Ascended to Heaven in Glory

The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” – Psalm 110:1

When studying theology, there are certain doctrines in Scripture that seem to not receive as much attention as they deserve. I think the ascension is one of those doctrines. So often Christians focus on what Christ did and what Christ is going to do, but neglect what Christ is currently doing (Peter Orr, Exalted Above the Heavens: The Risen and Ascended Christ, NSBT, (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2019, 1). Patrick Schreiner, Associate Professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, precisely states the issue: the often overlooked doctrine of the ascension “is a key moment in the good-news story and a crucial hinge for Christ’s threefold work as prophet, priest, and king” (Patrick Schreiner, The Ascension of Christ: Recovering a Neglected Doctrine, (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press), 2020, xv). In this article, I hope to briefly discuss each part of Christ’s office, the consummation of each part in Christ, and our hope and assurance that rests in Christ as our Prophet, Priest, and King.

Christ Our Ascended Prophet, Priest, and King

This may seem confusing, but Christ didn’t resign from his office as Prophet when he ascended into glory after his death and resurrection. In fact, the opposite resulted from his ascension; his influence as Prophet increased. This is because when he ascended into glory to the “exalted [position] at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit,” Christ poured out upon his people the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, which marks the birth of the Church (Acts 3:33). Through the work of the Holy Spirit Christ empowers his people to spread the message of the Gospel to every tribe, tongue, and nation.

One of the major themes of the book of Hebrews is Christ rightfully assuming the role of being the Great High Priest of the New Covenant. Since Christ willingly offered himself as a “single offering” to sanctify his people for all time, he rightfully took his office as our Great High Priest (Heb 10:10, 14). In doing so, he “obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the [Old Covenant]” (Heb. 8:6). The sufficiency of Christ’s atoning sacrifice and eternal priesthood gives his people every reason to “draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith” (Heb. 10:22).

The most recognized office of Christ is that he is the Risen King, who sits at the right hand of the Father. Fully pleased with the work of his Son, God the Father “has given” to Christ “dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed” (Dan. 7:14). What’s unique about the kingship of Jesus in respect to the other offices is that “the other offices flow from kingship and this office encompasses the others” (Schreiner, The Ascension of Christ, 76). It is by Christ’s authority that his servants are commissioned to advance his marvelous Kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven.

King David, one of the members of the Messianic lineage, prophetically writes Psalm 110 to describe the majesty and ministry of the Ascended Messiah:

The LORD [Yahweh] says to my Lord [Adonai]:
“Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”
The LORD sends forth from Zion
your mighty scepter.
Rule in the midst of your enemies!
Your people will offer themselves freely
on the day of your power,
in holy garments; from the womb of the morning,
the dew of your youth will be yours.
The LORD has sworn
and will not change his mind,
“You are a priest forever
after the order of Melchizedek.”
The Lord is at your right hand;
he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath.
He will execute judgment among the nations,
filling them with corpses;
he will shatter chiefs over the wide earth.
He will drink from the brook by the way;
therefore he will lift up his head.

In reading this psalm, David highlights all three offices of the Messiah: verses 1-2 and 5-7 highlight the kingship of the Messiah; verse 3 highlights the prophetic influence of the Messiah; and verse 4 highlights the priesthood of the Messiah. In biblical history, the kings of Israel and Judah could temporarily partake in prophetic and priestly roles; however, all three offices permanently, peacefully, and harmoniously rest on Christ because he is worthy and righteous to assume all three offices.

Our Hope and Assurance in the Ascended Christ

My prayer is that you are encouraged by the truth that Christ is our Prophet, Priest, and King. He empowers his people through the Holy Spirit to proclaim the excellencies that are in Christ alone. The message of repentance and faith Christ preached is the same message his faithful ones joyfully proclaim. His empowered people have the joy of having infinite and eternal access to the Great High Priest who (1) is the perfect “mediator of a new covenant” according to the single, final offering made “to bear the sins of many” through perfect atonement; and (2) is fully able “to sympathize with our weaknesses,” who indeed “in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15; 9:15, 28). Christ rules over his people as King of kings and Lord of lords; “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to [him]” (Matt 28:18). He is the King of a Kingdom that cannot be shaken (Heb. 12:28). Therefore, “let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace [from Christ our Great Prophet, Priest, and King] to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).

Jesus Christ as Our High Priest

Before the throne of God above

I have a strong and perfect plea

A great High Priest whose name is love

Who ever lives and pleads for me.

The reality we all face in this sin-stained world is the truth that there is nothing of our own will or action that can remove our innate sin nature. Nothing. Now, you may be asking yourself, “Well where is the hope in that?” The only answer is written in the blood of Jesus Christ that was spilled on the cross of Calvary. It is the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, who now sits at the right hand of the Father in Heaven (Heb. 1:1-4). That is the answer to our sin nature. Jesus as our High Priest sits and watches; He sees and knows everything and intercedes on our behalf.  Unlike the priests from the times of the Old Testament, who never finished making sacrifices, Jesus has finished His sacrificial work. His sacrifice on the cross was final and complete.

Old Covenant – Priests and Temple Sacrifice

In the the Old Covenant, the people of God knew the idea of a mediator only through the shadow of the Old Covenant priests, and particularly the high priest of Israel. The high priest was the only individual who could enter the innermost part of the tabernacle, the Holy of Holies, and that was only once a year on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16). The priests were to offer sacrifices of various kinds- sin, burnt, grain, peace, and trespass offerings- (Lev. 1-7) which all ultimately pointed forward to Jesus and His complete sacrifice for our sins. God specifically set aside the Levites, one of Israel’s twelve tribes, to perform specific daily rituals and duties. However, these chosen Levites were still corrupted because of their sin nature. Some of them worshiped idols and stole from others (Ezek. 22:26; Jer. 2:8). Pastor David Mathis clarifies that,

The first covenant, with its earthly location and priesthood, was good and effective for a season, as God intended. Through animal blood, it brought God’s people, represented by the high priest, into his presence each year. However, the new covenant is better. Through Jesus — the superior priest, who cleanses us fully (inside and out), by means of his superior blood — we are invited to approach the very throne of God himself not just annually but weekly, daily, and at any moment (Hebrews 4:14-16).

The final answer came in the New Covenant, where the priestly line would come from the order of Melchizedek (Gen. 14:18-20), and the order of sacrifices under the Law would cease in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus would come, not from the fallible order of the Levites, but from Judah. Jesus reigns and He will not be succeeded by another priest; for His perfect life is the resounding end to temple sacrifice and atonement. He is our new and final High Priest.

New Covenant – Jesus as our High Priest

Jesus as High Priest atoned once and for all for the sins of humanity by offering His own life as the substitutionary sacrifice that satisfied the wrath of God. The atonement of the New Covenant is far greater than any atonement that came through the Levitical priests. The Law would no longer need to be fulfilled by earthly practices, but rather would be abolished forever because of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice (Gal. 3:10-14). For the Lord declares, “I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jer. 31:34). Christs’ sacrifice was effective because His life was perfect and He did not remain dead, but rather was raised to eternal life at the right hand of His Father in Heaven to intercede for His people (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 8:1-2).

Both Christ’s full humanity and full divinity are necessary to fulfill this role as the great High Priest. As Christians, our confidence is not in our own abilities or works, but rather in the High Priest who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses, and was tempted just as we are, yet lived without sin (Heb. 4:14-15). He is our assured hope and anchor for our soul because He alone meets the requirements for a full sacrifice (Heb. 6:19-20). Jesus makes the propitiation for our sins, and by His own blood secures the covenant and enters the most Holy place where He reigns today (Heb. 9:11-12). To be seated at God’s right hand implies the greatest of honor and authority which Jesus possesses in His perfect union with the Father. Jesus’ divinity is further expressed in Hebrews 7:26-28, where it is written,

For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once and for all when he offered up himself. For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever. – Hebrews 7:26-28

The Truth for Today

So, what does this mean for you today? Well, if you are in Christ, you have a mediator who has secured eternity for you at the price of his own life. It is as Dr. Brandon Crowe, a professor at Westminster Theological Seminary writes,

Jesus’ sacrifice provides the solution to a problem that we often find in the Old Testament: even where sacrifices may be offered, people’s hearts (including those of the priests) were often far from God.

Praise be to God who saw us in our affliction and had a plan for redemption before time began. The fruition of this plan was Jesus Christ. Those who come to faith and submit their whole lives to Christ have a changed heart that is filled with the guiding direction of the Holy Spirit. We no longer need to perform ritual sacrifices, but we give our lives in obedient sacrifice to the calling of the Lord. It is through His grace and mercy we are being sanctified through the Spirit to bring others into the loving embrace of the Father and the presence of the priestly King, Jesus Christ (Heb. 10:11-14). He is our confidence and peace so that we, as redeemed sinners, can enter His presence with boldness now and for eternity (Heb. 4:16). This redemption allows us to sing joyfully the song “Before the Throne of God Above,” knowing that Jesus reigns as our loving High Priest. And because of this truth, the Lord will never reject us.

A Letter from Jeremy: Knowing the Love of Jesus

My friends,

Being the lowliest servant of God is better than having ten thousand universes to yourself without Him. You have never committed a small sin, they have all been wicked enough to damn you to Hell to be forever separated from Christ. While we all know this, something we rarely consider is that we have never received a small blessing. The fact that we have food to eat is amazing grace more than we could ever deserve. The fact that we have even one person unashamed to call us their friend, despite our lifelong, ungrateful treason against a holy God, is a gift of love that we can never repay. 

Yet even these blessings—food, clean clothing, friends—are but tiny embers next to the white, hot, blazing supernova of knowing the love of a pierced, agonizing, bleeding, weeping, dying Jesus. His majesty and splendor makes all things look less than worthless. Yet, this is the very King who loved even the most ungrateful hypocrite, and gave Himself upon an accursed tree. (Galatians 2:20) 

My friends, the garden of Eden and Paradise itself would be hellish and unbearable places without God and knowing the love of Jesus. Indeed, even ten trillion Heavens without Jesus would be gut-wrenchingly miserable, and like Hell itself, in comparison to an hour spent truly knowing the full love of Jesus Christ which surpasses knowledge. This is a love that exceeds the heights of Heaven, yet condescended to this globe, a love that condescended even to the cross and the depths of the terrible wrath of our Almighty God. This is a love that triumphed over death, Satan and his wicked demons, and the gates of Hell. This is a love that ascended in glory to lavish His Spirit upon His precious, adopted, ransomed children; a love which  interceded on His children’s behalf. This is a love that is coming back in Holy anger and furious wrath against wicked and reprobate enemies, but with tender mercy, compassion, joy, and gentleness to dwell with His precious children and wipe every tear from every eye. 

Oh, friends! Do you know this love I speak of? Do you know the predestinating love that determined all and carefully watches over each and every individual hair on your head? Do you know the love that takes care of you and guards you from the devils which would savagely murder you if He were to abandon you? Even when you were in your mother’s womb, you were adored and treasured by God. An everlasting love was placed on you before the foundation of the earth, and before you loved Him at all!

This love is what compels us. This is the love which drives away every fear and causes the Gospel to thunder forth to the darkest corners of this wicked world. This love can keep us humble when loved by billions, and joyful when hated by them. This love can keep us from despair after our greatest failures and keep us from pride after our greatest successes. This love can give us joy and hope in the darkest dungeon and gratitude and deep humility in the most splendid mansion. 

If we know the love of Jesus, we can endure both the smiles and frowns of this dying world and not be shaken. If we know the love of Jesus, we can boldly stand before any enemy, any King, any devil, or any putrid thing in Hell and declare the excellencies of the one who called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light by His grace alone! If we know the love of Jesus, we can endure any devastation and sing for joy! 10 trillion afflictions would be Heavens if we could be in our Savior’s loving arms and know His love! Oh, with Jesus we can do all these things with sheer joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory (1 Peter 1:8). When you know the love of Jesus, you can rest your tired head on the pillow and sleep in perfect peace.

Advent: Worthier than All

That I might know Him and the power of His resurrection
-Philippians 3: 10

It is the season of Advent again, and with this comes the busyness of Christmas time. This means long lists of gifts to buy and things to do. Far too often, this distracts us from what we ought to be doing during this time—beholding the glory of Christ. 

The season of Advent is about God who became flesh, emptied His glory, and perfectly obeyed the father. This is one of the most essential focal points of Scripture, yet how are we preparing our hearts for Him during this season? In the midst of this Christmas season, are we letting our hearts dwell on the person of Christ? 

While I was considering this question for myself one morning, I was struck with three questions that were worth asking myself. It’s easy for me to be distracted and to get carried away with worries that are not edifying; however, these questions, in sum, reveal three hard spiritual truths that I have been wrestling with this semester. The Lord has been faithful to reveal these to me, and I hope that by sharing them you are able to refocus your heart as well. I pray that in this season, we may be able to truly focus on the incarnation of Christ and his future glory, and I hope that this will change our hearts and bring us more into obedience and holiness.

Am I Willing? 

This is a question that has been on my mind throughout the semester. I ask myself, am I willing to give up all for the sake of Christ? Do I truly believe He is better than anything this world can offer? 

Alongside this question a passage from 2 Samuel comes to my mind. In this passage, David builds an Altar to the Lord as the Lord had commanded him. However, in order to build an altar, David is required to buy the threshing floor. David insists on paying the full price for the threshing floor as he says: “I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that which costs me nothing” (2 Samuel 24:24).

Here we see an example of obedience that I hope is inspiring to you. If we truly believe that Christ is worthier than all else than we should be willing to give up all for the sake of obeying Christ. He is more worthy than anything this world could offer us. He is better than any worldly pleasure. 

George Whitefiled, in his sermon titled Contemplating Christmas, describes this when he states that, “you can never [be in] want when the love of the Lord Jesus Christ is the subject. So let Jesus be the subject.”

Beholding the glory of Christ is better than anything else we could ask for or want, and being satisfied in the love of our Father is all we need. This is because we were created for worship, and we were made to find our delight in Him and Him alone

David says in one of the final Psalms,, “You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing” (Psalm 145:16). He is all we need. His love is satisfying of our every desire. But do we believe this? May we rest in this truth and be willing to give up all we have in obedience to Christ. 

Am I Longing?

Not only should we ask ourselves if we’re willing, but are we longing? Are we longing for the day of Christ’s return? Or are we finding our satisfaction in the pleasures of this world? A passage in Romans 8 comes to my mind when I think about this:

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
-Romans 8:22-23

The good things of this world and the beauty of His creation are nothing in comparison to the glory of Christ that will be revealed to us one day. Everything in this life that is good is a shadow of what is to come if we are reconciled to God through Christ Jesus our Savior. 

In order to behold Christ and His incarnation we need to believe this.  Through Christ, all things are being made new, and this is the hope that we have as believers: we are new creations. The hope we have is revealed to us in the transformation of ourselves, and it is a glimpse of what is to come. One day, we will stand before God, guiltless and clothed fully in His righteousness. One day, we will not struggle with our sin or shame anymore, and we will be fully equipped and happy to glorify God eternally. This is what we have hope in and our hope is anchored in the incarnation of Christ and His work on the cross. 

Am I Ready? 

And lastly, am I ready for Christ’s return? Am I actively pursuing holiness in my life? This is a question we must ask ourselves as believers every day. This is not an easy question for me, or anyone, as we so easily see our failures. I so easily see my spiritual laziness and areas in my life that I am not laying before the Lord. 

Recently, I have been reading Disciplines of Grace by Jerry Bridges and it has been eye opening to understand both the pursuit of holiness yet the dependence on Christ in that very pursuit. Bridges describes man’s primary purpose to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. In order to do this, He writes:

The most important dimension [of glorifying God and enjoying Him] is our wholehearted obedience: our desire to obey Him with all our heart, soul, and mind.

This is how we glorify God, this is how we as believers can find satisfaction in Christ and Christ alone. I pray that we can be filled with obedience to Christ, and a willingness to pursue righteousness. Not because righteousness is what we rely on for salvation, but because our holiness gives glory to the name of God. Ultimately, this is for the act of bringing glory to the father. 

May we lay down all we have before our Savior Jesus Christ. For he is more worthy than anything else in this world. Let’s be willing to sing the lyrics of Crown Him with genuine hearts:

It’s not my life to live
It’s not my song to sing
All I have is His
For all eternity
It’s not my righteousness
It’s not my faithfulness
All I have is His
For all eternity
And we will
Crown Him, crown Him
King of glory
Crown Him, crown Him
Lord of all.

Let us behold Christ and the love of our Father this Christmas season. May we be willing to give up all we have, may we long for the return of Christ, and may we prepare for His return through our pursuit of holiness. All other priorities fail in comparison to recognizing the goodness and glory of Christ. We will fail in our willingness, longing and readiness for Christ, but let us fix our eyes on the One who meets us in our failures and is able to keep us from stumbling. In our failures, His righteousness continues to cover us.

Delighting in the Goodness of God

“How can a good God send people to hell?” This age-old question has fueled the discussion about God, His goodness, and the nature of fairness since the beginning of time. Oftentimes, we think that we are in fact good people who do more good than bad and do not deserve hell. What is so dangerous about this accusation against God is that it carries a pretense of pride.

When asked this very question during a question and answer session at a conference, R.C. Sproul replied, “Why do bad things happen to good people? It only happened once and he volunteered.”

Here, R.C. Sproul points us to a beautiful and humbling truth: only God is good and no one else. God has set the standard for what is good, and no one can reach the standard of goodness. God is good. Therefore, the standard of goodness is God. So if the standard of goodness is the holy perfection of God, we must recognize that we utterly fail to come anywhere close to God’s standard. In fact, we are the opposite of what good is. We are bad. And although we are bad and fully deserving of God’s wrath, Christ took our place. He took God’s judgement upon himself so that we could be forgiven by God. Christ was resurrected three days later and through his victorious atonement those who have been drawn toward Christ are now seen as good by God due to Christ’s imputation of His righteousness to us by grace. But what does this actually mean?

God is Good and Righteous

Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good;
sing to his name, for it is pleasant!
-Psalms 135:3

As the psalmist David repetitively proclaims, the Lord is good. Throughout all of the Bible, this is a common praise from man to God. That He is good. Many worship songs today also proclaim this—from Carl Boberg’s “How Great Thou Art” to Bethel Music’s “King of My Heart”—we are surrounded by praises to God that exclaim that He is good. But what does it mean for God to be good? What is goodness? 

1 John 1:5 says, “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”

God is perfect.

There is no darkness in Him. God is our standard of perfection. He need not appeal to any greater standard. God is not defined by perfection. Perfection is defined by Him. Within His perfection lies every attribute of God in divine, perfect form. Since God is perfect, He cannot sin (1 John 1:5). God is the Creator of the universe and everything in it. There is no fault in Him. He is completely perfect. Paul says in His letter to the Romans:

But if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? (I am using a human argument). Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world?
-Romans 3:5-6

God is just.

Because God is a just God, His law is perfect. His law must be obeyed if we are to live justly. Since God loves us, His justice must be enacted upon those who break His law. The sentence for sin is death and the punishment must be borne by those who have committed sin in order to rightly appease the judgement of God. The disobedience of God’s law cannot go unpunished.

Psalm 145:9 says, “The Lord is good to all, and His mercy is over all that He has made.”

God is merciful.

He is full of mercy. God’s mercy reaches to the depths of the sea and to the heights of the sky. He is merciful to both the just and unjust (Matthew 5:45). His mercy is evident in the fact that each day we wake, we are experiencing a mercy that transcends all bounds. God’s mercy does not make sense to us; it has no rhyme or reason by our standards. Yet God delights in freely and gracefully extending His mercy upon those who have nothing that they could ever bring to the table. 

Psalm 107:1 says, “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever!”

God is love.

Not only is God a loving God, but He Himself is Love. His love is eternal and first rooted in the love of His own goodness, and then in His love for the creation when they participate in the pre-existing, eternal union of the Trinity. His love is displayed through His continual extending of both judgement and mercy upon humanity. Because He loves us, He must enact His wrath upon those who break His law. Because He loves us, He freely places His mercy upon those whom He saves, although all who break His law are undeserving of mercy and fully deserving of His holy judgement.

Psalm 34:8 says, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!”

God is good.

We cannot experience good things apart from God because He is the only thing that is good. Our definition of good will never suffice if it is not centered and focused in on the eternal character of the one true God. Only through God’s Word do we have an accurate picture of goodness because God and God alone is good. Goodness is not an adjective. It is who God is. What joy it is that mere humans cannot define or even portray goodness due to our brokenness but that goodness is instead defined and portrayed by the God that created us! We can find and abide in everlasting joy when we come into fellowship with God. This should bring us great joy that our only lasting fulfillment in life comes solely in the goodness of a God who promises Himself to us.

The Unrighteousness of Man

They have all turned inside; together they have become corrupt;
there is none who does good, not even one.
-Psalms 14:3

The truth hurts, especially when it tears down the facade that we put up to coddle our prideful sense of sufficiency as humans. We are a prideful people in that our natural desire is to rebel against God and His rule because we believe that we can be the rightful rulers of our own lives. The consequence of this pride is eternal damnation and separation from God (Romans 5:12). We seem to believe that we are good and in doing so we are crowning ourselves with selfish glory and sitting upon a throne of arrogance, pride, and delusion.

When sin entered the world in the Garden of Eden, death, decay, and destruction cursed every living soul that will ever exist. This is God’s wrath. His judgement upon the soul of every human being, as we are all under the bondage of sin (Romans 3:9). Our God is a just God, and in Genesis 2 we see that God gave humanity a command to obey, but when humanity did not obey (Genesis 3), it was given a just punishment for its disobedience.

Since we have fallen short of God’s glory and sinned (Romans 3:23), we are consequently under God’s wrath. We are under the law, always. And since we are under the law, we are to receive God’s holy wrath upon our physical death which will result in our eternal separation from God. However, for those of us in Christ, Christ’s obedience to that Law is sufficient to cover us. Since God is good, His law must be good. In other words, God’s law is perfect and righteous because God is perfect and righteous. This points to the humbling truth that we are in fact unrighteous, wretched sinners with no claim to goodness in any sense of the word. As Aristotle once wrote,

From this it is also plain that none of the moral virtues arises in us by nature; for nothing that exists by nature can form a habit contrary to its nature.

Not only are we unrighteous, but we are evil by nature due to the Fall. When sin entered the world, all of humanity adopted a sinful nature. Therefore, we are by nature sinful beings who cannot do good or uphold a standard of goodness. Nothing that we do can justify us or make us righteous. As Paul writes in Romans 3:20, “For by the works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.”

Christ Our Righteousness

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.
-Ephesians 1:7

What radical love this is! We have sinned against God and therefore forfeited goodness out of our lives. We are due for a just and fair punishment of death and separation from the one holy and perfect God. There is nothing that we can do to get out of this and redeem ourselves. But God, rich in mercy and love (Ephesians 2:4-5), sent Christ to be the payment for our sins. Jesus came and lived a perfect life that upheld the law in every way on our behalf because we cannot do good and uphold the law. He then took our place on the cross to die the death that we deserve and are rightly due for. Three days later he rose from the grave in victory having broken the bondage which sin and death has on humanity. This is the good news of the gospel!

They are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
-Romans 3:24-26

We must have faith in God and enter into a relationship with Him in order to be saved (John 3:16). When God saves us, He transforms our old, unrighteous heart into a heart that desires Him. We have a yearning to know more of who God is and to worship Him as our sole purpose in life. This is only possible, however, by the grace of God (Ephesians 2:8-9) through Christ making us into a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). Only when we are in Christ does he impute his righteousness to us. By the indwelling of His Spirit, God changes us in every way, from the inside out. We are good only in Christ!

Only Christ can redeem us. There is no other way. God’s wrath enacted upon Christ in our place allows us to receive His grace as the undeserved gift of salvation. This is only available for us to receive through the justice and grace of God. Only by the power of God can we be saved and transformed. Colossians 3:9-10 says that if we are saved then we must put on our new self and put off the old self. We must abide in Christ and have faith in Him alone to transform us and make us new.

This is true for those who are saved: through Christ’s death and resurrection, God imputes His goodness to us so that now God sees Christ in us. Salvation is not dependent on our goodness (which we have none of) or our work, but fully dependent on Christ’s goodness, his accomplished work on the cross, and His resurrection from the tomb. All praise be to God for this! Only He is good and only in Christ can we be righteous in God’s eyes. What a beautiful gift of grace—the ultimate gift of grace—from a good, good God.

So How Can A Good God Send People To Hell?

The question that has kept so many people captivated for so long is one that is answered by the very character of God. The question that might be more helpful to those wrestling with the question is not “How can a good God send people to hell?” but instead “Why would a good God send people to heaven?” The reason that people go to hell is because God is good. But, in Christ, we are given unmerited and amazing grace by which this good God can also look on us with delight rather than displeasure (Isaiah 53:6). The reason that people can go to heaven is because God is good. Justice and love meet at the cross. Through faith alone by grace alone in Christ alone, we are made new and seen as good through Christ’s righteousness, forever allowing us to delight in God and His goodness.

Christ Our Righteousness

What does is mean that we have received “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ” (Romans 3:22)? What does it mean that God “has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10). It means that Christ’s personal, perfect, and perpetual obedience to the Law of God throughout His entire life (the active obedience of Christ) is counted as ours. Though we are inherently sinful and commit acts of sin, God sees us the same way He does our Lord Jesus Christ: righteous.

The Covenant of Works

Man’s biggest problem is not the wrath of God, but rather, the righteousness of God. God’s wrath is the consequence for failing to meet the demands of the righteousness of God. God demands righteousness of all made in His image in order for them to have eternal life. This standard is known through the Law of God. The first Law given to man was given to Adam. Adam was commanded by God to work and keep the Garden of Eden, but not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil for “in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:15-17). This Law given to Adam is known as the Covenant of Works. The Covenant of Works promised eternal life to Adam and all of mankind upon fulfilling the condition of working and keeping the Garden and not eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. However, the consequence for Adam breaking the Covenant of Works would be an eternal death for Adam and all of mankind. Adam, of course, did eat of the tree, thereby imputing His sin to all mankind as it is written, “just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). Why was Adam’s sin imputed to all mankind, and why do we suffer the consequence of death even though we were not the ones who ate of the tree? Because Adam is our federal head. He represented all mankind in the Garden. Though Eve ate of the tree first (Genesis 3:6), it was not until Adam ate that they realized their nakedness (Genesis 3:7a) which was their guilt before God. It was through Adam’s disobedience that we were made sinners (Romans 5:19a), not only in corruption, but in our guilt before God (Romans 5:18a). Guilt preceded corruption when Adam sinned as he first realized his nakedness, and then presumptuously tried to sew fig leaves together (Genesis 3:17b) to hide his corruption.

The Mosaic Covenant

To further reveal our sin, God gave Israel the Ten Commandments (Romans 5:20a, Romans 7:7). The Mosaic Covenant was a type of Covenant of Works for the nation of Israel. After receiving the Ten Commandments, the nation vowed, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient” (Exodus 24:7). If the nation of Israel obeyed the commandments, they would be blessed in all things (Deuteronomy 28:1-14). If the nation disobeyed, they would be cursed in all things (Deuteronomy 28:15-68), including being driven out from the land of Israel by a foreign nation (Deuteronomy 28:49-50, 64). Eventually, they disobeyed and the nation was split into two, into Israel and Judah. Israel was forever scattered among the nations when the Assyrians took them into captivity. Judah was taken into captivity by Babylon (Babylon is east of Jerusalem), but was maintained in order that the Abrahamic promise of the Messiah (Galatians 3:16-18) would be fulfilled in Christ, who was a descendent of David, of the tribe of Judah. This is the paradigm by which Paul and Jesus view the Law.

The Demand and Function of the Law

Paul writes,

He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury… For it is not the hearers of the Law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the Law who will be justified.
-Romans 2:6-8, 13

Righteousness merits the blessing of eternal life. Unrighteousness merits the curse of eternal death. It is not enough that we avoid sin, we must actually be “doers of the Law.” A lawyer, asked Jesus, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus asked him, “What is written in the Law?” The lawyer answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus replied, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” (Luke 10:25-28). If the lawyer wants eternal life, he must be perfect. He must keep the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments really are these two greatest rules, to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself.

Note what Jesus said at the end: “Do this, and you will live.” He gets this phrase that summarizes the function of the Law from Leviticus 18:5, which Paul also uses in Galatians 3:12. But Paul writes in Galatians 3:10, “For all who rely on works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things in the Book of the Law, and do them.’” If we try to gain eternal life by our own works, we will be condemned, because “through the Law comes the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20). The Law shows that we are unable to keep it because we are inwardly corrupt. We sin because we are sinners. Recall how Jesus thinks of the Ten Commandments in the Sermon on the Mount. He shows us that it is not enough to avoid murdering someone, committing adultery, or hurting others. We must not be unjustifiably angry with others, not lust over others’ bodies, keep our word perfectly, not retaliate against personal offenses, love our enemies, love the poor, not worship money, treat others as we would ourselves, and practice true devotion to God apart from wanting to be praised by men in order to be properly considered “doers of the Law.” Needless to say, none of us are doers of the Law! We are so wicked, and we probably underestimate our own wickedness. We have by no means earned the blessing of eternal life, but earned the curse of eternal death.

Jesus Christ the Righteous

But the good news of the Gospel is this: God has graciously provided a Last Adam and a Faithful Israel in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the virgin Mary so that He would be born without the stain of original sin. Throughout His entire life, from His birth in a manager to His death on the cross, Christ lived in perfect conformity to God’s Law. He kept the crushing demands of the Ten Commandments, even the standard He clarified in the Sermon on the Mount. He loved the Lord His God with all of His heart, all of His soul, all of His mind, and all of His strength, and He loved His neighbor as Himself. When the Spirit drove Jesus to the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11), Satan tempted Jesus to break His fast, to throw Himself down from the temple to be caught by angels, and with the opportunity to rule all of the kingdoms of the earth. But our Lord did not break His fast, He lived by every word that came from the mouth of God (v. 4). He did not throw Himself down from the pinnacle of the temple; He would not put the Lord His God to the test, and He trusted in the plans and purposes of God (v. 7). He did not accept Satan’s offer to rule all of the kingdoms of the earth because He is the offspring through which all the nations of the earth will be blessed. Jesus would not gain His kingdom by conquering His political enemies with militaristic might, but by conquering our greatest enemy, sin and death, by the means of His own death and resurrection. Israel was tempted and disobeyed in the wilderness; Christ was tempted but obeyed in the wilderness. Even as Jesus was taken to the cross after a number of unjust trials, beatings, and being mocked, Peter writes, “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23). Even as He hung crucified and naked on the cross, with people still mocking Him, Jesus had the selflessness to assign John to take care of His mother after His death (John 19:26-27). Jesus loved His enemies and honored His father and mother. Since Christ’s accomplished perfect, personal, and perpetual obedience to the Law, those who place their faith in him are rewarded with eternal life. Christ’s resurrection from the dead was His vindication before all that He was a righteous man, was who He claimed to be, and that God accepted the sacrifice for our sins (1 Timothy 3:16, Romans 1:4).

“Thy Righteousness is in Heaven”

All of Christ’s active obedience to the Law of God was for the purpose of representing the elect before God as their federal head. Just as through Adam’s disobedience we were all made sinners by imputation, through Christ’s active obedience we were also made righteous by imputation (Romans 5:19). Adam acted as our representative and condemned us all in the eyes of God; Jesus acted as our representative and justified us in the eyes of God (Romans 5:18). Just as our guilt in Adam preceded corruption, likewise our justification in Christ precedes our sanctification. Jesus, as the federal head of the elect, took the Adamic curse on Himself by imputation, in the same way that the scapegoat on the Day of Atonement was imputed with all of the sins of Israel and driven out into the wilderness (Leviticus 16:20-22). Just as Jesus resurrected from the dead because of His righteous, we too will resurrect from the dead since His righteousness is counted as ours (Romans 5:21, 1 Corinthians 15:45-49).

Since Christ is our federal head, we can rejoice because He has accomplished everything necessary for our salvation. There is no need to fear if we have done enough, because Jesus was enough for us! There is no need to fear that our sins we struggle against will condemn us in the eyes of God, because we are Christ’s Bride. Just as Eve’s sin did not condemn her in the eyes of God since Adam was her federal head, our sins will not condemn us in the eyes of God because Christ is our federal head. While Adam blamed his wife for his own disobedience, Christ took the blame for His wife, the church, and we gain the reward of His obedience. When God looks at us, He doesn’t see our nakedness, our shame, our filthy rags, our unrighteousness, or our ungodliness; He sees the royal garments of Christ’s righteousness. He sees Christ crowned with glory (Hebrews 2:9). Indeed, “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Romans 5:20). We can joyfully proclaim with the Puritan, John Bunyan, “Thy righteousness is in Heaven.”

Is Jesus God?

In this article, my aim is to provide a Biblical foundation for the full deity of Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity. This article is a mere introduction to the doctrine and further study is recommended.

John 1

John 1:1-14 is one of the clearest passages in Scripture that testifies to Christ’s full divinity. Let’s take a look at verses 1-3 and verse 14:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
-John 1:1-3, 14

The author of the Gospel of John, John the Apostle, wrote to inform readers of Jesus Christ’s true identity. Jesus is the Word according to John 1:14, which speaks of His incarnation through the Virgin Mary. Jesus, who is the Word, is also referred to as the Son later in this chapter. Verse 14 says that He, “the only Son from the Father,” was made flesh and dwelt among mankind. This can only be said of Christ Jesus. I want to make clear that as we walk through these first few verses I am talking about Jesus Christ. John starts in verse 1 by saying that the Word was in the beginning with God and “the Word was God.”

Aside from alluding to the Trinity, these verses explicitly state that the Word is God and He is equal to God. Following this in verse 2, John makes it clear that the Word (Jesus Christ) existed alongside God in the beginning before creation. The third verse clearly explains that not only is Jesus Christ God, but He is also the Creator of all things. Verse 3 says that the Word made all things that were made. This precludes Him from being a supernatural being that God made. Jesus is the creator of all things and He existed before “any thing that was made was made” (John 1:3). This passage clearly testifies to Christ’s full deity.

Hebrews 1

But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.” And, “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end.”
-Hebrews 1:8-12

God the Father is actually the one credited with making this statement according to verses 1 and 2 (follow the pronouns all the way to verse 8 to see this) so we know it is Him addressing the Son (Jesus) . He credits the Son with being the one who “laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning,” and He says of the Son, “the heavens are the work of your hands.” According to God the Father, the Son, who we know is Christ, is God the Creator, and His “years will have no end.”

Christ, according to the Father, existed before all of creation alongside Him (the Father) and He (Christ) will continue to exist forever after creation passes away. Christ is eternal. This means He has no beginning and no end. This is an attribute only God possesses (Psalm 90:2, 96:5, Isaiah 43:10-11). Anyone who denies the truth presented in these verses is also denying that the omniscient Father has accurate information regarding the Son. It is worth mentioning that Hebrews 2:10 and Colossians 1:16 explicitly state that all created things are created for Jesus Christ. God the Father is identifying Jesus, who is God the Son, as God.

Perspectives of Human Witnesses

We can also gain insight from analyzing the claims Jesus made. I want us to look specifically at two of Jesus’ encounters with the Pharisees.

The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
-John 5:15-18

Jesus is healing people on the Sabbath as indicated by verses 15-16. The Jews were angry about this because it was a violation of the Law (Deuteronomy 5:14). In response to the Pharisees’ accusations, Jesus says His Father (who is God according to Luke 10:21-22) has been working until now, and that He (Jesus) is working as well. In other words, Jesus is telling them that they are accusing God, who is actively working all things together according to His purpose, including working on the Sabbath (Ephesians 1:11), of breaking the law. Obviously, God is above the Sabbath and perfect (Psalm 18:30), thus incapable of breaking the law. Jesus is basically saying that to accuse Him of breaking the Sabbath is to say that God the Father has broken it too. The Father is above the Sabbath. Christ teaches in Mark 2:27-28 that He also is above the Sabbath. In this passage we have a clear statement from Jesus saying He is God.

In verse 18, John, the author of this Gospel, says that the Jews understood Christ to be calling Himself God. Not only that, but John Himself asserts that Christ “was even calling God his own Father, making Himself equal with God.” The witness here is three-fold. The Pharisees understood Jesus was equating Himself with God. Jesus said that He is divine, and John, the writer, understood from Jesus’ statement that Jesus is equal with God. Neither John, nor the Pharisees was confused by Jesus’ words when He revealed Himself as God in the flesh.

Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.
-John 8:56

In John 8, we see that Jesus claims to have existed before Abraham. This fact refutes the idea that Jesus was simply human like you and I. No ordinary human who lived during the first century, like Jesus, could claim to have existed before Abraham (who lived over 1,000 years before). I must note, however, that the Jews would probably not have been angry enough to kill Christ if He were only claiming preexistence.

I think we can grasp the situation better when we know what Christ means when He says, “I am”? Christ is saying here that He is without beginning or end. To say, “I am” means He not only existed before Abraham, but that He did so eternally. Also note that the text says Abraham “was” which indicates Abraham came into being, but “I am” is used for Christ. This signifies He was never brought into being just as John says in John 1:1-14. Chrysostom, an early church Father, says this:

As the Father used this expression, ‘I Am,’ so also doth Christ; for it signifieth continuous Being, irrespective of time. On which account the expression seemed to them to be blasphemous.

Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
-John 20:26

There are many who will try saying, “Thomas is calling Jesus his Lord, and then crying out to a second being, God”. Is that what the text says? The key words to understanding this passage, which describes an event after the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, are, “Thomas answered him”. Thomas is speaking directly to Jesus. Every single word in the statement that follows is to Jesus Christ. Jesus, according to Thomas, is both Lord and God. Jesus does not rebuke him as others do (especially others who were acquainted with Christ) when they are referred to as God or receive praise (Acts 20:26, Rev 19:9-10, Rev 22:8-9). Once again, we have indisputable scriptural evidence that Jesus is God.

Christ is Explicitly Called God

Jesus is identified as God by the apostles in numerous places. Below are some of the times Jesus is plainly addressed as God.

  • Romans 9:5- To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.
  • 2 Peter 1:1- Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ.
  • Colossians 2:9- For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily
  • John 9:36- He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?”

It is important to note that Jesus does not correct the man that worships Him. If the man did not believe Jesus was Lord, he would be guilty of idolatry. The man believed that Jesus was truly God.

Many more passages can be used to substantiate the deity of Christ that I do not have space to share here. He had the authority to forgive sins which only God can do (Luke 5:20-21). Scripture also teaches that He is Life and the giver of Eternal Life (John 14:6, John 10:28). Please notice that only God gives life. Mere prophets do not claim this. God works through them to resurrect the dead, but Jesus is claiming to be the source of resurrection power (John 11:25).

There are many great theologians who have preached sermons (many of which are on Youtube for free) and/or written books on this topic. I encourage you to continue this study with resources provided by people like James R. White, R.C. Sproul, Voddie Baucham, John Piper, and Conrad Mbewe.

Submitting to Christ’s Lordship

“Submit yourselves therefore to God.”
-James 4:7 (ESV)

Even after my conversion, I found that in various areas of my life, submitting to God seemed preposterous and impossible. I mastered the art of manipulating God’s Word to fit my agenda. I had the terrible disease of conforming my view of Scripture to my pre-existing beliefs and my lifestyle instead of conforming my beliefs and my lifestyle to Scripture. I cared more about pleasing man than I did about pleasing God. I feared offending man more than I feared offending God. I confess that I still often compromise on being faithful to Jesus in order to insure my own comfort, safety, reputation, and image. Looking back, my refusal to submit to God and His infallible Word as totally authoritative over my lifestyle and my beliefs deluded me into living out many lies. The more I think about it the more I realize how insane it is to assume I know better than God. 

Instead of delighting in God’s perfect Law and viewing his graciously revealed truths as precious diamonds, I often found myself apologizing for things that Scripture said, and I would answer the tough questions of my atheist friends in cowardice with: “well there are many interpretations,” or “it’s not my place to judge,” instead of sharing the honest truth in grace, gentleness, and respect. But as God continued to patiently teach me that his commands are for his glory and for my good, I began to slowly surrender and trust in his goodness, and as of today I am resolved to surrender to God’s Word on everything to the best of my ability. This surrender, and continued longing to surrender more and more to the Lordship of Jesus, has given me a profound and enduring sense of peace and confidence. In Psalms 119, the psalmist writes:

“Princes persecute me without cause, but my heart stands in awe of your words. I rejoice at your word like one who finds great spoil. I hate falsehood, but I love your law. Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous rules. Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.” 
-Psalm 119:161-165 (ESV)

I struggle daily to believe and trust that what my Master and my King demands of me is for my good and for his glory. Yet the more I trust his Word, the more I am filled with “great peace” and the less things “can make [me] stumble.” My former low view of God’s Truth and rebelliousness towards his authority stemmed from a low view of God and a high view of myself. I suppressed the truth about God’s Sovereignty, Authority, Goodness, Holiness, Majesty, Mercy, and Love because I subconsciously knew that the implications of believing those glorious truths would tear apart my life. I knew that surrendering to his Word would mean giving up sins that I loved and lies that I believed. I did not want to do that. I did not fear God, and that is a scary thought considering that the book of Proverbs makes it clear that the fear of the Lord is actually “the beginning of wisdom” and “the beginning of knowledge” itself, (Pr. 1:7, 9:10). I needed to fear him and submit to him. The more you do that the more you will be able to reflect on how blindly and skeptically you have been reading God’s Word your entire life, and it will humble you. In addition to being humbled by being able to look back at all the nonsense I believed, the more I surrendered the more peace I enjoyed and the more and more his word became a lamp to my feet and a light to my path, (Ps. 119:105), showing me the places I should and shouldn’t god, what I should and shouldn’t do, and how exactly I can better love my Father. It gave me confidence.

The end goal of learning theology and studying God’s Word is not just to gain knowledge for its own sake or for to win arguments and impress people, but to know more about God so that we can know how best to please Him. In addition to this, learning about God through studying His character, His attributes, and His actions as revealed to us in His Word actually makes us more motivated to please him from the realization of who He is and what He has done. It wakes us up to the fact that He actually deserves our love, praise, and obedience. Imagine if I asked you what I should get for my mom for her birthday. You might have some good suggestions off of the top of your head, but if you really want to help me pick out a good gift, you would start asking me questions about her. What’s her favorite color? What does she like to do for fun? Would she prefer more thoughtful homemade gifts or more expensive store-bought gifts? I love my mom, and because I want to make her happy, I want to know as much as I can about her to know how I can please her most. The more I get to know her, the more I understand who she is, the things that she likes, what makes her upset, etc… and I will be able to find out what gift would make her the happiest. In a sense, this is one of many reasons why we study theology; it helps us to understand how we can best please our God. Pastor Voddie Baucham puts it this way: “the modern church is producing passionate people with empty heads who love the Jesus they don’t know very well.” Let’s be a generation that’s different than this. Let’s be a generation that is hungry for God’s truth, and courageous enough to confidently live in it, stand on it, and fight with it, (in the Ephesians 6, “sword of the Spirit” sense of the word “fight”). Let’s be a generation of believers that can be even more loving, welcoming, and grace filled than the previous one, without compromising an inch of Truth. Pastor John Piper cries, “Oh how rare are the Christians who speak with a tender heart and have a theological backbone of steel.” 

Another serious reason why we should care about doctrine and submitting to the Lordship of Christ in this area is that we want and need to be freed from destructive heresies, theological errors, and lies. John 4:24 tells us that “God is Spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and truth.” If we want to please our God, then out of love for Him, we should do everything we can to not commit idolatry by worshipping or believing in a false god we have conceived of in our imaginations, or even to insult Him by believing or professing the tiniest lie about our beautiful God or His beautiful commands. We should worship Him the way He likes to be worshipped, even if that isn’t necessarily our favorite way or even if that means abandoning certain worship songs that we like if their theology is off. In an age where liberalism, postmodernism, marxism, and all sorts of isms are creeping their way into the Church and its theology, we must surrender to and fear the Lord, trusting Him as He guides us. God spoke through Isaiah, stating:

“But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.”
-Isaiah 66:2 (ESV)

He looks to those who are humble, contrite in spirit, and tremble at His Word. That doesn’t look like somebody that would pick and choose what sounds right or what they feel like obeying. Pastor Matt Chandler warns that “If you’re not confident in the authority of the Scriptures, you will be a slave to what sounds right,” and we should take that warning seriously and accept what God says. But still, just reluctantly accepting the hard truths doesn’t cut it. What should gladly and joyfully cast out all of the lies He exposes and cling to His truth on any issue, regardless of how badly it may hurt. From our worldview, to our clothing, to our social media accounts, to our work ethic, to our love lives, to our diets, to our social lives, to our language, to our tone, to our emotions, to our choices in our free time, to our time on the internet, to our Netflix movie selections, to our Common Application essays, to our debates, to our manners, to our interactions with the homeless, to our thoughts, to literally every inch of our lives, let’s submit to Him in joy, aiming to glorify Him and please Him in everything we do. We should literally fall on our faces and on our knees in tears as we beg Him for His mercy and for our eyes to be opened that we may “behold wondrous things in [His] Law.” (Psalm 119:18). So let us surrender to His Word, for He bought us with at an expensive price, and we do not belong to ourselves, but to God. Augustine once wrote that “if you believe what you like in the gospels and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospels you believe in but yourself.” It was true about 1,500 years ago, it’s true today.

While there are tons of scientific, philosophical, logical, practical, and obviously beneficial reasons to obey God on every one of His commands, our primary and only necessary reason to submit to any given command of our Lord is this: “it is written.” The simple fact that we know God said so is all the evidence we should need to obey His commands. We could easily give people a hundred well articulated pieces of evidence justifying obedience to God on a certain issues, such as the hundreds of benefits to individuals and to society that come from not having sex before marriage. Those are valid pieces of evidence, and that is not in question. But do we need all of that evidence to obey? Would we really want to answer people with, “because the Bible says so?”

Let’s be honest, we do not want to be laughed at for our childlike faith and trust in our Daddy in Heaven. We want to fit in, we want the world to call us rational, (which we ought to be, but we shouldn’t crave that validation from them), and we desperately want to be respected and accepted by society. We do not want to show people that we are actually little sheep who belong to the Shepherd, and that we are God’s children. I am not saying to abandon all of the evidences that support biblical truth; those are beautiful things that can be helpful, especially to Christians. But what I am saying is that when you find that next passage that leaves you enraged, that next Bible verse that you don’t have any extra-biblical evidence to defend, will you still trust and obey simply because God told you to? Are you willing to be made fun of for your refusal to partake in certain activities or for believing that Jesus Christ did die and then rose from the grave? Will you turn the other cheek or will you strike back? When it comes down to it are you confident that the Bible is true? Will you be humble and contrite in spirit, and will you tremble at God’s Word submissively? Or do you think you know better? Let’s think about what failing to trust God looked like in Scripture:

All Eve had when she was in the Garden of Eden while being tempted by Satan was the Word of God, that the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was the one she couldn’t eat from, or else she would die. Then Satan came along and persuaded her to eat from the tree:

“Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
-Genesis 3:1-5 (ESV)

And we know what happens after that. The entire human race becomes condemned, sin and death enter the world, our very nature is corrupted, the ground is cursed by God, and so forth. Eve didn’t have an iPhone to Google whether eating the fruit would actually be safe. She didn’t have any statistics to pull up from the National Institute of Health on the risks of eating from the tree. All she had was the Word of God: “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17) Shouldn’t faith in that have been enough for her to withstand Satan’s lies? What more did she need? So, should we trust God even when it seems like all of our reasoning, culture, and desire yearns for us to rebel?

When Jesus was being tempted in the wilderness, all three of His responses to the devil’s twisted lies began with, “It is written,” and Jesus easily refuted the liar, (Matthew 4). Jesus had absolute, unshakable trust and faith in the Scripture, and we should also. Eve did not trust God’s Word, but for Jesus, trust in God’s Word was more than enough to not give in to temptation. Her disobedience on the Tree of Knowledge led to our condemnation and corruption, as well as many more horrible consequences. Jesus’ obedience on the accursed tree, the cross, led to our justification and redemption, as well as many more glorious consequences. (While some may respond to our “it is written” or “the Bible says” statements with, “well there are many interpretations,” we must have a standard of interpretation so that we can correctly judge what Scripture actually demands. Anchored officially supports and adheres to the Chicago Standards of Biblical Inerrancy. Read through those if you are curious on how the Bible actually ought to be interpreted: http://www.bible-researcher.com/chicago1.html )

 I want you to know that you can have full confidence in upholding and defending biblical truth on every issue. But in addition to confidence, we can also uphold and defend biblical truth in joy, delighting in his law, knowing that the Creator of the Universe knows the purpose of everything under the Sun, and that we literally have no valid reason not to trust him. It is delusional, suicidal, and insane to not trust our entirely trustworthy God, and we fail to trust Him every single day when we sin. When we are reading Scripture it cannot be more emphasized that we must read it humbly, and submissively, and view it in our minds and in our hearts as the very authoritative and trustworthy words of the Almighty King of Creation, rather than some old book of wisdom we can draw from if we feel like it. Ask the Spirit to open your eyes and give you understanding to the text before you read it. A street preacher named Ray Comfort was once challenged by an unbelieving man who had studied religion, and the man boasted that he had read the Bible multiple times and still did not accept it. Comfort told him that the best way to not get anything out of reading the Bible was to read it with a prideful heart as he had done.

My prayer is that all of us would be in God’s Words humbly, and that God would make us like this:

“…he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.” 
-Isaiah 66:2 (ESV)