Sunday, April 13, 2014

Logos

John 1:1 presents Christ by means of the term logos. The Greek term means, "word," "statement," "message," "declaration," or "the act of speech." In John 1 logos has a specialized meaning; it is described as hupostasis (Heb. 1:3): a distinct, personal existence of an actual, real being. John 1:1 shows that "the Word was with God, and the Word was God" are both true at the same time. This means that there has never been a time when the Logos did not exist with the Father.

John then shows that the Word has agency in creation. Genesis 1:1 teaches us that God created the world. John 1:3 lets us know specifically that the Lord Jesus Christ in His preincarnate state actually did the work of creation, carrying out the will and purpose of the Father.

We find also that the Word is where life is found. John 1:4 says, "In him was life, and that life was the light of men." Because Jesus is the location of life, He is the only place where it may obtained. A quality of life is being described here, eternal life. This kind of life is available from God with His life-giving power through the Living Word. We have eternal life only as Christ's life is in us.

The world's misunderstanding of the Logos is hinted at in John 1:5, "The light shines in the darkness, but darkness has not understood it." The passage continues by saying that John the Baptist came as witness to that Light. "The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though was made through him, the world did not recognize him" (John 1:9-10). We want to focus our attention on this point. The Creator of the world, the Second Person of the Trinity, God the Son, was here in the world, but the world did not recognize Him. The next verse gets more specific. "He came to that which was his own [His own place, this earth He had created], but his own [His own people, Israel] did not receive him" (John 1:11).

The heirs of the covenant, the physical descendants of Abraham, did not receive Him. Here we see a very prominent theme that runs through the Gospel of John: the rejection of Jesus. When Jesus preacher, some Jews mocked. When Jesus said, "Your Father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad," the Jews in unbelief said, "You are not yet fifty years old... and you have seen Abraham!" Then Jesus declared, "Before Abraham was born, I am!" (John 8:56-58). The present tense of the verb "I am" (Gk. eimi) indicates linear being. Before Abraham was, the Son is.

Although many rejected the message, some were born of God. In John 1:12 we read, "Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God." In other words, Jesus was redefining the whole reality of becoming a child of God. Up to that time, one had to be born into or join the specific, called, covenant people, Israel, to have that opportunity. But John emphasizes here that the spiritual message, the powerful gospel, had come and people had received Jesus, the Logos. Receiving Him meant receiving the right or the authority to become children of God. Some of those who received Him were Jews and some were Gentiles. Jesus broke down the dividing wall and opened up salvation to all who would come and receive Him by faith (John 1:13).

The essential truth about the Logos who is being described here is in John 1:14. "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us." Here we see that the term logos is being pressed into the service of describing Jesus Christ, but that the reality of His person is more than the secular meaning of the concept is able to bear. To the ancient philosophic Greeks, a fleshly logos would be an impossibility. However, to those who will believe in the Son of God, a fleshly logos is the key to understanding the Incarnation. In fact, this is exactly what the Incarnation means: The preexisting Logos took on human flesh and walked among us.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Servant and Prophet

The context of Acts 3:12:26 is the healing of the man at the Beautiful Gate. On the occasion of this miracle, a crowd gathered and Peter preached to them. He began with the fact that God glorified "his servant Jesus" (Acts 3:13) after the Jerusalem Jews killed Him
 They killed Jesus even though He is "the author of life" (Acts 3:15). What a paradox! How do you kill the Author of life? That ought not to have happened and yet it did.

"Servant" (Acts 3:13) is another important title of Jesus. Some versions of the Bible translate "servant" (Gk. pais) in this passage as "child." Pais can mean "child," but it should not be rendered that way in Acts 3 and 4. The child Jesus did not die on the cross; the man Jesus died, bearing the sins of the world. The context here demands the meaning "servant," for in Acts 3 a servant Christology begins to emerge. Starting with Acts 3:18, notice how the Old Testament prophecies vindicate Jesus as the Messiah in ways that for the Jews were very unexpected. The Jews expected the Christ to rule, not suffer.

Furthermore, Peter states that Jesus will return (Acts 3:20-21) - which is not mentioned in Acts 2. Then, after the Second Coming, God will restore everything that was prophesied in the Old Testament. Please notice that we are not now in the time of the restoration of all things. The text here clearly puts that in the future. When it is time for God to restore everything, Jesus will come back in His second coming. The Millennium will begin and the whole reality of the age to come that is shown to us in several books of the Bible will be initiated.

Next, Peter presents Jesus as the Prophet like Moses (Acts 3:22-23). Moses declared, "The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him" (Deut. 18:15). Naturally, one would say that Joshua fulfilled this. Joshua, the follower of Moses, did come after him and was a great deliverer in his own time. But another Joshua, the came (in the Hebrew language the names Joshua and Jesus are the same). The early Christians recognized Jesus as the final fulfillment of Moses' prophesy.

Then, at the end of this passage (Acts 3:25-26), Peter reminds his audience of the covenant with Abraham, which is very important in understanding Christ. "'You are heirs of the prophets and the covenant God made with your fathers. He said Abraham, "Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed." When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.'" Clearly, Jesus now brings the promised blessing and is the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant, not just the fulfillment of the Law given through Moses.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A New Testament Understanding of Jesus by David R. Nichols

The titles given in the New Testament help us understand Him in terms that were meaningful in the ancient world He lived in. They also help us understand His uniqueness.

Lord And Christ 

What kind of Christology do we have in Acts 2:22-36? Peter starts out by reminding the Jews of the miracle-working power of Jesus that they all knew about. This was important. Paul's characterization, "Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom" (1 Cor. 1:22), is accurate for both peoples. But as in any reasonable proclamation of Jesus, Peter quickly begins talking about the death of Jesus - He was crucified, but God raised Him from the dead! Peter and many others were witnesses to to the fact. Then Peter gives a lengthy explanation of the Resurrection and some Old Testament passages that prophesied it. Using responsible hermeneutics, he proves Psalm 16 cannot be applied only to David, but also surely applies to Jesus (Acts 2:29, 31).

Jesus, now exalted to the right hand of God, has, together with the Father, poured out the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:33). This explains the speaking in tongues and the proclaiming of the good things of God heard by the Jews from fifteen different nations who were gathered from the Dispersion for the Feast of Pentecost in Jerusalem. It was indeed a miraculous sign.

Next, Peter attests to the truth of the Ascension by using Psalm 1101 (see Acts 2:34-35): "The Lord said to my Lord: 'Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.'" This adequately explains the Lord Jesus Christ who was here in the flesh on the earth and then ascended into heaven where He received His present status.

Acts 2:36 clearly declares what we must believe in order to receive the salvation of God's Messiah. '"Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.'" Notice the continuity expressed here. This exalted Jesus is the same Jesus who was crucified. The exalted Jesus is the same Jesus who was crucified. The two titles "Lord" and "Christ" are the prime terms in Peter's sermon on the Day of Pentecost. The tie to Jesus' earthly ministry is significant here, for God the Father's making Jesus Lord and Christ is the ultimate stamp of approval on His life and ministry - His miracles, His signs and wonders, His teaching, His death, His resurrection.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Issues of Methodology by David R. Nichols

In any responsible study, the methodologies used to analyze the data and produce the conclusions must come under scrutiny. Methods that have been subjected to scrutiny will produce stronger studies than those that have not. The study of Christology suggests at least the following areas as frontier zones for methodology.

The couplet "doing verses being" raises the issues of functional versus ontological Christology. A Christology that primarily defines Jesus what He did is a functional Christology. A Christology that primarily defines Jesus by who He is is an ontological Christology. Traditionally, these two approaches have been aligned with two different kinds of theology. Functional Christology has largely been advanced by biblical theologians and exegetes, and ontological Christology has largely been advanced by systematic theologians. Since functional Christologies stress Jesus' action on the earth as a man, they tend to emphasize Jesus' humanity at the expense of His deity. Ontological Christologies stress the eternal existence of God the Son and tend to emphasize Jesus' deity at the expense of His humanity. Notice that these are tendencies, not absolute positions. Through careful balance of the statements of the Word of God, either approach could present an orthodox position.

One of the most profound mysteries of the Christian faith is the union of the divine and the human in Jesus Christ. No subject excited more controversy than this one in the time of the church fathers.

Our study of Christology would not be complete unless we considered the relationship that exists in the New Testament among Christology, salvation, and the prophesied kingdom of God. For the New Testament writers, Christology does not stand alone as an abstract category of knowledge. Their primary concern is God's salvation of humankind through the one Mediator, the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 28:19-20; Acts 2:38; Rom. 1:16). Therefore, from the exegetical point of view, the existence of God's salvation on earth creates a need for understanding the One who brought it. Once this fact is acknowledged, it is possible to take the theological point of view, wherein Christology is a discrete subject, worthy of investigation in its own right. Then, because salvation is the starting point in the New Testament's message, the cross of Christ should be taken as the central defining element, since, according to the New Testament writers, that is where our salvation was accomplished. The Cross therefore defines the organic relationship that exists between the doctrine of salvation and Christology, at least at the exegetical level.

There is also the issue of the prophesied kingdom of God in its relationship to Christology and salvation. When Jesus is called Christ (Messiah, "Announced One") we immediately are in the realm of prophesy. This title carried an enormous load of prophetic meaning for the Jews, both from the Old Testament canonincal books and from interestamental apocalyptic writings. The fulfillments of many Old Testament prophecies in the incarnation, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus show the inbreaking of the kingdom of God.

The importance of acknowledging prophecy's role here is that it helps us understand how Christianity differs from Judaism. While Judaism expected the Messiah to play a key role in the political deliverance of the nation, Christianity teaches that Jesus is truly God's Messiah, even though He declined political rulership in His first coming. In Christian theology this leads to the necessity of the Second Coming as future reality. Both of these truths are based, of course, on the teachings of Jesus reported in the New Testament. The two comings of Christ are two poles of God's plan, each necessary to the total picture of God's Messiah, Jesus. This split in prophecy is not possible in the theology of Judaism and remains one of the great barriers between these two religious systems.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Learning from our failures

When we fail, we shouldn't adopt the sour grapes attitude of the fox in Aesop's fable. Instead, we should analyze our failure to see what lesson we can learn from it #WilliamLaneCraig

Friday, March 28, 2014

The Lord Jesus Christ

The Lord Jesus Christ is the central figure of all Christian reality; therefore, the truths about Him are central to Christianity. Any theology that deemphasizes Christ by placing humankind in the center cannot ultimately disclose to us the fullness of what the Bible teaches. Jesus is the fulfillment of many Old Testament prophecies, and He is the author of the teaching of the New Testament. He is understood by Christians to be the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, as well as the coming King (Rev. 13:8; 19:11-16).