How To – “Deny Yourself and Pick up the Cross”

                                                                            

Luke 9:23-25:

“And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. 24 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose It, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. 25 For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?”

 

Context. Note the context in the previous passages (Luke 9:18-22), which is the identification of Christ (see the parallel account in Matt. 16:13-18):

 

“And it happened that while He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them, saying, ‘Who do the people say that I am?’ 19 They answered and said, ‘John the Baptist, and others say Elijah; but others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.’ 20 And He said to them, But who do you say that I am?’ And Peter answered and said, ‘The Christ of God.’ 21 But He warned them and instructed them not to tell this to anyone, 22 saying, ‘The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised on the third day.’”

 

Jesus’ first questions to the “disciples” was regarding who “who do the people say that I am?” (they gave inadequate answers). Then, Jesus asked them specifically: “Who do you say that I am?” It was the most faulty, fearful yet devoted, disciple of them all, who correctly answered and confessed: “The Christ of God.” However, Peter’s full confession is recorded in the parallel account in Matt. 16:16: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

 

Although Peter (like many of us) totally misunderstood Jesus’ mission (esp. Matt. 16:21-23), and made countless mistakes in both word and action, he rightfully saw Jesus as Lord, the Son of God (God in the flesh), the Messiah of Israel. As with all Christians, throughout Peter’s life, he had victories and failures (even after the resurrection; cf. Gal. 2:11), but he grew spiritually and doctrinally until the point of his death. Recalling, Jesus had prophesied of Peter’s death in John 21:14-19, “signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, follow Me!” (v. 19)—and he did just that – the rest of his life unto his death.

 

From the start of Peter’s journey as an apostle of Christ, to his death, in spite of his many mistakes in his Christian life, Jesus was his Lord and Savior. Although, his ongoing sanctification and understanding of the work and mission of Christ was developmental and progressive and at times faltered, his faith in the Christ as “the Son of the living God” was unwavering.

 

What I find interesting is that immediately after Peter’s high Christological Confession (“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:18), Jesus foretold that He must “be killed” (Luke 9:22) Peter “criticized” the Lord Jesus for saying He must die: “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” Jesus, then, responds in Luke 9:23, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” (Matt. 16:23 adds, “Get behind me Satan”).

 

Jesus indicates to His disciples (who heard Jesus’ rebuke) that true discipleship can not be realized unless one is willing to forsake it all. This would mean fully trusting Him in all things. Job demonstrated this kind of trust when he said, “Though He slay me, I will trust in Him” (Job 13:15).

 

Peter eventually grew in knowledge and understanding of the Savior and His mission. This is apparent in John 6 regarding Jesus’ seemingly difficult statements of eating His flesh and drinking His blood (John 6:54). In response to this, “many of His disciples left” (v. 66), which prompted Jesus to ask (v. 67) “the twelve, ‘You do not want to leave also, do you?’ 68 Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. 69 And we have already believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.’”

 

Denying oneself involves humility before the Lord. Peter makes this point in 1 Pet. 5:6-7:

 

Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 having cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares about you (NASB).

 

In verse 6, the verb tapeinoō (“be humble”) is in the aorist imperative—, which indicates an urgent command, as in Be humble right now!—“under the mighty hand of God.” Keep in mind, the OT writers frequently used God’s hand as a symbol of discipline (Exod. 3:19; 6:1; Job 30:21; Ps. 32:4) and deliverance (Deut. 9:26; 32:32; Ezek. 20:34).

 

But how are we to be humble ourselves under the mighty hand God. The means of doing this is found in verse 7: “By casting all your cares [‘anxiety, worry’] on Him” (NET). The verb epiripsantes is the aorist participle of epiriptō (“to throw, cast upon”). So the verb would literally be translated as, “casting” (ESV, Holmen) or “having cast” (NASB 2020), or better “By casting” (NET). Unfortunately, translations such as the NIV (even the 2011 updated) make the participle independent of verse 6 by translating the participle as “Cast,” the beginning of a new sentence: “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (NIV).

 

In other words, the very means of obeying the urgent commandment in verse 6 (“be humble under the mighty hand of God”) is found in the action of the participle: “By casting all your anxiety [or ‘worry’[1]] on Him—because He cares.”

 

9:23: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” Both verbs arnēsasthō (“let him deny”) and aratō (“let him take up”) are in the aorist imperative—thus, as seen above, a commandment that stresses urgency— “Do it now!” commandment! Commenting on the parallel passage in Matt. 16:24, Calvin says of the phrase, “And let him take up his cross”:

 

As God trains his people in a peculiar manner, in order that they may be conformed to the image his Son, we need not wonder that this rule is strictly addressed to them. . . . (Calvin, Commentary of Matthew).

 

9:24 “For whoever wishes to save his life [psuchēn, “soul”] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.” Nothing is more important in this life than to live for and serve the risen Lord Jesus Christ. Amen? As seen, Peter came to understand this clearly: Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life” (John 6:68). We as Christians have nowhere else to go except to the Lord Jesus—who has given us the words of eternal Life: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (see also 1 John 5:20). In our stressful, unpredictable lives all we can do is ask: “Lord, to whom shall we go?”

 

9:25 “For what good does it do a person if he gains the whole world, but loses or forfeits himself?” For us, nothing, but Christ matters. Without the Son, the soul will perish: “The one who has the Son has the life; the one who does not have the Son of God does not have the life” (1 John 5:12; cf. John 3:36).

 

9:26 “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” Contextually, this statement was in the present state of the looming event of His death. However, there seems to be wider application (whether the latter phrase is referring to the final Eschaton [Second Coming] or, as many see it, the Transfiguration in vv. 28-36). The term translated, “ashamed” is from epaischunomai. Note the prefix of the verb, epi (“on, upon”) with aischunō (“to dishonor, disgrace”).

 

This verb shows the personal aspect of the disgrace or dishonor. Paul is “not ashamed [same term] of the gospel” (Rom. 1:16). Christian teachers even more, should not be ashamed of the Son of God and His work; or that He alone is the only means of salvation. True believers who love the Lord should never be ashamed of proclaiming the Trinity and justification through faith alone.

 

As the Apostle Paul faced his last days of mortal life, he confidently declared:

 

For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day (2 Tim. 1:12).

 

Since “the world is passing away,” says John, “and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:17), the believer must “deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” Christ is only means of salvation; He is “the resurrection and the life” and “the true God of eternal life” (John 11:25-26; 1 John 5:20).

 

The Apostle Paul

 

The ultimate act of denying oneself and taking up one’s cross daily following Christ is found in 2 Tim. 4:6-8, which records some of Paul’s last words on earth:

 

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; 8 in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.

 

In verse 7, there are three perfect indicatives: ēgōnismai (“I have fought”), teteleka (“I have finished”), and tetērēka (“I have kept”). Linguistically, the perfect tense denotes a past-completed action with continuous results. Thus, the literal rendering would be: “The good fight, I have fought, the course, I have finished, and the faith, I have kept”—summarizing Paul’s life in Christ from his conversion to his martyrdom in a Roman prison (c. A.D. 66).

 

As Paul did, we as Christians should understand that this life is transitory; we are passing through. Consider the inspiring words of Paul in Rom. 8:18: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

 

All true Christians in Him, are “slaves to righteousness” (Rom. 6:18), “enslaved to God” (v. 22). Paul’s instructions in Col. 3:2-3, will motivate us to deny ourselves and take up our cross: “Set your minds on the things that are above, not on the things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”

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Notes

[1] The term anxious/worry is from the Greek word merimna, which carries the meaning of being “drawn in opposite directions; pulled apart from both sides.”

 

 

Taken from the the larger article, Biblical Soteriology (Doctrine of Salvation), by Dr. Edward Dalcour.     


Election.
How one sees election and God’s sovereignty will effect every dimension and method of how one evangelizes. The term “election” is from the Greek noun eklogē (ἐκλέγω, from ek, “out” and legw, to speak or reason). Linguistically, it denotes a “marking out,” or “choice” or “the act of picking out, choosing” (Thayer). The noun is used in the NT 7 times.[1]

 

Romans 11:5, for example, “In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice (eklogē chritos, lit., “election of grace”).   

 

The verb being, eklegomai-eklegw (“I chose, mark out”) appears twenty two times in the NT, and always middle voice (gram. subject does the action to or for himself). Note the verb’s usage in Ephesians 1:4-5, for example:

 

4 “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will” (John 15:16, 19; etc.).

Theologically, it refers “to the electing” of those whom The Father gave to the Son, whom He called and choose for salvation before the foundation of the world (John 6:37-39, 44; Acts 13:48; Eph. 1:4-5; 2 Thess. 2:13). According to Romans 9:22-23 – Election is God’s way of “making known” to us (vessels of mercy) – “the riches of His glory.”

 

 Two Views: Conditional Election and Unconditional Election

 Conditional Election – asserts that God elects those for salvation based not His free and sovereign choice; rather, it is based on the foreseen future actions of men (faith-act), which is the “condition” of God electing him. In this sense, salvation is solely based on God’s foreknowledge of what He sees in man, that is, what men will do with His Son.

In this view, Jesus’ death on the cross produced a “universal” hypothetical atonement—i.e., it asserts that Jesus died and paid the penalty of sin and took the wrath of all men. Further, in this, view, God really desires all men to be saved, but the mighty force of man’s will stops God from doing what He desires—viz. from actually saving “all men.” Those who hold to this view include Roman Catholics, and most modern evangelicals—most of the professing Christian church. Salvation then in this view, is purely SYNERGISTIC (lit., “together works)—namely, God and man working together; man cooperating with God.      

 

Unconditional Election asserts that God’s election of men unto salvation was based not on the foreseen actions of men (as a condition), but rather, based on God’s immutable sovereignty and freedom (unconditional) over the clay. In this view, Jesus’ atonement was not hypothetical, but definite; He died specifically for all the ones the Father gave Him (John 6:37-39, 44; Acts 13:48; Rom. 8:29-30; 9:5-23; Eph. 1:4-5; 2 Thess. 2:13).

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Salvation in this view is purely MONERGISTIC (“alone working”)—namely, God working alone in salvation—man’s eternal destiny then is in the hands of the sovereignty, grace, mercy, and justice of God, and not in the hands of sinners. Those who hold to this view include the entire Reformed tradition (including the Puritans), early Baptist tradition, and present-day Reformed and Sovereign Grace churches, and most standard Systematic Theologies.           

[1] Acts 9:15; Romans 9:11; 11:5, 7, 28; 1 Thessalonians 1:4; and 2 Peter 1:10.

 

John 14:9: “Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? The one who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”

Oneness advocates typically do not engage in textual interaction. Rather, they appeal to isolated passages outside of its contextual significance esp. their big guns, Isa 9:6; John 1:1; 10:30 and, of course, John 14:9.                      

Before we look at John 14:9, note the obvious fact: Nowhere in the NT, did Jesus Christ ever state that He was the same person as the Father, nor did anyone in the NT ever call him Father, rather He is “the Son of the Father”– a distinct person (Dan. 7:9-14; Matt. 28:19; Luke 10:21-22; John 1:1b, 18; 5:17-18; 6:38; 10:17, 30; 17:5; 2 Cor. 13:14; Gal. 1:3; Phil. 2:6-11; Heb. 1:3, 6, 8-12; 1 John 1:3; 2 John 1:3; Rev. 5:13 et al.).      

 

Exegetical – Contextual.  

John 14:9 Oneness people routinely quote this passage (usually in the same breath with John 10:30), as though it was part of the passage. But again Only by removing this passage from the document and immediate context can Oneness teachers posit a modalistic Oneness understanding. Consider the points below, which provide a crystal clear refutation to the Oneness unitarian view of John 14:9: 

 

1. Verse 23: “We will come to him . . . we will make our abode with him.” Here in John 14:9, Oneness advocates confuse Jesus’ perfectly representing the Father with His identity, pretexting the passage with no consideration of the context of chap. 14 and John’s theology. What is not considered by Oneness believers is the fact that throughout chap 14 Jesus distinguishes Himself from the Father (and the Holy Spirit). So it would patent eisegesis to isolate John 14:9 and force into it a Oneness unipersonal understating of Jesus claiming He is the same person as the Father. But note, a few verses later (v. 23), Jesus clearly affirms His deity as Son in distinction from the Father:

Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and MY FATHER will love him, and pros auton eleusometha [‘to him WE will come’] and monēn par’ autw poiēsometha [‘at home with him, WE will Make’].”

Against the Oneness notion (and v. 9), – Jesus specifically used two first person PLURAL indicative verbs (eleusometha, “We will come” and poiēsometha, “We will make Our”) abode with him.” This is part of chap. 14. Oneness folks normally cherry-pick passages (esp. with v. 9) out and then pretext into them a modalistic understanding—again, this is pure eisegesis.

 

2. Context: In verse 6 Jesus says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” In verse 7, He explains to His disciples that if they “had known” Him they would “have known” the Father also. Jesus then says to His disciples, “From now on you know Him, and have seen Him.”

Thus, by knowing Him they “have known” and “have seen” the Father (note the parallel: “have known,” “have seen”). Still not understanding (i.e., by knowing Jesus they know and see the Father), Philip says to Jesus, “Show us the Father” (v. 8). Jesus then reiterates (as a corrective) that by seeing Him they can see, that is, “know” or recognize the invisible Father (v. 9). The context is obvious: by knowing and seeing Jesus (as the only way to the Father; cf. v. 6), they could really see (i.e., know/recognize, cf. John 9:39) the invisible Father (cf. John 1:18; Col. 1:15; 1 Tim. 6:16).

The Son is and has been eternally subsisting as the perfect and “exact representation” (charaktēr) of the very nature (hupostaseōs) of Him (autou, “of Him,” not “as Him”; Heb. 1:3).

Therefore, when they see Jesus, they “see” the only way to, and an exact representation of, the invisible unseen Father, for Jesus makes Him known, He explains or exegetes Him. So John 1:18, “No one has seen God [the Father] at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained [exēgēsato, “exegeted”] Him.” 

Hence, it is God the Son who is the very image of the invisible Father (cf. Col. 1:15) who brings out, that is, exegetes the Father: “He [Jesus] has made known or brought news of (the invisible God)” (Bauer, 2000: 349). One cannot have the Father except through the Son, Jesus Christ: “Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also” (1 John 2:23; see also John 17:3).

Note also that in 14:10, Jesus clearly differentiates Himself from the Father when He declares: “The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.” To reiterate, the undisputable fact is this: not one time in the New Testament does Jesus (or any other person) state that He Himself is the Father.

Further, the Father is spirit. Hence When Jesus said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father,” the only thing His disciples literally saw was Jesus’ physical body. Both Oneness believers and Trinitarians agree that the Father is invisible and does not have a physical body. Hence, Jesus could not have meant that by seeing Him they were literally seeing the Father.

3. Jesus’ use of first and third person personal pronouns and verb references in the Gospels. Throughout John 14 and 16 Jesus clearly differentiates Himself from the Father. He does so by using first person personal pronouns (“I,” “Me,” “Mine”) and verb references to refer to Himself and third person personal pronouns (“He,” “Him,” “His”) and verb references to refer to His Father.

For example, John 14:16, Jesus says,I will ask [kagō erōtēsō, first person] the Father, and He will give [dōsei, third person] you another Helper, that He may be with you forever” (John 14:16; also cf. 14:7, 10, 16; etc.). 

 

Lastly, there has never been a recognized biblical scholar, commentator, NT Greek grammar, nor Lexical source that has ever interpreted John 14:9 in a Oneness-unitarian way. The fact is, neither this text, nor John’s entire theology supports the Oneness idea that Jesus is the same person as the Father. The Jesus of biblical revelation is God, distinct from the Father and Holy Spirit. The one true God has revealed Himself as triune, not unitarian or unipersonal as Muslims, JWs, and Oneness advocates believe. 

 

Who is the liar except the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. 23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also (1 John 2:22-23).

        

David says in Psalm 49:7-8 that “No man can by any means redeem his brother or give to God a ransom for him. For the redemption of his soul is costly, and he should cease trying forever.” Hence, “No man” could provide an actual redemption for man. However, Jesus is God in the flesh and as fully God, His atoning work had infinite value; and as fully man, Jesus was the perfect representation of man; thus, He was the perfect sacrifice. Paul states that Christ “redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse huper hēmōn [‘for, on our behalf of’]” (Gal. 3:13; cf. also Rom. 8:32).

 

Essential Gospel Element

So important was the incarnation of God the Son that the Apostle Paul tells Timothy to, “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant [spermatos] of David, according to my gospel” (2 Tim. 2:8). The Christ that Paul taught was the incarnate God, the two natured person, “the Lord of glory” (2 Cor. 2:8). Thus, a gospel presentation that omits the deity and perpetual incarnation of Christ would be an incomplete presentation.

The covenant of redemption among the persons of the triune God established that the Son would step into His own creation through His self-emptying—namely, His “being made in the likeness of men and being found in appearance as a man” (Phil. 2:7-8). The incarnation of our Lord was perpetual—namely, He is forever God in the flesh (Acts 1:11; 17:31; 1 Tim. 2:5). So essential was the perpetual incarnation that the Apostle John sees it as a defining mark of true Christianity and a denial of it as a distinguishing characteristic of ho planos kai ho antichristos (“the deceiver and the antichrist,” 2 John 1:7; see also 1 John 4:2-3).

 

Accomplishments of God Incarnate:

1. As God-Man, Christ provided a real propitiation.[1] The atoning work of the divine Son accomplished all that was necessity to secure our justification (Rom. 5:6-10; Gal. 2:16, 20; Heb. 10:11-14). His work was definite, eternal, and infallible, “Not dependent on the one willing, or the man running but on the eleōntos theou (‘the mercying God,’” Rom. 9:16). His reconciliatory work was accomplished vicariously on behalf of God’s predestined elect. God the Son satisfied both the penalty required for sin and the requirements of the law perfectly:

For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved [‘from the wrath of God,’ v. 9] by His life” (Rom. 5:10).

The Son was God incarnate, the perfect sacrificial offering, who performed a definite atonement in His physical body:

having made peace through the blood of His cross. . . . 22 yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach (Col. 1:21, 22).

The Gospel of John unequivocally highlights the Son’s deity and personal distinction from the Father and Holy Spirit. However, it also features in the same robust way, the Son’s definite atonement (esp. John 1:29; 3:14-18; 6:37-39, 44; 8:43, 48; 10:15). John also enunciates the same in his Epistles. For example, 1 John 2:2: “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” John begins in verse 1, with the affirmation that Jesus Christ “the Righteous” is our Advocate when we sin. It is in light of this affirmation that John then assures his readers that the Righteous Christ “is the propitiation for our sins.”

The term “propitiation” (“atoning sacrifice,” NET, NIV) is from the Greek noun, hilasmos, from the verb hilaskomai, which has the linguistic idea “an appeasing, propitiating” (Thayer); “appeasement necessitated by sin, expiation” (BDAG); “a means by which sins are forgiven, sin-offering” (Newman); “atoning sacrifice, sin offering” (Mounce). The noun is only used here and 1 John 4:10 (verb used only at Luke 18:13 and Heb. 2:17).[2]

The real death of Christ appeased God. The first clause reads, Kai autos hilasmos estin (lit., “And He Himself propitiation is”). Note that the verb “IS” (estin) is in the present tense (“He is”), not a future tense (denoting possibility—as “He will be.” The present action of the verb along with its indicative mood (i.e., a mood of certainty) specifies the definiteness of the propitiatory (atoning) action. This is in contrast to the Arminian notion of a universal, hypothetical atonement, which did not redeem anyone specific.

The Son’s cross work was accomplished in His incarnate state. The NT affirms very plainly that the atoning sacrificial work was accomplished in His physical body (Rom. 7:4-6; Col. 1:21-22; Heb. 10:10; 1 Pet. 2:24), in His life (Rom. 5:10), through His blood (Acts 20:28; Rom. 3:25; 5:9; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:20; Heb. 9:12; 1 Pet. 1:2, 18-19; 1 John 1:7), on the cross (Eph. 2:16; Col. 1:20; 2:14-15), and in His death (Rom. 5:10; Col. 1:21-22; Heb. 2:9-10, 14; 9:15).

 

2. As God-Man, Christ is both a priest and a sacrificial lamb simultaneously (esp. Heb. chaps. 8-10). There are only two recognized priesthoods in the Bible, the Aaronic (Levitical) and Melchizedek. Regarding the Aaronic priesthood, in Leviticus we find specific requirements and functions of this exclusive priesthood, which include: 1) Being a literal descendent of Aaron and from the tribe of Levi, 2) Providing sacrifices to God for all the people (Heb. 5:1) and for themselves (Heb. 9:7), 3) Cleansed by way of a special ritual (5:3); 4) Chosen by God for their office (Heb. 5:4).

According to Hebrews, Jesus was considered an eternal priest, in the order of Melchizedek (Heb. 7:13-17).

Contrasting human priests with the Son, who is the eternal Priest, the author of Hebrews explains that since the human Aaronic priests died, it was a temporary priesthood (Heb. 7:23). Further, the Aaronic priesthood did not nor could it bring perfection (Heb. 7:11). Like Melchizedek, Jesus was not from the tribe of Levi nor was He a physical descendent of Aaron. According to Jewish Law then, Christ (and Melchizedek) would not be qualified for the priesthood (Heb. 7:14).

However, Jesus was distinct and superior from that of Aaron and his successors: “So much the more also Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant” (Heb. 7:22). As God-Man, Jesus’ priesthood, unlike the Aaronic priests and Melchizedek, is eternal:

but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. 25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them (Heb. 7:24-25; cf. Ps. 110:4).

Note, Jesus’ unique priesthood, which only Jesus and Melchizedek possessed, was nontransferable: “He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently.” The term translated “permanently” (“not transient,” Young’s; “unchangeable,” KJV) is from aparabatos, which carries the lexical semantic of “without a successor, unchangeable, nontransferable,” etc.

Only as incarnate God is Jesus able to abide forever as an intercessory Priest in the order of Melchizedek. As fully God, His priesthood is permanent, eternal, and “without successors”—through which He can save us completely and eternally—“to the utmost.” As fully man, He is the High Priest who offers Himself as the atoning sacrifice and the only intermediary between the Father and man: “By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:10). And as man, Jesus identified with man in His weakness and sufferings:

He [Christ] had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted (Heb. 2:17-18).

Only as the incarnate God is Christ priesthood eternal, “a mediator of a new covenant” providing the elect with His “promise of the eternal inheritance” (Heb. 9:15). God the Father “offering the body of Jesus Christ once for all”— who is both High Priest and the propitiation.

 

3. Christ is our intermediary between God and man. In 1 Tim. 2:5, Jesus is said to be the mesitēs (“mediator, intermediary”), between God and man: “There is one God and one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.” An intermediary represents two parties. Jesus is the two natured person, fully God and fully man functioning as both eternal Priest and Mediator (and propitiation). Christ the Son is not merely a representation of God and man, rather His state as eternal Priest and Mediator (or Intermediary) between God and man consists of the Son as God-Man ontologically.

Chalcedonian Creed: “That is, that “the eternal Son of God took into union with himself in the one divine Person that which he had not possessed before–even a full complex of human attributes–and became fully and truly man for us men and for our salvation.”

 The Apostle Paul informs us in his glorious Carmen Christi (Phil. 2:6-11) that God the Son emptied Himself by taking the nature of a servant having been made in the likeness of men and having been found in the appearance as a man (Phil. 2:6-8).

The eternal Word became flesh in order to propitiate the Father, thus redeeming (through His perfect life and sacrificial death) all those that the Father gave Him (John 6:37). The incarnation of God the Son is an essential doctrine, since it is a vital part of the gospel (2 Tim. 2:8), it should be included in our evangelism. The propitiation, priesthood, and mediatorial role is accomplished by Christ, as the two natured person—the God-Man.

 

Rejoice, because of God-Incarnate you now have eternal life!

Hallelujah! Amen.


Notes

[1] Or “atoning sacrifice.”

[2] The verb is frequently used in the LXX (i.e., the Septuagint, Lev. 25:9; Ps. 65:4; 78:38 et. al.).

 

Aside from the Book of Mormon not containing the so-called “precious truths” that were allegedly lost, of LDS essential doctrines (e.g., LDS polytheism [i.e., the idea that many true Gods exists, technically, henotheism], Exaltation, Eternal Progression, the idea of Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods, sealing, eternal marriage et al.), the LDS doctrine has always rejected the biblical revelation of Christ.        

In spite of who authored it, the Book of Mormon contains significant contradictions both historical and theological (and logical). Of the abounding material objectively demonstrating this (from its inception in 1830), we have documented a vast amount of erroneous teaching contained in the LDS so-called scriptures (i.e., the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price).

Also, my friends at Institute for Religious Research have provided a simple short article, Seven Contradictions Between The Book of Mormon and the Bible. Although, as pointed out above, many of the fundamental heresies of the LDS Church such as polytheism and Exaltation, which are post-Book of Mormon, this article addresses seven significant false LDS doctrines, which are in fact currently contained in the Book of Mormon.

In fact, it is easily proven that Smith’s early teachings as contained in the Book of Mormon (and early sections of D&C) controvert present- day LDS theology on many accounts. See Early Teachings of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, which Contradict Present- day LDS Theology – See Early Teachings of Joseph Smith.

Although there are many more contradictions and factual errors in the Book of Mormon (and in the other LDS scripture) than seven, they sufficiently and objectively demonstrate that the Book of Mormon is untrustworthy patently contradicting God’s revelation contained in the biblical content. See our expanded article on the Book of Mormon here Book of Mormon

Note, Aside from the seven contradictions briefly listed below by IRR (and many others can be shown), one additional Book of Mormon false teaching is its repeated affirmation of Modalism, that is,  Oneness theology – see Modalism and the Book of Mormon 

IRR article:

There are many serious objections to the claim of Joseph Smith and the LDS church that the Book of Mormon is divinely inspired Latter-day scripture supplemental to the Bible.* However, none are more significant than the numerous contradictions between Book of Mormon teaching and the Bible. This list is illustrative only, not exhaustive.

(1) The Book of Mormon teaches that little children are not capable of sin because they do not have a sinful nature (Moroni 8:8). In contrast, the Bible in Psalm 51:5 clearly teaches that we have a sinful nature from birth: “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me” (NIV). (This does not mean that those who die in infancy are lost.**)

(2) The Book of Mormon teaches that the disobedience of Adam and Eve in eating the forbidden fruit was necessary so that they could have children and bring joy to mankind (2 Nephi 2:23-25). In contrast, the Bible specifically declares that Adam’s transgression was a sinful act of rebellion that unleashed the power of sin and death in God’s perfect world (Romans 5:12; 8:20-21). There is no Biblical support for the view that Adam and Eve could only fulfill the command to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28) by disobeying God’s command regarding the forbidden fruit (Genesis 2:17). The Book of Mormon teaching that these divine commands are contradictory, and that God expected Adam and Eve to figure out that in reality He wanted them to break the latter command (“of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it”) in order to keep the former (“be fruitful and multiply”), has no basis in logic or the Biblical text, and attributes equivocation to God.

 

(3) The Book of Mormon teaches that black skin is a sign of God’s curse, so that white-skinned people are considered morally and spiritually superior to black-skinned people (2 Nephi 5:21). In contrast, the Bible teaches that God “made of one blood all nations of men” (Acts 17:26, KJV), that in Christ distinctions of ethnicity, gender and social class are erased (Galatians 3:28), and that God condemns favoritism (James 2:1). [NOTE: See our article, Mormonism and Black Skin, for an documented and expanded look at the LDS views both delineated in the LDS scriptures and by way of sermon or statements by LDS General Authorities (LDS Presidents, Apostles, etc.) regarding people with dark skin, which the LDS has seen, for almost 200 years, as “cursed”].      

(4) The Book of Mormon teaches that, “it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23; see also Moroni 10:32). In contrast, the Bible teaches that apart from Christ we are dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1,5) and unable to do anything to merit forgiveness and eternal life. Salvation is wholly of grace (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 11:6; Titus 3:5-6), not by grace plus works. Good works are a result, not the basis, of a right relationship with God (Ephesians 2:10).

(5) According to the Book of Mormon, about 600 years before Christ, a Nephite prophet predicted that “many plain and precious parts” (1 Nephi 13:26-28) would be removed from the Bible. In contrast, from the Bible it is clear that during His earthly ministry, Jesus himself constantly quoted from the Old Testament Scriptures, and showed full confidence in their completeness and accurate transmission as they had survived down to His time. Jesus declared that “heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Mark 13:31; see also Matthew 5:18), and promised His disciples who were to pen the New Testament that the Holy Ghost “shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26); Jesus further promised the apostles that they would “bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain” (John 15:16). These promises clearly imply that the fruit of the apostles — the New Testament Scriptures and the Christian church — would endure.

(6) According to a Book of Mormon prophecy (Helaman 14:27), at the time of Christ’s crucifixion “darkness should cover the face of the whole earth for the space of three days.” In contrast, the New Testament gospel accounts declare repeatedly that there was darkness for only three hours while Jesus was on the cross (Matthew 27:45; Mark 15:33; Luke 23:24).

(7) The Book of Mormon teaches that there were many high priests serving at the same time (Mosiah 11:11; Alma 13:9-10; 46:6,38; Helaman 3:25) among the Book of Mormon people who are described as Jewish immigrants from ancient Israel who “kept the law of Moses” (e.g., 2 Nephi 25:10; Jacob 4:5; Jarom 1:5). In contrast, it is clear from the Bible that only one individual at a time occupied the office of high priest under the Old Testament dispensation (see, for example Leviticus 21:10; Matthew 26:3; Hebrews 8:6-7). (The mention in Luke 3:2 of “Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests” is not a real exception — in Christ’s time Israel was under the domination of the Romans, who intervened to change the high priest at will. See John 18:13, which describes Annas as “father-in-law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year.”)

CONCLUSION: The contradictions between the Book of Mormon and the Bible constitute a most serious obstacle to accepting the Book of Mormon as Latter-day scripture supplemental to the Bible. The Bible came first, not the Book of Mormon. And whereas the Bible is organically linked to the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ by extensive surviving manuscript evidence going back as far as A.D. 125-30, the Book of Mormon is wholly lacking in any such evidences of ancient origin. Is it not reasonable, therefore, to make the Bible the standard for judging the Book of Mormon, and not the other way around? If we accept the Bible as our “measuring stick” for spiritual truth, the Book of Mormon must be rejected.

 

Modalism (Oneness Theology) in the Book of Mormon:

 

As a matter of historical recoded, Leader and Founder, and first so-called Prophet and President of the Mormon Church Joseph Smith could not keep consistent in his theology. For example on the nature of God, he went from ‘one God’ (Book of Mormon [cf. Alma 11:44; 2 Nephi 31:21, Testimony of the (so-called) Three Witnesses, early sections of D&C, Book of Abraham], to Modalism (sections in the Book of Mormon [cf. Mosiah 15:1-5; Ether 3:14; Alma 11:38-39], to flat out polytheism (cf. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 345-347), which the LDS Church embraces today. See Early Teachings of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, which Contradict Present- day LDS Theology

 

Modalism-  https://christiandefense.org/oneness/modalism-and-the-book-of-mormon/

 

In terms of Modalism, Joseph Smith did not understand the difference between the doctrine of the Trinity and the teachings of Modalism. Modalism (also referred to as Oneness theology) was the second century heresy that asserted that God is unitarian (unipersonal), that is, God existing as one person that reveals himself in different modes, manifestations or dimensions, rejecting the Trinity.

In other words, in Oneness thinking, since God is one, and Jesus is called God, Jesus then is the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit—not three persons, rather three manifestations or modes. Oneness doctrine teaches then that the unipersonal God (named Jesus) has two natures, divine being the Father and human being the Son. Thus, in this doctrine, Jesus acts sometimes as the Son (human) and sometimes as the Father (God) and yet other times the Holy Spirit.- –  For more details on Oneness see: Oneness Theology. 

So, what does Modalism have to do with Joseph Smith? Answer: the Book of Mormon teaches both Trinitarian and Modalism. However, I find that the Book of Mormon is more modalistic than Trinitarian, though. First, observe these decidedly modalistic passages in the Book of Mormon.

 

Mosiah 15. The introduction of Mosiah chapter 15 reads: How Christ is both the Father and the Son–He shall make intercession and bear the transgression of his people. . . .” Then, starting at verse 1 through verse 5, note the heighted areas:

And now Abinadi said unto them: I would that ye should understand that God himself [the Father] shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people. And because he dwelleth in flesh he shall be called the Son of God, and having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, being the Father and the Son. The Father because he was conceived by the power of God; and the Son, because of the flesh; thus becoming the Father and Son. And they are one God, yea, the very Eternal Father of heaven and earth. And thus the flesh becoming subject to the Spirit, or the Son to the Father, being one God. . . . (Mosiah 15:1-5).

 

That Jesus is the Father, is a teaching that is clearly taught in Smith’s, Book of Mormon

 

Ether 3:14: “Behold, I am the he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am the Father and the Son. . . .”

Alma 11:38-39: “Now Zeezrom saith again unto him: Is the Son of God the very Eternal Father? And Amulek said unto him: Yea, he is the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth, and all things which in them are; he is the beginning and the end, the first and the last.”

Amazingly, a mere five verses later (11:44), we find a contradictive implication of what resembles the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity:

but every thing shall be restored to its perfect frame, as it is now, or in the body, and shall be brought and be arraigned before the bar of Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit , which is one Eternal God. . . .”

 2 Nephi 31:21: “And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen.”

Further, the “Testimony of the three Witnesses” do not agree with the present-day LDS teaching (three separate Gods). Rather, the converse is stated: “And honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God” (Book of Mormon, Introduction). The nature of God is not the only doctrine that Joseph Smith changed in his lifetime. However, the true God of biblical revelation is the triune God and thus, a denial of the nature of God is a denial of Christ and His gospel (cf. Isa. 43:10; Hosea 6:6; John 8:24, 58; 5:24; 17:3; 1 John 5:20).

Unfortunately, a vast number of “professing” naïve Christians, that may be seriously seeking a biblical education, will willingly be proselytized to the false doctrines of T. D. Jakes—esp. his distorted Oneness anti-Trinitarian teachings of God, his prosperity nonsense, women pastors, and many more bad doctrines.   

–          

As for all the uninformed and biblically dim who still insist that Jakes is Trinitarian, note the current Faith Statement posted on the school’s website, which defines God as “existing in three manifestations” (same as the Potter’s House), which is patently Oneness-unitarian. See – https://jakesdivinity.org/about-jds/faith-statement/

 

Using “manifestations” to describe the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is neither a biblical nor a historical definition of God (it never has been for the “Christian” church)—words do matter.  “Manifestation” is not a semantic (nor ontological) parallel to “person.” A manifestation is a mere appearance of a thing, and not the thing itself. Manifestation does not have an ontological reference.

 

Again, and as pointed out by many, If Jakes now embraces the basic biblical definition of the Trinity, then, these questions must be answered,

 

1) Why does he still hold to a Oneness description of God (“existing in three manifestations”) found on the faith statement of both his church (Potter’s House) and his new school?   

 

2) Why is Jakes presently (for many years) the Vice Prelate of the decidedly Oneness organization, Higher Ground Always Abounding Assemblies? 

https://www.highergroundaaa.com/national-officials?fbclid=IwAR2Zktzsp3fsG6HOQSAoC_W76SNTfXEFbBcIVqLs3hdkjS5hgbPJrd10n0Q And, 

 

3) What of all Jakes’ previous affirmations of Oneness doctrine? He has never recanted those.

Such as in an interview with Jakes on the LA radio show, KKLA, Living by the Word, hosted by Jim Coleman (August 23 and 30, 1998). Coleman had asked Jakes “How important it is for Christians to believe in the Trinity.” Jakes responded, “I think it’s very, very significant that we first of all study the Trinity apart from salvation. . . . The term ‘Trinity,’ is not a biblical term, to begin with. . . . When God got ready to make a man that looked like him, he didn’t make three. He made one man. However, that one man had three parts. He was body, soul, and spirit. “We have one God, but he is father in creation, son in redemption, and Holy Spirit in regeneration.”

 

This last statement is a standard and historical Oneness phrase (found in many Oneness doctrinal statements), “Father in creation, Son in redemption, Holy Spirit in regeneration,” which is historically congruent with Sabellius’s (early third cent.) “successive” Modalism.          

 

Or in 2000, Christianity Today also posted a response by T. D. Jakes, in which his statements show clearly that he is indeed, a Modalist.

Regarding the questions of the Trinity, Jakes had stated, “While I mix with Christians from a broad range of theological perspectives, I speak only for my personal faith and convictions. I am not a theologian, and I avoid quoting even theologians who agree with me. To defend my beliefs, I go directly to the Bible. . . . I believe in one God who is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. I believe these three have distinct and separate functions. . . . I do not believe in three Gods” (Feb. 2000; Jakes, “My Views on the Godhead,” Christianity Today, online ed.).

Or, when Jakes expressed his consistent view of God in “Spirit Raiser” (in Time Magazine, Sept 17, 2001). Note his clear Oneness definition: “And God said, ‘Let us. Let us . . . .’  One God, but manifest in three different ways, Father in creation, Son in redemption, Holy Spirit in regeneration.” Again repeating the standard and historical Oneness phrase, “Father in creation, Son in redemption, Holy Spirit in regeneration,” which is congruent with Sabellius’s (early third cent.) successive Modalism.          

Since, all evidence (much more than provided here in this terse article) reveals clearly that Jakes holds to and teaches a Oneness doctrine of God, and to date, no evidence exists showing that Jakes unambiguously believes in the Trinity, – unless he,    

 

1) Removes his Oneness description of God contained in both his church’s Belief Statement and school’s Faith Statement,

 2) Openly renounces his numerous and unequivocal Oneness affirmations of God in literature and interviews,

 3) Resigns as Vice Prelate from the Oneness organization, Higher Ground Always Abounding Assemblies, and

 4) Positively affirms a basic biblical definition of the Trinity, we must see Jakes as a consistent heretic embracing Oneness-unitarian theology, which rejects the triune nature of the only true God of biblical revelation—thus denying Christ and His gospel.                

Patristics (early church Fathers) are not a valid hermeneutic to interpret the content of the NT. However, we do know that contained in the vast quantity of pre-Nicaea literature, the early fathers did hold consistently and decisively (within the limitations of their cultural vernacular and doctrinal expressions), the Christological essentials of the apostolic teaching particularly regarding monotheism and Jesus Christ as God incarnate within a trinitarian concept. We also we find significant theological descriptions as to Son’s atoning cross work.  

For example, note a few of many remarkable theological terms and phrases that the apostolic Father, Ignatius bishop of Antioch (c. A.D. 107) applies to Christ in his “genuine” letters:


Ἀγέννητος
(agennētos, “There is only one physician, who is both flesh and spirit, born and unborn [ἀγέννητος], God in man, true life,” Ephesians 7:2). Ἀγέννητος was technical term meaning unbegotten, unborn, unoriginated (Kelly, BDAG, Liddell et al.) distinguishing God (here, the incarnate God) from creatures.    


Ὁ γὰρ
θεὸς ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦς Χριστός (Ho gar theos hēmōn Iēsous Christos, “For our God, Jesus Christ,” Romans 3.3). Ignatius frequently referred to Christ as θεὸς (theos, “the/our God”) or similar phrases, and does so in distinction to the Father (e.g., Rom. prologue; Eph. 18; Polycarp 8.3 et al.). Further, contra the erroneous claims of Oneness advocates, there is no place in the Greek of Ignatius’s genuine letters where grammatically he says Jesus is the Father; rather Ignatius always differentiates Jesus from the Father—as two distinct divine persons.


Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὃς πρὸ αἰώνων παρὰ πατρὶ ἦν
(Iēsou Christou, hos pro aiōnōn para patri ēn, “Jesus Christ, who before the ages was with the Father,” Magnesians 6.1). In affirming the preexistence of the person of the Son, in distinction to the Father, note the syntactical similarity of Magnesians 6:1 and John 17:5.

First both John and Ignatius use the prepositional phrase, παρὰ (para, “with, alongside of”) + the dative case indicating a clear distinction of persons (John 17:5- παρὰ σεαυτῷ, παρὰ σοί, “together with Yourself,” “with You”; Magnesians 6:1- παρὰ πατρὶ, “with [the] Father”).

Second, both passages use the preposition πρὸ (“before”) indicting the actual preexistence of the person of the Son (John 17:5- πρὸ τοῦ τὸν κόσμον εἴναι, “before the world was”; Magnesians 6:1- πρὸ αἰώνων, “before [the] ages”).         


ἐν αἵματι θεοῦ
(en haimati theou, “by the blood of God”; “being imitators of God, and having your hearts kindled in the blood of God, you have perfectly fulfilled your congenial work,” Ephesians 1.1). This most interesting phrase resembles Paul’s statement in Acts 20:28: “the church of God, which He purchased with His own blood.”  

Although the phrase in Acts 20:28 (διὰ τοῦ αἵματος τοῦ ἰδίου, lit., “with the blood of His own”) could be translated as “with the blood of His own Son” (possessive genitive, NET, CEV), Ignatius’s meaning is unambiguous (pre-Nestorian). In his Intro to the same letter (Ephesians), he refers to Jesus Christ as τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν (“our God”). Thus, for Ignatius, the “by the blood of God” would be the blood of the incarnate God, Jesus Christ.            

Many more statements of Ignatius could be cited. Although Ignatius, along with other important apostolic Fathers (and subsequent ones), lacked modern articulation of doctrinal words and phrases, Ignatius did indeed clearly hold to an essential Christology, where salvation is through the blood of incarnate God the Son, preexisting before the ages, παρὰ πατρὶ (“with the Father”).        

 

The greatest tragedy in the church, as seen in a majority of Christian conferences and revivals is the systemic abuse and absence of accurate doctrinal content. However, we are extremely thankful to God, for the minority of pastors who are bound and devoted to the Lord being biblically competent truly understanding their biblical responsibility to boldly teach Christian doctrine to their flock and refute those who oppose it.

 

To demonstrate this point: Think back in the last 10 years at church (or at any conference/revival) have you heard a specific teaching on the Trinity, the deity of Christ, or justification by faith alone?” I have asked this question at churches around the world and rarely do I ever see a single raised hand in affirmation.

 

Along with basic Christian apologetics, ethics, and stressing the importance biblical accuracy (esp. to those who preach and teach), these essentials were a priority with NT church discipline. See, John 1:1, 18; 20:28; 8:58; Rom. 4:4-8; 5:1; 9:5; Eph. 2:8-10; Phil. 2:6-11; Col. 1:14, 16-17; 2:9; Titus 2:13-14; Heb. 1:3, 8-12; 2 Pet. 1:1; 1 John 5:20; Jude 1:4; Rev. 5:13-14; 22:13 etc. In sharp contrast, much of the content in today’s’ Sunday morning sermons and evangelism has become a hodgepodge of biblically disconnected anecdotal stories and textual abuse (esp. misinterpreting and misapplying passages).

Interestingly, we find the opposite with non-Christian cults. When one becomes, for example, a Oneness Pentecostal, Mormon, or Jehovah’s Witness, within a month or so, he (or she) becomes boldly equipped to communicate their distinctive theology and committing to memory particular biblical passages to “prove” their position.

 

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet 3:18)

Christians should faithfully acknowledge Scripture as Theopneustos (“God breathed out,” 2 Tim. 3:16). Thus, the commandment to “grow”[1] in the knowledge of God and to always be “ready to give a defense” and reason for the faith is vital (1 Pet. 3:15; cf. also 2 Cor. 10:3-5). Only through a continuous proper study of the Bible does one “grow” theologically, which ensures not only effectiveness in proclaiming an accurate gospel, but also the ability to biblically to discern between true and false teachings.

 

All Christians (esp. pastors) are called to be theologians (i.e., constantly studying God [biblical doctrine], 2 Pet. 3:18), apologists (i.e., defenders of the faith, 1 Pet. 3:15; Jude 1:3), and evangelists (proclaimers of the gospel, Matt. 28:19; Rom. 10:15; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 4:2[2]).

 

Loving God with all Our Mind!

We are commanded to love God “with all” our mind (Mark 12:29-30). A lack of proper biblical study always results in a dislodged and erroneous doctrine. What is more, when church leaders fail in their biblical responsibility to teach doctrine, completely and accurately, the consequence is this: churches filled with biblically incompetent members, neither able to coherently defend nor affirm from a basic level the essentials of the Christian faith. Thus, they become targets and picture-perfect candidates and devotees of non-Christian false religious and false teachings.

 

The Biblical Pastor

The Apostle Paul does not encourage Christian pastors to assign themselves as mere “motivational” speakers cloaking Sunday morning sermons with entertaining stories and erroneous mottled interpretations of the Bible; so when this occurs in the Christian pulpit, it should utterly pierce our spirit (cf. Acts 17:16).

 

“Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28).

 

So necessary are the more than two dozen qualifications of a NT pastor that three major sections in the NT are devoted it—1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9; and 1 Peter 5:1-3. In 2 Timothy 2:15, Paul stresses specifically to pastors (and indirectly to us) the importance of doctrinal precision:

 

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God [how?] as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

 The phrase, “accurately handling” comes from the Greek verb, orthotomeō, which literally means, “to cut straight” (from temnō, “to cut” and orthos, “direct, straight”; cf. Prov. 3:6, LXX). The term carries the idea of precision. Consequently, pastors (and teachers) have a God mandated responsibility to teach and explain Scripture with precise accuracy.

 

Perils of Inaccurate Teachings

 Note Paul’s instructions to pastors in 2 Timothy 4:2-4: “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.

The five verbs in verse 2 (“preach,” “be ready,” “reprove,” “rebuke,” and “exhort”) are in the aorist imperative—grammatically denoting the strongest way to express an urgent commandment, a “do it now” verb! These critical actions both protect and encourage the church. In the next two verses, Paul warns what will happen when these urgent commandments are not implemented:

 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.”

 

“Sound doctrine” is derived from the content of the written Word. In Peter 3:16, Peter underscores the importance of biblical study. He refers to Paul’s letters and says they “contain some things that are hard to understand, which the UNTAUGHT [or ‘unstudied,’ from amatheis] and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction” (2 Pet. 3:16). Naturally, unstudied people distort Scripture.

 

A Doctrine of Tolerance

When pastors abdicate their biblical responsibility of expository teaching, the church body writhes and relishes in distorted theology—, which effects their view of the nature of God and virtually every dimension of their spiritual, psychological, and physical life. Due to a laxity of proper biblical study and/or a recurring attendance at non-teaching churches, it is not surprising that many professing Christians severely lack theological discernment in which bad theology and, in many cases, immoral worldly behavior is tolerated and accepted. Observably, many clear biblical mandates are rejected by professing Christians merely because they are incompatible with one’s lifestyle or comfortable ideology.

 

For example, why is it that T. D. Jakes, pastor of the Potter’s House church in Dallas, TX, one of most popular “Christian” voices and authors followed, read, endorsed, and praised by literally millions of professing Christians, yet he still embraces a Oneness view of God rejecting the Trinity? Why would any “Christian” pastor endorse him, and/or keep silent while naïve members uncritically follow him? [3]

Acute biblical ignorance of fundamental doctrine is not a satisfactory excuse before God—He is a God of precision.

 

In point of fact, confronting and refuting biblical error is a divine command to all Christian pastors (2 Tim. 2:15; 3:16-4:1-4; Titus 1:9, 13). Jesus Himself openly commends the pastors of Ephesus for it (Rev. 2:2-3). Today, too many pastors and leaders are more accepting of those who are talented in their speaker abilities than those who communicate doctrinal truth and precision. Pastors have an enormous responsibility before God to diligently lead, equip, and guard the people of God from destructive bad theology and heresies that shame the Lord. In the first century, as Paul says: “But the Spirit explicitly says that in the later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrine taught by demons….” (1 Tim. 4:1).

 

We too, as Christians, have an obligation and responsibility: Since we follow a God that calls Himself “Truth,” we must therefore provide to all men an accurate and substantive presentation of the gospel and boldly contend earnestly for that faith, “which was once for all handed down to the saints.” It is a terrible thing to hear an unread Christian offer a mushy incomplete gospel to the unsaved—and when a pastor does this to his church, it is absolutely disgraceful.

 

Evangelizing the Saved & Unsaved

Romans 10:15: “just as it is written [Isa. 52:7], ‘How beautiful [or timely] are the feet of those gospelizing good things.” The same participle (euaggelizomenoi, “gospelizing”) appears in Luke 9:6 when Jesus sent out the Twelve: “Departing, they began going throughout the villages, preaching the gospel [lit., ‘gospelizing’] and healing everywhere.” Note, the gospel is simply the atoning work of the Son in His perfect vicarious life, substitutionary cross work, and resurrection.

 

Romans 1:1, 3: “the gospel of God….3 concerning His Son.”

 

1 Corinthians 15:3-4: “For I delivered to you as of first importance … that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.”

 

2 Timothy 2:8, “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David, according to my gospel.”

Paul’s definition of the gospel, which evangelists must proclaim, was exclusively focused on the work of the Son, not man—namely, His nature (as incarnate God, viz. God-man) and person, His death (justification), and His physical resurrection. This, according to Romans 1:16, is the power of God for salvation. However, note the previous verse. Paul says to these Roman “Christians” that he is “eager to preach the gospel [from euaggelizō].” It seems clear that Paul was eager to “evangelize” the Christians in order for them to grow in biblical accuracy regarding the gospel and general theology—as should be the task of all pastors.

 

Finally, brothers and sisters we are in a spiritual war both foreign and domestic, and as such – we must satisfactorily train and arm our fellow members before we can hope to engage our foes. Put on the “whole armor” of God!

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NOTES

[1] In 2 Peter 3:18, the term translated “grow” is from the Greek, auxanō. The verb is in the imperative mood (auxanete), thus, a commandment.

[2] Although 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus are directly applied to pastors, there are indirect applications relevant to all believers.

[3] To those assuming that Jakes changed his Oneness position, consider 1) Jakes is still the Vice-Prelate and National Executive Board of Senior Bishops of – Higher Ground Always Abounding Assemblies, which is a network of Oneness Pentecostal churches, and esp. 2) on the Potter’s House Belief Statement, Jakes still defines God as existing in “Three Manifestations,” which is Oneness not trinitarian. See >> http://thepottershouse.org/explore/belief-statement <<.

Aside from the Christological affirmation in v. 6 (“who always subsisting/existing in form/nature of God”), one of my favorite sections of the Hymn is found in vv. 7-8: “But He EMPTIED Himself [reflexive – a self-emptying], TAKING [the means of His self-emptying] the form/nature of a bond-servant BEING MADE in the likeness of men. 8 BEING FOUND in appearance as a man, He HUMBLED Himself [reflexive – a self-humbling] by BECOMING obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”   

Paul in vv. 10-11, concludes his hymn by showing that Jesus is indeed the YHWH and prophetic fulfillment of Isaiah 45:23—before whom every knee shall bend and every tongue confess.                   

In Paul’s hymn, he provides an illustration of the ultimate example of humility (viz., God becoming flesh), the entire gospel is presented in this brief hymn (the deity and preexistence of the person of the Son in distinction from the Father, His incarnational emptying and perfect obedience, atoning cross work, and exaltation).

Thus, this is a good diagram of content for Christians (esp. evangelists) in their proclamation of the gospel.