The Divine Intention of the Cross (Part 4)

Continued from part 3

I ended the last post on this theme by recommending John Owen’s book “The Death of Death in the Death of Christ.” It is a majestic work. Though written many decades ago, I believe the arguments presented there remain unrefuted.

Here’s what we need to think through. If we as Christians believe that Christ really did make an atonement for sin… if we believe He made an actual rather than a merely hypothetical atonement that really did remove the wrath of God on behalf of sinners, then we need to think through the logical consequences of that.

As John Owen makes clear in the book, if Christ made an actual atonement for sin, then by resistless logic, the following must therefore be true:

“The Father imposed His wrath due unto, and the Son underwent punishment for, either:

1) All the sins of all men.
2) All the sins of some men, or
3) Some of the sins of all men.

In which case it may be said:

That if the last be true, all men have some sins to answer for, and so, none are saved.

That if the second be true, then Christ, in their stead suffered for all the sins of all the elect in the whole world, and this is the truth.
But if the first be the case, why are not all men free from the punishment due unto their sins?

You answer, “Because of unbelief.”

I ask, “Is this unbelief a sin, or is it not? If it is, then Christ suffered the punishment due unto it, or He did not. If He did, why must that hinder them more than their other sins for which He died? If He did not, He did not die for all their sins!”

Continue reading

Understanding 2 Peter 2:1

Question: Pastor John, I have very much enjoyed reading your insights in the series “The Divine Intention of the Cross” but while I do not deny what you have written, still have a lingering question. In 2 Peter 2:1 it speaks of false teachers who deny the Master that “bought them.” Is this not a clear verse teaching universal atonement – that Christ died for everyone?

Thanks for your question. 2 Peter 2:1 reads:

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.

In this passage, Peter is giving a warning to the church in just the same way that Paul and Jude do elsewhere. The message is that false teachers will arise seeking to steer God’s people into error – such error in fact, that they are called destructive or “damnable heresies.” (KJV)

Some false teachings are worse than others. It is never good to miss the mark on any theological point, but there are some errors that are so bad, they cross the line between orthodoxy and heresy to the point that if they are believed, they damn the soul. These are big issues rather than small ones: things such as the deity of Christ (Jesus said, “unless you believe that I AM you will die in your sins” John 8:24); the Gospel itself (Gal. 1:8,9); or the denial that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh (1 John 4).

So Peter is writing to alert God’s people concerning the false prophets who will inevitably come in amongst the flock. Old Testament history often records the fact that God’s people have endured far more grief from the enemy within rather than the enemy without. God, in His wisdom, has allowed many false prophets and teachers to have a voice, while always protecting His elect people from their deception.

Jesus in fact made similar warnings. In Matthew 24: 24 we read, “For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand.” Thankfully, the “if possible” statement alerts us to the fact it is not possible for God’s elect people to be deceived by these false christs and false prophets. The elect will not fall for the grandiose worldwide deception, but not because of their great natural wisdom and insight, but because God preserved them as His elect people. His sheep hear His voice and follow Him and a stranger they will not follow (John 10). Continue reading

Max McLean Performs Mark’s Gospel

For many years I have been something of a fan of Max McLean. He is widely recognized for his outstanding voice recordings of the Bible, both in the NIV and ESV, but that is by no means the end of his talent. For years he has thrilled audiences with his public performances of Genesis and of Mark’s Gospel, requiring both an amazing memory and remarkable acting skills.

I’ve had the privilege of meeting Max a couple of times while at Ligonier Ministries Pastors’ Conferences and consider him to be a super talented and yet humble man of God with a close relationship with the Lord.

This morning I was thrilled to learn that his performance of Mark’s Gospel is now available on DVD. More than that, it is available to watch free of charge through youtube. As just a sample, here is Max “performing” Mark chapter 4 where Jesus teaches on the Parable of the Sower:

Justin Taylor has taken the time to post each of the 16 chapters of Mark at his site here. Enjoy!

The Divine Intention of the Cross (Part 3)

continued from namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.”

“Taste death for everyone….” Surely “everyone” means everyone, right?

Well usually, yes, but not always. This in fact has to be determined by the context in which the words are spoken. For example, if a teacher asks his class of students, “Is everyone present?” he is not asking if everyone on the planet is present in the room, but rather all the students enrolled in the class. Context is key. That’s how the word “everyone” is used. Context determines what is meant by the words.

The question in Hebrews 2:9 is whether “everyone” refers to all human beings without distinction, or whether it refers to everyone within a certain group (as in the above illustration, “everyone” of the students enrolled in the class).

To determine the answer to that question, lets now read Hebrews 2: verses 9 -10 together: Continue reading

Star Size Comparisons

Psalm 8:3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4 what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? 5 Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.

David, the Psalmist, understood far less about the Universe than we do in the 21st century, and yet he knew enough to be able to make the connection between the observable heavens and the astonishing fact that God is actually interested in us. Of course, He is more than interested. But why? What on earth is of interest to God?

David asked the question this way, “What is man that You think of him?” Its a question God never answers for us in Scripture. He never tells us why He loves us. Yet, for reasons known only to God, He has decided to set His love on us, and to redeem a vast number of former rebels and despisers of His, out of every tribe, tongue, people group and nation (Rev 5:9), giving them salvation and endless joy in His presence forever! God actually entered into our world and became a man, so that He could be the Savior of men. The fact that “Christ came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15) is something that should overwhelm and amaze us. Why would He even bother with us? What is man that He even remembered how to find us, let alone would come to save us? In considering the vastness of the heavens, let us, like David, be humbled and amazed that God thinks of us and loves us.

It is extremely difficult to even begin to grasp the gigantic size of objects in space but perhaps this short video will help.

Final Reminder (unless there’s another one)

FINAL REMINDER (well, unless there’s another one)

Entry for the giveaway ends at midnight on December 31st, 2010. Perhaps God has Sovereignly decreed from all eternity that you should be a winner; and if so, He has ordained that this would be accomplished through the means of you clicking here and fulfilling the instructions.

Dont just say, “if God has ordained it, it will just happen.” God uses means to accomplish His ends. 🙂

He may not have ordained that you win, but one thing is for sure, He will have ordained that you do not, if in fact you do not enter.

God bless.

The Divine Intention of the Cross (Part 2)

Part 1 is found offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.
12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God,
13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet.
14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

Did Christ’s sacrifice perfect for all time everybody on the planet (past, present and future)? Surely not, unless we believe in universalism (that everyone will be saved).

In John 15, Jesus taught us that true love can be seen in laying a life down for friends:
13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends.
14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.
15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
16 You did not choose me, but I chose you…

In Galatians 2:20, Paul wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Can a non Christian affirm that like Paul, he was crucified with Christ? Surely not! Continue reading

Dr. Wayne Grudem on whether God’s revelation has really stopped

Adrian Warnock (in the UK) writes: “Dr. Wayne Grudem is well known as a reformed theologian. Arguably he and John Piper have between them, with some help from Tim Keller and D.A. Carson, led to this resurgence of “Young Restless and Reformed” that so many people talk about. So when a man like that argues that God has not stopped speaking since completing the Bible, it is worth listening to what he has to say. Wayne is theologically charismatic (believing that the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are for today) and argues that prophecy is still available today, representing what God is saying to individual Christians rather than the whole world.”

Here is a video of part of an interview Adrian had with Dr. Grudem.

Wayne Grudem on whether God’s revelation has really stopped or not from Adrian Warnock on Vimeo.

Miscellaneous Quotes (4)

A day is coming when banknotes will be as useless as rags, and gold will be as worthless as the dust of the earth. A day is coming when thousands will care nothing for the things for which they once lived, and will desire nothing so much as the things which they once despised. The mansions and palaces will be forgotten in the desire of a “house not made with hands.” The favor of the rich and great will be remembered no more, in the longing for the favor of the King of kings. The silks, and satins, and velvets, and laces, will be lost sight of in the anxious need of the robe of Christ’s righteousness. All will be altered, all will be changed in the great day of the Lord’s return. – Bishop J. C. Ryle, Practical Religion pg. 40 Continue reading

A Christmas letter to my 14 year old son

Here’s a letter I wrote to my son this Christmas:

Christmas 2010

Dear Son,

This is a letter that attempts to explain some of your Christmas presents this year. I will try not to make it too long. I will be writing separately to each of your siblings, but this letter is especially for you.

I love you very much and I am extremely proud to be your Dad. I still vividly remember the day of your birth. You will only comprehend what I felt, should God in His grace give you children of your own. I pray that you will experience this same joy. When I saw you for the first time, it was the proudest moment of my life. I have since had the joy of seeing 3 other children born into this world and with each one, the same overwhelming emotion filled my heart.

One of the things about life is that with great privilege comes great responsibility, and because it is an amazing privilege to be a father, with it comes the responsibility of being a good one. The Bible tells parents, especially fathers, to bring their children up in the ways of God. There is a passage in Ephesians 6 and it says, “1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Continue reading