Providing verse by verse analysis of Scripture and discussions about Christian theology.
Just prior to crucifixion, a person was scourged with a whip which had thongs that were braided with sharp objects such as nails. As an act of public humiliation, criminals carried their own cross to the place of execution, and once there, were stripped naked before being fastened to the cross, either with rope or nails. Being tied to a cross with ropes was less painful in the beginning, but would leave the victim to hang for a longer period of time, even days, which would make the experience more painful in the end. Some who were tied to the cross are recorded to have lasted for nine days. Nailing a person to a cross was more painful from the beginning and would have led to a quicker death. The body would hang between three to four feet from the ground. Sometimes a soporific was given to the victim to help numb the senses. In Jesus case, it was “wine mixed with myrrh” (Mark 15:23), which our Lord rejected because it would have clouded His thinking (Matt 27:34). In some situations the Romans would break the victim's legs which would hasten death, but according to Scripture, Jesus was already dead by the time the soldiers considered doing this (John 19:32-34). Unger notes, “In most cases the body was allowed to rot on the cross by the action of the sun and rain or to be devoured by birds and beasts.” We know that Joseph of Arimathea, a disciple of Jesus, came to Pilate and asked for Jesus' body, that he might bury it, and Pilate granted his request (Matt 27:57-60). It's most likely that Jesus was crucified in April, AD 33. The cross of Christ became central to the message of the gospel. The apostle Paul was sent by the Lord Jesus “to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void” (1 Cor 1:17). Paul was not concerned with human sophistry, winning arguments, or impressing his audience by means of rhetorical prowess, but merely with presenting the simple message of the cross of Christ, which brings eternal salvation to those who trust in Jesus as their Savior. Paul continued his line of reasoning, saying, “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God...[and] we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor 1:18; 23-24). Paul summarized his message when he said, “I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Cor 2:2). The image of a crucified Savior seems entirely foolish to a world that creates its saviors out of strong heroes; strong in the human sense of one who can save himself and others. Jesus is certainly strong; after all, He's God! And He does save forever those who come to Him in faith. However, the humility of the cross, with all its offense and shame, leaves no place for human wisdom or pride; for one must admit it was his sin that placed Messiah on the cross to be judged and die. To come to Jesus as a crucified Messiah requires humility, for one must honestly look at oneself from the divine perspective and admit he is a lost sinner in need of a Savior. A Savior who was willing to lay down His life and bear the punishment of the guilty. This requires truth, to see oneself from the divine perspective as utterly sinful and lost. And it requires humility, to admit one it powerless and cannot save himself from a damnable future to which he is certainly headed. It is the work of Messiah that saves. Nothing more is required. Jesus paid it all. W. E. Vine notes, ‘“The Cross of Christ' does far more than express the fact of the infinite love of God to man in the death of His Son; it exposes the enmity of the human heart against God, reveals the true nature of sin as in the sight of God, and makes known the impossibility of bridging, by any human effort, the chasm that separates unregenerate man from God.”Wendell Johnston adds: "The cross stands at the center of Paul's theology (1 Cor 1:23). He saw this humiliating and cruel instrument in a new light—as the extraordinary opportunity to boast in his Savior (Gal 6:14). The shameful cross stood for everything the world despised and thus His allegiance to Christ separated him from the world. Jesus' death was like a magnet drawing the outcasts of the world to Christ (John 12:32). It makes human wisdom foolish (1 Cor 1:27) and weak people strong (1 Cor 1:25), and it breaks the spirit of the proud and lifts up the meek and humble (1 Cor 1:28). Because of His death Jesus breaks the shackles of those in bondage who believe in Him. The Cross brings peace to those in fear (Heb 2:14–15), and it unites Jews and Gentiles into one body (Eph 2:16). The Cross brought complete fulfillment to the system of the Mosaic Law and did away with all the regulations standing against humanity (Col 2:14–18). Because of the Cross, God gives eternal life to those who believe (Rom 5:18). The Cross, which to the world seemed proof of defeat, became the means of triumph (Col 2:15)." The cross represents the love of the Father, as “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). And it represents the love of Jesus for us, as Paul wrote of “the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Gal 2:20b). Paul saw himself as crucified with Jesus, as he wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ” (Gal 2:20a). The words “crucified with” translates the Greek verb sustauroō (συσταυρόω), which means one is crucified with another. This is used in a literal sense of persons crucified in physical proximity to each other, such as “The robbers who had been crucified with Him”, that is, Jesus (Matt 27:44; cf., Mark 15:32; John 19:32). But Paul uses the word in Galatians 2:20 in a spiritual sense, in which he is identified with Christ on the cross. This same spiritual identification truth is for all who have trusted in Christ as our Savior, for to be “crucified with Christ” means that we are identified with our Lord in His death, burial, and resurrection. God sees us there are the cross, with Christ, dying with Him. Paul states, “our old self was crucified with Him” (Rom 6:6), and “we have died with Christ” (Rom 6:8). Furthermore, we partook of His burial, resurrection, and ascension, for “we have been buried with Him” (Rom 6:4), and “raised up with Christ” (Col 3:1; cf., Eph 2:6a), and even now are seen to be seated “with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:6b). Concerning Galatians 2:20, William MacDonald states: "The believer is identified with Christ in His death. Not only was He crucified on Calvary, I was crucified there as well—in Him. This means the end of me as a sinner in God's sight. It means the end of me as a person seeking to merit or earn salvation by my own efforts. It means the end of me as a child of Adam, as a man under the condemnation of the law, as my old, unregenerate self. The old, evil “I” has been crucified; it has no more claims on my daily life." Who Crucified Jesus? The question is sometimes raised as to who crucified Jesus? According to Chafer, “Closely related to the contrast between the divine and human sides of Christ's death, is the question: Who put Christ to death? As already indicated, the Scriptures assign both a human and a divine responsibility for Christ's death.” According to the testimony of Scripture, Jesus' death on the cross was the result of: 1) God the Father who sent Him, 2) Jesus who willingly went to the cross, 3), Satan who worked through others to help crucify Him, 4) unbelieving Jews, and 5) unbelieving Gentiles. The Bible verses that address the various persons involved in the crucifixion of Jesus are intermixed. That is, a passage might address God the Father and Jesus, or Jews and Gentiles, or Satan and Jews, etc. It is from these Scripture passages that the following categories as recognized. God the Father Sent Christ to Die Who crucified Jesus? The ultimate answer is God the Father. The Father was motivated by His love for us to save us; therefore, His plan of salvation involved sending His Son into the world to die in our place. The record of Scripture is, “But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief” (Isa 53:10a), and “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16a), and “this Man [Jesus], was delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23a), and Peter, praying to the Father, said, “For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur” (Acts 4:27-28), and “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all” (Rom 8:32). Chafer notes, “Human hands might inflict physical suffering and death as any victim would die, but only the hand of God could make Christ a sin offering, or could lay on Him the iniquity of others (2 Cor 5:21; Isa 53:6).” Jesus Willingly Went to the Cross Though the Father sent Jesus into the world to be an atoning sacrifice for sin, He did not force Him onto the cross. Jesus consented to come into the world and go to the cross and die for us. He voluntarily laid down His life. The writer of Hebrews states, “Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says, ‘Sacrifice and offering You have not desired, but a body You have prepared for Me'” (Heb 10:5). Jesus, in hypostatic union, speaking from His humanity, said, “Behold, I have come (in the scroll of the book it is written of Me) to do Your will, O God” (Heb 10:7). Constable notes, “Jesus was not some dumb animal that offered its life without knowing what it was doing. He consciously, voluntarily, and deliberately offered His life in obedience to God's will.” Jesus' voluntary death on the cross is found in several passages. Jesus said, “I lay down My life for the sheep” (John 10:15), and “no one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative” (John 10:18). Paul wrote, “Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (Eph 5:2), and “Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (Eph 5:25), and “the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Gal 2:20), and “who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed” (Tit 2:14). The writer to the Hebrews tells us that Christ “offered up Himself” (Heb 7:27; cf., Heb 9:14). Satan Was Instrumental in Jesus' Crucifixion The very first prophesy related to the cross is found in Genesis, when God told Satan, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel” (Gen 3:15). Concerning Genesis 3:15, Chafer notes, “it is implied that Satan did what he could in the exercise of his power—directly, or indirectly, through human agents—against the Savior.” Satan's seed refers to all those who reject God and Christ and are part of Satan's kingdom of darkness. Jesus said to unbelieving Jews, “You are of your father the devil” (John 8:44), and all unbelievers are “the sons of the evil one” (Matt 13:38). These were used by Satan to help in the crucifixion of Christ. On the night before Jesus' crucifixion, John records, “During supper, the devil had already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him” (John 13:2). During the meal, Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly, truly, I say to you, that one of you will betray Me” (John 13:21), and “After the morsel, Satan then entered into him. Therefore Jesus said to him, ‘What you do, do quickly'” (John 13:27). Here we observe a coalescence of Satanic and human activity to betray Jesus to those who would crucify Him. In this regard, Satan was the motivating force behind Judas, his willing instrument, to bring about the death of Jesus. In the Garden of Gethsemane, the chief priests, officers of the temple, and Jewish elders came to arrest Jesus (Luke 22:52a), and He said to them, “While I was with you daily in the temple, you did not lay hands on Me; but this hour and the power of darkness are yours” (Luke 22:53). Those who came physically to “lay hands” on Jesus were the Jewish authorities who conspired to kill Him. God, in His sovereignty, permitted this to happen, because it served His greater purposes to bring about salvation through the cross. But even though it was their hour to act, these men were not acting alone, as Luke's reference to “the power of darkness” demonstrates that Satan was behind them, driving them on as his agents of lies and destruction. Later, Luke would use the term darkness as a symbol of the sphere of Satan's authority (Acts 26:18), as would Paul (Col 1:13). Unbelieving Jews Crucified Jesus Though it was the Romans who actually placed Jesus on the cross and drove the nails, it was, according to Scripture, unbelieving Jews who conspired and lied about Jesus to have Him crucified (Matt 26:3-4; John 11:53). At the time of Jesus' trial before Pilate, the Jews who were present all shouted, “Crucify Him” (Matt 27:22). God permitted Jesus' crucifixion, both by the Jews and Romans, because it served His greater purpose. Luke recorded Peter, who said, “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know—this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death” (Acts 2:22-23). Clearly this address was to the “Men of Israel,” who rejected Jesus and “nailed [Him] to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death” (Acts 2:23; cf. Acts 4:10; 5:30; 10:39). In Acts 4:27, Luke recorded that there were “gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus…the peoples of Israel” (Acts 4:27), to crucify Him. Paul wrote about “the Jews, who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets” (1 Th 2:14b-15a). Unbelieving Gentiles Crucified Jesus Though many unbelieving Jews were directly responsible for collaborating in the crucifixion of Jesus, it was Gentiles who actually did the work of placing Him on the cross. That's what Jesus foretold His disciples, saying, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death, and will hand Him over to the Gentiles to mock and scourge and crucify Him, and on the third day He will be raised up” (Matt 20:18-19). It was said of the Roman soldiers, “After they had mocked Him, they took the scarlet robe off Him and put His own garments back on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him” (Matt 27:31). Luke records in Acts, “truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel” (Acts 4:27). As Christians, we must not see Christ dying at a distant time or place. We should see our own hands driving the nails that put Him there and then lifting the cross. The crucifixion was not only for us, but by us. It was our sin that necessitated His death and judgment. We must see Jesus bearing all our sin and paying the penalty of the Father's wrath that rightfully belongs to us. In May 2006, I wrote the following poem as I thought about the role I played in placing Jesus on the cross. Christ to the Cross (by Dr. Steven R. Cook) I and the Father led Christ to the cross, Together we placed Him there; I pushed Him forward, no care for the cost, His Father's wrath to bear. Christ in the middle not wanting to die, Knelt in the garden and prayed; Great tears of blood the Savior did cry, Yet His Father He humbly obeyed. So He carried His cross down a dusty trail, No words on His lips were found; No cry was uttered as I drove the nails, His arms to the cross were bound. I lifted my Savior with arms spread wide, He hung between heaven and earth; I raised my spear and pierced His side, What flowed was of infinite worth. Like a Lamb to the altar Christ did go, A sacrifice without blemish or spot; A knife was raised, and life did flow, In a basin the blood was caught. Past the incense table and the dark black veil, To that holy of holy places; The blood of Christ was made to avail, And all my sins it erases. Now this Lamb on a cross was a demonstration Of the Father's love for me; For the Savior's death brought satisfaction, Redeemed, and set me free. Now I come to the Savior by faith alone, Not trusting in works at all; Jesus my substitute for sin did atone, Salvation in answer to His call. Dr. Steven R. Cook  Merrill Frederick Unger et al., “Cross”, The New Unger's Bible Dictionary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1988), 264.  See Harold Hoehner's book, Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ, pages 95-114.  W. E. Vine and C. F. Hogg, Vine's Topical Commentary: Christ (Nashville, TN; Dallas; Mexico City; Rio de Janeiro: Thomas Nelson, 2010), 108-109.  Wendell G. Johnston, “Cross,” ed. Charles R. Swindoll and Roy B. Zuck, The Theological Wordbook, Swindoll Leadership Library (Nashville, TN: Word Publishing, Inc., 2000), 77–78.  William MacDonald, Believer's Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments, ed. Arthur Farstad (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1995), 1880.  Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, vol. 3 (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1993), 49.  Ibid., 51.  Tom Constable, Tom Constable's Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Heb 10:5.  Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, vol. 3, 49.  The seed of Satan ultimately relates to the coming Antichrist, who will, during the time of the Tribulation, seek to destroy Israel and prevent the coming of Jesus to rule over the earth. See Arnold Fruchtenbaum's comments on Genesis 3:15 in his book, The Book of Genesis, Ariel's Bible Commentary.  On a separate occasion, after Jesus was born, Satan wanted to kill the baby Jesus. The apostle John—operating from divine viewpoint—records that Satan, “stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth, he might devour her child” (Rev 12:4). But Satan's attack was not direct; rather, King Herod was his tool to accomplish the nefarious deed. Matthew records the account in his Gospel (Matt 2:1-23). Herod was the human agent who wanted to kill Jesus, but Satan was the motivating force behind the attack.
When God the Son added perfect humanity to Himself, this enabled Him to experience suffering and death with, and on behalf of, humanity. The suffering of Christ may be viewed in at least two ways: 1) His suffering during His time on earth prior to the cross, and 2) the suffering of the cross. As the God-Man, Jesus was perfectly holy in all His thoughts, words, and actions. Such perfect holiness brought with it a special form of suffering in this world that the rest of us could never know, since we are capable of yielding to the pressures of sinful temptation. When the time of His death was nearing, Jesus told His disciples “that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day” (Matt 16:21; cf., Mark 8:31; Luke 9:22). It's noteworthy that Jesus said His suffering, dying, and resurrection were things that “must” happen to Him. The use of the Greek verb dei (δεῖ) here denotes divine necessity, which meant it was the will of God the Father that these things happen to Christ. Thomas Constable notes, “Jesus said that it was necessary (Gr. dei) for Him to go to Jerusalem. He had to do this because it was God's will for Messiah to suffer, die, and rise from the dead. He had to do these things to fulfill prophecy (Isa 53; cf. Acts 2:22–36).” The absolute necessity of Jesus' death on the cross further emphasizes our helplessness to save ourselves, for if our salvation could have been secured by any other means, then the death of Christ would have been unnecessary. While in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed to God the Father, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will” (Matt 26:39). In His humanity, Jesus struggled to face the cross, understanding the scope of what it meant and the agony associated with it. Jesus prayed a second time, saying, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done” (Matt 26:42). The reference to the “cup” speaks of the suffering of the cross. John A. Witmer states, “In the Old Testament a ‘cup' sometimes symbolized wrath (Jer 25:15), and so Jesus was aware that His coming death meant He would bear the wrath of God the Father against sin. Though Christ had no sin (2 Cor 5:21), He bore the sins of the world on Himself (1 Pet 2:24). Thus He was made ‘a curse for us' because of His being hanged on a tree (Gal 3:13).” While on the cross, Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matt 27:46). This was the cry of Jesus from His humanity. Peter tells us that Jesus “Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross” (1 Pet 2:24). Peter's reference to Jesus' “body” indicates humanity, not deity. Sin cannot be imputed to deity. Humanity can bear sin. It was while Jesus was on the cross that He bore the wrath of the Father as He died in our place and bore the punishment that rightfully belongs to us. And the Spirit sustained Jesus' humanity while He bore our sins. Robert G. Gromacki states, “God the Son incarnate suffered and died. The Father did not suffer and die. Nor did the Holy Spirit suffer and die, even though He filled Christ when the Savior suffered and died.” The suffering and death of Jesus on the cross was salvific, as Jesus was made “sin on our behalf” (2 Cor 5:21). Mark wrote, “When the sixth hour came, darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour. At the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?' which is translated, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?'” (Mark 15:33-34; cf., Matt 27:45-46; Luke 23:44-46). Concerning this moment on the cross, Witmer states, “It was at this point, as Jesus bore the sin of the world, that God, the Judge of sin, turned away from Jesus Christ, His incarnate Son, the Sin-bearer, as far as the personal consciousness of Jesus was concerned.” But there is some mystery at work here, for God the Father could not forsake God the Son, as a separation within the Trinity is not possible. Yet, somehow, the humanity of Christ—not His deity—was forsaken at the time of the judgment on the cross, otherwise the words of Jesus would be meaningless. But Jesus' suffering and death did happen, and it was His time on the cross that brought about our salvation; a salvation that is applied to us at the moment we trust in Christ as our Savior. Even after Jesus' resurrection, Jesus said to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, “Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” (Luke 24:26). In the book of Acts, Luke records that Jesus “presented Himself alive after His suffering” (Acts 1:3). Peter said, “the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled” (Acts 3:18). And Paul reasoned “from the Scriptures, explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead” (Acts 17:2b-3; cf., Acts 26:23). Jesus' suffering and death were necessary for salvation to be available to humanity. The Cross & Crucifixion The cross overshadowed the life of Jesus, and He knew dying for lost sinners was the ultimate purpose of the Father. When facing the cross, Jesus said, “Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour ‘? But for this purpose I came to this hour” (John 12:27). For lost sinners, the cross of Christ is both personal and purposeful. It is personal, because “Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8), “for our sins” (1 Cor 15:3), and “not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). And His death was purposeful, as Christ “died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet 3:18), and that we might “reconciled to God through the death of His Son” (Rom 5:10). The cross is God's righteous solution to the problem of sin, as well as His greatest display of love toward sinners. At the cross, God judged our sin as His righteousness required, and pardons the sinner as His love desires. To understand the cross of Christ is to understand the heart of God toward a fallen world He wants to save. The word “cross” translates the Greek noun stauros (σταυρός), which refers to “a pole to be placed in the ground and used for capital punishment, cross.” The word “crucify” translates the Greek verb stauroō (σταυρόω), which means, “to fasten to a cross, crucify.” Crucifixion was practiced by ancient cultures such as the Egyptians (Gen 40:19), Persians (Est 7:10), Assyrians and Greeks. By the time of Christ, the Romans had used crucifixion as a means of death more than previous cultures. According to John Stott: "Crucifixion seems to have been invented by “barbarians” on the edge of the known world and taken over from them by both Greeks and Romans. It is probably the most cruel method of execution ever practiced, for it deliberately delayed death until maximum torture had been inflicted. The victim could suffer for days before dying. When the Romans adopted it, they reserved it for criminals convicted of murder, rebellion or armed robbery, provided that they were also slaves, foreigners or other nonpersons." Just prior to crucifixion, a person was scourged with a whip which had thongs that were braided with sharp objects such as nails. As an act of public humiliation, criminals carried their own cross to the place of execution, and once there, were stripped naked before being fastened to the cross, either with rope or nails. Being tied to a cross with ropes was less painful in the beginning, but would leave the victim to hang for a longer period of time, even days, which would make the experience more painful in the end. Some who were tied to the cross are recorded to have lasted for nine days. Nailing a person to a cross was more painful from the beginning and would have led to a quicker death. The body would hang between three to four feet from the ground. Sometimes a soporific was given to the victim to help numb the senses. In Jesus case, it was “wine mixed with myrrh” (Mark 15:23), which our Lord rejected because it would have clouded His thinking (Matt 27:34). In some situations the Romans would break the victim's legs which would hasten death, but according to Scripture, Jesus was already dead by the time the soldiers considered doing this (John 19:32-34). Unger notes, “In most cases the body was allowed to rot on the cross by the action of the sun and rain or to be devoured by birds and beasts.” We know that Joseph of Arimathea, a disciple of Jesus, came to Pilate and asked for Jesus' body, that he might bury it, and Pilate granted his request (Matt 27:57-60). It's most likely that Jesus was crucified in April, AD 33. The cross of Christ became central to the message of the gospel. The apostle Paul was sent by the Lord Jesus “to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void” (1 Cor 1:17). Paul was not concerned with human sophistry, winning arguments, or impressing his audience by means of rhetorical prowess, but merely with presenting the simple message of the cross of Christ, which brings eternal salvation to those who trust in Jesus as their Savior. Paul continued his line of reasoning, saying, “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God...[and] we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor 1:18; 23-24). Paul summarized his message when he said, “I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Cor 2:2). The image of a crucified Savior seems entirely foolish to a world that creates its saviors out of strong heroes; strong in the human sense of one who can save himself and others. Jesus is certainly strong; after all, He's God! And He does save forever those who come to Him in faith. Dr. Steven R. Cook  Tom Constable, Tom Constable's Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Mt 16:21.  John A. Witmer, “Jesus Christ”, Understanding Christian Theology (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2003), 352.  Robert G. Gromacki, “The Holy Spirit”, Understanding Christian Theology (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2003), 468–469.  John A. Witmer, “Jesus Christ”, Understanding Christian Theology, 352.  William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 941.  Ibid., 941.  John R. W. Stott, The Cross of Christ (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2006), 29.  Merrill Frederick Unger et al., “Cross”, The New Unger's Bible Dictionary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1988), 264.  See Harold Hoehner's book, Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ, pages 95-114.
The Spirit's Regeneration, Indwelling, Baptizing, and Sealing Ministry At the moment of salvation, God the Holy Spirit performs several acts for new believers, which include regeneration (John 3:6; Tit 3:5; 1 Pet 1:3), indwelling (John 14:16-17; 1 Cor 3:16; 6:19), baptizing (1 Cor 12:13; Gal 3:27), and sealing (Eph 4:30). Regeneration The word regeneration itself occurs only twice in the Bible (Matt 19:28 and Tit 3:5). In both places the Greek word used is paliggenesia (παλιγγενεσία), which means, “the state of being renewed… [the] experience of a complete change of life, rebirth of a redeemed person.” Regeneration means new believers receive spiritual life at the moment they trust in Christ alone as their Savior. Geisler states, “The new birth of which Jesus speaks is the act of regeneration, whereby God imparts spiritual life to the believer's soul (1 Peter 1:23).” Paul Enns agrees, saying, “Succinctly stated, to regenerate means ‘to impart life.' Regeneration is the act whereby God imparts life to the one who believes.” Ryrie notes: "Although the word regeneration is used only twice in the Bible (Titus 3:5, where it refers to the new birth, and Mt 19:28 where it refers to the millennial kingdom), the concept of being born again is found in other passages, notably John 3. Technically, it is God's act of begetting eternal life in the one who believes in Christ. While faith and regeneration are closely associated, the two ideas are distinct, faith being the human responsibility and the channel through which God's grace is received, and regeneration being God's supernatural act of imparting eternal life." David Anderson adds: "The NT uses a number of different words and images to convey the doctrine of regeneration. The noun palingenesia is used just twice: Matthew 19:28 and Titus 3:5. In Matthew, Jesus is speaking of the regeneration which will occur at His second coming. He refers to setting up His kingdom, placing the twelve over the twelve tribes of Israel, and rewarding those who have sacrificed for His cause. But in Titus 3:5, we have a direct reference to the rebirth of the believer: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.” To the concept of regeneration, the Greek words anothen (ἄνωθεν) and anagennao (ἀναγεννάω) can be added. Jesus, while speaking to Nicodemus, said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again [anothen] he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3; cf., John 3:7). The word anothen (ἄνωθεν) generally means “from a source that is above.” That is, from a heavenly source. (At least two English translations, NET & YLT, render the word “from above”). Because Nicodemus confused physical birth with spiritual birth (John 3:4), Jesus clarified His statement, saying, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). Jesus was talking about spiritual birth, or regeneration, which comes from the source of heaven. Peter used the Greek word anagennao (ἀναγεννάω) when he wrote about Christians who have been “born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Pet 1:3), and who “have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Pet 1:23). The basic meaning of anagennao (ἀναγεννάω) is to “beget again, cause to be born again.” In both instances the word denotes imparting new life. This work of the Spirit is directly related to the believer's salvation. According to Walvoord, “The work of regeneration can be assigned to the Holy Spirit as definitely as the work of salvation can be assigned to Christ.”And the believer's new life is the basis for a new walk with the Lord. Ryrie notes, “Regeneration does not make a man perfect, but it places him in the family of God and gives him the new ability to please his Father by growing into the image of Christ. Fruit from the new nature is proof that regeneration has occurred (1 John 2:29).” Lighter states: "The means by which regeneration is accomplished eliminates all human endeavor. Though personal faith in Christ as Savior is necessary, faith does not produce the new life; it does not regenerate. Only God regenerates. Human faith and divine regeneration occur at the same time, but the one is man's responsibility as he is enabled by the Holy Spirit, and the other is the work of God imparting the divine life." Indwelling The indwelling ministry of the Holy Spirit for every believer was an innovation that was future from the time of Jesus' ministry on earth. Jesus said, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water'” (John 7:38). And John tells us, “But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:39). The Spirit would begin His special ministry on the day of Pentecost, and it would involve His personal indwelling of every believer. Prior to His crucifixion, Jesus spoke of this, saying, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you” (John 14:16-17). Notice that Spirit would not only be with them, would be in them. Merrill Tenney writes, “This distinction marks the difference between the Old Testament experience of the Holy Spirit and the post-Pentecostal experience of the church. The individual indwelling of the Spirit is the specific privilege of the Christian believer.” This new indwelling ministry by God the Holy Spirit is different than His work in believers in the OT. Under the Mosaic Law, only a select few received the Holy Spirit (Ex 31:1-5; Num 11:25; 27:18; 1 Sam 16:13), and that was conditioned on His sovereign purposes. But now, in the dispensation of the church age, God the Holy Spirit would personally indwell both the local church (1 Cor 3:16-17), as well as each individual believer (1 Cor 6:19). Paul wrote to the Christians living in Corinth, saying, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Cor 3:16). Concerning the Spirit's indwelling the church in 1 Corinthians 3:16, Radmacher states: "There are two words translated temple in the NT. One refers to the temple building and all its courts; the other refers strictly to the Most Holy Place where no one but the high priest could go. Paul uses the latter term to describe the local church, in whom God dwells. Unlike 1 Corinthians 6:19, where the word temple refers to the individual believer, and Ephesians 2:21, where the word speaks of the church universal, these verses speak of the local church as God's temple. God takes very seriously our actions in the church. destroy: Any person who disrupts and destroys the church by divisions, malice, and other harmful acts invites God's discipline (1 Cor 11:30-32)." Paul also describes the Spirit's indwelling each Christian in 1 Corinthians 6:19, where he wrote, “do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” According to Constable, “Previously Paul taught his readers that the Corinthian church was a temple (naos; 1 Cor 3:16). The believer's body is also a temple. The Holy Spirit is actually indwelling each of these temples (Rom 8:9; cf. Matt 12:6; 18:15–20; 28:16–20; Mark 13:11; John 14:17, 23).” What we find in the church age is that all three Persons of the Godhead indwell every believer (John 14:16-17, 20, 23); however, the Holy Spirit has a special ministry which began on the day of Pentecost (Acts 1:4-5; 2:1-4; 11:15-16; 1 Cor 12:13; Gal 3:26-28), and will continue until the church is raptured to heaven (2 Th 2:7; cf. John 14:1-3; 1 Th 4:13-18; Tit 2:13). Chafer states: "The Spirit made His advent into the world here to abide throughout this dispensation. As Christ is now located at the right hand of the Father, though omnipresent, so the Spirit, though omnipresent, is now locally abiding in the world, in a temple, or habitation, of living stones (Eph 2:19-22). The individual believer is also spoken of as a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19). The Spirit will not leave the world, or even one stone of that building until the age-long purpose of forming that temple is finished…The Spirit came on the Day of Pentecost and that aspect of the meaning of Pentecost will no more be repeated than the incarnation of Christ. There is no occasion to call the Spirit to “come,” for He is here." Baptizing The subject of baptism has been, and continues to be, a subject of confusion. The word baptize is a transliteration of the Greek verb baptizo (βαπτίζω) which broadly means to “plunge, dip, [or] wash,” and is often used “of the Christian sacrament of initiation after Jesus' death.” The Greek noun baptisma (βάπτισμα) refers to the result of a dipping or immersing. In Classical Greek literature, the verb baptizo (βαπτίζω) “was used among the Greeks to signify the dyeing of a garment, or the drawing of water by dipping a vessel into another.” The Greek poet Nicander (ca. 200 B.C.) used both bapto (βάπτω) and baptizo (βαπτίζω) when describing the process of making pickles. According to James Strong, “When used in the New Testament, this word more often refers to our union and identification with Christ than to our water baptism.” There are numerous baptisms mentioned in the Bible, some are wet and some are dry. John the Baptist said, “I baptize you with water” (Matt 3:11a), clearly making the baptism wet. But then, John the Baptist spoke of Jesus, saying, “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matt 3:11b). These latter two baptisms are both dry, where no one gets placed into water. A few other baptisms mentioned in Scripture include the baptism of the cross (Mark 10:35-38; Luke 12:50), the baptism of Moses (1 Cor 10:1-2), and the baptism of Christians (Matt 28:16-20). For the Christian, water baptism is a picture of the believer's spiritual union and identification with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection (Rom 6:3-7; Col 2:11-12). Water baptism does not save (1 Cor 1:17). It never has and never will. God saves at the moment believers place their faith solely in Jesus (John 3:16; 1 Cor 15:3-4). At the moment of faith in Christ, God the Holy Spirit unites new believers spiritually to Christ, adding them to the church, the body of Christ. Paul wrote, “For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Cor 12:12-13). Lewis Chafer states, “As a ground upon which the certainty of eternal security rests, the baptism of the Spirit should be recognized as that operation by which the individual believer is brought into organic union with Christ. By the Spirit's regeneration Christ is resident in the believer, and by the Spirit's baptism the believer is thus in Christ.” Merrill F. Unger comments: "This momentous spiritual operation is set forth in the NT as the basis of all the believer's positions and possessions “in Christ” (Eph 1:3; Col 2:10; 3:1–4; etc.). The operation is prophetic in the gospels (Matt 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16–17; John 1:33–34, where Christ is the baptizer), historic in the Acts (cf. Acts 1:5 with Acts 11:16), and doctrinal in the epistles (1 Cor 12:13, where the Spirit is named specifically as the agent; Rom 6:3–4; Gal 3:26–27; Col 2:9–12; Eph 4:5). The Spirit's baptizing work, placing the believer “in Christ,” occurred initially at Pentecost at the advent of the Spirit, who baptized believing Jews “into Christ.” In Acts 8, Samaritans were baptized in this way for the first time; in Acts 10, Gentiles likewise were so baptized, at which point the normal agency of the Spirit as baptizer was attained. According to the clear teaching of the epistles, every believer is baptized by the Spirit into Christ the moment he is regenerated. He is also simultaneously indwelt by the Spirit and sealed eternally, with the privilege of being filled with the Spirit, as the conditions for filling are met." Sealing Several times Paul used the Greek verb sphragizo (σφραγίζω) when writing to Christians. Paul wrote of God “who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge” (2 Cor 1:22). To the Christians at Ephesus he wrote, “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Eph 1:13), and “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Eph 4:30). In each of these uses the verb sphragizo (σφραγίζω) means “to mark with a seal as a means of identification…so that the mark denoting ownership also carries with it the protection of the owner.” Laney Jr., states, “In ancient times a seal was used as an identifying mark, indicating the rightful ownership of the object sealed. And so the sealing ministry of the Spirit marks believers as God's own possession, guaranteeing their security for eternity.” Concerning Paul's use of sphragizo (σφραγίζω) in Ephesians 1:13, Harold Hoehner comments: "God seals the believers in Christ with the promised Holy Spirit when they have not only heard but also believed the gospel of salvation. The sealing with the Spirit must not be confused with the other ministries of the Spirit. The indwelling of the Spirit refers to his residence in every believer (Rom 8:9; 1 John 2:27). The baptizing ministry of the Spirit places believers into the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:13). The filling by the Spirit is the control of the Spirit over believers' lives (Eph 5:18). The sealing ministry of the Spirit is to identify believers as God's own and thus give them the security that they belong to him (Eph 1:13; 4:30; 2 Cor 1:22). The very fact that the Spirit indwells believers is a seal of God's ownership of them." The Holy Spirit is Himself the seal that marks us as owned by God and guarantees our future redemption and glory (Eph 1:13-14; 4:30). These blessings are completely the work of the Holy Spirit for the benefit of Christians and occur at the moment believers trust Jesus as their Savior. These are facts based on objective statements in Scripture and are accepted by faith, not ever-changing subjective feelings. Though Christians can grieve and/or quench the Holy Spirit with personal sin (Eph 4:30; 1 Th 5:19), and though they may suffer divine discipline because of personal sin (Heb 12:5-11), they cannot grieve Him away. Joseph Dillow notes: "The ancient practice of using seals is behind the figurative use of the word here. A seal was a mark of protection and ownership. The Greek word sphragizō is used of a stone being fastened with a seal to “prevent its being moved from a position” (BDAG). In fact, this was apparently the earliest method of distinguishing one's property. The seal was engraved with a design or mark distinctive to the owner. The seal of ownership or protection was often made in soft wax with a signet ring. An impression was left on the wax signifying the owner of the thing sealed. When the Holy Spirit seals us, He presses the signet ring of our heavenly Father on our hearts of wax and leaves the mark of ownership. We belong to Him. He certifies this by His unchangeable purpose to protect and own us to the day of redemption. In Ephesians 1:13-14, we are told that the Holy Spirit Himself is the seal. He is impressed upon us, so to speak. His presence in our lives is thus a guarantee of God's protection and that we are owned by God. A broken seal was an indication that the person had not been protected. The Holy Spirit cannot be broken. He is the seal of ownership. In Ephesians 4:30, we are told that we are sealed unto the day of redemption. This sealing ministry of the Spirit is forever and guarantees that we will arrive safely for the redemption of our bodies and entrance into heaven (Romans 8:23). He is the seal that we are now owned and protected by God until the day of redemption." Dr. Steven R. Cook  William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 752.  Norman L. Geisler, Systematic Theology, Volume Three: Sin, Salvation (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2004), 123.  Paul P. Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1989), 338.  Charles Caldwell Ryrie, A Survey of Bible Doctrine (Chicago: Moody Press, 1972).  David R. Anderson, Free Grace Soteriology, ed. James S. Reitman, Revised Edition. (Grace Theology Press, 2012), 235.  William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 92.  Ibid., 59.  John F. Walvoord, The Holy Spirit, 131.  Charles Caldwell Ryrie, A Survey of Bible Doctrine (Chicago: Moody Press, 1972).  Robert P. Lightner, Handbook of Evangelical Theology: A Historical, Biblical, and Contemporary Survey and Review, 199.  Merrill C. Tenney, “John,” in The Expositor's Bible Commentary: John and Acts, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 9, 147.  Earl D. Radmacher, Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Commentary, 1464–1465.  Tom Constable, Tom Constable's Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), 1 Co 6:18.  Lewis S. Chafer, He that is Spiritual (Grand Rapids, Mich. Zondervan Publishing, 1967), 26.  William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 164.  Ibid., 164.  W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, and William White Jr., Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996), 50.  James Strong, βάπτω bapto, Enhanced Strong's Lexicon (Woodside Bible Fellowship, 1995).  Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, vol. 3, 337.  Merrill F. Unger and R.K. Harrison, “Baptism of the Spirit,” The New Unger's Bible Dictionary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1988).  William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 980.  Charles R. Swindoll and Roy B. Zuck, Understanding Christian Theology (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2003), 206.  Harold W. Hoehner, Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2002), 240.  Joseph C. Dillow, Final Destiny: The Future Reign of the Servant Kings, 4th Edition (Houston, TX: Grace Theology Press, 2018).
In the NT, God the Holy Spirit took on a new ministry after Jesus returned to heaven (John 16:7-15; cf., Acts 1:6-8; 2:1-4; 15:7-9). Part of His ministry is to believers, and part is to unbelievers. Concerning the Spirit's ministry to believers, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you” (John 16:7). The Helper is the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus will send (future tense of the Greek verb pempo) to believers. The Spirit's work in Christians would be multifaceted and would relate to their sanctification and godly influence in a fallen world. After Pentecost (Acts 2), God the Holy Spirit would work in and through His church to other Christians, to help with their sanctification, and to unbelievers, to share the gospel of grace that they might be saved. Wiersbe states: "The Holy Spirit does not minister in a vacuum. Just as the Son of God had to have a body in order to do His work on earth, so the Spirit of God needs a body to accomplish His ministries; and that body is the church. Our bodies are His tools and temples, and He wants to use us to glorify Christ and to witness to a lost world." This is very encouraging, because Christians know that God the Holy Spirit is working through them to help lead the lost to Christ. But there is also a special work the Holy Spirit is doing in the hearts of unbelievers to help prepare them to turn to Christ as Savior. Concerning this special work, Jesus said, “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8). Jesus' statement about the Holy Spirit is in the future tense (He will convict), which implies the Spirit's special ministry was not active at the time Jesus uttered His statement. This special convicting ministry would be inaugurated on the day of Pentecost. The word convict translates the Greek word elegcho (ἐλέγχω), which means, “to bring a person to the point of recognizing wrongdoing, convict, [or] convince someone of something.” Jesus said the Spirit's convincing work would fall into three areas: 1) “concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me” (John 16:9), 2) “concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me” (John 16:10), and 3) “concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged” (John 16:11). Let's look at these in order. The Sin of Unbelief The sin mentioned by Jesus in John 16:8 does not refer to a catalogue of sins one might be guilty of (i.e., lust, greed, worry, gossip, stealing, etc.), but rather, one specific sin, which is unbelief, as Jesus said, “because they do not believe in Me” (John 16:9). The word for sin is hamartia (ἁμαρτία), which in Jesus' statement is a singular noun that refers to a specific crime; namely, unbelief. Sylva notes, “Here sin is unbelief. Jesus faces people with a decision for or against himself: by belief or unbelief a person decides either for life or for death (John 8:24; 9:41; 16:8–9).” There is only one sin that keeps a person out of heaven, and that's the sin of unbelief. Wiersbe states: "The Holy Spirit convicts the world of one particular sin, the sin of unbelief. The law of God and the conscience of man will convict the sinner of his sins (plural) specifically; but it is the work of the Spirit, through the witness of the believers, to expose the unbelief of the lost world. After all, it is unbelief that condemns the lost sinner (John 3:18–21), not the committing of individual sins. A person could “clean up his life” and quit his or her bad habits and still be lost and go to hell." The Spirit always performs His work perfectly in the hearts of the lost, but because people have volition, and their hearts are corrupt, the vast majority of people suppress His message (Matt 7:13-14; John 5:39-40; Rom 1:18-32). Only the Holy Spirit can reveal to the human heart the truth about Jesus, as well as the truth about their sin of unbelief. To suppress the Spirit's work about Jesus as the Son of God and Savior is the greatest of sins possible, as well as the most fatal sin that forever condemns a person to hell. Lightner states: "Apart from God the Father there would have been no plan of salvation. Without God the Son there would have been no provision for salvation. Apart from the work of God the Spirit there would be no application of this great salvation to man's needs. It is the third member of the Godhead who procures salvation for all who believe." The Righteousness of Jesus God alone sets the standard for righteousness, not people. Divine righteousness may be defined as the intrinsic, immutable, moral perfection of God, from which He commands all things, in heaven and earth, and declares as just that which conforms to His righteousness and as sinful that which deviates. Borchert is correct when he states, “Humanity is not in control either of the future or of setting the standards for life. That is the work of God.” And Merrill C. Tenney states, “Apart from a standard of righteousness, there can be no sin; and there must be an awareness of the holiness of God before a person will realize his own deficiency.” Though Jesus was rejected and treated as a criminal, God the Father declared Him righteous and welcomed Him to heaven, His natural home. Jesus is “the Holy and Righteous One” (Acts 3:14), and throughout His life “knew no sin” (2 Cor 5:21), was “without sin” (Heb 4:15), “committed no sin” (1 Pet 2:22), and in whom “there is no sin” (1 John 3:5). The rejection and crucifixion of Jesus was the greatest miscarriage of justice in the history of the human race. Jesus said those who rejected and crucified Him would “rejoice” (John 16:20), but as Borchert notes, “their rejoicing at being finished with Jesus turned out to be the rejoicing of the damned.” William Hendriksen offers the following insights: "The world, represented by the Jews, was about to crucify Jesus. It was going to say, “He ought to die” (John 19:7); hence, in the name of righteousness it was going to put him to death. It proclaimed aloud that he was anything but righteous. It treated him as an evil-doer (John 18:30). But the exact opposite was the truth. Though rejected by the world, he was welcomed by the Father, welcomed home via the cross, the cross which led to the crown…By means of the resurrection the Father would place the stamp of His approval upon His life and work (Acts 2:22, 23, 33; Rom 1:4). He, the very One whom the world had branded as unrighteous, would by means of His victorious going to the Father be marked as the Righteous One (8:46; Acts 3:14; 7:52; 2 Cor 5:21; 1 Pet 3:18; 1 John 2:1; and cf., Luke 23:47). Thus, the world would be convicted with respect to righteousness." Christians do not need to struggle to convince people about the perfect righteousness of Christ, nor of the sinner's failed righteousness before a holy God. They need only to communicate the biblical truth about Christ and fallen humanity, and leave the Spirit to do what only He can do, to convince them of the truth about Christ as the only Savior of mankind. If unbelievers suppresses the work of the Holy Spirit in their hearts, then no amount of reasoning or argumentation on the part of Christians will advance the gospel even one inch. The Judgment of the Ruler of this World A third area where the Holy Spirit is working in the hearts of unbelievers concerns judgment, “because the ruler of this world has been judged” (John 16:11). Satan has been judged and found guilty before God. This means that Satan and his world-system is condemned. Being the ruler of this world, Satan naturally rules in the hearts of all unbelievers. Three times Jesus referred to Satan as “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). Other passages of Scripture call Satan “the god of this world” (2 Cor 4:4), and “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph 2:2), informing us “that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). Satan rules as a tyrant who has “weakened the nations” (Isa 14:12), and currently “deceives the whole world” (Rev 12:9). Satan continues to attack God's people today (1 Pet 5:8), practices deception (2 Cor 11:13-15), and has well developed strategies of warfare (Eph 6:10-12). Furthermore, humanity is living in an “evil age” (Gal 1:4), under “the dominion of Satan” (Acts 26:18), whose sphere of influence is called “the domain of darkness” (Col 1:13). But Satan has been judged and his punishment is pending execution. Furthermore, those who side with Satan in this life will be judged with him in eternity. According to Ryrie, “At the cross, Christ triumphed over Satan, serving notice on unbelievers of their judgment to come.” Radmacher notes, “Satan was judged at the Cross, and the Holy Spirit would convince people of the judgment to come. Satan has been judged, so all who side with him will be judged with him. There is no room for neutrality. A person is either a child of God or a child of the devil.” Merrill Tenney states: "To convince any unbeliever of sin, righteousness, and judgment is beyond human ability. It may be possible to fix upon him the guilt of some specific sin if there is sufficient evidence to bring him before a jury; but to make him acknowledge the deeper fact, that he is a sinner, evil at heart, and deserving of punishment because he has not believed in Christ, is quite another matter. To bring a man to some standard of ethics is not too difficult; for almost every person has ideals that coincide with the moral law at some point. To create in him the humiliating consciousness that his self-righteousness is as filthy rags in comparison with the spotless linen of the righteousness of God cannot be effected by ordinary persuasion. Many believe in a general law of retribution; but it is almost impossible to convince them that they already stand condemned. Only the power of the Holy Spirit, working from within, can bring about that profound conviction which leads to repentance. The Spirit anticipates and makes effective the ministry of the disciples in carrying the message to unbelievers." Dr. Steven R. Cook  Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 362.  William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 315.  Moisés Silva, ed., New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014), 260.  Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1, 362.  Robert P. Lightner, Handbook of Evangelical Theology: A Historical, Biblical, and Contemporary Survey and Review (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1995), 196.  Gerald L. Borchert, John 12–21, vol. 25B, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2002), 167.  Merrill C. Tenney, “John,” in The Expositor's Bible Commentary: John and Acts, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 9 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 157.  Gerald L. Borchert, John 12–21, vol. 25B, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2002), 167.  William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, Exposition of the Gospel According to John, vol. 2, New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001), 326.  Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Ryrie Study Bible: New American Standard Bible, 1995 Update, Expanded ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1995), 1712.  Earl D. Radmacher, Ronald Barclay Allen, and H. Wayne House, Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Commentary (Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers, 1999), 1350.  Merrill C. Tenney, John: The Gospel of Belief, The New International Commentary on the Old and New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1976), 237.
In addition to the blinding effects of sin resident in every human heart is the veiling work of Satan. Paul wrote, “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor 4:3-4). The blinding work of Satan in the minds of the lost, coupled with negative volition (i.e., the unbelieving heart), creates a double wall of resistance that cannot be penetrated by human effort. Attempts to breach these walls, or to break them down by human effort alone, has resulted in great frustration. The lost can only be saved when the Spirit performs His work in their hearts and they respond positively and freely to the gospel of grace. Lewis Chafer states, “It is as definitely contended that, apart from this divine influence, no unregenerate person will ever turn to God. From this it will be seen that, next to the accurate and faithful presentation of the gospel of saving grace, no truth is more determining respecting all forms of evangelism than this.”The Spirit must do His work in the hearts of the unsaved, and the lost must respond to His work before salvation can occur. Then, and only then, will the evangelist be effective in winning souls, and this when he presents the gospel of grace clearly to the willing heart. Prior to the present work of the Spirit in the world today, He was working in the life of Jesus to sustain His humanity until He completed the Father's mission (Matt 3:16; 4:1; 12:28; Luke 4:14, 18). Naturally, His work with God the Son to complete our salvation preceded His work of applying that salvation to all who turn to Christ in simple faith, believing the gospel, and trusting in Christ to save. The Spirit's Sustaining Ministry The coming of God the Son into the world marked a shift in human history (John 1:1, 14, 18), and God the Holy Spirit was involved in His human conception (Luke 1:26-35), sustained Him during His time of ministry (Luke 4:14; cf. Matt 12:28; Mark 1:10-12), and upheld Him during His time of death on the cross (Heb 9:14). John Walvoord notes: "There is implication that the whole process of the incarnation leading to the cross was related to the work of the Holy Spirit. As Christ was sustained in life, so also in death the Holy Spirit sustained Christ. In the difficult hours of Gethsemane and all the decisive moments leading to the cross, the Holy Spirit faithfully ministered to Christ." God the Holy Spirit was helping Christ fulfill the Father's mission of going to the cross and dying in the place of sinners. Of Jesus' time on the cross, the writer of Hebrews states, “how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Heb 9:14). William Lane notes, “The fact that his offering was made ‘through the eternal Spirit,' implies that he had been divinely empowered and sustained in his office.” God the Holy Spirit helped to sustain the humanity of Jesus in hypostatic union, which enabled Him to complete the Father's mission of going to the cross and dying as a substitute for lost humanity. According to Walvoord: "The work of the Holy Spirit in relation to the sufferings of Christ on the cross consisted, then, in sustaining the human nature in its love of God, in submission to the will of God and obedience to His commands, and in encouraging and strengthening Christ in the path of duty which led to the cross. In it all the ministry was to the human nature, and through it to the person of Christ. The inquiring mind must ever confess that this truth is infinite and beyond our complete comprehension." Dr. Steven R. Cook  Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, vol. 3 (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1993), 210.  John F. Walvoord, “The Holy Spirit in Relation to the Person and Work of Christ,” Bibliotheca Sacra 98 (1941): 52.  There is some debate about whether the “the eternal Spirit” refers to Jesus' Spirit (Fruchtenbaum) or the Holy Spirit (Radmacher).  William L. Lane, Hebrews 9–13, vol. 47B, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1991), 240.  John F. Walvoord, The Holy Spirit (Galaxie Software, 2008), 101.
The Holy Spirit is God and He displays the characteristics of personhood. When referring to the Holy Spirit (John 16:13-14), Jesus used the demonstrative masculine pronoun “He” (ekeinos ἐκεῖνος), which indicates personhood. In addition, Scripture reveals the Holy Spirit can be lied to. In the book of Acts, the apostle Peter accused Ananias of lying “to the Holy Spirit” (Acts 5:3). In the very next verse Peter said, “You have not lied to men but to God” (Acts 5:4). One cannot lie to a force (such as electricity), but only to a person. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit can be grieved (Eph 4:30), quenched (1 Th 5:19), resisted (Acts 7:51), and blasphemed (Matt 12:31). These activities can be done only to a person. The Bible reveals the Holy Spirit was involved in the creation (Gen 1:2), brought about the birth of Jesus (Luke 1:35), guided the writers of Scripture (2 Sam 23:2; 2 Pet 1:21), convicts unbelievers of the sin of unbelief (John 16:8-11), regenerates believers at the moment of faith in Jesus (John 3:6; 6:63), baptizes them into union with Christ (1 Cor 12:13), indwells (John 14:16-17; 1 Cor 3:16; 6:19), seals (Eph 1:13; 4:30), gives spiritual gifts (1 Cor 12:7-11), glorifies Jesus (John 16:13-15), empowers (Eph 5:18), sustains the spiritual walk (Gal 5:16-18, 25), loves Christians (Rom 15:30), prays for them (Rom 8:26-27), comforts them (John 14:26), teaches and guides (John 14:26; 16:13-15), and makes Scripture understandable (1 Cor 2:11-13). According to Norman Geisler: "All the elements of personhood are attributed to the Holy Spirit in Scripture. He has a mind (John 14:26): “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you.” He has will (1 Cor 12:11): “All these are the work of one and the same spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines”; and He has feeling (Eph 4:30): “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Prior to the coming of God the Son into the world (John 1:1, 14), the Holy Spirit had been active in the lives of saints such as Artisans (Ex 31:1-5), Judges (Num 11:25-29; Judg 3:9-10), Prophets (Ezek 2:2), and Kings (1 Sam 10:6; 16:13). In the OT, the Spirit did not indwell every believer, and could be removed as an act of divine discipline (1 Sam 16:14-16; Psa 51:11). The loss of the Spirit in the life of an OT saint did not mean forfeiture of salvation; rather, it meant loss of empowerment to a task. This would be especially onerous to a king, like Saul (1 Sam 16:14-16), because it meant he would continue to serve as king, but would lack the divine enablement necessary to perform the work. Thus, the king would having nothing more to rely upon than his human resources, and this would prove woefully inadequate, considering the huge responsibility of leadership. Without the enabling power of God the Holy Spirit, the king would be vulnerable to great anxiety and eventual collapse. David feared this discipline when he'd sinned against the Lord (Psa 51:11). In the dispensation of the church age (starting in Acts 2), God the Holy Spirit plays a key role in the salvation of the lost. Though we are not given all the particulars, and there is some mystery as to the details of how He works, it is still clear from the NT that He has a special ministry related to the salvation of the lost, and apart from His work, none can be saved. The zealous evangelist who seeks to win to the souls of the lost may, from a heart of compassion, employ every passage of Scripture related to salvation along with every compelling line of good reason and yet, in the end, fail to bring one person to Christ. Chafer speaks to this as follows: "Every soul-winner becomes aware, sooner or later, of the fact that the vast company of unsaved people do not realize the seriousness of their lost estate; nor do they become alarmed even when the most direct warning and appeal is given to them. They may be normally intelligent and keen to comprehend any opportunity for personal advancement in material or intellectual things; yet there is over them a spell of indifference and neglect toward the things that would secure for them any right relation to God. All the provisions of grace with the present and future blessedness of the redeemed are listened to by these people without a reasonable response. They are, perhaps, sympathetic, warm-hearted and kind; they are full of tenderness toward all human suffering and need; but their sinfulness before God and their imperative need of a Savior are strangely neglected. They lie down to sleep without fear and awaken to a life that is free from thought or obligation toward God. The faithful minister soon learns, to his sorrow, that his most careful presentation of truth and earnest appeal produces no effect upon them, and the question naturally arises: “How, then, can these people be reached with the Gospel?”  Norman L. Geisler, Systematic Theology, Volume Two: God, Creation (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2003), 287–288.  The OT is basically silent concerning the role the Holy Spirit played in the salvation of OT saints; however, it is assumed He was active, albeit quietly in the background.  Lewis Sperry Chafer, True Evangelism (New York: Gospel Publishing House, 1911), 71–72.
Jesus' Return for His Saints The eschatological subject of the Rapture of the church is briefly presented here under the study of Soteriology because it is regarded as a form of deliverance. When Messiah returns at the end of the church age, He will deliver His church from an evil world and a coming judgment that will last for seven years. A distinction is here drawn between Jesus coming for His saints at the Rapture, and Jesus coming with His saints at His Second Coming (Dan 7:13-14; Matt 19:28; 25:31; Rev 19:11-21). Jesus is now in heaven preparing a place for believers to be with Him there (John 14:1-3). Paul revealed Jesus will return for His church and that all Christians will be “caught up” to meet the Lord in the air (1 Th 4:13-18). The doctrine of the Rapture was first presented by the Lord Jesus when He provided new information to His apostles on the night before His crucifixion. After speaking of His soon departure (John 13:33), Jesus comforted them, saying, “Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:1-3). The place where Jesus was going was heaven. The purpose of His going was to prepare a place for them. And, at some unspecified time, Jesus promised He would come again to receive them to Himself, that they may be with Him. Paul described this as a time when “we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Cor 15:51-53). And, when writing to the church at Thessalonica, Paul explained, “the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Th 4:16b-17). The meaning of caught up (ἁρπάζω) is “to grab or seize suddenly so as to remove or gain control, snatch/take away.” John Walvoord states, “The important point is that the verse says Christ will come for believers and take them from the earth to heaven, where they will be in His presence till they return with Him to the earth to reign. The Rapture will mean that all believers ‘will be with the Lord forever,' enjoying Him and His presence for all eternity.” As Christians, we are “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus” (Tit 2:13). This Rapture is immanent, meaning it may occur at any time and without prior notice. All Christians who are alive at the time of the Rapture will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air, will go with Him to heaven, and be saved from the wrath to be poured out during the seven-year Tribulation. Our future is not one of judgment; rather, we are assured we will be saved from God's future wrath, both in time and eternity (Rom 5:9; 1 Thess 1:10; 5:9; Rev 3:10). Jesus' Return with His Saints When Jesus returns to the earth after the time of the seven year Tribulation, He will establish His kingdom on earth. This is a time when humanity will be saved from the tyranny of Satan who currently rules over the earth. At His Second Coming, it is written, “And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses” (Rev 19:14). Concerning this passage, Radmacher states, “The armies in heaven may be angelic hosts (Rev 5:11; Matt 26:53), but Revelation 17:14 speaks of those with the Lord at His coming as being ‘called, chosen, and faithful,' all terms for believers (Rom 1:7; Eph 1:1; 1 Pet 2:9).” Wiersbe adds, “Certainly the angels are a part of this army (Matt 25:31; 2 Th 1:7); but so are the saints (1 Th 3:13; 2 Th 1:10).” Norman Geisler states: "Before the Tribulation, Christ comes for His bride (1 Th 4:16–17; John 14:3); then, at the end of the Tribulation, He will return with all His saints. Jude wrote, “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones” (Jude 1:14; cf., Matt 24:29–31). He cannot come with them until He has first come for them; we have identified the time interval between these events as seven years." Wayne House comments: "It is important to remember that when we say “the second coming” of Christ, we are not talking about the rapture that occurs prior to the second coming. The rapture is most clearly presented in 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18. It is characterized in the Bible as a “translation coming” (1 Cor 15:51–52; 1 Th 4:15–17) in which Christ comes for His church. The second advent is Christ returning with His saints, descending from heaven to establish His earthly kingdom (Zech 14:4–5; Matt 24:27–31)." At His Second Coming, Jesus will put down all rebellion, both human and satanic. The two main leaders of the world, the Antichrist and his false prophet, will be defeated and “thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone” (Rev 19:20). Furthermore, those people who followed Antichrist “were killed with the sword which came from the mouth of Him who sat on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh” (Rev 19:21). Afterwards, the Lord will send one of His angels to arrest and imprison Satan (Rev 20:1-3). John wrote about this angel, saying, “And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer” (Rev 20:2-3a). This will be a time of global deliverance from evil as Messiah reigns over all the earth in perfect righteousness. Dr. Steven R. Cook  William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 134.  John Walvoord, eds. Charles R. Swindoll and Roy B. Zuck, Understanding Christian Theology (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2003), 1265.  The subject of Messiah's earthly kingdom is found throughout the OT (Dan 2:44; 7:13-14; 2 Sam 7:16; Psa 89:3-4, 34-37; Isa 9:6-7; Jer 23:5-6) and the NT (Matt 6:9-10; 19:28; 25:31; Luke 1:31-33; Rev 19:11-16; Rev 20:4-6).  Three times Jesus referred to Satan as “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). Other passages of Scripture call Satan “the god of this world” (2 Cor 4:4), and “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph 2:2), informing us “that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). Satan rules as a tyrant who has “weakened the nations” (Isa 14:12), and currently “deceives the whole world” (Rev 12:9). Satan continues to attack God's people today (1 Pet 5:8), practices deception (2 Cor 11:13-15), and has well developed strategies of warfare (Eph 6:10-12). Furthermore, humanity is living in an “evil age” (Gal 1:4), under “the dominion of Satan” (Acts 26:18), whose sphere of influence is called “the domain of darkness” (Col 1:13).  Earl D. Radmacher, Ronald Barclay Allen, and H. Wayne House, Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Commentary (Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers, 1999), 1762.  Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 618.  Norman L. Geisler, Systematic Theology, Volume Four: Church, Last Things (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2005), 618–619.  H. Wayne House and Timothy J. Demy, Answers to Common Questions about Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2011), 75–76.
Jesus' Resurrection Jesus' resurrection is an essential element in soteriology. In fact, every writer of the NT assumes that Jesus was resurrected from the grave and treat it as an event that took place in time and space. Paul wrote that Jesus “was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:4), that He was “the first fruits of those who are asleep” (1 Cor 15:20), and that “having been raised from the dead, is never to die again” (Rom 6:9). After His resurrection, Jesus appeared to numerous persons over a period of forty days (Acts 1:3), namely, Mary Magdalene and other women (Matt 28:1-10; John 20:10-18), two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-32), the disciples without Thomas (John 20:19-25), the disciples with Thomas (John 20:26-29), the disciples by the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1-23), Peter, James, and more than 500 brethren at one time (1 Cor 15:5-7). After these appearances, Jesus ascended bodily into heaven (Luke 24:50-51; Acts 1:9-11). It is recorded that God the Father “raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places” (Eph 1:20). Ralph Earle notes the importance of Jesus' resurrection as follows: "Without the Resurrection the Crucifixion would have been in vain. It was the Resurrection which validated the atoning death of Jesus and gave it value. Paul describes it strikingly this way: “Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Rom 4:25). The resurrection of Jesus proved that his sacrifice for sins had been accepted. The whole redemptive scheme would have fallen apart without it. For by his resurrection Jesus Christ became the first fruits of a new race, a new humanity." Charles Ryrie adds: "In the classic passage, 1 Corinthians 15:3–8, Christ's death and resurrection are said to be “of first importance.” The Gospel is based on two essential facts: a Savior died and He lives. The burial proves the reality of His death. He did not merely faint only to be revived later. He died. The list of witnesses proves the reality of His resurrection. He died and was buried; He rose and was seen. Paul wrote of that same twofold emphasis in Romans 4:25: He was delivered for our offenses and raised for our justification. Without the Resurrection there is no Gospel…If Christ did not rise then our witness is false, our faith is without meaningful content, and our prospects for the future are hopeless (1 Cor 15:13–19). If Christ is not risen then believers who have died would be dead in the absolute sense without any hope of resurrection. And we who live could only be pitied for being deluded into thinking there is a future resurrection for them." The resurrection of Jesus is an essential element of the Christian gospel. Paul wrote, “Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you” (1 Cor 15:1). And the content of the gospel Paul preached was “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3-4). Believing the gospel message means accepting this information as true, and then trusting in Christ as one's Savior. According to R.B. Thieme Jr., “First Corinthians 15:3-4 defines the boundaries of the Gospel, beginning with the work of Christ and ending with His resurrection…Any Gospel message that strays from the cross or denies Jesus Christ's resurrection from physical death is inaccurate and out of bounds.” Amazingly, there were some at the church in Corinth who taught “that there is no resurrection of the dead” (1 Cor 15:12). Paul addressed this issue head on, saying, “if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is useless…For if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.” (1 Cor 15:13-14, 17). The clear teaching of Scripture is that “Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep” (1 Cor 15:20), and being “raised from the dead, is never to die again” (Rom 6:9). By His resurrection, Jesus proved that He overcame sin and death. Robert Mounce states: "Having been raised from the dead, Christ cannot die again. His resurrection was unlike that of Lazarus, who had to meet death once again. But Christ's resurrection broke forever the tyranny of death. That cruel master can no longer exercise any power over him. The cross was sin's final move; the resurrection was God's checkmate. The game is over. Sin is forever in defeat. Christ the victor died to sin “once for all” and lives now in unbroken fellowship with God." Jesus' Ascension and Session After Jesus' resurrection, he appeared to many on several occasions. His final appearance was to His apostles. Luke wrote, “And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven” (Luke 24:50-51). And in Acts we're told, “He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9). It's important to note that Jesus ascended bodily into heaven, and that He will return the same way. Jesus' ascension into heaven was the beginning of His session at the right hand of God. Concerning Jesus's session, R. B. Thieme Jr. notes, “At His session, the humanity of Christ was ‘crowned with glory and honor' and exalted to a position far higher than the angels (Heb 2:9). The Father put all powers and authorities in subjection to His Son and confirmed the ultimate subjugation of all who oppose Him.” Jesus is, right now, “at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him” (1 Pet 3:22; cf., Eph 1:20), and He was “crowned with glory and honor” (Heb 2:9), and holds the title of “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Rev 19:16). According to Werner Foerster, “Session at the right hand of God means joint rule. It thus implies divine dignity, as does the very fact of sitting in God's presence.” And Ryrie notes, “By His resurrection and ascension our Lord was positioned in the place of honor at the right hand of the Father to be Head over the church, His body (Eph 1:20–23).” Walvoord notes: "In the ascension of the incarnate Christ to heaven, not only was the divine nature restored to its previous place of infinite glory, but the human nature was also exalted. It is now as the God-Man that He is at the right hand of God the Father. This demonstrates that infinite glory and humanity are compatible as illustrated in the person of Christ and assures the saint that though he is a sinner saved by grace he may anticipate the glory of God in eternity." Ryrie states, “The Ascension marked the end of the period of Christ's humiliation and His entrance into the state of exaltation…The Ascension having taken place, Christ then was ready to begin other ministries in behalf of His own and of the world.” Lewis Chafer notes seven aspects of Jesus' current ministry in heaven. "Seven aspects of His present ministry are to be recognized, namely: (1) exercise of universal authority. He said of Himself, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matt 28:18); (2) Headship over all things to the Church (Eph 1:22–23); (3) bestowment and direction of the exercise of gifts (Rom 12:3–8; 1 Cor 12:4–31; Eph 4:7–11); (4) intercession, in which ministry Christ contemplates the weakness and immaturity of His own who are in the world (Psa 23:1; Rom 8:34; Heb 7:25); (5) advocacy, by which ministry He appears in defense of His own before the Father's throne when they sin (Rom 8:34; Heb 9:24; 1 John 2:1); (6) building of the place He has gone to prepare (John 14:1-3); and (7) “expecting” or waiting until the moment when by the Father's decree the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdom of the Messiah—not by human agencies but by the resistless, crushing power of the returning King (Heb 10:13)." Dr. Steven R. Cook  Ralph Earle, “The Person of Christ: Death, Resurrection, Ascension,” in Basics of the Faith: An Evangelical Introduction to Christian Doctrine, ed. Carl F. H. Henry, Best of Christianity Today (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2019), 184.  Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Basic Theology, 308.  Robert B. Thieme, Jr. “Gospel”, Thieme's Bible Doctrine Dictionary, (Houston, TX., R. B. Thieme, Jr., Bible Ministries, 2022), 113  Robert H. Mounce, Romans, vol. 27, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 152.  Robert B. Thieme, Jr. “Session of Jesus Christ”, Thieme's Bible Doctrine Dictionary, (Houston, TX., R. B. Thieme, Jr., Bible Ministries, 2022), 238.  Werner Foerster and Gottfried Quell, “Κύριος, Κυρία, Κυριακός, Κυριότης, Κυριεύω, Κατακυριεύω,” ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–), 1089.  Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Basic Theology, 313.  John F. Walvoord, Jesus Christ Our Lord (Galaxie Software, 2008), 121–122.  Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Basic Theology, 312.  Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol. 7 (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1993), 82.
Jesus' Sinless Life The record of Scripture is that Jesus “knew no sin” (2 Cor 5:21), was “without sin” (Heb 4:15), “committed no sin” (1 Pet 2:22), and in whom “there is no sin” (1 John 3:5). But why was the sinless humanity of Jesus necessary? The biblical teaching is that all mankind is sinful and separated from God (Rom 3:10-23). We are sinners in Adam (Rom 5:12; 1 Cor 15:21-22), sinners by nature (Rom 7:14-25; 13:12-14), and sinners by choice (Isa 59:2; Jam 1:14-15). Because of our fallen sinful state, we are completely helpless to solve the sin problem and save ourselves (Rom 5:6-10; Eph 2:1-3), and good works have no saving merit before God (Isa 64:6; Rom 4:4-5; Eph 2:8-9; Tit 3:5). Being completely sinless, Jesus was qualified to go the cross as “a lamb unblemished and spotless” (1 Pet 1:19) and die a substitutionary death in our place, “the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet 3:18). Charles Lee Feinberg states, “Though tempted in all points as we are, He was nevertheless without sin (Heb 4:15); indeed, we are told, He was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners (Heb 7:26). In short, the combined testimony of Scripture reveals that in Him is no sin (1 John 3:5).” According to R. B. Thieme Jr.: "As true humanity living on earth, Christ was free from all three categories of human sinfulness: the sin nature, Adam's original sin, and personal sins. The first two categories were eliminated from our Lord's life through the virgin birth, but personal sin remained an issue throughout the Incarnation. Scripture confirms that our Lord can “sympathize with our weaknesses,” because He “has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). The temptation to personal sin did not come from within, because the humanity of Christ had no inherent sin nature. He did, however, receive temptation from outside His person—even being tempted by Satan himself…By constantly relying on the provisions of the spiritual life (the same provisions available to us), Jesus Christ was able to resist every temptation and remain perfect (1 John 3:3, 5)." Sinners need salvation, but cannot save themselves, nor can they save another. All are trapped in sin and utterly helpless to change their condition. But God the Son did what we cannot do for ourselves. He obeyed the Father and stepped into time and space, taking true and sinless humanity to Himself, and living a perfect life before the Father. Then, at a point in time, He surrendered Himself to the cross and died a penal substitutionary death on behalf of all humanity, bearing the wrath of God in their place. Then He was placed in a grave and rose again to life on the third day, never to die again. The benefits of the cross are applied to those who come to Jesus with the empty hands of faith, believing He died for them, was buried, and raised again on the third day. When they place their faith in Him as Savior, they have forgiveness of sins and eternal life. This is given freely by grace. R. B. Thieme Jr. states: "Every human being needs to be saved, because everyone enters this world in a state of spiritual death, total depravity, and total separation from God. Because man is born hopelessly lost from God and helpless to do anything about it, God, in His grace, designed a perfect plan to reconcile man to Himself. God the Son took the burden of responsibility: He became true humanity and remained sinless so that He could be judged for the sins of the world (1 Pet 3:18). While Jesus Christ hung on the cross, God the Father poured the full wrath of His justice upon the Son He loved so perfectly (Matt 27:46; Rom 5:8–10; 2 Cor 5:21). Christ “bore our sins in His body” (1 Pet 2:24) and took the punishment in our place. God's righteous standard approved of Jesus' sacrifice as payment for all human sins." Jesus' Willingness to Die Jesus was not forced to go to the cross, but willingly went and bore our sin (Isa 53:4-11; John 10:17-18; 1 Pet 2:24). Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep” (John 10:11), and “No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative” (John 10:18a). It was the will of the Father for Jesus to die a penal substitutionary death, and Jesus willingly accomplished it. Jesus said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me” (Heb 10:5). And once in hypostatic union, Jesus said, “Behold, I have come to do your will” (Heb 10:9). It was necessary for Jesus to be fully human and free from sin to be the atoning sacrifice. Thomas Constable states, “Jesus willingly offered Himself; no human took His life from Him. However, He offered Himself in obedience to the Father's will.” According to Leon Morris, “The Lord's death does not take place as the result of misadventure or the might of his foes or the like. No one takes his life from him. Far from this being the case, he himself lays it down, and does so completely of his own volition.” William MacDonald adds: "No one could take the Lord's life from Him. He is God, and is thus greater than all the murderous plots of His creatures. He had power in Himself to lay down His life, and He also had power to take it again. But did not men kill the Lord Jesus? They did. This is clearly stated in Acts 2:23 and in 1 Thessalonians 2:15. The Lord Jesus allowed them to do it, and this was an exhibition of His power to lay down His life. Furthermore, He “gave up His Spirit” (John 19:30) as an act of His own strength and will." Jesus' Substitutionary Atonement Atonement is a very important concept in the Bible. In the OT, the word atonement translates the Hebrew verb kaphar (כָּפַר) which means to “cover over, pacify, propitiate, [or] atone for sin.” Theologically, it means “to bring together in mutual agreement, with the added idea, in theology, of reconciliation through the vicarious suffering of one on behalf of another.” The animal sacrificial system—which was part of the Mosaic Law—taught that sin must be atoned for. The idea of substitution was clearly taught as the sinner laid his hands on the animal that died in his place (Lev 4:15, 24; 16:21). The innocent animal paid the price of death on behalf of the guilty sinner. The animal sacrificial system under the Mosaic Law taught that God is holy, man is sinful, and that God was willing to judge an innocent creature as a substitute in place of the sinner. The animal that shed its blood gave up its life in place of the one who had offended God, and it was only through the shed blood that atonement was made. A life for a life. The animal sacrificial system under the Mosaic Law was highly symbolic, temporary, and pointed forward to the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. The Levitical priests would regularly perform their temple sacrifices on behalf of the people to God, but being a symbolic system, the animal sacrifices could never “make perfect those who draw near” to Him, for the simple reason that “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Heb 10:1, 4). For nearly fourteen centuries the temple priests kept “offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins” (Heb 10:11), until finally Christ “offered one sacrifice for sins for all time” (Heb 10:12), and through that one offering “perfected for all time those who are sanctified” by it (Heb 10:14). What the Mosaic Law could never accomplish through the sacrifice of symbols, Christ did once and for all time through His substitutionary death on the cross when he died in the place of sinners. Jesus' death on the cross was a satisfactory sacrifice to God which completely paid the price for our sin. We owed a debt to God that we could never pay, and Jesus paid that debt in full when He died on the cross and bore the punishment that rightfully belonged to us. In Romans 3:25 Paul used the Greek word hilasterion (ἱλαστήριον)—translated propitiation—to show that Jesus' shed blood completely satisfied God's righteous demands toward our sin, with the result that there is nothing more for the sinner to pay to God. Jesus paid our sin-debt in full. The Apostle John tells us “He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world” (1 John 2:2; cf., 1 John 4:10). Jesus' death on the cross forever satisfied God's righteous demands toward the sins of everyone for all time! God has “canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross” (Col 2:14). Regarding Christ's death, J. Dwight Pentecost states: "You can be adjusted to God's standard, because God made Christ to become sin for us. The One who knew no sin, the One in whose lips had never been found guile, took upon Himself our sin in order that He might bear our sins to the cross and offer Himself as an acceptable substitute to God for us—on our behalf, in our place. And when Jesus Christ identified Himself with sinners and went to the cross on their behalf and in their place, He was making possible the doctrine of reconciliation. He was making it possible for God to conform the world to Himself, to adjust the world to His standard so that sinners in the world might find salvation because “Jesus paid it all.” You can be adjusted to God, to God's standard, through Christ, by His death, by His cross, by His blood, and by His identification with sinners." In the NT, the idea of substitution is observed in the use of two Greek prepositions. The first is the preposition huper (ὑπὲρ), translated “for,” which means “in behalf of, for the sake of someone.” The idea of Jesus dying as a substitute in the place of sinners is seen in Romans 5:8 where Paul wrote, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” The second preposition that denotes substitution is anti (ἀντὶ), also translated “for,” which expresses the idea “that one person or thing is, or is to be, replaced by another, instead of, in place of.” The preposition anti (ἀντὶ) is seen in Jesus' statement, “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matt 20:28). According to Robert Lightner: "The biblical view of the Savior's death is that he died to satisfy the demands of the offended righteousness of God. The Savior died in the sinner's place. This is an essential, indispensable truth in evangelicalism. It is true that Christ died for the sinner's benefit, but that does not fully describe the nature and purpose of his finished work. He gave his life in the sinner's place. He died as the sinner's substitute. The strongest expression of Christ's substitutionary death is given with the Greek preposition anti, translated “for.” Christ himself used this word when he said, “even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Matt 20:28; cf. Matt 26:28; 1 Tim 2:6). Christ died in the sinner's place. He died instead of the condemned." Jesus' atonement for sins is the basis for reconciliation, because God has judged our sins in the Person of Christ who died on the cross in our place. The death of Christ has forever satisfied God's righteous demands for our sin and it is on this basis that He can accept sinners into heaven. The blood of Christ is the only coin in the heavenly realm that God accepts as payment for our sin-debt, and Christ paid our sin debt in full. That's good news! Because Jesus' death satisfied God's righteousness demands for sin, the sinner can approach God who welcomes him without reservation. God has cleared the way for sinners to come to Him for a new relationship, and this is based completely on the substitutionary work of Christ. God has done everything to reconcile humanity to Himself. The debt that was owed to God was paid in full by the blood of Christ. Dr. Steven R. Cook  Charles Lee Feinberg, “The Hypostatic Union,” Bibliotheca Sacra 92 (1935): 423.  Robert B. Thieme, Jr. “Impeccability of Christ”, Thieme's Bible Doctrine Dictionary, (Houston, TX., R. B. Thieme, Jr., Bible Ministries, 2022), 135.  Robert B. Thieme, Jr. “Salvation”, Thieme's Bible Doctrine Dictionary, (Houston, TX., R. B. Thieme, Jr., Bible Ministries, 2022), 232.  Tom Constable, Tom Constable's Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Jn 10:18.  Leon Morris, The Gospel according to John, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1995), 456.  William MacDonald, Believer's Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments, ed. Arthur Farstad (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1995), 1526.  Francis Brown, S.R. Driver and Charles A. Briggs, The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew-English Lexicon (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers 1979), 497.  G. W. Bromiley, “Atone; Atonement,” ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1979–1988), 352.  J. Dwight Pentecost, Things Which Become Sound Doctrine (Grand Rapids, Mi., Kregel Publications, 1965), 89.  William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 1030.  Ibid., 87.  Robert P. Lightner, Handbook of Evangelical Theology: A Historical, Biblical, and Contemporary Survey and Review (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1995), 194.
Jesus' Humility It is only natural that the subject of Jesus' humility be discussed after examining His position as the Suffering Servant. W. H. Griffith Thomas notes: "In the Old Testament our Lord is called “the Servant of Jehovah,” and in the New Testament He is described as having taken “the form of a servant.” In order to do the will of God and redeem mankind, it was necessary for Him to humble Himself and become a “Servant,” so that along the pathway of service He might come to that Cross which was at once the exemplification of devoted duty, redeeming grace, and Divine love." Matthew records Jesus' mental attitude of humility when He said, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart” (Matt 11:29). The word humble translates the Greek adjective tapeinos (ταπεινός), which denotes being “lowly, undistinguished, of no account.” Jesus' mental attitude of humility was in contrast with that of the world which regards the virtue of humility in a negative way. Moisés Silva notes, “In the Greek world, with its anthropocentric approach, lowliness is looked on as shameful, to be avoided and overcome by act and thought. In the NT, with its theocentric perspective, the words are used to describe our relationship with God and its effect on how we treat fellow human beings.” For Jesus, being humble meant He was more concerned with doing the Father's will than that of the world around Him, or even His own will (Luke 22:42). And there was no greater act of humility than Jesus being obedient to the point of death on the cross. Paul wrote that Jesus “humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:8). Wiersbe states, “His was not the death of a martyr but the death of a Savior. He willingly laid down His life for the sins of the world.” Homer Kent notes, “He was so committed to the Father's plan that he obeyed it even as far as death (Heb 5:8). Nor was this all, for it was no ordinary death, but the disgraceful death by crucifixion, a death not allowed for Roman citizens, and to Jews indicative of the curse of God (Deut 21:23; Gal 3:13).” And Earl Radmacher comments: "Jesus came to the earth with the identity of a man. Here the word appearance points to the external characteristics of Jesus: He had the bearing, actions, and manners of a man. He humbled Himself: Jesus willingly took the role of a servant; no one forced Him to do it. Obedient: Although He never sinned and did not deserve to die, He chose to die so that the sins of the world could be charged to His account. Subsequently He could credit His righteousness to the account of all who believe in Him (2 Cor 5:21; Gal 1:4)." As stated before, Jesus was not forced to go to the cross, but willingly went to the cross and bore our sin (Isa 53:4-11; John 10:17-18; 1 Pet 2:24). As God, He could have avoided the cross altogether, or even stepped down from the cross if He'd wanted. Jesus died on a cross to accomplish the Father's will. To be an atoning sacrifice for our sins, so that we could receive forgiveness and eternal life and enjoy heaven forever with Him. His being humble to the point of death was for our wellbeing. He died for us, “the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet 3:18). Walvoord notes: "No one else has ever come from infinite heights of glory to such a shameful death. If there had been a better way or another way by which the sin of the whole world could have been taken away, surely God would not have required His beloved Son to submit to such a death. This was the only way. There had to be a perfect sacrifice, an atonement of infinite value. This could be accomplished only by a person who was both God and man, who was without sin and yet was truly a man representing the human race. No other could take the place of Christ, no act of devotion, however unselfish, no act of ordinary man, however courageous, for sin. As we contemplate the mind of Christ which made Him willing to die on the cross, we must realize that if Christ had not died men would still be in their sins with a hopeless eternity and facing just as certain a judgment as that which is the lot of the lost angels who know nothing of salvation." Jesus' Sinless Life The record of Scripture is that Jesus “knew no sin” (2 Cor 5:21), was “without sin” (Heb 4:15), “committed no sin” (1 Pet 2:22), and in whom “there is no sin” (1 John 3:5). But why was the sinless humanity of Jesus necessary? The biblical teaching is that all mankind is sinful and separated from God (Rom 3:10-23). We are sinners in Adam (Rom 5:12; 1 Cor 15:21-22), sinners by nature (Rom 7:14-25; 13:12-14), and sinners by choice (Isa 59:2; Jam 1:14-15). Because of our fallen sinful state, we are completely helpless to solve the sin problem and save ourselves (Rom 5:6-10; Eph 2:1-3), and good works have no saving merit before God (Isa 64:6; Rom 4:4-5; Eph 2:8-9; Tit 3:5). Being completely sinless, Jesus was qualified to go the cross as “a lamb unblemished and spotless” (1 Pet 1:19) and die a substitutionary death in our place, “the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet 3:18). Charles Lee Feinberg states, “Though tempted in all points as we are, He was nevertheless without sin (Heb 4:15); indeed, we are told, He was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners (Heb 7:26). In short, the combined testimony of Scripture reveals that in Him is no sin (1 John 3:5).” According to R. B. Thieme Jr.: "As true humanity living on earth, Christ was free from all three categories of human sinfulness: the sin nature, Adam's original sin, and personal sins. The first two categories were eliminated from our Lord's life through the virgin birth, but personal sin remained an issue throughout the Incarnation. Scripture confirms that our Lord can “sympathize with our weaknesses,” because He “has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Heb 4:15). The temptation to personal sin did not come from within, because the humanity of Christ had no inherent sin nature. He did, however, receive temptation from outside His person—even being tempted by Satan himself…By constantly relying on the provisions of the spiritual life (the same provisions available to us), Jesus Christ was able to resist every temptation and remain perfect (1 John 3:3, 5)." Sinners need salvation, but cannot save themselves, nor can they save another. All are trapped in sin and utterly helpless to change their condition. But God the Son did what we cannot do for ourselves. He obeyed the Father and stepped into time and space, taking true and sinless humanity to Himself, and living a perfect life before the Father. Then, at a point in time, He surrendered Himself to the cross and died a penal substitutionary death on behalf of all humanity, bearing the wrath of God in their place. Then He was placed in a grave and rose again to life on the third day, never to die again. The benefits of the cross are applied to those who come to Jesus with the empty hands of faith, believing He died for them, was buried, and raised again on the third day. When they place their faith in Him as Savior, they have forgiveness of sins and eternal life. This is given freely by grace. R. B. Thieme Jr. states: Every human being needs to be saved, because everyone enters this world in a state of spiritual death, total depravity, and total separation from God. Because man is born hopelessly lost from God and helpless to do anything about it, God, in His grace, designed a perfect plan to reconcile man to Himself. God the Son took the burden of responsibility: He became true humanity and remained sinless so that He could be judged for the sins of the world (1 Pet 3:18). While Jesus Christ hung on the cross, God the Father poured the full wrath of His justice upon the Son He loved so perfectly (Matt 27:46; Rom 5:8–10; 2 Cor 5:21). Christ “bore our sins in His body” (1 Pet 2:24) and took the punishment in our place. God's righteous standard approved of Jesus' sacrifice as payment for all human sins. Dr. Steven R. Cook  W. H. Griffith Thomas, The Christian Life and How to Live It (Chicago: The Bible Institute Colportage Association, 1919), 59–60.  William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 989.  Moisés Silva, ed., New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014), 452.  Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 75.  Homer A. Kent Jr., “Philippians,” in The Expositor's Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 11 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 124.  Earl D. Radmacher, Ronald Barclay Allen, and H. Wayne House, Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Commentary (Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers, 1999), 1550–1551.  John F. Walvoord, To Live Is Christ (Galaxie Software, 2007), 45.  Charles Lee Feinberg, “The Hypostatic Union,” Bibliotheca Sacra 92 (1935): 423.  Robert B. Thieme, Jr. “Impeccability of Christ”, Thieme's Bible Doctrine Dictionary, (Houston, TX., R. B. Thieme, Jr., Bible Ministries, 2022), 135.  Robert B. Thieme, Jr. “Salvation”, Thieme's Bible Doctrine Dictionary, (Houston, TX., R. B. Thieme, Jr., Bible Ministries, 2022), 232.
Introduction In the previous pericope, we saw where God worked providentially to connect Cornelius, a Roman Centurion living in Caesarea, with Peter, who was living in Joppa (30 miles south). Cornelius is described as a God-fearer (Acts 10:2, 22). God-fearers were Gentiles who were drawn to the simplicity of monotheism and the high morality offered through the Mosaic Law in Judaism. The Greeks and Romans were polytheistic and their fickle and violent gods were often at war with each other. Their gods were little more than amplified representations of humanity, and the multiplicity of gods made their whole religious system unstable. As a God-fearer, Cornelius showed signs of positive volition, and he sought the Lord in prayer and through acts of kindness. Prayer and acts of charity in an unbeliever have no saving value; however, in the case of Cornelius, they demonstrated positive volition toward God, so the Lord sent him gospel information so he could believe in Christ for salvation (Acts 10:24-44). Cornelius was not saved, but he would be, after hearing and responding to the gospel of grace (Acts 11:13-14). What follows is the account of God's providence to orchestrate an evangelistic opportunity. Text Luke tells us, “On the next day, as they were on their way and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour to pray” (Acts 10:9). We observe these events occurring in time and space as Luke employs the words day and hour, city and housetop. Cornelius' servants had traveled the 30 miles south from Caesarea to Joppa in a day, which either meant they were on horseback, or travelled all night. The sixth hour was about noontime and may have reflected a pattern in Peter's prayer life. Other godly believers had a habit of prayer at certain times of the day (Psa 55:17; Dan 6:10). The Lord would use this situation to teach Peter a theological truth. But he became hungry and was desiring to eat; but while they were making preparations, he fell into a trance, 11 and he saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet coming down, lowered by four corners to the ground, 12 and there were in it all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air. A voice came to him, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat!” 14 But Peter said, “By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean” (Acts 10:10-14) In the vision, Peter saw the sky open up and saw what appeared to him something like a great sheet descending to the ground. On the sheet was a variety of animals, crawling creatures and birds. Peter heard the Lord's voice instruct him, saying, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat!” (Acts 10:12b). The Lord's directive was a command with two verbs in the imperative mood (θῦσον καὶ φάγε). The Mosaic Law distinguished between clean and unclean animals, and if one touched or ate an unclean animal, one became ceremonially unclean (see Lev 11). The primary reason for the vision was to teach Peter that he was now to accept the Gentiles as equal in the body of Christ, and that he “should not call any man unholy or unclean” (Acts 10:28). In the Church Age, God has declared all foods clean (Mark 7:19; Rom 14:14; Col 2:16; 1 Tim 4:4). But old habits die hard, and Peter was challenged to conform to the new standard, and this was not the first time Peter resisted the Lord (Matt 16:22). Ultimately, God was teaching Peter that He has declared Gentiles and Jews equal in the body of Christ, and that the wall of division had been removed (see Acts 10:28; cf., Gal 3:26-29; Eph 2:14-16). God used repetition for emphasis as well as to seat the matter in Peter's mind. And God was gracious and persistent, as Luke tells us, “Again a voice came to him a second time, ‘What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.' This happened three times, and immediately the object was taken up into the sky” (Acts 10:15-16). The timing of the vision was intended to prepare Peter for what followed. Luke tells us, “Now while Peter was greatly perplexed in mind as to what the vision which he had seen might be, behold, the men who had been sent by Cornelius, having asked directions for Simon's house, appeared at the gate, and calling out, they were asking whether Simon, who was also called Peter, was staying there” (Acts 10:17-18). Here we see God's providence at work, as He prepares Peter and Cornelius' servants to meet for the first time. But Peter did not know Cornelius' men were at the gate, so “While Peter was reflecting on the vision, the Spirit said to him, ‘Behold, three men are looking for you. But get up, go downstairs and accompany them without misgivings, for I have sent them Myself'” (Acts 10:19-20). This shows that God the Holy Spirit is behind evangelism. Peter, being positive to the Lord and His directives, obeyed and did as He was told. Luke records, “Peter went down to the men and said, ‘Behold, I am the one you are looking for; what is the reason for which you have come?' They said, ‘Cornelius, a centurion, a righteous and God-fearing man well-spoken of by the entire nation of the Jews, was divinely directed by a holy angel to send for you to come to his house and hear a message from you” (Acts 10:21-22). The result was, “So he invited them in and gave them lodging. And on the next day he got up and went away with them, and some of the brethren from Joppa accompanied him” (Acts 10:23). Peter displayed hospitality to his guests by inviting them in and giving them a place to sleep for the night. This was a big change for Peter, for Jews normally did not entertain Gentiles, let alone lodge them in their home for the night. They left the next morning and journeyed from Joppa to Caesarea, and some of Peter's Jewish brethren came along with him. One wonders why God did not use Philip to preach to Cornelius and family, since Philip was already in Caesarea (Acts 8:40). Whatever the reason, God always works through the right servant at the right time, and Peter was His selection for evangelism. Summary of Acts 10:9-23: The Central Idea of the Text is that God revealed to Peter that Gentiles and Jews are both equally acceptable to Him in Christ. Present Application God is the One who works to create evangelistic opportunities as He works behind the scenes, creating and controlling circumstances for His purposes. Here we observe an example where an angel was used as a “ministering spirit, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation” (Heb 1:14). Though God used an angel to tell Cornelius what to do, the sharing of the gospel is a privilege for humans, and Peter was the Lord's man to share that salvific information. By God's sovereign will He controls all the events of our lives, and the things we consider mundane or coincidence are used by Him to direct us to the places and people He has predetermined. In this, we know there are no accidental events in our lives, nor chance encounters with other people, for God is working “all things after the counsel of His will” (Eph 1:11; cf. Psa 103:19; 135:6; Dan 4:35), and causing “all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom 8:28). God used a visual aid and repetition as pedagogical tools to help Peter uproot a lifetime of thinking that was now a hindrance to his spiritual service. The Lord was changing His historical program through the institution of the Church, and the separation that existed historically between Jews and Gentiles was removed (Gal 3:26-29; Eph 2:11-16; Col 3:11). Peter, having originally said to God, “By no means, Lord” (Acts 10:14; cf. Matt 16:21-23; John 13:8), soon revealed himself as teachable and willing to adjust his theology and life as God corrected him. Theology must have application, and the correction to Peter's theology became evident when he actually went with the Gentiles to the house of Cornelius (Acts 10:23-48). It's tough to make personal changes in ministry because we're challenged to unseat longstanding values and traditions which may have served us well at one time, but are no longer useful. Inertia is easier and requires no action to change. However, if we're unwilling to change, the end result is death to ministry. In Peter's case, inertia would have rendered him useless as a servant of the Lord, and may have brought divine discipline. Gospel Presentation If you are here this morning without Christ, without hope, and without eternal life, I want you to know that when Jesus was on the cross, He had you personally in mind as He bore your sin and paid the price for it. He died and paid the penalty for your sins so that you would not have to. Scripture reveals, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8), and “Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet 3:18). The good news for us is that “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3-4), and if we place our faith in Him as the only Savior (John 14:6; Acts 4:12), we are promised forgiveness of sins (Eph 1:7), eternal life (John 10:28), and place in heaven forever (John 14:1-3). I “beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Cor 5:20).
It is in the understanding of the suffering and death of Christ that the sinner appreciates God's great love and the price that was paid for our salvation. Christ suffered in our place, bearing the penalty that rightfully belongs to us. Scripture tells us that “Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet 3:18a). Perhaps no section of Scripture in the Old Testament bears greater testimony to this truth than Isaiah 52:13 through 53:12, in which the prophet reveals the Messiah as the Suffering Servant. Isaiah 53 is mentioned several times in the New Testament as specifically referring to Christ (Matt 8:17; John 12:38; Acts 8:30-35; Rom 10:16; 1 Pet 2:22-25), so that there is no mistake in the minds of the New Testament writers that the passage points to Jesus. According to John Stott, “The New Testament writers quote eight specific verses as having been fulfilled in Jesus…eight verses out of the chapter's twelve are all quite specifically referred to Jesus.” And Arnold Fruchtenbaum notes: "It was Isaiah the Prophet who first provided the hope that the day would come when the burden will be lifted. In Isaiah 53, God declared that the Suffering Servant, the Messiah, would be the sacrifice for sin…The point of Isaiah 53 is basically this: The animal sacrifices under the Mosaic Law were intended to be of temporary duration, a temporary measure only. God's intent was for there to be one final blood sacrifice, and that would be the sacrifice of the Messiah Himself." In Isaiah 53:10 we observe the Father's judgment on Christ for our sin, and Christ's willingness to be judged in our place. Isaiah wrote, “But the LORD was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand” (Isa 53:10). It was the Father's will for the Son to go to the cross to die for sinners, but we must also realize that Christ willingly went to His death and bore the Father's wrath in our place. It is simultaneously true that God sent and Christ went. Jesus was not forced upon the cross, but willingly, in love, surrendered His life and died in our place. Jesus said, “I lay down My life for the sheep” (John 10:15), and “no one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative” (John 10:18). Paul wrote, “Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (Eph 5:2), and “Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (Eph 5:25), and “the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Gal 2:20). The writer to the Hebrews tells us that Christ “offered up Himself” (Heb 7:27), and “offered Himself without blemish to God” (Heb 9:14). As a result of Jesus bearing the sin of many, Isaiah wrote, “He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand” (Isa 53:10b). When Isaiah said, “He will see His offspring”, it meant that Christ's death would bear the fruit of spiritual offspring as people turn to Him as Savior and are born again (cf. John 3:3; 1 Pet 1:3, 23). Fruchtenbaum notes, “The Servant's seed would be those who benefit from His death by spiritual rebirth. The moment they accept for themselves His substitutionary death for their sins, they are born again spiritually by the Holy Spirit. By this spiritual rebirth, they become the Servant's seed.” And the phrase, “He will prolong His days” refers to Jesus' bodily resurrection, never to die again. And the phrase, “the good pleasure of the LORD” most likely speaks of heaven's wealth that will be known to those whom Christ will justify and who will share in His riches and heavenly estate (John 14:1-3; 1 Pet 1:3-4). Though Jesus suffered greatly on the cross, His death was infinitely purposeful, as it satisfied the Father's demands toward our sin, and also justified the many who would trust in Christ as Savior. Isaiah wrote, “As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; by His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities” (Isa 53:11). Here is a picture of substitutionary atonement, as the Suffering Servant will “justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities” (Isa 53:11b). Peter also reveals the doctrine of substitution when he states, “Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet 3:18). It is important to grasp that Christ bore our sin, but this did not make Him a sinner in conduct. On the other hand, we are declared righteous in God's sight because of the righteousness of Christ imputed to us at the moment of salvation, but this does not make us righteous in conduct. God gives us “the gift of righteousness” (Rom 5:17) at the moment we trust Christ as our Savior. This is what Paul meant when he stated, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor 5:21). Paul understood the doctrine of substitution, that Christ died in the place of sinners and that sinners are declared righteous because of the work of Christ credited to their account. This explains Paul's desire to “be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith” (Phil 3:9). Concerning Isaiah 53:11, Edward Young states: "When the servant bears the iniquities of the many and has been punished for the guilt of these iniquities, the act of bearing the iniquities in itself has not changed the character of those whose iniquities are borne. When the iniquities are borne, i.e. when the guilt those iniquities involved has been punished, the servant may declare that the many stand in right relationship with God. Their iniquities will no longer be able to rise up and accuse them, for the guilt of those iniquities has been punished. Thus, they are justified. They are declared to be righteous, for they have received the righteousness of the servant and they are received and accepted by God Himself. Of them God says that they no longer have iniquities, but they do have the righteousness of the servant. This can only be a forensic justification." If we had stood at the trials of Jesus, seen His beatings, seen His crucifixion and sat at the foot of the cross, surely we would have wept at the injustice and brutal cruelty of it all. However, the Scripture reveals that it was the will of God that Christ go to the cross and die for sinners (Acts 2:23; 4:28), that His death would be an atoning sacrifice that satisfied every righteous demand of the Father (Rom 3:25; 1 John 2:2). In the willing death of Christ, we have the Father's righteousness displayed toward our sin as well as His love toward us, the sinner, whom He seeks to save. There is a purpose to the suffering of Christ. He suffered that we might have forgiveness of sins and eternal life. His substitutionary death propitiated the Father's righteous demand for justice concerning our sin and now we can come to God with the empty hands of faith and receive the free gift of eternal life and be clothed in perfect righteousness. This was accomplished while we were helpless, ungodly, sinners and enemies of God (Rom 5:6-10). God graciously acted toward us to reconcile us to Himself, and this was accomplished through the suffering of Christ.  John R. W. Stott, The Cross of Christ (Downers Grove, Ill. Intervarsity Press, 1986), 145.  Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Messianic Christology: A Study of Old Testament Prophecy Concerning the First Coming of the Messiah (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 1998), 130.  Arnold Fruchtenbaum, The Book of Isaiah: Exposition from a Messianic Jewish Perspective (San Antonio, TX. Ariel Ministries, 2021), 577-578.  Edward Young, The Book of Isaiah, Chapters 40–66, vol. 3 (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1972), 358.
At a point in time, the eternal Son of God added humanity to Himself, simultaneously becoming God and man, Creator and creature, the unique theanthropic person (John 1:1, 14, 18; 8:58; 10:33; 20:28; Col 2:9; Heb 1:8). Jesus is the God-man and exists in hypostatic union, as a single Person with a divine and human nature (John 1:1, 14; 1 John 4:2-3), both natures being distinct and preserved, not mixed or confused, fully God and fully man. The hypostatic union is forever, from conception onward. Jesus was supernaturally conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the virgin Mary (parthenogenesis – Isa 7:14; Matt 1:23; Luke 1:26-38), who is the mother of Jesus' humanity (Christotokos – bearer of Christ). Some see Mary as the mother of God (Theotokos – bearer of God), and though Jesus is God, His divine nature is without origin and eternal. Being the mother of Jesus' humanity honors Mary without elevating her to a place beyond what the Scriptures teach. And Jesus was a Jew, born a son of Abraham, in the line David (Matt 1:1), the promised Messiah (Matt 1:17). Jesus grew in wisdom (Luke 2:40, 52), and lived a perfectly righteous life before God and man. The record of Scripture is that Jesus “knew no sin” (2 Cor 5:21), was “without sin” (Heb 4:15), “committed no sin” (1 Pet 3:22), and “in Him there is no sin” (1 John 3:5). In His humanity, Jesus walked in perfect conformity to God the Father's holy character and divine revelation. Cults such as Mormonism and Jehovah's Witness deny the full humanity and deity of Jesus, and for this reason are not within the true Christian community. Thiessen states: "The Council of Chalcedon, in AD 451, established what has been the position of the Christian church. There is one Jesus Christ, but He has two natures, the human and the divine. He is truly God and truly man, composed of body and rational soul. He is consubstantial with the Father in His deity and consubstantial with man in His humanity, except for sin. In His deity He was begotten of the Father before time, and in His humanity born of the virgin Mary. The distinction between the natures is not diminished by their union, but the specific character of each nature is preserved and they are united in one person. Jesus is not split or divided into two persons; He is one person, the Son of God." His Deity The Bible presents Jesus as God. In the OT, the proper name of God is Yahweh (יהוה) and is generally translated LORD, using all capital letters. When the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew OT) was written around 250 B.C., the translators chose the Greek word kurios (κύριος) as a suitable substitute for the Hebrew name Yahweh (יהוה). Though kurios (κύριος) is sometimes used in the NT to mean sir (John 4:11; Acts 16:30), and master (Col 3:22), it is also used to refer to the deity of Jesus Christ (compare Isa 40:3 with John 1:23; and Deut 6:16 with Matt 4:7; cf. John 20:28; Rom 10:11-12; Phil 2:11). According to Thiessen, “Although the second person of the trinity often appears in the Old Testament, He is never referred to as Christ. Instead, we have the names Son, Jehovah, and the angel of Jehovah. In Psalm 2:7 Jehovah calls him His Son. More frequently He is called Jehovah.”The NT writers clearly saw Yahweh-God from the OT as referring to Jesus. Concerning the NT evidence, the apostle John wrote, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1, 14). And “the Word” which became flesh also existed with the Father “before the world was” (John 17:5). The Jews of Jesus's day understood His claims to deity, that He “was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God” (John 5:18). On another occasion they said to Jesus, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God” (John 10:33). The apostle Thomas, after seeing the resurrected Jesus, said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). Paul wrote of Jesus, saying, “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form” (Col 2:9), and elsewhere said that He is “our great God and Savior” (Tit 2:13). And the writer to the Hebrews said of Jesus, “But of the Son He says, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever'” (Heb 1:8). As God, Jesus created the universe, for “He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being” (John 1:2-3). And Paul wrote, “For by Him [Jesus] all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (Col 1:16-17). As God, Jesus accepted the worship of men and angels. The magi who came to see the newborn Jesus said, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him” (Matt 2:2), and “after coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him” (Matt 2:11a). On three separate occasions the disciples worshipped Jesus. Matthew wrote, “And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, ‘You are certainly God's Son!'” (Matt 14:33), “And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him” (Matt 28:9), and “When they saw Him, they worshiped Him” (Matt 28:17a). And after Jesus healed a lame man, we are told “he worshiped Him” (John 9:38). And of the angels it is written, “Let all God's angels worship him” (Heb 1:6). It follows that Jesus is God, since only God can receive worship. Walvoord states, “In any orthodox statement of the doctrine of the Trinity, the second Person is described as possessing all the attributes of the Godhead, being distinguished as the second Person in contrast to the first or third Persons of the Trinity and as the eternal Son in contrast to the Father or the Holy Spirit.” Hypostatic Union The apostle John wrote, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1, 14). At a point in time, God the Son added to Himself humanity, forever uniting His divine nature with a perfect sinless human nature, becoming the God-man (John 1:1, 14, 18). In the field of systematic theology, this is called the hypostatic union. Chafer states, “Though His deity is eternal, the humanity was gained in time. Therefore, the theanthropic Person—destined to be such forever—began with the incarnation.” God the Son did not indwell a human, but forever added humanity to Himself. According to Paul Enns, “When Christ came, a Person came, not just a nature; He took on an additional nature, a human nature—He did not simply dwell in a human person. The result of the union of the two natures is the theanthropic Person (the God-man).” Reading through the Gospels, there were times that Jesus operated from His divine nature (Mark 2:5-12; John 8:56-58; 10:30-33), and other times from His human nature (Matt 4:2; Luke 8:22-23; John 19:28). Concerning both natures, Paul Enns wrote: "The two natures of Christ are inseparably united without mixture or loss of separate identity. He remains forever the God-man, fully God and fully man, two distinct natures in one Person forever. Though Christ sometimes operated in the sphere of His humanity and in other cases in the sphere of His deity, in all cases what He did and what He was could be attributed to His one Person. Even though it is evident that there were two natures in Christ, He is never considered a dual personality. In summarizing the hypostatic union, three facts are noted: (1) Christ has two distinct natures: humanity and deity; (2) there is no mixture or intermingling of the two natures; (3) although He has two natures, Christ is one Person." Jesus is the God-Man. He is eternal God (Isa 9:6; John 8:56-58), yet He was born of a woman in time and space (Gal 4:4). As God, He is omniscient (Psa 139:1-6), but as a boy, He grew in knowledge (Luke 2:52). As God, He created the universe (Gen 1:1; John 1:3; Col 1:15-16), but as a man, He was subject to weakness (Matt 4:2; John 19:28). Walvoord notes, “When the second Person of the Godhead became incarnate there was immediately introduced the seemingly insuperable problem of uniting God with man and combining an infinite and eternal Person with one that is finite and temporal.” Concerning the complexity of the union, Lewis Chafer states: "The reality in which undiminished Deity and unfallen humanity united in one Theanthropic Person has no parallel in the universe. It need not be a matter of surprise if from the contemplation of such a Being problems arise which human competency cannot solve; nor should it be a matter of wonder that, since the Bible presents no systematized Christology but rather offers a simple narrative with its attending issues, that the momentous challenge to human thought and investigation which the Christ is, has been the major issue in theological controversy from the beginning to the present time." As finite humans, we struggle to comprehend the union of God and Man; however, it is with certainty that the Bible portrays Him this way (John 1:1, 14; 20:28; Heb 1:8 cf. Luke 1:31-33; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15), and this truth is essential to Christianity. As God, Jesus is worthy of all worship and praise (Luke 24:51-52; John 9:38; 20:28; Heb 1:6). As a perfect sinless Man, He went to the cross and died a substitutionary death in our place (Mark 10:45; Rom 5:6-10; 1 Cor 15:3-4; 1 Pet 3:18), and bore the wrath of God that rightfully belongs to us (Isa 53:1-12), so that we might have the gifts of righteousness and eternal life (John 3:16; 10:28; 2 Cor 5:21; Phil 3:9). Dr. Steven R. Cook  Henry Clarence Thiessen and Vernon D. Doerksen, Lectures in Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1979), 208.  Ibid., 209.  John F. Walvoord, Jesus Christ Our Lord (Chicago, Ill; Moody Press, 1969), 106.  Lewis S. Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 1993), 383.  Paul P. Enns, Moody Handbook of Theology, (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1989), 227.  Paul P. Enns, Moody Handbook of Theology, 225.  John F. Walvoord, Jesus Christ Our Lord (Galaxie Software, 2008), 107.  Lewis S. Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol. 1, 387.
Introduction After Saul's conversion to Christ (Acts 9:1-19), he stopped persecuting the church and began to preach Jesus as “the Son of God” (Acts 9:20). This resulted in peace throughout the region. Luke records, “the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase” (Acts 9:31). In the following pericope (Acts 9:32-43), Luke records the spreading of the gospel and Peter's ministry outside of Jerusalem, specifically in the cities of Lydda and Joppa. Text Luke, turning from Saul's conversion, recounts an event with Peter in the city of Lydda. Luke wrote, “Now as Peter was traveling through all those regions, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda” (Acts 9:32). That there were saints (ἅγιος hagios) in Lydda shows that the gospel had been preached there and some had believed in Jesus as Savior. The word saint is a synonym for a believer in Christ, not a description of one's character. All Christians are saints (Rom 1:7; 1 Cor 1:1-2; 2 Cor 1:1; Eph 1:1; Phil 1:1; Col 1:1). After Peter had arrived in Lydda, Luke tells us, “There he found a man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden eight years, for he was paralyzed” (Acts 9:33). That Luke described Aeneas as “a man” (ἄνθρωπος anthropos) and not a saint or disciple might imply he was not a believer. Luke tells us Aeneas had been paralyzed for eight years, which meant he was totally dependent on others for help. Aeneas, being paralyzed, could not sit up, dress, feed, or clean himself. Someone had to care him. If he were transported anywhere, someone had to move him and care for him along the way. Apparently the man had a support structure in place to assist him during his years of paralysis; most likely his family. Caring for others can bring great stress. First, there is the mental and emotional stress of caring for a loved one who is in a declining situation. The caregiver will experience states of mental frustration and emotional exhaustion. In addition, there are the ongoing physical demands of caring for them, a commitment to be physically present, the financial costs, and a loss of independence by the caregiver as he/she surrenders personal interests to care for their loved one. Luke recounts Peter's interaction with Aeneas, informing us, “Peter said to him, ‘Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; get up and make your bed.' Immediately he got up” (Acts 9:34). This account is similar to that of the Lord Jesus who had healed a paralytic in Capernaum, telling the man to take up his bed and go home (Matt 9:6; Mark 2:11; Luke 5:24), and also the paralytic at the pool of Bethesda (John 5:8). This healing of Aeneas was done specifically in the name of Jesus Christ, which was intended to draw attention to Jesus as the living One who had authority over physical maladies. This healing was immediate and total, as Luke uses the Greek adjective eutheos (εὐθέως), which, according to Mounce, means “immediately, instantly, at once.” The healing of Aeneas brought instantaneous health to the man, and also brought relief to his caregiver(s) who had provided for him over the eight years. Though this was certainly a blessing to Aeneas and his loved ones, God intended a greater purpose, which was the salvific healing of souls. Luke records, “And all who lived at Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord” (Acts 9:35). Lydda was the city, and Sharon was the coastal region where the city was located. All those who knew the paralyzed man now saw him in perfect health. The result was, “they turned to the Lord,” which is theological shorthand meaning they believed in Christ as their personal Savior. It may also connote they were obedient in baptism and became disciples. Thomas Constable notes: The phrase “believed in the Lord” is similar to “turned to the Lord” (Acts 9:35; cf. Acts 11:21; 15:19). It is another way of saying that they became Christians, and both phrases emphasize that the Person they believed in was the Lord Jesus. Notice that “turned” is equated with “believed,” and that Luke mentioned no other condition for salvation. Sometimes God heals people for His purposes, and sometimes He does not. He is sovereign and “works all things after the counsel of His will” (Eph 1:11). If/when God does not heal someone, it is for His own purposes, and sometimes sickness leads to death, which is the vehicle He uses to bring His children home to heaven (2 Ki 13:14). Luke transitions to his next account of Peter's ministry, saying, “Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which translated in Greek is called Dorcas); this woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did” (Acts 9:36). Joppa was a coastal town that once had a thriving seaport; however, it lost much of its trade when Herod built the seaport of Caesarea in honor of his friend, Caesar. Of course, Joppa was known in the OT as the place where Jonah fled when disobeying the Lord's call to preach to Gentiles (Jonah 1:3). Luke tells us about a woman named Tabitha, who also had the Greek name Dorcas (both names mean Gazelle). That Tabitha was a disciple meant she was a believer. This woman was loved and greatly known in her community as Luke tells us she “was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did” (Acts 9:36b). Whereas Luke had previously focused on a paralyzed man as one who needed help, here he focuses on a woman who was a caregiver and provided help to others. Her work was not to a family member, but to the community where she lived. This means she had a heart of compassion as well as a sense of responsibility to help meet the physical needs of others. This is true of many healthy Christian ministries which have outreach services for those in the communities around them. Luke tells us, “And it happened at that time that she fell sick and died; and when they had washed her body, they laid it in an upper room” (Acts 9:37). This was a tragedy for others who lost this gracious woman. But the account is also unusual, as we're informed after “they had washed her body, they laid it in an upper room” (Acts 9:37b). This is unusual as the dead were commonly buried in short time to mitigate the experience of the sights and smells of decaying flesh. It's possible this was an act of faith by those who cared for her body, as perhaps they'd heard about the miracle in Lydda and thought the Lord may perform a miracle for them as He'd done there. Luke states, “Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, having heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him, imploring him, ‘Do not delay in coming to us'” (Acts 9:38). When Peter received word from the disciples in Joppa, we're told, “So Peter arose and went with them. When he arrived, they brought him into the upper room; and all the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing all the tunics and garments that Dorcas used to make while she was with them” (Acts 9:39). Here we observe Peter as a leader who was willing to serve others and responded quickly to their call for help. Those who are not willing to serve are not qualified to lead (see Matt 23:11; Luke 22:26; John 13:14-15; 1 Pet 4:10). This is true today, as the church has an obligation to help the needy, as “Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans: and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world” (Jam 1:27). And, “while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith” (Gal 6:10). After Peter arrived, we're told, “But Peter sent them all out and knelt down and prayed, and turning to the body, he said, ‘Tabitha, arise.' And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up. 41 And he gave her his hand and raised her up; and calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive” (Acts 9:40-41). This account is parallel to Mark's account of Jesus raising Jairus' daughter (Mark 5:37-43). Regarding the similarity of these two events, Warren Wiersbe notes, “In both cases, the mourning people were put out of the room; and the words spoken are almost identical: “talitha cumi: little girl, arise; Tabitha cumi: Tabitha, arise.”…In both instances, it was the power of God that raised the person from the dead, for the dead person certainly could not exercise faith.” Furthermore, we're told that after Tabitha had been resuscitated, that Peter called “the saints and widows” back into the room and there “he presented her alive” (Acts 9:41). This is similar to the account where Elijah resuscitated the son of the widow of Zarephath and then afterwards gave “him to his mother” (1 Ki 17:23), and Jesus, after resuscitating the son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:11-14), “gave him back to his mother” (Luke 7:15). The restoration of a deceased child to a widow mother was a blessing, and here, Peter's restoration of Tabitha was a blessing to the widows of Joppa. Luke tells us the outcome of the miracle, that “It became known all over Joppa, and many believed in the Lord” (Acts 9:42). Though these poor widows were blessed to have their friend and provider back, the greater blessing was that others came to believe in the Lord, and as a result, came to have forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Though the Bible presents many miracles, historically they are rare and usually mark a historical shift where God is grabbing the attention of His people to let them know He's doing something new. This was true during the Exodus, wilderness wanderings, and the time of conquest under Joshua. It was also true during the time of ministry for Elijah and Elisha when God was turning the nation from egregious idolatry. And also during the time of Jesus and His apostles to mark the coming of the Messiah as well as the shift from Law to Grace. God still continues to act supernaturally in people's lives, but often behind the scenes in ways that people often do not detect, or detect later in their lives when hindsight is clearer. John Walvoord states: With the completion of the New Testament, and its almost universal acceptance by those true to God, the need for further unusual display of miraculous works ceased. The preacher of today does not need the outward evidence of ability to heal or speak with tongues to substantiate the validity of his gospel. Rather, the written Word speaks for itself, and is attended by the convicting power of the Spirit. Luke closes out this pericope, saying, “And Peter stayed many days in Joppa with a tanner named Simon” (Acts 9:43). Peter's staying with a tanner would have been regarded as scandalous by many of the religious Jews who considered the practice unclean (Lev 11:35-40). This might also express a shift in Peter's theology and practices as he was moving from the dispensation of Law to Grace. Thomas Constable notes: Evidently Peter remained in Joppa for quite some time (“many days”) in order to confirm these new converts and to help the church in that town. His willingness to stay with a tanner shows that Peter was more broad-minded in his fellowship than many other Jews. Many Jews thought that tanners practiced an unclean trade because they worked with the skins of dead animals, so they would have nothing to do with them. Summary: The Central Idea of the Text is that Peter traveled to Lydda and Joppa and performed miracles in order to draw attention to Christ so others might believe in Him and be saved. Personal Application: Below are a few principles of ministry extrapolated from the Tabitha narrative: Tabitha was a believer who was marked by acts of kindness and charity towards others. Though some ministries are corporate in nature, Tabith's appears to be singular and personal, as she actively sought to meet the needs of those near her, displaying compassion and generosity in tangible ways. Tabitha's work revealed a heart of love and sacrifice as she gave of her resources, talents, and time to make clothing that blessed others. The display of Tabith's tunics and garments by the widows reveals how deeply they were impacted by her kindness. This shows that a ministry's impact can partly be measured in the lives of people who have been impacted. Tabitha also displayed a sense of personal responsibility and leadership, as she did not wait for others to act, but took it upon herself to meet the needs of those around her. When God resuscitated Tabitha as a result of Peter's prayer, it is assumed she restarted her ministry to others. No ministry lasts forever; and a ministry that has diminished or died can be revived if the Lord wills it. The Gospel If you are here this morning without Christ, without hope, and without eternal life, I want you to know that when Jesus was on the cross, He had you personally in mind as He bore your sin and paid the price for it. He died and paid the penalty for your sins so that you would not have to. Scripture reveals, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8), and “Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Pet 3:18). The good news for us is that “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3-4), and if we place our faith in Him as the only Savior (John 14:6; Acts 4:12), we are promised forgiveness of sins (Eph 1:7), eternal life (John 10:28), and place in heaven forever (John 14:1-3). I “beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (2 Cor 5:20).  Charles R. Swindoll, Acts, Swindoll's Living Insights New Testament Commentary (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2016), 183.  William D. Mounce, Mounce's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006), 1159.  Tom Constable, Tom Constable's Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie Software, 2003), Acts 9:42.  Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 444.  John F. Walvoord, The Holy Spirit (Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan Publishing, 1965), 174.  Tom Constable, Tom Constable's Expository Notes on the Bible, Acts 9:43.
God the Father is seen as the initiator, planner, and orchestrator of the salvation of mankind, and this because He is loving, merciful, and kind, and “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:4), and is “not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Pet 3:9). Salvation is necessary because of the problem of sin in the human race. All mankind is utterly helpless to bring about a remedy by human effort (Rom 3:10, 23; 5:6-10; Gal 2:16, 21; 3:21-22). Everyone is said to be “darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart” (Eph 4:18), and “dead” in their “trespasses and sins” (Eph 2:1; cf., Col 2:13). This refers to spiritual death, which means separation from God. We are trapped in sin and stand guilty before a holy and righteous God and are completely unable to save ourselves. Wiersbe observes: The unbeliever is not sick; he is dead! He does not need resuscitation; he needs resurrection. All lost sinners are dead, and the only difference between one sinner and another is the state of decay. The lost derelict on skid row may be more decayed outwardly than the unsaved society leader, but both are dead in sin—and one corpse cannot be more dead than another! This means that our world is one vast graveyard, filled with people who are dead while they live (1 Tim 5:6). If God had not made a way for us to be saved, we would be forever lost. Lightner states: God is the only one who could solve the problem which man's sin presented to Him. After man's fall God the Father began in time the plan of salvation which He devised before time began. This divine plan centered in his divine Son: “He gave His only begotten Son” because He “so loved the world” (John 3:16). “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us” (1 John 3:16). “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only-begotten Son into the world that we might live through Him” (1 John 4:9). But God intervened. He broke into time and space and displayed His mercy, love, and grace upon mankind. The apostle Paul wrote: But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Eph 2:4-9) The Father's actions are based on His love for all mankind. He loves because of who He is and not because of the beauty or worth of the object. Scripture reveals that “God is Love” (1 John 4:8), which means love is part of His nature. God loves because it is His nature to love. The Father's eternal plan for salvation God the Father's soteriological work is traced back to what He planned before time began. He was motivated to provide for our salvation before we existed. According to Lightner, “We are often led to believe that our salvation began when we made our decision to trust Christ as Savior. The fact is, God was at work on our behalf long before that time.” Paul wrote that God the Father “chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him” (Eph 1:4). That the Father elected us to salvation is straightforward in this passage, and the doctrine of election will be addressed later in this work. For now, this passage is noted because it speaks of the Father's salvation-work “before the foundation of the world.” According to Lightner: God the Father's work in salvation centers primarily in what he did before time began. With infinite love and compassion he acted on our behalf even before we were born. Paul told the Ephesian Christians that they had been chosen in Christ by the Father before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4). To the Roman Christians the same apostle wrote about the Father's foreknowledge, predestination, and call of them before time (Rom 8:29–30). Peter, writing to saints scattered throughout Asia Minor, described them as “elect” of God the Father (1 Pet 1:2). While evangelicals differ on how these and other such passages are to be understood, they all agree that God the Father initiated the plan of salvation in eternity past. God's election starts with His sovereign choice, but also includes the individual choices of those who trust in Christ as Savior. Both are true. Though there is tension at this point—and this because of limited information and limited human capacity to comprehend—both God's sovereignty and human volition must be acknowledged at the same time. Lightner states, “God the Father is sovereign. He must be to be God. Human responsibility is just as biblical as divine sovereignty. Jesus stressed both. Jesus said no one can come to him unless drawn by the Father but he also said none who come to him would be cast out (John 6:37).”And Paul Enns states, “While there is human responsibility in salvation, there is first a divine side to salvation in which God sovereignly acts to secure the sinner's salvation.”The Christian must be content to live with this tension and not try to force a solution one way or another. The salvation of mankind, with all its details, was fully comprehended and planned by God the Father from eternity past. It's not as though God was surprised by the fall of Lucifer and mankind. He is eternal, and His plan is eternal. Lightner states, “We must never view salvation as an afterthought or as the only possible way out of a hopeless dilemma on the part of God. The plan of salvation is as eternal as God is. God was not shocked when Satan and then man fell. He is eternal, and his plan is from eternity past to eternity future.” God the Father commissioned God the Son God the Father commissioned God the Son to provide our salvation. God the Son agreed to the Father's mission, came into the world, added humanity to Himself, and executed the Father's plan perfectly. Though Jesus said and did many things during His time on earth, of which many books have been written, His primary mission was to save sinners. Jesus said, “the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10), and “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Jesus lived a sinless life and then sacrificed Himself on the cross as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of humanity. Through His death, burial, and resurrection, salvation is offered to all who believe in Him as Savior. Bruce Ware notes, “In eternity, the Father commissioned the Son who then willingly laid aside the glory He had with the Father to come and purchase our pardon and renewal.” God the Father sent the Son to die It was the Father's will for the Son to go to the cross to die for lost sinners, and the Son willingly went to His death and bore the Father's wrath in our place. This was explained in Isaiah, where the prophet wrote about the Suffering Servant, saying, “But the LORD was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief; if He would render Himself as a guilt offering” (Isa 53:10a). It is simultaneously true that the Father sent and the Son went. In the Gospel of John, we're told, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him” (John 3:16-17). Jesus said, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent” (John 6:29), and “I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 6:38). The apostle John wrote, “God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:9-10), and “the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world” (1 John 4:14). Walvoord states: Jesus Christ's main purpose in coming to the world…was to provide salvation for those who put their trust in Him. Jesus expressed this in Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” In His public ministry Jesus spoke of many truths, and His teachings were so comprehensive that a systematic theology could be written based on what He said and taught. However, this was a background to His dying on the cross for our sins. In this supreme act of dying, He fulfilled His main purpose in becoming incarnate, of being “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).  Ibid., 18.  Robert P. Lightner, Handbook of Evangelical Theology: A Historical, Biblical, and Contemporary Survey and Review (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1995), 189–190.  Ibid., 192.  Ibid., 191.  Ibid., 191.  Paul P. Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1989), 328.  Robert P. Lightner, Handbook of Evangelical Theology, 192.  Bruce A. Ware, “Tampering with the Trinity: Does the Son Submit to His Father?,” in Biblical Foundations for Manhood and Womanhood, ed. Wayne Grudem, Foundations for the Family Series (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2002), 248.  John F. Walvoord, What We Believe, 73.
In Christian theology, the Bible reveals there is one God who exists as three distinct Persons within the Trinity (Gen 1:26; 11:6-7; Matt 28:19; 2 Cor 13:14; 1 Pet 1:2): God the Father (Gal 1:1; Eph 6:23; Phil 2:11), God the Son (John 1:1, 14, 18; 8:58; 20:28; Col 2:9; Heb 1:8), and God the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3-4; 1 Cor 2:11-12; 2 Cor 13:14). God is three in Person, but one in essence, sharing the same attributes. The use of the Hebrew numeral echad (אֶחָד) reveals, in some contexts, the idea of a complex one, which supports the doctrine of the Trinity (Deut 6:4; cf., Gen 2:24; Ezra 3:1; Ezek 37:17). All three are co-equal, co-infinite, co-eternal, and worthy of all praise and service. According to John Walvoord: In contrast to the polytheism of the heathen world with its many gods and idols, the Christian faith centers in one God. This God, however, is revealed to be a Trinity, including the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. As such, we distinguish the Father from the Son and both of them from the Holy Spirit…All students of scriptural truth labor to understand the doctrine of the Trinity, but it eludes them because it is beyond anything that they experience in this life…Accordingly, the best procedure is to accept the Bible as true and accept the fact that there is one God who exists in three persons and leave the explanation of this to the life after this. The three Persons of the God-head are one in essence (Deut 6:4; Isa 43:10; 44:6; 45:5-6), and share the same divine attributes. The attributes of God consist of intrinsic characteristics that are equally representative of the God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. God's attributes are revealed in Scripture, which means they are objective and can be learned by God's people. Furthermore, the attributes of God explain His actions. And we cannot separate or elevate one attribute above another. The Bible reveals God is: Living, which means “He is the living God and the everlasting King” (Jer 10:10), He “has life in Himself” (John 5:26; cf. Psa 42:2; 84:2; Matt 16:16; John 1:4) and is the ultimate source of life. Paul states, “for in Him we live and move and exist” (Acts 17:28). This attribute takes priority, for if God is not living, none of the other attributes are possible. Self-existent (aseity), which means His existence depends on nothing outside of Himself (Ex 3:14). Moses said, “from everlasting to everlasting, You are God” (Psa 90:2). There is no prior cause that brought God into existence, He will never cease to be, and He depends on nothing outside of Himself. Holy (Lev 11:44; Psa 99:9; Isa 45:5-19), which means God is morally perfect and separate from all that is sinful. Spirit (John 4:24; 2 Cor 3:17), which means the nature of God's being is spirit, not material. Sovereign (Psa 115:3; Isa 46:9-11; Dan 4:35; Acts 17:24-28), which means God acts freely as He pleases, always as He pleases, and only as He pleases. Immutable (Psa 102:26-27; Mal 3:6), which means God's essential nature does not change. Eternal (Deut 33:27; 1 Tim 1:17), which means God has always existed, does exist, and forever will exist. Infinite (1 Ki 8:27; Jer 23:24), which means God exists in space and beyond space. Omniscient (Psa 139:1-4; Matt 6:31-33), which means God knows all things and is infinite in knowledge. Omnipresent (Psa 139:7-10; Jer 23:24), which means He is equally and fully everywhere present. Omnipotent (Job 42:2; Isa 40:28), which means God is all-powerful and able to accomplish all He desires. Righteous (Psa 11:7; 119:137), which refers to His intrinsic moral perfection, from which He commands all things in heaven and earth, and declares as good that which conforms to His righteousness and as evil that which deviates. Just (Psa 9:7-8; 19:9), which refers to the outworking of His righteousness in which He justifies or condemns, blesses or curses, that which does or does not conform to His righteous character. True (Jer 10:10; John 17:3), which means He is genuine, in contrast to false idols. This means He truthful (2 Sam 7:28; John 17:17). His knowledge and declarations define reality and help us make sense of what is. Love (Jer 31:3; 1 John 4:7-8), which means He is committed to us, desires our best, and acts for our benefit. Good (Psa 100:5; 145:9; Nah 1:7; Jam 1:17), which means all He does is good, and that He is the ultimate source of all that is good. Faithful (Deut 7:9; Lam 3:21-23), which means He is reliable in all He says and does, always keeping His Word. Merciful (Psa 86:15; Tit 3:5), which means He is kind toward us and does not judge us as we deserve. Gracious (Psa 111:4; 116:5), which means He treats us better than we deserve. All three Persons of the Godhead are involved in providing salvation. Our salvation is said to be planned and initiated by God the Father, agreed upon and executed by God the Son, and imparted to each person by God the Holy Spirit. According to Lewis Chafer: [It] is essential to recognize that the “salvation [which] is of Jehovah” includes the three Persons of the Godhead as actively engaged in the realization of this stupendous undertaking…In every aspect of saving grace the three Persons are concurring. Even when hanging on the cross, the Son was not alone in His vast achievement. It was God who was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself; the Father was offering His Lamb; and that sacrifice was offered through the eternal Spirit (Heb 9:14). Robert Lightner states: Evangelical Christians, in harmony with the historic orthodox Christian faith, worship God who is one in three and three in one, one in essence and three in person. The entire Godhead—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—is involved in the salvation of the sinner. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died for sinners. He is the Savior! It is customary in evangelical circles to put such emphasis on the second person's part in our salvation that the roles of the Father and the Spirit are often slighted…Even though it is not always expressed in the same way, evangelicals agree that man's salvation is the product of the Holy Trinity. Warren Wiersbe adds: You will note that all three Persons in the Godhead are involved in our salvation (see also 1 Peter 1:3). As far as God the Father is concerned, you were saved when He chose you in Christ in eternity past. But that alone did not save you. As far as God the Son is concerned, you were saved when He died for you on the cross. As far as God the Spirit is concerned, you were saved when you yielded to His conviction and received Christ as your Savior. What began in eternity past was fulfilled in time present, and will continue for all eternity! In the following lessons, special attention will be given to the specific members of the Trinity and their work in salvation.  John F. Walvoord, What We Believe (Grand Rapids, Mi; Discovery House Publishers, 1990), 38-39.  Paul P. Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1989), 200.  Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, vol. 3 (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1993), 207.  Robert P. Lightner, Handbook of Evangelical Theology: A Historical, Biblical, and Contemporary Survey and Review (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1995), 190–191.  Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 11.
Saved from God's wrath Being saved from God's wrath means we will never experience eternal separation from Him in the lake of fire. John wrote, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36). And Paul said, “having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him” (Rom 5:9). Also, When writing to the Christians at Thessalonica, Paul assured them they would be saved “from the wrath to come” (1 Th 1:10). This last verse could refer to the eternal wrath all unbelievers will experience because they have rejected Christ as their Savior, which is the lake of fire (Rev 20:15). However, it could also refer to the wrath of the Tribulation (Rev 6-18), whereby God will judge the world after the rapture of the church (1 Cor 15:51-53; 1 Th 4:13-18). Christians living in the dispensation of the church age will be spared from both forms of God's wrath, so there is no need to be concerned with this. Saved from Satan's domain of darkness As Christians, we are also saved from “from the dominion of Satan to God” (Act 26:18), and transferred from Satan's “domain of darkness” (Col 1:13a) into “the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Col 1:13b). This transference happens at the moment of faith in Christ and is a spiritual reality that is true for all Christians. The kingdom of Christ mentioned here does not refer to the future eschatological kingdom that will come, in which Jesus, a biological descendant of David, is prophesied to rule over the world in righteousness. Rather, it refers to the current spiritual kingdom where God rules in the hearts of His people. Concerning this passage, Ryrie states, “It refers to the kingdom into which all believers have been placed (Col 1:13), and it is entered by the new birth. The Ruler is Christ; in this concept of the kingdom He rules over believers only; and the relationship exists now.” And Fruchtenbaum adds, “The Spiritual Kingdom is composed of all believers, and only believers, of all time. The means of entering this Kingdom is by regeneration by the Holy Spirit. In the present age, from Acts two until the Rapture, the Spiritual Kingdom and the Church are synonymous, but only during the period between Acts two and the Rapture.” Saved from the coming tribulation Jesus, when speaking to the church at Philadelphia, said, “Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth” (Rev 3:10). The hour of testing here refers to the time of the future Tribulation that follows the rapture of the church. Robert Thomas affirms this, saying, the hour of trial refers to “the future period of trouble just before Christ's personal return to earth.” Charles Ryrie adds, “The promise of Revelation 3:10 not only guarantees being kept from the trials of the Tribulation period but being kept from the time period of the Tribulation. The promise is not, “I will keep you from the trials.” It is, “I will also keep you from the hour of trial” (NIV).” Fruchtenbaum states: "In this passage, the Church is promised to be kept from the period of trial that is about to fall upon the whole earth. In the context of the Book of Revelation, it is the Tribulation found in chapters 6–19 that is this period of trial that is to fall upon the whole earth. It is from this period of trial that the Church is to be kept. This verse does not say that the Church will be merely kept safe during the trial, but it will be kept from the very hour of the trial, that is, from the very time of it." Saved from hell Scripture reveals we are saved from hell. Jesus talked about hell (Matt 5:22, 29-30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15, 33), saying, “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt 10:28). The word hell translates the Greek word Gehenna (12x in the NT), which means “a place of fire.” Biblically, it is a place of eternal torment. Moisés Sylva notes, “Gehenna is elsewhere referred to by such phrases as ‘the blazing furnace' (Matt 13:42, 50), ‘the eternal fire' (Matt 25:41), and ‘the fiery lake' (Rev 19:20 et al.). Gehenna is distinguished from Hades, which evidently houses the souls of the dead before the last judgment; indeed, Hades along with death will be thrown into the lake of fire (Rev 20:14).” Hell is that final place of suffering where all unbelievers go. Speaking to unbelievers at the end of the Tribulation, Jesus said, “Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt 25:41), and of them He said, “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matt 25:46). John tells us, “if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Rev 20:15). Concerning hell, J. I. Packer wrote: It is thought of as a place of fire and darkness (Jude 7, 13), of weeping and grinding of teeth (Matt 8:12; 13:42, 50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30), of destruction (2 Th 1:7–9; 2 Pet 3:7; 1 Th 5:3), and of torment (Rev 20:10; Luke 16:23)—in other words, of total distress and misery. If, as it seems, these terms are symbolic rather than literal (fire and darkness would be mutually exclusive in literal terms), we may be sure that the reality, which is beyond our imagining, exceeds the symbol in dreadfulness. New Testament teaching about hell is meant to appall us and strike us dumb with horror, assuring us that, as heaven will be better than we could dream, so hell will be worse than we can conceive. Such are the issues of eternity, which need now to be realistically faced. What about those who never hear the gospel? Someone might say, “What about those who never hear the gospel message about Jesus? Are they condemned to hell?” The Bible reveals that God is “the Judge of all the earth” (Gen 18:25; Psa 58:11), that He “is a righteous judge” (Psa 7:11), and is “righteous in all His ways” (Psa 145:17a). This means God is absolutely fair to everyone, and no one will go to hell who did not choose it. God has revealed Himself to everyone. In a general sense, He has made Himself known through His creation. Knowledge of God's existence is clearly revealed through His creation. David wrote, “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. 2 Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge” (Psa 19:1-2). God is declared and revealed through His creation, much like a painter is revealed through a masterpiece painting. The apostle Paul wrote of God's wrath which is revealed toward those who reject Him after they come to the know about Him through His creation. Paul wrote, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them” (Rom 1:18-19). There's nothing wrong with God's revelation of Himself through his creation. The problem lies in people “who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom 1:18b). Furthermore, God has made Himself known “within them”, which means that each person with normal mental capacity intuitively knows that God exists. In theology, we call this the sensus divinitatis, or sense of the divine. Paul continues his line of reasoning, saying, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse” (Rom 1:20). Those who reject God after becoming aware of Him, are held morally responsible and are “without excuse” for their choices before a holy and righteous God who will hold them accountable. Robert Mounce states: Seeing the beauty and complexity of creation carries with it the responsibility of acknowledging the Creator both as powerful and as living above the natural order. Disbelief requires an act of rebellion against common sense. It displays fallen humanity's fatal bias against God. Although the created order cannot force a person to believe, it does leave the recipient responsible for not believing. Of those who are negative to God, three times it is written that He “gave them over” to “the lusts of their hearts” (Rom 1:24), and “to degrading passions” (Rom 1:26), and “to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper” (Rom 1:28). Once God permits a person to operate by his sinful passions, that person is given a measure of freedom to live as he wants, but not without consequence, both in time and eternity. If someone is positive and wants to know God personally, then He will make certain that person receives gospel revelation in order to be saved. If the person goes negative and does not want to know Him, then God—who is no bully—will let that person go his own way, but will hold him accountable for his decision. For those who are negative to God and reject Him after coming to know about Him through His creation, that rejection is sufficient to condemn that soul forever. The only heaven they will ever know—if we can call it heaven—is the life they'll enjoy in this world during their fleeting time on earth. But after they die, all unbelievers will suffer for eternity in hell, forever separated from God, with no hope of their situation changing. Robert W. Yarbrough states: Jesus spoke repeatedly of ‘the fire of hell' (Matt 5:22) and ‘eternal fire' (Matt 18:8). He urged his followers, ‘Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell' (Luke 12:5). The double-edged nature of Jesus' ministry is well summarized in John 3:36: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him.” Those who reject God's righteousness become targets of his wrath (Rom 1:18, 24, 26, 28; Eph 5:6; Col 3:6; Heb 10:26–31; Rev 19:11–21). Those who spend eternity in hell are there by choice and not by chance. According to J. I. Packer, “Scripture sees hell as self-chosen; those in hell will realize that they sentenced themselves to it by loving darkness rather than light, choosing not to have their Creator as their Lord, preferring self-indulgent sin to self-denying righteousness, and (if they encountered the gospel) rejecting Jesus rather than coming to Him (John 3:18–21; Rom 1:18, 24, 26, 28, 32; 2:8; 2 Th 2:9–11).” Those who stand before the great white throne for judgement (Rev 20:11) will know the One who is sitting on that throne, and they will know they are there to be judged for their sins. Not a single person will ask, “Who are you?” For they will all know Who He is, and that they are there to face judgment for eternity. All this is avoidable if one will only acknowledge God and respond positively to the gospel of grace and believe in Christ as Savior. One needs only to believe in Christ as Savior to avoid eternity in hell. God has made a way for all to be saved, so if any are not, it's by their choice and not because there was no divine provision available. When one turns to Christ as Savior, he has forgiveness of sins (Eph 1:7) and eternal life (John 3:16; 10:28). These have their names written “in the Lamb's book of life” (Rev 21:27). But the opposite is true, for “if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Rev 20:15). Dr. Steven R. Cook  The Lord focused specifically on David, promising that one of his descendants would rule forever (2 Sam 7:16; Psa 89:3-4, 34-37; Jer 23:5-6; 33:14-15). This descendant would be a righteous king (Isa 9:6-7; 11:1-9; Jer 23:5-6; 33:14-18), and his kingdom will last forever (Dan 2:44; 7:13-14; 1 Cor. 15:24). Jesus is identified as that king (Luke 1:30-33). When Jesus came, He repeatedly offered the earthly kingdom to Israel (Matt 3:1-2; 4:17; 10:5-7), a literal kingdom that was future (Matt 6:10; Luke 19:11; Acts 1:3-6). But they rejected Him and His offer (Matt 11:20; 12:14; Mark 15:12-15; John 19:15); therefore, the earthly kingdom was postponed for a future time (Matt 21:43; cf. Matt 19:28; 25:31; Luke 22:28-30; Acts 1:3-6; Rev 20:4-6).  Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1999), 461–462.  Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiah : A Study of the Sequence of Prophetic Events, Rev. ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2003), 663.  Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 1-7: An Exegetical Commentary (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1992), 284.  Charles Caldwell Ryrie, Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1999), 563–564.  Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiah : A Study of the Sequence of Prophetic Events, Rev. ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2003), 153.  Moisés Silva, ed., “Gehenna” New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014), 548.  Moisés Silva, ed., “Gehenna” New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014), 548.  J. I. Packer, Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1993), 261–262.  God has also revealed Himself in special ways in the person of Christ (John 1:18; Heb 1:1-3), through the Scriptures (Luke 16:31), and through the lives of His people (Matt 5:16). However, if the unbeliever goes negative at the moment of God consciousness, he/she may never know anything more about God through special revelation, as He is under no obligation to reveal Himself further.  Robert H. Mounce, Romans, vol. 27, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 78.  R. W. Yarbrough, “Atonement,” in New Dictionary of Biblical Theology, ed. T. Desmond Alexander and Brian S. Rosner, electronic ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 390.  J. I. Packer, Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1993), 262–263.