Would the Incarnation Have Happened Apart from the Fall?

Theological speculation can be fun because it often leads to deep thinking about how the whole system of your theology fits together. Posing “what if” questions often helps us understand more clearly the significance of doctrines that we confess. For example, when teaching on the doctrine of the Person of Christ, I often pose the question, “What if Jesus were not fully God?” In other words, what if the Arians were right all along? What would follow? According to Athanasius and other church fathers, the whole gospel would become unraveled. That is because from a biblical perspective, only God can save us. If Jesus is not fully God, he cannot reveal the true God to us and bring us into his presence. The deity of Christ is an essential component of the gospel. Continue reading

The Immaculate Conception?

The Roman Catholic Church teaches not only the historic Christian doctrine of the virginal conception and birth of Jesus Christ, but also the “Immaculate Conception” of the Virgin Mary in the womb of her mother, Saint Anne. Although born by the normal means of a sexual union of her parents, Mary was, according to Rome, miraculously preserved in her conception and birth from the stain of original sin. As a result, Mary lived a sinless life and was therefore qualified to be ark of the new covenant, the holy vessel of the Incarnation, just as the ark of the old covenant had been the holy vessel of the tablets of the old covenant. The presupposition behind this argument seems to be that God the Son required a holy dwelling place, free from all sin, for the time of his gestation in the womb, and Mary is the one human being in history uniquely qualified for this role. Continue reading

Drawing from the Well, 12/13/16

For an introduction to the series, read this.

Today we continue our series through my church’s statement of faith, based on the Baptist Faith and Message.

Statement of Faith Article for the Week

V. GOD’S PURPOSE OF GRACE

Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. It is consistent with the free agency of man, and comprehends all the means in connection with the end. It is the glorious display of God’s sovereign goodness, and is infinitely wise, holy, and unchangeable. It excludes boasting and promotes humility. All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end. Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, and bring reproach on the cause of Christ and temporal judgments on themselves; yet they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation. Those who profess faith but do not persevere, thereby show themselves to be unregenerate. Continue reading

Drawing from the Well, 12/6/16

For an introduction to the series, read this.

Today we continue unpacking the article on salvation in my church’s statement of faith, based on the Baptist Faith and Message:

State of Faith Article for the Week

GLORIFICATION

Glorification is the culmination of salvation and is the final blessed and abiding state of the redeemed. At the point of glorification, being achieved only after this life, the believer will be perfectly righteous, like his Lord. Thus, he will dwell with his Creator and Lord for all eternity.

Thoughts for Discussion with Children

You have heard before that we should glorify God. In fact, that is what we were made for: to give glory to God. God made all things for his own glory, and so everything we do should ultimately be for that greatest of all purposes.

But did you know that God also glorifies us? Several verses in the Bible teach this, one of which is Romans 8:28-29. Read those verses. What do you think it means for God to glorify us?

It doesn’t mean exactly the same thing that it means for us to glorify God. For example, we glorify God by worshiping him, but God does not glorify us by worshiping us! How then does he glorify us? Here’s the difference: we glorify God when we praise him for how wonderful he is; God glorifies us by making us like his Son Jesus. And when he makes us like Jesus, he takes great joy in what he has done. He makes us glorious so that we will be able to praise him forever. He glorifies us, in other words, so that we may glorify him.

And that means, if we are believers, we will be like Jesus one day, and that includes being raised from the dead like Jesus. Just as he has overcome death and has a new body that will never be touched by sickness, pain, weakness, or death again, so will we one day. What God started in us through regeneration, he will complete through glorification.

Justification and the Gospel: A Response to Peter Leithart

Peter Leithart recently published a provocative article entitled “The Ecumenical Gospel,” in which he argues that the Bible does not equate the gospel with justification by faith, and therefore Protestants ought not regard their understanding of the gospel (even if justification by faith is true biblically) as inherently distinct from that of Roman Catholics. In other words, justification by faith must not be, as Protestants have long argued, “the article by which the church stands or falls,” but is instead a small tributary that feeds into the large river of the gospel that Protestant and Catholic alike share. I encourage to you head over there and read his brief article before continuing on here. I’ll wait.

Okay, glad you’re back. Here are some major problems I see with Leithart’s argument: Continue reading