Tuesday, February 25, 2014

On 2 Cor 5:14

The Context:
Paul's thought starts in v11: we try to persuade men. What men you might ask? Answer: all men, for we all will be judged by Christ v10)

The Verse:
For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died

For a long time I found this difficult, not understanding what it could possibly mean that all died. In an attempt to get help I turned to the J. Mac study bible and read:
One died for all - This expresses the truth of Chris’s substitutionary death. The preposition “for” indicates He died “in behalf of.” Or “in the place of” all (Cf Is 53:4-12, Gal 3:13, Heb 9:11-14). This truth is at the heart of the doctrine of salvation. God’s wrath against sin required death; Jesus took that wrath and died in the sinner’s place. Thus He took away God’s wrath and satisfied God’s justice as a perfect sacrifice.
Then all died - Everyone who died in Christ receives the benefits of His substitutionary death. With this short phrase, Paul defined the extent of the atonement and limited its application. The statement logically completes the meaning of the preceding phrase, in effect saying, “Christ died for all who died in Him,” or “One died for all, therefore all died.” Paul was overwhelmed with gratitude that Christ loved him and was so gracious as to make him a part of the “all” who died in Him.
"One died for all, then all died." That means "Christ died for all who died in Him."
I'll be charitable and just say that's obviously not even close to being right. In fact it doesn't even seem to be talking about the same verse as far as I can tell. However, even someone with a little more sense on this issue, from a different background altogether, David Guzik, does no better. Here is what he says about it.

If one died for all, then all died: How did Jesus die for all? In the sense that His death is able to save all who will come to Him and is a demonstration of God's love to all; but not in the sense that all are saved because Jesus died (which is the false doctrine of universalism). However, it is probable that in this context Paul means "all the saved" when he says all. There is no doubt that there is a sense in which Jesus died for the whole world: And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world (1 John 2:2). But the all Paul mentions here is probably "all the saved," because he also writes then all died. It can only be said that those who join themselves to Jesus by faith have spiritually died and risen again with Him (Romans 6:1-6).

What do I think now? Look again at the verse. For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died. The answer is that the last three words are the logical deduction flowing from the premise 'Christ died for all.' In other words, Christ dying for all is fundamental, it's a given. It's assumed, and from that Paul concludes that if Christ needed to die for all, then all are dead and in need of saving. That, and that alone, fits the context of us being ambassadors, calling everyone, pleading them to repent, for the judgment is coming.

And of course as soon as I figured that out on my own having scaled the snowy summit, overcoming the obstacles of bad guidance, fighting the pressures alone, ready to glory in my accomplishment, I find what Barnes wrote about it and realize I'm holding a view that the older thinkers would think is stupid not to hold. Behold:
That Paul assumes this as a matter that was well known, indisputable, and universally admitted, that Christ died for all. He did not deem it necessary to enter into the argument to prove it, nor even to state it formally. It was so well known, and so universally admitted, that he made it a first principle - an elementary position - a maxim on which to base another important doctrine - to wit, that all were dead. It was a point which he assumed that no one would call in question; a doctrine which might be laid down as the basis of an argument, like one of the first principles or maxims in science.
So there it is, the end of limited atonement, without even involving verse 15.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

On the Level with Babies

My son was crawling around the floor today, at the gym on the church campus, and I got down and crawled alongside of him.
He loved it, it made him cackle and squeal with delight.
What an image isn't it?
Here I am, a student of physics. An engineer. Advanced degrees, tremendous learning, great ability to think. Not just an adult but one who sees clearly enough to teach others, with gray hairs and all, throwing it all away, crawling around on the floor, living in the moment, just to make him laugh.

And the condescension of God is far greater still, and yet even less dignified.

Unlimited Atonement, Personal Style

So Sunday night I wake up to my daughter screaming bloody murder and holding her legs. I get upstairs to find she's covered (over 50% of her body) in a terrible rash, and breaking out into hives, big ones, huge in fact.
Now we had no idea what could have brought this on, since everything she ate she had eaten before, and the clothes were not new. (I'll save you the suspense, it was a surprise food allergy to gluten free muffin mix).
Since it was visibly growing, we didn't think it was food allergies, and she was screaming in pain uncontrollably after the Tylenol, we decided she should be seen by a doctor (which meant the stupid ER.)
Benadryl was the answer. I got a big bottle of it and took her home, at which point it was 11:30 at night and she was exhausted. And fighting.

Here is where I come to my point. She was tired, fighting, sick, and beyond reason. I had gone out to acquire the medicine, and when I came back she didn't want to have anything to do with it.
So I coaxed her with words, held her mouth, and poured it in. That's the effectual call right there. God is going to make sure the medicine He procured gets swallowed.

But what if I had the neighbor kid come to the door? Let's say for a moment his parents saw me, and sent him over to get some because he was suffering from the exact same thing and needed the exact same medicine. Would I give it to him if he asked? Of course! Would I hold him down and make him take it? Absolutely not, he's not my kid.
That there is the difference between the elect and the non-elect. It's not a matter of the medicine not being there, it's a matter of them not being made to take it. I have a fondness for the neighbors kid, and would not withhold anything from them, but I have a determination to see my own take what I got for them.

And that is how I learned the personal side of the Lombardian formula.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

AWANA Trek (new book) Lesson 1.1



LESSON x1.1 – John 1


Jesus is God, and God is Trinity

·         John’s point in writing this gospel is, in the words of John 20:31 “These are written that you might believe that Jesus I the Christ, the son of God, and that believing you might have life through His name.”
·         Your new AWANA book wants to focus on the idea of Jesus being the uncaused first cause, the creator of all. It’s steeped in apologetic tradition, and I think that’s good. But we are going to take the text as it comes to us. So that means we will also discuss the importance of the trinity.
·         For that reason we start with part of the Athanasian Creed, “We worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the Persons; nor dividing the Essence. For there is one Person of the Father; another of the Son; and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one; the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal…”
·         It goes on: “We believe and confess; that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man; God, of the Essence of the Father; begotten before the worlds; and Man, of the Essence of his Mother, born in the world. Perfect God; and perfect Man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father, as touching his Godhead; and inferior to the Father as touching his Manhood. Who although he is God and Man; yet he is not two, but one Christ. One; not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh; but by assumption of the Manhood by God. One altogether; not by confusion of Essence; but by unity of Person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man; so God and Man is one Christ; Who suffered for our salvation; descended into hell; rose again the third day from the dead. He ascended into heaven, he sitteth on the right hand of the God the Father Almighty, from whence he will come to judge the quick and the dead. At whose coming all men will rise again with their bodies; And shall give account for their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire.
·         And with that affirmed we are ready to read our text tonight.

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
·         The first thing John does is confess Jesus is God.
·         In the beginning is also found in Genesis 1:1 which we will look at next week, and John is making it an explicit parallel here.
·         God does not age, sleep, tire, or feel pain. He is immortal, He cannot sin, He cannot die. He knows all, He sees all, He is not made up of matter or energy. He is outside of time, having created time. He cannot change since He is already perfect, for if He were to change it could only be for the worse.

2He was in the beginning with God.
·         Just so there is no doubt, John says it again, in the beginning there was only God, and there was only one God.
·         God is trinity. Jesus is God, the Father is God, and the Holy Spirit is God.

3All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.
o   This is the logical syllogism:
P1: a thing cannot make itself.
P2: Jesus made everything, (John 1:3).
C: Jesus is not a created being, therefore had no beginning, and is eternally existent.
·         Remember that the testimony of the Old Testament is that God made everything by Himself “Who alone spreadeth out the heavens” (Job 9:8) or Isaiah 44:24b “I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself;”
·         The testimony of the New Testament here is that Jesus makes everything.
·         Jesus must therefore be God, the unmade maker; the uncaused first cause.

4In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
·         John likes to use these big words to describe Jesus. Light. Life. Word.
·         It says men, it means every single person.

5And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
·         Or, overcome as your ESV has.
·         The reason the darkness has not overcome is obvious, even a little light overwhelms a dark room. Darkness can only win by keeping the light away, not by overcoming it.
·         The reason the darkness has not comprehended it is more important. The mind of sinful man is dead in their trespasses, being blind to the truth.
·         The light shines in the darkness meaning it always has, and does still shine. The proof of Jesus is everywhere, but the mind in darkness refuses to accept it. It pushes out the truth and is closed.

6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
·         How was everyone to know when the messiah, the savior would actually come? God sent John to tell them that He was here.
·         All four gospels mention John the Baptist.

7This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe.
·         John knew Jesus because he saw the Holy Spirit descend upon Him like a dove, and the Father say “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
·         He then announced to everyone that Jesus was the spotless lamb of God who had come to take away the sin of the world. It was Jesus whom they must respect and bow before.
·         All thorough Him, (that is, Jesus) might believe and be saved. If you don’t believe in Him you cannot be saved.

8He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
·         Just so you are not in any doubt reader, John was just a man, he was not the true light, the true bread, the true sacrifice.
·         He was not that light… he was just a witness.

9That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.
·         The first half of this verse (That was the true light which gives light to every man) you should think of as parenthesis regarding the nature of Jesus. The second half is speaking to what John was doing in announcing His (coming into the world).
·         Which gives light to every man… All good things come from Jesus. Life, light, enjoyment of things, whether a man is pagan or believer, Jew or Gentile. Here Jesus is shown to be the source for all blessings, the cause of it, whether people like it or not.

10He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.
·         He was in the world… because He came and walked around in it, slept on the earth, took on flesh.
·         And the world was made through Him… He made it all in other words. God the Father planned it, God the Son executed the will and created it, God the Spirit upholds it.
·         And the world did not know Him… because it did not want to know Him. The Gentiles refused to accept God, therefore they did not know Him when He came.

11He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.
·         His own being the Jews. Jesus, who is God, the Son of the Father, was born as a Jew, among Jews.
·         His own did not receive Him… but despised and rejected Him. Remember that it was the Jews, working together with the Romans who crucified Jesus.
·         So now, as Paul says in 1 Cor 1:22, “the Jews demand a signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles.” Both groups have rejected Him.

12But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:
·         But there are some who believe that Jesus is God. Who receive Him into their hearts, and to those true believers He gave the gift of adoption.
·         True believers are children of God. Heirs of all God has, joint heirs with Christ.
·         As many as received Him… are those who believe in His name.

13who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
·         When I wanted to have a child, I made the decision to, and after awhile our child was born.
·         When you made a decision for Christ, you were adopted, and justified. But what caused you to make this decision?
·         It was God who regenerated you, caused you to be born again. God acted creatively upon you to put the machinery of your heart right. The same God that creature the universe, created in you a new heart. It was He who caused you, but nothing, except His love, caused Him.

14And 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.
·         Jesus put on humanity. Imagine the president putting on a butler suit and becoming a servant to you tonight. He would not cease to be the president, but he would add to his office humility and servitude. In a way, Christ did that.
·         We beheld Him… therefore the apostles are eye witnesses to His glory.

15John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ ”
·         He was before me… John is saying that Jesus is greater than all, for He was here before anything else was.

16And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. 17For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
·         Christ saves us from the curse of the law and rule keeping.

18No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.
·         The God that could not feel pain put on suffering. The one who could not die, put on mortality. The God that could not changed, grew. The uncaused maker of the universe was born in a manger.
·         This is the God we worship. In trinity, in unity, in power, in might, in grace, in truth, He is boundless.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

What does Galatians 3:20 mean?

Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.
 
In context, Paul is arguing the inferiority of the law, and the superiority of grace. Justification is by grace alone, not by grace plus works, because the law is inferior, it only condemns, it does not provide enough to live off. (10-12)
For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.”Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.”
Paul then argues the promise aspect of the Covenant was superior to the law because the promise includes the Gentiles. (13-14).
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.
Now a clever Judiazer might come along and argue that the promise was superseded by the law, since the law came later. Paul cuts this off. (15-19)
To give a human example, brothers even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise. Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by a mediator.
So given the context of what has come before, in verse 20 Paul must be saying something to the effect of the law is inferior to the promise. Unfortunately that doesn't narrow it down much.

Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.
 
Possible Meaning One
Hypothetical antagonistic Judiazer is back to argue that the law did indeed amend the promise to Abraham. "Ah yes," he would say "the mediator is present during the giving of the law, which means both parties are present, therefore the agreement is open for modification. The law is indeed superior to the promise."
Verse 20 is Paul cutting that argument down by affirming their premise "Yes a mediator is not a mediator of one, both parties are present" but denying their conclusion "but remember God is one with His son so He wouldn't negotiate against the will of the Father. The law remains inferior to the promise."

What I like about this argument: Paul has been anticipating the judiazer arguing, v19 for example, "What was the purpose of the law" v17 "And this I say," and it would make sense he keeps this going.

Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.

Possible Meaning Two
Moses is the mediator spoken of here as in verse 19, and this is yet another argument stacked up to prove the inferiority of the law. In this case the law is weak because it requires another party on which to depend, a mediator, because a mediator is not a mediator of just one, while the promise does not need anyone else, because God is one. Therefore, because the promise stands alone and the law doesn't, the law is inferior.

What I like about this argument: It ties back strongly into v18 "God gave it to Abraham by a promise."   

Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.

Possible Meaning Three
Lock's view is that the Gentiles are chiefly what Paul has in mind. On Sinai Moses mediated the relationship between God and Israel, but the Gentiles, who were included in the promise to Abraham, are left out.
Therefore "a mediator is not a mediator of one" is a denial that Moses is a mediator with legal standing to re-write the agreement, because he only stands for one party, Israel, and not both parties. Moses therefore cannot really be a mediator, even though God is there, so he’s the one that counts for His side. Therefore, the law cannot supersede the promise, because Moses has no standing, even though God is present.

What I like about this argument: It lines up very nicely with the larger context of justification by faith, and the Gentiles being Abrahams sons in v14. It also lines up very well with Romans 3:29-30 "Is he the God of the Jews only? Is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: Seeing one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.”

Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.

Possible Meaning Four

Hypothetical Judiazer is at it again, "If Christ is the mediator for humanity against God, then how can He be God?" In saying verse twenty Paul merely affirms the Trinitarian view that Jesus is both a mediator, and yet at the same time God.

What I like about this argument: It's simple.

Anything I missed?