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Dear Brother,

I have gone through the article. I don’t know who has written this, but after reading the
lines, it was very clear that the person has a very shallow understanding of Bible and its
Theology. Lines could give me an impression about the person as follows:-

1. He might have gone through several failures in his personal life, which might
have made him sick towards Theism (God)
2. He don’t have a proper study about Bible, but just got some garbage from the
internet sites to glare on to the Biblical truths.
3. He is a person, who is searching the treasure in the darkness without the torch.
4. He is not a constructive critic but a destructive critic because he could not
maintain the ethics of criticism.
5. His attempt is not to understand the truth of Jesus Christ but it is just to beat
around the bushes for entertainment, and so in actual he don’t deserve an answer
to his foolish arguments, but then its my ultimate responsibility to put the truth in
front of him, expecting a repentance in his life, so that he may also come into the
saving grace of Lord Jesus Christ.
6. Still God loves him…. And expecting a comeback to God’s Kingdom

Now the precise answers of the arguments:-

1. Bible alone is truth:-

Yes, Christianity is the one true religion. That may sound awfully dogmatic and narrow-minded, but the
simple truth is that Christianity is the only true religion. Jesus said that He alone was the way to the Father
(John 14:6), that He alone revealed the Father (Matt. 11:27; Luke 10:22). Christians do not go around
saying Christianity is the only way because they are arrogant, narrow-minded, stupid, and judgmental.
They do so because they believe what Jesus said. They believe in Jesus, who claimed to be God (John
8:58; Exodus 3:14), who forgave sins (Mark 2:5; Luke 5:20; 7:48), and who rose from the dead (Luke
24:24-29; John 2:19f). Jesus said that He was the only way. Jesus is unique. He was either telling the
truth, He was crazy, or He was a liar. But since everyone agrees that Jesus was a good man, how then
could He be both good and crazy, or good and a liar? He had to be telling the truth. He is the only way.

Christianity is not just a religion; it is a relationship with God. It is a trusting in Jesus and what He did on
the cross (1 Cor. 15:1-4), not on what you can do for yourself (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Buddha didn't rise from the dead, nor did Confucius or Zoroaster. Muhammad didn't fulfill detailed
prophecy. Alexander the Great didn't raise the dead or heal the sick. And though there is far less reliable
information written about them, people believed in them.
The scripture is right when it says in 1 Pet. 2:7-8, "This precious value, then, is for you who believe. But
for those who disbelieve, 'The stone which the builders rejected, this became the very corner stone,' and, 'A
stone of stumbling and a rock of offense'; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to
this doom they were also appointed." (NASB).

The Mathematical Odds of Jesus Fulfilling Prophecy

"The following probabilities are taken from Peter Stoner in Science Speaks (Moody Press, 1963) to show
that coincidence is ruled out by the science of probability. Stoner says that by using the modern science of
probability in reference to eight prophecies, ‘we find that the chance that any man might have lived down
to the present time and fulfilled all eight prophecies is 1 in 1017." That would be 1 in
100,000,000,000,000,000. In order to help us comprehend this staggering probability, Stoner illustrates it
by supposing that "we take 1017 silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas. They will cover all of the
state two feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly, all over the
state. Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one silver
dollar and say that this is the right one. What chance would he have of getting the right one? Just the same
chance that the prophets would have had of writing these eight prophecies and having them all come true in
any one man."

Stoner considers 48 prophecies and says, "We find the chance that any one man fulfilled all 48 prophecies
to be 1 in 10157, or 1 in 10,00,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,
000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,
000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 000,000,000." 1

The estimated number of electrons in the universe is around 1079. It should be quite evident that Jesus did
not fulfill the prophecies by accident. He was who He said He was: the only way (John 14:6).

Origin of the Bible - The Truth About Translations

To many, the origin of the Bible can be summed-up as follows: "A mere translation of a translation
of an interpretation of an oral tradition" - and therefore, a book with no credibility or connection to
the original texts. Actually, the foregoing statement is a common misunderstanding of both
Christians and non-christians alike. Translations such as the King James Version are derived
from existing copies of ancient manuscripts such as the Hebrew Masoretic Text (Old Testament)
and the Greek Textus Receptus (New Testament), and are not translations of texts translated
from other interpretations. The primary differences between today's Bible translations are merely
related to how translators interpret a word or sentence from the original language of the text
source (Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek).

Origin of the Bible - The Reliability of Ancient Manuscripts


Another challenge against the origin of the Bible is the reliability of the manuscripts from which
today's Bibles are translated. Remarkably, there is widespread evidence for absolute reliability.
There are more than 14,000 existing Old Testament manuscripts and fragments copied
throughout the Middle East, Mediterranean and European regions that agree dramatically with
each other. In addition, these texts agree with the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, which
was translated from Hebrew to Greek some time during the 3rd century BC. The Dead Sea
Scrolls, discovered in Israel in the 1940's and 50's, also provide phenomenal evidence for the
reliability of the ancient transmission of the Jewish Scriptures (Old Testament) before the arrival
of Jesus Christ. The Hebrew scribes who copied the Jewish Scriptures dedicated their lives to
preserving the accuracy of the holy books. These scribes went to phenomenal lengths to insure
manuscript reliability. They were highly trained and meticulously observed, counting every letter,
word and paragraph against master scrolls. A single error would require the immediate
destruction of the entire text.

The manuscript evidence for the New Testament is also dramatic, with over 5,300 known copies
and fragments in the original Greek, nearly 800 of which were copied before 1000 AD. Some
manuscript texts date to the early second and third centuries, with the time between the original
autographs and our earliest existing copies being a remarkably short 60 years. Interestingly, this
manuscript evidence far surpasses the manuscript reliability of other ancient writings that we trust
as authentic every day. Look at these comparisons: Julius Caesar's "The Gallic Wars" (10
manuscripts remain, with the earliest one dating to 1,000 years after the original autograph); Pliny
the Younger's "History" (7 manuscripts; 750 years elapsed); Thucydides' "History" (8 manuscripts;
1,300 years elapsed); Herodotus' "History" (8 manuscripts; 1,300 years elapsed); Sophocles (193
manuscripts; 1,400 years); Euripides (9 manuscripts; 1,500 years); and Aristotle (49 manuscripts;
1,400 years).

Homer's "Iliad", the most renowned book of ancient Greece, has 643 copies of manuscript
support. In those copies, there are 764 disputed lines of text, as compared to 40 lines in all the
New Testament manuscripts (Norman L. Geisler and William E. Nix, A General Introduction to
the Bible, Moody, Chicago, Revised and Expanded 1986, p. 367). In fact, many people are
unaware that each of William Shakespeare's 37 plays (written in the 1600's) have gaps in the
surviving manuscripts, forcing scholars to "fill in the blanks." This pales in textual comparison with
the over 5,300 copies and fragments of the New Testament that, together, assure us that
nothing's been lost. In fact, all of the New Testament except eleven verses can be reconstructed
from the writings of the early church fathers in the second and third centuries. (A General
Introduction to the Bible, Ch. 24.)

Origin of the Bible - The Power of Prophecy


The origin of the Bible is God. It is a historical book that is backed by archeology, and a prophetic
book that has lived up to all of its claims thus far. The Bible is God's letter to humanity collected
into 66 books written by 40 divinely inspired writers over a period of over 1,600 years. The claim
of divine inspiration may seem dramatic (or unrealistic to some), but a careful and honest study of
the biblical scriptures will show them to be true. Powerfully, the Bible validates its divine
authorship through fulfilled prophecies. An astonishing 668 prophecies have been fulfilled and
none have ever been proven false (three are unconfirmed). God decided to use prophecy as His
primary test of divine authorship, and an honest study of biblical prophecy will compellingly show
the supernatural origin of the Bible. Skeptics must ask themselves, "Would the gambling industry
even exist if people could really tell the future?" Again, no other holy book comes even close to
the Bible in the amount of evidence supporting its credibility, authenticity and divine authorship.
IS THE BIBLE AUTHENTIC?
Why should we believe that the Bible is God's Word and not something concocted by
humans?

Below is a table containing information on some important volumes of historical literature:

SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE

How do we gauge the authenticity of an historical document?

• Firstly, we need to find out the time span elapsed from when it happened/ when it
was written, to when the first copy was found. Obviously, the shorter the time
span, the less room for error and corruption of the original story by folklore or by
fraudulent/ falsified copies.
• Secondly, we need to find out how many original manuscripts there were. The
more manuscripts there are concerning the same story, especially when written at
the same time, but in different geographic locations, obviously adds to the
integrity/ authenticity of the document.

This is briefly how historians and scientists evaluate a document's authenticity.

• From the table above, we see that the earliest existing documents concerning Roman
history were found 900 years (almost 1 whole millennium!!) after the events happened,
and that only 20 original copies exist. Yet, how is it that we all believe
without question that Roman Historical literature (Julius Caesar etc)
IS the factual Truth?
• Consider then that the Bible manuscripts date from only 30 -150 years after they
happened, and that more than 30 000 original manuscripts exist!! By comparison then,
Roman History becomes a mere 'fairy tale' when compared to the Bible for authenticity,
accuracy and integrity.

The late Professor FF Bruce was one of the world’s foremost Textual History critics (and a
non-Christian) at the time that he said:
“The interval then between the dates of original composition and the earliest extant evidence
becomes so small as to be in fact negligible, especially when compared to the dates of
academically accepted Historical documents such as those detailing Roman History. The last
foundation for any doubt that the scripts of the Old and New Testaments have come down
to us substantially as they were written has now been removed. Both the authenticity and
the general integrity of these works may now be finally established and proved, probably
to be the most authentic historical documents known to man.” !!

One therefore has to go beyond mere skepticism about the authenticity of these Books – in fact,
anyone who denies that these books are factual and genuine, must therefore doubt all historical
literature written in the last 3 millennia, because there is not a single historical document that
has anywhere near the scientific credentials that the Bible has as being authentic.
Having established therefore, according to irrefutable scientific and academic evidence that the
Bible is, as far as we can possibly prove, authentic, we need to examine its contents.

• On an academic footing then, we have to accept (regardless of how skeptical we as


humans are by nature) the fact that what it says, really happened, based on its
authenticity, and verified by scholars as factual history.

What the Bible actually says (to cut a long story short!) is that it’s contents are the Word of
God, that God created man and a son called Jesus who was God incarnate, who walked on
water, who parted the seas, who made men who were born without eyes see, who turned water
to wine, who fed thousands with 5 fish, who raised the dead, who performed so many incredible
miracles that really only a God could perform and who selflessly died for man’s fallen nature.
Many of these facts are verified by other historical documents of the same period, including much
Hebraic literature and even the Qu’ran.

PROPHECY

• About 30% of the Bible's contents concern prophecy - foretelling the future.
o There are 371 predictions/prophecies in the Old Testament about the Messiah
– all written at least 600-800 years before Jesus lived and most of which were
fulfilled by Jesus! How is this possible without God’s intervention?
o We have to admit to ourselves too, that if Jesus was real, if He was who He
claimed to be, then we have to pretty darn stupid not to believe in Him and
accept His promised gift of everlasting life through Him dying on the cross for us.
It sounds all hocus-pocus, airy-fairy stuff, but this God of ours is Sovereign, all-
powerful, all capable and all consuming. How can we, as mere mortals, even
begin to understand and grasp the enormity of GOD? Yet, He has provided for
us a way, within our mortal scope of intelligence and understanding, that we can
understand and believe – His Living Word.
o He has warned us personally throughout His Word of the consequences of our
pride and skepticism: if we reject His awesome promise of salvation through
His Son, if we reject His love, grace and power, we will burn in Hell forever, with
much “wailing and gnashing of teeth, eternal suffering, travail and torment” – this
is the Bible’s description of hell. (Being a dentist, the gnashing of teeth didn’t
sound too appealing!)
Matthew 13: 37 He answered, "The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of
Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the
kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows
them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are
angels. 40 "As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the
end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed
out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will
throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and
gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of
their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

If you cannot believe these much evidences, you are lost….very pitty on you sir…..

2. ORIGIN SIN

Original Sin: Why Creation and Evolution Cannot Coexist in Christianity

“Original Sin” is one of the core theological reasons that a Christian cannot embrace the theory of
evolution. Regardless of the scientific issues that now plague the evolutionary belief system, the
whole message of Christianity starts with mankind’s fall from paradise into death through Adam’s
sin. With evolution, we envision millions and millions of years of death, decay and disease before
Adam even came on the scene. However, this picture is not consistent with the “very good” earth
created by God. More importantly, as one can thoroughly investigate, death before sin is
theologically inconsistent with the rest of Christian doctrine.

Original Sin: An Atheist Evolutionist Got it Right


“Original Sin” and its relation to evolutionary theory was discussed by an outspoken evolutionist,
Richard Bozarth, in the American Atheist magazine. The following excerpts come from “The
Meaning of Evolution” (September 1979, p. 30):

"Christianity is - must be! - totally committed to the special creation as described in


Genesis, and Christianity must fight with its full might against the theory of evolution. And
here is why.

In Romans 5:12, we read that “sin entered the world through one man, and through sin -
death, and thus death has spread through the whole human race because everyone has
sinned.”

The whole justification of Jesus' life and death is predicated on the existence of Adam
and the forbidden fruit he and Eve ate. Without the original sin, who needs to be
redeemed? Without Adam's fall into a life of constant sin terminated by death, what
purpose is there to Christianity? None.

Even a high school student knows enough about evolution to know that nowhere in the
evolutionary description of our origins does there appear an Adam or an Eve or an Eden
or a forbidden fruit. Evolution means a development from one form to the next to meet
the ever-changing challenges from an ever-changing nature. There is no fall from a
previous state of sublime perfection.
Without Adam, without the original sin, Jesus Christ is reduced to a man with a mission
on a wrong planet!"

Original Sin: A Genetic Defect we all Share


Original Sin is the genetic defect we all inherited from Adam and Eve. Through this genetic defect
we all inherited death -- both physical and spiritual – and were separated from God. Through
Jesus Christ, we all have the ability to conquer this genetic defect – sin and death – and be
reconnected to God eternally. Paradise was the original state of Adam’s garden on God’s “very
good” earth, not millions and millions of years of death, decay, disease, and naturalistic trial and
error. Jesus Christ picked the right planet – and thank God for that!

3. REDEMPTION & SALVATION

Before we can understand the Biblical concept of Redemption as it applies to Jesus Christ
and His work on the cross, we must understand the basic meaning that the word brought
to the mind of most ancient people. Like a lot of words within today’s Church,
Redemption has come to be used as a specifically religious term, but in ancient times it
was primarily secular - a word that was in everyday usage - and, then, secondarily, it was
used to describe God’s dealings with mankind, whether we think of ‘God’ as the Person
revealed to us in the Bible or of other belief systems.

Although the use of the word has largely gone out of fashion in common everyday
language, the concepts are still very much with us, but the word doesn’t conjure up any
complete understanding of the concepts behind the word.

Redemption, then, had four basic characteristics

a. Bondage

Something or someone was in bondage.

The freedom that was once available to them was non-existent or, at least, extremely
restricted, so that a return to the original state of affairs was required for them to
experience ‘freedom’, even though that ‘free’ state may still have had limitations
imposed that had previously existed before the bondage came about. That is to say,
redemption does not win absolute freedom but is specific in its work.

There have been many religions through the ages who’ve seen their earthly circumstances
as being restrictions upon the freedom of expressing themselves, of demonstrating the
‘real’ them. Some have even gone so far as to end this life suddenly in order that they
might have, what they suppose to be, a freer life elsewhere.

But, when you think about it, all men and women have some form of restriction placed
upon them whether self-made (fidelity to the marriage vow, only having the time
available to do one thing and not another) or obligatory (we can’t live forever or fly to the
moon).
Death brings no real solution if, when you enter it, you find yourself subjected to
restrictions imposed upon you by the One who created all things. Far better that, in this
life, we restrict ourselves to be pleasing to Him and then find release and freedom for
eternity when we die.

In secular usage of the term bondage, though, we’re primarily thinking about the bondage
that’s a restriction placed upon an individual’s freedom in this life, usually by other men
and women, but which also contains the possibility that the bondage may be removed by
a completed work of redemption.

b. Redeemer

One who would get involved in the liberation of what was in bondage.

The redeemer could even be the one that was in bondage, as we shall see, but usually it
was another, independent person. The redeemer is, in more common terms a ‘buyer’ or a
‘purchaser’ who must pay a price (the ransom - see the next point) to secure the release of
an object or person. But we shouldn’t think that, for instance, the purchasing of an item in
a department store or corner shop is a demonstration of redemption for there’s no
freedom that the item is being brought into that existed before it was offered for sale.

The price paid by the redeemer secures a freedom that was in existence before the
bondage was imposed upon it - this can’t be said of articles for sale.

c. Ransom

A price paid by the redeemer to cancel the bondage that existed.

It was usually a ‘monetary’ payment but it could be material objects (such as quantities of
certain crops or land - the type of monetary system that we now have rarely existed in
those days) or even, on rare occasions, a person’s life.

In ancient times, human sacrifice played a major part of the religion of cultures who had
a distorted concept of the character of God and who used to offer sacrifice as the ultimate
price to secure favours from their gods, more especially when the harvest or crops failed
and when it was understood to be a sign that the gods were displeased with their
worshippers.

In that way, so it was thought, the blood sacrifice (the ransom) bought for them a release
from the anger of the god and a freedom that had previously been experienced.

d. Freedom

What had been a bondage was removed and the individual person or object was restored
into its original freedom, its primary state. It didn’t bring a newness of situation but a
restoration.

This is quite important. Though we may see many people throughout the world being
brought into situations that are a better expression of freedom, redemption primarily
concerned itself with the restoration of what was once available, not of bringing about a
newness of experience that had previously been unknown.

However, when we go on to look at the redemption that has been secured through Christ
on the cross, the fulness of the freedom available will be seen to be that which existed
only for the first man and woman on the earth, before the first sin was committed. But,
even so, aspects of that freedom will be restored that had been lost to individuals in their
own lives.

.)(.

Summarising, then, the action of the redeemer by paying the ransom effected freedom
from bondage, a release. Here we have the concept of redemption in one short sentence
using the four keywords that are characteristic of it.

These characteristics are evident in the following examples in section 2 - taken from
ancient times - and which the people understood as accomplishing redemption.

2. Forms of redemption in ancient times

We shall be returning to all these examples of manumission under part d and there,
hopefully, show how the cross of Jesus Christ has paid the price (the ransom) for each of
them. For now, though, it’s only necessary to show the differing forms that redemption
took in the ancient world before we look at how the Bible talks about the cross of Christ
being a type of redemption.

a. Manumission (the freeing of slaves)

i. In the Old Testament


Lev 25:47-55

When a Jew became poor and sold himself into slavery, one of his brothers (and various
other members of the family) had the right to redeem him out of slavery with a price that
was based upon a consideration of how long it was until the next year of Jubilee. If the
slave prospered, he also had the right to redeem himself (see my notes on ‘Jubilee’ for an
extensive explanation of this year).

Even if the slave wasn’t to be redeemed, upon the next Jubilee, the slave had to be set
free with no ransom being paid (this shall be looked at under the subject - very simply,
‘Jubilee’ referred to every fiftieth year in the Jewish calendar when a special type of
release took place).
Therefore, the price that the master was to pay for the initial purchase of the slave would
have been estimated according to the number of years that were still to pass before that
year.

ii. In the Greek world

In the Greek world, slaves (whether born in slavery or bought into it) were allowed to
buy their freedom via the intermediary of a pagan god. Having saved up the ‘redemption-
value’, the slave would deposit the money in a pagan temple which would then use it to
buy that slave from his master on behalf of the god of the temple.

The slave was bought ‘for freedom’ (this being a translation of the technical term that
was used) and not to become just another menial servant in the temple service - this was
expressly stated when the transaction took place.

Inscriptions within the temples themselves have survived which are records of such
transactions. One such inscription is reproduced in Morris and runs

‘Date. Apollo the Pythian bought from Sosibius of Amphissa, for freedom, a female
slave, whose name is Nicaea, by race a Roman, with a price of 3 minae of silver and a
half-mina....The purchase...Nicaea hath committed unto Apollo, for freedom. Names of
witnesses follow’

Of course, manumission wasn’t a compulsory obligation, some preferring to stay under


the protection of their master, but many slaves availed themselves of their right to redeem
themselves ‘for freedom’ with a ransom price.

Having been ‘bought’ by a god, there were certain duties that the freed slave was then
obligated to perform on certain occasions, but that’s not to say that their slavery was
transferred to the god of the temple.

b. Prisoners of war (POWs)

When war was ended, the victors would carry away captive prisoners of war - warriors
and rulers of the opposing side captured in battle.

Many of these POWs were put to forced labour, becoming slaves within the foreign
nation. However, others, by their very appearance, weren’t suited to the menial drudgery
of service for they were the rulers and royalty, the leaders and older ruling men.

To increase the spoils of war, the victors would make it known in the opposing camp that
they had ‘such and such’ a person and were willing to release him for a certain sum. This
sum was known as the ransom.

If the losing camp was able to raise this amount (and it depended entirely on how well
they thought that the captive was thought of in their home territory as to how much they
would ask), they swapped it for their comrade.

He was ‘redeemed’ out of the enemy’s hands to be a free citizen in his own land.

c. The ox owner
Ex 21:28-32

If an ox had been accustomed to gore in the past, but the owner hadn’t taken any action to
remove the possibility that it might take human life, then, if it should kill, the owner of
the ox was to be held accountable for the life of the one that the ox had killed - the
punishment of death rested upon him.

However, a ransom might be laid upon him (even though this was not obligatory - the
first consideration was death) and it was to be paid.

Though it doesn’t say who exactly it was to be paid to, we imagine that it must have been
some relative or other who was either directly related to the deceased person or who was
the head of the family or tribal unit. In this way, the ox owner redeemed himself from the
condemnation of death that rested upon him - he was as free as he was before the incident
took place.

d. The inheritance
Lev 25:25-28

When a Jew became poor and sold his inheritance (which had been given to him as an
everlasting inheritance), his next of kin had the right to redeem the property with a price
based upon the time left until the next year of Jubilee (see above and also the subject
‘Jubilee’). If the Jew prospered whose property it was, he had the right to redeem it
himself.

The actual Scripture lays an obligation upon the brother and the individual. Though
we’ve spoken of both of them above as ‘having the right’ to redeem the land, the passage
actually says that the brother ‘shall come and redeem’ (Lev 25:25) and the subsequent
instruction to the Jew who sold it doesn’t appear to give him any choice in the matter
(Lev25:26-27).

The reason was that property wasn’t exchangeable absolutely but was an eternal
inheritance to be freed to its rightful owner upon payment of the ransom as soon as that
ransom was able to be paid or, if it had not been ransomed before, at the year of Jubilee.

Chart

The chart below shows, in table form, the forms of redemption as detailed in section 2. In
each example, a single label summarising the type of bondage is written in block capitals.
3. Redemption in Christ

Having seen how the ancients understood the concept of redemption, we now look at
what the Bible talks of as the redemption we have in Christ before returning to the last
section to see how Christ has paid the price for each situation previously described.

a. Bondage to sin

i. The choice to sin

When Cain became angry that the offering he’d brought to the Lord had been
unacceptable whereas the offering of his brother Abel was accepted, God spoke directly
to him warning him (Gen 4:6-7) that
‘...sin is crouching at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it’

The language is that of sin being like a wild animal, waiting at the door of Cain’s life,
which must be tamed and mastered. But the story of mankind both here and in subsequent
generations is that we’ve never mastered it. The same is true today as it was all those
years ago - when man has found himself in a situation where he gets angry because one
person has more favour than another, the normal reaction is to plot to ‘put down’ the
other. Though only on very rare occasions would most of us scheme murder, the mind is
the battle zone where such actions are plotted (Mtw 5:21-22).

There’s a freedom of choice in every sin committed - even though mankind has the
resources (the will and the determination) to take authority over sin, we often choose to
submit our will to it and so become its slave, bringing more sin into the world by the
outworking of our own free choice.

Written to believers but equally applicable to all men and women, Rom 6:16 reads

‘If you yield yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are the slaves of the one whom
you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to
righteousness’

When we submit our wills to the way of sin, it becomes our master and we its slave. It’s
not enough to simply say just that we are by nature sinners (Cp Mark 7:15 - the ‘sinful
nature’ or ‘flesh’ was dealt with by Jesus on the cross when we were crucified with Him -
see also my notes on Baptism for an explanation of Rom 6:6), but that even when we
have a free choice, we sin.

Just as a slave is one who obeys the will of a master, so a sinner is one who obeys the will
of sin. Sin becomes a person’s master because it has its way in a person’s life - that is, a
person chooses sin’s will for themselves.

This is a voluntary slavery and nothing that’s forced upon us. Even though we like to
think of ourselves as victims of circumstance and plead that we had no choice in the
matter but to ‘sin’, the real crux is that, in every circumstance, we were unwilling to pay
the consequences that would have been brought upon us if we had chosen the ‘right way’,
if we had chosen righteousness.

ii. Facing up to the reality

If we have the Law (that is, if we are ‘religious’, if we have a belief system and a life
that’s based upon even some laws and regulations that are Biblical) we do not keep it
(Rom 2:21-24). Even people who’ve never read the Bible and do not therefore know
what God has said, have a ‘morality’ that they like to think that they live up to - but of
which they often fall short.

In prison, where we would think that most people have no morals, there’s still a form of
moral code in the life of even the grossest individual (in the world’s eyes). But, still, what
little we think we are, we fail to be.

But, further than this, if we don’t have the Law (if we have no recognised moral code by
which we live our lives), even the ‘light’ we perceive about God we don’t live up to
(Rom 1:18-21ff). When individuals look around themselves and perceive what’s plainly
evident to them, they still suppress that truth and replace it by an image that doesn’t
resemble either the nature that we were created in or the nature of God (which, when all’s
said and done, are one and the same).

So, Paul can say with conviction (Rom 3:23 - in one of his ‘greatest hits’!) that

‘...all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’

and that (Rom 3:9)

‘...we are all under the power of sin’

Man’s great problem is not that he’s living in bondage but that he won’t accept that he’s
in bondage.

When Jesus spoke to the Pharisees in the Temple at the Feast of Tabernacles about the
truth setting them free (John 8:31-34), they retorted with the statement (v.33)

‘...we are descendants of Abraham, and have never been in bondage to anyone...’

not realising the bondage to sin that Jesus had in mind. Therefore, He replied by pointing
out (v.34) that

‘...everyone who continues in [so the meaning] sin is a slave to sin’

By their reaction to Jesus’ words it’s obvious that the Jews present refused to
acknowledge the truth about themselves as individuals and corporately as a nation. But
the scenario is not one that just belongs to ‘then’ - each of us would like to see Jesus’
teaching as pointing to ‘him’ or ‘her’ but certainly not to ‘me’ or ‘us’ because that
convicts us of the situation that we’re in and begins to wake us up to the fact that we need
to change. Johntask writes

‘Man’s greatest need...is to know what is his greatest need’

That is, man needs to face up to the reality of his dilemma and not to rely upon any false
hopes or ideals, neither to mask the truth of his situation and try to rely upon false words,
lies and deceit.

Some people rely on doing good (hoping that somehow their good deeds may outweigh
the evil they do) or even on not being as bad as another (and we can always find some
poor bloke who’s a greater sinner than we are) - but all such arguments are lacking in a
recognition of individual human responsibility, and lacking in a dependence upon the
work of Christ.

Man’s dilemma, then, is not just that he’s subject to the bondage of sin, a bondage that he
cannot permanently break free from, but that it’s necessary for him to acknowledge it
before Christ who’s able to minister redemption to him in the situation.

The work of the Holy Spirit of ‘conviction of sin’ is of primary importance as a


forerunner to a person being ‘born again’ - man’s response to God’s work of conviction
must be repentance, a turning away from sin (see my notes on ‘Repentance’) but this can
only be achieved if there’s an acknowledgement of that individual’s state.

b. Impossibility and promise

In the examples in section 2, we saw that in OT times there were instances when a man
was able to redeem both himself and his possessions out of bondage. With regard to sin,
however, this is an impossibility even though Judaism tried to obtain it by works of the
Law (Rom 9:30-32).

Ps 49:7-9 tells us that

‘...no man can redeem the life of another, or give to God the price of his life. For the
ransom of his life is costly and can never suffice that he should continue to live on
forever and never see the pit’

It hardly seems necessary to quote any further Scriptures, this being unambiguous and
straightforward - though there may be occurrences where a man may redeem himself on
earth by paying a price to another man for something that has happened, when we come
to look at our relationship with God, there’s nothing that man can pay that will redeem
him from the sentence that hangs over him.

But, if there was no possibility of self-redemption from sin, there was in the OT the
promise that God would redeem His creation from out of sin’s bondage that had been
inflicted upon it.

So, further on in the psalm previously quoted, we read the sons of Korah stating quite
unequivocally (Ps 49:15) that

‘God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for He will receive me’

even though just how God is going to do it is not explained to us. Nevertheless, what they
felt was going to certainly happen, has now been made known (Heb 11:39-40).

And in Hosea 13:14 (quoted this way in the NT in I Cor 15:55) we read God saying
‘I shall ransom them from the power of Sheol, I shall redeem them from death. O Death,
where are your plagues? O Sheol, where is your destruction?’

These verses speak of a redemption from the grave, from death, and don’t directly refer
to sin - but (I Cor 15:56)

‘the sting of death is sin...’

and (Rom 5:12)

‘...sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to
all men because all men sinned’

Death is spoken of as a direct consequence of sin in the Romans’ verse and we find the
same in James 1:14-15 which states that

‘...sin when it is full grown brings forth death’

The promise of a redemption from the bondage of sin necessarily deals with death, for
it’s in death that sin finally triumphs and keeps us eternally absent from the presence of
God. But, more than this, if sin is to be defeated, the curse of physical death must be
broken (Gen 3:19).

To defeat death, therefore, sin must be dealt with.

c. The Redeemer and the ransom

In this section, we’re going to simply look at the passages that use redemption imagery to
speak of the death of Christ and so begin to understand how the work of the cross can be
taken to have been a ransom paid that’s acceptable to God that frees men and women
from sin and its consequences.

There are three words that are spoken of as being the ransom (blood, death and life) and
we’ll list these first (my italics throughout) before going on to discuss their relevance.

i. Blood
Jesus shed His blood.

Eph 1:7-8 - ‘In [Christ] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our
trespasses [that is, sin], according to the riches of His grace which He lavished upon us’
Rev 5:9 - ‘...[the Lamb] was slain and by Thy blood didst ransom men for God from
every tribe and tongue and people and nation...’
I Peter 1:18-19 - ‘...you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers
[that is, legalistic observance/Oral law = self-redemption]...with the precious blood of
Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot’
Acts 20:28 - ‘...the Church of God which He purchased with the blood of His own Son’
ii. Death
Jesus died on the cross.

Heb 9:15 - ‘...a death has occurred which redeems them from the transgressions under the
first covenant [that is, the people before Christ came]’

The penalty of sin, under the Law, is death - spiritual and physical. Jesus took that death
upon Himself, so paying the price for our freedom.

iii. Life
Jesus gave His life.

Mark 10:45 - ‘...the Son of man came...to give His life as a ransom for many’

.)(.

‘Blood’, ‘Death’ and ‘Life’ are the three words that are used to describe the sacrificial
offering of Christ to God on the cross. ‘He shed His blood’, ‘He gave His life’ and ‘He
died on our behalf’ are three phrases which are synonymous - if you lay down your life
by the shedding of your blood, you die. They’re so integrated in their meaning that we’re
virtually saying the same thing no matter which one of the three words that we choose to
use.

Jesus owned no land or property that we know of (though, as head of Joseph’s family,
there may have been a small allocation of land where they grew some crops), neither did
He have any riches or personal possessions that were of any great worth, so He gave the
one thing that He did have in exchange for mankind’s salvation - Himself.

We read, therefore, that (Titus 2:14) Jesus

‘...gave Himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity’

Jesus had nothing else to give us but Himself. Jesus is both our ransom and our Redeemer
and, more than this, redemption is only found in Him even though we may try and find it
elsewhere and in different people who now exist or who have existed throughout history
(Rom 3:23-24, Acts 4:12).

Therefore, this believer’s claim is quite shocking in our modern society that likes to court
the favour of many gods and see in each and every religion a way to God that’s both
relevant and acceptable. The Bible says ‘not so’ and becomes offensive to a lot of its
readers.

On the cross, Jesus was made to be sin even though He knew no sin - He knew what sin
is but He knew no sin by experience, He hadn’t committed sin (II Cor 5:21).
When Jesus cried out (Mtw 27:45-46)

‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’

He was spiritually separated from the presence of God (Mtw 27:45-46), cut off out of the
land of the living (Isaiah 53:8), taking the punishment that our sin deserved and paying
the price that we should rightly have paid as a consequence of our sins.

Concluding, then, the fourfold concept of redemption that we looked at in section 1 can
be used to match the work of Christ on the cross as shown on the chart above as

Bondage - sin
Redeemer - Jesus
Ransom - The blood, death and life of Jesus
Freedom - From sin

We should note in closing that theologians throughout history have sought to theorise on
who the ransom (Jesus Christ) was paid to, many arriving at the conclusion that it was
satan.

But, while the Bible makes use of redemption imagery to explain one aspect of the
accomplishment of the cross, it makes no mention as to whom payment was made. ‘The
ransom was paid’ is all that the Scriptures tell us and, indeed, that’s all that can be said -
to go further is to stray into speculation that will draw us into error.

The question is very much like the question that’s also often asked about Jesus
concerning whether there was ever a possibility that, being God, He could have sinned.
But the question is invalid for all that the Bible tells us is that Jesus didn’t sin and we can
go no further than this.

d. Freedom

We must now go back to our original consideration of ancient examples of redemption


and see how the Bible says that the freedom obtainable through them was a type of that
which is now available in Christ.

To save repeating too much from the previous section, it may be advisable to quickly
reread the relevant definitions.

i. Manumission
Freedom from the rule of a master (sin)

Using the phraseology of the Greek world of slavery, Paul writes (Gal 5:1)

‘For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand fast therefore and do not submit yourselves
again to a yoke of slavery’
where the ‘yoke of slavery’ mentioned is a reference to the legalistic observance of a
written code - that is, self-redemption. Just as the pagan temple bought a slave ‘for
freedom’, so the imagery is the same - God has bought a people (I Cor 6:20, 7:23, II Peter
2:1) ‘for freedom’.

Yet, just as the Greek slave was obligated to perform certain duties and functions towards
the god that had bought him, so we also have become slaves of God, responding to His
love in Christ through our initial commitment to give our lives over to Him but also from
that moment onwards being obedient to the will of Him who bought us.

Therefore Paul writes (Rom 6:18) that

‘...having been set free from sin, [we] have become slaves of righteousness...’

and that (Rom 6:22)

‘...you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God...’

It’s very easy to read passages like these from a modern viewpoint and so fail to miss the
depth of what Paul is actually trying to convey to us. We can think of freedom in abstract
or real terms but don’t often make the connection that the culture that it sprang from
already had a procedure in place that Jesus became the ultimate solution for.

Though the NT writers never did campaign to abolish physical slavery in their day (and
they would probably not have got very far had they done so!), they nevertheless did
proclaim that the real slavery of mankind is to sin and that true freedom can only be
experienced when it’s dealt with through the cross of Christ.

So, if we’re ‘in Christ’, then we’re free from sin (the master) and free from any effort on
our part to redeem ourselves and yet, at the same time, obligated to be obedient to the
God who bought us out of that state.

ii. Prisoners of War (POWs)


Freedom from out of the hand of the enemy (sin)

Mankind’s enemy is sin, which separates us from the reality of God’s presence and
everything that goes with Him (Isaiah 59:2). It’s often asserted that satan is the real
enemy but, in the context in which we’re considering redemption, he shouldn’t be
misconstrued as such.

Having been set free by Christ from sin’s power and dominion over us, we’re back on
God’s side and back in God’s army, residing in His camp. When Jesus says (Luke 4:18)

‘He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives’


we should realise that the Greek word for ‘captive’ used here means ‘prisoner of war’,
not just someone who’s ‘bound up’ as can be seen from the use of the same root word in
Luke 21:24 (Vines comments that the literal meaning of the word is ‘one taken by the
spear’ which brings the meaning home to us with an economy of words).

Having said what we have about satan above, we should note that the enemy who takes
captive must also be satan but only in the secondary sense that he only has power over
mankind as a result of sin. Through temptation he entices us to sin that he may gain an
advantage and bring his authority and leading into our lives (see also under section iii
below) but, first and foremost, that which brings us into captivity is sin.

A POW is also a type of slave, so much of the teaching that comes under the previous
heading ‘manumission’ is equally applicable here.

iii. The Ox owner


Freedom from the condemnation of death (sin)

The ox owner stood under the condemnation of death because he knew that what was in
his possession had the potential to kill, but he took no action to prevent the event from
happening.

Death is not an experience to be welcomed if we live in sin (that is, if we continue to do


things that are offensive to God) for (I Cor 15:56)

‘the sting of death is sin’

But, because sin is dealt with in Jesus Christ, we who once were afraid to die need no
longer be fearful (Heb 2:14-15 - note that satan is out to destroy mankind. Temptation is
his weapon and a response from an individual produces sin which is his intention and
purpose. Therefore he can be said to have ‘the power of death’, for sin is death’s power.
By this verse, it has been taught that satan rules over a kingdom ‘below’ and that he
receives the souls that follow him upon death. However, this is a distortion of the Biblical
record which tells us that both satan and those who do what is displeasing to God shall be
rewarded in one and the same place with no distinction being made between the two -
Revelation chapter 20).

Therefore, being set free from the fear of physical death, we can echo the words of Paul
when he says (Rom 8:1) that

‘there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus...’

Why is this? Because we have redeemed ourselves by works of the Law? No, certainly
not!

The answer lies in Rom 8:22 where we read that


‘...the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and
death’

where the highlighted words refer us back to the legalistic observance of a written code,
self-redemption, that we found ourselves serving under before acknowledging that we
couldn’t redeem ourselves from the consequences of our own actions.

Because Christ has fulfilled the just requirements of the Law by taking the penalty upon
Himself, there no longer need rest the condemnation of death upon our lives. We can be
free to ‘look forward’ to the day of our death because its ‘sting’ (our sin) has been dealt
with.

iv. The inheritance


Freedom from an exile away from the inheritance (the result of sin)

It was by sin that we lost the inheritance in the garden. It’s by one Man’s obedience that
we receive back what is rightfully ours in Christ.

Col 1:12 tells us that

‘...the Father...has qualified us to share in the inheritance of saints in light’

and Heb 9:15 proclaims to us that

‘...those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance since a death has
occurred which redeems them...’

which, yet again, uses the redemption imagery to tell us a further truth about our new
position.

By dealing with sin, God ransomed us from the one thing that bound us into an existence
away from His presence in Christ. We’re free to participate in His eternal inheritance
with all the saints (where the Biblical meaning of the word ‘saint’ is ‘all who have been
called and set apart to serve God’ - that is, every believer), though the effect of previously
committed sin upon our lives needs also to be dealt with.

As Charles Wesley put it in the hymn ‘O for a thousand tongues to sing’

‘...He breaks the power of cancelled sin...’

and can be summarised as a fulfilment of the OT concept of the ‘Year of Jubilee’ (see the
study on ‘Jubilee’ for an exposition of this facet of Jesus’ work on the cross).

But it’s sin that lies as the foundation stone that needs dealing with in a person’s life by
Christ before the subsequent structure of bondage that has been built upon it can be dealt
with.

Conclusion

Concluding this study on redemption, we should realise not just that the Bible presents
Jesus as the Redeemer who pays Himself as the ransom to redeem mankind from the
bondage of sin but that, when the early Church tried to express the work of the cross in
realistic terms to the society in which they lived, they did so in language that was secular
and didn’t employ purely religious terms that were specifically christian and which the
ordinary man in the street would have failed to understand.

In each and every generation, the challenge of presenting the Gospel to society is not to
use language that’s largely ignorant of everyday English usage but to use words and
concepts that mean something to the normal man in the street.

4. SALVATION

DEFINITION AND NECESSITY OF SALVATION


sal•va•tion (sal vâ/shen), n. [ME. salvacioun; OFr. sauvation; L. salvatio < salvatus,
pp. of salvare, to save], 1. a saving or being saved; preservation from destruction; rescue.
2. a person or thing which is a means, cause, or source of preservation or rescue. 3. in
theology, spiritual rescue from sin and death; saving of the soul through the atonement of
Jesus; redemption.
In Christian doctrine, salvation is a rescue or deliverance of humanity from a
specific condition and from a specific destination. Salvation presumes that there
is a danger, jeopardy, peril or life threatening hazard from which rescue must be
accomplished on an imminent basis.

The CONDITION from which humanity must be rescued:

1. Separation from the Creator/God of humanity.


2. Such separation from the Creator/God occasioned by the sinful actions of
all humanity (by disobeying and ignoring the commands of the
Creator/God), both in congress and individually.

The DESTINATION from which humanity must be rescued::

1. The sinful human actions necessitate that the Creator/God pronounce a


judgment on all humanity as a punishment for those actions taken.
2. Such punishment being separation from God, and assignment in company
with Satan and all his followers in the region of Hell.
3. Such assignment to be eternal in nature, never to be reconsidered,
changed or revoked.
THE REASON FOR THE CONDITION OF HUMANITY
In Relation To The Federal Heads Of The Human Race - Adam and Eve.

1. God created Adam and Eve in the image of Himself.


Genesis 1:26-30; 2:7, 21-25
2. God created Adam and Eve with a moral nature, through which they were
responsible to obey the precepts of the Creator/God which were made
known to them.
A. They were to produce children - Genesis 1:28
B. They were to subdue the earth - Genesis 1:28
C. They were to rule over the earth - Genesis 1:28.
D. They were to eat from any tree in the garden - Genesis 2:16 EXCEPT
E. They were not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil -
Genesis 2:17
3. Adam and Eve disobeyed and transgressed the precepts and
commandments from God that had been made known to them:
A. Eve changed the words of God. Where God had commanded Adam
and Eve not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Eve told
the serpent that He had told them not to eat and not to touch it - Genesis
3.3
B. Eve ate the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,
disobeying the command of God for selfish reasons - Genesis 3:6
B. Adam ate the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,
disobeying the command of God for reasons unknown - Genesis 3:6
C. Adam and Eve had shame for their actions - Genesis 3:8
D. Adam and Eve became afraid of God because of their actions -
Genesis 3:10
E. Adam denied responsibility for his disobedience and blamed God and
his wife - Genesis 3:12
F. Eve denied responsibility for her disobedience and blaming deception
by the serpent - Genesis 3:13

In Relation To The Action Of God Against Adam and Eve

1. Both individuals were called to accountability by God for their actions,


were judged guilty for their actions and punished in accord with the law of
God - Genesis 3:11-13, 17, 23-24
2. Eve was given pain in childbirth - Genesis 3:16
3. Eve was placed in a subservient position to her husband, a position that
she had not occupied prior to her disobedience - Genesis 3:16
4. Adam was to work for his food - Genesis 3:17-19
5. Adam and Eve would spiritually and physically die - Genesis 3:19;
Romans 5:12
6. Adam and Eve were sent out of the garden of paradise - Genesis 3:23-24
In Relation To The Action Of God Against The Human Race Because Adam
and Eve Were The Federal Heads Of All Human Beings To Follow

1. The progeny of Adam were born in his likeness - Genesis 5:3-4


2. The condition of all human beings is connected with the sin of Adam and
Eve

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin,
and so death spread to all men, because all sinned...
Romans 5:12 (NAS)

When Adam and Eve were first created, they had a correct and righteous
relationship with God, because of which they had no need of salvation. As
a result of their sin, their relationship was severed and they needed a
redeemer in order to restore the relationship that they once had. Their
progeny, the human race, are born separated from God, not because of
sins committed, but by virtue of their paternity, being the children of Adam.
This separation is reason enough for humanity to also need a redeemer in
order to be reconciled back to God.

In Relation To The Action Of God Against The Human Race For Sins
Committed By Them Against His Commands All men have not sinned in the
action of Adam, but all men sin as a result of the action of Adam. It is the nature
of all human beings to sin, as a result of the fallen condition inherited by being
the children of Adam and Eve.

1. All human beings are sinners, by nature and by personal action, and none
are righteous. Some may sin to a greater or lesser degree, but all have
failed to attain to the standard of God, which is perfection of character,
spiritual righteousness and performance - Romans 3:9-10
2. All human beings are condemned by God, for sins committed, subject to
His divine judgment and wrath - Romans 3:10-20; Ephesians 2:3
3. All human beings are separated from God to the extent that they are not
children of God, but of the devil - 1 John 3:7-8; 1 John 5:19; John 8:44.
4. All human beings are captives and slaves to the sin in their lives, not being
able to overcome the power of sin by their own efforts - Romans 7; John
8:31-36;
5. The entire being of humanity is affected by sin: mental, moral, spiritual and
physical.
A. Mind: understanding is diminished - Ephesians 4:17-18 B. Heart: the
core being is corrupted - Jeremiah 17:9-10; Mark 7:20-23 C. Conscience:
is defiled - Titus 1:14-15 C. Spirit: is unclean - 2 Corinthians 7:1 D. Will: is
weak - Romans 7:18 D. Body: is defiled - Isaiah 59:3; James 3:6

THE "SALVATION" OR PROVISION PROVIDED BY GOD THAT WILL RE-


ESTABLISH AND BRING MAN INTO A RIGHT RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD IS
ACCOMPLISHED THROUGH THE ATONEMENT
THE ATONEMENT

1. The atonement is provided by Jesus Christ because of the nature of His


being.
He is both God and man, revealed in the incarnation, by which Jesus
Christ as deity, took on the nature of humanity in addition to His deity.

And the Word [Jesus Christ] became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory,
glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
The Holy Bible, John 1:14 (NAS)

While Christ as God was uncreated and eternal, the word "became" emphasizes Christ's
taking on humanity. This reality is surely the most profound ever because it indicates that
the infinite became finite; the Eternal was conformed to time; the Invisible became
visible; the supernatural One reduced Himself to the natural. In the incarnation, however,
the Word did not cease to be God, but became God in human flesh, i.e., undiminished
deity in human form as a man.
"The MacArthur Study Bible", John MacArthur editor, commentary on John 1:14

2. The atonement is provided by Jesus Christ because of His sinless life.

He [God] made Him [Jesus Christ] who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we
might become the righteousness of God in Him.
The Holy Bible, 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NAS)

In order to redeem man from sin, He had to be free from any evil taint of humanity. Had
He committed only one sin, He would have been disqualified as the Redeemer of sinful
men, Perfect Himself, Christ professed the highest conceivable standard of character
and conduct for His followers, "Be ye therefore perfect."
"All The Doctrines Of The Bible", Herbert Lockyer, Zondervan, 1964, p. 48

3. The atonement is provided by Jesus Christ because of His voluntary death


on the cross.
THE REASON FOR HIS DEATH

AS A RANSOM
Sin places humanity into a state of captivity from which a price must be
paid in order that a person might be redeemed or purchased out of that
state. The state of captivity, brought about by the sinful condition of
humanity, is like a slave market where people are sold as the possession
of the purchaser, and in order to be free, the slave must pay for a release
or deliverance; this is a ransom. Humanity is "sold under sin" (Romans
7:14) and therefore fall under the judgment of God. The judgment has
already been pronounced by God and the penalty is death, both physically
and spiritually. The death of Jesus Christ is the ransom paid in order to
redeem the human race from the penalty of sin. The ransom is paid to
God, as a payment for the release of humanity from the penalty of their
sinful state. (cf. Matthew 20:28, 1 Peter 1:17-19, 1 Timothy 2:5-6,
Galatians 3:13)
AS A PROPITIATION
The justice of god demands that a penalty for sin be paid, but is Jesus
Christ as a propitiation that satisfies the justice of God and allows Him to
forgive sinful human beings through His mercy and grace.

Crucial to the significance of Christ's sacrifice, this word [propitiation] carries the idea of
appeasement or satisfaction - in this case Christ's violent death satisfied the offended
holiness and wrath of God against those for whom Christ died (Is. 53:11; Col. 2:11-14).
The Heb[rew] equivalent of this word was used to describe the mercy seat - the cover to
the ark of the covenant - where the High-Priest sprinkled the blood of the slaughtered
animal on the Day of atonement to make atonement for the sins of the people. In pagan
religions, it is the worshiper not the god who is responsible to appease the wrath of the
offended deity. But in reality, man is incapable of satisfying God's justice apart from
Christ, except by spending eternity in hell.
"The MacArthur Study Bible", John MacArthur editor, commentary on Romans 3:25

AS A RECONCILIATION
By committing sins, which all have their direction toward God, humanity
has become separated and alienated from God. A reconciliation cannot be
effected because humanity cannot meet the requirements of God in a
sinful state and cannot be removed from the authority of judgment by God.
It is Jesus Christ who becomes the mediator of the reconciliation between
man to God.

Reconciliation was not necessary from God's side. Man has ever been the offender. His
sin estranged him from god, and he has been at enmity with Him. Thus, as an enemy,
someone had to make possible a reconciliation. Christ, assuming human nature, satisfied
divine justice for our sins at Calvary, and through our acceptance of Him as Saviour we
are received into favor again with an offended God. He never departed from man, and
therefore has no need to be reconciled.
"All The Doctrines Of The Bible", Herbert Lockyer, Zondervan, 1964, p. 191

God by His own will and design used His Son, the only acceptable and perfect sacrifice,
as the means to reconcile sinners to Himself. God initiates the change in the sinner's
status in that He brings him from a position of alienation to a state of forgiveness and
right relationship with Himself.
"The MacArthur Study Bible", John MacArthur editor, commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:19

AS A SUBSTITUTION
Because Jesus Christ was fully deity and fully man, His death was
substitutionary on behalf of humanity. The perfect and sinless life of Jesus
Christ is the substitute for that of sinful human beings, and his death is
also a substitute for the eternal spiritual death that has been pronounced
as the judgment against all sinful human beings.

God the Father, using the principle of imputation, treated Christ as if He were a sinner
though He was not, and had Him die as a substitute to pay the penalty for the sins of
those who believe in Him (cf. Is. 53:4-6; Gal. 3:10-13; 1 Pet. 2:24). On the cross, He did
not become a sinner (as some suggest), but remained as holy as ever. He was treated
as if He were guilty of all the sins ever committed by all who would ever believe, though
He committed none. The wrath of God was exhausted on Him and the just requirement
of God's law met for those for whom He died.
"The MacArthur Study Bible", John MacArthur editor, commentary on 2 Corinthians 5:21

4. The atonement is provided by Jesus Christ because of His resurrection


from the dead.
THE REASON FOR HIS RESURRECTION
A redeemer who remains in the grave cannot redeem, a mediator cannot
mediate and one to provide reconciliation between God and man, cannot
do so from the grave. It was a necessity that Jesus Christ be raised from
the dead, so that He might provide the means of atonement through His
life.

THE AUTHORITY OF SCRIPTURES CONFIRMED

After His resurrection, Jesus Christ said to His disciples, "These are My words which I
spoke to you, while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the
Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled." Then He opened their
minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, "Thus it is written, that the
Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for
forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from
Jerusalem."
The Holy Bible, Luke 24:44-47 (NAS)

THE SUFFICIENCY OF THE SACRIFICE BY CHRIST ACCEPTED BY GOD


Without being accepted by God, the sacrifice of Christ would have been
meaningless. By the resurrection of Christ, God demonstrated His
acceptance and approval of the work that Christ had accomplished.

Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of
God, which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures,
concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who
was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to
the spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord..."
The Holy Bible, Romans 1:1-4 (NAS)

The resurrection of Jesus Christ assures the believer in His gospel that
they are also accepted by God.

He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through
our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have gained access by faith into this grace
in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God
The Holy Bible, Romans 4:25-5:2 (NIV)

ASSURES LIFE AND IMMORTALITY FOR THE BELIEVER IN CHRIST

We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with
Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him.
The Holy Bible, 1 Thessalonians 4:14 (NIV)
It is written: "I believed; therefore I have spoken." With that same spirit of faith we also
believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus
from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in His presence.
The Holy Bible, 2 Corinthians 4:13-14 (NIV)

Before long, the world will not see Me anymore, but you will see Me. Because I live, you
also will live.
The Holy Bible, John 14:19 (NIV)

5. The atonement is provided by Jesus Christ because of His ascension to


heaven.
THE REASON FOR HIS ASCENSION

THAT GOD WOULD ACCOMPLISH THE EXALTATION OF CHRIST


Jesus Christ, who had willingly suppressed the position and power of His
deity while in the form of a man, was restored to His former glory by God.
Just as He had prayed during the Last Supper, the Father accomplished
at the ascension of Christ:

"And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You
before the world was."
The Holy Bible, John 17:5 (NKJ)

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the
hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and
what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in
accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in
Christ, when he raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the
heavenly places, far above al rule and authority and power and dominion, and every
name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. An He put all things
in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is
His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
The Holy Bible, Ephesians 1:18-23 (NAS)

THAT JESUS CHRIST WOULD EXHIBIT HIS ONENESS WITH GOD


Just as Christ is one with the Father, believers can be one in Christ.

THAT JESUS CHRIST WOULD BE THE FORERUNNER OF BELIEVERS TO FOLLOW


Jesus Christ is the pattern for those believers who will follow. If God can exalt Jesus
Christ, then Jesus Christ can exalt the believer and bring them to heaven. That is the
statement of Jesus Christ and it is confirmed by His ascension and exaltation by God.

"If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that
where I am, there you may be also."< 14:3 John Bible, Holy The>

In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the
unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable
things in which it is impossible for god to lie, we who have taken refuge would have
strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an
anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil,
where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever
according to the order of Melchizedek.
The Holy bible, Hebrews 6:17-20 (NAS)
THAT JESUS CHRIST WOULD PREPARE A PLACE FOR BELIEVERS TO FOLLOW

"Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's
house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to
prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive
you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also."
The Holy Bible, John 14:1-3 (NAS)

THAT JESUS CHRIST COULD ACT IN THE PLACE OF AN ETERNAL HIGH PRIEST

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one
which enters within the vail, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having
become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.
The Holy Bible, Hebrews 6:19-20

And inasmuch as it was not without an oath (for they indeed became priests without an
oath, but He with an oath through the One who said to Him, "The Lord has sworn and will
not change His mind, 'You are a priest forever'"); so much the more also Jesus has
become the guarantee of a better covenant. The former priests, on the one hand, existed
in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing, but Jesus,
on the other hand, because He continues forever, hold His priesthood permanently.
Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to god through Him, since
He always lives to make intercession for them. For it was fitting for us to have such a
high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the
heavens; who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for
His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when
He offered up Himself. For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the
word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever.
The Holy Bible, Hebrews 7:20-28 (NAS)

Jesus' entering within the veil signifies His entering the Holy of Holies, where the sacrifice
of atonement was made. Under the Old Covenant it was made yearly by the high priest.
Under the New it has been made once for all time by Christ's sacrifice on the cross. Our
anchored soul is, in god's mind, already secure within the veil, secure within His eternal
sanctuary. When Jesus entered the heavenly Holy of Holies, he did not leave after the
sacrifice as did the Aaronic high priests, but "He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty
on high" (Heb. 1:3). In other words, Jesus remains there forever as Guardian of our
souls. Such absolute security is almost incomprehensible. Not only are our souls
anchored within the impregnable, inviolable heavenly sanctuary, but our Savior, Jesus
Christ, stands guard over them as well! How can the Christian's security be described as
anything but eternal? Truly we can trust God and His Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, with
our souls. That is good cause to come all the way to salvation and to enjoy its security.
The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Hebrews, John F. MacArthur, Moody
Press, 1983, pp. 168-169

THAT CHRIST WOULD PROVIDE ACCESS TO GOD FOR THE BELIEVER

And he came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who
were near; for through Him we both have our access in one spirit to the Father. So then
you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and
are of god's household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets,
Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building being fitted
together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built
together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.
The Holy Bible, Ephesians 2:17-22 (NAS)

This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our
Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him.
The Holy Bible, Ephesians 3:11-12 (NAS)

Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin.
Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of
Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His
flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of god, let us draw near with a
sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil
conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
The Holy Bible, Hebrews 10:19-22 (NAS)

THAT CHRIST WOULD RULE A KINGDOM FROM HIS THRONE


It is the purpose of Jesus Christ to be an eternal mediator between God
and man through His office as an eternal high priest.

You are those who have stood by Me in My trials; and just as My Father has granted Me
a kingdom, I grant you that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and you
will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
The Holy Bible, Luke 22:28-30 (NAS)

Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent
my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place." You are a king then!"
said Pilate. Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I
was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of
truth listens to me."
The Holy Bible, John 18:36-37

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above
every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of god the Father.
The Holy Bible, Philippians 2:9-11

TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE PROVISIONS OF THE ATONEMENT

A person can and must take advantage of the provisions of the atonement in
order that they can be reconciled to God. Without a reconciliation, the judgment
of God will condemn the person to an eternity without God and without hope for
rescue from hell.

The provisions of the atonement are obtained by means of salvation, which is


secured through faith in Jesus Christ. It is the atonement which brings about the
means of salvation, and it is salvation that brings about the benefits of the
atonement into the life of the believer.

Salvation is defined as the rescue of a person from the imminent, critical and
inevitable judgment of a holy and righteous God against humanity for sins
committed and unrepented. Salvation has several components that define its
meaning:

1. CONVICTION AND CERTAINTY OF SIN IN THE LIFE OF A PERSON


It is presumed by the Scripture that all human beings have a knowledge of
sin that is both innate to their being, and also revealed by the Spirit of
God. It is the knowledge that reveals the guilt and confirms the judgment
of God against the sinner. Knowledge of the sinful condition of all human
beings is the prerequisite to salvation, and that knowledge is provided by
God Himself, through the creation and by revelation.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and
unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which
is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since
the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature,
have been clearly seen , being understood through what has been made, so that they
are without excuse.
The Holy Bible, Romans 1:18-20 (NAS)

"But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the
Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes,
will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin,
because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the
Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this
world has been judged."
The Holy Bible, John 16:7-11 (NAS)

2. REPENTANCE AND CONFESSION OF SIN

REPENTANCE
All sin, regardless of how it was committed or against whom. has as its
root rebellion against God and is ultimately a sin committed against God.
As a consequence, repentance is required by God and confession to Him
of offenses committed is necessary so that the full import and gravity
regarding the serious nature of the offenses can be understood.
Repentance is not simply saying, "I'm sorry," because words come very
cheap. Repentance, in its full meaning, is in relation to turning around, or a
reversal of action. Repentance is not only saying that a person is sorry,
but carries actions indicating that the person has turned in the opposite
direction from the sins committed. repentance.

"Therefore, O house of Israel, I will judge you, each one according to his ways, declares
the Sovereign Lord. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your
downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and
a new spirit. Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of
anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!"
The Holy Bible, Ezekiel 18:30-32 (NAS)

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to
them, "You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore
bear fruit in keeping with repentance; and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves,
'We have Abraham for our father'; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to
raise up children to Abraham."
The Holy Bible, Matthew 3:7-9 (NAS)

Repentance also carries with it a condition of true remorse and regret, not
just because of the consequences of the sin, but because it was
committed against God. This expression of remorse reaches to the core of
a person's being.

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly
sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness,
what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what
concern, what readiness to see justice done."
The Holy Bible, 2 Corinthians 7:10-11a (NAS)

As can be see, repentance involves an act of obedience and an


agreement with God regarding the necessity of Repentance. It involves a
response from the innermost being of a person, a sorrow that involves a
regret for the commission of the sin itself, not just the negative results of
that sin. It involves an action that signifies the validity and truthfulness of
the repentance in that the person turns away from, or rejects the sin in
their life, and that leads to the process of confession of sin to God.

He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper. But he who confesses and forsakes
them will find compassion.
The Holy Bible, Proverbs 28:13 (NAS)

When I was silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long.
For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was drained away as with
the fever heat of summer. I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide; I
said, "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord"; and You forgave the guilt of my sin.
The Holy Bible, Psalm 32:3-5 (NAS)

On what basis are Confession and Repentance made? How does these
elements bring a person closer to appropriation of the benefits inherent in the
Atonement?

The benefits are appropriated through the gift of Faith, that is given from God. It
is repentance that brings the person to a position of submission to God and a
realization that separation from God is a reality and that reconciliation is not
possible through human effort. It is through repentance that a person
understands that only by pleading to the grace of God can a standing before God
be obtained.
Irrespective of nationality, position or condition, sinners are called to repentance (Acts 5:31;
20:21; 26:20; Matthew 9:13; Luke 15:17,19; 24:47; II Peter 3:9). Saving repentance is the sinner's
forsaking of his own ways, the giving up of his own thoughts, and his full surrender to Christ.
Repentance is not something the sinner must do to win god's compassion. It is no protracted
agony of soul, but a repentance to the acknowledging of the truth (II Timothy 2:24- 25).
Repentance ushers in pardon for the sinner-it makes way for God's pardoning grace (Acts 5:31).
When David was humbled and broken because of his sin, Nathan said, "The Lord hath put away
they sin" (II Samuel 12:13). Pardon is the richest of blessings for the repentant, believing sinner.
"Pardoning mercy is the sauce that makes all other mercies taste the sweeter; it sweetens our
health, riches and honor."
All The Doctrines Of The Bible, Herbert Lockyer, Zondervan Publishing, 1964, p.174
Repentance is the preparation that leads to faith and the resultant appropriation
of the benefits provided through the atonement. Faith involves a knowledge of
the claims of Jesus Christ who is the object, an agreement as to the validity of
those claims and an appropriation of those claims into the life of the person.

Knowledge About Claims of Jesus Christ


So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
The Holy Bible, Romans 10:17 (NAS)
Agreement As To The Validity Of The Claims Of Jesus Christ
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to god must believe that He is
and that he is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
The Holy Bible, Hebrews 11:6 (NAS)
Appropriation Of The Claims Of Jesus Christ
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to
those who believe in His name, .who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the
will of man, but of God.
The Holy Bible, Luke 1:12-13 (NAS)
"As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so
that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His
only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life."
The Holy Bible, John 3:14-16
"Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will
die in your sins."
The holy Bible, John 8:24 (NAS)
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he
dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?" She said to
Him, "Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes
into the world."
The Holy Bible, John 11:25-27 (NAS)
THE THREE REQUIREMENTS OF FAITH
The faith that God honors, the faith that is from a sincere heart, requires three things: felt need,
content, and commitment.

FELT NEED
Faith cannot begin until a person realizes his need for salvation. If he is without Christ, he needs
salvation whether he recognizes it or not. But he will not have reason to believe until his need is
felt, until it is recognized. When Saul was persecuting the church, he had a great need for
salvation, but he certainly felt no need of it. He was thoroughly convinced he was doing god's will.
Only when the Lord confronted him dramatically on the Damascus road did his need become
known and felt - in Saul's case, very deeply. The need may not, at first, be clearly understood. On
the Damascus road, Saul could not have explained his spiritual need in the way that he was able
to do some years later when he wrote the book of Romans. He simply knew that something was
desperately wrong in his life and that the answer was in God. He knew he needed something
from the Lord.

Often a person's felt need is only partial. The first feeling of need may only be for a purpose in life
or for someone to love us and care for us. Or it may be a sense of need for forgiveness and
removal of guilt, for inner peace. The most important thing is that a person realize that the answer
to his need is in God. People came to Jesus for many reasons, some of them rather superficial.
But when they came, Jesus met all their needs. They may have felt only a need for physical
healing, but He also offered spiritual healing. Felt need does not require theological
understanding of the doctrine of salvation, only a sincere heart that knows it needs salvation. On
the other hand, a person who does not feel a need for salvation, no matter how good his
theology, if far from faith in God. Felt need is essential, but inadequate on its own.

CONTENT
A person does not have to comprehend the full knowledge and understanding of the doctrine of
salvation before he can be saved, but he does need the gospel truth (1 Cor. 15:1-5) that he is lost
in sin and needs the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. He must know the gospel. The idea of
"blind faith" sounds spiritual, but it is not biblical. Even great persons of faith will not know many
of the things about God until they see their Lord face to face in heaven. But God does not
demand faith without giving reason for faith. The writer of Hebrews, for example, piles up truth
upon truth and presents Jesus as the Jews' promised Messiah. He also shows that the New
Covenant is far superior to the Old, that the old sacrifices were ineffective, and that only the new
sacrifice can bring a person to God-and so on and on.

The following story is told of Channing Pollock, a well-known playwright. Mr. Pollock was
collaborating with another author in writing a play. As they were working late one night in
Pollock's New York apartment, something in the work they were doing caused the friend to say to
Pollock, "Have you ever read the New Testament?" Pollock said he had not, and they continued
working until early morning, when they parted, Pollock went to bed, but could not sleep. He was
bothered b his friend's question, simple and casual though it seemed. He finally got out of bed
and searched the apartment until he found a New Testament. After reading the gospel of Mark
through, he got dressed and walked the streets until dawn. Later, telling the story to the friend, he
said, "When I returned home, I found myself on my knees, passionately in love with Jesus Christ."
Beginning with a felt need, vague as it was, he then looked at the truth and its evidence-and
believed.

COMMITMENT
The climax of faith is commitment. Professing Christ, without commitment to Christ, is not saving
faith.

My father often told the story of a tightrope walker who liked to walk a wire across Niagara Falls-
preferably with someone on his back. Many people on the bank expressed complete confidence
in his ability to do it, but he always had a difficult time getting a volunteer to climb up on him.

Many people express complete confidence in Christ but never trust themselves to Him.

As a missionary translator in the New Hebrides, John Paton was frustrated in his work for a long
time because the people had no word for faith. One day a man who was working for him came
into the house and flopped down into a big chair. The missionary asked him what the word would
be for what he had just done. The word the man gave in reply was the one Paton used for faith in
his translation of the New Testament. Without hesitation or reservation, the man had totally
committed his body to the chair. he had felt his need for rest, he was convinced that the chair
provided a place for rest, and he committed himself to the chair for rest. A believer must, in the
same way, totally commit his life to the Lord Jesus Christ. Only then is faith, saving faith.
The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Hebrews, John F. MacArthur, Moody Press, 1983,
pp. 264-265

6. RESURRECTION
Evidence for the Resurrection
by Josh McDowell

For centuries many of the world's distinguished philosophers have assaulted Christianity
as being irrational, superstitious and absurd. Many have chosen simply to ignore the
central issue of the resurrection. Others have tried to explain it away through various
theories. But the historical evidence just can't be discounted.

A student at the University of Uruguay said to me. "Professor McDowell, why can't you
refute Christianity?"

"For a very simple reason," I answered. "I am not able to explain away an event in
history--the resurrection of Jesus Christ."

How can we explain the empty tomb? Can it possibly be accounted for by any natural
cause?

A QUESTION OF HISTORY
After more than 700 hours of studying this subject, I have come to the conclusion that the
resurrection of Jesus Christ is either one of the most wicked, vicious, heartless hoaxes
ever foisted on the minds of human beings--or it is the most remarkable fact of history.

Here are some of the facts relevant to the resurrection: Jesus of Nazareth, a Jewish
prophet who claimed to be the Christ prophesied in the Jewish Scriptures, was arrested,
was judged a political criminal, and was crucified. Three days after His death and burial,
some women who went to His tomb found the body gone. In subsequent weeks, His
disciples claimed that God had raised Him from the dead and that He appeared to them
various times before ascending into heaven.

From that foundation, Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire and has
continued to exert great influence down through the centuries.

LIVING WITNESSES
The New Testament accounts of the resurrection were being circulated within the
lifetimes of men and women alive at the time of the resurrection. Those people could
certainly have confirmed or denied the accuracy of such accounts.

The writers of the four Gospels either had themselves been witnesses or else were
relating the accounts of eyewitnesses of the actual events. In advocating their case for the
gospel, a word that means "good news," the apostles appealed (even when confronting
their most severe opponents) to common knowledge concerning the facts of the
resurrection.
F. F. Bruce, Rylands professor of biblical criticism and exegesis at the University of
Manchester, says concerning the value of the New Testament records as primary sources:
"Had there been any tendency to depart from the facts in any material respect, the
possible presence of hostile witnesses in the audience would have served as a further
corrective."

IS THE NEW TESTAMENT RELIABLE?


Because the New Testament provides the primary historical source for information on the
resurrection, many critics during the 19th century attacked the reliability of these biblical
documents.

By the end of the 1 9th century, however, archaeological discoveries had confirmed the
accuracy of the New Testament manuscripts. Discoveries of early papyri bridged the gap
between the time of Christ and existing manuscripts from a later date.

Those findings increased scholarly confidence in the reliability of the Bible. William F.
Albright, who in his day was the world's foremost biblical archaeologist, said: "We can
already say emphatically that there is no longer any solid basis for dating any book of the
New Testament after about A.D. 80, two full generations before the date between 130
and 150 given by the more radical New Testament critics of today."

Coinciding with the papyri discoveries, an abundance of other manuscripts came to light
(over 24,000 copies of early New Testament manuscripts are known to be in existence
today). The historian Luke wrote of "authentic evidence" concerning the resurrection. Sir
William Ramsay, who spent 15 years attempting to undermine Luke credentials as a
historian, and to refute the reliability of the New Testament, finally concluded: "Luke is a
historian of the first rank . . . This author should be placed along with the very greatest of
historians. "

I claim to be an historian. My approach to Classics is historical. And I tell you that the
evidence for the life, the death, and the resurrection of Christ is better authenticated than
most of the facts of ancient history . . .

E. M. Blaiklock
Professor of Classics
Auckland University

BACKGROUND
The New Testament witnesses were fully aware of the background against which the
resurrection took place. The body of Jesus, in accordance with Jewish burial custom, was
wrapped in a linen cloth. About 100 pounds of aromatic spices, mixed together to form a
gummy substance, were applied to the wrappings of cloth about the body. After the body
was placed in a solid rock tomb, an extremely large stone was rolled against the entrance
of the tomb. Large stones weighing approximately two tons were normally rolled (by
means of levers) against a tomb entrance.

A Roman guard of strictly disciplined fighting men was stationed to guard the tomb. This
guard affixed on the tomb the Roman seal, which was meant to "prevent any attempt at
vandalizing the sepulcher. Anyone trying to move the stone from the tomb's entrance
would have broken the seal and thus incurred the wrath of Roman law.

But three days later the tomb was empty. The followers of Jesus said He had risen from
the dead. They reported that He appeared to them during a period of 40 days, showing
Himself to them by many "infallible proofs." Paul the apostle recounted that Jesus
appeared to more than 500 of His followers at one time, the majority of whom were still
alive and who could confirm what Paul wrote. So many security precautions were taken
with the trial, crucifixion, burial, entombment, sealing, and guarding of Christ's tomb that
it becomes very difficult for critics to defend their position that Christ did not rise from
the dead. Consider these facts:

FACT #1: BROKEN ROMAN SEAL


As we have said, the first obvious fact was the breaking of the seal that stood for
the power and authority of the Roman Empire. The consequences of breaking the
seal were extremely severe. The FBI and CIA of the Roman Empire were called
into action to find the man or men who were responsible. If they were
apprehended, it meant automatic execution by crucifixion upside down. People
feared the breaking of the seal. Jesus' disciples displayed signs of cowardice when
they hid themselves. Peter, one of these disciples, went out and denied Christ
three times.

FACT #2: EMPTY TOMB


As we have already discussed, another obvious fact after the resurrection was the
empty tomb. The disciples of Christ did not go off to Athens or Rome to preach
that Christ was raised from the dead. Rather, they went right back to the city of
Jerusalem, where, if what they were teaching was false, the falsity would be
evident. The empty tomb was "too notorious to be denied." Paul Althaus states
that the resurrection "could have not been maintained in Jerusalem for a single
day, for a single hour, if the emptiness of the tomb had not been established as a
fact for all concerned."

Both Jewish and Roman sources and traditions admit an empty tomb. Those
resources range from Josephus to a compilation of fifth-century Jewish writings
called the "Toledoth Jeshu." Dr. Paul Maier calls this "positive evidence from a
hostile source, which is the strongest kind of historical evidence. In essence, this
means that if a source admits a fact decidedly not in its favor, then that fact is
genuine."

Gamaliel, who was a member of the Jewish high court, the Sanhedrin, put forth
the suggestion that the rise of the Christian movement was God's doing; he could
not have done that if the tomb were still occupied, or if the Sanhedrin knew the
whereabouts of Christ's body.

Paul Maier observes that " . . . if all the evidence is weighed carefully and fairly, it
is indeed justifiable, according to the canons of historical research, to conclude
that the sepulcher of Joseph of Arimathea, in which Jesus was buried, was
actually empty on the morning of the first Easter. And no shred of evidence has
yet been discovered in literary sources, epigraphy, or archaeology that would
disprove this statement."

FACT #3: LARGE STONE MOVED


On that Sunday morning the first thing that impressed the people who approached
the tomb was the unusual position of the one and a half to two ton stone that had
been lodged in front of the doorway. All the Gospel writers mention it.

There exists no document from the ancient world, witnessed by so excellent a set
of textual and historical testimonies . . . Skepticism regarding the historical
credentials of Christianity is based upon an irrational bias.

Clark Pinnock
Mcmaster University

Those who observed the stone after the resurrection describe its position as having
been rolled up a slope away not just from the entrance of the tomb, but from the
entire massive sepulcher. It was in such a position that it looked as if it had been
picked up and carried away. Now, I ask you, if the disciples had wanted to come
in, tiptoe around the sleeping guards, and then roll the stone over and steal Jesus'
body, how could they have done that without the guards' awareness?

FACT #4: ROMAN GUARD GOES AWOL


The Roman guards fled. They left their place of responsibility. How can their
attrition he explained, when Roman military discipline was so exceptional? Justin,
in Digest #49, mentions all the offenses that required the death penalty. The fear
of their superiors' wrath and the possibility of death meant that they paid close
attention to the minutest details of their jobs. One way a guard was put to death
was by being stripped of his clothes and then burned alive in a fire started with his
garments. If it was not apparent which soldier had failed in his duty, then lots
were drawn to see which one would be punished with death for the guard unit's
failure. Certainly the entire unit would not have fallen asleep with that kind of
threat over their heads. Dr. George Currie, a student of Roman military discipline,
wrote that fear of punishment "produced flawless attention to duty, especially in
the night watches."
FACT #5: GRAVECLOTHES TELL A TALE
In a literal sense, against all statements to the contrary, the tomb was not totally
empty--because of an amazing phenomenon. John, a disciple of Jesus, looked
over to the place where the body of Jesus had lain, and there were the grave
clothes, in the form of the body, slightly caved in and empty--like the empty
chrysalis of a caterpillar's cocoon. That's enough to make a believer out of
anybody. John never did get over it. The first thing that stuck in the minds of the
disciples was not the empty tomb, but rather the empty grave clothes--undisturbed
in form and position.

FACT #6: JESUS' APPEARANCES CONFIRMED


Christ appeared alive on several occasions after the cataclysmic events of that first
Easter . When studying an event in history, it is important to know whether
enough people who were participants or eyewitnesses to the event were alive
when the facts about the event were published. To know this is obviously helpful
in ascertaining the accuracy of the published report. If the number of eyewitnesses
is substantial, the event can he regarded as fairly well established. For instance, if
we all witness a murder, and a later police report turns out to he a fabrication of
lies, we as eyewitnesses can refute it.

OVER 500 WITNESSES


Several very important factors arc often overlooked when considering Christ's post-
resurrection appearances to individuals. The first is the large number of witnesses of
Christ after that resurrection morning. One of the earliest records of Christ's appearing
after the resurrection is by Paul. The apostle appealed to his audience's knowledge of the
fact that Christ had been seen by more than 500 people at one time. Paul reminded them
that the majority of those people were still alive and could be questioned. Dr. Edwin M.
Yamauchi, associate professor of history at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio,
emphasizes: "What gives a special authority to the list (of witnesses) as historical
evidence is the reference to most of the five hundred brethren being still alive. St. Paul
says in effect, 'If you do not believe me, you can ask them.' Such a statement in an
admittedly genuine letter written within thirty years of the event is almost as strong
evidence as one could hope to get for something that happened nearly two thousand years
ago." Let's take the more than 500 witnesses who saw Jesus alive after His death and
burial, and place them in a courtroom. Do you realize that if each of those 500 people
were to testify for only six minutes, including cross-examination, you would have an
amazing 50 hours of firsthand testimony? Add to this the testimony of many other
eyewitnesses and you would well have the largest and most lopsided trial in history.

HOSTILE WITNESSES
Another factor crucial to interpreting Christ's appearances is that He also appeared to
those who were hostile or unconvinced.
Over and over again, I have read or heard people comment that Jesus was seen alive after
His death and burial only by His friends and followers. Using that argument, they attempt
to water down the overwhelming impact of the multiple eyewitness accounts. But that
line of reasoning is so pathetic it hardly deserves comment. No author or informed
individual would regard Saul of Tarsus as being a follower of Christ. The facts show the
exact opposite. Saul despised Christ and persecuted Christ's followers. It was a life-
shattering experience when Christ appeared to him. Although he was at the time not a
disciple, he later became the apostle Paul, one of the greatest witnesses for the truth of the
resurrection.

If the New Testament were a collection of secular writings, their authenticity would
generally be regarded as beyond all doubt.

F. F. Bruce
Manchester University

The argument that Christ's appearances were only to followers is an argument for the
most part from silence, and arguments from silence can be dangerous. It is equally
possible that all to whom Jesus appeared became followers. No one acquainted with the
facts can accurately say that Jesus appeared to just "an insignificant few."

Christians believe that Jesus was bodily resurrected in time and space by the supernatural
power of God. The difficulties of belief may be great, but the problems inherent in
unbelief present even greater difficulties.

The theories advanced to explain the resurrection by "natural causes" are weak; they
actually help to build confidence in the truth of the resurrection.

THE WRONG TOMB?


A theory propounded by Kirsopp Lake assumes that the women who reported that the
body was missing had mistakenly gone to the wrong tomb. If so, then the disciples who
went to check up on the women's statement must have also gone to the wrong tomb. We
may be certain, however, that Jewish authorities, who asked for a Roman guard to be
stationed at the tomb to prevent Jesus' body from being stolen, would not have been
mistaken about the location. Nor would the Roman guards, for they were there!

If the resurrection-claim was merely because of a geographical mistake, the Jewish


authorities would have lost no time in producing the body from the proper tomb, thus
effectively quenching for all time any rumor resurrection.

HALLUCINATIONS?
Another attempted explanation claims that the appearances of Jesus after the resurrection
were either illusions or hallucinations. Unsupported by the psychological principles
governing the appearances of hallucinations, this theory also does not coincide with the
historical situation. Again, where was the actual body, and why wasn't it produced?

DID JESUS SWOON?


Another theory, popularized by Venturini several centuries ago, is often quoted today.
This is the swoon theory, which says that Jesus didn't die; he merely fainted from
exhaustion and loss of blood. Everyone thought Him dead, but later He resuscitated and
the disciples thought it to be a resurrection. Skeptic David Friedrich Strauss--certainly no
believer in the resurrection--gave the deathblow to any thought that Jesus revived from a
swoon: "It is impossible that a being who had stolen half-dead out of the sepulchre, who
crept about weak and ill, wanting medical treatment, who required bandaging,
strengthening and indulgence, and who still at last yielded to His sufferings, could have
given to the disciples the impression that He was a Conqueror over death and the grave,
the Prince of Life,

For the New Testament of Acts, the confirmation of historicity is overwhelming. Any
attempt to reject its basic historicity, even in matters of detail, must now appear absurd.
Roman historians have long taken it for granted.

A. N. Sherwin-White
Classical Roman Historian

an impression which lay at the bottom of their future ministry. Such a resuscitation could
only have weakened the impression which He had made upon them in life and in death, at
the most could only have given it an elegiac voice, but could by no possibility have
changed their sorrow into enthusiasm, have elevated their reverence into worship."

THE BODY STOLEN?


Then consider the theory that the body was stolen by the disciples while the guards slept.
The depression and cowardice of the disciples provide a hard-hitting argument against
their suddenly becoming so brave and daring as to face a detachment of soldiers at the
tomb and steal the body. They were in no mood to attempt anything like that.

The theory that the Jewish or Roman authorities moved Christ's body is no more
reasonable an explanation for the empty tomb than theft by the disciples. If the authorities
had the body in their possession or knew where it was, why, when the disciples were
preaching the resurrection in Jerusalem, didn't they explain: "Wait! We moved the body,
see, He didn't rise from the grave"?

And if such a rebuttal failed, why didn't they explain exactly where Jesus' body lay? If
this failed, why didn't they recover the corpse, put it on a cart, and wheel it through the
center of Jerusalem? Such an action would have destroyed Christianity--not in the cradle,
but in the womb!

THE RESURRECTION IS A FACT


Professor Thomas Arnold, for 14 years a headmaster of Rugby, author of the famous,
History of Rome, and appointed to the chair of modern history at Oxford, was well
acquainted with the value of evidence in determining historical facts. This great scholar
said: "I have been used for many years to study the histories of other times, and to
examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them, and I know of no
one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every
sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than the great sign which God hath given us
that Christ died and rose again from the dead." Brooke Foss Westcott, an English scholar,
said: "raking all the evidence together, it is not too much to say that there is no historic
incident better or more variously supported than the resurrection of Christ. Nothing but
the antecedent assumption that it must be false could have suggested the idea of
deficiency in the proof of it."

REAL PROOF: THE DISCIPLES' LIVES


But the most telling testimony of all must be the lives of those early Christians. We must
ask ourselves: What caused them to go everywhere telling the message of the risen
Christ?

Had there been any visible benefits accrued to them from their efforts--prestige, wealth,
increased social status or material benefits--we might logically attempt to account for
their actions, for their whole-hearted and total allegiance to this "risen Christ ."

As a reward for their efforts, however, those early Christians were beaten, stoned to
death, thrown to the lions, tortured and crucified. Every conceivable method was used to
stop them from talking.

Yet, they laid down their lives as the ultimate proof of their complete confidence in the
truth of their message.

WHERE DO YOU STAND?


How do you evaluate this overwhelming historical evidence? What is your decision about
the fact of Christ's empty tomb? What do you think of Christ?

When I was confronted with the overwhelming evidence for Christ's resurrection, I had to
ask the logical question: "What difference does all this evidence make to me? What
difference does it make whether or not I believe Christ rose again and died on the cross
for my sins!' The answer is put best by something Jesus said to a man who doubted--
Thomas. Jesus told him: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the
Father but through Me" (John 14:6).
On the basis of all the evidence for Christ's resurrection, and considering the fact that
Jesus offers forgiveness of sin and an eternal relationship with God, who would be so
foolhardy as to reject Him? Christ is alive! He is living today.

You can trust God right now by faith through prayer. Prayer is talking with God. God
knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of
your heart. If you have never trusted Christ, you can do so right now.

The prayer I prayed is: "Lord Jesus, I need You. Thank You for dying on the cross for my
sins. I open the door of my life and trust You as my Savior. Thank You for forgiving my
sins and giving me eternal life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be. Thank
You that I can trust You."

7. ASCENSION

Acts 1:9-11

Ascension of Jesus Christ

Dr. Luke was a careful historian who verified his evidence. He and the other writers
recorded for us the bodily appearances of the risen Lord to men for 40 days between His
resurrection and His ascension. These are based on solid historical evidence. These
bodily appearances of Jesus came to an end when Christ ascended into heaven and
resumed His position He had before His becoming incarnate man.

The Ascension of Christ is the consummation and the culminating point of Christ’s
redemptive work (Hebrews 8:1). It took place after 40 days of resurrection appearances
when Jesus ascended from the Bethany side of the ridge of Mount of Olives (Acts 1:12).

CHRISTIANITY IS CHRIST

The Ascension is Christ's exaltation and glory after His saving work on earth had been
accomplished (Philippians 2:9). He is the exalted Son of God at the right hand of the
Father (Luke 24:26; 1 Peter 1:21). It is the proof of His victory (Ephesians 4:8). He is
now in the position of honor in heaven at the right hand of His Father (Psalm 110:1). It is
the permanent place of power (Acts 2:33), happiness (Psalm 26:11), and rest.

All that Jesus began to do and teach.


Luke tells us about “all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when He was taken
up . . .” (Acts 1:1-2). What did Jesus do? He tells us when He read Himself into His
messianic office at the Nazareth synagogue (Luke 4:18-21).

These same things Christ continues to do through His new Body—the church. The book
of Acts tells what He continues to do and teach through His body of believers.
Jesus died and rose again from the dead.
Christianity is based on historical facts. It is impossible to separate the Christ of faith
from the historical Jesus. He is one and the same. The Christ of faith is the Jesus of
history. He lived a perfect life on this earth in Jerusalem and was crucified on a Roman
cross, and rose from the dead. These are historical facts.

From a secular historian’s point of view, Luke is an accurate,


credible historian. He has been proven over and over again by
scholars to be an extraordinary historian. Luke 1:1-4 tells us
how he went about his gathering evidence and evaluating it.

Jesus rose from the dead. “He also presented Himself alive,
after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to
them over a period of forty days, and speaking of the things
concerning the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3).

The resurrection of Jesus is based on historical facts. There


were eyewitnesses that Jesus was alive and appeared and
disappeared before people over a period of 40 days.

He “showed Himself to these men and gave many convincing


proofs that He was alive” (v. 3). He appeared to them as one
who had risen from the dead. They knew He had died, saw Him
dead with their own eyes on the cross and in the grave, but then
Jesus rose from the dead and appeared to them.

Luke says he had “convincing proofs” or demonstrative proofs


of the resurrection of Christ. The resurrection has been
demonstrated by ten convincing proofs to the five senses. It was
a real documented historical event.

Essentials of the kingdom of God


The resurrected Christ taught the disciples essential things
about the kingdom of God (v. 3).

The Trinity is emphasized in vv. 4, 5, 6. Each person of the


Godhead is referred to in these verses. Jesus told the believers
to “wait for what the Father had promised . . .” (v. 4). The
promise of the Father will be fulfilled in the baptism of the
Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “for John baptized with water, but you
shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now”
(v. 5).
The disciples kept asking Jesus about the restoration of the
kingdom of Israel (vv. 6-7). Jesus did not deny the restoration

Jesus gave His commission to go and make disciples in all the earth (v. 8). “You will
receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you . . .” The word dunamis literally
means, “to enable them,” from “to be able.” The special enabling by the Holy Spirit is to
make them, “My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to
the remotest part of the earth” (v. 8).

The word “witness” means to affirm that one has seen, or heard, or experienced
something, to tell what one has learned first hand personally. A “witness” is one who
bears testimony by his death; he is not a spectator. Our English word “martyr” is a
transliteration of the Greek word for "witness." These witnesses died because they were
already martyrs. The fires of persecution revealed them. The function of an apostle was to
give witness to the resurrection.

Jesus ascended into heaven.


There were eyewitnesses to the ascension of Jesus Christ. Their eyes were fixed on Him
as He ascended, so there could be no mistake about an event so supernatural. As the
disciples were standing on the Mount of Olives they saw Jesus suddenly ascend into a
cloud, and they never saw Him again. He didn’t go beyond the cloud, either; He just
disappeared.

The Gospel of Luke teaches us “about all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day
when He was taken up . . .” (vv. 1-2a). Verses 9-11 reads, "And after He had said these
things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of
their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold,
two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do
you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven,
will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven’” (Acts 1:9-11,
NASB 1995). Jesus “was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him
out of their sight.” Jesus was “taken up” (v. 9), “went” (v. 10), “received up” (v. 11). A
cloud “took under Him.” He seems to be supported by the cloud, disappeared, but the
people who were watching Him had their eyes fixed on, or gazing upon Him. It was a
“strained intent, denoting a continuous steadfast attention.” They were stretching to look
“intently into the sky while He was departing.”

Luke used the word "looking" (blepo) meaning to see, to look, to direct the eyes and the
attention upon an object. It is not as though Jesus was suddenly snatched away out of
their sight. He did not vanish as He had done when leaving His disciples during the forty
days after His resurrection.

The onlookers “were gazing intently” meaning “looked intently at someone or


something.”

“Two men in white clothing stood beside them, and they also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why
do you stand looking into the sky?’” (v. 11) It does not read angels, but “men.” Who were
these “two men in white clothing” standing there speaking to the disciples? D. L. Moody
suggested they were Moses and Elijah (cf. the transfiguration of Jesus, Matt. 17:2-3).
Most Bible scholars say these men were angelic messengers since we encounter them
frequently in Acts (5:19-20; 8:26; 10:3-7, 30-32; 11:13-14; 12:7-10, 23; 27:23).

The two men told the disciples, “this Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven,
will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven” (v. 11).
Observe how closely the resurrection, ascension and second coming of Christ are related.
The heavenly messenger says, "This same Jesus" would indeed come back in the way in
which He went, however the implication is that He would not immediately appear again.

The ascension is the abiding proof that the resurrection of Jesus was more than a
temporary resuscitation. It conveyed to His followers that the appearances that had
occurred over the 40-day period had come to an end. Their teaching period was over and
there was now an awareness that He was with them all the time. In reality there truly was
no disappearance of Christ. They just couldn’t see His presence with physical sight. He
was no longer perceived by physical sight or sensation, but by spiritual insight.

Jesus Christ ascended into heaven. He bade His followers good-by, ascended visibly into
heaven and disappeared from their sight.

The “royal chariot” was the cloud closely associated with the divine presence in other
parts of the Scriptures. Christ will come again on clouds of glory (Matt. 24:30; 26:64;
Rev. 1:7). The “cloud” that received Jesus from their sight was no doubt the Shekinah
cloud of glory. It was the visible symbol of God’s glory that received Him and hid Him
from their eyes. The cloud served only to hide Jesus.

Phillips translates: “He was lifted up before their eyes till a cloud hid Him from their
sight.”

“This same Jesus” is coming back. One day this same Jesus will return in glory and every
eye shall see Him.

The essential fact of the Ascension of Christ is that He departed and disappeared from
view. The distance and direction is really of no importance. Our Lord withdrew from a
world of limitations to where God is. Heaven is at once a place and a state and
personality necessarily implies locality.
Whatever, therefore, may be said of the Resurrection in regard to the laws of nature
applies equally to the Ascension. Our Lord’s resurrection and body of ascension was
different from the body laid in the tomb, yet it was essentially the same. It could be seen,
touched, handled, recognized; He could eat and drink, appear and disappear, etc. It was
just like He just stepped off into a place where they could no longer see Him, yet He was
there all the time.

THE FACT OF THE ASCENSION IN THE NEW TESTAMENT

The Ascension of Christ was anticipated in both the Old Testament and the teachings of
Jesus.

Anticipated in the Psalms


The Ascension of Christ is anticipated in the Royal Psalms in the Old Testament (2, 18,
20, 21, 45, 61, 72, 89, 110, 132). They looked forward to the exaltation of David’s greater
Son. The apostle Peter quotes Ps. 110:1 in Acts 2:34 as part of his great Pentecost
sermon. Compare also Ps. 110:1 with Hebrews 1:13; 10:12, 13; Ps. 16:8-11 with Acts
2:25-33; and Ps. 68:18 with Eph. 4:8.

Anticipated in the Gospels


The Ascension of Christ was anticipated by Christ (Lk. 9:31, 51; John 6:62; 7:33; 12:32;
14:12, 28; 16:5, 10, 17, 28; 10:17). Jesus’ ascension is implied in the allusions to His
coming to earth on clouds of heaven when He returns (Matt. 24:30; 26:64). To His
grumbling disciples Jesus said, “What if you should behold the Son of Man ascending
where He was before?” (Jn. 6:62). Jesus said to Mary, “Stop clinging to Me, for I have
not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren, and say to them, ‘I ascend to My
Father and your Father, and My God and your God’ ” (John 20:17, NASB 1995).

Jesus said, “It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away the Counselor
will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you” (John 16:7). It is by means of
the Holy Spirit’s indwelling in us that Jesus makes His life available to each of us so
intimately and personally.

Basis for New Testament Teaching


The New Testament writers base their teachings on the fact of the Ascension (Acts 1:6-
12). Christ was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of the sight of the people who
witnessed His ascension (v. 9). At His Ascension His resurrection body was uplifted till it
disappeared.

Christ’s session in heaven as our High Priest is a position of authority and honor at God’s
right hand and is based on the ascension of Christ. Jesus was received up into heaven, and
sat down at the right hand of God. In his Gospel Luke says, “And it came about that
while He was blessing them, He parted from them” (24:51). The Ascension attempts to
put into words what is beyond words, describes what is beyond description. In Acts 1:9
he continues with the same thought, “And after he had said these things, He was lifted up
while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.” Those who had
been listening to the blessing “were gazing intently into the sky while He was
departing . . .” (v. 10).

The ascension is the culmination of Christ’s glorification after His resurrection, and was
necessary for His heavenly exaltation. The resurrection of Christ demanded the ascension
and is the culmination of the incarnation of Christ. The ascension was the entrance into a
wider work of Christ as Lord and High Priest (Jn. 7:39; 16:7).

The gift of the Holy Spirit came from the ascended Christ. He and the Father had
promised the coming of the Holy Spirit to every believer.

The apostle Peter

The apostle Peter says in Acts 2:33 Jesus was “exalted to the right hand of God.” The
epistles of Paul tell us Christ will be in heaven until He returns (1 Thess. 4:16; cf. Peter in
Acts 3:21). The glorification of believers is guaranteed “through the resurrection of Jesus
Christ, who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and
authorities and powers had been made subjected to Him” (1 Pet. 3:21-22).

Stephen who lay dying by stoning as the first Christian martyr “gazed intently into
heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and he
said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand
of God” (Acts 7:55-56). Saul of Tarsus “was in hearty agreement with putting him to
death” (8:1).

The apostle Paul

Saul of Tarsus was persecuting Christians on the road to Damascus when he suddenly
saw “a light from heaven” and “heard a voice.” When Saul inquired the origin the voice
from heaven told him, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (Acts 9:3-5).

The apostle Paul wrote in Romans 8:34, “Christ is He who died, yes, rather who was
raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.”

He places strong emphasis on the Ascension of Christ in his letters. Ephesians 1:20-21
says God “raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly
places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion . . .” There Christ is
sovereign over all and “head over all thing to the church” (v. 22). We believers are raised
up with Him and “Seated” with Him “in the heavenly places” (2:6). “He who descended
is Himself also who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things”
(Eph. 4:10).
Christ was exalted after the extreme humiliation of the crucifixion (Phil. 2:6-11). “God
highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name.” “Our
citizenship (or commonwealth) is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a
Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (3:20). Christ is in heaven and He is coming for us (1
Thess. 1:10; 2:19; 3:13; 4:16-18). Christ who was “revealed in the flesh . . . .” was “taken
up in glory,” writes the apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 3:16.

Hebrews

The writer of Hebrews tells us more about the ascension than any other part of the New
Testament. “When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the
Majesty on high” (Heb. 1:3b). Christ enjoys a position of authority in heaven as the Son
of God (1:4-13). All things are subjected to Him (2:8).

Jesus has been “crowned with glory and honor” (2:9). Our “great high priest” has “passed
through the heavens” (perfect tense). He has entered within the veil for us and serves
there on our behalf. “He abides forever, holds His priesthood permanently” (7:24) “since
He always lives to make intercession for them” (v. 25). He is “exalted above the
heavens” (v. 26) because He is “a Son, made perfect forever” (v. 28).

What is the central idea in Hebrews? “Now the main point in what has been said is this:
we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the
Majesty in the heavens, a minister in the sanctuary, and in the true tabernacle, which the
Lord pitched, not man” (8:1-2). He ministers in “the greater and more perfect tabernacle,
not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation. . . . in heaven itself, now to
appear in the presence of God for us” (9:12, 24). Jesus, “having offered one sacrifice for
sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God” (10:12). In order to win the Christian
race we must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus who “sat down at the right hand of the throne
of God” (12:20).

The apostle John

Our Advocate in heaven (1 John 2:1) is “coming with the clouds, and every eye will see
Him . . .” (Rev. 1:7). Remember how He went up? (Acts 1:9-11). He is the “Lamb
standing, as if slain” at the throne in heaven (Rev. 5:5-6) who took the scroll, and they
sang a new song in heaven saying, “Worthy is the Lamb” (vv. 5-14). “To Him who sits
on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion, forever
and ever” (v. 13). Such exaltation of our Lord in heaven necessarily involves His prior
Ascension.

OUR LORD’S PRESENT LIFE IN HEAVEN

Christ is exalted to the presence of the Father in heaven, but His activity on earth is
evident.

1. Christ is seated on the right hand of the Father (Col. 3:1; Heb. 1:3; 8:1; 10:12).
2. Christ bestowed the gift of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 4:9, 33).

3. Christ added disciples to the church (Acts 2:47).

4. He works with disciples in evangelism (Mk. 16:20).

5. Christ healed the impotent man (Acts 3:16).

6. He stood to receive the martyr Stephen (Acts 7:56).

7. He appeared to Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:5).

8. Christ makes intercession for His people (Rom. 8:26; Heb. 7:25).

9. Christ comes to the aid to those who are tempted (Heb. 2:18).

10. Christ sympathizes with our weaknesses (Heb. 4:15).

11. Christ is able to save to the uttermost (Heb. 7:25).

12. Christ lives forever (Heb. 7:24; Rev. 1:18).

13. He is our Great High Priest (Heb. 7:26; 8:1; 10:21).

14. He abides forever and possesses an eternal, permanent priesthood (Heb. 7:24).

15. Christ appears in the presence of God for us (Heb. 9:24).

16. Christ is our Advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1).

17. He is waiting until all opposition to Him is overcome (Heb. 10:13).

SOME ABIDING PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS

1. We are always in the presence of Christ. We are never out of His sight, and therefore
out of His mind. There are no earthly limitations of space and time with our ascended
Lord and Savior. We can draw near and dwell in His presence. “Lo, I am with you
always” (Matt. 28:20). Christ is living and in His life we live and have our being (Gal.
2:20). In His life we enjoy fellowship with God and victory in the Christian life. We have
free access through grace into God’s presence and we can draw near and keep near to
Him.

2. The ascension is the demonstration of the all-sufficiency of the righteousness of


Christ on behalf of the believer. The atoning sacrifice of Christ has removed our sin and
guilt, and His righteousness has provided our acceptance with the Father (2 Cor. 5:21).
The atonement of Christ was a “once for all” complete and perfect atonement. Jesus
Christ is a human and divine High Priest who is able to sympathize, comfort and save the
sinner (Heb. 9:12; 4:15; 2:18; 7:25).

3. Because He ascended to heaven, Christ is the head and Lord of His church (Eph.
1:22; 4:10, 15; Col. 2:19).

4. Our ascended High Priest is the perfect mediator between God and men (1 Tim. 2:5;
Heb. 8:6) and advocate with the Father (1 Jn. 2:1). The very presence of Christ at the
right hand of the Father pleads on our behalf. He pleads by His presence on His Father’s
throne, and He is able to save to the uttermost through His intercession, because of His
perpetual life and His inviolable, undelegated, intramissible priesthood (Heb. 7:24-25).

5. There is an essential relationship between the ascension of Christ and the coming of
the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. "Therefore having been exalted to the right hand
of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has
poured forth this which you both see and hear" (Acts 2:33, NASB 1995).

6. When Jesus ascended into heaven He did not go to some distant planet in space.
Heaven is not several billion light-years away. Instead, Jesus simply stepped into a
different dimension of existence. There is an invisible spiritual kingdom which surrounds
us on every side. Jesus is not far away, and neither is the throne of God and the greatness
of His power. He is right here with us right now. The invisible spiritual life is imparted to
us by the Holy Spirit who came as a result of Christ’s leaving this earth. Because Jesus
ascended into heaven you and I can have all of Him right now.

7. And just think of it—Just as Jesus stepped into invisibility, He will step back again
into visibility. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye He will suddenly appear. Even so,
come, Lord Jesus. Will we see Him today?

8. CHURCH

Ecclesiology is a word most of us can hardly spell, let alone define. Simply put, ecclesiology is the
doctrine of the church. Very few people find this doctrine all that exciting. For many, a study of the
church is about as exciting as a visit to the doctor for an annual checkup. Unless I am convinced
otherwise, I am about as likely to commence a study on the church as I am to initiate a
conversation with my wife about how she makes a dress, or about how I change a timing belt on
a car.

Here we are, setting out on a study of the church (ecclesiology). If my assessment of the situation
is correct, you can see the problem that we face. If we are going to really engage ourselves in this
study, we must first be convinced of its importance. Just how important is a study of the church?
It is as important as the church is in God’s program for this world, and for the world to come. The
primary purpose of this introductory lesson is to convince you that our study of the church is well
worth your time and mine, your study and mine. I have chosen to focus on the Book of Ephesians
in this lesson because I believe that in this great epistle Paul underscores the importance of the
church in God’s program, and thus in our lives. Let us listen well to the Word of God, which
speaks to us of Christ, of His church, and of our place in it.
The Church in the Book of Ephesians

It is generally agreed that the Book of Ephesians has two parts. Chapters 1-3 lay a doctrinal
foundation and chapters 4-6 spell out the practical ramifications of this doctrine. I believe that the
church is central in both sections of Ephesians. Let us begin by focusing on the doctrinal portion
of Ephesians. I understand that chapters 1-3 expound on the subject of salvation from three
points of view:

Ephesians 1 The source of our salvation – the sovereignty of God in salvation


Ephesians 2 The outcome of our salvation – reconciliation, with God and with men
Ephesians 3 The divine purpose of salvation – the glory of God

Ephesians 1
1 From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints [in Ephesus], the
faithful in Christ Jesus. 2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus
Christ! 3 Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with
every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms in Christ. 4 For he lovingly chose us in Christ
before the foundation of the world that we may be holy and unblemished in his sight. 5 He did
this by predestining us to adoption as his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the pleasure
of his will— 6 to the praise of the glory of his grace that he has freely bestowed on us in his
dearly loved Son. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our
trespasses, according to the riches of his grace 8 that he lavished on us in all wisdom and
insight. 9 He did this when he revealed to us the secret of his will, according to his good
pleasure that he set forth in Christ, 10 toward the administration of the fullness of the times, to
head up all things in Christ—the things in heaven and the things on earth. 11 In Christ we too
have been claimed as God’s own possession, since we were predestined according to the one
purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will 12 so that we,
who were the first to set our hope on Christ, may be to the praise of his glory. 13 And when you
heard the word of truth (the gospel of your salvation)—when you believed in Christ—you were
marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the down payment of our
inheritance, until the redemption of God’s own possession to the praise of his glory (Ephesians
1:1-14, The NET Bible).2

These verses are rich with doctrinal truths, but our purpose here is to summarize the nature of the
spiritual blessings of salvation that God has bestowed on us.

(1) Our spiritual blessings are indeed bountiful. We are blessed with “every spiritual blessing”
(1:3), which are “freely bestowed on us” (1:6), according to “the riches of His grace” (1:7).
Indeed these blessings have been “lavished” upon us (1:8).

(2) These blessings have God the Father as their source. It is He who has blessed us with every
spiritual blessing (1:3). It is He who chose us in eternity past, before the foundation of the world
(1:4). He predestined us to adoption as sons (1:5).

(3) The blessings of salvation are accomplished through the person and work of Jesus Christ
(1:3; 1:4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13) and are assured through the Holy Spirit, Who seals us until
our day of redemption (1:13-14).

(4) We have been predestined and saved unto good works. He purposed that we should be “holy
and unblemished in his sight” (1:4).
(5) We have been saved according to the will of God (1:4-5, 9, 11), to accomplish His
foreordained purposes (1:6, 9-12).

(6) We have been saved for God’s pleasure (1:5, 9), and for the praise of His glory (1:6; 12).

(7) Our salvation is a part of God’s program to exalt and glorify Christ, so that He is preeminent in
and over all creation (1:9-10).

Now here, my friend, is a view of salvation that we hear all too seldom. Salvation is neither
attributed to our goodness, nor to our choice. It is the work of God. It is not “inviting God into our
life,” but God giving us life through His Son. It is not Jesus dying on the cross because He could
not bear the thought of living without me, but rather God sending His Son to the cross for His
pleasure, and to bring praise and glory to Himself. Salvation is more about God than it is about
me.

To put it in a different way, the doctrine of the church must be grounded in the doctrine of
salvation. Do we wonder why we have so many “consumer-oriented” saints, who shop around for
the church that will offer them the most benefits? It is because we have too many misguided folks
who think that God needs them. Salvation is about a gracious God, Who chose to save a people
for Himself, for His own pleasure, and for His glory. It is time for us to see that we have been
saved by a sovereign God, and that we are His possession (1:11), subordinate to His purposes.

15 For this reason, since I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the
saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you when I remember you in my prayers. 17 I pray
that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you spiritual wisdom and
revelation in your growing knowledge of him, 18 —since the eyes of your heart have been
enlightened—so that you may know what is the hope of his calling, what is the wealth of his
glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the incomparable greatness of his power
toward us who believe, as displayed in the exercise of his immense strength. 20 This power he
exercised in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the
heavenly realms 21 far above every rule and authority and power and dominion and every
name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And God put all things
under Christ’s feet, and he gave him to the church as head over all things. 23 Now the church
is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all (Ephesians 1:15-23).

At verse 15, Paul writes of his prayers for the Ephesian saints, based upon the fact that they are
now saved through faith in Jesus Christ, a fact that is evident, in part, by their love for all the
saints (this all will be pursued further in chapter 2, in verses 11-22). Paul is ceaseless in his
prayers of thanksgiving, because the Ephesians have come to faith, and the eyes of their heart
have been enlightened. He also petitions God for their spiritual growth, praying that they might
come to a deeper knowledge of Him through the spiritual wisdom that God supplies (1:17).

Specifically, Paul prays for three things. (1) He prays that they might come to know more fully the
hope of their calling – that is, that they might come to grasp the marvelous future that God has for
them, based upon the fact that God has chosen them and called them to salvation (see 1:3-5). (2)
Paul prays that they might come to a fuller knowledge of the “wealth of God’s glorious
inheritance in the saints” (1:18). (3) Paul prays that the Ephesian saints might come to a deeper
grasp of the immensity of God’s power toward the saints (1:19).

It is this third request that Paul chooses to elaborate upon in the verses that follow. (I should also
point out that Paul will once again turn to this subject of God’s power in 3:14-21.) Paul does not
leave us in the dark as to the kind of power he is talking about. The immeasurable power of God
available to us is that same power that can be seen in the resurrection and ascension of our Lord
(1:20-23).3 Look at what accompanies the resurrection and ascension of our Lord: He is seated at
the right hand of God, exalted above “every rule and authority and power and dominion and
every name that is named” (1:21). Is there anything or anyone that is not subjected to His
authority?4 The exaltation of our Lord over earthly and celestial powers is not just for this age, but
also for the age to come. Who has greater power and authority than this?

God subjected all things under Christ’s feet, exalting Him as Lord over all. In the last two verses
of chapter 1, Paul stresses the relationship between our Lord’s sovereign authority and power
and His leadership of the church:

22 And God put all things under Christ’s feet, and he gave him to the church as head over all
things. 23 Now the church is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all (Ephesians 1:22-23).

Elsewhere, we are told that our Lord is the Head of the church (Ephesians 5:23; Colossians
1:18), but that is not exactly what Paul is saying here in the closing verses of Ephesians 1. It is
one thing for someone to be the head of the church. It is something even greater when that
person is not just head over the church alone, but over all things. If we are members of His
church by faith in Him, Jesus is the Head of the church, in addition to being the Head over all
things (just as Paul stated earlier in 1:20-21). Whatever it is that our Lord purposes to do in and
through His church, He will accomplish because He is Head over all things.

Let me seek to illustrate what Paul is saying here. Several years ago, I was attempting to
purchase a car for a missionary who was returning to the United States for a period of time. I was
introduced to a man, the owner of a car dealership in the area, who said he would like to help
supply this missionary with a car. He then referred me to his best salesman. When the right car
came along, the question of price came up. I asked the salesman if the total price of the car
would fall within the amount of money we had to work with. The salesman replied in words to this
effect, “If the owner of this company tells me to sell you a car for so much, then you can be
assured that will be the price.” The owner of the company was “head over all things” so far as that
car dealership was concerned, so I was assured that I would find a car for the right price. Jesus
Christ is the “Head over all things,” and He is also the Head over the church. We can be
assured that He will employ His power to accomplish His purposes in and through His church.

Paul has prayed that the Ephesians would come to grasp the power of our Lord toward the saints.
He points to the power that was exercised in the resurrection, ascension, and exaltation of our
Lord. He then tells us that Jesus Christ, Who is Lord over all, is also the Head of the church. The
church can be assured that what God purposes to do in and through His church will be
accomplished. But Paul takes this one additional step in the final verse of chapter 1. He informs
his readers that the church is the body of Christ, “the fullness of him who fills all in all” (1:23).

What does this mean? Consider these words written by Paul in Colossians 1:

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in the Son (Colossians 1:19).

All of the fullness of the Father dwells in the Son. The Son thus manifests all that the Father is,
just as we read in Hebrews:

1 After God spoke long ago in various portions and in various ways to our ancestors through
the prophets, 2 in these last days he has spoken to us in a son, whom he appointed heir of all
things, and through whom he created the world. 3 The Son is the radiance of his glory and
the representation of his essence, and he sustains all things by his powerful word, and
so when he had accomplished cleansing for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty
on high. 4 Thus he became so far better than the angels as he has inherited a name superior to
theirs (Hebrews 1:1-4, emphasis mine).
To see the Son is to see the Father:

7 If you have known me, you will know my Father too. And from now on you do know him and
have seen him.” 8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be content.” 9 Jesus
replied, “Have I been with you for so long, and you have not known me, Philip? The person
who has seen me has seen the Father! How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? (John 14:7-9).

Paul is telling us that the church is the body of Christ. The church is “the fullness of Him who
fills all in all.” What an amazing statement! Paul has just told us how great our Lord Jesus Christ
is, and he concludes by telling us that the church is His body, His fullness. And so I ask the
question, “How important is a study of the church?” Answer: It is as important as the church is,
and the church is the fullness of Christ, the One who fills all in all.

Ephesians 2
Salvation from a Human Perspective

1 And although you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you formerly lived
according to this world’s present path, according to the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the ruler
of the spirit that is now energizing the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom all of us also
formerly lived out our lives in the cravings of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and the
mind, and were by nature children of wrath even as the rest… 4 But God, being rich in mercy,
because of his great love with which he loved us, 5 even though we were dead in
transgressions, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you are saved!— 6 and he raised
us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 to demonstrate
in the coming ages the surpassing wealth of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8
For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 it
is not of works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, having been created
in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them (Ephesians
2:1-10).

In Ephesians 2, Paul describes our salvation from a human perspective. In verses 1-10, Paul
describes our salvation in terms of sinful men being reconciled to God through faith in Christ. He
describes our complete inability to save ourselves in verses 1-3, which demonstrates our
desperate need for grace. Before we came to faith, we were dead in our sins – not sick, dead. We
marched to the beat of a deadly drum, living in accordance with the world. And because we were
conformed to the world, we were under bondage to the “ruler of the kingdom of the air,” the
devil, who even now inspires and empowers those who are lost, the “sons of disobedience”
(2:2).

The tragedy of our lost condition is that we didn’t even know we were lost and in desperate need
of salvation. We lived our lives thinking we were free. In reality, we were enslaved to our fleshly
passions and lusts. We pursued the pleasures of the flesh, without even knowing we were in
bondage to the flesh. To sum it all up, we were enslaved by the world, the flesh, and the devil,
and thereby we were doomed to eternal wrath.

Our salvation was not of our own doing. It was the outworking of God’s love as He mercifully
saved us by His grace (2:4-10). Even though we were dead in our sins, He made us alive by
joining us with Christ in His saving work on our behalf. In Him, we who were dead in our sins
were made alive. In Him, we were raised up with Him and seated with Him in the heavenly
realms. In other words, we became partakers with Christ in His exaltation, which was described in
Ephesians 1:19-23.
Paul makes two things abundantly clear in the first half of Ephesians 2. First, Paul emphasizes
that the salvation we have experienced is the work of God on our behalf, and not the result of any
works we have done. We were dead in our sins, the pawns of sin and of Satan. We were saved
by grace, through faith, and not of any work on our part (Ephesians 2:8-9). Even the good works
that we may accomplish as Christians are the works He prepared beforehand (2:10). Second,
Paul informs us that our salvation is not primarily for our benefit, but for God’s benefit:

6 and he raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,
7 to demonstrate in the coming ages the surpassing wealth of his grace in kindness
toward us in Christ Jesus (2:6-7, emphasis mine).

God saved us to manifest His grace and kindness, and thus to bring glory to Himself, both now
and in the ages to come.5

In verses 1-10, Paul describes our salvation in terms of sinful men being reconciled to God
through faith in Christ. Now, in verses 11-22, Paul describes our salvation in terms of our
reconciliation with others. Specifically, Paul speaks of the salvation God accomplished in Christ
Jesus as that which reconciles Jews and (their bitter counterparts) the Gentiles.

11 Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh—who are called
“uncircumcision” by the so-called “circumcision” that is performed in the body by hands— 12
that you were at that time without the Messiah, alienated from the citizenship of Israel and
strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But
now in Christ Jesus you who used to be far away have been brought near by the blood of
Christ. 14 For he is our peace, the one who turned both groups into one and who destroyed the
middle wall of partition, the hostility, in his flesh, 15 when he nullified the law of commandments
in decrees. He did this to create in himself one new man out of two, thus making peace, 16 and
to reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by which the hostility has been
killed. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who
were near, 18 so that through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then
you are no longer foreigners and noncitizens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and
members of God’s household, 20 because you have been built on the foundation of the
apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. 21 In him the whole
building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are
being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit (Ephesians 2:11-22).

In the Jewish mind, no one could be more lost than a Gentile (see Galatians 2:15). Paul does not
minimize the “lostness” of his Gentile readers who have been converted. In Ephesians 2:1-3, Paul
described the hopeless condition of his readers by virtue of the fact that they were sinners,
enslaved by the world, the flesh, and the devil. They were, without a doubt, “children of wrath,”
that is, those who were destined to God’s eternal wrath because of their sin, which made them
enemies of God. Now, in Ephesians 2:11-12, Paul describes his readers’ hopeless condition as
Gentiles, from the standpoint of their separation from Israel. Notice all that the Gentiles lacked,
from a Jewish point of view. They were …

… without circumcision (2:11)

… without the Messiah (2:12)

… without citizenship in Israel (2:12)

… without the covenants made with the patriarchs (2:12)

… without hope (2:12)


… without God in the world (2:12).

They were in bad shape. From the Jewish point of view, they were hopelessly lost.

You can understand, then, why “uncircumcised Gentiles” were looked down upon by the
circumcised Jews. They were considered unworthy of the blessings God promised Abraham and
his descendants. The mere thought of God including Gentiles in His blessings sent the Jews into
a frenzy (see Luke 4:16-30; Acts 22:21-23). Nevertheless, Paul declares that the saving work of
Christ at Calvary reconciles Jews and Gentiles who trust in Him. Lost (dare I say heathen)
Gentiles who were formerly “far away” have been “brought near” through the blood of Christ
(2:13).

Not only did God bring salvation to lost Gentiles through the work of Christ, making them
participants in the blessings promised to the patriarchs, God also brought about reconciliation
between these very hostile groups. Those who were once bitter enemies find peace and
harmony, in Christ (2:14-15). We are not two “separate but equal” groups, but a new creation,
“one new man” (2:15). The wall which separated Jews and Gentiles in the temple has
symbolically been torn down in Christ. Through the body of Christ (“one body,” 2:16), believing
Jews and Gentiles have been reconciled; hostility has been done away with. We now all have
access to the Father through the same Holy Spirit.

In the final verses of chapter 2, Paul once again chooses to bring his argument to a climax by
turning our attention to Christ and to His church. We were once “illegal aliens” so far as God’s
covenant promises were concerned, but in Christ we are now fellow citizens, members of God’s
household. The imagery now changes from a family, or household, to a temple (2:21). Believing
Jews and Gentiles are, on the one hand, one new man (2:15); on the other they are one building
– a temple (2:20-21). The foundation of this spiritual temple is the apostolic preaching of the
cross. The “apostles and prophets” are the New Testament “apostles and prophets,” (see also
3:5), who proclaimed the shed blood of Jesus Christ as God’s remedy for sin, and God’s only way
of salvation for sinners. In this temple, Jesus Christ is the cornerstone (2:20). He is the One Who
ties the whole building together, the One common point of reference by which the building can be
constructed. This temple is described as still under construction (by way of evangelism). The end
result is a “holy temple” which serves as a dwelling place for God through His Holy Spirit (2:21-
22).

Notice that once again the church is the finished product of God’s redemptive work. I do not mean
to say that the church is to be preeminent. Christ is the One Who is preeminent, as the One who
brought the church into existence. Christ is the One Who is to be preeminent as the Head of the
church (Ephesians 1:20-23; 4:15; 5:23; Colossians 1:18). But God’s work at Calvary was meant
to produce more than a multitude of individual saints; His saving work was intended to produce a
church, a temple, a dwelling place in which He would reside by the Holy Spirit.

I would ask again, now based upon Paul’s teaching in Ephesians 2, “How important is the church,
and thus our study of the church?” The church is God’s dwelling place. The church is the temple
of God, composed of both Jewish and Gentile Christians, who have been reconciled to God and
to each other through the saving work of Jesus Christ. Heaven is, more than anything, God
dwelling in the midst of His redeemed people:

1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and earth had ceased to exist,
and the sea existed no more. 2 And I saw the holy city—the new Jerusalem—descending out
of heaven from God, made ready like a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud
voice from the throne saying: “Look! The residence of God is among men and women. He will
live among them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God”
(Revelation 21:1-3).
The church is as close to heaven as men will ever get on earth, because the church is the place
where God has chosen to dwell, through His Spirit.

Ephesians 3
1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— 2 if indeed
you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 that by
revelation the divine secret was made known to me, as I wrote before briefly. 4 When reading
this, you will be able to understand my insight into this secret of Christ. 5 Now this secret was
not disclosed to mankind in former generations as it has now been revealed to his holy
apostles and prophets by the Spirit, 6 namely, that through the gospel the Gentiles are fellow
heirs, fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus. 7 I
became a servant of this gospel according to the gift of God’s grace that was given to me by
the exercise of his power. 8 To me—less than the least of all the saints—this grace was given,
to proclaim to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ 9 and to enlighten everyone about
the divine secret’s plan—a secret that has been hidden for ages in the God who has created all
things. 10 The purpose of this enlightenment is that through the church the multifaceted
wisdom of God should now be disclosed to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly
realms. 11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our
Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and confident access to God because of Christ’s
faithfulness. 13 For this reason I ask you not to lose heart because of what I am suffering for
you, which is your glory. 14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom
every family in heaven and on the earth is named. 16 I pray that according to the wealth of his
glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner man, 17
that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, so that, by being rooted and grounded in
love, 18 you may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and
height and depth, 19 and thus to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you
may be filled up to all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who by the power that is working
within us is able to do far beyond all that we ask or think, 21 to him be the glory in the church
and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen (Ephesians 3:1-21, emphasis
mine).

It is not our purpose to give a full exposition of these first chapters of Ephesians, but only to show
how important the church is in each chapter. In chapter 3, Paul spells out what he has already
alluded to in chapter 1:

9 He did this when he revealed to us the secret of his will, according to his good pleasure that
he set forth in Christ, 10 toward the administration of the fullness of the times, to head up all
things in Christ—the things in heaven and the things on earth (Ephesians 1:9-10).

Paul has been privileged to reveal the “secret” or the “mystery” that was hidden in times past.
Now it is important to understand what a mystery is. A mystery is not something which has never
been mentioned before; a mystery is something at which God has been hinting, but which men
have not understood. One might say that our Lord’s death on the cross of Calvary was a mystery
to the disciples, as was His resurrection. This is not because Jesus never said anything about
dying, or being raised from the dead. It is because the disciples had a very different kind of “king”
and “kingdom” in mind:

21 From that time on Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and
suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests, and experts in the law, and be
killed, and on the third day be raised. 22 So Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him,
saying, “God forbid, Lord! This must not happen to you.” 23 But he turned and said to Peter,
“Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me, because you are not setting your
mind on God’s interests, but on man’s” (Matthew 16:21-23).
The “secret” which God privileged Paul to announce was the “mystery” of His bringing all things
to a head in Christ. Put differently, the “mystery” was the “secret” of His church, made up of both
Jews and Gentiles, through faith in Jesus Christ:

5 Now this secret was not disclosed to mankind in former generations as it has now been
revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit, 6 namely, that through the gospel the
Gentiles are fellow heirs, fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in
Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:5-6).

This mystery is great—but I am actually speaking with reference to Christ and the church
(Ephesians 5:32).

Looking back, the salvation of Jews and Gentiles should come as no surprise, as we can see
from Paul’s quotations from the Old Testament in Romans 9-11. But looking forward, no one saw
the church coming. It was a great surprise. Paul was privileged not only to proclaim this mystery
(a proclamation that was not always welcomed – see Acts 22:21-23), but to actually preach the
gospel to the Gentiles.

My theological training predisposed me to think of the church as a kind of parenthesis,


sandwiched between God’s working with the Israel in the Old Testament and His working with
Israel in the future. But this is not the impression I get from Paul at all. As I was reading this week,
I found that I was not alone in this conclusion:

“Several times I have read the Bible straight through, from Genesis to Revelation, and each
time it strikes me that the church is a culmination, the realization of what God had in mind from
the beginning.”6

As Philip Yancey puts it, this sense of culmination is not something reached independently of
God’s Word, but as a result of reading His Word. Consider whether or not these texts don’t also
point to the same conclusion:

5 Now may the God of endurance and comfort give you unity with one another in accordance
with Christ Jesus, 6 so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our
Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Receive one another, then, just as Christ also received you, to God’s
glory. 8 For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of God’s
truth to confirm the promises made to the fathers, 9 and thus the Gentiles glorify God for his
mercy. As it is written, “Because of this I will confess you among the Gentiles, and I will
sing praises to your name.” 10 And again it says: “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.” 11
And again, “Praise the Lord all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples praise him.” 12 And
again Isaiah says, “The root of Jesse will come, and the one who rises to rule over the
Gentiles, in him will the Gentiles hope.” 13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and
peace as you believe in him, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit
(Romans 15:5-13).

39 And these [Old Testament saints] all were commended for their faith, yet they did not
receive what was promised. 40 For God had provided something better for us [New Testament
saints], so that they would be made perfect together with us (Hebrews 11:39-40).

The church is not a parenthesis but an exclamation point! The church is not just an interlude or
intermission, something to occupy mankind while God prepares to save Israelites. The church is
the culmination and climax of God’s eternal plan. It is the consummation of God’s purposes, the
completion of what God had predestined in eternity past. The Scriptures had spoken of this, but
not so clearly that men would understand (and even if it were clearly revealed, it would not be
welcomed).
This “mystery,” now revealed, puts Paul’s persecution in a different light:

13 For this reason I ask you not to lose heart because of what I am suffering for you, which is
your glory (Ephesians 3:13, emphasis mine).

20 Now to him who by the power that is working within us is able to do far beyond all that we
ask or think, 21 to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations,
forever and ever. Amen (Ephesians 3:20-21, emphasis mine).

The gospel is glorious. Suffering for the gospel is glorious. Paul speaks of his sufferings for the
sake of the gospel as being the glory of the Ephesians. The gospel is the “mystery,” which is
proclaimed by Paul, along with the apostles and the prophets (Ephesians 2:20; 3:5). The gospel
is the good news that faith in Jesus Christ not only reconciles one to God, but also with believing
Jews. The gospel is the good news that faith in Jesus Christ joins one to the body of Christ, the
church, and thus makes every believer a part of God’s temple, God’s dwelling place.

Is the church worthy of our study of this doctrine? Most definitely. The church is the climax of
God’s eternal purpose. The church is not only the place where God dwells, it is the place where
God is glorified (Ephesians 2:20-21). The church is the stage in human history upon which the
wisdom of God is displayed before the celestial beings, to the glory of God:

10 The purpose of this enlightenment is that through the church the multifaceted wisdom of
God should now be disclosed to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly realms. 11 This
was according to the eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord
(Ephesians 3:10-11).

10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who predicted the grace that would come to you
searched and investigated carefully. 11 They probed into what person or time the Spirit of
Christ in them was indicating when he testified beforehand about the sufferings appointed for
Christ and his subsequent glory. 12 They were shown that they were serving not themselves
but you, in regard to the things now announced to you through those who evangelized you by
the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things angels long to catch a glimpse of (1 Peter 1:10-12).

For this reason a woman should have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels
(1 Corinthians 11:10).

Conclusion

Now we know that Ephesians 4-6 has to do with application. As we conclude our study, let’s
consider what role the church might play in the practical outworking of the doctrine Paul has
taught in chapters 1-3, doctrine which places a great emphasis on the church.

Ephesians 4
Someone may very well ask, “So what does Ephesians have to say to me?” That is always a
good question, but it can also reveal an improper perspective and focus. The inclination of our
flesh is to be self-centered, and so we immediately seek to see how the Bible impacts me,
personally. What we need to see is that God did not save us to become little islands in the sea of
His grace. He saved us to become a part of His church. Baptism is not just about us, individually;
it is about us being joined with Christ’s body – His body in His literal death, burial and
resurrection, as well as His body, the church. Communion likewise is not merely an individual
experience:
16 Is not the cup of blessing that we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread that
we break a sharing in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are
one body, for we all share the one bread (1 Corinthians 10:16-17).

We in the West tend toward rugged individualism. This is very different from the sense of
community that one finds in the East, especially in Asia. In Ephesians 4-6, Paul applies the
doctrine he has taught to the church corporately, as well as to saints individually. In fact, I would
be so bold as to say that there is more corporate emphasis than individual. This becomes
apparent as we begin to think our way through chapters 4-6.

Paul begins his application by emphasizing the urgency of maintaining the unity within the church:

1 I, therefore, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live worthily of the calling with which you
have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in
love, 3 making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one
body and one Spirit, just as you too were called to the one hope of your calling, 5 one Lord, one
faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all
(Ephesians 4:1-6).

The unity of which Paul speaks must surely be the unity that he described in Ephesians 2:11-22,
that is the unity which resulted from the reconciliation God brought about between Jews and
Gentiles, in Christ. The church is the body of Christ, and it is the temple in which God dwells by
His Spirit. It is “one new man” made up of Jews and Gentiles, who come from very different
cultures, and who have lived all their lives in hostility toward each other. The work of Christ at
Calvary accomplished a great reconciliation, but maintaining this unity is something for which all
the saints must strive.

7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of the gift of Christ. 8
Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he took captives, he gave gifts to men.” 9
Now what is the meaning of “he ascended,” except that he also descended to the lower parts
of the earth? 10 He, the very one who descended, is also the one who ascended above all the
heavens, in order to fill all things. 11 It was he who gave some as apostles, some as prophets,
some as evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work
of ministry, that is, to build up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith
and of the knowledge of the Son of God—a mature person, attaining to the measure of Christ’s
full stature. 14 So we are no longer to be children, tossed back and forth by waves and carried
about by every wind of teaching by the trickery of people who craftily carry out their deceitful
schemes. 15 But practicing the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Christ, who is the
head. 16 From him the whole body grows, fitted and held together through every supporting
ligament. As each one does its part, the body grows in love (Ephesians 4:7-16).

The church not only comes from very diverse backgrounds, the church is, by design, made up of
individual believers whose gifts and ministries are diverse. This diversity of gifting is not designed
to undermine unity, but rather to facilitate unity. The spiritual growth Paul speaks about here is
not individual, but corporate. It is the whole body which is to grow up into Christ (4:15). It is the
growth of all (4:12-13). It is brought about as each individual member of the body utilizes his gift
for the building up of the whole body (4:16). The church grows corporately as the church
functions corporately. Note how central the church is here.

The remainder of chapter 4 contains Paul’s instructions to the church pertaining to relationships
with one another. We are not to seek our own good at the expense of others; rather, we are to
strive to promote the good of others at our expense.
Ephesians 5
In chapter 5, Paul has more instructions for the church. Verses 1-5 speak of our responsibility to
love one another in a way that is very different from the “love” of those who are lost in their sins.
We are to love others as Christ loved us (5:1-2), as Christ loved His church (5:25-31). We are
likewise to stand apart from this world, the world which once enslaved us (2:1-3; 5:3-14).

Paul said earlier that the church is the dwelling place of God in the Spirit (2:22). Paul now
instructs the church to be “filled with the Spirit” (5:18). How does this filling of the Spirit evidence
itself? Is it something individual, so that people look at us, so that people conclude that we are
spiritual? No.

15 Therefore be very careful how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 taking advantage of
every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 For this reason do not be foolish, but be wise
by understanding what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, which is
debauchery, but be filled by the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and
spiritual songs, singing and making music in your hearts to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to
God the Father for each other in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 and submitting to one
another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:15-21).

The manifestations of the filling of the Spirit are described in corporate terms, rather than in
individual terms. Those who are Spirit-filled walk in wisdom, and they make the most of the
opportunities to live righteously (5:15-16). Those who are Spirit-filled grasp God’s will (5:15). They
speak and sing spiritual truths to one another. They are characterized by thanksgiving and by
submission to one another. The filling of the Spirit is evident in the corporate life of the church. I
see the same thing in the early church following Pentecost:

38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ
for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the
promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far away, as many as the Lord our God
will call to himself” (Acts 2:38-39).

Here is the promise of salvation for all who will believe, a promise which includes the gift of the
Holy Spirit. We are told that many who heard this promise trusted in Jesus Christ and were added
to the church (Acts 2:41, 47). What were the evidences of the Spirit’s presence and power in the
church?

41 So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand
people were added. 42 They were devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to
fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Reverential awe came on everyone, and
many wonders and miraculous signs came about by the apostles. 44 All who believed were
together and held everything in common, 45 and they began selling their property and
possessions and distributing the proceeds to everyone, as anyone had need. 46 Every day
they continued to gather together by common consent in the temple courts, breaking bread
from house to house, sharing their food with glad and humble hearts, 47 praising God and
having the good will of all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number every day those
who were being saved (Acts 2:41-47).

In Ephesians 5:22-33, the doctrine of the church which Paul expounded earlier is applied to
marriage. The relationship between our Lord and His church is the pattern for the way husbands
and wives relate to each other in their marriage. Here is an interesting thought. How many
different kinds of marriage counseling exist today? How many approaches are there to marriage?
It would seem to me that a good marriage would be established on the basis of Ephesians 1-3.
Christian marriage is the application of the church truth taught in the first half of Ephesians. Can
you believe it? Ecclesiology is the key to a godly marriage!

Ephesians 6
One may think that in Ephesians 6 Paul finally gets to the individual application. There are
implications for individuals, it is true, but these seem to stem from the corporate nature of the
church. The church is a corporate body, encompassing a very diverse group of people: parents
and their children, slaves and their masters. All have a unique stewardship as a result of being a
part of the larger body, the body of Christ.

When I come to the “spiritual warfare” section of Ephesians (6:10-20), I must admit that I have
always viewed these instructions as individual. But seeing the corporate (church) emphasis in
Ephesians, I am obliged to consider these instructions as having a corporate dimension. Let us
remember our Lord’s first words regarding His church in Matthew:

16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus
answered him, “You are blessed, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal
this to you, but my Father in heaven! 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will
build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. 19 I will give you the keys of the
kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on the earth will have been bound in heaven, and
whatever you release on earth will have been released in heaven.” 20 Then he instructed his
disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ (Matthew 16:16-20).

Peter’s great confession (that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the Son of the living God) was
the foundation of the church. The first thing that Jesus says about the church is that “the gates of
Hades will not overpower it” (Matthew 16:18). This strongly suggests to me that our spiritual
warfare should not be individualistic, but corporate. It is the church that will withstand the attacks
of Satan. Should we therefore not wage our spiritual warfare as a part of the church, and not
merely as an individual? The last verses of Paul’s instructions regarding spiritual warfare call for
our prayers “for all the saints” (verse 18), as well as for Paul (verses 19 and 20). Paul does not
wish to go it alone, but rather urges the Ephesians to join with him in his warfare against the
kingdom of darkness.

When the apostles faced persecution for preaching Christ, where did they go as soon as
possible? Was it not to the church?

23 When they were released, Peter and John went to their fellow believers and reported
everything the high priests and the elders had said to them. 24 When they heard this, they
raised their voices to God with one mind and said, “Master of all, you who made the heaven
and the earth and the sea, and everything that is in them, 25 who said by the Holy Spirit
through your servant David our forefather, ‘Why do the nations rage, and the peoples plot
foolish things? 26 The kings of the earth stood together, and the rulers assembled
together, against the Lord and against his Christ.’ 27 “For both Herod and Pontius Pilate,
with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, assembled together in this city against your holy
servant Jesus, whom you anointed, 28 to do as much as your power and your plan had
decided beforehand would happen. 29 And now, Lord, pay attention to their threats, and grant
to your servants to speak your message with great courage, 30 while you extend your hand to
heal, and to bring about miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant
Jesus.” 31 When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken,
and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God courageously
(Acts 4:23-31).
8 The angel said to him, “Fasten your belt and put on your sandals.” Peter did so. Then the
angel said to him, “Put on your cloak and follow me.” 9 Peter went out and followed him; he did
not realize that what was happening through the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a
vision. 10 After they had passed the first and second guards, they came to the iron gate leading
into the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went outside and walked down one narrow
street, when at once the angel left him. 11 When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I know
for certain that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from
everything the Jewish people were expecting to happen.” 12 When Peter realized this, he went
to the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where many people had gathered together and
were praying. 13 When he knocked at the door of the outer gate, a slave girl named Rhoda
answered. 14 When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she did not open the
gate, but ran back in and told them that Peter was standing at the gate. 15 But they said to her,
“You’ve lost your mind!” But she kept insisting that it was Peter, and they kept saying, “It is his
angel!” 16 Now Peter continued knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they
were greatly astonished. 17 He gave them a signal with his hand to be quiet and then related to
them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. He said, “Tell James and the brothers
these things,” and then he left and went to another place (Acts 12:8-17).

When they came out of the prison, they entered Lydia’s house, and when they saw the
brothers, they encouraged them and then departed (Acts 16:40).

It was the church that sent out missionaries (Acts 13:1-3), and when they had completed their
mission, they returned to report to the church (Acts 14:25-28). Paul understood that the church
was intimately involved with him in the preaching of the gospel (Philippians 1:3-5, 19; 4:15-20).
We do not live our lives in some autonomous fashion, but as a part of the church of our Lord
Jesus Christ.

We could go on to show other ways in which the doctrine of the church is applied in Ephesians 4-
6. But have we not made the point that the doctrine of ecclesiology (the doctrine of the church) is
vitally important? It was to Paul, as we can see from the Book of Ephesians. Should it not be
important to us as well? If so, then we should proceed with our study of the church, convinced
that this is an endeavor well worth the time and effort required. May God grant that we might
better grasp the glorious relationship between Christ and the church, His bride, His body, His
dwelling place, His fullness, His glory.

9. MISSION

Theology of Mission
“Identify and defend the significant elements in your theology of Christian
mission, and explain the ways in which you seek to express this theology in your
practice of ministry.”
Identifying the significant elements in my theology of Christian mission is
relatively straightforward. In summary, I believe Christian mission is about:

• Who we are: followers of Jesus and children of God.

• How we live: the methods and techniques we use.

• Where we are going: the Kingdom of God is both a present reality and a
future destination.
However, these three points are too complex to function as ‘elements’ and
need to be broken down into their key parts; also, it is generally the case that the
task of identifying must also include an amount of explaining how I interpret that
element.
As I understand it, the task of defending the significant elements in my
theology of Christian mission must involve the following aspects.

• Explaining why I believe each significant element to be


significant. Where this seems necessary, I do so as part of my description
and interpretation.

• The elements of my theology are only present because they fit into a
wider framework of doctrine and practice. While the question does not
explicitly ask about this framework, I need to briefly identify some other
frameworks, the rejection of which plays a significant part in my choice
of significant elements.

• Some further explanation is needed as to why I have left out some other
elements other people consider to be significant.
Finally, the description of how I seek of express this theology is to be
understood in the context of my work at Crisis Centre Ministries.

1. Elements of Christian Mission


1.1. It is all about following Jesus
Christian mission must be about the mission of the Christ. Jesus had a
mission, and if we choose to follow Him, then we accept His mission as our
own. All the other elements of my theology of mission flow out of this one.
We are not called to exercise the same ministry as Jesus, but His practice of
ministry is to be normative for us: “our task is simply to imitate him” even
though what He did was “unique, climactic, decisive” [Wright, 2000:140].
Since a commitment to Jesus is also a commitment to His mission, this
mission must take a primary, central and inescapable place in our lives.
Primary, because Jesus consistently called people to give Him the primary
place in their lives. The earliest creed was probably the simplest: ‘Jesus is Lord’:
He is our absolute master. We may choose whether or not we follow Jesus, but if
we follow, we cannot choose to opt out of any aspect or area of discipleship.
(Despite our missionary recruitment strategies, He did not say “If you feel really
enthusiastic, you may want to consider going into all the world…”)
Central, because following Jesus has a determining influence on all other
aspects of our lives.
Inescapable, because there is only one category of membership.
Traditionally, the Church has been divided into doers and watchers: clergy and
laity, priests and people; but there is no (justifiable) basis for this in the New
Testament. We each have different roles to play, but we are all called to work
towards achieving the same goal.

1.2. It is about incarnation and crucifixion


Incarnation and crucifixion go together. God consistently works through
incarnation. When He wants to do something, He becomes present in a human
being. And in that human life, His power is made perfect in weakness.
The cross is vital, but it can only be properly understood in the context of the
incarnation. Our mission is primarily about God being present for people. He is
present for people because He is present in His people. “Incarnational
community action” [Green, 2001: 31, 55] is the only form of authentically
Christian community action.
The incarnation is central to NT doctrine and practice. John 3:16 is about the
incarnation. Jesus’ pivotal discourse after the Last Supper is a meditation on the
meaning and importance of incarnation: “Abide in me”. Paul’s letters can be
seen as explorations of what it means to be ‘in Christ.’
“It is impossible to stress too strongly that the beginning of mission is not an
action of ours but the presence of a new reality, the presence of the Spirit of God
in power.” [Newbigin, 1989:119] The ‘new reality’ became present in Jesus
through the incarnation, and the giving of the Spirit is also linked to the
incarnation: “‘as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’ And when He had said
this, He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.”’ (John
20:21-22, NASB)

1.3. It is about relationships


We tend to focus on the external details of activities and strategies and
doctrines. In considering Jesus, the most important things to note are not what
He said or what He did, but who He was, and the relationship He had with his
Father. His entire ministry flowed from this self-understanding and relationship.
Wright’s assessment of Jesus’ self-understanding as a key issue is largely
accepted, even by his critics – see, for example, Bock in [Newman, 1999: 110].
Not only Jesus’ ministry but also the whole of the New Testament is primarily
about relationships. Doctrines matter because they affect how we live, and how
we live matters because it affects our relationships.
Jesus summarises the law of Moses in terms of two relationships: love God,
and love your neighbour. The atonement is important because it restores a
broken relationship: “you are no longer strangers and aliens, but… of God’s
household” (Ephesians 2:19).
Perhaps most significantly, we see in the John 20:21 text quoted above that
Jesus “makes his own relationship with the Father the basic paradigm for the
disciples’ relationship with Jesus in the pursuit of their mission.” [Kostenberger
& O’Brien 2001: 260]

1.4. It is about the Kingdom of God


I take it as self-evident that the Kingdom of God, however we are to
understand this concept, was central to both Jesus’ preaching and His wider
mission.

1.5. It is about serving others


Jesus’ own ministry was about encountering other people and serving them in
appropriate ways. His focus was not primarily on His own spiritual life and
health (although these things clearly did matter to Him) but on the concerns and
needs of the people around Him – both His disciples and those who did not
follow Him.
There is no suggestion in the Gospels that Jesus was trying to impose a pre-
defined agenda on the people He met. He returned to some key themes and
issues many times in his ministry, and at times He used encounters with
individuals as an example or teaching aid (“See this child?”), but He never used
the individual.
Jesus saw His own role as that of a servant (Luke 22: 27), and always put the
needs of the people He met before his own agenda of teaching and demonstrating
the Kingdom.

1.6. It is about the whole person


In modern terms, Jesus exercised a ‘holistic’ ministry: his activity was neither
purely focussed on the spiritual (preaching and praying) nor on the physical
(feeding and healing). This sounds simple and obvious, but it is not simple in
practice, and I have encountered many Evangelical Christian who do not believe
that this aspect of His ministry is normative for us.

1.7. It is about engagement in society


Jesus and the Apostles worked to reach and transform individuals: there is no
suggestion that they planned to transform the society they lived in. But still,
Jesus’ mission led Him to engage the political and economic systems of His day:
He taught about money, tax and inheritance rights.
While we may choose to disengage from some aspects of society (such as
food sacrificed in pagan temples, or the national lottery), we are expected to
function as active members of society and not withdraw from it into self-
sufficient monasteries or communes. Jesus chose not to join the Essenes.
The term ‘engagement’ should be understood in the context of Warren’s
linking of “distinctive and engaged” [1995: 29], a discussion which closely
parallels my use of the phrase “unique and united” which has been repeated
many times since first preaching a sermon on that theme in 1987.

1.8. It is about working together


We are united in a real way with our fellow members of the society in which
we live, but in a deeper way with our fellow Christians. While it is not entirely
true that “there are no lone Christians in the Bible” (the Ethiopian eunuch seems
to be the exception that proves the rule), Christian ministry is always undertaken
as a corporate activity. Jesus sent out the disciples in pairs; the Apostles worked
in groups; in each new church Elders (plural) were appointed; and so on.
Our unity is not only a vital doctrine, but it testifies to and authenticates the
message we preach: “the only effective hermeneutic of the gospel is the life of
the congregation which believes it” [Newbigin, 1989:234]
The ministry and gifting of each individual Christian is seen in the context of
the Body of Christ, and each member needs the other members to make up what
is lacking: “If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? (1
Corinthians 12: 17b)

1.9. It is about the ‘Ephesians Four’ ministries


I believe that the ministries listed by Paul in Ephesians 4:11 are all vital
components of both church life and Christian mission. I do not have space to
explain and justify my interpretation of this verse and the surrounding passage,
but it seems to me that this passage is talking about “a total mobilisation of the
entire membership of the Church for ministry to the world and building up the
body” [Johnstone, 1998:163] both locally and elsewhere.

2. Defending (1): Alternative Approaches


What I would like to do at this point is respond in detail to Bosch [1991], but
space does not permit.
I have long held the view that most of our errors in doctrine and practice can
be traced to a misunderstanding of the nature of the church. Of course, this brief
statement ignores a major ‘chicken and egg’ issue (such as I describe below
under ‘Eschatology’), but it does provide a framework for mentioning three
alternative approaches I reject in principle.

2.1. The Church as an institution


While the church clearly is an institution, it is more than an institution. The
reduction of the church in practice to no more than a human institution is often
identified with the Constantinian revolution. For example, we read, “The legacy
that Christendom bequeathed to the church was effectively to reduce it to the
status of an institution for the care of the faithful” [Shenk, in Saaymon &
Kritzinger, 1996:90], but in reality this transformation took place much earlier.
The early Church Fathers were very concerned about matters such as the
characteristics of a holy lifestyle, the value of martyrdom, the differences
between Christian and non-Christian values and lifestyle, and church practice:
the letter of Polycarp [Staniforth, 1968: 144-150] is a good example. It is all
about ‘the care of the faithful.’ According to the written records, they showed
very little concern for mission and evangelism: in the Didache, only chapter 11
touches on these concerns, and then it is only to warn that a true ‘missioner’ will
never stay as a guest “more than a day, or two days if it really necessary” [:233].

2.2. The Church as the whole society


I am persuaded by various arguments (see, for example, Verduin [1976]) that
the identification of Church with society is mistaken, and also has a number of
serious and unfortunate consequences. Two of these consequences are
particularly relevant here.
Firstly, if the whole of society belongs to the church, there is no place for
Christian mission within the ‘Christian’ society. I acknowledge the inspirational
work of many Christians, such as St Francis, who gave themselves to this task,
but the battles they had to fight within the church to justify their activities
adequately demonstrates my point.
And secondly, if the model is for society as a whole to be Christian, then
‘Christian’ mission must result in the destruction and re-creation of the culture of
any non-Christian society. Mission in this context is not about serving people
but conquering them. For example, the missionaries arriving with Cortés and
Pizarro were clearly involved in “a continuation of the crusades.” [Bosch, 1991:
226]

2.3. The Church as a ghetto


Many people outside the Church have declared it to be irrelevant, but the real
problem is that much of the Church believes itself to be irrelevant to modern life
and society as a whole: the private world of personal identity and meaning is not
functionally connected with the public world of the state, commerce, health and
education [Walker, 1996: 116-121].
It can be argued that Protestant churches accepting “compartmentalized
living” [Gibbs & Coffey, 2000: 37] is a natural consequence of the Reformers’
unquestioning acceptance of the Roman Catholic understanding of the Church
carried forward into a world in which every congregation owes more to the
gathered Church of the Anabaptists than the parish church of Christendom; but
we do not have room to pursue that question here.
3. Defending (2): ‘Missing’ Elements
All Christian truth is inter-related, and mistakes or biases in interpreting any
one area will have an impact on our understanding of all other areas.
Consequently, I do not want to exclude any Biblical material or concept:
everything is relevant, and every doctrine can make an important contribution
when considering some aspect of Christian mission.
The following items are only excluded from my list of significant elements
because they are less significant to me in establishing a theology of Christian
mission than the elements identified above.

3.1. The mission of God


It seems to me that much of the discussion of the ‘mission of God’ improperly
confuses the works of the Father and the Son. But the Father’s mission is
“wrapped up first and foremost in God’s act of sending his Son.” [Williams, in
Larkin & Williams, 1998: 240] The Father sends the Son; the Son has a mission,
and invites us to join Him in it.
The work of God (in, for example, creation, or the calling of Abraham) may
inform our understanding of Christian mission, but does not define or determine
it. In seeking to understand Christian mission, it must be of secondary rather
than primary importance.

3.2. The trinity


The New Testament clearly teaches that we follow Jesus, who is the way to
the Father, in the power of the Holy Spirit. But it is equally obvious that the NT
does not contain a doctrine of the trinity, and it took the Church centuries of
prayer, debate and conflict before the Athanasian Creed was formulated and
widely accepted; and even then, the filioque controversy was never resolved.
While many writers consider belief in the trinity to be foundational or a
“fundamental belief” [Newbigin, 1978:31], and while I wholeheartedly believe in
the triune God, I cannot believe that a doctrine that Jesus and the Apostles never
(to our knowledge) taught can be central to any vital aspect of Christian life or
teaching.

3.3. Spiritual warfare


Much teaching about spiritual warfare is dangerously misguided. Books on
the subject tend to treat it as a specialist activity for the spiritual elite, while in
the NT it is used as one metaphor among many for the ‘normal Christian life’
that all followers of Christ are called to.
So I wish to simultaneously affirm that authentic Christian mission is an
engagement in spiritual warfare, and also to deny the relevance of much writing
on the subject. In this, as in many areas, I am indebted to Forster – see [1997: 7]
for example.

3.4. Eschatology
I believe and teach what I affirmed above: that our beliefs affect the way we
live. But the opposite is also true: we tend to believe the doctrines which support
the way we choose to live. In all the evangelical churches I have known well,
whatever was taught from the pulpit, the people who tithed tended to believe in
tithing.
I have spent a great deal of time talking with people about eschatology,
primarily in the context of mission and evangelism. From my personal
experience, eschatology is one of those areas where people tend to believe what
is convenient to them and the group they belong to. It is very easy to claim that
your lack of engagement in society is a consequence of your doctrine.
Conversely, if you want to overturn the current social framework, a belief in an
imminent millennial kingdom is very useful, as can be seen from the tragedy of
Münster in 1534-5 [Williams, 1962: 362-381].
It is easy to establish a logical connection between eschatological theories and
the practice of mission (or the lack of it), but “neither the eschatologization nor
the historicization of mission satisfies” [Bosch, 1991:508] because there must be
an eschatological dimension to our missionary activity, but those who take an
eschatological starting point offer no consistent model or guidance.

3.5. Election
Both Calvinists and Armenians have been deeply involved in Christian
mission: Wesley and Whitfield are the classic examples. And both sides can
argue convincingly that their position provides the greatest impetus for
missionary activity. So, however important to the individual the doctrine of
election may be, it is clearly not an essential part of an understanding of
Christian mission.
If we widen the concept of election from the confines of the Calvinist-
Armenian debate, it seems to me that what is really being spoken about much of
the time is the closely-related concept of incarnation. For example, “God’s way
of universal salvation… must be accomplished by the way of election – of
choosing, calling and sending one to be the bearer of blessing for all.”
[Newbigin, 1978: 78-79]

4. Expressing the Theology


4.1. Following Jesus
One of the chief difficulties in planning any social action project is the
question of boundaries: some of the problems you come across will be what you
were set up to deal with, while others will not be. At times the boundaries will
be arbitrary (many projects for young people help those up to 25 years old, for
example) and often the boundaries will be blurred and subjective (many charities
help people with ‘serious’ financial hardship).
This creates difficulties for any project, but especially for a Christian project
where we are seeking to follow Jesus. How do you set boundaries; how do you
refuse to help people in Jesus’ name?
It is important to recognise that Jesus Himself set boundaries: “I was sent only
to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24), but those boundaries
did not stop Him responding to the Syrophoenician woman. So it is valid for us
to aim to work within certain boundaries, but we can also be flexible in applying
those boundaries. Thus, we are set up to work with homeless people, but when
someone phones up in distress we spend time responding to them before trying to
point them towards more specialised help.
Jesus worked within a social and cultural context, and while He challenged
aspects of that culture, most of the time He accepted it as a given. He told the
leper “Show yourself to the Priest” (Matthew 8:4): He did not attempt to take the
job of the Priest for Himself. Similarly, we seek to work within our context,
alongside all the other organisations and agencies; not seeking to replace or
undermine them. Much of what we do, in functional terms, is to act as a referral
agency: putting people in contact with more specialist help.
Following Jesus is like marriage: we are committed to Him, even though we
do not know what this will mean or where He will lead. One thing is clear: we
are committed to following Jesus first, and operating a ministry second. Where
there is a conflict, we must follow Jesus; sometimes this means we work as
Christians outside the ministry, so the boundary between our work, our personal
life and our Christian service gets blurred. Ordinary church leaders have an
easier time here, as they only have to distinguish between work and personal life.

4.2. Holistic ministry


There are serious problems in undertaking an holistic ministry in the UK at
the present time, and few organisations are attempting it. Most Christian projects
are either firmly secular (providing practical help but no spiritual input) or firmly
Christian (seeking to win souls but offering little practical help). Very few
embrace both aspects and seek to integrate them.
The Salvation Army, founded on this principle, have retained the ‘soup’ and
‘soap’ but the ‘salvation’ part of their heritage is almost exclusively confined to
their Christian meetings. Christian volunteers working in our local hostel are not
allowed to talk about their faith with the homeless people they serve. The Bristol
Methodist Centre operates on very similar lines to the Kaleidoscope Project in
London: clients are welcome to attend a service if they wish, but very few ever
do so.
There are many reasons for this, and I describe some of them in appendix 2.

4.3. The practice of evangelism


I said at the beginning that “a commitment to Jesus is also a commitment to
His mission.” This statement has major implications for our doctrine of salvation
and our practice of evangelism, as well as what we mean by mission.
Those Christians who bring to our ministry a belief in the primacy of the
spiritual over the physical see our task primarily as bringing lost souls to
salvation: they encourage our clients to confess that they are sinners and pray
‘the’ prayer asking Jesus into their hearts, or something similar. The assumption
is that if they have ‘really’ prayed the prayer, their lives will be transformed, the
power of addiction broken, physical and mental illnesses cured, and they will
immediately want to start contributing to society through work and taxes.
I am not sure what many people mean when they pray ‘the’ prayer. I know
that often God works in miraculous ways in our clients lives, whatever their
spiritual condition, and that a heroin addict with the social skills of a cornered rat
before accepting Jesus becomes a saved heroin addict with the social skills of a
cornered rat after accepting Jesus.
I am also sure that many people pray ‘the’ prayer because there is no reason
not to: if it works, and God does step in and help them, then wonderful; if it does
not work, nothing has been lost. If the only thing that matters in your life is
getting off the street tonight or finding your next fix, and if praying a prayer
might get God on your side and provide what you are looking for, then why not
pray it?
But if a commitment to Jesus is also a commitment to His mission, then we
are not in the business of asking people to pray a prayer. Conversion is not about
a ticket to Heaven and getting God on your side, but of taking the costly step of
changing sides so that you reject the deceit and pleasures of this world to be a
part of God’s redeeming community in challenging and transforming the world.
Communicating this is not easy. Much of the time, we are working with
people who have made some form of Christian commitment, helping them
understand what it means to be a follower of Jesus: evangelism, discipleship and
pastoral care get all mixed up. It makes filling in forms and telling stories of
‘successes’ very difficult, but we can live with that.

4.4. Incarnation and relationship


The big question we face each day is: how do we make God present for the
people we serve? The hopeless can only gain hope from meeting a God who is
both powerful and loving. Helping people is only possible if they want to be
helped, and real internal change generally comes about through relationships
with other people. Incarnation and relationship are central to all we do.
Ministry from a position of confidence and strength, while it fits well with the
modern goal-driven and achievement-oriented world, does not fit well with the
manger in Bethlehem or the cross. When our clients see us as a ministry
constantly struggling to survive, they can identify with us, and our words have
relevance to them in their struggles.
One of the key problems our clients have with most ordinary churches is that
the people in them are far too successful. From the outside, everyone is happy,
successful in their work and secure in their marriages. I have handled enough
pastoral crises to know this is not true, but the illusion of respectable success has
a powerful hold on most modern churches. When we admit our spiritual
struggles and weaknesses, the poor and the weak may recognise in our lives the
presence of a God who can reach down to where they are.
Theological certainty can cause the same problems. “I have often been
puzzled by missionaries persuading their Asian friends to change their faith from
Buddha to Jesus Christ… They themselves are not ready to change one iota of
their rigid theological position or denominational security and self-identity.”
[Koyama, 1976: 33]
God revealed Himself in Jesus not as a powerful King or avenging Judge, but
as a powerless nobody. Both the incarnation and the cross show us a God who
comes to us in weakness so that He can touch us weak creatures and change us.

10. LAST JUDGEMENT

Judgment Day
Introduction
Judgment Day marks the end of time. What will occur on that day? Do we know when it
will transpire? Will there be any warning? Many people may have opinions and
speculations, but only the Bible is the authority that can answer these questions for us.
Therefore, let us examine a few passages to see what the Bible has to say.

All Saints from All Time will be Carried to Heaven


During the New Testament times, the Christians at Thessalonica became worried that the
Christians who died would miss out on Jesus' return. They were afraid those who died
ceased to exists. Let's examine the apostle Paul's explanation about the dead and
Judgment Day:

But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep,
lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose
again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.
"For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until
the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord
Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of of an archangel, and
with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive
and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the
air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.

"Therefore, comfort one another with these words" I Thessalonians 4:13-18

We learn the following points from this passage:

1. Judgment day will be signaled by a shout and trumpet


2. Christ will descend
3. The dead will arise first
4. Then, those alive will join them and Christ in the air

This passage describes a little about Judgment Day from our perspective on earth. Later,
we will look at another passage that tells a little about what Judgment Day will look like
from heaven's perspective.

The Annihilation of the Earth


"But what about the earth? "Will anything be left of, or on the earth?" The apostle Peter,
in his letter, warns of the final destruction of the earth on the last day:

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass
away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and
the works that are in it will be burned up.

"Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to
be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of
God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will
melt with fervent heat?" II Peter 3:10-13

From this passage, we learn that the earth and the heavens will totally be destroyed. The
heavens will alsso be destroyed, which encompass the entire universe, all that is above
our atmosphere. Some wonder, if God will preserve the earth, restore it for his faithful,
and turn it into a paradise. However, this passage explains that it will be a total
destruction. Even the "elements" of both the heavens and earth, the things that comprise
this world, will be destroyed. Nothing will be left of the universe and reality that we now
live in.

A New Body
"So what happens to our bodies and all of the dead people's bodies?" The Bible teaches
that all will receive new bodies - all people both good and evil. In New Testament times,
the Christians in the city of Corinth were faced with a false doctrine that denied that there
would be resurrection. One supporting argument that was proposed was that our bodies
will decay in the grave. So, how could there be a resurrection, since our bodies will be
destroyed? The apostle Paul responded to this false doctrine by explaining that we will
receive new bodies:

"Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor
does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep,
but we shall all be changed - in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.
For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be
changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on
immortality." I Corinthians 15:50-53

In addition to confirming what we have learned, we also discover that we will all be
given new bodies when the trumpet is sounded. So, before we even leave this earth, the
resurrected dead and all those still alive will be given a new, immortal body. It is in this
body that we will stand before God and live out the remainder of eternity.

God's Throne and the Final Judgment


"So what happens once we leave this earth and it is destroyed? "Where do we go?" It is
difficult to understand the answer because it involves a plane that transcends all that we
know and understand. We already know that we have immortal bodies and this plane of
existence is destoyed, but even that is not explained further. However, in the book of
Revelation, a day of judgment is described. This day of judgment is symbolic of what
will transpire that day:

"Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and
the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small
and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened,
which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the
things which were written in the books.

"The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead
who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death
and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not
found written in the Book of LIfe was cast into the lake of fire." Revelation 20:11-15

From this symbolic representation, we learn how Judgment Day will appear from
heaven's viewpoint. Once we are assembled before God's throne, then we will each be
judged and sent to either heaven or hell.

A beautiful vision of heaven is painted through a symbol found following the above
passage in Revelation 21:1-22:5 . Please, read it to learn more about how wonderful
heaven will be, but please keep in mind that this is symbol. The reality of heaven will be
more beautiful than our mortal minds can now comprehend, but hell will equally be even
more terrible than the symbol of a lake that burns with fire and is not quenched.

While on earth, Jesus alos told many parables about Judgment day, teaching about the
final judgement and separation between the good and evil (Matthew 13:24-30 ; 25:31-
46 ).

"When ?"
Besides wondering if we will be ready for Judgement Day, the second most important
questions that we should, or could ask is, "When will Judgment Day come? "Will there
be a sign?" Many people have speculated and even affirmed specific days as the last
day. However, the failure of these prophecies alone teach us at the very least to be wary
and skeptic of such predictions. But, does the Bible say anything about the end of the
world? In one of the passages that we looked at earlier, the apostle Peter addressed when
the last day would occur:

"But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night ..." II Peter 3:10

When does a thief rob your house? The answer - you don't know! It happens suddenly
and unpredictably. Jesus was also asked this question by his apostles (Matthew 24:3 ).
Please listen to the similar answer:

"But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father
only.

"But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in
the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in
marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came
and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be" ...

"Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming, But know
this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would
have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.

"Therefore, you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not
expect." Matthew 24:36-44

Jesus clearly speaks about the last day being similar to a thief breaking into our house.
The analogy is again the same - we do not know when a thief will break into our house.
In view of such passages, it becomes difficult, even impossible to believe that someone
can predict the occurrence of Judgment Day. We do not know when it will occur, so we
must be ready at all times.
Conclusion
Judgment Day will be both a glorious and fearful day. It will be the end of all time and a
day of reckoning for all people before their Creator. Jesus said that no man knows what
day it will occur, so let us always be wary of those who prophesy that the end of the
world is near, but we must always live like it is tomorrow.

10. TRINITY

Since God is a triune being, theologians use the word Trinity to represent the complex
doctrine through which man comprehends His existence. Since the word Trinity is not
found anywhere in the received text or in it's offspring (the Authorized Version and other
biblical translations derived from the received text), many argue that the doctrine of the
Trinity is not a Biblical one. However, when a person comes to understand the theory that
is embodied in the terminology they can not help but find proof of the Trinity throughout
the Bible. The doctrine of the Trinity is believed by all Christian groups. Some groups
profess to be Christian and do not believe in the Trinity, however, none of these groups
are truly Christian because their various perversions of the gospel cause them to have, "a
form of godliness but denying the power thereof" (II Timothy 3:5). The Bible went on to
say we should have nothing to do with them. Why? Because they are not Christians. This
does not mean we can not love them and share the gospel with them, it simply means we
are not to fellowship with them as brothers in Christ. The concept of the Trinity is the
very concept of the existence of God, and since God reveals himself to his children, it
only makes sense that all Christian churches would believe in and defend the doctrine of
the Trinity.

Since the word Trinity is used to represent God as a triune being, what is triune? Noah
Webster defined the word triune to mean, "three in one." This means that God, a singular
being, exists in a plural manner. This is why the term Godhead is often used in scripture
(Acts 7:19, Romans 1:20, Collosians 2:9, etc.). God's very name implies His triune
existence. The Hebrew name for God used in all known manuscriptsis ELOHIM, so
Genesis 1:1 could read, "In the beginning ELOHIM created the heaven and the earth."
The word ELOHIM means three in one. The word ELOHIM has both a singular and a
plural usage in Hebrew, uniquely, the two usages are always simultaneous. The word
ELOHIM can never be used in the plural form without implying the singular and vice-
versa. Note also, that all Hebrew letters have a numeric value, all Hebrew words also
have value. ELOHIM is an interesting word in that it has two values, three and one.

The Trinity Illustrated in Nature

It is no wonder that when God, ELOHIM, said in Genesis 1:26, "And God said, Let us
make man in our image, after our likeness," that He then created man to be a triune being.
Just as God is composed of three, so is man. Man is composed of a body, a soul, and a
spirit. We all know man to be one being, not three, in spite of his triune composition. The
body is separate from the soul which is separate from the spirit, however they still make
one man.

Man was only one of God's many creations. God is the creator of the entire universe. Just
as God created man in His own image, he had also created the universe in the same
fashion. The building block of the universe is the atom. Any object in the universe when
broken down to it's smallest form has been discovered to be nothing more than a
complexly designed series of atoms. The atom is a triune object. It is composed of
protons, neutrons, and electrons. Each part of the atom is independent of the other two,
yet it remains only one object, a proton can not exist without an accompanying neutron
and electron and vice-versa.

We understand ourselves, how we exist. Through science we are learning of our


environment and how the things around us exist. So man has always understood the
concept of the Trinity, and this understanding is what helps us to understand the existence
of God.

The Trinity Illustrated in the Bible

The concept of God being triune can be illustrated in the Bible just as easily as it can be
illustrated in nature. John 1:1 says, "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was
with God, and the Word was God." This shows God to exist in two forms. The word God
in this passage refers to ELOHIM, or to God as a whole. The word Word refers to God
the Son, who is Jesus Christ. This is shown in verse fourteen, "and the Word was made
flesh and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory...as of the only begotten of the
Father,) full of grace and truth."

Having established that God is a singular being with a plural existence, and
understanding that the term "Word" (capitalized to represent deity) in John chapter one
refers to God the Son who is the Lord Jesus Christ, let us read I John 5:7, "For there are
three that bear record in heaven, The Father, The Word, and The Holy Ghost: and these
three are one."

Thus we have proof: His name ELOHIM (meaning three in one) is proof, the design of
nature is proof, and in scripture there is proof. God is a triune being composÍed of God
the Father, God the Word or God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost who is often referred
to as the Holy Spirit. They are each independently divine, they are each a separate aspect
to the overall personality of God, yet they are combined to make one singular being.

How The Members of the Trinity Function

The members of the Trinity work together in complete unity, totally dependant and yet
totally interdependence of each other. God the Father is the sovereign ruler of the entire
universe, everything operates because of and to fulfill his eternal plan. God the Son takes
this plan out of eternity and brings it into time, administering the various aspects of the
plan. God the Holy Spirit makes this eternal plan, the will of God, real to men. These
functions can be illustrated many times in the Bible.

The Function of the Members of the Trinity in Creation

In his omnipotence, God the Father had already created the universe somewhere in
eternity past before the existence of time as we know it. Even though the universe did not
physically exist in time, it did in eternity (remember, eternity has no concept of time).
God knew He would create everything, and in eternity already had ( our future is already
God's past). The theory of omnipotence and God's eternal existence could not be
adequately understood if I were to write a million pages on the subject, so I will not. It
will be left to the reader to research the subject of God's omnipotence and eternal
existence independently of this paper (it is of course assumed that all who read this work
will already possess adequate understanding of these concepts). Let us just summarily say
that God the father had willed and fulfilled creation somewhere in eternity past. This is
why Genesis 1:1 says, "In the Beginning (present tense) God created (past tense) the
heaven and the earth." God was doing in time what He had already done in eternity.

God the Son brought creation into time. The creation had been the will of God for all
eternity, all that was needed to bring that eternal reality into the reality of time was the
spoken word. John chapter one teaches that God the son is the Word, and verse three
says, "all things were made by him", meaning the Word who is God the Son. The word
was given in Genesis 1:3, "and God said........" This spoken word of God the Son
introduced the Father's eternal plan to time.

The Holy Spirit was waiting upon the face of the earth to fulfill the Word, this is found in
Genesis 1:2. As soon as Jesus spoke the word, the Spirit fulfilled the word, making it real
to man.

The Function of the Members of the Trinity in the Old Testament

Just as in creation, it is God the Father who has sovereignly determined the course of the
universe in eternity, God the Son who as the Word brings the will of God into time, and it
is the Holy Spirit who makes God's will real to man.

In God the Father's perspective, Noah had built the Ark before ever the earth was formed,
so also had Moses and the Children of ÆIsrael crossed the Red Sea, etc. This is why God
in Genesis 3:15 was able to offer salvation to Adam, He knew in eternity past that Man
would sin and that Jesus would be the atonement for sin (read Revelation 13:8) so Adam
placing his (present tense) faith in Christ's future act that, God had known about before
the fact, resulted in salvation. Why? Because God knew it would happen so it was as
good as done.

It was God the Son who brought the will of God into time. Throughout the Old
Testament we read: "The Word of the Lord came unto Abram." (Genesis 15:1),
"according to the Word of the Lord, as the Lord commanded Moses" (Numbers 3:51),
"The Lord revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the Word of the Lord." (I Samuel
3:21), " The Word of the Lord came unto Nathan" (II Samuel 7:4), "The Word of the
Lord came unto Solomon" (I Kings 6:11), etc., etc., etc.

It was then the Holy Spirit who enabled these men to fulfill the Word which God the Son
had given them. A good illustration is the story of Samson. Judges 14:6 says, "and the
Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him." Thus, the will of the Father revealed by the
Word of the Son was made real to Samson when the Holy Spirit empowered him to fulfill
it.

In the Old Testament era, the Holy Spirit did not continually abide with the believer as
He does now. Instead, the Spirit came upon a man in order that he may be empowered to
do God's will, then the Spirit would leave when the work was completed or when the man
sinned. This is why we read that Samson, "Wist not that the Lord had departed from him"
in Judges 16:20. This is also the reason King David prayed, "Take not thy Holy Spirit
from me" in Psalms 51:11.

The Function of the Members of the Trinity in the New Testament

The primary activity of God in the New Testament was to provide for man's redemption
and establish Local Churches to replace Israel as God's ambassadors to the world. (Israel
is still God's chosen nation, they still enjoy the privileges of being God's chosen.
Unfortunately, Israel failed in it's task in two ways, the first was in rejecting the Messiah
and the second has been in failing to lead gentiles to the Messiah. The creation of the
church does not infringe upon God's promises to Israel as some Christians believe, it was
however God's way to in grace bestow upon us unworthy gentiles the blessing, i.e. the
blessing of preaching the gospel and seeing people saved, after Israel choose not to take
advantage of the opportunity.)

God the Father, knowing man would one day sin, had established redemption in eternity
past. This is why Revelation 13:8 says that Christ was, "slain before the foundation of the
world." This is once again how He was able to justify Adam in the garden, and this is
how the Old Testament saints were saved. Jesus brought the plan into time when He
fulfilled His work on the cross (John chapters 19 and beyond). The Holy Spirit makes
redemption real to men as He reveals the gospel to their soul and quickens their
previously dead spirit (I Peter 3:18).

God had also established the Church in eternity past, just as He has established His entire
work. The Son brought the Church into time when He spoke the words, " Upon this rock
I will build my Church" in Matthew 16:18. The Holy Spirit has made God's will real to
men by empowering them with special gifts to fulfill the work of the Church (read I
Corinthians chapters twelve through fourteen).
The Function of the Members of the Trinity Today

God the Father is the Sovereign ruler over all the affairs of the universe. He is the true
standard of Holiness and the judge of all that is. God the Son is the Savior, the one
through whom all men may receive justification before God. Jesus also acts as an
advocate to the Father on behalf of the believer. "There is...one mediator...Christ Jesus", I
Timothy 2:5. Charles Wesley best defined the present day role and relationship of God
the Father and God the Son when he penned the classic hymn, Arise My Soul Arise:

Arise my soul ,arise! Shake off thy guilty fear's;

The bleeding sacrifice in my behalf appears;

Before the throne my surety stands-My name is written on His hands.

He ever lives above, for me to intercede;

His all redeeming love, His precious blood to plead:

His blood atoned for all our race, and sprinkles now the throne of grace.

Five bleeding wounds He bears, Received on Calvary;

They pour effectual prayers, They strongly plead for me:

" Forgive him, O forgive," they cry, " Nor let that ransomed sinner die!"

The Father hears Him pray, His dear anointed one;

He can not turn away The presence of His Son:

His Spirit answers to the Blood, and tells me I am born of God.

My God is reconciled, His pardoning voice I hear;

He owns me for His child, I can no longer fear:


With confidence I now draw nigh, And "Father, Abba, Father!" cry.

The Holy Spirit is currently engaged in the work of enabling believers to fulfil the work
of the Church (I Corinthians 12-14), empowering men to preach the gospel (Acts 1:8),
quickening the spirit of repentant sinners (I Peter 3:18, I Corinthians 2:10), keeping the
believer secure in Christ until the Second Coming (i.e. the eternal security of the believer,
Ephesians 1:12-14), comforting the believer (John 14-15), being the very essence of
Christ indwelling the believer (John 14:16-18), and finally, the Spirit never forsakes the
believer (I Corinthians 6:15-20).

The Modern Day Work of the Members of the Trinity in Prayer

Prayer is the primary expression of the relationship between God and the saved man, so it
is to be given it's own sub-heading.

God the Father answers all of our prayers, hence we are taught to pray to, "Our Father
which art in Heaven" (Matthew 6:9). He answers our prayers on behalf of, or because of
our relationship with His Son, hence we pray in Jesus name. "Whatsoever ye shall ask the
Father in my name, He will give it you" (John 16:23). And we pray through the power of
the Holy Spirit (Matthew 26:41) revealing our needs to the Father with the help of the
Spirit, "we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh
intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And He that searcheth the
hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the
saints according to the will of God." (Acts 8:26-27). The Holy Spirit could correctly be
referred to as our prayer partner.

Conclusion

The proof of God's triune existence has been plainly presented along with the mechanics
of the doctrine of the Trinity emphasizing God's relationship to His creation (primarily
man). Unfortunately this does not even begin to expound on the deep truths of God.
Multiplied volumes have attempted such an undertaking, however, the subject is so deep
that all attempts will fail in revealing all of it's depths. It will not be until we get to
heaven and we finally see God face to face that we will comprehend the subject in it's
entirety. Perhaps the best definition which man has given for the Trinity is found in the
writings of Dr. John F. Walvoord, the president of Dallas Theological Seminary, "God is
one numerically, He subsists in three persons, God the Father, God the Son, and God the
Holy Spirit who are equal in eternity, power and glory, each possessing all the divine
attributes and yet having properties which distinguish them within the unity of the
Trinity."

Dear Brother, its your turn……. I think there is no more to argue on these issues. Arguments
wont bring you deleverence in your life and wont give you peace. Its only FAITH in Christ will give
you peace and joy and a complete security to enter into the Kingdom of God…..
May God open your eyes to realize these facts and you may be saved,,,,,, from today you are in
my prayer list….. God will speak to you through your circumstances. Many of your failures will
speak to you that you need a SAVIOUR…… and that is Jesus Christ.