows how many people lost their lives because they represented—even tangentially—a supposed threat to Herod’s reign?

It’s little wonder then that the magi’s inquiry concerning the birth of the “King of the Jews” produced such hostility from Israel’s bloodthirsty ruler.

The Deceptive Scheme

John Macarthur describes Herod’s cunning reaction to the news of a potential usurper to his throne:

Herod’s first response to the news of the magi was to gather “together all the chief priests and scribes of the people” and “to inquire of them where the Christ was to be born” (Matthew 2:4). Obviously Herod connected the King of the Jews with the Messiah, the Christ. Though Herod was not himself a Jew he knew Jewish beliefs and customs rather well. The current messianic expectations of most Jews at that time was more for a political and military deliverer than a spiritual savior. [3] The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Matthew 1–7, 32.

The magi’s news and the information he gleaned from the Jewish religious leaders set the wheels of his self-defense into motion.

After Herod received the information he wanted from the Jewish leaders, “he secretly called the magi, and ascertained the time the star appeared” (Matthew 2:7). His concern was for the time of the star’s appearance, not its meaning or significance. It was enough for him to know only that the sign pointed to the birth of someone who could be a threat to his own power and position. The time of the star’s appearance would indicate the age of the child who had been born.

Herod then instructed the magi to proceed with their mission and then report their findings to him as they returned home. He hypocritically gave them a good-sounding reason for wanting to know the exact location and identity of the Child-in order that “I too may come and worship Him” (Matthew 2:8). [4] The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Matthew 1–7, 34.

The Violent Campaign

But the ultimate purpose of Herod’s diplomatic maneuvering was nothing less than outright hostility. His murderous streak came once again to the fore:

When the magi, again obedient to the Lord’s leading (Matthew 2:12), did not report to Herod, he ordered his soldiers to slaughter every male child in and around Bethlehem that was under two years of age (Matthew 2:16), in order to guarantee, he thought, the destruction of his rival newborn “King.” [5] The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Matthew 1–7, 34.

But God’s divine purposes are never thwarted. Herod’s deadly devices couldn’t put a dent in Christ’s reign as the King of kings. Instead, Herod went to the grave with a heightened sense of frantic paranoia. In fact, John Macarthur explains that even in death Herod’s wicked self-interest was on vivid display.

One of the greatest evidences of his bloodthirstiness and insane cruelty was having the most distinguished citizens of Jerusalem arrested and imprisoned shortly before his death. Because he knew no one would mourn his own death, he gave orders for those prisoners to be executed the moment he died-in order to guarantee that there would be mourning in Jerusalem. [6] The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Matthew 1–7, 26.

Reading that, you’re likely thankful to live in more civilized times. But let’s not forget the fierce violence perpetrated against Christians across much of the rest of the world. Publicly believing in Christ is enough to cost you your job, your home, and even your life in parts of the globe today. In fact, it seems the hostility against God and His people is increasing worldwide, rapidly advancing into countries that ostensibly prize religious freedom.

And even in the relative calm of our Western society, the biblical account of Christ’s birth is still met with aggressive hostility by people who prefer their own self-rule. Like Herod, many today are insecure about the threat Jesus poses to their self-importance and self-determination. They want nothing to do with Christ, and work to stamp out His influence in the world.

You have probably encountered people who attempt to discredit the Person and work of Jesus Christ. Others aggressively work to banish any discussion of Him, His life and death, and any other hint of gospel truth from public discourse. In fact, while it lacks the bloody violence of Herod’s genocide, much of the world today continues in the spirit of his campaign to extinguish Christ’s influence and authority.

This year, be aware that while the unrepentant world may pay begrudging lip service to Christ’s birth, they’re only echoing Herod’s deception. In the end, they want nothing to do with worshipping Christ or acknowledging the truth of His life.


Available online at: http://www.gty.org/resources/Blog/B161212
COPYRIGHT ©2016 Grace to You

The Story Of Redemption

The Tabernacle was the mobile dwelling place of God–a tent covered in skin. When Jesus came, the Apostle John tells us that “He tabernacled among us.” Jesus is the enfleshed, mobile dwelling place of God. In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.

Nothing serves to strengthen our faith so much as seeing the various patterns which God has woven into the pages of Scriptures in order to form a beautiful tapestry of His redeeming grace in Christ. It is not uncommon for theologians to refer to the meta-narrative, or the story of Scripture, as they seek to highlight the organic Christological connectivity of God’s revelation in the Bible. Over the years, I’ve sought to share some of the biblical theological insights that I have gleaned from Scripture and from many of the great theologians of church history. While there are so many rich redemptive-historical connections to be made in Scripture, here is a digestion of some of what I have personally found to be the most spiritually stimulating redemptive-historical meditations from Scripture–combined with a few historical references:

  • At creation, the Triune God looked back over His newly made world and pronounced it “good.” In the work of redemption, Jesus looked back over all that He had accomplished and proclaimed, “It is finished.” William Blaikie captured this so well when he wrote: “That cry with a loud voice, ‘It is finished,’ immediately before He resigned His spirit into His Father’s hands, was in many ways most significant. It indicated the feeling of the Redeemer surveying His work from the close, corresponding to the feeling of the Creator when He saw everything He had made, and, behold, it was very good.”1
  • As the Spirit of God hovered over the waters of creation–bringing new life out of the darkness–so He overshadowed the virgin Mary to knit together a human nature for the Son of God to take to Himself in order to bring about the new creation. Sinclair Ferguson elucidates the mystery of the Spirit’s work in creation and redemption in the following way: “It is an amazing, supernatural miracle; but like God’s great works–creation, incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection–done safe from men’s prying eyes. He brings light out of darkness. He brings His Son into the dark womb of a virgin.”2
  • At the creation of man, the Lord breathed the breath of life into him–making him a living being (Gen. 2:7). At the inauguration of the new creation, Jesus breathed the Spirit of life into His people–making them spiritually living beings (John 20:22).
  • As God put Adam to sleep and created a bride for him out of his side, so God put Jesus to sleep in death and took a bride for Him out of His pierced side. Matthew Henry drew out this parallel when he wrote: “Adam was a figure of him that was to come; for out of the side of Christ, the second Adam, his spouse the church was formed, when he slept the sleep, the deep sleep, of death upon the cross, in order to which his side was opened, and there came out blood and water, blood to purchase his church and water to purify it to himself.”3
  • Eve seems to have been presented to Adam on the Sabbath Day when he awoke from sleep. So, the bride of Christ, was presented to Him on the first day of the week when he awoke at His resurrection. Jonathan Edwards noted this when he wrote: “When [Adam] was in a deep sleep, Eve was made of his rib. And when he rose from his deep sleep in the morning, and the sun arose, and all things were renewed, he received his beauteous spouse that had been formed of him. She was brought and presented to him in perfect beauty and purity: which represents being of Christ by his death and his obtaining the church by his death…So Christ’s resurrection, when he rose from that death whereby he had purchased the church, was on the sabbath, the first day of the week, the first day of Christ’s immortal life, and the day when he first received what he had purchased by his death.”4
  1. William Blaikie Glimpses of the Inner Life of Our Lord(London: Hodder and Stoughten, 1876) pp. 273-275.
  2. An excerpt from Sinclair Ferguson’s sermon, “Jesus, Name Above All Names: Immanuel.”
  3. Matthew Henry Exposition of the Old and New Testament(London: Joseph Robinson, 1828) vol. 1 p. 12
  4. Jonathan Edwards. (2000). The “Miscellanies”: (Entry Nos. 501–832). (A. Chamberlain & H. S. Stout, Eds.) (Vol. 18, pp. 288–289). New Haven; London: Yale University Press.

Read More

Jesus’ Deity and the Early Church

Did the early church believe in the deity of Christ?

Ask your average Muslim, Unitarian, Jehovah’s Witness, or just about any non-Christian skeptic who has read (or watched) The Da Vinci Code, and they’ll try to convince you the answer is noFrom such sources we are told that the deity of Christ was a doctrine invented centuries after Jesus’ death — a result of pagan influences on the church in the fourth century when the Roman Empire adopted Christianity as its official religion.

Emperor Constantine, in particular, is blamed for being the guy who promoted Jesus to the level of deity, a feat of cosmic proportions that he managed to pull off at the Council of Nicaea in 325. As Dan Brown put it (through the lips of one of his literary characters): “Jesus’ establishment as ‘the Son of God’ was officially proposed and voted on by the Council of Nicaea. . . . By officially endorsing Jesus as the Son of God, Constantine turned Jesus into a deity who existed beyond the scope of the human world, an entity whose power was unchallengeable” (The Da Vinci Code, 253).

So how can believers answer such allegations?

The best response, obviously, is to demonstrate from Scripture that Jesus is God. We can be confident that the early church affirmed Christ’s deity (and that we should do the same) because the New Testament clearly teaches that truth. The biblical case can be made from many places. Without going into detail in this post, here is a small sampling of texts that teach the deity of Christ: Isaiah 9:6; Matt. 1:23; John 1:1, 14, 18; 20:28; Acts 20:28; Rom. 9:5; 1 Cor. 1:24; 2 Cor. 4:4; Php. 2:6; Col. 1:15–16; 2:9; Titus 2:13; Heb. 1:3, 8; 2 Pet. 1:1; 1 John 5:20.

But what about church history outside of the New Testament? Did the early church fathers affirm the deity of Jesus Christ? Or was it only after the fourth century (and the Council of Nicaea) that Christian leaders began to articulate their belief in God the Son?

Though it’s not an exhaustive list, here are 25 quotations from a number of ante-Nicene church fathers demonstrating their belief in the deity of Jesus Christ (with portions underlined for emphasis). These early Christian theologians all lived before the time of Constantine and the Council of Nicaea. As such, they provide incontrovertible proof (from post-New Testament history) that Constantine was not the first person in church history to affirm this doctrine. Rather, the early church embraced the truth that Jesus is God from the time of the apostles on.

1. Ignatius of Antioch (c. 50–117): For our God, Jesus the Christ, was conceived by Mary according to God’s plan, both from the seed of David and of the Holy Spirit. (Ignatius, Letter to the Ephesians, 18.2. Translation from Michael Holmes, Apostolic Fathers, 197)

2. Ignatius (again): Consequently all magic and every kind of spell were dissolved, the ignorance so characteristic of wickedness vanished, and the ancient kingdom was abolished when God appeared in human form to bring the newness of eternal life. (Ibid., 19.3. Holmes, AF, 199)

3. Ignatius (again): For our God Jesus Christ is more visible now that he is in the Father. (Ignatius, Letter to the Romans, 3.3. Holmes, AF, 229)

4. Ignatius (again): I glorify Jesus Christ, the God who made you so wise, for I observed that you are established in an unshakable faith, having been nailed, as it were, to the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. (Ignatius, Letter to the Smyrnaeans, 1.1. Holmes, AF, 249)

5. Ignatius (again): Wait expectantly for the one who is above time: the Eternal, the Invisible, who for our sake became visible; the Intangible, the Unsuffering, who for our sake suffered, who for our sake endured in every way. (Ignatius, Letter to Polycarp, 3.2. Holmes, AF, 265)

6. Polycarp of Smyrna (69–155): Now may the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the eternal high priest himself, the Son of God Jesus Christ, build you up in faith and truth . . ., and to us with you, and to all those under heaven who will yet believe in our Lord and God Jesus Christ and in his Father who raised him from the dead. (Polycarp, Philippians, 12:2. Holmes, AF, 295)

7. Epistle of Barnabas (written c. 70–130): If the Lord submitted to suffer for our souls, even though he is Lord of the whole world, to whom God said at the foundation of the world, “Let us make humankind according to our image and likeness,” how is it, then, that he submitted to suffer at the hands of humans? (Epistle of Barnabas, 5.5. Holmes, AF, 393)

8. Justin Martyr (100–165): And that Christ being Lord, and God the Son of God, and appearing formerly in power as Man, and Angel, and in the glory of fire as at the bush, so also was manifested at the judgment executed on Sodom, has been demonstrated fully by what has been said. (Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 128. Translation from Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, Ante-Nicene Fathers, I:264)

9. Justin (again): Permit me first to recount the prophecies, which I wish to do in order to prove that Christ is called both God and Lord of hosts. (Ibid., 36. ANF, I:212)

10. Justin (again): Therefore these words testify explicitly that He [Jesus] is witnessed to by Him [the Father] who established these things, as deserving to be worshipped, as God and as Christ. (Ibid., 63. ANF, I:229)

11. Justin (again): The Father of the universe has a Son; who also, being the first-begotten Word of God, is even God. And of old He appeared in the shape of fire and in the likeness of an angel to Moses and to the other prophets; but now in the times of your reign, having, as we before said, become Man by a virgin. (Justin Martyr, First Apology, 63. ANF, I:184)

12. Justin (again): For if you had understood what has been written by the prophets, you would not have denied that He was God, Son of the only, unbegotten, unutterable God. (Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 126. ANF, I:263)

13. Tatian (110–172): We do not act as fools, O Greeks, nor utter idle tales when we announce that God was born in the form of man. (Tatian, Address to the Greeks, 21. ANF, II:74)

14. Melito of Sardis (d. c. 180): He that hung up the earth in space was Himself hanged up; He that fixed the heavens was fixed with nails; He that bore up the earth was born up on a tree; the Lord of all was subjected to ignominy in a naked body – God put to death! . . . [I]n order that He might not be seen, the luminaries turned away, and the day became darkened—because they slew God, who hung naked on the tree. . . . This is He who made the heaven and the earth, and in the beginning, together with the Father, fashioned man; who was announced by means of the law and the prophets; who put on a bodily form in the Virgin; who was hanged upon the tree; who was buried in the earth; who rose from the place of the dead, and ascended to the height of heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father. (Melito, 5. ANF, VIII:757)

15. Irenaeus of Lyons (120–202): For I have shown from the Scriptures, that no one of the sons of Adam is as to everything, and absolutely, called God, or named Lord. But that He is Himself in His own right, beyond all men who ever lived, God, and Lord, and King Eternal, and the Incarnate Word, proclaimed by all the prophets, the apostles, and by the Spirit Himself, may be seen by all who have attained to even a small portion of the truth. Now, the Scriptures would not have testified these things of Him, if, like others, He had been a mere man. . . . He is the holy Lord, the Wonderful, the Counselor, the Beautiful in appearance, and the Mighty God, coming on the clouds as the Judge of all men; — all these things did the Scriptures prophesy of Him. (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 3.19.2. ANF, I:449)

16. Irenaeus (again): He received testimony from all that He was very man, and that He was very God, from the Father, from the Spirit, from angels, from the creation itself, from men, from apostate spirits and demons. (Ibid., 4.6.7. ANF, I:469)

17. Irenaeus (again): Christ Jesus [is] our Lord, and God, and Savior, and King, according to the will of the invisible Father. (Ibid., 1.10.1. ANF, I:330)

18. Irenaeus (again): Christ Himself, therefore, together with the Father, is the God of the living, who spoke to Moses, and who was also manifested to the fathers. (Ibid., 4.5.2. ANF, I:467)

19. Clement of Alexandria (c. 150–215): This Word, then, the Christ, the cause of both our being at first (for He was in God) and of our well-being, this very Word has now appeared as man, He alone being both, both God and man—the Author of all blessings to us; by whom we, being taught to live well, are sent on our way to life eternal. . . . . . . The Word, who in the beginning bestowed on us life as Creator when He formed us, taught us to live well when He appeared as our Teacher; that as God He might afterwards conduct us to the life which never ends. (Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation to the Heathen, 1. ANF, II:173)

20. Tertullian (c. 160–225): For God alone is without sin; and the only man without sin is Christ, since Christ is also God. (Tertullian, Treatise on the Soul, 41. ANF, III:221)

21. Tertullian (again): Thus Christ is Spirit of Spirit, and God of God, as light of light is kindled.  . . . That which has come forth out of God is at once God and the Son of God, and the two are one. In this way also, as He is Spirit of Spirit and God of God, He is made a second in manner of existence—in position, not in nature; and He did not withdraw from the original source, but went forth. This ray of God, then, as it was always foretold in ancient times, descending into a certain virgin, and made flesh in her womb, is in His birth God and man united. (Tertullian, Apology, 21. ANF, III:34–35)

22. Hippolytus (170–235): The Logos alone of this God is from God himself; wherefore also the Logos is God, being the substance of God. (Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies, 10.29. ANF, V:151)

23. Caius (180–217) [in response to those who would question the deity of Christ]: Perhaps what they allege might be credible, did not the Holy Scriptures, in the first place, contradict them. And then, besides, there are writings of certain brethren older than the times of Victor, which they wrote against the heathen in defense of the truth, and against the heresies of their time: I mean Justin and Miltiades, and Tatian and Clement, and many others, in all which divinity is ascribed to Christ. For who is ignorant of the books of Irenaeus and Melito, and the rest, which declare Christ to be God and man? All the psalms, too, and hymns of brethren, which have been written from the beginning by the faithful, celebrate Christ the Word of God, ascribing divinity to Him. (Caius, Fragments, 2.1. ANF, V:601)

24. Origen (c. 185–254): Jesus Christ . . . in the last times, divesting Himself (of His glory), became a man, and was incarnate although God, and while made a man remained the God which He was. (Origen, De Principiis, Preface, 4. ANF, IV:240)

25. Novatian of Rome (210–280) For Scripture as much announces Christ as also God, as it announces God Himself as man. It has as much described Jesus Christ to be man, as moreover it has also described Christ the Lord to be God. Because it does not set forth Him to be the Son of God only, but also the Son of man; nor does it only say, the Son of man, but it has also been accustomed to speak of Him as the Son of God. So that being of both, He is both, lest if He should be one only, He could not be the other. For as nature itself has prescribed that he must be believed to be a man who is of man, so the same nature prescribes also that He must be believed to be God who is of God. . . . Let them, therefore, who read that Jesus Christ the Son of man is man, read also that this same Jesus is called also God and the Son of God. (Novatian, On the Trinity, 11. ANF, V:620)

Additional information on this topic can be found in an article from The Master’s Seminary Journal entitled Did Constantine Invent the Trinity?

The post Jesus’ Deity and the Early Church appeared first on The Master’s Seminary.

Praying for Your Children

The Bible clearly shows that, during our Lord’s earthly ministry, there were parents who wanted Jesus to bless their children:

Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” And after laying His hands on them, He departed from there. (Matt. 19:13–15)

Though Jesus is not currently visible (1 Pet. 1:8), nothing has changed for believing parents. We still want—and so desperately need—the Lord to bless our children. This shows both our continuous looking to Him and the realization that our capacities as parents are limited.

As with most items related to discipleship—and parenting is definitely a God-ordained and commanded aspect of discipleship (Eph. 6:1–4)—prayer plays a vital role.

When our children were younger, they would frequently accompany me many places I went, including the seminary where I taught. I was asked dozens of times, “How do you get kids at that age to be so well-behaved and be such a blessing?” Always the answer from the heart would be, “My wife and I are not perfect parents, and our children are not perfect children.” Though we certainly did see God’s blessing on our children, we knew they were still quite young and had not yet faced the teenage and adult years with all the temptations and snares and dangers ahead of them (Prov. 1–9).

While seeing God’s hand of blessing, I realized the battle was only just beginning for us—and at times it was indeed a battle, and a very intense one at that, as both the world and the evil one actively worked to attract them to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life (1 John 2:16).

Part of my answer to those who asked me about raising our children would be that we repeatedly prayed for them and tried to raise them as God would have us do, especially as shown in Scripture. Even then, my wife and I knew we were not in full control; you cannot save your own children; you cannot live their lives for them.

We would stand on the sidelines and actively watch as our children walked with God, or, in one case, did not walk with Him for a prolonged period. I have been both the Prodigal Son and the father of a prodigal—and by the sheer grace of God—I have been the rejoicing father of a prodigal who has returned to the Lord.

As I talked to other parents about raising children, a similar question would repeatedly be raised, especially by younger parents:

“What do you pray for your children when you pray for them?”

This article is drawn from my response to that question. It is not necessarily exhaustive, nor does it mean that each item noted below must be included in every prayer session. Seasons of life often necessitate changed elements of emphasis as children grow older. But I trust this list will be encouraging and motivating to Christian parents as they intercede on behalf of those under their care.

Here is what I prayed (and still pray) for my children:

I pray . . .

— as a child to my heavenly Father before praying as a father for my own children (1 Peter 1:17).

— for my own walk with God (Eph 4­–6) before I pray for their walk; it starts with me, not with them.

— for my wife Betsy’s walk with God (singular) and ours collectively as husband and wife.

Any true ministry (and parenting most certainly is a ministry, and an incredibly responsible ministry at that) is merely an extension of your walk with the Lord (or lack thereof). And though we fail miserably at this at times, my wife and I pray that our children will see our relationship with God (Eph. 5:22­–33), and that it will be a natural carryover to our working with them (Eph. 6:1–4).

I pray . . .

— for our marriage.

— for our parenting.

— for wisdom and discernment in each of these areas (James 1:5–6; 1 Pet. 5:5–9).

— for what to say; for what not to say.

— for godly discipline that will not exasperate (Eph. 6:4).

— that God will bless our children beyond our capacities and limitations as parents.

I pray for my children . . .

— that they will come to a saving grace of God early in their lives (1 Sam. 3:7).

— that their hearts will always be tender before God (2 Chron. 34:27).

— that their hearts will always be inclined to God (Josh. 24:23).

— that they will fear God and turn away from evil (Job 1:8).

I pray for my children . . .

— that God will raise up godly influences for them, and

— that they will become godly influences.

— that they will have godly friends and be godly friends to others.

— that true biblical Wisdom will be their close associate (Prov. 1-9; 1Cor. 1:22-24; 1Cor. 1:30).

I pray for my children . . .

— that God will make them be/become blessings to others (Philemon 7).

— that they will be thankful to God and to others (Luke 17:11–18; Col. 3:15).

I pray for my children . . .

— that God will grant them an insatiable hunger and thirst for Him and His Word (1 Pet. 2:1–2).

— that they will worship God in spirit and truth frequently (John 4:23–24).

— that they will have a Second Coming mentality (1 John 3:1­–3).

— that they will live their lives with eternity in view (Phil. 3:20–21).

I pray for my children . . .

— that they will come under strong conviction when they sin (Ps. 51), and

— that they will confess their sins to God (1 John 1:9) and to others (James 5:16).

I pray for my children . . .

— that God will protect them from themselves, violent people and the evil one. (I received these three prayer requests from a godly uncle of mine who has since gone home to be with the Lord).

I pray for my children’s spouses, if they are to have them (1Cor. 7:7), . . .

— that God will cultivate godliness and the same traits already mentioned within them.

— that God will bring them together at the proper time.

— that they will honor Him in the courtship and keep them pure before Him.

— that God will be the center of their home and that this will become evident to others.

— that God would bring them to a godly, Bible-centered church, where they may grow in their walks with the Lord, both individually and collectively.

— that my daughter will become a Proverbs 31 woman and my son an Ephesians 5 man whether God grants them spouses or not.

I pray for my children . . .

— that God will be at work within them both to will and to do according to His good pleasure (Phil. 2:13).

— that God will grant them a sense of excellence in doing things unto the glory of God in the everyday activities of their lives (1 Thess. 4:1 and 4:10; 1 Cor. 10:31; 2 Cor. 1:20).

— that they will know experientially that He alone is worthy to receive all glory, honor and praise and live their lives accordingly (Rev. 4:11; Rev. 5:1–11).

I pray for my children . . .

— that they will not be conformed to this world, but instead they will be transformed by the renewing of their minds (Rom. 12:1–2) and the washing of water with the Word (Eph. 5:26).

— that they grow in the grace and knowledge of their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:18), and

— that they grow in favor with God and man (Luke 2:52).

Simply put, I pray for my children . . .

— that they will walk with God all the days of their lives (Judges 2:7; 1Sam. 1:11; Ps. 23:6), and

— that we will see the fruits of a lifetime of walking with Jesus before His throne (Rev. 4:9–11).

*****

For more information about Dr. Harris and his writing ministry see http://www.glorybooks.org

The post Praying for Your Children appeared first on The Master’s Seminary.

Thanksgiving as Theological Act: What Does it Mean to Give Thanks?

Thanksgiving is a deeply theological act, rightly understood. As a matter of fact, thankfulness is a theology in microcosm — a key to understanding what we really believe about God, ourselves, and the world we experience.

A haunting question is this:  How do atheists observe Thanksgiving? I can easily understand what an atheist or agnostic would think of fellow human beings and feel led to express thankfulness and gratitude to all those who, both directly and indirectly, have contributed to their lives. But what about the blessings that cannot be ascribed to human agency? Those are both more numerous and more significant, ranging from the universe we experience to the gift of life itself.

Can one really be thankful without being thankful to someone? It makes no sense to express thankfulness to a purely naturalistic system. The late Stephen Jay Gould, an atheist and one of the foremost paleontologists and evolutionists of his day, described human life as “but a tiny, late-arising twig on life’s enormously arborescent bush.” Gould was a clear-headed evolutionist who took the theory of evolution to its ultimate conclusion — human life is merely an accident, though a very happy accident for us. Within that worldview, how does thankfulness work?

The Apostle Paul points to a central insight about thankfulness when he instructs the Christians in Rome about the reality and consequences of unbelief. After making clear that God has revealed himself to all humanity through the created order, Paul asserts that we are all without excuse when it comes to our responsibility to know and worship the Creator.

He wrote:

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. . .  [Romans 1:20-22].

This remarkable passage has at its center an indictment of thanklessness. They did not honor Him as God or give thanks. Paul wants us to understand that the refusal to honor God and give thanks is a raw form of the primal sin. Theologians have long debated the foundational sin — and answers have ranged from lust to pride. Nevertheless, it would seem that being unthankful, refusing to recognize God as the source of all good things, is very close to the essence of the primal sin. What explains the rebellion of Adam and Eve in the Garden? A lack of proper thankfulness was at the core of their sin. God gave them unspeakable riches and abundance, but forbade them the fruit of one tree. A proper thankfulness would have led our first parents to avoid that fruit at all costs, and to obey the Lord’s command. Taken further, this first sin was also a lack of thankfulness in that the decision to eat the forbidden fruit indicated a lack of thankfulness that took the form of an assertion that we creatures — not the Creator — know what is best for us and intend the best for us.

They did not honor Him as God or give thanks. Clearly, honoring God as God leads us naturally into thankfulness. To honor Him as God is to honor His limitless love, His benevolence and care, His provision and uncountable gifts. To fail in thankfulness is to fail to honor God — and this is the biblical description of fallen and sinful humanity. We are a thankless lot.

Sinners saved by the grace and mercy of God know a thankfulness that exceeds any merely human thankfulness. How do we express thankfulness for the provision the Father has made for us in Christ, the riches that are made ours in Him, and the unspeakable gift of the surpassing grace of God? As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift” [2 Corinthians 9:15].

So, observe a wonderful Thanksgiving — but realize that a proper Christian Thanksgiving is a deeply theological act that requires an active mind as well as a thankful heart. We need to think deeply, widely, carefully, and faithfully about the countless reasons for our thankfulness to God.

It is humbling to see that Paul so explicitly links a lack of thankfulness to sin, foolishness, and idolatry. A lack of proper thankfulness to God is a clear sign of a basic godlessness. Millions of Americans will celebrate Thanksgiving with little consciousness of this truth. Their impulse to express gratitude is a sign of their spiritual need that can be met only in Christ.

So have a very Happy Thanksgiving — and remember that giving thanks is one of the most explicitly theological acts any human can contemplate. O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting [1 Chronicles 16:34]. In all things, give thanks to God.

The post Thanksgiving as Theological Act: What Does it Mean to Give Thanks? appeared first on AlbertMohler.com.

What Does It Mean to Be Reformed?

A guest blog by Tim Challies

Every year or so I find myself crawling back to a definition of the word Reformed that I first wrote up a couple of years ago. I find it worthwhile to revisit this every twelve months or so. With the amount of reading and studying I do in a year, I feel it is interesting to turn to this definition to see what I would change and what I would refine. I also find it humbling to see which parts of the definition I may have emphasized at the expense of others.

And so today I thought I would define the word Reformed, trusting that the readers of this site will find it helpful. While Calvinism and Reformed are not fully synonymous, most people understand them to be so. Because the differences between them are subtle, I will use them synonymously.

It is important to understand that because the Reformed tradition arose from the Protestant Reformation, the term Reformed was not defined from within a void. Rather, it was defined as a biblical response to the excesses and perversions of the Roman Catholic Church. The Reformers, having returned to Scripture, attempted to carefully and faithfully rebuild the church upon the teachings of the New Testament.

Thus by affirming Reformed theology, a person is implicitly denying certain other theologies, such as Catholic theology (which Reformed theology rose in opposition to) and Arminian theology (which later rose in opposition to Reformed theology). While Calvinism predates Arminianism, it was only codified in the five points after the rise of Arminianism. There is a sense in which Calvinism is both a cause of and the reaction to Arminianism. Or perhaps we could say that Arminianism is a response to Reformed theology, and the codification of Calvinism is a response to Arminianism.

There are many expressions of the Christian faith that are based at least partially on the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Bible. These are separated into four main divisions: Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Protestant and Cults.

Protestantism can be fairly readily divided into two camps: Arminian and Reformed. The vast majority of Protestants hold to Arminian doctrine. We will concern ourselves today with the minority who consider themselves Reformed. These tend to be people who attend Presbyterian or Reformed Baptist Churches, though they may be found in other churches as well. Sadly, there are many churches that were once Reformed and may still use the title, even if they have long since abandoned the theology.

It is surprisingly difficult to find a worthwhile definition of Reformed. While many people claim to understand the Reformed faith and are eager to provide a definition, few seem to be both fair and adequate. Here are a couple of examples culled from a Google search:

1. A term used to refer to a tradition of theology which draws inspiration from the writings of John Calvin (1510-64) and his successors. The term is generally used in preference to “Calvinist.”

2. Referring to the Reformation, it’s theology, and/or those subscribing to it. Also used to differentiate a) Calvinism from Lutheranism, or b) Continental European Calvinism from Scottish Calvinism, aka Presbyterianism.

Those are both concise definitions but ones that do not capture the full sense of the word. A far better and more complete definition is found at Five Solas. There Professor Byron Curtis, a professor at Geneva College breaks the definition into four parts which I will expound in some detail. The first two parts define foundational Protestant beliefs and the second two are exclusively Reformed.

According to Curtis, to be Reformed is:

3. To confess the consensus of the five first centuries of the church:

Classic theism: One omnipotent, benevolent God, distinct from creation.
Nicene and Chalcedonian Trinitarianism: one God in three eternally existent persons, equal in power and glory.

Christ, the God-Man, the one mediator between God & the human race, incarnate, crucified, resurrected, ascended, & coming again.

Humanity created in the image of God, yet tragically fallen & profoundly in need of restoration to God through Christ.

The Visible Church: the community of the redeemed, indwelt by the Holy Spirit; the mystical body of Christ on earth.

The one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

The Sacraments [Ordinances]: visible signs and seals of the grace of God, ministering Christ’s love to us in our deep need.

The Christian life: characterized by the prime theological virtues of faith, hope, and love

4. It would be correct to say that, to this point, we are dealing with a statement of the Protestant faith more than a statement of the Reformed faith. From this list we see that Reformed Christians adhere to all the foundational beliefs taught in the Bible. These beliefs were the foundation of the early church and are based on the teachings of the Bible as interpreted by the apostles and early church fathers. Many of these beliefs were changed or lost as the Catholic Church grew in power and authority from the fifth century onwards. Throughout history there were isolated and often-persecuted pockets of non-Catholic believers who held to many or all of these points of doctrine, but they were largely lost until their rediscovery at the time of the Reformation.

We will find that Professor Curtis’ definition is based largely upon a Presbyterian understanding of several doctrines. Reformed Baptists may take issue with the sacraments being signs and seals. I would suggest that Reformed believers will have a high view of two sacraments, though they may differ somewhat on just how they are to understood and how they are to be administered.

5. To confess the four solas:

The authority of Scripture: sola scriptura (Scripture alone)
The basis of salvation: Sola Gratia (Grace alone)
The means of salvation: Sola Fide (Faith alone)
The merit of salvation: Solus Christus (Christ alone)

6. Again, these form the basis for Protestantism as much as they do for the Reformed tradition, though sadly the majority of Protestants will never encounter the terms. These are the principles that drove the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century and separated it from the Roman Catholic Church. These four points of doctrine are based entirely on the Bible and were the theological driving force behind the newly formed Protestant movement.

7. To confess the distinctives of the Reformed faith:

In salvation: monergism not synergism. God alone saves. Such monergism implies T.U.L.I.P., the Five Points of Calvinism from the Synod of Dordt:
T = Total Depravity U = Unconditional Election L = Limited Atonement, or, better, Particular Redemption I = Irresistible Grace P = Perseverence and Preservation of the Saints

8. These five distinct points of doctrine are also known as the five points of Calvinism as they were first articulated by John Calvin after the Reformation was in full-swing. They are based entirely on the Bible. When people speak of being Reformed these five points of doctrine are most often what they are referring to. Most evangelical (non-Reformed) churches do not hold to all of these points. Some hold to two or three (and occasionally even four), but most reject them in favor of Arminian theology which is, at heart, synergistic, relying on a cooperative effort between man and God.

9. Other Reformed Distinctives: Professor Curtis goes on to list other points of doctrine he believes are Reformed distinctives. They include: The Regulative Principle of Worship, Covenant theology, and Life is religion (Christians have neither jobs nor careers; they have vocations (callings)). I would not consider adherence to these principles necessary to consider oneself Reformed and I suspect the majority of Reformed Christians would agree with me. It is these distinctions that provide some of the differences between Calvinist and Reformed.

10. Finally: in everything, Soli Deo Gloria – to God alone be the glory in all things. This is, once more, something all Christians would claim, either explicitly or implicitly. In all areas of life we are to give glory to God alone.

So what does this all mean? To be Reformed is to adhere to the purist teachings of the Bible — to affirm the doctrine taught by Jesus, Paul and the apostles. Scripture is considered the ultimate authority in matters of life and faith and all Reformed doctrine is founded on the Bible. I am convinced that Reformed doctrine is nothing more than the teachings of Jesus, the Apostles and the totality of the Scriptures. Were it not for human sin we would have to make no distinction between biblical Christianity and the Reformed faith.

The post What Does It Mean to Be Reformed? appeared first on The Master’s Seminary.

Is a Belief in Hell Incompatible with the Truth That God Is Love?

“Whenever we take one biblical truth, then conclude that another teaching of Scripture is incompatible with it, we presume to act as judges of Scripture, rather than submitting to what it says. Hence we become our own authority, defining God’s love on our own terms in a way that is incompatible with Hell, whereas Scripture sees God’s love and Hell as two coexisting truths.”

Many people today act as if we are the first ones to really believe in God’s love. On the contrary, this has been a fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith throughout the ages. The Puritans believed strongly in the love of God. It never prevented them from embracing the doctrine of Hell, since that is revealed in Scripture also.

We may pride ourselves in thinking we are too loving to believe in Hell. But in saying this, we blaspheme, for we claim to be more loving than Jesus—more loving than the One who with outrageous love took upon himself the full penalty for our sin.

Whenever we take one biblical truth, then conclude that another teaching of Scripture is incompatible with it, we presume to act as judges of Scripture, rather than submitting to what it says. Hence we become our own authority, defining God’s love on our own terms in a way that is incompatible with Hell, whereas Scripture sees God’s love and Hell as two coexisting truths. We cannot figure out how to reconcile them, just as we cannot figure out how to reconcile God’s sovereignty and meaningful human choice. However, the two doctrines are in fact compatible in the mind of God. And it is His mind, not ours, which is the source of truth.

Read More

Why Prophecy?

Dr. Ed Hindson, a guest on The John Ankerberg Show recently said,

“Bible Prophecy is not written to scare us.
Bible prophecy is written to prepare us.”
 

I have never felt we need to be prepared more that I do now.  People I talk with are afraid and uncertain about the future.  Because I believe studying prophecy is essential to our living with hope and certainty in uncertain times, I wrote a brief article entitled Why is prophecy important? that I would love to share with you.

Many people are scared to study prophecy, while others just simply don’t see the importance of it.  Did you know that of the 31,124 verses in the Bible, 8,352 contain prophetic material? That means that 27% of the entire Bible contains prophetic material.

I would like to encourage you not to be fearful of Bible prophecy but instead, choose to be prepared in these uncertain times.  Please take the time to read this article – it will only take a few minutes.  I believe you will benefit greatly from it. 

Click HERE to READ Why is Prophecy Important?

Thomas Brooks: An Always Timely Reminder About False Teachers

The 17th-century non-conformist pastor Thomas Brooks is perhaps best known by his classic book, Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices. The intent of the book was to edify believers with a Biblically-informed understanding about Satan and his temptations, and provide practical “remedies” the Christ-filled believer may employ in sanctified defense from them.

In his “Epistle Dedicatory” remarks Brooks gives us an air of his love for the Word, his diligence in studying it, and his duty as a minister to edify the sheep with it.

“Christ, the Scripture, your own hearts, and Satan’s devices, are the four prime things that should be first and most studied and searched. If any cast off the study of these, they cannot be safe here, nor happy hereafter. It is my work as a Christian, but much more as I am a Watchman, to do my best to discover the fullness of Christ, the emptiness of the creature, and the snares of the great deceiver; which I have endeavored to do in the following discourse, according to that measure of grace which I have received from the Lord.”   Thomas Brooks

While the complete “Precious Remedies” is a must-read from this Puritan pastor and author, incorporated within it is an impressively helpful, concise guideline for the believer during any age.

5143MB29ZDL

Entitled Seven Marks Of False Teachers, Brooks outlines the evident characteristics that, since the initial warnings of Christ about “wolves in sheep’s clothing,” have remained consistent throughout church history.

“Satan labors might and main, by false teachers, which are his emissaries, to deceive, delude, and forever undo the precious souls of men (Jer. 23:13) ‘I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria; they prophesied in Baal, and caused my people Israel to err.’ Micah 3:5: ‘The prophets make my people to err.’ They seduce them, and carry them out of the right way into by-paths and blind thickets of error, blasphemy, and wickedness, where they are lost forever.

‘Beware of false prophets, for they come to you in sheep’s clothing—but inwardly they are ravening wolves’ (Matt. 7:15). These lick and suck the blood of souls (Phil. 3:2), ‘Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers.’ These kiss and kill; these cry, Peace, peace, until souls fall into everlasting flames! (Prov. 7). (Acts. 20:28-30; 2 Cor. 11:13-15; Eph. 4:14; 2 Tim. 3:4-6; Titus 1:11, 22; 2 Peter 2:18,19.)

Now the best way to deliver poor souls from being deluded and destroyed by these messengers of Satan is, to discover them in their colors, that so, being known, poor souls may shun them, and fly from them as from hell itself.”    Thomas Brooks

1. False teachers are menpleasers.

They preach more to please the ear than to profit the heart.  Such are not true teachers; Gal. 1:10, 1 Thess. 2:1-4.

False teachers handle holy things rather with wit and trifling, rather than with fear and reverence. False teachers are soul-murderers. They are like evil surgeons, that skin over the wound—but never heal it. Flattery undid Ahab and Herod, Nero and Alexander. False teachers are hell’s greatest enrichers. Not bitter—but flattering words do all the mischief, said Valerian, the Roman emperor. Such smooth teachers are sweet soul-poisoners. “This is my warning to my people,” says the Lord Almighty. ‘Do not listen to these prophets when they prophesy to you, filling you with futile hopes. They are making up everything they say. They do not speak for the Lord! They keep saying to these rebels who despise my word, ‘Don’t worry! The Lord says you will have peace!’ And to those who stubbornly follow their own evil desires, they say, ‘No harm will come your way!’” (Jer. 23:16, 17)

2. False teachers are notable in casting dirt, scorn, and reproach upon the persons, names, and credits of Christ’s most faithful ambassadors.

Thus Korah, Dathan, and Abiram charged Moses and Aaron that they took too much upon them, seeing all the congregation was holy (Num. 16:3). You take too much state, too much power, too much honor, too much holiness upon you; for what are you more than others, that you take so much upon you? And so Ahab’s false prophets fell foul on good Micaiah, paying of him with blows for lack of better reasons (1 Kings 22:10-26). Yes, Paul, that great apostle of the Gentiles, had his ministry undermined and his reputation blasted by false teachers: ‘For his letters,’ say they, ‘are weighty and powerful—but his bodily presence is weak and his speech contemptible’ (2 Cor. 10:10). They rather condemn him than admire him; they look upon him as a dunce rather than a doctor. And the same hard measure had our Lord Jesus from the scribes and Pharisees, who labored as for life to build their own credit upon the ruins of his reputation. And never did the devil drive a more full trade this way than he does in these days (Matt. 27:63). Oh! the dirt, the filth, the scorn that is thrown upon those of whom the world is not worthy! I suppose false teachers mind not that saying of Augustine: ‘He who willingly takes from my good name, unwillingly adds to my reward.’ The proverb is, ‘A man’s eye and his good name can bear no jests.’

3. False teachers are venters (utterers) of the devices and visions of their own heads and hearts.

Jer. 14:14: “Then the Lord said unto me—These prophets are telling lies in my name. I did not send them or tell them to speak. I did not give them any messages. They prophesy of visions and revelations they have never seen or heard. They speak foolishness made up in their own lying hearts.” “This is my warning to my people,” says the Lord Almighty. “Do not listen to these prophets when they prophesy to you, filling you with futile hopes. They are making up everything they say. They do not speak for the Lord!” Jeremiah 23:16. Are there not multitudes in this nation whose visions are but golden delusions, lying vanities, brain-sick fantasies? These are Satan’s great benefactors, and such as divine justice will hang up in hell as the greatest malefactors, if the physician of souls does not prevent it. Matt. 24:4, 5; 11:14; Titus 1:10; Rom. 16:18

4. False teachers easily pass over the great and weighty things of both Law and Gospel and stand most upon those things that are of the least moment and concernment to the souls of men.

1 Tim. 1:5-7: ‘Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith sincere; from which some having swerved, have turned aside unto vain jangling, desiring to be teachers of the law, and understand neither what they say nor whereof they affirm.’ Matt. 23:23: ‘Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; for you pay tithe of mint, and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith; these ought you to have done, and not to leave the other undone.’ False teachers are nice in the lesser things of the law, and as negligent in the greater. 1 Tim. 6:3-5: ‘If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing—but doting about questions and strife of words, whereof comes envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw yourself.’ If such teachers are not hypocrites in grain, I know nothing (Rom. 2:22). The earth groans to bear them, and hell is fitted for them (Matt. 24:32). Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices Thomas Brooks 144 Luther complained of such in his time as would strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. This age is full of such teachers, such monsters! The high priest’s spirit (Matt. 23:24) lives and thrives in these days.

5. False teachers cover and color their dangerous principles and soul-impostures with very fair speeches and plausible pretences, with high notions and golden expressions.

Many in these days are bewitched and deceived by the magnificent words, lofty strains, and stately terms of deceivers. As strumpets paint their faces, and deck and perfume their beds, the better to allure and deceive simple souls; so false teachers will put a great deal of paint and garnish upon their most dangerous principles and blasphemies, that they may the better deceive and delude poor ignorant souls. They know sugaredpoison goes down sweetly; they wrap up their pernicious, soul-killing pills in gold! (Gal. 6:12; 2 Cor. 11:13-15; Rom. 16:17, 18; Matt. 16:6,11,12; 7:15.) In the days of Hadrian the emperor, there was one Ben-Cosbi gathered a multitude of Jews together, and called himself Ben-cocuba, the son of a star, applying that promise to himself (Num. 24:17)—but he proved Bar-chosaba, the son of a lie. And so will all false teachers, for all their flourishes prove at the last the sons of lies.

6. False teachers strive more to win over men to their opinions than to better them in their conversations.

Matt. 23:15: ‘Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, you make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves!’ They busy themselves most about men’s heads. Their work is not to better men’s hearts, and mend their lives; and in this they are very much like their father the devil, who will spare no pains to gain proselytes. For shame! says Epictetus to his Stoics; either live as Stoics, or leave off the name of Stoics. The application is easy.

7. False teachers make merchandise of their followers:

“But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them–bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.” 2 Peter 2:1- 3. They eye your goods more than your good; and mind more the serving of themselves, than the saving of your souls. So they may have your substance, they care not though Satan has your souls (Rev. 18:11-13). That they may the better pick your purse, they will hold forth such principles as are very indulgent to the flesh. False teachers are the great worshipers of the golden calf. “From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit.” (Jer. 6:13).

Brooks ends his outline with this brief, final charge:

“Now, by these characters you may know them, and so shun them, and deliver your souls out of their dangerous snares.”   Thomas Brooks

 

A reprint of the complete “Precious Remedies” is available from Banner of Truth Trust, as well as Amazon.   A free, downloadable version is offered by Monergism.com, which also includes “Seven Marks” in a pdf file entitled “Apostasy,” via Chapel Library.

Above-cited quotations have been referenced from freely distributed material available via Monergism.com.

Source: Thomas Brooks: An Always Timely Reminder About False Teachers

 

What Is Grace?

https://player.vimeo.com/video/179952955?title=0&byline=0&portrait=0This is a guest post by Bryan Chapell, author of Unlimited Grace.


A Narrow Definition of Grace

When I think of the definition “by grace,” I don’t want to look past what I think we often use as rubrics or quick statements of what grace is—it’s pardon, it is unmerited favor. But the difficulty is if we start looking for a message of pardon or unmerited favor throughout the Scriptures, then we’re going to narrow to a few Pauline passages or an example of Jesus dying on the cross and say, “There is unmerited favor,” and then we get to lots of other portions of Scripture and we’re not exactly sure what we’re looking for.

A Redemptive Message

If we really believe the message of grace is unfolding throughout the scriptures from Genesis 3:15 forward when God said, “I’m going to put enmity, I’m going to put this conflict between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent, and the seed of the woman is ultimately going to crush the serpent,” then everything else is a redemptive message: God unfolding his grace for humanity throughout the Scriptures. And what’s happening is not always this kind of direct statement of, “Here’s my pardon for your sin,” or, “Here’s the atoning message of my Son to come.” Rather, what God is doing is he is showing consistently how he provides for people who cannot provide for themselves.

It’s that seed message of grace that is planted and then begins to flourish throughout the Old Testament and comes to full manifest flower in Jesus Christ. What we’re looking for when we’re looking for grace is how God is providing for people who cannot provide for themselves. So when God is giving food to the hungry, when he is giving rest to the weary, strength to the weak, victory to those who shouldn’t have victory at all, pardon to those who are sinful, faithfulness to the unfaithful—all of these are means by which God’s grace is on display and unfolding ever more fully throughout the Bible until it culminates in Jesus Christ.

Ultimately, grace is God providing for people who cannot provide for themselves.


Bryan Chapell is the senior pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Peoria, Illinois. He is also the host of a daily half-hour radio Bible teaching program, Unlimited Grace, and the founder and chairman of Unlimited Grace Media (unlimitedgrace.com). Bryan previously served as the president of Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri, and is the author of a number of books, including Holiness by Grace.

Source: What Is Grace?