Fireside 2.1 ( All the Moore Blog Mon, 29 Mar 2021 10:00:00 -0400 All the Moore Blog en-us Penal Substitutionary Atonement: A Compensatory Perspective Mon, 29 Mar 2021 10:00:00 -0400 1dc507ea-5d68-45b6-86cf-0d6e88316da8 Introduction
The atoning work completed by Jesus Christ on the cross is summarized within a confessional statement penned by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, with the center of his statement being “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.” Throughout much of Christian history, theologians have reflected upon the connection between the death of Christ, and the sins of the world. These reflections have brought about several models of Christ’s atonement, with some being quite controversial. A proper understanding of Christ’s atonement must take into consideration the precedent set forth within the Old Testament in which God required something to die in the stead of the sinner to serve as a covering for sin. Christ Himself, along with the writers of the New Testament understood that Christ did not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it. In this paper, the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement while be argued for in light of these previously formulated theories by examining the character of God, and His law, in order to more rightly grasp what exactly the law of God requires.

Theories of the Atonement
As previously mentioned, throughout church history there have been various theories on what exactly Christ’s death on the cross was meant to accomplish, and for whom it was meant to be accomplished for. The most prevalent, and widely accepted understanding of the atonement at present is John Calvin’s theory of penal substitution. Charles Ryrie suggested that most of the historical theories of the atonement can be placed in three categories being: (1) views that related the death of Christ to Satan (Origen, Aulen). (2) Views that consider Christ’s death as a powerful example to influence people (Abelard, Socinus, Grotius, Barth). (3) Views that emphasize punishment due to the justice of God as substitution (Anslem, the Reformers). Ryrie adds that there is some truth to the theories that do not include penal substitution, but adds that “it is important to remember that such truth, if there is some, cannot save eternally.” This is because only Christ’s substitutionary death can provide that which God’s justice demands.
Controversies and the Atonement
Mark Rathel recently published an article in the Journal of Baptist Theology and Ministry, in which he recounts several aspects of the controversies that arose between the faculty of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary between 1959 and 1985. This period was named by James Nalls, as the “Period of Extreme Multiformity.” Rathel notes that this time was characterized by experimentation that included replacing traditional categories and abandoning biblical models of the atonement in favor of contemporary models that reject the previously understood legal and forensic categories. Like within liberation theology, the salvific events of Christ were expanded to include the incarnation, earthly life, and resurrection. This spirit of novelty led former New Testament professor, Frank Stagg (1945-1964), to deny the necessity of the death of Christ by saying, “Jesus would not have had to died had men been willing to die-to die the death of self.” To fully understand the necessity of Christ’s atoning death, one must first understand themself in relation to the Law of God.
God’s Character and Sacrificial System
According to Anselm, God is thought to be most fundamentally as “that than which no greater can be conceived” and therefore exhibits maximal perfection. Because of this, the sinfulness of man is the absolute antithesis of God’s holiness, which is to say that God is categorically and ontologically set apart from man. As the prophet Isaiah was standing in the presence of the thrice-holy God with seraphim hovering above the throne declaring “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!”, Isaiah quickly understood the degree of his wretchedness and helplessness in relation to the Lord.
Millard Erickson argues that theories of the atonement must be constructed upon a robust understanding of God’s moral, and spiritual law. The laws that were given to Moses are much more than an arbitrary set of rules, but rather, these laws are a direct expression of God’s character in written form. Erickson goes as far as to say that “the Law is something of a transcript of the nature of God.” That is to say that God has revealed Himself within His Law and has demanded that all those who follow Him must be conformed to His image that is revealed in the Law. Whether a person relates to the Law positively or negatively, the individual should understand that the object that is being related to, is not just an impersonal document or set of regulations, but God Himself.

Before Christ’s atoning death, sacrifices would have to be regularly offered as compensation for the sins committed by the people. These sacrifices were not seen as reforming the sinner, or as a deterrent for later sin, but specifically as an atonement for the person’s sin that deserved punishment. Paul interpreted God’s law in this way and declared in Romans 6:23 that “the wages of sin is death” and later in Galatians 6:8 that “whoever sows to please their flesh, from flesh they will reap destruction.” Whenever sin occurs, God demands that the infraction be made right and by His grace, He allowed those in the Old Testament saints to sacrifice a goat, or a lamb in their place. This sacrifice would serve as a covering for their sin. The offering of sacrifices for sin had the objective effect of appeasing God.

The Atonement as the Means for Justification
From a plain reading of Scripture, one can deduce that Jesus Christ was certain of His earthly mission as one in which “the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” The apostle Paul understands Christ’s work on the cross as purposed “to reconcile all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of His cross.” The Apostle Peter recognized that Christ “bore our sins on a tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. For you were straying like sheep but have now returned to the Shephard and Overseer of your souls.” The New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s Articles of Religious Belief, states “Justification is the judicial act of God by which the sinner is declared forgiven and freed from the condemnation of his sin, on the ground of the perfect righteousness of Christ, imputed by grace through faith.” Jesus Christ came, and died to offer the only means by which sinful man can be saved.
Despite the biblical and beautiful notion that God loved the world enough to take on flesh and humble Himself by coming and offering Himself as a propitiation for the sins of the world, the previously mentioned Frank Stagg treated the blood of Christ as a common thing by suggesting Christ’s historical, and literal death on the cross was unnecessary for salvation. Stagg was quoted as having said, “However sophisticated any transactionalism which sees God as unable to forgive sins and save persons until the completion of certain events run against massive biblical evidence.” Trinitarian theologian Fred Sanders suggests to the contrary that “the biblical witness itself gives rise to the impulse to admire God’s work not only in themselves but with respect to God’s eternal being.” Whether deemed necessary or not, Jesus was predestined before the foundations of the world to be sent as its savior, and since that time, the Book of Life has been kept by the Lamb that was slain . The goodness of God flows forth from His plentitude of being to such a degree that “it pleased the LORD to bruise Him” and “for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross despising the shame and set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
David L. Allen, of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, argues that “the penal substitutionary atonement… is the bedrock doctrine for explaining the work of Christ on the cross for the sins of the world.” Christ’s death on the cross satisfied the justice and wrath of God against the sinner. Apart from Christ and the atonement that He made for the sins of the world, there is no salvation. The word “penal” is used to describe the punishment in which Christ endured on the cross and the phrase “substitutionary” describes the way in which Christ gave Himself up to take the place of the sinner on the cross. No atonement theory that omits penal substitution, as at least part of the theory, can hope to account adequately for the biblical passages associated with Christ’s work on the cross, especially Isaiah 53 and the New Testament’s use of it. With all of that said, the question must be asked, is that all Christ accomplished on the cross?
Philosophical Challenges **
Ever since Faustus Sonicus, the doctrine of penal substitution has faced a seemingly insuperable philosophical challenges from those practicing the sub-discipline of philosophy of law and their theory of punishment. The doctrine of penal substitution has been dismissed by these philosophers by asserting that it would be unjust for God to punish an innocent person for another person’s sins. These objections can be avoided by properly developing a definition of punishment and a justification of punishment. Sonicus recognized that punishment included harsh treatment, but harsh treatment alone is not sufficient for punishment. Because of this, one must determine what transforms harsh treatment into punishment.
Alec Walen, a philosopher of law, characterized punishment as having to contain at least four basic elements. First, to be considered punishment, the act must include some sort of cost, or hardship imposed upon the person being punished. Secondly, the punisher must do so intentionally, and not as a side-effect of pursuing some other end. Thirdly, the hardship, or loss must be imposed in response to what is perceived as a wrongful action. Finally, the punishment must be imposed, at least in part, as a way of condemning or as a way of sending a message of censure for what is believed to be a wrongful act. At this point, philosophers of law reject penal substitution, not as being immoral for God to punish Christ for other’s wrongs, but because God simply treating Christ harshly does not qualify as real punishment.
**Substitutionary or Compensatory?

Whatever one’s view is concerning the atonement, one must account for what God actually sought to accomplish by sending His Son to be the Savior of the world. Even though Jesus did not have much to say about His death in the first part of His ministry, His understanding of His mission becomes clear as the Apostle John records Jesus saying, “For I have come down from Heaven not to do my own will, but to do the will of Him who sent me”. Furthermore, John declares that “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” All of this is to show that the work of Christ is not independent, or in contrast, to what the Father is doing, but is one and the same. Jesus makes it clear at the Last Supper that He recognizes Himself as the one who will fulfill Isaiah chapter 53 saying, “It is written: ‘and he was numbered with the transgressors’ and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.” Jesus also describes Himself in, Mark 10:45, as giving His life to be a ransom for many.
There is no question that Christ humbled Himself, took on flesh, lived a perfect and sinless life to then be crucified, buried, and three days later, rising from the grave to declare victory over sin, death, and the grave after taking the sins of the world upon Himself. The question is, was His death substitutionary, compensatory, or both? A biblical theory of the atonement must include propitiation, which is the appeasement of God’s wrath against sin. Anselm argued that Christ paid the price that was owed by all sinners to God, while the Reformers argued that Christ took on the punishment that the sinner deserved. The problem associated with this question can be seen in a small illustration.
Imagine if a troubled youth steals a person’s car, wrecks the car and is subsequently arrested, tried, and found guilty of this crime. For arguments sake, assume that the owner did not have insurance on the car and therefore had no way to replace it. Now suppose that this car thief had found an innocent by-stander who agreed to serve the car thief’s jail time as his substitute. In this context, most would probably say that what the by-stander did was certainly praiseworthy, but the question would still have to be asked, has justice been done? Have things been made right with the victim of this car thief? It seems not, for the victim still has no car, an innocent man is in jail, and the guilty party is still free.
Now imagine the same scenario, but instead, the innocent by-stander recognizes the troubled youth’s plight, and unbeknownst at the time of the crime, the by-stander finds out that the boy is an orphan and feeling compassion on the orphan boy, adopts the boy as his own son, and in order to make things right, the bystander goes and intercedes on the boy’s behalf. The innocent by-stander goes and meets with the victim of this crime, who for arguments sake, is actually the innocent by-standers own father, and the innocent by-stander tells his father to drop the charges against his newly adopted grandson, and then takes out his checkbook and signs over a blank check to his father saying, “Whatever the damages are, considered them paid in full.” In this way, the by-stander suffers real loss, and therefore punishment, by compensating his father for the loss of the car, the newly adopted son is over-flowing with gratitude and admiration for forgiveness provided him by his savior, and the debt that was owed is paid. Subsequently, it seems that Christ atonement was not only substitutionary, but compensatory as well for He suffered in the place of the sinner, and paid the debt that was owed by the sinner.
The sinner can fully appreciate the atoning work of Christ by considering that, “God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of nether gloom to be kept until the day of judgement.” God, in His perfect justice, could have chosen to save no one, and left the world waiting in their sins in the same way He did the angels, but God chose by His own good will and pleasure to do otherwise. John the Baptist understood the atoning work of Christ as he saw Christ approaching and declared, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
To be sure, in the case of Christ, it was His own blood that paid the debt and served as a substitute for the blood of the sinner while also substituting Himself by enduring not only the shame of the cross, but also the agonizing physical pain associated with it, and the death that followed. Salvation is offered freely to all who will call upon the name of the Lord, but the sinner would be mistaken in thinking that the gift of salvation is free because the Son of God incarnate paid for it with the shedding of His own blood.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asked, “If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me” , but also asked that the will of the Father be done. Because Matthew took time to record this prayer, one can be assured that Christ prayed with the fullness of faith, and even so, this prayer shows that it was not possible for Christ to have saved the world in any other way than by His death on the cross. Sin must be atoned for by the shedding of blood. The hymn writer, Elvina M. Hall, understood this quite well when she penned the familiar words “Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.”

Matthew 5:17
Charles Ryrie. Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic for Understanding Biblical Truth. Victor Publishing. 309
Ibid., 309
Mark A. Rathel. “The Cross and the School of Providence and Prayer: Atonement Controversies at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary”. JBTM 14.2 (Fall 2017). 23
Ibid., 23
Ibid., 24
Thomas V. Morris. Our Idea of God: An Introduction to Philosophical Theology. (Vancouver: Regent Publishing) 1991, 35
Millard Erickson, Christian Theology. 3d ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker), 2013, 733
Ibid., 733
Ibid., 734
Ibid., 735
Luke 19:10
Colossians 1:20
1 Peter 2:24-25
Rathel, 26
Rathel., 26
Fred Sanders., The Triune God: A New Study in Dogmatics. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan) 2017. 28
Revelation 13:8
Isaiah 53:10
Hebrews 12:2
David L. Allen. “Recovering the Gospel: Why Belief in an unlimited Atonement Matters” JBTM, 9.2. Fall 2012. 41
Ibid., 41
J.P. Moreland and Craig. Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview. (Downer’s Grove, IL: IVP Academic) 2nd ed. 2017. 613
Ibid., 614
Ibid., 614
Ibid., 615
Alec Walen. “Retributive justice” in Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Moreland and Craig. 615
John 10:36
John 3:17
Erickson, Christian Theology. 736
Ibid., 736. Quoting Luke 22:37
Moreland and Craig. 623
2 Peter 2:4
John 1:29
Matthew 26:39
Wayne Grudem. Systematic Theology. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan) 2000, 569
Allen. Recovering the Gospel. 41

A Baptist's Manifesto on Religous Liberty Fri, 19 Mar 2021 11:00:00 -0400 e7821dac-8d5e-4029-9420-5d93b411ad25 Introduction
Baptists, especially in America, have long held to the idea that God, and “God alone is the Lord of the conscience, and He has left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are contrary to His Word or not contained in it”. The history of the Church in America stands in stark contrast to the religious and ecclesiastical history of Europe, but in many ways maintains a common thread with the previous generations of Christians that goes back much further. In the recent political climate that many Christian in the world find themselves living in has sparked a renewed interest in a biblical model for religious liberty. In this paper, a historic Baptist understanding of religious liberty will be argued for by taking into consideration the exegetical, theological, and ethical implications of being a Christian living under a tyrannical government.
Baptists and Religious Liberty
Baptists gladly, and rightly affirm that government is not only a necessity, but also an institution created and ordained by God to protect those who do good, and to punish those who do evil. One must recognize that the terms “good” and “evil” should not be understood to be subjective in meaning, but should be interpreted as aligning with God’s objective meaning of good and evil. Where the distinction between the church and state must be drawn is at the critical juncture of compulsion and conscience. Article XVII of the Baptist Faith, and Message is built on the truth that “God alone is the Lord of the conscience”. This statement is grounded in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 in which Paul declares that the gospel of salvation is “that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures”. Because salvation can be found in Christ alone, the bondservant of Christ is obligated to Christ not in his love for, but devotion to his Lord, and Savior.

The same could not be said for a government, for it was Christ alone in which died for the sins of the world in order to save some. In matters of conscience, the government neither literally, nor metaphorically, has any skin in the game, and therefore has no authority over the conscience. Likewise, Christians must rely upon the double-edged sword of the Spirit, not the sword of Caesar, for the conversion of souls, and the redemption of culture.

Since the earliest days of the English Baptist movement, the need for authentic religious liberty has been recognized by men such as Roger Williams and Obadiah Holmes who left home in England in pursuit of a land in which they could escape religious persecution. Southern Baptists have historically understood religious liberty as more than just legal toleration, and instead, they recognized that the very nature of being created in the image of God implies the respect of the intrinsic value and liberty of each individual. The famous Baptist preacher by the name of George Truett, while standing on the steps of the U.S. capitol building before a crowd estimated to be over 10,000 in 1920, declared, “It is the natural and fundamental and indefeasible right of every human being to worship God or not, according to the dictates of his conscience, and as long as he is not infringing upon the rights of others, he is to be held accountable alone to God for all religious beliefs and practices”.

In many of the recent discussions on religious liberty, the doctrine of soul competency and the historical Baptist distinctive of the priesthood of the believer has often been overlooked in favor of following the advisements of political and ecclesiological leaders. Many young Southern Baptist seminarians would be shocked to learn that Baptists from the beginning “have been separatists rather than establishmentarians; advocating religious liberty rather than the establishment of a state church”. Baptists have long understood that because each person is responsible before God for their actions, it is necessary for men to be free from compulsion from the state in matters of conscience.
Do What is right, and Never What is Wrong
Within American evangelical popular culture, Romans 13:1-7 has been the center of many conversations between friends, church staffs, political pundits, and wide array of other groups in discussing the relation between church and state. Due to recent government-mandated lockdowns of churches, some have begun to question whether or not it is necessary for the Christian to willfully submit to a government in all areas of life, even if it means closing the doors of their church. For the sake of clarity, and the pursuit of righteousness it seems best to begin this quest for truth by understanding first, what government is, and second what is government supposed to do. In many ways, this particular passage in Romans can provide the answers.
The first truth that can be gleaned from Romans 13:1-7, is seen in (vv. 1-2) by the apostle Paul informing the church in Rome that God has appointed human government as his “servant”. Later, Paul adds that not only is human government His servant, but it is part of God’s common goodness bestowed upon mankind. Because God has appointed the government, resisting the government can be seen as resisting God and those who resist God will be judged. John MacArthur commented on this passage saying that “All people, especially Christians, are to be subject to human government” and he added that the word “subject” was used to bring to mind the absolute obedience that a soldier might have for his commanding officer. Furthermore, by obeying the government, one can keep a clean conscience.
There have been various attempts in seeking to discern what influenced the apostle Paul to exhort the churches in Rome to submit to the authorities. One scholar suggested that what Paul teaches in this passage would have been understood against the passages in the Old Testament that taught Israel to respect governing authorities while in exile. An example can be found in Jerimiah 29:7, which teaches obedience and the need to pray for authorities. This passage reads, “Seek the welfare of the city to which I have exiled you, and pray to the Lord on behalf of it for its welfare will be your welfare”. Stanley Porter was quoted as having written, “The important implication is that unjust authorities are not due the obedience of which Paul speaks, but rather are outside the boundaries of necessary obedience. Romans 13:1-7 is a text which only demands obedience to what is right, never to what is wrong”.
The apostle Peter echoes Paul’s teaching on this topic saying in 1 Peter 2:14, that the purpose of the government was to “punish those who do evil”, but the apostle Peter gives one exception. In Acts 5:29, Luke recorded Peter saying that “We must obey God rather than men”. Several passages within the Old Testament attest to this idea that followers of God should obey the government, but if the government is operating and ruling contrary to the Law of God, one must obey God, before men. Considering this as the starting point of this discussion on the role, and purpose of government, one would be prudent in understanding the Christian’s ethical obligations to a government.
From on Ethical Perspective
Throughout the Old Testament, there was always an understanding that the security of the nation of Israel was highly dependent upon on their national obedience to the covenant that God had entered into with them. Israel had a high degree of national interest in obeying the law. Furthermore, the Old Testament prophets implied that obedience to God would be of long-term interest to the nation of Israel, even though obeying God over the laws of the other nations might be accompanied by short-term adversity, and persecution. God sent prophet after prophet to tell the nation of Israel to turn away from the pollution and wickedness of following the gods of other nations, and to turn back to Him.
A key distinction should be made between the Law of God, and every other set of laws from ancient times, until now because the person who stands behind the Law is God, while man is behind every other law. Even though obedience to the Law was certainly understood as one of the means by which Israel would be set apart from every other nation, obedience was not seen as an end in itself. Obedience to the Law was most directly understood as a personal expression of one’s loyalty to God Himself because it is God who stands behind, and defines all the precepts of the Law. This concept is figuratively, and literally takes on flesh in the New Testament in the form of Jesus Christ who is known as the perfect prophet, priest, and king. A distinctly Christian ethic demands that Christians willingly pick up their cross, and follow Christ in spirit and in deed in such a way, that regardless of the consequences that comes from a civil government, the Christian will seek to do the will of God that is clearly revealed in Scripture. Jesus Christ did everything “as it was written”.
Paul, a Roman Convict, or a Slave of Christ?
The apostle Paul was no stranger to a Roman jail cell, and his ministry was one marked by incarceration for doing what was right in the eyes of God. Paul was unrepentant of his sins against Rome, and famously wrote to the church in Philippi while in chains saying, “I want you to know, brethren, that the things which have happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ”. Paul would later remind them to do likewise saying, “let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ” and to “stand fast in one spirit, with one mind, striving together for the gospel”.
The apostle Paul was essentially using military terms, instructing them to hold the line and to not flinch, or waver, as the enemy approaches because if they do, it is a sign of perdition and lack of faith. In fact, to the surprise of many modern evangelicals, Paul boldly declares, “For you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake” and Paul describes this suffering as the same kind of suffering that he is experiencing. From this it should be clear that incarceration, persecution, and possibly death should be expected for a disciple of Christ serving the Lord in the face of a tyrannical, secular government.
Finally, the apostle Paul, in his farewell address to the leaders of the church in Ephesus, that is recorded in Acts 20:17-28, told the elders there that day that he was “innocent of the blood of all men”. He could say this because despite experiencing many trials and tribulations at the hands of the religious leaders of his day, he “kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, publicly from house to house”. As he left Ephesus, he told them that he was going to Jerusalem, “bound by the Spirit” not knowing anything that would happen to him except that in every city that he came to, “nothing but chains and tribulations” awaited him. Paul continued to preach the gospel despite enduring harassment and incarceration at the hands of the Roman government saying that “none of these things move me, nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus Christ”.
The book of Acts is a clear example of the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ in that it makes men act upon their Christian convictions. Beliefs are things that are argued for, but convictions are things that are often died for. The apostle Paul, along with the majority of the Twelve in the end, died for their Christian convictions at the hands of a secular governments. All the early disciples had to do was simply stop sharing the Gospel, and bow before Caesar in order for their lives to have been spared, but they never backed down.
Treason in the Christmas Story
In the days of Herod, the king, the Magi, or wise men, came from the East in search of Jesus after they had seen a new star in the East. When they arrived in Jerusalem, they came to King Herod and asked, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews?” Matthew 2:3-4 describes King Herod as being troubled at the news of the birth of Christ, the savior of the world. This seems quite strange because, after all, why would a sinner in need of the grace of God and the forgiveness of sins be troubled at the birth of the prophesied Messiah. A person might say that Herod did not know that this Jesus that was born, was indeed the Messiah, but this could not be the case because at the news of Christ’s birth, he immediately consulted with the chief priests, and scribes in order to determine where the Messiah was to be born. The most astonishing thing of all, is the fact that King Herod, the Pharisees, and the scribes did not saddle up, and go worship the Messiah in whom they should have been expecting. Instead, Herod already sought to kill Jesus then, because for Jesus to be King, was to commit treason against Herod.
Defying Tyrants is Obedience to God
The Christian must recognize that governments and leaders are indeed ordained by God to punish those who do evil, and praise those who do good. A Christian should be obedient and give honor to the government in order to live a quiet life, but under no circumstance should the follower of Christ obey the government in doing something that is sinful. In the present context of American evangelicalism, it has become popular to say that blindly obeying the government is simply loving your neighbor well. Indeed, Jesus said Himself to “give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and give to God what is God’s” and the government deserves respect, obedience, and taxes, but never at the expense of giving God His glory.
Many within the evangelical community today suggest that Christians should stop resisting the whims of culture in regards to clinging tightly to the doctrinal and biblical convictions that stand opposed to the beliefs of humanistic, secular governments. There are even some evangelicals that suggest a Christian cannot say he is being persecuted for his convictions because he can simply stop, and obey they government. Blasphemy! For “anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two-or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who trampled the Son of God underfoot and counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of Grace”. Instead, the follower of Christ should “hold fast the confession of our faith without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.
A Christian must be ready to die on every hill for the truth of the gospel of Christ, and every Christian should praise God that Jesus didn’t have that same attitude, because if He did, He would have never been willing to die on a hill called Mount Calvary. When Christ was being captured by the Roman centurions to be taken to be put on trial, and later crucified, some of His disciples drew out swords to defend Christ against his capture, but Jesus rebuked them. Christ told Peter, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword will perish by the sword”. In light of this, the Christian is not to live in open rebellion against their government, but the Christian must also recognize, that if they are to live by the Word of God, that is sharper than any two-edged sword, then it should be of no surprise when the Christian is martyred by the tyrant’s sword.

  Article XVII. The Baptist Faith & Message 2000

Sanford H. Cobb, The Rise of Religious Liberty in America: A History. (New York: MacMillan & Co.) 1902, 1
Article XVII. The Baptist Faith and Message 2000
1 Peter 2:12-17 NKJV
Jerry A. Johnson. “Religious Liberty” found within, Douglas K. Blount, and Wooddell ed., Baptist Faith and Message: Critical Issues within Americas Largest Protestant Denomination. (New York: Rowman & Littlefield), 2007. 171
John 12:26
Ibid., 172

The Doctrine of Eternal Security Fri, 19 Mar 2021 11:00:00 -0400 111f28a6-18de-41d3-ba15-e7951cc2ee0f Is a person is saved, are they always saved? Introduction
Southern Baptists have historically held to the doctrine of eternal security, which in essence states that once a person is saved, they are always saved. Salvation should be understood as the redemption offered freely to all people who repent of their sins against God, and who accept Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, as Lord and Savior, who by His own blood obtained redemption for those who place their trust in Him. The doctrine of Eternal Security is not a universally held doctrine, and there are many other denominations that do not hold it such as Methodists and Pentecostals. The goal of this paper is to explore the exegetical, theological, philosophical foundations of this doctrine in order to determine if it is built on solid rock, or shifting sands.
The Problem of Apostasy
I. Howard Marshall wrote an article titled, “The Problem of Apostasy in New Testament Theology,” in which he discusses apostasy, or falling away from faith in Christ, from an exegetical point of view that seeks to see what the Scripture actually has to say. Marshall, a self-described Methodist, objects to the doctrine of eternal security on the grounds that there are indeed examples within the New Testament that show people who at, one point or the other, believed in Christ, but changed their mind and fell away. Marshall rejects the Calvinist interpretations of these passages because “we find that perseverance depends on a divine determinism that overrules what I myself apparently do in freedom”, but he also includes that he believes “in the influence of the Holy Spirit in our hearts to transform our stubborn, sinful wills”.

Examining the New Testament
While examining some of the pertinent New Testament texts, it should be noted that the action of “following”, or “believing in” Christ is not what saves a person, but is actually a result of one’s salvation. The majority of the examples of apostasy in the New Testament were cases where people who superficially followed, or believed in Christ, but did not place their trust in Him. A prime example of this is Satan and his demons. James wrote in, James 2:19 “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!” From this passage it is clear that possessing proper knowledge of Christ, or holding true beliefs about Christ is good and necessary, but it is not what saves a person from their sins and justifies them before God.
All people have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and no one is good but God. A person’s transgressions, or sins, against God is what separates an unsaved person from God. Because of this, God, willingly and freely sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to be a perfect, sinless sacrifice that would remove the effects of sin, that is, guilt and condemnation, from the world. Augustine argued in times past, that if the whole world was condemned for the sin of a man who took a piece of fruit off a tree, it could also be said that the whole world would be saved by another man being put back onto a tree. Furthermore, it must be noted that God Himself is the author of justification which can be seen by what the Apostle Paul writes in Romans 8:33, “It is God that justifies”. The Southern Baptist theologian, James P. Boyce, understood justification as a judicial act of God, because God “is the lawgiver and the judge, so must he also be the justifier”. This is seen in Galatians 4:4-5, when Paul wrote, “God sent His Son, born of a woman, under the Law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons”.
Philosophical Problem
Many from the Calvinist persuasion base their doctrine of eternal security in light of the doctrine of election, which is attested in Ephesians 1:4, where Paul was inspired to write, “He [God] choose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him”. Marshall points to a philosophical problem with using the doctrine of election as a justification for the doctrine of eternal security because “this view presents God as a prisoner of his own predestining purpose”. The doctrine of election has been understood as God electing, or choosing, who will be saved and who will not before the foundation of the world. Ephesians 1:5, Paul was inspired to write that God “predestined us for adoption as His sons through Jesus Christ”. With that said, Steve Lemke of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, has offered some key insights towards the idea that humans do have meaningful and significant freedom of choice, while maintaining a high view of God’s sovereignty.
Lemke offers a critique of casual determinism, or the idea that all of one’s actions are a result of antecedent events prior to one committing an action. Lemke operates from a “soft libertarian” position, which assumes that a person has the ability to do otherwise in any given decision. Lemke does not hold to a “hard libertarian” position which would be to suggest that a person has the ability to determine events, or actions entirely on their own without external influence. G. W. Leibniz explained the relationship between a person’s free-will, and the effects of external influences acting upon a person by saying that these influences “incline the will without necessitating it”. The idea of having a free will to choose, while simultaneously being acted upon by external influences, are in line with the work of the Holy Spirit as described by Christ in John 16:5-15. Christ declared that the Holy Spirit would “convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgement….He will guide you to all truth for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears, He will speak”.
Marshall made the statement: “Certainly I cannot look at my faith at this moment and say, ‘Yes, so far my faith has lasted, withstood temptation and brought forth fruit, and therefore I can be confident of my future salvation,’ for I do not know what tomorrow will bring”. The lack of assurance within this statement is unfortunate because it seems that Marshall is seeking to ground his faith in life experience or a mood that he feels at the present moment to give him assurance that he is still saved. The Scripture never teaches to find assurance within oneself, but instead to measure oneself against the plumb-line of Scripture. The Apostle Peter was inspired to write that one should “be even more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble”. To be sure of one’s salvation, one could start by asking questions like, “Do I have real conviction for my sins?”, “Do I love the Law of God?”, “Do I find joy in self-sacrificial service to God?”.
An Exegetical Consideration
The book of Hebrews contains several warnings against falling away from the faith and much can be learned from analyzing them. Hebrews 10:26-31 specifically warns against people who “sin willfully after we have received knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sin”. In essence, this passage is speaking of those who have knowledge of the truth of Christ, yet continue in sin. The Jewish-Christians that would have first read this text would have understood the Old Testament teaching in Numbers 15:22-31, that differentiated between unintentional sin and apostasy. The sin mentioned in this passage should be understood as willful, or high-handed sin, not inadvertent sin. The author also indicates later of the present tense nature of this sin, which would mean, “to persist in sin”. Understanding this passage in light of 1 John 2:19 should lead the reader to understand that those who have knowledge of Christ, possibly are a member of a Baptist church somewhere, but persist in sin, were never really saved from the start.
For the fullness of this passage to be seen, it should be noted that the letter to the Hebrews was written to a group of Jewish Christians that were facing immense pressure to reject Christ and go back to their previously held Jewish traditions and customs. This is seen with the author’s strong polemics against Christians still making sacrifices at the temple for their sins despite the fact the perfect sacrifice had already been made by Christ. The author of this epistle saw the coming apostasy, or watering down of the Christian traditions in order to make themselves more like their unregenerate Jewish brothers.
Justification: A Judicial Act of God
To fully understand the security of a regenerate believer’s salvation, one must understand first that “for by grace you have been saved through faith, and not of yourselves; it is a gift from God, not of works”. Secondly, one must see the distinction between the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration, and the work of God the Father in justification. The change in nature, which causes the change towards Christian character, is biblically understood to be regeneration, which is essentially different from justification in function, and in cause. An examination of Romans 8:33-34, will show that justification is presented as the opposite of condemnation, not of sinfulness. Condemnation is never spoken of as the infusion of a corrupted nature, and justification is not the infusion of a holy nature. Instead, justification is understood as the judicial act of God in which He declares a regenerate believer in Christ as righteous. By His grace, God is debiting righteousness to the sinner’s account. Throughout Scripture, the Justified in Christ are declared free from sin but are still represented as struggling with sin not only from external temptations but from within.

Kept by His Righteousness
Danny Akin, President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, provides commentary on Article V of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 writing, “Eternal security is grounded within our union with Christ. God’s acceptance of us ‘in Christ”. Furthermore, a person who has been redeemed by Christ has been crucified, and resurrected with Christ. Jude was inspired to write one of the greatest doxologies found in the New Testament saying, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His Glory with exceeding joy, to God our savior who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now, and forever”. If a Christian could lose himself, he would have already done it, but by the grace and power of God, the Christian is kept from stumbling so that Christ may take joy in presenting his sheep before the Himself in heaven. If a person is unable to work themselves into salvation, it seems only right that they cannot likewise work themselves out of it. If a person places their true, genuine faith in Christ as Lord and Savior, they are granted eternal life. If they then can lose their salvation, it would appear that eternal life is not eternal after all.
With that being said, Akin stresses the importance of the understanding that one’s salvation is secure is not a license to commit sin. The apostle Paul emphatically declared in Romans 6:1-2, “Shall we go on sinning so that grace may abound? Certainly not!” Paul also reminded the church in Corinth that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, all things have become new”. After a person is regenerated by the Holy Spirit, and justified by God the Father, he becomes a new person who no longer desires after the things of the flesh in the way that he did before. The apostle John wrote his first epistle in order to exhort fellow believers to not sin, but also to remind them that if they do sin, they have an advocate before the Father- Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. The apostle John goes one’s step further to say that, “if anyone says ‘I know Him’, but does not keep His commandments, he is a liar, and the truth is not in Him”.
The apostle John made clear that if a person apostatizes, then they were never really saved. The apostle John wrote in 1 John 2:19, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.” The sheep will be separated from the goats, and the wheat from the tares. The only conceivable way that a truly regenerate and justified person could lose their salvation is if they had the power to take the “old man” that was crucified with Christ, and raise him from the dead. This would be impossible because the regenerate person never had the power or the ability to save himself in the first place. All those who persevere to the end are most certainly saved.

Kelly, Land, Mohler, The Baptist Faith, and Message. (Nashville, TN: Lifeway Publishers), 2007, 65

I. Howard Marshall, “The Problem of Apostasy in New Testament Theology”. Perspectives in religious Studies, 68

Ibid., 68

Romans 3:23, Mark 10:18

Millard Erickson, Christian Theology. 3d ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker), 2013, 763

David L. Allen, The Extent of the Atonement. (Nashville, TN: B&H Academic), 2016, 18

James P. Boyce, Abstract of Theology. 395

Marshall, 69

Steve Lemke. “Agent Causation, or How to Be a Soft Libertarian,” a paper presented at the Southwest Regional
Evangelical Theological Society, available online at



G. W. Leibniz, Theodicy, 390.

Ibid., 72

Robert B. Selph, Southern Baptists and the Doctrine of Election. (Harrisburg, VA: Sprinkle Publications) 1991,

2 Peter 1:10

Edgar V. Mcknight, Hebrews James. (Macon, GA: Smyth& Hewly’s Publishing) 2016, 243

Ibid., 244

Randall C. Gleason, “The Eschatology of the Warning in Hebrews 10:26-31”. Tyndale Bulletin, 53.1,  99

McKnight et al., Hebrew-James. 247

James P. Boyce, Abstract of Systematic Theology. 396

Danny L. Akin, “God’s Purpose of Grace”, found within, Douglas K. Blount, and Wooddell ed., Baptist Faith and Message: Critical Issues within Americas Largest Protestant Denomination. (New York: Rowman & Littlefield), 2007, 50

Jude 24-25 NKJV
Ibid., 50

Ibid., 50

2 Corinthians 5:17

1 John 2:1-3

John's Love Wed, 24 Apr 2019 00:45:00 -0400 bb090b98-3255-478b-bdaf-fc576882ec17 In John's writings, the Beloved Disciple makes mention of the same word frequently: LOVE. This small word is potent and carries much weight when understanding how Christians should live their lives today. In this article, Levi shares a short perspective on the use of "love" in John's writings and what it means for us Christians in this unloving world. The Gospel according to John ends by identifying the author of the work as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” That word—love—pervades the writings of John. But what is love, and why did John mention love so frequently? Perhaps the reason for the numerous references to love in the writings of John are a direct result of his intimate knowledge of what love was as he experienced this love, the love of Christ, firsthand. In one of the most well-known passages of Scripture, John 3:16, love can be found as a key point: “For God so loved the world….” Not only did he love the world, but he willingly died for it, that is, for all those in the world who were created in his image. But why might he have willingly died for such a lost and sinful world? The answer to this question is found in John 1:12 and 20:21. Jesus died because his love for his creation urged him to make a way for them to become children of God by believing in his name and thus have forgiveness for their unrighteousness and transgressions.

John, being a member of Christ’s inner circle of disciples, knew Jesus in an intimate way, just as Peter and James did. Jesus poured his life into these three men in a way that was only possible because of the small size of the group. This model is an example that Christians today should follow as they seek to make disciples through small group study. This smaller gathering can aid building trust within the group as well as develop a deeper understanding of the scriptural truths discussed therein, thus leading to making disciples who then make disciples. Jesus’ love was his driving force to live as he did. He loved God the Father and lived his life accordingly. By doing so, he set a clear and explicit example for Peter, James, and John as to how love can and should motivate those who seek God and his truth. The same should be seen in Christians’ lives today.

This love of Christ depicted in John produced the High Priestly prayer in John 17 where Jesus prayed for his current and future disciples faith and protection from the evil one. Christians today must remember the power of prayer and seek to pray driven by love. Jesus reminded his disciples in John 10:10 that “the thief [Satan] came only to steal, kill, and destroy. But I [Christ] came that they [his sheep or disciples] may have life and have it abundantly.” Abundant life would, therefore, be the natural outcome of his love for them and their love for him coming into full fruition. This message is further echoed in John’s First Epistle in 4:7-9, which says that Christians ought to love one another because they know love incarnate, that is, Christ, whom God sent so that Christians might live through him. Love is the motivator of Christ and should, therefore, be the motivator of his true disciples as well.

Love is further seen as being an intrinsic characteristic of Christians in 1 John 5:1 where John claims that all who believe in Christ love both the Father and all who have been born of him. Again, love is seen as a motivator of obedience in 1 John 5:2-3. This love which Christ has toward his disciples and his disciples toward him allows them to overcome the world, that is, sin. A similar sentiment is seen in 2 John 6 where love is equated with obedience to Christ’s commandments. Even 3 John points to obedience in love by helping fellow Christians, though the connection is more implicit than explicit in this context.

Love permeates the writings of John and does so understandably. John was moved by a deep and intimate understanding of love, especially a love given and driven by Christ. He, through the leading of the Holy Spirit, wrote of the wonders and works that love can produce within the Christian. Christians today must not think of love as only a feeling but as something that calls them to action. Love drove Christ to the cross, so to what might love drive the true disciple?

Need an Apology? Tue, 22 Jan 2019 05:00:00 -0500 8a2efc10-4122-44b6-98d1-393a4eb677c6 Apologetics is an essential part of Christian life. What is it, though? Aaron gives a brief intro to the topic in this article. The apostle Peter wrote to the members of the early church in 1 Peter 3:15-16 that they should be prepared to give reason for the hope that is in them, and the apostle Paul wrote to the church at Philippi in Philippians 1:16 telling the church that he was put here to defend the gospel out of love because God called him to do so. The word “defense” in these texts was translated from the Greek word apologia which means “to defend or give reason for” the way a defense attorney may present his argument of why his client is innocent or righteous in a courtroom setting. Both apostles were telling the Church that it should be prepared to defend its faith out of love so as to reflect the nature of Christ in order that others could also see why it had hope in times of suffering and despair.

For this reason it is necessary for Christians to do the same today. The state of the fallen world we live in is in a constant state of turmoil, suffering, and despair as well as the incessant barrage of false teaching of contrary views of God. Apologetics is needed to bring faith and reason together to give evidences to unbelievers of why we have hope despite the circumstances of the world in which we live. Pascal said that men hate religion because of the fear that it may be true and that the remedy for this was to show them that religion or, more specifically, our belief in the God of the Bible is not contrary to reason. The writer of Hebrews was reasoning with the Jews in Hebrews 11:1-3 in order to create a basis for the belief that faith was founded upon their already held belief that God created the universe and because they then understood faith they could understand that faith in the Risen Lord saves them just as the faith their ancestors held in God and in the hope of the arrival of the coming Savior would save them.

In 2 Timothy 4:2-5, Paul reminds Timothy that he must be prepared in and out of season because a day is coming when false teachers will enter the church and people will hear what their ears are wanting to hear. I would also suggest that due to man’s sinful and fallen nature he wants to hear things that suit his own worldviews and belief systems whether or not it is in-line with the laws of God. It can be seen from the very beginning in Genesis chapter 3 where the serpent twisted the truth for his own gain and also used Eve’s desire to disregard God created by her own free will and alternate view of God. The idea of absolute truth in our society has been traded in for a more palatable form of relative truth. This philosophy is simply the thought that one can find truth by whatever their heart or mind tells them is truth. In other words, truth for one individual may not be truth for another, and this is simply ought not to be so. For this reason alone apologetics must be practiced to give reason for the idea that there is absolute truth and then give reasons the God of the Bible as Creator of and Sovereign over all creation. Apologetics defends the teaching in churches to believers as well as to give reason for our faith to those who do not yet believe in our Lord. The apostle Paul reminds us of what the Lord told us in Romans 14:11 that there is coming a day when every kneel will bow and that every tongue will confess that our Lord, Jesus Christ, is God. Because of this we must seek out a lost and dying world with urgency, love, and compassion so that we may share and defend the gospel.

Let It Burn Tue, 04 Dec 2018 10:45:00 -0500 d4b6a280-4fb8-491f-b7da-6e3f5315b95e Do you ever feel like there is something important that you are supposed to be doing? Do you ever have an inexplicable urging to help someone or speak with someone in need? If you are a Christian, there is like one prime reason for this. Do not "quench" the desire. Do not overlook or dismiss it. [Read more] As Christians, we have to the Holy Spirit within our hearts. The Holy Spirit was sent to us to be a help in a time of need and to give us the power to do God’s will. As Christians, we talk about things weighing heavily on our heart or conscience or feeling like we need to do this or that. More often than not--assuming you have dedicated your life to doing the work of our Lord Jesus and you are also seeking him often in prayer--that feeling is most likely the urging of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is a light to our path when we are walking through darkness, and He is also the one who gives us the strength to persevere and do the greater works that the Lord commanded us all to do.

In chapter one of Genesis, while the universe was still void and full of darkness, it tells us that the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters and then God said, "Let there be light," and it happened. Then He said, "Let there be an expanse between the waters," and He called this heaven, and it was created. Through the simple utterance of His word these things happened. That same Spirit of God is dwelling inside of us, and He gives us the power to do great and mighty things that bring God Glory. Christians say that they are not smart enough, rich enough, popular enough, young enough, old enough, righteous enough, or wise enough to proclaim His word or teach or witness in His name, but that is not true. Jesus told his disciples that whoever believed in Him would do the work that He did and that they would do greater works than He did. Jesus said, "Whatever you ask me to do in my name, I will do so that the Father may be glorified through the Son," and he told them that He would not leave them (and by extension of being His disciple, us) like orphans but send us a Helper to do His will (John 14). The helper is the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit has been equated to an unquenchable fire and a consuming fire. In Exodus chapter three, God even appears to Moses as a bush on fire. This fire is burning in our hearts! It’s burning with the power of a 1,000,000 nuclear power plants multiplied by infinity within our hearts. Because of this fire, if we have faith in Jesus equal to the size of a mustard seed, we can move mountains in Jesus' name to bring glory to the Father. We Christians have to let the fire burn! The Holy Spirit should be a fire that consumes us. The spirit of the all-powerful, life-giving, all-righteous God of the Universe is a power plant in our hearts.

In Acts Chapter 20, Paul told the elders at Ephesus that through all the pains, trials, and tribulations of his life and ministry that he never held back from proclaiming God's word or from telling of his saving grace and mercy. He told them that he was a slave to the Holy Spirit because he had no choice but to spread the Gospel of our Risen Savior. He could say that because the fire was burning. Despite the people persecuting him and regardless of the death that awaited him for being faithful to God and His word, Paul knew that there was no higher purpose in his life because he knew he had to finish the race. He had to spread the Good News to Glorify the One True King.

PREACH! REPROVE! REBUKE! EXHORT! Do these things in complete patience and with complete teaching. In 2 Timothy 4:1-8, Paul wrote to Timothy from his prison cell to remind Timothy of the same thing all Christians need to be reminded of today: we must be ready in and out of season to preach, teach, testify, and proclaim the Good News. We must be prepared because the day has come where the Church is full of false teachers; wolves have infiltrated the ranks. Satan and his demons are hard at work. He has come to steal, kill, and destroy everything we hold dear. Jesus, by contrast, has come to give abundant life (John 10:10). We must stand up tall for Jesus, not because He needs our help or because He needs our defense but because He has called each and every Christian to tell the world of His goodness and His mercy that was shown to us on the cross when He died to pay the debts for our sin.

You may think that you can’t do this, this being a disciple. If you were an ordinary person, you would be right, but because you have an EXTRAordinary God all things are possible. Let the Holy Spirit of God burn in your heart, and let His word consume you. Fan the flames through continual prayer and non-stop studying of His word. You have the power through the Holy Spirit to do His work. Don't quench the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19). LET IT BURN!

Zombie Apocalypse Sat, 10 Nov 2018 09:00:00 -0500 4d0804c5-dc61-4b56-9e8d-837729ce2b1f Is the end of the world as we know it upon us? Is the whole world already inoculated with the zombie virus? In this post, Aaron argues that there are already zombies among us, but don't jump to conclusions without reading this post. Reading it may very well save your life and your soul! I have never really been a post-apocalyptic zombie movie kind of guy, but I have seen enough shows and movies to know how Hollywood tends to depict such an event. They will show zombies aimlessly walking around with a blank stare on their face seeking to feast on the living. A breakdown of infrastructure occurs. The government soon follows, and eventually, an entire society lays in ruin.

I am here today to tell you today that we are already there. We are living in a real zombie apocalypse. If you look around with a Christian perspective, everywhere you turn you see dead men walking. The Bible says in Romans that a man without Christ is dead in his sin. He is a slave to sin and cannot do anything but sin. Even in churches and in our Christian groups we see people openly living in sin. I completely understand the fact that we are all humans and have all fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23), but if a man lives in Christ that means that he has died to sin and is resurrected with Jesus who bore the cross. His chains which bound him to sin lay broken, and he now walks free from sin because he has been made a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17). In Matthew, Jesus says that we must deny ourselves and pick up our cross and follow him. To serve the Lord, we must deny our own wants, our lusts of the flesh, and our sinful ways and follow him.

What does it mean to follow Him, you might ask? That is an essential question. The Lord Jesus gave his followers many commandments, all of which are important, but we see in Matthew where Jesus was asked a question by the Pharisees that sought not to know and learn from the Lord but to trick Him into saying something they would deem blasphemous. They asked Him what God’s greatest commandment to mankind was. His answer should be a foundation for how Christians should live their lives and how they should treat their fellow man. Jesus said that you must first love the Lord your God with everything you have and secondly you must love your neighbors as yourself (Matt. 22:37-39).

If we as Christians are supposed to be the body of Christ, then why aren’t our hands helping, our mouths proclaiming, our feet walking to the ends of the earth or our eyes seeking out the lost and the afflicted? Why are preachers watering down the gospel and trying to take the sting out of their sermons for the sake of not stepping on the toes of their spiritually fragile congregation? Why do the churches of today look inwardly at themselves instead of outwardly to the down-trodden and the hopeless? Why do alleged believers pray to God for healing and protection and then walk out of the church doors and live like He doesn’t exist?

Believers!? Believe! Stand firm in your faith. Trust in the Lord your God. Lean entirely on Him and cast all your burdens and worry on Him. Our God is a stronghold in your day of trouble (Nahum 1:7), and our faith and church is built firmly on a foundation made of the rock which is our Lord Jesus. Live your life like you have nothing to lose and that all you have is to gain. The worst thing that can happen to us (from a worldly perspective) is death, but if you put your faith and trust in Christ, He promises us that we will not taste death but have everlasting life. In Philippians, the apostle Paul tells us that it would be far better if he died and went to be with Jesus, but since he was not called home, he would stay and minister to the people (Phil. 1:22-24). Either way, God would be glorified.

As Christians, we must remember that this life that we live is not for us, but our life is for the glorification of the Lord God Almighty. Like Paul said life would be a lot easier to just be with Jesus, but until the Lord calls us home, He has left us here with a mission. Don’t be the zombie with the blank stare on his face wandering while on this earth because of a desire to fulfill earthly things. Instead, be a man on a mission. We bring glory to God by serving His people and by showing His love to mankind. The Lord Jesus commanded every man and every woman that follows him to go to the end of the earth spreading the good news (Matt. 28:19-20). We must tell the world that they have a Redeemer and a Savior who has bought and paid for them, who died on the cross and was raised from the grave that they too would not have to taste death but have everlasting life. Die to yourself and LIVE for the Lord!