7/6/16

In Vogue To Be Vague Allan Turner


http://allanturner.com/vogue.html

In Vogue To Be Vague
Allan Turner
We are told that in order to be effective, preaching must “relate the ambiguities of the New Testament to the complexities of modern society.” We are pretty sure we know what that means, and it isn't “shelling the corn and showing the cob.” But, in case you haven't noticed, it is now in vogue to be vague. We even know of two people who, after attending an entire series of gospel meetings, thought we were advocating interdenominational and not nondenominational Christianity. Although all the blame for this ought not to be put on the preacher, fifty years ago no one would have made such a mistake after attending one of our gospel meetings.
In truth, we are drifting and have no one to blame but ourselves. Wanting to have our ears tickled, we are accumulating to ourselves teachers in accordance with our own desires (II Timothy 4:3). In Matthew 11:7, the Lord, speaking about John the Baptist, asked the people of His day, “What did you go out into the wilderness to see?” If asked that question today, many might answer, “We want to see a dandy dressed in three hundred dollar suits with matching shoes, along with gold chains, bracelets and diamond rings, using four hundred dollar words that impress but do not offend.”
Josiah Holland, who lived in the century before this one, knew the remedy for our current situation. He said: “God give us men. A time like this demands strong minds, great hearts, true faith, and ready hands; men whom the lust of office cannot buy; men who will not lie; men who stand before a demagogue and damn his treacherous flatteries without winking; tall men, sun-crowned, who live above the fog; in public duty and private thinking.”
Real men are hard to find, and always have been. It has been said that in order to emphasize the difficulty of finding a man of integrity in ancient Athens, the Greek philosopher Diogenes lighted a lamp in the daylight and went searching for one. Years before this alleged event, Jerusalem could have been saved if one man of integrity could have been found within the city (cf. Jeremiah 5:1). Even the apostle Paul recognized the difficulty in finding a real man when he said, “for all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ's” (Philippians 2:21).
May God give us men who are willing to use “great plainness of speech” (II Corinthians 3:12). At the same time, we pray there is enough spirituality left among churches of Christ that we don't slay all such plain speakers.

"THE EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS" Chapter Six by Mark Copeland



"THE EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS" Chapter Six
OBJECTIVES IN STUDYING THE CHAPTER 1) To understand the responsibilities of children and their fathers 2) To suggest how principles governing servants and masters can be applied to employees and their employers 3) To see the need to adorn ourselves with the whole of armor of God, that we might be strong in the power of His might, and not just our own strength SUMMARY The final chapter begins with what might called an exhortation to "walk in familial harmony." Children are told to obey their parents, while fathers are instructed not to provoke their children to wrath but bring them up in the Lord's nurture and admonition. As many households in the first century A. D. contained servants, commands are also given on the duties of servants and their masters (1-9). The last major section of this epistle is a call to "walk in victory", with a charge to stand strong in the power of the Lord's might. To be able to withstand the wiles of the devil and spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places, Christians needs to adorn themselves with the whole armor of God. This armor includes such elements as truth, righteousness, the gospel, faith, salvation, and the Word of God. Standing strong also requires fervent and watchful prayer, not just for one's self, but for all Christians. Even Paul solicits their prayers that he might be bold as an ambassador in chains as he makes known the mystery of the gospel (10-20). A brief explanation is then given concerning Tychicus, who is to let them know how Paul is doing. The epistle then concludes with a prayer for peace to the brethren, love with faith, and grace for all who love the Lord Jesus Christ in all sincerity (21-24). OUTLINE I. A CALL TO WALK IN FAMILIAL HARMONY (1-9) A. DUTIES OF CHILDREN (1-3) 1. To obey their parents in the Lord (1) 2. To honor their father and mother, the first commandment with promise (2) 3. That they may enjoy the promise of the commandment (3) a. To do well b. To live long on the earth B. DUTIES OF FATHERS (4) 1. Do not provoke their children to wrath (4a) 2. Bring their children up in the training and admonition of the Lord (4b) C. DUTIES OF SERVANTS (5-8) 1. Be obedient to their masters according to the flesh (5-6a) a. With fear and trembling b. In sincerity of heart, as to Christ c. Not with eyeservice, pleasing only men, but as servants of Christ 2. Do the will of God from the heart (6b-8) a. Doing service with good will b. Serving as to the Lord, and not to men c. Knowing that whoever does good receives the same from the Lord D. DUTIES OF MASTERS (9) 1. Treat their servants in the same way (9a) 2. Do not threaten their servants (9b) a. For their own Master is in heaven b. And there is no partiality with Him II. A CALL TO WALK IN VICTORY (10-20) A. STAND STRONG IN THE POWER OF THE LORD (10-13) 1. A call to stand strong in the Lord, in the power of His might (10) 2. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may stand against the wiles of the devil (11) 3. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against... (12) a. Principalities and powers b. The rulers of the darkness of this age c. Spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places 4. Therefore take up the whole armor of God (13) a. That you may be able to withstand in the evil day b. Having done all, to stand fast B. EQUIPPED WITH THE WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD (14-20) 1. Therefore stand fast with the armor of God, which includes... (14-17) a. Your waist girded with truth b. The breastplate of righteousness c. Feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace d. The shield of faith above all, to quench the fiery darts of the wicked one e. The helmet of salvation f. The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God 2. Praying always, being watchful (18-20) a. Praying with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit b. Being watchful with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints c. Praying for Paul 1) That utterance may be given to him 2) That he might speak boldly, as he ought to speak a) To make known the mystery of the gospel b) For which he is an ambassador in chains III. CONCLUSION (21-24) A. TYCHICUS AND HIS REPORT (21-22) 1. Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, will let them know how Paul is doing (21) 2. He has been sent to comfort their hearts (22) B. PARTING WORDS OF PEACE, LOVE, AND GRACE (23-24) 1. Peace to the brethren (23a) 2. Love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus (23b) 3. Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus in sincerity (24) REVIEW QUESTIONS FOR THE CHAPTER 1) What are the main points of this chapter? - A call to walk in familial harmony (1-9) - A call to walk in victory (10-20) - Conclusion (21-24) 2) What responsibilities do children have toward their parents? (1-2) - Obey their parents in the Lord - Honor their father and mother 3) What promise comes with the commandment to honor one's parents? (3) - "That it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth" 4) What responsibilities does a father have toward his children? (4) - Not to provoke them to wrath - Bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord 5) In what way are servants to be obedient to their masters? (5-7) - With fear and trembling - In sincerity of heart, as to Christ - Not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers - As servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart - Serving with good will, as to the Lord and not to men 6) What should motivate a servant to this kind of service? (8) - Knowing that what good one does will bring about the same from the Lord 7) How were masters to treat their servants? (9) - In the same way servants were to serve their masters - Without threatening 8) What ought to motivate masters to treat their servants kindly? (9) - Knowing that their Master is in heaven, and He shows no partiality 9) In what are Christians to be strong? (10) - In the Lord and in the power of His might 10) How can we stand against the wiles of the devil? (11) - By putting on the whole armor of God 11) Against what do we wrestle, if not against flesh and blood? (12) - Principalities and powers - The rulers of the darkness of this age - Spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places 12) What benefit is there to take up whole armor of God? (13) - May be able to withstand in the evil day - Having done all, to stand 13) List the armor of God as described in verses 14-17 - Waist girded with truth - Breastplate of righteousness - Feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace - Shield of faith to quench the fiery darts of the wicked one - Helmet of salvation - The sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God 14) What else should we add to this armor? (18) - Praying always with watchfulness, with perseverance making supplication for all the saints 15) For what did Paul ask that they pray for in his behalf? (19-20) - For boldness to make known the mystery of the gospel 16) How did he describe himself? (20) - An ambassador in chains 17) Who was going to tell them more about Paul's condition? (21-22) - Tychicus 18) How is this man described? (21) - A beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord 19) For what does Paul pray as he closes this epistle? (23-24) - Peace to the brethren, and love with faith - Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity

How Can a Person Know Which God Exists? by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=8&article=5154

How Can a Person Know Which God Exists?

by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.

Poseidon: Greek god of the sea
Several decades ago, the United States was overwhelmingly Christian in its religious persuasion. When naturalism and Darwinian evolution picked up speed in the U.S. and challenged the biblical story of man’s origins—the perspective most held by Americans—apologists sprang up in response, dealing a death blow to the naturalistic religion in the minds of many. Once evolutionary theory had been dealt with, both biblically and scientifically, it was natural for many Americans to recognize that they had always been right—Christianity is the true religion.
Sadly, under the banner of “tolerance,” the “politically correct” police have made significant inroads in compelling the American public, not only to tolerate, but to endorse and encourage pluralism and the proliferation of false religion in America. What was once an understood conclusion—that if evolution is wrong, then biblical Creation must be true—is now heavily challenged in America.
Nisroch: Assyrian god of agriculture
It has become a popular tactic among atheistic scoffers to mock Bible believers by sarcastically arguing that there’s just as much evidence for the Flying Spaghetti Monster as there is for any god. Therefore, if intelligent design doctrine deserves time in the classroom, so does the doctrine of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster—the Pastafarians (cf. Langton, 2005; Butt, 2010, p. 12). At the University of South Carolina, a student organization made up of Pastafarians was responsible for sponsoring the debate held between A.P.’s Kyle Butt and popular atheist, Dan Barker (Butt, 2010).
One such scoffer approached me awhile back after one of the sessions of my evolution seminar—a biology professor from the local university in the city where I was speaking. His quibble was a fair one: “Even if you’re right that naturalistic evolution/atheism is false, you still haven’t provenwhich God exists. You haven’t proven it’s the God of the Bible. Why couldn’t it be Allah? Or [sarcastically] the Flying Spaghetti Monster?”
It is true that many times when apologists discredit naturalism and show that the evidence points to supernaturalism, they do not necessarily always take the next step and answer how we arrive specifically at the God of the Bible as the one true God. Perhaps the main reason, again, is because the answer was once so obvious that the additional step did not need to be taken. People already had faith in the Bible, and they only needed someone to answer an attack on its integrity. Upon answering it, they went back to their faith in Christianity comfortably. But as naturalism and pluralism have eroded the next generation, and Bible teaching—the impetus for developing faith (Romans 10:17)—has declined, Christianity is no longer a given.
Jupiter: Roman god of light and sky, and protector of the state and its laws
Many in Christendom would respond to the professor’s questions by saying, “You just have to have faith. You just have to take a leap and accept the God of the Bible. You don’t have to have tangible evidence.” That reaction, of course, is exactly how scoffers want you to answer. Their response: “Aha! You don’t have proof that God exists. So why should I believe in Him? I might as well pick one that suits me better or make up my own god to serve.”
The Bible simply does not teach that one should accept God without evidence. We should test or prove all things, and only believe those things that can be sustained with evidence (1 Thessalonians 5:21). We should not accept what someone tells us “on faith,” because many teach lies; they should be tested to see if their claims can be backed with evidence (1 John 4:1). The truth should be searched for (Acts 17:11). It can be known (John 8:32). God would not expect us to believe that He is the one true God without evidence for that claim.
While there are different ways to answer the question posed by the professor, the most direct and simple answer is that the Bible contains characteristics which humans could not have produced. If it can be proven that a God exists and that the Bible is from God, then logically, the God of the Bible is the true God. It is truly a sad commentary on Christendom at large that the professor, as well as the many individuals that are posing such questions today, have not heard the simple answer about the nature of God’s divine Word.
After taking a moment to recover from the fact that he clearly had never experienced anyone responding rationally to his criticisms, the professor said, “Really? [pause] I’d like to see that evidence.” I pointed him to our book that summarizes the mounds of evidence that testify to the inspiration of the Bible (cf. Butt, 2007), and although he said he did not want to support our organization with a purchase, he allowed an elder at the church that hosted the event to give it to him as a gift.
Ganesh: Hindu god of wisdom, knowledge, and new beginnings
If you have not studied the divine qualities of the Bible, or are not prepared to carry on a discussion with others about the inspiration of the Bible, might I recommend to you that you secure a copy of Behold! The Word of Godthrough our Web store immediately. Consider also getting the free pdf version in the “PDF-Books” section of our Web site, browsing the “Inspiration of the Bible” category on our Web site, or at the very least, order a back issue of our Reason & Revelation article titled “3 Good Reasons to Believe the Bible is from God” (Butt and Lyons, 2015). Consider also those friends, loved ones, and even enemies that might benefit from a copy. The professor’s question is one of the most pivotal questions one can ask today, and the Lord’s army must be armed with the truth to be able to aid those seeking it.

REFERENCES

Butt, Kyle (2007), Behold! The Word of God (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Butt, Kyle (2010), A Christian’s Guide to Refuting Modern Atheism (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Butt, Kyle and Eric Lyons (2015), “3 Good Reasons to Believe the Bible is from God,” Reason & Revelation, 35[1]:2-11.
Langton, James (2005), “In the Beginning There Was the Flying Spaghetti Monster,” The Telegraph, September 11,http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/1498162/In-the-beginning-there-was-the-Flying-Spaghetti-Monster.html.


The Nature of Bible Inspiration by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=13&article=5012

The Nature of Bible Inspiration

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

What does it mean to say: “The Bible is inspired”? Answers to this question are legion (cf. “Theories...,” 1864, 6:312-349). Some regard the Bible as “inspired” in the same way that great authors in history have risen above the average person in their literary pursuits, e.g., Homer, Shakespeare, Dickens, or Eliot. Others would say that the writers of the Bible were influenced by supernatural connections, but that their written records of those connections suffer from the same flaws that mere humans are prone to make. Many people fail to assess the Bible’s own claims regarding its inspiration. Before the Bible can be determined to be “inspired,” it is necessary to conceptualize the meaning and nature of that inspiration. The Bible literally is filled with descriptions of the essence of its own inspiration.
Paul boldly claimed, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16). The Greek term underlying the word “inspiration” means “God-breathed” (Vincent, 1900, 4:317). Paul was affirming that Scripture, referring primarily  to the Old Testament, is the product of the breath of God. God actually breathed out the Scriptures. The Bible is God’s Word—not man’s—though He used man to produce them. Three verses later (4:2), Paul declared, “Therefore...preach the word...” Why? Because it is God’s Word. Just as surely as God’s breath brought the Universe into existence (Psalm 33:6), so the Bible is the result of God’s out-breathing.
Peter alluded to the momentous occasion of Christ’s transfiguration when God literally spoke from heaven directly to Peter, James, and John (2 Peter 1:19-21). God orally boomed forth His insistence that Jesus is His beloved Son, and human beings are commanded to listen to Him (Matthew 17:5). Peter then declared, “We also have the prophetic word made more sure,...knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation.” Peter was saying that the Scriptures provided to us by the prophets are just as certain, and just as authoritative, as the voice of God that spoke on the mount of transfiguration.
Peter further explained that the prophetic word, meaning the whole of the Old Testament Scriptures, did not originate on its own, or in the minds of those who wrote them (the meaning of “private interpretation”). Scripture did not come from “the will of man.” Scripture was not the result of human research or human investigation into the nature of things. Scripture was not the product of its writers’ own thinking (Warfield, 1974, 3:1474). Where, then, did Scripture come from? Peter claimed, “but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” The word “moved” in the original language is the usual word for being “carried” or “brought” (Arndt and Gingrich, 1957, pp. 862-863), hence, to be moved or under a moving influence (Perschbacher, 1990, p. 427). Peter was stating that the Holy Spirit, in essence, picked up the writers, the prophets, and brought them to the goal of His choosing (Warfield, 3:1475). That means that the Scriptures, though written by means of human instrumentality, were so superintended by God that the resulting writings are truly God’s.
This same Peter, while awaiting the coming of the Spirit in Acts 2 on Pentecost, stood up among fellow disciples and declared, “Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas,” and then he quoted from the Psalms (Acts 1:16ff.). Peter affirmed that the Holy Spirit governed what David wrote, and the results of David’s writing therefore are designated as “Scripture.”
This same Peter, in 1 Peter 1:10-12, explained: (1) that the inspired spokesmen of the Old Testament did not always understand all the information given by God through them; (2) it was the Spirit of Christ that was operating upon them; (3) this same inspired information was being presented in Peter’s day by the apostles; and (4) the same Holy Spirit was directing their utterances. It is very important to note that Peter was claiming that inspired men had their own minds engaged as they produced inspired material, but the product was God’s, since they did not always grasp all of the significance of their own productions.
This same Peter, in 2 Peter 3:15-16, referred to “our beloved brother Paul” as having “written to you.” He then noted: “as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which those who are untaught and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.” Peter made clear three salient points: (1) Paul wrote epistles; (2) those epistles are classified with “the other Scriptures,” which means that Paul’s letters are Scripture every bit as much as the Old Testament and other New Testament writings; and (3) these writings are divinely authoritative, since to twist them is to invite “destruction”—an obvious reference to God’s disfavor and the spiritual/eternal harm that results from disobeying God’s words, not man’s words. Cornelius well-understood this principle, for when Peter came to his house, he stated: “Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God” (Acts 10:33, emp. added).
 While on Earth, Jesus demonstrated a high regard for Scripture, i.e., the Old Testament. On one occasion, He involved Himself in an interchange with some Jews who accused Him of blasphemy (John 10:33). He repelled the charge by quoting Psalm 82:6, referring to the passage as “law” (vs. 34). But how could Jesus refer to a psalm as “law,” since the Psalms were poetic wisdom literature and not a part of the Torah (the Pentateuch)? He referred to a psalm as “law” in the sense that the Psalms are part of Scripture. Jesus was thus ascribing legal authority to the entire corpus of Scripture (Warfield, 3:1475). He did the same thing in John 15:25. Likewise, Paul quoted from the Psalms, Isaiah, and Genesis and referred to each as “the Law” (1 Corinthians 14:21; Romans 3:19; Galatians 4:21).
After Jesus quoted from a psalm and called it “law,” He added, “and the Scripture cannot be broken” (vs. 35). Notice that He was equating “law” with “Scripture”—using the terms as synonyms. When He declared that “law,” or “Scripture,” “cannot be broken,” He was making the point that it is impossible for Scripture to be annulled, for its authority to be denied, or its truth to be withstood (Warfield, 3:1475). Jesus considered every part of Scripture, even its most casual phrases, to be the authoritative Word of God (p. 1476).
This attitude toward Scripture as an authoritative document is intimated by the customary formula: “It is written.” For example, when facing Satan, Jesus repelled his attacks all three times with a simple, “It is written,” which was sufficient to establish authoritative credibility (Matthew 4:4,7,10)—so much so that Satan attempted to copy Jesus in this respect (Matthew 4:6). After His resurrection, Jesus equated the entire Old Testament (i.e., the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms) with “Scripture,” and again noted “it is written” (Luke 24:44-46). He insisted very emphatically that “all things” in the Scriptures concerning Himself “must be fulfilled.” Earlier in the chapter, He equated “Moses and all the prophets” with “the Scriptures” (vss. 25-27).
No wonder Jesus would rebuke His religious challengers with such phrases as, “Have you not read even this Scripture?” (Mark 12:10; cf. Matthew 21:42); or, “You do err, not knowing the Scriptures” (Matthew 22:29); or, “if you had known what this means...” (Matthew 12:7); or, “Go and learn what this means...” (Mark 9:13). The underlying thought in such pronouncements is that God’s truth is found in Scripture, and if you are ignorant of the Scriptures, you are susceptible to error. Jesus therefore was affirming that God is the Author of Scripture.
Even the words of Scripture that do not constitute direct quotes of deity are, in fact, the words of God. For example, Jesus assigned the words of Genesis 2:24 to God as the author (Matthew 19:4-6). Yet, in the original setting of Genesis 2:24, no indication is given that God was the speaker. Rather, the words are simply narratorial comment written down by the human author—Moses. By Jesus attributing the words to God, He was making clear that the whole of Scripture was authored by God. That means that even the words of Satan, or the words of evil people, are the words of God—in the sense that God has given us an accurate report of what those people said. Paul treated the matter in the same way (1 Corinthians 6:16).
Over and over again, the apostles and writers of the New Testament did the same thing that Jesus did, i.e., they referred to Scripture in such a way that it was clear they considered it to be the authoritative, inspired words of God (e.g., Acts 8:35; 17:2; 18:28; 26:22; Romans 12:19; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; 1 Peter 1:16; James 2:8). Perhaps Luke well summarized the prevailing mindset of the Bible writers: “[T]hey received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11). In other words, what Scripture says, God says.
Additional evidence of the Bible’s own view of itself is manifested in statements like, “For the Scripture says to Pharaoh” (Romans 9:17), or “And the Scripture...preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand” (Galatians 3:8). But Scripture did not speak to Pharaoh, and Scripture did not preach the Gospel to Abraham. Rather, God did! So the word of Scripture is the word of God! The inspired writers of the New Testament considered “God” and “Scripture” to be so closely linked that they could naturally speak of “Scripture” doing what Scripture records God as doing (Warfield, 3:1477).
It works the other way as well. God is said to say certain things that are, in their original setting, merely words of Scripture. For example, Hebrews 3:7 reads, “Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says...,” and Psalm 95:7 is then quoted. In Acts 4:25, God is said to have spoken, by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of David, the words of Psalm 2:1. In Acts 13:34-35, God is represented as having stated the words of Isaiah 55:3 and Psalm 16:10. Yet, in both of these cases, the words attributed to God are not, in their original setting, specifically His words, but merely the words of Scripture itself. So the writers of the New Testament sometimes referred to the Scriptures as if they were God, and they sometimes referred to God as if He were Scripture. The Bible thus presents itself as the very words of God.
In Hebrews 1:5-13, the writer quoted seven Old Testament passages: Psalm 2:7; 2 Samuel 7:14; Deuteronomy 32:43; Psalm 104:4; Psalm 45:6-7; Psalm 102:25-27; and Psalm 110:1. The Hebrews writer attributed each of these passages to God as the speaker. Yet in their original setting in the Old Testament, sometimes God is the speaker, while sometimes He is not the speaker, and is, in fact, being spoken to or spoken about. Why would the writer of Hebrews indiscriminately assign all of these passages to God? Because they all have in common the fact that they are the words of Scripture, and, as such, are the words of God.
The same is true with Romans 15:9-12 where Paul quoted from Psalm 18:49, Deuteronomy 32:43, Psalm 117:1, and Isaiah 11:10. The first one he introduced with the formula “as it is written”; the second one is introduced by “again he says”; the third with simply “again”; and the fourth is prefaced with “Isaiah says.” Yet, in the Old Testament setting, only in the Isaiah passage is specifically God talking—and Paul assigns those words to Isaiah. So “it is written,” “he says,” and “Isaiah says,” are all different ways of saying the same thing, i.e., “God says”! Sometimes the New Testament writers assigned Scripture to its human authors. Yet it is clear that when the writers said, “Moses said,” or “David said,” such was simply another way to say, “Scripture says,” which, again, was the same thing as saying “God says.”

VERBAL INSPIRATION

Notice that the inspiration that the Bible claims for itself is “verbal” inspiration, i.e., God’s superintendence extends even to the words of the writer. Paul based his argument on a plural noun, and insisted that God intended the word to be understood in its singular sense (Galatians 3:16). As noted previously, Jesus based an argument on the precise verbal form of Scripture (John 10:34). He based His point on a particular word in Matthew 22:43, on a particular tense in Matthew 22:32, and even on the letters and their minute strokes in Matthew 5:17-18. In the latter passage, Jesus said that Exodus 3:6 was spoken to the Sadducees with whom He was conversing—even though the original context of Exodus 3:6 has God speaking to Moses. That proves that Jesus expects all people on Earth to understand that the Bible is written to every single accountable human being, and that Scripture is intended to be authoritative for human living.
Paul also affirmed verbal inspiration in 1 Corinthians 2. He claimed that his speech and his preaching were not “words of human wisdom” (vs. 4). Rather, his words were “in demonstration of the Spirit.” He claimed that he and his fellow apostles were speaking the wisdom of God (vs. 7). He claimed that the things which they had been speaking were revealed to them by God through the Holy Spirit (vs. 10). Then he affirmed very clearly: “These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches” (vs. 13). So inspiration involves the very words, and that makes it verbal inspiration.

NEW TESTAMENT INSPIRATION

Most of the passages examined thus far are New Testament references to the inspiration of the Old Testament. Liberal scholars have claimed that the New Testament does not make the claim of inspiration for itself. That claim is not true. As already noted, in 2 Peter 3:16, Peter classified Paul’s epistles as “Scripture,” and he affirmed that Paul’s writings carry such divine authority that those who twist them will be destroyed. It also was noted that Peter linked the apostles with the Old Testament prophets (1 Peter 1:10-12). And, as just seen, Paul made a comparable claim in 1 Corinthians 2.
As one reads the New Testament, it is clear that the writers made the extension of Old Testament inspiration to their own writings. They did not for a moment consider themselves—the ministers of the new covenant (2 Corinthians 3:6)—to be less in possession of the Spirit of God than the ministers of the old covenant (Warfield, 3:1482). Jesus, without question, declared the impending inspiration of the authors of the New Testament. In Matthew 10:17-20, and the parallels in Mark 13:11 and Luke 12:12, Jesus explained to the apostles that the Holy Spirit would direct their verbal activities in terms of both how and what they spoke. He reiterated the same thing in Luke 21:12-15, urging them not to worry how to defend themselves when hauled before the authorities, since He would provide them with “a mouth and wisdom” that their adversaries would not be able to withstand. So Jesus pre-authenticated the teaching of the apostles, and insured respect for their authority.
Jesus directed several promises to the apostles in John chapters 14, 15, and 16. Allusion to just one of these will suffice. Jesus promised the apostles: “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come” (John 16:12-13). Just prior to His ascension, Jesus promised to the apostles the impending baptism of the Holy Spirit, which would enable them to be Christ’s witnesses throughout the world (Acts 1:5,8). This promise commenced its fulfillment in Acts 2 when the apostles were baptized with the Holy Spirit and empowered to preach the message God wanted preached.
Numerous passages indicate the fulfillment of these promises to the apostles to the extent that the words which they spoke were God’s words (Acts 4:8,31; 5:32; 15:8,27-28; 16:6-8). As already noted, Paul claimed direct guidance of the Holy Spirit for the words that he spoke (1 Corinthians 2). He did the same thing in Galatians 1:12. In Ephesians 3:1-5, he claimed that his message was made known to him “by revelation” (vs. 3), along with the other apostles and prophets (vs. 5). Other passages reflect the same point (1 Timothy 4:1; Galatians 2:2; 2 Corinthians 12:7; 1 Thessalonians 2:13). A good summary of Paul’s claims to inspiration is seen in his firm declaration: “If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 14:37). His inspiration extended to both his oral utterances as well as his writings (2 Thessalonians 2:15; 3:6,14; cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:2,15; Galatians 1:7-8). In 1 Timothy 5:18, Paul quoted Luke 10:7 and referred to it as “Scripture.” So Luke’s Gospel record was already available and classified with the inspired canon of Scripture.

CONCLUSION

The unbiased individual can easily see that the Bible claims for itself the status of “inspiration,” having been breathed out by God Himself. That inspiration entailed such superintendence by God that even the words came under His influence. Thus the Bible is “verbally inspired.” This conclusion does not imply that the writers merely took “dictation.” Rather, the Bible indicates that God adapted His inspiring activity to the individual temperament, vocabulary, educational level, and stylistic idiosyncrasies of each writer. The Bible is “infallible” in that it is incapable of deceiving or misleading, and is therefore completely trustworthy and reliable. “Plenary” inspiration means that inspiration extends to all of its parts. Thus the Bible is fully inspired.
The Bible is also “inerrant,” that is, it is free of error. God used human beings to write the Bible, and in so doing, allowed them to leave their mark upon it, but without making any of the mistakes that human writings are prone to make. God made certain that the words produced by the human writers were free from the errors and mistakes characteristic of uninspired writers. This influence even extended to matters of science, geography, and history. Proof for the inspiration of the Bible is a separate and necessary inquiry. However, it is important that a person understand what the Bible means when it claims for itself “inspiration.”

REFERENCES

Arndt, William and F.W. Gingrich (1957), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press).
McGarvey, J. W. (1883), “Remarks on the Preceding Lectures,” The Missouri Christian Lectures(Rosemead, CA: Old Paths Book Club, 1955 reprint).
Perschbacher, Wesley J., ed. (1990), The New Analytical Greek Lexicon (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson).
“Theories of the Inspiration of the Scriptures” (1864), American Presbyterian and Theological Review, 6:312-349, April.
Vincent, Marvin (1900), Word Studies in the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1946 reprint).
Warfield, Benjamin (1974 reprint), “Inspiration,” ISBE, ed. James Orr  (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).

The Universe and Its Laws by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=2206

The Universe and Its Laws

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

In a recent issue of New Scientist titled “How the Universe Got Its Laws and Our Surprising Role in Shaping Them,” Paul Davies of Arizona State University made some observations that creationists find noteworthy, given his prominence as an evolutionist. He described the alleged 13.7 billion-year-old Universe (2007, 194[2610]:30), which supposedly is the result of mindless, naturalistic, random processes, as “uniquely hospitable” (p. 30), “remarkable” (p. 34), and “ordered in an intelligible way” (p. 30). He admitted to the many examples of “uncanny bio-friendly ‘coincidences’” and “fine-tuned properties” of the Universe (p. 30). He then wrote: “Like Baby Bear’s porridge in the story of Goldilocks, our universe seems ‘just right’ for life. It looks, to use astronomer Fred Hoyle’s dramatic description, as if ‘a super-intellect has been monkeying with physics’” (p. 30).
Still, although Davies admitted that it appears a being of “super-intellect” lies behind the law-driven Universe, he pressed on to find a natural phenomenon to explain “why the universe is as it is” (p. 31). To Paul Davies and other evolutionary scientists, any explanation outside of nature itself is a cop-out. The laws of physics that govern the Universe, and that “are strangely independent of the universe,” must have a naturalistic explanation. So how did the Universe get its laws?
Davies conveniently suggested that we must abandon the orthodox view that the laws of physics are immutable and universal. “Laws” of physics must be considered “flexi-laws.” If you concede this possibility, then the “laws of physics are inherent in the physical universe, and emerge with it” (p. 33, emp. added). The laws “start out unfocused, but rapidly sharpen and zero in on the form we observe today as the universe grows” (p. 33). “[W]ith flexi-laws,” Davies suggested, “the way lies open for a self-consistent explanation” (p. 34).
The fuzzy primordial laws focus in on precisely the form needed to give rise to the living organisms that eventually observe them. Cosmic bio-friendliness is therefore the result of a sort of quantum post-selection effect extended to the very laws of physics themselves (p. 34).
In other words, the laws of physics just evolved to their current status like everything else in the Universe.
While several evolutionary scientists around the world continue to spend countless hours and untold amounts of money “attempting to place the concept of flexi-laws and quantum post-selection on sound mathematical footing” (p. 34), the fact remains that laws of science are called “laws” for a reason: there is no known exception to them. In truth, Davies’ thoughts are no more rational than those of biologists who testify to the law of biogenesis, but then conclude that millions of years ago life must have spontaneously generated.
Davies and others apparently cannot tolerate the thought of the absence of a naturalistic explanation for the origin of our law-driven Universe. When all naturalistic explanations fail to clarify what exists, instead of rationally concluding what such results imply (i.e., that their must be a Supernatural explanation separate and apart from the physical Universe), men like Davies simply come up with another new complicated theory that defies both natural law and common sense.
Naturalistic explanations for the Universe and its laws leave an explanatory void that only a Supernatural Being (i.e., God) can fill. Indeed, laws demand a lawgiver. “The things which are seen were not made of things which are visible” (Hebrews 11:3). “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1, emp. added).
“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20, emp. added).

REFERENCES

Davies, Paul (2007), “Laying Down the Laws,” New Scientist, 194[2610]:30-34, June.

What is the “Fruit of the Vine”? by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=1262

What is the “Fruit of the Vine”?

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

In the 21st century, scientific names and designations of certain fruits and vegetables often disagree with commonly accepted notions of the produce. For example, is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable? What about a cucumber? Although most people see these two foods as vegetables, technically they are viewed in scientific circles as fruit. Furthermore, both cucumbers and tomatoes grow on vines, which would, in the strictest sense of the word, classify them as “fruits of the vine.” Other fruits that grow on vines include melons, such as watermelon and cantaloupe, as well as grapes.
In light of the fact that there are many different “fruits of the vine,” how are we to understand the New Testament phrase, “the fruit of the vine,” that Jesus used during the Last Supper just before His death. Is it possible to identify which “fruit of the vine” was used to produce the drink of the last Supper? And if so, how does the identification of that specific fruit affect the observation of the Lord’s Supper today?
The phrase “the fruit of the vine” is used in only three places in the New Testament:
Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom” (Matthew 26:27-29).
Then He took the cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. And He said to them, “This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many. Assuredly, I say to you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God” (Mark 14:23-25).
Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes” (Luke 22:17-18).
In order to identify the specific “fruit of the vine” referred to by Jesus, we must analyze the words of the phrase in light of how the first-century audience would have understood them. The Greek word translated “vine” in these three instances is ampelos. Arndt, et al., define the term as “vine, or grapevine” (1979, p. 46). In virtually every instance in the Bible when the term is used, it refers to a grapevine. For instance, in James 3:12 several Bible translations render the wordampelos as “grapevine.” The New King James version reads: “Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs?”. In Revelation 14:18, we read: “And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, ‘Thrust in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for her grapes are fully ripe.’” Notice that the term “vine” is used, then modified by the phrase “for her grapes...,” obviously referring to a grapevine.
Another Greek term relevant to this discussion is ampel┼Źn, deriving from the same word asampelos. Arndt, et al., give as its almost universal meaning, “vineyard” (p. 47). References in the New Testament using the term to denote a vineyard filled with grapes include Matthew 21:33-41, Mark 12:1-11, and Luke 20:9-16. In fact, the only reference in the New Testament where the term might mean anything other than a vineyard of grapes is Luke 13:6, where the term could possibly mean “orchard” (Arndt, et al., p. 47), specifically an orchard of figs. Since figs, however, are never referred to as the “fruit of the vine,” nor would a fig tree be classified as a vine, then this possible exception to the term “vineyard” has no bearing on the definition of the “fruit of the vine.”
Indeed, the terms “vine” and “vineyard” are so universally associated with grapes and wine made from grapes, that William Smith, under the entry for the word “vine,” wrote: “The vines of Palestine were celebrated both for luxuriant growth and for the immense clusters of grapes which they produced” (1870, 4:3446, emp. added). In Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, W.E. Vine included the following statement with his definition of “wine”: “In instituting the Lord’s Supper He [Jesus—KB] speaks of the contents of the cup as the ‘fruit of the vine.’ So Mark 14:25” (1997, p. 1232). In The Expositor’s Greek Testament, A.B. Bruce summarized Jesus’ statement in Matthew 26:29 in the following words: “It is the last time I shall drink paschal...wine with you. I am to die at this Passover” (2002, 1:312).
It is an absolutely established fact that Jesus’ disciples, as well as the broader first-century readership of the gospel accounts, understood Jesus’ phrase “fruit of the vine” to refer to juice from grapes [NOTE: There is ongoing debate as to whether the grape juice was fermented or unfermented. For a brief, but trenchant discussion of this debate, see Jackson, 2000).
If Christians today want to follow the example that Jesus set during the Lord’s Supper, and the apostles followed throughout their ministry, then they will drink juice from grapes during their observance of the communion. Although we today might technically view products such as tomatoes, cucumbers, and melons as “fruits of the vine,” they were not referred to as such by Christ, the New Testament writers, or the greater Greek-speaking community at large during the time of Christ.

REFERENCES

Arndt, William, F.W. Gingrich, and Frederick W. Danker (1979), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press), second edition revised.
Bruce, A.B. (2002 reprint), The Expositor’s Greek Testament, ed. W. Robertson Nicoll (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson).
Jackson, Wayne (2000), “Was the ‘Fruit of the Vine’ Fermented?,” Christian Courier, [On-line],URL: http://www.christiancourier.com/articles/224-was-the-fruit-of-the- vine-fermented.
Smith, William (1870), Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible, ed. H.B. Hackett and Ezra Abbot (New York: Hurd & Houghton).
Vine, W.E. (1997), Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words(Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson).

Jesus: Truly God and Truly Human by Brad Bromling, D.Min.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=10&article=353

Jesus: Truly God and Truly Human

by Brad Bromling, D.Min.

One day Jesus asked His friends, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” (Matthew 16:13). They gave a variety of answers: “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets” (vs. 14). Different people saw different things in Jesus. Herod heard about the miracles Jesus was performing and decided that He must be John the Baptist (whom he beheaded) raised from the dead (Mark 6:14). Others saw something in Jesus’ disposition that led them to believe He was the incarnation of the prophet Jeremiah (maybe they had seen Jesus weep and remembered how Jeremiah wept over the fall of Jerusalem). Still others had seen enough of Jesus to conclude He was the embodiment of one of the ancient prophets, although they were not sure which. This variety of answers reflects a level of confusion that seems surprising to us 2,000 years later. After all, they had the living, breathing, human person of Jesus to behold, and yet they still were confused. In the decades and centuries since, that confusion has not abated. A plethora of Christologies has been devised. Although there is great variety among them, generally they fall into three main categories: (1) Jesus was truly human, but not truly God; (2) Jesus was truly God, but not truly human; and (3) Jesus was both truly human and truly God.

EARLY HERESIES

In the second century, groups arose in the church that championed the first two categories. On the one hand, the Ebionites taught that Jesus was only a man who became the Christ by His perfect observance of the Law of Moses. On the other hand, the Docetics taught that Jesus was truly God in the flesh, but not really a human being; He only “seemed” to be a man. Both positions were opposed by the early church because neither was in agreement with the New Testament. The Ebionite heresy contradicted passages like John 1:1-14 and John 20:28, which emphasize the deity of Jesus. The Docetics’ position contradicted passages like Hebrews 4:15 and 1 John 1:1-3, which emphasize the humanity of Jesus.

EARLY CONFESSIONS

Although these positions were rejected as heresies, they did not die completely. Nor did their rejection result in complete unanimity of opinion about the identity of Jesus. Confusion over how Jesus could be truly God and truly human at the same time persisted. The Catholic Church struggled with this question, which subsequently became the focus of some of its Ecumenical Councils. In A.D. 325 the Council of Nicea issued its creed, which stated:
We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten of his Father, of the substance of the Father, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father. By whom all things were made, both which be in heaven and in earth. Who for us men and for our salvation came down [from heaven] and was incarnate and was made man. He suffered and the third day he rose again, and ascended to heaven. And he shall come again to judge both the quick and the dead... (Percival, 1899, p. 3).
So, it was the Council’s conviction that Jesus was both “very God” and “made man.” But how can the same person be both God and man? Nicea had not adequately answered this. It remained to be addressed by the Council of Chalcedon (A.D. 451). The 150 members of the Council declared that Jesus was one person with two natures.
...we teach with one voice that the Son [of God] and our Lord Jesus Christ is to be confessed as one and the same [Person], that he is perfect in Godhead and perfect in manhood, very God and very man, of a reasonable soul and [human] body consisting, consubstantial with the Father as touching his Godhead, and consubstantial with us as touching his manhood.... This one and the same Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son [of God] must be confessed in two natures, unconfusedly, immutably, indivisibly, inseparably [united], and that without the distinction of natures being taken away by such union... (Percival, 1899, pp. 264-265).
It is significant to note that the Council chose to clarify the meaning of the two natures in negative terms. In a sense, they, “put up four fences (without confusion, without change, without division, without separation) and said: The mystery lies within this area” (Runia, 1984, pp. 12-13). Although this confession did not really answer the question as to how Jesus could have both natures at the same time, it respected both aspects of Jesus’ identity and stood as the fundamental statement of Christology for Catholics and Protestants alike for many centuries.

THE IMPACT OF SKEPTICISM

With the rise of skepticism and deism, this ancient creed came under fire. Beginning with Hermann S. Reimarus (1694-1768), scholars began to suggest that the “historical Jesus” was a very different person from the “Christ of faith” described in the Gospels (and subsequent human creeds). Reimarus made a “sharp distinction between the intention of Jesus during his life and the intention of his disciples after his death” (see Borg, 1994, p. 42). Reimarus believed that Jesus’ intentions (rebellion against Rome) were thwarted by His death and that the disciples invented the resurrection story and deified their Teacher as a way of keeping His movement alive.
Liberal scholarship of the last 200 years has largely adopted as paradigmatic this distinction between the “historical Jesus” and the “Christ of Christian faith.” The claim is that the historical Jesus may be discovered in a fragmentary way by subjecting the Gospels to the rigors of the historical-critical method (see Brantley, 1994). The Christ of the Christian faith is the version of Jesus presented by the New Testament writers and the confessions of Christendom. Much of the recent discussion in Christology, then, centers on whether one should shape one’s understanding of Jesus by the Christ of faith or the Jesus of history.
Often, liberal scholars begin with the Jesus of history and move from there to decide what of the Christ of faith is worthy of belief (e.g., Edward Schillebeeckx, Piet Schoonenberg, Hans Kung, John A.T. Robinson, et al.). Typically the answer is, “not much.” This is also the presupposition behind the work of the Jesus Seminar (see Bromling, 1994), as well as works from a variety of authors (Marcus Borg, Barbara Thiering, Geza Vermes, John Dominic Crossan, et al.). A.N. Wilson’s popular book, Jesus: A Life, is typical. In it, he opened with this line: “The Jesus of history and the Christ of Faith are two separate beings, with very different stories” (1992, p. vii). Wilson rejected the latter, and wrote an entire book describing the former. His historical Jesus, however, “is a pale and distorted version of the real thing” (Wright, 1992, p. 63). Wilson described the Jesus of history as “the great apocalyptic prophet, the visionary teacher, the widely popular healer and exorcist” Whose life was a “total failure” and Whose “mission, whatever its original purpose may have been, ended on the Cross” (Wright, 1992, pp. 167-168). Wilson contended that Jesus never would have approved of Christianity; on the contrary, had Jesus known what would be done in His name, He probably would have wished He never had been born (pp. 255-256).
By way of summary, two hundred years of liberal scholastic inquiry into the question of the identity of Jesus have resulted, essentially, in a revival of the Ebionite heresy. The new portraits depict a Jesus Who is no more than a man and Who was nothing like the Christ preached by Paul and worshipped for nearly two millennia by faithful Christians. This is the price one pays for rejecting the verbal inspiration of Scripture.

COMING TO PETER’S CONCLUSION

Returning to Caesarea, however, we hear Jesus ask a second (and more personal) question: “But, who do you say that I am?” To this Peter boldly replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:15-16). In this one confession, Peter expressed two aspects of His Master’s identity. First, he said Jesus was the Messiah predicted by the ancient Jewish prophets (“Christ” is the Greek word for Messiah, meaning “anointed” by God). Second, he said Jesus possessed the divine nature. “Son of ” was the idiomatic way of saying that a person possessed the nature or traits of another person or thing. For instance, because Joses was an encouragement to others, the apostles called him Barnabas, which means “Son of Encouragement” (Acts 4:36). So, when Peter said Jesus was the “Son of God,” he was saying that Jesus had the very same nature as God. That was a powerful statement. Jesus’ claim to be the Son of God resulted in His death (John 5:18; Matthew 26:63-65). And it was upon this fundamental confession of the unique God/man nature of Jesus that the church was built (Matthew 16:18).
What led Peter to make that confession? The answer is found in Jesus’ reply: “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is heaven” (vs. 17). Peter’s view of Jesus was based upon information provided by God, rather than upon the uncertain ideas of people. That information came to Peter in the form of Old Testament prophesies that he was beginning to see fulfilled in Jesus, and that were being confirmed by the miracles Jesus was performing. The same information has been preserved for all ages in the four Gospels, and will lead us to the same conclusion if we give it a fair hearing.

FULFILLED PROPHECY

Unlike most people who have their biographies written after they are dead, much of Jesus’ life was reported hundreds of years before He was born. Over three hundred prophecies relating to the Lord were made in the Old Testament (Lockyer, 1973, p. 21). This number is astounding in itself. From Genesis to Malachi, the story of Jesus is foretold in minute detail (see Luke 24:27). Not only are the major facets of His life predicted, but seemingly trivial things (such as that men would gamble for His clothing—Psalm 22:18) also are foretold by the prophets. His family lineage and birthplace were predicted (cf. Genesis 21:12; Galatians 3:16; Matthew 1:1; 2:1; Micah 5:2). He died and was raised—exactly as had been predicted hundreds of years before (Isaiah 53; Psalm 16:8-11). By the word of prophecy He even was called Jehovah—the special name reserved only for God (Isaiah 40:3). The fulfillment of these prophecies by Jesus of Nazareth is powerful evidence that He was exactly Who Peter claimed He was.

MIRACULOUS CONFIRMATION

In addition, it is important to recall that Jesus backed up His claims by working miracles. Although God empowered other people to perform miracles, Jesus’ miracles were different. Their works confirmed that they were servants of God; Jesus’ works proved He was one with God (John 10:37-38). The Gospel of John records several of those amazing works. John tells us why: “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:30-31).
While imprisoned, John sent some of his followers to Jesus to ask, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” (Matthew 11:3). Jesus responded: “Go tell John...the blind receive their sight and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached unto them” (Matthew 11:4-5). Over seven hundred years earlier, the prophet Isaiah predicted that those very things would be done by the Messiah (see Isaiah 35:5-6; 61:1). Jesus wasn’t merely saying, “Look at all the good things I am doing.” He was saying, “Look, I am doing exactly what the Coming One is supposed to do!”
Although not eager to admit it, Jesus’ critics were often brought face-to-face with the truth that no one could do what He did unless God was with Him (John 3:2). One example of this is seen in John 9, where it is recorded that Jesus gave sight to a man who had been born blind. Some of Christ’s enemies tried to deny that a miracle had occurred, but they were unsuccessful. Then they tried to draw attention away from the miracle by attacking Jesus’ character. They said to the man whom Jesus healed: “Give God the glory! We know that this Man is a sinner” (John 9:24). This plan did not succeed either. Notice how the man answered them:
Why this is a marvelous thing, that you do not know where He is from, and yet He has opened my eyes! Now we know that God hears not sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears Him. Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind. If this man were not from God, He could do nothing (John 9:30-33).
His point was the very thing the Pharisees were unwilling to accept—Jesus’ miraculous works supported His claim to be the Son of God! It is not surprising, then, that the man accepted Jesus as his Lord.

THE RESURRECTION

Just as He promised, Jesus came forth from the tomb three days after His brutal crucifixion (Matthew 16:21; 27:63; 28:1-8). That He had been raised from the dead was witnessed by many different types of people: the soldiers who guarded His tomb; the women who came early in the morning to anoint Him with spices; eleven apostles; and more than 500 other witnesses (1 Corinthians 15:4-8). Seeing the living, breathing Jesus again was concrete proof that He was all He claimed to be. Little wonder, then, that when Thomas saw the resurrected Jesus he exclaimed: “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). Christ’s resurrection was the central point of Peter and Paul’s preaching (see Acts 2:23-36; 3:15; 17:31; etc.). The reason is obvious—it was by the resurrection that Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God with power” (Romans 1:4).
The evidence for the deity of Christ is both sufficient and compelling. There is a temptation, however, to emphasize the Lord’s deity to the exclusion of His humanity. In a sense, the modern church can become guilty of practical Doceticism. In other words, Christians can become so focused upon establishing that Jesus is the Son of God that they fail to acknowledge that He also is the Son of Man. Yet, time and again Jesus applied that term to Himself (e.g., Matthew 1:20; 9:6; et al.). As a human, He learned (Hebrews 5:8), became hungry (Matthew 4:2), experienced thirst (John 19:28), grew tired (John 4:6), and slept (Matthew 8:24). He felt anger (Mark 3:5), frustration (Mark 9:19), joy (John 15:11), and sadness (John 11:35). He was “in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15), and significantly, He was able to die (Mark 15:44). These human traits are as important to our understanding of the person of Jesus as are the traits He shared with deity.

CONCLUSION

Who is Jesus of Nazareth? Clearly, He is both the Son of God and the Son of Man. Like the ancient creeds tried to explain, Jesus is both truly God and truly human. We must avoid not only the error of the ancient Ebionites and modern liberals of seeing Jesus as merely a man, but we also must be on guard against the Docetic over-emphasis of Jesus’ deity. How can one person be both truly God and truly human? This is something we have not been called to understand fully—only to confess confidently.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.... And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:1-3,14).

REFERENCES

Borg, Marcus (1994), “Profiles in Scholarly Courage: Early Days of New Testament Criticism,”Bible Review, 10[5]:40-45, October.
Brantley, Garry K. (1994), “Biblical Miracles: Fact or Fiction?,” Reason & Revelation, 14:33-38, May.
Bromling, Brad T. (1994), “A Look at the Jesus Seminar,” Reason & Revelation, 14:81-87, November.
Lockyer, Herbert (1973), All the Messianic Prophecies of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Percival, Henry R., ed. (1899), “The Seven Ecumenical Councils of the Undivided Church,” in The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1973 reprint).
Runia, Klaas (1984) The Present-Day Christological Debate (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press).
Wilson, A.N. (1992), Jesus: A Life (New York: Fawcett Columbine).
Wright, N.T. (1992), Who Was Jesus? (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).