Thursday, January 29, 2009

Why Did Jesus Have to Die on the Cross?

Romans 1:16-17 -- 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”
Why did Jesus have to die on the cross?  Why couldn’t God just forgive us?  Why did He have to die?  Wouldn’t it have been simpler to just say, “Well you humans messed up, but I’ll just forgive you all.”  That sounds much easier, to us at least.
Now the passage I just cited is important to the understanding of why Jesus had to die on the cross, and we’ll come back and see why in a bit.
Let’s go back to the very beginning to try to get a grasp on this. (Genesis 3:15-24)
Focus: Vs. 15. is a Messianic prophesy and is sometimes called the “first gospel.”  The language used here is deliberate.  It isn’t just talking about how humans and snakes were going to hate each other from then on.  The Seed is referring to the One whom God would send to crush the head of the devil (whom the serpent represents).  The serpent is the devil, who was appointed to bruise His heel (Jesus’ heel referring to a serious injury).  Vs. 17 God curses the whole of creation here and promises man a life of work and hardship and suffering culminating in death because of pride and disobedience.  We question God’s authority (vs. 1 “Has God indeed said..?”) and have pride (vs. 5 “be like God”).  In fact, you can probably think of a dozen cases of humanity trying to be like God nowadays.
So here we see why God cursed creation.  We disobeyed His holy Word.  We broke His law.  In Exodus 20, God gave us His holy law in ten easy to remember steps.
  1. You shall have no other gods before me.
  2. You shall not make for yourself an idol
  3. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
  4. Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy
  5. Honor  your parents
  6. Don’t murder
  7. Don’t commit adultery
  8. Don’t steal
  9. Don’t bear false witness (lie)
  10. Don’t covet your neighbor’s wife or belongings.
We break God’s law every day.  According to Paul in Romans 3:23, every single person has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.  This is why God is described as having wrath, because He is angry with sin and sinners.  Psalm 7:11 says, God is a just judge, And God is angry with the wicked every day.”  God is described as “just” and “righteous” all over the Bible.  Because of this, there must be punishment for those who have broken His law.  We should fear God.  Luke 12:4-5, 4 And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. 5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!”
Now, going back to the question, “Why can’t God just forgive us?”  Let’s bring this down to a level that is easy to understand.  If you broke the law and went to court and the judge just let you off, would he be a good judge?  No, of course not.  This is also why other religions can’t get you to God.  Judaism says you just say sorry to God and He forgives you.  If I just said sorry to a judge for killing someone, that judge would say, “Good, you should be, you still have to pay the penalty.”  Islam says something similar, except you have to do a bunch of stuff, like a pilgrimage or 5 prayers a day, and even then you can’t be assured of your salvation.
This is why Jesus says in John 14:6 that He alone is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and no one comes to the Father but through Him.  It’s because He stepped into the courtroom and paid our fine, because God loves us so much.  He hates sin, so He must punish it, but He loves His creation.  That’s why He came down from heaven to die for us.
On the cross, Jesus:
  • Reconciled (to restore friendship and harmony) us to God; Romans 5:10, For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”
  • Paid the ransom (a consideration paid or demanded for the release of someone or something from captivity) we owe; 1 Timothy 2:5-6, “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”
  • Redeemed us (bought us back); Galatians 3 talks about this starting in verse 10: 10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” 11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.” 12 Yet the law is not of faith, but “the man who does them shall live by them.”13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”
  • Became the propitiation for our sins; Romans 3:24-25, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed.” Now propitiation is a word that we don’t hear much anymore.  One reason I think the NIV is a little wimpy is because it replaces the word “propitiation” for “atoning sacrifice.”  That is partly fine, but propitiation means more than that.  The Greek word is hilasterion which refers to placating or appeasing someone.  Men can’t appease God.  Jesus literally appeased, or satisfied, the wrath of God on the cross.
This means those who repent and trust in Christ for their salvation are seen by God as righteous.  Just as God looked at the blood of the Passover lamb and did not kill anyone in the houses that displayed it, so to God looks at the blood of Jesus shed for those who believe and accounts them as righteous, as it says in Romans 4:3 where Paul recalls Genesis 15:6, For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” This is known as imputation.
Now you know why the passage I read at the beginning, Romans 1:16-17 was so important to my point.  The righteousness of God is shown in the gospel!
In closing, if you will recall when I mentioned Muslims I said they aren’t assured God will forgive them.  God has told us in His word that we can be assured that we are saved.
  • 1 John 5:11-12 says, “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”
  • John wrote his gospel so, “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31)
  • Jesus said in John 5:24, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”
Sola deo Gloria.  Amen.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Essential Doctrines of the Christian Faith

You may recognize this post.  I have modified a few things and hopefully better represented the truths of Christianity.

I will attempt to briefly lay out the essential doctrines of the Christian faith. These are doctrines that true Christians of any denominational stripe must believe. Denying any of these is denying the revelation of God. Note that the scriptures I provide are not the only passages that attest to these truths.

  1. The authority and inerrancy of scripture: The Bible was inspired by God and written through men. The books of the Bible have a divine origin, and are without error in their original autographs. (2 Timothy 3:16)
  2. The Trinity: God has revealed Himself to be one God in essence and nature (Deuteronomy 6:4, Isaiah 43) and exists as three eternally distinct persons; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 28:19 , Hebrews 1:8, Acts 5:3-4)
  3. Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ: Jesus was born of the Virgin mary in a miraculous conception. She was, "found with child of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 1:18, Luke 1:26-38)
  4. Deity of Jesus Christ: Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man.  The Bible makes it clear that He created the universe (John 1, Colossians 1, Hebrews 1, Revelation 1). Jesus also clearly said that He is God (Mark 14:62-63, John 5:18, 20; 8:58; 10:30-33).
  5. The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ: The Bible teaches clearly that after three days, Jesus raised Himself from the dead and defeated death. This was not an apparition or vision, but a physical, bodily resurrection from the dead. (Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20, Romans 10:9, 1 Corinthians 15:14-16)
  6. The atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross: Man is inherently sinful and has broken God's law (Romans 3:23). God is just must punish those who break His law. Man is unable to come to God himself. Because God loves His creation, He came as Jesus of Nazareth to suffer and die as the propitiation of our sins (Romans 3:25, Hebrews 2:17, 1 John 2:2), shedding His blood to cover our sins (Ephesians 2:13, Hebrews 9:14, 1 Peter 1:2, 1 Peter 1:18-19), and saving those who believe.
  7. Salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone: We are only able to come to God by His grace. We must repent of our sins and trust alone in Jesus Christ as our savior (Ephesians 2:8-9). There is no other way to eternal life (John 14:6, Acts 4:12). This faith is not simply an intellectual belief, but a relationship with the Savior that brings about a changed life (James 2:14-26).
There are many doctrines that have historically divided segments of the Church of Christ. They are important debates to be had, but the essentials make us brothers and sisters in Christ. So while we debate, let us debate in love and not divide.

Really famous authors that I avoid

I don't read these guys, and neither should you.  If you do, I hope it's purely to study their wrong-headed theologies to combat it with the truth of scripture.
  • Rob Bell
  • Brian McLaren
  • Doug Padgitt
  • Donald Miller
  • Tony Jones
  • Steve Chalke
  • Tony Campolo
Anyone think I missed someone?  Who should I add to the list?

Monday, January 12, 2009

A bit about lapsarianism and God's sovereignty

A quick examination of some of the different views of the soteriological process.  I used this page as a reference.

Supralapsarian:
1. Elect some, reprobate rest
2. Create
3. Permit the Fall
4. Provide salvation only for elect
5. Call elect to salvation

This is the most extreme bent of Calvinism, and many who hold to supralapsarianism are hyper-Calvinists.  This view even makes most Calvnists uncomfortable.

Infralapsarian:
1. Create
2. Permit the Fall
3. Elect some, "pass over" the rest
4. Provide salvation only for elect
5. Call elect to salvation

One Calvinist I debated said he believes foreknowledge means God knows and therefore because He knows had to have ordained what happens. So even though in this system God created us first, He still knew who He was going to end up reprobating.

Furthermore, it may sound nicer to say God simply "passes over" some, but in passing over them, He has effectively reprobated them. The logical conclusion is the same. He has still created a certain number of people for heaven, and a certain number of people for hell, and there is nothing any of them can do to change that.

Amyraldism (aka 4-point calvinism):
1. Create
2. Permit Fall
3. Provide salvation sufficient for all
4. Elect some, pass over rest
5. Call elect to salvation

In this system, God provides salvation for everybody, but since nobody will come on their own, God "hand-picks" who will believe and subsequently by doing that who won't believe. So still, the logical conclusion is the same. And with that conclusion, I still see nobody's actions here really having any consequence, since God has already decided who will come, and who will not. That effectively negates anything we do.

In Arminianism (the correct view ;-) ):
1. Create
2. Permit Fall
3. Provide salvation for all
4. Call all to salvation (with previnient grace)
5. Elect those who believe

Here, God is not responsible for our sin and His election process is properly described. We suffer the consequences of what we have done. God is still sovereign (meaning having independent power or authority) and able to do whatever He wants.

Jacobus Arminius wrote on God's sovereignty, "I consider Divine Providence to be "that solicitous, continued, and universally present inspection and oversight of God, according to which he exercises a general care over the whole world, but evinces a particular concern for all his [intelligent] creatures without any exception, with the design of preserving and governing them in their own essence, qualities, actions, and passions, in a manner that is at once worthy of himself and suitable to them, to the praise of his name and the salvation of believers. In this definition of Divine Providence, I by no means deprive it of any particle of those properties which agree with it or belong to it; but I declare that it preserves, regulates, governs and directs all things and that nothing in the world happens fortuitously or by chance. Beside this, I place in subjection to Divine Providence both the free-will and even the actions of a rational creature, so that nothing can be done without the will of God, not even any of those things which are done in opposition to it; only we must observe a distinction between good actions and evil ones, by saying, that "God both wills and performs good acts," but that "He only freely permits those which are evil." Still farther than this, I very readily grant, that even all actions whatever, concerning evil, that can possibly be devised or invented, may be attributed to Divine Providence Employing solely one caution, "not to conclude from this concession that God is the cause of sin."

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Discordianism

I learned about a new religion today.  Apparently, Discordianism was founded in 1958 or 1959 by a guy named Gregory Hill. He gave himself the name Malaclypse the Younger when he wrote Principia Discordia, which is the founding document of the religion.  It seems that it's purposely built on foundations of paradox and chaos. Discordianism shows it's silliness in its 5 doctrines, which are known as Pentabarf.  They are as follows:
  1. There is no Goddess but Goddess and She is Your Goddess. There is no Erisian Movement but The Erisian Movement and it is The Erisian Movement. And every Golden Apple Corps is the beloved home of a Golden Worm.
  2. A Discordian Shall Always use the Official Discordian Document Numbering System.
  3. A Discordian is required to, the first Friday after his illumination, Go Off Alone & Partake Joyously of a Hot Dog; this Devotive Ceremony to Remonstrate against the popular Paganisms of the Day: of Roman Catholic Christendom (no meat on Friday), of Judaism (no meat of Pork), of Hindic Peoples (no meat of Beef), of Buddhists (no meat of animal), and of Discordians (no Hot Dog Buns).
  4. A Discordian shall Partake of No Hot Dog Buns, for Such was the Solace of Our Goddess when She was Confronted with The Original Snub.
  5. A Discordian is Prohibited from Believing What he reads.
(Thank you Wikipedia)

Obviously there are some contradictions here, haha.  The sad thing is, people actually believe this, I heard one on a podcast I listen to today.  I think it's pretty clearly just taking a shot at organized religions, and is geared toward stupid kids (cause it looks like it was written by a little snot-nosed brat).

Anyhoo, I think I'll stick with the almighty God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who makes sense and has forgiven my sins.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Don't tell me there's not a God

My cousin was 1/4 of an inch from death.  A carjacker walked up to his car and shot at him in a suburban area.  He ducked just in time so the bullet only grazed his head.  It GRAZED HIS HEAD!  You can't tell me there's no God, that he doesn't protect His children.  Oh and they caught the dirt bags too.

Jesus Christ is the Lord!

Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.
-Matthew 10:29

Monday, January 5, 2009

Want to see an Arminian's detailed exegesis of *gasp* Romans 9?

My internet friend is doing one at http://www.classicalarminianism.blogspot.com/

Check it out, home slices!

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Post-Modern Building courtesy of Ravi Zacharias

Here is an excerpt from a speech by Ravi Zacharias, who is the most brilliant speaker and one of the best, if not the best, Christian apologists of our time. Think about it.

Postmodernism tells us there’s no such thing as truth; no such thing as meaning; no such thing as certainty. I remember lecturing at Ohio State University, one of the largest universities in this country. I was minutes away from beginning my lecture, and my host was driving me past a new building called the Wexner Center for the Performing Arts. He said, “This is America’s first postmodern building.” I was startled for a moment and I said, “What is a postmodern building?” He said, “Well, the architect said that he designed this building with no design in mind. When the architect was asked, ‘Why?’ he said, ‘If life itself is capricious, why should our buildings have any design and any meaning?’ So he has pillars that have no purpose. He has stairways that go nowhere. He has a senseless building built and somebody has paid for it.” I said, “So his argument was that if life has no purpose and design, why should the building have any design?” He said, “That is correct.” I said, “Did he do the same with the foundation?” All of a sudden there was silence. You see, you and I can fool with the infrastructure as much as we would like, but we dare not fool with the foundation because it will call our bluff in a hurry.

America is not a democracy? That's right!

I found this very informative video on America's form of government. It's concise, but full of great info. It's also a wake up call. Watch and learn.