Jesus Christ

Q/A Friday: How Important Is the Virgin Birth of Jesus?

We cannot afford to cast the virgin birth aside; we must accept it for the following three reasons:

First, the Bible is not trustworthy if the virgin birth is a hoax. If Scripture is erroneous, then all of Scripture if up-for-debate and so is its truthfulness, because Scripture claims Mary was a pregnant virgin (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38). If the virgin birth was a lie, the authority of the Bible can be questioned. If we cannot trust what the Bible says about Jesus’ birth, how can we trust what it says about His atonement or resurrection or deity?

Second, Jesus would not be divine without the virgin birth. The incarnation would also be a hoax. And if Jesus Christ was not both God and man, then salvation was a wasted execution. Humans could not bring about their own redemption; thus, the virgin birth, the God-man, became necessary.

Third, Jesus could not be sinless without the virgin birth. If Jesus were conceived of human parents, then the guilt of Adam’s sin would be passed onto Him.

The virgin birth is the most important fact of the Christmas story.

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Friday Q/A: How Can I Strengthen My Assurance of Salvation? (A REPRISE)

In life, we want assurance. We buy life insurance to guarantee our loved ones are cared for in the event of our sudden death. We buy health insurance to guarantee assistance in paying for expensive health care. And we all want assurance we will spend eternity in heaven so we can live our lives free of doubt, despair and discouragement.

Many Christians struggle with the assurance of their salvation. Many Christians live the way the Puritan Thomas Brooks wrote in 1864 in his treatise Heaven and Earth,

“Assurance is the believer’s ark where he sits, Noah-like, quiet and still in the midst of all distractions and destructions, commotions and confusions. … However most Christians live between fears and hopes, and hang, as it were, between heaven and hell. Sometimes they hope that their state is good, at other times they fear that their state is bad: now they hope that all is well, and that it shall go well with them for ever; then they fear that they shall perish by the hand of such a corruption, or by the prevalence of such or such a temptation. … They are like a ship in a storm, tossed here and there.” (pg. 11)

Assurance is a precious commodity that is not worth trading for anything else. And the lack of assurance can be paralyzing and demoralizing.

I John 5:13 (and the rest of the book) shows every reader he can be convinced of his eternity – “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.

This Epistle is primarily for Christians. And here’s the simple truth: assurance is meant for the Christian. Assurance is a knowledge gained by experience and reflection, which is a common thread in this Epistle (I John 2:3, 29; 3:1, 6; 4:2). If you know Christ, you are not meant to live without assurance.

AssuranceBut if you are a Christian who struggles with assurance, it could be for any one of the following reasons. Maybe you misunderstand the difference between justification and sanctification. We quickly forget the act of justification is something Christ accomplished on the cross. His perfect sacrifice atoned for sin. Your sins are paid for! They are forgiven. Justification is a perfect work. On the other hand, the process of sanctification – the process of being made like a holy Christ – is an imperfect and incomplete work. That doesn’t happen at once. As long as we remain imperfect, sanctification is not over. But that does not change us being justified. Some people who struggle with assurance look at their imperfect and incomplete work of sanctification and then forget their act of being justified.

Maybe the reason you struggle with assurance is simply biblical ignorance of the teaching of this doctrine. This is where I John has been so helpful. John’s purpose has been to educate the clueless. Some people don’t understand a sovereign God’s role in drawing us to Himself and then how he produces assurance in us as we grow in Him.

Maybe the reason you struggle with assurance is because your hear strong or imbalanced preached. Don’t get me wrong: strong preaching is a healthy dynamic for the local church. Too many churches have too many shallow, shabby, jellyfish preachers. But when you preach the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27), you come to understand just how high God’s standard is for all of us. And when you see how high the standard is and how often you miss the standard, you can easily doubt your salvation.

Maybe the reason you struggle with assurance is because you compare yourself to other believers: “How come I don’t pray like Him? Why don’t I quote Scripture as naturally as her? Why don’t I possess the level of love and compassion of him? Why does parenting come much easier for that father or mother? How was she able to discern right from wrong in that situation quicker than me? Why couldn’t I answer that question from Scripture as timely as that person?” People who do this can struggle with assurance because they fail to remember everyone matures and grows at different rates.

There is a remedy that can help enforce what the Bible has to say about a Christian’s assurance of salvation: study the person and work of Christ. Don’t be afraid of terms like expiation, redemption, propitiation, advocacy, justification, sanctification, etc. These terms explain in a more thorough way the marvelous work of Christ on the cross and they show us the permanency and thoroughness of salvation achieved for us. And they will help remove doubt when you see their awesomeness.

Robert Murray McCheyne, a Scottish minister in the 1800’s, said,

“Learn much of the Lord Jesus. For every look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ. He is altogether lovely.”

Make a commitment in 2018 to study Christology. Read books like Christ’s Glorious Achievement by Charles Spurgeon or The Incomparable Christ by John R.W. Stott or The Passion of Jesus Christ by John Piper or Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Christ by D.A. Carson or Who Is Jesus by Greg Gilbert.

Study the One who saved you (John 6:37; 10:17-29) and seals you (Ephesians 1;13-14).

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Q/A Friday: Could Jesus Have Sinned?

Before I explain why the Bible demonstrates that Christ COULD NOT have sinned, no matter what view you take, we can all agree that Jesus NEVER sinned (II Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 7:26; James 5:6; I Peter 1:22; 3:18; I John 3:5). But not only did Jesus never sin, but He could not have sinned. And here are 5 reasons why.

First, temptation does not imply that the one being tempted could sin. Jesus was tempted in the wilderness (Matthew 4), but there is nothing inherently evil about being tempted. Temptation does not discriminate. It comes to the holiest of saints and the evilest of pagans.

Second, a different kind of temptation was being experienced by Jesus in the wilderness. Temptations come from within our flesh and from without. What we mean by “without” can be likened to a scantily clad dressed woman on a billboard that you drive by on the way to work. That temptation to lust for her did not originally derive within your flesh. It came from the outside. Because Jesus did not possess a sinful nature, His temptations only came from the outside.

Third, because Jesus was both God and man, He is unable to sin (John 1:1-18). When deity and man are in the same bodily nature, as they were with Jesus, sin is not possible with the divine nature. Jesus was not the Man-God, but the God-Man.

Fourth, Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:4; Hebrews 4:3; 9:26; I Peter 1:19-20). If Jesus could have sinned, then the Holy Spirit would have imparted a sinful nature to Him. Jesus was born sinless.

Fifth, Jesus’ nature never changes (Hebrews 13:8). Since Jesus, in eternity past, dwelt in heaven with sinlessness, He will always be sinless, because He is same yesterday, today, and forever.

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Paul Brand, On Why Jesus Literally Touched People

See the source image“Jesus reached out His hand and touched the eyes of the blind, the skin of the person with leprosy, and the legs of the cripple…I have sometimes wondered why Jesus so frequently touched the people He healed, many of whom must have been unattractive, obviously diseased, unsanitary, smelly. With His power, He easily could have waved a magic wand.…But He chose not to. Jesus’ mission was not chiefly a crusade against disease…but rather a ministry to individual people, some of whom happened to have a disease. He wanted those people, one by one, to feel His love and warmth and His full identification with them. Jesus knew He could not readily demonstrate love to a crowd, for love usually involves touching.” (JPaul Brand, Fearfully and Wonderfully Made)

Q/A Friday: Why Was It Advantageous for Jesus to Leave Earth?

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7).

First, the Son’s departure came via the cross which was necessary for salvation. For the work of salvation to be complete, Christ had to leave this world. If He didn’t, His words on the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30) would be a lie; nothing would be finished. His work would be incomplete and therefore salvation would not be attained for any of us. Read carefully how Paul states this truth in Galatians 4:4-6, “…God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Galatians 4:4-5) Now watch this – after Christ’s adoption was complete. “And because you are sons, God has sent for the Spirit of His Son in to your hearts…” (Galatians 4:6). This sending of the Holy Spirit could only be done once the Son left the world after the work on the cross.

Second, the Holy Spirit can be in all places at all times; the Son – in human form – could only be in one place at one time. This is significant because the disciples would be scattered all over the world. They would not all be able to be with the Son for personal encouragement and guidance. However, the Holy Spirit can be everywhere, because He would be indwelling them.

Third, because of the Holy Spirit’s arrival, the disciples could now do greater works than Jesus (John 14:12). The word “greater” doesn’t mean “better”; it means “more extensive.” The ministry was to be “greater” in its extent or the number of people reached. For example, the ministry of the Son would go outside of Palestine which hadn’t taken place during Jesus’ life; that would not be the case with the disciples spreading the Gospel throughout the known world unto all nations (Acts 1:8). Their works would be greater in the number of conversions, further miracles and the recording of the N.T.

Fourth, if Son remained on earth in bodily form, there would have been no room for the exercise of the disciples’ faith. By the Son’s absence, the disciples would become twice the men they were called to become. In summary: they would grow in their faith by trusting what He said was true. In this time of waiting, their faith would increase.

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Q/A Friday: What Is the Purpose of the Triumphal Entry?

The Triumphal Entry of Jesus Christ is an event recording the very last time Jesus would enter Jerusalem. Instead of riding in a golden carriage, Jesus chooses to ride a donkey; instead of being surrounded by money being thrown at him, Jesus is surrounded by people waving palm branches; instead of Jesus putting a golden crown upon His head, Jesus would place a bloody crown of thorns there; instead of Jesus ascending a throne, Jesus ascends a common ordinary cross.

But for what reason(s)?

First, by the Triumphal Entry, Jesus shows He is willing to lay down His life voluntarily. Jesus is moving towards His execution from His own time-table and not the one of the religious leaders. J.C. Ryle says in his commentary, “He did not bleed, and suffer, and die, because He was vanquished by superior force, and could not help Himself, but because He loved us, and rejoiced to give Himself for us as our Substitute. He did not die because He could not avoid death, but because He was willing with all His heart to make His soul an offering for sin. Jesus was willing to accomplish the Father’s will by dying on a cross for sins.

Second, by the Triumphal Entry, Jesus fulfills prophecy. 2 specific prophecies were fulfilled in this passage: one from Psalm 118 and the other from Zechariah 9. The Bible is filled with thousands of prophecies and not 1 prophecy has ever gone unfulfilled. Every prophecy has been completely fulfilled. You can verify these both biblically and historically. Jesus came as a priest (He sacrifices for sin), a king (He is the ruler of the world), and a prophet (He fulfills all prophecies about the Messiah).

Third, by the Triumphal Entry, Jesus demonstrates He is the true Messiah and what kind of king He will be. He is not the political Messiah and deliverer they hoped He would be to redeem them from Rome, but He is the spiritual Messiah and deliverer that would redeem them from sin. Many people want Christ on their own terms; they want Him to be some kind of crisis counselor or some type of good friend and buddy. But the world does not want Him as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. But this is who He is and always will be.

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Why Jesus Return Will Be Worth It

“…As you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Corinthians 1:7b).

Life is hard. Sometimes it feels impossible. Other times it seems bearable. But no matter your daily experience, keep this in mind: all of this is going somewhere. The waiting for Jesus’ Second Coming makes the thorny journey worth it. We are being perfected but we are not there yet.

The Second Coming of Christ is something every Christian should eagerly wait for – no matter the level of spiritual maturity. Here are just four reasons why:

#1 – The Second Coming means Christ will be exalted. Paul said in Philippians 2:9-11, “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

#2 – The Second Coming means Satan will be defeated. The Apostle John writes, “And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:9-10).

#3 – The Second Coming means martyrs will be avenged. Those who have paid the ultimate price for their faith ask how long until God’s judgment will fall on those who brought such persecution. Paul says in II Thessalonians 1:6-7, “Since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels.”

#4 – The Second Coming means believers will be glorified. In another letter to another church, Paul says Christ will come back for the church so “that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:26-27).

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