Book Review – The Scriptures Testify About Me

“You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” (John 5:39-40)

Far too often, believers center their study of Scripture solely on the New Testament, viewing the Old Testament as something of a by-gone era. This approach is unfortunate as all of Scripture is inspired by God and perhaps more importantly, a full understanding of Jesus and the scarlet thread of redemption that runs throughout Scripture can only be truly obtained by reading the front of the book. The gospel message is one established before the foundation of the world thus a proper study of salvation contained in the gospel message has to begin where the story of God’s interaction with humanity begins, namely in the Old Testament corpus.

Dr. D. A. Carson has edited a book containing the transcript of eight addresses from the plenary session of the 2011 The Gospel Coalition Conference. In these addresses, a number of theological leaders address the importance of understanding Jesus from the pages of the Old Testament in order to more fully grasp the events and message contained in the New Testament. Men such as Dr. Albert Mohler, Dr. Tim Keller, Dr. Alistair Begg, Dr. James McDonald, Conrad Mbewe, Matt Chandler, Mike Bullmore, and Dr. D. A. Carson, engage this topic with great elucidation and theological insight helping the reader more fully understand the Messianic patterns and statements found throughout the Old Testament. While every chapter in this book is excellent and well worth reading, I will focus on the addresses of Dr. Mohler, Dr. Keller, and Dr. Carson for purposes of this review.

In his address, Dr. Mohler aptly sums up a reason why many young people are leaving the church noting “The absence of biblical, gospel preaching explains how we have created in our churches a generation of moralizing, therapeutic, practical deists.” The rejection of the meta-narrative of Scripture by the liberal establishment should cause concern. Far too often, the Old Testament is referred to as the Hebrew Bible or Hebrew Scriptures as if its content was only intended for the Jews. Furthermore, some have taken the opposite extreme claiming the Old Testament can be read without any need to engage the New Testament. Additionally, the dispensationalist approach to Scripture often wrongly bifurcate Scripture seemingly denying the flow of the biblical message. But wait, there’s more!

Dr. D. A. Carson – The Worldview Clash

In this article, Dr. D. A. Carson argues that in our evangelism we need to confront people with the ‘big story’ of the Bible. From an article originally published in Southern Cross Quarterly.

Don’t worry me with questions of culture, or the receptivity of hearers, fraormeworks, or worldviews, just let me get on and preach the gospel…

This is a complaint we often hear and part of me wants to sympathize with it. It is crucial that we learn the gospel and proclaim it. But it is also vitally important to understand that the people to whom we speak bring with them their own particular prejudices, backgrounds and biases. The way we go about communicating the gospel will need to vary depending on the audience.

Of course the gospel is the power of God for salvation, and evangelism is a spiritual activity. People are blinded by sin and it is the Holy Spirit who compels belief. However, if the example of Paul is anything to go by, we must address the cultural presuppositions of our hearers so that we do not unwittingly obscure the gospel.

Paul’s speech to the Athenians in Acts 17:22-31 is the longest sermon recorded in the New Testament where a Christian is evangelizing people who do not have any knowledge of the Bible. (Compare this with Paul’s sermon in Pisidian Antioch in Acts 13 where he is evangelizing people who are familiar with Judaism.) In Athens, he is dealing with people who have never heard of Moses, never read the Old Testament, and are clearly polytheists. They had a different worldview.

Today, in the West, we are in a similar situation. Increasingly, we are dealing with people who are biblically illiterate and hold a modernist or postmodern worldview (or perhaps a combination of both). Up until fairly recently we could presuppose that 80 to 95 per cent of our hearers had a Judeo-Christian worldview, or at least were informed by it. Accordingly, if we were dealing with an atheist we were dealing with a ‘Christian atheist’ in the sense that the type of God this atheist disbelieved in was the Christian God. Accordingly, in evangelism one could explain the significance of the death and resurrection of Jesus and the need for repentance and it would be fairly well understood. Continue reading “Dr. D. A. Carson – The Worldview Clash”

Nathan Busenitz – In What Way Was Jesus ‘Made Sin’ on the Cross?

crown_of_thorns Yesterday, as I was reading through portions of Martin Luther’s commentary on Galatians, I came across the following:

“Christ took upon Himself our sins, not by constraint, but of His own good will, in order to bear the punishment and wrath of God: not for the sake of His own person (which was just and invincible, and was not in any way guilty), but for our person. So by means of a joyous substitution, He took upon Himself our sinful person, and gave to us His innocent and victorious person: with which we, being now clothed, are free from the curse of the law. . . . By faith alone therefore we are made righteous, for faith alone lays hold of this victory of Christ.” (Commentary on Gal. 3:13)

John Calvin’s comments on 2 Corinthians 5:21 are similar:

“How can we become righteous before God? In the same way as Christ became a sinner. For He took, as it were, our person, that He might be the offender in our name and thus might be reckoned a sinner, not because of His own offences but because of those of others, since He Himself was pure and free from every fault and bore the penalty that was our due and not His own. Now in the same way we are righteous in Him, not because we have satisfied God’s judgment by our own works, but because we are judged in relation to Christ’s righteousness which we have put on by faith, that it may become our own.” (Commentary on 2 Cor. 5:21)

Those quotations, which underscore the doctrines of substitutionary atonement and Christ’s imputed righteousness, reminded me of an earlier study I had done regarding 2 Corinthians 5:21 specifically with regard to this question: In what way was Jesus “made sin” on the cross?

I thought it’d be worth rehearsing some of that material in today’s post.

To state the question another way: Did Jesus become the literal embodiment of sin, or take on a sin nature, or become a sinner when He died at Calvary?

The heart of the question centers on Paul’s statement in 2 Corinthians 5:21: “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

In what sense did Jesus become “sin on our behalf”? Does that phrase mean that Jesus literally became a sinner on the cross?

There are some today who teach that Jesus became a sinner (or took on a sin nature) at the cross. Benny Hinn is one such advocate. In a TBN broadcast, Hinn exclaimed:

“He [Jesus] who is righteous by choice said, ‘The only way I can stop sin is by me becoming it. I can’t just stop it by letting it touch me; I and it must become one.’ Hear this! He who is the nature of God became the nature of Satan when he became sin!” (Benny Hinn, Trinity Broadcasting Network, December 1, 1990)

Prosperity-preacher Kenneth Copeland echoes those same teachings. In Copeland’s words:

“The righteousness of God was made to be sin. He accepted the sin nature of Satan in His own spirit. And at the moment that He did so, He cried, ‘My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ You don’t know what happened at the cross. Why do you think Moses, upon instruction of God, raised the serpent upon that pole instead of a lamb? That used to bug me. I said, ‘Why in the world would you want to put a snake up there; the sign of Satan? Why didn’t you put a lamb on that pole?’ And the Lord said, ‘Because it was a sign of Satan that was hanging on the cross.’ He said, ‘I accepted, in my own spirit, spiritual death; and the light was turned off.’” (Kenneth Copeland, “What Happened from the Cross to the Throne,” 1990, audiotape #02-0017, side 2)

Continue Reading

James Stambaugh – Creation’s Original Diet and the Changes at the Fall

Creation’s Original Diet and the Changes at the Fall

by James Stambaugh

August 1, 1991

The declaration of God in Genesis 1:31 was His signal to observe that everything in existence was there by His design. Those who believe God used evolution (or another naturalistic process) as the agent of creation must believe that death, cruelty, suffering, scarcity, and the food chain were a part of that design. If we accept this, then we must say that God was the creator of these evils.

However, one might ask, ‘Does the Bible teach that resource scarcity and the current food chain were an essential part of the finished creation?’

There are many who contend that these things were in operation then. They are even so bold to suggest that this is the correct interpretation of the biblical record.

I intend to show here the relationship that resource scarcity and the modern food chain have with the diet of the finished creation. Theistic evolutionists, and those who accept other naturalistic theories, usually assume that animals and man have always eaten meat. Yet the Bible presents to us a vastly different story. Therefore, the diet of the finished creation will be examined to see how it is different from the diet of today.

Finally, this study will venture off into an area of speculation. When God finished His work of creation there was an idyllic, harmonious existence between earth, animals, and man. The world that we observe today is not very idyllic, and it is certainly not very harmonious. The questions of why this came about, and what kind of change resulted will be raised and an answer proposed.

We have very little information concerning the original diet of mankind and animals in the Garden of Eden. If one were to accept a naturalistic theory for the origin of animals, then one must believe that mankind and their animal ancestors have always been carnivorous. Yet God clearly said, in Genesis 1:29–30, that both men and animals were to eat only vegetation. This was certainly part of the creation being [very good], and was God’s best for His creation. Continue reading “James Stambaugh – Creation’s Original Diet and the Changes at the Fall”

Carl Trueman – Adam and Eve and Pinch Me

It is encouraging to see that Dr. Albert Mohler is one of the two leaders of the TGC seminar on Adam (the other being Dr. Bryan Chapell). Kudos to TGC for a very good choice. Dr. Mohler has made it clear that evolution is not simply wrong but has gone so far as to describe it as a myth which is ‘not only incompatible with any historical affirmation of Genesis, but … also with the claim that all humanity is descended from Adam and the claim that in Adam all humanity fell into sin and guilt.’ He has also stated that ‘[t]he Bible’s account of the Fall and its consequences is utterly incompatible with evolutionary theory. The third chapter of Genesis is as problematic for evolutionary theory as the first two.’ In other words, he thinks that evolution excludes the biblical view of an historical Adam and therefore of original sin. In short, consistent affirmation of evolution ultimately requires denial of the gospel. You can read the whole statement here. As always, I appreciate Dr. Mohler’s forthright candor on this issue, as on so many others. And I find his argument on the significance of evolution for orthodox conceptions of the gospel to be persuasive, compelling and timely.

Dr. Tim Keller, one of the two most senior TGC leaders, also sees the church’s attitude to evolution as a watershed issue for the gospel. Unlike Dr. Mohler, however, he has made it clear over the last few years that he is not only committed to some form of theistic evolution (though maintaining an historical Adam, reconstructed in light of evolutionary theory) but also regards the church’s failure to take evolution on board as potentially catastrophic. His comments to this effect at a Biologos-sponsored colloquy were reported by Christianity Today here; and Mike Kruger offers an excellent response to that particular gathering here.

Continue Reading

Death: Evolution vs. Creation

This week’s illustration, ‘Evolution – Creation’, includes five Bible verse illustrations: Romans 5:12; 1 Corinthians 15:21-22; 1 Corinthians 15:26; Genesis 1:29-30; Genesis 9:3.

This picture illustrates the fact that if someone believes in millions of years of Earth’s history and/or evolution, then death, bloodshed, disease, and suffering occurred before man’s existence. However, if someone believes in the Creation account as written in the book of Genesis, then death, bloodshed, disease, and suffering of man and animals is a consequence of sin.

If a person takes the Bible consistently from Genesis to Revelation, interpreting Scripture with Scripture, then he or she really can come to no other conclusion than death, bloodshed, disease, and suffering of the ‘nephesh’ animals and man is a consequence of sin.

Genesis 1:29-30 makes it obvious that originally, animals and man were vegetarian. Some would say therefore that plants died before sin. However, the Bible in Genesis 1 makes it clear that animals and man have a ‘nephesh’—that is, a ‘life spirit,’ or soul. Plants do not have this. Plants were given for food—they are not living in the same sense that animals are. Man was told he could eat animals after the Flood in Genesis 9:3. Romans 5:12 and 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 make it clear that death came into the world because of sin.

Some people try to say that this death only refers to man, and not to the animals. However, it is clear from taking the whole of Scripture that animals were vegetarian (like man) before the Fall, and understanding the Biblical doctrine of the atonement (as will be discussed in a future illustration) there could be no animal death or bloodshed before the Fall either.

1 Corinthians 15:26 calls death an enemy. Death is an intrusion. Some try to make out that this death is only ‘spiritual’ death and not ‘physical’ death. However, the Bible verses cited make it clear that Christ’s death on the Cross is related to the death that came into the world because of the first man’s sin. This was a physical death. When Adam sinned, man died spiritually in the sense that he was separated from God, and he also began to die physically.

Michael Boling – Reflections on Numbers 26-27

quotescover-JPG-61

Numbers 26-27

Numbers 26 contains another census of the people ordered by God. Since there had been several judgments levied upon Israel including plagues and people being swallowed up by the earth, God spoke to Moses and Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest and told them to take a census of the people, specifically those twenty years old and up, by their father’s house counting only those in that category who are able to go to war. The finally tally was 601,730.

It was to these God commanded the land of promise to be divided as their inheritance with the larger tribes receiving a larger inheritance and the smaller tribes receiving a smaller inheritance. The Levites were not numbered in the census and were given no inheritance of land.

The daughters of Zelophehad the son of Hepher, the son of Gilead, the son of Machir, the son of Manasseh, the son of Joseph stood before Moses and before Eleazar the priest in the presence of all the leaders of the congregation at the doorway to the tent of meeting. They noted that their father had died in the wilderness, but he was not part of the rebellion against God. He died in his own sin, leaving no sons. These daughters were understandably worried as to where their inheritance would be, if anything and why would they have no inheritance simply because they had no sons. Their request was to be given a possession from among their father’s brothers.

Moses brought their case before God and the Lord told Moses that what the daughters of Zelophehad spoke of was correct. They should receive an inheritance among their father’s brothers. God told Moses to tell the people that if a man dies and has no son, the inheritance would pass to his daughter. If has no daughter, the inheritance would go to his brothers. If he has no brothers, the inheritance would go to his father’s brothers. If his family has no brothers, the inheritance would go to his nearest relative.

God told Moses to go up to Mount Abarim so he could view the land of promise so that after he observed the land, he could be gathered to his people (or die). God commanded Moses to take Joshua the son of Nun with him and to lay his hands upon Joshua. He was to be set before Eleazar the priest and before the congregation to be inaugurated as the next leader of the people of Israel upon Moses’ death. Moses did as God commanded.

Intelmin Week in Review: 20-26 May 2013

Here is what made it on Intelmin this past week. It was yet another busy week with lots of great articles, book reviews, and videos to share. Thanks for stopping by.

Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell – BSA and Gay: Phase One

The Feasts of the Lord – The Fullfillment of the Feast of Shavuot (Pentecost)

Tedd Tripp – Listening at Home

Andrew Shanks – What’s the Difference Between Erotica and Song of Solomon?

John Knight – Beyond the Rhetoric: Gosnell and the Late-Term Reality

Carl Trueman – Tragic Worship

Daniel Darling – 5 Ways Adult Children Can Honor Their Parents

Steve DeWitt – Arrows Out

Michael Kruger – The Difference Between Original Autographs and Original Texts

Lindsey Carlson – The Plastic Fruit of Online Living

Daniel Darling – Why Your Spiritual Growth Matters to the Community

Dr. Danny Faulkner – Universe by Design: Twentieth-Century Cosmology

Dr. Danny Faulkner – Universe by Design: Twentieth-Century Cosmology

Dr. Albert Mohler – Boy Scouts at the Brink: The Moment of Decision Arrives

Marc Ambler – Biblical Creation—Truly, a Theory of Everything (ToE)

Charles Hodge – Theology Proper

Mike Leake – Tornadoes and Theology

Sam Storms – Tornadoes, Tsunamis, and the Mystery of Suffering and Sovereignty

Dr. Albert Mohler – The Goodness of God and the Reality of Evil

Glenn Stanton – FactChecker: Is the ‘I Only Need Jesus!’ Declaration Christian?

Winston Hottman – The Gospel and the (Im)perfect Marriage

Michael Horton – Christless Christianity: Getting in Christ’s Way

Glenn Stanton – FactChecker: Does Abba Mean ‘Daddy’?

Tedd Tripp – The Power of Presentation

E.H. Askwith – The Historical Value of the Fourth Gospel