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The Bible Project – Word Study: Me’od – “Strength”

The Bible Project – Read Scripture: Song of Songs

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“Hell Under Fire” Under Fire, Part 5: Hell in Biblical and Systematic Theology

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Jefferson Vann – The Desert Snake

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:14-15 KJV).

Early in his Gospel, John revealed that Jesus’ life would be the light for humanity (1:4). But he does not immediately unpack that statement theologically. He begins to do so in chapter 3. Nicodemus, who is a theologian, comes to Jesus at night for a conversation on spiritual matters. At that point in his life, Nicodemus could be called a success. He probably felt that he had as good a chance as anyone of getting on God’s good side – and earning his salvation, simply as a result of his theological knowledge. As a Pharisee, Nicodemus knew the Torah. He had become an expert on the books of Moses.

To continue reading Jefferson Vann’s article, click here.

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Michael Boling – Initial Thoughts: Study of Hell and the Fate of the Wicked

In a post earlier this year, I laid out some goals I had put in place for 2018. One particular focus, specifically as it relates to reading, was working through a series of books on hell and the fate of the wicked. As it seems happens with any topic driven study, I am discovering copious amounts of additional reading material that will likely be added to the list of books I want to cover on this subject. Honestly, this may turn into a multi-year study.

I wanted to share a few initial thoughts on what I have discovered thus far in my reading. I know it is only the end of January, but given I have done a fair amount of reading on hell and the fate of the wicked at the end of last year and thus far in 2018, I believe there are initial thoughts and impressions I can share. So here goes.

1. There is much to read. I am amazed at the amount of material on the subject of hell and the fate of the wicked. This is not due to a sudden surge of books on the subject, although there certainly has been a number of insightful books written in the past few years on the three main positions. What has exploded perhaps is the number of helpful blogs and podcasts devoted to the topic of hell. Additionally, I have begun to discover a number of older works I was never aware existed, some of which made the 2018 reading efforts list. Podcasts, dissertations, books, blog posts…lots of stuff to read and I might add very highly thought out, biblically sound material at that. Even material I have read before needs to be re-read and thought over again.

2. My perspective has been through a singular lens. Admittedly, my exposure to information on hell and the fate of the wicked was largely from the traditionalist viewpoint. Any papers I wrote during Bible College and Seminary were in support of the traditional view and material I reviewed as part of those papers was solely through the lens of traditionalism. I have to admit that how I wrote my papers in Bible College and Seminary might have been influenced by wanting to achieve a good grade which meant promoting the position held by the school I attended. Over the past couple of years, the topic of hell and the fate of the wicked has been in the forefront of my mind. I think that is due to a lengthy study I have undertaken (concomitant to this current study on hell and the fate of the wicked) that focused on the bible doctrine of man, specifically determining what terms such as soul, spirit, breath, etc. mean in Scripture. In the process of that study, I noted an enormous amount of Greek Platonic influence on our understanding of the nature of man to include what happens when we die. The nature of the “soul” ties very much into a discussion on hell and the fate of the wicked. My study on the bible doctrine of man and how it relates to hell and the fate of the wicked, exposed some rather large holes in the traditional position.

To a large degree, I admittedly did not expose myself to the writings of other viewpoints (i.e. conditionalism and universalism) so as to understand from the point of view of those proponents the merits of their position. I have of late been reading massive amounts of material from conditionalists. If I were to place myself in a position right now, it would be in the conditionalist camp. The biblical support for this position is immense. I won’t go into the support in this post, as that is not my overall purpose. More to come.

3. There is often an unfortunate lack of charity in debate and discussion. The nature of hell and the fate of the wicked, at least when it comes to discussions on the topic, does not always bring out the best in people. All sides of the debate are guilty at one point or another at lacking charity and presenting their position in an irenic manner. Emotional responses far too often precede sound exegesis. This is unfortunate, but not surprising given the nature of the topic. If I were honest (and I am), from what I have read thus far, the traditionalist position most often succumbs to this particular issue. This is not to say that conditionalists or universalists are not snarky, unloving in their responses, or flat our rude. It just appears at least from what I have read thus far, that some traditionalists, to include some very well-known theologians and social media darlings (names shall remain unnamed at this time), are a bit nasty in their responses.

4. I still have much to learn. This statement probably goes for any topic in Scripture. I had thought I had a good handle on hell and the fate of the wicked. What is clear even after this cursory investigation is I still have much to learn. I take that as a challenge and as a positive. I likely see myself altering my going in position on hell and the fate of the wicked if I have not done so already to some degree. Refinement then will follow. Some might have an issue with changing their long-held position on an item of such eternal importance. I will submit I do not alter my position lightly on matters of theology. With that said, when the evidence is so overwhelming, it seems wrong to remain in support of a position that is not biblically sound just for the sake of shall we say holding to “tradition.” Understanding a traditional viewpoint can and is a helpful maker; however, ultimately, even tradition can be wrong. I tend to go with the command in Scripture to “test all things, hold fast to that which is good.” (1 Thess. 5:21).

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Charles Spurgeon – Death and Life: The Wage and the Gift

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23

In the fifth chapter of this Epistle, Paul had shown at considerable length our justification from sin through the righteousness of Jesus Christ our Savior. Our apostle goes on to speak of our sanctification in Christ; that as by the righteousness of Christ we have been delivered from the guilt and penalty of sin, so by the power and life of Christ in us we are delivered from the dominion of sin, so as not to live any longer therein. His object is to show that true servants of God cannot live in sin; that by reason of our newness of life in Christ, it is not possible that we should continue to yield our members instruments unto iniquity. We have passed out of the realm of death. We have come into the domain of life, and, therefore, we must act according to that life. And that life being in its essence pure, holy and heavenly, we must proceed from righteousness unto holiness.

Whilst he is driving at this argument, our apostle incidentally lets fall the text which may be regarded as a Christian proverb, a golden sentence, a divine statement of truth worthy to be written across the sky. As Jesus said of the woman who anointed Him to His burial, “Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her” (Matt. 26:13); so I may say, “Wheresoever the gospel is preached, there shall this golden sentence, which the apostle has let fall, be repeated as a proof of his clearness in the faith.” Here you have both the essence of the Gospel, and a statement of that misery from which the Gospel delivers all who believe. “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

First, it will be my painful duty to dwell for a while upon death as the wages of sin; and then, more joyfully, we shall close our morning’s meditation by considering eternal life as the gift of God.

To continue reading Charles Spurgeon’s book, click here.

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Michael Boling – Justification

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INTRODUCTION
The issue of justification has had a lasting influence on the Christian understanding of the topic of salvation and its relationship to eternal security. Biblical scholars have developed numerous stances on this theological understanding often resulting in a situation which has left many believers pondering the precise application of justification in their Christian walk. Perhaps the best known debate over this topic was that between Martin Luther and the Roman Catholic Church and encapsulated in Luther’s statement “this is the true meaning of Christianity, that we are justified by faith in Christ, not by the works of the Law.” It was this understanding of justification which launched the Protestant Reformation and a return to the New Testament understanding of the relationship of faith and works.

The exegetical foundation reinstituted by Martin Luther guides most theologians today in their search for a more comprehensive understanding of this immeasurable theological issue. A proper understanding of the meaning, roots and application of justification by faith is obligatory in order to properly live out a vibrant and fruitful Christian life in equilibrium with the expectation of eternal security. Justification is the underpinning upon which the believer in Christ can have assurance in the forgiveness of sin and everlasting reception by a sovereign God.

DEFINITION
Justification can be defined as “the judicial act of God by which, on account of Christ, to whom the sinner is united by faith, he declares that sinner to be no longer exposed to the penalty of the law, but to be restored.” Further exposition on the root meaning of this term can be determined through an understanding of the Greek word for justification used in the New Testament. The judicial and legal terminology that is appropriated to dikaiōma is evident from the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament. Strong notes that dikaiōma “uniformly, or with only a single exception, signifies, not to make righteous, but to declare just, or free from guilt and exposure to punishment.” In a similar stratum of interpretation, theologian George Stevens denotes that “justification is certainly in Paul an actus forensis, a decree of exemption from penalty and of acceptance into God’s favor.” Continue reading “Michael Boling – Justification”

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Michael Bieleski – Soul in the New Testament

In the New Testament the word “soul” is sometimes used to translate the Greek word psuche. However, psuche is also translated by other words as well. For example, it is translated about forty times1) in the New Testament as ‘life’ or ‘lives’. Jesus says that we are not to worry about our life which suggests the present life experienced in bodily form.2

Therefore, understanding the way in which such words are translated has important implications. Sometimes the same Greek word is translated by different English words. Sometimes the same English word is used to translate different Greek words in different contexts. Sometimes an English word remains even though it could be replaced by a more effective equivalent. The task of the translator is to find a word that matches the intent of the writer by taking into account the context in which that word is found.

To continue reading Michael Bieleski’s article, click here.

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Glenn Peoples – What is Conditional Immortality?

“Conditional Immortality” is an unfortunately cumbersome piece of jargon that refers to a fairly simple belief: That human beings are mortal, and can only receive immortality on the condition that God gives it to them as a gift through faith in Jesus Christ.

It begins with an understanding of the nature of humanity as revealed in Scripture. According to the Genesis account the first man was formed out of the dust of the ground, then God breathed life into him and he became a living soul (Gen 2:7).

dust + breath of life = living soul

The Hebrew word for soul is nephesh, which has been variously translated as being, life, soul, creature, etc. but is never equivalent to the Greek/Platonic concept of the soul as an immaterial invisible immortal being, and instead refers to us as whole beings, and to the various aspects of our being such as heart, strength etc. (In fact the KJV translates nephesh in 44 different ways!) The same word is used for the animals (e.g. Gen 1:21,24 “living creatures” = living “Souls”). Thus conditional immortality regards each human as a unit, a soul, comprised of the dust of the earth and the life-giving breath of God, and not as a combination of two or three separate entities (body, soul and spirit).

To continue reading Glenn Peoples’ article, click here.

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Peter Grice – The Neglected Doctrines of Resurrection and Bodily Transformation

Today in Protestant circles we still hear a lot about the immortality of the soul, despite this doctrine being passionately rejected by Martin Luther 500 years ago. But we rarely hear of the immortality of the body, an important feature of resurrection, nor do we even hear that much about resurrection in general! Will all rise physically from the dead, like Jesus did—or only the saved? And if all rise in physical bodies, will the bodies of all be fitted with immortality, never to die again — or only those of the saved?

These kinds of questions are essential for assessing any doctrine of salvation and damnation, and yet they are often absent from the hell debate, and from broader discussion. Both heaven and hell are widely seen as ethereal destinations, to be arrived at immediately upon dying. But this truncated version of the biblical schedule of events renders resurrection and final judgment superfluous, even incoherent. Why were the unsaved sent straight to hell before Judgment Day, the very point at which they will be sentenced to hell? And if the saved and the unsaved already reside in the place where they’ll spend eternity, why bring them out? If they are brought out in resurrection, only to be shortly sent back there but this time in a physical form, how can those realms be suited to both physical and nonphysical habitation?

To continue reading Peter Grice’s article, click here.

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Glenn Peoples – Fire and Flood: How the New Testament Uses the First Testament to Teach on Final Punishment

Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed.

Jesus in Luke 17:26-28

Introduction

The New Testament contains a lot more explicit teaching on final punishment than the First Testament.1 However, the New Testament very frequently employs the Scriptures to present such teaching. What follows is an examination of some cases where the New Testament does this, and of what appears to be taught in these New Testament passages about final punishment.

To continue reading Glenn Peoples’ article, click here.

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Glenn Peoples – Is the Resurrection Necessary?

According to the New Testament, it’s the resurrection or nothing. There is no other way to have any existence after death. This means, among other things, that there is no conscious soul able to survive without a body.

Every Christian who takes a stance on the mind-body issue is going to have to live with the fact that there will be certain “problem texts” in the Bible that appear to conflict with the position they take. As a materialist,1 I think there is a very small number of such texts for a materialist view, and I think there are plausible explanations for all of them (for example Jesus’ words to the criminal on the cross Luke 23:43, or Paul’s expressed hope to depart and be with Christ). What one hopes to do is to settle on a view that has fewer problems than all others, and a view with problems that have an explanation in sight. 1 Corinthians 15 presents a problem for a dualistic view of human beings, and it is a problem that appears to have no solution.

To continue reading Glenn Peoples’ article, click here.

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