Category: Apologetics

What is the Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit?

What is the Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit?

When asked what is the unpardonable sin, some Christians might think it is suicide; it’s not. As tragic as it is, a person who commits suicide does not mean he or she automatically goes to hell.

However, the Scripture teaches that there is an unpardonable sin that will keep people out of heaven – blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. What does it mean to blaspheme the Holy Spirit?

Let us look at what the Bible says about the unforgivable sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit and understand exactly what it is so that we will not commit it.

The Unpardonable Sin in Jesus’ Day

In a confrontation with the religious leaders during His ministry, the Lord Jesus spoke of an unforgivable sin called the “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.” He said that whoever commits this terrible sin would never be forgiven. Indeed, they could not be forgiven in this life or the next.

What is the Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit in the Bible

What Does it Mean to Blaspheme?

The Greek word blaspheme is translated “slander.” It has the idea to “speak against, insult, or curse.” In Scripture, the word is used for insults hurled at both God and humans.

For example, the Greek noun blaspheme is used of people slandering one another. The apostle Paul used it in his letter to the Ephesians when he encouraged the believers not to “slander” others (Ephesians 4:31 NIV). In this context, it speaks of insults or curses one person directs at another.

The word translated blasphemy can also be used for strong insults or curses directed against God. Scripture records several examples of people cursing the God of the Bible.

The Israelites who came out of Egypt were accused of insulting or blaspheming God, for not only did they build a golden calf; they also claimed that this image was the actual god who brought them out of the land of Egypt (Nehemiah 9:18).

These acts by the people were considered insults or blasphemies against God. We find that Jesus Himself was accused of blasphemy by the religious leaders because He claimed the right or ability to forgive sins (Mark 2:7). They realized that God alone can forgive sins so they assumed Jesus was blaspheming by claiming the same authority.

Cursing God: A Serious Offense

We read in the Old Testament that cursing God was an extremely serious offense. Those who openly defied the Lord were to be cut off from the people, whether native-born Israelites or foreigners (Numbers 15:30-31). In Leviticus 24:15-16, we read that those who cursed the Lord were worthy of the death penalty.

Therefore, simply stated, the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit would involve some type of insulting or cursing the work of the Holy Spirit, and the Jewish audience which Jesus addressed certainly knew the serious nature of such a sin.

The background of Jesus’ statement about the unforgivable sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit can be found in Matthew 12:22-30.

Jesus healed a man who was possessed by a demon, His demon possession made him blind, mute, and probably deaf. This combination of illnesses made it impossible for anyone to cast the demon out of the man because there was no way anyone could communicate with him.

When the people saw Jesus heal the man they wondered if he could be the long-awaited Messiah. Indeed, who else but the Messiah could perform such a miracle? However, not everyone was convinced.

The Jews Accused Jesus of Blasphemy

The suggestion that Jesus could be the promised Messiah brought a quick response from the religious leaders:

But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons” (Matthew 12:24).

They accused Jesus of casting out demons by the power of Satan. In other words, they could not deny His power but rather they attributed it to some evil or demonic source. Who would want to follow someone who is working with Satan?

Since the religious leaders were supposedly in a position to determine the source of Jesus’ miracles, this accusation had to be answered by the Lord.


Jesus’ Response: Satan does not Work against Himself

How did Jesus respond? By showing them how illogical their arguments were. He made it clear that Satan would not cast out Satan. We read this in Matthew 12:25-29. Satan was not in the business of casting out himself. The power to exorcise demons belongs to God and Him alone.

The fact that Jesus could cast out demons made it plain that the power of God was operating among them. Therefore, these people were held responsible to respond to God’s miraculous power in their midst.

To reject God’s work among them was insulting or cursing God. It was blaspheming the work of the Holy Spirit. As mentioned earlier, the Old Testament prescribed the death penalty for those who did such things.

Consequently, attributing Jesus’ Spirit-led miracles to a demonic source was the worst sin that they could commit. Indeed, by doing so, they were cursing the God of the Bible.

Jesus’ Response to those who Commit such a Sin

Matthew, Mark, and Luke record Jesus’ words about the fate of those who blaspheme against God the Holy Spirit.

In Matthew 12:31-32 and Luke 12:10-11, Jesus was recorded saying no forgiveness is possible for those who commit this sin while Mark quotes Jesus calling this eternal sin (Mark 3:28-30).

Nature of the Sin of Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit

From the above-mentioned sources, we can make some important key points from Jesus’ statements about the nature of the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

The Sin was Unforgivable

First, this sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is unforgivable.

When the religious leaders attributed the miracles that Jesus performed to demonic forces, Jesus made it plain to them the seriousness of their sin by telling them that there would be no forgiveness in this life and in the next for what they had done.

Indeed, this sin would keep the offenders out of heaven. In Mark’s gospel, we read Jesus calling this sin an “eternal sin.” In other words, it has everlasting consequences. Anyone who engages in such insults to God will not be forgiven whether in this life or in the next to come.

It is a Public Rejection of Jesus and His Message

We discover something else from Luke.

It also seems to consist of some public rejection of the ministry of Jesus as well as that of His disciples. In His next statement, after speaking of the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, Jesus says that the Spirit will be with His disciples as they testify about Him before the religious authorities (Luke 12:11-12).

It is, therefore, seemingly more than a lack of belief in Christ. It is also the public denial of the testimony of the Holy Spirit that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ.

Sins done in Ignorance against Jesus can be Forgiven

Interestingly, Jesus said that sins against Him could be forgiven but there would be no forgiveness of those who blaspheme the Holy Spirit. This seems to mean that people could ignorantly or unintentionally say things against Jesus without committing the unpardonable sin. Forgiveness is still possible for those who do this.

However, if a person knowingly and defiantly speaks insults against the power of the Holy Spirit, who is testifying to the truth of Jesus and His message, there is no forgiveness possible. This was an especially terrible sin that the religious leaders were committing.

What does it mean to Blaspheme the Holy Spirit

They were publicly attributing Jesus’ miraculous power to the devil. It was not done in ignorance. In fact, it was a willing rejection of the God of the Bible, the God whom they were supposed to be serving.

Furthermore, they were doing it publicly, in front of the multitude. By doing so, they were pitting their authority against His.

It was an Insult to God

Especially in this particular context, the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit was a denial of the work of the Holy Spirit in the Person of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit was working in Jesus as well as through Jesus. The Spirit of God was testifying to everyone that Jesus was the Messiah.

Rejecting the message of the Spirit was the same as rejecting or insulting the God of the Bible.

It was a Continual State of Sin

Something else worth noting is that these religious leaders were in a continuous state of sin by denying that the miracles of Jesus were accomplished through the power of God. Thus, they were in a constant state of sin or rebellion against God.

What made matters worse was that these men were the religious authorities, the spiritual leaders. Their testimony carried great weight with the people. Their false accusations could not go unchallenged.

In fact, this continual rejection of the work of the Holy Spirit is the one sin that would keep them out of heaven. All other sins could and would be forgiven.

This was what Jesus meant when He spoke of the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. These religious leaders were committing the unforgivable sin. No forgiveness was possible as long as they were doing this

Related Article: Understanding the Personality of the Holy Spirit

Conclusion

The blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is the public attributing of the work of the Holy Spirit, through Jesus Christ to Satan. The Holy Spirit testified of Jesus’ identity as the promised Messiah. Refusal to acknowledge this obvious testimony of the work of God was blaspheming the Holy Spirit.

The blasphemy against the Holy Spirit was more than one particular sin which the religious leaders of Jesus’ day were committing. It is a continuous state of publicly insulting or cursing the work of the Holy Spirit which was done in the Person of Christ.

Since there could be no real question that the miracles of Jesus had been brought about through the power of the Holy Spirit, anyone who would consciously and publicly reject this fact and attributes His work to Satan or some demonic force could not expect to be forgiven in this life or eternity

Blaspheming the Holy Spirit meant eternal damnation. Consequently, this is the one sin that would keep people out of heaven.


*Excerpt is taken from “Living in the Light of Eternity” (The After Life Series Volume 1) by Don Stewart.

God and the Coronavirus

God and the Coronavirus

In their daily briefing on March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, declared COVID-2019 a global pandemic. This is due to the rapid escalation in the number of confirmed cases and deaths in more than 100 countries and territories.

As of today, March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus has infected more than 529,000 and killed nearly 24,000 people, causing one-third of the world to declare a national lockdown or otherwise dramatically restricted travel. (Source: WHO)

These numbers are so alarming that some Christians started asking if the world is going to end very soon, or if diseases such as the novel coronavirus are a punishment from God. We are definitely in the last days, but thinking that God uses diseases to punish people is another thing.

Does God have something to do with the Coronavirus outbreak that is causing thousands of people, including Christians, to suffer and die?

If God, Why the Coronavirus?

In an 8-minute YouTube video, Dr. Vince Vitale, RZIM’s Regional Director for the Americas and Director of the Zacharias Institute, tackled this question.

First, he said that from a philosophical standpoint, something like the coronavirus is referred to as natural evil. But how can there be such a thing as natural evil when what we are seeing today seems to be so unnatural?

This does not seem like it’s the way things are supposed to be, at least as we know God has originally designed it.

To put it in perspective, Vince said that natural evils are not intrinsically evil in and of themselves. Like if you put a virus under a microscope, it can be beautiful to behold. Furthermore, there is a category of viruses, friendly viruses, that are good for the body.

Here is the video.

Do you sometimes wish that we are not susceptible to diseases? What if the laws of physics have undergone a redesign and the fundamental natural features of our universe altered? The end result? None of us ever would have lived.

We need to understand that God designed the universe to be inhabited by us, human beings. This is called fine-tuning in cosmology.

Fine-tuning refers to the precise balance of cosmological constants that allow the observable universe to exist as it does. Any slightest variation in these constants would make the universe significantly different. More importantly, it would not be possible for human life to exist.

Is the Coronavirus a Punishment from God?

We know that God is love and that He loves us unconditionally because the Bible tells us so.

It sounds like a cliché I know, but it’s true. God loves us so much and He does not want us to be separated from Him for all eternity because of our sin. So, what did God do? He sent His only begotten Son to suffer and die for us just so we can have eternal life (John 3:16).

Yes, God loves us! That’s a fact, and He has our best interest at heart. He wants us to live our lives to the full (John 10:10b) and wants to bless us in every way possible. So why diseases such as Covid-19?

Interestingly, some Christian pastors and leaders believe this is God’s punishment for legalized abortion and gay marriage. Articles like this started circulating after Richard Weber Jr, an attorney for the LGBTQ+ community, died of coronavirus complications.

Meanwhile, conservative pastor Rick Wiles and avid supporter of President Donald Trump, claimed the Covid-19 is God’s punishment to Jews for rejecting Jesus Christ as their Messiah.

If we are to take their words seriously, then why is it that many pastors and Bible-believing Christians got infected with the coronavirus? Several of them even died!

If this virus is a punishment from God for the wicked, why are Christians suffering from it too? Why doesn’t God spare His children to show the world that He is the one true God that every people from every tribe and nation must bow down to and worship?

God and the Coronavirus Outbreak

Can God stop the global pandemic that is affecting the entire world? Sure, He can! God is all-powerful and there is nothing too hard for Him (Jeremiah 32:27). So why doesn’t God intervene and stop it so everybody can go back to their normal lives?

Amid this crisis that the entire world is going through, where is God? What does He think about all this? I do not believe one bit that God finds satisfaction at the expense of the suffering of His creation. Remember, if there is someone who understands perfectly what suffering means, it’s the Lord Jesus.

Christ suffered at the hands of His own people. He didn’t have to but He did. He endured extreme shame, suffering, and death on the cross for our sake. It is unreasonable for us to think that He doesn’t care about us nor love us. So, why this suffering caused by a very tiny, invisible, yet potent virus?

Instead of asking why God isn’t stopping this pandemic, the question we should be asking is, “What is God’s purpose for allowing the coronavirus outbreak? What does God seek to accomplish by letting the entire world go through this?”


This global pandemic could be a wake-up call for all Christians. Have we become complacent in doing the Father’s business? Are we sharing our faith with others the way we should? When was the last time Christians all around the world were united to pray for the nations?

We are in the very last days and we should be working double-time to reach out to the lost.

With the current situation, people need to hear that there is a God who loves them and cares so much about them. When people realize that doctors are running out of solutions, they are most certainly open to something else, or somebody else. One who has the answer to their problems and suffering.

If you’ve been paying close attention to the news, you must have read stories about atheist doctors who started calling out to God for help. This is huge! People who do not believe in God are now asking for His help. Do you know what this means? God is opening for us an opportunity to share the Word; let’s not waste it.

Global Effects of Covid-19

It’s devastating to read about people dying everywhere around the world from the novel coronavirus. What’s even more heartbreaking is that many healthcare providers such as doctors and nurses are dying too. These so-called front liners have risked their lives and continue to do so to help and save people who have been infected.

Healthcare professionals, who are now hailed as modern-day heroes, go to work every day. They leave their families behind not knowing if they will ever see each other again. Some might say, “Hey, isn’t this what they signed up for?” And I say, “That’s right!”

As a healthcare worker myself, I am very much aware of the risks that come with this job. I could be exposed to some lethal chemicals, I could contract certain diseases caused by known or unknown bacteria and viruses and end up dying from it.

In the hospital where I work as a Lab. Tech, there are now a few patients who have tested positive for the coronavirus. Some of our colleagues who were found to have had direct contact with these patients were immediately placed on home quarantine (HQ).

Home Quarantine During Covid-19 Outbreak

Yesterday when I talked to a colleague about the possibility of us getting infected, she was upset that the management refused to give us full details on the current status of our patients who tested positive. While I wasn’t sure what was going through her mind, I could sense her fear, and I understand.

I tried explaining to her that this is one of the risks of working in healthcare. There isn’t any guarantee that no one will get infected among us. All we can do is take the necessary precautions, put on our full PPE (personal protective equipment) such as gown, face mask, face shield, and gloves.

Frequent hand washing and social distancing also play a vital role in staying protected from the virus. More importantly, we need to pray for God’s divine protection and the blood of Jesus to cover us.

God has so many wonderful promises in His Word that we can claim for us and our loved ones. In Psalm 91:1-16, God promises protection, safety, and security for those who trust in the Lord and make Him their refuge and dwelling place.

My concern now is the possible shortage of personnel in healthcare. If doctors, nurses, and other medical practitioners continue to get infected with the coronavirus and succumb to it (God forbid), what will happen to the thousands of people who need medical attention?

I can’t even begin to imagine. I can only hope and pray that this crisis will all be over soon.

Impact of the Coronavirus to the World Economy

The effect of the Covid-19 global pandemic is undeniable.

People everywhere are losing their jobs, business establishments are shutting down, the stock market is crashing, the economy is collapsing. We do not know when this crisis is going to end. Will we be able to recover? Will things ever get better?

We are still in lockdown here in Saudi Arabia, just like most territories everywhere else in the world that are affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

On March 8, 2020, our government imposed a 14-day lockdown in the eastern region after 11 people tested positive for the virus. I thought everything will go back to normal after completing this period. But due to the increasing number of Covid-19 cases, (and again just like in other countries especially Italy and America), the lockdown period was extended for another 14 days.

God and the Coronavirus

Not only that we cannot go somewhere else. In a bid to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, the government also declared a nationwide coronavirus curfew that started on the evening of Monday, March 23, 2020. For 21 days residents are ordered to stay inside their homes from 7 pm until 6 am.

Excluded from the 11-hour long curfew are people who work in certain industries, including healthcare, food service, and media. The curfew is seriously implemented that violators will be punished with a 10,000-riyal fine, and with jail time after multiple violations.

I just watched a video of the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, saying he wanted so badly to re-open the economy in states that are mildly affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Trump is getting impatient I guess and is very much concerned about the companies that have shut down.

Will they be able to re-open after this crisis is over?

God is Our Only Hope

As we go through this global crisis, we must not forget that God is our only hope. God is not our last hope; He is not our last resort. We do not go to Him only when all else fails. Instead, we must go to Him first.

In trying times such as this, we are to cry out to God for help. Now more than ever, we need to humble ourselves before God and ask for His grace and mercy. We need to pray fervently for the nations. We are to stand in the gap on behalf of our land.

We do not know what the future holds. Will things ever be the same? We can never tell. 

But one thing we know and can be sure of is that no matter what happens, God is with us, He is for us, and He will never abandon us (Hebrews 13:5). God has already conquered sickness (1 Peter 2:24) and death (2 Timothy 1:10). There is no reason to live in fear.

In the meantime, let us put our trust in God, hold on to His promises and live each day anticipating the Lord’s return.

Answering Tough Questions About the Bible (Part Two)

Answering Tough Questions About the Bible (Part Two)

In part one of this article, we answered questions that have to do with the origin of the Bible, its nature, the authors, and how they got their message from God. As we continue with the tough questions about the Bible, we will be answering questions about the inspiration and authority of the Bible, its reliability and the reliability of the biblical witnesses.

The Inspiration of the Bible

What do we mean when we say that the Bible is inspired? 2 Timothy 3:16 (NIV) declares that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” In Matthew 4:4, Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”

Combine this truth with 2 Peter 1:20-21, which affirms that the Scriptures were given by men who “spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit,” and we see that inspiration as a whole is the process by which Spirit-moved writers produced God-breathed writings.

Are the very words of the Bible inspired by God, or only the ideas?

Numerous Scriptures make it evident that the locus of revelation and inspiration is the written Word – the Scriptures (Greek gapha) – not simply the idea or even the writer, but his actual writing.

Notice the reference to revealed or divinely inspired “Scripture” (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21), “words taught by the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:13), “the Book” (2 Chronicles 34:14), “His (God’s) word” (2 Samuel 23:2), “My (God’s) words” (Isaiah 59:21), and “the words that the Lord Almighty had sent” (Zechariah 7:12).

When referring to the Old Testament as the authoritative Word of God, the New Testament most often (more than ninety times) uses the phrase “it is written” (eg. Matthew 4:4, 7, 10). Jesus described this written word as that which “comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

So important were the exact words of God that Jeremiah was told, “Thus says the Lord: Stand in the court of the Lord’s house, and speak to all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the Lord’s house, all the words that I command you to speak to them. Do not diminish a word” (Jeremiah 26:2).

What does it mean when we say that the Bible is Inspired

So, it was not simply that men were free to state God’s word in their own words, the very choice of words was from God. Exodus 24:4 records, “And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord.”

In Deuteronomy 18:18, Moses writes, “I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him.”

Sometimes God chose to emphasize even the tenses of verbs.

Jesus said, “But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Matthew 22:31-32). Paul based his argument on a singular versus a plural noun in Galatians 3:16, insisting, “Scripture does not say ‘and to seeds,’ meaning many people, but ‘and to your seed,’ meaning one person, who is Christ.”

Even one letter (the letter s, for example) can make a big difference. Jesus went so far as to declare that even parts of letters are inspired. In English, if a t is not crossed, it looked like an i. Thus, Jesus said, “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18).

Does the Bible claim to be inspired on all topics or just spiritual ones?

Inspiration does guarantee the truth of everything the Bible teaches, implies, or entails (spiritually of factually). Paul affirmed that all Scripture, not just some, is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16). Peter declared that no prophecy of Scripture comes from man but it all comes from God (2 Peter 1:20-21).

Jesus told His disciples, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26). In this same discourse He added, “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13).

The church is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ Himself as the chief cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:20). And the early church “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42), recorded for us in the pages of the New Testament, which was considered to be sacred Scripture along with the Old Testament.

The inspiration of God, then, extends to every part of Scripture. It includes everything God affirmed (or denied) about any topic included in Scripture. It is inclusive of not only what the Bible teaches explicitly but also what it teaches implicitly. It covers not only spiritual matters but factual ones as well.

The all-knowing God cannot be wrong about anything He teaches or implies. Jesus verified historical and scientific matters, including the creation of Adam and Eve (Matthew 19:4-5), the flood during Noah’s time (Matthew 24:37-39), and even Jona being swallowed by a great fish (Matthew 12:40-42).

Indeed, Jesus said, “If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things” (John 3:12)?

Why do some people misunderstand what is meant by the inspiration of the Bible?

The Bible is inspired by God with regard to everything it teaches. There are, however, a number of common misunderstandings:

  • That every part of a parable has to convey a fact rather than help the parable illustrate its point (see Luke 18:2).
  • That everything it records is true rather than something merely taught or implied (Genesis 3:4).
  • That no exaggerations (hyperboles) are used (Psalm 6:6; Luke 14:26).
  • That all statements about God and creation are purely literal (Job 38:7; Hebrews 4:13).
  • That all factual assertions are technically precise by modern standards as opposed to a common observational standpoint (Joshua 10:12).
  • That all citations of Scripture must be verbatim as opposed to faithful to the meaning (Psalm 2:1 and Acts 4:25).
  • That all citations of Scripture must have the same application as the original (Hosea 11:1 and Matthew 2:15) rather than the same interpretation (meaning).
  • That the same truth can be said in only one way as opposed to many ways, as it is in the Gospels.
  • That whatever a writer personally believed, as opposed to merely what he actually affirmed in Scripture, is true (Matthew 15:26).
  • That truth is exhaustively revealed or treated as opposed to adequately presented in the Bible (1 Corinthians 13:12).
  • That quotations imply the truth of everything in the source it is citing rather than just the part cited (Titus 1:12).
  • That a particular grammatical construction will always be the customary one rather than an adequate one to convey the truth.

How do we know these misunderstandings aren’t part of what inspiration covers?

What the Bible says must be understood in view of what the Bible shows. What it preaches must be read in view of what it practices. The doctrine of Scripture is to be understood in light of the data of Scripture.

For instance, the Bible uses round numbers. Thus, when the Bible claims to be true, it does not mean to exclude the use of round numbers (2 Chronicles 4:1-22). The same is true of hyperboles, figures of speech, observational language, and literary genre (as poetry, parable, and the like).

In short, everything the Bible affirms is true, but what is meant by truth must be understood in the light of the phenomena or data of Scripture.

The Authority of the Bible

Does the Bible claim to have divine authority? The Bible uses many other words or phrases to describe itself in ways that validate its divine authority. Jesus said that the Bible is indestructible (Matthew 5:18); it is infallible (or completely reliable and authoritative) or “unbreakable” (see John 10:35); it has final and decisive authority (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10), and it is sufficient for faith and practice.

Jesus spoke of the sufficiency of the Jewish Scriptures, “‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead” (Luke 16:31). Paul added this: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

How far does this divine authority extend?

The extent of divine authority in Scripture includes all that is written, even the very words – including even the smallest parts of words and the tenses of verbs. Even though the Bible was not verbally dictated by God to humans, nonetheless, the result is just as perfect as if it had been.

For the biblical authors claimed that God is the source of the very words of Scripture, since He supernaturally superintended the process by which they wrote, using their own vocabulary and style to record God’s message (2 Peter 1:20-21).

The Reliability of the Bible

Evangelicals affirm the reliability of the biblical text from God to us. Can we trust the Bible historically? Is it really a reliable record?

Since the historical reliability of the Bible is a crucial link in knowing that the Bible is the Word of God, it is important to address these questions.

Answering Tough Questions About the Bible

Does the Bible have errors in it?

The original text of the Bible does not teach any error. The logic of the Bible’s errorlessness is straightforward:

1) God cannot err (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18).

2) The Bible is God’s Word (John 10:34-35).

3) Therefore, the Bible cannot contain errors.

Since the Scriptures are breathed out by God and God cannot breathe out falsehood, it follows that the Bible cannot contain any falsehood.

Are there errors in Bible Manuscripts and translations?

There are some minor copyist errors in the Bible manuscripts. A couple of examples will suffice. The Masoretic Text of 2 Chronicles 22:2 says Ahaziah was forty-two, yet 2 Kings 8:26 asserts that Ahaziah was twenty-two. He could not have been forty-two (a copyist error), or he would have been older than his father.

Also, 2 Chronicles 9:25 affirms that Solomon had four thousand horse stalls, but the Masoretic Text of 1 Kings 4:26 says he had forty thousand horse stalls, which would have been way more than needed for the twelve thousand horsemen he had.

It is important to keep these things in mind with regard to these copyist errors:

  • No original manuscript has ever been found with an error in it.
  • They are relatively rare.
  • In most cased we know which one is wrong from the context or the material found in parallel passages.
  • In no case is the doctrine of Scripture affected.
  • They vouch for the accuracy of the copying process since the scribes who copied them knew there were errors in the manuscripts but they were duty-bound to copy what the text said.
  • They don’t affect the central message of the Bible.

Someone, may, in fact, receive a message with errors in it, yet have 100 percent of the message come through clearly. For example, suppose you received a message from Western Union that read as follows: “Y#u have won 20 million dollars.”

No doubt you would gladly pick up your money. And if the telegram read in any of the ways that follow, you would have no doubt at all:

  • “Yo# have won 20 million dollars.”
  • “You #ave won 20 million dollars.”
  • You h#ve won 20 million dollars.”

Why would we be surer if there are more errors? Because each error is in a different place, and with it, we get another confirmation of every other letter in the original message.

Three things are important to note. First, even with one line, error and all, 100 percent of the message comes through. Second, the more lines, the more errors – but the more errors, the surer we are of what the intended message really was.

Finally, there are hundreds of times more Bible manuscripts than there are lines in the above example. And there is a greater percentage of error in this telegram than in all the collated biblical manuscripts.

Are the copies of the Bible reliable?

The biblical scribes were meticulous in how they copied Scripture. The overall reliability has been measured in several ways.

First, with regard to any major doctrine in the Bible, there has been no loss whatsoever. Every important truth of Scripture from the original text has been preserved intact in the Old Testament Hebrew and the New Testament Greek manuscripts.

Second, errors that exist in the copies are in minor matters, such as numbers that affect no major or minor doctrinal matter in the Bible. In fact, in most of these, we know either from the common sense of the text, the context, or other passages which ones are correct.

Third, not only is 100 percent of all the major truths and the vast majority of minor truth of Scripture preserved in the manuscripts we have (and in the translations based on them), but more than 99 percent of the original text can be reconstructed from the manuscripts we possess.

The reason is twofold: (1) we have thousands of manuscripts, and (2) we have early manuscripts. The proximity to the original text and the multiplicity of the manuscripts enable textual scholars to accurately reconstruct the original text with more than 99 percent accuracy.

Renowned Greek scholar Sir Frederic Kenyon affirmed that all manuscripts agree on the essential correctness of 99 percent of the verses in the New Testament. Another noted Greek scholar, A. T. Robertson, said the real concerns of textual criticism are on “a thousand part of the entire text” (making the New Testament 99.9 percent pure).

The Reliability of the Biblical Witnesses

Were the biblical witnesses reliable? Yes, they were very reliable for many reasons.

First, the writers of Scripture were by and large contemporaries of the events. Moses was a witness of the events in Exodus through Deuteronomy (see Exodus 24:4; Deuteronomy 31:24). Joshua was a witness of the happenings reported in his book (Joshua 24:26), as were Samuel (1 Samuel 10:25, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezra, and Nehemiah after him.

The same is true in the New Testament. Matthew was a disciple of Jesus. Mark was a contemporary and associate of the apostle Peter (1 Peter 5:13). Luke was a contemporary who knew the eyewitnesses (Luke 1:1-4). And John was a disciple of Jesus and eyewitness of the events (1 John 1:1-2).

Second, in the case of the New Testament writers, all eight (or nine?) of them were either apostles or associated with the apostles as eyewitnesses and/or contemporaries: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, James, Peter, and Jude. These were all men who held the highest standards of ethics and were willing to die for their beliefs, as most of them did.

Third, these writers were credible as indicated by:

1. Their tendency to doubt whether Jesus rose from the dead (Matthew 28:17; Mark 16:3; Luke 24:11; John 20:24-29).

2. The inclusion of material that reflected badly on themselves (see Matthew 16:23; Mark 14:47).

3. The multiple accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, etc.) that establish their words by two or three witnesses as the court required (Deuteronomy 17:6).

4. The divergence in accounts that reveals they were not in collusion (see Matthew 28:5; John 20:12).

5. Confirmation of the accounts through hundreds of archaeological finds.

6. The evidence for early dates for the basic material about Jesus’ death and resurrection by A.D. 55-60.

Noted historian Colin Hemer confirmed that Luke wrote Acts by A.D. 62. But Luke wrote the gospel of Luke, which says the same basic things about Jesus that Matthew and Mark say before he wrote Acts (say, by A.D. 60)

Further, Bible critics admit that Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 15:1-9, which tells of the death and resurrection of Jesus, by about A.D. 55. This was only twenty-two years after Jesus’ death, while more than 250 witnesses of His resurrection were still alive (see 1 Corinthians 15:6).

Would the New Testament witnesses have stood up in a court of law?

Simon Greenleaf, one of history’s greatest legal minds, former Harvard law professor, and author of a book on legal evidence, carefully applied the rules of legal evidence to the Gospel accounts in his book The Testimony of the Evangelists.

Greenleaf argued that if the Gospels were submitted to the scrutiny of a court of law, “then it is believed that every honest and impartial man will act consistently with that result, by receiving their testimony in all the extent of its import.”

He added, “Let the witnesses be compared with themselves, with each other, and with surrounding facts and circumstances; and let their testimony be sifted, as if it were given in a court justice, on the side of the adverse party, the witness being subjected to rigorous cross-examination. The result, it is confidently believed, will be an undoubting conviction of their integrity, ability, and truth.”

Here’s a 3-minute video presentation by Daniel B. Wallace explaining why we can still trust the New Testament even when the original manuscripts are different.

Conclusion

The Bible both claims and proves to be the Word of God. Both the internal and external evidence overwhelmingly reveal the accuracy of the Bible.

Having examined its origin, nature, and reliability, we may confidently assert that the Scriptures came from God through men of God who recorded it in the Word of God.

Here’ part one of Answering Tough Questions About the Bible.


*Reference:  Who Made God? (Answers to Over 100 Other Tough Questions of Faith)

*Recommended Resource: From God to Us: How We Got Our Bible
By Norman L. Geisler & William E. Nix

The Bible was written in multiple languages by dozens of authors whose lives spanned a period of more than fifteen hundred years. How did it all come together?

Best-selling authors Norman Geisler and William Nix thoroughly answer this question and many more in this revised and expanded edition of a classic which has sold more than 78,000 copies. Helpful charts, photos, and indices have been added, rendering this book ideally suited for Bible students, pastors, and professors.

Major topics addressed include: theories of inspiration, the process of canonization, major manuscripts and recent discoveries, textual criticism, Greek and Latin translations, and modern English translations. The entire field of general biblical introduction is covered.

This is a long-trusted resource for understanding why we can trust the Scriptures really are God’s word.

Answering Tough Questions About The Bible (Part One)

Answering Tough Questions About The Bible (Part One)

In today’s age of increasing cultism, agnosticism, and skepticism, Christians are called on all the more to get answers to the questions being asked about faith, God, and the Bible.

Admittedly, most church members (and even many pastors) are not formally trained in defending the faith and hence cannot always answer tough questions they’re asked. Nevertheless, Christians are commanded to “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear,” (1 Peter 3:15) and also to “let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Colossians 4:6).

These are commands not just to Christian leaders but to all believers as well. That is why the apostle Paul insisted that church leaders must “hold fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict” (Titus 1:9).

The Origin of the Bible

One of the areas that are mostly under attack is our belief in the Bible as God’s Word. And so, in this post, we will look at some of the tough questions being asked and give brief answers to them.

How and Where Did We Get the Bible?

How and Where Did We Get the Bible?

We believe that the Scriptures came from God through men of God who wrote down the very words of God. That is, the Bible has a divine origin, even though it was produced through human instrumentality. But this belief occasions many questions from our culture. How and where did we get the Bible?

The Bible claims to have come from God. Speaking of the whole Old Testament, Paul wrote, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

Even the New Testament is called Scripture. Paul cited the gospel as Scripture in 1 Timothy 5:18 and Peter referred to Paul’s epistles as Scripture in 2 Peter 3:15-16. So, both the entire Old and New Testaments, both Gospels, and Epistles are said to be writings that are “breathed out” by God.

Jesus used a similar expression when He referred to the Word of God coming out of the “mouth of God,” saying to the tempter, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

Who Wrote the Bible?

Not only does the Bible claim to be a God-breathed writing, but it comes from Spirit-moved writers. Peter referred to the Old Testament prophets as men who were “carried along” by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21). David added, “The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue” (2 Samuel 23:2).

So, the Bible claims to have come from God through men of God.

The Bible was written by prophets of God. The ultimate source of the Bible is God, but men of God called prophets were the instruments God used to record His words. The role of biblical prophets was unique. They were the mouthpieces of God, commissioned to speak His words, nothing more and nothing less (Proverbs 30:6; Revelation 22:18-19).

The whole Old Testament was written by prophets, of which some of them were prophets by office, like Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15), who wrote the first five books of the Bible known as the Torah in Hebrew or Pentateuch in Greek.

Other Old Testament writers were prophets by gift, that is, they did not belong to the group or company of prophets. But God spoke to them and gave them a message to deliver to the people (Amos 7:14-15).

For instance, Daniel was a prince by profession (Daniel 1:3-6), but he became a prophet by calling and gift. Jesus Himself called him “the prophet Daniel” (Matthew 24:15). David was a shepherd boy, but God spoke to him (2 Samuel 23:2). Even Solomon, the author of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs, received revelations from God as a prophet does (1 Kings 3:5).

Likewise, all the New Testament writers were “apostles and prophets,” since the church was built on this foundation (Ephesians 2:20). They, too, claimed to receive their message from God. Paul, who wrote about half of the New Testament books, was considered to have written inspired Scripture in the same category as the Old Testament.

Matthew and John were among those Jesus promised to lead into “all truth” and bring to their remembrance whatever He taught them (John 16:13, 14, 26) while Peter, who was one of the chief apostles, wrote two books based on his credentials as an apostle and eyewitness of Jesus (1 Peter 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1, 16).

The rest of the New Testament writers were associates of the apostles and prophets by gift since God spoke through these servants of Jesus as well (James 1:1; Jude 1 – 3).

Biblical Authors: Mere Secretaries of the Holy Spirit?

How and Where Did We Get the Bible?
Photo Credits: Pinterest.co.uk

The authors of the Bible did not simply take dictation from God. They were not mere secretaries or automatons, but they were faithful to proclaim the whole message from God without adding to it or taking away from it (Proverbs 30:6; Revelation 22:18-19).

God used the individual personalities, vocabularies, literary styles, and conscious desires of the biblical authors to produce the Bible. Thus, while being completely from God, the words of Scripture are also human words in particular human languages expressed in distinctive human literary forms.

Nonetheless, the final product is exactly as God-ordained and providentially superintended it to be – the divinely authoritative, infallible, and inerrant Word of God. For the Scripture “cannot be broken” (John 10:35) or “disappear” (Matthew 5:18).

The Word of God is the “truth” (John 17:17) that comes from a God for whom “it is impossible … to lie (Hebrews 6:18. In short, it is without error in whatever it affirms, not only on spiritual matters but also on science (Matthew 19:12; John 3:12) and history (Matthew 12:40-42; 24:37).

In short, the writers of the Bible were humans that God chose to be His mouthpiece through the use of human language and literary forms.

How Did the Prophets Get their Message from God?

The prophets received their message from God in various ways. Some received them in dreams (Genesis 37:1-11), others in visions (Daniel 7:1-28), and some even by audible voice (1 Samuel 3:1-14) or an inner voice (Hosea 1:1-11; Joel 1:1-20).

Others received revelations from angels (Genesis 19:1-29), some by way of miracles (Exodus 3:1-22), and others by way of the lot (Proverbs 16:33). The high priest used jewels known as the Urim and Thummim (Exodus 28:30). And still, God spoke to others as they meditated on His revelation in nature (Psalm 8:1-9; 19:1-6).

Whatever the means, as the author of Hebrews put it, “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets” (Hebrews 1:1).

Could Prophets Change or Add to God’s Message?

No, they were forbidden to do so. Biblical prophets were not to add, subtract or tamper with the text of sacred Scripture (Deuteronomy 4:2; Jeremiah 26:2; Proverbs 30:5-6). God dealt severely with anyone who attempted to change His words (Jeremiah 36:28).

The nature of a biblical prophet guaranteed that he would not add his thoughts to God’s message, for he is one who speaks “everything the Lord has said” (Exodus 4:30). The very nature of a prophet also demanded that a prophetic writing is exactly what God wants to say to mankind.

And since the Bible is presented as a prophetic writing from beginning to end (Matthew 5:17-18; 2 Peter 1:20-21; Revelation 22:9), it follows that the written record of the prophets was considered inspired by God.

Take John’s warning about the words of prophecy in Revelation 22:18-19. This didn’t mean that they could not receive new revelations, but that they could not tamper with old ones.

The Nature of the Bible

Since the Bible claims to come from God, it asserts a divine authority. It claims to be the very word of God (John 10:34-35). But since the Bible was also written by human beings, what does it mean when we call it “God’s Word?”

What Does it Mean that the Bible is the Word of God?

Since God is the source of the Bible, it is appropriate to call it His Word. But since human writers composed every word in the Bible, it is also true that it is their word. Hence, one way to describe what is meant when the Bible claims to be “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16) is this: “What the Bible says, God says.”

This is manifested in the fact that often an Old Testament passage will claim that God said it, yet when this same text is cited in the New Testament, it asserts the “the Scripture(s)” said it. Consider these comparisons:

What God says          The Bible says

Genesis 12:3               Galatians 3:8

Exodus 9:13, 16          Romans 9:17


In Genesis 12:1-3, it is God speaking. But when this is cited in Galatians 3:8, it says it is the Scripture… preached the gospel to Abraham.”

Also, in Exodus 9:13-16, it is the Lord speaking. However, when the New Testament quotes this passage, it says, “For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, ‘For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth’” (Romans 9:17).

At times the reverse is true. For instance, in the Old Testament, it is the Bible that records it, but the New Testament declares that it was God who said it.

What the Bible says     God says

Genesis 2:24                  Matthew 19:4-5

Psalm 2:1                        Acts 4:24-25

Isaiah 55:3                     Acts 13:34

Psalm 16:10                   Acts 13:35

Psalm 2:7                       Hebrews 1:5


In Genesis 2:24, the Bible says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” But when this was cited by Jesus in the New Testament, He said, “Have you not read that He (God) who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’” (Matthew 19:4-5)?

Noted theologian B. B. Warfield made this observation:

“In one of these classes of passages the Scriptures are spoken of as if they were God; in the other, God is spoken of as if He were the Scriptures. In the two taken together, God and the Scriptures are brought into such conjunction as to show that in point of the directness of authority no distinction was made between them.”

How Else Does the Bible Claim to be the Word of God?

The Scriptures claim to come from God by means of phrases such as “says the LORD” (Isaiah 1:11, 18), “declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 2:3, 9), “God said” (Genesis 1:3, 6), “this word came to Jeremiah from the LORD” (Jeremiah 34:1), and “The word of the LORD came to me” (Ezekiel 30:1).

Such phrases are found hundreds of times in Scripture and reveal beyond question that the writer is affirming that he records the very word of God. In the book of Leviticus alone there are some sixty-six occurrences of phrases like “the LORD said to Moses” (Leviticus 4:1; 5:14; 6:1, 8, 19; 7:22).

*Related Article: The Different Forms of the Word of God

Ezekiel also records countless times phrases like “I saw visions” or “the word of the LORD came to me.” Five times in twenty-eight verses of chapter 12, Ezekiel says, “The word of the LORD came to me” (Ezekiel 12:1, 8, 17, 21, 26), and four times he writes, “This is what the Sovereign LORD says” (Ezekiel 12:10, 19, 23, 28).

And in verse 28 he uses the combination, “This is what the Sovereign LORD says” and “declares the Sovereign LORD.”

Isaiah (Isaiah 1:1, 11, 18, 24; 2:1), Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:2; 13; 2:1, 3, 5), and other prophets make similar statements. The overall impression leaves no doubt as to the confessed source in God Himself of the messages of the prophets.

Does the Bible Actually Claim to be the “WORD of GOD” in so Many Words?

Yes, it does! Many times, the Bible claims to be the “Word of God” in these very words or their equivalent Jesus told some of the Jewish leaders of His day, “Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition” (Matthew 15:6 NIV).

Paul speaks of the Scriptures as “the very words of God” in Romans 3:2 (NIV). Peter declares, “For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1:23). And the writer of Hebrews affirms, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

Jesus used the phrase “word of God” as equivalent to the Law (Torah) and Scriptures, asserting, “Is it not written in your Law … to whom the word of God came and Scripture cannot be set aside” (John 10:34-35).

Isn’t the Bible also a Human Book?

Yes, it is. In fact, one hundred percent human. The Bible was written by human authors, including Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, a number of other prophets, Ezra, Nehemiah, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter, and others.

#1. The Bible was composed in human languages (Hebrew in the Old Testament and Greek in the New Testament). It is expressed in human literary styles including the exalted poetry of Isaiah, the mournful lamentations of Jeremiah, the parables of Jesus recorded in the Gospels, and the didactic presentation of Paul.

#2. The Bible uses different human literary forms, including the narrative of Samuel and Kings, the poetry of Job and Psalms, the parables of the synoptic Gospels, some allegory as in Galatians 4, the use of symbols as in Revelation, the metaphors and similes of James, satire (Matthew 19:24), and hyperbole (Psalms 6:6; Luke 14:26).

Like other human writing, the Bible uses a wide range of literary forms to convey its meaning.

#3. The Bible reflects different human perspectives. These include a shepherd’s perspective (David in Psalm 23:1-6), a prophetic vantage point in Kings, a priestly perspective in Chronicles, the historical interest of Luke and Acts (Luke 1:1-4; Acts 1:1), and the pastoral concerns of Paul (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus).

And unlike a modern book on astronomy, biblical writers speak from an observer’s perspective when they write of the sun rising or setting (Joshua 1:15; 10:13).

#4. The Bible reflects different human thought patterns. These include almost every dimension of finite thinking patterns, from a tightly-knit logical treatise like Romans to the polemics of Galatians, to the expression of a brief memory lapse in 1 Corinthians 1:14-16.

How and Where Did We Get the Bible?

#5. The Bible reveals different human emotions. The apostle Paul expresses great sorrow over Israel (Romans 9:2), great anger over the error of the Galatians (Galatians 3:1), melancholy and loneliness over his imprisonment (2 Timothy 4:9-16), depression over hardships (2 Corinthians 1:8), joy over victories (Philippians 1:4), and much more.

#6. The Bible manifests specific human interests. Luke had a medical interest, as indicated by his use of medical terms. Hosea had a distinct rural interest, as did Amos, the shepherd from Tekoa (Amos 1:1). James’ writing betrays an interest in nature (see James 1:6, 10-11).

The interests of shepherds (John 10:1-16), athletes (1 Corinthians 9:24-27), and farmers (Matthew13:1-43) are also reflected in the Bible.

#7. The Bible expresses human culture. As a Semitic book, the Bible is filled with expression and practices of its Hebrew culture, such as the common means of greeting by kissing (1 Thessalonians 5:26) and a woman’s use of a veil as a sign of respect for her husband (1 Corinthians 11:5)

Washing one’s feet upon entering a home (John 1:3), shaking off the dust of one’s feet as a sign of condemnation (Luke 10:11), and reclining (not sitting) at meals (John 13:23) are only a few of numerous other examples of human culture.

#8. The Bible utilizes other written human sources. The book of Jashar (Joshua 10:13) and the Books of the Wars of the LORD (Number 21:14) are examples. The records of Samuel the seer, the records of Nathan the prophet and the records of Gad the seer (1 Chronicles 29:29) may also fit in this category.

Luke referred to written sources about Jesus available to him (Luke 1:1-4). Paul quoted non-Christian poets three times (Acts 17:28; 1 Corinthians 15:33; Titus 1:12). Jude cited material from the non-canonical books, The Testament of Moses and the book of Enoch (Jude 9, 14).

These citations do not guarantee the truthfulness of everything in the source but only what is cited. Of course, ultimately all truth comes from God, whatever the immediate source maybe.

How Can the Bible be both God’s Word and Man’s Words?

The Bible is both the word of God and the words of man because God (the source) utilized human beings to convey His word. So, there is a concurrence between what the human authors wrote and what God prompted them to write.

The Bible is both divine and human at the same time in a way similar to the way Christians believe Jesus Christ is both divine and human at the same time.

Of course, as in any analogy, there are some differences. Unlike Jesus Christ who is God, the Bible is not God, and hence it should not be worshiped.


In part two of this article, we will answer questions in regard to the inspiration of the Bible, its authority and reliability as well as the reliability of the biblical witnesses. 

*Read part two here: Answering Tough Questions About the Bible (Part Two)


*Reference:  Who Made God? (Answers to Over 100 Other Tough Questions of Faith)

*Recommended Resource: From God to Us: How We Got Our Bible
By Norman L. Geisler & William E. Nix

The Bible was written in multiple languages by dozens of authors whose lives spanned a period of more than fifteen hundred years. How did it all come together?

Best-selling authors Norman Geisler and William Nix thoroughly answer this question and many more in this revised and expanded edition of a classic which has sold more than 78,000 copies. Helpful charts, photos, and indices have been added, rendering this book ideally suited for Bible students, pastors, and professors.

Major topics addressed include: theories of inspiration, the process of canonization, major manuscripts and recent discoveries, textual criticism, Greek and Latin translations, and modern English translations. The entire field of general biblical introduction is covered.

This is a long-trusted resource for understanding why we can trust the Scriptures really are God’s word.

Did Jesus Claim to be the Son of God?

Did Jesus Claim to be the Son of God?

 

We hear this objection all the time: Jesus never really claimed He was the Son of God, or God Himself. Instead, this belief was superimposed on the Jesus tradition by His overzealous followers years after His death. Critics claim that the real Jesus saw Himself as nothing more than a rabbi.

However, this is not what the evidence clearly shows. This truth was summarized by H. R. Mackintosh, a Scottish theologian: “The self-consciousness of Jesus is the greatest fact in history.”

A research professor of systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Kevin Vanhoozer, also wrote: “Jesus understood Himself to be the beloved Son of God, chosen by God to bring about the kingdom of God and the forgiveness of sins. Our understanding of who Jesus was must correspond to Jesus’ own self-understanding. If we do not confess Jesus as the Christ, then either He was deluded about His identity or we are.”

Ten Factors Pointing to Jesus’ Claim as the Son of God

There are at least ten factors that point toward Jesus as believing He was the one and only Son of God.

1. Jesus referred to Himself as “the Son of Man.”

No scholar doubts that the most common way Jesus referred to Himself was “the Son of Man,” which He applied to Himself more than four dozen times, including in the gospel of Mark, which is generally considered to be the earliest of all the four gospels.

While some critics mistakenly believe this is a mere claim of humanity, the scholarly consensus is that this is a reference to Daniel 7:13-14, where the Son of Man is ushered into the very presence of the Almighty, has “glory, authority, and sovereign power,” receives the worship of “all peoples,” and is someone whose dominion is everlasting.

Did Jesus Claim to be the Son of God?

Theologian and philosopher William Lane Craig said, “The Son of Man was a divine figure in the Old Testament book of Daniel who would come at the end of the world to judge mankind and rule forever. Thus, the claim to be the Son of Man would be in effect a claim to divinity.”

Vanhoozer adds an interesting sidelight: “The curious thing about Jesus’ use of the title … is that He linked it not only with the theme of future glory but also with the theme of suffering and death. In doing so, Jesus was teaching His disciples something new about the long-awaited Messiah, namely that, His suffering would precede His glory (Luke 9:22).

2. Jesus applied the “I am” sayings to Himself.

By applying the “I am” sayings to Himself, Jesus made a claim of divinity, at one point declaring, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I AM” (John 8:58). This obvious allusion to God’s words to Moses out of the burning bush (Exodus 3:13-14) was such an unmistakable declaration of equality with God.

The Jews understood Jesus perfectly so they thought that He had committed blasphemy for ascribing the Name of God to Himself. So they promptly attempted to stone Jesus. Death by stoning was the proper death penalty for this particular sin (Leviticus 24:12-16). But Jesus had not sinned for He was truly God. He was the great I AM in person.

Other passages where Jesus applied the “I am” statements to Himself include John 6:35 (I am the bread of life); John 8:12 (I am the light of the world); John 10:7 (I am the Door of the sheep); John 10:11 (I am the good Shepherd); John 11:25 (I am the Resurrection and the Life); John 14:6 (I am the Way, the Truth and the Life) and John 15:5 (I am the Vine).

3. Jesus forgave sins.

Jesus made a divine claim when He forgave the sins of the paralytic in Mark 2:5. In response, the Jews said, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God” (Mark 2:7)?

The Jews were correct for only God can forgive sins, for sin is a transgression against the law and only the aggrieved person can forgive the guilty one. As theologian D. A. Carson noted, “The only person who can say that sort of thing meaningfully is God Himself, because sin, even if it is against other people, is first and foremost defiance of God and His laws.”

In forgiving sin, Jesus either blasphemed or He was God. But Jesus was God and could forgive.

4. Jesus selected 12 disciples.

Ever wonder why Jesus selected twelve men to be His disciples? Why not eight, ten, or fifteen? Why twelve? What’s with the number twelve?

According to Ben Witherington III, author of The Christology of Jesus, there was a transcendent claim made by the way Jesus selected His disciples. “If the twelve represent a renewed Israel, where does Jesus fit in?” he asked. “He’s not just part of Israel, not merely part of the redeemed group, He’s forming the group – just as God in the Old Testament formed His people and set up the twelve tribes of Israel.

That’s definitely a clue about what Jesus thought of Himself.

Is Jesus God or the Son of God?
Photo Credits: Jesus.Net

5. Jesus taught with divine authority.

The fifth clue about Jesus’ self-understanding comes through the way He taught – with authority. Whenever Jesus teaches, He begins with the phrase, “Verily, verily, I say unto you …” or “Truly I say to you …” In effect, Jesus is saying, “I swear in advance to the truthfulness of what I’m about to say.”

“This was absolutely revolutionary,” Witherington said. He went on to explain that in Judaism, you needed the testimony of two witnesses … but Jesus witnesses to the truth of His own sayings. Instead of basing His teaching on the authority of others, He speaks on His own authority.

So here is someone who considered Himself to have authority beyond what the Old Testament prophets had. He believed He possessed not only divine inspiration, as King David did, but also divine authority and the power of direct divine utterance.


Recommended Resource: Jesus Among Secular Gods – Bible Study Book by Ravi Zacharias and Vince Vitale

Jesus Among Secular Gods Bible Study Book includes six small-group sessions, applicable Scripture, a leader guide, “How to Use This Study,” and personal-study content and activities.

As belief in the secular gods of atheism, hedonism, relativism, and humanism continues to grow, it’s more important than ever for believers to be able to defend and share the claims of Christ. Of course, this clash of worldviews is nothing new.

Throughout Paul’s writing in the New Testament are references to elemental forces that seek to separate believers from the love and truth of Jesus.

Not only has the Christian worldview been devalued and dismissed by modern culture, but its believers are also openly ridiculed as irrelevant. This six-session Bible study challenges the popular and trending philosophies of the day, skillfully pointing out the fallacies in their claims and presenting compelling evidence for absolute truth as found in Jesus and revealed in Scripture.

This study helps seekers explore the claims of Christ and provides Christians with the knowledge to articulate their faith that Jesus stands tall above all other gods.

Did Jesus Claim to be God or the Son of GodSession titles:

  1. Be Prepared
  2. Atheism and Scientism
  3. Pluralism
  4. Humanism and Relativism
  5. Hedonism
  6. Conversations That Count

Features:

  • Six small-group sessions
  • Personal-study opportunities for ongoing spiritual growth

Benefits:

  • Develop confidence in challenging the philosophies and worldview of the day with the absolute claims of Jesus.
  • Be better equipped to respond to difficult questions posed by unbelievers.
  • Learn to competently counter cultural challenges while sharing the Christian faith.

6. Jesus addressed God as “Abba.”

When relating to God, Jesus used the Aramaic term Abba, or “Father dearest.” This reflects an intimacy that was alien in ancient Judaism, in which devout Jews avoided the use of God’s personal name out of fear they may mispronounce it. Dr. Witherington made this observation:

“The significance of Abba is that Jesus is the initiator of an intimate relationship that was previously unavailable. The question is, what kind of person can initiate a new covenantal relationship with God?”

Jesus is saying that only through having a relationship with Him does this kind of prayer language – this kind of “Abba” relationship with God – becomes possible. That says volumes about how He regarded Himself.

7. Jesus received Thomas’ worship.

Another indicator of Jesus’ self-understanding can be seen in His post-resurrection encounter with the apostle Thomas in John 20. Responding to Jesus’ invitation to personally check out the evidence that He had really risen from the dead, Thomas declares, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28)!

Jesus’ reply was very telling. It would have been the height of blasphemy for Him to have knowingly received Thomas’ worship unless Jesus really was God. Yet instead of rebuking him, Jesus said, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).

Jesus’ choice to receive Thomas’ worship clearly means He believed He was God and thus worthy of that homage. Similarly, when Simon Peter answered Jesus’ question, “Who do you say I am?” by saying, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” Jesus’ reaction was not to correct him but rather to affirm that this was revealed to him by the Father Himself (Matthew 16:15-17).

Did Jesus Claim to be the Son of God?

8. Salvation depends on peoples’ confession to Jesus.

Jesus clearly believed that the eternal destiny of people hinged on whether they believed in Him. He said in John 8:24, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”

In addition, Jesus said, “Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God. But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God” (Luke 12:8-9).

William Lane Craig put the implication this way, “Make no mistake: if Jesus were not the divine Son of God, then His claim could only be regarded as the most narrow and objectionable dogmatism. Jesus is saying that people’s salvation is dependent upon their confession to Jesus Himself.”

9. Jesus said that He and the Father are one.

An equally overt assertion of divinity is found in John 10:30, where Jesus declared outright, “I and My Father are one.” There is no question about whether His listeners understood that Jesus was saying that He and God are one in substance. Promptly they picked up stones to stone Him “for blasphemy because You, being a man make Yourself God” (John 10:33).

10. Jesus performed miracles.

An equally important factor that should be weighed in assessing Jesus’ belief about His identity is His miracles. Jesus stressed that His feats were a sign of the coming of God’s kingdom. “But if I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Luke 11:20).

Ben Witherington observed that even though others in the Bible also performed miracles, this statement showed that Jesus didn’t merely regard Himself as a wonder-worker: “He sees Himself as the one in whom and through whom the promises of God come to pass. And that’s a not-to-thinly-veiled claim of transcendence.”

British scholar James D. G. Dunn said, “Whatever the ‘facts’ were, Jesus evidently believed that He had cured cases of blindness, lameness, and deafness – indeed, there is no reason to doubt that He believed lepers had been cured under His ministry and restored the dead to life.”

Fulfilling the Attributes of God

Sure, anyone can believe that he or she is God. But Jesus didn’t just consider Himself God’s Son; He also fulfilled the attributes that are unique to God. Philippians 2:5-8 describes how Jesus emptied Himself of the independent use of His attributes – a phenomenon termed kenosis – when He was incarnated.

This explains how he didn’t always choose to exhibit the “omnis” – omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence – in His earthly existence. Even so, the New Testament confirms that all of these qualities were ultimately true of Him.

For example, in John 16:30, John affirms of Jesus, “Now we are sure that You know all things,” which is omniscience. Also in Matthew 28:20, Jesus is recorded as saying, “And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age,” which is omnipresence. And He declared, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me” (Matthew 28:18), which is omnipotence. 

Is Jesus the Son of God or God Himself?

Indeed, Colossians 2:9 reads, “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”Jesus’ eternality is confirmed in John 1:1, which declares of Jesus, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Jesus’ immutability is shown in Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” His sinlessness is seen in John 8:29, “And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do what pleases Him.”

Hebrews 1:3 declares Jesus to be “the brightness (or radiance) of God’s glory and the express image of His person.” Colossians 1:17 says, “Jesus is before all things, and in Him, all things consist.” Matthew 25:31-32 affirms He will be the judge of all mankind. And in Hebrews 1:8, the Father Himself specifically makes reference to Jesus as being God.

The very names used to paint a portrait of God in the Old Testament – names such as Alpha and Omega, Lord, Savior, King, Judge, Light, Rock, Redeemer, Shepherd, Creator, the giver of life, forgiver of sin, and speaker with divine authority – are also applied to Jesus in the New Testament.

Read here: God’s Natural and Moral Attributes

Conclusion

Did Jesus claim to be the only Son of God and God Himself? Absolutely! Although we do not read Jesus saying this directly to the effects of “I am the Son of God” or “I am God, worship Me,” He did so in ways that His audience and readers during His time clearly understood.

Who did Jesus believe He was? In his book, New Approaches to Jesus and the Gospels, professor of New Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Royce Gruenler, comes to this conclusion: “It is a striking fact of modern New Testament research that the essential clues for correctly reading the implicit Christological self-understanding of Jesus are abundantly clear.”

Beyond just believing He was God, Jesus also proved it by working supernatural deeds, by fulfilling ancient prophecies against all mathematical odds, and ultimately by conquering the grave.

Who did Jesus think He was? Check out this Reasonable Faith original video on the self-understanding of Jesus!

Who Did Jesus Think He Was?

Who did Jesus think he was? Check out this Reasonable Faith original video on the self-understanding of Jesus! #Apologetics #Jesus

Posted by Reasonable Faith on Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Faithlessness is Foolishness

Faithlessness is Foolishness

We live in a world so modern that denying the existence of God is the new norm. In fact, things have become so extreme that people who believe in the uncreated Creator called God are being mocked and labeled as fools.

Wait a minute; doesn’t the Bible say that faithlessness is foolishness? It certainly does in Psalm 14:1. King David paints the portrait of the prince of fools in one sentence: “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’”

Psalm 14:1-7 presents a vivid picture of the man who rejects God and his corrupt deeds. David called those who denied the existence of God “fools.” But David did not call them such because they were not smart enough to figure God out. Rather, he had in mind those who simply reject God.

The Meaning of Fool

Our English word “fool” comes from a Latin word that means “bellows,” suggesting that the fool is a person “full of hot air.” In the Hebrew language, there are three basic words for fool: kesyl (the dull and stupid fool), eviyl (the unreasonable and perverted fool), and nabal (morally perverse). Nabal is the word used in Psalm 14:1, which implies aggressive perversity.

The original text does not say that “man is stupid.” We have gone to the moon, transplanted hearts, harnessed atomic power and more. We are not stupid! David knew that too and picked the perfect word to talk about those who are “morally perverse” just like the Nabal of 1 Samuel 25:1:44.

Only the Fool says in his Heart there is no God

Results of Denying God

When men deny God, it will lead them into corruption and abominable works (Psalm 14:2). All that they are, say and do comes from their arrogant (and ignorant) belief that “there is no God.”

This is not to say that all atheists are living immoral lives and all who believe in God are living good lives. It’s just that there is a marked difference in moral behavior between those who take God seriously and those who do not.

When the fools leave God out of their lives, they cause their inner person – the heart, the mind, and the will – to become more and more corrupt. The Hebrew word for corrupt means “rotten, putrid, and decayed,” and evokes an image of milk that has become rancid. It is used to describe Jeremiah’s useless sash (Jeremiah 13:7).

When God looks down to investigate He sees people who are filthy. They have turned their backs on God (Psalm 14:2-3) and refuse to fulfill the purpose for which they were created – to glorify God. We read the same thing in Genesis 6:5, 11-12; 11:5; 18:21 and 1 Kings 14:9-10.

When David says, “There is none who does good; no not one” (Psalm 14:3), he did not mean that there is no human good in this world. But because man is fallen living in a fallen world that he does not do good by instinct. In fact, even the good he may do is tinged with evil.

The indictment is universal; all people, individually or collectively, cannot do anything at all that is good enough to merit heaven – no one, not a single one. The apostle Paul quotes from this passage in Romans 3:10-12 as part of his proof that the whole world is guilty before God and can be saved only by the grace of God as revealed in Jesus Christ.

We all need to be Born Again to Enter Heaven

The LORD, He is God Almighty

The word “God” as used in Psalm 14:1-7 is not the normal word Jehovah but El Jehovah, which refers to the God of the covenant, the God who does something for us. El refers to the Almighty God, the God of authority, the Ruler, the Judge, the Lawgiver.

David’s choice of words shows that humans do not want to know a God who demands anything; they want to be free to participate unimpeded in their sinful behavior. This is so true! It’s not the lack of evidence in the existence of God that atheists deny God. They reject God because belief in a divine Being comes with a sense of accountability to that Being.

The atheist’s rejection of the existence of God is due to a desire to live free of the moral constraints God requires and to escape the guilt that accompanies the violation of those constraints. Author Aldous Leonard Huxley has openly admitted that a desire to avoid moral restraints was a motivation for his unbelief.

Indeed, our concept of God will determine how we live. If we see God as a cosmic bellhop in the heavens responding to our paltry tips, we will live a loose, lukewarm, and loveless Christian life. But God is not a bellhop, and He is not a doting grandfather, smiling benignly in the heavens at godless conduct.

God is a God of patience and power, a God of compassion and correction. Hollywood labels God as someone up there who loves us. That’s true. However, He does demand that “we present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God” (Romans 12:1).

We are not our own for we have been bought at a price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Those who preach the love of God without the discipline of God are preaching a humanistic heresy. Paul taught that if you do not endure chastening, you are illegitimate – not a child of God (Hebrews 12:5-8).

Faithlessness is Foolishness

The fool has deviated faith. The infidel shouts, “I have no belief!” Liar! A man who claims to believe in nothing still believes in something. It requires faith to be an infidel.

The atheist must believe that God is not, that prayer is a waste of time, that heaven is a myth, death is eternal unconscious existence, and that hope for a better tomorrow is weakness. The agnostic has been duped by Satan to believe the wrong things.

The fool defies the creation. The Bible begins with the declaration “In the beginning God” (Genesis 1:1). Without God, there is no creation, no redemption, no deliverance, no healing, no hope. Paul says we can know God by the things He has created (Romans 1:20).

Look at our massive universe with its organization and structure that work together. The fool believes that this magnificent earth is the by-product of an ecological accident. Only a fool would believe that billions of years ago the sun shone on a pond and that life began wiggling in the water and that this life form developed lungs and legs and walked out on land. Finally, it climbed a tree and hung by its tail. Only a fool would believe that!

Here’s a quick video of Rick Warren explaining why it takes more faith to not believe in God than to believe in God.

History Attests God

The fool denies history. Daniel asked God to show him the parade of nations that would come upon the face of the earth. God gave him a vision of the nations in the exact order in which they would appear, the personality of their leaders, and the military methods of conquest (Daniel 7).

How was that known hundreds of years before it happened? An accident? Hardly. There is a God who sits on His throne, who puts kings up and takes kings down (Daniel 2:21).

Want another proof that there is a God? Israel’s history proves God reigns. God’s chosen people were scattered over four continents and sick civilizations. They survived persecution in the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, and Hitler’s Holocaust. Today the nation of Israel shows that God continues to protect His people.

The Promise of Christ’s Coming

God has promised that the Redeemer will one day come to Zion and deliver His people in mighty power (Psalm 14:7; Isaiah 59:16-21; Jeremiah 31:33-34) and Paul affirmed this at the close of his great discussion of the future redemption of the Jewish nation (Romans 11:25-32).

But what about the wicked? They have no future with the Lord because they preferred not to know the Lord or live for Him. They lived according to the desires of their own heart, not to please the Lord and glorify Him. Those who reject Jesus Christ will spend eternity apart from the Lord and will honestly be able to say in hell, “There is no God – here!”

Closing Words

There is a God. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-present, holy, everlasting, sovereign, unchanging. He is my Father and your Father. He created heaven and earth. He is King of kings and Lord of lords. He is coming again in power and great glory (Matthew 24:30).

Are you a fool or are you ready to meet Him?

Receive Jesus Christ now as Lord and Savior and confess Him with your mouth for “whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:16-17).


*Recommended Resource: I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist
By Norman L. Geisler & Frank Turek

Norman Geisler and Frank Turek show, first of all, that truth is absolute, exclusive, and knowable. From there, they proceed to demonstrate that the cardinal Christian doctrines are true beyond reasonable doubt, all convincing for you as Christians to believe, but requiring a leap of negative “faith” if an atheist is to disbelieve them.

Geisler and Turek argue that Christianity requires the least faith of all worldviews because it is the most reasonable. A valuable aid to those interested in examining the reasonableness of the Christian faith.

God’s Unconditional Promise to Israel

God’s Unconditional Promise to Israel

Whether the Jews have a right to their land has been the subject of dispute among many nations up until today. Some say that the Jews have occupied a land that wasn’t theirs and that the occupation must be stopped.

However, the Jews claim that the land originally belonged to them and they have every right to it. They base their claim to the land of Israel on at least four premises and one of them is that God promised the land to the patriarch Abraham.

The Nation of Israel was founded by God

The Bible clearly tells us that Israel is the only nation founded by a sovereign act of God. It all started when God told Abraham to “get out of his country, from his family and from his father’s house, to a land that He will show him” (Genesis 12:1). And then God promised to give him that land (Genesis 12:7).

However, there are two controversies concerning the nation of Israel. The first is whether the promise to Abraham was a promise of literal land or promise of heaven. The second controversy asks whether the promise to Abraham and his seed for a literal land is conditional based upon Israel’s obedience to God or an unconditional promise.

We will then examine Scripture to verify beyond any doubt that God intended for Abraham and the Jewish people to have a literal land upon which they would live.

God's Unconditional Promise to Israel

God Promised a Land

In Genesis 13:14-15, God told Abraham, “Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are … for all the land which you see I will give to you and your descendants forever.”

And Genesis 15:18 states, “On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying: ‘To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates.’” This is a very literal land. Heaven is not described, even allegorically, as the area between the river of Egypt and the Euphrates.

God told Abraham, “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions” (Genesis 15:13-14).

Israel’s departure from the Promised Land was literal because they went into a literal Egypt. After four hundred years they became a nation of two to three million people and they physically left a literal Egypt for a literal Promised Land – not heaven.

God's Unconditional Promise to the Jewish People
Photo Credits: Piano Bible Chapel

The title deed to the Promised Land was passed from Abraham to Isaac. God said to Isaac, “Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I will give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father” (Genesis 26:3).

The title deed to the Promised Land was then passed to Jacob from Isaac. In Genesis 28:13, God said, “I am the LORD God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants.”

You have to be in a very literal land to lie on it.

God’s Promise was Unconditional

Was God’s promise to Abraham of a Promised Land conditional or unconditional? Those who believe God’s promise was conditional simply do not understand the blood covenant.

In the Old Testament, there were three ways by which covenants could be made; a shoe covenant, a salt covenant, and a blood covenant.

In the blood covenant, the contracting parties would agree on the terms of the covenant. Then they would take an animal, kill it, split the carcass in half down the backbone, and place the divided parts opposite each other on the ground forming a pathway between the pieces.

The two would join hands, recite the contents of the covenant, and walk between the divided halves of the slain animal. The blood covenant meant they were bound until death, and if either broke the terms of the covenant, his blood should be spilled as the blood of the slain animal. A blood covenant was a permanent and unconditional covenant.

God's Unconditional Covenant with Abaraham and the Jewish People

In Genesis 15, God commanded Abraham to take a heifer, a she-goat, a ram, a turtledove, and a pigeon; and all were split in half except the birds. God placed Abraham in a deep sleep, for no man can look upon God and live, as He prepared to enter a blood covenant with Abraham.

In his sleep, Abraham saw “a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces” (Genesis 15:17). In the Old Testament, the burning lamp signified the presence of the Shekinah Glory of God. God was binding Himself, unconditionally, by a blood covenant to Abraham and his descendants forever, saying, “To your descendants I have given this land” (Genesis 15:18).

Confirmation that the promise to Abraham and to his seed was unconditional is presented in Psalm 89:30-37. God says, “If his sons [Israel] forsake My law and do not walk in My judgments, if they break My statutes and do not keep My commandments, then I will visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes.”

“Nevertheless My lovingkindness I will not utterly take from him, nor allow My faithfulness to fail.” God is saying here that He will not break His covenant.

God’s Promise Fulfilled

What about the future of Israel? Israel was reborn as a nation in one day on May 14, 1948, when the United Nations recognized the state of Israel. This was a fulfillment of Isaiah 66:8.

God Promised to bring the Jews back to their own land

Amos writes concerning the restoration of Israel, “I will bring back the captives of My people Israel; they shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them; they shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them. I will plant them in their land, and no longer shall they be pulled up from the land I have given them, says the LORD your God” (Amos 9:14-15).

The prophets of Israel declared the nation of Israel would be reborn, would be rebuilt, and the Jewish people would never again be removed. When the Messiah comes, He will set up His throne in the city of Jerusalem and of His kingdom, there shall be no end.

*Read more of the promises of God to the nation of Israel in this article: The “I Will” Promises of God

Conclusion

God’s covenant with Abraham and the nation of Israel was unconditional, depending solely upon God who obligated Himself in grace. The unconditional character of this covenant is indicated by God’s declarations “I will” that repeat throughout without corresponding “you must” demands of Abraham.

This covenant contained all that God then began to do, has since done throughout history, and will continue to do.


*Reference Material: 

NKJV Prophecy Study Bible {Top 20 Questions About Bible Prophecy & God’s Great Promises}
General Editor: John Hagee 

What Can We Learn From Suffering?

What Can We Learn From Suffering?

The subject of human suffering is not easy to understand, for there are mysteries to the working of God that we will never grasp until we get to heaven. Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? What can we learn from suffering?

Some people argue that the suffering of the righteous is the major obstacle to faith in God. They reason that God cannot be loving and all-powerful if disasters strike good people. Either he doesn’t love His followers enough to take care of them or He isn’t powerful enough to protect them.

What Can We Learn From Suffering

If God’s love or power is defective, He isn’t worthy of human worship and allegiance.

In the Word of God, there are four great examples of believers suffering for the sake of righteousness: Joseph, Job, Jeremiah, and Paul. In this article, we will look at the accounts of Job and Paul and see what we can learn from them.

The Suffering of Job

Whenever Christians speak of suffering, it is impossible to not consider the account of Job. The Bible describes Job as a blameless and upright man; one who feared God and shunned evil (Job 1:1).

Job was prosperous in his family life (Job 1:2-3). The events in this book took place during the Patriarchal Age (Job may have been a contemporary of Abraham or Isaac) when a large family was seen as a blessing from God (Genesis 12:2; 13:16; 30:1). His children must have enjoyed each other’s company since they met frequently to celebrate their birthdays.

And after each feast, Job would offer special sacrifices to God not because their celebration was wicked and that they needed to repent. It only shows that Job was a pious man and wanted to be sure his family was right with God.

Until it happened that Job suffered the loss of his wealth and the death of his children, all in one day. Then, sometime later, his health failed, and apparently he would never get well.

Finally, his best friends came and accused him of being a secret sinner who needed to get right with God. Add to this Job’s wife who was of the opinion that he should curse God for letting all this misery befall him (Job 2:9). In her eyes, God had obviously failed Job.

Interestingly, Job never found out why disaster struck him. Job knew what had happened, but he did not know why it had happened, and that is the crux of the matter. Because the author allows us to visit the throne room of heaven and hear God and Satan speak, we know who caused the destruction and why he was allowed to cause it.


The Suffering of Paul

Paul who used to be Saul, the number one persecutor of Christianity, but later on became Paul, the number one propagator of Christianity, had suffered quite a lot for the sake of the gospel.

In his second letter to the Corinthian believers, Paul opened his heart to them (and to us) and revealed the trials he had experienced. To begin with, he had been severely criticized by some of the people in Corinth because he had changed his plans and apparently not kept his promise to visit them again (2 Corinthians 1:12-18).

When Christians misunderstand each other, the wounds can go very deep. Then there was the problem of opposition to his apostolic authority in the church. One of the members – possibly a leader had to be disciplined, and this gave Paul great sorrow.

Finally, there were difficult circumstances Paul had to endure. He was plotted against several times (Acts 9:23, 29; 20:3; 21:30; 23:10, 12; 25:3), was stoned and left for dead (Acts 14:19), was subjected to satanic pressure (1 Thessalonians 2:18), was beaten and jailed at Philippi (Acts 16:19-24), was ridiculed (Acts 17:16-18; 26:24), was falsely accused (Acts 21:21, 28; 24:5-9; endured a number of violent storms at sea (2 Corinthians 11:25; Acts 27:14-20), was beaten by a serpent (Acts 28:3-4) and was forsaken by all (2 Timothy 4:10, 16).

Learning from Suffering

Perhaps the most painful question confronting the believer is the problem of suffering. Why does a loving and wise God permit His children to suffer?

1. Suffering helps bring out the best in us.

While Satan attempts to use temptation and suffering to bring out the worst in us, God uses them to bring out the best in us.

The hosts of heaven and of hell watched to see how Job would respond to his first test: the loss of his wealth and children. He expressed his grief in a manner normal for that day, for God expects us to be human (1 Thessalonians 4:13). After all, even Jesus wept (John 11:35).

But then Job looked up, worshiped God and uttered a profound statement of faith: (Job 1:21). Instead of cursing God, as Satan said Job would do, Job praised the Lord. Anybody can say, “God gave me what I had” or “God has taken it away,” but real faith says, in the midst of sorrow and suffering, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Job 1:21 NKJV

But Satan does not give up easily, and he returned to God’s throne to ask for His permission to torment Job physically, which the Lord willingly gave (Job 2:1-7). We get the impression that God was confident that his servant would not fail the test.

Satan was absolutely sure that his strategy of suffering (Job 1:11; 2:4-5) would destroy the faith of Job, which the devil consistently misunderstood (Job 1:9-10). After losing all his wealth and children, and afflicted with painful boils all over his body, Job’s faith in God remained firm. His wife told Job to “curse God and die” which was exactly what Satan wanted him to do, but he didn’t (Job 2:9-10).

The two things Job would not give up were his faith in God and his integrity. Even if God permitted evil to come into his life, Job would not rebel against God by taking matters into his own hands. God used Job’s sufferings to bring out the best in him.

2. God uses suffering to silence the devil.

Satan accused Job of merely serving God for the material blessings involved (Job 1:9-11). We might paraphrase it like this: “The only reason Job fears you is because you pay him to do it. You two have made a contract: You protect him and prosper him as long as he obeys you and worships you.”

We can see that Satan’s accusation against Job was really an attack on God. Satan was telling God, “You are not a God worthy of worship! You have to pay people to honor you.” So the Lord allowed the devil to torment Job to demonstrate that His servant loved God because of who He was, and not for what he could get from Him (Job 1:12).

God found no fault with Job, but Satan did. God’s statement in Job 1:8 echoes the description of Job in verse 1, but Satan questioned it. The word “Satan” means adversary – one who opposes the Law. Imagine a courtroom scene where God and Satan each deliver different verdicts. Satan said Job was guilty, but keep in mind that God said, “Not guilty!”

Romans 8:1 NIV

The readers get the sense that Job’s life was a battlefield over which the forces of light and darkness waged war. Satan suffered a tremendous defeat, but Job never knew it. Eventually, Job’s insight into God grew, but that in no way diminished the horror of his suffering.

Some of the so-called tragedies in our lives have really been weapons of God when He is “silencing our enemies and all who oppose us (Psalm 8:2).” We may not know until we get to heaven why God allowed certain things to happen.

Meanwhile, we are to “walk by faith” and say with Job, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

3. Suffering teaches us to depend on God.

In his second letter to the believers at Corinth, Paul began with a doxology (2 Corinthians 1:3). He certainly could not sing about his circumstances, but he could sing about the God who is in control of circumstances. Paul had learned that praise is an important factor in achieving victory over discouragement and depression.

Despite his suffering, Paul was confident that whatever the Father did for Jesus when He was ministering on earth, He is able to do for him and for us today. We are dear to the Father because His Son is dear to Him and we are citizens of the “Kingdom of His dear Son” (Colossians 1:13).

We are precious to the Father, and He will see to it that the pressures of life will not destroy us. God enables us to bear trials. But the first thing God must do is to show us how weak we are in ourselves.

Paul was a gifted and experienced servant of God, who had been through many different kinds of trials. Surely all of his experience would be sufficient for him to face new difficulties and overcome them. But God wants us to trust Him, not our gifts or abilities, our experience or our “spiritual reserves” (2 Corinthians 1:9).

In 2 Corinthians 1:10, Paul says, “God delivered us, will deliver us and will still deliver us” from all trials. Paul saw God’s hand of deliverance whether he looked back, around or ahead. However, God does not always deliver or rescue us immediately, nor does He always rescue us in the same way. Sometimes God rescues us from our trials, and at other times He rescues us in our trials.

We must never think that trouble is an accident. For the believer, everything is a divine appointment. There are only three possible outlooks a person can take when it comes to the trials and suffering of life.

If our trials are the products of “fate” or “chance,” then our only recourse is to give up. Nobody can control fate or chance. If we have to control everything ourselves, then the situation is just as hopeless. But if God is in control, and we trust Him, then we can overcome circumstances with His help.

4. God is glorified through our trials and suffering.

When Paul reported what God has done for him, a great chorus of praise and thanksgiving went up from the saints to the throne of God (2 Corinthians 1:11). The highest service you and I can render on earth is to bring glory to God, and sometimes the service involves suffering.

Every one of us will face various trials and difficulties in our lives. Some may suffer more but as Christians, we must take each situation as an opportunity to show the world how God is still with us and loves us.

Romans 8:18

Through suffering, we have the opportunity to demonstrate to the unbelieving world how Christ is more glorious and precious to us than any pain and difficulty we might endure. While others are anxious and wallowing in depression, we have every reason to thank God and rejoice.

When we place our ultimate hope in Christ rather than in the temporary things of this world, such as trials and suffering, God is glorified.

5. Sufferings will produce fruit.

If we allow suffering to accomplish its purpose, it can bring forth patience (James 1:3; Hebrews 10:36), joy (Psalm 30:5; 126:6), knowledge (Psalm 94:12), and maturity (1 Peter 5:10).

For more of this please refer to this article: The Christian’s Response to Trials

6. Suffering can perfect our character and help us to minister to others.

In every church, there are mature saints of God who have suffered and experienced God’s grace, and they are great “encouragers” in the congregation. Paul experienced trouble, not as punishment for something he had done, but as preparation for something he was yet going to do – minister to others in need.

Just think of the trials that King David had to endure in order to give us the great encouragement that we find in the Psalms.

2 Corinthians 1:7 makes it clear that there is always the possibility that the situation might be reversed: The Corinthians believers might go through trials and receive God’s grace so that they might encourage others. God sometimes calls a church family to experience special trials in order that He might bestow on them special abundant grace.

What Can We Learn From Suffering

God’s gracious encouragement helps us if we learn to endure. “Patient endurance” is evidence of faith. If we become bitter or critical of God, if we rebel instead of submitting, then our trials will work against us instead of for us. The ability to endure difficulties patiently, without giving up, is a mark of spiritual maturity (Hebrews 12:1-7).

God has to work in us before He can work through us. It is much easier for us to grow in knowledge than to grow in grace (2 Peter 3:18). Learning God’s truth and getting it into our heads is one thing, but living God’s truth and getting it into our character is quite something else.

God put young Joseph through thirteen years of tribulation before He made him the second ruler of Egypt, and what a great man Joseph turned out to be! God always prepares us for what He is preparing for us, and a part of that preparation is suffering.

Suffering: A Barrier to Faith?

In A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis admits that when his wife Joy died of bone cancer he felt as though the heavens had become a barrier of bronze between him and God. Rabbi Harold Kushner in his book When Bad Things Happen to Good People reports that the issue of the suffering of people who love God is the ultimate theological question for sensitive religious people.

Oswald Chambers wrote in Christian Disciplines, “Perhaps to be able to explain suffering is the clearest indication of never having suffered.” He concluded that suffering is one of life’s “mysteries that awaken all the other mysteries until the heart rests in God.”

That’s the dilemma: Some conclude that the suffering of the righteous makes faith in a loving, powerful God impossible; others conclude the suffering of the righteous makes faith in a loving, powerful God imperative.

A Father Suffers

In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the father let the younger son leave home and suffer sorts of consequences of his folly. He also let his older son at home struggle with his bitterness and pride. The father endured the anguish of watching both sons deal with pain.

God the Father made humans free moral agents, and with that liberty set the course for our suffering and His: ours because tragedies occur in a world marred by human sin, and His because He doesn’t prevent the pain of those He loves.

What the Father offers us is a refuge. We can run to Him and cling with all our might and He will comfort us and share our pain, or we can blame Him and stubbornly suffer.

Closing Thoughts

Why does God allow His people to suffer?

Suffering helps bring out the best in us, produces fruit in us, teaches us to depend on God, can perfect our character and help us to become more like Jesus so we can minister to others.

Suffering is also used by God to silence the enemy (Satan) and for Him to be glorified in the lives of His people. God works out His purposes in the trials of life, if we yield to Him, trust Him, and obey what He tells us to do. 

Whatever suffering we are experiencing right now, let us find comfort in the words of God in Revelation 21:4.

Revelation 21:4 NKJV 

Should you have anything else to add or if you want to share your story: the trials and difficulties you went through, please use the comment section below.

Doctrines Taught by Apostle Paul

Doctrines Taught by Apostle Paul

Next to the Master Teacher Himself (Jesus Christ), the apostle Paul is probably the most eloquent and persuasive teacher in the Bible. Paul is so significant a figure in the New Testament and in the church’s history that he has been called the second founder of Christianity.

This, of course, is not true, for it ignores the continuity between Jesus and Paul and diminishes unfairly the contributions of men such as Peter, John, and Luke. But there is no question that Paul played a vital role in the growth and establishment of the church and in the interpretation and application of God’s grace in Christ.

His epistles make up almost one-fourth of the New Testament, putting Paul just behind Luke in the percentage of the New Testament written by a single individual. And if one adds the sixteen chapters of Acts (Acts 13-28) that are almost entirely devoted to Paul, Paul figures in almost one-third of the New Testament.

Major Teachings of Paul

Misinterpreting Paul and His Letters

One post on a Facebook Group I was invited in questioned how the apostle Paul differed in his teachings about God from every single one of the Old Testament patriarchs and even with Muhammad, the founder of Islam.

While the rest of them taught monotheism, that is, there is only one God; Paul taught polytheism – there is more than one God. Upon reading that, I couldn’t help but conclude that the conversation starter in the group hasn’t really read the Bible. And there’s no doubt that he misunderstood Paul’s teachings, especially about the Triune God.

Exploring Paul’s background will help us understand him better and to interpret his words more accurately. So who was this man Paul?

Paul’s Background

Paul himself provides a rough outline of his own background, but in his epistles, this material is scattered. The basic historical details are conveniently grouped in the speeches Paul gave (as reported by Luke) to a hostile crowd of Jews on the steps of the temple (Acts 22:1-21) and to King Agrippa II and the Roman procurator Festus (Acts 26:2-23).

Saul (Paul’s name before his conversion) was a Jew born in Tarsus of Cilicia (Acts 22:3), a region in the extreme southeastern part of Asia Minor. In Paul’s day, the city was the capital of the Roman province Syria-Cilicia (Galatians 1:21). It was prosperous, privileged (it was exempt from Roman taxation), and cultured, being famous for its schools. Not only was Paul born in Tarsus, but he was also a citizen of this “no ordinary city” (Acts 21:39).

More important, however, was the fact that Paul was a citizen of Rome. The Romans did not confer citizenship on just anyone; only a small percentage of people who lived within the Roman Empire possessed this privilege.

Paul’s Roman citizenship was inherited from his family (Paul claims, “I was born a citizen” (Acts 22:28), perhaps because of some deed of service performed by his father or grandfather for the Romans.

Doctrines Taught by Apostle Paul

However achieved, Paul’s Roman citizenship was an important and providential qualification for his role as a missionary to the Roman Empire. It enabled him to escape detainment when his preaching brought disfavor (Acts 16:37-39), to avoid punishment (Acts 22:23-29), and to plead his case before the emperor’s court in Rome (Acts 25:10-12).

His statement, “I was brought up in this city, taught according to the strictness of our fathers’ law, and was zealous toward God” (Acts 22:3), tells us that prior to his conversion on the road to Damascus, not only was Paul by birth a “Hebrew of Hebrews,” he was by conviction a serious and zealous follower of Judaism, a member of its strictest sect (Acts 26:5), the Pharisees.

But Paul’s encounter of the Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-6; 22:6-11; 26:12-15) has turned him from being the number one persecutor of Christians into not only a follower but a preacher of Jesus Christ.

Paul’s Authority as an Apostle

Fundamental to Paul’s ministry was his consciousness of being an apostle. Like the other apostles, he had seen the Lord (1 Corinthians 9:1), and the Lord Himself, not any human being, had called Paul to his apostleship (see Galatians 1:1).

Because Paul was an apostle by God’s call, he could claim an authority equal to that of Peter, James, John, and the rest of the twelve—those whom some of Paul’s opponents had labeled “super-apostles” (2 Corinthians 11:5). Paul writes from the consciousness of this apostolic authority in every one of his letters.

Doctrines Taught by Apostle Paul

True, Paul can sometimes distinguish between his teaching and the teaching of the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:6, 10, 12; 2 Corinthians 11:17), and nowhere does Paul make it clear that he thought his letters to be inspired Scripture. Nevertheless, in differentiating his teaching from the Lord’s, Paul does not suggest that his carries any less authority.

And, while not perhaps conscious of writing inspired Scripture, Paul’s apostolic stance enables him to interpret with sovereign freedom the Old Testament Scriptures and to make demands on his people that he considered to be as binding as anything in Scripture.

5 Major Teachings of Paul

We read from his background and the testimony of the Word of God that Paul became a faithful follower of Christ, a dedicated missionary, and a respected leader in the early church.

Here are five of the major doctrines he taught and expounded.

1. Justification by Faith

According to Paul, God ushered in a new era through the death of His Son. Under the old covenant, people such as Abraham were justified by believing God, looking forward to the promise of the coming Messiah (see Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:22).

Now believers are justified, or declared righteous before God, through faith in the Messiah, Jesus Christ, and His atoning death on our behalf. Our justification is based on the work of Christ, accomplished through His blood (Romans 5:9), and brought to His people through His resurrection (Romans 4:25).

Justified: The Bible’s Meaning

What does it mean to be justified? To be justified means to be declared right with God by virtue of the remission of sins accomplished by Jesus: Christ’s righteousness is imputed to the believer, and the believer’s sins are imputed to Christ, who bears them in His body on the tree.

God Who Justifies, The – eBook

By James R. White

The author of The King James Only Controversy calls believers to a fresh appreciation and understanding of the doctrine of justification by faith. White, a Reformed Baptist, offers an in-depth study that focuses on the pivotal place of this often-ignored principle in church history; and an exegetical defense of key biblical passages in Romans and James.


However, let us not forget that justification is by faith. You are justified only when God the Father, based upon the meritorious work of Jesus Christ in your place, declares you to be so upon the exercise of the gift of faith – faith that is directed solely to the God who justifies the ungodly (Romans 4:5).

Again, justification is the judicial act of God whereby He forgives the sinner of all his sins – past, present, and future – and declares him righteous in His eyes and free from guilt and punishment. It is an immediate and instantaneous act of God upon the sinner’s confession and his acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (Romans 10:9).

2. Jesus Christ is the Risen and Living Son of God

Doctrines Taught by Apostle Paul - Jesus is the Son of God
Saul Encounters the Risen Christ

From the moment Jesus appeared to Paul at his dramatic conversion, Paul immediately started to proclaim without hesitation that Jesus is the Son of God (Acts 9:20).

Let us not forget who Paul was – a Pharisee utterly devoted to stamping out the new Christian movement. But Jesus sovereignly intervened in his life while he was on Damascus road.

Amazingly, the last words we hear coming out of Saul’s mouth before his conversion are, “Who are You, Lord?” (Acts 9:5); and the first words we hear out of his mouth after his conversion are, “Jesus is the Son of God” (Acts 9:20).

Paul’s world has just been turned upside down. The Jesus that he thought was dead was not dead. Not only that; He was the living Lord of the universe! Instantly, Paul’s whole worldview collapsed and was rebuilt with great, unshakable and solid pillars of truth about Jesus.

Luke, the author of the book of Acts, surely wants us to see how the doctrine that Jesus is the Son of God is foundational to being a Christian and foundational to the rest of Paul’s life as the greatest missionary who ever lived.

Paul’s Made-Up Gospel

The accusation that Paul made up his own doctrine about Jesus being the Son of God and God could not be further from the truth. He encountered the risen Christ and the gospel he had taught the early churches during his ministry came by revelation from Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:12, 16). In short, Paul’s was a supernatural gospel.

However, without taking anything away from this point, we must recognize that Paul on other occasions indicates his indebtedness to Christians before him for his teaching. In 1 Corinthians 15:1-3, for instance, Paul asserts of the Gospel that he preached to the Corinthians, “what I received I passed on to you.”

What Paul seems to be asserting is that elements of his gospel teaching, such as the truth of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:3-5), were handed down to him by other people.

To Paul, Jesus was the Messiah, God’s Son, the center of the gospel, and the One whom “all things were created” (Colossians 1:16).

*Related Article: Arguments Against the Deity of Christ

3. The Church is the Body of Christ

The only New Testament writer who speaks of the church as a body, Paul emphasized this fact in such passages as Ephesians 1:22-23; 4:7-16 and 1 Corinthians 12:1 2-27.

Meaning of the Word Church

First of all, the word “church” is derived from and understood in the light of the original Greek word ekklesia or the “called out ones.” So the church is a group of “called out” believers who have been placed into one Body by the Baptism of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13) at the moment of their salvation.

All believers have experienced this once-for-all baptism and nowhere in the Scriptures are we commanded to seek this baptism because we have already experienced it and it need not be repeated.

Jews and Gentiles are joined together to form a new entity through the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 3:6) and the only qualification for membership is faith in the risen Savior. It is clear that every believer since Pentecost, living and dead, is a member of the body of Christ, the universal church.

Major Teachings of Paul
Photo Credits: fohonline.com

Christ is the Head of the Church

Ephesians 1:22 says, “God has put all things under His (Christ) feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body.” As believers and members of the church (the body of Christ), Christ is our Head. This means that there is a living connection between us and Christ.

Through the Spirit, we are united to Him as the members of His body. This means that we also share in His death, resurrection, ascension, and exaltation (Ephesians 6:3-5). We too are seated in “the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 2:6) and all things are under our feet.

At the same time, Paul reminds Christians that their various gifts were to be used in building up the body of Christ and that they should work together for the common good of the Christian cause (Romans 12:4-5).

4. The Power and Influence of the Holy Spirit in the Christian’s Life

Paul taught that the Holy Spirit was a more effective power for holy living in the Christian’s life than the old Jewish Law had ever been. The Law told people what to do, but it could not provide the will of the power to do it.

But God’s Spirit could provide the necessary power and motivation (Romans 8:9-17; Galatians 5:16-25). As a loving and wise mother tenderly watches over her child, so the Holy Spirit cares for the children of God.

The Works of the Holy Spirit in Christian Living

a) The Holy Spirit indwells Christians.

The Bible teaches that all believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). The purpose of this indwelling ministry is to control the newly created nature given at conversion (2 Corinthians 5:17).

b) The Holy Spirit fills believers.

Doctrines Taught by Apostle PaulWe are admonished to “be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). The word “filled” means to be controlled. So to be “filled” with the Spirit is to be controlled by the Spirit and is therefore crucial to successfully living the Christian life.

Unlike the indwelling of the Spirit, “filling” is a repeated experience. This is understood by the use of the present tense (“be filled”) as well as by biblical examples of Christians who were filled more than once (Acts 2:4; 4:31). Just as important, we must observe that filling is a command to be obeyed, not an option.

c) The Holy Spirit sanctifies the believer.

Romans 15:16; 2 Thessalonians 2:13

The basic meaning of sanctification is “separation” or “to be set apart.” In John 17:19, Jesus spoke of Himself as being sanctified; in other words, He is holy and set apart from sin and so His followers are to be similarly set apart from sin and for God’s use (1 Peter 1:16).

*Read here: Understanding the Personality of the Holy Spirit

In the spiritual sense of a believer’s life, sanctification means to be set apart by God, for God, from sin, unto a holy life and to be made more holy through conforming to the image of His Son Jesus (Romans 8:29).

d) The Holy Spirit produces fruit in the life of the believer.

This fruit is described by Paul: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).

The contrast between results and fruit is important. A machine in a factory works and turns out a product, but it could never manufacture fruit. Fruit must grow out of life, and in the case of the believer, it is the life of the Spirit (Galatians 5:25).

Believers are to live by the Spirit, which means keeping in step with the Spirit if they are to bear fruit in abundance. This involves the Word, prayer, worship, praise, and fellowship with God’s people.

e) The Holy Spirit imparts gifts to Christians.

Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:1-11; Ephesians 4:7-12

A spiritual gift is an ability imparted to every Christian (1 Corinthians 7:7; 1 Peter 4:10). The purpose of these gifts is twofold, namely, to glorify God (Revelation 4:11) and to edify the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12-13).

f) The Holy Spirit teaches believers.

The Holy Spirit will instruct us in all spiritual things as we read the Word of God (John 14:26) and abide in the Son of God (1 John 2:24-27).

5. The Second Coming of Christ

Paul taught that Christ will return to earth at the end of this age and that all Christians will share in His glory in the age to come.

The return of Jesus Christ will happen in two phases:

a) The Rapture which is when Christ will return in the air and take with Him to heaven every person – both living and dead – who has trusted Christ as Savior (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:20-28).

Doctrines Taught by Apostle Paul
Photo Credits: GotQuestions.Org

b) The Second Coming or Second Advent which is the return of Jesus with an army of angels and raptured believers to destroy the forces which are arrayed against God and to deliver the Jewish people (Zechariah 14:4 Revelation 19:11-21).

Bottom Line

Many of the doctrines taught and expounded by the apostle Paul are considered the hallmarks of the Christian faith. He may not be here anymore but he continues to minister to us today through the thirteen epistles he wrote that have become part of the canon of the New Testament.


References:

1) The NKJV Prophecy Study Bible Edited by John Hagee

2) An Introduction to the New Testament by D.A Carson, Douglas J. Moo, and Leon Morris

3) The God Who Justifies by James R. White

Why Mary Is Not The Mother Of God

Why Mary Is Not The Mother Of God

Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians frequently refer to Mary as the “Mother of God,” which Protestants object to. Considering the claim of the Catholic Church may even find the name to be a stumbling block. Why? Because to them “Mother of God” implies that God somehow has His origin in Mary. But how could the Creator of all things possibly have a mother?

In our Facebook group, we once had a discussion with a Catholic Catechist about the proper use of the term “Mother of God.” According to him, the term is not meant to exalt Mary but to give her the honor and respect that is rightfully hers for having been chosen to conceive and give birth to Jesus.

Since it is one of the group’s objectives to refute unbiblical doctrines, we tried explaining to him that although Mary is the mother of Jesus, she cannot be the mother of God. This is because God being the Creator of all things in heaven and on earth had no mother and did not need to have one.

Mother of God

Should we call Mary “Mother of God?”

In his book “Mary: Another Redeemer,” Dr. James R. White says that this is the single most misused theological term around. The logic seems inescapable: Jesus is God, come in human flesh. Mary is Jesus’ mother. Hence, Mary is the mother of God. What could be simpler?

Below is a chapter of the book where Dr. White explains more extensively why Mary is not the mother of God. He said that if everyone would just use the term “mother of God” to communicate just that – that Jesus Christ was truly and completely God – there would be no reason for him to include this brief chapter.

But most of the time when the phrase is used, the person using it is not in any way commenting on the fact that Jesus Christ was God and Man on the earth. They are not speaking about Christ at all, but about Mary, and they are using the title to give her a position of honor and power.

If you want to know more about the controversial movement to name Mary as Co-Redeemer with Christ, get the eBook here.

The Origin of the Term

What did the term mean in the ancient church? How is it being misused today? Anyone who reads the writing of the ancient church knows that the word translated “Mother of God” is the Greek term theotokos. Literally, the word means “God-bearer.” It became a title for Mary so that you often find her simply being called theotokos in devotional and theological writings. But where did the term come from?

Around the beginning of the fourth century, Alexander, Bishop of Alexandria, first used this term when speaking of Mary. It is no coincidence that it was the teaching of Alexander that prompted the most famous “heretic” of all time – Arius, the great denier of the deity of Christ – to begin propagating his heresy.

Evidently, at that time, even in its earliest uses, the term was meant to say something about Jesus, not Mary. That is, the term was Christological in force. It was focused on Christ and was meant to safeguard the truth about His absolute deity.

The term really entered into the “orthodox” vocabulary through its usage at the Councils of Ephesus in AD 431) and more importantly, Chalcedon in AD 325. We can learn the most about how this term was originally understood by taking a moment to understand why it appears in the creed produced at Chalcedon.

The debate over the complete deity of Christ had lasted for many decades, continuing on well after the Council of Nicea had finished its work in AD 325, not coming to completion until the Council of Constantinople in AD 381. But once this great truth was properly safeguarded, other questions began to arise.

One of the questions went like this: Granted that Jesus Christ was truly God and inhuman flesh, how then are we to understand the relationship between the divine and the human in Christ? Was He really a man at all? Did His deity swallow up His humanity? Was there some mixture of the two? Or was Jesus two people: one divine and one human, merely sharing one body?

Sadly, the debate was undertaken in anything but a calm and respectful climate. More time was spent on political maneuvering than upon meaningful exegesis. But despite the rancor of the debate, the resulting understanding was very important, especially for our understanding of the term theotokos.

Debate Over the Nature of Christ

One of the principal participants in the debate over the nature of Christ was a man named Nestorius. But since he was eventually condemned as a heretic, we have some doubts as to whether we a completely accurate (or fair) view of his beliefs, as they have come down to us primarily through the writings of his enemies.

Basically, Nestorius objected to the use of the word theotokos. He quite rightly expressed concern that the word could be easily misunderstood. But most importantly, his denial of the propriety of theotokos led him to insist that Mary was the mother of the human “element” of Christ, which resulted in a functional separation of the divine from the human in Christ. The basic danger of Nestorius’ position, then, was that it led to a Jesus who was two “persons,” with no real connection between the divine and the human.

Those who defended the use of theotokos did so by insisting that the Messiah was fully human and fully divine from the moment of conception, hence, the Child who was born was not only a human Child with deity dwelling in him but was the God-Man, the Incarnate One.

Chalcedon insisted that Jesus was one Person with two distinct natures, the divine and the human. The divine did not “swallow up” the human, nor was it “mixed” with the human to create something that was neither fully God nor fully man. Nor was Jesus schizophrenic – a human person, Jesus, and a divine Person, separate from Him. He was one person with two natures.

What is vitally important today is that the term “God-bearer” as it was used in the creed and as it was applied to Mary in these controversies said something about the nature of Christ, not the nature of Mary. “Mother of God” is a phrase that has proper theological meaning only in reference to Christ.

Hence, any use of the term that is not simply saying, “Jesus is fully God, one divine Person with two natures,” is using the term anachronistically, and cannot claim the authority of the early church for such a usage.

*Get Dr. James White’s book “Mary, Another Redeemer” here.

The Misuse of the Term Today

Outside of the seminary classes and theological debates about the Trinity, you will not hear the term “Mother of God” used in a historically proper and theologically accurate way. That is, every time you hear the title used outside those contexts it was being used to say something about Mary rather than something about Christ.

Obviously, Nestorius was right about one thing: the term is liable to serious misuse and misunderstanding.

Conclusion

Mary is not the mother of God in the sense that she gave rise to the being of God. We normally use the word “mother” to refer to the one who gave rise to us as individuals, and from whom we derived our human nature. Yet the divine Person who became Jesus, the eternal Son of God (Colossians 1:13-17), the Logos (John 1:1-14), has existed eternally and is the Creator of Mary.

Mary was used to bring the Incarnate One into the world, but she did not add to or give rise to the Eternal son who came into the world through her. Her Child was fully divine (hence she is theotokos) but she herself did not give rise to the divinity of her Son. For this reason, there can be nothing about the term theotokos that in any way exalts Mary, but only Christ.

Of course, if this is true, then the vast majority of the use of the phrase “Mother of God” in our world today is simply in error. Prayers addressed to “Mother of God” that seek her intercession and ascribe to her power and glory and honor are using the title in a way completely foreign to the biblical truths that gave rise to it in the first place.

And the fact that, in general, the term is avoided as improper outside the narrow spectrum in which it speaks to the important truth of the uni-personality of Christ, as well as His full deity, is a testimony to the spiritual sensitivity of believing Christians.

We cannot help but conclude that the use of “Mother of God” as a title for Mary that leads to her being seen in quasi-divine categories is nothing but a gross misunderstanding of the true relationship between the Blessed Virgin of Nazareth and the eternal God who sent the eternal Son to be born of her.


*Reference: Mary-Another Redeemer? – eBook  By James R. White 

Mary, Another Redeemer? explores Roman Catholic teachings about Mary from a biblical and historical perspective. Skilled and knowledgeable author James White traces how the Mary of the Bible – esteemed mother of the Lord, obedient servant and chosen vessel of God–has become the Immaculately Conceived, Bodily Assumed Queen of Heaven, viewed as Co-Mediator with Christ, and now widely recognized as Co-Redeemer by many in the Catholic Church.

A calm, even-handed look at the woman the Bible calls “blessed among women” – and an invitation to single-minded devotion to God’s truth.

About the author: 

James R. White is the author of several acclaimed books, including The God Who Justifies, Scripture Alone, The King James Only Controversy and The Forgotten Trinity. The director of Alpha and Omega Ministries, he is an accomplished debater of Muslim apologists and an elder of the Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church. He and his family live in Phoenix, Arizona.