Good Grief!

eb366e617833857af600b8edb8e9740b--peanuts-comics-peanuts-snoopy

Webster’s online dictionary defines good grief as an idiom that’s “used to express surprise or annoyance.” Those of us who remember Charlie Brown can recall that this was one of his popular expressions when he would become annoyed with a friend or situation. In scripture, however, there is a grief that brings about positive change in a person’s life.

One role of the Holy Spirit is to convict the world of sins. To be conviction there has to be a certain level of sorrow, or grief, over sin.

The apostle Paul mentions two types of grief; worldly grief and godly grief. Godly grief, as you may expect, is the good grief.  He writes to the Corinthians, “As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter.” (2 Corinthians 7:9-11)

Godly grief has several effects. We see that it produces repentance that leads to salvation without regret. The Christian life is to be a life of repentance. For one, we repent of our old nature when we turn our hearts to Jesus. Afterwards, while being sanctified, we see more of ourselves that may not be pleasing to God and the repentance leads us to more holy lives. Godly grief is our sorrow over our sin because sin grieves God. This grief is good. It leads to salvation.

Without regret” is important to mention because worldly grief causes regret. Worldly grief constantly reminds you of the sins and failures in your life. You can’t move forward because regret keeps you stuck in the past. This grief leads to death, so, Satan loves to bring worldly grief. The Bible calls him the accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10). If we let him, he’s constantly in our ears reminding us of how much we’ve failed and how unworthy we are of love, grace, and mercy. But Paul reminds us that “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)

The Corinthians’ godly grief also brought earnestness and an eagerness to clear themselves of their guilt. The Corinthian church had some horrendous sin within their ranks. It troubled Paul that they were not sorrowful or grievous over this sin (1 Corinthians 5:1-2). So when he received news of their repentance, was comforted.

So when we feel the Holy Spirit convicting us of sin in our lives, our response should not be to ignore it. He is not convicting for the sake of making us feel bad about something. That’s the devil’s job. No, the Holy Spirit’s conviction is an alarm going off telling us that something is wrong. That there is something we need to correct. The subsequent “grief” we feel is meant to be for our good and God’s glory; to correct our wrongs and lead us into the paths of righteousness.

Further reading: Isaiah 30:15, Jeremiah 31:19, Matthew 3:8, Acts 3:19, Romans 6:1-2, Ephesians 4:30

Derrick Stokes
Theologetics.org

Option c: The Time-Salvation Paradox

Calvin-and-Arminius
Portraits of John Calvin and Jacobus Arminius

There is one aspect about God and our understanding of Him that I felt compelled to write about. This one area has divided Christians for centuries, and that is the subject of God’s sovereignty in relation to man’s free will.

Now, I know this is a topic which has been perpetually argued, but it is because of this fact that I had felt so passionate about the subject. I would love to end the debate, although I am not that naive to think that the argument I am about to outline could do so but it is my hope that it might possibly provide Christians who take a strong stance for Calvinism or Arminianism a more common ground and that is Option c.

To preface the argument, there are two reasons I think it is so important that Christians (notably Christian apologists) come to some agreement on the subject of God’s will and man’s will.

The first reason, is that when skeptics see how different Christians, churches, and denominations disagree and possibly even argue about God’s omnipotence, it builds a wall instead of providing a door.

The second reason, is that if the subject comes up when witnessing to someone who has doubts about how God’s will and man’s will can be understood, I feel taking a strong stance for Calvinism or Arminianism has the potential to hurt one’s witness, allow me to explain this:

For the Calvinist, “IF” he is wrong about the elect and we do have free will when it comes to choosing Christ, this can cause people to reject Christ when presented this view because they may feel their decision doesn’t matter when really it does (remember this is “IF” the Calvinist is wrong, similar reasoning is used in Pascal’s Wager).

On the other hand, a skeptic may argue against an Arminian’s views stating those views place God in a position of diminished authority, which causes logical inconsistencies with the Christian’s beliefs of God. So what I suggest is the third option which is my argument, so let’s examine Option c and what I like to call the Time-Salvation Paradox.

In my studies and thoughts about salvation, human will, and God’s transcendence, I have realized I was limiting God by thinking that what God has decreed is in the past. For example–when God chose the elect. And as it turns out, this is a very important detail with some surprising consequences. The idea occurred to me one day after reading this passage in the Bible:

“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day
is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”
2 Peter 3:8

This is not a verse one typically sees referenced when God’s sovereignty and man’s free will is argued, but stick with me. The one conclusion that I have come to is that the only people who choose God are the ones He elects, but God only elects those who choose Him. This statement alone may not sound logical but the reasoning behind it however, I believe, makes all the difference.

Option-c-

If you take into account the fact that God did choose those He elected before the foundations of the earth, and since God exists outside of time, what has happened with God may not have happened yet with us. To say that it did would mean that God is subject to the same confines and laws of time as we are. Because God is outside of time, what has already happened, (i.e. His choosing the elect) can be said to have not yet happened until we choose God (illustrated in the symbol above).

What I like about this stance is that it focuses on what God can do instead of what God cannot do. Calvinism says that God cannot make man with free will because that would compromise His authority. Arminianism says that God cannot choose people unto salvation because that would compromise His love and justice. Option c says that God can do both of those things, the paradox, if it can even be called that, is understanding how.

Again, God exists outside of our laws of time and space, and thus, outside of our understanding. God’s “time” is not faster or slower than ours, it is nonexistent as He is the creator of it and not bound by it. This is a foundational Christian belief about God, so with that in mind…

A summary of the argument is as follows:

Time-Salvation-Paradox 1.36.13 AM

God is spirit and He is eternal. God exists outside of time.

Man is physical and he is temporal. Man exists inside of time.

Because God exists outside of the laws of time, a moment that has already happened to man could be said to be happening right now with God.

But because man is temporal, a moment that has happened inside of time has already happened and will not happen again with man.

Also, since God exists outside of time, a moment that has not yet happened to man could be said to have already happened with God.

Similarly, consider how God had chosen the elect outside of time before the foundations of the Earth were even set. (Eph 1:4)

Because man is temporal, a moment that has not yet happened inside of time has not yet happened with man. (1 Cor 7:18, 20, 22, & 24)

And because man exists inside of time, man has not yet been chosen inside of time until the moment he chooses God. (1 Tim 6:12 & 1 Pet 5:10)

So it can be demonstrated that people who do not choose God are personally responsible for their choice for eternity, while people who do choose God do so because they were called by God.

This is because everyone has a God given ability to choose God inside of time, while God has chosen the elect outside of time.

So, brothers and sisters, I hope at the very least this argument has brought you another way to look at God’s sovereignty in conjunction with man’s will. Whatever view you feel fits God’s Word and His character best, let it unify us as the Body of Christ. We are not labeled Calvinists, Arminians or a combination of the two; we are Christians, “Little Christs” saved and loved by God. Let our views bring us together for the sole purpose of glorifying God and spreading the Good News. As long as we are doing that, what else could possibly matter?

By Clark Campbell
This blog was written from multiple papers on our List of Theologetics Papers page posted here and here.

What is MOST Important to God?

michelangelo-buonarroti-creation-of-adam
Detail from The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512 of Sistine Chapel ceiling.

To start, let’s define the terms.

Definition of most:
Greatest in amount or degree.

Definition of important:
Strongly effecting the course of events or the nature of things

So with God, what specific thing strongly effects the course of events or the nature of all things in the greatest amount or degree?

To me, three answers seem to stand out; there is love, there is free will, and there is holiness.

John 3:16-18
16 “For God so loved* the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes** in him should not perish but have eternal life.
17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned*** already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

*We know love is important to God because He died to redeem us so we might be saved from sin.

**We know free will is important to God because He gives us the opportunity to choose His Son, to choose to spend eternity with Him, and this is evident even from the beginning when God created man and woman in the garden of Eden.

***And we know that holiness is important to God because those who do not choose to believe in Jesus don’t just get a free pass, but condemn themselves to an eternity apart from God.

In contrast, we know it cannot be any of the three by themselves because the others clearly exist, as this is evident throughout all of the Bible.

What does this mean for us?

Well, with all the beliefs in theology, there seems to be 3 levels of importance.

A. Matters of Salvation – How one is saved, the most important. Jesus is God in the flesh. It is only through belief in Him that you can be saved. This is not by works but by faith.

B. Matters of Witnessing – Effecting salvation of others, second most important. Some beliefs can affect your witness to the lost and possibly the salvation of others. Such beliefs include the authority of Scripture, the role of Christians as missionaries, views on God’s sovereignty and man’s free will, etc…

C. All Other Beliefs – The least important. These are the denominational differences that seem to divide believers but are really trivial beliefs; the proper way to baptize, types of acceptable music, religious traditions, etc…

Other theological stances on certain issues may inadvertently lead to violating A or B, for example: condoning homosexuality, gay marriage, or theistic evolution may seem innocent enough but by doing so, one would have to compromise on what Scripture says about those issues and could thus compromise the authority of Scripture leading to that person’s effectiveness in witnessing.

Also, taking something that falls under C too far could effect one’s witness, for example: if believers fight and argue about religious traditions instead of agreeing to disagree and acknowledge that traditions don’t save people, only Jesus does – that can tarnish the view of the Body of Christ for those who observe this division.

So, my brothers and sisters in Christ, because we can deduce that love, free will, and holiness are so important to God, we know that each person is first solely responsible for his/her salvation. After that, we all share a responsibility to present ourselves worthy to be called followers of Christ and to bring the good news to the lost. And lastly, anything else we believe should be laid aside and not cause contention among one another. Let us strive to build each other up and spread the Gospel to all.

For further insight on love click here
For further insight on free will click here and here and here
For further insight on holiness click here

By Clark Campbell
Theologetics.org

Why Did Jesus Want Two Swords Before He Died?

Jesus-Betrayed
Woodcut for “Die Bibel in Bildern”, 1860.
Artist: Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (1794-1872)

“Jesus died because He loves us.”

The meaning of this statement was taken to a whole new level for me once I understood why Jesus may have wanted His disciples to be armed on the night before He was crucified.

Luke 22:35-38
35 Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?”

“Nothing,” they answered.

36 He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. 37 It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”

38 The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.”

“That’s enough!” he replied.

I found this passage perplexing since Jesus commanded His disciples to buy swords but then when they said they already had two, Jesus said that would be enough. What was He referring to? Enough for what??

Well I read an article about Dale Martin, who is a professor of religious studies at Yale University (link at the bottom), that may explain it. The article is titled:

Jesus Was Crucified Because Disciples Were Armed, Bible Analysis Suggests

The writer of the article actually tries to prove a different point about how Jesus was trying to be a political leader.

What the writer didn’t mention are verses that would prove this view wrong, that His disciples thought that’s what the Messiah would do all along; free them from Roman rule, but the Bible is clear on all accounts that this was not why Jesus came to earth. Regardless, if Jesus’s disciples having swords did make the crucifixion possible, it is pretty amazing to think about how the events leading up to Jesus’s death actually unfolded.

In Luke, it’s recorded that before Jesus was betrayed, He told His disciples to buy swords. They told Him they had two already and He said that was enough. This seems strange, what good would two swords do all of them? Well according to the article mentioned above, by Roman law, Jesus was crucified because of the swords His disciples were carrying the night He was captured. If that was the case, He actually made sure they had swords so that He would be crucified.

Also, Jesus wanted them to have the two swords to fulfill a prophecy in Isaiah.

Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
    and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
    and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
    and made intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:12)

So what seems like a strange request by Jesus the night before being betrayed, humiliated, beaten, and crucified was possibly a request to ensure that He would be crucified to fulfill the prophecies about Him and save the lost. What an amazing God we serve!

If you read this article and do not know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, please send us an email (Theologetics3.15@gmail.com). We would love to tell you more about how to have a personal relationship with Him!

http://www.newsweek.com/jesus-was-crucified-because-disciples-were-armed-bible-analysis-suggests-271436

By Clark Campbell
Theologetics.org

The Hidden “Verse” about Jesus in Genesis 5

Jesus
Christ Crucified between the Two Thieves: The Three Crosses Rembrandt (Rembrandt van Rijn) (Dutch, 1606–1669) Drypoint, engraving, and scraping; fourth state of five Gift of Felix M. Warburg and his family, 1941 (41.1.33)

The more I learn about God’s Word, the more I stand in awe at how amazing God is. To think, that the book of Genesis, a book written over 1,400 years before Christ was even born, contains specific information about God’s plan to redeem the world by sending his only Son Jesus, it is simply incredible.

This is a subtle foreshadowing of Jesus in Genesis 5, I first heard about this subtlety in a short YouTube video which is linked at the bottom of this article. Now it should be noted that Hebrew cannot be perfectly translated into English, or any language for that matter, so some may disagree on the definitions presented but each one is a definition of the name or the idea behind the name, so I feel the following is pretty amazing!

In Genesis 5 the genealogy from Adam to Noah and a meaning of each name in English is as follows:

1. Adam = Man
2. Seth = Appointed
3. Enosh = Mortal
4. Cainan = Sorrow
5. Mahalalel = The Blessed God
6. Jared = Shall come down
7. Enoch = Teaching
8. Methuselah = His death shall bring
9. Lamech = The despairing
10. Noah = Rest

Some names have multiple meanings and roots but one translation of each of the ten names, one name after the other reads:

Man Appointed Mortal Sorrow,
The Blessed God Shall come down Teaching,
His death shall bring The despairing, Rest

So there you have it. The story of Jesus in the 5th chapter of Genesis. These names, starting with Adam from the beginning of creation, to Noah around 2,000 years before Jesus was even sent to earth, outline what God had planned all along to get his children back. Not only that, but this is another example of Christ’s divinity.

I believe that God has a reason for every single word in the Bible, every period and every comma, on more dimensions than we can even imagine. Because of that, I believe the ideas behind these names can be translated this way for a reason, and that reason was to show the world in yet another context, that God loves us so much that he gave his One and only Son to save us from our sin!

1. http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Adam.html#.VjxQaKSlr7s
2. http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Seth.html#.Vjw8E6Slr7s
3. http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Enosh.html#.VjxH26Slr7s
4. http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Cainan.html#.VjxHyKSlr7s
5. http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Mahalalel.html#.VjxIWqSlr7s
6. http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Jared.html#.VjxI8aSlr7s
7. http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Enoch.html#.VjxOraSlr7s
8. http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Methuselah.html#.VjxPQqSlr7s
9. http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Lamech.html#.VjxUrKSlr7s
10. http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Noah.html#.VjxQBaSlr7s

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WsPhPldS6ys

Is Theology and Apologetics Really That Important?

marshill
Saint Paul Preaching on Mars Hill (19th century). T. Shilippoteaux. Engraving. © The Provincial Museum of Alberta. PMA:J99.1968.

“Can’t we just read the Bible and worship God without getting all technical?”

Theology is the study of God and is very important. It helps us to understand the God to whom we are worshiping. Proper worship is based on an accurate understanding of who God is. Anytime anyone says anything about God, what is said is something doctrinal. Theology shapes our image of God and if a person’s theology is false then his or her image of God will also be false, which would ultimately lead to idolatry.

In math, the proper answer will proceed from a proper path.

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 = 10

In the same way a proper understanding of who God is, what He would do, and what He wouldn’t do; will inform our doxology (praise) and better guide our prayers.

“Are all these big words and facts really that important?”

For salvation? No. Salvation is not found in head knowledge. However, knowing who God is will help us appreciate Him more, understand the Bible better, and also help us discern false teaching.

Often times we have conversations with family, friends, co-workers, church members, and strangers about God or the Bible. At this point you have just assumed the position of theologian. Apologetics, is the term for defending biblical and theological truths. When these discussions become debates or if you’re just defending you position, you have become an apologist. The more “tools” you have in your mental “toolbox” the better equipped you are to make a defense.

“What about witnessing, isn’t it true that arguing will often just hurt your witness?”

Actually no. If a Christian is just trying to win an argument then he or she will probably do more harm than good but if we allow the Holy Spirit to use the knowledge we have to change a non-believer’s false beliefs about the Bible, Christianity, and God, ultimately this head knowledge can make a huge difference in that person’s heart.

With that said, as Christians, we need to make sure the reasoning we use is sound and that we don’t jump on any “bandwagons” when it comes to modern scientific discoveries. Any scientific argument we use to show that the Bible is accurate could one day be shown to be different or even false, and what the Bible was actually saying may be quite different than what we originally thought but the mistake is not apologetics itself, it would be putting too much trust in man’s knowledge and not enough in the Bible.

An example of this is that through false assumptions and faulty dating methods, many modern scientists believe human life has evolved from smaller and less complex lifeforms over millions of years. While it is quite clear in the Bible that this is not the case and it can even be logically and scientifically shown to be false, there are many Christians who have tried to make the argument that God used evolution to create life. By “jumping on that bandwagon” and taking that stance, it actually weakens the validity of God’s Word because God clearly said in Genesis (written as a historical narrative) that he created everything in the universe in 6 literal days. So when a Christian’s argument becomes making the literal in the Bible something figurative, the Bible becomes a fairy tale instead of something real and that is very sad and dangerous.

I would be remiss if I did not include several disclaimers:

  1. Knowledge of God does not equal a relationship with God. Reading a famous person’s autobiography does not mean you had any kind of relationship with them.
  2. Rebutting objections does not equal evangelism. The goal should be to move someone towards the Gospel.
  3. Head knowledge without the knowledge and guidance of the Holy Spirit can lead to haughtiness and pride. You’re not required to attend each argument you’re invited to. Sometimes the Spirit will move you to be quiet even though you’re knowledgeable on the subject. Sometimes the humble unlearned person will gain spiritual insight and uncanny knowledge when they haven’t been taught by any human. Remember “God apposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)
  4. If you read this and want to know more about Jesus, please send us an email at Theologetics3.15@gmail.com we would love to talk with you!