If covenantal thinking forms the architecture of Reformed faith and practice, then the doctrine of the Trinity is its foundation. As seen throughout The Christian Faith, this doctrine is not merely one among many, but is proclaimed in the church’s message of salvation and structures all Christian theology, liturgy, prayer, and praise.
Biblical-Theological Development of the Doctrine
Just as faith in Yahweh and no other is the foundation of Old Testament faith and practice (e.g., Deut. 6:4), so New Testament believers affirmed and carried on this faith in the uniqueness of the God of Israel (e.g., Eph. 4:6). At the same time, Jesus called this one God his Father in an exclusive sense and claimed to bear the same divine character and authority. His followers confessed him as Lord and trusted him for salvation, all the while rejecting pagan polytheism. The Bible clearly testifies, in the context of strict monotheism, to both the full divinity and distinct personality of the Son (e.g., John 1:1–3) and the Spirit (e.g., Matt. 28:19; 2 Peter 1:21). Long before the biblical dogma of the Trinity was formally refined, then, believers were trusting in and praying to the triune God whom it describes. We know God as our Father in his one and only Son; the Father directs us to his Son as our Lord; Jesus is the way to the Father and sends his Spirit into our hearts; the Spirit enables us to call on the Father through the Son. Christian worship is Trinitarian as well, reflected in baptism into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and in the New Testament’s liturgical forms and benedictions (e.g., 2 Cor. 13:14).
Though Christian Trinitarianism arose in the context of Jewish monotheism, it’s elaboration and defense came amid encounters with Greek objections.
The Emergence of Christian Trinitarianism
The historical development of Trinitarian dogma is a primary illustration that Christian theology is always done within a specific context, yet with an overriding concern for Scripture as its source and norm. The main cultural problem Trinitarian doctrine encountered was a philosophical privileging of the one (unity) over the many (plurality). Some, like Origen, believed that all plurality is a “fall” from unity and confessed the Son and the Spirit as truly God, but essentially derivative of and inferior to the Father. Others, like Arius, felt that any distinction in properties and names denotes a distinction in natures, and separated the Son and the Spirit from the one God, the Father. Still others, like Sabellius, saw plurality in God as a temporary self-presentation for the purposes of creation and redemption—apart from and above the economy, God is not Trinity. Against each of these ways of privileging unity over plurality in God, teachers like Athanasius and especially the Cappadocians developed increasingly nuanced ways of speaking about the essential unity and the personal plurality in God, so that both may be affirmed according to the integrity of the biblical witness. God is one “essence” in three “persons.” The persons, or “hypostases,” are not simply roles that the one God takes on or aspects of his character, but they are each distinctly and all together the one God. This catholic consensus emerged with the Niceno-Constantinopolitan (Nicene) Creed (381). Differences between Eastern and Western Trinitarian formulations are frequently over exaggerated, but in so central a doctrine every nuance can be significant. The Western, Augustinian tradition has sometimes had trouble maintaining a robust account of the distinct characteristics of all three persons in their individual existence and mutually shared activity. In both traditions, the common Trinitarian faith was affirmed, but with different accents and conceptual frameworks, often leading to tension on important points (such as the filioque).
Essential Attributes and Personal Properties
Calvin and the Reformed tradition received and developed the Trinitarianism of their forebears, against rising neo-Arianism and Unitarianism from the sixteenth century. Reformed theologians, though indebted to Augustine’s emphasis on the divine persons’ essential unity, also emphasized with the Cappadocians the personal distinctions of the divine persons. In this vein, Calvin’s insistence on each person’s essential self-existence (each is “autotheos,” as the one self-existent God), while affirming the Father as the personal source of his only begotten Son and the Spirit who proceeds from both, navigated between tendencies toward subordinationism on one hand and modalism on the other. With some variation in language and explanation, the Reformed after Calvin continued this twofold emphasis on essential unity and personal distinction. Especially significant was Reformed insistence that in every outward activity of the one God (toward creatures), the persons operate in distinct ways to accomplish their unified work, in accord with their intrinsic personal characteristics.
- The beginning of all activity belongs to the Father.
- The counsel or pattern belongs to the Son.
- The efficacy belongs to the Spirit.
The Trinity in Modern Theology
Modern Enlightenment theology largely rejected or ignored classical Trinitarian theology until Hegel appealed to a radically recast view of the Trinity for his philosophy of “Spirit” realizing itself in the process of history. The twentieth century experienced a revival of Trinitarian theology in the wake of Karl Barth’s break with Protestant liberalism, and in many respects contemporary debates in Trinitarian theology still reflect the legacy of Barth and Hegel. Those following Barth’s trajectory tend to privilege the oneness of God, by so stressing the absolute subjectivity of God in self-revelation as Lord, that the genuine distinctiveness and mutuality of the three persons is undermined. Those following Hegel’s trajectory tend to privilege the plurality in God, by so distinguishing Father, Son, and Spirit in their identities, wills, and actions—sometimes even in essences—that the unity of God’s nature is endangered.
One and Many: Systematic-Theological Development: The following sections offer two guidelines for theological reflection on the Trinity.
We Should Recognize that All of Our Definitions of Person in Relation to the Godhead Are Analogies. If traditional analogies for the Trinity—such as Peter, James, and John sharing in humanity—are taken univocally, they lead to either tritheism or modalism. But classical Trinitarians were very careful to make clear the analogical nature of all our knowledge of God’s being and to counter the partial potentially misleading aspects of Trinitarian analogies by appealing to the fullness of the revealed character of the triune God. We should neither accept or reject such important Trinitarian concepts as “person” by directly applying to God any existing human definitions. We must avoid univocity of concepts and language, both between our notions and God’s being and between God as he has revealed himself and God in his hidden majesty.
Our Formulations Should Acknowledge that the Three Persons Are Not Simply Relations but Distinct Subsistences with Their Own Incommunicable Attributes. While the Father, the Son, and the Spirit do not differ with respect to the divine essence and attributes they share, they possess personal characteristics that they do not share. Only the Father is unbegotten; only the Son is begotten; only the Spirit is spirated (breathed). In every external work of the Godhead, the Father is always source, the Son always mediator, and the Spirit always perfecter. The divine persons are not merely relations but persons in relation. It is not simply that the relations of begetting, being begotten, and being spirated are essential to the personal identities of Father, Son, and Spirit but also that the persons themselves are essential to each other’s identity. Each is an unsubstitutable agent who lives, wills, and acts in a distinct way that is never separated from the others. The covenant of redemption is the primary illustration of these points.
The variation between the East and the West became a formal schism (in 1054) with a debate that started in the sixth century and still continues, over whether the Spirit proceeds only from the Father or from the Father “and the Son” (filioque), as the West inserted into the Nicene Creed. Advocates of the Western position argue for the filioque from such texts as John 14:16 and Romans 8:9, where the Spirit is identified as “the Spirit of God” and “of Christ,” sent by the Son as well as the Father. Eastern advocates say that the Spirit is only ever explicitly said to “proceed” from the Father (in John 15:26 ESV, wording that is echoed in the unaltered Nicene Creed). The Reformed tradition has historically followed the Western view. Though this controversy deals with significant questions of the character of God’s unity and the relationship between the immanent Trinity (God in himself) and the economic Trinity (God in relation to us), the filioque question does not of itself threaten the ecumenical consensus on the Trinity.
(HT: A summary of Michael Horton’s, The Christian Faith, Chapter Eight)
God’s communicable attributes are those that belong to God alone but are also predicable of creatures in an analogical sense.
I. Omniscience and Omnipotence: God’s Knowledge, Wisdom, and Power
God is all-knowing. Our knowledge is partial, ectypal, composite, and learned, but God’s is complete, archetypal, simple, and innate. God’s knowledge and wisdom are true (logically as well as ethically) because God is truth. God’s knowledge is consistent with all his other attributes; he knows independently, eternally, and unchangeably, in harmony with his wisdom, power, and faithfulness. God’s knowledge of creaturely existence and history is exhaustive because he has decreed all things from the beginning and works all things according to his will (Eph. 1:11).
A. Free Agents and the Infinite-Qualitative Distinction
Debates over divine and human freedom often share a problematic assumption that “freedom” is the same sort of reality for God and for humans. Hyper-Calvinists and Arminians (especially open theists) are both wrong in supposing there is only one “freedom pie” that must be apportioned between God and us. “Freedom” is analogically rather than univocally applied to God and humans: God has all the freedom appropriate to him as God, and we have all the freedom appropriate to us as (fallen) creatures who live and move and have our being in God and his sovereign, good purposes Just as in the paradigmatic examples of Joseph’s slavery in Egypt (Gen. 50:20) and the crucifixion of Christ (Acts 2:23), God’s free decree does not take away human freedom or moral responsibility but establishes it.
B. Sovereignty and Omniscience
God knows our thoughts completely, but his are inaccessible to us apart from accommodated revelation—and his way of knowing transcends us entirely. On one hand, Scripture teaches that God has predestined the free acts of human beings; on the other hand, God manifests himself as a genuine partner in human history. God genuinely invites the whole world to salvation in his Son yet effectually calls and gives faith to all and only those whom he has elected from eternity. Though God’s revealed purposes are sometimes thwarted or changed, his unchanging purposes (the “secret things” of God, Deut. 29:29) cannot fail.
C. Sovereignty and Omnipresence
Because God is Trinity, he acts not only upon creation externally but also with and in it—not only causing but winning and effecting real creaturely willing and consent. A biblical view of God’s sovereignty must recognize the following three correlatives.
- Only when we see that God is qualitatively distinct from creation can we see that he is free to be the Creator and Redeemer, while we are free to be creatures and the redeemed.
- Only when we understand God’s sovereignty in light of his simplicity can we avoid the notion of divine despot, with an absolute will unconditioned by his intrinsic character.
- We must always bear in mind that in every exercise of will and power, God is not a solitary monad but Father, Son, and Spirit; sovereignty is not brute force or unmediated control.
II. Goodness, Love, and Mercy
God’s knowledge, wisdom, and power are inseparable from his goodness, love, and mercy. God is independent in his goodness and love and thus is free to be good to all he has made and to love even his enemies. We can never pit God’s love against his other attributes, idolizing “love” in a way that marginalizes God’s sovereignty or goodness (including his righteousness, holiness, and so on). The clearest witness to the complete consistency between all God’s attributes is the cross. If God’s love could trump his other moral attributes, the cross represents the cruelest waste. Rather, what makes God’s love so comforting is that it is unconditioned by anything in us, expressed out of satisfied abundance rather than lack or fear. While God is not free to be unmerciful, he is free to decide whether he will have mercy on some rather than others—this is, after all, the opposite of every sinner’s just deserts. Indeed, grace is not something (else) that God gives but God’s own redeeming favor shown to the undeserving on account of Christ.
III. Holiness, Righteousness, and Justice
At the same time that God is good, loving, and merciful, he is holy—distinct from all creatures in his being, majesty, and ethical purity. The merciful character of God’s holiness reveals his movement toward impure creatures in covenant love, setting apart a holy people for himself. In the Old Testament righteousness is both a forensic and relational term—a “right relationship.” Although God’s righteousness is intrinsically related to his mercy (since he is just and the justifier of the ungodly), his righteousness cannot be collapsed into his mercy. As the revelation of his moral will (law), God is perfectly righteous to condemn all as transgressors; as the revelation of his will to save (gospel), God is perfectly just to forgive and redeem through faith in Christ. In both cases, God upholds his righteousness.
IV. Jealousy and Wrath
Like his mercy and grace, God’s jealousy and wrath are displayed only in response to an offense. God does not need to show mercy or wrath in order to be who he is, but these are the responses we should expect from God who is good, holy, and just. The doctrine of analogy again proves fruitful in considering God’s jealousy and wrath, which carry almost entirely negative connotations in our human experience. Instead of denying these clearly biblical attributes of God, we must reinterpret our understanding of according to how God has described himself to us. God’s wrath always expresses his wisdom and love, which have been spurned and transgressed by those whom he created to love. God who is holy, righteous, and loving must exercise wrath against sin, injustice, and hate. The unique lordship of YHWH is a constant theme in Scripture, as is God’s jealousy for his name, his glory, and his people’s covenantal allegiance. God’s jealousy must be understood in light of his exclusivity: God is God alone. In us, jealousy is often a form of coveting that which is not really ours; in God, jealousy is a form of protecting his character and his people, which are both precious to him.
(HT: A summary of Michael Horton’s, The Christian Faith, Chapter Seven)
God’s incommunicable attributes are most often criticized as being a philosophical or metaphysical corruption of the biblical understanding of God. But whenever such metaphysical claims have been rejected, they are replaced by others no less metaphysical. While we should never assume that the God of the Bible is identical with the “God” of classical philosophy, we must also recognize that every doctrinal account of God’s identity and character will include metaphysical claims. The question is not whether we have an ontology of God’s being and attributes but whether our ontology is biblically faithful.
God is noncomposite: he is simultaneously all that his attributes reveal. This does not mean that his attributes cannot be distinguished from one another, but that none of them are separable from God or carry a greater or lesser importance for his character. God is eternal even when he acts in time. He is not more holy than merciful, or more loving at some times than he is righteous at other times. He is holy even in showing mercy, and righteous in demonstrating his love. All that God is, is what he will always be; and in all his activity God is self-consistent.
B. Self-Existence (Aseity)
God exists and acts apart from any external dependence. While God is perfect without us, he freely and generously creates and relates this creation to himself. Creatures exist in constant dependence on our relation to him. Independent of creaturely limitations, he can be trusted to bring about his sovereign purposes on behalf of his people (Ex. 3:14–15). Some—like open theists—criticize this doctrine as a Stoic ideal of detached self-sufficiency, lacking the mutual drama between God and the world seen in the Bible. Many want to deny any difference between God in himself and God as he reveals himself to us. In such ontologies of “overcoming estrangement,” God and the world are inherently related and mutually dependent. Yet God’s freedom from creation does not preclude but undergirds the very possibility of his true freedom for creation. God’s aseity marks the fundamental divide between biblical faith and all forms of pan(en)theism. At the same time, the (Stoic) deism characteristic of an ontology of “the stranger we never meet” is overturned by God’s free decision to enter into relationship with the world he has made. While the Stoic sage desires to sever his dependence on the world of which he is necessarily a part, the independent God desires to bring dependent (and sinful) creatures into communion with himself.
God is unchangeable. Perfect and complete in himself from all eternity, he has no “potential” to be realized; any change would be toward imperfection. This does not mean God is static or inert; rather, he is wholly active in the fullness and completeness of his own being and cannot become more or less who he is. God is unchangeable, and so he is reliable in his judgments and promises. While his being and character do not change, his activity (energies) is manifold and freely determined. Many modern theologians who understand God’s being as “becoming” in history have challenged God’s immutability by appealing to the incarnation: “the Word became flesh” (John 1:14). But the eternal Son’s assumption of human nature in the unity of his person in no way constitutes or diminishes the character of his divine nature. It is crucial to avoid two extremes: either that God is detached, unfeeling, unresponsive, or that he acts and feels and responds in the very same ways we do. Though God genuinely responds, he cannot be overwhelmed by surprise; though he truly experiences opposition, he is not overcome; and so on. The total witness of the Bible requires that we affirm both: there is real change, partnership, and conflict between God and human beings, but not within God’s inner being.
Unlike the caricature of much contemporary criticism, God’s impassibility is not unresponsiveness or emotional apathy but immunity to suffering. God’s emotional experience and responsiveness in free relation to the world are always analogical. On one hand, we must deny that God is untouched or unaffected by creaturely suffering, experiencing neither joy nor sorrow, love nor hate; on the other hand, we must affirm that God is Lord—never the passive victim, but always the free and active Judge and Justifier. To avoid the extremes of utter detachment and mutual dependence, we should keep in mind the following five points regarding God’s immunity to suffering.
- We must avoid a false choice between either God’s necessary relatedness to the world or the world’s unrelatedness to God.
- It is crucial that impassibility is an essential attribute of the triune God; though the persons engage in relationships with the world, their divine nature is not by itself the subject of action and response.
- We must recognize that God speaks to us analogically—in terms adequate to our understanding rather than adequate to his being.
- A Christian doctrine of God should supplement causal categories with (Trinitarian) communicative analogies; God is not simply Aristotle’s Unmoved Mover, but the Father who speaks to us in his Son by the Spirit.
- We must beware of allowing a theology of the cross to become a theology of glory; a theology of “the suffering God” may inadvertently lead to a legitimization of suffering and evil, since these are said to be an integral part of God’s very being.
E. Eternity and Omnipresence
Eternity and omnipresence refer to God’s transcendence of time and space, respectively. God’s eternity is his existence above or beyond time, simultaneously possessing the fullness of his boundless life and eternally encompassing the whole of creaturely (temporal) life. Some hold that God is sempiternal, existing within time but without any beginning or end. Biblically, however, it seems time itself is a creaturely category—like space—attributable to God only in an analogical sense referring to his transcendence of it (e.g., Ps. 90:1–4). Properly understanding God’s eternity (and the limits of our understanding in the face of this mystery) is related to the meaning of his omnipresence: it is God’s transcendence of space that brings the deepest assurance of God’s presence in all places (e.g., Ps. 139:7–8). God’s presence with his people indicates, not his spatial absence somewhere else, but his covenantal commitment to be with us to save and to bless. God is “omnitemporal” in the same way; he comprehends all times and is active within time, because he is not contained by it.
(HT: A summary of Michael Horton’s, The Christian Faith, Chapter Six)
Robert Lewis Dabney, “The Christian Sabbath: Its Nature, Design, and Proper Observance” in Dabney’s Discussions, Volume I (Sprinkle reprint, 1982): pp. 496-550.
The Presbyterian stalwart doggedly defends the classical Reformed position by exhaustively reviewing the Biblical texts to defend the fourth commandment as “moral and perpetual.” Of note is his exegetical review of “objection passages” like Romans 14:5-6; Galatians 4:9-11; and Colossians 2:16-17 (see pp. 521-530). Dabney does not suffer lightly those with mushy and inconsistent thinking on this issue.
(HT: Jeffrey T. Riddle)
The question seems hard because it would seem that any ministry is a business, but yet there must remain some separation between the two. Why must there remain a separation one asks? We as Christians must look different from the world’s business and the way in which the world’s businesses work. Romans 12:2 “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” Because of this, the way in which fellow believer’s work in a ministry must look different from the world’s perspective. This means it is not handled, worked out, nor treated like the world’s work.
A business is a place where a person practices his or hers regular occupation, profession or trade. Business is the practice of making one’s living by engaging in commerce. A ministry provides exactly this type of atmosphere for believers to practice their God given talents and trades to work for the Kingdom of God and not the kingdom of this realm. A ministry is a place where a person practices his or hers occupation, profession, and trade in the service of God’s kingdom, doing God’s work in a godly environment. This is a spiritual work or service of any Christian or group of Christians working together for a common cause. A business sells a product and makes a profit for its self. A ministry serves Jesus Christ that cannot be done at a profit for its self, but for the Kingdom of God.
Both the business and ministry create a job for the individual to practice their occupation. The major difference is that a ministry is a business, but a business is never a ministry. The main focus of a ministry, or that of any ministry is that it must look different, act different, and reaction different to situations, how issues are handled, and how people are dealt with from a business perspective. What then is left for the ministry is to decipher what is more important to them. Being a ministry or being a business – and this is where things can get ugly. I think there are three things that a ministry can remember when being a business that can help them in doing their work for the Kingdom of God and not look like the kingdom of this age.
1. A ministry understands the value of its employees that work for them. They understand that they are dealing with souls and not just indispensable people like that from a business. A ministry differs than a business because it can relate to one another in the gospel, dealing with one another, understanding one another and having a common bond in the gospel that allows its self to be different from the world. In a ministry, the gospel can fix everything, in a business they continue to search for everything but the gospel. In a ministry one another value one another because instead of seeing an indispensable person who can be replaced. They see the person, the family around that person, and most of all the saved soul that is a fellow believer who has been bought by Christ. A ministry sees the believer as they are called by God to “be saints” (Romans 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:2) and have come into a realm of peace (1 Cor. 7:15; Col. 3:15), freedom (Gal. 5:13), hope Eph. 1:18; 4:4), holiness (1 Thess. 4:7), patient endurance and suffering (1 Peter 2:20-21; 3:9), and eternal life (1 Tim. 6:12).
2. A ministry is different from a business in that a ministry can share in the communicable attributes of their God with one another. When situations occur, pressing times come and trails happen the believer gets to practice the gospel. Like that of a business, a ministry encounters hard times as well, but it is in the hard times and suffering that what makes the difference between a ministry and a business. In the business, paychecks are cut, families are torn, people are fired, and nowhere to run is the only thing left to feel. In a ministry, the believer gets to enjoy the sovereignty of God, but better yet he shares in relation in knowing both how to get through hard times and how to deal with hard times. A ministry when needing to work through things gets to practice those attributes that God shares with us. Like his knowledge (Job37: 16; 1 John 3:20), wisdom (Rom. 16:27; Job 9:4; 12:13), Truthfulness (John 17:3; 1 John 5:20), goodness, mercy and grace (Ps. 100:5; 106:1, 107:1), love (1 John 4:8), holiness (Isa. 6), his righteousness and justice (Deut. 32:4; Gen. 18:25; Isa. 45:19; Rom. 3:25-26). For a business, it is much easier to fire, let go, and move on finding another human being. For a ministry, although it is harder, they learn how to love like Christ, how to forgive like Christ, how to give grace like Christ and be merciful like Christ, practicing the gospel and those attributes which God has allowed his people to enjoy with one another.
3. Lastly, a ministry serves and works for Christ kingdom, not the kingdom of this age. Businesses serve themselves doing the work for themselves, for a purpose glorifying something else for someone else. A ministry understands its first and foremost goal in life and in all of its work: “That God in all things may be glorified.” (1 Pet. 4:11); and “Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (l Cor. 10:31). A ministry understands that its citizenship has been called out of this kingdom to better serve another one, Christ Kingdom. A ministry that places business in front of its ministry still tries to serve Christ in this kingdom, but yet uses the world’s programs, methods, and means to achieve their goal. A ministry that does not understand this ends up pleasing man, making a name for themselves, forgetting truth, leaving behind its workers, and carry’s its pride along with them where ever they go. A true ministry must understand that they serve another kingdom, another realm, and that their ministry/business is held accountable to another ruler, another leader, and another king, their king, Jesus Christ. Serving in Christ Kingdom, the ministry understands that theology over rides everything else of this kingdom.
If we truly understood that business is ministry, and that ministry is not business, maybe we would relate with one another differently in our own ministries. Maybe we would care differently, maybe we would serve differently, and maybe we would see the importance of being different from the world. Maybe, just maybe we would enjoy practicing Christ likeness for the Kingdom of God differently, and not that which we have been called out of.
[Posted by Benjamin Thocher]
So what is the point? What is our take away, as contemporary Christians, from Jesus calling himself the “true vine”? Jesus tells the disciples that they are branches of the “true vine” and that they are to “abide in him.” In verse 4 Jesus says “Abide in me, and I in you.” I would guess that at this point the disciples would have, at best, understood this as a reference to Jesus’ teaching – they were, therefore, to let the words of Jesus dwell or abide in their heads and hearts. While this is not necessarily an incorrect understanding, it is only one small dimension of what Jesus is communicating.
This discourse is sandwiched between the end of chapter 14 and the end of chapter 15, both of which contain statements about the Comforter that Jesus would send after his departure. This Comforter, we know, is the Holy Spirit. We see, then, that Jesus is looking forward to the day of Pentecost when he would pour out the Holy Spirit to empower and equip the church for her mission in the world. 1 Corinthians 15:45 says that Jesus, in his resurrection and ascension became to us and for us “life-giving Spirit.”
Therefore, the abiding activity that Jesus speaks of is accomplished by the indwelling presence and work of the Spirit of God. Jesus says that “fruit bearing” will not happen unless we abide in him. If we understand “fruit bearing” to be the primary aim of the Christian life – which it is – then what Jesus is saying is radical, he is saying that the Christian life, and fellowship with the God of the universe, does not happen apart from intimate relationship with him.
What I like about John is he uses heightened contrast to drive home his points. In 1 John we are either in the light or we are in the darkness. Not one or the other, not a little of both. Light. Darkness. Here, we are either abiding in Christ or we are not abiding in Christ. There is no middle ground. We either abide in Christ and are pruned in order that we bear more fruit or we do not abide in Christ and are thrown into the fire. No in between. No casual, take-it-or-leave-it attitude. There is no Christ-likeness apart from intimate relationship with Christ. There is no Christian faith that is not first and foremost focused on the person and work of Jesus. As branches of the true vine, all that is his is ours.
Two points of application from this passage:
As we “abide” in Christ…it redefines what we are…
Our Spirit-wrought union with Christ dramatically redefines what we are. In the Old Testament the division was between Jews and Gentiles. Basically, the haves and the have-nots. The Jews were the people of God while the Gentiles (everyone not a Jew) stood on the outside of that relationship looking in. Jesus, though, as he applies to himself the description of being the “true vine” reorients the way we think about ethnic distinctions. If Jesus is the one true Israelite then we, as we are in relationship with him, are constituted as God’s people on his behalf. There are no longer any distinctions between Jew and Gentile – we are now defined only with respect to whether or not we are “in Christ.” Paul says in Ephesians 2 that Jesus Christ has “brought near those who were far off” and that he has “broken down the dividing wall” between Jew and Gentile in order that God might create for himself a “new humanity.” We, as the body of Christ in all the world are that “new humanity.”
Sometimes this truth does not hit us the way it should. We don’t live in a world where Jew/Gentile distinctions mean much. However, we do live in a world that values social and economic status. What we want to say as loud as possible to ourselves and to those around us is that right standing before God is not determined by what family you were born into, or what country you live in, or what ethnic background you share in. We are Christians by virtue of our faith in Christ and nothing else. Faith in Jesus, not ethnic background, has become the decisive characteristic and requirement for membership among God’s people.
What we sometimes miss is that for the Jewish people this was a difficult teaching. This seemed to go against everything that the Old Testament taught. The Old Testament struggles greatly with the issue of Jews and Gentiles. Those inside the covenant relationship with God and those on the outside looking in. When we get through the Gospel accounts and come to Acts we find that the Jews had a difficult time accepting that Gentiles could be included into the people of God as Gentiles (no circumcision necessary!). This is what the gospel has done for us: we Gentiles who were far off have now been brought near by the shed blood of Christ. What we are is no longer central – we have become branches of the one true Israelite on account of his righteousness and perfect obedience.
As we “abide” in Christ…it redefines who we are…
As it redefines what we are, it at the same time redefines who we are. We abide in Christ on account of his work. We abide in Christ on the basis of what he has done and we bring nothing to the table. It is all about who Christ is and has nothing to do with who we are as individuals. We are not central in this picture – we are branches! We are peripheral at best! Branches only have existence as they are connected to the vine. There are no lone ranger Christians who can do things on their own.
John has laid down the gauntlet and given us a choice: we are either abiding in Christ by trusting in him alone, or we are branches that get tossed into the fire. We desperately, desperately need Jesus Christ. Our lives and accomplishments mean nothing before the creator of the universe. All of our success, popularity, fame, and fortune will never be pleasing to God. There is one life that pleases God and that life is Christ’s. Only because his life is accepted can those who are “in him” be pleasing to God and filled with the Spirit, because every believer possesses everything of Christ’s.
[Posted by Benjamin Thocher]
At the beginning of John 15 Jesus says to disciples “I AM the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.” The rest of the chapter revolves around this illustration and what it means first of all for who Jesus is and secondly for who we are, as believers, in relationship with him. As we move through John’s Gospel we find Jesus issuing seven “I AM” statements (cf. 6:35; 8:12 & 9:5; 10:7; 10:11; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1).
When Jesus says “I AM,” he is not making a simple statement about himself and tacking on some interesting imagery. The Greek construction utilized in these statements is one of emphasis and could be woodenly rendered “I Myself Am.” By including these seven statements in his Gospel, though, John is communicating something to us about who Jesus is. What is it that John wants to communicate?
In Exodus chapter 3, Moses encounters God at the burning bush. During this encounter God reveals his name to Moses – he tells Moses that his name is “I AM.” Fast forward a few thousand years to Jesus walking around making statements like “I AM the good shepherd” and “I AM the way, and the truth, and the life” and we see a much more profound intention. Jesus is invoking the personal name of God revealed to Moses and claiming to be equal with the God of the Old Testament. YHWH, the God of Israel.
We come then to John 15 and understand Jesus’ statement “I AM the true vine” to be a statement with respect to his deity. Jesus identifies himself as God. What then does he mean when he says that he is the “true vine”? My saying “I am a tree” is meaningless as there is no prior context for it to be significant. However, looking again to the Old Testament we receive assistance in discerning what Jesus is communicating about himself.
In Psalm 80 Israel is said to be a vine that God brought out of Egypt and “planted” in the Promised Land. Throughout the Old Testament – here in Psalm 80 and especially in Isaiah 5 – Israel is called God’s vine, or God’s vineyard. As God’s vine they were called to be obedient. Or, to utilize the language of John’s illustration, they were called to be “fruitful.” Israel, however, did not fulfill their calling.
Adam, as God’s son, failed in the garden to obey the Law of God and to rule over creation. So too Israel failed in the Promised Land, as God’s son, to obey the Law of God and to rule over her enemies. Jesus, in calling himself the “true vine” stands in opposition and stark contrast to that which is inherently counterfeit, or perhaps better put, that which is “less ultimate.” Jesus has in clear view here the disobedience of Israel as God’s faithless vine.
Jesus Christ, not Israel, is the “true vine” of God. Jesus here shows himself to fulfill Israel’s destiny – whereas Israel did not bear fruit, Jesus will bear the fruit of true obedience. This is what I like to think of as the punch-line of the whole Bible: Jesus defines himself as the one true Israelite. He represents in himself the faithful nation of Israel. “Faithful Israel” had been reduced to one man, and one man alone.
All that God had done for Israel looked forward to what he would do in and through his only son, Jesus Christ. Jesus as the true Israelite keeps the law perfectly, he worships God perfectly, and he succeeds in every place that Israel before him had failed. His obedience was a perfect obedience. In Philippians 3:8 Paul says that Jesus’ obedience was an obedience “unto death – even death on a cross.” His deliverance was not a deliverance from the hands of foreign oppressors, but a deliverance from the grip of sin itself.
These were some links on my old blog that I would like to carry over, in case one might want to use this as a data base. They are listed below.
Since I will not have a link dedicated to Theologians and their work, I have decided to make one post over all the past Theologians I had on my side bar of my previous blog. Here they are; you can click on their name, which will then lead you to a cite of their works and that have much “must read” information about them. Enjoy!
- Andrew Bonar
- Anselm of Canterbury
- Arthur Walkington Pink
- Charles Spurgeon
- Cornelius Van Til
- Edward Payson
- Geerhardus Vos
- Herman Bavinck
- J. C. Ryle
- James Boyce
- James Ussher
- Jeremiah Burroughs
- John Bunyan
- John Calvin
- John Frame
- John Gill
- John Owen
- John Piper
- Jonathan Edwards
- Martin Llyod Jones
- Martin Luther
- R. L. Dabeny
- Thomas Boston
- Thomas Goodwin
- Thomas Manton
- Thomas Watson
- Vern Poythress
- William Cunningham
This is the final part of Dan Cruver’s interview with Dr. Timothy Trumper. Because of the length and richness of his answers, his interview has been posted in six parts. You can read the full interview here. If you are interested in deepening your understanding of the doctrine of adoption significantly, you will want to take the necessary time to carefully read his answers.
As part of Carolina’s Hopes adoption interview series, Dan Cruver is interviewing several theologians and New Testament scholars about the doctrine of spiritual adoption and its implications for earthly adoption. The 5th part of Dr. Trumper’s interview can be read here.
Dan says, “Because of the length and richness of Dr. Timothy Trumper’s answers, his interview is being posted in six parts (see Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4). If you are interested in deepening your understanding of the doctrine of adoption significantly, you will want to take the necessary time to carefully read his answers.”
The following article has been written by a seminary student Benjamin Thocher from Westminster Theological Seminary. There Ben is working on his Masters of Arts in Religion, majoring in Biblical Studies.
Perhaps the most important theological aspect of Genesis 37-50 is the interpretive lens with which Joseph understands his life and circumstances. His brothers come before him following the death of their father Jacob. Having sold their brother into slavery they now stand at his feet, expecting his judgment to be poured out. Joseph instead responds to his brothers concerns by stating “as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive” (Genesis 50:20). This statement is vital to understand the character of God and the reality of evil. To be sure, the antecedent to “it” in Genesis 50:20 is “evil” – to put it differently “God meant that evil for good”. Piper explains that “the ultimate reason that suffering exists in the universe is so that Christ might display the greatness of the glory of the grace of God by suffering in himself to overcome our suffering. The suffering of the utterly innocent and infinitely holy Son of God in the place of utterly undeserving sinners to bring us to everlasting joy is the greatest display of the glory of God’s grace that ever was, or ever could be”. This is to say then, that suffering had to exist in order that Christ might come and suffer on the cross. Piper goes on to say that “everything leading to the cross and everything flowing from it is explained by it, including all the suffering in the world”. Joseph too holds the key to understanding the role of pain, suffering, and evil in the world. Whereas his brothers intended to do Joseph harm, God was superintending the event to bring about his good purposes – namely, the salvation of the sons of Israel. In this same way the suffering the Israelites faced at the hands of the Egyptians was so that God could create for Himself a set apart people, and to display His glory throughout all the earth. Paul Helm comments that in “Joseph’s understanding God brought certain events to pass, events which had a beneficial end, and which were in accordance with his covenant promise to Abraham, using the evil intentions and actions of human beings. He does this, according to Joseph, without himself being implicated in the evil, and without diminishing in any way the evil of what was done to Joseph and the responsibility for that evil”.
The libertarian free will advocate will surely ask how this can possibly be so? How can God govern the choices of human beings without violating the freedom of those choices? It is this exact question that is answered in Joseph’s evaluation of the story – it cannot be understood. Mark Talbot rightfully states that “attempts on our part to understand it involve our trying to understand the unique relationship between the Creator and his creatures in terms of our understanding of some creature-to-creature relationship”. It is this misunderstanding that Talbot calls a category mistake. The creature cannot understand from its own perspective what it is to be creator. The story of Joseph then testifies in its entirety to the total sovereignty of God in and through the actions of sinful man.
As part of Carolina Hope’s adoption interview series, Dan Cruver has interviewed several theologians about the doctrine of spiritual adoption and its implications for earthly adoption. Dan believes that the practice of earthly adoption will be significantly enriched as we grow in our understanding of what it means to be adopted by God.
Because of the length and richness of Dr. Timothy Trumper’s answers, his interview is being posted in six parts (see Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3). If you are interested in deepening your understanding of the doctrine of adoption significantly, you will want to take the necessary time to carefully read his answers.
In part 4 Tim addresses what Dan Cruver believes is a very important issue.
Dan syas, “Many who preach, teach, or write about theological adoption combine John’s new birth model of entrance into God’s family with Paul’s adoption model. This is unfortunate for a number of reasons, one being that it prevents us from recognizing the full significance of Paul’s doctrine of adoption.”
You can read part four of this interview here.
Carolina Hope’s next interview of theologians is with Dr. Robert Peterson, professor of systematic theology at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. In addition to teaching on the seminary level, Dr. Peterson has extensive experience as a pastor, including church planting efforts, and has preached in Uganda and Peru on short-term mission trips. His pastoral experience is reflected in the practical emphases in his systematic theology classes. Dr. Peterson is the author of Adopted by God: From Wayward Sinners to Cherished Children. In it he considers the beauty of God’s grace through the lens of the wonderful doctrine of adoption. You can read the interview that Dan did with Dr. Peterson here.
As part of Carolina Hope’s adoption interview series, Dan Cruver is interviewing several theologians about the doctrine of spiritual adoption and its implications for earthly adoption. Dan believe that the practice of earthly adoption will be significantly enriched as we grow in our understanding of what it means to be adopted by God.
Because of the length and richness of Dr. Timothy Trumper’s answers, his interview will be posted in six parts (see Part 1 / Part 2). If you are interested in deepening your understanding of the doctrine of adoption significantly, you will want to take the necessary time to carefully read his answers. You can read part three of his interview here.
As part of Carolina Hope’s adoption interview series, Dan Cruver is interviewing several theologians about the doctrine of spiritual adoption and its implications for earthly adoption. Dan believes that the practice of earthly adoption will be significantly enriched as we grow in our understanding of what it means to be adopted by God.
Because of the length Dr. Timothy Trumper’s answers, his interview will be posted in six parts (you can read part 1 here). If you are interested in deepening your understanding of the doctrine of adoption significantly, you will want to take the necessary time to carefully read his answers. Part Two can be read here.
As part of Carolina’s Hope’s adoption interview series, Dan Cruver is interviewing several theologians about the doctrine of spiritual adoption and its implications for earthly adoption. Dan believes that the practice of earthly adoption will be significantly enriched as the believer grows in understanding of what it means to be adopted by God.
Dan’s fourth interview on adoption and the theology of it is with Dr. Timothy Trumper (you can read the others here). Dr. Trumper is a native of Wales (UK). He was converted at the age of 15 and felt constrained to preach God’s Word while he was as a student of politics at the University of Wales. He then trained for the pastorate at the Free Church of Scotland College, Edinburgh (1989-1993).
While studying theology Dr. Trumper he was captivated by the doctrine of adoption (Eph. 1:5; Gal. 4:4-6; Rom. 8:15, 23; 9:4). As a result, he enrolled in doctoral studies at New College, University of Edinburgh. It is there that he gave himself to a concentrated study on adoption. His dissertation is “An Historical Study of the Doctrine of Adoption in the Calvinistic Tradition” (Ph.D. thesis: University of Edinburgh, 2001). Dr. Trumper taught at Westminster Seminary from 1999-2003. He is presently Senior Minister at Seventh Reformed Church, Grand Rapids, MI. You can read the interview here.
Carolina Hope adoption agency has a series in which Dan Cruver is interviewing several theologians about the doctrine of spiritual adoption and its implications for earthly adoption. Dan believes that the practice of earthly adoption will be significantly enriched as we grow in our understanding of what it means to be adopted by God.
Carolina’s Hope’s thrid interview done with another theologian (you can read the first and second interviews here and here) is with Dr. Sam Storms, the founder of Enjoying God Ministries. Dan Cruver had thought about interviewing Dr. Storms about spiritual adoption after Dan’s Brother Steve Cruver reminded Dan that Dr. Same Storms had written about it in his book The Singing God: Discover the Joy of Being Enjoyed by God (Creation House, 1998). You can read the interview of Sam Storms here.
Dr. Dave Garner is the Vice President for Alumni Relations & Educational Advancement at Westminster Theological Seminary. He wrote his doctoral dissertation on the doctrine of adoption. It’s entitled “Adoption in Christ” (Westminster Theological Seminary, 2002). Dr. Garner agreed to allow Dan Cruver to interview him about Scripture’s teaching on the theology of adoption and its implications for the earthly practice of adoption. The interview can be read here.
New Demonology Refuted
The New Demonology Movement is so focused on personal experience and feelings rather than the absolute authority of the Word of God. In order to use the Word of God to support their doctrine they must bend the scriptures and take things out of context. It is important that we do not just study their doctrine but we must refute it based upon the Scriptures.
There is no biblical basis for believing that a genuine Christian can be under the degree of demonic control indicated by the word daimonizomai. “The language of demons “entering in,” “going out,” or being “cast out” is consistently employed in regard to demonized persons (Matt. 8:16, 32; 9:33; 12:22-24; Mark 1:34; 5:8, 13). The New Testament seems to use this word only in a narrow sense of demon possession. Other forms of influence cannot therefore be properly called “demon possession” or demonization. The term “demonized” refers to the invasion of a victim’s body by a demon (or demons) in which demon exercises living and sovereign control over the victim, which the victim cannot successfully resist. The elements of indwelling and the inability to resist the demon’s will are what make demonization distinct from lesser forms of demonic influence (Konya 21-22).”
○ To be “in” Christ is to be “out of” the evil one
-1 John 4:4 declares, “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”
-John Calvin writes: “The apostle reminds us that we become strong, not by our own power, but by that of God. He hence concludes that we can no more be conquered than God Himself, who has armed us with His power to the end of the world.”
Since a Christian is indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:9-11; 1Cor 3:16; 6:19) it would seem unlikely that the Holy Spirit would allow a demon to indwell the same person He is indwelling. First Corinthians 6:19 makes it clear that the Holy Spirit establishes a permanent, intimate relationship with every believer. The body of a Christian is the Holy Spirit’s temple. Other passages also describe the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in the hearts and lives of Christians (John 3:3-7; Romans 8:5-11; 1 Corinthians 12:12-13; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; 6:16; Ephesians 1:13-14; Titus 3:4-7).
In the Scriptures it is clear that sin is a result of our sin nature. We do not struggle with sin because of an “outside” force it is because of our nature. The only way to overcome sin is by asking God to help us and restore us. Scriptures clearly state in James 1:13-14 that our heart and desires are the reason for our sin. It is our own hearts desire that leads us into temptation (Mark 7:21-22).
You will notice that in all the New Testament passages dealing with spiritual warfare, we are never told to cast a demon out of a believer (Ephesians 6:10-18). We are told to resist the devil (1Peter 5:8-9; James 4:7), not to cast him out. Apostles were given the authority ad ability through Christ (Mark 3:15; Luke 9:2,3). We are not given the same authority that Christ gave the Apostles.
Another aspect of this movement is the practice of rehearsed prayers. They believe that if these certain specific prayers are declared one would be freed from bondage. It is interesting that there isn’t an example of rehearsed prayer, with the exception of the passage in Matthew 6:9-13. If the prayer from Anderson’s book is so powerful why is it not declared by Christ for us to pray. Again this movement denies the sole authority of the Word of God. We can’t make up practices that are not supported by the Word of God.
There is also no biblical evidence to support territorial demons. During Christ’s ministry on earth, he cast out demons and healed people from demon possession but there is no evidence that he released the bondage of geographical demons. In Anderson’s The Bondage Breaker, he gives an example of a believer trying to share the gospel and no one was responding. He then came to the conclusion that the territory was under demonic influence. He prayed a rehearsed prayer that the area would be released from bondage and after the prayer many people came to know Christ. Ephesians 6 or the Great Commission would be a passage that would deal with territorial demons when sharing the Gospel but nothing is mentioned. Conclusions and practices can not be made fact without the sola Scriptures backing it up. Nothing can separate us from the love of Jesus Christ. If God draws someone to himself nothing will stop it. God is greater then the one of this world.
Like previously stated arguments generational demons is another concept that takes personal sin and puts it on the responsibility of someone else. There is no biblical evidence that supports such an idea. We are not responsible for our ancestor’s unconfessed sins. We can see that a demon or disease is not a result of our past generations sin. John 9 gives that account of the blind man; the Pharisees were blaming the sins of the man’s parents for the cause of his ailments. Jesus quickly refuted them by saying this man is sick to bring the will and glory of God about.
Doctrines can not be formed and built off of personal experience. Churches today are more focused on meeting the needs of the people then staying true to the Word of God. A wise man once said if you find a pastor who shepherds the flock and teaches the absolute Word of God he should be treasured and protected. Everything must go back to scriptures, the New Demonology Movement is using experiences and feelings for doctrine and that is why it is clearly unbiblical.
New Demonology Explained
○ Christians can be affected by demons
This battle is not against flesh or blood. That is the theme of the New Demonology Movement concerning Christians being affected by demons. Believers are demonized not demon possessed based upon the word daimonizomai. There is invasion upon the believer’s life but there is no control. The Holy Spirit may dwell within a believer to control evil within, even a demon. We are to put on the full armor of God in order to protect us from being demonized and under the influence of Satan and demons. The scriptural basis for this doctrine is John 12:31; Colossians 2:15).
○ Sin can be linked to demons
We are struggle in certain areas of life and we fall into temptation here and there. However, if there is a pattern of sin in a believer’s life there must be a demonic influence. If a believer is struggling with depression he is influenced and demonized by the demon of doubt. The demon influences the life and causes deception. The problem is not in the person but in the influence (II Corinthians 11:14,15).
○ Christians have the power and authority to command demons
The Christian has the authority, in Christ, to command Satan or demons. This authority is the same authority that was given to the Apostles to cast out demons in the Bible.
○ Rehearsed prayers and declaration are required for release from bondage
The only way to be released from the bondage of Satan or demons is to declare a rehearsed statement. The prayer/declaration must include certain phrases in order to be released. The Christian, as stated in the previous point, has the authority to command and control demons. The following declaration is a rehearsed prayer that a believer must say in order to be released from bondage.
In the name and authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, I command
Satan and all evil spirits to release me in order that I can be free to know and to choose to do the will of God. As a child of God who is seated with Christ in the heavenlies, I command every spirit to leave my presence, I belong to God and the evil one cannot touch me. -Neil Anderson The Bondage Breaker
○ Demons are territorial and have reign over a geographical location
There are certain territories that are influenced by different things. It is stated that demons have the capability to “rule” or influence a particular area. If you are trying to spread that gospel and people are not responding it could be a result of demonic suppression over that territory. It is therefore important to command the demonic rule to leave that place.
○ Demons may be passed down from previous generations.
This idea is based on the concept that sins are passed down from
generation to generation. If someone’s ancestors participated in sin and it went unconfessed, the demon from their sin could be passed down to the following generations. In order to overcome such bondage it is important that one seeks after God for wisdom and knowledge concerning their ancestors. They should then make a verbal declaration like the declaration below from Neil Anderson’s The Bondage Breaker.
I here and now reject and disown all the sins of my ancestors. I specifically renounce the sins of (list here the areas of family sin the Lord revealed to you.) As one who has now been delivered from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of God’s son, I cancel out all demonic working that has been passed down to me from my family. As one who has been crucified and raised with Jesus Christ and who sits with Him in heavenly places, I renounce all satanic assignments that are directed toward me and my ministry. I cancel out every curse that Satan and his workers have put on me. I announce to Satan and all his forces that Christ became a curse for me when he died for my sins on the cross. I reject any and every way in which Satan may claim ownership of me. I belong to the Lord Jesus Christ who purchased me with his own blood. I reject all blood sacrifices whereby Satan may claim ownership over me. I declare myself to be fully and eternally signed over and committed to the Lord Jesus Christ. By the authority, I have in Christ, I now command every familiar spirit, and every enemy of the Lord Jesus that is influencing me to leave my presence. I commit myself to my heavenly father to do his will from this day forward.
Introduction to New Demonology
● There is a new doctrine that is slowly creeping into the mainstream evangelical church. This new version of doctrine is the idea of spiritual warfare and deliverance of demons. In this doctrine it is believed that many Christians are in bondage to Satan and in order to be free from that bondage you must have the ability and the authority to override Satan and command demons to leave. In order to advocate this model one must have the presupposition that Christians can be demon possessed and be under the authority of Satan. Advocates for this doctrine include:
● Neil Anderson
The Bondage Breaker; Victory over Darkness; Released from Bondage
● C. Fred Dickason
Demon Possession and the Christian.
● Ed Murphy
The Handbook for Spiritual Warfare
● Frank Peretti
This Present Darkness; Piercing the Darkness
● Merrill Unger
What Demons Can Do to Saints
● C. Pete Wagner
Engaging the Enemy; How to Fight and Defeat Territorial Saints
° A condition in which one or more evil spirits or demons inhabit the body of a human being (unbeliever) and take complete control of their victim at will.
· “to be possessed of a demon, to act under the control of a demon”
° Matthew 4:24; 8:16,28,33; 9:32; 12:22; 15:22; Mark 1:32; 5:15,16,18
· “him that hath a devil (demon)”
° Luke 8:36; John 10:21
· Biblical Evidence
° In the days of Christ
· Jesus Christ’s encounters and casting out of demons
° Matthew 8:16, 17; Mark 1:32-34, 39; Luke 4:40-44 – Christ casts out many demons.
° Matthew 8:28-34; Mark 5:1-20; Luke 8:26-39 – Jesus casts Legion into a swine.
° Matthew 12:22-23 – The Son of God heals a blind, mute, and demon possessed man.
° Matthew 15:21-28; Mark 7:25-30 – Christ tells a Gentile woman that the demon has gone out of her daughter.
° Matthew 17:14-21; Mark 9:17-29; Luke 9:37-42 – Jesus rebukes an unclean spirit that has possessed a boy since birth.
° Mark 1:23-27; Luke 4:31-37 – Jesus rebukes an unclean spirit.
° Mark 3:11-12 – Unclean spirits pronounce Jesus the “Son of God”.
° Luke 11:14 – Christ heals a mute and demon possessed man
· Followers of Christ’s encounters and casting out of demons
° Matthew 10:1; Mark 3:14-15 – Jesus chooses and empowers the Twelve over unclean spirits and to cast them out.
° Matthew 17:16, 19-21; Mark 9:18, 28-29; Luke 9:40 – · After the disciples’ inability to cast out a demon, Jesus rebukes them for lack of faith and prayer.
° Luke 10:17-20 – The seventy realize that demons are subject to them in Jesus’ name. The Lord connected this to the defeat of Satan (Isaiah 14:12- 14; Ezekiel 28:12-19).
° In the days of the Early Church
· Acts 5:16 – Apostles healed many that were tormented by unclean spirits.
· Acts 8:7 – Through Philip’s preaching of Christ, many unclean spirits came out of those who were possessed.
· Acts 16:16-18 – Paul commands a spirit of divination to come out of a slave girl after following him and Silas for many days.
· Acts 19:13-19 – Jewish exorcists attempted to command evil spirits in the name of Paul and Lord Jesus, but were overpowered by the man in whom the evil spirit dwelled. Through this event, the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.
Destiny of Demons
· Fall of Angels
° One-third of the angelic creation may have followed Satan
· Revelation 12:4
° Moral Problem
· The character of God
° God is holy
° Sin is wicked and worthy of justice
· Deuteronomy 32:3-4
· Romans 3:4
° Did not promote sin
· James 1:13, 17
· Psalm 5:4
° The choice of Angels
· Chose to sin
· Fully responsible for their decision
· Some fallen angels are now bound
° 2 Peter 2:4
° Jude 6
· The Abyss is an intermediate place of detention of evil spirits
° Appears like Hades
° Habitation of the souls of the unrighteous between death and the Second Resurrection
° Place of torment and confinement
° Demons “begged” and “implored” Christ not to command them to depart to the Abyss
· Luke 8:31
° Expand Satan’s wicked cohorts in their work of deception and destruction
· Revelation 9:1-11
· Judgment at the Great White Throne of God
° Revelation 20:11-15
· Ultimately cast into the Lake of Fire for Eternity
° Matthew 25:41
Activity during Church Age
· Increasing activity of deceit
· Spirit promoting doctrines of demons
° 1 Timothy 4:1-3
· Display demonic influences
° 2 Timothy 3:1-9
· False teachers of religion
· Empowered by Satan and demons
· Continue to creep into the church
° 2 Peter 2:1-3
° 1 John 4:1-3
· Twist the character of God
° 2 Timothy 3:3-4
· Deny the Deity and Redemption of Christ
° 2 Peter 2:1
· Mock the Second Coming of Christ
° 2 Peter 3:3-4