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This is undoubtedly one of the most controversial and frequently debated passages in all of Scripture. It would not be going too far to say that those who believe a genuine believer can forfeit (or lose) his/her salvation appeal to this passage more often than any other. Read the passage closely....Read More

One might well argue that Daniel 9:24-27 is both the most complex and the most crucial text in either testament bearing on the subject of biblical prophecy. Its complexity is questioned only by those who have not studied it, or perhaps by those whose conclusions concerning its meaning were predetermined by unspoken theological commitments. That Daniel 9 is as crucial as I have suggested can hardly be denied. For example, dispensationalists have largely derived from Danie...Read More

The Existence and Activity of Satan...Read More

How is a Christian to act with regard to matters not explicitly addressed in Scripture? How is a Christian to conduct himself/herself in situations on which the Bible is silent? This is the question Paul addresses in Romans 14. We could as easily ask: "What is the nature and extent of Christian freedom" The NT speaks of three types of freedom: 1) Freedom from the condemnation of God (cf. Rom. 8:1); 2) Freedom from the compulsion to sin (cf. Rom. 6:14); and 3) Freedom fro...Read More

Introduction   Charlie Brown was sitting in the living room watching TV when he heard a loud noise in the kitchen. He went to check it out and caught Snoopy, his dog, raiding the refrigerator. "Hey, what are you doing?" he asked. "You can't just take things out of the refrigerator." Pulling out his Bible, Charlie directed Snoopy to Exodus: "Thou shalt not steal." Snoopy took the Bible from Charlie's hand and flipped over to Deuteronomy 25:4 where it says: "Thou sh...Read More

"If there is, among the distinctive articles of the Christian faith, one which is basic to all others, it is this: that our Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, became man for our salvation. This is the affirmation that we have in mind when we speak of the doctrine of the incarnation" (F. F. Bruce)   “Orthodoxy insisted upon the two natures, human and divine, cohering in the one historical Jesus Christ. But orthodoxy has never been able to give this id...Read More

It was not primarily by virtue of his divine nature that Jesus lived the kind of life he did, but rather through his constant and ever-increasing reliance on the power of the Holy Spirit. Three issues that undergird this thesis:   First, the unprecedented presence of the Spirit in the life of Jesus. John 3:34-35 - “For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son, and has given all things in...Read More

In this study we are looking primarily at the arguments used by classical Pentecostals and some Charismatics to defend Spirit-baptism as an experience that is both separate from and subsequent to conversion.   The Analogy based on the experience of Jesus   This argument is as follows. Jesus is conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. This is said to correspond with our regeneration or new birth by the Holy Spirit. Years later (@ 30), Jesus ...Read More

Bibliography On The Ministry of Divine Healing and The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit...Read More

Paula was raised in a Christian home where church attendance was commonplace. But it wasn't until she was eleven years old that she began to take a serious interest in who Jesus is. That summer she attended a church camp and for the very first time consciously repented of her sins and put her faith in the atoning death of Jesus as her only hope for eternal life. It was a wonderful experience that brought both joy and a sense of relief. She never doubted from that moment ...Read More

“The Christian understanding of the Old Testament is determined by the christocentric focus by which the New Testament writers interpreted the Hebrew Scriptures. Therefore it is essential for a Christian to discover the principles and procedures according to which Christ and His apostles understood and expounded the writings of Moses, the Psalms, and the Hebrew prophets. Otherwise he is in grave danger of reading the Old Testament prophecies in an unchristian way a...Read More

  “Prophecy can only depict the future in terms which make sense to its present. It clothes the purpose of God in the hopes and fears of its contemporaries” (Richard Bauckham)   It would appear that Rev. 13:1-18 is temporally parallel with 12:6,13-17 and explains in more detail the precise nature and extent of the Dragon’s (Satan’s) persecution of the people of God. In fact, Rev. 13 describes the earthly governmental, political,...Read More

A continuation of part one . . .   v. 3   John sees the beast with a wound on one of his heads. The word translated “wound” (plege) is used throughout Revelation (11x) for the “plagues” that God inflicts on an unbelieving world. In other words, the likelihood is that God is the one who strikes this blow in judgment against the beast. In Rev. 13:14 it is said to have been the “wound of the sword,” recalling Isa. 27:1 whic...Read More

Dispensational premillennialism (hereafter DP) contends that the Bible cannot be properly understood apart from recognizing distinct periods or eras or dispensations in which the unfolding purpose of God and his relationship with mankind are revealed. All dispensationalists recognize at least three dispensations: (1) the period before Pentecost (the age of the Mosaic Covenant); (2) the period between Pentecost and the return of Christ (the Church age); and (3) the period...Read More

Typology   A.        Definition of Typology   The following two definitions together express the essence of typology:   “In typology the interpreter finds a correspondence in one or more respects between a person, event, or things in the Old Testament and a person, event, or thing closer to or contemporaneous with a New Testament writer. It is this correspondence that determines the meaning in the Old Testame...Read More

Symbolism In Rev. 1:1 we are told that God “made known” to John the contents of the book through an angel. Whereas the verb semaino often simply means “make known, report, communicate,” its “more concrete and at least equally common sense is ‘show by a sign,’ ‘give (or make) signs (or signals),’ or ‘signify.’ . . . Semaino typically has this idea of symbolic communication when it is not used in the genera...Read More

Seven Foundational Principles These foundational principles are all interrelated and to some degree overlap. 1. The fulfillment of Israel’s prophetic hope as found in the OT documents is found in the person and work of Jesus Christ and the believing remnant, i.e., the Church, which he established at his first coming. The point is that Jesus Christ and his Church are the focal and terminating point of all prophecy. 2. Whereas the OT saw the consummation of God&rs...Read More

("Let us consider this settled," said Calvin, "that no one has made progress in the school of Christ who does not joyfully await the day of death and final resurrection" [Institutes, 3.10.5].) Biblical eschatology is a vast field of study encompassing far more than merely "end-time" events, or what we customarily speak of as "prophecy". Also included within the discipline of eschatology is the destiny of the individual, most often conceived as entailing 4 phases or expe...Read More

“Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near” (1:3)   It is crucial for every student of the book of Revelation to read and meditate upon this statement in 1:3. Revelation was written in such a way that it should be not only intelligible to any Christian who reads and/or hears its words, but also a blessing to the person who obeys and believes what it says. S...Read More

D. Schools or Methods of Interpretation   1. The Preterist View   The word “preterist” comes from the Latin word praeteritus which means “gone by” or “past”. Proponents of this view thus contend that “the closer we get to the year 2000, the farther we get from the events of Revelation” (Gentry, Four Views, 37). The major prophecies of the book, so they argue, were fulfilled either in the fall of Jerusalem in 7...Read More

The view presented below is held by premillennialists (those who believe in a 1,000 year earthly reign of Christ between his second coming and eternity), amillennialists (those who believe the millennium is occurring now, in heaven, among the saints with Christ, and who believe the second coming will be followed immediately by the eternal state), as well as some postmillennialists. Although these groups disagree over the nature and timing of the millennium, they are in a...Read More

D. Important Texts (A more extensive analysis of Romans 11 is also found in two parts elsewhere in the material on Eschatology.) 1. Romans 11 - There is but one olive tree (cf. Jer. 11:16; Hosea 14:6), Israel, the people of God in the old dispensation. The branches = individual Israelites. Because of unbelief (rejection of Messiah) most of the natural branches were broken off (v. 16). This does not mean, however, that God has cast off his people (vv. 1-2), nor that he ...Read More

Aside from the book of Revelation, there is hardly a more important section of Scripture on the subject of biblical eschatology than Matthew 24, the famous Olivet Discourse delivered by Jesus to his disciples shortly before his betrayal by Judas. Many Christians simply assume that Jesus is describing the end of human history and his second advent. But could it be that Jesus was actually describing, in response to his disciples’ question, the fall of Jerusalem and t...Read More

In continuation of part one . . . 24:15 With v. 15 we come to a critical juncture in the discourse. To this point Jesus has referred to general signs that would characterize the period preceding Israel's collapse. Here in v. 15, though, he refers to one sign that unmistakably signals that the prophesied destruction is at hand. It would serve to alert the people of that generation as to the proximity of Jerusalem's ruin. In response to the question, "When will these thi...Read More

I argued in parts one and two of our study in Mt. 24 that the Olivet Discourse is concerned primarily with the prophesied destruction of Jerusalem and its temple, both of which occurred in 70 a.d. The issue that must next be addressed is the problem posed by vv. 29-31. Here it appears that Jesus says his second coming will occur "immediately after" the tribulation just described in vv. 15-28. Mark renders it, "But in those days, after that tribulation" (13:24). The prob...Read More

A.        A Definition of Postmillennialism   “We have defined Postmillennialism as that view of the last things which holds that the Kingdom of God is now being extended in the world through the preaching of the Gospel and the saving work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of individuals, that the world eventually is to be Christianized, and that the return of Christ is to occur at the close of a long period of righteousness...Read More

Why does the Amillennialist reject the Premillennial interpretation of Scripture? In my own case, further study of what the NT said would happen in conjunction with the second coming/advent of Christ led me to conclude that a post-Parousia millennial reign upon an earth still under the influence of sin, corruption, and death was impossible. I will now briefly examine those texts.   1.         1 Corinthians 15:22-28   ...Read More

Unfortunately, the discussion of this passage has been muddled by statements such as: “The premillennial interpretation of Revelation 20 is superior because it is literal, whereas the amillennial interpretation spiritualizes, and therefore dishonors, God’s Word.” Suffice it to say, in the words of Arthur Lewis, that   "the essential and concrete aspects of the text may not be 'spiritualized' out of existence. The martyred and enthroned saints are...Read More

We now come to the focal point of the eschatological hostilities which divide Premillennialists from Amillennialists, namely, the meaning of the “first resurrection”. Although for many years a PM, I am now persuaded that Rev. 20:4-6 is concerned exclusively with the experience of the martyrs in the intermediate state. Notwithstanding their death physically for disobedience to the beast, they live spiritually through faith in the Lamb. Although a number of AMs...Read More

It is one thing to offer a critique of a cherished and widely held view of the millennium. It is something else to construct in its place a cogent and persuasive alternative. In the minds of many PMs this has been the principal deficiency in the vast majority of amillennial treatments of eschatology. Whether or not this criticism is justified, I offer this lesson as an attempt to supply what PMs insist has been conspicuous by its absence: an amillennial explanation of th...Read More

This chapter is generally the subject of more interpretive disagreements than any other in the book of Revelation. It is also one of the more important chapters in determining the overall purpose of the book. Vv. 1-2 Let’s begin by noting the more popular interpretations not only of vv. 1-2 but of the entire paragraph (11:1-13). (1)       According to the preterist interpretation, the temple, the altar, and the outer court all refer...Read More

A continuation of part one . . . Vv. 3-4 Here we read of two prophets who, I believe, represent or symbolize the prophetic witness to the world of the entire church during the course of the inter-advent age (the 1260 days; see above). There are several possibilities for who might have served as models for the “two witnesses”, among which I mention: ·Enoch and Elijah – This view is based on the belief that Enoch (Gen. 5:24) and Elijah (2 Kin...Read More

Many postmillennialists and even some amillennialists agree with premillennialists that Paul is indeed affirming a future restoration of ethnic Jews to salvific blessing and favor. Of course, neither postmillennialists nor amillennialists who hold to this interpretation envision Israel as a second people of God, separate from the church (nor, for that matter, do some premillennialists). They insist that the salvation of the nation as a whole will not be for the purpose o...Read More

We are now prepared to examine vv. 25-27 in which are found the most important statements in Romans 11. It is here that the exegetical and theological battle is waged in all its fury. We begin with Paul’s declaration in v. 25 that “a partial hardening has happened to Israel.” As it turns out, this is one of the few statements on the meaning of which almost all agree. Israel’s hardening “in part” does not refer to the degree or time bu...Read More

One of the more divisive issues in biblical eschatology is the subject of the people of God. What precisely is the relationship between Israel and the Church? Revelation 7, with its portrayal of the 144,000 and the Innumerable Multitude goes a long way in answering that question. We are concerned with three issues in Revelation 7. First, what is the relationship of chapter seven to the structure of the book? Second, who are the 144,000 and what significance to do they h...Read More

So, who are the 144,000? Are they different from or one and the same with the innumerable multitude? (1) Most dispensational, pre-tribulational, premillennialists, i.e., most who read the book in a futurist sense, understand the 144,000 to be a Jewish remnant saved immediately after the rapture of the Church. Many then argue that, in the absence of the Church, they serve as evangelists who preach the gospel during the Great Tribulation. In other words, these are literal...Read More

John’s focus in this chapter is the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, at the time of his parousia (or, “presence”) or second coming. In conjunction with that day John also describes the wedding feast of the Lamb and the destruction of his enemies at the so-called “war” of Armageddon. vv. 1-2 We must first determine who this “great multitude” is in heaven shouting praise to God. Some argue that t...Read More

This is a continuation of the study of Revelation 19, picking up with v. 11 . . . vv. 11-16 Here we see what is undoubtedly a vivid and highly symbolic portrait of Jesus at his parousia (second coming). Following is a list of each declaration. ·One sitting upon “a white horse” (v. 11). This rider, obviously Jesus, is not to be identified with the rider who is the first seal judgment in 6:2. The latter is likely a satanic parody of Jesus. ·H...Read More

I can’t think of anything more important for the understanding of eschatology than the biblical doctrine of the new heavens and new earth. One of the greatest misconceptions of amillennialism, of which I am an advocate, is that it empties the Old Testament land promises of all meaningful content, either by spiritualizing a wide array of passages or interpreting them as figurative of some ethereal existence in the clouds. Nothing could be further from the truth. Ant...Read More

2.            the description of the city – 21:9-22:5 Three introductory observations: First, the description of the city in 21:9-22:5 is largely based on the vision of the temple and city in Ezek. 40-48. What will become clear is that the consummate fulfillment of the latter is found in the former. Second, there is an obvious contrast between the vision of the harlot in Rev. 17 and that of the bride in R...Read More

The Epilogue – 22:6-21  These verses serve as a formal conclusion to the book and are linked with Rev. 1:1-3 by a number of verbal similarities. Note, however, that whereas the introduction to Revelation pronounced a blessing on all who obey the words of this book, the conclusion declares a curse on all who disobey. A.The Testimony of the Angel – 22:6-15 1.the conclusion introduced – 22:6-7 Cf. Rev. 1:1-3. Of special interest here is the refere...Read More

Having described the seven trumpet judgments, but before explaining the seven bowls, John inserts three parenthetical chapters (12-14). The purpose of chapter 12 is to provide us with a deeper perspective on the spiritual conflict between the world and the church. It develops, interprets, and expands on a number of the principles already articulated in chapters 1-11. At the heart of its message is that, although Satan is the principal source of the persecution of God&rsq...Read More

B.        War in Heaven and Victory on Earth (12:7-12) Vv. 7-12 are introduced by John to explain why the Woman had to flee into the wilderness (vv. 1-6). The reason why Satan's fury is now unleashed against the church of Jesus Christ on earth is that he has lost his place and position in heaven; his power has been curtailed. vv. 7-10 For the idea of conflict and war between angelic and demonic beings, see especially Daniel 10:1-21. ...Read More

Revelation 10 is one of the less famous portions of the most famous book in the Bible. That is unfortunate, for it tells us much of the eschatological purposes of God, not to mention the mystery of the seven thunders. One other important element to note is the place of the chapter in the structure of the book. We earlier saw that a parenthesis or dramatic interlude (7:1-17) stands between the sixth and seventh seal judgments. Here, too, we have a parenthetical pause or ...Read More

In Revelation 17:1, John was promised that he would be shown “the judgment of the great harlot”. Although he was given a brief glimpse in 17:16, the full story is now told in chapter 18. A working outline for this chapter is as follows: (1) the prediction of Babylon’s fall (vv. 1-3); (2) an exhortation to God’s people to separate from Babylon before judgment comes (vv. 4-8); (3) the lament of those who cooperate with Babylon (the kings of the ear...Read More

Revelation 17:1-19:10 “is a large interpretive review of the sixth and seventh bowls, which have foretold the judgment of Babylon” (Beale, 847). They explain in considerable detail what that judgment entails and how it will be effected. It would appear that what is portrayed in these chapters is again an answer to the prayer of the saints in 6:10 that God judge their persecutors for having shed their blood. vv. 1-2 The language used here is clearly drawn fr...Read More

This is a continuation of part one in which I examined vv. 1-8. vv. 9-11 There are two primary interpretive approaches to this difficult passage: the historical view (within which are two options) and the symbolic view The Historical Interpretation (1)The first approach believes that the city and empire of Rome are principally in view. The “seven mountains” (v. 9) are a reference to the seven hills on which Rome sat (Palatine, Capitol, Aventine, Caelian, ...Read More

Revelation 6:1-17; 8:1-5 There can be no mistake concerning the similarities between the Olivet Discourse (Mt. 24; Mark 13; Luke 21) and the seal judgments of Rev. 6 and 8. Note the following common themes that are addressed in both: Wars – Mt. 24:6 / Rev. 6:2 (1st seal) International strife – Mt. 24:7a / Rev. 6:3-4 (2nd seal) Famines – Mt. 24:7 / Rev. 6:5-6 (3rd seal) Pestilence –Lk. 21:11 / Rev. 6:7-8 (4th seal) Persecution and martyrdom &...Read More

Revelation 6:1-17; 8:1-5 The Fifth Seal – 6:9-11 The fifth seal focuses on the oppression and martyrdom of God’s people. Unlike the first four seals, the fifth says nothing of an angelic decree of judgment or suffering but rather a human response to it. There is theological significance in the fact that believers are portrayed as consciously alive and present in heaven following death on the earth. This is what we typically call the intermediate state (...Read More

The Trumpet Judgments (1) Revelation 8:6-9:21; 11:14-19 One of the fascinating things in Revelation is the way it portrays the experience of the people of God in terms very similar to what transpired for Israel in Egypt and the ten plagues of judgment. For example, 1) prominence of the Red Sea(Ex. 14:1-31) // 1) prominence of glassy sea (Rev. 15:2) 2) song of deliverance (Ex. 15:1-18) // 2) song of deliverance (Rev. 15:2-4) 3) God’s enemy: Pharaoh // 3) God&rs...Read More

The Trumpet Judgments (2) Revelation 8:6-9:21; 11:14-19 The Fifth Trumpet (9:1-11) That the “star” in v. 1 is a personal being of some sort is evident from the fact that the key to the bottomless pit is given to “him” (9:1) and “he” (9:2) opens it. Most believe that the “star” is symbolic of an angel (as was the case in 8:10; cf. 1:20), but is it good or evil? Satan’s judgment is described by Jesus in terms of his ...Read More

The Trumpet Judgments (3) Revelation 8:6-9:21; 11:14-19 First Explanatory Interlude (9:12) In saying that “the first woe has passed” John does not mean “that the events have already transpired in history but only that the vision containing them is now past” (Beale, 505). The Sixth Trumpet (9:13-21) vv. 13-15 Whose “voice” is it that John hears? Is it that of Jesus (as in 6:6), or an angel (as in 16:7), or God the Father? The f...Read More

A close look at the trumpet and bowl judgments will reveal their inescapable similarities. The only place where this is less than explicit is with the first in each series. But even then, there is similarity of language.   (1)        With the first trumpet there is hail and fire mixed with blood thrown to the earth; 1/3 of the earth, trees, grass burned (1/3 denoting a partial or limited judgment). With the first bowl the earth a...Read More

The Bowl Judgments (2) Revelation 16:1-21 The Third Bowl (16:4-7) Similar to the third trumpet in 9:10-11, this bowl judgment figuratively portrays the suffering and death incurred by those who rely on maritime commerce. See the parallel between 16:6 and 18:24 for support. Aune contends that this verse (v. 5) “assumes a cosmos in which the various material elements are presided over by, or are personified by, particular angelic beings" (2”884). However, ...Read More

Recently a friend wrote to me, asking my opinion on whether or not Israel has a biblical right to the Holy Land. That is to say, can Israel appeal to the covenant made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as grounds for their presence in and possession of the land of Palestine? My friend wondered if the view I espouse is what many have called “Replacement” theology. Let me take this opportunity to address the point. Before I do, two words of introduction are neede...Read More

In Parts One and Two of this study I argued that the New Testament provides us with an expanded definition of what constitutes an “Israelite” or a “Jew”. Or perhaps we might say that the NT provides us with a “Christified” perspective on the people of God. Ethnicity is no longer the primary concern. Having Abraham’s blood in one’s veins is not the primary consideration, but rather having Abraham’s faith in one’s...Read More

There are numerous passages in the NT where OT prophecies concerning Israel’s regathering and restoration are applied to the Church, indicating that the latter is the “true Israel” comprised of both believing Jews and believing Gentiles in whom the promises will be fulfilled. Or, to put it in other terms, the Church does not replace Israel but takes up and perpetuates in itself the believing remnant within the nation as a whole. The “true Israel&...Read More

Virtually all who espouse amillennialism embrace the principles articulated in our lesson on the Historic or Non-Dispensational view of the Kingdom of God. Therefore, what follows is built upon the understanding of the people of God and the kingdom as outlined in that study.   A. A Definition of Amillennialism   Amillennialism (hereafter cited as AM) has suffered greatly in the past because of its seeming negative character. In other words, definitions of A...Read More

The 144,000, Eternal Punishment, and the Wrath of God: Insofar as the majority of chapters 12-13 focused on the persecution of believers by the Dragon (Satan) and his earthly agents, the sea-beast and the land-beast, it is understandable that chapter 14, together with 15:2-4, should describe the reward of the persecuted faithful and the final punishment of their enemies. In other words, “chapter 14 briefly answers two pressing questions: What becomes of those who ...Read More

This is a continuation of part one. vv. 6-7 Is the “gospel” preached by this angel designed to lead to conversion? Or is it simply the declaration of final judgment on those who have rejected it? Those who favor the latter point to what follows: vv. 8-11 proceed to describe the eternal judgment of unbelievers. They also point to the similarity between this angel and his gospel, on the one hand, and the messenger of the three woes in 8:13. Both speak “...Read More

This is the final installment of our study of Revelation 14-15. vv. 12-13 These verses provide a motivation to believers to persevere, whether by pointing to the reality of judgment (v. 12) or to the promise of reward of eternal rest (v. 13). As for the meaning of v. 12, Keener says that “either they should be encouraged because this judgment is their vindication . . ., or they should be exhorted to fill their role as martry-witnesses so that more people may...Read More

Introductory Issues Related to Divine Healing...Read More

I. Healing in the Pentateuch   A. Jehovah Rapha   God is consistently referred to in the OT as Jehovah Rapha, "the God who heals." The Hebrew word rapha and its derivatives occur 86x in the OT. It means to restore a wrong, sick, broken or deficient condition to its original and proper state.   healing a sick body (2 Kings 20:5) repairing a broken down altar (1 Kings 18:30) restoring a dry, locust-eaten land (2 Chron. 7:14) making wholesome otherwi...Read More

Healing and Old Testament Prophets and in Isaiah 53 (Is there Healing in the Atonement?) ...Read More

1. Isaiah 35   It is widely argued that the description in Isa. 35 is of conditions that will prevail in the Messianic age to come. Premillennialists place the fulfillment of this text in the 1,000 year reign of Christ upon the earth following his second coming. Amillennialists believe it will be fulfilled in the New Heaven and New Earth of Rev. 21-22.   What is important to note, however, is that Jesus appealed to this passage as proof that He was the Mess...Read More

I.          Healing in the Psalms   "The psalms remind us again of the intimate connection in the Israelite mind between sin and sickness on the one hand, and divine favor and healing on the other hand, reflecting a worldview in which physical restoration is taken as an indication of spiritual reconciliation" (Brown, 119).   Those psalms generally recognized as dealing with sickness and healing include 6, 30, 38,...Read More

(Mark 5:21-43; Mt. 9:18-26)     The best way to learn about the healing ministry of Jesus is to examine several instances in which he actually heals someone. Rather than begin with an abstract theological model of divine healing, I want to begin with the concrete activity of healing that emerged in the routine of his daily life.   Mark 5:21-43 (Mt. 9:18-26)   vv. 21-23   This "synagogue official" was a man of great importance who had bee...Read More

1.         Acts 3:1-4:12   Several important points are to be noted:   First, this man was born paralyzed (3:2) and had remained in that condition for 40 years (4:22).   Second, his healing was not a gradual restoration but instantaneous and complete (3:7-8).   Third, the man himself was not expecting to be healed. It appears to catch him totally by surprise. He anticipated a monetary gift, not a superna...Read More

Healing in the New Testament Epistles - Part I...Read More

Healing in the New Testament Epistles - Part II...Read More

What is Divine Election and Why is it so Controversial?...Read More

The Biblical Terminology of Election...Read More

Let’s do some review.   The issue before us is why and on what grounds some are elected to salvation and eternal life and others are not. The question, then, is this: Does God elect people because they believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, or does God elect people in order that they shall believe in Christ? Jack W. Cottrell, an Arminian, agrees that this is in fact the issue separating Calvinists and Arminians. Says Cottrell:   “The Calvinistic mi...Read More

Whereas some Arminians (such as Jack Cottrell) deny the doctrine of total depravity, most affirm it and account for human free will by appealing to the concept of prevenient grace. John Wesley affirmed:   "I believe that Adam, before his fall, had such freedom of will, that he might choose either good or evil; but that, since the fall, no child of man has a natural power to choose anything that is truly good. Yet I know (and who does not?) that man has still free...Read More

Thomas Oden (The Transforming Power of Grace [Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1993]) contends that “the eternal will to save may be viewed as either antecedent or consequent to the exercise of human freedom in history” (82). This Wesleyan-Arminian perspective recognizes “God’s primordial (or antecedent) benevolence, and God’s special (or consequent) benevolence. A distinction is posited between God’s antecedent will to save (voluntas antecedens, antecedent to the ...Read More

The Calvinistic concept of divine election proceeds on the assumption that God saves men and women in accordance with a plan formulated in eternity past. The events we see unfolding in time and history are not haphazard or chaotic, appearances notwithstanding. They are the divinely ordained means by which God is bringing this universe to its proper consummation in Jesus Christ. We would not think very highly of God if we knew him to have created all things without a clue...Read More

Faith and Repentance: Gifts of God or the Fruit of Free Will?...Read More

The real point of dispute between Arminians and Calvinists is not so much the nature of God and his will, but the nature of man and his. This may sound strange, for earlier I suggested that the principal area of disagreement is the basis on which God makes his elective decision. Perhaps an illustration will clarify this point. Consider the case of identical twin brothers Jerry and Ed. As much as is humanly possible they are the same in every sense: physical appearance,...Read More

What, then, of human freedom? To answer that question we must distinguish between “free agency” and “free will.” It is simplistic and misleading to say, without qualification, “man is free” or “man is not free.” To say that man has free agency is to say he is free to do what he wants. If he wants to reject Christ, he can. If he wants to accept Christ, he can. In brief, the human will is free to choose whatever the heart des...Read More

What is at stake in the debate between Calvinism and Arminianism is far more than a disagreement over terminology. At the heart of all this is the grace of God and how we understand it. I am not suggesting that Arminian Christians are deliberately impugning the grace of God in salvation. Nevertheless, by making election conditional upon something that man does, even if what he does is simply to repent and believe the gospel, God’s grace is seriously compromised. To...Read More

Grace is more than an attitude or disposition in the divine nature. It is surely that, but an examination of the usage of this word in Scripture reveals that grace, if thought of only as an abstract and static principle, is deprived of its deeper implications.   The grace of God, for example, is the power of God's Spirit converting the soul. It is the activity or movement of God whereby He saves and justifies the individual through faith (see esp. Rom. 3:24; 5:15...Read More

These passages are not listed in order of importance or clarity, but according to the order in which they appear in Scripture.   Matthew 11:25-27   “At that time Jesus answered and said, "I praise Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou didst hide these things from the wise and intelligent and didst reveal them to babes. "Yes, Father, for thus it was well-pleasing in Thy sight. "All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no...Read More

John 6:37-40,44,65 (see also 17:1-2,6,9,24) "All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal li...Read More

We now move from the Gospels and Acts to the Epistles. Romans 8:29-30 “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”  1 Peter 1:1-2 “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered thro...Read More

Romans 9:6-13 “But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; neither are they all children because they are Abraham's descendants, but: ‘through Isaac your descendants will be named.’ That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants. 9 For this is a word of promise: ‘at this time I will come, and Sarah ...Read More

Romans 9:14-23 (1)   “What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, ‘For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate my power in you, and that my name m...Read More

Romans 9:14-23 (2)   As we return to Paul’s response, one should observe that the objection raised in v. 19 is not a humble inquiry on the part of an inquisitive student of theology, as if he were simply asking "How can these things be?" It is rather an indignant declaration and arrogant protest against God in which he insists that "these things ought not to be, and if they are, God is unrighteous!" Paul's emphatic "O man" and "to God" in v. 20 assign to th...Read More

Ephesians 1:3-6 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in t...Read More

Let’s return to the hypothetical case of our twin brothers Jerry and Ed. For several years both brothers had been attending church with their parents, reluctantly but there nonetheless. The gospel of Jesus Christ was a message with which they were both quite familiar. Indeed, familiarity in their case truly had bred contempt, for they both despised and quietly mocked what they heard.   But then one day seemingly "out of the blue," the gospel he has for so l...Read More

Regeneration or the New Birth This obviously prompts us to ask another question. What precisely was it that the Holy Spirit did in Jerry that he did not do in Ed? What was it, if anything, that the Holy Spirit did in Jerry that elicited the appropriate response to the call issued in the gospel? The answer is regeneration. Or to use an expression that everyone today knows, Jerry was "born again." Jerry believes the gospel because there has taken place within him a radica...Read More

Unfortunately, the label Hyper-Calvinist is used frequently in our day to insult or ridicule anyone who is more Calvinistic than oneself. As far as the Pelagians are concerned, semi-Pelagians are hyper-Calvinists. As far as semi-Pelagians are concerned, Arminians are hyper-Calvinists. As far as Arminians are concerned, four-point Calvinists are hyper-Calvinists. As far as four-point Calvinists are concerned, five-point Calvinists are hyper-Calvinists. Depending on where ...Read More

I am providing this additional material for the benefit of those who may wish to examine in more detail the many references to “calling” in the NT.             (1)            The verb “to call” (kaleo) is used some 147x in the NT. It has a variety of meanings. ·      It is used 72x with the meaning “...Read More

One of the more frequently heard objections to unconditional election is that it impugns God’s justice. God is unfair and unjust, says the Arminian, if he treats people differently or bestows on some a favor that he withholds from others.   But this is surely a strange way of defining justice. Justice is that principle in virtue of which a person is given his due. To withhold from a person what he deserves or what the law demands that he receive is to act u...Read More

Another objection usually follows quickly on the heels of the previous two. It is often conceded that whereas it may not be unjust of God not to save all, it is surely unloving of him at least not to try. If God is love, the Arminian argues, then he must manifest that love equally and universally. To answer this objection properly it will be necessary to discuss yet another controversial doctrine, the extent of the atonement. But our primary concern is still with electio...Read More

I’ve often heard people say that belief in the doctrine of election will diminish one’s love for the lost. Whenever I hear this, my mind turns immediately to something the apostle Paul said in Romans 9:1-5. What makes his comments especially poignant is that they appear immediately following his discussion of divine sovereignty in Romans 8:28-38 and immediately preceding a similar discussion in Romans 9:6-23. Here are Paul’s words.   “I am...Read More

The question is often phrased with brutal honesty: “If the spiritual destiny of all people is fixed and certain from eternity past, why preach, why pray?” I want to begin my answer to this question with the reminder of how the apostle Paul repeatedly speaks with perfect ease of both sovereign election and prayer for successful evangelistic outreach. Divine sovereignty does not preempt prayer, nor does prayer render God’s choice contingent. The God who ...Read More

Divine Election: How and Why does God Choose? Part One...Read More

Divine Election: How and Why does God Choose? Part Two...Read More

John Hick is perhaps the most famous religious pluralist in the world today. Professing to have once been an evangelical, Hick is now vocal and prolific in his denial of the exclusivity of Jesus Christ. Hick contends that in spite of differences in language, culture, concepts, and liturgical actions, basically the same thing is occurring in all religions, namely,   "Human beings coming together within the framework of an ancient and highly developed tradition to o...Read More

"We have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now" (1 Cor. 4:13)   A question that many today are asking is whether or not the office (or perhaps gift) of apostleship is still operative in the body of Christ. We hear many speak of the restoration of the apostolic and others even refer to an apostolic reformation that is coming to the church. People often line up at opposite ends of the spectrum on this question. I hear some deny th...Read More

The true church of Jesus Christ "subsists in (subsistit in) the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him" (CC, 816). This is because: "it is through Christ's Catholic Church alone, which is the universal help toward salvation, that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained. It was to the apostolic college alone, of which Peter is the head, that we believe that our Lord ...Read More

In this study and the one to follow I want to identify and then respond to the six most frequently used arguments in defense of cessationism. If you are not familiar with that word it refers to the doctrine that certain spiritual gifts, typically (and mistakenly) those referred to as “miraculous” in nature (such as healing, prophecy, tongues, miracles, word of knowledge, etc.) ceased or were withdrawn by God from the church at the close of the first century o...Read More

3.         The third argument for cessationism pertains to the alleged negative assessment given by many to the nature, purpose and impact of signs, wonders and miracles in the NT. I had been taught and believed that it was an indication of spiritual immaturity to seek signs in any sense, that it was a weak faith, born of theological ignorance, that prayed for healing or a demonstration of divine power. Some are even more pointed i...Read More

Are Prophets the Foundation of the Church: A Study of Ephesians 2:20...Read More

Has Satan assigned specific demons special responsibility, authority and power over specific geographical and political areas? Could the entrenched resistance to the gospel in some nations and cultures be due to the ruling presence of a demonic spirit (or spirits) placed there by Satan? If so, what is the responsibility of the Christian? Is there a unique form of spiritual warfare calling for special tactics when it comes to dealing with so-called "territorial spirits"?...Read More

What does the Bible mean when it speaks of the "will" of God? Does God always "get his way"? Can his "will" be resisted or frustrated? Consider the following texts:   "I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose [or willing] of Yours can be thwarted" (Job 42:2).   "All the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, but He does according to His will in the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of earth; and no one can ward off His hand ...Read More

If human nature is corrupt and guilty from conception, the consequence of Adam's transgression, are those who die in infancy lost? The same question would apply to those who live beyond infancy but because of mental retardation or some other handicap are incapable of moral discernment, deliberation, or volition. This is more than a theoretical issue designed for our speculation and curiosity. It touches one of the most emotionally and spiritually unsettling experiences ...Read More

Can a Christian be demonized, i.e., indwelt by a demonic spirit? Three answers have been given: Yes, No, and Yes/No!   A.        Arguments for a Modified Demonization of Christians   Mark Bubeck, Merrill Unger, Thomas White and others suggest that a believer can be demonized, but in a somewhat modified or restricted sense.   Based on the doctrine of trichotomy, according to which a person is comprised of three facu...Read More

This issue may best be illustrated by the use of four Latin phrases:   ·      non posse non peccare - "not able not to sin" (this describes unregenerate people and the fallen angels)   ·      posse peccare – “able to sin”, and posse non peccare - "able not to sin" (these describe Adam before the fall, regenerate people, and Jesus, if one denies his impeccability)   &mid...Read More

The Arminian Concept of Election             Although I am unapologetically a Calvinist, I think it only fair that the Arminian perspective be defined in detail. All too often in controversies such as this, people tend to portray their opponents in less than glowing terms. After all, it’s always easier to dismantle and refute a caricature of what your opponent believes. Here I want to present as objectively a...Read More

In continuation of part one . . .   A. The Arminian Concept of God's Will   Thomas Oden (The Transforming Power of Grace [Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1993]) contends that "the eternal will to save may be viewed as either antecedent or consequent to the exercise of human freedom in history" (82). This Wesleyan-Arminian perspective recognizes "God's primordial (or antecedent) benevolence, and God's special (or consequent) benevolence. A distinction is posited ...Read More

I have two goals that seem to be incompatible and irreconcilable. It is going to be difficult for me to achieve them both. It seems as if to emphasize one is to minimize the other. Let me explain.   On the one hand, I want to emphasize the value and dignity of marriage. Jesus himself in the passage from Matthew 19 is emphatic about the divine design for marriage: “What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.” Therefore, sundering or severing ...Read More

B.        Jesus on Divorce and Remarriage   1.         Mark 10:2-12   The relevant passage is in vv. 11-12 where we read: “And He said to them, ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery.’”   Somewhat of a surprise here “is t...Read More

The question is often raised: “If the so-called miracle or sign gifts of the Holy Spirit are valid for Christians beyond the death of the apostles, why were they absent from church history until their alleged reappearance in the twentieth century?” My answer follows:   1)         They were not absent. They were possibly less prevalent, but to argue that all such gifts were utterly non-existent is to ignore a sign...Read More

The word most often translated "hell" in the NT is Gehenna, the Greek equivalent for "the valley of Hinnom". This valley is immediately southwest of Jerusalem, still visible from the Mt. of Olives. At one time it was there that human sacrifices were made to the pagan deity Moloch (2 Kings 23:10; 2 Chron. 28:3; 33:6; cf. Jer. 7:31; 19:5ff.). When King Josiah brought religious reform to the nation, Gehenna was condemned and came to be used as a garbage dump for the city of...Read More

Although the term "apostle" is found in 1 Cor. 12:28 and Eph. 4:11, it is never explicitly called a charisma or "spiritual gift". Exhorters are those who exhort, teachers teach, healers heal, those who have the gift of faith exercise extraordinary faith, and so on. But how does an "apostle" (noun) "apostle" (verb)? What does it mean to minister as an apostle? One ministers as a discerner of spirits by discerning spirits. One ministers as a giver by giving. However, to sa...Read More

Please read carefully the following passages: Deut. 7:1-11; 20:16-18; Joshua 6:21; 8:24-29; 11:10-15 (also Ex. 23:31-32; 34:12-16).   How do we explain the fact that God evidently commanded Israel (Joshua 6:21) to exterminate the entire population of Jericho: men, women, and children? Numerous attempts have been made to deal with this. For example:   (1) Some argue that the decision was Joshua's, which indicates that Israel was simply at a very primitive s...Read More

Is there Healing in the Atonement? A Study of Isaiah 53...Read More

What is "Open Theism"?...Read More

A Brief Response to "Open Theism" From Isaiah 41-48...Read More

A Brief Response to "Open Theism" From Daniel 11...Read More

What was Paul's Thorn in the Flesh? A Study of 2 Corinthians 12:1-10...Read More

Does the NT employ Pseudonymity?...Read More

What are the Signs of an Apostle? A Study of 2 Corinthians 12:12...Read More

What is at stake in the Lordship Debate?   Those who affirm "Lordship" salvation oppose the idea that one may have saving faith without submitting to the Lordship of Jesus in daily obedience. We are saved by faith alone, but not by the faith which is alone (Sola fides iustificat, sed non fides quae est sola).   Saving faith is a working faith. That faith by means of which we are justified is the kind or quality of faith that produces obedience and the frui...Read More

Are Christians Obligated to Tithe? A Study of 2 Corinthians 8-9...Read More

Was Jesus a Calvinist? A Study of John 6...Read More

It should really come as no surprise that in seasons of renewal, revival, and increased activity of the Holy Spirit, one of the most frequently voiced criticisms is that manipulation is occurring. Identifying manipulation and avoiding it is therefore of crucial importance. Webster's defines the verb manipulate as follows: "to manage or control artfully or by shrewd use of influence, especially in an unfair or fraudulent way."   But what does it mean to say a mini...Read More

In Part One I identified 10 of 15 characteristics of manipulation in the name of ministry. Here in Part Two I conclude our study. 11.       A leader is manipulative when he/she compensates for the lack of anointing by using natural skills or tactics to arouse or inspire or excite an audience. For example, when the Lord does not appear to be bringing laughter, it is manipulative to tell jokes or laugh infectiously in hope of inducing the sa...Read More

The word “freedom” has a variety of meanings for a variety of people. To Martha Stewart, it means early release from prison. To an Iraqi citizen, it means democratic rule following the elections in January. To a small businessman it may be defined in purely economic terms. To someone in a formerly communist bloc country it may mean the absence of social and political oppression. But what does “freedom” mean to the Christian? What does it mean to y...Read More

“But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?” (ESV)  Why is it, in view of the staggering claim of so many millions of people in America to having...Read More

Men and Women in Ministry: A Brief Summary of the Complementarian and Egalitarian Debate Part One...Read More

Men and Women in Ministry: A Brief Summary of the Complementarian and Egalitarian Debate Part Two: Who Believes What?...Read More

Men and Women in Ministry: A Brief Summary of the Complementarian and Egalitarian Debate Part Three: The Meaning of Headship...Read More

Men and Women in Ministry: A Brief Summary of the Complementarian and Egalitarian Debate Part Four: The Meaning of Submission...Read More

Men and Women in Ministry: A Brief Summary of the Complementarian and Egalitarian Debate Part Five: Does the New Testament teach "Mutual Submission"? Seven Objections to the Egalitarian understanding of Mutual Submission in Ephesians 5:21-33...Read More

Men and Women in Ministry: A Brief Summary of the Complementarian and Egalitarian Debate Part Six: Ten Reasons why Male Headship Existed before the Fall...Read More

Men and Women in Ministry: A Brief Summary of the Complementarian and Egalitarian Debate Part Seven: Five Crucial Questions about 1 Timothy 2:11-15...Read More

Men and Women in Ministry: A Brief Summary of the Complementarian and Egalitarian Debate Part Eight: The Analogy(?) with Slavery...Read More

Men and Women in Ministry: A Brief Summary of the Complementarian and Egalitarian Debate Part Nine: 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 and the Role of Women in the Church...Read More

Men and Women in Ministry: A Brief Summary of the Complementarian and Egalitarian Debate Part Ten: Was Junias a Female Apostle?: Romans 16:7...Read More

Men and Women in Ministry: A Brief Summary of the Complementarian and Egalitarian Debate Part Eleven: "Should Women Serve as Elders in the Local Church?" ...Read More

This passage is beyond doubt the most theologically significant statement about the person and work of Jesus to be found in the NT. I have summarized it in 20 points.   1.         It has long been suggested that 2:6-11 is a pre-Pauline hymn to Christ. Support is drawn from the presence in the text of numerous words that appear only once in the NT as a whole. The balanced clauses have a poetic form that might belong to an ea...Read More

Before we begin, a word is in order about the attempts to deny the reality of the virgin birth. As Robert Stein notes, "for some, the very possibility of such a conception and birth is excluded as a logical consequence of the elimination of the supernatural from history. If miracles cannot happen, then by definition there cannot be a virginal conception" (Jesus the Messiah, 64). Among other attempts to reject this biblical truth, we take note of three: (1)  &n...Read More

“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” (Mt. 16:13)   This question asked by Jesus was not the fruit of insecurity or uncertainty on his part. He knew exactly who he was. Nor was it a question designed to boost his self-confidence, bolster a sagging ego, or reassure himself of his popularity. He knew he wasn't popular. Rather, it was a question designed to elicit faith in his followers.   1)        ...Read More

A.            Chalcedon and the Personal Union The Council of Chalcedon (451) affirmed the following of the two natures in Christ: “Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, in two natures, inconfusedly (or unmixed, or without confusion), unchangeably (or unchanged, or without change), indivisibly (or undivided), inseparably (or inseparable), the distinction of the natures being by no means taken away by the union, b...Read More

The various theories of Christ’s atoning death can be broken down based on the object or focus or orientation of his sufferings. In other words, on whom or on what do the sufferings of Jesus terminate? Objective theories of the atonement are those that envision his death as terminating on God. Subjective theories insist that Christ’s sufferings focus on human beings with a view to inducing some change or experiential reaction in us.   A.  &n...Read More

"You shall measure the height of his love, if it be ever measured, by the depth of his grief, if that can ever be known" (Spurgeon)   Not too long ago a book was published with the title: What was God doing on the Cross? It appears that there are two questions being asked, not one. First, "What was God doing on the cross?" Why was the God-man impaled on a Roman gibbet? It seems shocking that God should be crucified? Second, "What was God doing on the cross?...Read More

Aspects of the Atoning Death of Christ (1)            Reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18-21)   See Rom. 5:10-11; 11:15; 2 Cor. 5:18,19,20; Eph. 2:16; Col. 1:20,22.   1)            The objective dimension - There are several different, but related, kinds of reconciliation:   ·      John persuades Frank and Tom to g...Read More

The identity and mission of Jesus are incomprehensible apart from an understanding of his roots in the OT. Jesus did not appear in a historical vacuum. He entered history not merely as a man, but as a Jewish man who brings the OT to its proper consummation. As Christopher Wright has said,   "Jesus is . . . 'the end of the line', as far as the Old Testament story goes. It has run its completed course in preparation for him, and now its goal or climax has been reac...Read More

This was not a war of modern weaponry, but of moral will. It was not a war between two nations, but between one man and the principalities and powers of darkness. This was a war that happened in history, yet whose consequences transcend history. It was not an event that we can view with that sort of objective detachment with which we study other historical events. This was a war on which our very lives depend, spiritually speaking. Our eternal redemption was at stake, fo...Read More

What strikes us most as we approach Gethsemane is the shocking contrast it presents with what has preceded. The events of Passion Week, up to this point anyway, seemed to have the aura of divine control. His display of confidence and courage and determination reassures and reaffirms our faith in him. In his handling of each situation and in the unfolding drama of Passover, the prelude to his death, he expressed a calm dignity, a quiet power that cannot help but evoke awe...Read More

A.        His Betrayal (Mt. 26:47-56)   One can only gasp at the thought that Jesus was weighed in the balance by Judas Iscariot and found to be worth only 30 pieces of silver! The irony is overwhelming. He whose “weightiness” and “worth” are beyond calculation is auctioned off for a mere pittance. The payment (Mt. 26:15) was probably given to Judas for information as to where Jesus could be arrested in a...Read More

Is forgiveness possible? It may sound like a silly question, especially to a Christian audience that I assume knows what the Bible says about God’s grace and redemption and the forgiveness of sin through faith in Christ. But even for Christians, sometimes “forgiveness” is only a word lost in a stack of abstract theological language that we speak and confess and recite and even affirm in the liturgy. But if you’re anything like me, all that doesn&...Read More

Following the description of Judas' suicide (Mt. 27:1-10) and the trial before Pilate (Mt. 27:11-25), we find a brief, but vivid, portrayal of the brutalization of Jesus at the hands of the Romans. In these few verses are found 8 terse, but poignant, statements descriptive of his treatment at the hands of his accusers.   Anyone who saw Mel Gibson’s film, The Passion of the Christ, will inevitably read the following portrayal of our Lord’s suffering in...Read More

The place of Jesus' crucifixion is called Golgotha (v. 33), lit., "place of the skull." It was located outside the city proper in accordance with Jewish and Roman custom (Lev. 24:14; Num. 15:35f.; Acts 7:58; Heb. 13:12-14).   According to v. 34, “they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it.” This has been interpreted in two different ways:   1)        &nb...Read More

A.            Rending of the Veil, Resurrection of the Saints (Mt. 27:51-56)   Before looking at the consequences of our Lord's death, we need to return to v. 50 and his dying words. He has already died spiritually (= separation/alienation from the Father) as witnessed by the cry, "My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" In that death he quenched the fires of divine wrath that otherwise would have consume...Read More

There was a time when I thought the verb “enjoy” and the noun “God” should never be used in the same sentence. I could understand “fearing” God and “obeying” God, even “loving” God. But “enjoying” God struck me as inconsistent with the biblical mandate both to glorify God, on the one hand, and deny myself, on the other. How could I be committed above all else to seeking God’s glory if I were co...Read More

A.        Clarification of biological factors/terms Conception takes place when a male germ cell (spermatozoon) combines with a female germ cell (the ovum), resulting in a single cell (the single-cell zygote), which embodies the full genetic code, 23 pairs of chromosomes (this occurs @ 22-24 hours after insemination). The single-cell zygote soon begins a process of cellular division. The resultant multicell zygote, while continuing to ...Read More

What does the Bible say about artificial means of contraception? Is it morally and biblically permissible for a Christian couple to utilize modern medical technology to limit the number of children they conceive? Or are Christians obligated to give birth to as many offspring as is biologically possible? Or is there another option? For example, a couple in their early 40’s with 5 children come to you for counseling. Jim is a carpenter whose work is sporadic and who...Read More

Contrary to what many suppose, there is not a consensus in the Christian community on the morality of capital punishment. Although a majority of evangelicals probably endorse CP, at least in the case of premeditated murder, a significant minority oppose it. For example, representatives of the American Baptist Convention adopted this resolution in 1960 concerning CP: "Because the Christian believes in the inherent worth of human personality and in the unceasing availabil...Read More

[This is not a general discussion of the ethics of civil disobedience, but a specific treatment of the ethics of Operation Rescue. The latter provides us with an excellent case study by which to analyze the primary issues.]   Many of those involved in Operation Rescue (hereafter OR) argue that what they are doing is not only morally and biblically prudential, not only morally and biblically permissible, but morally and biblically obligatory. That is to say, many i...Read More

The term Euthanasia is derived from two Greek words: eu, which means well or good, and thanatos, which means death.   There are a number of other terms in the debate over euthanasia that call for explanation.   Voluntary / Involuntary / Non-voluntary   These terms focus on whether or not the patient requests death or grants permission to be put to death.   ·      Voluntary euthanasia refers to those instances w...Read More

According to recent statistical studies,   ·      Approximately 95% of American citizens have gambled at some time in their lives. About 82% have played a state sponsored lottery, 75% have played slot machines, 50% have gambled on either horse or dog races, 44% have played poker, and 34% gamble via bingo. More than 25% have gambled on sports events. Amazingly, recent polls indicate that nearly 90% of the American population approve...Read More

There is perhaps no more explicit description of the ethics of integrity than that found in Psalm 15.   "O Lord, who may abide in Thy tent? Who may dwell on Thy holy hill (v. 1)?   Note well: The answer that follows says nothing about wealth, education, physical beauty, giftedness, speaking skills, church offices held, cars owned, whether one is married or single, stock portfolio, number of children, clothes that are worn, color of skin, or any such facto...Read More

Here we will look at only the three most well-known forms of absolutism.   1.         Situationism   Situationism (also called contextualism) in its modern form was popularized by Joseph Fletcher in his book Situation Ethics (1966). Fletcher once served as dean of Cincinnati's St. Paul's Cathedral and later as professor of social ethics at the Episcopal Theology School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. At first glance, it ...Read More

Now that we have examined moral absolutism let’s consider how best to respond to those relativists who regard us as intolerant and judgmental.   First of all, how often have you had it said to you, or heard it said to someone else: “You shouldn’t force your morality on me.” The proper response is: “Why not?” After all, he is forcing his morality on you by insisting that you have no right to force your morality on him! He has a s...Read More

The most important thing to remember as we talk about sexual purity is this: God is for you! God wants you to win. People often view God as their adversary when it comes to sex: “He’s against me. He’s hates sex. I’m repulsive to him. He’s ashamed of me for what I’ve done. And to be perfectly honest, I can’t blame him much.” Misconceptions such as this only serve to convince us that our situation is hopeless and drive us far...Read More

Consider these statistics:   ·      There are four male suicides for every one female; however, at least twice as many females as males attempt suicide.   ·      Sixty percent of all people who commit suicide kill themselves with guns.   ·      Guns are now used in more suicides than homicides.   ·      Women are more...Read More

We must never forget that our knowledge of God is a gift, not a given. What I mean by this is that we all too often presume that what we know of God is either something we gained by self-exertion, dedication, and study, or it is something we deserve, perhaps something that is our by right or entitlement. We should never treat the knowledge of God as a given. It is something He gives, and He does not give it universally. This is nowhere better seen in our Lord's words in ...Read More

How are we to conceive of and classify the attributes of God? (1)       The Lutheran model According to Francis Pieper, Lutherans opt for one of two approaches: (1) quiescent and operative attributes or (2) negative and positive attributes. "Those who have employed the first classification define as quiescent those attributes in which no effect upon, and no relation to, the world is implied, but which are conceived as remaining within the ...Read More

The Christian world-view is a way of "seeing" and "interpreting" reality through the lens of God's revelation of Himself in Jesus Christ as found in Scripture. What, then, does the Bible tell us is God's ultimate aim for all that exists and thus the framework within which we must make sense of life? To put the same question in other terms: What is the pre-eminent passion in God's heart? What is God's greatest pleasure? How does the happiness of God manifest itself? In w...Read More

The concept of the one God as a trinity of co-equal, yet distinct, persons is the most intellectually taxing and baffling doctrine in Scripture. It is a mystery that is beyond reason yet not contrary to it. Probably the most famous definition of the doctrine of the Trinity is that of St. Augustine (4th-5th century a.d.): "There are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and each is God, and at the same time all are one God; and each of them is a full substance, and a...Read More

What does it mean to say that God is holy? Most people think of moral rectitude or righteousness or goodness, and that is certainly true. To be holy is to be characterized by purity and blamelessness and integrity, both in terms of one's essence and one's activity. In this sense, God's holiness and his righteousness are somewhat synonymous. He is described in the OT as "too pure to behold evil" and intolerant of evil (Hab. 1:12-13). But this is only a secondary way in wh...Read More

A highly simplistic definition of "power" would be that it is the ability to produce effects, or to accomplish what one wills. The Scriptures clearly affirm not only that God has such an ability but that he has it without limitations. Hence, we speak of God as being omnipotent, infinite in power. His "power is vast" (Job 9:4). He is "the Lord strong and mighty" (Ps. 24:8), "great and awesome" (Deut. 7:21), "the Lord Almighty, the Mighty One of Israel" (Isa. 1:24). "Ah, ...Read More

A. Over Nature and Weather Psalms 104; 105:16; 135:7; 147:7-20; 148; Job 9:5-10; 26:5-14; 37:1-24; 38:8-38; Mark 4:39,41. Other texts: "It is He who made the earth by His power, who established the world by His wisdom; and by His understanding He has stretched out the heavens. When He utters His voice, there is a tumult of waters in the heavens, and He causes the clouds to ascend from the end of the earth; He makes lightning for the rain, and brings out the wind from H...Read More

The importance of defining our theological terms with precision is most evident in the case of divine immutability. Here is a word which in contemporary evangelical circles evokes either protest or praise. Some see it as a threat to the biblical portrait of God who does indeed change: He changes His mind ("repents") and He changes His mode of being ("the Word became flesh"). Others are equally concerned that a careless tampering with this attribute of God will reduce Him...Read More

The "omni's" of God, if I may refer to them in this way, are of little comfort to the rebellious heart, for they shatter those illusions on the strength of which we so often justify our sin. Thinking that none has access to the secrets of our hearts, we lust, envy, hate, and covet. But what we naively think to have concealed successfully behind the veil of the soul is but an open book before Him with whom we have to do: "O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You...Read More

The love of God, as with His grace, mercy, and longsuffering, is another aspect of that more general attribute which we have referred to as goodness. More than that: Love is something God is. The apostle John concludes that lovelessness on the part of the individual is an indication that one does not know God, "because God is love" (1 John 4:8). Love, therefore, according to Carl Henry, "is not accidental or incidental to God; it is an essential revelation of the divine ...Read More

The Historical Development of Roman Catholicism: The Emergence of Roman Catholicism in the Patristic Church (a.d. 95-590) Part One...Read More

What comes to mind when you hear the word "God"? What is your concept of the Creator? I've talked with people who relate to God as if He were something of a coach. There's no real relationship, at least not on a personal level. Joining the church is like making the team. When God does choose to communicate, it isn't with soft-spoken words of loving encouragement but with an angry shout of "Run faster! Jump higher! Two more laps!" One's responsibility is to train hard, pe...Read More

The Historical Development of Roman Catholicism: The Emergence of Roman Catholicism in the Patristic Church (a.d. 95-590) Part Two...Read More

Moses was in a rut. For forty years he had been living in the land of Midian, tending the sheep and goats that belonged to Jethro, his father-in-law. Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, sheep and goats, more goats and more sheep, for forty long, tedious, boring, quiet, uneventful years. It was enough to test anyone's faith. But the second forty years of Moses' life were nothing like the first forty. Having been raised in the palace of Pha...Read More

The Historical Development of Roman Catholicism: Medieval Developments and the Growth of Papal Power (590 a.d.-1517)...Read More

The Historical Development of Roman Catholicism: Roman Catholicism & the Reformation: The Catholic Counter-Reformation & the Council of Trent...Read More

Justice When we speak about the justice of God, we have in mind the idea that God always acts in perfect conformity and harmony with his own character. Some suggest that justice is thus a synonym for righteousness. Whatever God is, says, or does, by virtue of the fact that it is God, makes it righteous. Right and wrong are simply, and respectively, what God either commands or forbids. In other words, God doesn't do or command something because it is right. It is right b...Read More

"Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit" (Ps. 147:5) There is a growing trend among evangelicals to significantly redefine the content of divine omniscience by eliminating divine foreknowledge. This attempt to reshape the historical orthodox view of God must be addressed. Before doing so, we must first examine the biblical evidence for the nature and extent of God’s knowledge. A.        God's Kno...Read More

The Historical Development of Roman Catholicism: Post-Tridentine Catholicism Catholicism in the Modern World...Read More

Airline magazines typically have at least one list of "Top Ten Steak Houses" in America. Each of these claims to serve the best, most delicious, most tender, most nutritious steak in the land. Let's consider and compare a few of them. (1) Martin's Protestant Steak Joint is a simple restaurant but with high standards. It serves a variety of steaks, but all come from the finest cows in America. All beef is prepared medium rare. The atmosphere is simple and rugged. You get...Read More

The Authority of Roman Catholic Church Documents...Read More

A Study of the Ordo Salutis Calvinistic ordo salutis Arminian ordo salutis Calling: External (universal / resistible) Internal (limited / efficacious) Prevenient Grace (universal / resistible) ↓ ↓ Regeneration / New Birth (passive / monergistic) Calling: External (universal / resistible) ↓ ↓ Conversion: Faith & Repentance ↓ The Gifts of God Conversion: Faith & Repentance ↓ Freedom of the Will ...Read More

Miscellaneous Observations on Roman Catholic Doctrine...Read More

Observations on the Relationship between Catholics and Protestants...Read More

Foundational to the Roman Catholic doctrine of purgatory is their understanding of the double-effect of sin: “Grave sin deprives us of communion with God and therefore makes us incapable of eternal life, the privation of which is called the ‘eternal punishment’ of sin. On the other hand every sin, even venial, entails an unhealthy attachment to creatures, which must be purified either here on earth, or after death in the state called Purgatory. This pu...Read More

Introduction "The significance of the sacraments for the life of the Christians of the Middle Ages is impossible to exaggerate. They were not mere isolated rites; they were bound together by their common quality as signs and vehicles of divine grace. They constituted the very heart of Christianity. By means of them the channel of communication between God and man and man and God was kept open constantly. Where the sacraments were there was life and salvation; where th...Read More

The Eucharist The word “mass” is of uncertain origin, but may be a derivative of the Latin verb mitto, mittere = to send, dispatch, release, or the noun missio, -onis (f) = a sending off, letting go, discharge. The idea was either that when the Lord’s Supper was to be observed, those of the congregation not participating were to withdraw or leave, or that after the Eucharist the faithful were “dismissed” or sent forth into the world. A...Read More

Penance Penance is that sacrament designed to address the problem of post-baptismal sins. According to the CC, the new life received in baptism "has not abolished the frailty and weakness of human nature, nor the inclination to sin that tradition calls concupiscence, which remains in the baptized such that with the help of the grace of Christ they may prove themselves in the struggle of Christian life" (CC, 1426). This sacrament exists for those "who, since Baptism, ha...Read More

A.        The Roman Catholic Doctrine of Scripture 1.         The Extent of Scripture - What actually constitutes inspired Scripture, says Rome, is determined by the conciliar consensus of the church or by papal edict. Thus, the apocrypha was officially introduced into the canon by the Council of Trent in the mid-16th century. In addition to the 66 books of the Protestant canon, Rome include...Read More

A.        The Prominence of Peter in the NT Evangelical Protestants must get over their aversion to Peter. There is no escaping the fact that he played a dominant role in the gospels and in the early development of the church in Acts. (1)       Every list of the twelve apostles has Peter placed at the top (Judas is always listed last; see Mt. 10:2; Luke 6:13-16; Acts 1:13). (2)    &nb...Read More

Mariology: The Dogma of the Immaculate Conception...Read More

The news has been filled of late with the story of John Paul II’s respiratory illness. This wouldn’t necessarily be significant news if it weren’t for the fact that John Paul’s health has been poor for some time. Given his age, one can only imagine that there is a flurry of activity, hidden from public view, in preparation for the selection of the next Pope should John Paul’s illness turn fatal. Few Protestants are aware of the elaborate pr...Read More

Can a true believer, one who has been born again and justified by faith alone in Christ alone, fully and finally fall away so as to forfeit his/her salvation? This question has provoked seemingly endless debate in the body of Christ. Those who answer Yes and those who answer No are convinced they have the weight of biblical evidence on their side. Each position has its favorite proof texts. But each position also has its problem passages.   Those of you who have ...Read More

What it would mean for God the Father if a true believer could fully and finally fall away We will examine the issue of perseverance by noting what it would mean for each of the three members of the Trinity should it be possible for a Christian to fall fully and finally from salvation. This lesson focuses on the Father. The next focuses on the Son and Spirit. What it would mean for God the Father 1.         He would not be wort...Read More

What it would mean for God the Son and God the Holy Spirit if a true believer could fully and finally fall away     What it would mean for God the Son   1.         Christ will have failed in the purpose for which He died   John 6:37-40; 10:14-18,27-30   2.         Christ will have failed in the purpose for which He was raised   Romans 4:24-25  ...Read More

One thing John emphasizes in his first epistle is the reality and gravity of sin. In 1:8 he forcefully labels those who say they have no sin as self-deceived and void of the truth. In 1:10 the claim not to have committed sin is tantamount to calling God a liar, and in 2:1 John clearly implies that Christians will sin (although he writes to help them avoid it). How then do we understand the statement in 3:9 that the one who is begotten of God "does not do sin" (lit.) and ...Read More

A number of people have read this text and concluded that it teaches a true believer can apostatize and lose or forfeit his/her salvation. Is that what it really says? We must first ask the question: were Hymenaeus and Alexander saved? It’s difficult to say. There is no way of knowing whether their presence in the church at Ephesus was an external association based on their verbal profession of faith or an internal, spiritual union with the body of Christ. We are ...Read More

“If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life – to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that” (ESV).   The problems posed by this passage are innumerable and therefore so are the interpretations placed upon it. Here are the more cogent views and my critical interaction with each.     A.&n...Read More

Here we find yet another installment in the Counterpoints Series from Zondervan. There are now fifteen volumes, ranging in subject matter from miraculous gifts (to which I contributed) to women in ministry, from hell to the millennium, etc. Generally speaking, these have proven to be extremely helpful, as they provide the reader with brief, but competent, summaries of the many options on a particular topic, together with critical responses from each contributor. This pa...Read More

Here the apostle refers to some in the church at Galatia who were considering submitting to circumcision, having believed the Judaizers heretical doctrine that such “works” were necessary to bring their salvation in Christ to its proper and full consummation. If a person were to embrace this doctrine, says Paul, “Christ will be of no benefit” to him/her (v. 2). Furthermore, to submit to circumcision is to submit to the obligation “to keep th...Read More

The apostle Paul describes how he is careful to be self-disciplined and to bring his body into subjection “lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.” Does this word translated “disqualified” (NASB) suggest that Paul feared losing his salvation? Once again, as we see also in Rom. 11:22, it may be that Paul is echoing a theme found elsewhere in his letters and throughout the NT, namely, that ultimate salvation ...Read More

Here we read that God, as the Vinedresser, lovingly “prunes” (v. 2), i.e., cleanses, purges, and purifies believers of whatever does not contribute to their spiritual maturity (“fruitfulness”). This might occur in any number of ways: discipline, teaching, testing, etc. The debate centers on what God does with the fruitless branches, and what the latter represent. There have generally been three views of this passage.   ·  ...Read More

Paul declares: “If we deny Him, He also will deny us” (v. 12). Paul is simply echoing the statement of Jesus in Matthew 10:32-33 – “Everyone therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.” Make no mistake about it: to deny Jesus, to repudiate him, to declare that he is not the Son of God incarna...Read More

What does Paul mean when he refers to the possibility of receiving the grace of God "in vain"? See also Gal. 2:2; Phil. 2:16; 1 Thess. 3:5 (cf. 1 Cor. 15:2). Some suggested answers: 1.            Perhaps he is urging them not to forfeit the grace of salvation which they had earlier received. In other words, it is an exhortation to persevere, to avoid apostasy. On this view, Paul would be implying that a born-again b...Read More

Paul is calling on us to think, to reflect deeply on the implications of what he has just said regarding the remarkable blessings of salvation we have in Christ. He does it by asking four questions. But he doesn't simply ask them, he "hurls these questions out into space, as it were, defiantly, triumphantly, challenging any creature in heaven or earth or hell to answer them or to deny the truth that is contained in them" (Stott, 103).   1.    ...Read More

Here our author describes someone as continuing in willful sin after having “received the knowledge of the truth.” The latter need mean no more than that they have heard and understood the gospel and have given mental assent or agreement to it. Tragically, many people hear the good news and commit themselves to shape their lives by the ethics of Jesus and in accordance with the standards and life of a local church while never experiencing regeneration and pla...Read More

Does this passage imply that genuine believers can lose their salvation? Three things may be said. (1) It may be that Paul is echoing a theme found elsewhere in his letters and throughout the NT, namely, that ultimate salvation is dependent on perseverance in faith (cf. Rom. 8:13; Col. 1:23; Heb. 3:6,14; 1 Peter 1:5; 1 John 2:19), a faith which God graciously preserves and sustains within us. (2) Others have suggested that Paul's discussion here is about Gentiles as ...Read More

In this text Paul talks about a “strong” Christian destroying a “weaker” Christian through the unloving exercise of freedom.   Paul refers to a stumbling block in v. 13 and again in v. 15 to hurting and destroying one's brother. What does he mean? Certainly it is more than distress or pain or annoyance that the weak brother feels on seeing a strong brother partake of food or drink which he believes is unclean and forbidden. Rather, Paul en...Read More

It is important to remember that everyone who believes in the Bible believes in predestination and election. The issue isn't whether you have a doctrine of election but what kind of doctrine you have. The verb to choose/elect is used 22x in the NT, 7 of which refer to election to salvation or eternal life. The noun elect also occurs 22x, 17 of which refer to men and women chosen or elected to eternal life. The noun election occurs 7x, all with reference to salvation. The...Read More

The proliferation of false teachers indicates to John that it is (the) last hour (no definite article). Note: the entire period between the first and second comings of Jesus = the "last days". See Acts 2:17; 2 Tim. 3:1; Heb. 1:2; 1 Pt. 1:20 (cf. 1 Cor. 10:11). The antichrists of v. 18 = the false teachers against whom the epistle is directed. They are the ones whom John wishes to expose by means of the application of his "tests of life". Here in v. 19 he indicates that ...Read More

Many Christians live in constant and paralyzing fear that they have committed the unpardonable sin. They are burdened and broken and grieved and terrified that some sinful habit they cannot break or some recurring transgression they cannot avoid will forever exclude them from the presence of God. Their confidence is shattered and their assurance of salvation is all but lost.   So the question is raised: What is the unpardonable sin that Jesus speaks of in Matthew...Read More

The reward promised to those who persevere is four-fold. First, in v. 4, they will walk with Jesus in white. Some see a reference here to the resurrection body, but this is more likely a promise of victory and purity in the messianic kingdom when those who have remained faithful will experience the consummation of fellowship with Jesus. The reference to “white” may allude to the righteousness imputed to us in the act of justification. That is why they are re...Read More

In the seemingly endless debate over the perseverance of the saints, one often hears something like the following: “If a Christian chooses to abandon faith in Jesus Christ, a loving God would never work in his/her heart so as to guarantee that they remain in the kingdom.” People who say this don’t deny that God is at work in our souls to influence us to remain faithful. What they deny is that God has the sovereign right to ultimately overcome or overr...Read More

Physicists and cosmologists are ever in search of what they call 'a theory of everything,' or a T.O.E., a hypothesis that is all-encompassing in its explanatory power, a theory that can account for both the sub-atomic world of particle physics and the galactic expanse of supernovae and black holes. Brian Greene, professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University, is the author of a fascinating book entitled, The Elegant Universe: Superstrings, Hidden Dimensions...Read More

It is important to point out that Calvinists and Arminians share a considerable amount of common theological ground, even when it comes to the issue of salvation. Perhaps the most important issue on which they agree is anthropology, or the doctrine of man or human nature. Both camps acknowledge that fallen human beings are born with a corrupt and depraved nature, in bondage to sin, utterly unable to do anything pleasing to God. Both camps agree that unregenerate human be...Read More

Authority and Method in Theology: Theological Prolegomena...Read More

The Dangers of Intimacy with God...Read More

The Divine Decrees: The Lapsarian Debate...Read More

What are the sources for theology? By what means may we know God? In answering this question, theologians regularly speak of general revelation and special revelation. By the former is meant that non-redemptive knowledge of God to be found in creation and conscience, a knowledge that is universally accessible (hence, “general”). By the latter is meant that redemptive knowledge of God as revealed in the person of Christ, the living Word of God, and in the Bibl...Read More

1. I would despair of my eternal destiny. I would have no assurance of salvation. Knowing the depravity of my soul, I would most certainly apostatize were it not for God's sovereign preservation of me (cf. Rom. 8). 2. I would be terrified of all suffering, with no confidence that God can turn evil for good and bring me safely through. Cf. Rom. 8:28 and relation to vv. 29-30. 3. I would become manipulative and pragmatic in evangelism, believing that conversion is altoge...Read More

Individual Eschatology: The Destiny of the Believer ...Read More

Millennial Madness is Driving me Nuts!: A Meditation on the Eve of Y2K ...Read More

The foundation for a relationship of passion is a heart of purity. Sin kills intimacy.   Isaiah 1:13-15 Isaiah 59:1-2 Jeremiah 7:16 Jeremiah 14:10-12 Psalm 5:4-6 Psalm 15 Psalm 66:18 Proverbs 11:20 Proverbs 12:22 Proverbs15:29 Proverbs 28:9 Matthew 5:8 John 14:21,23 Hebrews 12:14     It follows, therefore, that perhaps the greatest obstacle to a vibrant and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ is the failure or refusal to repent. &nbs...Read More

(Col. 1:28-2:3)     (1) The two greatest obstacles to my ultimate goal are that people are uninformed and disconnected. The former limits their passion for Jesus and the latter limits their compassion for people.       (2) The primary way (Col. 1:28) to overcome these obstacles is to teach them (that they might have understanding of the "treasures of wisdom and knowledge" [Col. 2:3] that are in Christ alone) and admonish them (that t...Read More

Prayer and the Power of Contrary Choice: Who Can and Cannot Pray for God to Save the Lost? ...Read More

Pss. 80:14,18-19; 85:4-7; 119:25,37,149; Isa. 63:15-64:12. When I was growing up, the word Revival meant one thing: going to church on weeknights and listening to a man "Yell!" his sermons. All of us have probably faced the struggle of overcoming caricatures of revival. I had to face the fact that no matter what my experience had been early in life, it was wrong of me to equate revival with an evangelistic campaign. There is nothing wrong with evangelistic campaigns, or...Read More

The doctrine of man's total moral depravity, the bondage of the will, the teaching of Scripture on faith and repentance as God's gifts to his elect, as well as the doctrine of grace, all suggest that regeneration is prior to and therefore the cause of faith. What follows is a brief discussion of two passages in the Gospel of John that have great relevance for this issue (see also Titus 3:5; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:3,23-25; 1 John 5:1). 1.     &nbs...Read More

The Eucharist   The word “sacrament” is derived from the Latin sacramentum which had two general uses: (1) It referred to the sum of money deposited by contending parties involved in a court proceeding. The amount subsequently forfeited by the loser was often applied to sacred purposes. The verb sacrare meant to dedicate or allot something to a god. (2) It was also used in military circles for the obligation of a soldier to his leader or country and la...Read More

The Eucharist   E.         The Sacramentalism of the Roman Catholic Church   McGiffert provides this helpful summary:   “The significance of the sacraments for the life of the Christians of the Middle Ages is impossible to exaggerate. They were not mere isolated rites; they were bound together by their common quality as signs and vehicles of divine grace. They constituted the very heart of Christianity. B...Read More

There is no more critical issue in theology than that of authority: by what standard, on what grounds, from what source, and for what reasons do we believe something to be true and therefore binding on our conscience (beliefs) and conduct (behavior)? Donald Bloesch put it this way:   “Is authority to be placed in human wisdom or cultural experience, or is it to be located in an incommensurable divine revelation that intrudes into our world from the beyond? D...Read More

A.        The Roman Catholic Doctrine of Scripture and Religious Authority Rome differs from the Protestant view of Scripture principally on three issues.   1.         The Extent of Scripture – What actually constitutes inspired Scripture, says Rome, is determined by the conciliar consensus of the church or by papal edict. Thus, the apocrypha was officially introduced into the canon ...Read More

The Doctrine of Complete Inerrancy   Contrary to the perspective of limited inerrancy, the Bible makes no distinction between inspired and uninspired texts or topics nor does it place any restrictions on the kinds of subjects on which it speaks truthfully. See esp. Acts 24:14; Luke 24:25; Romans 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11. The word “infallibility” comes from the Latin infallibilitas = the quality of neither deceiving nor being deceived. “Inerrancy”...Read More

The question before us is simple, but the answer is not:   "How does the Bible function in Christian counseling?"   Others have phrased the question in a slightly different form:   "Is the Bible sufficient for Christian counseling?"   However the question is stated, the practical side of the issue reduces to this:   "Does the Bible address every problem and every issue Christians face?"   If by the word "address" one means "the B...Read More

3 Myths about Friendship (1)       The first myth is that cultivating close, intimate friendships is primarily, if not exclusively, for weak and immature people who are emotionally needy; friendship exists only for those who need to have their sagging spirits bolstered; only for people with feelings of insecurity. Does that sound like Paul to you? (2)       The second myth is that friendship is for those who a...Read More

    We must begin by distinguishing between baptism in the Holy Spirit and the filling of the Holy Spirit:   1)         Spirit-baptism is a metaphor that describes our reception of the HS at the moment of our conversion to Jesus in faith and repentance. When we believe and are justified, we are, as it were, deluged and engulfed by the HS; we are, as it were, immersed in and saturated by the Spirit. Results: a) we...Read More

    It is common for believers to experience post-conversion encounters or experienceswith the Holy Spirit that are related to but not identical with infilling:   a)         The impartation of revelatory insight and illumination into the blessings of salvation. See Eph. 1:15-23. See Isa. 11:2. The point is that "Paul is herewith praying that God will gift them with the Spirit yet once more, and that the Spirit in...Read More

Jesus the Healer Luke 4:38-41   Here are 12 principles that reveal the nature of healing in the ministry of Jesus and the importance he placed on it.   1.         Jesus healed hundreds, if not thousands, of people. See especially Mt. 4:23-24. Some have argued that Jesus healed only a "few dozen" (Philip Yancey), whereas the gospels indicate that he healed multitudes. Healing was a common feature of his earthly minist...Read More

Humanity in the Image of God   There are a number of textual indicators in Genesis 1-2 that point to the special significance of the creation of male and female in the image of God (I'm indebted to Bruce Ware for these observations):   It is only after God has created man that he says of all he has made: it is "very good" (1:31). This is not simply because God's creative task is finished but because mankind is the pinnacle of all he has made   ...Read More

"All that we spiritually know of ourselves, all that we know of God, and of Jesus, and His Word, we owe to the teaching of the Holy Spirit; and all the real light, sanctification, strength and comfort we are made to possess on our way to glory, we must ascribe to Him. . . . Where He is honoured, and adoring thoughts of His person, and tender, loving views of His work are cherished, then are experienced, in an enlarged degree, His quickening, enlightening, sanctifying and...Read More

A.        The Event vv. 1-13 When did this event occur? "Pentecost" = lit., 50th, because it fell on the 50th day after the Sabbath of Passover. Where did this event occur? According to v. 2, they were in a "house" (cf. Acts 1:12-26). What exactly happened? There were 3 signs or sensory phenomena that pointed to the Spirit's arrival: sound, sight, speech (they heard something, saw something, and said something): 1.   ...Read More

    The ultimate goal of theology is not knowledge, but worship. If our learning and knowledge of God do not lead to the joyful praise of God, we have failed. We learn only that we might laud. Another way of putting it is to say that theology without doxology is idolatry. The only theology worth studying is a theology that can be sung. Jonathan Edwards put it this way:   "Now what is glorifying God, but a rejoicing at that glory he has displayed? An un...Read More

A.        Six reasons why Christians avoid deliverance ministry   1.         Christians avoid deliverance ministry because they have been offended by those who have taken it to unbiblical and damaging extremes.   2.         Christians avoid deliverance ministry because they wrongly believe that deliverance is a special ministry for special peop...Read More

    In continuation of Part 1 . . .   E.         Encounters with the Demonic and Deliverance in the Book of Acts   See Acts 5:16; 8:5-8; 13:6-12; 16:16-18; 19:12   Acts 19:13-17 is worthy of special note.   ·      Acts 19:13 contains the earliest known occurrence in Greek literature of the word "exorcist" (exorkistes) and the only occurrence of it in the NT. H...Read More

            My purpose here is not to address the question of whether those who have fallen should be restored to ministry. Rather, I want to speak to those who are suspicious of prophetic ministry because of the failure of one of its more gifted individuals. When someone in ministry falls, we often respond in one of two ways. Some experience excessive bitterness, refuse to forgive, and vow never to trust religious l...Read More

    Who was responsible for the death of Jesus? Who was responsible for the nails that tore into his flesh and for the crown of thorns that pierced his brow? Who was responsible for the humiliation and ridicule to which he was subjected? Who killed Jesus?   One way to answer this question is by pointing the finger at either the historical or the heavenly cause of his death. Looking at his death from a purely historical perspective one might conclude th...Read More

Worldviews: What are They and Where do They come from? ...Read More

Part One “We live in a post-vocational age. Without any theology of vocation we lapse into debilitating alternatives: fatalism (doing what is required by ‘the forces’ and ‘the powers’); luck (which denies purposefulness in life and reduces our life to a bundle of accidents); karma (which ties performance to future rewards); nihilism (which denies that there is any good end to which the travail of history might lead); and, the most common a...Read More

Part Two There is a crucial need for clarity on the nature of vocation and the criteria by which one determines if he is subject to it. Following are five criteria, each of which must work in concert with the other four. (1)            Constraint – The word “constraint” is not intended to suggest an unwillingness on the part of the individual, as if he pursues ministry due to external coercion. R...Read More

Part Three There are a number of obstacles that potentially might hinder someone from pursuing pastoral ministry as vocation. These also account for the high percentage of those who either drop out of seminary or leave the pastorate prematurely. If we are to succeed in our efforts to direct people into vocational ministry it is essential that these barriers be identified and addressed. (1)       One of those obstacles is the changing natur...Read More

How shall we define “original sin”? The term has been used in any one of three ways: (1) to refer to the “original” original sin, i.e., the first sin of Adam; (2) to refer to “inherited” sin, i.e., that corruption of nature and guilt with which all are born; and (3) the causal relationship, if any, between Adam’s sin and our sin. Calvin focused his definition on (2). In the Institutes (II:1.8) he writes: “Original sin, the...Read More

It would appear that Paul accounts for human corruption and our propensity for evil by appealing to the fall of Adam. But is it in fact true that all are born “in sin” in the sense that all inherit from birth an evil disposition and a proclivity for rebellion and unbelief? What evidence is there that all humanity is born morally corrupt and spiritually dead, deserving of divine judgment? One approach taken by Jonathan Edwards is to demonstrate the propensit...Read More

(For those not familiar with the term Postmodernism or its fundamental ideas, I encourage you to visit the Historical Studies section on the website and click on Historical Theology. Session 38 is devoted to a brief description of the primary characteristics in the postmodern perspective. After first studying that material, I think what follows in this and the second lesson in this series will prove helpful.) Postmodernism would appear to be self-referentially incohere...Read More

Perhaps the most extensive interaction with and response to postmodernist reader-response criticism and the principles of deconstruction is Kevin J. Vanhoozer’s book, Is There a Meaning in This Text? The Bible, the Reader, and the Morality of Literary Knowledge (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998), 496 pp. What follows is a brief summary of Vanhoozer’s conclusions. The question that Vanhoozer seeks to answer is this: “Is there something in the text [any te...Read More

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32)   “Most of the ground that Satan gains in the lives of Christians,” wrote Neil Anderson, “is due to unforgiveness” (Bondage Breaker, 194). I couldn’t agree more. It isn’t hard to figure out why, once we realize that unforgiveness breeds bitterness, resentment, anger, unkindness, and even despair. Nothing i...Read More

George Frideric Handel is generally regarded as one of the greatest composers who ever lived. Although born in Germany, he spent most of his adult life in England and eventually was made a citizen of the British empire. His father was a physician and had hoped that George would follow in his steps. But his interest in music was simply too overwhelming. He proceeded to write over 20 oratorios, more than 40 full operas, as well as numerous concertos, cantatas, anthems, and...Read More

B.        Our Redeemer - 5:1-14 1.            the Scroll - v. 1 G. B. Caird argues convincingly, in my opinion, that "the content of the scroll is God's redemptive plan, foreshadowed in the Old Testament, by which he means to assert his sovereignty over a sinful world and so to achieve the purpose of creation. John proposes to trace the whole operation of this plan from its beginn...Read More

"But if I say, 'I will not remember Him or speak anymore in His name,' then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire shut up in my bones; and I am weary of holding it in, and I cannot endure it" (Jeremiah 20:9) What follows in these three brief articles is a word especially aimed at pastors and teachers and preachers. I hope everyone will take time to read them and heed them, but above all else I pray that those who have been entrusted with the sacred calling of...Read More

The Necessity of Biblical Preaching 8 Reasons In the previous article I tried to explain why there is so little biblical preaching. Here I want to focus on why it is so critical that pastors be committed to the exposition of the Word. (1)       We must preach because of the power of the Word of God to change human lives and to transform the experience of the church. Tragically, although they would hardly admit it openly, many preachers ...Read More

Is any one way or style or method for preaching superior or more biblical than another? My personal conviction is Yes. Allow me to put forth a case for Expository Preaching. By "expository" or "expositional" or "exegetical" preaching I have in mind a particular style or method in preaching. As Sinclair Ferguson explains, in expository preaching "the explanation of Scripture forms the dominant feature and the organizing principle of the message. All preaching should be ...Read More

Reflections on 1 Corinthians 11:23-34 Let’s admit it: Protestants aren’t the most knowledgeable about the Eucharist and are actually somewhat uncomfortable with my use of the word because of its association with Roman Catholicism. Don’t be afraid. It comes from the Greek verb eucharisteo and simply means “to give thanks”. The noun form, eucharistia, means “thankfulness,” “gratitude,” “thanksgiving,” and ...Read More

Recently a friend of mine asked my opinion of the meaning of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 11, specifically, what the apostle had in mind when he spoke of receiving the elements of the Eucharist in an “unworthy manner” (11:27; ESV). The question drove me back to the study I did on this passage several years ago. I hope you find helpful what I discovered in my analysis of Paul’s words: “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of...Read More

Kingdoms in Conflict: Confronting the Reality of Spiritual Warfare...Read More

The Existence and Activity of Angels...Read More

The Existence and Activity of Demons...Read More

Territorial Spirits and The Debate over Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare...Read More

The Defeat of the Devil and the Demonic...Read More

Our Identity and Authority in Christ...Read More

The Nature of Demonization...Read More

Doors to Demonization and Oppression...Read More

Demonization and the Christian...Read More

Deliverance: Models for Ministry (1)...Read More

Deliverance: A Model for Ministry (2)...Read More

The Tactics of Temptation...Read More

Ephesians 6 and The Weapons of Warfare: Part One...Read More

Ephesians 6 and The Weapons of Warfare: Part Two...Read More