Category: God in Time (Chronological Gospel Study)

Old Testament Overview*

Old Testament Overview*

Genesis: The book of beginnings describes creation, the first rebellions against God and God’s choosing of Abraham and his offspring.

Exodus: God rescued the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and led them to the desert of Sinai. There he gave Moses the laws to govern the new nation.

Leviticus: God set up laws for the Israelites, mostly regarding holiness and worship.

Numbers: Because of their rebellion and disobedience, the Israelites had to wander in a wilderness for 40 years before entering the promised land.

Deuteronomy: Just before his death, Moses made three emotional farewell speeches, recapping history and warning the Israelites against further mistakes.

Joshua: After Moses’ death, Joshua commanded the armies that conquered much of the territory in the promised land.

Judges: The new nation fell into a series of dismal failures. God raised up leaders called “judges.”

Ruth: This story of love and loyalty between two widows shines out brightly in an otherwise dark period.

I Samuel: Samuel became a transition leader between the time of the judges and that of the kings. He appointed lsrael’s first king, Saul. After his own failure, Saul tried violently to prevent God’s king-elect, David, from taking the throne.

2 Samuel: David, a man after God’s own heart, brought the nation together. But after committing adultery and murder, he was haunted by family and national crises.

1 Kings: Solomon succeeded David, with mixed success. At his death, a civil war tore apart the nation. Successive kings were mostly bad, and the prophet Elijah had dramatic confrontations with King Ahab.

2 Kings: This book continues the record of the rulers of the divided kingdom. None of the northern kings followed God consistently, and so Israel was finally destroyed by an invader. The southern kingdom, Judah, lasted much longer, but finally Babylon conquered Judah and deported its citizens.

1 Chronicles: The book opens with the most complete genealogical record in the Bible, then adds many incidents from the life of David (often the same as those in 2 Samuel).

2 Chronicles: Often paralleling the books of Kings, this book records the history of the rulers of Judah, emphasizing the good kings.

Ezra: After being held captive in Babylon for decades, the Jews were allowed to return to their homeland. Ezra, a priest, emerged from one of the first waves of refugees.

Nehemiah: Nehemiah returned from the Babylonian captivity after the temple had been rebuilt. He concentrated on restoring the protective wall around Jerusalem and joined Ezra in leading a religious revival.

Esther: This story is set among captive Jews in Persia. A courageous Jewish queen foiled a plan to exterminate her people.

Job: The most godly man of his day suffers the greatest personal tragedy. The entire book deals with the question “Why?”

Psalms: These prayers and hymns cover the full range of human emotion; together, they represent a personal journal of how to relate to God. Some were also used in public worship services.

Proverbs: The proverbs offer advice on every imaginable area of life. The style of wise living described here leads to a fulfilled life.

Ecclesiastes: A life without God, “under the sun,” leads to meaninglessness and despair, says the Teacher in a strikingly modern book.

Song of Songs: This beautiful poem celebrates romantic and physical love.

Isaiah: The most eloquent of the prophets, Isaiah analyzed the failures of all the nations around him and pointed to a future Messiah who would bring peace.

Jeremiah: Jeremiah led an emotionally tortured life, yet held to his stern message. He spoke to Judah in the last decades before Babylon destroyed the nation.

Lamentations: All Jeremiah’s warnings about Jerusalem came true, and Lamentations records five poems of sorrow for the fallen city.

Ezekiel: Ezekiel spoke to the Jews who were captive in Babylon. He often used dramatic stories and enacted parables to make his points.

Daniel: A captive in Babylon, Daniel rose to the office of prime minister. Despite intense political pressure, he lived a model life of integrity and left highly symbolic prophecies about the future.

Hosea: By marrying a loose-living wife, Hosea lived out his message: that Israel had committed spiritual adultery against God.

Joel: Beginning with a recent catastrophe in Judah (a locust plague), Joel foretold God’s judgment on Judah.

Amos: A country boy, Amos preached to Israel at the height of its prosperity. His grim warnings focused on materialism.

Obadiah: Obadiah warned Edom, a nation bordering Judah.

Jonah: Jonah reluctantly went to Nineveh and found Israel’s enemies responsive to God’s message.

Micah: Micah exposed corruption in every level of society, but closed with a promise of forgiveness and restoration.

Nahum: Long after Jonah had stirred Nineveh to repentance, Nahum foretold the mighty city’s total destruction.

Habakkuk: Habakkuk addressed his book to God, not people. In a frank dialogue with God, he discussed problems of suffering and injustice.

Zephaniah: Zephaniah focused on the coming day of the Lord, which would purge Judah, resulting in a remnant used to bless the entire world.

Haggai: After returning from the Babylonian captivity, the Jews began rebuilding the temple of God. But before long they set aside that task to work on their own homes. Haggai reminded them to put God first.

Zechariah: Writing around the same time as Haggai, Zechariah also urged the Jews to work on the temple. He used a more uplifting approach, describing how the temple would point to the coming Messiah.

Malachi: The last Old Testament prophet, Malachi faced a nation that had grown indifferent. He sought to stir the people from apathy.

 

*This overview is from

The NRSV Student Bible

c.1994, 1996 by Zondervan

used by permission

Scarlet Women, White as Snow

Scarlet Women, White as Snow

Our chronological study in the Gospels now brings us to the genealogies in Matthew and Luke. (We will circle back to the story of John the Baptist next week)

Matthew opens his Gospel with the Family Tree of Jesus and he does so to demonstrate 3 critical facts:

  1. Though Jesus was, in fact, God the Son, He was also a flesh and blood human being.
  2. Matthew illustrates that Jesus is the long awaited Messiah, the Divine King who would rule Israel, and even the nations, forever. Matthew proves his claim by providing the patrilineal genealogy of Jesus.
  3. Jesus has power to save the whole world. Matthew, conspicuously, includes gentiles in the lineage of Jesus thereby showing that Messiah has come to redeem from the whole of the world.

I want to give you a thought to keep in mind as we go: In the days of Jesus, the Oral Tradition was very important and a recitation of a genealogy would call to mind the stories of the individuals listed and would serve as a record of God’s Grace.

Text: Matthew 1 (TLB)

Note that in the reading of our text, I have made the names of the women red in keeping with the idea that God used women who sinned to be a part of Messiah’s lineage. This week, we are not looking at the whole genealogy but we are looking at the 5 most important women in the Old Testament: Sarah, Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba. I call these women the most important in the Old Testament for two reasons, Sarah is the mother of the Nation of Israel, who gave us the Savior, and the other 4 are included, by direction of the Holy Spirit, in the Legal Genealogy of Christ as King

Our text…

These are the ancestors of Jesus Christ, a descendant of King David and of Abraham:

Abraham was the father of Isaac; Isaac was the father of Jacob; Jacob was the father of Judah and his brothers. Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah (Tamar was their mother); Perez was the father of Hezron; Hezron was the father of Aram; Aram was the father of Amminadab; Amminadab was the father of Nahshon; Nahshon was the father of Salmon; Salmon was the father of Boaz (Rahab was his mother); Boaz was the father of Obed (Ruth was his mother); Obed was the father of Jesse; Jesse was the father of King David. David was the father of Solomon (his mother was the widow of Uriah); Solomon was the father of Rehoboam; Rehoboam was the father of Abijah; Abijah was the father of Asa; Asa was the father of Jehoshaphat; Jehoshaphat was the father of Jehoram; Jehoram was the father of Uzziah; Uzziah was the father of Jotham; Jotham was the father of Ahaz; Ahaz was the father of  Hezekiah; 10 Hezekiah was the father of Manasseh; Manasseh was the father of Amos; Amos was the father of Josiah; 11 Josiah was the father of Jechoniah and his brothers (born at the time of the exile to Babylon). 12 After the exile: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel; Shealtiel was the father of Zerubbabel; 13 Zerubbabel was the father of Abiud; Abiud was the father of Eliakim; Eliakim was the father of Azor; 14 Azor was the father of Zadok; Zadok was the father of Achim; Achim was the father of Eliud; 15 Eliud was the father of Eleazar; Eleazar was the father of Matthan; Matthan was the father of Jacob; 16 Jacob was the father of Joseph (who was the husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ the Messiah). 17 These are fourteen[a] of the generations from Abraham to King David; and fourteen from King David’s time to the exile; and fourteen from the exile to Christ. 18 These are the facts concerning the birth of Jesus Christ: His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But while she was still a virgin she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph, her fiancé,[b] being a man of stern principle,* decided to break the engagement but to do it quietly, as he didn’t want to publicly disgrace her. 20 As he lay  awake[c] considering this, he fell into a dream, and saw an angel standing beside him. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “don’t hesitate to take Mary as your wife! For the child within her has been conceived by the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will have a Son, and you shall name him Jesus (meaning ‘Savior’), for he will save his people from their sins. 22 This will fulfill God’s message through his prophets—

23 ‘Listen! The virgin shall conceive a child! She shall give birth to a Son, and he shall be called “Emmanuel” (meaning “God is with us”).’”

24 When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel commanded and brought Mary home to be his wife, 25 but she remained a virgin until her Son was born; and Joseph named him “Jesus.”

 

Textual Footnotes:

  1. Matthew 1:17These are fourteen, literally, “So all the generations from Abraham unto David are fourteen.”
  2. Matthew 1:19her fiancé, literally, “her husband.” a man of stern principle, literally, “a just man.”
  3. Matthew 1:20As he lay awake, implied in remainder of verse.

The following notes give us a high level overview of the 5 most important women of the Old Testament.

 

SARAH: Laughing all the way to redemption

Genesis 18:9-15

Why is Sarah so important? She is the mother of the people of Israel and it is from Israel that we receive Messiah the King. Sarah, then is “mother” of the Redeemer.

Strengths and accomplishments

  • Was intensely loyal to her own child
  • Became the mother of a nation and an ancestor of Jesus
  • Was a woman of faith, the first woman listed in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11

Weaknesses and mistakes

  • Had trouble believing God’s promises to her
  • Attempted to work problems out on her own, without consulting God
  • Tried to cover her faults by blaming others

Lessons from her life

  • God responds to faith even in the midst of failure
  • God is not bound by what usually happens; he can stretch the limits and cause unheard-of events to occur

Key verse

“It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed that God would keep his promise” (Hebrews 11:11).

Sarah’s story unfolds in Genesis 11—25. She is also mentioned in Isaiah 51:2; Romans 4:19; 9:9; Hebrews 11:11; 1 Peter 3:6.

TAMAR: Holding the Line

Genesis 38:1-30

Why is Tamar important to the Old Testament? Tamar held fast the line of Judah by forcing him to father an heir for her and, it is this line that leads to Jesus.

Fast Facts:

  • Widowed by Er, Judah’s 1st born son.
  • Widowed a 2nd time by Onan, Judah’s 2nd son, who was struck dead by God for refusing to consummate the marriage with Tamar.
  • Pretended to be a prostitute to trick Judah into fathering an heir for her.

Life lessons:

  • Even when a person refuses to obey, God’s plans cannot be thwarted.
  • Though wicked deeds are not encouraged, they can be redeemed for God’s glory

 

RAHAB: A prodigal daughter comes home

Joshua 6:22-23

Why is Rahab so important? Rahab kept the 12 spies safe as they scouted the promised land. She fathered Boaz, the kinsman redeemer who plays a major role in the life of Ruth and also gives a picture of redemption.

Strengths and accomplishments

  • Relative of Boaz, and thus an ancestor of David and Jesus
  • One of only two women listed in the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11
  • Resourceful, willing to help others at great cost to herself

Weakness and mistake

  • She was a prostitute

Lesson from her life

  • She did not let fear affect her faith in God’s ability to deliver

Key verse

“It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed with the people in her city who refused to obey God. For she had given a friendly welcome to the spies” (Hebrews 11:31).

Rahab’s story unfolds in Joshua 2 and 6:22, 23. She is also mentioned in Matthew 1:5; Hebrews 11:31; and James 2:25.

RUTH: Foretelling the gathering gentiles

Ruth 1:6–4:16

Why is Ruth important? Ruth was from Moab making her a gentile. Her story foretells that Messiah the King will redeem from the whole world.

Strengths and accomplishments (Stem from her relationship with Naomi, her mother in law)

  • A relationship where the greatest bond was faith in God
  • A relationship of strong mutual commitment
  • A relationship in which each person tried to do what was best for the other

Life Lessons from Ruth

  • God’s living presence in a relationship overcomes differences that might otherwise create division and disharmony

Key verses

“But Ruth replied, ‘Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!’ ” (Ruth 1:16, 17).

Ruth’s Story unfolds in the book that bears her name. Ruth is also mentioned in Matthew 1:5.

BATHSHEBA (wife of Uriah): the Mistress who became queen

2 Samuel 11:2-5; 1 Kings 1:11-53; 2:13-25

Why is Bathsheba important? Bathsheba was consort and later wife to David, Israel’s most important King, David, who gives Messiah his right to rule. Bathsheba is the mother of the Royal line of Messiah the King.

Strengths and accomplishments

  • Became influential in the palace alongside her son Solomon
  • Was the mother of Israel’s wisest king and an ancestor of Jesus Christ

Weakness and mistake

  • Committed adultery
  • Lost her son through divine judgment

Lessons from her life

  • Although we may feel caught up in a chain of events, we are still responsible for the way we participate in those events
  • A sin may seem like one small seed, but the harvest of consequences is beyond measure
  • In the worst possible situations, God is still able to bring about good when people truly turn to him
  • While we must live with the natural consequences of our sins, God’s forgiveness of sin is complete

Key verses

“When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. When the period of mourning was over, David sent for her and brought her to the palace, and she became one of his wives. Then she gave birth to a son. But the Lord was displeased with what David had done” (2 Samuel 11:26, 27).

Bathsheba’s story unfolds in 2 Samuel 11—12 and 1 Kings 1—2. A related passage is Psalm 51.

Do you find yourself with “unsavory” characters in your family history? You are in good company, so did Jesus. Take comfort in the fact that, even though you cannot see the whole story, God is at work for His purposes and His glory. Someday, Heaven will tell the tale of the role you played in redemptive history. Who knows but you might lead the next missionary to Christ and share in his reward at the Bema seat.

Grace to you.

Gospel Presentations of Christ

Gospel Presentations of Christ

The 4 Evangelists each gave us a unique picture of the Lord Jesus Christ and we summarize, here, as an aid to our study of the Life of Christ

 

  Matthew Mark Luke John
Jesus is King Servant Son of Man Son of God
Written to.. Jews Romans Greeks the World
Emphasizes His Sermons His Deeds His Humanity His Deity
Writing Style Teacher Story Teller Historian Theologian
Themes Jesus the promised King The Savior in Action Fully God and Fully Man Faith in Jesus required for Salvation

 

Logos Part 3: The Word Became Flesh

Logos Part 3: The Word Became Flesh

We are continuing our chronological study of the 4 Gospels and this week we look at John 1:14…

John 1:14

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

STOP! Pause and read that again. You can’t just read this verse and move on; in this verse we have either the most stupendous miracle in all of recorded history or the most vicious lie ever told and you must choose. There is no middle of the road option, either the sovereign God of the universe executed the greatest miracle in history or we are duped. Now, of course, we, who carry the name Baptist, believe the former, that in this verse we find a miracle so incredible that it confronts every being in history.

The Doctrine of the Incarnation

The Doctrine of the Incarnation is the teaching of the Church that the Lord Jesus, the eternal Logos, who was with God from before time and who was, Himself, God, took on a human body. As John put it, the Word became flesh…

The Incarnation Was Not the Divine Son’s Beginning

The virgin conception and birth in Bethlehem does not mark the beginning of the Son of God. Rather, it marks the eternal Son entering physically into our world and becoming one of us. John Murray writes, “The doctrine of the incarnation is vitiated if it is conceived of as the beginning to be of the person of Christ. The incarnation means that he who never began to be in his specific identity as Son of God, began to be what he eternally was not” (quoted in John Frame, Systematic Theology, 883).

In Psalm 90:2 we see that God was before the mountains were born, before He even brought forth the earth and the world. He was from everlasting to everlasting.

The person or, rather, the active subject of the incarnation is the eternal Son.

John 1:14 is clear: “The Word became flesh.” So, it was the Son from eternity who became incarnate, not the divine nature but the actual person of the Son. The Son, who is in eternal relation to the Father and Spirit, willingly humbled himself and chose to assume a human nature in obedience to his Father and for our salvation (Philippians 2:6–8).

As the eternal Son, the second person of the triune Godhead, he is the full image and expression of the Father and is thus fully God. In writing to the church in Colosse, Paul declares that, “In Him {Christ} dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 2:9)

Remember, Jesus exercises all of the prerogatives of Godhood.

Along with the Father and Spirit, the Son fully and equally shares the divine nature. As the image and exact correspondence of the Father (Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3), the Son is fully God. All of God’s perfections and attributes are his since Christ is God the Son (Colossians 2:9). As the Son, he participates in the divine rule, receives divine worship, and does all divine works as the Son (Psalm 110:1; Ephesians 1:22; Philippians 2:9–11; Colossians 1:15–17; Hebrews 1:2–3; Revelation 5:11–12).

As God the Son, he has always existed in an eternally ordered relation to the Father and Spirit, which now is gloriously displayed in the incarnation. It was fitting that the Son alone, who is from the Father by the Spirit, became incarnate rather than the other divine persons (John 1:1–2, 14, 18). In the incarnation, the Son displayed his divine-filial dependence on the Father and always acted in relation to the Father by the Spirit (John 5:19–30; Mark 1:12; Luke 4:1–21). From eternity and in the incarnation, the Son never acted on his own or independently, but always in relation to and inseparably from his Father and the Spirit.

The Incarnation Shows Jesus’s Humility

Jesus is no typical king. Jesus didn’t come to be served. Instead, Jesus came to serve (Mark 10:45). His humility was on full display from the beginning to the end, from Bethlehem to Golgotha. Paul glories in the humility of Christ when he writes that, “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking on the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:2-8).

The Incarnation Fulfills Prophecy

The incarnation wasn’t random or accidental. It was predicted in the Old Testament and in accordance with God’s eternal plan. {I lean toward a Supralapsarian view of God’s decrees with regard to redemption and so I believe that the Incarnation was decreed long before the world was even created since, in the Supralapsarian view, God had always planned and decreed that He would be a redeemer.} Perhaps the clearest text predicting the Messiah would be both human and God is Isaiah9:6 -“To us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

In this verse, Isaiah sees a son that is to be born, and yet he is no ordinary son. His extraordinary names — Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace — point to his deity. And taken together — the son being born and his names — point to him being the God-man, Jesus Christ.

The Incarnation Is Mysterious

The Scriptures do not even attempt to answer all of our questions about the Incarnation. Some things remain shrouded in mystery. “The secret things belong to the Lord our God,” Moses wrote, “but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever” (Deuteronomy 29:29).

Answering how it could be that one person could be both fully God and fully man is not a question that the Scriptures focus on and, indeed, it could probably drive one insane trying to figure it out. The early church fathers preserved this mystery at the Council of Chalcedon (451 A.D.) when they wrote that Jesus is “recognized in two natures, God and man, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated into two persons but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ.”

The Definition of Chalcedon
“Therefore, following the holy fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting also of a reasonable soul and body; of one substance with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ; even as the prophets from earliest times spoke of him, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the creed of the fathers has handed down to us.”

The Incarnation Is Necessary for Salvation

The incarnation of Jesus does not save by itself, but it is an essential link in God’s plan of redemption. John Murray explains: “The blood of Jesus is blood that has the requisite efficacy and virtue only by reason of the fact that he who is the Son, the effulgence of the Father’s glory and the express image of his substance, became himself also partaker of flesh and blood and thus was able by one sacrifice to perfect all those who are sanctified” (Redemption Accomplished and Applied, 14).

And the author to the Hebrews likewise writes that Jesus “had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17).

The incarnation is an act of addition, not subtraction.

In the incarnation, the eternal Son who has always possessed the divine nature has not changed or set aside his deity. Instead, he has added to himself a second nature, namely a human nature consisting of a human body and soul (Philippians 2:6–8). As a result, the individual Jesus is one person—the Son—who now subsists in two natures, and thus is fully God and fully man.

The human nature assumed by the divine Son is fully human and completely sinless.

Christ’s human nature was unfallen and untainted by the effects of sin. Our inborn inclination to anti-God rebellion was not part of Jesus’s human makeup. Jesus fully experienced the effects of living in a fallen world, but he did not share the guilt or disposition of Adam’s sin passed on to the human race. In fact, Jesus never committed a sin, nor could he (Matthew 3:15; John 8:46; Hebrews 4:15; 7:26; 1 Peter 1:19). Although he was tempted like us, he perfectly obeyed his Father, even unto death, as our covenant mediator, thus accomplishing our salvation as the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 5:5–10).

The virgin conception was the supernatural means by which the incarnation took place.

The incarnation was thoroughly supernatural and a demonstration of our triune God’s sovereign and gracious initiative to redeem his people (Matthew 1:1–25; Luke 1:26–38). The virgin conception was the time and means by which the divine Son added to himself a human nature, having been conceived in the womb of Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit. By the act of the virgin conception, the triune God created a new human nature for the Son, and as a result of this action, in Jesus we truly meet God face-to-face—not indwelling or overshadowing human flesh but in full undiminished glory.

From conception, the Son limited his divine life in such a way that he did not override the limitations of his human nature.

As a result of the incarnation, the divine Son lives as a true man with the normal physical, mental, volitional, and psychological attributes and capacities of original humanity. As the incarnate Son, he experienced the wonder and weaknesses of a completely human life. He grew in wisdom and physical stature (Luke 2:52), experienced tears and joy, and suffered death and a glorious resurrection for his people’s salvation (John 11:33, 35; 19:30; 1 Corinthians 15:3–4).

The Son was not limited to his human nature alone since he continued to exercise divine prerogatives. Specifically, this is called the kenosis

This truth is best demonstrated in the incarnate Son’s continuing to sustain the universe (Colossians 1:16–17; Hebrew 1:3), alongside Christ’s other divine actions during his life and ministry. In Christ, there are two natures that remain distinct and retain their own attributes and integrity, yet the Son is able to act through both natures. For this reason, the Son is not completely circumscribed by his human nature; he is also able to act outside of it in his divine nature.

Properly, this is called the kenosis and the term kenosis comes from the Greek word for the doctrine of Christ’s self-emptying in His incarnation. The kenosis was a self-renunciation, not an emptying Himself of deity nor an exchange of deity for humanity. Philippians 2:7 tells us that Jesus “emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.” Jesus did not cease to be God during His earthly ministry. But He did set aside His heavenly glory of a face-to-face relationship with God. He also set aside His independent authority. During His earthly ministry, Christ completely submitted Himself to the will of the Father.

As part of the kenosis, Jesus sometimes operated with the limitations of humanity (John 4:6; 19:28). God does not get tired or thirsty. Matthew 24:36 tells us, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” We might wonder if Jesus was God, how could He not know everything, as God does (Psalm 139:1-6)? It seems that while Jesus was on earth, He surrendered the use of some of His divine attributes. Jesus was still perfectly holy, just, merciful, gracious, righteous, and loving – but to varying degrees Jesus was not omniscient or omnipotent.

When considering the kenosis, we often focus too much on what Jesus gave up. The kenosis also deals with what Christ took on. Jesus added to Himself a human nature and humbled Himself. Jesus went from being the glory of glories in Heaven to being a human being who was put to death on the cross. Philippians 2:7-8 declares, “taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!” In the ultimate act of humility, the God of the universe became a human being and died for His creation. The kenosis, therefore, is Christ taking on a human nature with all of its limitations, except with no sin.

When and how the Son acts through both natures is best explained in terms of Trinitarian relations worked out in redemptive history for the sake of our salvation. The Son, who has always inseparably acted from the Father and by the Spirit, continues to do so but now as the obedient Son acting as our covenant representative and substitute. In the incarnation, neither the Son’s deity nor his humanity is diminished.

By taking on our human nature, the Son became the first man of the new creation, our great mediator and new covenant head.

As the Son incarnate, our Lord Jesus Christ in his life, death, and resurrection, reverses the fall of the first Adam and forges ahead as the last Adam, our great trailblazer and champion (Hebrews 2:10). As a result of the incarnation, God the Son becomes perfectly qualified to meet our every need, especially our need for the forgiveness of sin (Hebrews 2:5–18; 7:22–28; 9:15–10:18).

God the Son incarnate is utterly unique and alone Lord and Savior.

Jesus is in a category all by himself. Given who God is in all of his glory and moral perfection, and what sin is before God, apart from the Son’s incarnation and his entire work for us, there is no salvation (John 14:6; Acts 4:11).

As the divine Son, he alone satisfies God’s own judgment against us and the demand for perfect obedience (Romans 5:12–21).

As the incarnate Son, he alone can identify with us as our representative and substitute (Hebrews 5:1).

While on earth, and now forever in Heaven, Jesus is in hypostatic union.

The hypostatic union is the term used to describe how God the Son, Jesus Christ, took on a human nature, yet remained fully God at the same time. Jesus always had been God (John 8:58, 10:30), but at the incarnation Jesus became a human being (John 1:14). The addition of the human nature to the divine nature is Jesus, the God-man. This is the hypostatic union, Jesus Christ, one Person, fully God and fully man.

Jesus’ two natures, human and divine, are inseparable. Jesus will forever be the God-man, fully God and fully human, two distinct natures in one Person. Jesus’ humanity and divinity are not mixed, but are united without loss of separate identity. Jesus sometimes operated with the limitations of humanity (John 4:6, 19:28) and other times in the power of His deity (John 11:43; Matthew 14:18-21). In both, Jesus’ actions were from His one Person. Jesus had two natures, but only one personality.

The doctrine of the hypostatic union is an attempt to explain how Jesus could be both God and man at the same time. It is ultimately, though, a doctrine we are incapable of fully understanding. It is impossible for us to fully understand how God works. Jesus is God’s Son in that He was conceived by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35). But that does not mean Jesus did not exist before He was conceived. Jesus has always existed (John 8:58, 10:30). When Jesus was conceived, He became a human being in addition to being God (John 1:1, 14).

Jesus is both God and man. Jesus has always been God, but He did not become a human being until He was conceived in Mary. Jesus became a human being in order to identify with us in our struggles (Hebrews 2:17) and, more importantly, so that He could die on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins (Philippians 2:5-11). In summary, the hypostatic union teaches that Jesus is both fully human and fully divine, that there is no mixture or dilution of either nature, and that He is one united Person, forever.

 

Logos (Part 2) God is the Word

Logos (Part 2) God is the Word

Continuing our exposition of John 1:1, this week we are looking further at Jesus as God the Son and Son of God.

Jesus Christ has all the attributes of Godhood

  • He is eternal(John 1:1-3 1 John 1:1-4 John 1:15 John 8:58 John 17:5, 24 Hebrews 1:11)
  • He is omnipresent (John 3:13 Matthew 18:20 Ephesians 1:23)
  • He is omniscient (John 16:30 John 21:17 Colossians 2:3 John 4:29 Luke 6:8)
  • He is omnipotent (John 5:19 Hebrews 1:2-3 Matthew 28:18)
  • He is immutable (Hebrews 1:12 Hebrews 13:8)
  • Jesus Christ is Creator and Sustainer (John 1:3 Colossians 1:15-17 Hebrews 1:3, 10 Psalm 33:6)
  • Jesus Christ has the prerogatives of God (Matthew 9:2, 6 Luke 7:47 John 5:25-29 John 6:39 John 11:25-26 John 5:22)

Jesus Christ is identified with Jehovah

  • Creator (Psalm 102:24-27 Hebrews 1:10-12
  • Seen by Isaiah (Isaiah 6:1-4 John 12:41)
  • Holy (Isaiah 8:13 1 Peter 3:15)
  • Object of faith (Joel 2:32 Romans 10:9, 13)

 

Jesus appropriates God’s personal Name,“I AM”  Consider His “I AM” statements in John

  • the Bread of Life (6:35, 41)
  • the Light of the world (8:12)
  • the Good Shepherd (10:11, 14)
  • the Door (10:7, 9)
  • the Way the Truth and the Life (14:6)
  • the Resurrection and the Life (11:25-26)
  • the True Vine (15:1)

 

The Title, Lord Jesus Christ
The title/appellation, “Lord Jesus Christ,” is a proper name. It is never applied in the New Testament, either to the Father or to the Holy Spirit. It therefore belongs exclusively to the Son of God. (Romans 1:1-3,7 2 John 3)

The Lord Jesus Christ, God with Us
The Lord Jesus Christ, as to His divine and eternal nature, is the proper and only Begotten of the Father, but as to His human nature, He is the proper Son of Man. He is therefore, acknowledged to be both God and man; who because He is God and man is “Immanuel,” God with us.  (Matthew 1:23 1 John 4:2 1 John 4:10 1 John 4:14 Revelation 1:13 Revelation 1:17)

The Title, Son of God
Since the name “Immanuel” embraces both God and man in the one Person, our Lord Jesus Christ, it follows that the title, Son of God, describes His proper deity, and the title, Son of Man, His proper humanity. Therefore, the title Son of God, belongs to the order of eternity, and the title, Son of Man, to the order of time. (Matthew 1:21-23 2 John 1:3 1 John 3:8 Hebrews 7:3 Hebrews 1:1-13)

Transgression of the Doctrine of Christ
Wherefore, it is a transgression of the Doctrine of Christ to say that Jesus Christ derived the title, Son of God, solely from the fact of the incarnation, or because of His relation to the economy of redemption. Therefore, to deny that the Father is a real and eternal Father, and that the Son is a real and eternal Son, is a denial of the distinction and relationship in the Being of God; a denial of the Father, and the Son; and a displacement of the truth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. (2 John 9 John 1:1 John 1:2 John 1:14 John 1:18 John 1:29 John 1:49 1 John 2:22,23 1 John 4:1-5 Hebrews 12:2

Exaltation of Jesus Christ as Lord
The Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, having by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; angels and principalities and powers having been made subject unto Him. And having been made both Lord and Christ, He sent the Holy Spirit that we, in the name of Jesus, might bow our knees and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father until the end, when the Son shall become subject to the Father that God may be all in all. Hebrews 1:3 1 Peter 3:22 Acts 2:32-36 Romans 14:111 Corinthians 15:24-28

Equal Honor to the Father and to the Son
Wherefore, since the Father has delivered all judgment unto the Son, it is not only the express duty of all in heaven and on earth to bow the knee, but it is an unspeakable joy in the Holy Spirit to ascribe unto the Son all the attributes of Deity, and to give Him all honor and the glory contained in all the names and titles of the Godhead except those which express relationship (see Distinction and Relationship in the Godhead, Unity of the One Being of Father, Son and Holy Spirit , and Identity and Cooperation in the Godhead) and thus honor the Son even as we honor the Father.John 5:22,231 Peter 1:8 Revelation 5:6-14 Philippians 2:8,9 Revelation 7:9-10 Revelation 4:8-11

The Lordship Issue in our salvation

Submitting to Christ as Lord goes hand-in-hand with trusting in Christ as Savior. To call this doctrine Lordship salvation is a bit of a misnomer because it implies that anything else is the Gospel. When we are saved from sin it is because we recognize Christ as who He is, Lord and God, we have a change of mind about who we are, what sin is, and our need for a savior, and we confess/say the same things about sin that He does.

John MacArthur: “The gospel that Jesus proclaimed was a call to discipleship, a call to follow Him in submissive obedience, not just a plea to make a decision or pray a prayer. Jesus’ message liberated people from the bondage of their sin while it confronted and condemned hypocrisy. It was an offer of eternal life and forgiveness for repentant sinners, but at the same time it was a rebuke to outwardly religious people whose lives were devoid of true righteousness. It put sinners on notice that they must turn from sin and embrace God’s righteousness. Our Lord’s words about eternal life were invariably accompanied by warnings to those who might be tempted to take salvation lightly. He taught that the cost of following Him is high, that the way is narrow and few find it. He said many who call him Lord will be forbidden from entering the kingdom of heaven (cf. Matthew 7:13-23).”

“Lordship salvation” teaches that a true profession of faith will be backed up by evidence of faith.If a person is truly following the Lord, then he or she will obey the Lord’s instructions. A person who is living in willful, unrepentant sin has obviously not chosen to follow Christ, because Christ calls us out of sin and into righteousness. Indeed, the Bible clearly teaches that faith in Christ will result in a changed life (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 5:22–23; James 2:14–26).

Lordship salvation is not a salvation-by-works doctrine. Advocates of lordship salvation are careful to say that salvation is by grace alone, that believers are saved before their faith ever produces any good works, and that Christians can and do sin. However, true salvation will inevitably lead to a changed life. The saved will be dedicated to their Savior. A true Christian will not feel comfortable living in unconfessed, unforsaken sin.

9 Key Teachings set “lordship salvation” apart from easy-believism:

First, Scripture teaches that the gospel calls sinners to faith joined in oneness with repentance (Acts 2:3817:3020:212 Peter 3:9). Repentance is a turning from sin (Acts 3:19Luke 24:47) that consists not of a human work but of a divinely bestowed grace (Acts 11:182 Timothy 2:25). It is a change of heart, but genuine repentance will effect a change of behavior as well (Luke 3:8Acts 26:18-20). In contrast, easy-believism teaches that repentance is simply a synonym for faith and that no turning from sin is required for salvation.

Second, Scripture teaches that salvation is all God’s work. Those who believe are saved utterly apart from any effort on their own (Titus 3:5). Even faith is a gift of God, not a work of man (Ephesians 2:1-58). Real faith therefore cannot be defective or short-lived but endures forever (Philippians 1:6; cf. Hebrews 11). In contrast, easy-believism teaches that faith might not last and that a true Christian can completely cease believing.

Third, Scripture teaches that the object of faith is Christ Himself, not a creed or a promise (John 3:16). Faith therefore involves personal commitment to Christ (2 Corinthians 5:15). In other words, all true believers follow Jesus (John 10:27-28). In contrast, easy-believism teaches that saving faith is simply being convinced or giving credence to the truth of the gospel and does not include a personal commitment to the person of Christ.

Fourth, Scripture teaches that real faith inevitably produces a changed life (2 Corinthians 5:17). Salvation includes a transformation of the inner person (Galatians 2:20). The nature of the Christian is new and different (Romans 6:6). The unbroken pattern of sin and enmity with God will not continue when a person is born again (1 John 3:9-10). Those with genuine faith follow Christ (John 10:27), love their brothers (1 John 3:14), obey God’s commandments (1 John 2:3John 15:14), do the will of God (Matthew 12:50), abide in God’s Word (John 8:31), keep God’s Word (John 17:6), do good works (Ephesians 2:10), and continue in the faith (Colossians 1:21-23Hebrews 3:14). In contrast, easy-believism teaches that although some spiritual fruit is inevitable, that fruit might not be visible to others and Christians can even lapse into a state of permanent spiritual barrenness.

Fifth, Scripture teaches that God’s gift of eternal life includes all that pertains to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3Romans 8:32), not just a ticket to heaven. In contrast, according to easy-believism, only the judicial aspects of salvation (e.g., justification, adoption, and positional sanctification) are guaranteed for believers in this life; practical sanctification and growth in grace require a post-conversion act of dedication.

Sixth, Scripture teaches that Jesus is Lord of all, and the faith He demands involves unconditional surrender (Romans 6:17-1810:9-10). In other words, Christ does not bestow eternal life on those whose hearts remain set against Him (James 4:6). Surrender to Jesus’ lordship is not an addendum to the biblical terms of  salvation; the summons to submission is at the heart of the gospel invitation throughout Scripture. In contrast, easy-believism teaches that submission to Christ’s supreme authority is not germane to the saving transaction.

Seventh, Scripture teaches that those who truly believe will love Christ (1 Peter 1:8-9Romans 8:28-301 Corinthians 16:22). They will therefore long to obey Him (John 14:1523). In contrast, easy-believism teaches that Christians may fall into a state of lifelong carnality.

Eighth, Scripture teaches that behavior is an important test of faith. Obedience is evidence that one’s faith is real (1 John 2:3). On the other hand, the person who remains utterly unwilling to obey Christ does not evidence true faith (1 John 2:4). In contrast, easy-believism teaches that disobedience and prolonged sin are no reason to doubt the reality of one’s faith.

Ninth, Scripture teaches that genuine believers may stumble and fall, but they will persevere in the faith (1 Corinthians 1:8). Those who later turn completely away from the Lord show that they were never truly born again (1 John 2:19). In contrast, easy-believism teaches that a true believer may utterly forsake Christ and come to the point of not believing.

A person who has been delivered from sin by faith in Christ should not desire to remain in a life of sin (Romans 6:2). Of course, spiritual growth can occur quickly or slowly, depending on the person and his circumstances. And the changes may not be evident to everyone at first. Ultimately, God knows who are His sheep, and He will mature each of us according to His perfect time table.

Is it possible to be a Christian and live in lifelong carnality, enjoying the pleasures of sin, and never seeking to glorify the Lord who bought him? Can a sinner spurn the lordship of Christ yet lay claim to Him as Savior? Can someone pray a “sinner’s prayer” and go about his life as if nothing had happened and still call himself a “Christian”? Lordship salvation says “no.” Let us not give unrepentant sinners false hope; rather, let us declare the whole counsel of God: “You must be born again” (John 3:7).

Logos: God Before Time (Part One)

Logos: God Before Time (Part One)

As we begin our chronological study of the Gospels, it is important to realize that the Gospel story begins long before time when the Logos was with God and was God. John, the Beloved Apostle opens our understanding with a powerful theological declaration that echoes Genesis 1:1 and fills in the person and power of the God Who is Before Time…

 

John 1:1

En arkhêi (In the Beginning) ên ho lógos, (the Word was) kaì ho lógos ên pròs tòn theón, (and the Word was with God) kaì theòs ên ho lógos. (and God was the word)

 

NLT: In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.

 

Here, beloved, in this verse begins the story of the Gospels. The Word, the eternal expression of the Godhead, is the focus of the story of the Gospels.

 

Let us look for a moment at Rabbi David Sturn’s exposition on John 1:1 and 2

 

1:1a ‘In the beginning was the Word.’ This echoes the first sentence of Genesis: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The Word is not named as such in Genesis but is immediately seen in action: “And God said, ‘Let there be light’” (Gen. 1:3). God expresses himself as commanding, calling, and creating. This expressing, this speaking, this “Word” is God. A God who does not speak, a wordless God, is no God at all. Word, from the Greek logos, corresponds to the Aramaic memra, a technical, theological term used by rabbis in the centuries before and after Yeshua when speaking of God’s expression of himself. Thus the Messiah existed before all creation (cf. 17:5).

 

1:1b-2 And the Word was with God, and the Word was God.Some qualities of Yochanan (John) that have been considered non-Jewish or of Hellenistic origin in the past are better understood in a Jewish context. One example is its famous use of the Greek term logos: “In the beginning was the Word [logos], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” F. F. Bruce notes, “The term logos was familiar in some Greek philosophical schools,” and “constituted a bridge-word by which people brought up in Greek philosophy…found their way into Johannine Christianity.” At the same time, “The true background to John’s thought and language is found not in Greek philosophy but in Hebrew revelation” (Bruce, The Gospel of John 29). John’s use of logos is rooted in the creation account of Genesis and parallel Jewish discussions of personified wisdom (Pr. 8:22ff.) and of the Aramaic term memra or word. Another example is John’s frequent use of stark contrast, as between light and darkness (1:5ff.; 3:19–21; 12:35–36) or above and below (8:23). As with logos, this usage has been explained in terms of Greek philosophy, which was dualistic, but it actually reflects streams of Second Temple Jewish thought, in particular, the Dead Sea Scrolls.”

 

Let’s look a little deeper at Logos and then we will circle back

 

Word Wealth: The Word

(Greek ho logos) (1:1; 1 John 1:1; Rev. 19:13) Strong’s #3056: This Greek word was used to speak of the principle of the universe, even the creative energy that generated the universe. The term logos may also have some connection with the OT presentation of Wisdom as a personification or attribute of God (see Prov. 8). In both the Jewish conception and the Greek, the Logos was associated with the idea of beginnings—the world began through the origination and instrumentality of the Word (Gen. 1:3). John may have had these ideas in mind, but more likely he used this word in a new way to identify the Son of God as divine. He is the image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15), the express image of God’s substance (Heb. 1:3). In the Godhead, the Son functions as the Revealer of God and is God in reality.

 

John 1:1 is probably the strongest passage in the NT for declaring the deity of Jesus Christ. Because of this, many who deny this biblical doctrine, especially cultists, have attempted to undercut it by arguing that this passage only teaches that Jesus is “a god” and so not fully Deity. This confused position falls on at least two grounds. Such a view is polytheistic, the belief in more than one god. Second, it betrays a misunderstanding of Greek grammar. Verse 1 of the first chapter of John reads, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The last portion of v. 1 is the major point of contention. It reads in the Greek theos en ho logos, or literally, “the Word was God.” God, or theos, occurs in this verse without the Greek article ho, so that some have contended that the lack of the article in the Greek text should cause the statement to be translated “the Word was a god.” The best understanding for the translation, however, as recognized by Greek scholars, is that since theos is a predicate and precedes the noun logos and a verb, it is natural for it to occur here without the article. Greek scholars are agreed that the verse should be translated as it regularly is in modern and ancient translations, clearly affirming that Jesus is indeed God.

 

Now we said that John’s use of Logos is rooted in Hebrew revelation, but how so? Let’s look at the 8th Chapter of Proverbs. The entire chapter deals with Wisdom as a personification; Wisdom, like Logos is a personification of God.

 

8.22: ‘Created me:’ Since ancient times, interpreters have disputed whether the verb “kanah” means “created” or “acquired.” The latter allows for the possibility that wisdom existed from eternity and was coeval with God. Some Christian groups preferred this, since they identified wisdom with the Logos, which was in turn identified with the Christ.

 

8.23 (me not the rabbis) does appear to suggest that Wisdom was a created being. This, however, is translation dependent, and seems to be a matter of dispute.

 

8.24: According to Gen. 1.2, the ‘deep’ (the primordial sea) existed before creation began. Wisdom insists that she preceded in existence even this most primordial of entities. ‘I was brought forth:’ This word is usually used of birth. The background metaphor of divine parenthood is reinforced by v. 30.

 

8.25: The mountains were thought to rest on foundations or on pillars set (miraculously, see Job 38.6) in the abyss or the underworld.

 

8.27-31: Wisdom declares that she was present when God produced the inhabited world. Compare this with John 1:3, “By Him were all things made and without Him was not anything made that has been made.”

 

8:22-24brought . . . forth . . . I was given birth. Together, these expressions depict Wisdom’s delivery in primordial time as the Lord’s daughter. In this case, wisdom issues from the very character of God; it is not something created apart from him. And as an attribute of God, wisdom is a characteristic he employed to create the cosmos (see Introduction: Lady Wisdom; see also Col 1:15-20). Consequently, Lady Wisdom has certain knowledge about God’s ways (cf. 30:3-4).

 

8:22–31 the first of his acts of old (v. 22). The same wisdom that makes this invitation is the wisdom that was present with God when he created the world and established it as a coherent system, for Wisdom (personified) says, I was daily his delight (v. 30; cf. also 3:19–20). The wisdom that enters the lives of the faithful actually enables them to participate in the rationality at the heart of things. This is why the impious are called “foolish” or even “stupid” (12:1); they are self-haters (cf. 8:36). On the question of whether the personification of Wisdom here goes beyond personification and describes an actual person, the Pre-Incarnate 2nd Person of the trinity.

 

A brief detour into the Introductions of the other gospel accounts…Where John lays a very theological preamble to the Gospels for us, Mark is much more succinct and Luke addresses his to a very specific person:

 

Mark 1:1

This is the Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God

 

Luke 1:1-4

Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilledamong us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

 

 

Limited comment on Mark’s Introduction is needed, so I will be brief: Mark’s Gospel account is very fast moving so he does not offer a ton of detail. In his account, we find simply enough information to come to faith in Christ. Luke on the other hand tells us why he wrote and what we can expect to find within his gospel account.

 

Let’s unpack Luke’s introduction a little more…

 

Most Excellent TheophilusOn the one hand, this appellation is a little curious but only if you are not familiar with the customs of Ancient Rome. By referring to Theophilus as most excellent, he identifies the reader as an official in the Roman government. In Acts 26:25, Paul refers to the governor Porcius Festus as, Most Excellent Festus. Luke addresses the book of Acts to the same person and given Paul’s appeal to Caesar at the end of Acts, we have the possibility that Theophilus was a Praetor (magistrate) who had become a Christian and now wanted to examine the facts behind his faith.

 

We know that Luke was a physician that traveled with Paul (Colossians 4:14) but he writes with the skill of both an historian and a lawyer. Luke states that this will be an orderly account and I personally believe that this account was submitted as part of Paul’s legal defense.

 

Now, circling back to our study of John 1:1

 

“In the beginning” In these powerful words John tells us that Jesus was before time and by saying God was the Word, John identifies the Jesus as being co-existent and co-eternal with God the Father.

 

In part two, we will look deeper at the pre-existence of Jesus and His role as creator.

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