RESURRECTING A DYING CHURCH

In the day and hour in which we live we see far too many churches on the verge of shutting their doors. This is a truth that is not exclusive to any one denomination. In previous blogs I have discussed the many reasons/signs of a dying church. More often than not members of a dying church seek a miracle to keep the doors open, but they expect the Lord to work a miracle divorced from any effort on their part or any new course of action being taken. We must do our part if we expect God to do His part. As an example, we find in John 11 the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. As Jesus approached the tomb where the lifeless body of his friend lay, He told those who were standing nearby to roll away the stone from the entrance of the tomb. Upon their removal of the heavy stone, which no doubt took several men and some effort to do, Jesus called froth Lazarus from the grave. The men were obedient to Jesus in moving away the stone. In other words, they did what they could do…roll the stone away. Then Jesus did what they could not do, he raised Lazarus from the dead.

If a dying church desires to see a miracle from heaven, it must begin first with the members being obedient in the areas in which the Lord has commanded. The church must do what it can do, and then God will do what the members can’t do. Moving away the stones takes effort and requires arduous work. Resurrection power will not be experienced without first doing our part. If a church continues down the same path and expects a different outcome, resurrection will not occur. Positive changes that will stretch the church to go through new doors must be undertaken to see God’s resurrection power descend. Sometimes radical reconstruction and revitalization within the church must occur before His resurrection power can be witnessed and experienced.

If a dying church is to see the resurrection power of Christ do a miracle in their midst, what are some steps the congregation first must take? What are the areas in which a congregation must be obedient and do what they can do before God in His intervening power does what only He can do in putting flesh on the dry bones (Ez. 37)?  What follows are seven steps a dying church needs to undertake/consider in  order to witness the transforming, resurrection power of Christ.

First, Repent. Repentance means a change of mind, a change of direction. Repentance is confessing we have erred, realizing we need a change of mind, that there is a need to go in a different direction. Jesus commanded the seven churches in Revelation chapters two and three, “Repent.” Churches must come before the Lord with sincere hearts and sincerely be willing to take new direction.

Second, Relentless Prayer. Prayer must undergird all that is undertaken before a church witnesses the resurrection power of Christ. Desiring and seeking change without fervent prayer to gain wisdom concerning God’s direction and guidance will result in failure. If prayer is not the wind that pushes the sails upon the Ship, then a standstill will be the end result.

Third, Return to first Love. Often congregations will contend their church is dying because people no longer love the church. No, a lack of love for the church is not the problem…the problem is that members have left their first love, Jesus Christ. If a church expects Christ’s resurrection power to be evident in the midst of His people, there must be a falling in love with Jesus again. Reading on a consistent basis God’s Love Letter (the Bible) to us is essential in bringing about a rebirth and renewing of our first love.

Fourth, Replacing  of Leadership. One of the most common roadblocks to a dying church experiencing the resurrection power of Christ is entrenched leadership that is vehemently opposed to change and has no vison for outreach. If this is the case, the members must reconsider leadership positions, and courageously put in place new leaders (deacons, elders, SS teachers, etc) who will have a vision and are willing to change the mindset of “business as usual.” It is sad when entrenched leadership continue “business as usual” even though it is obvious their way no longer works and will result in the eventual death of the church. To replace leadership positions within a church takes courage and requires making decisions that will upset and make some unhappy, but it is better than letting the “old guard” continue to serve, who resist change and run off the people who could be beneficial to the ministry. If this is a step that must be taken, calling upon associational and denominational help in the restructure will prove prudent.

Fifth, Refocus on Purpose. A dying church is often exclusively focused inwardly as it has lost its purpose of reaching out to the lost. A church that has no active focus on evangelism, no active focus on reaching the community where it is located, will find it will eventually dry up on the vine. When there is a refocus on the purpose of reaching others with the Gospel, the resurrection power of Christ will empower the members as they go in the name of Him who instructed us to be about focusing on the Great Commission.

Sixth, Readjust Attitude. There must be a change in attitude. A change must take place from having an attitude that dwells in the past of “the way it used to be” and from having a defeatist attitude that says “we can never grow.” A readjustment in an attitude that has confidence in the power of Christ’s redeeming grace, and reliance upon the presence of the Holy Spirit, can accomplish more than was ever thought imaginable.

Seventh, Remember all is for Christ’s Glory. While the goal of a dying church is to experience rebirth and reach the lost, the goal that should transcend beyond even the church’s survival is that the church must above all else seek in all that it does to glorify and exalt the crucified and risen Christ. That is one truth that must never be lost or forgotten in the church’s mission. We must forever exalt and lift up Christ that He might draw all people unto Himself.

For a dying church to witness the resurrection power of Christ, a church must begin doing what it can do, what it should do, what it is expected to do, what Christ commanded to do, and then Christ will do what we can’t do. True, it is not easy being a part of a dying church, but when the church begins to embrace in obedience and takes seriously the Great Commission, ventures out into the unknown, makes the necessary changes within the congregation that will no longer be obstacles to growth, members will be astounded what His resurrection power will accomplish and bring to pass.

Blessings,
Dr. Dan

SIGNS OF A DYING CHURCH

In a couple of weeks I will be having my annual physical. The Doctor will check me thoroughly – weight, pulse, breathing, blood pressure, cholesterol, PSA, blood flow, sugar, etc. The Doctor carefully checks me over like a mechanic inspecting an engine. If problems are detected he then suggests ways to address the problem and correct it before it becomes worse. If I ignore his advice it could inevitably bring about my early demise.

There are many people who are carrying diseases in their body they are not aware of or have ignored the warning signs, and the disease is not detected or dealt with until it is too late…and death occurs. The person was slowly dying all along but didn’t realize it. In the same respect, there are churches that are dying but the members are not paying attention to the warning signs, which if not heeded will ultimately spell the death of the church. Is it possible to diagnose if a church is sick or even worse, if it is on its deathbed?

Each local church is to function as the Body of Christ in the community where located. Like our physical bodies, which can become sick and eventually die, the local Body of Believers can become sick and if not attune to the warning signs can and will die. While statistics vary, and thankfully new church plants out number church closings, research from 34 denominations find that approximately 3,700 churches close their doors each year (Lisa Cannon Green, “Study: Thousands of Churches Closing Every Year, but There Is a Silver Lining,” Charisma News, December 9, 2015).

There are many warning signs, many symptoms of a dying church which need to be heeded. The list presented here is not exhaustive, but what follows are twelve signs of a dying church. Any congregation that sees themselves reflected in more than a few of these signs needs to take action before the death certificate is signed and the doors are shut for the final time.

First, there is more talk of the church’s past than of a future vision.  Solomon wisely stated, “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18). Where there are no planned goals, no goals will be reached.

Second, no new leadership is being developed. Often the old guard refuses to develop new leaders for fear of losing their grip of power.

Third, evangelism or outreach is not a priority of the leaders or members. If there are no definite evangelistic plans to reach out to the lost, the congregation will continue to dwindle as members pass away.

Fourth, the congregation is mono-generational. If the members are all of the same generation and close in proximity to the same age, the inevitable is only a matter of time. A church with no youth is headed down a dead end road.

Fifth, all attempts to awake the church from the status-quo is met with resistance. Comfortable is the optimal word in a church seeking to maintain the status-quo and moving out of the church’s comfortable zone is unthinkable.

Sixth, visitors are received with lukewarmness and seen as disturbing the “family.” When a church is perceived by visitors as “clannish” and doesn’t make visitors feel welcome and at home, first-time visitor’s returning  will drop to near zero.

Seventh, when you have more funerals than new members. When adding new members cannot keep pace with the members who are passing away, one doesn’t have to be a mathematician to figure the outcome.

Eighth, when the church loses its courage to take a stand against leadership that is clearly leading the church on a self-destructive path. Sadly, there are congregations who realize the entrenched leadership is leading the church down a self-destructive path, but will not take a stand to right the ship because “we don’t want to rock the boat and we have to live in the community with them.”

Ninth, when the members are more concerned about someone dirtying the church than they are about the fact the pews are empty. Sadly, some churches would rather have a spic & span clean church than pews that are occupied. When congregations put having pristine floors and walls over the dirty shoes and fingerprints of people, the day will come when no one will dirty the carpet any longer.

Tenth, when there is no longer a burden for lost souls. While it is good and we should be prayerfully concerned about the physical health of members, when is the last time you heard someone with a deep felt burden ask for prayer for the spiritual healing of a lost soul? A church that has no burden for lost souls will cease to be a lighthouse in the community

Eleventh, reject proposals without giving them any consideration because “we have never done it that way before” or “this is the way we have always done it.” Strategies for growth are rejected even though the “same ol’ way” of doing things is no longer working.

Twelfth, when the church sees the pastor as always the problem and getting a new pastor will “fix the problem.” A dying church thinks a new pastor will have a magic wand to wave that will fix the problem, so they dismiss the pastor they have or make it so hard on him he leaves. They soon discover the next pastor doesn’t have the “fix” either.

The death of any church is a sad occurrence indeed. While there are those who contend the death of some churches can’t be avoided, I am willing to err on the side of optimism and believe the death of any church doesn’t have to be. If the “death signs” are recognized, the warning signs heeded, and the leadership and members are willing to prayerfully put forth the effort to address the issues, the church can be saved from having to permanently close the doors. When there is a return to embracing the divine purpose and mission of the church, there is a commitment to fervent prayer, a passion for the lost, and a return to making the first priority to glorify the Christ of the cross, what was once a dying church can become a healthy, vibrant church where each time the doors are opened all present can have an encounter with the living God who has revealed Himself in Jesus Christ. Lord, grant it to be so.

Blessings,
Dr. Dan

WHEN A CHURCH CEASES TO FUNCTION AS A CHURCH

The word “church” comes from the Greek word ekklésia (ἐκκλησία), which is derived from two Greek words ek-kaleo (ek, meaning from out of; and kaleo, to call.) The word ekklésia was used in secular Greek to refer to a group of persons who were organized together and meet together for a common purpose. It was a word used to speak of summoning an army to assemble; to send out a call to assemble together all the townsfolk of a city for a particular purpose; or to call together a group of tradesmen who are involved in a common trade interest.

The word ekklésia was used by Christ and adopted by the early Christians to refer to a gathered body of believers who are assembled in any one place for worship and instruction in God’s Word. While the word ekklésia is also used to describe the Church as a whole, the whole company of believers in Jesus Christ in every place and in very nation, the most common usage of “church” in Scripture refers to a local gathering of believers who have given their hearts and pledged their lives to Jesus Christ. It goes without saying the church consists of the believers gathered, not the building itself.

The function of the church is for gathered believers to be in unity in worship Christ, to disciple and equip the Christian to be a more loyal and productive disciple of Christ. Each local church is to become the Body of Christ in their community to reach the lost with the Good News of Christ’s redemptive grace. Each local church is to obediently function as an instrument and agent of Jesus Christ who commanded, “Bring them in.” Every church is to be missional.

There are numerous gathered congregations that assemble weekly who have a sign attached to their building that reads “church.” But when does the church cease to function as a church and only becomes a group of warm bodies meeting for the camaraderie and warm fellowship that exists between them? What is one to conclude when a church is no longer worshiping Christ, no longer making disciples, no longer concerned for the lost, no longer being the Body of Christ, and reaching the lost is no longer a priority?

Seven observations are considered regrading categorizing a church as no longer functioning as a church.

A church ceases to function as a church when the leadership stifles growth for fear of losing their power. This is more prevalent than one might imagine. While the leadership tells the pastor they have a desire to grow, once new people start attending those who have held leadership positions since Noah’s Ark  become fearful the “new people” will get control and they will lose their power. When this happens, the leadership will either run off the “new people” or dismiss the pastor…or both.

A church ceases to function as a church when members arrogantly look down their noses at visitors and say, “Well, they are not our kind of people.” Sadly, this is nothing but Pharisaism. Modern day Pharisees will point out that “they” are not dressed properly, they talk differently, are different in ethnicity, or have little or no money to give. After all, outsiders could intrude into the comfortable clique. One who has a Pharisaical attitude needs to examine their heart in the light of the cross. Seems the Bible teaches that Jesus died for all, not just those who are like us.

A church ceases to function as a church when there is no concern for reaching the lost and lost people are no longer a priority. When a church ceases to be missional, has no concern for evangelistic outreach and is content with the status quo, the pathway to death has begun. If there is no active outreach to the lost, no outreach to those bound for hell, and lost people are not a priority, the church is ignoring the command of Christ to go into all world and preach the Gospel. Obedience to Christ’s command begins in each church’s community. A church ceases to function as a church when it no longer is concerned about the evangelistic needs that exist in the community and its light of witness becomes nonexistent.

A church ceases to function as a church when the leadership is more concerned about having their way, than adhering to Biblical mandates and principles. Christ is to be the Head, not an ignored Guest. If leadership is more concerned about their will than doing God’s will, if leadership is more concerned about doing things their way regardless of what the Bible says, then that church has ceased to function as the Body of Christ. When Scripture ceases to be the guide upon which church decisions are made, then that group of people are no longer functioning as a church of Jesus Christ.

A church ceases to function as a church when open sin is tolerated, accepted, and outrage is expressed if anyone opposes unbiblical behavior and lifestyles. This is becoming all too common as more and more “churches” succumb to the worlds thinking of “happiness instead of holiness.” Christ didn’t die on the cross to save us in our sin, but to deliver us from our sin. Christ came to make us new creatures, to be pursuing holiness. A church that tolerates and accepts willful and habitual sinful behavior and lifestyles to appease the world, has ceased to be the church and is powerless to change a life.

A church ceases to function as a church when the actions undertaken don’t uphold God’s glory as supreme. When decisions are made that does not first ask, “Is what we are about to do gonna bring glory to the name of Christ?” and instead the chief consideration is that the few in leadership successfully push through their agenda even if it is a determent to the rest of the members, then that church has ceased to function as a Body and the Light of His witness is greatly diminished.

A church ceases to function as a church when a premium is placed more on human wisdom in making decisions than the priority of prayer. When a church neglects prayer as the foundation of decisions and the wisdom of man is elevated over prayer and the wisdom of the Word, then where is that “church” any different from any secular business? A church where prayer is not the priority and God’s wisdom earnestly sought, it is no longer functioning as living organism but only as an organization. Where there is no prayer that church will function in the natural not the supernatural.

Many will contend the seven categorizations are rather harsh, but after over forty years in the ministry, observation indicates only the tip of the iceberg has been addressed as to the ways many churches have ceased to function as a church. It is not the intention of this writer to be harsh without purpose, but to reprove and exhort churches to live out being  the church in their community; to exhort church leaders and members to seek above all else to glorify Christ and lift up the cross. It is only when the Church uplifts the cross, the Church’s true magnetic North, that men and women can be drawn unto the saving grace that has been provided in Christ. The world has witnessed way too many churches who have ceased to function as a church. O, how the world needs to see a church which will function as a unified Body fleshing out the Christian life in such a way that results in others saying, “They have been with Jesus.”

O Father, grant it to be so.

Blessings,
Dr. Dan

 

DON’T BE OVERCOME, BE AN OVERCOMER

In First John the Beloved Apostle writes to his readers that they have “overcome the wicked one” (I John 2:13, 14). He proclaims that Christians are overcomers! What did John mean when he used the word “overcome”? The Greek verb “nikao” (νικάω) is packed with abundant meaning. “Nikao” was a favorite word of John, the Apostle using it once in the Gospel of John, six times in First John, and seventeen times in Revelation. The word denotes “a victor, a champion, a conqueror, one who subdues another, a winner.”  The verb “nikao” was used in a variety of ways. It was used to describe an athlete who had gained the mastery over all competitors in his sport and was a champion. The word was used to refer to a military victory of one foe over the other. It was a most picturesque word painting on the canvas of one’s mind of a triumphant general standing on the neck of the one he had conquered as a sign of victory.

So, the Greek verb nikao was used athletically and militarily to depict the absolute crushing of a competitor or an enemy. Wrapped up in the word “nikao,” translated in our English Bible as “overcome,” are the words “to conquer, to prevail, to subdue, to defeat, to master, to overcome, to overwhelm, to surpass, or to be victorious.”

It must also be noted that in First John 2:13,14 the word translated “overcome” in the Greek is in the perfect tense. The perfect tense describes an action which has been completed in the past but continues to have an ongoing effect in the present and will continue to have an effect into the future. In other words, John is speaking of a continuous and ongoing victory. Where does this ongoing victory come from? How is it possible to have this kind of victory?

Our victory lies in abiding in our Great Commander, Jesus Christ, who conquered sin, the devil and death! John uses the word “abide” twenty-three times in his five-chapter epistle. The word abide, from the Greek word “meno” (μένω), denotes “to stay, to dwell, to remain, to abide.” It denotes to continue dwelling, remaining, staying where you are and not wandering off. In John 15:4 Jesus says we are to abide in Him like a branch abides in the vine. Abide pictures a close, intimate relationship and emphasizes the need on our part of maintaining continual fellowship with the One who has overcome all foes (I John 2:6, 24, 27, 3:6).

In First John 4:4 we are told we are overcomers “because greater is [Christ] that is in you, than he that is in the world.” It is as we abide in Him we experience the victory He won for us when He was tempted in all points as we are but yet without sin. It is as we abide in Him that we experience the victory He won for us on Calvary’s Hill when He bore the sins of humanity. It as we abide in Him that we experience the victory He won for us when He came out of the sealed tomb. In Christ we don’t fight for victory, our Christian life is lived from the position of victory. And the victory Christ won in the past continues to have an ongoing effect in our lives today and every day.

Christ used the word “overcome” when He spoke to all seven churches in the book of Revelation. They were all called to be overcomers (see Revelation 2:7; 2:11; 2:17; 2:26; 3:5; 3:12; 3:21). He calls us to be overcomers, living our Christian lives from the position of victory which He won on our behalf. Jesus calls us to be overcomers because He was an Overcomer. In Christ is found all we need to be overcomers in this life. He has supplied us with His Holy Spirit, His Word, fellowship with other believers, prayer, worship, and placed in our hearts the assurance of eternal life. As we abide in Him (John 15) we experience His victory, which is our victory, too. Again, in Christ we don’t fight for victory, our Christian life is lived from the position of victory. As Christians we are to abide in the victory which has already been won for us in Christ.

This ol’ world is a battleground, not a playground and we face battles from the “wicked one” in life. Let us maintain the attitude of the athlete who faces his competitors with the confidence of victory. Let us maintain the attitude of the general who goes into battle with the confidence of victory being the only outcome.

Yes, the “wicked one” may come against us, circumstances may sometimes be contrary to us, but in Christ we are overcomers. In Christ the victory has already been won whereby we too can enter into that victory which He has provided for us in Himself. Don’t be overcome, be an overcomer!

Blessings,
Dr. Dan

WHEN GOD BECAME A MAN

There would be no Christmas without Christ. Christmas without Christ is only a festive feel-good time that has no eternal or impactful significance. That Christ was born is a historical reality. While His birth is confirmed by writings even outside Scriptural references, the Scripture is our best source for discovering who this Jesus is and why His birth is so celebrated. Matthew, writing with the Jewish reader in mind, beautifully paints Jesus as the King of the Jews, the One that has legal right the throne of David and who even commands from afar Wise Men from the East to come and worship He who  is born King of the Jews. Luke, writing with the Gentile reader in mind, vividly paints Jesus as the Son of Man, the Perfect Man, the Man for all men, and descending from Adam came to do what Adam could not do. As the Second Adam He came to live a perfect life, defeat temptation and be victorious over the Foe who defeated the first Adam. Mark, writing with the Roman reader in mind, humbly portrays Christ as the Servant of God. Mark doesn’t focus on the birth of Christ, but focuses on His deeds. With almost half the Roman Empire being slaves the genealogy and birth of a servant was unimportant in the Roman mind only one’s deeds, and Christ had plenty of them!

Ah, but John….He traces Jesus’ genealogy and birth not from Adam, Abraham, or David, but He goes all the way back to the beginning….not just the beginning of time but before time….he reaches back into eternity! So much is packed into John 1:1-3, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.”

These verses proclaim that Christmas is about when God became a man.
It is clear by “the Word” in John 1:1-3 the Apostle is speaking of Christ. The Greek word for “Word” is Logos, meaning that through Christ God has spoken, He has declared Himself, He has expressed Himself to humanity. Jesus is the incarnate Logos, the incarnate Word. Notice what John says about this Babe whose cry broke the silence of the Bethlehem night.

First, Christ is eternal. “In the beginning was the Word” (Jh 1:1). Christ was always with God. There never was a time when the Word (Christ) was not.

Second, Christ is equal to God. “The Word was with God” (Jh 1:1). The word “with” means face to face with God. This speaks of equality and intimacy. Christ was not lesser than God, but equal with God.

Third, Christ was God. “The Word was God” (Jh 1:1). Christ is eternally God, is equal with God and is God Himself. Christ is the fullness of God, the state of being God (Col. 2:9). As the Logos, Christ Jesus is God in self-revelation and redemption.

Fourth, Christ is the Creator. “All things were created by Him” (Jh 1:3). The Word in John 1:1-3 is the One of Genesis 1 who spoke by His Word all things into existence. The Word (Christ) created the universe, and at Bethlehem He came to visit the earth which He had created.

In 1:14 John reveals a profound truth. He writes that the Word who is eternal, is equal to God, who was God, and who created all things, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”

WOW!

We catch our breath at such a declaration. We are astonished at John’s pronouncement. We scratch our heads at its mystery and profoundness. We in stunned silence seek to grasp John’s words. What? Our God became flesh and dwelt among us….can it be? Yes, that is the profoundness, yet the simplicity of Christmas…the Babe found in the stable’s manger in Bethlehem was our God who had come to dwell among us. That is the wonder of Christmas. Christmas is about when God became a man.

A Greek philosopher once stated that if God was to ever make an impact upon earth, He would have to become a man. Well, in Christ God became flesh, full of grace and truth, and has dwelt among us. Because of our sinfulness we could never go to where He is, but in His holy-grace He clothed Himself in human flesh to come to where we are. The Creator became a man to do for us what we could never do for ourselves, to provide a perfect Sacrifice for our sins. As He hung upon the cross with His arms outstretched, in His loving grace He bid men to come and be embraced by His long arms of salvation. And those arms of sacrificial grace are sufficient to amass unto Himself all who will come unto Him.

As the shepherds hurried in the darkness of the night to see the Baby Jesus, their eyes were privileged to gaze upon Him who was the Light of the world and who had come to chase away the darkness in our lives. He who lay beneath the twinkling stars had created the stars. The powerful truths behind the words of John leave us in awe and drives us to our knees in worship. And as we gather around the cradle at Christmastime, we do so cognizant of the truth that the coming of Christ in history is the coming of God the Redeemer. In His coming He offered a Sacrifice rent from His very own heart. The Sacrifice was made to God by Himself in His Son, and it was made to His own holy nature on behalf of you and me.

Yes, Christmas is truly a time to celebrate, for our God became flesh and dwelt among us!!

Merry Christmas,
Dr. Dan

ONE NAME WOULD NOT DO

As we celebrate the Christmas season, time pauses for a brief moment when even people who don’t profess to be followers of the Babe born in Bethlehem are confronted with the name Jesus. O, the name Jesus. It is the name that has been endeared by millions and through history has commanded the attention of nations, felled many an army, toppled countless rulers, baffled philosophers, perplexed sceptics, captured the imagination of artists, struck the cords of music in the hearts of composers, moved the pen of writers, and held in reverence by those who worship Him. Yes indeed, there is something about that name.

When the angel Gabriel appeared unto Mary that she had been chosen to bear the promised Christ Child, the angel informed Mary, and later informed her betrothed husband Joseph, they “shall call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

As one reads through the Bible one truth is abundantly clear, Jesus was given many names which describe the character of the One whom we sing, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, there is just something about that name.” Shakespeare posed the question, “What’s in a name?” Well, in biblical times a name had significant meaning, as a name would denote a characteristic or something related to a person that was a particular feature or identifying trait of the individual. While a name is descriptive, it is also restrictive as it seeks to highlight the dominate character trait of an individual.

When it comes to Jesus one name would not do in describing the wonder of who He was and is. No one name, nor a thousand names, can define or describe Jesus Christ. If one could speak with the tongue of men and angels and one could speak every known language on earth, one would still come up short of fully describing this One named Jesus. The more we know of Him, the more we discover there is to learn about Him. A brief look at some of the names the Bible uses to paint a portrait of the character of Jesus, while revealing much about Him, only scratch the surface of His wonder.

Though not exhaustive by any means, some of the names given to Jesus that shine light on the wonderment of His personhood are: Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Is. 9:6-7), the Seed (Gen. 3:15), One born of a Virgin (Is 7:14), Son of God (Mark 1:11), Alpha and Omega (Rev. 22:13), the Ancient of Days (Dan 7:9), Image of the Invisible God ( Col. 1:15), Heir of all Things (Heb 1:2), Radiance of God’s Glory (Heb. 1:3), Exact Representation of God’s Being (Heb 1:3), the Word (John 1:1-3), the Beloved (Eph 1:6), the Only Begotten Son (Jh 3:16), I AM (Jh 8:58), Dayspring from on High (Lk 1:78), the Indescribable Gift (2 Cor 9:15), the Anointed One, the Ruler (Dan 9:25), Son of David (Matt. 1:1), the Branch (Isa 11:1), Arm of the Lord (Isa 53:1), the Babe (Luke 2:12), Immanuel (Matt 1:23), Holy One (Mark 1:24), Brother (Prov 17:17), the Nazarene ( Matt. 2:23), the Carpenter (Mark 6:3), the Galilean (Lk 23:6), the Man (I Tim 2:5-6), Son of Man ( Matt 20:28), the Prophet (Matt 21:11), the Teacher (Jh 3:2), the Great Physician (Lk 4:23), the Chosen One (Is 42:1), the Servant (Phil. 2:7), Man of Sorrows (Is 53:3), Rabboni (Jh 20:16), Shiloh ( Gen. 49:10), the Star (Num 24:17), the Scepter (Num 24:17), Redeemer (Job 19:25), Lilly of the Valley ( Song of Sol 2:1), the Rose of Sharon (Song of Sol 2:1), the Root (Isa 11:10), Leader and Commander (Is 55:4), Lord of Righteousness (Jer. 23:6), King (Zech 9:9), Messenger of the Covenant (Mal 3:1), Sun of Righteousness (Mal 4:2), Bridegroom (Matt 9:15), Friend (Matt 11:19), Horn of Salvation ( Lk 1:69), Lamb of God (Jh 1:29), Water of Life (Jh 4:10), Saviour (Jh 4:42), Judge (Acts 10:42), Our Passover (I Cor 5:7), Rock (I Cor 10:4), the Last Adam ( I Cor 15:45), Chief Cornerstone (Eph 2:20), the Head (Eph 4:15), All in All (Co 3:11), Our Hope (I Tim 1:1), Master (Matt 8:19), Mediator (I Tim 2:5), Author and Perfecter of Our Faith (Heb 12:2), Ransom ( I Tim 2:5-6), Our Wisdom (I Cor 1:30), Our Sanctifier (I Cor 1:30), Advocate (I Jh 2:1), Potentate (I Tim 6:15), King of Kings and Lord of Lords (I Tim 6:15), Pioneer of Our Salvation (Heb. 2:10), the Apostle of our Profession (Heb 3:1), High Priest (Heb 6:20), Overseer (I Peter 2:25), Atoning Sacrifice (I Jh 2:2), the Amen (Rev 3:14), the Faithful and True Witness (Rev 3:14), Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Rev 5:5), the Bread of Life (Jh 6:35), the Light of the World (Jh 8:12), the Door (Jh 10:9),the Good Shepherd (Jn 10:11), the Resurrection and the Life (Jh 11:25), the Way, the Truth and the Life (Jh 14:6), the True Vine (Jh 15:1), the Almighty (Rev 1:8), the Living One (Rev. 1:18), the Offspring of David (Rev, 22:16), Faithful and True (Rev 19:11), the Bright and Morning Star (Rev. 22:16), Lord (Jh 20:28), and God (Jh 20:28).

He is all those names and much, much more. Oh, how I wish I could describe Him to you!! But He is indescribable. One name just wouldn’t do and a thousand are inadequate to ever reveal the radiance and luster of this One called Jesus .

O, what a Savior!

Merry Christmas,
Dr. Dan

WHEN GOD BECAME A SERVANT

The marvel of Christmas is that the Babe born in Bethlehem was God manifest in the flesh coming to earth as a servant (Phil. 2:7).  What a truth! Paul called the incarnation a great mystery. And that it is. Most every Christmas someone asks me the question, “When the Word (Jesus), who was God (John 1:1-3), came to earth as a man, did He cease to be fully God? What did Jesus give up (empty himself of) when He clothed Himself in the flesh of man?”

While seeking to answer this question, it is recognized that we can only get a glimpse into a divine mystery which escapes our ability to fully comprehend. But we will seek to climb this spiritual Mt. Everest as far as our finite minds will allow us.

Paul writes in Philippians 2:5-11  5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

This passage speaks of the self-humiliation of Christ as He took upon Himself the form of a servant to come to earth to provide for us what we could not provide for ourselves. He left heaven’s glory to be clothed in human flesh to be our Savior. In Philippians 2:7, the phrase “made Himself of no reputation” in the Greek means “he emptied himself.” The particular Greek word form ἐκένωσεν (ekenōsen) (from kenóō) does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament, except in this passage. While usage of the word kenóō spoke of removing things from a container, until the container was empty, the word was also used to apply to where one lays aside or empties themselves of their rank and dignity and assumed a humbler rank and role. The King of Glory assumed the role of a servant!!

When he came to earth what did Christ empty himself of or set aside? Some see the verse as implying that Christ, who is the eternal Word (John 1:1-3), relinquished some aspects in the possession of His divine power and attributes. However, if Christ gave up any of His divine attributes can His act on the cross be a saving act since only One who is the God-Man can save sinful man? The answer, Christ did not give-up any of His divine attributes on earth He only self-limited Himself in the full use of them. While veiling Himself in our flesh, He did not cease to be what He was (God) when He assumed the form of a servant. Christ didn’t relinquish His divinity, He limited Himself in the full use of the divine attributes He possessed. He “emptied” Himself of the full use of all His divine attributes and by His divine power self-limited Himself in their use in some instances. Christ did not empty Himself of deity, but of its full outward manifestation. Christ was undiminished deity and perfect humanity united without contradiction in one person.

It is only because Christ is God in the flesh, the eternal Word, that He can self-limit Himself in the full use of His Godness. More than an emptying or a loss of divinity, there was a choosing on Christ’s part, as the God-Man, a self-limiting of His full divinity while on earth. As an example, Jesus said to His disciples when speaking of when He would return, “But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father” (Mark 13:32). Jesus, though God in the flesh, relinquished and limited, while on earth, knowledge of the exact day and hour when He would return. While on earth Christ temporarily set aside in some instances His omniscience (ability to know everything), He didn’t actually empty himself of the attribute He just chose to self-limit His full use of it.

As well, while on earth Christ, as a man, was limited in His ability to be at more than one place at one time. He limited His omnipresence (ability to be with everyone at the same time) which He had with the Father. As with His omniscience, while on earth Christ temporarily set aside His omnipresence, He didn’t actually empty himself of the attribute He just chose to self-limit His use of it.

Christ, while on earth, set aside the full use of His omnipotence in some instances in order to become a servant in our human likeness to dwell amongst us in order to provide salvation for us. He did not cease to be what He always had been but of certain attributes there was a self-limitation on His part in the use of them. One is truly omnipotent (all-powerful) when they can actually limit their omnipotence as Christ did!!

He who hung the stars in the sky, came to dwell in a lowly manger. He who created man became a man. He who created the earth came to walk on the earth. He who men bow to worship, stooped to wash His disciple’s feet. He who created the sun to shine, died in darkness that we could dwell in His light. He could never be the King of our eternal future if He was not King of the eternal past.

So, when Christ came to earth there was a self-limitation of His divine attributes rather than a self-emptying Himself of them. Because of His holy-love for humanity He limited Himself in the full use of all His attributes though they remained in Him in potential, but not all were used in actuality. For in Christ dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead (Colossians 2:9); therefore, He was, by His power, actually able to self-limit Himself in the use of all His divine attributes. As the insightful theologian P.T. Forsyth wrote, “Christ’s emptying (self-limiting) of Himself is not regarded as the loss of true Godhead, but the condition of it. The freedom that limits itself to create freedom is true omnipotence, as the love that can humble itself to save is truly almighty.” In other words, God in Christ is truly powerful because He has the power to self-limit His power in order to act in saving power on the cross and in the resurrection.

Having such a Savior resulted in Paul exclaiming, “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:10-11).

O, what a Savior.

Merry Christmas,
Dr. Dan

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE VIRGIN BIRTH

As Christmastime is upon us, there comes into focus an often-forgotten Biblical truth that is essential to our understanding of who Jesus is and an underlying truth upon which Christianity rests. It is a truth that is mentioned or alluded to in many Christmas carols like Silent Night, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, Little Town of Bethlehem, and There’s a Song in the Air. Each of these carols speak of the Virgin Birth of Jesus. Sadly, there are those within Christendom who see the Virgin Birth as nonessential to the faith and irrelevant in understanding who Jesus was/is.

While the Church for the most part has been guilty of only focusing on the Virgin Birth at Christmas, it is the foundation on which other central doctrines of the Christian faith are built. To reject the Virgin Birth is to dismiss the truthfulness of Scripture, the deity of Christ, the sinlessness of His life, His being qualified to die for our sins, and a host of other related Christian truths related to Christ and the Christian faith.
Why is the Virgin Birth essential? Before we can answer that question let us define what is meant by the Virgin Birth. When the angel announced to Mary that she would bear the Christ Child, she responded, “How can this be seeing I have never known a man?” While she and Joseph were engaged, they had never had sexual relations. The angel told Mary that the birth of Jesus would not come about by the ordinary method of human generation, but by a totally unique action of God and the Holy Spirit. What was impossible with man was possible with God. Jesus was divinely conceived in the womb of Mary without the seed of a man. Mary conceived Jesus as result of the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit who overshadowed her (Matthew 1:20-21). The historical record clearly reveals that Joseph was not the earthly father, and matter of fact he wanted “to put her away” (Matthew 1:18-19). Told in a dream by an angel that the child in Mary’s womb was the long-promised Messiah, Joseph remained loyal to Mary and only had relations with her after Jesus was born.

So, the Biblical record is clear that Mary was a virgin when Jesus was conceived in her womb by the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit.

Having defined the Virgin Birth, why is it essential, important and necessary in our understanding as to who Jesus is and what He came to do? The Virgin Birth is important for several reasons.

First, the Virgin Birth reveals the truth and accuracy of Old Testament prophesies. In Genesis 3:15 the Lord identified the coming Messiah, who would be born of woman, and who would deal a destructive blow to Satan, as “her seed.” The Scripture is clear to say “her seed” and not the seed of a male. The promised Messiah was not to have an earthly father, he was to be divinely conceived. He would have to be divinely conceived in order to bring a destructive blow to Satan.

In Isaiah 7:14, the poetic prophet prophesied that one of the signs in  identifying the coming Messiah was that he would be born of a virgin. Some critics are quick to point out that the Hebrew word is “almah” which means “young maiden” and can mean other than a virgin. While that is true, the word “almah” is used seven times in the OT to refer to an unmarried woman who is sexually pure. As well, in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of Hebrew OT, the Jews translated the Hebrew word “almah” into the Greek “parthenon” which clearly means virgin. So, the Jews themselves understood the prophecy in Isiah 7:14 referred to a virgin birth.

That Jesus was born of a Virgin verifies the truth, accuracy and inspiration of the OT prophecies.

Second, the Virgin Birth affirms the deity of Christ, that He is the God-Man. The NT teaches that man’s sin and guilt before a holy God is so great, that a Savior must come from outside of man’s efforts and works; the Savior being both human and divine. Since humanity cannot produce such a Redeemer, the heavenly Father in the Virgin Birth provided a Savior who was wholly God and Man.

The Bible is clear Jesus was both God and Man. John writes, “In the beginning was the Word [Jesus], and the Word was with God, and the Word [Jesus] was God… 14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1, 14). Paul writes, “For in Him [Jesus] all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9).

The Virgin Birth was necessary to bring about the unique nature of Jesus. In His conception, humanity and deity were fused together by the Holy Spirit and Jesus came forth as the God-Man. He was not half man and half God, Jesus was 100% man and 100% God. We see Him as man when He grew weary, when He slept, when He wept, when He experienced pain, when He was thirsty and hungry. We see Him as God when He walked on water, when He cast out demons, when He spoke and the storms obeyed Him, when He fed the 5,000, when He healed the sick, and when He raised the dead.
Christ could not be the God-Man if He had not been born of a Virgin, if there had not been a miraculous fusing together by the Holy Spirit of both humanity and deity. If Jesus had been born of natural parentage, a biological father, and the biological mother, then his deity would be undermined.

Third, the Virgin Birth affirms the sinlessness of Jesus. Without the Virgin Birth one cannot account for Christ’s sinlessness, His perfect life. The Virgin Birth was necessary for Jesus to be pure from sin. All who are born into this world are born with a sinful nature.  Our sinful nature is derived  from our father, he got it from his father, and so forth and so on all the way back to Adam. If Jesus had had an earthly father, he would have inherited a sinful nature and He would have been no different from you and I. Because Jesus’ father was God the Father, not the seed of man, but the seed of a woman, there was no sin flowing in His veins. He was victorious over sin and Satan His whole earthly life (Luke 4, Hebrews 4:15).

Because Jesus was sinless, He was accepted as the spotless Sacrifice for our sins. God would only accept a Lamb without blemish (Num 19:2; Deut 17:1), if Christ ever committed one sin, He would have been disqualified from being “the Lamb of God that came to take away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). If Christ was not sinless, He could not have been the perfect Substitute for humanity. As the sinless God-Man, Christ took the hand of holy God and the hand of sinful man in order that the wall of alienation be removed whereby restored fellowship can be experienced. If Christ had not been born of a Virgin that would not have been possible.

Fourth, the Virgin Birth assures us of the supernatural. Skeptics reject the Virgin Birth as being impossible and contrary to natural reason. To accept the Virgin Birth is to affirm the supernatural, to affirm the miraculous. For us to have a supernatural Savior we need a supernatural intervention by God to bring it to pass. The Virgin Birth was God’s trumpet that He has done something extraordinary, He has done something that man cannot fully explain, that He has done something that could only take place as the result of a miracle. As the angel told Mary, “With God nothing is impossible” (Luke 1:35-45). In the Virgin Birth God broke through the chain of human generation and brought into the world a supernatural Savior.

The God whose supernatural presence came upon Mary, continues to work supernaturally in the lives of those whose hearts have been awakened to the saving power of Jesus Christ. Because Christ was supernaturally conceived, He has the power to supernaturally save and forgive the sins of all who will sincerely come to Him in contrition and repentance. Salvation can only come to humanity through the supernatural power from a supernatural Savior who was conceived supernaturally. The miracle of the Virgin Birth assures us that the miracle of individuals experiencing the New Birth is possible.

As we embark upon the Christmas Season, there is no detail in the Christmas story more important than the Virgin Birth. If there is no Virgin Birth, if the conception and birth of Christ didn’t unfold as the Scripture records, then Christmas has lost its meaning and humanity has no Savior. Donald Macleod eloquently writes, “The virgin birth is posted on guard at the door of the mystery of Christmas, and none of us must think of hurrying past it. It stands on the threshold of the New Testament, blatantly supernatural, defying our rationalism, informing us that all that follows belongs to the same order as itself and that if we find it offensive there is no point in proceeding further” (Macleod, The Person of Christ, InterVarsity Press, 1998, 37).

If one denies that Jesus is the God-Man, then the lights of Christmas grow dark and man has nothing to celebrate. But there is Good News, the miracle of the Virgin Birth assures us the lights of Christmas shine brightly and they shine upon the cross of Christ where humanity can find supernatural grace to pardon all our sins.

O, what a Savior!!

Blessings,
Dr. Dan

IS IT BIBLICAL FOR A WOMAN TO BE A PASTOR?

It seems discussion regarding whether or not there is scriptural basis for a woman to serve as a pastor is undergoing renewed debate in various Baptist circles. In wading through the deep waters of this subject, one must turn to First Timothy 2:11-15 to gain an understanding. This portion of scripture is almost universally considered to be complex and difficult. Nicholas T. Wright, former Bishop of Durham, considers this portion of Scripture as the “hardest passage of all” to exegete properly. All who have wrestled with an understanding of what the Apostle was seeking to convey would agree with Bishop Wright, yet I do believe an understanding of the text is possible. Let it be stated at the outset, the goal is to be both gracious in presenting Scriptural understanding and to prayerfully honor the truth of Scripture in interpretation.

The portion of Scripture under consideration, beginning in verse 9, reads (KJV):

I Timothy 2:9-15: 9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; 10 But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. 11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. 12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. 15 Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.

Numerous interpretive approaches have been made seeking to grasp the meaning of Paul’s words to Timothy. When grappling with gaining an understanding of these verses, as one must always do, the context and the cultural background must be a guide in coming to a proper interpretation. Any interpretation of this portion of Scripture must take into consideration the theological, contextual, cultural and historical background, and other scriptural passages on the same subject. With that said, an attempt will be made to shed some light and understanding on these complex and often controversial verses.

An understanding of the culture background in which the verses under examination were penned is essential. In the Roman world, the female was a part of all the heathen religions, and women occupied a prominent place in the services. The worship of Aphrodite at Corinth was probably one the most immoral in which prostitution was actually made into a religion. The thousand vestal virgins who were in the temple of Aphrodite on top of the Acropolis in Corinth were nothing in the world but prostitutes. In all the mystery religions, there were priestesses who played a prominent role in the “worship” services (Leonard Swindler, Women in Judaism, 1976, 18-14 (24); also, Karl Barth, Ephesians, 2.656; and Vernon McGee, I & II Timothy, Through the Bible Books, 1978, 46-47).

Paul in writing to Timothy, who was residing in the pagan society of Ephesus, advises him concerning the church doctrinally, structurally and functionally. Like Corinth, Ephesus was one of the world centers of paganism, as the Roman goddess, Diana (in Greek the goddess, Artemis), was the prevailing deity of the city (Acts 19). The worshippers of Diana taught the superiority of the female and advocated female domination over the male, and the priestess were well known for officiating in temple “worship” (Lily Ross Taylor, “Artemis of Ephesus,” The Acts of the Apostles, Part I of Beginnings of Christianity ed. F.J. Foakes Jackson and Kirsopp Lake, 5, 1933, 253-254; W.M. Ramsey, “Diana of the Ephesians,” A Dictionary of the Bible, ed. James Hasting, Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1898, 1.605).

The worship of Diana was characterized by sexual perversion and so-called fertility rites, her image being represented as a many breasted woman. The female participants were known to be loud, boisterous and disruptive. As well, the women who were involved in pagan worship in Ephesus and Corinth, would adorn themselves in sexually enticing dress and ornate jewelry. Women occupied a very prominent position in heathenistic worship.

In addition to the worship of Diana, there was present in Ephesus the spread of the early seeds of Gnosticism. Gnostics derived their name from the Greek word “gnosis” which means “knowledge.” Gnostics believed each person possesses a “divine spark” within, but for one to arrive at a full knowledge of God one needed the help of emanations or aeons or “spirit guides,” to impart divine knowledge that would aid one in their spiritual journey to experience the fullness of the divine. Gnostics taught that Jesus was just one of the many aeons or “spiritual guides” along the way in the quest to experience the fullness of God.

While there are many variations of Gnosticism, the Gnostics believed the God of the Old Testament, who created the physical world, was a lower divine being, called the Demiurge. This lower divine being that created the physical world had emanated from the “fullness of God.” Gnostics turned the creation story upside down, believing Eve was the illuminator of spiritual consciousness in Adam. In Gnosticism, Eve was superior to Adam as she was sent to be the “awakener” of Adam who was in a deep sleep, having no spiritual soul or consciousness. While the Bible has Eve physically emerging from Adam’s side, the Gnostic version has Adam’s spiritual awakening being the result of Eve calling him forth from the depths of spiritual unconsciousness, crying out, “Adam, live. Rise up upon the earth.” Upon Eve “awakening” Adam, he says to her, “You shall be called the ‘mother of the living’, because you are the one who gave me life.” (From the Gnostic writings Nag Hammadi Library discovered in 1945 – Apocryphon of John and On the Origin of the World.) Gnostics contended that man was indebted to woman for bringing him to life and consciousness. Again, in Gnosticism Eve is superior to Adam. This is important to understand Paul’s meaning in I Timothy 2:11-15.

Worship of the pagan goodness Diana and the early seeds of Gnosticism, were twin towers of evil influence that Timothy confronted as he sought to bring order and stability to the Ephesian Church. So, with some knowledge of the historical and culture background in which Timothy found himself, attention can now be turned to gaining a better understanding of Paul’s instructions on Christian conduct in public worship. First Timothy 3:14-15 clearly states this is one of the reasons Paul was writing to Timothy, “These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: But if I tarry long, that thou may know how thou ought to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.” The instructions Paul gives to Timothy was so that he would know how the church assemblies should be structured and function in the midst of a society influenced by pagan religion and false teaching.

As chapter two begins Paul gives instruction regarding public prayer and delineates the conduct of men and women in public worship. The men are to lead in prayer, “lifting up holy hands without wrath (anger) and doubting (disputing)” (I Tim. 2:8). Prayer must be offered in a spirit of love, harmony, peace and unity. Powerful prayer cannot be separated from living a holy life.

In addressing the woman’s conduct, because of the unfavorable light cast on womanhood because of the prominence of woman in pagan worship and Gnosticism, Paul elaborates on the character and conduct of the Christian woman in Ephesian society.

First, in I Timothy 2:9-10, Paul writes, “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” It was because of these heathen practices of many women in Ephesus that Paul emphasizes in this portion of scripture that the focus for the Christian woman should be upon inner adornment and beauty rather than outward adornment and sexual allurement. The word translated “shamefacedness” (KKJ) has nothing to do with the “face” or “shame”, but denotes one who possesses the qualities of modesty and humility in their life. It “denotes a demeanor which is restrained by true womanly reserve and inner beauty” (Charles Erdman, The Pastoral Epistles of Paul, Westminster Press, (1965) 40-41).

Paul in these verses is encouraging women in the importance to set themselves apart by the way they dress so as to not have any misconstrued identity with those associated with women of the Temple of Diana. Paul is not against women “looking good,” but he is more concerned about women acting godly and dressing in an appropriate manner that is not sexually provocative. Christian beauty from the inside will always enhance outer beauty, not the other way around. A woman with a character adorned with goodness and grace is of greater value than costly jewelry.

Second, in I Timothy 2:11, Paul writes, “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.” Paul gives similar instruction in I Corinthians 14:34, which reads, “Let your women keep silence in the churches; for it is not permitted unto them to speak.”

First Timothy 2:11 is really quite revolutionary, considering many women at that time were not well educated and were not encouraged to learn. Paul is encouraging the Christian women to learn and be informed what the Scriptures teach. By learning the Scriptures, the Ephesian women would not be deceived by false teachers. He instructs them to learn in “silence.” Is Paul saying a Christian woman is not to speak at all in church or ever have any voice in church? From other portions of Scripture, we know this is not true.

It is clear from I Corinthians 11:5 that when proper order was followed and respect for authority demonstrated, women were permitted to pray in public worship. As well, women were prominent as prophets in both the Old Testament (Numbers 12:1-16, Judges 4:4-5, 5:7, 2 Kings 22:14) and the New Testament. Women prophets were active at Pentecost (Acts 2:17), Phillip had four prophesying daughters (Acts 21:9), and there were women prophets in Corinth (I Corinthians 11:5). The gift of prophecy was given to men as well as women, which both were allowed to exercise in pubic worship. David Kuske, of Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, in an exegetical treatment of 1 Corinthians 11:3-16, defines “prophesy” as “sharing God’s word with others to strengthen, encourage, or comfort them.” He bases his definition on I Corinthians 14:3 which reads, “But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort.” (David Kuske, “Exegesis of 1 Corinthians 11:3-16,” Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, 1999.) So, prophesy was the speaking of edifying words, not expounding doctrinally oriented “sermons” which was the function of the pastor.

A look at the Greek word “silence” sheds much light as to what Paul is saying. The Greek word hēsuchia which is translated as “silent” carries with it the idea of “calmness” or “quietness” or “harmony.” This same word is more correctly translated as “quiet” a few verses earlier in I Timothy 2:2. The word has more to do with an attitude and spirit that exhibits an orderly and teachable behavior more than simply physical silence.

Unlike the loud and boisterous women involved in pagan worship, Paul instructs Christian women to learn quietly, in calmness and in a respectful manner in the presence of the prevailing authorities. Paul’s advice to Timothy, and to the Corinthians, is that everything must be done decently and in order, giving respect and “submission” to those in authority (I Corinthians 14:33). Paul’s advice to Timothy is to not permit women to disrupt church services which was prevalent in pagan worship. Christian women are to set an example that demonstrates respectfulness. As seen from other Scriptures, Paul’s instruction does not limit a woman’s voice in all places at all times. Women may engage in public “prayer and prophecy” (I Cor. 11:3) as long as it is done orderly, respectfully and their voices are not disruptive. The women, nor the men, were to go beyond the bounds of good order.

Third, in I Timothy 2:12, Paul writes, “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” Approaching this portion of Scripture in the context in which it was written sheds informative light upon the instructions of Paul to Timothy. Gaining a proper sense of Paul’s instruction is found by seeking an understanding what he meant by (1) “teach” and (2) “usurp authority.” As shall be discovered, the words didaskein (teach) and authentein (usurp authority) cannot be separated, they are interwoven, as teaching is included in the exercise of authority and an act by which authority is exercised.

Kenneth Wuest in his Greek Word Studies says the tense of the Greek word “teach” (didaskein) renders Paul’s instruction, “I do not permit a woman to be a teacher [in the capacity of a bishop/elder/pastor whose responsibility is to expound doctrine in public assemblies].” According to Wuest the context is dealing with authoritative order and functionality within the church, recognizing that in public worship it is the responsibility of the pastor to be the “teacher” in matters of doctrine and interpretation. (Kenneth Wuest, “Commentary on I Timothy”, Word Studies, Eerdmans Publishing, 1973, pp. 47-49; also, Dana and Manley, Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament, p. 199).

The authoritative structure and function within the Ephesus Church was to be opposite of the structure and function found within the pagan temples. The office of pastoral authority is given to the church, it does not come from the church. In order to secure a Biblical foundation of the office as it exists in the church it is necessary to ground it firmly in Scripture. Theologian Gleason Archer writes, “Here we have a clear principle of subordination of woman to man in the structure of the church as an organized body in the matter of pastoral leadership.” Scriptures allow women to pray, prophesy and teach children and other women, as found in I Corinthians 11:3, II Timothy 1:5; 3:13, and Titus 2:3-4. In Acts 18:26, Aquilla and Priscilla took Apollos aside and both “expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly,” indicating Priscilla helped in teaching a man in private. As well, Paul was most thankful for the productive ministries of Dorcas (Acts 9:36), Lydia (Acts 16:14), Phoebe (Romans 16:1), and many others (Acts 17:4, 12). From these Scriptural examples, it is clear Paul saw the work of faithful Christian women as indispensable; however, there is no Scriptural evidence he ever recognized any of these women in a position of pastoral authority. Archer states, “God intends that the responsibility of [pastoral] leadership devolve on man rather than woman” (Gleason Archer, Bible Difficulties, Zondervan, 1982, 411).

Paul goes on to say that the woman is not to “usurp authority” over a man (v. 12). Understanding what Paul meant by this hinges on the Greek verb, “authentein.” The problem is that this verb is found nowhere else in the Bible. Biblical scholars debate the meaning of “authentein,” which has several shades of meaning. The lexical history of this word is long and complex. The various meanings will help shed greater light on the cultural context of what Paul meant when he wrote to Timothy.

It must be noted that study of Paul’s letters shows that he regularly used a form of the Greek word “exousia” when referring to the use of authority in the church (see 1 Cor 6:12, 7:4, 1 Cor 6:12, 7:4, 9:4-6, 9:12, 11:10, 2 Cor 2:8, 10:8, 13:10, Col. 1:13, 2 Thess 3:12, Rom 6:15, 9:21). That the meaning of “authentein,” in verse 12, has been the source of considerable differences of opinion among biblical scholars over the years it is likely that Paul was addressing something more than the usual respect for pastoral authority when he used the Greek word “authentein” instead of “exousia.” Interestingly, Professor Albert Wolters sees Paul’s use of the word authentein as a play on words. Wolters points out “. . . the word authentēs played a prominent role in Gnosticism; for example, it was the name of the supreme deity in the systems of early Gnostics [sects].” Authentēs is typically translated into English as “supreme power” in works by Early Church Fathers who addressed Christian Gnosticism. There is a clear link between the word authentēs with Gnosticism. Wolters concludes in his thorough examination of the word “authenerin” that “in the light of the meaning which that word had in the Greek of the day, [it could be translated] ‘master,’ conveying the basic idea of mastery.” (Albert Wolters, “A Semantic Study of Authentēs and its Derivatives”, The Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, Spring 2006, 44-65). Moulton and Milligan (Vocabulary of the Greek Testament) are in agreement with Wolters that authentein means “mastery, autocrat.” In other words, the woman was not to seek mastery over the man who was functioning in a pastoral capacity, but be respectful of his position.

Most respected Bible translators of I Timothy 2:12 have interpreted “authentein” to mean: “to usurp or exercise authority” over a man, or “to have authority” over a man. Ralph Earle gives a similar meaning, “one who acts on their own authority” (Earle, “I Timothy,” The Expositors Bible Commentary, Vol. II, Zondervan, 1978, 363). The prolific Bible commentator Warren Wiersbe translates the meaning as “not to ‘lord it over’ the man” (Wiersbe, Be Faithful, Victor Books, 1982, 37); as does the New Testament theologian Donald Guthrie (Guthrie, New Testament Theology, Intervarsity Press, 1981, 779). The Greek scholar A.T. Robertson contends the meaning of the verse is that women are not to “have dominion over a man in public gatherings.” He connects several meanings to the word authentein: playing the master, autocrat, domineer, authoritative (Robertson, “I Timothy,” Word Pictures in the New Testament, Volume IV, Baker Book House, 1931, 570).

While over the years the overwhelming majority of English Bible translations have been in agreement in rendering the meaning of the Greek word authentein as having to do with “usurping or exercising authority over” the man (e.g., KJV, RSV, GNB, NIV, CEV, NASB, NLT, NET, AMP, BRG, ESV, HCSB), Walter Liefeld points out, “A perplexing issue [surrounds] the meaning of ‘authentein.’ Over the course of its history this verb and its associated noun have had a wide semantic range, including some bizarre meanings, such as committing suicide, murdering one’s parents, and being sexually aggressive. The word has had a history of being associated with violent behavior and conduct” (Walter Liefeld, “Response to David M. Scholer”, Women, Authority & the Bible, IVP Books, 1986, 220).

As Liefeld does, Leland Wilshire does not limit the translation of authentein to only in reference to the use of usurping one’s authority. Wilshire concludes that authentein might best be translated “instigate violence.” Wilshire bases this conclusion upon a study of known uses of the word “authentein” in Greek literature from the years 200 B.C. to 200 A.D. He found that while the word “authentein” was used on occasions in extra-biblical literature to denote authority, it was also widely associated with various forms of self-willed violent behavior. Wilshire’s research fits within the historical context of what Timothy was dealing with in the pagan worship embedded in the Ephesian society, as women were not to “instigate violent behavior” against those in pastoral authority (L.E. Wilshire, Insight into Two Biblical Passages, University Press of America. 2010, 28-29; and also, Wilshire, “I Timothy 2:12 Revisited,” Evangelical Quarterly, 65:1, 1993, 45).

Andreas Köstenberger, following the traditional view as to the meaning of authentein, suggests a possible translation of this phrase might be: “I do not permit a woman to teach in an authoritative capacity or to exercise authority over a man.” He argues that I Timothy 2:12 is a universal and timeless prohibition of a woman teaching Christian doctrine in an authoritative pastoral role. (Köstenberger, “A Complex Sentence: The syntax of 1 Timothy 2:12”, Women in the Church: An Analysis and Application of 1 Timothy 2:9-12, Andreas Köstenberger and Thomas R. Schreiner, eds. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academics, 2000).

Taking into consideration all the shades of meaning of “authentein,” women in Timothy’s congregation, therefore, was to neither teach nor commit violent conduct or display disruptive behavior in public assemblies, as would have been prevalent in the pagan religions of that day. The various meanings of “authentein” all seem to convey the same instructive truth: Paul is advising Timothy to not permit women to have mastery over or usurp the man’s authoritative role as pastor in the church, to not instigate disruptive behavior in public worship so as not to mirror or to resemble in appearance the heathen religions where women were prominent in the leading of worship. Such an admonition had to do with the teaching of doctrine, urging the Christian woman to be careful neither to disrupt the worship nor to assume the place of public expounder of doctrine in the public gathering of the church. Again, keep in mind that the women led in the mystery religions and cults of Paul’s day, and they were nothing but sex orgies. Paul is cautioning women not to behave in a disruptive manner or in an authoritative capacity publicly, for in so doing one could be misunderstood of making an appeal on the basis of flaunting sexual or physical charm or signaling improper innuendoes. Such actions would be a deterrent to prayer, proclamation and public worship.

As has been seen, women could speak, pray and prophesy in the church, but they were not to function authoritatively as in pagan worship nor be disruptive in public worship when one was speaking authoritatively. This passage teaches there are authoritative roles and subordinate roles and proper functionality within the church and public worship must be held in an orderly manner. New Testament scholars Andreas Kostenberger, Thomas Schreiner, and Scott Baldwin conclude from their thorough study of I Timothy 2:12 women should not function “as teaching pastors or teaching elders/overseers of the churches. This means that women should not proclaim the Word of God from the pulpit to the congregation of the saints” (Andreas Kostenberger, Thomas R. Schreiner, and H. Scott Baldwin, eds. Women in the Church: A Fresh Analysis of 1 Timothy 2:9-12, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1996, 210)

Let it be made clear, “Both man and woman are equally precious and worthy before God (Gal. 3:27-28), and the assigned level of responsibility does not give the men any special advantage or any inherently higher status before God than is granted to the woman” (Gleason Archer, Bible Difficulties, Zondervan, 1982, 411). Priority does not mean superiority. Both male and female are created in the image of God and both are inherently of equal worth in the eyes of God, yet have different functions and roles that God has called them too.

Fourth, Paul in explaining his instructions on the functionality of men and women in the church, writes in I Timothy 2:13-15, “For Adam was first formed, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. 15 Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.” Paul offers two reasons why the responsibility of pastoral authority and leadership is vested in the man: (1) For Adam was first formed, then Eve. Paul cites the order of creation in establishing masculine leadership in the church; and (2) Eve was deceived first. While Adam followed in disobedience, Eve fell first for the deceptiveness of the serpent. Paul’s inspired and instructive words are rooted in the culture-transcending account of the order of creation and the fall.

Paul is refuting the teaching of Gnosticism that Eve was the “awakener” of Adam’s spiritual consciousness, as Adam was formed first, then Eve. Eve was not the illuminator of Adam’s spiritual consciousness, as Gnosticism taught, but she was deceived by the serpent, and as a result sin entered the world (Adam went along with her and was guilty, as well). While Eve was prominent in Gnosticism and pagan worship, Paul points out that in the Christian Church structure of functionality in pastoral authority and leadership has been assigned to the male. It is not a matter of equality, but a matter of divinely assigned authoritative function.

Establishing from the Genesis creation account that Eve was not created first and that Eve was not the “awakener” of man’s spiritual consciousness, as Gnosticism taught, but was deceived by the serpent, in verse fifteen Paul says the woman shall be saved in childbearing. What did Paul mean? In the Greek “childbearing” (teknogonias) follows an article, which would render the phrase “the childbirth.” This is a clear reference to the birth of the Savior, the promised Messiah (Robertson, Word Studies, 570). Eve was deceived and sinned (as did man), but another woman, Mary, gave birth to the Savior. Woman, as well as man, are saved by “THE childbirth,” as Mary gave birth to the promised Messiah who is the true “awakener” of mankind. And is not that what the Lord promised to Eve, that salvation would come through the seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15)?

Another interpretation of what Paul meant by a woman being saved in childbirth is suggested by W.E. Vine. He writes, “By means of begetting children and so fulfilling the design appointed for her through acceptance of motherhood…she would be saved from becoming a prey to the social evils of the time and would take her part in the maintenance of testimony of the local church.” Such an interpretation is most plausible and fits the context of the Epistle. (Earle, “I Timothy,” The Expositors Bible Commentary, Vol. II, Zondervan, 1978, 362).

In summary, in a society of pagan religions, immoral behavior, and false teachings, (much like today) the desire of Paul was that Christian women live holy and godly lives. He desired the Christian woman in Ephesus to not be disruptive in church assemblies, respect those who were teaching and not usurp pastoral authority. The question arises, were Paul’s instructions regarding the structural and functionality of men and women in the church intended to be normative principles and guidelines or were they just temporary instructions for the local situation in Ephesus?

It is not difficult to understand why Paul’s instructive words are so unpopular in our current culture. One can find a plethora of biblical commentators who argue that Paul’s instructive words were not to be normative for the Church, but were confined to the local situation in Ephesus. Again, Paul’s inspired and instructive words are rooted in the culture-transcending account of the order of creation and the fall. Steven Baugh, professor of New Testament at Westminster Seminary, thus concluding after extensive research that Paul’s injunctions “are not temporary measures in a unique social setting,” but are to be normative for church structural order (found in Kostenberger, Women in the Church, 49). Douglas Moo, New Testament professor at Wheaton College, concurs with Baugh, stating, “It can only be concluded that the results of an exegetical investigation carried out of [I Timothy 2:11-15] must stand as valid for the Church in every age and place (Moo, “I Timothy 2:11-15: Meaning and Significance,” Trinity Journal NS (Spring 1980) 62-83).

It is the contention of this writer, as well, that two thousand years of Church history has validated that the inspired Word is giving normative instructions how the authoritative function of the Church should be structured. To seek to explain away Paul’s words in I Timothy 2:11-13 regarding the assigned leadership and subornation structure of the Church as it pertains to men and women, one must do some exegetical gymnastics to the text and other texts that speak to this issue. Instead of sound exegesis, many force Scripture to accommodate their particular point of view.

Many today are painstakingly twisting and pretzelizing the Scriptures to make it more palatable in the 21st century to those who want the Bible to say something other than what it says. The problem is not that the words of Paul are misunderstood, the problem is that though they are understood they are not acceptable deep down in the recesses of our human nature. It must be remembered, the Word is to correct and instruct us, it is not our place to correct the Word in order that it might fit our preconceived ideas and notions. If we believe in the inspiration of Scripture, then why do we think we can improve upon the instructions that were given to us by divine inspiration? If one believes the Holy Spirit superintended Paul’s writings, then the instructions the Apostle peened to Timothy are by divine inspiration and transcend time and cultures.

Quoting Gleason Archer, he offers wise words of caution, “Those who attempt to rework Scripture are violating and reducing Scripture to a plastic medium that can be interpreted to mean anything the subjective desire of the interpreter may choose. Such an interpretation must therefore be regarded as tantamount to rejection of the objective authority of Scriptures” (Archer, Difficulties, 412).

In a final word, while no doubt debate will continue to rage on in the parsing of Paul’s instructions to Timothy, let us not lose sight of the intent of Paul’s inspired advice; that the Christian Church is to be comprised of men and women who are striving to live holy and prayerful lives and who conduct themselves in public worship in a respectful and dignified manner for the purpose of edification of the believer through the proclamation of the Word in order that men, women, boys and girls might come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

Blessings,
Dr. Dan

ETERNALLY SECURE NOW AND FOREVER

It is realized that when the subject of Eternal Security is discussed, two camps quickly pitch their tents and draw lines in the sand. One camp passionately embraces eternal security, while the other camp contends one’s salvation is conditional and can be lost. While I am in the camp of those who embrace eternal security, it is recognized good brothers and sisters hold to a different position. But standing upon the holy mountain of biblical truths I view eternal security as a truth that sparkles like a glimmering diamond kissed by the light of heaven’s scriptural light. For one to contend that one can lose their salvation, in the end logically implies: (1) salvation is not by grace but is works-based, salvation being ultimately based on one’s actions not God’s unmerited favor, and (2) Christ’s death on the cross was not sufficient to save without our works, our works bringing the salvation process to completion. One who contends it is possible to lose one’s salvation cannot affirm salvation is by grace (which means without any admixture of human contribution), then in the next breath contend our salvation is conditional by that which we must do.

When Jesus cried out on the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30), it was a cry that excluded our works as needed for salvation. It was a cry of completion. In the Greek Jesus’ declaration is one word, tetelestai, which means “paid in full, the debt has been paid, complete.” It was used by merchants to indicate that a receipt had been paid in full and nothing more was owed. Tetelestai was a word used by authors, artists, or mathematicians to declare their work was complete and finished, nothing else needed to be added. As well, according to Roman law if a person was convicted of a crime, a certificate of debt was prepared which listed his offenses and the prescribed penalty. This would be nailed to the door of his cell until the day when, having paid his debt in full, he was released. The magistrate would then take this paper and write tetelestai across it, denoting that justice had been satisfied in full and the person would never have to pay that debt again. Jesus’ use of the word clearly implies that His payment for our sins was sufficient and our salvation has been paid in full, was finished and complete. No “work” of humanity can add to the sufficiency of what Christ accomplished. As well, the Greek word tetelestai is in the perfect tense, which describes a completed action which produced results which are still yielding results in the present. The perfect tense carries two ideas: (1) completed action and (2) continuing results. In the word tetelestai Jesus was declaring the atonement has been accomplished, completed once and for all time and its sufficiency is still having an effect in the present. Christ death on the cross forever secured our salvation, apart from any works of humanity. Through His atoning work on the cross, Christ “became the author of eternal salvation” (Heb. 5:9).

Before examining four key scriptures that shine like bright stars in the heavens in regard to the matter of eternal security, four objections raised by those who oppose eternal security will briefly be considered.

(1) It is contended that those who hold to the doctrine of eternal security open the door to the promotion of sin or that it gives one a “license” to sin and live as one pleases. Eternal security is not a license to sin. Paul warns that such an attitude should “perish” from the thinking of a Christian (Romans 6:1-2). A person who thinks eternal security is a license to sin either has a lack of understanding of salvation or has never been saved. A person who has truly been redeemed by Jesus Christ will not intentionally live a life characterized by continuous and willful sin. Christ came not to save us in our sin, but to save and deliver us from our sin (Romans 6). A true understanding of eternal security promotes faithfulness not faithlessness.

(2) A second objection to eternal security has to do with verses that appear to speak of salvation being conditional or contingent upon our works and “warning” passages that exhort the Christian to continue in the faith. In other words, the security of one’s salvation is conditional. However, there must be a distinction drawn between what an individual must do in order to receive salvation and how as a Christian one should live. Works or fruit are the proof we are one of His and we are connected to the Vine (John 15). Our fruit doesn’t secure our salvation, but our fruit is evidence we are secure in Christ. While there will always be a mystery and a tension between the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man to exhibit fruit that gives evidence of salvation, “warning” passages exhorting the Christian to continue in the faith are for the purpose not to take our salvation for granted but to continue bearing fruit for the Savior whereby making our “calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10).

(3) A third objection to eternal security has to do with those who have given outward evidence of salvation, but have now “forsaken” the faith once delivered to the saints. One is to never judge the truths of the Word of God by someone’s experience, but we are to judge one’s experience by the Word of God. John states, “They went out from us because they were not of us” (I John 2:19). Peter stated, “A hog returns to his wallowing in the mire and a dog returns to his vomit” (2 Peter 2:22). Those who appear to give evidence of faith, but later abandon the faith are only revealing their true character. Hogs eventually make their way to a mudhole because they have the nature of a hog. Biblical warnings against apostasy are warnings to those who have “professed faith” without ever having truly exercised genuine faith. One who takes the road of apostasy only gives evidence of past pretension.

(4) A fourth objection to eternal security has to do with one’s interpretation of Hebrews 6. Those who oppose eternal security contend the passage teaches the possibility one can lose their salvation. If one uses Hebrews 6 as an argument that one can lose their salvation, they must also affirm that one who does can never be saved again (Heb. 6:4-6). While it is not the intent to exegete this passage here, suffice it to say that Hebrews 6 properly understood in its context addresses rewards, not the possibility of one losing their salvation. While it is admitted the passage has at least six interpretations, a good rule to follow: if two passages appear to be in conflict, and one is clear while the other is not, it must be assumed that since they are both true, the unclear can only have a meaning which is compatible with the clear. This limits the range of meaning the unclear could potentially have, and the end result is that you interpret the unclear in light of the clear. Clear passages of Scripture must always be the bright stars that guide one to seeking an understanding of passages like Hebrews 6 that are often difficult to interpret (2 Peter 3:15-17). And there are many bright stars found shining within the pages of Scripture that clearly illuminate one’s path in regard to eternal security.

While the above are some main objections to eternal security, there are many scriptures that shine brightly with the light of affirmation. Four have been chosen which clearly affirm eternal security.

(1) The brightest star in the scriptures which shines the rays of heavenly light on the doctrine of eternal security is found in John 10:28. Jesus said, “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” In the Greek, found in the declaration of Jesus to those whom He gives eternal life shall “never perish,” is what is called an Emphatic Negation. An understanding of Emphatic Negation reveals great riches within the text. When you have in the Greek the negative particles οὐ µή (ou mē) (both words are translated as ‘no’) in combination, it is emphatically declaring that an event cannot, will not, no way will it happen, by no means under any conditions will it ever occur. When an Emphatic Negation is found in a sentence it means that what is being talked about will never under any circumstance happen now or at any time in the future. An Emphatic Negation denies even the potential of it happening! When Jesus says “never perish” He is emphatically saying, “They will never, never, no they will never under any circumstances, there is not the even the slightest possibility or the potential of it happening now or in the future, that they will ever perish.” What assurance that gives to those who have trusted Christ.

(2) Another verse that shines as a bright star illuminating the truth of eternal security is found in John 6:37. Jesus stated, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no way cast out.” Contained in the clause “him that cometh to me I will in no way cast out” is found another Emphatic Negation. In other words, Jesus is emphatically saying that those who come to Him in faith, “Never, never, no never under any circumstances, there is not even the slightest possibility or the potential of it happening now or in the future, that I will ever cast them out.”

(3) Paul uses an Emphatic Negation in Romans 4:7-8 when he writes, “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute [count] sin.” By using an Emphatic Negation in verse 8, Paul is saying of the man who places their trust in Christ that “no never, never, under any circumstances, there is not even the slightest possibility or the potential of it happening now or in the future that the Lord will count man’s sin against him.”

(4) Peter uses an Emphatic Negation in I Peter 2:6 when he writes, “Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded (literally, “one who is put to shame, one who who suffers a repulse, or whom some hope has deceived.” Peter by using the Emphatic Negation assures his readers who have trusted Christ that they will “never, never, under any circumstances, there is not even the slightest possibility or potential of it every occurring now or in the future that they will be brought to shame or deceived of the hope they have in Christ.

While more verses could be cited, just these fours verses of Emphatic Negation are sturdy tent stakes which anchor our souls in the eternal security of God’s divine grace. How could one interpret those four verses any other way than a believer’s salvation is eternally secure? These four verses are shining stars which cast sufficient light on the truth of eternal security as more than a product of man’s imaginative interpretation, but is anchored in the very teachings of Jesus and the Apostles. Rather than being a doctrine that gives license to sin, it instills encouragement, commitment and confidence in the heart of the believer knowing that God’s amazing grace in Jesus Christ is sufficient to save and secure those who trust in Christ. In Christ we are secure now and forever. Amen

Blessings,
Dr. Dan