Confused View of Atonement

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Introduction

The doctrine of atonement has been the center of theological debates since the years following the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Many theories have been developed over the last two thousand years drawing many biblical facts to come into question. The depiction of the crucifixion of Christ that is told in the four Gospels, as well as prophetic writings in the Old Testament, has been documented with enough information that supports the truth pertaining to the how of the atonement. Looking through the many historical events in Theology leading up to the present day, we see a presence of liberal theology based on moral and social ideologies rather than looking with the proper hermeneutic at what Scripture actually tells us. Within many liberal and even conservative evangelical communities, we are seeing how this type of liberal theology and moral theory has distorted the truth of the atonement Weakening the actual definition of atonement by their views, the new modern outlook on the atonement has been widely popularized and many denominations and churches are openly welcoming the nonviolent atonement movement.

Throughout Scripture, atonement is explicitly defined and discussed from the Old Testament to the New Testament writers. From Genesis, the first book in the Bible, we see in the Old Testament which shows the very first example of atonement occurring after the fall where an animal sacrifice was required and made by God to cover the nudity of both Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:21). This requirement shows that God who is just must deal with sin in His manner providing a way of payment for the sin Adam and Eve fell into. In order for God to cover Adam and Eve from their shame there had to be a death or shedding of blood to “cover” the sins committed by Adam and Eve which having their eyes opened drove them into that shame of their nudity.

Atonement Defined

In Exodus, we see the Israelites being set free from their bondage in Egypt. In the Passover, Moses was instructed to communicate to God’s people to sacrifice an animal wiping the blood of the sacrificial animal on the doorpost to escape the impending death from the judgment that God was placing on Egypt (Ex. 12:5-7). The significance of the lamb without blemish stated early in the Old Testament will serve as the model for the ultimate sacrificial lamb Jesus Christ. Also of great significance is the use of blood. The blood spilled by the lamb and wiped on the doorposts depicts the sacrifice as a bloody act. The illustration of the sacrificial lamb here in Exodus shows the death of the body and bloodshed in order to escape the punishment of death.[1] In the Levitical Law, stated in Leviticus as given to man by God instructed man of the act of sacrifice (Lev. 16). The broken relationship between God and man required an act in order to reestablish that strained relationship and this was explained in Leviticus. Though sacrifices did not atone for all sins, the Day of Atonement ritual was designed to do so.[2]

In the Old Testament, the word “atonement” is used in many English translations taken for the manuscripts in that were documented in Hebrew. The Hebrew word “kipper” אֲכַפְּרָ֖[3] is the verb form that is defined as to cover over or propitiate and where the noun form of atonement is “kipporet” כַּפֹּֽרֶת is defined as propitiatory. The first uses of the word atonement are found in Exodus 25 where Moses was referring these words as to make an offering or the subject being an offering. The word propitiation is defined in theological terms as God’s wrath satisfied towards sinners.[4] The atonement is one of a propitiatory nature in which God’s wrath is satisfied by the offering that was made.

The nature of the atonement described in Scripture must be defined with the proper hermeneutic by Scripture with the proper authorial intent to establish the correct foundational understanding so it can serve to be the basis of truth in contrast to the theories that will be discussed. Atonement is the work Christ did in His life and death to earn our salvation.[5] This is a broad definition of atonement but there are several important terms that are related to atonement to fulfill the true definition by Scripture. Penal atonement pertains to the satisfaction of the wrath of God against sin. This is seen in the Garden with Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:13-19), as mankind has fallen into the world system and has been blinded (Eph. 2:2; 2 Cor. 4:4). Substitutionary is defined as Christ being a substitution for sinners to die in their place to cover their sins (Jn. 10:11; Mark 10:45). This is based on the Old Testament sacrificial system of animal sacrifice that was made for their transgressions. Christ’s blood was the propitiation of sin so that God would be just in His punishment of sin. Christ was the sacrifice on our behalf (2 Cor. 5:21) that He gave up Himself (Luke 22:19). So we can deduce from Scripture that the atonement is a substitutionary penal atonement which was the Lord Jesus Christ dying on our place for us a shameful death, bearing our curse, enduring our pain, suffering the wrath of his own Father in our place.[6] Another term for penal substitution is vicarious atonement where Christ was the vicar or a substitute for another who are His elect.

Various Views on Atonement

Throughout theological history, there have been many liberal and conservative theological scholars involved in the debates over what exactly happened on the Cross. The biggest concern that astonishes many past historians and those of our current era, is the question of the violence of the atonement and the misunderstanding of “penal substitutionary atonement”.Theologians have gone outside the Scripture to develop their theories and have replaced the truth of Scripture with personal insight. The evangelical community alone has within it many who hold to the various theories that were developed in the previous generations. Hence, the conundrum or enigma we find ourselves in today.

If we look at the history of the theories of atonement we will find a vast array of opinions that differ in their views causing serious implications to the reasons for the atonement driving a wedge, per se, between many theological camps. If one is to study what some of these theories they contend one will be able to see how the originators influenced many denominations and even the evangelical church today with deep-rooted fallacies on the doctrine of the atonement. All views are based on their personal understanding of the New Testament documentation and rendering of imagery or conceptual metaphors they have come to believe.[7] The history of the church and the changing historical and social atmosphere outside the church have also influenced these viewpoints to find its place in historical theology. Theories of atonement include Christus Victor, ransom theory, satisfaction theory, penal substitution, moral influence, moral government, scapegoat and vicarious repentance. Acknowledging the vast amount of theories that exist today, it is troubling to think that many will have their theology shaped by one of these theories. The various views are discouraging knowing the many false implications that indeed rob the truth that Scripture has documented from God Himself.

One such popular non-violent theory is the Christus Victor theory. This theory contends with the ideology that the atonement of Christ was required to pay a sort of ransom to the devil. Since the fall, Adam and Eve drove humanity into the devils’ dominion. Christ was the Victor against evil and God reconciles the world to Himself.[8] The Gustaf Aurlen’s publication of Christus Victor in 1931 coined the term and with it drew much attention in the church communities.[9] The Christus Victor view is rooted in the incarnation and how Christ entered into human misery and wickedness and thus redeemed it. Prior to Gustaf’s publication, the ransom theory was regarded the dominant theory for almost a thousand years. The Christus Victor theory is seen as a non-violent view of the atonement in many camps. Viewing the atonement through these lens distorts the very message of the Cross and what is truly required for the propitiation. This ideology fails to follow Scripture. It follows the societal worldview of violence during certain eras clouding their mind where they cannot make the connection with the true meaning of atonement. It is a man-made theory of atonement not based on any proper hermeneutical basis.

Growth in appreciation of the Christus Victor theory in Western civilization has been influenced by the moral model or the Moral Theory whose views on sin and evil have become shallow.[10] As social movements are popularized in society the view of the substitutionary atonement is taking a back seat, if you will. with the Protestant denominations incorporating personal and even spiritual dimensions to define the atonement. This unclear reasoning influenced by the world’s opinion has created a wrong anthropological view. It is as if humanity has been relieved of its true nature.

In 1961, there was a publication named Deceit, Desire and the Novel written by Rene Girard. Girard was a French historian, philosopher of social science in the tradition of anthropological Philosophy. This book had introduced a theory that has impacted the view of atonement. This ideology is called “mimesis” or better understood as imitation. This pertains to human actions and how imitative acts happen between people. Gerard believed that violence in society could be better understood by studying the patterns of humans. Gerard argument is that humans are competitive rivals who mimetically imitate one another because we seek the same goal, object or agenda. We do not know what to desire so we watch other people and imitate their desires.[11]  Seeing how the philosophical influence of Girard’s theories on doctrines of the Bible has shaped many of the beliefs of today’s theologians is alarming.

Girard’s theory has aided in reinforcing the nonviolent atonement theory. Citing that rivalries in relationships developed by the imitation of one another, they become so intense that murder spreads throughout the whole community.[12] As the mimetic rivalries escalate, to the point of irresolvable conflict the only solution is to redirect their violence against a separate victim, the scapegoat. The communities find reconciliation as the transfer all their hostilities on the one victim going from an all against all to an all against one. Girard’s view of Romans 1 about God’s wrathful judgment, he describes it not as God’s judgment as much as it is a result of human action upon themselves. The Cross was necessary for exposing mimetic violence ending inherent judgment on the violent structures of life. Jesus was the outsider, the marginalized and the victim. Girard, prior to his death, continued to write many publications supporting his view of Mimesis and developing a wrong view of God which has had a rather large impact on theology and Christian circles dividing denominations. His false views are shown over these works beg to ask “what kind of God is He if he is violent” quickly running to the popularized version of God stating that God is loving and merciful, how could He be violent?

View of Michael Hardin

Looking at Christus Victor, we can clearly see how this movement caused many to see God the Father as some evil governmental ruler where He is trying to prevent evil by violent measures and actions. As Christianity continues to clash with culture, it can be seen in the works of Michael Hardin in his publication “The Jesus Driven Life”. Hardin states, “Just as Hebrews 10:5-8 says, this coming was not to be a sacrifice but was the opposite, it was anti-sacrificial. Jesus did not come to fulfill the logic of the sacrificial system (either Jewish or pagan) but to expose it and put an end to its reign in our lives.”[13]

Hardin cuts way short of the passage to support his translation leaving out verses 9 and 10 which are the main points that highlight the ineffectiveness of the old covenant system which was being been replaced by the new covenant which will accomplish the propitiation once and for all.[14]

Hebrews illustrates the atonement clearly describing the graphic details allowing us to grasp the actions that were delivered to Christ on our behalf. In the tenth chapter and verse twenty, it states that “by a new and living way He inaugurated for us through the veil which is His body”(Heb. 10:20). The word for “new” is πρόσφατον which carries the meaning of something newly killed.[15] This describes that Christ’s death as the veil was torn which was His body and was torn so that we would have access to the Holy of Holies (Matt. 27:51). The veil in the Old Testament Tabernacle was the object that was placed between man and God in His holy place in the Temple (Heb. 9:3). Christ symbolizing the veil was torn or ripped in two signifying the removal of the old way making a new way so that access to God through His death might be available by His death. This graphic representation describes the violent nature of the work on the Cross.

Making Scripture the source of all truth is the proper presupposition. Many of the issues surrounding false views of biblical doctrine are credited to not having the proper view of Scripture. The differences in the theories of atonement are based on flawed biblical interpretation. Not having the presupposition that the Bible is all truth and infallible creates a scenario that will negate any truthful conclusions on doctrines in the Bible. Many have and will continue to develop theological theories outside the Word of God. This problem has plagued proper theological understanding and shows no signs of slowing down. But there must be a presupposition on the violence of the Cross by Scripture and not by man-made assumptions based on social or moral thinking of Western society. As Hardin and many other nonviolent theorists elude to making God out to be a cosmic child abuser who allowed His Son to die for others, there must be a proper Christology formed by proper exegesis. A skewed presupposition will result in a skewed theology.

View of Joel Green

These views of nonviolent atonement as derived from social perspectives and not following the proper contextual analysis of Scripture. Many believe that the context of what is pertaining to the atonement through deep historical criticism As per the nonviolent theorists, the violence of the eras shaped the theology of the penal substitutionary atonement. As the Western cultural thinking has been shaped by freedom, the effectiveness of the false ideologies is thriving. Looking through history we see the violence-stricken cultures of the past and their view on the atonement. It is imaginable to see where those holding a nonviolent atonement can support their views of nonviolent atonement by social or moral influences.

Joel Green, the Dean of the School of Theology and New Testament professor at Fuller Seminary and a well-published author, has written several publications on the view of the Moral Theory and Christus Victor. In his opinion on the substitutionary penal atonement, Green is adamant about his disagreement with this doctrine of atonement. Green develops his view on atonement outside the Scriptures and more so by humanity and their worldview. Green states “one image or model of the atonement is simply inadequate to communicate all that God has done and continues to do on the Cross”.[16] He makes mention that we need to see the atonement in another light stating “that it has less to do with exegesis and historical theology and more to do with the cultural narrative in the West and its emphasis on individualism and mechanism.[17] Green also believes that the legal language of Scripture has been derived from the Western view of the judicial system.and has hampered the true view of atonement.

Green’s prejudicial use of Scripture to support his theories are common among those developing their own theology. The liberal theologians are usually looking for what is not in Scripture and implementing their interpretations instead of looking at what is in Scripture and following it. Dr. Farnell states it clearly “methodology determines theology and an unorthodox methodology will produce an unorthodox theology. Green uses several verses to prove his nonviolent theory in the way the New Testament writers portray Christ, such as how Paul and John refer to Jesus not using the term sacrifice. Paul, using (1 Cor. 5:7), calls Christ the Passover Lamb. John in his Gospel uses the term the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (Jn. 1:29; Jn 1:36; Rev. 5:6). The list continues as Green uses this technique to draw attention away from the truth. Using these verses, is it possible to look at these without any reference to the Old Testament? The Old Testament is explicit in the explanation of the atoning work of the Messiah in the Law, the psalms and by prophetic authorship.

Looking at Green’s use of Paul’s and John’s language omitting any vocabulary that would make any claims to the penal substitutionary atonement, we can see where Paul depicts Christ as an offering and a sacrifice (Eph. 5:2). Paul also describes Christ as our Passover being sacrifice where Paul uses the Passover ritual which was a sacrificial system that was celebrated since the exodus from Egypt. Green summarizes this verse including verses 1-13 as a whole telling that Paul’s allusion is that the Corinthians are set apart from the bondage of sin a distinct people of God. In Romans 8:3 Paul tells of how God offered His Son, speaking of Jesus, as an offering for sin in that for all Christians are considered by God to have fully met the law’s demand because of Christ’s obedience on our behalf.[18] Paul also expresses Jesus Christ as a servant to the Jew first then to the Gentiles. For Green to take this view is to say that he cannot make the connection from the Old Testament to the New Testament. The practices or rituals that were given in the Old Testament pertaining to sacrifice for atonement are seen in the New Testament. Wondering why such an intelligent scholar such as Green can make this simple deduction but most likely refuses to do so since it does not fit his ideology. His view on the use of “blood” in the Pauline texts ( Rom. 3:25; Eph. 1:7; 2:13; Col. 1:20) should be understood symbolically that the execution of Jesus was not markedly bloody.[19] He also makes the assumption that in these texts that Paul speaks of the efficacy of the terms as an exchange where sin and death were transferred to the sacrificial victim, following the nonviolent view supported by Girard’s mimetic theory of Jesus being a victim of an angry Father.Green believes that the metaphor here is more an economic (exchange) rather than penal (satisfaction).Joel Green asserts “that penal substitution “divorces Jesus’ life from the passion event, as though the only significant thing about Jesus was his death. Jesus was born in order to die.”[20] Green speaking on the penal substitutionary view says, “it neglects what we know historically, fails to account for the nature of the witness of the New Testament itself, diminishes the significance of the incarnation, and unacceptably truncates the portrait of faithful human life as the imitation of Christ.”[21]

Proper View of Atonement

Looking at Scripture properly with the correct hermeneutics, we will be able to form a sound argument for penal substitutionary atonement. In the Old Testament, it is depicted in the fall in the Garden where Adam and Eve were tempted, sinned and disobeyed God, (Gen 3:1-24). The fall caused all humanity to be cursed with death as to the consequence of their sin against God (Rom. 6:23). All humanity was given a verdict of guilt and assumed the debt due to the original sin by Adam. As humanity in their wickedness continued to sin and by their disobedience, God’s judgment and wrath were imputed to mankind except for Noah and his family (Gen. 6). This course of action taken by God pouring out His wrath on all the earth by the flood shows His might in a violent partaking.

By God’s perfection of love, He made a way of escape from death by the sacrificial system He supplied for all mankind. Looking at Exodus we see the Passover which required a spotless sacrificial lamb to be slaughtered and the blood to be wiped on the doorpost of each Hebrew dwelling to escape God’s judgment and death on Egypt (Ex. 12:7-13). This signifies that there was a requirement of blood to be spilled and a death. The initial atonement model was given by God displaying an atoning power to this ritual.[22] Passover was commanded to be observed annually where the sacrificial system was still in place in remembrance of the freedom from the bondage from Egypt of God’s people. The sacrificial system became a part of the Israelites life embedded in the lives of the generations that followed.

The Levitical sacrificial system has expanded the ritual that was first shown in Exodus. There was a burnt offering and a fellowship or peace offering (Lev. 1:3-17). There was also the sin offering (Lev. 4:1-35) and the guilt offering (Lev. 5:14-6:7). In each offering, there were similarities in each instance. The animal had to have no blemish representing moral purity. There had to be the placing of hands on the animal’s head showing identification with the victim and the transfer of sins penalty. There had to be death as a required punishment for sin. The sprinkling of blood on the altar by the priest had to be done representing the life of the victim. Finally, the burning of the animal to send the fragrance to God as a pleasing sweet aroma. All this was executed to restore the relationship between God and man to propitiate God’s wrath. The term atonement used in the Old Testament was associated with bloodshed. It was a violent partaking where the death of an animal was certain to pay the ransom. God ordained this system in His love to restore man to Himself. A just and holy God cannot allow sin to go without penalty. Although the sacrificial system was a ritual that paid for sin it did not allow for salvation. The Old Testament salvation was still obtained by faith. These practices were moralistic but not salvific.

The Old Testament view of the Cross can be seen in Psalm 22 as David, the writer depicts the crucifixion. Some have labeled Psalm 22 the “Psalm of the Cross” since it has many references to the execution but more so the crucifixion. This psalm is not one of David’s pain but of Christ. In the days of David, there was no crucifixion taking place so it was a foreign act to him. This makes one think that David’s message here is a prophetic picture to illustrate the suffering to be endured by Jesus as He pays for our sins on the Cross making this not only prophetic but also messianic.[23]

In Isaiah 53, the prophetic depiction of what was to come in regards to Christ and the Cross were given in great detail. Verses (1-3) speak of His suffering as is noted in the third verse, we see the symbolism of Christ illustrated as being despised and forsaken by men who suffered for our transgressions. The verse also tells of Christ as being a man of sorrow knowing grief. To gain a greater understanding of the impact of this passage a look at the word for sorrow in the Hebrew original text is מַכְאֹב or “makav” which takes the meaning or sorrow or full of pain.[24] The verse gives a future view of what happened during Passion week where Jesus Christ was despised as an unwanted man not important enough that the nation did not esteem Him.

As the passage continues, verses (4-9) speak of His penal substitutionary atoning death. It is remarkable to see what unfolds in the fourth verse where to actions of God upon His Son were foretold. Isaiah 53:4 states, “Surely our 1griefs He Himself abore, And our 2sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted.” This verse shows that Christ would be taking upon Himself our griefs, which are our infirmities and sorrows spoken of as Christ’s healing power. In the New Testament, the Gospel of Matthew references Isaiah 53:4 about the healing ministry work of Christ (Matt. 8:16-17). The healing ministry has a view of how illnesses are the direct cause of sin. In the second portion of the verse, we see how the people viewed Christ as the descriptive word used is “stricken” which carries a deeper meaning in the Hebrew text as being touched and afflicted pictured as He was sickened or better translated to be touched violently. The rendering of this word  נגע [25]“naga”, has a nature of action that describes fierce and brutal treatment. Adding to the punishment picture, with the use of “smitten” of God, Isaiah uses נכה[26] “nakah” which shows a drastic picture of one being beaten or struck in the head. Rounding out the verse is the term afflicted or humiliated. The violence of this scene is clear and also being cross-referenced in the New Testament writers. The point that the people saw Christ as stricken has New Testament implications where they believe that Christ was carrying His own sins denying His innocence (Matt. 27:24; Luke 23:4, 14, 22; Jn. 18:38).

The climax of the passage pertaining to the violent substitutionary penal atonement is found in verse five in Isaiah. Verse five is very clear on the atonement of Christ and how this was completed. With violent language with terms such as pierced through, crushed for, chastening for and His encouraging. All terms used for the description of violent actions acted upon another. Tagging along these violent terms is the language of the reasoning behind the actions. Our transgressions and our iniquities are terms which describe the need, the requirement or the propitiation for sin. The penal propitiation, the payment or punishment of crimes committed resulting in the restoration of mankind to God is explained in this verse. It is the use of these terms that were carried over to the New Testament writers to describe the activities that surrounded the crucifixion of Christ (Rom. 4:25; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 9:28; 1 Peter 2:28, 3:18).

In verse six the term “fall” in the English translation does not give a good rendering of the Hebrew word פגע “paga” as it should be translated as to let something hurt someone. As this verse unfolds where it tells of how all of our sins that were placed on Christ by God taking the full weight of all believers’ sins upon the Son. In verse eight, there is another descriptive word in English “stroke” where the stroke was due as it is written should be understood as afflicted and tormented. As Isaiah brings the prophecy to an end, inspired by the Holy Spirit, Isaiah tells of how all the anguish and suffering that Jesus endured our behalf satisfied God’s wrath. The payment was accepted in full. A once for all sacrifice was satisfied and justified (Isa. 53:11).

The New Testament is vivid in its description of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Cross-referencing the Old Testament time and time again the writers of the 26 books of the New Testament are referencing the violent act of the blood that was spilled on our behalf. Looking at the word “blood”, it is used three times more than the word cross. It is a vital ingredient of the sacrifice. The author of Hebrews goes into graphic detail about the sacrifice of Jesus using the word “blood”, Jesus’s blood, in 15 verses in Hebrews (2:14; 9:7, 12, 13, 14, 18, 20, 21, 22; 10:19, 29; 12:24; 13:12, 20)  . The death of Christ was a sacrifice and this sacrifice was tailored from the Old Testament sacrificial system that was a bloody scene.

Conclusion

The New Testament writers were well versed in the Old Testament writings and looked upon these vital inspired Scriptures as the support to what they had witnessed in the life and crucifixion of Jesus Christ. As the prophecy in Isaiah 53 comes to an end, the complete salvific plan of God is revealed as it came to pass in the New Testament. The crucifixion was violent and bloody as depicted in the Levitical sacrificial systems. It is this system that was carried out in the ritual manner which was prophesied in the Old Testament. The animal sacrificial system was not volitional, where the animals decided to be sacrificed but it was the volition of Christ to knowingly suffer the agonizing punishment that He knew was to come as per the Old Testament sacrificial system.

The atoning work of Christ on the Cross was penal and substitutionary. It was marred by violent actions. God’s wrath was poured out unto Him, with the weight of all sins committed by His elect, to bare. There are many scholars today that have taken the truth of Scripture and distorted the writings arriving at false conclusions of the atonement. By means of poor hermeneutics, exegesis and historical criticism a plethora of scholars has veered off the path of truth. They cite that we cannot assume that the penal system of the New Testament mirrored the Old Testament ritual sacrifices to the letter. They also hold to their view that how the Western world views the judicial system influences their understanding of the atonement leading to the penal substitutionary atonement. view. More philosophical and scientific analysis ideologies have crept into the Liberal theology mainstream causing the symbiotic relationship between the two worlds of study to produce unbiblical views. The influence of these scholars and theologians has made its way into the church and biblical teaching institutions which has damaged many minds producing bad theology.The greatest concern for the church today how this wrong view will continue to gain traction in liberal theology circles but more so, in the Evangelical community.

 

 

Bibliography

Abbott-Smith, G. A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament. Forgotten Books, 2016.

Aulen, Gustaf. Christus Victor: An Historical Study of the Three Main Types of the Idea of Atonement. Translated by A. G. Herbert. Eugene, Or: Wipf & Stock Pub, 2003.

Baker, Mark D., and Joel B. Green. Recovering the Scandal of the Cross: Atonement in New Testament and Contemporary Contexts. 02 edition. Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Academic, 2011.

Bartlett, Anthony. Cross Purposes: The Violent Grammar of Christian Atonement. 1 edition. Harrisburg, Pa: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2001.

Boice, James Montgomery. Psalms Voume 1: Psalms 1-41. Pbk. Ed edition. Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Books, 2005.

Demarest, Bruce, and John S. Feinberg. The Cross and Salvation: The Doctrine of Salvation. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway, 2006.

Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Leicester, England : Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 1994.

Hardin, Michael, Walter Wink, Brian McLaren, Brad Jersak, and Tony Bartlett. The Jesus Driven Life: Reconnecting Humanity with Jesus. Second edition. Lancaster, PA: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2015.

Holladay, William Lee. A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament: Based upon the Lexical Work of Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans Pub Co, 1972.

Jeffery, Steve, Michael Ovey, Andrew Sach, and John Piper. Pierced for Our Transgressions: Rediscovering the Glory of Penal Substitution. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway, 2007.

Jr, John F. MacArthur. Hebrews: New Testament Commentary. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1983.

Koehler, Ludwig, and Walter Baumgartner. The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, 2 Volume Set. Translated by M. E. J. Richardson. Study Guide edition. Leiden ; Boston: Brill Academic Pub, 2002.

Lane, William L., John D. W. Watts, and Ralph P. Martin. Hebrews. Edited by David Allen Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker. S.l.: Zondervan, 2017.

MacArthur, John, ed. NASB, MacArthur Study Bible, Bonded Leather, Black. Updated edition. Place of publication not identified: Thomas Nelson, 2006.

MacArthur, John, and Richard Mayhue, eds. Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2017.

New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition by D. A. Carson/R. T. France/Alec Motyer/Gordon J. Wenham (Eds.) (29-Apr-1994) Hardcover. Revised edition edition. IVP, 1994.

Sanders, John, ed. Atonement and Violence: A Theological Conversation. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2006.

“Violence and Religion: Cause or Effect?” The Hedgehog Review. Accessed November 13, 2017. http://www.iasc-culture.org/THR/THR_article_2004_Spring_Girard.php.

Waltke, Bruce K., and Charles Yu. An Old Testament Theology: An Exegetical, Canonical, and Thematic Approach. Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 2007.

[1]Mark 14:22-24 mirrors this idea where Chrst offered Himself in body and blood as the new covenant

[2] Steve Jeffery et al., Pierced for Our Transgressions: Rediscovering the Glory of Penal Substitution (Wheaton, Ill: Crossway, 2007), 43

[3] William Lee Holladay, A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament: Based upon the Lexical Work of Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans Pub Co, 1972), 163

[4] Bruce K. Waltke and Charles Yu, An Old Testament Theology: An Exegetical, Canonical, and Thematic Approach (Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 2007). P. 382

[5] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Leicester, England : Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 1994). P. 568

[6] Jeffery et al., Pierced for Our Transgressions, 21

[7] John Sanders, ed., Atonement and Violence: A Theological Conversation (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2006), viii

[8] Gustaf Aulen, Christus Victor: An Historical Study of the Three Main Types of the Idea of Atonement, trans. A. G. Herbert (Eugene, Or: Wipf & Stock Pub, 2003), 4

[9]Aulen,.20

[10] Sanders, Atonement and Violence, 90

[11] “Violence and Religion: Cause or Effect?,” The Hedgehog Review, accessed November 13, 2017, http://www.iasc-culture.org/THR/THR_article_2004_Spring_Girard.php.

[12] Sanders, Atonement and Violence, 130

[13] Michael Hardin et al., The Jesus Driven Life: Reconnecting Humanity with Jesus, second edition (Lancaster, PA: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2015).

[14] Hardin reduces the passage in order to tailor his assumption

[15] G. Abbott-Smith, A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament (Forgotten Books, 2016), 388

[16] Mark D. Baker and Joel B. Green, Recovering the Scandal of the Cross: Atonement in New Testament and Contemporary Contexts, 02 edition (Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Academic, 2011), 238

[17] Baker and Green, 42

[18] New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition by D. A. Carson/R. T. France/Alec Motyer/Gordon J. Wenham (Eds.) (29-Apr-1994) Hardcover, Revised edition edition (IVP, 1994). Accordance Software

[19] Baker and Green, Recovering the Scandal of the Cross, 77

[20] Accessed November 13, 2017. http://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/53/53-3/Williams_JETS_53-3_pp_579-599.pdf

[21]  Ibid 580

[22] Bruce Demarest and John S. Feinberg, The Cross and Salvation: The Doctrine of Salvation (Wheaton, Ill: Crossway, 2006), 169

[23] James Montgomery Boice, Psalms Voume 1: Psalms 1-41, Pbk. Ed edition (Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Books, 2005), 191

[24] Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner, The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, 2 Volume Set, trans. M. E. J. Richardson, Study Guide edition (Leiden ; Boston: Brill Academic Pub, 2002).Accordance Software

[25] Koehler and Baumgartner.

[26] Koehler and Baumgartner.

 

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1 Kings 13 “No Excuses”

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If you have ever read 1 Kings 13, you will know the story of the “man of God” and King Jeroboam.  The man of God came as a messenger of God to deliver a message to the King Jeroboam.  Verse 3 says “he gave a sign the same day, saying, “aThis is the 1sign which the LORD has spoken, ‘Behold, the altar shall be split apart and the 2ashes which are on it shall be poured out.’”  When Jeroboam stretched out his hand to the man of God it was still or frozen in place and he could not move it and the altar split as the man of God said it would..  After pleading with the man of God to ask God for restoration of his arm, it was.  Jeroboam was so pleased he invited the man of God to his house but the man of God was given a command from God in the following verses:

8 But the man of God said to the king, “If you were to give me half your house I would not go with you, nor would I eat bread or drink water in this place. 9 “For so it was commanded me by the word of the LORD, saying, ‘You shall eat no bread, nor drink water, nor return by the way which you came.’” 10 So he went another way and did not return by the way which he came to Bethel.  

Given this command from God, the man of God did so and was obedient to God’s command and went on his way.  As the chapter moves ahead, we see the man of God meets with and old prophet in verse 11 who heard about the deeds that the man of God had done in Bethel.  The old prophet invites the man of God to his home and eat bread.  The man of God replies with the command that he received from God in verses 8-10.  The old prophet devised a trick or a lie to get the man of God to his house by telling him that he had a revelation from an angel in verse 18 that he was to bring back the man of God to his house.  The man of God fell for the lie and joined the old prophet in his house.

The word of the LORD came to the old prophet telling him of the demise for breaking the command God had given him.  After hearing this, the man of God had got on a donkey and departed only to find a lion waiting for him on the road and killed him.  The donkey did not run off in fear nor did the lion devour the man of God into pieces but only slayed him and all three were on the road, the dead, the lion and the donkey.

As the chapter continues, the old prophet retrieves the body and tells his sons to bury him in his grave and when the time comes for his departure to bury him in the same grave as the man of God.  After hearing this, Jeroboam, who had seen for himself the grace that God bestowed him restoring his arm from before, did not change his evil ways and continued to do what was evil in the eyes of the LORD.

 No Excuses

The point here that we see with the man of God has been seen all throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament record.  We can go as far back as the fall in the Garden where Adam and Eve were the first humans to disobey God’s commands (Gen. 3).  Following the next generation with Cain and Able (Gen. 4).  We can follow along in Genesis and see the progression of disobedience leading to the flood and Noah (Gen. 6:9-8:22).  Throughout history, man has rebelled against God and those have suffered dearly and the lost who never came to faith and repentance perished.  As for those who had faith but did not follow the commands of God and His Law were dealt with swiftly and God, being perfect, just and right, must hold to His standards which at times results in punishment of those He loves.

But in this case, the man of God was told a lie by the old prophet.  It was not his fault, he just followed the lie.  In today’s times, we are faced with so much information via all media devices and most this information is full of lies.  Even if we tune into most Christian programs on the TV, radio or internet, there is still a danger to what we find putting into our heads.

We must be very careful what we watch and listen to and who we listen to.  The local pastor, as well meaning as he is, may not be properly trained to deliver the proper rendering of God’s Word.  Even for salvation, the wrong Gospel is out there being preached all day long to people seeking Jesus.  Although most those seeking Jesus might be wanting to follow for the wrong reasons, there are those who genuinely are seeking to follow Him to establish a relationship and avoid the eternal hell that awaits the unbeliever.  That is why we need to be like the Bereans who searched Scripture to see of what they were being told was true (Acts 17:11).  Do not be lazy and just take anyone’s word for it, test them.  We must rely only on God and what His Word tells us.

Romans 1:20 tells us that man is without excuse.  God has revealed Himself in general revelation with all He has created all around us.  So, belief in God and Christ is required.  When the lost come to face judgment, and are face to face with God, there will be no excuses that God will listen to for not having faith and coming to repentance from their sins.  We cannot give excuses that we heard a false Gospel from a shady preacher or we were lied to by a heretical denomination of false religion all together.  The man of God was lied to by an old prophet and suffered greatly just by not following God’s command.

We must guard ourselves from attacks from the adversary.  Satan is working hard and as we see society in its current state, he has plenty of listeners following false teachers or not following at all.  We must be saturated in the Word of God and search for truths for ourselves working on our relationship with Christ following as He has commanded us to do.  There are no excuses as we seen in His Word.

Psalm 1:4-6

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Psalm 1:4-6
The wicked are not so,
But they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the
judgment,
Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the wicked will perish.

 

Introduction
As we look at the last 3 verses of Psalm 1, we must keep in mind what the first three verses have revealed to us. In the first verse, God’s Word showed us what the blessed person or a child of God is not to be doing with regards of seeking wisdom from the wicked. The regression or downward spiral begins with the advice that has been given to
the believer from an unbeliever then it begins to corrupt the believer’s thinking finally bringing him to be just as the unbeliever. We then saw how the believers has peace and joy delighting in the Word or Law of the Lord.  Finally, we saw how the believer was once a tree malnourished in a land of famine as the landscape of Israel to be transplanted in Christ who provides all the nourishment for growth and fruitfulness as he comes to faith in Him.
We now see in the final three verses, the contrast of the blessed in the life and death of the wicked. The process of what is to come for the wicked is shown to us here. See the contrast between the believer and the wicked:
The Blessed:                                                         The Wicked:
His Warning (vs. 1)                                             The Physical Destruction (vs. 4)
His Peace and Joy (vs. 2)                                   The Judicial Demise (vs. 5)
His Life (vs. 3)                                                     The Penalty of Death (vs. 6)

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Conclusion

This Psalm was put in this place as the first Psalm in order to start off the Psalter (whole book of Psalms) in a way that glorifies God.  It also serves as a general outlook for the whole Psalter and the Bible.  Contrasting or comparing the two ways of life, Psalm 1 shows us the outcome for the believer and the wicked non believing rebel.

As believers, we need to realize what an amazing gift that has been given to us through Jesus Christ.  May we never forget the price that was paid for this gift.  We must also find our delight as being Christians by staying in God’s Word daily and love His Law.   Not that we are in bondage to the Law but that we study His Word.  We find wisdom that we are seeking in God’s Word.  Scripture is the water and nutrients we need to sustain a Christian life and to bear fruit.

For those who do not believe in Christ or have not come to faith, your path has been written is detail here.  The life that the unbelievers are living now is their best life, although hollow and empty, it s all they have.  The worst is yet to come for them.

The truth spoken of here in Psalm 1 are the 2 detailed outcomes for the two lives that either believe by faith or those who refuse to believe.  These are the “Blessed and the Condemned”.

May I ask you today, which one are you?

Psalm 1:1-3

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Psalm 1:1-3

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.

What does it mean to be blessed or to have a blessed life?  What is it saying when we read the Bible and see blessed is the man, blessed is he or however the term, blessed is used.  We will be looking at Psalm 1 verses 1-3, which will shed some light and answer this question.

 Introduction:

When we discuss the whole book of containing all the Psalms, we call this the psalter.  Old Testament, is comprised of 39 books which were broken into 5 sections dividing the Word of God into books pertaining to their use.  The first 5 books were what is known as the Pentateuch.  The Pentateuch contains Genesis, Exodus, Levitcus Numbers and Deuteronomy.  The focus of these books, also called the Law, was exactly that.  It was the Laws that God gave His people through the writing of Moses.  The next section was known as the 12 books of History.  Following this would be the 5 books of poetry, wisdom and praise.  The next 5 books were the Major Prophets and winding the Old Testament up with the Minor Prophets in the final 12 books.

With a short look at the history of the Old Testament, we have a picture of how these books play into the history of God and His people.  If we look at the books that make up the Psalms, or the Psalter, they are characterized as Poetic but we see all the different types of genres of literature in the Bible.  Such as Historical Narrative, Gospel, Apocalyptic, Epistle, Prophecy, Psalms and the Law.  We will see that the Psalter is divided into 5 different books.

  1. The Book of Psalms is then subdivided into five smaller books:
  2. Book I: 1-41 David’s conflict with Saul 1-41
  3. Book II: 42-72 David’s kingship 42-72
  4. Book III: 73-89 The Assyrian crisis 73-89
  5. Book IV: 90-106 Introspection about the destruction of the temple and the Exile 90-106
  6. Book V: 107-150 Praise and Reflection on the Return and the new era 107-150

 

Since we are looking at a portion of Psalm 1, we should get a general idea about the whole book and its characteristics.  We know that there are 150 books in the Psalms written by David, Moses, Solomon, the sons of Korah, sons of Asaph, Ethan and Ezrahite as well as several other authors who are unknown.

While praise and prayer characterize the Psalms as a whole, they may be categorized as: Praise Historical, Relational, Imprecatory, Penitential, and Messianic.

Psalms are written as poems, songs, expression of worship, prayer and praise.  Psalms serve as doxological writings which are to give God praise and there are praises to God in the end of each Psalm. By reading the Psalms, we begin to see the true perfections of God.

The Theological Principle of Psalms: The Lord, who sovereignly rules the universe, will establish His just rule on the earth in and through his people whereupon the righteous will prosper and the wicked will suffer.  Psalm 1 is the preview of this truth.

Vs. 1.  The Word of the Wicked

What we see here in the very first Psalm is the contrast between the righteous and the wicked.  The Psalmist writes this to show the cause and effect of following and not following God’s will.  It is interesting the note here that in the Hebrew text, the first word in this Psalm is asher which begins with “a” meaning happy and it finishes with the last word “tobed” which begins with the letter “t” meaning perish being the last letter in the Hebrew alphabet. This style of writing is called an Acrostic.  So we see the style of the writer here who writes with some organization with respect to the alphabet order also apparent in the meaning of the words which begins with a positive note of blessed to a negative note of one perishing.

Psalm 1, is the beginning of the Psalter but it was not the first Psalm written.  The first actual Psalm ever written was by Moses, Psalm 90.  Some scholars say this took place while Moses was in the wilderness during the 40 years.  It is also the only Psalm attributed to Moses.  But as it was developed, the Psalms were structured with some sort of organization by a thematic system.  The first 2 Psalms are in Book 1 and these 2 directly are in tune with the righteousness of God.  We will look at Psalm 1.  This Psalm is a Psalm of wisdom.

Let’s look at the first verse.

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,

Nor stand in the path of sinners,

Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!

The first word, asher, has a meaning of happiness or blessedness.  This is used as a particle to describe the man or subject in the phrase.  This describes the man as being happy or having blessing.  We must ask ourselves, what is the author trying to communicate to us?  We must always ask ourselves, the what and the why.  So why is the man blessed?  It says that the man is blessed who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked.  We will see why he is blessed as we unpack this verse.

What is the counsel of the wicked?  The word counsel carries the meaning of advice or counsel.  But we need to dig deeper here to fully understand what the intent is.  The counsel here is telling of what advice one receives such as anything that will have influence on that person.  Prov. 12:15 says that a wise man listens to counsel.  Prov. 19:20 says listen to counsel and accept discipline, That you may be wise the rest of your days.  So when we say counsel we automatically assume it means wisdom is found in counsel.  This verse says that the blessed man does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, meaning that the blessed man is to steer clear of the advice of the wicked.

The blessed man should never seek counsel from the wicked.  The wicked described here are those who do not know God and are living by their own worldly standards.  The wretched society outside of the kingdom of God cannot produce anything that is advantageous to a follower of God.  Their advice would be full of ungodly and sinful lusts which they believe brings them happiness.  The only advice or counsel that can come from the ungodly will lead to destruction.

Man, is blessed by not adhering to any advice given by the wicked.  This is a visual concept we have here is of anyone not listening or plugging their ears but more so that it is ignoring or a flat out disassociation with anyone who is not walking with the Lord.  Anyone outside of the kingdom should not have a place with us if we are seeking wisdom.

The wicked mentioned here describes the idea of something loose and unstable without restraints.  When it is said as being loose, it refers to someone with no morals or no boundaries of morality.  There is nothing that keeps them in line.  Therefore, the wicked are doing whatever they feel openly and freely.  There are no guilty feelings.  This behavior is direct rebellion against God.  No just lost souls but those who hate God and openly shake their fists at Him.

The only counsel we walk in should be found only in the Word of God or those who are walking with God.  God has given us His Word in order for us to walk uprightly and to bring Him honor and glory.  Walking or proceeding in the advice from the ungodly will only lead to misery, robbing us of any blessing or happiness we once had in close fellowship with God.

The text continues by saying that the blessed man does not stand in the path of sinners.  First we had “walk” now we have “stand”.  What does this mean?  There seems to be a progression of action here.  Walking now standing?  Stand here in the Hebrew is “amad” simply meaning stand firmly.  It is good to note here the progression as we looked at before.  The walk has turned into a stand, a firm stance.  We see that influence ungodly counsel.  We see as one walks in the poor counsel that was given and received, the behavior or natural tendency is to stand firmly in the path of sinners.  One has begun to show the traits of a sinner by taking the wicked counsel and developing patterns and habits of a sinner.

The path spoken of here is defined as the way, the road or the journey.  The wicked counsel has caused the believer to first walk then to stand in the path or way of the sinner.  The believer is on the same road as the wicked sinner.  Their conduct, behavior and habits are being modeled after the wicked.  They went from thinking like the world by taking worldly advice to the point they are now appearing like the world.

The adjective sinner describes the one who has gone against God, gone wrong, missing the goal or the target.  The target that is missed is belief in God and following His way.  Sinners are those who refuse to acknowledge God and the work of Christ that ensures all believers salvation and righteousness added to their account.  It is a conscious decision that sinners have made to act in regression and rebellion against God.

Now we see the progression has now matured into sitting in the seat of the scornful.  Walking, standing and now sitting.  The use of sitting here describes as one who sits, who dwells, to remain to stay or to tarry.  A sense of comfort has taken place in the believer’s mind.  There is a sense of contentment.

Pastoral Comment:  As we see today in many or most churches, is a complacency a status quo by so the believers.  As the world continues to spiral out of control with the loss of most all morality, believers are caving into what the world deems as the truth.  Post modernism has crept into churches and filled the minds of church goer producing a tolerant, weak, all-inclusive mentality that works in the world but does it fit with God’s Word?

The word scoffer tells of one who mocks, derides, one who scorns.  Truly, we see the one who is constantly complaining about God and His ways.  It is not only a verbal rejection but an outward display of their life filled with hate and anger.  These are those that we may encounter as believers, who ridicule our beliefs by way of comments or actions. This scoffer is the one who is drowning in their own misery but refuse to leave it by following Christ.  They love their sin so much they would rather live with so much misery and hate towards a God who loves them, then turn away from their sins and place their faith in Christ and be filled with joy and peace.

This shows us the true digression of a believer.  If we do not guard ourselves continually, we can be influenced by the world and the wickedness in it.  We must stay in the Word of God to be able to defend ourselves for the wiles of the devil (Eph. 6:11).  We have all we need in His Word to equip ourselves against the world system.  It begins with the mind.  We must protect what we put in it.  We must be reading the right things.  We must be watching the right things.  We must be in fellowship with the right people.  Believers cannot associate for any length of time with unbelievers.  We must reach out to them to fill the Great Commission but we but we need to have safe limits.  What we put in our hearts reaches our hearts.  From the heart, we then act.  If our minds are filled with wicked counsel, we will be filled in our hearts with sinful intentions which we will play out in wicked and evil actions or behavior.  Walking pertains to our minds, standing pertains to our hearts and sitting pertains to our feet or how the pattern manifests itself.

Ephesians 4:17-19 is laid out in parallel and perfect sync with Psalm 1:1.

So, what can we do to possibly avoid this scenario from happening to our own walk with God?  The only wise counsel comes from God’s Word.  We see exactly how one can protect themselves from this pathway of destruction and misery.  Now we can see why he is blessed.

 Vs. 2 The Word of God

But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.

In verse 2, we see that “his delight is in the law of the Lord”. The word delight also has the meaning of taking delight in, desiring, longing, taking good pleasure in.  God’s children are marked by their desire to learn more and more about God each day.  There should be a hunger being naturally developed in all believers.  This longing only takes place as they are in the Law of the Lord.  The Law of the Lord spoken of here is speaking about the torah which in Hebrew means Law.  The torah is the Word of God.  It was used for instruction and teaching of the Laws of God which are used to guide men by the authoritative principals found within God’s Word.

We know that the Bible is God’s Word.  God inspired writers by the ministry of the Holy Spirit to pen His Words to be given to man.  These words were God breathed, theopnuestos.  All Scripture is insured by God and profitable for teaching, reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.” (2 Tim. 3:16).  It is our delight that is found when we are engaged in the law of the Lord or the Word of God.  Godliness is a standard that cannot be made by man but it must be the standard that God had revealed to us that we only find in His Word.

Establishing the hunger or delight for His Word can only be done by having the self-discipline to do so.  Having someone who can disciple you is priceless.  The church leader is responsible for the overall care for the flock and it is his duty to feed the flock with God’s Word.  Teaching God’s Word allows the sheep to grow.  Poor instruction, preaching and teaching will keep the flock immature, starving and malnourished.  Just as human life, spiritual growth requires the same necessities.

The word for meditate is hagah.  This verb has a meaning of someone groaning or moaning.  Uttering under their breath.  It is a process of the repetition of an idea over and over again almost talking out loud the point.  We must meditate just as this has been described.  In this prescription, it also gives us the time frame we should be meditating on God’s Word.  Looks to me as twice a day.  Day and night.  Is this a few minutes in the morning and at night?  I believe it is instructing us to meditate all day and all night if possible.  It takes the idea of taking every last drop of truth for each passage of God’s Word.  As a cow chewing cud.  Cows have four stomachs and when they chew whatever they are eating, they transfer the food from each stomach so to fully digest every last drop of nutrition from the cud.  If we meditated on a passage all day and night till we laid down to sleep, the idea of what God’s Word told us would take on a clearer dynamic and have a long and lasting impact on our lives.  Our delight would only grow and our devotion to Him would deepen. We need to approach the study of God’s Word in the same sense as the digestion process of a cow.  Meditate on it as Joshua said:

This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.  Joshua. 1:8

 Vs. 3 The Word of Life

 He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.

 

He is like a tree.  The view of a Christian is given here as being like a tree.  The tree is a metaphor for the walk of a believer.  Think for a minute the characteristics of a tree.  The tree symbolizes stability.  But what is interesting here is that the writer uses the symbol of a tree.  Why?  He does so because the terrain of Israel was rugged and rocky, the tree symbolizes life and a blessing.  Jeremiah 17:5-8 gives an almost exact rendering of this picture of a tree telling of it physical strength where it draws its life giving source from the streams that flow beside it.  Trees are slow growing and in this slow growth, its structure becomes solid and the foundation is set in deep rooting.  Plants are frail and do not have deep strong roots such as a tree and grow fast and are short lived.  Illustrating the growth of Christian using the tree, we can develop a mental image of strength, vigor and growth.

Firmly planted by streams of water that produce fruit in its season.  The word planted in Hebrew is shatal and is translated as transplanted.  The proper rendering of shatal should be transplanted.  Planted does not exhibit the true nature of Christians but transplanted does.  Being transplanted gives a greater detail of something that was once in a specific place being uprooted and transferred to another more desirable place.  This is exactly what happens in salvation.  We were once occupying a dead empty non-fruitful environment but when we came to faith God, by His grace, He transplanted us to an environment, which is in Christ that is more adequate for strength, growth and fruitfulness.  In Christ, we have all we need for growth, He is our strength and the fruits we display are of Him by way of growing in submission, obedience and the knowledge of His Word.  If there is root there will be fruit.  Being firmly planted in Christ is like the tree by the streams firmly planted and growing deeper and deeper only producing rich and plentiful fruit.

We can see the fruits of the Spirit in Galatian 5:23.  It is an impossibility that the fruits of the Spirit can be replicated by our own abilities.  As Christians we should be displaying these fruits naturally.  Just as any fruit bearing plat, complete dependency on the nutrients is the only way the fruit can grow or even be produced.

Using an agriculture illustration.  Fruit bearing plants require water and nutrients to produce fruit.  In the case of a Christian, the nutrients or fertilizer and water is the Word of God.  No tree can even survive without water and nutrients.  Neither can a Christian survive without the Word of God.  If the fruit bearing tree receives ample amount of nutrients it grows and produces fruit just as the Christian.  With proper nutrients trees can fend off attacks from insects and diseases and are able to weather bad climate changes.  The well fed Christian can also do the same when they are experiencing adversities in their life.  The Word of God gives strength and ability to overcome bad circumstances just as a well fed tree.  The fruit of a well fed Christian will grow greater and will be able to be seen by those around them.  This is the character of Christ on display.  The key to the fruit is the root and the nutrients which is God’s Word.  Concerning the fruit, the tree does not bear fruit for itself.  It produces fruit for others.

John 15:1-7 describes God as the vinedresser, Jesus as the vine and believers as the branches.  This illustration tells of how God continues to prune and trim away branches so the vine is producing good fruit.  The branches that are not producing fruit are then cut off and thrown away and burned.  Obedience to Christ results in fruit bearing.  Those who do not will not produce fruit.

And its leaf does not wither.  Producing deep roots, producing fruit are signs of a healthy tree.  Saying that the leaf does not wither reaffirms the good health of a tree.  Leaves wither and fall off trees when the tree does not have adequate water and nutrients in the tree. The point being, the strength of the tree is shown here.  Trees often shed leaves from the older and weaker branches but this is done only to send the energy to the newer branches and leaves which will continue to produce fruit.

In that all he does he prospers.  Trusting in the Lord you are transplanted in Christ.  The Word is the nutrients and water that are required for growth.  All this is producing deep roots which produce good fruit.  The prosperity that is spoken of here does not intend that a Christian will always be prosperous but as the fruit is produced by season, so is the prosperity.  There are times that God will use circumstances that do not feel like prosperity and are painful.  There are seasons when we experience pain.  If we look back at the illustration Jesus gave us in John 15, we see that God does prune and trim and even cut off.  For a season, we may experience some pruning and it hurts.  But we need to keep our focus on what is happening and why it is happening.  No matter what we may be experiencing, no matter how tragic it may be, God is in control.  God is doing a work in us so that we may be able to glorify Him.  The prosperity comes not in the way of money or material things, that is not what is discussed here but the prosperity is our growth in Him.  As we grow we will experience the fruits of the Spirit.  This is joy in our lives.  Our healthy walk with Christ, our provisions being met by God, the joy that we have every day knowing one day we will be in glory worshipping Him, the opportunities we have to share the Good News to a lost soul, these are indicators of our prosperity.  It is not measured by material things.

 

 

Closing and Application:

-Psalm 1 verses 1-3 are packed with a treasury of truths in a Christian’s walk.  We see the awful effects of one who does not follow wise counsel.  There is a regression we see of falling back into the old sinful way of living and thinking leading to destruction and misery.

This is the pathway to destruction

 

 

-We see the pathway to joy and happiness.  Through careful study and mediation of God’s Word we can gain the wisdom that He has given by His Word.  We can align our prayers with His will.  We can draw a close and intimate communion with the Father.

This is the pathway to Joy and Happiness

 

 

-We see what a Christian life looks like.  The illustration of the tree shows us if we are properly feeding from God’s Word and drinking the water of the fresh streams we have been planted by, we will grow producing fruit and able to be witnesses for Christ.  Through the process of God’s pruning in our lives, we must be obedient and submissive to His work so that we can bear much fruit for others to see and enjoy, this is how Christians prosper in their lives.

This is the pathway to Life

John 1:1-18 Study Notes PDF

Click link to see PDF Bible Study Notes.

John1

John1:1-18
Title: The Nonnegotiable Truth: His Deity
Proposition: Jesus Christ the Word
Jesus Christ the Light and Life
Jesus Christ the Rejected and the Received
Jesus Christ the Glory and Grace

 

The importance of understanding proper doctrine and theology is not for the sole purpose of learning more about God but it also serves the purpose to learn more about you and what your life is to reflect and represent as a follower of Christ.  This study of the Gospel of John will open your eyes and mind to see the full meaning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Taking this walk through this book at a reasonable pace (verse by verse) will allow us to paint a picture in our minds of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.  Please meditate on these verses as you study them and pray the verses daily and finally submit to the working of the Holy Spirit and allow him to illuminate the Word of God in a way you can understand it.

Gospel of John:  Different vantage point of the life of Christ.

Matt Mark Luke were the Synoptic Gospels.  Included accounts of healing, miracles, eschatology discourse, exorcising of demons and Narrative Parables.  John did not.

4 accounts do present Christ as the Son of Man and the Messiah (Mark 2:10; Jn. 1:51)

Son of God, God in human Flesh (Jn. 1:34; Mark 1:1)

Four refer to Christ as the Savior who came to save his people from their sins (Matt. 1:21; cf Jn. 3:16)

The author was the apostle John.  Never mentioning his name in his writing, John did however made mention of himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (Jn. 21:20).

John was the only author of the Gospels to state his purpose: “But these things have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (Jn. 20:31).

The Gospel of John, was written to convince the readers of the true identity of Jesus Christ and present Him as God incarnate (vs. 1:1, 14; 8:23, 58; 10:30; 20:28).

John also was the author of the epistles of John and Revelation.  He was also nick named the apostle of Love since he used that word 80 times in his writings.

The New Testament allows us to see the fulfillment of what was spoken of in the Old Testament.

God’s sovereign plan of redemption which was promised in the books of the Old Testament had fulfilled these prophecies to the exact precise manner which were recorded in the New Testament.

Jesus, fully God and fully human incarnate in human flesh, was the necessary sacrifice that saves those who believe and repent.

It is in this book that John wrote, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that God lowered Himself to our level to give us the truth by which man can be saved.

 

Click here for rest of PDF: John1

 

The Bookshelf

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Hope all is well as this new year begins.  I have added an Bookshelf tab to my blog.  Please feel free to click on it and browse through some of the books I have added.  Eventually I will have my whole library listed and those reference books I am using for my research at Seminary.  I trust these books will be of assistance to you as you grow in knowledge of the Lord.  If there are some books that are over the edge, I will note that, since some research is done looking at some of the false doctrines that are out there.  Sad to say, there are probably writings on false doctrine than correct.

 

Please have a look at the Bookshelf.  Small now but as I have time I will start including all my library.  Enjoy and have a Blessed 2017!

 

In Christ <><

What is Truth?

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In today’s society we are experiencing the influence of postmodern views in all areas of life.  Postmodernism has thrusted its own ideology in current institutions such as schools and has effected the church today to the degree that many have fallen for their definitions in order to follow the secular view.  Search for the truth has become a never-ending task since the current postmodern view on truth.  This truth, as defined by culture today, impacts biblical truths in Scripture and its understanding and how theology is to be done from a pastoral position.  The current postmodern view has developed its own definition of truth and that definition is impacting the Evangelical church and the pastoral ministry.

Defining truth has been a daunting task since the beginning.  In the Garden of Eden, the serpent asked Eve “did God really say?” (Gen. 3:1)  This caused her to stumble on the truth of the statement that he made.  Did the serpent ask her a truthful question?  He just twisted something in a way she did not come to the proper conclusion before falling.  Move ahead into the New Testament, we can see where Pilate, when he was interrogating Christ, made the statement “what is truth” with a hint of sarcasm (John. 18:38).  Pilate’s statement sounds like what a postmodern would say today concerning truth.  The desperation that Pilate had is shared by postmodernist where their view on truth has no absolutes.  Without God there cannot be absolute truth.[1]

In, today’s culture truth is being twisted to fit their view that all truth is relative.  This view of relativity in truth holds to the fact that there is no universal standard for right and wrong.  This view also considers that truth is unknowable and unobtainable but limited to what each individual thinks.  There is no method or measurement that the culture can use for the absolute truth and have devised their method of relativity of the truth.  In Evangelical Christianity, the absolute truth is found in God’s inerrant Word.  That is the standard in which we base truth.

Postmodernism is a movement of belief that each person’s view on truth is deduced by their own personal experiences.  Each person has their “own” truth and for the sake of tolerance, we should never question them but just accept their views.  The all-inclusive and all tolerant view is postmodernism at its premier character.  The postmodern person rejects an absolute truth view where the Christian holds of an exact opposite view where we believe in an absolute truth given to us by God.  The postmodern does not accept a biblical view holding to their own meanings of Scripture with their own personal interpretations and each personal interpretation is correct in their own mind.  With a distorted hermeneutic of Scripture, it is impossible to hold that Scripture is the inerrant word of God.  So, if each postmodern holds their own individual truth of Scripture, then how many different views exist today within the religious circles?

In the current postmodern culture, Christians are being pulled in various directions due to the vast amount of “personal” views of the truth of Scripture.  Having a postmodern view of Scripture has developed in the development of many heretical church movements that call their views as truth and not using the truth of Scripture to guide their congregants.  They have pulled the truth away from the center of their ministry and have polluted the minds of the church goers into believing a different truth away from what God has written in His Word.  Tolerance is the primary jab at the Christian way of life where tolerance tells the Christian to compromise the truth of Scripture and not follow what God has mandated for us in His Word.  Many use Ephesians 4:1-3 in defense that the church must be tolerant and all-inclusive.  Again, a wrong hermeneutic allows for this misinterpretation of Scripture to take place.  Paul was explaining that Christians have to have a quality of humility.  1 Peter 4:8 also gives us a picture of how we are to love in a way of being stretched out or stained putting other spiritual good before their own.  The argument is simple to defend that as a Christian believer, they must repent from their sins.  Of the church allows unrepentant sinners to attend and become members of the church then the church is not God’s church but man’s church.

An excellent example of a postmodern effect on church today is the Emergent church.  The Emergent church has followed in the footsteps of the postmodern in their desire to multiply numbers and church growth.  Pragmatic methods have developed in hopes of reaching the people by using methods to stimulate growth by way of power points, slides, video clips and popular music centering on relationship, community and traditional values.  They have taken away the church service from being God centered into a man centered service.  For the sake of church growth, they have adopted the postmodern mentality of inclusion and tolerance allowing for sinful actions to take place in the arena where God is to be worshipped.  Those involved in sinful lifestyles are allowed to partake in worship and other holy sacraments for the sake of tolerance.   Brian Mcleran has authored books on this subject with an activist role with the intent to welcome postmodern thinking in how we do church.

In Mcleran’s book, The Church on the Other Side, he proposes that postmodernism is the road to take in order to move on from the current stalemate between evangelical and liberal Christians.  In stark contrast to what Mcleran belief system on postmodernism and the church, Kevin Vanhoozer said this about postmodernism and the church,

In the past twenty years or so, postmodernity has become a concept that is as indispensable for understanding contemporary Western thought and culture as modernity has been for understanding the past three hundred years.  For some, postmodernity marks the end of theology; for others, it is a new beginning.

With the Lesbian Bisexual Gay Transsexual (LBGT) movement in full swing and the United States Government ruling of same-sex marriage, many churches are under pressure to allow these people to attend and become members of church.  Clearly, the events of relativity in the postmodern culture today has affected the church and has dismantled the foundations of many denominations.  For the sake of tolerance, Lutheran, Episcopal, Methodist, churches, just to name a few, have started welcoming these groups into their congregation.  It is not just a putting up with or disagreeing with their lifestyles but tolerance in postmodern view is a new tolerance or social commitment to treat all people and their views as equally right.[2]  Faithful members, sad to say, begin to question their own beliefs since their church caved into the pressures of the culture.  Many find themselves either searching for a new place to worship or caving in themselves under the pressure of being tolerant because they are being told it is the right thing to do, culturally not Biblically.

The seeker friendly or church of easy believism has also shared the postmodern culture view.  They are delivering messages that do not offend or single out sinners or sinful living in order not to cause anyone to feel uncomfortable or convicted.  With the same motivation as the Emergent church of filling the pews, the seeker friendly church has banished any hint of properly preaching God’s Word.  The impression left on the congregants is that everyone should be accepted and we need to overlook their sins and not be judgmental.  Evangelicals would turn their backs on their proper theological view to a pluralistic and worldly view on Christianity accepting the universalistic movement.  The false postmodern views welcomed by the church can distort the salvific process of the Gospel delivering a false Gospel that has no saving power.  Without the proper truthful view on what the thru Gospel requirements are, a false sense of salvation will be ushered into the church.  Postmodern beliefs do not have an absolute authority on the truth but Christians have the Word of God, which is the absolute authority on truth.

The pastor has a tough and long road ahead of him during these days of postmodernism views in the world culture today.  The authority of God in His Word is truth and that is the foundation on which all pastors need to stand.  The Biblical definition of truth, as told by John MacArthur, is that which is consistent with the mind, will, character, glory and being of God.  Basically, the self-expression of God.[3]  The Bible shows throughout the books, chapters and verses that God is truth.  Deuteronomy 32:4 tells of His perfections, John 14:6 Jesus makes the statement that He is the truth……

Truth is hard to deliver to the people God has given the pastor to shepherd.  As an antagonist, truth offends, cuts deep and hurts.  The Word of God has to be delivered in the proper teaching for the protection of the flock.  Hebrews 4:12 gives us a picture of the power of the truth in God’s Word.  The writer says that the word is sharper than any two-edged sword. Scripture is to teach and to convict us of our sins by piercing the heart.  No wonder not many people want to hear what God is telling them.  Today, people want to feel good about themselves even in Christian circles showing what a self-centered and narcissistic culture the West has produced.  Timothy 3:16 gives us the foundation we use to deliver the truth of what God’s Word.  Paul writes under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit explaining that God’s Word is good for teaching, for rebuking, for correction and for training in righteousness.  The pastor cannot bow down to society and culture but he must stand for the truth of Scripture as an ambassador to the Kingdom.

As penetrating to the souls as Scripture is, the pastor must stay on point to his calling and deliver the truth of God’s Word to His followers.  No matter how unpopular God’s truth is in today’s culture, it must still be delivered in full context.  There is no watering down or dumbing down in order not to offend people in order to win them over.  Pragmatism creeps in ever so slowly and it must be watched very carefully.  There is an overwhelming tendency to be liked by the congregation.  In order to keep them happy and feeling good about themselves, many pastors feel that they have to give the people what they want and dislocate themselves from the very foundation that will keep them safe and honoring God.  Church growth is up to God.  The pastor has to focus on the delivery of the truth of Scripture and by being diligent and faithful to that task.  By doing so, the flock will grow and be protected from any postmodern views that may creep into the church.  Success in ministry comes down to one thing and that is the faithfulness in service of the pastor to the calling to which God has called.[4]

Proper theology is required to lead the church on the proper path that honors God.  Not wavering to every little cultural whim under the sun, the pastor must maintain focus on proper theology.  Proper theology is based on the proper application of the different layers that are comprise truthful theology.  Exegetical Theology, Biblical Theology, Natural Theology, Historical Theology, Polemical Theology and Practical Theology are the foundational bricks that build a proper theology.  Knowing these things is not enough.  The proper delivery of proper theology is only done by expository preaching.  Having a proper theology will assist the pastor in developing an exceptional path to expository preaching.

The primary job for the pastor is to feed and protect his flock.  With expository preaching, the pastor can deliver the absolute truth of Scripture in a systematic and organized manner that will teach God’s people who He is and what His will is.  With a diluted theology and preaching that has no structure, caving into what the culture deems acceptable material for preaching, the truth of God’s revelation in Scripture will not be told properly.  The pastor must keep the pulpit a sanctuary for worship to the Lord.  It is a place where the pastor is the voice of God.  He must always be cognizant of the weightiness and fear involved handling God’s Word.  The Bible is the basis of preaching and it is the power that fills the pulpit.[5]

The truth is known and available to everyone.  God’s Word is truth but since the beginning truth has always been an object that man feels that an absolute cannot be found.  Through the history of man, many philosophical views have been developed in regards to defining the truth.  Today, the postmodern view on truth has the most dangerous implications on the church.  Tolerance and acceptance to everyone’s view on any issue has defiled the integrity of many denominations bringing into the church the world view.  As the challenges meet face to face with pastors holding to proper theology many are falling away from their first love and trying to meet the unbiblical needs of the people who hold postmodern views.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] John F. MacArthur, John 12-21 MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Moody Publishers, 2008). P. 331

[2] D. A. Carson, The Intolerance of Tolerance, Reprint edition (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2013). P. 98

[3] John MacArthur, The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception, First Edition (Nashville, Tenn: Thomas Nelson, 2007). P. 2

[4] R. Kent Hughes and Barbara Hughes, Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome (Wheaton, Ill: Crossway, 2008).

[5]John MacArthur, Ashamed of the Gospel (3rd Edition): When the Church Becomes Like the World, 3 edition (Wheaton, Ill: Crossway, 2010).  P. 196

Feed My Sheep

 

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In John 21:15-17, Jesus asks Simon, aka Peter, if he loved him.  Simon was Peter’s birth name and Jesus always addressed him as Simon in the beginning of his ministry when he asked Simon to follow Him.  Throughout the Gospel of John, Jesus refers to Simon as Simon.  There is a point where we see Jesus finally calling him as Peter.  I believe that Jesus would use Simon during the times when he would display actions of the old self of Simon as a light rebuke.  Going back to the scene when Jesus had been with the disciples after his resurrection, in a conversation with Peter, He asked him 3 different times if he loved Jesus. 

The first time, Jesus asks if Simon loved (agape) Him.  Peter replied that he loved (phileo) Him.  The agapeo love is true unconditional love whereas the phileo love is an effectual love.  Jesus asks Peter again if he agapeo loved Him and he replied the same phileo love.  Finally, Jesus asks Peter if he phileo loved him and Peter replied that he philoe loved Him.  In all three instances Jesus gave the command to feed His sheep.  This is an imperative command in the Greek, “Βόσκε” (boskee), to feed or portraying the duty of a Christian teacher to promote in every way the spiritual welfare of the members of the church.  Jesus did not ask Peter if he “could” feed His sheep but it was a command to “do” it.  As a follower of Christ, we are to love Him.  If so, then the command holds true for all of us not only the men called into ministry.  But I want to focus on the men in ministry now. 

What we are seeing in the church today are pulpits being filled with men unqualified who think they can properly feed God’s people.  Not knowing how to properly handle the Word of God how can they possibly be ready for the most important job this side of eternity?  These ministers of God’s Word and overseers will have to give an account to God for the souls they were to shepherd (Heb. 13:17).  They will be judged for how they watched over God’s people.  What a heavy weight to carry.  Sadly, these future church leaders are not being educated properly on the expositional research to properly deliver the truth of God’s Word.

Many churches, too many to begin to imagine, are being led by men unfit to serve.  They may fit the qualifications of a pastor in Titus 1 and 1 Timothy 3 with an exemplary life but they are unfit to deliver the truth of Scripture.  The issue is that “they don’t know that they don’t know.”  They feel that if they can read a few commentaries they can put together a nifty sermon that will have the congregation on the edge of their seats in excitement.  Oh, let’s not forget all the pragmatic bells and whistles they can also throw out there like power points, feel good stories and self-promoting illustrations.  Anything to make you feel good and “like“ the pastor.

The pulpit has been neglected for too long.  The pulpit is the place where God is to be glorified and His Word exposited.  It does not serve as a stage to show off any talented speech, jokes or remedies.  It is the altar to lift God and honor Him.  If the pastor has any idea of the magnitude of the job he has been given, then every Sunday before he enters the pulpit, there needs to be a fearful knowledge that he is handling the most important document given to man.  God has lowered Himself to give us His Word.  For the men called to divide His Word and deliver it to His people, there is no higher calling.  It is a serious task and should be handled with the deepest seriousness.  Jesus said “feed my sheep” meaning to care for them and keep them from harm.

Part of the care of His flock is the protection from enemies.  The Word of God is the defense for His flock.  It gives protection in the way of knowledge through His Word.  Properly taught followers know what evil lurks around us and knows how to defend themselves.  A pastor that does not teach properly, does not care about the well-being of the people God has placed in his care.  If you cannot teach your people about what to look out for and wat to stay clear of then I am afraid that you are not following the command of Christ in feeding His sheep.  A pastor’s job is to protect the flock not to pet them. 

After meditating on these three verses in John 21, I feel the weightiness of the responsibility of handling His Word.  Even doing these little blogs, I feel that I have to get it right as I can.  I do not want to be a stumbling block and drive a wedge between me and God on the account that I want to look like some Biblical scholar or major theologian.  By the way, I am not.  Just as student training to serve Him.

If you are in a church that you are unsure of the pastor or his training, ask him a small question.  Ask him “do you love Jesus?”  I am sure he will reply a big yes!  If so then ask him to feed Christ’s sheep.  Feed them.  The expression on his face will tell you where his heart is.  I pray if anyone reading this will take a closer look at what is being delivered from the pulpit and ask yourself, is this God’s Word being delivered to honor and glorify Him or is this about the pastor?  We need to keep our pastors accountable.  They are not a higher class of humans and they do need accountability and the good ones will appreciate your openness and care for God’s Word.

 

In Christ <><   

Did He Really Say That?

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As Christians are warned against the wiles of the devil (Ephesians 6:11), we must be vigilant in our daily walk.  Satan does not have any new tricks up his sleeve nor has he devised any new ways of packaging his true time tested method to trick mankind and cause doubt in the mind causing him to fall into sin.  In the very beginning, God had created Adam and his duty was to take care of the garden (Gen. 2:15).  Adam was then told by God that he could eat of any tree in the garden.  In the garden Adam had the run of the whole garden or orchard, as it is also translated, to eat from, except for one tree.  In the garden there was a very special tree that God told Adam that it was the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  God also gave a strict warning of what would transpire if Adam would eat from it (Gen. 2:17).  The severity of disobeying God’s command not to eat from the tree of knowledge would result in death.

After sometime, God had realized that Adam needed a helper and He saw that man was alone and that was not good (Gen 2:18).  It was not that God made a mistake but for the first time in the Genesis or “beginning” of creation where God said something that was not good.  All He had created up to that point He labeled as “good.”  God had brought every living thing to Adam so he could name them.  During this process, God realized that out of all the animals created none were suitable to be his helper, sorry dog owners (Gen. 2:20).  So God created woman out of man to be his suitable helper.  Eventually, he names her Eve.  In the original language her name is really “hghawah” (חַוָּ֑ה), but Eve was possibly changed from the original since the ease of pronunciation.

In the time leading up to the fall, Adam and Eve roamed the garden as they pleased and ate from every tree in the garden, except the tree of knowledge. Although it is not written, we can deduce that Adam must have told Eve about the tree of knowledge and the seriousness of the consequences that would follow if they ate from the tree.  Maybe even telling her if she even touched it she would die.  Some scholars have said the time that passed from the creation of Adam and Eve is to have been about (2) years.  I am nowhere smart enough to figure this out but there was sometime where they both cohabited in the garden, or orchard, leading up to the fall.

Now enter the serpent, the Satan possessed vehicle of choice, to carry out the one act that would impact the future of mankind.  As Scripture depicts, this serpent as “crafty” as any of the other beasts of the field (Gen 3:1).  The Hebrew adjective text that describes the serpent is “arum” which has meaning of subtle, shrewd, crafty, sly, and sensible.  All the traits of a deceiver, a liar and a manipulator.  Is Satan any different today?  He still operates within these boundaries to achieve the same results.  When the serpent approached Eve, he went to his old faithful trick of deception.  He asks her; “indeed has God said you shall not eat from the tree?”(Gen. 3:1).  Typical Satan Mode of Action, take something and twist it so that you may call it into question and “doubt” it.  Oldest trick but it works.  God never told Eve not to eat from the tree but He told Adam so Satan knew that so he uses that against her to cause doubt.  She only heard it from Adam and not from God and that is what got her mind working to develop her own conclusion that “God never told me that..”

Satan contuse to cause doubt and confusion and even starts to entice her by asking doesn’t she want her eyes to be open and be like God, knowing good from evil (Gen. 3:4)?  Where was Adam during all this?  We always get the idea that Adam was nowhere to be found until she offered him the fruit as if she went out of way to find him.  Well, Scripture tells us that Adam was right there with Eve.  When the serpent said “you” in this passage, he was referring to more than one person.  It is the use of the second person masculine plural having the meaning of more than one “you”.  Since there were only (2) people created at this time and the serpent was addressing more than one person then we can deduce that Adam was there the whole time of the temptation right alongside with Eve buying into the lie.  As Adam never intervened at any point to stop the serpent.  She then ate of the fruit and gave it also to Adam and he was as guilty as her.

The rest as you know, lead to the judgement from God upon all the human race.  But why didn’t Adam speak up?  Why didn’t he put his foot down and say anything?  Sadly, Adam wanted what the serpent was peddling.  He wanted to be like God as well as Eve.  It is the same exact way Satan draws people into the prosperity Gospel or any false heretical following today.  These followers are buying into what these false preachers are peddling because they want what they are selling.  They want their lie.  These people are not poor ignorant fools but they have been misguided into a belief system that “their best life is now.”  Satan knows the buttons to press to entice us into false beliefs which stem from our selfish and prideful desires.

So what do we learn from all of this?  We see clearly that Satan is at war with God and is using souls to try to win this war.  We must be vigilant all day all the time to keep focused on not falling for the temptations from Satan.  He is a liar and a deceiver.  He twists things ever so subtly that it can be missed and then you fall.  The seeds of doubt cultivated like crops in a field quickly grow into transgressions.  After these seeds of doubt have been planted in your mind, then we begin to justify it in our finite minds and enter into sin.  We need to first, build hedges to protect us from the seeds being panted to begin with.  Secondly, we need to identify when seeds of deception have been planted into our minds and root them out and rid them far from our minds.  It is a progressive task that we should be keeping in the Word of God daily and in diligent prayer.  The purity of our heart begins with the purity of our mind and what we are putting in it.

I would hope that you will not fall for the traps that Satan and his minions set out for us daily in all areas of our lives in the people we speak to and more so the social networks and other media outlets which Satan has cunningly managed to use for his agenda.  This is where Satan is really putting his efforts in and is doing it with great success.  Our society is operating on the basis of the platform of postmodernism which advocates tolerance, inclusivity and acceptance to everyone’s self-belief.  Satan wants no more than for every person to not believe in an absolute truth.  We must guard ourselves prudently and with conviction against the snares of the devil.

Please pray for other brothers and sisters that they may stay in the light of the truth written in Scripture of God’s Word.

 

In Christ <><