What is the Role of the Holy Spirit in Eternity?

There is a page on this site where readers can submit questions or suggest topics

Recently someone submitted this question:

Both God the Father and the Son have distinct and obvious eternal roles that we see played out in the Bible, with Jesus being more obvious, but as I was thinking through the role of the Holy Spirit in eternity, I couldn’t come up with anything concrete.
Could you give a brief overview of the roles of the triune persons of God as it pertains to eternity? I’m mostly interested in the Holy Spirit, but would love a pastor’s perspective on the other two also.

The “Ontological Trinity” and the “Economic Trinity”

There are two fields of discussion when it comes to the Trinity. The “ontological” and the “economic.” “Ontological” refers to who God is, i.e. that which pertains to being, whereas “economic” refers to what God does.

Specifically applied to the Trinity, study of the “ontological Trinity” is focused on those parts of the Bible which communicate that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and yet these three, while distinct persons, are one God. Study of the “economic Trinity” is focused on the passages in the Bible which tell us what each of these three persons does as their role in “the Godhead.”

So, ontologically, it is important to point out that eternality is part of God’s nature. God is eternal, and each person of the godhead is eternal. So, the role of God in eternity is merely a continuation of who God has been until now, and who God will forever be.

However, the question above is about the economics of the Triune God after this present age is over, and we have transitioned into what the Bible calls “the new heavens and new Earth.” What will the functions of the three persons of the Triune God be in “the age to come”?

The Role of the Son in the Age to Come

The Son, we are told, is currently seated at the right hand of the Father, and for eternity he will reign and rule as king over all of redeemed creation. (See Revelation 22:3)

Currently, Jesus is making intercession for believers, advocating for us, and is seated on a throne, but for eternity, all we really know is that he will be an eternal sovereign, ruling over a kingdom of righteousness and peace which will never end.

The Role of the Father in the Age to Come

Along with ruling over the redeemed creation from a heavenly throne, revelation tells us that God (not necessarily just the Father) will be a source of light, which will preclude the need for the sun to illuminate, since God himself will be our light.

The Role of the Holy Spirit in the Age to Come

The one thing that sticks out about the Holy Spirit’s role in eternity, is that, whereas the Father and the Son have a throne in the New Heavens and New Earth, the Holy Spirit does not (Revelation 22:3).

Beyond this, I can’t think of any verses which speak specifically about a role of the Holy Spirit in the age to come – but that is not surprising, and here’s why:

What we read regarding the economic Trinity mostly has to do with the work of God to redeem human beings. Remember, the Bible is a book about Jesus: who he is, and how he saves us.

Since the Bible is focused on the story of the salvation and redemption of humankind, it does not tell us very much about what God did before creating the world, nor does it tell us much about what God will do after the redemption of the world is complete.

“The Great Story Which No One on Earth has Read”

This reminds me of the final paragraph of C.S. Lewis’ The Final Battle, which is the final book in the Chronicles of Narnia series, which is full of allegories about biblical passages and teachings.

C.S. Lewis poetically describes “the age to come” in this way:

“…but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”

C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle

The Bible doesn’t tell us much about what the three persons of the Trinity will do in eternity, because that is not the story which the Bible exists to tell.

God Will Do What God Did Before

Prior to the creation of the world, it is important to remember that God existed from eternity past. Without human beings to rescue, sanctify, and redeem, what did God do?

What we can be sure of, is that God was neither bored nor lonely.

From eternity past, the one God, who exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit existed as a mutually edifying and glorifying community unto himself. Creation, was God inviting us to join in the “perichoresis,” the eternal relationship which exists between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, sometimes referred to as “the dance of God.”

In other words, in eternity, we can expect that God will do what God did before: delighting in himself, with each person fueling this mutually edifying and glorifying relationship.

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Book Review: Jesus and John Wayne

Several months ago I read Kristin Kobes Du Mez’s Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation.

I found the book to be an interesting history of some parts of American evangelicalism. I emphasize that the book is about some parts of American evangelicalism, because the author focuses her writing specifically on a particular corner of the evangelical Christian world: a particular subculture within American evangelicalism associated with Jerry Falwell, the Moral Majority, and militant masculinity. This part of evangelicalism has less to do with the core evangelical beliefs and convictions, and more to do with a culture propagated by certain people.

For this reason, while I found Kobes Du Mez to be an excellent writer, and found her book to be an entertaining read, I also found it incredibly frustrating because it feels that she paints evangelicalism with too broad of a brush, and in some cases she seems to misrepresent certain groups and events in an attempt to bolster her main thesis that Christianity in America has been coopted and altered by men, who have changed it into something it was never meant to be, namely: militaristic, and a tool for white male hegemony.

Not My Evangelicalism

Here’s the thing: Kobes Du Mez isn’t completely wrong in this thesis. However, it must be noted that her scope is very limited.

The fact is: evangelicalism is not monolithic. Evangelicalism is a movement which began in Germany in the 16th century, and is about restoring the place of the Bible to its rightful place of primacy in our theological method, and about “religion of the heart,” AKA: a personal relationship with God.

The word “evangelical” comes from the Greek word euangelion (gospel). An evangelical Christian is a “gospel Christian.”

This definition from Wikipedia is cobbled together from different sources, but accurately summarizes what evangelicalism is, and what its core values entail:

Evangelical Christianity is a worldwide trans-denominational movement within Protestant Christianity that maintains the belief that the essence of the Gospel consists of the doctrine of salvation by grace alone, solely through faith in Jesus’ atonement. Evangelicals believe in the centrality of the “born again” experience in receiving salvation (see Jesus’ words in John 3:3), in the authority of the Bible as God’s revelation to humanity, and in spreading the Christian message.

It is important to note that Kobes Du Mez is a Christian, and admits that she herself would be categorized as an evangelical. What Kobes Du Mez takes issue with in this book is a particular subculture which developed within American evangelicalism. She rightly points out that many of the behaviors of those in this subculture differ from the teachings and heart of Jesus.

British evangelicalism, the setting in which I did my theological studies, embraces the core values listed above, without the cultural trappings of this particular corner of American evangelical subculture which Kobes Du Mez criticizes.

Furthermore, the particular churches I have been a part of in the United States have not aligned themselves with characters like Jerry Falwell, or many of the things which Kobes Du Mez talks about in her book. Part of the reason why I found the book interesting was because much of the what Kobes Du Mez talks about, which she portrays as normative for evangelical Christianity in the United States, was foreign to me and my experience.

I would challenge Kobes Du Mez to keep in mind the fact that evangelicalism is not an American phenomenon – neither in origin, nor in majority. Most evangelicals in the world are not American. Where anyone has created an aberrant form of Christianity, it should be called out. This applies to evangelicals, and it also applies to all other movements and groups. This is, actually, the heart of the Reformation, the adherents of which were the first to call themselves “evangelicals”!

Stretching It…

One of my biggest qualms with the book is the number of ways in which the author attempts to strengthen her point by using examples which may sound convincing to the untrained eye, but which are actually a bit misleading.

For example: Kobes Du Mez critiques evangelicals for using sports and military analogies to describe and explain Christianity. The problem with this critique is that the Bible itself uses military and sports analogies to describe the Christian faith! (See: Philippians 2:25, Philemon 1:2, 2 Timothy 2:3-4, 1 Corinthians 9:7, Ephesians 6:10-18, 2 Corinthians 9:24-27, 2 Timothy 2:5, and others)

Kobes Du Mez dedicates an entire chapter to the Promise Keepers movement of the 1990’s. She seems to only reluctantly admit that this evangelical movement contradicted her entire thesis about American evangelicalism, in that it emphasized servanthood, love, and kindness over militarism and dominance, and focused on racial reconciliation. At one point, in what seems like a desperate attempt to find something wrong with the Promise Keepers, Kobes Du Mez states that at the height of the Promise Keepers in the 1990’s, only about 10% of their members were African American. What she doesn’t point out is that, at the time, African Americans made up 12% of the US population. In other words, Promise Keepers’ membership closely resembled the ethnic makeup of the country at the time.

Additionally, Kobes Du Mez criticizes American evangelicalism for seeking to reach men with their messaging, by trying to show that following Jesus isn’t contrary to being masculine. Having spent over a decade in Europe, where many churches are small and made up mostly of elderly women and girls, I have to say that I don’t see anything wrong with seeking to reach men by showing them that following Jesus isn’t contrary to being masculine. I remember hearing from many men in Hungary that “religion is for women and the weak.” I don’t believe this is true at all, and countering this narrative is simply a form of apologetics and evangelism.

The author also claims that the focus on Jesus as a warrior is a uniquely American evangelical aberration of Christianity, and that it would be better to focus on other aspects of Jesus instead. Once again, the problem with this is that the Latin term and concept of Cristus Victor has a long history, predating the United States of America, and even the Protestant Reformation. Misguided militarism in the name of Christianity has cropped up at various times in history, such as the obvious example of the Crusades, and is not an American evangelical invention. Furthermore, the Bible itself, in both the Old and New Testaments, foretells the time of “the great and terrible Day of the Lord,” when God will come to wage war against those who do evil and oppress. This is not an American concept, it’s a biblical concept, and highlighting it is not an American novelty, but has much historic precedent.

A Question for the Author

My question for the author would be how much of her thesis is shaped by biblical concerns, and how much is shaped by current popular discourse in American culture?

Conclusion

In conclusion, I will say once again that I found the book to be an enjoyable read, in that it introduced me to a part of American evangelical subculture that I had only heard about from a distance, but with which I was not very familiar. I agree with many of the author’s critiques, and think they are necessary.

However, I would not encourage others to read this book, because I feel that too much of what Kobes Du Mez writes is potentially misleading in its tone, and what it seeks to imply. It’s not so much what she says, it’s what she leaves out, which I think makes the book unhelpful.

What Does It Mean When It Says “You are gods” in Psalm 82 & John 10?

There is a page on this site where readers can submit questions or suggest topics.

Recently someone wrote in asking about the meaning of John 10:34-36, where Jesus, having been accused of blasphemy for claiming to be God, responds by saying:

Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, I said, you are gods’? If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken— do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?

John 10:34-36

There are two schools of thought on this, which are related and are not mutually exclusive.

Viewpoint #1: “gods” = judges

First of all, this passage is interesting because it shows that Jesus had a high view of the Old Testament scriptures. He says that it is written in the “Law,” but then proceeds to quote from Psalm 82:1 & 8, showing that He believed the Psalms to be the inspired Word of God in the same way as the Pentateuch (the first 5 books of the Bible). Some people at this time, e.g. the Sadducees, only accepted the Pentateuch as the inspired Word of God, but Jesus spoke of the Psalms as being part of the canon of Scripture, and just as much “the Bible” as the Pentateuch.

Jesus’ main argument is that he should not be accused of blasphemy for calling himself the “Son of God” (see: What Does It Mean that Jesus is the “Son of God”?) since God himself had used the word “gods” to refer to the Jewish people in His inerrant Word.

The word “gods” (Elohim in Hebrew) can also mean “judges.” An example of this is found in Exodus 21:6 & 22:8, where the word translated “master” in English (because it refers to a human master), is actually “Elohim” in the Hebrew text… but since it is referring to a human master, it is understood that though the word for “elohim” is used, it is not talking about Yahweh, but about human “masters.”

E.A. Blum explains, in his commentary on the Gospel of John:

“Psalm 82 speaks of God as the true Judge (Ps. 82:1, 8) and of men, appointed as judges, who were failing to provide true judgment for God (Ps. 82:2–7). “Gods” in Psalm 82:1, 6 refers to these human judges. In this sense, God said to the Jews, You are gods. In no way does this speak of a divine nature in man. Jesus was arguing that in certain situations (as in Ps. 82:1, 6) men were called “gods.” The Hebrew word for God or gods is ’ělōhîm. This word is used elsewhere (e.g., Exodus 21:6; 22:8) to mean human judges. Since the inerrant Bible called their judges “gods,” the Jews could not logically accuse Him of blasphemy for calling Himself God’s Son since He was under divine orders and sent into the world on God’s mission.”

Blum, E. A. (1985). John. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 312). Victor Books.

Viewpoint #2: “Living like gods”

C.G. Kruse explains another viewpoint, based on the rabbinic exegesis of Psalm 82:6-7:

The full text of Psalm 82:6–7 reads: “I said, ‘You are “gods”; you are all sons of the Most High.’ But you will die like mere men; you will fall like every other ruler.”

The statement ‘You are gods’ was understood in later rabbinic exegesis to be God’s word to the Israelites at Sinai when they received the law. God said to them, ‘You are gods,’ because in receiving the law and living by it they would be holy and live like gods. But because they departed from the law and worshipped the golden calf while still at Sinai, he said to them, ‘you will die like mere men’. The opening words of Jesus’ argument, ‘If he called them “gods”, to whom the word of God came’, suggest that he interpreted the quotation from the psalm in relation to the Sinai events as did later rabbinic scholars.

Jesus used the exegetical methods of his opponents to show they had no grounds for accusing him of blasphemy. 

Kruse, C. G. (2003). John: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 4, pp. 240–241). InterVarsity Press.

What Jesus is Not Saying

Jesus is not saying here that all human beings are divine – we are not.

Jesus is not downplaying his own divinity – he affirms it multiple times and in various ways throughout the Gospel of John.

Jesus is not saying that Psalm 82 was incorrect – just the opposite: he references one of the most confusing passages for modern non-Hebrew literate Bible readers, in order to make us dig in to seek understanding of that passage!

What Jesus was Doing

Jesus was masterfully diffusing a situation by using the very Scriptures and exegetical methods of his attackers, to show them they they were being inconsistent in their theological method.

For more on theological method, see: Theological Method: Sources of Theology and Why People Arrive at Different Conclusions About Matters of Faith & the Bible

At the same time, Jesus consistently claimed to be divine, in his seven “I Am” statements, for example.

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If you have a question or would like to suggest a topic for me to address here on the blog, click here: Ask a Question or Suggest a Topic

Most Popular Articles & Podcast Episodes of 2021

On this last day of 2021, it’s nice to stop and reflect on the past year. While many tragedies took place over the course of our last trip around the sun, there is much to celebrate and reason to give thanks for God’s faithfulness.

Rebranding & a Podcast

This year, prompted by my friends at the Goodlion Podcast Network, this blog was rebranded from The Longmont Pastor to Theology for the People. Along with that came the introduction of the Theology for the People podcast.

Increased Readership

Readership of this site grew this year by 130% to over 100,000 page views.

Top 10 Articles from 2021

  1. Remembering Tom Stipe
    • On December 30, 2020 – my pastor, Tom Stipe passed away. He is sorely missed, but he left behind a legacy which will bear fruit for generations to come, particularly here on the Front Range of Colorado.
  2. Will God Remove the Holy Spirit from a Person Because of Disobedience?
  3. Reader Questions: Why Was Eli Judged for the Sins of His Sons?
  4. Did Jesus Heal a Centurion’s Same-Sex Partner?
  5. Was Jesus Racist? Why Did He Call a Gentile Woman a Dog?
  6. Why Did Jesus Say that “No One Has Ascended Into Heaven?” Did He Forget About Elijah?
  7. Reformation Day: Martin Luther, the Bible, & the Gospel
  8. Kay Smith & Should a Church Have a “Women’s Ministry”?
    • Kay Smith, the wife of Pastor Chuck Smith (the leader of the Calvary Chapel movement) passed away this year. She left behind an incredible legacy.
  9. What Does It Mean to be “Born Again”?
  10. Bible Translations: Translation Philosophy, Textual Criticism, & Source Documents

Top 5 Podcast episodes from 2021

For this first season of the Theology for the People podcast, I published 35 episodes. Here are the top 5:

  1. Theological Method: Sources of Theology and Why People Arrive at Different Conclusions About Matters of Faith and the Bible
  2. The Formation of the New Testament Canon: Part 1 – Nicaea, Constantine, & Conspiracy Theories
  3. The Formation of the New Testament Canon: Part 2 – Recognition, Disputes & the Gospel of Thomas
  4. If “It’s All Gonna Burn” Then What’s the Point? – How the Resurrection Gives Meaning to Work & Art
  5. Biblical Interpretation with Dr. Roy Collins: Guidelines for Correctly Understanding & Faithfully Applying God’s Word

What to look forward to in 2022

  1. I will be publishing a book in the first quarter of 2022! It’s called I Could Never Believe in a God Who ______. More information to come soon!
  2. Season 2 of the Theology for the People podcast

Is God a Cosmic Killjoy? – Christian & Islamic Perspectives

Some people view God as a cosmic killjoy: one who sits in Heaven with a frown on his face, looking down on the world to make sure anyone down here isn’t having too much fun…

The fact is, for many of us, our view of God is shaped not only by the Bible, but by interactions we’ve had with other people, including those who claimed to be Christians, authority figures, peers, etc. The result, is that for many people, our view of God is not wholly biblically formed, and we can pick up assumptions about God that are actually inaccurate.

Consider the following verses:

“You shall rejoice before the Lord your God…” (Leviticus 23:40). “Shout for joy!” (Psalm 32:11). “Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion” (Zechariah 2:10).

An Islamic Perspective: “There is No Humor in Islam”

For comparison, here’s a quote from Ruhollah Khomeini, the grand ayatollah of Iran.

“Allah did not create man so that he could have fun. The aim of creation was for mankind to be put to the test through hardship and prayer. An Islamic regime must be serious in every field. There are no jokes in Islam. There is no humor in Islam. There is no fun in Islam. There can be no fun and joy in whatever is serious. Islam does not allow swimming in the sea and is opposed to radio and television serials. Islam, however, allows marksmanship, horseback riding and competition.”

Peter Hussein, Islam in Its Own Words (Morrisville: Lulu Self Publishing, 2018), 16. cited in S.E. Zylstra, The Weary World Rejoices (The Gospel Coalition, 2021)

In contrast to that, consider Isaiah 65:18: “But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness.” Furthermore, the Israelites’ “mouths were filled with laughter, [their] tongues with songs of joy” (Psalm 126:2).

Rather than being a cosmic killjoy, humor and friendship are part of God’s design.

The First of Jesus’ Signs

Something unique about the Gospel of John is that John refers to Jesus’ miracles as “signs.”

The nature of a sign is that a sign points to something beyond itself. Thus, what John is telling us, is that Jesus’ miracles weren’t just cool things that Jesus could do, but those miracles were actually signs which pointed to something beyond themselves.

This is significant when you consider that Jesus’ first sign was that he turned water into wine at the wedding feast at Cana in order to prolong the party.

This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory.

John 2:11

They say you only get one chance to make a first impression. So it’s interesting that Jesus would choose this to be his first miracle: turning water into wine, so a celebration wouldn’t have to end.

In the ancient world (and even today), wine was a symbol of merriment and joy – of celebration and festivity. And so, if the wine ran out, the party was over.

Throughout the Bible: in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, Heaven is described as being like a wedding feast; it’s the ultimate party, which never ends.

Look at how the Prophet Isaiah describes what Heaven will be like: 

On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine—the best of meats and the finest of wines. On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The Lord has spoken.

Isaiah 25:6-7

This first of Jesus’ miracles wasn’t only a cool thing he did, it was a sign, pointing to who Jesus was and why He had come. That first miracle at Cana was a glimpse, a preview, a foreshadowing of the Kingdom which Jesus came to bring — a Kingdom there will be joy and celebration forever, without end.

Sin is the ultimate joy killer, and in this sin-tainted world we will have tribulation, but we can take heart because the hope of the gospel is that the Kingdom or eternal joy will indeed come.

You can be sure that God is not a cosmic killjoy, but the author of joy, whose ultimate joy is that we would experience joy in His presence, both now and forever.

Deconstructing Deconstructionist TikTok Videos – Part 1

To “deconstruct” something is to seek to take something apart and examine the parts that make it up.

In my Masters studies, one of my focuses was on “theological method,” which is a process by which you can deconstruct the implicit process by which people arrive at different theological beliefs or conclusions. (For more on Theological Method, click here)

#Deconstruction #Exvangelical

However, the word “deconstruction” is currently being used in popular culture in a way which is different from the scholarly usage of the term. People who were raised in Christian environments are deconstructing their faith, which means that they are questioning what they were taught and believed.

This is nothing new, people have been doing this for thousands of years, and sometimes it can be a very good thing. For example, it is helpful to go through the process of differentiating what about a belief system is culturally influenced, which parts are tangental or superfluous “chaff” which deserves to be shed, or at least relegated to secondary importance, and which things are core, essential beliefs.

It is also important and necessary for a person, as they mature, to make the transition from inherited or assumed belief, to personal and sincere, heartfelt beliefs. This is exactly what we see in the Book of Deuteronomy, for example, where Moses speaks to the new generation: their parents had been the ones who had experienced the Exodus and had seen God’s miraculous provision in the splitting of the Red Sea, water from the rock, and the fire on the mountain. This new generation had heard about these things, but had not experienced them personally, and in Deuteronomy – at the end of his life, Moses speaks to this younger generation and urges them that they must have their own faith, they can’t merely ride on the coattails of their parents’ faith.

In the process of examining what you believe and why, some people go through a process of deconstruction: a critical examination of what they were taught, what they experienced in the church environment, and whether actually believe those things themselves. This is always a precarious process by nature, but in a way, it is necessary for a vibrant, personal faith commitment.

Recently there has been a trend online, encouraging people to deconstruct their faith, but not necessarily for asking important questions which will lead to vibrant, personal faith – rather more for the purpose of influencing others to abandon their faith in Christianity.

Don’t Forget to Deconstruct Your Deconstruction…

In examining some of the videos and other materials that people have shared with me on this topic, what I’ve found is that many of these people, while they may be sincere, they fail to deconstruct their deconstruction.

Theological Method is, in fact, the true and greater deconstruction, because it has the capacity to not only deconstruct religious beliefs, it also has the capacity to deconstruct the reasons why people abandon their previously-held religious beliefs, or even why people reject certain beliefs altogether.

I describe what Theological Method is and how it works in this podcast episode: Theological Method: Why People Arrive at Different Conclusions about Faith and the Bible.

Theological Method: Sources of Theology and Why People Arrive at Different Conclusions About Matters of Faith and the Bible Theology for the People

In this episode, Nick and Mike discuss the topic of "theological method", which involves the study of how people arrive at theological conclusions based on how they use the "sources of theology" in relation to each other. We discuss the 5 commonly recognized sources of theology, explain different theological methods that exist, and how they relate to interpreting the Bible in light of our ever-changing world. Check out the Theology for the People blog site at nickcady.org

Let’s Deconstruct a Deconstruction TikTok

Recently someone sent me this video, and asked for my take on it.

This person comes across smart, winsome, and knowledgable about Christianity. There are some things she says which are correct about what Christians believe regarding the person of Jesus and his atoning death.

The problem with her argument, however, comes at the beginning where she lays out the basis of her premise. Her fundamental assumption is that God has established some completely arbitrary rules, and then punishes people for breaking those rules. Then, she claims that Jesus’ death was essential unnecessary, since it was just God appeasing his own unnecessary rules which he set up in the first place.

Her Assumptions: God’s “Rules” are Arbitrary, and Judgment is Unnecessary

This woman’s view of sin, is that sin = things which God forbids, or not doing what God commands. In other words, her view is that nothing is inherently bad or good, but God capriciously chooses what He thinks are bad or good, and imposes that standard on His subjects.

The problem with this view, is that it is NOT what the Bible actually teaches. What the Bible teaches is that morality is rooted in actuality: some things are actually good, and other things are actually bad – whether God says they are or not, and whether you believe in God or not.

In other words: Sin is not bad because it is forbidden, rather: Sin is forbidden because it is bad.

Sin is Not Bad Because It’s Forbidden, Sin is Forbidden Because It’s Bad

As Moses tells the Israelites in Deuteronomy: All of God’s commandments have been for your good always. (Deuteronomy 5:29, 6:24, 10:13). Since God loves, and since He knows more than you, He – as a loving Father – tells you what to do and what not to do, because sin (missing the mark, doing wrong) is destructive. It’s as if there’s a glass of water and a glass of antifreeze on the table, and God’s command is: “Drink the water, Don’t drink the antifreeze!” – and our reply is: “God is just making up arbitrary rules…” No, God loves you enough to tell you, based on his infinite knowledge, what will be best for you.

Furthermore, as God is the embodiment of goodness and love, morality is directly linked to his character and attributes. For this reason, to rebel against God is to sin, and this brings with it the natural consequence of judgment for those actions.

Interestingly, we live in a world today where there is an increasing consensus and belief that certain activities (racism, hatred, prejudice, etc.) are fundamentally, objectively wrong (whether you believe in God or not). It is widely accepted that to do those things is actually wrong and deserves some form of judgment. This is based on the belief that there is a standard of morality which is not arbitrarily defined by a cosmic deity, but which truly and actually exists. This is what Christians, informed and confirmed by the Bible, actually believe as well.

So, the premise presented in this video can be seen to be a gross misrepresentation of what the Bible teaches and what Christians believe.

Did Jesus’ Death Cause God to Change His Mind About Judging Us for Our Sins?

One final point: She claims at the end, that because of the death of Jesus, God “changed His mind” about punishing us for His own arbitrary rules. This is not what Christians believe, nor what the Bible teaches either – rather: the message of the gospel is that all of us have sinned and fallen short – not only of God’s standards, but of even our own standards of right and wrong. We have all done things and thought things which missed the mark, and the result of sin is death. However, the good news of God’s grace is that He came to us in the person of Jesus Christ to do for us what we could not do for ourselves: in life, death, and resurrection – in order to reconcile us to Himself without compromising His fundamental characteristics of justice and mercy.

If “justice” = giving someone exactly what they deserve, and “mercy” = not giving someone the judgment they deserve for the wrong things they’ve done, then justice and mercy cannot co-exist since they negate each other. However, as part of the definition of goodness, God, we are told in the Bible is BOTH just and merciful. It is only in His self-sacrifice that we see how these two seemingly incompatible characteristics can both be embodied by God at the same time – and that’s really good news!

Send Me Videos to Deconstruct!

Using this form, send me any TikTok videos you’d like me to deconstruct.

Thanksgiving Shapes Us in More than One Way

Today is the day in the United States when we set aside to give thanks and reflect on all the Lord has done in our lives over this past year.

Other countries, like Canada and Ukraine also have national holidays dedicated to giving thanks, but days of thanksgiving have a rich history in Christian groups all over the world, going back before the pilgrims held their famous thanksgiving feast in Plymouth.

In the Old Testament, God instructed his people to hold several days of thanksgiving every year: Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread in early Spring, thanking God for delivering them from slavery and for the beginning of the barley harvest; the Feast of Weeks in early Summer, thanking God for the beginning of the wheat harvest; and the Feast of Tabernacles in the Fall, thanking God for the end of the harvest season. God told them to “Be joyful at your festival…because the Lord your God will bless you” (Deuteronomy 16:14-15).

For us as Christians, Thanksgiving is not only a day we celebrate, but a way of life. Colossians 2:6-7 says: : “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”

Thanksgiving Shapes Us

Spending time reflecting on what God has done for us and giving thanks not only honors Him, it also shapes us. The Thanksgiving meal obviously shapes us into certain kinds of people: slightly rounded than we were before! But the practice of giving thanks also shapes us: the more we give thanks, the more our eyes are opened to see the things God is doing and has done – which builds our faith and trust in Him!

Wishing you a blessed Thanksgiving!

Navigating Issues of Christian Liberty without Legalism or Licentiousness – with David Guzik

Pastor and author David Guzik joined me on the Theology for the People podcast last week to discuss the topic of Christian liberty. 

How do we make sense of “gray areas,” things like drinking alcohol, tattoos, smoking tobacco, music choices, etc. about which some Christians have strong convictions that a Christian person should never engage in those things, whereas others feel that they can enjoy them in moderation without any conflict in their fidelity to following Jesus?

How do we honor one another without being held hostage by every person’s personal whims? David helps shed some light on these and other questions related to this topic in this episode.

David is the author of a free online commentary of the entire Bible, which can be found at EnduringWord.com, along with the audio and video archives of David’s teachings through most of the books of the Bible. Make sure to check out his weekly Q&A sessions on his YouTube Channel, Thursdays at 12:00 PM Pacific Time.

David and I serve together on the steering committee of the Expositors Collective, a group dedicated to raising up the next generation of Christ-centered expository preachers and Bible teachers through weekly podcast episodes, 2-day intensive seminars, and other resources. The next Expositors Collective in-person training weekend will be in Orange County, California on February 18-19, 2022. More information and registration available here.

If you would like to submit a question or suggest a topic for future articles or podcast episodes, you can do that here, by clicking the Ask a Question or Suggest a Topic button.

You can listen to this podcast episode in the embedded player below (for desktop users), or by clicking this link: Navigating Issues of Christian Liberty without Legalism or Licentiousness – with David Guzik

Navigating Issues of Christian Liberty without Legalism or Licentiousness – with David Guzik Theology for the People

Pastor and author David Guzik joins the podcast this week to talk about the topic of Christian liberty.  How do we make sense of "gray areas," things like drinking alcohol, tattoos, smoking tobacco, music choices, etc. about which some Christians have strong convictions that Christians should never do those things, whereas others feel that they can enjoy these things in moderation without any conflict with their fidelity to following Jesus? How do we honor one another without being held hostage by every person's personal whim? David helps shed some light on these and other questions related to this topic. David is the author of a free online commentary of the entire Bible which can be found at EnduringWord.com, along with the audio and video archives of David's teachings through books of the Bible. Make sure to check out his weekly Q&A sessions on his YouTube Channel, Thursdays at 12:00 PM Pacific. Visit the Theology for the People blog at nickcady.org, where you can submit questions or suggest topics for articles or future podcast episodes.

Reformation Day: Martin Luther, the Bible, & the Gospel

Martin Luther, the Bible, and the Gospel

Originally posted on CalvaryChapel.com

If you own a Bible in your own language, it is a direct result of the Protestant Reformation, and the key figure God used to ignite that worldwide movement of returning to the Bible was Martin Luther: a German monk and professor of theology at the University of Wittenberg.

I grew up attending a Lutheran school until eighth grade. During my time there, I learned a lot about Luther, including studying his catechism. Years later, when I put my faith in Jesus and was born again, I started attending a Calvary Chapel church; and over the years, I have grown in appreciation for Martin Luther and the pivotal role he played in God’s work in the world.

The last day of October is celebrated around the world as Reformation Day, because it was on October 31, 1517, that Martin Luther set into motion the movement now known as the Reformation, by mailing a letter. Yes, you read that right: on the eve of All Saints Day (Halloween = “All Hallows Eve”), Luther mailed, not nailed, a letter.1 2

The letter was addressed to the Archbishop of Mainz,3 and Luther sent it because he wanted to alert the archbishop that plenary indulgences were being sold in the archbishop’s name by a man named John Tetzel. Tetzel had been sent from Rome the year before to sell these certificates promising the release of a soul from purgatory in exchange for their purchase, as a fundraising campaign for the building of St. Peter’s Basilica. Luther assumed the archbishop was unaware that this was going on, and that upon receiving his letter, the archbishop would tell Tetzel to cease and desist. That, however, is not what happened.

As a result of the archbishop’s inaction, Luther, as a professor, decided to organize a scholarly debate on the topic of indulgences: whether they were actually effective in procuring the release of a soul from purgatory. To this end, he wrote up what are now known as the 95 Theses, which he titled: A Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences. This paper, which was posted on the door of the All Saints Church in Wittenberg, was an invitation to a scholarly debate, but in it Luther challenged both the selling of indulgences and the doctrine of purgatory as unscriptural. By doing this, Luther was challenging the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching and authority, and insisting that the Bible, not the church, should be the ultimate arbiter of what constitutes correct doctrine.

The posting of the 95 Theses is considered the spark which ignited the Protestant Reformation: a movement which sought to reform the church by shedding man-made traditions and returning to the faith which had been handed to us by God in the Holy Scriptures. 

Today, there are nearly 1 billion Protestant Christians in the world.4 In the “majority world,” including Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Muslim world5, Protestant Christianity is growing faster than any other religious movement by conversion.6

Before Luther, there were others who sought to reform the church and bring the Bible to the people. John Wycliffe (1331-1384) published the first English translation of the Bible. Jan Hus (1369-1415) taught the Bible to the common people in Prague. Peter Waldo (1140-1218) commissioned a translation of the New Testament into the local vernacular of southern France. Each of these people were persecuted for trying to put the Scriptures into the hands of the common people.

Over a century before Luther, Hus had protested the sale of plenary indulgences, pointing out that the idea that God’s favor or blessings could be earned in any way, runs contrary to the message of the gospel and the testimony of the Scriptures, and the concept of purgatory is in conflict with the biblical teaching of the sufficiency of Christ’s atonement on the cross.

Martin Luther had long struggled with feelings of condemnation and inadequacy, until his own reading of the Scriptures led him to an epiphany when he read Habakkuk 2:4: “Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live by his faith.” This led Luther to the other places in the Bible where this phrase is repeated: Romans 1:17Galatians 3:11, and Hebrews 10:38 – where the message is clear: It is not by our own works that we are justified before God, but it is God who justifies us sinners as a gift of His grace, and we receive that justification by faith. After all, the Bible explains, this is how Abraham, the father of our faith, became righteous: he believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6Romans 4:322). We receive God’s righteousness, which he has provided for us in Christ, in the same way.

Luther became convinced that everyone needed to be able to read the Scriptures for themselves, and he took it upon himself to translate the Bible into German, a translation that is still in use to this day. Soon the Bible was translated into other languages, including English, as the Reformation spread.

Martin Luther called people back to a belief that the Scriptures are perspicuous (clear), and can be understood by those who read them. He called us back to a belief in the inspiration and sufficiency of Scripture: that it is the ultimate rule of faith, by which we are to measure both doctrine and our lives.

In April 1521, Luther was brought before Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at the Diet of Worms, at which Luther was commanded to recant his teachings. Luther refused to do so, famously stating:

“Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Holy Scriptures or by evident reason – for I can believe neither pope nor councils alone, as it is clear that they have erred repeatedly and contradicted themselves – I consider myself convicted by the testimony of Holy Scripture, which is my basis; my conscience is captive to the Word of God. Thus I cannot and will not recant.”7

This October, as we celebrate Reformation Day, may we take the opportunity to open the Bible and read it for ourselves, and may we embrace and celebrate the message of the gospel: that Jesus Christ came to save sinners, and that we are justified freely by his grace as we trust in him by faith.

NOTES

1 Marshall, Peter. 1517: Martin Luther and the Invention of the Reformation. OUP Oxford. 2017.

2 Little, Becky. “Martin Luther Might Not Have Nailed His 95 Theses to the Church Door.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, October 31, 2017. 

3 “Luther’s Letter to the Archbishop of Mainz (1517).” Historyguide.org, 2002. 

4 “Global Christianity: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Christian Population.” PewResearchCenter. Accessed December 2011. 

5 Miller, Duane A., and Patrick Johnstone. Believers in Christ from a Muslim Background: A Global Census II (2015): 2–19. academia.edu

Melton, J. Gordon (22 October 2005). Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Infobase Publishing. ISBN 9780816069835 – via Google Books.

7 “Here I Stand: Martin Luther’s Reformation at 500.” Abilene Christian University Special Collections, March 11, 2019.