There has been war throughout human history. Where does war come from? How will they end? Is there hope for world Peace? These are questions in the hearts and minds of people throughout the world. The United Nations was even founded in an effort to maintain and seek world peace. After the Second World War its purpose was stated in its charter: ‘We the peoples of the United Nations determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind,…’ (http://www.un.org/en/sections/un-charter/preamble/index.html)
I recently posted about the Top 10 Best Books on the Atonement. There I mentioned my favorite book outside the Bible, The Death of Death by John Owen. This is Owen’s treatise on Limited Atonement. The entirety of the third section (book) is devoted to 16 arguments in support of Limited Atonement. Now each one may not be sufficient by itself (although some are) to prove the doctrine, but by the end we see that the overarching theme traced throughout the whole Bible is undeniable. Below is my summary of them. As the title implies, I’ll try to keep with Owen’s thought and Bible references, although I may at times fall for the temptation to add my own take and flare. All page numbers are from the 1983 reprint by Banner of Truth. Again, there is a free PDF version on CCEL
“These whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified” (Romans 8:30).
Paul had just said that God is working all things for our good (v. 28), and that we will be conformed to Jesus’ image (v. 29). Continuing that thought, he explains that the plan of salvation is secure, and how God brings us into that conformity. The teaching in this sentence has rightly been called The Golden Chain of Salvation. Nobody can be at one link in this chain without all of the others being true. Anybody who is justified before God is so because they were first predestined by God, and because God followed through with His purpose to save them by also calling them. Anybody who is justified will by no means fall away, but God will complete their salvation and bring them into eternal glory. The verse could have the same meaning if it had only said, “all whom He predestined, He also glorified.“ Continue reading The Golden Chain of Salvation, Romans 8:30
N.T. Wright, in his newest book, The Day the Revolution Began, asserts that an either/or distinction between the theories of the atonement must be discarded. These theories in fact are all truthful. They must be taken together to get a holistic picture of what the atonement is. The idea, in a nutshell, is that the atonement of Christ is a multi-faceted event containing elements of Christus Victor, Moral Influence, and Penal Substitution, an event which is ultimately about God reclaiming authority over the world through the reinstatement of humans to their God-ordained vocation as image bearers and vice-regents of the earth. Below, I will explain the deficiencies of each theory to show that they are not sufficient in and of themselves to explain the atonement. Continue reading The Multi-Dimensional Revolution: Theories of the Atonement, pt. 2
The death of Jesus Christ stands as a central event in Christian theology along with the incarnation, resurrection, and ascension. Like the other three events, the death of Jesus is rich with meaning and significance. The New Testament, looking back at the crucified Christ, explains that the death of Jesus should be understood in terms of atonement (Heb. 2:17). Jesus, like the sacrificial animals offered by the Levitical priesthood in the Old Testament, is handed over to be killed on a Roman crucifix in order to make atonement for the sins of the people.
However, the nature of how this atonement works has been hotly debated throughout church history. Several different theories have been offered throughout the past two millennia to try to get at what is happening on the cross. Is Jesus’ death an ironic victory over the dark powers of this world, an inspirational illustration of the sacrificial love of God, or a legal transaction between God and Jesus in order to satisfy God’s requirement? This paper will present a middle way theory which navigates between the other atonement theories and discovers they are in fact parts to a multi-dimensional whole expressed in various metaphors in Scripture requiring a harmony of more than one atonement theory in order to be fully explained. Continue reading Ironic, Subjective, Just, or All Three: Theories of the Atonement, pt. 1
If I go into an average church and say, “God hates some people,” I would immediately be labeled a heretic. We have engraved in our minds the clichés, “God loves the sinner, but hates the sin,” or, “God loves everybody the same.” I would question the legitimacy of those ideas, and argue that God actually hates some people. Continue reading Does God Hate Sin and Not Sinners? Revisiting a Cliché
It could be argued that Paul was the first bivocational minister. We know from a few accounts that he worked on the side as a tent maker (Acts 18:3; 20:34). Other times he received gifts from one church to support him while planting another (2 Cor 11:8-9). Note however that he never had to! In 1 Corinthians 9 he lays down the theological basis for paying pastors and states that as an apostle he had every right to be paid. However, he chose to lay that right aside for the sake of the churches. Continue reading Paul: A Model for Bivocational Pastors
For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10)
Just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts. (1 Thessalonians 2:4)
Paul knew Who his Master was. He opens his letter to the Galatians by saying he was sent out “through Jesus Christ and God the Father” (Gal. 1:1). Paul elsewhere labels his calling a “steward of the mysteries of God” (1 Cor. 4:1), and “an ambassador for Christ” (2 Cor. 5:20). Here in Galatians the term is bond-servant, or better, a slave. This signifies how he belonged to Christ and was under the authority of Christ. Thus, when he preached, he was going to preach how and what his Master told him to preach. Continue reading Does Our Preaching Please God, or Men?
In Daniel 2:45, after explaining to king Nebuchadnezzar his dream and its interpretation, Daniel says, “The great God has made known to the king what will take place in the future; so the dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy” (emphasis mine). In passing it may seem as though the last clause is limited in scope to this account alone. I wish to argue, however, that the truth and trustworthiness mentioned here extends not just to this dream, nor to dreams alone, but to everything that God has revealed. Since all Scripture is breathed out by God (2 Tim. 3:16), I therefore contend that this verse in Daniel is (to some extent) teaching the truth and trustworthiness of the entire Bible (i.e. infallibility). This dream is not the only hidden thing that “God has made known” to men in the past. It would be inconsistent and blasphemous to say that other things He reveals are less true and trustworthy. Continue reading What God Reveals is True: Infallibility in Daniel 2:45
Since very early on in my Christian walk I’ve been serving in various ways at various churches, studying the Bible and theology like crazy, and trying to find a seminary that fits both my budget and lifestyle. This is because I hope one day to go into a pastoral ministry role full time. Why do I want to do that? Certainly not because it’s fun or pays well. No, I want to be a pastor because I feel that God is calling me to full time ministry. Continue reading The Call to the Ministry: Some Help From Michael Bennett