The Son Of God Is Not Called Jesus Christ. He is called Yeshua Hamashiach—Owusu Bempah

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A video has been making the rounds with Rev. Owusu Bempah of Glorious Word Power Ministry International purporting “that the real son of God is called Yeshua Hamashiach reiterating that Jesus Christ was an impostor. “The son of God” he said, “is not called Jesus Christ. He is called Yeshua Hamashiach.” The video and transcript can be viewed here.

Now, his statement doesn’t deserve a response because it is not an issue at least at the level of Christian scholarlship. It is simply a case of ignorance. But considering that he is a so called Reverend and the number of controversies he stirs in this country, it is right to put the issue in its right place.

In the first place, the name “Yeshua” is the English transliteration of the Hebrew word ישוע. Now unless one has the ability to read Hebrew, that word is meaningless. Yeshua in Hebrew simply means “Saviour” and the Greek transliteration is “Iesous” from which we have Jesus—the English transliteration. So unless you are reading the New Testament in Hebrew, there is no point for a Hebrew word —ישוע–Yeshua in an English Bible especially so when the New Testament was originally written in Greek.

He went on further to say that “The name Jesus Christ was given by Constantine”. This is incredibly ludicrous.  Yeshua Hamashiach, again is another transliteration from Hebrew to English. In English it means “Jesus The Messiah” which is English transliteration of the Greek Iesous Cristos; also a transliteration of the Hebrew Yeshua Hamashiach. Mashiach means “anointed”. John recorded this in Christ’s discourse with the woman at the well:

The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he. (John 4:25-26).

He continued Jesus Christ is not the name of the son of God. There was this man who came called Nero who was killing the followers of Jesus Christians who were not even called Christians but Nazarenes.  He could feed them to lions and other dangerous animals but their numbers increased.

There’s some truth in the above. Historically, it is true there was a man named Nero who persecuted Christians. An online article “Who Was Nero?” captures something about Nero worth considering:

Nero took the throne approximately two decades after Christ was crucified. Although still in its infancy, Christianity was spreading rapidly during this time. In fact, approximately fourteen of the New Testament’s twenty-seven books were written in whole or in part during Nero’s emperorship. Also during Nero’s reign the apostle Paul was confined to house arrest in Rome (AD 60—63), where he wrote Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. Nero was the “Caesar” to whom Paul appealed for justice during his trial in Caesarea (Acts 25:10–12).²

Rev. Owusu Bempah in his statement also claims Christians were called Nazarenes. That is also false. The name Christians—believer and follower of Christ — was first used in Acts 11:26. The word is another Greek-English transliteration meaning follower of Christ: Christos; a Christian, i.e. Follower of Christ — Christian. ³

Before the name Christians (Acts 11:26), The followers of Christ were called People of the Way (Acts 9:2). Remember Christ said he is the way, the truth and the life ( John 14:6).  There are men on pulpits who don’t know what they believe. However, these men are drawing crowds and leading people astray. These things could have easily been cleared if Owusu Bempah had spent some time reading around. We live in sad times as a Church in this nation. I pray God gives us discerment and raises preachers who will only preach the truth and not engage in “irreverent babble, [which] will lead people into more and more ungodliness” (2Timothy 2:16).

Notes

1:https://mobile.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Jesus-Christ-not-the-son-of-God-he-was-an-impostor-Owusu-Bempah-597752?video=1

2:https://www.gotquestions.org/who-was-Nero.html

3: http://biblehub.com/greek/5546.htm

 

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The Deity Of Christ

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John 5:15-29

In a world of religious plurality, every religion and religious leader makes some claims. Of all the claims, Jesus’ were the most astounding. He made many exclusive claims no religious leader ever made. And that got Him killed.

He claimed to be God.

This claim sets Him apart from all other religious leader who ever lived. And if the claim to be God is false, then, it is blasphemous and Jesus cannot be trusted. Looking therefore at the gravity of His claims, either Jesus is God or He is not. There is no middle ground as C.S. Lewis says in his popular work, Mere Christianity:

Either this man[Jesus] was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God

Lord Over The Sabbath

In the opening text, a controversy over the identity of Christ occurred when He healed a man on the Sabbath (vv. 1-9). In verse 16, John tells us this miracle “…was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath“. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day added their own human traditions to the law and with these they sought to keep God’s people in bondage. Their interpretation of the Sabbath forbided doing good to our neighbour. They overlooked  God’s command of love towards ones neighbour. Jesus elsewhere asked them: “Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” (Matthew 12:11-12).

Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8, Mark 2:28, Luke 6:5) and His words “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” (John 5:17) brings that out in clear terms. God doesn’t cease working because of the Sabbath. He is actively involved in running His world and taking care of people. The world is not on auto pilot. There is a God at work in sustaining and directing the course of the world. Christ says He is this God.

Christ’s Deity

When Jesus said “My Father is working until now, and I am working”, the Jews who heard Him clearly understood what He meant when He called God His Father and this exacerbated their resolve to kill Him:

This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God (v.18).

Now, apart from the charge of breaking the Sabbath, Jesus was also charged with “making himself equal with God” and they understood His claim to be a claim of Deity. Church history is littered with many controversies over the person of Jesus Christ. The Nicea council, for example, in opposition to the arianian heresy which claims Jesus was a created being; stated that “Jesus is begotten, not made, and that His divine nature is of the same essence (homo ousios) with the Father”. ¹ R.C. Sproul explains that

This affirmation declared that the Second Person of the Trinity is one in essence with God the Father. That is, the “being” of Christ is the being of God. He is not merely similar to Deity, but He is Deity”²

One place we see the divinity of Jesus in the text is His assertion of His worthiness of honour just as the Father is worthy of honour: “The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him”. (vv. 22-24). Jesus is worthy of our worship–honour, just as we honour the Father. You can’t claim to honour or worship God and yet claim to not honour Jesus Christ or accept the claims He made about Himself. To honour God, you must also acknowledge Jesus Christ as the Son of God who was sent by God to die for the salvation of sinners (John 3:16). Again, to acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God is to acknowledge Jesus as God. He is God who was manifested in the flesh (John 1:14)

The Unity of the Godhead.

The doctrine of the Trinity is a fundamental Christian doctrine which speaks of God in three persons who are co-equal and co-eternal in existence. While defending Himself, Christ reveals to us the unity which exists in the Trinity: “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise (v.19).

Divine work is Trinitarian in nature and the Godhead is in agreement in all they do. The Father works and Christ works. We see this from creation and in the work of Salvation. In Salvation, we see the active participation of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Salvation is Trinitarian: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:3). As we read further on in Ephesians, we see the Father predestined those who will be saved in the Son. The Son dies for those the Father predestined and then the work of the Son is applied to the heart of the elect into Salvation. Christ tells us He doesn’t work alone. What the Father, who is God does; the Son, who is equally God also does. Christ doesn’t work independently of the Father neither does the Father or the Holy Spirit. Because they are One, they always work in unison.

No claim offends religious people than the claim of Christ’s Deity. But for the Christian, any departure from the Deity of Christ is a departure from truth and from Biblical Christianity.

Notes:

1: R.C. Sproul, Essential Truths of the Christian Faith ( Kindle Edition)

2: ibid

Who Is Jesus Christ?

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In a week away, we will be celebrating Christmas; a day Christians commemorate the birth of Jesus. Christians are divided on whether to celebrate Christmas or not. The debate ranges from whether He was born on 25th December and also of the pagan origins of Christmas. Inspite of these many disagreements , however, one point of agreement between believers is that Jesus did live as a historical figure–He was born. To answer the question who is Jesus Christ? we must admit there are a phletora of opinions about who Jesus is and those opinions can be right or wrong. R.C Sproul, in the The Ligonier Statement on Christology, opens with these words: “Nearly every adult person has formed some opinion of Jesus. These opinions may be superficial, uninformed, or downright heretical. The truth about Jesus, not mere opinion, matters…and it matters eternally”.

Who Is Jesus?

I will here turn to John Chapter One to address the person of Jesus. The book of John as a gospel differs in many ways from the synoptic gospel . John’s gospel relates to us the life, teachings and miracles of Jesus—and people’s response; just as the other gospels. However, John does this with theological depths the other gospels didn’t. As you read through John’s gospel, you continuously see themes of Jesus’ divinity scattered all over the pages of his gospel though at the same time, He was fully human. J.C. Ryle rightly commented:

The Gospel of John… is in many respects very unlike the other three Gospels. It contains many things which they omit. It omits many things which they contain… The things which are peculiar to his Gospel are among the most precious possessions of the Church of Christ. No one of the four Gospel-writers has given us such full statements about the divinity of Christ — about justification by faith — about the offices of Christ — about the work of the Holy Spirit — and about the privileges of believers, believers, as we read in the pages of John. On none of these great subjects, undoubtedly, have Matthew, Mark, and Luke been silent. But in John’s Gospel, they stand out prominently on the surface, so that he who runs may read” [1]

The Testimony Of John’s Gospel About Jesus

He Is God

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God (vv.1-2).

Jesus didn’t begin to exist at a certain period in history. Neither was He created. Christ is eternal. He transcends time and history. John designates Christ as the Word in his opening statements: “In the beginning was the Word…” (vv.1-2). This speaks of the pre-existence of Christ before Creation. “In the beginning [He] was….” Before creation, Christ existed: “…he is before all things…”(Colossians 1:17 see also John 8:56-57). Now, John doesn’t only tell us of the eternal and pre-existence of Christ. He also spoke of the divinity of Christ–Christ is God: “…the Word was God”(v.1). This clearly speaks of the divinity of Christ. He is God. In Christ the words  “Immanuel” (which means, God with us) (Matthew 1:23) is fulfilled. Again in John 8:57, Jesus used the title by which God revealed Himself to Moses in the burning bush–I Am: “before Abraham was, I am.” “”Here Jesus declared Himself to be Yahweh, i.e., the Lord of the OT. [2]

He Is The Second Person Of The Trinity (Son of God).

…and the Word was with God (v.1a).

In John 1:1, we notice Jesus was not alone. The word was with ‘Somebody’ and that person we are told was God. Further, we are told Jesus shares attributes with that person, i.e., He Jesus was God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” This is the heart of the great historic doctrine of the Trinity [3]. Scripture reveals God to us as One being in three persons; God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit: “Within the one Being that is God, there exists eternally three coequal and coeternal persons, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit”. [4] In Matthew 3:16-17, we see a full revelation of the Trinity when Jesus was baptised. We are told the Holy Spirit descended on Him like a dove with a Voice from heaven saying this is my beloved Son. Clearly, the eternal union of God the Father with God the Son is captured in the words: “He was in the beginning with God” (v.2). In John 17:5, Christ spoke of the glory He had with the Father before the world existed.

He Is The Creator

All things were made through him…(v.3a).

All of Creation owes its existence to Christ: “…without him was not anything made that was made (v. 3b)” He is the King of kings and Lord of Lord’s over all of life. Nothing exists outside of the creative work of Christ: “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities— all things were created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:16). When we trace our path back to the beginning of the Bible, we are told “In the beginning God created…”. Looking at this in light of John’s words, we see Christ as the Creator.

He Is Life And Light Of The World

In him was life and the life was the light of men (v.4).

As the Creator, all lives take their source from Christ. Without Christ, no one has life. Paul says in Acts 17:28 that “In him we live and move and have our being”. This depicts Christ as the Sustainer of all lives. “He upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3). Christ is both the natural source of life and the spiritual source. Spiritually, all human beings, without a saving knowledge of Christ are in darkness, that is, living in sin and separated from God. This interprets to mean they are dead without light. But Christ gives life which dispels darkness and brings light into the life of anyone who comes to Him in faith.

In v.10, we are told “He was in the the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him” (v.10). The question is, “Why”?  It is because the world is dead spiritually and separated from God. Paul says in 1Corinthians 2:14 that “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned”. To know Christ and receive Him requires a spiritual work. One has to be regenerated by the spirit to come in faith. When this happens, we are brought into God’s family by faith in Christ: “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (vv.12-13).

He Is The God-Man

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (v.14).

Core to Christian beliefs is the virgin birth of Christ. He “was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary” Perhaps, done of the most contested doctrine of Christianity is the nature of Christ —his divinity and humanity ‘fused’ together in One person called–hypostatic union (see also Historic Heresies Relating To The Nature of Jesus). Jesus is fully God and fully human. God took on human flesh in Jesus Christ. He became the God-man among His creation: He “dwelt among us”. He became man and lived among His own people (1John 1:1-2).

God walked among humanity in Christ and manifested His glory: “we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son” God’s glory—the radiance of His majesty and power was revealed through Christ. “The Son, the Word–who is eternally with the Father, face to face with him, gazing upon and enjoying the glory that emanates from him– has now become flesh in our fallen world”.[6]

When Jesus was born, we are told “an angel of the Lord appeared to [shepherds watching over their flocks by night], and the glory of the Lord shone around them” (Luke 2:9).

Jesus is superior over all others and the book of Hebrews describes Him as “…the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature”(Hebrews 1:3). In His glory, Christ reveals to us “grace and truth”. His coming to earth was to show us the grace of God towards humanity and lead us into the truth of God’s word.

He Is The Lamb Of God

Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!(v.29).

Here is one of the most important truths to know about Christ. He is the Lamb of God. The Jewish reader will immediately understand what John The Baptist was saying when he described Christ as the Lamb of God. In Old Testament rituals, the Lamb without blemish was used to atone temporarily, for the sins of God’s people (Exodus 12:3, Leviticus 3:7). Now the rituals of the Old Testament pointed to a better sacrifice for sins because as the Hebrew writer will say: “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4). The efficacy in the blood of bulls and goats was powerless to do away with sin once and for all. But Christ, “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”(John 1:29) offered an acceptable sacrifice to God for the atonement of sin once for all (Hebrews 10:10). Christ is God’s acceptable sacrifice for sin.

He Baptises With The Holy Spirit

So far, our attention has been on the relationship between God the Father and God the Son. But all of God’s revelation of Himself is Trinitarian. So here in John 1, John doesn’t leave us without telling us of the Holy Spirit through the words of John the Baptist: “…He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit” ( John 1:33). Jesus baptises us with the Holy Spirit. This means, when we come to faith in Him, He gives us the gift promised by the Father. Without the Holy Spirit, no one can be a believer (Romans 8:9). And the Holy Spirit joins us in union with the Godhead.

These are not exhaustive statements about Christ. But I believe these are basic stepping stones to an in-depth study of Christology–the doctrine of Christ.

Notes:

  1. J.C. Ryle’s Expository Thoughts on the Gospels (Kindle Edition).
  2. John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible. Notes on John 8:58 (Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2006, Kindle Edition).
  3. John Piper, In The Beginning Was The Word (online article Read here).
  4. James R. White, The Forgotten Trinity, (Bethany House Publishers, 2012, Kindle Edition).
  5. Sinclair B. Ferguson, Child In The Manger (Edinburgh, Banner of Truth, 2016) Pg.35

The True Reformers

By Burk Parsons

Semper reformanda has been hijacked. It is one of the more abused, misused, and misunderstood slogans of our day. Progressives have captured and mutilated the seventeenth-century motto and have demanded that our theology, our churches, and our confessions be always changing in order to conform to our ever-changing culture. However, semper reformandadoesn’t mean what they think it means.

Semper reformanda doesn’t mean “always changing,” “always morphing,” or even “always reforming.” Rather, it means “always being reformed.” When it was first used, semper reformanda was part of the larger statement ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda (the church reformed and always being reformed). To make the statement more clear, the phrase secundum verbum Dei (according to the Word of God) was later added, making the statement “The church reformed and always being reformed according to the Word of God.” It grew out of a pastoral concern that we as God’s people would always be reformed by God’s Word—that our theology would not be merely theoretical knowledge but that our theology would be known, loved, and practiced in all of life. Simply put, that our reformed theology according to God’s Word would be always reforming our lives.

Fundamentally, Reformed theology is theology founded on and fashioned by God’s Word. For it is God’s Word that forms our theology, and it is we who are reformed by that theology as we constantly return to God’s Word every day and in every generation. At its core, this is what the sixteenth-century Reformation was all about, and it’s what being Reformed is all about—confessing and practicing what God’s Word teaches. God’s Word and God’s Spirit reform the church. That said, mere men are not the true reformers, but rather they are stewards and servants of God’s reformation.

In this sense, Martin Luther, John Calvin, and others were not reformers. Luther and Calvin did not boldly set out to reform the church; they humbly submitted to the reforming truth of the Word and the reforming power of the Spirit. The Word and the Spirit reformed the church in the sixteenth century, and they have been reforming the church ever since. Luther and Calvin were the ones who helped point the church back to Scripture, and Scripture alone, as the infallible authority for faith and life.

The Reformation isn’t over, nor will it ever be over, because reformation—God’s Word and God’s Spirit reforming His church—will never end. God’s Word is always powerful and God’s Spirit is always working to renew our minds, transform our hearts, and change our lives. Therefore, the people of God, the church, will be always “being reformed” according to the unchanging Word of God, not according to our ever-changing culture.

_______________________

Burk Parsons is editor of Tabletalk magazine and serves as copastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla. He is editor of John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology. He is on Twitter @BurkParsons.Screenshot_2016-04-09-01-00-05-1

Copyright, Table Talk Magazine, 1st November 2014, 

Hymns And Contemporary Christian Music: Who Do We Sing To?

About eight years ago, as part of the bride price to engage my fiancee (now my wife); I was required to buy her a bible and a hymn book. She has family roots in the Anglican church of Ghana, so the preferred hymn book was an Anglican hymn book. We were all Charismatics then (I am no more), so to us, the hymn book was a mere formality; something to fulfil the requirements of a bride price. But about six years into our marriage, the hymn book has actually become useful to me as I have had to refer to it many times. Just recently, about three years ago, I became convinced of Calvinism/ Reformed Theology and that meant a total overhauling of many beliefs I held as a Christian. One of the many changes involved music − the use of hymns in worship. Growing up in a charismatic denomination, hymns were rare. They are not a part of a usual charismatic worship service. You only hear hymns sang during weddings or funerals.

However, having attended a public high hymnschool − Ghana National College − hymns were a part of our Sunday worship so that gave me a fair appreciation of hymns. Charles Wesley’s  “Head of Thy Church Truimphant” is one of my favourite dating back to my senior high education:

Head of Thy Church Triumphant
We joyfully adore thee;
Till Thou appear, Thy members here
Shall sing like those in glory
We lift our hearts and voices
With blest anticipation
And cry aloud, and give to God
The praise of our salvation

Now, over these few years of denominational switch, I have come to have a greater appreciation for hymns over contemporary music. The obvious characteristics of hymns to me are their doctrinal depth and biblical soundness. Many contemporary Christian music pale in comparison to hymns. Hymns span generations. They are rich in biblical doctrine. Hymns make much of what God has done for us through Christ. They celebrate God−His love, His grace, His mercy, His benevolence, His Sovereignty, His redemptive work and many more attributes of the God head. In contrast, many of today’s Christian music is self-centered, self-exalting and self-glorifying. The lyrics of much of contemporary Christian music are evident of what people believe spilling over into what they sing. Take a look at this very popular Christian music by Sinach:

We are a chosen generation
Called forth to show His excellence
All I require for life God has given me
I know who I am

I know who God says I am
What He says I am
Where He says I am
I know who I am

I’m walking in power
I’m walking in miracle
I live a life of favour
‘cause I know who I am

I am holy
I am righteous oh oh
I am so rich
I am beautiful

Take a look at me now I’m a wonder
It doesn’t matter what you see now
What you see is glory
I know who I am

Do you see the height of self-glorification? “Take a look at me now I’m a wonder”. I dare say there is nothing God glorifying about this music. This music takes the focus off God and places it on self. It exults and hallows self. Compare this music with some of the very common hymns we sing and the difference is clear:

Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see

-John Newton

I must admit there are biblical and doctrinally sound contemporary music out there. However, very often, much of contemporary Christian music, awes too much about self and stealing the glory that belongs to God alone. In our music and in the choice of music we listen to as Christians, John The Baptist’s words will be a great source of gospel truth: “He must increase, I must decrease”. It is not about us. It is about God and His work of redemption through Christ. Our music must reflect this or else we will be involved in entertainment and singing about how good we are which will dim the light of grace working through us. You are not a wonder. Christ is. Don’t take a look at me. I am not a wonder. Take a look at Christ, He is a Wonder.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
simply to the cross I cling;
naked, come to thee for dress;
helpless, look to thee for grace;
foul, I to the fountain fly;
wash me, Savior, or I die

-Augustus Toplady

 

TULIP and Reformed Theology: Limited Atonement By R.C. Sproul

I think thaTULIP-and-Reformed-Theology_620t of all the five points of Calvinism, limited atonement is the most controversial, and the one that engenders perhaps the most confusion and consternation. This doctrine is chiefly concerned about the original purpose, plan, or design of God in sending Christ into the world to die on the cross. Was it the Father’s intent to send His Son to die on the cross to make salvation possible for everyone, but with the possibility that His death would be effective for no one? That is, did God simply send Christ to the cross to make salvation possible, or did God, from all eternity, have a plan of salvation by which, according to the riches of His grace and His eternal election, He designed the atonement to ensure the salvation of His people? Was the atonement limited in its original design?

I prefer not to use the term limited atonement because it is misleading. I rather speak of definite redemption or definite atonement, which communicates that God the Father designed the work of redemption specifically with a view to providing salvation for the elect, and that Christ died for His sheep and laid down His life for those the Father had given to Him.

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THE REDEMPTION OF SPECIFIC SINNERS WAS AN ETERNAL PLAN OF GOD…ACCOMPLISHED BY THE ATONING WORK OF CHRIST. —R.C. SPROUL

One of the texts that we often hear used as an objection against the idea of a definite atonement is 2 Peter 3:8–9: “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” The immediate antecedent of the word any in this passage is the word us, and I think it’s perfectly clear that Peter is saying that God is not willing that any of us should perish, but that all of us should come to salvation. He’s not speaking of all mankind indiscriminately; the us is a reference to the believing people to whom Peter is speaking. I don’t think we want to believe in a God who sends Christ to die on the cross and then crosses His fingers, hoping that someone will take advantage of that atoning death. Our view of God is different. Our view is that the redemption of specific sinners was an eternal plan of God, and this plan and design was perfectly conceived and perfectly executed so that the will of God to save His people is accomplished by the atoning work of Christ.

This does not mean that a limit is placed on the value or the merit of the atonement of Jesus Christ. It’s traditional to say that the atoning work of Christ is sufficient for all. That is, its meritorious value is sufficient to cover the sins of all people, and certainly anyone who puts his or her trust in Jesus Christ will receive the full measure of the benefits of that atonement. It is also important to understand that the gospel is to be preached universally. This is another controversial point, because on the one hand the gospel is offered universally to all who are within earshot of the preaching of it, but it’s not universally offered in the sense that it’s offered to anyone without any conditions. It’s offered to anyone who believes. It’s offered to anyone who repents. Obviously the merit of the atonement of Christ is given to all who believe and to all who repent of their sins.

In the next post, we will consider the I in TULIP, irresistible grace.

Scriptures for further study: John 6:37–3917:6–12Romans 5:8–101 John 4:910Revelation 5:910


TULIP and Reformed Theology: Limited Atonement, from Table Talk Magazine  Copyright November 19, 2012, by R.C. Sproul, Ligonier.org, 800.435.4343, http://www.ligonier.org/blog/tulip-and-reformed-theology-limited-atonement/

TULIP and Reformed Theology: Unconditional Election By R.C. Sproul

TULIP-and-Reformed-Theology_620 The Reformed view of election, known as unconditional election, means that God does not foresee an action or condition on our part that induces Him to save us. Rather, election rests on God’s sovereign decision to save whomever He is pleased to save.

In the book of Romans, we find a discussion of this difficult concept. Romans 9:10–13 reads: “And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls—she was told, ‘The older will serve the younger.’ As it is written, ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.’” Here the Apostle Paul is giving his exposition of the doctrine of election. He deals with it significantly in Romans 8, but here he illustrates his teaching of the doctrine of election by going back into the past of the Jewish people and looking at the circumstances surrounding the birth of twins—Jacob and Esau. In the ancient world, it was customary for the firstborn son to receive the inheritance or the patriarchal blessing. However, in the case of these twins, God reversed the process and gave the blessing not to the elder but to the younger. The point that the Apostle labors here is that God not only makes this decision prior to the twins’ births, He does it without a view to anything they would do, either good or evil, so that the purposes of God might stand. Therefore, our salvation does not rest on us; it rests solely on the gracious, sovereign decision of God.

Tweet thisGOD DOES NOT FORESEE AN ACTION OR CONDITION ON OUR PART THAT INDUCES HIM TO SAVE US. —R.C. SPROUL

This doesn’t mean that God will save people whether they come to faith or not. There are conditions that God decrees for salvation, not the least of which is putting one’s personal trust in Christ. However, that is a condition for justification, and the doctrine of election is something else. When we’re talking about unconditional election, we’re talking in a very narrow confine of the doctrine of election itself.

So, then, on what basis does God elect to save certain people? Is it on the basis of some foreseen reaction, response, or activity of the elect? Many people who have a doctrine of election or predestination look at it this way. They believe that in eternity past God looked down through the corridors of time and He knew in advance who would say yes to the offer of the gospel and who would say no. On the basis of this prior knowledge of those who will meet the condition for salvation—that is, expressing faith or belief in Christ—He elects to save them. This isconditional election, which means that God distributes His electing grace on the basis of some foreseen condition that human beings meet themselves.

Unconditional election is another term that I think can be a bit misleading, so I prefer to use the term sovereign election. If God chooses sovereignly to bestow His grace on some sinners and withhold His grace from other sinners, is there any violation of justice in this? Do those who do not receive this gift receive something they do not deserve? Of course not. If God allows these sinners to perish, is He treating them unjustly? Of course not. One group receives grace; the other receives justice. No one receives injustice. Paul anticipates this protest: “Is there injustice on God’s part?” (Rom. 9:14a). He answers it with the most emphatic response he can muster. I prefer the translation, “God forbid” (v. 14b). Then he goes on to amplify this response: “For he says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion’” (v. 15). Here the Apostle is reminding his reader of what Moses declared centuries before; namely, that it is God’s divine right to execute clemency when and where He desires. He says from the beginning, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy.” It is not on those who meet some conditions, but on those whom He is pleased to bestow the benefit.

In the next post, we will consider the L in TULIP, limited atonement.


TULIP and Reformed Theology: Unconditional Election, from Table Talk Magazine  Copyright November 14, 2012, by R.C. Sproul, Ligonier.org, 800.435.4343.http://www.ligonier.org/blog/tulip-and-reformed-theology-unconditional-election/