Today I want to address the age old question of what Paul refers to as being “not of yourselves, it is the gift of God” in Ephesians 2:8-9. When I first became a Calvinist I fell into the same trap as many others of seeing Calvinism all over the place. So when I came across a verse that says, “faith…not of yourselves,” I thought, “Yes! Faith is from God, not our free will! Let me add this to my list of cross references!” This is the common interpretive mistake of letting systematic theology guide our exegetical theology instead of the other way around. It is true that other scriptures teach that faith is a gift from God (Phil. 1:29). It is true that the analogy of Scripture ought to be brought into consideration during Bible study. Yet every text must be examined by themselves to determine the original meaning the author intended. This is what we shall do now with Ephesians 2:8-9. Continue reading What is the “Gift of God” in Ephesians 2:8-9
A Key Theme in Acts
The book of Acts is one-hundred percent dependent on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If Jesus died on the cross, but did not rise from the dead, there would be no “Acts of the Apostles.” In fact, there would be no Christianity.
Acts begins with the resurrected Lord giving his disciples final instructions and explaining to them their responsibility to be witnesses to the world of what they had seen (Acts 1:6-8). What was the chief thing concerning which they were called to be witnesses? Peter answers that question as the disciples began the process of finding a replacement for Judas, when he says that the new apostle “must become with us a witness to [Christ’s] resurrection” (Acts 1:22). The message the apostles were to proclaim was the message of the resurrected Christ, and every major sermon given by the apostles in Acts contains that message. Continue reading The Resurrection of Christ in Acts and Its Pastoral Implications
I recently had the opportunity to preach at The Open Door Mission in Rochester, NY. My text was Romans 3:21-26. This passage is close to my heart, highly evangelistic, and one which many theologians and commentators see as one of the most important passages in the Bible.
Being that my message had more of a gospel call bend, I did not get too deep into every issue in the passage. However, no matter what passage I preach, or who my audience is, I like to take a thorough look into all aspects of the passage. Therefore, in order that my time and energy into deeper stuff does not go to waste, I offer one study here and another in a later post. This study is not in commentary form, nor does it touch on every possible trajectory and issue in the passage. Rather, this study is a summary and elaboration of D. A. Carson’s contribution to the excellent book, The Glory of the Atonement edited by Charles E. Hill and Frank A. James III. There, Carson discusses 10 debated exegetical issues within this passage. Eight shall be discussed here, the two others he discusses in that chapter concern the passage’s relation to preceding and following contexts, into which we will not venture now. Continue reading Exegeting Romans 3:21-26 with D. A. Carson
What I want to address quickly is, the timing of the atonement. I wish to answer the questions, When did Jesus begin to bear the sins of His people? When was Christ abandoned? Namely, I wish to debunk the popular notion that the three hours of darkness, when Jesus says “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me,” (Matt. 27:46) was the period where God laid the sins of His people upon Him. They say that the darkness was God turning His face from Jesus, for “God cannot look upon sin” (Hab. 1:13 taken out of context).
Please note I am not at all denying the doctrine of Divine Abandonment! I believe Jesus was abandoned because Jesus says He was abandoned. But where I would differ is the starting point of it all. I believe that Jesus was bearing the sins of His people, and enduring the wrath of God in their place beginning not only the first 3 hours on the cross in addition to the latter 3, but even before the cross. I shall quickly go over four reasons why I believe this is the case. The first two are more implicit, but the latter two are conclusive. Continue reading When Was Jesus Bearing Our Sins?
As it should be obvious to those who know me, I am an advocate of Limited Atonement. Though it may be the most controversial of all the “five points of Calvinism”, I find it to be the most clear logically speaking, as well as the most supported biblically. The main argument against it used by Arminians is that the Scriptures contain the words all and world when referring to the extent of the atonement. In response, the Calvinist would simply point out that those terms are seldom universal in scope (John 1:10; 11:48; 12:19).
There is, however, one argument used by Arminians called the co-extent theory which at first seems to turn the Calvinist view on its head. They reason from certain texts that if sin is universal in scope, so atonement must also be. Thus they reason that since Calvinists clearly believe that every human has sinned and is totally depraved, then every human must also have been included in Christ’s redemption. The following texts are used: Continue reading The Co-Extent Theory Examined and Critiqued
“Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”
(1 Corinthians 15:1-4)
I want to look at a text concerning the gospel. My hope is that our salvation will not be assumed because of church attendance or family relations, but that it will be assured because of personal faith in Christ and true biblical repentance. First Corinthians 15 tells us a few things about the importance of the gospel message in Paul’s preaching and in the life of a church. Observe: Continue reading Paul Preached a Saving Gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)