Category Archives: Biblical Theology/Doctrine

Assurance

John Calvin’s emphasis was upon certainty. He abhorred the way in which Romanism kept people wondering whether or not they were saved. In his Defense of the Reformed faith, p. 256; Eerdmans, Grand Rapids (1958), he wrote:

Thus nothing is left but constant disquietude, and slow torture, and perplexing doubts, which will wear out the soul not less effectively than open murder.

In speaking of Roman confession, he also said,

The Apostles did not discharge their office of binding and loosing by hearing Confessions, but by preaching the gospel . . . And the reason why they strongly urge Confession is, because they wish to make the world obsequious to them, and to hold it in subjection . . . yet to color Confession, and hold it forth as a thing necessary to salvation, is neither expedient nor lawful. Conscience cannot be squeezed by the chains of such laws, without being strangled. (Ibid., p. 257, 258).

He was concerned about poor, wretched people, deluded by the traditions of men, who were enslaved to a system purporting to be Christian, but in reality, anything but.

There is salvation neither in works of penitence, nor in any other ceremony or human action. Salvation—with the assurance it brings—is in Christ alone. It is because by His death and resurrection He satisfied God once for all, that those who believe can have assurance of salvation. In what are you trusting—that which brings certainty or that which brings confusion and terror?

Source: Assurance

Is Jesus the Messiah? An Outline on Jewish Messianism

The Messiah Concept

1. What does the word Messiah mean? Messiah means “Anointed One” (Heb. messiah) (Gk. Christos) and  is derived from verbs that have the general meaning of “to rub something” or, more specifically, “to anoint someone.”

2.The Hebrew Bible records the anointing with oil of priests ( Exod 29:1-9 ), kings ( 1 Sam 10:1 ; 2 Sam 2:4 ; 1 Kings 1:34 ), and sometimes prophets ( 1 Kings 19:16b ) as a sign of their special function in the Jewish community. “Anointed One” almost never refers to the Messiah in the Hebrew Bible.

3. The messianic concept also has a wider dimension than the royal, priestly, and/or prophetic person. Included in this wider view are the characteristics, tasks, goals, means, and consequences of the messianic person.

4. Remember that words and concepts are separate entities. “Word-bound” approaches to what really are concept studies can lead us astray.

5. The image of the Messiah and the idea of messianism comprise a broad concept that far outreaches the few instances where the term “anointed” is used. It is the concept that we are seeking to define, not merely one particular word.  This can only be achieved by reading not only the Bible but extra-biblical Jewish literature including the Apocrypha, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, Philo, Josephus, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Targumim, etc. (see Craig Evans handout on Introduction to Ancient Texts for New Testament Studies).

6. Before 70 CE, we can hardly find any occurrence of the absolute term “the Messiah”; instead the word in Greek or Hebrew occurs with a genitive or possessive pronoun like “Messiah of Israel,” “Messiah of the Lord,” “Messiah of Aaron,” “Messiah of the Lord,” etc;  no single meaning is ever assumed.

7. Other names were used to describe the messianic person other than the “Messiah.” Some of the names include  “Son of David,” “ Son of God,” “ Son of Man,” “  Prophet,” “Elect One,” “Servant,” “ Prince,” “ Branch,” “Root,” “Scepter,” “Star,”  “Chosen One,” and “ Coming One.” (See section on messianic titles).

The Messianic Task:  Traditional Jewish Views

1. A personal Messiah is irrelevant; many Jewish people don’t see the need for a Messiah to fix the problems of the world.

2.  The Messiah is not divine-he is an earthy figure “anointed” to carry out a specific task.

3. The Messiah will enable the Jewish people to dwell securely in the land of Israel (Is.11:11-12; 43:5-6; Jer.23: 5-8; Mic.5:4-6), and usher in a period of worldwide peace.

4.  The Messiah is supposed to put an end to all oppression, suffering and disease (Is.2:1-22; 25:8; 65:25; Mic.4:1-4) and create a pathway for universal worship to the God of Israel (Zeph.3:9; Zech.9:16; 14:9).

5. The Messiah will spread the knowledge of the God of Israel to the surrounding nations (Isa.11:9; 40:5; 52:8).

 The Maimonides view of Messiah: Maimonides was a medieval Jewish philosopher whose writings are considered to be foundational to Jewish thought and study. Here are some of his messianic expectations:

1.  The Messiah will be a king who arises from the house of David

2.  He helps Israel follow Torah

3.  He builds the Temple in its place

4. He gathers the dispersed of Israel

 The Messiah in Rabbinical Literature

1Messiah Ben Yossef and Messiah Ben David: The prophecy of Zech. 12:10 is applied to Messiah ben Yossef in that he is killed and that it will be followed by a time of great calamities and tests for Israel. Shortly after these tribulations upon Israel, Messiah ben David will come and avenge the death of Messiah ben Yossef, resurrect him, and inaugurate the Messianic era of everlasting peace.

2.What is interesting is that R. Saadiah Gaon elaborated on the role of Messiah ben Yossef by starting that this sequence of events is contingent. In other words, Messiah ben Yossef will not have to appear before Messiah be David if the spiritual condition of Israel is up to par.

3.This is why it says in the Talmud, “If they [the people of Israel]  are worthy of [the Messiah] he will come ‘with the clouds of heaven’ [Dan 7:13] ;if they are not worthy, ‘lowly and riding upon a donkey’ [Zech. 9:9]” (b. Sanhedrin 98a

Messianic Fulfillment Depends on Moral Regeneration

1. The advent of Messiah will not be heralded by the actions of a pagan or Christian king.

2. Israel’s salvation depends on Israel itself.

3.The Messiah will be a sage who will only come when Israel fully accepts God’s sole rule.

4.The coming of the Messiah is not dependent on historical action but on moral regeneration. How about reading John 3:3-8?

 The Davidic Messiah

The capitalized term “Messiah” is often confined to a precisely delineated concept, viz., the anointed king of the Davidic dynasty who would establish in the world the definite kingdom intended by God for Israel. Such a notion of the Messiah is the product of a long development traceable in three stages:

First Stage: Before Eighth Century BC

1. God promised that Israel would have an earthly king (Gen. 17:6; 49:6; Deut.17: 14-15)

2. Gen 49:9-12: alludes implicitly to the reign of David; this prophecy says the Messiah will have to come before the Tribe of Judah loses its identity.

3. The Davidic Covenant: David is promised that one of his descendants would rule on his throne forever (2 Sam.7:12-17; 1 Chr.17:7-15; Ps. 89:28-37). In 2 Samuel 7:12-17, the immediate prophecy is partially fulfilled in David’s son Solomon. However, the word “forever” shows there are future descendants to come.

4. The Royal Psalms:Psalm 2;72;110 are considered part of this first stage of messianism.

Second Stage:  Eighth Century BC to the Babylonian Exile

1. Messianic Expectation centers on the re-establishment of the throne of David and deliverance of Israel from its foreign oppressors.

2. This expectation resulted from disappointment at the destruction of Jerusalem and suspension of Davidic dynasty.

3. Isaiah: speaks of the time when God that would revive the Davidic dynasty and ensure its permanence. God would raise up a successor of David who would be unlike any past Davidic king (Is.7:14-17; 9:6-7;11:1-10), but he is not spoken of as “The Messiah.”

4. Micah 5:1-6 speaks of the new David coming from Bethlehem; Jer.23:5-6 uses messianic titles such as “branch” or “shoot” to describe this figure.

5. Amos likewise proclaimed that a figure would emerge from the Davidic lineage who would fulfill God’s covenant promises to the nations (9:11-15).Ezekiel spoke of a new David who would be a shepherd as well as a “prince” and a “king” to Israel (Ezek: 34:23-24; 37:24-25). This king’s function would help restore the Davidic dynasty after the exile.

Third Stage: From the Exile to NT Times           

The Psalms of Solomon (a Pharisaic composition written about 50 B.C.) describes the Davidic messianic expectation: The “Son of David” will:

1. Violently cast out foreign nations occupying Jerusalem (Pss.Sol:15,24-25,33)

2. Judge all the nations of the earth (Pss.17:4;31;38-39, 47) and cause the nations to  “serve him under his yoke” (Pss.Sol.17:32)

3. Reign over Israel in wisdom (Pss. Sol.17:23,28,31,35,41,18:8), which involves  removing all the foreigners from the land (Pss. Sol.17:31) and purging the land of unrighteous Israelites (Pss. Sol. 17:29, 33, 41) in order to eliminate all oppression (Pss. Sol.17:46) and gather to himself a holy people (Pss. Sol.17:28, 36;18:9).

Jesus as The Davidic King

1.  Jesus is of the “seed of David,” who was sent by God to restore God’s kingship over mankind (Matt. 1:1; Acts 13:23; Rom. 1:3,4; Rev. 22:16). Jesus  is both the son of David and the one greater than David (Psalm 110:1-4).

Let’s look at Romans 1:1-5

“Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints:Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

We see the following:

Paul says through the resurrection, Jesus is installed (by God) as the Son of God (Rom. 1:4). Paul is not saying Jesus is being appointed as The Son of God is a change in Jesus’ essense. The appointment is not in terms of his nature but in terms of his work as a mediator—the messianic age has dawned. Jesus is the Lord—the anti-type of the previous “sons” in the Old Testament (Adam, David, Israel).

Remember, the New Testament authors unanimously declare Jesus as the one who is from the “seed of David,” sent by God to restore God’s kingship over mankind (Matt. 1:1; Acts 13:23; Rom. 1:3,4; 2 Tim:2:8; Rev. 22:16). As seen in 2 Samuel 7:12-17, the immediate prophecy is partially fulfilled in David’s son Solomon. However, the word “forever” shows there are future descendants to come. God promised David that his “seed” would establish the kingdom. There were two ways for this prophecy to come to pass. Either God could continually raise up a new heir or he could have someone come who would never die. Does this sound like the need for a resurrection?

2. In following the pattern of the Hebrew Bible, Jesus (as the Davidic King) will return to this present earth and after the complete removal of all man’s kingdoms (cf. Dan 2:35;44;7:13-14; Zech 9:10;14:1-4;9-11;Matt24;27-31;25:31-33; Rev:11:15;19:11-16;20:1-6).

3. Remember Prophetic Telescoping:  Telescoped prophecy bridges the first and second appearances of Yeshua. In the second coming, “the obedience of the nations will be his,” and “His everlasting dominion will not pass away, his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed”; Gen 49:10-12: Dan 2:37-44;7:13-14; Psalm 2: Isa.9-6-7;11:1-10.

Messianic Expectations (cont):  Priestly Messiah: The priest (Heb. cohanim) was anointed in his role as a mediator between God and the Jewish people because of his ability make to make atonement (Lev.4:26;31,35;5:6,10; 14:31).

1. There are implicit passages in the Hebrew Bible that discuss a priestly aspect of the Messiah (Hag:1:12-14; 2:2-4; 20-23; Zech:3:6-10;4:2-5,11-14).

2. In the Qumran community which predated the time of Yeshua was convinced there were possibly two Messiahs, one priestly and one royal (1QS 9.11; CD 12.22-23; 13. 20-22; 14. 18-19; 19.34-20.1; CD-B 1.10-11; 2.1; 1Q Sa 2. 17-22).

3. Forgiving sins was a prerogative of God alone (Exod. 34: 6-7; Neh.9:17; Dan. 9:9;) and it was something that was done only in the Temple.

4. The Messiah’s priestly work is seen in Psalm 110:1-4.

5. As with Melchizedek, Jesus was without the ancestral, genealogical credentials necessary for the Aaronic priesthood ( Hebrews 7:3 Hebrews 7:13 Hebrews 7:16 ), he was also before Aaron and the transitory, imperfect law and Levitical priesthood  ( Hebrews 7:11-12 Hebrews 7:17-18 ; 8:7 ). Melchizedek, Aaron, and his descendants all died, preventing them from continuing in office ( 7:23 ). Jesus has been exalted to a permanent priesthood by his resurrection and enthronement at the right hand of God in the heaven ( 8:1 ).

 The Suffering/Atoning Messiah

1. There are several texts that speak to the possibility of a suffering Messiah (Zech 13:7; Dan 9:26; Tg.Isa.53; T.Benj.3:8; 4Q521frgs.9, 24; 4Q285 5.4; 4 Ezra7:29-30;2 Bar.30:1).

2. There are also several expressions of the belief that the death of the righteous will benefit, or even save, God’s people (1 Macc: 6:26-28 17:20-22; T Moses 9-10).

The Prophetic Messiah

1. The characteristics of the prophet (Heb. nabi) of Deuteronomy 18:15-19: (1) He would be an Israelite; (2) he would be like Moses; and (3) he would be authorized to declare the word of God with authority.

2. Emphasis on listening to the Prophet: See Mathew 17:5

3. Jesus says “I say to you,” thirteen times in this one sermon (Matt. 18,20,22,28,32,34,39,44;6:2,5,16,25,29). He even challenged his hearers to base their own lives on his words (Matt. 7:24,26). Yeshua cites not one single rabbi or religious authority. Scholars have found no precedent in the Tanakh, nor have scholars found any precedent in the rest of ancient Jewish literature.

4. Miracles have a distinctive purpose: to glorify the Creator and to provide evidence for people to believe by accrediting the message of God through the prophet of God. Miracles confirmed the prophetic claim: Moses (Ex. 4:1-5; 8-9); Elijah (1 Kings 18:38–39).

5.  Miracles confirmed the Messianic claim of Jesus  (Matt 12: 38-39; John 3: 1-2; Acts 2: 22).

6.  Matt. 11:4-6: Jesus’s evidential claim can be seen in the following syllogism:
1. If one does certain kinds of actions, then one is the Messiah.
2. I am doing those kinds of actions.
3. Therefore, I am the Messiah.

Michael Bird’s excellent book Are You the One Who Is to Come?: The Historical Jesus and the Messianic Question, has some insight about this issue as well. Bird says:

“It is historically naive to depict first-century Palestine as ravaged with continual uprisings and to posit some Roman occupying forces as having to put down one messianic pretender after another. Alternatively, it is equally reductionistic to suppose that many of the tumultuous events of the first century were untouched by messianism. The death of Herod the Great led to several uprisings; although things cooled for a while, in the period 4 BCE to 66 CE, there were many socioreligious movements at the time of the procurators that show expectation and hope for God’s miraculous interventions and gradually a spirit of zealotry beginning to emerge. I doubt that we have to wait as long as Simon ben Kosiba in 135 CE to find another messianic leader after the death of Jesus. The following lists indicate messianic expectations that are explicitly titular or implicitly messianic.”-Are You the One Who Is to Come?: The Historical Jesus and the Messianic Question, pgs 47-49.

Bird goes onto list the expectations using the title “Messiah.” Notice that Bird knows  in order to understand messianism, we need to read the Bible but also read extra-biblical Jewish literature including the Apocrypha, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, Philo, Josephus, The Dead Sea Scrolls,  and the Targumim, etc, (see Craig A Evans: “Introduction” to Ancient Texts for New Testament Studies: A Guide to the Background Literature).

“Messiah of Aaron and Israel” (CD 12.23–13.1; 14.19; 19.10–11; 20.1; 1QS 9.11)

“Messiah of Israel” (1QSa 2.12, 14, 20)

“Messiah of righteousness” (4Q252 frg. 1 5.3–4)

“Heaven and earth will obey his Messiah” (4Q521 2.1)

“Their king shall be the Lord’s Messiah” (Pss. Sol. 17.32; cf. 18.7)

“May God cleanse Israel for the day of mercy and blessing for the appointed day when his Messiah will reign” (Pss. Sol. 18.5)

“Lord of the Spirits and his Messiah” (1 En. 48.10)

“authority of the Messiah” (1 En. 52.4)

“For my son the Messiah shall be revealed with those who are with him” (4 Ezra 7.28) “

“This is the Messiah whom the Most High has kept until the end of days, who will arise from the offspring of David” (4 Ezra 12.32) “The Messiah will begin to be revealed” (2 Bar. 29.3) “when the time of the appearance of the Messiah has been fulfilled” (2 Bar. 30.1) “the kingship of the house of David, thy righteous Messiah” (Shemoneh ‘Esreh 14)

Son of Man: (Dan. 7:13–14; 1 En. 46.1–5; 48.2; 62.1–15; 63.11; 69.27–29; 71.14–17; 4 Ezra 13.1–13, 25–26; Justin Martyr, Dial. 31–32)

Man/Ruler: (Philo, Rewards 95; Num. 24:7, 17 LXX) Rod (CD 7.19–20; Justin Martyr, Dial. 100, 126) Prince (Ezek. 34:24; 37:25; Dan. 9:25–26; CD 7.20; 1QSb 5.20; 1QM 3.16; 5.1; 4Q285 frgs. 4–6; Jub. 31.18; Sib. Or. 3.49–50)

Branch of David: (4Q161 frgs. 8–10.15, 22; 4Q252 5.3; 4Q285 frg. 5.3–4; T. Jud 24.4–6) Scepter (1QSb 5.27–28; 4Q161 frgs. 2–4 2.9–13; frgs. 5–6 3.17; frgs. 8–10, 22–26; 4Q252 5.2)

Son of God :(4Q246 1.9; 2.1; Mark 15:39)

Elect/Chosen One (1 En. 39.6; 40.5; 45.3; 48.6; 49.2, 4; 51.3, 5; 52.6, 9; 53.6; 55.4; 61.5, 8, 10; 62.1; Apoc. Abr. 31.1)

King (Mark 15.32 and par.; Sib. Or. 3.286–87, 652) Snow-white cow/horned ram (1 En. 90.9–12, 37–38) Star (T. Levi 18.3; T. Jud. 24.1; Sib. Or. 5.158–60)

Righteous One (Acts 3:14; 22:14; 1 John 2:1; 1 En. 38.2; 53.6)

Historical figures referred to as “Messiah”:

Jesus of Nazareth

Simon ben Kosiba

Implicitly messianic historical figures not referred to as “Messiah”:

Judas the Galilean Simon the servant of Herod

Athronges Menahem Simon bar Giora-

 

 Figures who claimed royal prerogatives between 4 B.C.E and 68-70 C.E but are not called “the” or “a” Messiah:

1. In Galilee 4 B.C.E.: Judas, son of bandit leader Ezekias (War 2.56;Ant.17.271-72)

2. In Perea 4 B.C.E.: Simon the Herodian slave (War 2.57-59;Ant 17.273-77)

3. In Judea 4 B.C.E.: Athronges, the shepherd (War 2.60-65;Ant 17.278-84)

4. Menahem: grandson of Judas the Galilean (War 2.433-34, 444)

5. Simon, son of Gioras (bar Giora) War 2.521, 625-54;4.503-10, 529;7.26-36, 154)

Sources:

1. Berger, D. The Rebbe, The Messiah, And The Scandal Of Orthodox Indifference. Portland, Oregon: The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization. 2001, 171-173.

2 Bird, M.F.,Are You The One To Come? The Historical Jesus and the Messianic Question. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009.

3.  Brown, R.E. An Introduction to New Testament Christology. Mahwah, N.J.: Paulist Press, 1994, 155-161.

4. Evans, C.A. and P. W. Flint. Eschatology, Messianism, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 1997.

5.  Elwell, W. Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology.Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1996.

6.  Schochet, J.I. Mashiach: The Principle of Mashiach and the Messianic Era in Jewish Law and Tradition. New York: S.I.E. 1992, 93-101.

7.  Zannoni, A. Jews and Christians Speak of Jesus. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.1994, 113-114.

Source: Is Jesus the Messiah? An Outline on Jewish Messianism

Friday’s Featured Sermon: “Sound Doctrine Backed by Sound Living”

Titus 2:1

Code: B170519

In many churches across modern evangelicalism, good doctrine has taken a back seat to good works. The emphasis has shifted away from believing the right thing to doing the right thing, with a particular focus on community works and social justice.

Often that shift is the result of legitimate critique—that professing Christians frequently fail to apply and live out their good doctrine. Today, many church leaders argue that doctrine simply does not answer the multitude of practical problems we face in this fallen world. In that sense, the emphasis on prioritizing good works over good doctrine is an overcorrection against the threat of cold orthodoxy and dead faith.

Others simply treat doctrinal disputes as long-argued issues we must ignore or circumvent to accomplish the work God has for His people. That was essentially the point Rick Warren made in a 2005 interview with the Pew Forum. He argued that we find our common ground in what we do rather than what we believe.

You’re never going to get Christians, of all their stripes and varieties, to agree on all of the different doctrinal disputes and things like that, but what I am seeing them agree on are the purposes of the church. And I find great uniformity in the fact that I see this happening all the time. Last week I spoke to 4,000 pastors at my church who came from over 100 denominations in over 50 countries. Now, that’s wide spread. We had Catholic priests, we had Pentecostal ministers, we had Lutheran bishops, we had Anglican bishops, we had Baptist preachers. They’re all there together and you know what? I’d never get them to agree on communion or baptism or a bunch of stuff like that, but I could get them to agree on what the church should be doing in the world.

Warren’s ecumenical enthusiasm for the practical work of the church is so strong it has blinded him to who constitutes the true church in the first place. And that is the danger of emphasizing, as Warren puts it, deeds, not creeds.

In spite of what Warren and others like him seem to believe, Scripture does draw a direct relationship between what we believe and how we live. In John MacArthur’s sermon “Sound Doctrine Backed by Sound Living,” he lays out the clear biblical connection between doctrine and deeds. Moreover, he emphasizes the two in that particular order—doctrine then deeds—because good deeds are the byproduct of good doctrine, never the cause.

John also warns about the critical flipside of that truth—wrong doctrine always produces wrong conduct because “error is a communicable disease.” Good or bad, doctrine lies at the root of all behavior.

Centering on Titus 2:1 (“speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine”), John shows the biblical pattern of sound living following on the heels of sound doctrine. He also reinforces the importance of this issue because all of us are under the gaze of this fallen world. With regard to Titus 2:8 (“that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us”) John reminds us:

Look, [unbelievers] are examining us and we want to so live that those opponents of the faith will blush in sheer embarrassment because there is no just criticism. Don’t you think that the opponents of Christianity love it when Christians scandalize the faith? Don’t they love to pick up the magazines and the newspapers and read about the fornication and the adultery and the fiscal irresponsibility and the thievery and all of the conning that goes on in the fakeries of Christianity and all of the sin and iniquity in leadership? Sure they do.

And I’ll tell you something else, the people in your little world . . . would love to see you fail significantly so they can justify their unbelief. They don’t want to see God transform your life and then rebuke them. But that’s exactly what you want to do, you want to make them red faced, you want to make them blush when they criticize because they can’t find anything to criticize. You see, the issue here is evangelism.

You live out your Christian life in your own personal mission field, and your witness is always on the line. For that reason, “Sound Doctrine Backed by Sound Living” is a timely reminder for all Christians on how to practice what we preach.

Click here to listen to “Sound Doctrine Backed by Sound Living.”

 


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The Living and Active Word of God

1 Peter 1:23-2:3

Code: B170517

God’s Word is alive in a truer sense than we are. As Peter quotes Isaiah 40:6–8, “For, ‘all flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls off, but the word of the Lord endures forever’” (1 Peter 1:24–25).

In the world around us, the things we call “living” are really dying. What we call “the land of the living” is probably better named “the land of the dying,” because wherever you look, death is doing its work of decay and destruction. In the final analysis, death is the monarch of this world.

Against this background of decay and death, the Word of God stands as eternal truth. The corruption of this world can’t penetrate God’s Word, deteriorate its reality, or decay its truth. Scripture’s life-giving power is readily apparent in many self-authenticating ways.

  1. God’s Word is perennially fresh. In every generation, to every person who picks it up, the Bible is living and fresh. I have reread some parts of the Bible many, many times. In some cases I am just beginning to understand what they say. I once read the book of Colossians every day for 90 days and, after all of that, the book of Colossians still holds untapped mysteries that I haven’t yet explored. Every time I read the book of Colossians, I gain new excitement and fresh insights.
  2. God’s Word is never obsolete. Most libraries have backrooms where you can find all of the old obsolete textbooks. In recent years, scientific discoveries make dozens and even hundreds of books obsolete each day. But the timeless truths of the Bible never become obsolete. They are as up to date as the next generation of men and women that needs its message so desperately. “The word of the Lord endures forever” (1 Peter 1:25).
  3. God’s Word is powerful. The Bible is a discerner of hearts. Scripture has a living insight into our lives that is alarmingly precise. The Holy Spirit ministers through God’s Word exposing our faults, needs, weaknesses—and sins. No wonder Hebrews 4:12 tells us, “The word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit . . . able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
  4. God’s Word produces growth. As 1 Peter 1:23 points out, “You have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.” The great mystery of any living thing is its power to reproduce. And reproduce, says Peter, is exactly what the Word of God does. The only way to be a “son of God” is to be born by the Word of God. When the Word of God is truly heard, and sincerely received into a heart that has been prepared by God, that Word, quickened by the Holy Spirit, becomes a spiritual seed that is imperishable or incorruptible. That seed is the germ of a new creation and it springs into life by making the hearer who believes that Word, a son of God.

Jesus illustrated that concept in His parable of the sower (Luke 8:4–15). The farmer goes out to sow and some seed lands on the road, some seed lands on rocky soil, some seed lands where weeds spring up, and some seed lands on the fertile ground that produces bountiful growth. In explaining the parable to His disciples, Jesus said, “The seed is the word of God. Those beside the road are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they will not believe and be saved” (Luke 8:11–12).

The one source of belief and salvation is God’s Word! Naturally, its sabotage and removal is Satan’s highest priority because of its life-producing power. Hence Jesus’ words in Luke 8:15: “But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.” That’s a vivid description of Scripture and the ongoing results of its life-giving power.

Jesus understood that God’s Word cooperates powerfully with His Spirit: “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life” (John 6:63). The Word of God, in the hand of the Holy Spirit, is the critical life-giving agent. The Spirit of God, using the Word of God, produces life!

Trying to survive without any scriptural intake is a futile exercise. When it comes to a healthy spiritual diet, God’s Word is the fundamental and essential source of true eternal health.

(Adapted from Why Believe the Bible.)

 


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B170517
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Friday’s Featured Sermon: “Creation, Theology, and the End of the Universe” Genesis 1:1-2:3

Genesis 1:1-2:3

Code: B170512

If God wanted to communicate that He created everything in six literal and consecutive days, how could He say it more clearly than He does in Genesis 1? That’s a question that every theistic evolutionist, progressive creationist, and gap theorist needs to ask himself. To suggest that the Bible’s opening chapter means anything other than what it plainly states is to effectively argue that God needs help in explaining Himself.

And to argue that our view of creation is not an essential Christian doctrine is to misrepresent what’s at stake in this debate—the inerrancy, authority, and clarity of Scripture. Nothing Scripture says has ever been corrected by scientific discovery, government policy, or secular ideology. If we truly hold to sola Scriptura—Scripture alone—we can never allow external beliefs to be imposed upon the Author’s message or intent.

Tragically, many Reformed theologians—who have enshrined sola Scriptura in their doctrine statements—have allowed their seminaries and churches to be infiltrated by compromised views of Genesis 1. Generally, they shudder at the thought of losing academic credibility and being sneered at by the gatekeepers of higher learning. The first casualty of that compromise is almost always a literal interpretation of the Bible’s first chapter.

But John MacArthur argues that there is no middle ground when it comes to Genesis 1. In his sermon “Creation, Theology and the End of the Universe,” John points out that you either believe Genesis 1 or you don’t. He explains why “every self-respecting Calvinist must be a six-day creationist.”

Whoever created the universe and all that is in it understands how it works. He understands how it works perfectly—accurately. And since He created it, He is not waiting for scientific advances to comprehend it. He is not waiting for somebody to discover a system and inform Him about how it works. Since the Creator designed it and sustains it and will one day bring it to an end, He understands it. . . . And if He wrote a book it would reflect that perfect knowledge.

“Creation, Theology and the End of the Universe” is a robust defense of the biblical creation account. And it throws down the gauntlet before any professing Christian who thinks the first three chapters of Genesis represent anything other than a straightforward narrative of creation and the fall.

Not only does John clearly explain how everything began, He also points us forward to how everything will end. Our understanding of history inevitably informs how we interpret the future. And John points out that those who tamper with the beginning invariably alter the ending as well.

If we are true sola Scriptura people, then our faith and understanding must be informed, shaped, and driven by Scripture. To that end, “Creation, Theology and the End of the Universe” is a stirring call—in the spirit of the Reformers—back to a true biblical worldview.

Click here to listen to “Creation, Theology & the End of the Universe.”

 


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A Monument to Biblical Truth

Genesis 6:13-8:19

Code: B170508

Scientists and other secular authorities are adamant: A global flood—like the one described in Genesis 6-8—is impossible. They deny it with the same tenacious antagonism they bring to the topic of creation, or any of God’s other miraculous works. Second only to their attacks on the creation account, the prophets and priests of naturalism want to delegitimize and dismiss anything to do with the flood and Noah’s ark.

But the world’s opposition to biblical truth should not take us by surprise. What might, however, is the damage the church has done by blurring fact and fiction about Noah, his ark, and God’s miraculous work. We’re all familiar with toys, story books, and Sunday school teaching aids that depict Noah’s ark as little more than a floating bathtub overstuffed with zoo animals. But we rarely—if ever—consider how those images undercut and undermine the biblical account of God’s judgment and saving work during the flood.

To be fair, even the most detailed flannelgraphs would fail to capture the immensity of the ark. Its divinely designed dimensions were vast (Genesis 6:14-16), even by modern standards. But by settling for less than the specificity of Scripture, the church has unwittingly aided Satan’s attempts to dismiss the whole thing is as little more than a fairy tale.

That’s what makes the latest venture by our friends at Answers in Genesis so tremendously valuable to the church. The Ark Encounter—which opened just over a year ago in Williamstown, Kentucky—is a stunning monument to biblical truth, and a tremendous encouragement against the assaults of naturalism and other secular worldviews.

It was quite sobering to stand in the shadow of the ark. As the largest timber structure in the world, it is taller than a four-story building, and longer than one and a half football fields. It’s clear from the outset that they did not cut any corners. Much the opposite, in fact—the point of the project is to show in vivid and precise detail how the biblical ark was sufficient to protect and house Noah, his family, and two of every kind of animal, along with enough food and water for all of them to survive the voyage (Genesis 6:18-21).

And while the exterior of the ark takes your breath away, inside is where the experience becomes truly profound. We’ve all seen how secular museums attempt to depict the circumstances of prehistoric mankind through life-size dioramas. Visitors to the Ark Encounter get to step inside those types of displays, fully immersed into what life on the ark might have been like. Rows and rows of cages, baskets, and pots give you a vivid sense of the living and working conditions aboard the ark.

But it’s more than just a static simulation. The folks at Answers in Genesis have designed every element of the ark with apologetics in mind, anticipating and answering the questions and complaints of flood deniers. We saw multiple displays that gave plausible and detailed explanations for everything from sourcing clean water to disposing of waste—all of it painting a convincing picture of how the ark could have functioned as a gigantic life raft for a full year. Other displays show how true empirical science validates a global flood, but how scientists prefer unverifiable explanations that involve millions of years.

All of those features testified to the thoroughness of the project. They provided helpful answers for practical objections. In that sense, every inch of the place makes an argument for the truth of the biblical narrative.

However, the dominant theme of the Ark Encounter is not the ark itself, or even the Genesis account on which it is based. Instead, the ark and virtually all its exhibits are designed to point visitors to the Person and work of Jesus Christ. And that’s appropriate, given the unmistakable parallels between the ark and the gospel.

For example, the enduring image from our visit to the Ark Encounter is the solitary door fitted on the side of the giant ship. That door represented the only means of escape from God’s judgment against the pre-flood world. Likewise, the only refuge sinners have from God’s coming judgment is the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. John 10:9). Only through Him is there hope of salvation.

It is only fitting then, that the Ark Encounter continually points its visitors to the ark God has provided for us in Christ. Gospel truth is woven into virtually every display, culminating with an overt evangelistic presentation. And that’s how it should be, since the truth of biblical history is not an end in itself. All of Scripture points to Christ; likewise, the Ark Encounter puts the focus on the completed work of the Savior.

In that sense, the ark itself can be a great encouragement to believers—it certainly was during our visit. But its true purpose is to help open the eyes of critics and unbelievers. It’s not merely about persuading visitors that a global flood could have happened—it’s aimed at convincing lost sinners of the accuracy and reliability of God’s truth, and pointing them to the pinnacle of His revelation: His Son.

In simple terms, think of it as an enormous and elaborate gospel tract that you can walk through. It’s our prayer that many will visit the Ark Encounter in the years to come, and that God will use it to illuminate hearts and rescue lost souls for the sake of His kingdom.

 


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The Exegetical Errors of the Day-Age Theory

Genesis 1:1-5

Code: B170501

When is a day not a day? That question lies at the heart of a pivotal and long-standing argument against the literal interpretation of the creation account in Genesis 1, commonly known as the Day-Age theory.

Day-Age proponents attempt to read incalculable stretches of time into the white spaces of Genesis 1, starting with the biblical account of God’s activity on that first day of creation:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day. (Genesis 1:1–5)

Defining “Day”

The first day of creation defines what the Bible means by the word day throughout the context of the first chapter of Genesis. Those who believe the days of creation were long ages invariably make much of the fact that the sun was not created until the fourth day, and on this basis they argue that the days could not have been solar, twenty–four–hour days. The word day, they point out, is used elsewhere in Scripture to speak of long or indeterminate periods of time.

For example, “the day of the Lord” is an expression used throughout Scripture to signify an eschatological era in which God pours out His wrath upon the earth. Moreover, 2 Peter 3:8 says, “With the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.” Thus old–earth creationists argue that the days of creation might well have been long eras that roughly correspond to modern geological theories about the so–called Precambrian, Paleozoic, Mesozoic, Tertiary, and Quaternary eras.

The problem with this view is that nothing in the passage itself suggests that the days were long epochs. The days are defined in Genesis 1:5: “God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.” Night and day, evening and morning are demarcated by rhythmic phases of light and darkness from the very beginning. The very same expression, “there was evening and there was morning, a [nth] day” is employed for each of the six days of creation (vv. 8, 13, 19, 23, 31), underscoring the fact that the days were the same and that they had clearly defined boundaries.

The only cadence of light and darkness defined anywhere in this context is the day–night cycle that (after day four) is governed by the sun and moon (Genesis 1:18). There is no reason to believe the rhythm was greatly altered on day four. That means the duration of “the evening and the morning” on the first day of creation was the same as the evening and morning of any solar day.

Indeed, the word day is sometimes used figuratively in Scripture to speak of an indeterminate period of time (“the day of your gladness”—Numbers 10:10). But throughout Scripture, wherever the word is modified by a number (“He was raised on the third day”—1 Corinthians 15:4), the clear reference is to a normal solar day.

Nothing in Scripture itself permits the view that the days of creation were anything other than literal twenty–four–hour days. Only extrabiblical influences—such as the theories of modern science, the views of higher criticism, or other attacks against the historicity of Scripture—would lead anyone to interpret the days of Genesis 1 as long epochs. In effect, old–earth creationists have subjugated Scripture to certain theories currently popular in big bang cosmology. Cosmological theories have been imposed on Scripture as an interpretive grid and allowed to redefine the length of the creation days.

Such an approach is not evangelical, and because it compromises the authority of Scripture at the start, it will inevitably move people away from an evangelical understanding of Scripture, no matter how tenaciously the proponents of the view attempt to hold to evangelical doctrine. To accommodate our understanding of Scripture to secular and scientific theory is to undermine biblical authority.

An Augustinian Problem?

Hugh Ross and other old–earth creationists respond to this argument by pointing out that Augustine and certain other church fathers interpreted the days of creation nonliterally. “Their scriptural views cannot be said to have been shaped to accommodate secular opinion,” Ross claims. [1]

Indeed, Augustine did take a nonliteral view of the six days of creation. He wrote, “What kind of days these were it is extremely difficult, or perhaps impossible for us to conceive, and how much more to say!” [2]

But what Ross doesn’t tell his readers is that Augustine and those who shared his views were arguing that God created the entire universe instantly, in a less than a nanosecond—indeed, outside the realm of time completely. Far from agreeing with Ross and modern science that creation was spread over billions of years, Augustine and others who shared his view went the opposite direction and foreshortened the time of creation to a single instant.

They did this because they had been influenced by Greek philosophy to believe that a God who transcends time and space could not create in the realm of time. So they collapsed the six days to a single instant. Augustine wrote, “Assuredly the world was made, not in time, but simultaneously with time.” [3] That was precisely what Augustine’s study of the works of secular philosophers had taught him. In other words, his views on this question were, after all, an accommodation to secular opinion. (And such opinions did eventually erode the early church’s commitment to the authority of Scripture.)

However, Augustine opposed the notion of an ancient earth as vigorously as any modern evangelical critic of old–earthism. He included an entire chapter in The City of God titled, “Of the Falseness of the History Which Allots Many Thousand Years to the World’s Past.” His criticism of those who believed the earth is ancient was straightforward:

They say what they think, not what they know. They are deceived, too, by those highly mendacious documents which profess to give the history of many thousand years, though, reckoning by the sacred writings, we find that not 6,000 years have yet passed. [4]

Sowing Confusion into Scripture’s Clarity

Indeed, nothing in Scripture itself would ever lead anyone to think that the world is billions of years old or that the days of creation were long eras. Instead, by defining the days of creation according to the light cycle that separates day from night, Scripture states as explicitly as possible that the days of creation were equal in length to normal solar days. And part of the wonder of creation is the ease and speed with which God formed something so unimaginably vast, complex, intricate, and beautiful. The emphasis is not, as Hugh Ross suggests, on “time and attention to detail.” [5]Rather, what the biblical account aims to stress is the infinite majesty and power of the Almighty One who accomplished so much, so perfectly, in so short a time, with nothing more than His word.

Old–earth creationism diminishes the biblical emphasis on creation by divine fiat, setting up a scenario where God tinkers with creation over long epochs until the world is finally ready to be inhabited by humans made in His image. This is quite contrary to what Genesis teaches.

That is not to suggest, as Augustine did, that everything was created in an instant. According to Scripture, there is a progression to God’s creative work. He did it over six days’ time and rested on the seventh day. This is not because He needed that much time to create, and certainly not because He needed the rest. But He thereby gave a pattern for the cycle of work and rest He deemed right for humanity to live by. This established the measure of a week, which to this day is reflected in the calendar by which the entire world measures time.

The specificity of Genesis 1:1-5 is undeniable. God’s people must not surrender the details of the creation narrative to be redefined or reinterpreted by those whose agenda is to dethrone God. We must hold to the clear testimony of Scripture and the authority of God’s Word against all assaults. And we must not be intimidated into modifying our view or the Bible to accommodate and appease an aggressively secular society or its “scientific” standard.

(Adapted from The Battle for the Beginning.)

 


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B170501
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You may reproduce this Grace to You content for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Grace to You’s Copyright Policy (http://www.gty.org/about#copyright).

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)

A Free Seminary-Level Course on the Reformation

Justin Taylor: “Thanks to the generosity and permission of Carl Trueman and The Master’s Seminary, you can basically take Professor Trueman’s course online for free.”
You can find the details and the videos at the link below.
A Free Seminary-Level Course on the Reformation

Watch an Entirely Free, Seminary-Level Course with Carl Trueman on the Reformation

I have posted below the heart of the course syllabus, along with all of the lectures, filmed at The Master’s Seminary in January 2017.

Over at the Evangelical History blog, I have posted Professor Trueman’s bibliography for further reading.


Description

This course will introduce student to the major ideas, personalities, and events that shook Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It will consist of lectures and guided reading.

The focus will be on the development of Protestantism in its social, political, and cultural contexts, starting with Luther and the late medieval background and tracing the story through to the birth of modernity in the seventeenth century. En route, the student will study primary texts, art work, Reformation popular culture, and pastoral practices in early modern Protestantism.

In addition, the course is designed to help students to think critically about the past in a way which allows them to think critically about the present. Men and women make history, but they do not make the history that they choose; and only by examining the past forces that shaped the present can we understand ourselves, the world in which we live, and thus mount any response to the challenges that face us today.


Learning Goals

At the conclusion of the course, each student should be able to:

  • Recognize the key personalities, controversies, and theological developments which marked the Reformation.
  • Distinguish between the various historic Christian traditions in terms of their distinctive theological convictions as formulated during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
  • Articulate ways in which social and cultural contexts shaped the way the church developed during the Reformation.

Textbooks and Reading Schedule 

Students are expected to obtain a copies of:

The numbers appended below to Janz refer to the selection, not the page.

Schaff III is the third volume of P. Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom (free pdf).

The readings from Lindberg are not synchronized with the lectures; they are merely a suggested timetable for taking you through the whole book by the end of the course.

1. Medieval Background and Martin Luther

2. Martin Luther

 3. Martin Luther

 4. The Birth of the Reformed Church

  • Janz 30-37
  • The Sixty-Seven Articles of Huldrych Zwingli (in Schaff III)
  • Lindberg, Chapter 7

5. Geneva and Calvin

  • A Reformation Debate: Sadoleto’s Letter to the Genevans and Calvin’s Reply
  • Lindberg, Chapter 8

 6. The Spread of Lutheranism and the Reformed Faith

7. The English Reformation

8. Reading the Reformation

9. The Catholic Reformation

10. Seventeenth Century Developments: Reformed Confessionalism

11. Seventeenth Century Developments: Internal Catholic Conflicts

12. The Birth of Modernity

  • Lindberg, Chapter 15

 

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How can we determine what doctrines are essential and what are they?

John MacArthur of Grace to You presents his view of the essential doctrines of the faith:

To begin with, the strongest words of condemnation in all the New Testament are aimed at false teachers who corrupt the Gospel. Therefore the Gospel message itself must be acknowledged as a primary point of fundamental doctrine.

But what message will determine the content of our gospel testimony? The biblical message of instantaneous justification through faith alone-or a system of rituals and sacraments that are supposed to convey grace to the participants with no guarantee of ultimate salvation? What authority will we point people to? The Scriptures alone-or a papal hierarchy and church tradition? Those two gospels are flatly contradictory and mutually exclusive.

All these considerations determine what message we proclaim and whether that message is the authentic Gospel of true Christianity. Therefore we are dealing with matters that go to the very heart of the doctrines Scripture identifies as fundamental.

Can we get more specific? Let’s turn to Scripture itself and attempt to lay out some biblical principles for determining which articles of faith are truly essential to authentic Christianity.

View article →

What Is Sound Doctrine?

Scott Swain of Ligonier Ministries weighs in on the importance of believers receiving, confessing and following sound doctrine.  He writes:

When I was young, I only thought of my future: Whom would I marry? What vocation would I pursue? Where would I live? Now that I am the father of four children, I think only of their futures.

As he approached the final days of his ministry, the Apostle Paul set his thoughts on the future well-being of Timothy, his “beloved child” in the faith (2 Tim. 1:2). He wrote to him about the things that matter most for life and ministry. Not only did Paul commend to his young protégé the glorious gospel of God (vv. 8–10) and the divinely inspired Scriptures (3:16–17), but he also instructed Timothy regarding the importance of sound doctrine: “Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you” (1:13–14). According to Paul, doctrine is among the things that matter most for the well-being of the Christian and the church. Sound, or “healthy,” doctrine provides a pattern that, when followed, promotes healthy faith and love. Sound doctrine is a valuable heritage that is to be treasured in this generation and faithfully transmitted to the next (2:2).

What is doctrine? In its basic sense, doctrine is any sort of teaching. The Bible, for example, talks about the teachings of men (Mark 7:7–8), the teachings of demons (1 Tim. 4:1; Rev. 2:24), and the teachings of God (John 6:45; 1 Thess. 4:9; 1 John 2:27). Here, we are concerned with divine teaching, the teaching of God. According to one definition, doctrine is teaching from God about God that directs us to the glory of God. This definition provides a helpful anatomy of sound doctrine, identifying doctrine’s source, object, and ultimate end. We will consider these elements of sound doctrine. View article →

Deadly Doctrines: The Pattern and Protection

 

We have learned that the church of every age is plagued by false teachers and their deadly doctrine. We have met seven of those false teachers and seen the devastation they bring. We have identified five tests we can apply to any doctrine to determine whether it is false or true. But this leaves us with some important questions: How does a church come to reject sound doctrine? How do we guard ourselves against false teachers and their deadly doctrines? How do we protect ourselves, our families, and our churches from their seductive lies? Thankfully, God has given us clear guidance in his Word, showing us how churches descend into deadly doctrine and how we may protect ourselves against it.

Read more