Gospel Incarnation

Jesus Our Sinless Sacrifice

Christian theology explains in succinct statements that it is Jesus that overcomes sin and death (Romans 6:8-10; 16:20; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Hebrews 2:14). Since it was Jesus who was promised to die for sin, then it is true we cannot die for our own sin. Our sin produces death (James 1:15), yet we cannot live purely enough in life nor die enough in our death to pay for our sin (Romans 3:23; 6:23). This is humanity under the fall, our sinful flesh.

One theologian explains flesh in the Pauline sense of the word often refers to the actual form of our humanity under the fall, and Scripture asserts that Christ assumed human, fallen, and sinful flesh. “That must mean that the flesh he assumes is not to be thought of in some neutral sense, but as really our flesh. He has come to redeem us, to destroy our sin in human flesh; and therefore he becomes what we are that he might raise us up to where he is.” This is an appeal to the patristic notion of the “wonderful exchange,” whereby Christ becomes what we are so that we may become what he is. Such an understanding necessitates an understanding the Son’s assumption of a fallen human nature. This fallen, sinful flesh is referred to as the “House of Bondage” which Christ’s obedience turned into the “House of God,” the place where God dwells.
In order to make sense of this point we must, along with Herman Ridderbos, insist that ‘in approaching the Pauline doctrine of sin, we must not orient ourselves in the first place to the individual and personal, but to the redemptive-historical and collective points of view.’ In light of such Pauline texts as Romans 8:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 2 Corinthians 8:9, and Philippians 2:6, we must view sin as the supra-individual mode of existence in which one shares before we see it as an individual act. By viewing sin in this Pauline way, we can more fully see how it was that Christ could ‘be sin for us’ (2 Corinthians 5:21), that is, assume a sinful human nature, and yet remain perfectly sinless.

John Owen explains it this way:

The body is not only doomed to death by reason of original sin, as death entered upon all on that account; but the body must be brought to death, that sin may be rooted out of it. Sin has taken such a close, inseparable habitation in the body, that nothing but the death of the body can make a separation. The body must be dead because of sin. … Here lies the great mystery of the grave under the covenant of grace, and by virtue of the death of Christ. … A secret virtue shall issue out from the death of Christ unto the body of a believer laid in the grave, that shall eternally purify it, at its resurrection, from every thing of sin.

Be not afraid to enter into darkness: as there is no sting in death, so there is no darkness in the grave. It is but lying so long in the hands of the great Refiner [Jesus}, who will purge, purify, and restore you. Therefore, lie down in the dust in peace.

Owen explains elsewhere:

We cannot die for sin. Our hope and faith is, in and through him, that we shall never die for sin. No mortal man (unbelieving person) can be made like unto Christ in suffering for sin. Those that undergo what he underwent, because they were unlike him, must go to hell and be made more unlike him to eternity.

And this:


Even death itself brings a terror with it, that nothing can conquer but faith; I mean, conquer duly. He is not crowned, that does not overcome by faith. It is only to be done through the death of Christ, he “freed those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” (Hebrews 2:15). There is no deliverance that is true and real, from a bondage-frame of spirit [with reference] to death, but by faith in Christ.

James 1 Quotations Romans

What Sin Requires

Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.

Death is the end of sin (Rom. 6:23; James 1:15). Sin has entangled into humanity to such an extent that death is required to rip it out. Sin is a part of humanity’s DNA. You cannot be human and not not sin. In other words, if you are human (and if you are reading this, I assume you are human!), you sin because you are a sinner. You cannot never sin. This is why we must all die; because we are sinners by nature, by our corrupted humanity, by our DNA.

The great Puritan thinker, John Owen, says it this way:

“The body is not only doomed to death by reason of original sin, as death entered upon all on that account; but the body must be brought to death, that sin may be rooted out of it. Sin has taken such a close, inseparable habitation in the body, that nothing but the death of the body can make a separation. The body must be dead because of sin. … Here lies the great mystery of the grave under the covenant of grace, and by virtue of the death of Christ. … A secret virtue shall issue out from the death of Christ unto the body of a believer laid in the grave, that shall eternally purify it, at its resurrection, from every thing of sin.

Be not afraid to enter into darkness: as there is no sting in death, so there is no darkness in the grave. It is but lying so long in the hands of the great Refiner [Jesus}, who will purge, purify, and restore you. Therefore, lie down in the dust in peace.”

And this is why Jesus came, was born of a virgin, lived a perfect life, fulfilled the whole law God required of humanity, paid the penalty of sin by dying on the cross, was raised from the dead on the third day according to the Scriptures, and ascended to the right hand of the Father, and is seated now representing us in Heaven with glorified body.

Gospel Skepticism

Struggle of Life

Have you struggled with the way life is and the way it should be?

People fall into one of three philosophies of thought when struggling through this tension: Theist (We can know God), Agnostic (I’m not sure God exists or that we can know), and Atheist (We cannot know).

For the theist, the presence of evil is proof God exists; for the agnostic, evil creates a huge question in the mind; Atheists see evil as proof God does not exist.

At best, I am a theist. At worst, I am agnostic of the Mark 9:24 variety. Doubting Dawkins and Atheism’s Strength demonstrate the achilles heal of Atheism. Atheism is not a tenable option for me.

One honest atheist explains (please pardon some of the wording),

In a godless universe shit happens without rhyme nor reason. Life is predatory from the ground up. Creatures eat one another by trapping unsuspecting victims in unusual ways, launching surprise attacks out of the blue, and hunting in packs by overpowering prey with brute force and numbers. Sometimes a creature just goes wacko for no reason at all. Humans are not exempt. Sometimes the wiring in our brains goes haywire and we snap. We too are violent and we inherited this trait from our animal predecessors. We also show care and concern to our kith and kin but we can lash out in horrific ways at what we consider an uncaring world.

David Heddle remarks,

On the one hand, a very illuminating observation. On the other hand it is nothing more than yet another attempt at the proof of godlessness by the existence of evil. Axiomatic atheism is, if you will, a one-trick pony: Bad things happen, ergo no god. They also throw in “show me god exists” – a reasonable request from their perspective—but this is a negative statement rather than a positive. The only positive argument atheism has is, as Loftus puts it, shit happens. He writes:

In a universe where there is an all powerful, perfectly good, all knowing God this tragedy is not what we would expect to happen.

Here Loftus is 100% wrong. He is operating under the misguided assumption that Christianity is a religion that teaches shit never happens.

The bible teaches us to enjoy life, God’s bounty, and temporal happiness. It also promises, like a prescription medication: side effects may include pain, despair, suffering, lapses into grievous sin, weakness, apparent senselessness, persecution, misery, and physical death. Why atheists think that fallen man in a fallen world behaving exactly as the bible tells us is somehow a problem for Christianity is unfathomable. Shit happens. Loftus is correct that a godless world predicts as much. He is incorrect that a world with the god of the bible does not. Both hypotheses fit the data.

Heddle is spot on. But further, I would say that many people see God as a Ivory-Tower God, a God that is disconnected from His creation in any meaningful way.

If God were an Ivory-Tower God, then Atheists would be correct

But God is not an Ivory-Tower God but a God who can identify with our suffering.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “The joy of God has gone through the poverty of the manger and the agony of the cross; that is why it is invincible, irrefutable.” We need a suffering Savior. We need a Savior who has tasted the cup of horror we are being forced to drink.

But more to the point, as Peter Kreeft goes so far as to say, “If good and evil exist, God exists. The struggle of life is a struggle for faith, but not just faith but faith in Jesus, our Emmanuel.

Glory of God Gospel

Who Is Jesus?

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. ~John 1:1-5

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. ~Hebrews 1:1-4

Jesus is

  • God’s final Word to man
  • God
  • Creator of all things
  • Mediator between God and man
  • Life
  • Light
  • Overcomer of darkness
  • Heir of all things
  • the radiance of God’s glory
  • Exact imprint of God’s nature
  • Upholder of the universe by the word of His power
  • Power
  • Purifier of sins
  • Superior

Who is Jesus?


Jesus saved a people out of the land of Egypt?

Jude 5 says,

Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.

For some this verse gives people pause. Obviously, Jesus is not directly mentioned in that Exodus account. So what gives?

El Shaddai1 (yes, that’s his real name!), helps shed light on this issue. He explains, “I submit that another verse has more meaning and impact on the process of translation. That is, Luke 24:25-27 –

“He said to them, “How unwise and slow you are to believe in your hearts all that the prophets have spoken! Didn’t the Messiah have to suffer these things and enter into His glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted for them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.” (HCSB)

He continues,

“If Jesus himself provided interpretation, should we be using Christian Bibles? That is, Bibles that emphasize and underscore the connections of Christ between OT/NT rather than separate them into the partial and perfect. Do we need two versions of the Hebrew texts? One for original context studies and one for Christian interpretation?

What does it say about non-evangelical Bibles like the RSV, NRSV, NET, REB, etc. that don’t deliberately draw this out? The context of Christ is the OT; the context of Christianity is the NT. How many times has a translation been rejected or criticized because the translators didn’t “jump to Jesus” and interpret messianic fulfillment back into the (OT) Scriptures? Are they not Christian Bibles? Or should that be, not Christ Bibles?”

I confess that many would claim this is not “proof” of concept, or another way of saying it, the way Jude 5 expresses that Jesus led the Exodus is not sufficient enough to use Jesus as the interpretive key of the Old Testament.

Theological Musings directly addresses this issue with Jude 5 from the perspective of manuscripts.

“…regarding the variant reading of Jude 5. There are a number of differences one encounters when dealing with the Greek text of Jude 5. I would like to list the variant reading and the manuscripts that support them before I tell why I chose the reading Ιησους over Κυριος.”

I suggest you read TM’s full article; it’s short and a good read, plus he offers other resources for study regarding this issue. Go on. I’ll wait…..

Gospel Skepticism

Reasons Why I Would Reject Christianity

I would reject the Christian faith for the following reasons:

1. The resurrection was found falsified or a lie beyond a shadow of a doubt (1 Corinthians 15:12-19).
2. There was a compelling reason for me to reject Christianity and look to another religion– vis-a-vis something better than Jesus Christ’s resurrection.

We hold tight to the cross of Christ and His resurrection because, “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:19).

Adoption Gospel Love of God

Rinse, Repeat, Rinse, and Repeat Again (Reflections on Our Justification)

If you are like me, you hardly ever have to convince yourself of your sinfulness. Temptations abound and sin is ever present. But what you must convince yourself of is the extent to which your Justification reaches. You must continually think on how your Justification affects everything in which you may be involved- job, unpleasant co-workers, family life, social pressures, and self-doubt just to name a few.

How does our Justification affect how we handle our job, family life, and social pressures?

Understanding our Justification begins by striving to understand the nature of God. Within God’s Trinitarian essence, we see the Father loving the Son (John 5:20). This love with which God loves the Son is an everlasting love. In other words, there has not been a time in which the Father has not loved the Son. This is demonstrated by the Father’s full acceptance of the Son. When a person is loved, he is fully and completely accepted.

Jesus, Who is righteous, became as one who is unrighteous, yet without sin. He was born under the law in order to fulfill the law but was treated as one who broke the law, and He did this so that we might become the righteousness of God and adopted as Sons. Christ not only is righteous, but He accrued righteousness on our behalf because He fulfilled the law. Christ fulfilling the law is a complete fulfillment, in that, there is not one part of the law for us to fulfill; absolutely nothing left for us to fulfill. (Matthew 5:17; Galatians 3:10; Romans 8:4; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Philippians 1:11; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 3:9; Galatians 4:5).

Jesus, Who possessed the full and complete love and acceptance of the Father did everything required to gain the full and complete love and acceptance of the Father, for us. So that, through faith in Jesus, we possess all of the righteousness He Himself accrued which is imputed to us and our sin imputed upon Him. Once we possess this love and acceptance, nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:39). We are then fully and completely loved and accepted by the Father.

Our justification is not merely a forensic declaration of being righteous. It is certainly nothing less than that, but it is not merely the declaration of being righteous. We are fully and completely loved by the Father.

We must remind ourselves of these truths particularly when we struggle with doubt, temptation, guilt, and sin.

Have you struggled with doing your devotions? consistently? Have you caught yourself thinking, “I haven’t done my devotions consistently enough, so I will read my Bible for one full hour (as punishment),” even though we may not explicitly express it that way.

Do you struggle with consistently tithing? Have you ever thought, “I need to give $20 more each week to make up for my lack of consistency” ?

Do you struggle with anger? Have you found yourself thinking, “I can’t control my anger. I might as well give up trying” ?

Do you find yourself arguing with people all the time (the subject doesn’t matter)? Do you think “I can not help it that I’m always right and they’re always wrong”?

But when we think in these ways, we say that Christ’s complete fulfillment of the whole law is not enough; Christ’s accomplishment of acquiring the Father’s full love and acceptance is incomplete. We really believe that God’s love and acceptance of us is not enough; there is something more outside of Himself.

We think our effort of reading Scripture is a means to get back God’s full and complete love and acceptance of us.

We have placed a price on God’s love at a mere $20 instead of the priceless (and all sufficient) blood of Jesus which paid for our sin and guilt.

We struggle with anger because we truly believe we are superior to others, no one else thinks properly like I do, or we simply do not see people as made in the image of God.

We find ourselves arguing over anything and everything because we simply must be right. We have failed to recognize that Christ’s finished work frees us from this self-imposed law of “being right”.

We do not see that the Father’s love and acceptance of us is all we need; we do not need to be right all the time.

We are either thinking “I must do something to gain the Father’s full and complete love and acceptance,” or “there is something more I must have outside of God”. We are not remembering that “neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, (nor our lack of consistency in our devotions), (nor anger), (nor being right), nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39). Oh, what love is this!

Yes, we must strive to do better in the areas of which we struggle, but our motivation must flourish from the Gospel, the Good News that we are Justified by faith in Jesus Who is our righteousness and has gained the full and complete love and acceptance of the Father for us! Let this truth pour over your soul like pure water over a parched tongue; rinse, repeat, rinse, and repeat again.

Eschatology Hermeneutics

Israel Part Four

In Matthew’s gospel Jesus refers to Himself—in relatively rapid succession—as the greater temple (12:6), a greater Jonah (12:41), and a greater Solomon (12:42). In other words, He is the greatest Prophet, Priest, and King, and thus “the ultimate” of every institution that comprises the distinct character of Israel. To reiterate the point you make above, He essentially identifies Himself as the New Israel.

In A House for My Name, Peter Leithart elaborates on this theme: “In Pilate’s Praetorium, the Jews renounce Jesus, choosing death over life. But the Israel of God is never dead for long. Israel has died before. . . . But when Old Israel dies, Yahweh, the Lord of life, brings a New Israel from the grave. The death and resurrection of Jesus, who is the true Jacob and Israel, who is the temple flowing with living water, is the sign that a New Israel will be born. The Jews have rejected their King and destroyed their temple, but out of their dead bones the Spirit brings forth living stones for a holy house, an army that cannot be numbered.” (Peter J. Leithart, A House for My Name: A Survey of the Old Testament (Moscow, ID: Canon Press, 2000), 262-63

Eric Adams is currently forging a series of short articles about being Jewish. I have posted them below with their original links.

What about Acts 7:38?

Eric writes,
I have been skimming Christ’s Prophetic Plans, which is a primer on Dispensational Eschatology. I would like to write a review or a response at some point, but I can’t let this pass:

Richard Mayhue asserts, “Furthermore, never in the whole New Testament is ‘Israel’ ever called ‘the church'” (page 82).

This is patently false. Stephen refers to Israel as the church in his sermon:

“This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness together with the angel who was speaking to him on Mount Sinai, and who was with our fathers; and he received living oracles to pass on to you” (Acts 7:38).

“The congregation” is the Greek word, ekklesia, which is the word for the church. Thus, Stephen calls Israel the church.

So, whenever you find yourself listening to a Dispensationalist wax eloquent about how Israel is never called the church, simply ask, “What about Acts 7:38?”

See here for the original article.

Was Ruth a Jew?

In my previous post, I argued that the fatal flaw of Christ’s Prophetic Plans is that the authors assume that Israel/Jew is defined strictly by ethnicity. In the next few posts, I want to explore the ramifications of such a presupposition.

If Israel is defined strictly by ethnicity, then no one could ever become a Jew. You were either born a Jew or you were not. Nothing that you ever did would change that.

What about Ruth? Ruth was a Moabite; she was not born a Jew. If Israel/Jew is strictly an ethnic designation, then Ruth could never become a Jew because no one can become a Jew. She was a Gentile who got in on the promises.

However, this is not what the Scriptures teach. Ruth herself claimed, “Your people shall be my people” (Ruth 1:16). She saw herself becoming part of Israel. She became a Jew.

The only way this is possible is if Israel/Jew is not strictly an ethnic designation. In the Bible, Israel/Jew is a religious designation with ethnic implications.

Was Ruth a Jew? Not by birth, but by conversion, Ruth became a Jew. She was grafted into Israel, and both she and all of her progeny became Jews.

See here for the original article.

Was Boaz a Jew?

The most fundamental error that Dispensationalists make is in restricting their definitions of Israel and Jew to ethnicity. One who is born a Jew is always a Jew, and nothing can change this. Likewise, no one can become a Jew because blood alone determines whether one is a Jew. Blood alone defines Israel.

Dispensationalists continually pound this pulpit, yet they show little awareness of the difficulties surrounding such a definition. Specifically,
How much Jewish blood makes someone a Jew?
In a mixed marriage (Jew + Gentile), does it matter which party is Jewish?
I will deal with both of these questions in the next few posts.

Matrilineal Descent?
In a mixed marriage, does it matter which party is Jewish?

Some branches of Modern Judaism define Israel/Jew partly according to matrilineal descent. That is, one is a Jew if their mother is a Jew. Thus, a Jewish mother begets Jewish children, regardless of the ethnicity of the Father.

The problem with defining Israel/Jew according to matrilineal descent is that this excludes some famous Jews, such as Boaz.

Boaz’s mother was Rahab, who was a Canaanite. She was not Jewish, and thus, according to matrilineal descent, Boaz was not a Jew.

Also, Boaz married Ruth, who was a Moabite. Thus, their son, Obed, was not a Jew, according to matrilineal descent.

Technically, neither Judah nor any of the other sons of Jacob would be Jews, as Leah, Rachel, Bilhah, and Zilpah were not Jewish. Thus, according to strict matrilineal descent, none of the twelve sons of Israel were Jewish.

Of course, Modern Judaism has an answer for this dilemma, which I will explore in a future post.

Also, I know of no Dispensationalist who defines Israel/Jew according to matrilineal descent. I am not suggesting or implying this in any way.

I am simply ruling out defining Israel/Jew according to strict matrilineal descent.

See here for the original article.

Was Jesus a Jew?

Dispensationalists consistently emphasize that God made promises to the Jews, and these promises must be fulfilled for the Jews.

This raises the question: Who are these Jews who will inherit the promises?

Dispensationalists insist that a Jew is someone who is ethnically descended from Abraham through Isaac and Jacob. Blood alone defines Israel.

This raises the question: Is Israel defined by matrilineal descent (through the mother) or by patrilineal descent (through the father)?

In my previous post, I demonstrated that matrilineal descent alone is an invalid way to define Israel/Jew. This eliminates Boaz, Obed, and technically, even Judah, from Israel because their mothers were not Jewish.

Patrilineal Descent?
What about patrilineal descent?

This seems to make more sense. All genealogies in the Bible trace the male line. The promises were given to males and renewed with males. The male descendents were circumcised. Patrilineal descent seems more Biblical.

However, patrilineal descent alone is insufficient to define Israel/Jew because of one obvious exception: Jesus.

If being a Jew is defined by one’s father, then Jesus is not Jewish because his Father is not Jewish.

As Archie Bunker once retorted when reminded that Jesus was Jewish: “Yes, but only on his mother’s side.”

This one enormous exception means that patrilineal descent alone cannot be used to define Israel/Jew.

See here for the original article.

Christianity Religion Skepticism

Is Jesus the Only Way to God?

“If you believe that he’s the resurrected Son of God, you have to believe he’s the way in.” ~Tim Keller

Church Eschatology Hermeneutics

Israel Part Two

RC Sproul answers the question, Is It True That God Blesses Those Who Bless Israel and Curses Those Who Curse Israel?1

Sproul writes, the non-Dispensational view “affirms that that Israel which is actually Israel, just as with the promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:3, applies to those who are in Christ, who trust in His finished work.” He continues, the non-Dispensational view “see[s] this is as the outworking of the truth of Galatians 3:7- ‘Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.’ We …do not believe God replaced Israel with the church. We believe instead that there has always been only one people of God, those who believe.”

Justin Taylor discusses the topic Jesus As the New Israel2

Taylor explains, “The New Testament authors understood Jesus to be the culmination of the Old Testament.”

Here is a good, concise summary of the Israel/remnant theme from a New Testament perspective:

. . . Jesus had become a remnant of one. He was the embodiment of faithful Israel, the truly righteous and suffering servant.

Unlike the remnant of the restoration period, he committed no sin (Isaiah 53:9; 1 Peter 2:22).

As the embodiment of the faithful remnant, he would undergo divine judgment for sin (on the cross), endure an exile (three days forsaken by God in the grave), and experience a restoration (resurrection) to life as the foundation of a new Israel, inheriting the promises of God afresh.

As the remnant restored to life, he becomes the focus of the hopes for the continued existence of the people of God in a new kingdom, a new Israel of Jew and Gentile alike.

As the nucleus of a renewed Israel, Christ summons the “little flock” that will receive the kingdom (Daniel 7:22, 27; Luke 12:32) and appoints judges for the twelve tribes of Israel in the new age (Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:30).

The church is viewed as the Israel of that new age (Galatians 6:16), the twelve tribes (James 1:1), “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession” (Exodus 19:6; 1 Peter 2:9).

A sinful nation, Israel could not suffer vicariously to atone for the sins of the world. The sinfulness of the nation made it unacceptable for this role, just as flaws would disqualify any other offering. Only a truly righteous servant could bear this awful load.

—Tremper Longman III and Raymond B. Dillard, “Isaiah,” An Introduction to the Old Testament, 2d ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006), 315.

The two best books I’ve read on this fulfillment theme are Hans LaRondelle’s The Israel of God in Prophecy: Principles of Prophetic Interpretation and David Holwerda’s Jesus and Israel: One Covenant or Two? (Keith Mathison has a good review of Holwerda’s volume here.)

Jesus is the true Israel, and the church becomes the Israel of God as it unites to True Israel. The same is true for ethnic Israel, whom God has not abandoned. But their only hope is to be united with Jesus, the ultimate suffering servant.


1 Is It True That God Blesses Those Who Bless Israel and Curses Those Who Curse Israel?

2 Jesus As the New Israel