Monday, October 29, 2012

Bible Versions -Which One is Best?

Personally, I don't like modern versions. Like others, I suppose, when I wanted to seriously study Scripture I went shopping for a bible at one of those Christian book stores. I wondered why so many different versions existed and why pastors and teachers didn't address the subject.
In the end, I think everybody has to look into this themselves and be convinced in their own minds. What follows is a summary of what led me to choose to use the NKJV.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Examples of Negative Inference Fallacies

Negative Inference Fallacies of Acts 2:38,
 Matthew 19:9, and 1 Corinthians 11:5

by Paul S. Dixon

  1. The Negative Inference Fallacy of Acts 2:38 (and Mark 16:16)
  2. The Negative Inference Fallacy of Matthew 19:9
  3. The Negative Inference Fallacy of 1 Corinthians 11:5
  4. Conclusion

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Heidelberg Catechism Question 37

The Heidelberg Catechism was the statement of faith to which the Reformers, like Calvin, subscribed. It taught a universal aspect to the sacrifice of Christ.
Zacharias Ursinus:
Question 37. What dost thou understand by he words, “he suffered?”
Answer. That he, all the time he lived on earth, but especially at the end of his life, sustained in body and soul, the wrath of God against the sins of all mankind that so by his passion, as the only propitiatory sacrifice, he might redeem our body and soul from everlasting damnation; and obtain for us the favor of God, righteous ness, and eternal life.

We have, thus far, in our remarks upon the second part of the Creed, spoken only of the person of the mediator. We shall now proceed to speak of his office, which is included in the remaining part of the second division of the Creed, which treats of God, the Son and our redemption. And we shall, in the first place, speak of the humiliation of Christ, (the first part of his office) which we have comprehended in the fourth Article:
Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead, and buried: He descended into hell. The passion or suffering of Christ is placed immediately after his conception and nativity; 1. Because our entire salvation consists in his passion and death. 2. Because his whole life was one continued scene of suffering and privation. There are also many things which may, and ought to be profitably observed, in the history of the life which Christ spent on earth, written by those who were eye-witnesses of the facts which they record. For this does not only prove him to be the promised Messiah, in as much as all the predictions of the prophets meet, and are fulfilled in him ; but it is also a consideration of the humiliation and obedience which he rendered unto his Father.
Those things which are to be considered in relation to the suffering of Christ, properly belong here ; such as the history of Christ s passion, agreeing, as it does, with all that had been foretold concerning it, and the wonderful events with which it was connected the causes and benefits of his suffering, and the example which Christ has furnished us, teaching us that we too must enter into glory through suffering.
But, for a more complete exposition of this Article, we shall consider more particularly,
  1. What we are to understand by the term passion, or what it was that Christ suffered:  
  2. Whether he suffered according to both natures: 
  3. What the impelling cause of his suffering was:
  4. What the final causes and fruits of his sufferings were.
By the term passion we are to understand the whole humiliation of Christ, or the obedience of his whole humiliation, all the miseries, infirmities, griefs, torments and ignominy to which he was subject, for our sakes, from the moment of his birth even to the hour of his death, as well in soul as in body. The principal part of his sorrows and anguish were the torments of soul, in which he felt and endured the wrath of God against the sins of all mankind. By the term passion, however, we are to understand chiefly the closing scene, or last act of his life, in which he suffered extreme torments, both of body and soul, on account of our sins. “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.” “ My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me.” “Surely he hath borne our griefs. He was wounded for our transgressions.” “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him.” (Matt. 26:38; 27:46. Is. 53:4, 5, 10.)
What, therefore, did Christ suffer? 1. The privation or destitution of the highest felicity and joy, together with all those good things which he might have enjoyed. 2. All the infirmities of our nature, sin only excepted: he hungered, he thirsted, was fatigued, was afflicted with sadness and grief, &c. 3. Extreme want and poverty; “The Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” (Matt. 8:20.) 4. Infinite injuries, reproaches, calumnies, treacheries, envyings, slanders, blasphemies, rejections and contempt; “I am a worm, arid no man; and a reproach of many.” “He hath no form or comeliness, and when we shall see him there is no beauty that we should desire him.” (Ps. 22:6. Is 53:2) 5. The temptations of the devil; “He was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb. 4:15.) 6. The most reproachful and ignominious death, even that of the cross. 7. The keenest and most bitter anguish of soul, which is doubtless a sense of the wrath of God against the sins of the whole human race. It was this that caused him to exclaim, upon the cross, with a loud voice, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? ”as if he should say, Why dost thou not drive away from me such severe anguish and torments? Thus we see what, and how greatly Christ has suffered in our behalf.
But since the divine nature was united to the human, how is it possible that it was so oppressed and weakened as to break forth in such exclamations of anguish; and especially so when there were martyrs who were far more bold and courageous? The cause of this arises from the difference which there was in the punishment which Christ endured and that of martyrs. St. Lawrence, lying on the gridiron, did not experience the dreadful wrath of God, either against his own, or against the sins of the human race, the entire punishment of which was inflicted upon the Son of God, as Isaiah saith, he was stricken, and smitten of God for our sins : We say, then, that St. Lawrence did not feel the anger of an offended God piercing and wounding him ; but felt that God was reconciled, and at peace with him ; neither did he experience the horrors of death and hell as Christ did, but he had great consolation, because he suffered on account of confessing the gospel, and was assured that his sins were remitted by and for the sake of the Son of God, upon whom they were laid, according to what is said, “Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world.” (John 1 : 29.) Hence it is easy to be accounted for, why St. Lawrence seemed to have more courage and presence of mind in his martyrdom, than Christ in his passion; and hence it is also that the human nature of Christ, although united to the Godhead, was made to sweat drops of blood in the garden, and to give vent to the mournful lamentation, “ My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Not that there was any separation between the natures in Christ ; but because the humanity was for i time forsaken by the Divinity, the Word being at rest, or quiet, (as Irenaeus saith) and not bringing aid and deliverance to the afflicted humanity until a passion altogether sufficient might be endured and finished.
The satisfaction, therefore, which Christ made, or the suffering which he endured, differs from the torments of others. 1. Inform. Christ felt and endured, both in body and soul, the entire wrath of God, which no one else has ever experienced. 2. In the impelling cause. Christ suffered not for his own sins, but for the sins of others. 3. In the final cause, or end. The passion of Christ is the ransom and only propitiatory sacrifice for our sins: the sufferings of others do not partake of this character, but are merely punishments, or trials, or attestations to the truth of the Gospel.
Obj. 1. According to the order of divine justice, the innocent ought not to suffer for the guilty: for justice demands the punishment of the offender. But Christ was an innocent person. Therefore his punishment is in opposition to the rule of justice; because, he being innocent, suffered for us, who were guilty. Ans. We reply to the major proposition, that the innocent ought not to suffer for the guilty, 1. Unless he willingly offer himself in the room, and stead of the guilty. 2. Unless he who thus voluntarily suffers, be able to make a sufficient ransom. 3. That he may be able to recover himself from these sufferings, and not perish under them. 4. That he may be able to bring it to pass, that those for whom he makes satisfaction, may not in future offend. 5. And that he be of the same nature with those for whom satisfaction is made. If such a satisfier as this can be substituted in the place of the offending, there is nothing in it that is contrary to the order of divine justice: for thus, both he who suffers, and those for whom it is endured, are saved. Christ, now, is such a satisfier ; for he has accomplished all these things, and is not only a man of the same nature with us, but we are also members of his. And it is on account of this, our union with Christ our Head, that his punishment is truly ours, and that the Apostles every where teach, that we all suffered, and died in Christ : for when the body is afflicted, all the members suffer with it. This argument, however, will be enlarged, when we come to speak of the article of the forgiveness of sins. To sum up the whole : that any one may make satisfaction for others, these things must be present, and harmonize it must be a sufficient satisfaction it must be voluntary, and satisfy him to whom it is due ; all of which conditions meet, and concur in the satisfaction of Christ.
Obj. 2. There must be a proportion between the satisfaction and the crime. But there is no proper proportion, between the sufferings of one man, and the sins of an infinite number of men. How, therefore, can the ransom which Christ alone paid, correspond with the sins of a vast number of men? Ans. It can, for these two causes: First, on account of the dignity of his person; and secondly, on account of the greatness of the punishment which he endured; for he suffered that which we were bound to suffer to all eternity. His passion, therefore, is equivalent to everlasting punishment, yea it exceeds it ; because, that God should suffer, is more than that all creatures should perish. This was the greatest miracle, that the Son of God should cry out, “ My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me.”
Reply 1. God cannot suffer and die. Christ suffered and died. There fore, he is not God. Ans. We reply to the major proposition God, that is, the person which is only God, cannot suffer, or is impassible, according to that in respect to which he is God. But Christ is not only God, but also man. Or we may concede the whole argument, if it be rightly understood for Christ is not God, in respect to that in which he suffered and died, that is, in respect to his human nature.
Reply 2. If Christ is not God, according to that which suffered, then that which is said, that God purchased the church with his own blood, is false. Ans. This is spoken according to the communication of properties, or according to the figure of speech, called synecdoche, which is true only in the concrete. God, that is, that person which is God and man, purchased the church with his blood, which he shed in respect to his humanity. By this communication of properties, we attribute to the whole per son, what is peculiar to one nature, and that in the concrete only ; because the term concrete signifies the person in which both natures centre, and the property of that nature of which this is predicated. Hence, there is nothing in the way of our affirming of the whole person, what is peculiar to one nature, provided that property reside in the person ; whilst on the contrary, by the term abstract, only the properties of that nature are predicated of which they are peculiar. Let this, which is spoken incidentally, suffice.
Obj. 3. There is no just proportion between temporal and eternal punishment. Christ suffered only temporal punishments. Therefore, he could not make satisfaction for eternal punishments. Ans. There is, indeed, no proportion between temporal and eternal punishments, if it be in the same subject, but there may be, in different subjects. The temporal punishment of the Son of God, exceeds in dignity and worth, the eternal punishment of the whole world, for the reasons already explained.
Obj. 4. If Christ made satisfaction for all, then all ought to be saved. But all are not saved. Therefore, he did not make a perfect satisfaction. Ans. Christ satisfied for all, as it respects the sufficiency of the satisfaction which he made, but not as it respects the application thereof; for he fulfilled the law in a two-fold respect. First, by his own righteousness; and secondly, by making satisfaction for our sins, each of which is most perfect. But the satisfaction is made ours by an application, which is also two-fold; the former of which is made by God, when he justifies us on account of the merit of his Son, and brings it to pass that we cease from sin; the latter is accomplished by us through faith. For we apply unto ourselves, the merit of Christ, when by a true faith, we are fully persuaded that God for the sake of the satisfaction of his Son, remits unto us our sins. Without this application, the satisfaction of Christ is of no benefit to us.
Obj. 5. But there were also propitiatory sacrifices under the law of Moses. Ans. These were not properly expiatory, but were typical of the sacrifice of Christ, which alone is truly expiatory: “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls, and of goats should take away sins.” “The blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth us from all sin.” “He is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world.” (Heb. 10:4. 1 John 1:7; 2:2.)

Christ suffered, not according to both natures, nor according to the Divinity, but according to the human nature only, both in body and soul; for the divine nature is immutable, impassible, immortal, and life itself, and so cannot die. But he suffered in such a manner, according to his humanity, that by his passion and death, he satisfied for the sins of men. The divine nature sustained the humanity, in the sorrows and pains which were endured, and raised it when dead unto life. “Being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.” “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.” “Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh.” “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” “I am he that liveth, and was dead, and behold I am alive for evermore.” “have power to lay down my life, and I have power to take it up again.” (1 Pet. 2:18; 4:1. John 2:19. Rev. 1:18. John 10:18.) These declarations testify that there was in Christ another nature, besides his flesh, which did not suffer and die. Irensaeus says, “ As Christ was man, that he might be tempted, so he was the Word, that he might be glorified; the Word resting in him truly, that it might be possible for him to be tempted, crucified, and to die, and yet united to his humanity, that he might thus overcome temptation,”.
Obj. But it is said that God purchased the church with his own blood; and hence the Deity must have suffered. Ans. This does not follow, because the form of speech is changed. When it is said God died, this is spoken figuratively by a synecdoche, or by the communication of proper ties, as we have already explained. But when it is said, the Deity suffered, this is spoken without a figure, because the subject is taken in the abstract. Again, no consequence from the concrete to the abstract is of any force. The concrete (which is God) signifies the subject having a form; the abstract (which is Deity) signifies the naked form, or the nature only. In this doctrine, therefore, the concrete is the name of the person, and the abstract the name of the nature. Hence, as this consequence does not follow: Man is composed of the elements, and is corporeal; therefore, the soul is composed of the elements, and is corporeal; so also it does not follow, Christ who is God died; therefore, the Deity of Christ died.

The cause which moved God to give his Son for us was : 1 . His love towards the human race. “ God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son.” (John 3 : 16.) 2. The compassion of God towards those who were fallen in sin and death. u According to his mercy he saved us.” (Titus 8 : 5.) 8: The desire and purpose of God to revenge and repair the injury of the devil, who, in contempt and reproach of God, turned us from the Most High, and spoiled his image in us.

The final causes, and fruits of the passion of Christ are the same, but in a, different respect. In respect to Christ who suffered, they are the final causes; but in respect to us, they are the fruits. The principal final causes of the passion of Christ, are the revelation and manifestation of the love, mercy and justice of God, in that he did not spare his Son for us; and that his passion might be a sufficient ransom for our sins, or for our redemption. There are, therefore, two chief final causes, the glory of God and our salvation. The knowledge of the greatness of sin, pertains to the former, that we may perceive how great an evil sin is, and what it deserves. Our justification belongs to the latter, in which we have comprehended all the benefits which Christ merited by his death, and which he confers upon us by his coming forth from death. Hence we know that death is not hurtful to the godly, and is, therefore, not to be feared.
Zacharias Ursinus, The Commentary of Dr. Zacharias Ursinus on the Heidelberg Catechism, trans. G.W.Willard, (Phillipsburg: P&R, 1994), pp. 212-217, underlining mine.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

R.B. Kuiper, For Whom Did Christ Die?

"There is, I fear, an additional reason of quite another kind for the unpopularity of the doctrine of the particular atonement. It lies not in Cavinism but in Calvinists, not in the Reformed faith but in some of its teachers; and it is not complimentary to them. Seldom does one hear from a Reformed pulpit an accurate statement of this doctrine. It is not at all unusual for Reformed preachers, in attempting to state it, to content themselves with saying that Christ died only for the elect. But that presentation requires both explanation and amplification. By itself it falls short of doing justice either to the Scriptural data bearing on the matter or to its historic formulation in the creeds of the Reformed and Presbyterian churches and the writings of the ablest Reformed theologians. In consequence, serious-minded hearers who have at least a superficial acquaintance with those passages of Scripture which bear on the scope of the atonement and who are not completely ignorant of the teaching on this subject by the church's confessions and theologians, are left dissatisfied and confused.
"It is a matter, not only of theoretical import, but also of the greatest practical necessity, that the doctrine of the so called limited atonement be set forth in the full light of the teaching of the Word of God. What follows constitutes an attempt in that direction. The Devine Design of the Atonement is our theme. It will be shown that God's design in the atonement was indeed in a most real sense particular. It will also be shown that God's design in the atonement was in no less real sense universal." (Intro. pp. 6-7)

Saturday, June 23, 2012


By Dr. George B. Fletcher (1900-1994)
In the study of Scriptural prophecy there are certain sound principles of exegesis that should guide us in the search for Truth.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Christ, the God-man

Eliphaz to Job: "Call out now; Is there anyone who will answer you? And to which of the holy ones will you turn?" (Job 5:1)
Job's response: "how can a man be righteous before God? If one wished to contend with Him, He could not answer Him one time out of a thousand." (9:1)... "For He is not a man, as I am, That I may answer Him, And that we should go to court together. Nor is there any mediator between us, Who may lay his hand on us both." (v 32-33)
Job gets right to the heart problem very succinctly. Man cannot be reconciled to God; nor God to man without an appropriate mediator. Man cannot do this. Man cannot contend, or argue with God. Nor can man act as a mediator.
But, there is One who is a Mediator between both - "For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus." (1 Tim. 2:5)
To answer Job's question: "how can a man be righteous before God?" Justification requires the work of the God-man, Jesus.
Only Christ is both God and Man - and able to "lay His hand on both."
We cannot answer God; another man cannot be the arbiter between He & us; it required Christ the God-man.

There is only one Mediator the text says. There is no other.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Free Offer of the Gospel

By John Murray and Ned B. Stonehouse

It would appear that the real point in dispute in connection with the free offer of the gospel is whether it can properly be said that God desires the salvation of all men. The Committee elected by the Twelfth General Assembly in its report to the Thirteenth General Assembly said “God not only delights in the penitent but is also moved by the riches of his goodness and mercy to desire the repentance and salvation of the impenitent and reprobate” (Minutes, p. 67). It should have been apparent that the aforesaid Committee, in predicating such “desire” of God, was not dealing with the decretive will of God; it was dealing with the free offer of the gospel to all without distinction and that surely respects, not the decretive or secret will of God, but the revealed will. There is no ground for the supposition that the expression was intended to refer to God’s decretive will.  

Monday, May 28, 2012

"Pacifism Is A Luxury Paid For By Warriors"

Reads a USMC bumper sticker.

The following is a dialogue I had with an absolute pacifist in response to his article that was published in a church newsletter. The first section was published in the same newsletter...

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Kingdom that Christ said was at hand

With the arrival of Christ the kingdom of God was preached to the Jews. The Law and the Prophets having ended with John the Baptist's ministry. (Lk. 16:16) The kingdom of God is a spiritual Kingdom ruled by Christ, the true David. Christ said this Kingdom was at hand, not afar off. The gospel of the kingdom is that "the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel." (Mark 1:14-15)
The earthly kingdom of Israel is not "the Kingdom of God." The Jews of Christ's day misunderstood this as many do today by looking for an earthly kingdom of God in downtown geographic Jerusalem in the future.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Christian's Relationship To The Mosaic Law, by Philip Mauro

The Gentile Believer and The Law

We have said that the experience of the "wretched man" of Romans 7 is not the normal experience of a converted Gentile. It is, nevertheless, a sad fact that it may (and often does) become the abnormal experience of converted Gentiles, who, through ignorance of the great gospel truths revealed in Romans, or through the influence of Judaizing teachers and legal systems of theology, fall from their standing in grace, and seek justification, or the gift of the Spirit, through law-works. Hence the solemn warning of Galatians 5:4: "You are deprived of all effect from Christ, whosoever in law are being justified; you are fallen from grace." For as there were in Paul's day, so are there now, many who desire "to be of the law, understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm."

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Different Views on Law & Grace

The Bounds of Orthodoxy

The two heresies associated with two extreme views of the law’s role in the lives of Christians need to be avoided. These extremes are called legalism and antinomianism.
Legalism – This position asserts that people can earn their way into the kingdom of God through the performance of actions that please God.
Antinomianism – The word literally means anti-law. This position maintains that people can sin all they want and still be saved.

Friday, May 18, 2012

A Case for Believer's Baptism

Believer's Baptism (Credobaptism) versus Infant Baptism (Paedobaptism)
Throughout the New Testament water baptism follows evidence of repentance and faith in its teaching and examples. (ex. Matt. 28:18-20; Lk. 3:3-8; Mk. 1:4; Acts 2:38) Water baptism is called the baptism of repentance. It seems clear that infants cannot demonstrate the evidence of repentance and faith in order to be baptized.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

To A Thousand Generations by Douglas Wilson - A Baptist Response

Last year I read a few books on the subject of baptism. Two were recommended. One was Believer's Baptism: Sign of the New Covenant in Christ by Thomas R. Schreiner and Shawn D. Wright. I was more than happy to read this book for a couple of reasons: 1) I thoroughly enjoyed another book in the NAC Studies in Bible and Theology series on the indwelling Spirit, and 2) I had enjoyed another book co-authored by Thomas Shreiner and AB Caneday on warning passages in scripture.
The other book was To A Thousand Generations, infant baptism - covenant mercy for the people of God, by Douglas Wilson. This book was recommended by a paedobaptist friend. I expressed my reservation about reading anything from Federal Vision folks like Wilson. But, my paedo friend assured me that the book did not contain any hint of Federal Vision theology. So, I agreed to give it a fair read.