Aionion

The word ‘eternal’ translated from the Greek aionion is used some 45 times in the New Testament. With only two or three exceptions, it is always used in reference to eternal life. When Matthew wrote …

“And these will go away into eternal (Gk. aionion) punishment, but the righteous into eternal (Gk. aionion) life”

… he used exactly the same Greek word to describe both the punishment of the wicked and the duration of eternal life. In other words, ‘eternal life’ cannot mean one thing, and ‘eternal punishment another’ – If the punishment is not eternal, then neither is the life.  If the life is eternal, then so is the punishment.

Note how the book of Hebrews uses exactly the same Greek word in both cases, speaking of “eternal” judgment and three chapters later, speaks of “eternal” redemption.

…and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal (Gk. aionian) redemption. (Hebrews 9:12 NASB)

…of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal (Gk. aioniou) judgment.  (Hebrews 6:2 NASB)

Redemption itself was a once and for all event that took place 2000 years ago. However, the results of the redemption continue forever. Similarly, the judgment will occur in a particular moment in time. However, the results of the judgment are eternal.

Again, in the verse below, something is destroyed once, i.e. something cannot be continuously be destroyed. However, the results are permanent, i.e. the thing stays destroyed.

These will pay the penalty of eternal (Gk. aionion) destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, (2 Thessalonians 1:9 NASB)

Not only is there a lack of support for universalism and decisive arguments against it, but the Bible never once says anything about sinners repenting, accepting Jesus Christ, having their sins forgiven etc. in the afterlife. In fact, the author of Hebrews completely contradicted this notion when he wrote …

And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, (Hebrews 9:27 NASB)

Finally I have to ask why 1 Corinthians 9:16 records Paul as saying

For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.  (1 Corinthians 9:16 NASB)

Why was Paul “under compulsion” to preach the gospel and, considering the “woe” means great sorrow or distress, why did he say woe to him if he did not preach the Gospel?

If all men are saved, it wouldn’t have made the slightest bit of difference whether Paul preached or decided to start a tent-making company. If people are already saved and only need to be informed of that fact, why would Jude have said to snatch people out of the fire by just about any means necessary. (Jude 1:23)

Reference:  http://www.inplainsite.org/html/universalism.html

 

Philosophical Teaching Strategies, Part II

If the idea that all living things are equal and that life has no meaning, what is the missing concept?  I suggested that man is set apart from all other living things because man has personality.  But where did personality come from since evolution is purely mechanical?  Personality is not concrete.  Could it have evolved?  Personality is more than metaphysical; it is spiritual.

Why has no one ever been able to demonstrate how time plus chance can produce the needed complexity of the universe, much less the complex personality of mankind? Initially, this question will seem unrelated to the literature students have read, but it is better to let them struggle with these questions without knowing where the teacher is leading lest they attempt to anticipate and develop a rebuttal before truly exploring what they have accepted as science and truth.

Students will disagree with one another about life having meaning, but eventually will come to the conclusion that life does have meaning although they can’t explain it.  Then I suggest that if life started with a personal beginning – a Person – then personality existed before creation.  In this situation man, having personality, also has meaning.  Beginning with the impersonal, there is no explanation for the complexity of the universe or the personality of man.  Morals have no meaning in the mechanics of evolution for there are no absolutes.

If life started with a personal beginning, which was the origin of all else, then personality does have meaning, having derived from the Creator.  Man with his aspirations is not meaningless, as in Thomas Hardy’s writings, because he is superior to other living things.  If the teacher stops here, a philosophical case for creation and purpose of human life, as opposed to the mechanics of evolution and the mindlessness of Fate, have been established.  This philosophical discussion can be carried to a conclusion, however, and a case for man’s need of redemption can be made.

Once the idea of a personal beginning is accepted, will the class choose an infinite-personal God or finite, man-made gods?  Do absolutes and morals originate from man himself, or do they come from the Creator?  God, or finite gods, must be big enough to be the point of reference for the underpinnings of society.  Man creates gods in an attempt to explain his world.  They are a product of man’s limited mind; thus, they are inadequate to help man develop personal character and structure for society.  However, God the Creator is entirely separate from his creation.  He alone is infinite.  All else is finite and cannot stand alone.  Only the infinite Creator is immeasurable and independent.

Man was made in the image of God; thus, there is a separation between man and other living things because man has personality.  Furthermore, man is separate from God, as the created is separate from the Creator.

If man was created with a personal beginning, how can his lawlessness be explained?  There are two possibilities.  Man in his rebellion and cruelty is inherently what he has always been.  If this is true, then the infinite-personal God who made man must himself be inherently ruthless.  Or, is it possible that man has changed himself; he is not what he was created to be?

Man, made in the image of an infinite and perfect Creator, was perfect in mind, body, and soul.  But he was given a will and some boundaries were set.  At a specific time in history man chose to violate God’s boundaries to become something he previously was not.  This act of disobedience put man in a moral predicament rather than a metaphysical one.  Morals suddenly existed and man was in discontinuity with what he was originally created to be.

The man-is-normal philosophy offers no hope of a solution to man’s corruption.  But because rebellion is abnormal, there is hope of a solution.  The substitutionary death of Jesus Christ, as God’s only son, on behalf of lawless mankind, takes on significance.  We have the hope of a solution for man’s abnormal condition.  With the hope of deliverance from lawlessness we are able to be angry at social injustice and moral evil without being angry with God.

In summary, if there is no God there is no answer to the dilemma of evil and immorality.  Thus, evolution cannot answer man’s questions about who he is and why he is morally flawed.  More importantly, man has no recourse to evil, individually or socially.  But there is hope when one knows who God is because his character is the foundation of law and morality in the universe.  And in his infinite compassion and mercy the personal God has provided the antidote to sin and corruption, both individually and socially.

 

Philosophical Teaching Strategies

I brought with me one semester He Is Here and He Is Not Silent by Francis Schaeffer.  It’s a little book about examining evolution from the problem of personality development.  Schaeffer has a wonderful way of challenging people’s assumptions so I took detailed notes to use in my graduate English lit course.  We will be comparing Thomas Hardy’s writings with Charles Dickens’, Hardy presenting fate as the inescapable determination of man’s life and Dickens presenting hope for positive change.  The graduates went to the Internet to read what they could find about Hardy in their own language and from their own prejudices, for the Chinese believe very strongly in determinism (fate).  Where does personality come from?  Does personality evolve?  Give evidence to support your view.  Since personality is not found in the DNA of an organism, how did it originate?  When life evolves mechanically it has no meaning.  But life does have meaning and is not mechanical, so where does meaning come from?  That was an intellectual challenge for my graduate English majors.

The Problem of Personality in Evolution

Every Christian teacher abroad will occasionally meet students who wish to discuss reasons Christians don’t espouse the theory of evolution.  They are generally taught in China that evolution is a theory only because it can’t be reproduced in the laboratory although natural illustrations of the process abound.  However, evolution cannot stand up to philosophical examination.  Using Francis Schaeffer’s little book, He is here and he is not silent, I used a strategy which challenged students’ assumptions about evolution and creation.  This worked best for me in graduate literature classes where sharply contrasting authors’ styles could be analyzed, as with Thomas Hardy and Charles Dickens.

In Thomas Hardy’s writings Fate twists and perverts personalities and events.  Absolutes produce discontent and disillusionment.  Education – or merely the desire for education – corrupts individuals, as in Jude the Obscure.  Individuals may never reach their potential after making a commitment to marriage.  Even nature in Hardy’s writings is exploited to cooperate with Fate by producing a pall that hangs over churches and colleges.

In Charles Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities, commitments to friendship and marriage are honorable and honored.  Biblical phrases are quoted to support responsibility to friend and spouse.  Absolutes are called into action to admonish readers to avoid an English revolution by pointing out the bloodshed of a French Revolution.  Nature and happenchance support Darnay’s escape and the subsequent safety of the fleeing Manette family.

After the class finished reading the two contrasting novels, I scheduled time to ask students some questions.  I wrote the questions on the chalkboard and encouraged students to discuss them with friends and classmates.  I began with a question like this: If everything that now exists came out of nothing, where did energy, mass, motion, and personality come from. In our external world we see form and order.  If everything that now exists had an impersonal beginning, everything is equally impersonal.  In an impersonal world a weed is no less valuable than a man.  If all living things are equal, life has no meaning.  Is this conclusion acceptable to the class?

Part II next week.

 

 

 

 

How Can Jesus Be God and Man?

At this season of celebrating the coming of Jesus as man, I thought it would be appropriate to discuss the importance of the Incarnation. This is the third and final segment. Find the link to the article at the bottom.

Christ Is Only One Person

What we have seen so far about the deity and humanity of Christ shows us that Christ has two natures — a divine nature and a human nature — that each nature is full and complete, that they remain distinct and do not mix together to form a third kind of nature, and that Christ will be both God and man forever.

But if Christ has two natures, does this mean that he is also two people? No, it does not. Christ remains one person. There is only one Christ. The church has historically stated this truth in this way: Christ has two natures united in one person forever.

At this point we find another heretical view to beware of. This view, while acknowledging that Jesus is fully God and fully man, denies that he is only one Person. According to this view, there are two separate persons in Christ as well as two natures. In contrast to this, the Bible is very clear that, while Jesus has two natures, he is only one Person. In other words, what this means is that there are not two Jesus Christs. In spite of the fact that he has a duality of natures, he is not two Christs, but one. While remaining distinct, the two natures are united together in such a way so as to be one Person.

To put it simply, there is a certain sense in which Christ is two, and a different sense in which Christ is one. He is two in that he has two real, full natures — one divine and one human. He is one in that, while remaining distinct, these two natures exist together in such a way so that they constitute “one thing.” In other words, the two natures are both the same Jesus, and thus are one Person. As the Chalcedonean Creed says, Christ is “to be acknowledged in two natures . . . concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten God, the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ . . .”

Evidence That Christ Is Only One Person

We will look at three pieces of the biblical teaching that, while Christ has two distinct and unchanged natures, he nonetheless remains one Person.

1. Both natures are represented in Scripture as constituting “one thing;” that is, as united in one Person. We read in John 1:14, “And the word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Here we see the two natures: the Word (his deity) and flesh (humanity).

2. Jesus never speaks of himself as “We,” but always as “I.”

3. Many passages refer to both natures of Christ, but it is clear that only one person is intended. Galatians 4:4). “. . . who, although he existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped [that is, exploited to his own advantage], but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, and being made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:6–7).

Conclusion

We have seen the biblical evidence for the fact that Christ is God the Son, that he has both a divine and human nature, that each nature is full and complete, that each nature remains distinct, that Christ is nonetheless one Person, and that things which are true of one nature are true of the Person.

The relevance of these truths to us should go without saying. For they go to the very heart of who Christ is. Knowing these truths will greatly affect the way you view Christ and will make the gospel accounts of his life come more alive. As such, this understanding will deepen our devotion to Christ.

Second, having this richer understanding of the incarnation of God the Son should greatly enhance our worship. We will have great marvel and gladness at the fact that the eternal Person of God the Son became man forever. Our recognition of Christ’s worth will be heightened. And our faith in him will be strengthened by having this deeper understanding of who he is.

The union of Christ’s deity and humanity in one Person makes it such that we have all that we need in the same Savior. How glorious! Because Jesus is God, he is all-powerful and he cannot be defeated. Because he is God, he is the only adequate Savior. Because he is God, believers are safe and can never perish; we have security. Because he is God, we can have confidence that he will empower us for the task that he commands us for. And because he is God, all people will be accountable to him when he returns to judge the world.

Because Jesus is man, he has experienced the same things that we do. Because he is man, he can identify with us more intimately. Because he is man, he can come to our aid as our sympathetic High Priest when we reach the limits of our human weaknesses. Because he is man, we can relate to him — he is not far off and uninvolved. Because he is man, we cannot complain that God does not know what we are going through. He experienced it firsthand.

Finally, we need to be ready to defend the truth of Jesus’ deity, Jesus’ humanity, and their joining  without confusion in one Person. Therefore, consider committing to memory many of the verses which teach that Jesus is both God and man, and be able to explain the relationship between Christ’s two natures to others.

May we look forward to the day when we see him face to face. Until then, may the joyful hope of this day inspire in us a great diligence in serving and worshiping him.

Article by Matt Perman  https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/how-can-jesus-be-god-and-man

 

How Can Jesus Be God and Man?

At this season of celebrating the coming of Jesus as man, I thought it would be appropriate to discuss the importance of the Incarnation. This is the second installment.

How Can Jesus Be God and Man?

Each Nature Is Full and Complete

Having seen the biblical basis that Jesus is both God and man, the second truth that we must recognize is that each of Christ’s natures is full and complete. In other words, Jesus is fully God and fully man. Another helpful way to say it is that Jesus is 100% God and 100% man.

Jesus Is Fully God

We saw earlier that each Person of the Trinity is fully God. The three Persons of the Trinity are not each one-third of God, but are each all of God. Thus, Jesus is fully God since he is God the Son incarnate. Which means that everything that is essential to being God is true of Jesus. Jesus is not part of God or one-third of God. Rather, he is fully God. “For in him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9).

Jesus Is Fully Man

It is also important to recognize that when we say that Jesus is man, we do not simply mean that he is partially man. We mean that he is fully human — everything that belongs to the essence of true humanity is true of him. He is just as truly human as the rest of us.

The fact that Jesus is truly and fully human is clear from the fact that he has a human body (Luke 24:39), a human mind (Luke 2:52), and a human soul (Matthew 26:38). Jesus does not just look like a man. He does not just have some aspects of what is essential for true humanity but not others. Rather, he possess full humanity.

Jesus is just as fully human as the rest of us, for just as he has all of the essential elements of the Godhead, he has all the essential elements of human nature: a human body, a human soul, a human mind, a human will, and human emotions. His human mind was not replaced by his divine mind. Rather, he has both a human and divine mind. For these reasons, it can be misleading to use phrases such as “Jesus is God in a body” or “Jesus is God with skin on.”

Jesus Will Be Fully God and Fully Man Forever

For most people it is obvious that Jesus will be God forever. But for some reason it escapes a lot of us that Jesus will also be man forever. He is still man right now as you read this and will be forever. The Bible is clear that Jesus rose physically from the dead in the same body that had died (Luke 24:39) and then ascended into heaven as a man in his physical body (Acts 1:9; Luke 24:50–51). It would make no sense for him to have done this if he was simply going to ditch his body and stop being man when he arrived in heaven.

That Christ continued being man with a physical body after his ascension is confirmed by the fact that when he returns, it will be as a man in his body. He will return physically. Philippians 3:21 says that at his second coming, Christ “will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of his glory.” This verse is clear that Jesus still has his body. It is a glorified body, which Paul calls, “the body of his glory.” And when Christ returns, he will still have it because this verse says that he will transform our bodies to be like his. Both Jesus and all Christians will then continue living together in their bodies forever, because the resurrection body cannot die (1 Corinthians 15:42) since it is eternal (2 Corinthians 5:1).

Why did Jesus become man, and why will he be man forever? The book of Hebrews says it was so that Christ could be an adequate Savior who has all that we need. “He had to be made like his brothers in all things, that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (2:17).

First, notice that Jesus became man so that he could die for our sins. He had to be human in order to pay the penalty for humans. Second, this verse says that because Jesus is human like us, he is able to be a merciful and faithful High Priest. His humanity enables him to more fully sympathize with us and identify with us. I cannot help but believe that it is very destructive to our comfort and faith to not know that Jesus is still man and in his body. For if he is not still man in heaven, how could we have comfort knowing that he can fully sympathize with us? He can sympathize and be a faithful high priest and know what we are going through not just because he was once on earth as a man, but because he continues forever as that same man.

Each Nature Remains Distinct

The truths of Christ’s two natures — his full manhood and full Godhood — are pretty well understood and known by Christians. But for a right understanding of the incarnation we must go even further. We must understand that the two natures of Christ remain distinct and retain their own properties. What does this truth mean? Two things: (1) They do not alter one another’s essential properties and (2) neither do they mix together into a mysterious third kind of nature.

First, it would be wrong to think that Christ’s two natures mix together to form a third kind of nature. This is one of the heresies that the early church had to fight. This heresy taught that the human nature of Christ was taken up and absorbed into the divine nature, so that both natures were changed somewhat and a third kind of nature resulted. An analogy to [this] can be seen if we put a drop of ink in a glass of water: the mixture resulting is neither pure ink nor pure water, but some kind of third substance, a mixture of the two in which both the ink and the water are changed. Similarly, [this view] taught that Jesus was a mixture of divine and human elements in which both were somewhat modified to form one new nature.5

This view is unbiblical because it demolishes both Christ’s deity and humanity. For if Christ’s two natures mixed together, then he is no longer truly and fully God and truly and fully man, but is some entirely different kind of being that resulted from a mixture of the two natures.

Second, even if we acknowledge that the natures do not mix together into a third kind of nature, it would also be wrong to think that the two natures changed one another. For example, it would be wrong to conclude that Jesus’ human nature became divine in some ways or that his divine nature became human in some ways. Rather, each nature remains distinct and thereby retains its own individual properties and does not change.

As the Council of Chalcedon stated it, “. . . the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved . . .”6 Jesus’ human nature is human, and human only. His divine nature is divine, and divine only. For example, Jesus’ human nature did not become all-knowing through its union with God the Son, and neither did his divine nature become ignorant of anything. If either of the natures underwent a change in its essential nature, then Christ is no longer truly and fully human, or truly and fully divine.

Article by Matt Perman  https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/how-can-jesus-be-god-and-man

 

How Can Jesus Be God and Man?

At this season of celebrating the coming of Jesus as a baby, it is appropriate to discuss the importance of the Incarnation.

How Can Jesus Be God and Man?

Equally amazing to the doctrine of the Trinity is the doctrine of the Incarnation — that Jesus Christ is God and man, yet one person, forever. As J.I. Packer has said, “Here are two mysteries for the price of one — the plurality of persons within the unity of God, and the union of Godhead and manhood in the person of Jesus. . . . Nothing in fiction is so fantastic as is this truth of the Incarnation.”1

The early church considered the Incarnation to be one of the most important truths of our faith. Because of this, they formulated what has come to be called the Chalcedonean Creed, a statement which sets forth what we are to believe and what we are not to believe about the Incarnation. This creed was the fruit of a large council that took place from October 8 to November 1, 451, in the city of Chalcedon and “has been taken as the standard, orthodox definition of the biblical teaching on the person of Christ since that day by” all the major branches of Christianity.2 There are five main truths with which the creed of Chalcedon summarized the biblical teaching on the Incarnation:

  1. Jesus has two natures — He is God and man.
  2. Each nature is full and complete — He is fully God and fully man.
  3. Each nature remains distinct.
  4. Christ is only one Person.
  5. Things that are true of only one nature are nonetheless true of the Person of Christ.

A proper understanding of these truths clears up much confusion and many difficulties we may have in our mind. How can Jesus be both God and man? Why doesn’t this make him two people? How does his Incarnation relate to the Trinity? How could Jesus have hungered (Matthew 4:2) and died (Mark 15:37) when he was on earth, and yet still be God? Did Jesus give up any of his divine attributes in the Incarnation? Why is it inaccurate to say that Jesus is a “part” of God? Is Jesus still human now, and does he still have his human body?

Jesus has two natures — God and man

The first truth we need to understand is that Jesus is one Person who has two natures: a divine nature and a human nature. In other words, Jesus is both God and man. We will look at each nature accordingly.

Jesus Is God

The Bible teaches that Jesus is not merely someone who is a lot like God, or someone who has a very close walk with God. Rather, Jesus is the Most High God himself. Titus 2:13 says that as Christians we are “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.” Upon seeing the resurrected Christ, Thomas cried out, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). Likewise, the book of Hebrews gives us God the Father’s direct testimony about Christ: “But of the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever” and the gospel of John calls Jesus “the only begotten God” (John 1:18).

Another way the Bible teaches that Jesus is God is by showing that he has all of the attributes of God. He knows everything (Matthew 16:21; Luke 11:17; John 4:29), is everywhere (Matthew 18:20; 28:20; Acts 18:10), has all power (Matthew 8:26–27; 28:18; John 11:38–44; Luke 7:14–15; Revelation 1:8), depends on nothing outside of himself for life (John 1:4; 14:6; 8:58), rules over everything (Matthew 28:18; Revelation 1:5; 19:16;), never began to exist and never will cease to exist (John 1:1; 8:58), and is our Creator (Colossians 1:16). In other words, everything that God is, Jesus is. For Jesus is God.

Specifically, Jesus Is God the Son

In order to have a more complete grasp of Christ’s incarnation, it is necessary to have some sort of understanding of the Trinity. The doctrine of the Trinity states that God is one being, and this one God exists as three distinct Persons. This truth means, first of all, that we must distinguish each Person of the Trinity from the other two. The Father is not the Son or the Holy Spirit, the Son is not the Holy Spirit or the Father, and the Holy Spirit is not the Father or the Son. They are each a distinct center of consciousness, a distinct form of personal existence. Yet, they all share the exact same divine nature/essence. Thus, the three persons are one being. The divine being/essence is not something that is divided between the Persons with each Person receiving one-third. Rather, the divine being is fully and equally possessed by all three Persons such that all three Persons are each fully and equally God.

How does the fact that God is three Persons in one Being relate to the incarnation? To answer, let’s consider another question: Which Person became incarnate in Jesus Christ? All three? Or just one? Which one? The biblical answer is that only God the Son became incarnate. The Father did not become incarnate in Jesus and neither did the Holy Spirit. Thus, Jesus is God, but he is not the Father or the Holy Spirit. Jesus is God the Son.

The truth that it is only God the Son who became incarnate is taught, for example, in John 1:14, which says “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” In context, the Word is God the Son (cf. 1:1, 18, and 3:16). Thus, it wasn’t the Father or the Holy Spirit who became man, but God the Son.

Likewise, at Jesus’ baptism we see the Father affirming, “You are my beloved Son, in You I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22). He did not say, “You are me, and with myself I am well pleased.” Rather, the Father affirmed that Jesus is the Son, his Son, and that Jesus is well pleasing to him. In this same verse we also see that the Holy Spirit is distinct from the Father and the Son, for the Holy Spirit is present in “bodily form like a dove.”

Why is it important to know that Jesus is specifically God the Son? For one thing, if we do not understand this truth, we will be mistaken about the very identity of our Savior. Further, it greatly affects how we relate to our triune God. If we think that Jesus is the Father or the Holy Spirit, we will be greatly misguided and confused in our prayers. Last, it is considered heresy to believe that the Father became incarnate in Jesus.

Jesus Is Man

It should be obvious that if Jesus is God, then he has always been God. There was never a time when he became God, for God is eternal. But Jesus has not always been man. The fantastic miracle is that this eternal God became man through the incarnation approximately 2,000 years ago. That’s what the Incarnation was: God the Son becoming man. And that is the great event we celebrate at Christmas.

But what exactly do we mean when we say that God the Son became man? We certainly do not mean that he turned into a man in the sense that he stopped being God and started being man. Jesus did not give up any of his divinity in the incarnation, as is evident from the verses we saw earlier. Rather, as one early theologian put it, “Remaining what he was, he became what he was not.” Christ “was not now God minus some elements of his deity, but God plus all that he had made his own by taking manhood to himself.”3 Thus, Jesus did not give up any of his divine attributes at the incarnation. He remained in full possession of all of them. For if he were to ever give up any of his divine attributes, he would cease being God.

The truth of Jesus’ humanity is just as important to hold to as the truth of his deity. The apostle John teaches how denying that Jesus is man is of the spirit of the antichrist (1 John 4:2; 2 John 7). Jesus’ humanity is displayed in the fact that he was born as a baby from a human mother (Luke 2:7; Galatians 4:4), that he became weary (John 4:6), thirsty (John 19:28), and hungry (Matthew 4:2), and that he experienced the full range of human emotions such as marvel (Matthew 8:10) and sorrow (John 11:35). He lived on earth just as we do.

Jesus Is a Sinless Man

It is also essential to know that Christ does not have a sinful nature, and neither did he ever commit sin — even though he was tempted in all ways (Hebrews 4:15). Thus, Jesus is fully and perfectly man and has also experienced the full range of human experience. We have a Savior who can truly identify with us because he is man and who can also truly help us in temptation because he has never sinned. That is an awesome truth to cherish and sets Christianity apart from all other religions.

Taken from an article by Matt Perman  https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/how-can-jesus-be-god-and-man

 

A False Jesus

I was crying for more of Jesus when Jesus appeared to me and opened his robe to invite me inside. Willingly I stepped inside and pressed against his chest. For several days I was aware of increased power when praying for people. Then life got harder.

One day I was trying to love Jesus and kissed his chest where my face rested. He shouted in surprise and it sounded like thunder. I was shocked at his reaction, apologized, and decided that I needed to be more respectful.

I had asked the Holy Spirit to reveal the personality of God the Father and Jesus His Son, so I thought this experience was part of the revelation I had asked for. Eventually, Jesus became increasingly insistent on receiving my love in physically demonstrable ways. One morning when I awoke, his presence was overpowering and I began to feel aroused. I kept saying to him, “This isn’t right. My relationship with you is not physical.” But the pressure increased until I could barely resist. The next day, he came again with overpowering pressure to submit to physical union. Again, I tried to reason with him, and called on the Holy Spirit to help me. At last I decided that his behavior was not acceptable and that I needed to set some boundaries. These experiences were stressing my faith.

I began to do computer searches about the incarnation and who Jesus is. He is both God the Son and the perfect Man – wholly God and wholly Man. He is also called the last Adam as contrasted with the first Adam who was also created perfect and sinless. But, having choice, the first Adam chose to sin and thus brought sin into God’s perfect world. The last Adam, Jesus, appeared as a Baby about 2000 years ago, of the lineage of King David of Judah. This was Jesus the perfect Man, the last Adam. When He returned to Heaven after His resurrection, He did not discard His humanity, but sits as King of kings, a sinless, perfect Man within the Son of God. There are two natures within Jesus. I had thought that when Jesus returned to Heaven after His resurrection, He was no longer a Man but resumed His identity as God the Son. But Jesus chose to maintain His dual identity to be our High Priest and offer His own precious blood as a sacrifice for our sins and iniquities, our sickness, and our griefs and sorrows. I was filled with wonder I as discovered these things about the human, sinless Jesus.

When I considered the behavior of the Jesus who was pressuring me for sex, I was struck by the contrast and the increasing difficulty in getting along with him. His overbearing attitude finally did him in, and I realized he was a false Jesus. I felt so confused that I called a friend who immediately urged me to kick this imposter out! She commented that the imposter was focused on sex because I possibly had sexual abuse close up in my ancestry. Freemasonry was on both sides of my family ancestry, the closest being my mother’s grandfather who belonged to two different lodges: one for men only and one that included women. His second wife was a member of the second lodge.

With my friend’s help I renounced all generational curses and vows. I have done that several times, but my friend explained that sometimes there are layers of this defilement, especially when Satanic Ritual Abuse is exposed. Within a couple of hours I was free of the filthy false Jesus and eagerly greeted by the sweet Holy Spirit for healing and restoration.

While this is intensely personal, I believe there are others who can benefit from reading what happened to me. There were other aspects of this encounter that can’t be shared publically, but are like sign-posts along the way to alert the believer that a counterfeit is present to derail your intimate relationship with the true Son of God.

Reference: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/how-can-jesus-be-god-and-man

 

Intercessor-Priest

A Levite of the Family of Kohath

At the end of the first semester the hotel was quiet since the foreign teachers and students had gone to travel and visit friends during the Spring Festival, so I stayed home and went on a week Daniel fast, eating only vegetables, then two days of a normal fast, praying for guidance and refreshment.  It was a terrible fight but well worth the blessing, far beyond anything I deserve.  One of the books I read was The Heavens Opened by Anna Roundtree.  In chapter five she said, “I am an intercessor for the Church, the Bride of Christ, because the Spirit has declared me to be a Levite of the family of Kohath but not a priest.  The non-priestly Kohathites were servants of the temple and the priests.”  Anna Roundtree was a woman of very high spiritual rank, feeding others what she had received at the Father’s hand.

In I Chronicles 16:4 David appointed some Levites to make petition (minister) before the ark of the Lord, including Obed-edom and Jeduthan, his father, who were also gatekeepers (v. 38).  According to Strong’s Greek and Hebrew Dictionary, Minister #8334 is to attend as a menial or worshipper: to serve or wait on.

Gatekeeper or porter #7778/8179 as also used in Ezra 7:24

#8652 is a janitor, a doorkeeper; to split or open; keeper of a palace gate.

The name Jeduthan #3038 means laudatory; open extended hands as in reverence and worship; make confession; give thanks.

Obed-edom #5654 means worker of Edom. To serve, till; bondservice, worshipper.  I love these meanings because today’s “ministers” claim much importance when the Lord meant those with higher callings to be servants.

Chinese Spring Festival

Chinese Spring Festival is a lunar holiday falling in January or February and lasting about five weeks.  When the academic Chairman of the English Department, realized I was planning to stay my whole Spring Festival in my apartment, he invited me to spend a week at his home with his family after getting official permission from the Party Whip.  In one of our conversations Professor M. mentioned that the Beijing authorities couldn’t get along with the authorities of his city.  The local city authorities were much too proud of themselves.  He was also open about his Cultural Revolution experience.  Chinese teachers were relatively bolder than those in authority because they had so little to lose.  Although teachers are respected in China, they are not paid well, thus they had little fear of economic punishment during the Cultural Revolution.  I knew a number of Chinese teachers who paid dearly for their ability to speak fluent English and superior education at missionary schools prior to the Cultural Revolution, but I made no comment when Professor M. spoke of his experiences.

Uncle William

According to a Monday, February 7th email, Uncle William Esselstyn died Sunday evening at 8pm.  I keenly felt the loss of his faithful, compassionate prayers and wept off and on throughout the day.  Uncle William was a  missionary in Africa for approximately 50 years and spoke several languages and dialects.  He was the field director of all the work for his church in Africa for many years, a beloved man and one of my favorite people.  I already miss his wise, discerning prayers. In his 90s, he wrote to me often in his shaky penmanship admonishing me to value the privilege of teaching in China, and how much he missed his children in Africa.

 

Temptations of Jesus

Jesus Fully God, Fully Man

The writer of Hebrews assures us that in Jesus Christ we  have a high priest who sympathizes with our weaknesses, for He has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin” (4:15). Some people believe that the mere experience of temptation means there are sinful desires in the tempted individual. Contributing to this confusion is the apparent disagreement between James’s teaching that “God cannot be tempted by evil” (James 1:13) and the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ triumph over temptation (Matt. 4; Mark 1; Luke 4).

How could Jesus be tempted as we are, and thus be sympathetic with our weaknesses, if He is perfectly sinless? Moreover, how was God Incarnate tempted if God cannot be tempted? The answers to these questions lie in a proper understanding of the relationship between temptation and desire.

Genuine Temptation. Purely external suggestions to do evil that cause no internal struggle are not  genuine temptations. The opportunity to steal a loaf of bread, for example, would not constitute a praiseworthy act of resisting temptation for me as it might for someone who is hungry and unable to buy food.

Had Jesus’ temptations produced no inner desire, it is hard to imagine how we are to be comforted by the thought that He is our sympathetic high priest. We must conclude that as it is for us, so it was for Jesus—genuine temptation always involves some desire for whatever one is tempted to do or get.

We must learn to distinguish nonsinful desires from sinful desires, which are themselves (sinful desires) both sin and sources of further temptation (see James 1:14).

The Temptations and Desires of God Incarnate. God Incarnate cloaked Himself in human flesh and took on the physical and psychological needs of human bodies and minds. The God‐Man experienced the sting of hunger, thirst, sleep deprivation, disrespect, abandonment, betrayal, torture, and even death. Theologian Marguerite Shuster explains that “as a man, [Jesus] was subject to the needs, limitations, and frailties of a human being in this world…He had a body with nerve endings like ours, emotions that tore him as do ours. That is what it means for him to have been fully human.”

It would be absurd to think that after 40 days of fasting in the wilderness, Jesus did not intensely desire the relief from hunger that could have been His if only He had given in to the Devil’s temptation to turn stones into bread (Matt. 4:3; Luke 4:3). Jesus’ severe hunger rendered the temptation to turn stones into bread much more than a mere external test; yet, His intimacy with the Father and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit that He cultivated through a lifetime of solitude, prayer, and meditation on Scripture enabled Him to resist Satan by reciting the truth that “man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4; cf. Deut. 8:3). The satisfaction of hunger is not inherently sinful, but Jesus recognized that giving in to the Devil’s temptation to end His physical suffering in that way would have constituted disobedience to His Father’s will. The Son knew that if He needed bread, He had only to ask His Father and the one who miraculously provided manna for the wandering Israelites would provide bread and not a stone (cf. Matt. 7:9‐11).

Jesus’ desire for food, like His desire to avoid impending torture and death, which He expressed in His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, was far from sinful. As for Jesus in the wilderness and the garden, so too for us in this sin‐tainted world—it occurs not when we desire to end suffering, but when we will or act to end suffering in the wrong way or at the wrong time. Moreover, temptation occurs not only when we indulge sinful desires, but also when we can satisfy legitimate (nonsinful) human needs or desires through illegitimate (sinful) means.

Through the miracle of the Incarnation God endured the pain of physical and psychological needs. As the self‐sufficient sovereign of the universe, however, God has no needs. It is thus entirely rational to say that whereas God as man can be tempted, God as God cannot.

The Character and Sympathy of Christ. How could Jesus be “tempted in every way, just as we are” if He had the “unfair” advantage of being born without original sin?

In response, it is important to note that being born without sin is no guarantee against temptation. Adam and Eve were created without sin, but nonetheless yielded to the temptation of the Devil. God’s creation of Adam and Eve without sin demonstrates, further, that our sinful condition is not a requirement of  human nature. It is, therefore, a mistake to think that Jesus was not fully human because He was born without sinful inclinations. Through perfect obedience to His heavenly Father, Jesus represented without defect God’s design for humanity. As such, Jesus, the “second Adam,” is even more fully human than you or I and uniquely qualified to raise humanity from the depths of the first Adam’s fall (see Rom. 5:12‐21; 1 Cor. 15:45–49).

Although Jesus was born without sinful inclinations, He is nevertheless morally praiseworthy for maintaining His righteous inclinations. From His youth Jesus exemplified unfailing commitment to the spiritual disciplines we must all exercise in order to rid ourselves of sinful tendencies and incline ourselves toward righteousness. Scripture in no way suggests that Jesus resisted temptation by relying on the privileges of deity; rather, in the words of St. Thomas Aquinas, “Christ resisted temptations by quoting the authority of the Law, not by enforcing His [divine] power.” Indeed, Jesus is as praiseworthy for His sinless inclinations, which He maintained through disciplined spiritual growth, as He is for His sinless behavior. As philosopher Roger Trigg has noted, “The morally good man does not just control his passions, but also trains them to certain courses of action so that he grows to like what is good and hate what is evil. We who are born guilty of original sin therefore must strive to become more like Jesus by engaging, with the help of the Holy Spirit, in spiritual disciplines that prepare us to resist temptation by reversing our sinful predispositions.

Underscoring the intensity of Jesus’ struggles, the writer to the Hebrews reminds us that “during the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death” (5:7).

In light of these considerations, we should not doubt Jesus’ ability to sympathize with our weaknesses. Instead, looking to Jesus as our sympathetic high priest and sinless moral example, we can learn to stand in the face of temptation comforted by the knowledge that “because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Heb. 2:18).

Condensed from Genuine Temptation and the Character of Christ by Adam C. Pelser  http://www.equip.org/articles/genuine-temptation-character-christ/

 

 

 

Hunger and Thirst for Jesus

Be Not Afraid

My undergraduate students are opening up and coming privately to ask for Bibles.  There are four churches here, two Catholic and two Protestant.  One of the Protestant churches has been closed down repeatedly but continues underground. I visited that church, now open again, with American friends who speak fluent Mandarin.  The leaders are sound and have active programs to disciple new converts.  That is good to know because I can send inquiring students to the church where they can learn about Jesus and the Bible and be encouraged in their own language by their own people.

Be not afraid of sudden fear,

neither of the desolation of the wicked when it comes,

For the Lord shall be thy confidence

and shall keep thy foot from being taken.

Proverbs 3:25-26

Wang MingDao

November the 26th I went with Mr. and Mrs. G. to Beijing to meet the tour group that was bringing my airfare receipt.  They were late arriving so hotel and sleeping arrangements had to be made before we could chat.  After the very late meal together, Wang Ming Dao spoke to us.  This elderly man was imprisoned during the Cultural Revolution for his faith and tortured to make him recant.  He did, but then repented just outside the prison gate. Turning around, he knocked on the gate and told the guard that he had changed his mind and would not deny his Lord. People gathered around to have photos taken with him, but I could only watch his sober face from a respectful distance, and imagine the mountain of love in his heart for his Master.  I felt like a stripling in his humble presence.

On Sunday Pat Robertson spoke to a packed out auditorium that holds about 3,000 at the Beijing International Christian Fellowship.  His huge vision for America touched me deeply and I left the auditorium immediately upon dismissal to be alone at the train station with my private thoughts.  I happened to meet the G.s on the train coming back to our city and we had a good time sharing our faith.

Mrs. G.’s parents are Burmese Chinese and strong believers who come to visit their daughter often in order to speak to any students they can about Jesus.  G.’s mother comes to my apartment to speak to students who may wish to talk.  One student gave her heart to Jesus and three others who came to argue are seriously considering the claims of the Lord on their lives.  They fear persecution in their classes, but, thank goodness for the local Protestant church that can take over their teaching so that we may not risk deportation.

Strength in Unity

These past two weeks I’ve fasted slightly less than 48 hours each week with good success regarding classes and paper grading to go smoothly.  Also, we need spiritual strengthening in subtle persecution.  The enemy’s strategy is to drive us out, but not only do we refuse to go, but we pray corporately for our protection.  What a difference corporate unity makes!  Sure not like last year.

One reason Paul was delivered from many crises beyond his strength was the corporate prayers of the early Church.  They were not perfect but they had awesome corporate strength in prayer.  Paul in his maturity, anointing, and commitment could not enter into his calling by himself.  That could only take place through the praying church in unity (II Cor. 1:8-11).  One can only go so far in protecting oneself and still advance in intercession.  There is a limitation beyond which I cannot go without the corporate prayers of my brothers and sisters.  The Lord intends us to be dependent on one another.  That’s what the beautiful Body of Christ is all about.  Leviticus 26: 7-8 and Joshua 23:10 speak of one chasing a thousand and two chasing ten thousand.  Deut. 32:30 and Eccl. 4:12 speak of a three-fold cord not being easily broken.

Christmas

Christmas with my classes was wonderful.  We decorated the classroom several times because when we came the next week, the decorations had been removed.  So we decorated each time we met.  Students listened raptly to the story of Adam and Eve, their fall, and God’s great love in sending Jesus.  From the Hong Kong Bible Society I was given bilingual books about special issue postal stamps from nations around the world celebrating Christ’s birth, death and resurrection.  Also in Hong Kong I found a couple of books of Chinese Christian art painted by converted Buddhists showing various scenes in the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus.  My students poured over these books intently.  The art books showing Jesus as Chinese utterly amazed and fascinated them.  I borrowed Mrs. G.’s large computerized keyboard to play carols for the classes.  When they heard my competent keyboarding and singing voice they broke out in smiles and joined in singing the carols enthusiastically.

So shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth;

It shall not return to Me void but it shall accomplish that which I please.

And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55:11 Amp. (paraphrased)

Christmas week I made enough fudge for every student to have two pieces and invited them six at a time, every fifteen minutes for two hours each evening.  I really enjoyed their coming, their cards and notes and little gifts.  I’ve also had lunch in the dining halls and talks with individuals.  There’s a good foundation forged for friendships this coming semester.

Walter decorated an outdoor evergreen with lights but the Foreign Language Department failed to get electricity for him. His students made a pretty paper Christmas tree for the foyer of the Foreign Language building – three times.    He also organized a candle-light carol sing so four or five other foreign teachers came along to help carry the music.  Then we split up to have five small groups around each of us for an English Corner event about Christmas.