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1 Peter 1:3-6 Christian Hope (Part 2)

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials” 1 Peter 1:3-6.

The beginning of Peter’s epistle began doctrinally, theologically, and interested in practical Christian living in the context of trials. Peter was interested in the true fellowship that is shared by Christians in their position in Christ, the position in which there exists no dichotomy between where christians stand positionally and their belief in unity through sound doctrine. Peter exemplified this unity with his fellow Apostles, as they impacted one another in the truth and we know this by Peter’s mention of Paul later in Peter’s second epistle (i.e. 2 Peter 3:15-16).

The doxology from the third verse of 1 Peter chapter 1, namely, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” is the center of the message of hope, namely God the Father who sent God the Son to save the elect from the wrath of God. If one desires to give a message of hope, then that message must begin with what Christ has accomplished on behalf of the elect by the work of His cross. True Christian hope is tied to mercy. Hopelessness, then, is tied directly to God’s wrath, for it is the height of all hopelessness to reject the Lord Jesus Christ and abide in the wrath of God. Whether one possesses good temporal health or is not experiencing good, temporal health is irrelevant. Adversely, if one believes on the Lord Jesus Christ for the remission of sins committed against God, then such a person abides in His mercy. This mercy is a blessing extended as a gift from the grace of God. One may lay claim to this blessing whether in good, temporal health, or riddled by sickness, diseases, or trials. Hope is tied directly to one’s position in Christ. This is where Peter began his epistle. He did not appeal immediately to what the believers were experiencing, but rather to what the Triune God had accomplished on their behalf.

What is more, the believer’s hope is tied to the sound doctrine of the new birth. Peter wrote that the believer not only received mercy, but the believer had been “born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead . . .” The new birth not only grants the believer access to eternal life, that is its greatest feature, but it ultimately brings the believer, in triumph, over death to an unshakeable kingdom. True hope leads to the eternal benefits of God’s Kingdom. These are given to the believer as a gracious gift through the mercy of God. The world at-large wants nothing to do with this kind of hope. The best the world can offer is sympathy for the fallen nature. The best the world can give is assurances for things that will not last. The undertones of the eternal kingdom of God versus the temporal, visible empire of Rome was evident in this verse. During the days in which the Apostle Peter wrote the epistle of 1 Peter, Christians would have seen Rome in all its earthly glory. Its expansion was far-reaching throughout the known world. During the time this epistle was written, Rome was at the height of its power. But more sinister, Rome had begun to turn its attention toward Christians as enemies of the state and a threat to its existence. This is because the kingdoms of this world are ruled over by the prince of the power of the air (cf. Ephesians 2:2).

The believers were not to hope in what the world could provide for them. In every case, what the kingdoms of this world offer is at the expense and exchange of the soul. The world cannot offer the Christian an inheritance, because the Christian does not belong to the world. In verse 4, Peter wrote the consequence of the living hope the believer possesses is an inheritance: eternal, undefiled, unfading glory. The Christian’s receipt of this inheritance is as certain as the inheritance being delivered. The inheritance is not only preserved, but the believer is preserved and protected by the power of God through the faith He grants to them in accordance with their salvation by the grace of God through Christ (v. 6). The believer is preserved in order to receive the inheritance to be revealed at the last time (v. 5). We know this is certain, and that it is eternal because Peter expressed to the believers not only when the inheritance would be given to them, but he told them “where”, “reserved in heaven for you” (v. 4).

The believer’s hope is not in the temporal, earthly things (cf. Philippians 3:19). The world has conditioned the mind to assess one’s standing in terms of what one possesses in this life. It is why self-preservation is at an all-time high. There is an absence of the knowledge of the power of God. Even so, when individuals speak of God’s power they reduce it to what they believe is entitled to them in this life, all the while claiming they are displaying God’s power. The Charismatic movement, secular humanism, modern evangelicalism, Islam, Roman Catholicism, and other movements all point to what is advantageous for the individual in this life while either redefining what eternity means, or failing to address it at all. But then, only true, biblical Christianity can proclaim the power of God as it is directly related to God’s Word in Scripture. Hope is then tied to biblical doctrine. Hope is tied to the new birth, and true faith in Jesus Christ alone. How callous and deceitful is it to offer hope in people and objects that will perish? How dangerous is it to offer hope in self-preservation? The hope of the believer is the salvation granted to them by God in Jesus Christ. The believer is kept by God’s power, not to live forever in this world, but to live eternally in the heavenly, kingdom of God. True faith is not tested by a life of ease and comfort. True faith must endure trials, testing, and hostility. But true faith also produces unspeakable joy in the heart of the believer since the believer is reconciled to God. Peter stressed how salvation and the inheritance of the saints is not only tested, but how faith triumphs in the face of refinement and suffering (v. 6).

Doron Gladden

1 Peter 1:2 – Christian Hope: Part 1

There are no shortages of men and women who step forward to offer hope. Unfortunately, many try to sell a pseudo hope. You can hear voices from modern evangelicalism, the voice of the Muslim, or the voice of the secular Humanist, or the voice of the Roman Catholic or any other “leader” and guru, religious or irreligious all trying to sell hope. However, if one desires to possess hope, one must come to the truth and know that true hope is tied to a position and Person, namely the Lord Jesus Christ. Apart from a salvific position in Him there is no hope.

During the time in which the epistle of Peter was written, the known world, especially Christians, were under the hopeless, crushing weight of the Roman Empire. Through investigating the facts of Church history, one will discover that Peter himself suffered a gruesome death as a martyr under the wicked and diabolical rule of the Roman Caesar Nero. Paul shared in the same blessed martyrdom, although at a different time, but under the same circumstances, namely death by execution. But even though the epistle was written to those who were suffering under the weight of the Roman Empire, the apostle Peter did not call for men to hide in his person or in his ministry, as so many personality cultists are prone to do today. Peter established the new birth in Jesus Christ and the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit as the sure foundation, the hope that is within every believer in the midst of unspeakable trials and relentless oppression.

Peter did not call for the hope of better days ahead simply because one’s outlook is geared toward the “hope” of better days ahead. Peter began where the Christian must: position in Christ, the finished work of Christ, and the Person of Christ. This is the foundation of the believer’s hope, whether in trials and sufferings, or in the face of the last enemy: death. It is inconsistent and callous for the believer to offer a false hope to unbelievers, such as man-centered mantras telling them “we will get through this together,” “stay strong,” or “stay positive.” Even the hashtag social media campaigns that play on the emotions, gather a consensus around a trial, but never really addresses man’s sin nature and how that sin nature has alienated he or she from God. It is hopeless to disguise hope in man’s performance or state of mind, as if positive thinking will remedy the world’s ills. Peter, however, began His encouragement toward Christians with what God had accomplished for sinners.

He wrote to those of specific regions and identified them as the “chosen” (verse 1) or as one translations puts it, “the elect” (ESV). But in either case these people are “the chosen.” They are those whom God has appointed and elected unto salvation in the churches to whom Peter wrote. They are aliens, not in the terrestrial sense, but those who would be considered immigrants, scattered by the dispersion of Jews throughout the Roman Empire whose physical and geographical home is Israel. But more than Jews, they are believers, Christians who find their homes in the regions of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia (see verse 1). This is a broad group of believing Jews and likely some of them Gentiles whose faith was in Jesus Christ. Their faith was so strong, they suffered for it.

Peter identified himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ. This is the office to which Christ directly and specifically appointed Peter to bear fruit for the kingdom of God and to feed the Lord’s sheep (cf. John 21:17). Peter was far removed from his personal denial of the Lord at the mock trial of Christ (cf. Matthew 26:72). In this epistle, He is armed with the power of the Holy Spirit, boldness in Christ, the compassion and desire to see Christians walking upright in the way of truth, in Christ (cf. 1 Peter 1:13-23). He had demonstrated, by his own example, the believer’s hope is in Christ alone.

It is clear as to what standard Peter called the believers to hope. All efforts to stimulate hope are not equal. Some men call for hope in their personal experiences. Some call for hope in the results of their ministry. Some call for hope in feelings and vague reassurances. However, Peter invoked the standard to which all men must hold to have real hope. First, he called for a hope rooted in divine election, the sound doctrine by which God the Father appointed and chose for Himself those where to receive salvation, faith, and eternal life in Jesus Christ on the basis of what Christ has fully accomplished on the cross—that is propitiation (the satisfaction of wrath) for the sins of the elect. Peter first identified this by calling the believers “the chosen” or “chosen ones.” This is not a general or hypothetical group, but a specific group among the entire regions of Asia Minor. This was not the general populace but solely, and exclusively those who were the “elect” within the specified regions.

From chapter 1 verse 2 of 1 Peter, Peter identified the standard to which these believers were held and to which they were appointed. But more than that, he identified the standard of election. The beginning of verse 2 answers the standard of election. It answers these questions, namely “who chose these believers?”, “how were they chosen?”, and “how are they kept and sustained as chosen ones?”

Verse 2: κατὰ πρόγνωσιν θεοῦ πατρὸς ἐν ἁγιασμῷ πνεύματος εἰς ὑπακοὴν καὶ ῥαντισμὸν αἵματος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη πληθυνθείη.

(according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctification of [the] Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace may be multiplied)

It is through the foreknowledge of God the Father that these believers were chosen, appointed to be heirs of eternal life in Christ, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit. The Spirit is identified as the agent through which the work of sanctification has taken place to cleanse the believers of sin and to commend them to God based on what Christ has accomplished. The Spirit’s work of cleansing the believer produces a sure hope because the cleansing in the believer eliminates alienation from God, eliminates abiding in His wrath, and as such eliminates condemnation before Him (cf. Romans 8). This work of sanctifying those who are believers is Spirit’s work. To this effect, the believer will act in accordance with what He or she has been given. Peter wrote these believers were, by evidence of their obedience to Christ and being sprinkled with his blood, chosen ones. The standard to which the believer is elected is the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying means of the Spirit, and this produces the obedience that assures the believer he or she belongs to Christ, who has satisfied the wrath of God against them as their substitute on the cross through the vicarious, propitiatory, penal-substitutionary death of Jesus Christ on the cross and His resurrection from the dead whereby men are saved if they confess with their mouths the Lord Jesus, repent of their sins, and believe God raised Him from the dead. Peter’s initial greeting concluded with the premise that if these things were indeed the case what belonged to the “chosen ones” in the regions represented was grace and peace supplied to them in the fullest measure and multiplied, that is to be increasing! This is where hope begins. Hope begins with who God is, what He has accomplished, and for whom He has accomplished the work of redemption. Although this epistle has a historical context, the elect from every nation can rest in the hope supplied in this initial greeting. What follows is how the believer must respond in the face of trials given the sound doctrine of the new birth and kingdom of God.

– Doron Gladden

Gospel Presentation

God is the Creator of the Universe and owns everything (cf. Gen 1:1; Psalm 24:1). Man is the creature created by God. Man in his fallen state is an idolater – that is, man worships created things instead of the Creator. Furthermore, man in his fallen state lives a life with no real regard that God is the Creator and Law Giver. Nevertheless, the basic requirements of God’s Law is written on every human heart. In fact, God’s standard is so high that he considers hatred in your heart for another person murder and lust in your heart for another person adultery, that is, your guilt before God is the same as if you acted these sins out physically (cf. Matt 5:21-22, 27-28). God sees through all deceptions even to the very core of our inner men, namely, the center of our souls – that is the heart (cf. 1 Sam 16:7; Heb 4:12-13).

The Word of God teaches that man is completely sinful. “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness” (1 Jn 3:4). Sin is any violation of the Law of God. The first man Adam, whom God created very good (cf. Gen 1:31), sinned against God (Gen 3). God gave Adam one commandment, namely, “but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die” (Gen 2:17). The Spiritual Serpent used the physical serpent to tempt Adam’s wife Eve, and she ate the fruit and gave it to Adam and he ate, and that was the first sin (cf. Gen 3). When Adam sinned, sin entered into the human race and into the world (cf. Rom 5:12). When Adam sinned the entire human race sinned as well because as the first human being, the entire human race was in the loins of Adam (cf. Acts 17:26; see Heb 7:10). What is more, as the first man Adam was the representative of the entire human race, death came to the human race as the consequence of Adam’s sin (cf. Rom 5:12; 1 Cor 15:21-22). As Judge, God imputed Adam’s sin to the entire human race. Impute means to charge to one’s account. All have sinned (cf. Rom 3:23) and “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Psalm 14:3). Man is born dead in his sin – that is, post fall (cf. Gen 3). Sin is evil and wickedness, which is any violation against the Law of God (cf. 1 Jn 3:4).

The actual sins that people commit are evidence of this reality of original sin. God cannot look on wickedness with favor. He must judge sin and as such the ultimate punishment for sin is the second death – namely, eternity in the lake of fire (see Rev 20:13-15). Every person is born dead in sin. The evidence a person has begun to be under the conviction of God is when they are awoken to the reality of the Holiness of God and sense spiritually His piercing eye (anthropomorphically) furiously directed toward their sin (i.e. both original sin – the sinful nature inherited from Adam as well as actual sins and transgressions against God). God’s character is absolutely Holy, Righteous, and Just. Concerning the Holiness of God the OT Prophet Habakkuk rightly confessed to God the following when he said, “Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, and You cannot look on wickedness with favor.” (Hab 1:13). A person must be born again by the Holy Spirit to be washed from the defilement of their sinful nature. A person must realize that for their entire life they have been at enmity with God and have hated God before they can truly seek reconciliation with Him. If a person thinks that they have loved God their whole life (i.e. as far as they can remember), the truth is – that person has never loved God in their entire life. A person might have prayed occasionally or regularly, even have gone to church, or even have grown up in the church; but none of these things makes a person a Christian.

However, a person’s relationship with God (i.e. when they are dead in their sin) is best characterized by what the OT Prophet Isaiah boldly affirmed to the godless when he described the following relationship that the unbeliever has with God; “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear” (Isa 59:2). A person must understand that they have broken God’s Law and that He would be absolutely justified in sending them to Hell for eternity. God is a righteous Judge and the absolute definition of perfect justice. God demands perfect obedience to His Law and if you break even one point of the Law only once in your life you have broken the entire Law; “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all” (Jas 2:10). God is standing at the door of eternity ready to execute perfect justice toward man for breaking His Law and demands men to repent of their sins; “God is a righteous judge, And a God who has indignation every day. If a man does not repent, He will sharpen His sword; He has bent His bow and made it ready” (Ps 7:11-12). A person will pay the eternal penalty for sin if they do not repent; “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 6:23). To repent is to change your mind about sin and turn from it and then turn to God.

God is self-existent (cf. Exod 3:14). God’s self-existence means that He has no beginning and no end; He has always existed. This is a mystery but not a contradiction. Eternity is not a measurement. Eternity is forever and ever. Time is a measurement. When our time runs out on Earth we will stand before our Creator who is self-existent. Because He is self-existent all His attributes work at maximum capacity forever. Concerning God’s Holiness and Justice, if you break His Law you owe Him eternity. True justice is adjudicated when the punishment is equal to the crime committed. That is why our good works cannot fix the problem and pay God back because God is Eternal and it is His Law that is violated. Therefore the payment He demands is an eternal payment. Consequently, it would take forever to pay God back for even sinning against Him once. That is why man’s merits of good works can never satisfy God’s wrath and grant us eternal entrance into heaven because it would take us eternity to pay God back for one sin, hence a never-ending task without end. This presents the most important question ever asked, namely “In truth I know that this is so; But how can a man be in the right before God?” (Job 9:2).

Answer: God cannot justify the wicked without His justice being eternally satisfied because if He let sinners “off the hook” then He would contradict Himself (cf. Prov 17:15). This dilemma He alone has solved through divine accomplishment and He alone has extended mercy to some without contradiction. This is because God’s Divine attributes of Holiness and Righteousness work at maximum capacity forever. Also, God’s Divine attribute of love works at maximum capacity forever. The Word of God says that God is love (1 Jn 4:8; 16). Therefore, God’s love must be consistent with His justice. The gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is the only way a person can be right before a Holy God. The action of God the Father sending His only Begotten Son to live vicariously (fulfilling all God’s righteous requirements) for everyone who would ever believe in Christ for eternal life as well as the Lord Jesus Christ dying on the cross in substitution taking upon himself the punishment for sins committed by everyone who would ever trust in Christ to save them from the wrath of God, was an action of true love. The Bible teaches that God maintained and demonstrated perfectly His righteousness, holiness and justice and at the same time He upheld and demonstrated perfectly His love when Jesus Christ propitiated God’s wrath toward sinners by dying in their place in substitution on the cross (cf. Rom 3:21-26; 1 Jn 4:10). Propitiation means to satisfy the wrath of another. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (cf. Rom 5:8). Christ rose from the dead and is alive in Heaven (1 Cor 15:4).

If I were merely to reform my life today by my own strength for the purpose of trying to be a better person, then how would I pay God back for the sins I committed yesterday? I still have to answer for the sins I committed yesterday and I cannot go back in time. Moreover, how do I know that my reformation will remain tomorrow and that tomorrow I will not return to my former sins? Only Christ alone can save a person from the wrath of God because Christ is God. Jesus Christ has come in the flesh; “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim 2:5) “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Jesus Christ is the second Person of the Trinity. Jesus Christ is the same essence as God the Father and God the Holy Spirit yet Christ is distinct in Personhood.

Jesus Christ is self-existent. Therefore His perfect life, cross work and resurrection from the dead transcend space and time even though they occurred at a moment in space and time over 2,000 years ago. Our works could never pay God back, because He is self-existent, holy and demands eternal justice for breaking His Law. But Jesus payed the sin debt to God fully because in Jesus there is no sin and Jesus is a self-existent Person. He is the only one who has the resources to satisfy God’s wrath toward sin. Jesus Christ is God in human flesh (Jn 1:1-4; 14). The Lord Jesus Christ has two natures, that is, a divine nature and a human nature.

Jesus is fully God and fully man. Colossians 2:9 references both His divine nature and His human nature when the text reads, “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form” (cf. Philp 2:6; Heb 1:3). In order for Jesus to have a divine nature must mean that He is perfect, self-existent, the same essence as God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. Jesus also has a human nature, that is, He is every way that we are in His human nature except He is without sin (cf. Jn 7:18; Heb 2:14; 4:15; 1 Jn 3:5). Jesus Christ has two natures perfectly united in one Person, therefore He is the only mediator between God and man (cf. 1 Tim 2:5). In the incarnation, He was born of a Virgin, conceived miraculously by God the Holy Spirit. Jesus lived perfectly fulfilling everything that God requires us to do. The Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross as an innocent sacrifice for those who would trust in Him alone to be saved from the wrath of God. At the right time, when Jesus died on the cross for the ungodly, God the Father charged to Jesus’ account all the sins of everyone who would ever believe in Him for eternal life, and in turn, God the Father charges to the believing sinner the perfect righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is called the great exchange of the cross and is explicitly taught in the Word of God when it reads, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” This does not mean that Jesus became a sinner on the cross. In fact, He was perfectly righteous on the cross. It means that Jesus was treated as if He committed all the sins of everyone who would ever believe in Him, although He was innocent, and now God treats everyone who would ever believe in Christ only as if they lived Jesus’ perfect life.

God only saves the ungodly and sinners (cf. Rom 4:5; 1 Tim 1:15). He does not save righteous people. If you do not see your need for Christ to save you from the wrath of God then you will fall under the wrath of almighty God. If you are not convinced now when you stand before Him you will be completely convinced of it. True Christianity evidences itself by a changed life by the power of God. A person is saved by Grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone not works. Grace is not a license to sin (cf. Rom 6:1-3). True Christianity evidences itself by true discipleship; “And He was saying to them all, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me’” (Lk 9:23). God now commands to men that all everywhere should repent (Acts 17:30). What you need to examine is in regards to this question, namely, “when I die will I be ready to stand before a Holy God?” Do not say that you are ready because your heart subjectively tells you that you are, for the heart is deceitful above all else (cf. Jer 17:9). But only say yes to this answer if the Word of God testifies the same concerning your life.

Based on the true conviction of these things through God the Holy Spirit, you must cry out to God for mercy and ask Him to save you from His wrath. You must trust in what the Lord Jesus Christ alone has done in fulfilling the Law by His perfect life of obedience, His suffering and dying on the cross in substitution for you and His resurrection from the dead for your justification. Merely agreeing that the Bible teaches this truth is not enough. You must trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, His person and Cross work alone to save you from the Wrath of God. True faith trusts in the personal righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is good news for you if you know yourself to be an ungodly sinner. God justifies sinners who place faith in Christ. Justification means “declared righteous” and justification is by faith apart from works of the Law. Even the faith to believe in Christ is a gift from God and not something that a person can take any credit for at all (cf. Ephesians 2:9-10). The Lord Jesus Christ will return imminently in great glory (Matt 24:30; 25:31) and He will execute Judgment (cf. 1 Tim 4:1). Do not delay any further; repent unto salvation and believe the Gospel.

Hebrews

This summary on the letter to the Hebrews is by no means exhaustive, but it is intended to be an encouragement for you to read the book of Hebrews and consider some of the following features from the book of Hebrews mentioned in this synopsis.

The human author of the book of Hebrews did not reference his name in the introduction but instead kept himself anonymous, but the divine Author is God the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul is the human author because of his reference to Timothy in 13:23 as well as the fact that the theological themes mostly reflect Pauline epistles. Hebrews was written sometime during the 60’s A.D. but could even have been written earlier. This short abridgment will answer what Hebrews taught concerning the Person and work of Jesus Christ, as well as why this teaching was given.

To start, Hebrews teaches that the Person Jesus Christ is the Eternal Son of God, Whom eternally has existed as the Son of God. Moreover, Christ upholds the universe by the word of His power (cf. 1:1-4). Jesus Christ is more superior and excellent than prophets (cf. 1:1), more superior and excellent than angels (1:5-14; 2:5-16), more superior and excellent than Moses (cf. 3:1-6), and more superior and excellent than kings, high priests, and animal sacrifices (cf. 4-10). The reason the author of Hebrews focused on the superiority (cf. 1:4) of the Person and position of Christ is because the original recipients of the epistle to the Hebrews were considering turning back to the old covenant. To caution the original recipients of Hebrews not to enter into collective apostasy and forfeit their souls there were given many warning passages in the epistle (cf. 2:1-4; 3:7-14; 5:11-6:8; 10:26-39; 12:15-17; 12:25-29). The author reasonably argued that if all of the types, pictures and symbols in the old covenant point to Christ who fulfilled them and instituted the new covenant, and if one abandons Christ to return to the old covenant types, pictures and symbols, then one forfeits any opportunity to be saved from the wrath of God (cf. 6:4-6; 10:29).

Concerning the work of Jesus Christ, it is His finished work alone that provides salvation from the wrath of God. The eternally begotten Son of God took human flesh to Himself permanently forever in the incarnation for the purpose of saving His people (cf. 2:1-18). The Agent of Creation (cf. 1:1-4) entered into the creation as the Author of salvation for many (cf. 1:3c; 2:10). He came to provide atonement for His people. The main subject that Hebrews teaches is the doctrine of the atonement. Hebrews 2:17 teaches the atoning work of Christ when it reads, “Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”

The Greek word for propitiation in 2:17 is ἱλάσκεσθαι (hilaskesthai). It is a verb in the present infinitive middle/passive and it means “to make propitiation for (i.e. to satisfy the wrath of another).” The noun form of the same word, namely ἱλαστήριον (hilastērion) is translated “mercy seat” in 9:5. Both words share the same root in Greek. The significance in this observation is that it was on the mercy seat where the high priest under the old covenant would sprinkle the sacrificial blood on the day of atonement. The author of Hebrews explained the significance of the mercy seat in the old covenant when he wrote,

Now when these things have been so prepared, the priests are continually entering the outer tabernacle performing the divine worship, but into the second, only the high priest enters once a year, not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance. The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing, which is a symbol for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience, since they relate only to food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation. (9:6-10)

Then the author of Hebrews explained the things described in the first covenant are a type of what Christ had done as a high priest of a better covenant when he wrote,

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (9:11-14)

Christ has entered into the holy of holies in heaven where He is seated at the right hand of God and has made purification for sins once and for all (cf. 1:3). The things in the first covenant were cleansed with the blood of innocent animal sacrifices, but were just copies of the heavenly things that Christ has entered into with the better sacrifice of His own blood (cf. 9:23). The law was only a shadow of the good things to come and could never make sinners perfect (cf. 10:1-7). However, what Christ has done has provided full atonement by one sacrifice for sins for all time, and He has sat down at the right hand of God in heaven (cf. 10:9-18). He has offered His blood to the mercy seat in heaven.

On these realities, the author of Hebrews encouraged the original
recipients to have full assurance in Christ with the following exhortation,

Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. (10:19-24)

The application of these things is for the original recipients of the epistle to the Hebrews as well as everyone who reads it today, to take heed and hope in Christ by anchoring their soul to Him in order to save them from the wrath of God and persevere with faith only in Him (cf. 6:19). That is why there are many warning passages in the epistle (cf. 2:1-4; 3:7-14; 5:11-6:8; 10:26-39; 12:15-17; 12:25-29). The original recipients of the epistle were in danger of turning back to the old covenant because of their present persecution. To turn back would have been only foolishness because God has instituted a new and better covenant with Christ as mediator. According to God, Christ is the only way of salvation. The original recipients of the epistle to the Hebrews were being persecuted by the collective apostate leaders and followers of first century Judaism (cf. 10:32-39), but the author of Hebrews wrote that even though they were being persecuted they were not persecuted to the point of blood shed (cf. 12:4). But Christ was persecuted to the point of blood shed – that is, the righteous blood He shed on the cross for the forgiveness of sins.

The author of Hebrews warned the reader not to defect from the faith. The author defined faith as follows when he wrote, “now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (11:1). The author then launched into an entire chapter of faithful examples of saints in the OT who did not waver from their faith in God. The reader appealed to a cloud of witnesses who were faithful (cf. 12:1). Therefore, the author of Hebrews tells the reader to turn away from their sin (12:1b) run with endurance (12:1c), fix their eyes on Jesus who is, “the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (12:2).

If the reader defects there can only be judgment because they have rejected their only means of salvation. Therefore, the exhortation is given to the reader because it is only Christ or judgment (cf. 10:26-31; 12:25-29). As a final point, the reader must know that when they are being disciplined by God it is a sign of assurance of salvation and should cause that person to be obedient from the heart and move forward with full assurance of salvation (cf. 12:5-8)

In conclusion, Hebrews taught that Jesus Christ is the eternally begotten Son of God and has full superiority in His person and position. Moreover, the Lord Jesus Christ is the mediator of a new and better covenant than the old covenant and has provided full redemption by shedding His blood on the cross in propitiation for His people. Therefore, there is no need to go back to the old covenant because to do so would only forfeit a person’s soul and remove them from the only way of redemption. It would remove them from the only way of redemption because to go back to the old covenant and not accept the new covenant is rejecting God’s only way of salvation. To this effect, there are many warning passages in Hebrews. Those who are His must not waver but rather have a heart of faith in full assurance of salvation in Him.

– E.V. Powers

Reader, Read the Book of Hebrews!

Outline of Hebrews:
I. The Superiority of Jesus Christ’s Position (1:1-4:13)
II. The Superiority of Jesus Christ’s Priesthood (4:14-7:28)
III. The Superiority of Jesus Christ’s Priestly Ministry (8:1-10:18)
IV. The Superiority of the Believer’s Privileges (10:19-12:29)
V. Imperatives to be Obedient to the Changeless Christ (13:1-25)

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Against Charismatic Chaos: A Letter to Open-But-Cautious

November 1st, 2019.

Dear Open-But-Cautious,

Please accept my apology for now getting back to you with this response to your questions concerning the features that concern pneumatology. Consequently, my late response is conducive to many busy events at work with travel as well as responsibilities I have had at home in my family life. However, the need of the hour is great to answer your questions with the truth of the Word of God.

The great desire from the Lord Jesus Christ through the Apostle Paul to teach from the Word of God “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Eph 4:12-13) – will be the attitude and approach of this letter that I am writing to you. To that effect, I can honestly testify and bear witness to my conscience that it is indeed clear in the manner in which I am now writing you – that indeed I have a specific goal in mind in writing this letter – that is, to write the truth to you in love while maintaining that there is no dichotomy between truth and love (cf. Eph 4:15; 1 Cor 13:6).

To achieve this goal, I am relying on God to convict you and give you understanding from His intended meaning from the text of Scripture. When it comes to the sound doctrine of illumination by God the Holy Spirit (cf. Eph 1:17-20) – we both know that there is no age nor rank nor riverbank. Our present respectable ages in the chronology of history are of no consequence – for the LORD is pleased to reveal these things not to the wise and intelligent but to infants (cf. Lk 10:21-22). A sixty-year-old man can be an infant in a positive sense as well as a thirty-year-old man. For after all, Nicodemus was very much our Lord’s senior (i.e. concerning Christ’s physical age during the incarnation in the first advent – but Jesus Christ is God in human flesh – therefore Christ is ageless, Self-Existent and in that sense He is before Nicodemus) when he visited Him at night – in which Nicodemus was humbled by his true spiritual condition after a life of religious prestige – yet the man Nicodemus was humbled by the truth concerning his spiritual condition, brought out of darkness and given the light, and I believe will be with the Lord Jesus Christ in glory. Please, do not get me wrong – I am not writing to you in a condescending tone, nor am I at this time writing with my opinion of your spiritual condition. On the other hand, I am merely laying out these timeless principles from the Word of God that must be presupposed by any Christian and will not be taken to offense by an honest mind.

Consequently, as Christians, we must be faithful to the Author’s intended meaning from the Word of God – not our own opinion or the opinion of others. To this effect, the Apostle Peter explained the monolithic interpretation from the Word of God when he wrote, “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:20-21). What Peter wrote applies to the entire Corpus of the Word of God – that is, Genesis through Revelation. Christian maturity is arriving at the correct interpretation across the board whether the discussion involves cosmology (i.e. the study of the origins of the universe), pneumatology, psychology, soteriology, eschatology, etc. (cf. Eph 4:12-16).

Because of my fear of God, I am inclined by my conscience in the Lord to hold to sound doctrine (cf. 2 Tim 1:13-14). As a Christian I am to be a guardian of sound doctrine. Where did this notion that there exists a dichotomy between love and truth ever start with in the first place? Such a dichotomy does not exist in my life. To argue that it is good for one to be very strong on presenting the truth of Scripture but to be unloving is relying heavily on modern evangelicalism motifs and employing the poisoning the well fallacy. People need to hear the truth from the Word of God because that is one of the most loving actions to share with a person.

All of these features presented above must be received in humility in order for any further progress to be made in dispensing coherent discussions concerning the Word of God. Those who profess to know Christ must refuse to be held captive by modern and postmodern liberal downgrade evangelicalism arguments which lead to false interpretations of the Word of God (cf. 2 Cor 10:3-6).
So I ask you Open-but-Cautious, please read the rest of this letter with humility – I want to present to you a sound defense from the Word of God for the area in which you have concerns – namely, pneumatology.

To start, Open-But-Cautious, you argued that I was lecturing others when you put into words the following, “Eric gave us a little lecture on the evils of Pentecostalism.” Why did you decide on the terms “little lecture” if you didn’t intend on adding a degree of sarcasm at best or condescension at worst? Condescension is not loving. I am not interested in presenting a lecture to anyone. I am no one’s formal professor. Do you think you are being overpowered? I will, however, warn others of the evils of Pentecostalism because it is the loving option and duty for the Christian. If it can be established from the Word of God that Pentecostalism is indeed heterodox – then the loving action is to warn of the evils of Pentecostalism. Are the teachings of Pentecostalism in the category of “strange doctrines” – that is, heterodox doctrines, namely different doctrines than the Apostles taught? If they are – then all Christians have the obligation to warn those teaching these strange doctrines as well as those who are held captive by them to repent:

As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith. But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions. (1 Tim 1:3-7).

There is a historical context to Timothy’s charge. At the same time, there is application throughout the church age from this text to charge anyone who is teaching “strange doctrines” to stop teaching “strange doctrines.” The reason for this is due to the etymology of the terms “strange doctrines.” The word Paul used in Greek for “strange doctrines” is ἑτεροδιδασκαλεῖν – to teach other doctrines. The Greek word ἑτεροδιδασκαλεῖν is from a compound word from the Greek words heteros (different/another) and didaskalos (teaching) (cf. 1 Tim 6:3).

I presented a clear representation of Pentecostalism and why it is heterodox (i.e. heresy) from a historical discussion on the inception of the movement. Moreover, I presented the biblical and theological arguments from the Word of God on why the movement called Pentecostalism is heretical. I made my arguments from the Word of God – therefore, I am not “putting God in a box” and I am not painting with any “brush strokes.” If you are siding with ecumenical feelings against the Word of God, then it can be concluded that you are painting with too broad a brush. Besides, no one can put God into a box. We all have experiences, but if our experiences cannot be warranted from the Word of God then we must have the humility to accept that we have indeed been deceived. However, my portrayal of Pentecostalism will be disturbing to anyone who wishes to hold to their subjective experiences against the Word of God. I do not wish to insult anyone, and I wish to be disrespectful to no one. No one said anything to me after I spoke until later when I was not around to answer questions. I do not take offense to anyone. I have found that most of the time people wait until you leave to say something about you. The witnesses I have with me all confirmed to me that I merely gave an informative discourse when I talked.

There are three Apostolic sign gifts that were given during the apostolic age for the inception of the history and spread of Christianity – namely, the gift of tongues, the gift of prophecy, and the gift of healing.

Open-But Cautious, there is a widespread heretical doctrine across planet earth masquerading itself in the name of Christianity although it is not Christian. This heretical doctrine is known as charismatic theology. Charismatic doctrine has deceived millions of people to chase after a model of false worship. What is more, charismatic theology has redefined God’s Word to create a false dichotomy between true faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and God the Holy Spirit. Charismatic theology deconstructs God’s Word to then redefine the Word of God. Charismatic theology promotes the pursuit of experience and emotionalism as objective truth in place of the Word of God.

God’s Word proclaims that if one adds to God’s word then one is a liar (cf. Prov 30:5-6). Furthermore, to change the Author’s intended meaning of the Word of God brings divine judgment (cf. Isa 5:20a-c). Charismatic theology is a manmade system that redefines God’s word attributing experiences and emotionalism to God the Holy Spirit that are inconsistent with Him and the Word of God. There is no dichotomy between God the Holy Spirit and the Word of God because God the Holy Spirit chose the human authors to write down what God wanted in the Scriptures (cf. 2 Tim 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21). Jesus said that God the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth (cf. Jn 14:17; 15:26) and that He guides into all the Truth (cf. Jn 16:13). Likewise, the Apostle John said that God the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth (cf. 1 Jn 4:6; 5:6). The Word of God proclaims that God does not lie (cf. Num 23:19), God cannot lie (cf. Tit 1:2), and it is impossible for God to lie (cf. Heb 6:18). The Holy Spirit is God the third member of the Trinity (cf. Acts 5:3-4). Therefore, God the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth, He does not lie, He cannot lie, it is impossible for Him to lie. Consequently, there is only one interpretation to Scripture; that is, the Author’s intended meaning (cf. 2 Peter 1:20).

There are three ways in which charismatic theology deconstructs the Word of God to redefine it. Namely, charismatic theology deconstructs God’s Word to redefine the gifts of tongues, prophecy and healing.

Gift of Tongues

The gift of tongues was a NT gift (supernatural graces given for the inception of God’s mission for the church) given on the day of Pentecost for the purpose of authenticating the apostolic office for the foundation in the history and spread of Christianity. When the Apostolic age ceased, so did the gift of speaking in tongues (cf. 1 Cor 13:8). The word for tongues in Acts 2:4 is γλώσσαις. It is a noun in the dative case and is in the same context with the word for language, namely διαλέκτῳ (cf. 2:6; 8) which is also in the dative case. The Greek word for tongues, namely γλῶσσα is to be understood based on the context of Acts 2 as coherent rational language. The Greek word γλῶσσα is “a distinctive feature of nations.” In conclusion, γλώσσαις (Acts 2:4) and διαλέκτῳ in (Acts 2:6, 8) are associated and paralleled with one another in the context of Acts 2 on the day of Pentecost. Acts 2 is the only descriptive narrative of a tongues speaking event in regards to what it detailed (Acts 10:46 and 19:6 reveal that the believers spoke in tongues but not a detailed description like Acts 2, because it has already been defined in the overall context of Acts 2 for the context of the book of Acts). A commentator named Ironside defined tongues correctly in the context of Acts 2 when he wrote, “These Galileans who may never have learned any other language than their own now suddenly found themselves so laid of by the Holy Spirit that their tongues were loosed and they began to speak and preach intelligently in the languages of the people gathered there to listen.” Another Commentator named Marshall agreed that tongues in the context of Acts 2 were human languages when he wrote, “Verses 6, 8, and 11 show that human languages are meant.”

Even the father of the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement, Charles Fox Parham, believed that speaking in tongues was known languages. MacArthur recalls this when he writes, “Charles Parham, Agnes Ozman, and the other students never actually experienced the supernatural sign they were seeking. They were convinced speaking in tongues entailed the miraculous ability to speak in authentic foreign languages, just as the apostles did on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:12. That was the gift they so desperately desired. The ‘gift’ they experienced, however, consisted of nothing more than nonsensical gibberish.” Tongues should not be understood as gibberish or ecstatic speech. Advocate for the Charismatic movement Wayne Grudem defined tongues wrongly when he wrote, “Speaking in tongues is prayer or praise spoken in syllables not understood by the speaker.” However, there has been a cessation of the gift of tongues. Due to the middle voice of παύω in 1 Cor 13:8-10 the gift of tongues would cease in and of itself once the gift of prophecy has been “done away” because of the passive voice of καταργέω which means “rendered inoperative.”

Reversal of Order

Open-But-Cautious, in Genesis 11 man continued after the fall in his bent disobedience to God by aspiring for autonomy. Man was interested in his own plan, and as such, built a tower to make a name for himself. However, God had a different plan, namely, to confuse the language of the people into many languages and disperse the nations across the earth. These languages which at first caused the confusion of the Babel tower builders, resulting in the project’s incompleteness, were systematic known comprehensive languages with an order. Thus, tongues are languages, known comprehensive languages, which take time to learn and are used for purposes of rational communication. Acts 17:26 is an appropriate cross reference for Gen 11 in describing God’s plan of the creation mandate to spread man across the earth. Therefore, those engaged in building the tower of Babel were in disobedience to the creation mandate and the dispersion of the nations. God confusing their one language resulted in many languages and was a supernatural miracle from God. In Acts chapter 2 God is reversing the judgment of Babel, namely the judgment through the miracle of confusing the language of the people, to instead miraculously occasioning an event for the elect from the dispersion to prepare them to hear the Gospel from Peter’s Sermon (cf. Acts 2:14-42). Tongues was a sign of judgment on unbelief but also a sign to authenticate the apostles and the gospel message, to begin to bring in the elect to God through the Person and Cross Work of the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Acts 2:43-44). Tongues was a supernatural gift in such a way that a Jew scattered abroad among the dispersion is hearing the miracle of a language known to them. Hence, the confusion of Babel was reversed because it was very clear that the miracle was of God and that they needed to repent and believe on Christ to be saved from the wrath of God (cf. 2:22-41). Speaking in tongues is a supernatural miracle of God and as such is to be understood as known comprehensive systematic rational human language because God is not the author of confusion (cf. 1 Cor 14:33).

If the sign of tongues was a miracle of known languages to authenticate the apostolic office and the gospel in the history and spread of Christianity whereas the charismatic movement is redefining the gift of tongues to define it as gibberish, then the charismatic movement is causing confusion and opposing the gospel. It is the same attitude of disobedience that the workers at the tower of Babel had. For them they were opposed to God’s plan of the creation mandate in Genesis (cf.11:4). Therefore, God confused them with multiple languages. Today the Charismatic is opposed to God’s plan of redemption in the gospel by redefining the gift of tongues for the purpose of desiring signs and experiences in confusion instead of faith in Christ. Charismatics want the confusion of Babel to continue; that is why what they are doing is opposed to the gospel, because at Pentecost God started to dispense the gospel and used the gift of tongues as a vehicle at the start of the church.

Open-But-Cautious, you argued, “None of us is enamored of speaking in tongues, but we all know stories of how God has miraculously given the gift of tongues, when not sought, on the foreign mission field, or in evangelistic settings in this country to communicate with a person who didn’t understand English.” Mere stories are not good enough. You need to show me where you have access to a legitimate documented source of when and where this occurred. Just taking someone’s “word for it” by some obscure alleged story is not enough to create a substantial valid argument. I will always side with the Word of God over a speculative account. But even if there is documentation I will still side with the Word of God. I have already shown above that one of the leading charismatic theologians Wayne Grudem argues that tongues as a gift today is incoherent language not understood by the speaker. Grudem is a continuationist, but even he says the gift is different today then it was in the apostolic age, so my question to the continuationists is “you say It’s different – then what exactly continued?”

Pointedly, this is how charismatic theology has redefined God’s Word to create a false dichotomy between true faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and God the Holy Spirit. God the Holy Spirit puts faith in a person to believe (cf. Eph 1:13; 2:8-10; 1 Cor 12:3; Rom 10:9; 2 Tim 1:13-14). God the Holy Spirit points people to the person and Cross Work of the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Jn 15:26). God the Holy Spirit does not incite people to chase after experiences and signs because to do so is to distort, redefine His office and the point for which Christ came, to be the propitiation for the sins of everyone who would ever believe in Christ for eternal life and His resurrection from the dead for their justification (Matt 12:39; Rom 4:20-25). True faith accepts the personal righteousness of Christ imputed to their account as well as His passive obedience (i.e. Cross Work, death, burial and resurrection) imputed to their account because the believing sinner’s sins were charged to Christ’s account when he died on the cross. God the Father used the rule of imputation (i.e. to charge to one’s account) in the great exchange of the cross and thus treated Christ as if He committed every sin of the elect by pouring out His wrath on Christ, although Christ never committed any sin and remained as righteous as ever on the cross, being completely innocent (cf. 2 Cor 5:21). (By the way, many of the Plymouth Brethren have historically committed error concerning the doctrine of imputation by following John Nelson Darby’s denial of active obedience – this was Charles Spurgeon’s contention with Mr. Darby). Because of this, the sound doctrine of imputation and vicarious penal substitution, God the Father treats the believing sinner as if he only lived the perfect sinless life of Christ. Christ took the place of sinners (i.e. the elect) on the cross, dying and suffering in substitution for them. This does not mean that one can now live however they want (cf. Romans 6). Nor does this mean that those who have been regenerated and have the imputed righteousness of Christ have reached a state of sinless perfection in sanctification this side of the grave. Instead, the Word of God teaches that those who have been born again have a changed life and no longer practice sin. Why would anyone try to distort this message of good news to cause confusion and encourage people to chase after experiences instead of the gospel?

The Indictment against Redefining the Truth

The main Scriptural indictment against charismatic theology which attempts to deconstruct known language and truth and redefine it is Isaiah 5:20-21 which reads, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!” To attempt to deconstruct truth to redefine it is to literally call evil good and good evil. What is more, to attempt to deconstruct truth to redefine it is the ultimate expression of suppressing the truth in unrighteousness. This is condemned by God who inspired the apostle Paul to write the following in Romans 1:18, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.” Therefore the Biblical indictment of attempting to deconstruct truth to redefine it was common in Isaiah’s day (740-700 B.C.) as well as in the Apostle Paul’s day (60 A.D.). However, even though man has been redefining truth throughout time, it does not change the objective reality that God is eternal and therefore what He defines as truth is unchangeably infinite. God is truth. Jesus Christ is full of Grace and Truth (see John 1:14, 17). Jesus Christ is God in human flesh. God is infinitely unmeasurably self-existent. This is why truth is so important. Also, this is why error is so seriously dangerous. Any sort of redefinition of the truth is to commit error.

Gift of Prophecy

Open-But-Cautious, another contributor named MacRae defined the feature of prophecy correctly concerning the NT when he defined a prophet as one who received his message directly from God. This is a helpful definition because the gift of prophecy ceased when the NT Canon of Scripture was complete (cf. 1 Cor 13:8-10). On the other hand, Wayne Grudem argued that the gift of prophecy is still available today as direct revelation from God and can be fallible when Grudem defined prophecy this way: “telling something that God has spontaneously brought to mind.” What is more, as I have already brought to your attention, Grudem claims that he is a Charismatic continuationist, but he even claims that the gifts available today are not exactly the same as the gifts during the apostolic age when he writes, “Yet another objection to the continuation of miracles today is to say that the alleged miracles today are not like the miracles in Scripture because they are far weaker and often are only partially effective. In response to this objection we must ask whether it really matters whether the miracles today are exactly as powerful as those that occurred at the time of the New Testament.” However, one cannot help to argue against Grudem this way: if you claim that the gift of prophecy has continued throughout the church age after the apostolic age but you claim that the gift of prophecy is not exactly the same, then how exactly did the gift of prophecy continue? No sir, Grudem has redefined the gift of prophecy and as such he has redefined God’s word. Therefore, Grudem is in error. This is how charismatic theology and postmodernism are equated, that is, both systems deconstruct the Word of God and then redefine the Word of God. Grudem goes on to cause further confusion when he wrote the following: “So prophecies in the church today should be considered merely human words, not God’s words, and not equal to God’s words in authority. But does this conclusion conflict with current charismatic teaching or practice? I think it conflicts with much charismatic practice, but not with most charismatic teaching . . . here is almost uniform testimony from all sections of the charismatic movement that prophecy is imperfect and impure, and will contain elements that are not to be obeyed or trusted.” Charismatics argue for fallible prophecy by appealing to Acts 21:10-14 with the prophecy of Agabus. Charismatics claim that Agabus, speaking on behalf of God the Holy Spirit, gave Paul a fallible prophecy because later in Acts the events that Agabus attempted to prophesy did not come to pass exactly as Agabus predicted. The implication that they argue is that such is the case today. However, the events that Agabus predicted by God the Holy Spirit did happen exactly as prophesied. First, the context begins in Acts 19:21 when Paul purposes in God the Holy Spirit to go to Rome. This is in accord with the over context of the book of Acts and Jesus’ commission to Paul when he tells Ananias to “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake” (Acts 9:15b-16). Agabus prophesied the following; “And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands, and said, ‘This is what the Holy Spirit says: ‘In this way the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles'” (Acts 21:11). This is exactly what happened to Paul from Acts 21:27-28:31, fulfilling his commission from God the Holy Spirit. To this effect, commentator Bruce claimed that prophecy was exactly fulfilled as described in Acts 21:11 when he wrote, “In the event, Paul was delivered by the Gentiles from the Jews, who were forced against their will to hand him over.” Commentator Bock agreed that this particular prophecy is accurate. Commentator Kistenmaker claimed that it was in faith that Paul accepted Agabus’ prophecy as detailed revelation by God the Holy Spirit. The only reason that I am citing other men is because you wrote that others found my portrayal disturbing. Then they must find the portrayal of these other men, who were correct on the matter of this issue, disturbing, whereas they might find the portrayal of someone like Grudem not disturbing – which given the quotes from Grudem above, is very disturbing to me.

Gift of Healing

Open-But-Cautious, you argued, “We all know that God heals in answer to prayer”. I agree, but you need to qualify that statement. Sometimes God does heal people today but sometimes God does not heal people today. Healing in the NT was unconditional (i.e. not conditioned by one’s faith) and instantaneous (i.e. not gradual) healing. This gift was a miraculous gift of healing to immediate health (cf. 1 Cor 12:9). Jesus Christ healed on the Sabbath by the power of God the Holy Spirit (cf. Mk 3; Jn 5). The Lord Jesus Christ commissioned the Twelve to heal the sick (cf. Mk 6:13). Jesus miraculously healed a severed ear (cf. Lk 22:47-53). Moreover, the healing sign gifts gradually faded because they were temporarily given to authenticate the office of Apostle for the foundation in the history and spread of Christianity. In the beginning of Paul’s ministry people were being miraculously healed; “God was performing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out” (Acts 19:11-12 NASB). At the end of Paul’s ministry (i.e. Paul’s last epistle, 2 Timothy in the last chapter 4 verse 20, just before Paul was martyred) he wrote the following, “Erastus remained at Corinth, but Trophimus I left sick at Miletus” (2 Timothy 4:20 NASB). Why didn’t Paul heal Trophimus? Was this because Paul had less faith in God or was Paul living in sin so as to lose his gift? Absolutely not! The reason he left Trophimus in Miletus sick was because the healing sign gift was gradually fading or ceasing in the apostolic age as the Canon of Scripture was near completion.

Charismatics today claim that the gift of healing is still available in the Church. For example, Grudem has argued that the gift of healing has continued when he wrote, “People who think they may have a gift of healing could ask their elders for opportunities to accompany them when they go to pray for the sick.” However, there has not been a single documented case of a person with the gift of healing going in and out of hospitals instantaneously healing sick individuals with cancer or other diseases. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 16 million children died in 2010 from multiple types of cancer. If such is the case, then why are those with the gift of healing not visiting children’s hospitals across the globe and healing children from their cancer? If the purpose of the gift is for love, then where is the love of those who claim to have the gift of healing today (cf. 1 Cor 13)?

In conclusion, Open-But-Cautious, I will be disappointed if you did not see a clear case presented from Scripture that charismatic theology has redefined God’s Word to create a false dichotomy between true faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and God the Holy Spirit. Charismatic theology promotes the pursuit of experience and emotionalism as objective truth in place of the Word of God and encourages individuals to chase after experiences that are contrary to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. If an experience or emotional drive is not consistent with what the Word of God claims is from God, then that experience or emotional drive is not from God. It is really that simple. The matter becomes complicated when individuals are trained to be sympathetic to other individual’s experiences even if these experiences are contrary to the Word of God.
Open-But-Cautious, I am trying to help you. You must understand the tone or mood of this letter is firm because I want to be understood and not misrepresented. What is more, I am encouraging you to study these doctrinal issues with an honest mind. I agree that Christians must be inclined to look to the leading of the Holy Spirit along with Scripture for every situation, but He never operates apart from the Word of God. Therefore, prayer is part of this, but prayer alone is not enough – He leads into all the Truth!

Open-But-Cautious, I hope I win you over. What is more, in the Lord through the power of God the Spirit, I hope many are won over to the truth. I do have love for you and my fellow man. Moreover, I hope you will be willing to sit down with me and continue this conversation further. I do not care for merely winning an argument for the sake of winning and being puffed up. I care about people and I want people to be right. My concerns have been clearly laid out in this letter. May the Lord Jesus Christ be honored and glorified in this letter. And may the Truth and Love from the Lord Jesus Christ be accurately represented through this correspondence.

With respect and the kindest regards,

Not-A-Coward.

Bibliography

Arndt, William, and F Wilbur Gingrich. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature: A Translation and Adaptation of the Fourth Revised and Augmented Edition of Walter Bauer’s Griechisch-Deutsches Wörterbuch Zu Den Schriften Des Neuen Testaments Und der Übrigen Urchristlichen Literatur. 2nd ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1957.

Bock, Darrell L. Acts. Baker Exegetical Commentary On the New Testament. Edited by Robert Yarbrough and Robert H. Stein. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2007.

Boice, James Montgomery. Acts: An Expositional Commentary. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1997.

Bromiley, Geoffrey W. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Fully revised edition. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982.

Brown, Paul E. The Holy Spirit: The Spirit’s Interpreting Role in Relation to Biblical Hermeneutics. Fearn: Christian Focus, 2002.

Bruce, F. F. The Acts of the Apostles. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1960.

Berkhof, Louis. Systematic Theology. 3rd Edition. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1946.

Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002.

Ironside, H A. Lectures On the Book of Acts. New York: Loizeaux Bros., 1984.

Kistemaker, Simon. New Testament Commentary: Exposition of the Acts of the Apostles. New Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1990.

MacArthur, John. Strange Fire: The Danger of Offending the Holy Spirit with Counterfeit Worship. Nashville, Tenneessee: Thomas Nelson, 2013.

MacRae, A. A. “Prophets and Prophecy” in The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible.
Edited by Merrill C. Tenney, Merrill, 875-903. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Pub. House, 1975.

Marshall, I Howard. The Acts of the Apostles: An Introduction and Commentary. american ed.
The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1980.

Moody, Dale. Spirit of the Living God: What the Bible Says About the Spirit. Revised edition Nashville:
Broadman Press, 1976.

Mook, James. TH 605 Theology II; Lesson 25. Unpublished course notes: The Master’s Seminary, 2015.

National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Cancer Facts and Figures” page 27, accessed May 3, 2015, http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@research/documents/webcontent/acspc-041787.pdf

Owen, John. The Holy Spirit. Second printing. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1960.

Ryrie, Charles Caldwell. The Holy Spirit. Revised and expanded edition. Chicago: Moody Press, 1997.

Spurgeon, C H. Spurgeon On the Holy Spirit. New Kensington: Whitaker House, 2000.

Walvoord, John F. The Holy Spirit at Work Today. Chicago: Moody Press, 1973.
Warfield, Benjamin Breckenridge. The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit. Amityville: Calvary Press Pub., 1997.

Romans 7: Part Four

Romans 7:22 further described the nature of man. To understand verse 22 is to understand the doctrine of mortification—that is putting sin to death in your members. It is also to understand the entire context of the passage:
NASB- For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man,

Gk. συνήδομαι γὰρ τῷ νόμῳ τοῦ θεοῦ κατὰ τὸν ἔσω ἄνθρωπον,

The phrase ‘inner man’ was used no less than three times in the New Testament (cf. Romans 7:22, 2 Corinthians 4:16; Ephesians 3:16). Each of the references above it referred to the believer, the new man, who is hidden in Christ Jesus (cf. Colossians 3:1-4). The context in which it is used in verse 22, Paul described his own disposition toward the law, even though sin is still present in his flesh. What does the inner man do when confronted with the law? He rejoices. He agrees with the Divine testimony of the law (cf. Psalm 119), and he does so joyfully. The sorrow, then, relates to the fact that he cannot keep the Law perfectly because he also sees another law working in his members(cf. verse 23). The principle of this different (Gk. ἕτερον) law is not a stagnant one. The principle is aggressive. It is different from the Law of God. It resides in the believer to afflict him just as it afflicted Paul. This ‘different’ law in the life of the believer acts as if it is at home and seeks to take man captive. Here we may join with what Paul wrote concerning the captivity of sin in other passages (cf. Romans 6:16, 12:2; 1 Cor. 7:23; Colossians 2:8). The principle of lawlessness in the man seeks to render him not only useless, but a prisoner. It is a principle of conquest. Just as the believer is a slave to Christ, while simultaneously being both free and a joint-heir, the unbeliever is a slave to sin. When the believer is in Christ, the principle to sin is still in him, but it does not define his new divine standing before God.

When man recognizes who he is in relation to sin, he also recognizes who he is in relation to the Law. For Paul and for the believer, there is a heightened sense of his need for Divine mercy in verse 24:
NASB translation: “O wretched man that I am”

Gk. “Ταλαίπωρος ἐγὼ ἄνθρωπος”

This adjectival clause in the Greek described how the man viewed himself. He is a distressed and miserable man if he is left alone to gratify the flesh, sometimes war against it, without any hope of permanent relief. It is why Paul followed the exclamation with a question:
“Who will set me free from the body of this death?” (verse 24)

The wages of sin is death and the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus (cf. Romans 6:23). Death no longer has power over the Christian (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:55-57). Death had once reigned from Adam to Moses (cf. Romans 5:14). But since eternal life is given to those who belong to Jesus Christ, by way of His substitutionary, vicarious, penal, and propitiatory death on the cross for the elect of God, death no longer has power over believers. Believers who fall asleep, now die in the Lord Jesus and are released into the glories of eternal life in Christ Jesus where they will see Him face to face (cf. 1 John 3:2; Revelation 22:4).

Paul’s sorrow was godly sorrow (cf. 2 Corinthians 7:10). His words agreed with God’s decree and the purpose of the Law. His moment of triumph over sin was found not in himself but in Christ Jesus. It is why verse 25 is a theological doxology. He thanked God the Father for deliverance through the Lord Jesus Christ. The tension believers experience in spiritual warfare between the members of the flesh and the mind in the Spirit, is not resolved by mantras, religious performances, men, or their institutions.

Paul used the conjunction “ Ἄρα” in the Greek, translated, “For (or since)”. It was used to designate logical necessity or inference. The best way to understand its connection to the preceding context is “since (a) is true, what then follows is (b).” Paul’s summary at the end of verse 25 made clear sense only because Christ is the One who delivers the believer from sin and death. The believer wins the war against sin. Therefore, we must thank God through Jesus Christ for His power over sin and death. Recognition of the atonement does not limit the intensity of mortification and the need to wage war against our sin, but instead it helps us to understand why the war must be fought and why it must be won.

In conclusion, Paul wrote: “I myself with my mind am serving the law of God . . .” (NASB Translation). Verse 25 is in direct relationship to verse 22, theologically and grammatically. It is an emphatic re-affirmation of the relationship between the mind and the flesh, related to the Law of God and sinfulness of man. The conjunctions Paul used signal contrast or two points in juxtaposition to one another. It is to say, “on the one hand this is taking place, but on the other hand . . .” Both functions are present in each case, and there is conflict between those functions. In context, those functions are how the mind serves the Law of God, while on the other hand the flesh serves the law of sin. The believer is not content to sin, nor does the believer enjoy the pleasures of sin. The believer understands the danger of sin as a principle law seeking to bring him captive. The believer then rejoices, like Paul, that only Christ overcomes and wins this raging war in us as the believer strives to live holy in Him.

– Doron Gladden.

Romans 7: Part Three

In Romans 7:14, the conjunction “for” brings the verse in direct and connected relationship with the preceding context. Paul further established the nature of the Law and why it must be deemed as good. Essentially, the Law is not under indictment, man is under indictment. God’s redemptive plan by the revealing of the Law to cause men to be aware of sin in mankind was plain to the believing Jew who understood the nature of the Law and the nature of man. Paul wrote, “For we know. . .” (Gk. οἴδαμεν γὰρ). The verb “οἴδαμεν” is in the perfect tense signifying completed action with ongoing results. The sense in which “know” is used implies the kind of knowledge that is filled with perception, awareness, and spiritual insight. It is not only to be acquainted with a spiritual truth, but to know it perceptively and recall to mind its implications.

What did the believing Jews (Romans 7:1) know? They were to recall to mind the acquainted knowledge they possessed regarding the intense warfare of the flesh, competing against the spiritual nature of the Law. Paul acquainted himself with the war against sin in his flesh, and the function of the spiritual Law. There are several views concerning whether Paul is speaking of himself, or others. The last article in this series seeks to address them further at a later time. However, the grammatical structure of verse 15, provides an inescapable reality that Paul referred to himself in the present context during which he wrote. There are six present tense verbs in verse 15 alone, signifying continuous action. Joined to those verbs, is the fact that each is written in the first person:

“I do”

“I understand”

“I want”

“I do”

“I hate”

“I do”

One must defy the laws of grammar in order to deflect this verse away from Paul the apostle, or to relegate the inner turmoil that he addresses to the past. The first part of verse 15 says, “For what I do (‘am doing’-NASB translation), I do not understand.”
The connection to the preceding verse is not his past action under the Law, but rather it is connected to the verb ‘we know’ in the general sense, and specifically ‘I am {of flesh}’. Further, his statement about the flesh was a statement about man’s fallen nature still being present within him, especially since ‘having been sold’ (Gk. πεπραμένος) is in the perfect tense and middle voice. The completed action of having been sold (perfect tense) is with ongoing results, and the action being inflicted upon him is by his own doing. The action of being sold into sin is by his own hand, since God does not deliver man into sin.

Theologically, death entered the world through sin, and sin entered the world through the man, the first Adam (Romans 5:12). The first point Paul addressed in verse 14 was the nature of man in relationship to the Law. Man certainly possesses body, soul and spirit (https://bcri.wordpress.com/2015/10/04/the-constitution-of-man/). As to man’s constitution related to the doctrine of salvation, he is not considered without sin prior to saving in Christ, nor is man considered righteous before faith in Christ (Isaiah 64:6; Romans 3). Before faith in Christ, man lives his life, not in the Spirit, but rather in the flesh where he cannot please God (Romans 8:8). Paul’s statement in verse 14 is in full agreement with the words of his Master, the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 26:41). Although Jesus uttered the words related to willingness to pray, His words can be applied to man’s constitution as a believer who must fight his own flesh in spiritual warfare. Man is weak in his flesh, even though his spirit may be willing to follow what the Lord commands. Man needs to go to the Strong for strength, because he cannot rely on inner resources within himself apart from the indwelling of God’s Spirit. Consequently, man is in bondage to his flesh. The law is not in bondage to the flesh, rather the Law is of Divine origin. It stands to reason, because of this, that man is not divine. He is simply crafted or made in God’s image and likeness, but ontologically or economically, man’s essential being is not deity (cf. Genesis 1:26-28).

In verse 16, Paul referred to his own practice, establishing the point that the practice of sin does not eliminate the essential goodness of the Law. In fact, to practice sin in the “face” of the Law is to testify that the Law is good since the Law is the indictment prosecuting the sinner. The word in the Greek, signifying this agreement with the tenets of the Law is σύμφημι. The point is, the presence of sin does not necessitate lawlessness, rather it heightens the glory of God for the giving of His divine law to demonstrate man’s sinfulness and thus man’s need for mercy in Jesus Christ alone. The essential goodness of the Law is confirmed and man consents or agrees with its essential goodness whether he keeps certain tenets or violates them. Violating the law testifies that the conscience is aware of its existence, and ultimately aware of the One who gave it.
Verse 17 establishes the experience of Paul as a believer, and can be applied to the experience of every person who has committed sin while yet belonging to Christ and the need to confess those sins before God. But this verse relates the practice of sin in the flesh to the function of the Law. In verse 18, Paul’s distinction does not concern man prior to salvation. The distinction is between the flesh and the will:

τῇ σαρκί μου (lit. ‘the flesh of me’) versus τὸ γὰρ θέλειν παράκειταί μοι, (lit. ‘the will is present in me’).

This distinction is further explained by how each is functioning in the life of the man. Namely, the flesh desires sin, however the will desires to do good. It would be less of a tension in the life of the believer if both realities were not in direct war with one another. The will and flesh fight against one another, resulting in the agony Paul experienced in his walk with Christ. The desire to do good is not merely a product of the will, but of the transformed will. The one who is born again desires to please God. However, the one who is not born again desires to please the flesh. The will is essentially confined to the nature. And the nature is confined to its spiritual state. The unbeliever cannot successfully war against the flesh, because to do so requires divine power from God in Christ. Verse 19 demonstrates the sharp contrast in the life of Paul, and how that applies to the life of every Christian:

οὐ γὰρ ὃ θέλω ποιῶ ἀγαθόν, ἀλλ’ ὃ οὐ θέλω κακὸν τοῦτο πράσσω

(Translation-NASB “For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.)

The conjunction ἀλλ’’ meaning ‘but’ is one of sharp contrast. Paul desired to do good according to the will. His will was in concert with the will of God. He was not self-willed. Yet, the practice and desire are conflicted. The practice in the flesh is at war with the will of God in the spiritual sense. The sense of the present tense verbs, signifying continuous action, does not intimate the practice of the believer being constantly evil, but it does highlight the continuous nature of the conflict raging inside of the believer: the desire to do good, and at times doing so, and the practice of doing evil, which the believer does not want to do. The problem is sin (cf. verse 20). Sin causes a man to do what he does not want to do, even though he knows he does not want to do it. It also causes him to, at times, forfeit doing the good he should do when instead he practices sin. Sin is deceitful, and also causes one to be deceived. What makes sin powerful is it is both a cause and effect.

One tends to think the sin principle is only present in those who do not profess faith in Jesus Christ. The issue is not one of willful and constant practice (cf. Romans 6). Believers do not willfully and continually practice sin as an ongoing spiritual reality (cf. Romans 6:1-2). What does occur, however, is that the believer does not have an eradicated flesh whereby they no longer practice sin. The believer will perform more deeds of righteousness than sinful deeds. When the believer sins, the believer will confess their sin before God, practices ongoing repentance, that is, turning away from that sin. This marks the believer’s life style as an ongoing spiritual practice. The difference between the false convert who is an unbeliever versus the believer is that the believer is at war with the principle of sin in his/her members (cf. verse 21). What Christ has accomplished on the cross in the life of the believer is the victory over the power and consequences of sin. The consequences of sin are broken between the believer and God at regeneration and justification by faith in Christ once and for all. Whereas the power of sin is broken and its affects are still present. The believer must wage war on his own members in order to see victory manifested by the power of God (cf. Matthew 5:29). The presence of sin is removed for ever at the return of Christ or when the believer falls asleep. In verse 20, Paul made it clear that it is not the cause of the spiritual nature in Christ causing man to sin, but rather it is sin in man’s flesh, causing man to sin. Sin dwells in the man, however the man is given the power of God in Christ and the indwelling Spirit of God to fight against sin in his flesh.

– Doron Gladden

Romans 7: Part Two

Exegesis of Romans 7:7-13:

Paul’s argument in verse 7 began in the same manner he argued in Romans 6:1, (Gk, Τί οὖν ἐροῦμεν), literally translated in the Greek language “What then will we say?” Paul raised the argument, assuming the argument of his objectors in order to cast down their argument with biblical truth. His opponents aimed to distort the doctrine of grace in Romans 6:1, in an effort to twist his teachings (Acts 20:30; 2 Peter 3:16), and pervert the one interpretation of Scripture spoken through the Apostle, by the Holy Spirit. Often, when men seek to distort sound doctrine, they impute words and arguments to those whom they accuse. In Romans 6:1 they accused Paul of teaching that one can sin blissfully since he has been saved by grace through faith. In Romans 7:7, his opponents charged that since Paul taught men not to practice self-righteousness under the Law, that somehow he taught the Law was sinful. Paul refuted their claims with strong repudiation, in the same manner as he had done in Romans 6:1, “May it never be!” (Romans 7:7).

Contrastively, the Law gave the Jews the knowledge of sin. The Law exposed them and demonstrated to them that they were under God’s wrath and therefore needed to repent of those sins and turn to the Messiah Jesus. The Law told them that they were sinners, not righteous men (Romans 7:7). The Law awakened their conscious toward sin, and declared to them that they were not to practice those sins. The Law placed them under judgment. But why did they not respond appropriately? Was it because the Law was defective? No! It was because of their sin. The presentation of the Law before them excited their members to sin against it. When the sinful conscience is awakened to God’s prohibitions and there is no repentance, God’s prohibitions become challenges to the sinner to violate them with more zeal (Romans 7:8). This was what took place in the life of Paul the apostle, as Saul of Tarsus. It was not only his experience to sin against the Law, but the experience of every Jew who believed they could keep it without fail. When Paul wrote, “Apart from the Law, sin is dead,” he was not saying that no one sins without the Law. Instead he argued that when the Law is not present to indict the man, woman, or child, the conscience is not fully awakened to the judgment that is coming. The Law, at its minimum informs the conscience that it is branded. In the absence of God’s Law, the conscience is seared and ignores the coming wrath, therefore ignoring reality itself. This is called insanity. The sinner who violates God’s commandments without fear is insane, and out of touch with reality. God’s Law assaults man’s touch with reality itself. How much more insane it is, after being judged by the Law, to then ignore the only way to saved from God’s coming wrath (i.e. the biblical gospel of Jesus Christ! cf. Acts 4:12).

For the Jew in general, and Paul in particular, the Jew is alive, in his own deceived mind, apart from the arrested conscience captured by the Law (Romans 7:9). Paul’s declaration in verse 9, addressed not only man’s self-perception or disposition, but more importantly his existence.

“I, however, was alive apart from the law once (literal translation)”

Gk. ἐγὼ δὲ ἔζων χωρὶς νόμου ποτέ

“Was alive” is in the imperfect tense which signifies past action. To understand the kind of action it constitutes, it is understood as the present tense (continuous action), but that present tense shifted toward the past (ref https//.ancientgreek.pressbooks.com/chapter/28/) In other words, it was the continuous norm for Paul to believe and live as though he were alive apart from the Law. The occasion that demonstrated this took place in the past and what follows in the verse—that is, when the commandment revealed that he was in sin, and revived sin in him, therefore revealing his self-deception and self-righteousness, it killed him. This points the reader directly to the doctrine of regeneration (https://bcri.wordpress.com/2016/09/30/912). It is necessary for the self-righteous man to be killed by God’s commandment, so that he may be born again in Jesus Christ to a living hope.

What the law produces in the fleshly man is not righteousness, but rebellion. Sin is therefore, to those who attempt to keep the Law apart from faith in Christ, the cause and the effect. The sinner sins because it is in his nature, even when faced with God’s holy Law. And yet, the consequence is more sin leading to death (verse 8). The idea behind the term “produced” in which Paul conveyed in verse 8, literally means, in the Greek, to work to a point, or the sense of laboring in some aspect bringing about a logical end goal as a result. And so, it is that the one who labors to obey the Law, while in the flesh, works to the end goal of producing a life filled with more sin. Specifically, Paul mentioned to his Jewish brethren that the effect of self-righteousness is the particular sin of covetousness. How many modern evangelicals, and charlatan charismatics pursue a performance-based religion that only produces sinful greed within them?

In verse 9 Paul, yet again, proposed the essence of sinful man’s existence:

ἐγὼ δὲ ἔζων χωρὶς νόμου ποτέ

“I, however, was alive apart from the law once. . .”

That is to say that the conscience without the Law is not stronger for being ignorant of God’s demands. To be alive apart from the Law, is essentially death in the context that is used. Paul used the imperfect tense verb to signify an action in the past that had come to its conclusion, prior to time in which he currently spoke. Before his futile attempts to self-righteously obey the Law, he was a lawless man, and in neither case was he alive to God. The context revealed what had transpired after that past time to which he referred, that when the commandment addressed his lawlessness, sin was resuscitated. His existence, not merely disposition, was then death. So then, the commandment that should have meant life for him, proved to be death, because he aimed to keep God’s commands in his own power. What Paul pointed to was the vicious cycle of the life of unbelieving Jews. And he did so to warn his Jewish brothers not to take the same plight, nor to regard it lightly in those who aimed to falsely uphold the Law as a means of salvation in place of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

When sin is still the motivation, by way of greed, religious duty is categorized as deception (verse 11). This was certainly true of the Jews, as they pursued God, or so they claimed, but their pretense was to do so according to man-made standards and traditions. What they believed was righteous devotion to God’s Law, was really damning deception (verse 11). And so, they needed to be put to death, which is the penalty and consequence for everyone who willfully continues to practice sin (cf. Genesis 2:17; Ezekiel 18:20). But the problem that faced the Jews, during the time Paul wrote, was not the lack of efficacy with the Law, rather it was their own sin (Romans 7:12). The attributes of the holy Law are the same as the One who gave the Law. Therefore, the Law’s intent is not to deceive, but sin deceives those who practice it. The Law, described in verse 12, as the commandment is “holy and righteous, and good.” The performance of self-righteousness is what testifies against that which is holy. But the issue is not what is holy must be changed. In the case of the unbelieving Jews, and also the unbelieving Gentiles, they were wicked, unrighteous, and evil. Therefore, those motives, according to their nature, caused them to use the Law for other purposes outside of God’s will for the Law.

What then is the purpose of that which is good, holy, righteous and just? Did the Law become an instrument of death? No! Paul wrote again with words of the strongest repudiation “May it never be!” His use of the conjunction “but” (gk.  ἀλλ’), was meant to prove a sharp distinction between two conflicting arguments. The purpose for the Law was and is to work death in the unbelieving Jew first, disclosing sin to be what it is. The Law revealed the excessive violation that sin, for Paul wrote that this was revealed through the commandment. The prepositional phrase at the end of verse 13, marked by the Genitive διὰ τῆς ἐντολῆς, demonstrated that the Law was the agency or means through which sin was disclosed in the heart of man, providing no rest to his sinful conscience. The Law therefore testified to the Jew, primarily, just how sinful sin was, and the necessity of repentance of sin and fleeing toward God, in His power. The Law revealed the blackness of man’s heart and the necessity for the Light of Jesus Christ to shine upon Him. Paul concluded the present section as the Law related to justification by faith, and man’s inability to bring about eternal righteousness on his own. The next verse begins the relationship between the Law, spiritual warfare, and the need for man to kill sin in his members, throughout the course of the Christian life:

Coming soon: Exposition of Romans 7 – Part 3

-Doron Gladden.

Exegesis of Romans 7

The Word of God is God’s power displayed among men. And therefore, in an age that seeks to substitute God’s power, or even place undue emphasis on men who supposedly proclaim His power, Romans 7 reminds believers that there is an intense war raging within them. Paul the apostle did not exalt himself above his peers as if the war against sin in his members ceased. Romans 7 is written to the Jewish brothers who love the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 7:1), but the Gentiles should not ignore its instruction. The modern evangelical world has forgotten the doctrine of mortification (killing sin) in favor of a destructive and damning personality cultism, and this while the world laughs, not because we represent Christ when we do so, but because we employ their methods of pragmatic advancement and cowardice.

It is fitting for us, over several written articles, to think biblically, theologically, exegetically, and critically about Romans 7. Believers will not effectively war against sin until they realize that no man is without sin, except the God-Man Jesus Christ. This is not a call to live in a “judgment-free” utopia, but to be fearless in scrutinizing everyone, and every system, repenting of sin and calling others to repent of their sins without partiality, fear of man, or exception. It is a call to freedom through spiritual revolution. The revolution must be fought within us and against the spiritual forces of wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:12). This fight belongs to everyone who names the name of Jesus Christ, and confesses Him. It belongs to everyone who knows what they ought to do but have joined themselves to persons or systems that thrive off their silence. Let us begin our look at the text in the sword of the Spirit.

Romans 7:1Ἢ ἀγνοεῖτε, ἀδελφοί, γινώσκουσιν γὰρ νόμον λαλῶ, ὅτι ὁ νόμος κυριεύει τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐφ᾽ ὅσον χρόνον ζῇ;

“Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives?” (NASB)

The first verse of this chapter must be considered within its immediate context. The particle Ἢ” is used as a disjunctive in the sense that it brings forward two mutually exclusive realities while drawing out truth, since Scripture itself is divine truth. Whereas Paul explained saving grace and the necessity for perfecting holiness in chapter 6, as well as refuting the antinomian heresies that he and other servants of Christ were falsely accused, chapter 7 revealed the necessity of the Law and for the one who dies to the Law to live for Christ. Paul did not aim to limit the Law’s nature, since it is spiritual (Romans 7:14), but he sought to persuade the Jews first that the Law could not save them, and that they would not be sinless once they have been severed from the law and alive to Christ.

Paul addressed the Jewish believers in Rome as brothers “ἀδελφοί”, not pronouncing truth that they did not know, but rather recalling to mind truth that should have been plain to them since he said to them “Or do you not know?” (gk. γινώσκουσιν γὰρ). To the Jew, they must have considered salvation and sanctification by the law, according to Moses or by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, which they had learned in the truth in Christ Jesus. Paul utilized an illustration of marriage to explain the inability for a married woman to love and faithfully serve two husbands. Her attempt to serve two husbands is not commended as righteousness, but the sin of adultery. In the same way, if a man attempts to serve the tenets of the Law as if doing so grants salvation to him, while also claiming to serve Christ Jesus who frees men from the Law, then such a man is an adulterer. A woman is then released from all obligation to the law, concerning marriage in the analogy, when he is dead, and is now free to be joined to another man (verse 4).

But it was not Paul’s intention to simply distinguish between fidelity in marriage and adultery. He had loftier goals. His goal for raising the analogy of marriage is set before the reader in verses 4-6. The parallel is striking in those verses. One verse connects the analogy to spiritual reality, “. . .that the law rules over the man for as long as he is alive.”

Verse 4 ὥστε, ἀδελφοί μου, καὶ ὑμεῖς ἐθανατώθητε τῷ νόμῳ διὰ τοῦ σώματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ, εἰς τὸ γενέσθαι ὑμᾶς ἑτέρῳ, τῷ ἐκ νεκρῶν ἐγερθέντι, ἵνα καρποφορήσωμεν τῷ θεῷ.

The Jewish brothers whom Paul addressed were once dead men, who believed in their own minds that they were alive. But what exacted their death? They were once dead because they had not been born again under the Law.  Verse 4 says:

Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another.

“(gk. ἐθανατώθητε τῷ νόμῳ διὰ τοῦ σώματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ)

The Law was not meant to sanctify them, but to bring about the reality of their spiritual condition so that they would repent of their sins and Christ could give them eternal life. Their spiritual condition was being dead in their sins, alienated from God and under His wrath (1 John 5:12). They did not abide in the Son and therefore exalted a pseudo-righteousness that they did not possess and commended themselves to God. This pseudo-righteousness is as filthy rags to God (Isaiah 64:6). Consequently, having misappropriated the purpose and intention of the Law they became debtors to the Law and slaves to the Law. Their inability to keep the Law perfectly brought the expectation of guilt, wrath, eternal punishment, and rejection from God (James 2:10).

There is a purpose of being raised in and with Christ, for the believer, is stated plainly in verse 4. Grammatically, the purpose clause is presented in the Greek:

ἵνα καρποφορήσωμεν τῷ θεῷ

“So that we might bear fruit to (for-NASB translation) God”

It is the intent and purpose of the Law to reveal sin. It is the intent and purpose of salvation in Jesus Christ to bear fruit for God. The purpose of the Law is not, nor has it ever been to cause believers to bear fruit for God. The Jews protested against the purpose of the Law with their self-righteousness attempting the impossible feat of bearing fruit for God. Those who were still under the Law were slaves to the Law and of the flesh.

In verse 5 Paul signified a time, in the past, whereby sinful passions were flowing out of the Jews through the Law. The Law did not press them toward the Messiah, nor did it stir up within them the tutelage of grace and the righteousness of God (Titus 2:1-5). But under the Law, contrasted with divine grace in verse 4, they served death. Notice the contrast grammatically with verse 4 (above), and the best that practicing the Law can achieve for unbelievers:

καρποφορῆσαι τῷ θανάτῳ

“to bear fruit to (for-NASB translation) Death”

The Law certainly allows the one who holds to it as a standard of righteousness to bear fruit. But the fruit that one bears is for Death, not God. Theologically, death is personified, but it must be joined to its cause, sin (Romans 5:12), and to the one who bears sin and death’s destructive nature, Satan (John 8:44, 10:10). The Law is, however, spiritual (Romans 7:14), therefore Paul’s assertion was that the Law is not wicked, it is good (1 Tim. 1:8), it is an instructor (Galatians 3:24) that teaches the unbeliever the need for the Messiah to save unbelievers from their sins and from God’s consequent wrath to come upon those who do not obey the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet, the problem lies with the sinner. The sinner, who is in the flesh, does not appraise the spiritual nature or purpose of the Law rightly; especially to those who received the Law first (the Jews).

In Verse 6, Paul denotes a certain contrast that is tied directly to the need for the Jews to be released from the Law. Serving the Law as they had done was a form of self-righteous and self-inflicted slavery. To die to the Law is to be alive to God. It was essential for the believer to die to the law, just as it is for Gentiles to die to themselves, so that they could serve Christ rightly. In order to serve Christ in the manner that pleases God, especially among the Jews, it is essential for them not to serve God in the righteousness of men but of God’s righteousness that he has credited to believers by joining them to Jesus Christ through His substitutionary atonement on the cross.

Self-righteousness is not only a problem among the Jews, but also one that afflicts the modern evangelical. While the modern evangelical seeks his righteousness in the performance of men and joins himself to the false-righteousness of men, he aims to dethrone the true work of God’s work. Men do not liberate men from the constraints of the Law or the affects of self-righteousness, only Jesus Christ can accomplish such a feat. The culture of modern evangelicalism is subtly built on the premises of Pharisaism. And while they would preach sternly against practicing the Law as a means of righteousness, they substitute the Law for hero-worship, blinding allegiance to men, and the traditions of men. By extension, this passage serves as a warning to modern Christendom: abandon all forms of self-righteousness, repent of all forms of performance-based religion, and cast away your human heroes in favor of Christ, who alone is worthy of our worship. Self-righteousness begins with self-preservation and idolatry, and it ends in death. Next, we consider Romans 7:7-13.

-Doron Gladden

ACTS

Acts was written by Luke through the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit c. AD 62. Acts belongs with the Gospel of Luke as the second volume of a two-volume set written to a man named Theophilus (Lk 1:1-4; Ac 1:1). Acts recorded how God the Holy Spirit used the early church to spread Christianity starting from the capital of Israel (i.e. Jerusalem; cf. 1:4) and ending in the capital of the Roman empire (i.e. Rome; cf. 28:14, 16). Therefore, Acts is the account of the early history and spread of Christianity. This summary is interested in tracing the spread of the Gospel according to the book of Acts. The key verse to outline the book of Acts as well as the key verse for tracing the spread of the Gospel, accordingly, is 1:8 which reads, “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

To start, Acts began with the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ appearing to His apostles for forty days before His ascension in the clouds when He returned to God the Father (cf. 1:1-11). The Lord Jesus Christ commanded His apostles to wait until the promise of God the Holy Spirit (cf. 1:4). Jesus Christ told them that God the Holy Spirit would come to them and as a result they would be empowered to be witnesses to the Lord Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead (cf. 1:8). The resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is the major theme of Acts and is the central message that the Apostles were to communicate to the world (cf. 1:8 b-d). Acts 1:8 is the general outline to trace the spread of the Gospel in the book of Acts because chapters 1-7 recorded how the Gospel was spread throughout Jerusalem, chapters 8-12 recorded how the Gospel was spread throughout Judea and Samaria and chapters 13-28 recorded how the Gospel was spread throughout the remotest part of the earth.

The event that first launched the Gospel with uninterrupted force was when the Apostles received God the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost (cf. 2:4). Peter was then ignited and empowered to preach his sermon on the day of Pentecost (cf. 2:14-40) in which three thousand souls were cut to the heart and repented unto salvation by the power of God (cf. 2:41). Furthermore, the Lord added to that number those who were being saved (cf. 2:47). Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost was brimming with all the elements of the Gospel, namely the truth concerning Jesus Christ, His cross work and His resurrection from the dead for the forgiveness of the sins of as many as God called to Himself (v 39b). Throughout Acts 2:14-40, Peter constantly expounded aspects of the Atonement to articulate his major argument that the finished work of Christ is the only basis that anyone can receive the forgiveness of their sins and thus be saved from the wrath of God. For example, Peter proclaimed the Atonement when he stated Jesus’ perfect life and ministry (v22), Jesus’ death on the cross and burial (v 23), Jesus’ resurrection (vv 24-32), Jesus’ Ascension, Session and the Filioque (v 33; vv 14-21). Likewise, verse 34 concerned the Atonement because Peter quoted Psalm 110:1 which is a reference to Genesis 3:15 the Protoevangelium (i.e. first Gospel).

In Peter’s second sermon Peter proclaimed the crucifixion and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. 3:13-15). Peter and John were arrested in chapter four. Nevertheless, the number of men that believed came to be about five thousand (cf. 4:1-4). Again, Peter with great boldness proclaimed Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection before Annas, Caiaphas and those who put Jesus to death (cf. 4:10, 18-20, 33). God had Peter testify because the rulers and scribes and elders lied about Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection previously (cf. Matt 28:11-15). Peter and John were threatened but then released from their first imprisonment (cf. 4:21-22). Still, the Apostles continued to preach the Resurrection and Crucifixion of Christ (cf. 5:30) until Jerusalem was filled with their teaching (cf. 5:28). When Jerusalem was filled with sound doctrine, the physical persecution began in 5:40. Still, there was an increase of Christian disciples, even among the priests (cf. 6:1-7). The transition of the Gospel spreading from Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria was occasioned by the martyrdom of Stephen (cf. 7:54-60). When Saul persecuted the church, they were forced to spread into Judea and Samaria (cf. 8:1-3).

In chapter eight Philip preached the Gospel to the Ethiopian eunuch and the eunuch was saved and baptized (cf. 8:25-40). In chapter nine Saul was converted (cf. 9:1-19). Saul became Paul (for that was his Roman name – cf. 13:9). The life of the one who was the most intense persecutor of the spread of the Gospel was turned upside down by Christ and became the most intense instrument to turn the world upside down by spreading the Gospel (cf. 9:15-16; 17:6 ESV). Then the universal-invisible Church increased in Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoying peace (cf. 9:31).

In chapter ten, the Gospel was spread to the Gentiles (cf. 10:34-48).   Peter proclaimed the crucifixion and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. 10:39-40). God the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Gentiles (cf. 10:45; 11:18). Moreover, the Gospel was spread further to Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch (cf. 11:19-21).

Paul’s first missionary journey is recorded in chapter thirteen in which the Gospel spread to Seleucia (cf. 13:4). Paul proclaimed the resurrection and crucifixion of Christ during this missionary journey (cf. 13:34, 37) and the Gospel spread throughout the whole city (cf. 13:49). The Gospel spread further through Paul in Lycaonia, Lystra and Derbe (cf. 14:6). What is more, on Paul’s second missionary journey he spread the Gospel to Macedonia, Phrygian and Galatian regions, Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, Corinth, and the third missionary journey to Ephesus (16-20). Paul then returned to Jerusalem, appealed to Caesar and was sent Rome (21-28).

With reference to the spread of the Gospel in Acts through Paul, Christ’s commission to him to witness to Christ’s cause in Jerusalem and Rome resulted (cf. 23:11). Moreover, at Paul’s conversion Jesus told Ananias of Paul’s purpose when He said, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake” (cf. 9:15b-16). This plan came to pass in Acts because Paul is Jesus’ witness to the rulers at the Areopagus in Athens (cf. 17:22-34), the Council in Jerusalem (cf. 23:1-10), Governor Felix (cf. 24:1-27), Festus in Caesarea (cf. 25:1-12), King Agrippa (cf. 26:1-32), then to Caesar in Rome (cf. 27-28).

By the time that Paul arrived at Rome, the Gospel had spread to almost the entire known world in the first century. There were more nations, tribes and tongues left in the world for which to spread the Gospel to be sure, but the point was that the Gospel had become so widespread that there was no amount of persecution that could stop its spread. In fact, one can see that it was the persecution of the church that God used to spread the Gospel further. This revealed God’s complete sovereignty over all events because He took the chief persecutor and turned Him into the chief Gospel spreader. One of the major themes of Acts is “filled.” The people of God were filled with God the Holy Spirit (cf. 4:31; 9:17). On the other hand, the enemies of God were filled with jealousy about the Apostles’ success in spreading the Gospel (cf. 5:17). Nevertheless, concerning those filled with jealousy, God even controlled their rage in His hand, held them responsible, and used their attacks to spread the Gospel (cf. 5:33-40). The persecution is the means for the spread of the Gospel like how a conductor spreads electricity or how a fire spreads rapidly when gasoline is thrown on its flames. When Paul finally arrived at Rome he was able to preach the Gospel with all openness and unhindered for a time, as God would have it, before Nero’s intense persecution of the Christians in Rome. Paul went through a lot of tribulations to reach Rome in order to spread the Gospel, from being hunted down by murderous groups (cf. 9:29; 23:12-21), to being stoned almost to death (cf. 14:19-20), to being beaten with rods (cf. 16:22); to being shipwrecked out at sea (cf. 27:14-44).

In conclusion, Acts recorded how God the Holy Spirit used the early church to spread Christianity, starting from the capital of Israel (i.e. Jerusalem; cf. 1:4) and ending in the capital of the Roman empire (cf. 28:14, 16). Therefore, Acts is the account of the early history and spread of Christianity. To end, the key verse to outline Acts as well as tracing the spread of the Gospel is 1:8 which reads, “but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

Reader read the book of Acts!

E. V. Powers

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