Monday, September 27, 2010

What is the Gospel? Part 2: How does God accomplish the Gospel?

2 Corinthians 5:18-21

We see the main thing here in this text, imputation (see also Isaiah 53) – both sin to Christ and righteousness to us. This is the ministry and message of reconciliation. Everybody has a sin problem (Romans 3:23) and we’re given the responsibility to proclaim the cure. That’s the main reason we are left on earth after we are born again, because fellowship with God, fellowship with each other, and triumph over sin will all be complete in heaven. There is one thing we do here that we cannot do in heaven and that is the ministry of reconciliation.

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin – this means that God the Father punished Jesus as if He were the sinner, not that He was now actually a sinner. Jesus was our substitute. We see a type of this in Leviticus 16; Jesus became the “scapegoat”. The scapegoat wasn’t guilty, but the priest symbolically laid all the sins of the people on the scapegoat and sent him away. Jesus was without sin, but sin was credited to His account as if He had personally committed it, and then God punished Him, though the fact is He never committed any of it. Christ was made sin in the sense that our sins were accounted to Him. God treated Him as if He was guilty but He wasn’t. You were guilty, but God poured His wrath on the innocent Christ who was in our place as our substitute (Isaiah 53:10). The passage in Isaiah 53:6-7 is directly applied to Christ by Philip in Acts 8:32 (cf. John 1:29).

So that in him we might become the righteousness of God – this means God accredits the righteousness of Christ to our account. God rewards us as if we are the righteous, not that we are actually righteous. We see imputed righteousness also in Luke 22:37 (what was written about ME) where Jesus connects Isaiah 53 (see vs.11) with Himself (cf. Jeremiah 23:6).

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Monday, September 20, 2010

What is the Gospel? Part 1: The Basic Facts

The gospel message is the good news of salvation, the word of truth offered to mankind by grace through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ; most especially the message of the cross. We naturally think that the gospel starts with people, but the Bible reveals that the Gospel starts with God. Those that don’t know God place people first and believe that individual insight into our own selves is more important than God. This leads to pluralism, in other words, choose your own path and it is okay, because the frame of reference is people centered instead of God centered. This is against the Biblical Christian faith, as revealed by Jesus Christ, who said that there was only one way to be justified before God, and that was through Him (John 14:6). Peter said that Jesus was the only way men might be saved (Acts 4:12). Paul told Timothy that there was only one mediator between God and man, that being Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5).

We either believe what Jesus said about Himself and the kingdom of God, and its exclusivity, or we have to invent some other way, which inevitably leads to pluralism (many paths), universalism (all people are saved), pantheism (all is God), or panentheism (everything has God in it). All these things are invalidated by the testimony of the Bible, which Jesus validated as the words of God (recall session 2, “A Biblical Foundation”). So, it is either Jesus or something else, you cannot have both, although many claim a Jesus that is not the Jesus of the Bible.

Jesus said He was God. This is why the Jewish leaders were trying to kill Him in the first place, because He was asserting that He was the Son of God. To the Jewish mind of the day it was clear that Jesus was saying He was equal with God (John 5:18, 10:24-33). Jesus said to them that if they did not believe He was who He said He was that they would die in their sins, i.e., they were not going to heaven, but would be damned (John 8:24).

Think of it this way: all roads do indeed lead to God, but only one road leads to God justifying you, and all the other roads lead to God judging you. If you are in Christ God has already judged your sins, He punished Jesus in your place, but if not, then you will be punished for your own sins with your own soul, and you cannot pay for sins against God.

What are the basic facts of the Gospel? – 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 gives us the gospel in a nutshell – Christ died for our sins, was buried, and He rose again on the third day. We see that it was Jesus, the Messiah, who is the Christ, the Son of God, and the perfect One, who had to die for our sins. We’ll develop the significance of that as we go on from here. We also see that the resurrection is central to the gospel message (cf. Acts 17:31 / Romans 8:34-39 / 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 / 2 Timothy 2:8-11 / 1 Peter 1:3-9, etc.). Paul goes on to develop this in the rest of the chapter (cf. our sermon Where are your Easter Eggs?)

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Biblical Foundation Part 5: The Bible is Believable

The Bible isn’t something we can try and prove using the “scientific method”. Historical events aren’t observable, measurable and repeatable. Although Isaac Newton may have used the scientific method to prove that gravity exists, we cannot use the scientific method to prove that Isaac Newton discovered gravity itself. So if you actually had a problem with the Bible because you can’t apply the scientific method, you have got a problem with history itself.

If something is written, you must use evidence as the witness to its truth. The only way you can question it is if you don’t have corroboration or there is internal inconsistency. There is no credible claim of any internal inconsistency and we have multiple streams of corroboration. We have three different languages used in scripture; Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic. We have three different continents that scripture was written on; Asia, Africa and Europe. We have over 40 authors who contributed to the writing of scripture, most of whom never met one another because they wrote over a period of some 1600 hundred years.

Based on the evidentiary method, not the scientific method, we conclude, as some have summarized, that the Bible is a reliable collection of historical documents written down by eye witnesses during the lifetime of other eye witnesses. They report to us supernatural events that took place in fulfillment of specific prophecy and claim that their writings are divine rather than human in origin.

Jesus and the Old Testament – Jesus said the OT was about Him (Luke 24:27 / John 5:39). He quotes from every section: the Pentateuch, the Wisdom Literature, the Poetry, the Prophets (both major and minor), and the Historical material.

When dealing with the people of His day, whether it was with the disciples or religious rulers, Jesus constantly referred to the OT: (Matthew 12:3, 21:16 (citing Psalm 8:2), and 22:31).

Jesus confirmed many of the historical accounts in the OT, such as the destruction of Sodom and the death of Lot’s wife (Luke 17:29, 32), the murder of Abel by his brother Cain (Luke 11:51), the calling of Moses (Mark 12:26), the manna given in the wilderness (John 6:31-51), the judgment upon Tyre and Sidon (Matthew 11:21), and many others.

Jesus also authenticated some of the passages that are most disputed today. Many modern scholars do not believe that Moses wrote the first five books of the OT, but Jesus did (see Matthew 19:8-9 / Mark 12:29-31 / John 7:19). Some modern scholars also assume the existence of more than one writer of Isaiah, but Jesus believed in only one. In Luke 4:17-21, He cites Isaiah 61:1-2 (the so-called second Isaiah), while in Matthew 15:7-9, He refers to the first part of Isaiah’s work (Isaiah 6:9). The account of Daniel is rejected today by many, but the Lord Jesus believed him to be a prophet (Matthew 24:15). The account of Adam and Eve often is ridiculed today as legend, but Jesus believed the story to be true (Matthew 19:1-6). Likewise, the narrative of Noah and the great flood not only is authenticated by Jesus (Matthew 24:37), it also is used as an example of His second coming. The account of Jonah and the “whale” is used by Jesus as a sign of His resurrection (Matthew 12:39ff).

Jesus used the OT authoritatively – Matthew 4:1-10 – The devil actually uses Scripture to tempt Jesus (Psalm 91:11-12), but Jesus quotes right back to him: (Deuteronomy 8:3, 6:16, 6:13). Jesus believed in the OT.

Jesus and the New Testament – John 16:12-13 – Some talk as if only the words of Jesus are needed and the words of the Apostles are not necessary, as if the words of Jesus are somehow against the words given by the Holy Spirit to the other biblical writers. Jesus himself dismisses with this idea, Christ said that the Spirit would not only bring all the teachings of Jesus to their remembrance, but that He would also bring new truth and revelation to the Apostles upon His death. The epistles do not confuse the teachings of Christ, they magnify them. Paul declared that “we have the mind of Christ” in accordance with Jesus’ own words (1 Corinthians 2:16). If we want to truly be “red letter Christians” then we ought to pay attention to what those red letters of Jesus have to say about the authority of the apostolic writings. Jesus believed in the NT.

Jesus and KJV only – 1 Peter 1:24-25 (Isaiah 40:8) / Psalm 119:160 – God’s Word endures in some form believers will be able to access from generation to generation. It is not that every single word will be preserved in a certain form, but every concept, principle, law, doctrine.

In Matthew 5:18, when Jesus uses the phrase – “iota or dot (jot and tittle)” this does not mean that we will always be able to point to a single copy and say that every period and paragraph is written exactly the same as in the original. A letter perfect form of God’s Word could not be identified with certainty even in Jesus time. Multiple copies already existed, and variations included whole words. Jesus quoted freely from the handmade copies of the Greek version of the OT known as the Septuagint.

Scripture is Trustworthy – we can trust the Bible even if we don’t have the original documents.

The Abundance of Existing Manuscripts – the New Testament is by far the most preserved text of the ancient world, both in terms of the number of existing manuscripts and the time difference between the earliest manuscripts we have and the originals they represent.

The Insignificance of Most Variants – There are many good reasons for a rock solid confidence that 98-99% (not an abstract number) is the same as the original, and even then, it is not that 98-99% percent of the original text exists; it is that more than 100 % exists. We have all the originals say; in that 1-2% that is different, scholars try and find what is likely not original and discard it. It is never mere conjecture. This confidence in the text is shared by people of many theological positions, across conservative/liberal lines, denominational lines, etc.

The Preservation of Primary Doctrines – no major doctrine of the Christian faith is affected in any significant way by any viable textual variant. Those few places where we are not sure never encroach on any issue of major significance, they are doubts on how to spell a few names, word order, differences in style, or confusion concerning synonyms.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

Monday, September 06, 2010

A Biblical Foundation Part 4: Scripture is Stronger than Experience

2 Peter 1:16-19

Think about all that Peter had experienced and what he is saying about the Word of God.

• He lived with Jesus for 3 years
• He saw Jesus perform miracles
• He saw Jesus transfigured into a glorious state, and Moses and Elijah
• He heard God the Father’s audible voice
• Peter had performed miracles himself
• He had preached the Pentecost sermon, relating it all to scripture
• The Word is as sure as any of that, it is a confirmation of Christ (cf. Luke 16:22-31)
• We would be wise to get it down in us until Jesus rises up out of us

The common objection – Now look at vs.20-21 – You can't just say, “Well, men wrote it, therefore it must be flawed”, because if the claim of the Bible itself is true, God can get men to write what He wants them to. It is not self-refuting to claim that men wrote the very words of God and that it is inerrant.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©