Archive for April, 2008

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More unsupported views of Jesus

April 18, 2008

I set up this category so I can review these seemingly unfounded views of Jesus. These are not essentials, just interesting ideas that, I think, are false or at least should not be held because they cannot be supported by Scripture.

My dad was visiting us in Louisville when we moved here. He came with us to one of the churches we were interested in. The Sunday School (but with a fancy name) teacher went on a slight tangent about Jesus’ earthly work.

The tangent involved Jesus calming the storm (Mark 4:35-41, Luke 8:22-25). He said that Jesus’ act of calming the storm (not sure if he would call it a miracle) disclosed Jesus as the last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45), showing His dominion over creation just as Adam would have been able to do (Genesis 1:28).

Several months later I found the same teacher answering a questions about walking on water. The conclusion was that Adam and Eve, pre-fall, could walk on water because Jesus walked on water (Mark 6:45-52). The teacher thought this act/miracle was also a time when Jesus was disclosing Himself as the last Adam. Another question was asked about the connection in Mark 6 to the feeding of the five thousand. Mark 6:52 reads, “for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened”. The questioner made the connection that the disciples did not understand the walking on the water because they did not understand where the bread and fish came from, both having the same origin. So, did this teacher think that Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand was also an act of Jesus declaring Himself as the last Adam? He did. He thought that just as Adam could bring bread effortlessly out of the ground (compared to after the curse, Genesis 3:19), Jesus could effortlessly bring forth bread from the ground.

Let’s look at walking on the water and feeding the five thousand. The need of walking on water for Adam and Eve is doubtful. There is little to no reason to assume that buoyancy was introduced after the fall or that any special abilities were given to Adam and Eve that would allow them to overcome the laws of nature God established in the creation. Also, the connection to feeding the five thousand brings us many questions. Was Jesus drawing the bread from the ground for five thousand people? His disciples were distributing it, not Jesus. And where did the fish come from? When Mark connects walking on water with feeding the five thousand, he reveals that the same quality that enabled Jesus to feed the five thousand also enabled Him to walk on water. Because Jesus is God, He could do both of these things.

The calming of the storm is along the same lines. There are no general reasons to believe Adam had control of the seas. Psalm 65:7 says of God that He is the One, “who stills the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples”. This passage refers to God as the One who calms the seas. We are given no similar passage about Adam or the coming Messiah. But we can treat the walking on water and calming of the storm by reviewing Genesis 1:28. The teacher was focusing on dominion. Genesis 1:28 reads,

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

God gives dominion over all the animals. God does tell Adam and Eve to subdue the earth. The word “earth” in Genesis 1 refers to the dry land when referencing the animals and in contrast to the seas (v. 10-12, 20, 22, 24-26, 28-30; v. 1, 2, 15 and 17 refer to the entire world and do not have animals or “seas” in the context). The water of the seas is not something they are given control over. Also, subduing the earth has to do with, first, multiplying on it, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it”. Then the second part of the command comes “have dominion”. It would not be a sole venture for only Adam and/or Eve to subdue the earth. Neither “subdue” or “have dominion” come anywhere near a single man having control over the inanimate aspects of creation.

I want to draw a few conclusions to wrap this up. First, Jesus was the last Adam, the fulfillment of what Adam was made to be. Second, I want to emphasize that these are not issues to divide churches over or anything like that. Third, the epistles, like 1 Corinthians, are important because they explain the importance of what Jesus did. We do not need to find all our teaching/doctrine in the gospels. Fourth, Jesus is the God-MAN. He has two natures and both are extremely important. Fifth, though the issues themselves are not essentials, the principle is extremely important: listen to your teachers but test everything they teach by searching the Scriptures to determine what the Bible teaches (Acts 17:11). The Bible alone is the inerrant and infallible word of God.

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Book Review – “The Truth of the Cross” by R. C. Sproul

April 16, 2008

The Truth of the Cross“If you take away the cross as an atoning act, you take away Christianity.” (p. 15)

As many have said, R. C. Sproul is excellent when it comes to describing orthodox Christianity in words that can be understood by all. He does so again in The Truth of the Cross.

The centrality of the atonement is assailed in our day. And most church members cannot explain their own faith. Sproul does a great job starting from ground zero to make sure the atonement is properly understood. He starts with the human inability to be perfect and challenges us to evaluate ourselves.

The second chapter focuses on the character of God. God must be just in order to be morally good. God has to hate sin and punish the disobedient in order to uphold His own righteousness.

The third chapter relates the previous two calling the chapter “Debtors, Enemies, Criminals”. He delineates the Bible’s presentation of what sin is, who sinful man is, who righteous God is and what role of Christ mediates between God and man.

In chapter four Sproul makes sure that the idea of the ransom paid, is actually paid to the right person – to God. The old fallacy that a ransom was paid to Satan is put soundly to rest.

Chapter five is entitled, “The Saving Substitute”. Sproul explains the necessity of Jesus Christ being the believer’s substitute to suffer God’s wrath in the place of the believer. And, he writes, “if somebody argues against placation or the idea of Christ satisfying the wrath of God, be alert, because the gospel is at stake”. It is refreshing to know not only the essentials of the faith but what makes them essential.

The sixth chapter, “Made Like His Brethren”, explores Jesus’ humanity and how He was without sin, fulfilling all righteousness so it might be imputed to sinners.

Sproul uses the seventh chapter to explain the role of the Old Testament prediction of “The Suffering Servant”, where “God provided clues about His intention to send One Who would take the place of His people in order to make satisfaction to God”.

“The Blessing and the Curse” is the eighth chapter. Sproul shows the necessity of Jesus being “cursed” for us (Galatians 3:13) because of the curse God places on those who disobey Him and the blessing He provides for those who obey, which was established in the Old Testament.

The ninth chapter, “A Secure Faith”, may be difficult for some. R. C. relates the importance of definite atonement to our understanding of the cross. As always, he uses the pages given well. He brings out the security of our salvation and how it was secured in the work of Christ on the cross.

The last chapter is titled “Questions and Answers”. R. C. uses it to review misconceptions like what value each drop of Jesus’ actual blood had, whether God is present in Hell, whether God died on the cross and others.

This is an excellent book. I would especially recommend it to new believers or as a gift for them. Others, if you are not sure how the atonement fits together or why it is necessary then this book is perfect for you too.