Month: May 2015

God’s Oracles Center Around Christ: 2 – The Old Testament Implicitly Teaches the Centrality of Christ


Suggested Pre-Reading: God’s Oracles Center Around Christ: 1


It is clear that the New Testament was written to document the words and deeds of Jesus and to declare him to be the Christ. It is not as clear that the Old Testament was written to set the stage for Jesus of Nazareth. On the surface, the Old Testament is an account of the nation of Israel, beginning with God’s creation of Adam and ending with the return of the Jews from the exile. Beneath the surface, the story being told is about a great king who would come from the nation of Israel and rule the world in righteousness.

Although Christians should read the Old Testament and learn how it points to Christ, many do not do so, finding a cover to cover reading intimidating. For those intimidated by the Old Testament, there is a summary of the whole story found in the ninth chapter of Nehemiah. The summary, provided in full at the end of this article, was written after the return of the exiles from Babylon and covers from the beginning of creation to the return of the exiles. If the summary proves to be intimidating, one can focus on the following excerpt, which captures the essence of the Old Testament:

You are just in all that has come upon us;
For You have dealt faithfully, but we have acted wickedly.
For our kings, our leaders, our priests and our fathers have not kept Your law
Or paid attention to Your commandments and Your admonitions with which You have admonished them.
But they, in their own kingdom,
With Your great goodness which You gave them,
With the broad and rich land which You set before them,
Did not serve You or turn from their evil deeds.

Nehemiah 9: 33 – 35

God was very good to Israel, over and over and over. Their response to God’s goodness was sin and a refusal to obey the commandments God gave them. For nearly one thousand years, from Moses to the end of the exile, the Law proved incapable of changing the hearts of the people. The promised blessings of the Mosaic Covenant were not enough to inspire godliness, and the promised curses of the Mosaic Covenant were not enough to prevent sin. Something greater than the Law of Moses was needed, to cause the people to trust and obey God. If the Law of Moses was to remain the primary administration, why not think that Israel would remain in a perpetual state of sin and rebellion and exile?

It is viewing the Old Testament in this way – as a chronicle of Israel’s perpetual disobedience – that enables one to see how the story is dependent upon the Christ. Israel’s inability to obey the covenant of Moses is resolved by the prophetic promise of Jesus and His new covenant. Consider the words of Isaiah, who wrote of a great king from the line of David who would rule in righteousness.

For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. (Isaiah 9: 6 – 7)

Consider the words of Jeremiah, prophesying that a new covenant would be made, in which the law of God would be written on the hearts of men, rather than on tablets of stone.

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” (Jeremiah 31: 31 – 33)

The promise of a savior-king, enacting a covenant in which He by divine power changes the hearts of His people and atones for their sin, is is the exact solution needed for a people who continually proved incapable of obeying the law by their own power. If the prophecies regarding Christ are removed from the Old Testament, the story started in the Old Testament has nowhere to go. For one thousand years the law failed to produce godly people, and unless that law were replaced with something better, there is no reason to think anything would change.

Our conclusion then, in light of all that has been said, must be that Jesus is central to all that is going on in the story of Israel. If by removing Christ from the Old Testament the story has nowhere to go, what other conclusion is there to draw?


Old Testament Summary In Nehemiah 9: 5 – 37

O may Your glorious name be blessed
And exalted above all blessing and praise!

You alone are the LORD.
You have made the heavens,
The heaven of heavens with all their host,
The earth and all that is on it,
The seas and all that is in them.
You give life to all of them
And the heavenly host bows down before You.

You are the LORD God,
Who chose Abram
And brought him out from Ur of the Chaldees,
And gave him the name Abraham.

You found his heart faithful before You,
And made a covenant with him
To give him the land of the Canaanite,
Of the Hittite and the Amorite,
Of the Perizzite, the Jebusite and the Girgashite—
To give it to his descendants.
And You have fulfilled Your promise,
For You are righteous.

You saw the affliction of our fathers in Egypt,
And heard their cry by the Red Sea.

Then You performed signs and wonders against Pharaoh,
Against all his servants and all the people of his land;
For You knew that they acted arrogantly toward them,
And made a name for Yourself as it is this day.

You divided the sea before them,
So they passed through the midst of the sea on dry ground;
And their pursuers You hurled into the depths,
Like a stone into raging waters.

And with a pillar of cloud You led them by day,
And with a pillar of fire by night
To light for them the way
In which they were to go.

Then You came down on Mount Sinai,
And spoke with them from heaven;
You gave them just ordinances and true laws,
Good statutes and commandments.

So You made known to them Your holy sabbath,
And laid down for them commandments, statutes and law,
Through Your servant Moses.

You provided bread from heaven for them for their hunger,
You brought forth water from a rock for them for their thirst,
And You told them to enter in order to possess
The land which You swore to give them.

But they, our fathers, acted arrogantly;
They became stubborn and would not listen to Your commandments.

They refused to listen,
And did not remember Your wondrous deeds which You had performed among them;
So they became stubborn and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt.
But You are a God of forgiveness,
Gracious and compassionate,
Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness;
And You did not forsake them.

Even when they made for themselves
A calf of molten metal
And said, ‘This is your God
Who brought you up from Egypt,’
And committed great blasphemies,

You, in Your great compassion,
Did not forsake them in the wilderness;
The pillar of cloud did not leave them by day,
To guide them on their way,
Nor the pillar of fire by night, to light for them the way in which they were to go.

You gave Your good Spirit to instruct them,
Your manna You did not withhold from their mouth,
And You gave them water for their thirst.

Indeed, forty years You provided for them in the wilderness and they were not in want;
Their clothes did not wear out, nor did their feet swell.

You also gave them kingdoms and peoples,
And allotted them to them as a boundary.
They took possession of the land of Sihon the king of Heshbon
And the land of Og the king of Bashan.

You made their sons numerous as the stars of heaven,
And You brought them into the land
Which You had told their fathers to enter and possess.

So their sons entered and possessed the land.
And You subdued before them the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites,
And You gave them into their hand, with their kings and the peoples of the land,
To do with them as they desired.

They captured fortified cities and a fertile land.
They took possession of houses full of every good thing,
Hewn cisterns, vineyards, olive groves,
Fruit trees in abundance.
So they ate, were filled and grew fat,
And reveled in Your great goodness.

But they became disobedient and rebelled against You,
And cast Your law behind their backs
And killed Your prophets who had admonished them
So that they might return to You,
And they committed great blasphemies.

Therefore You delivered them into the hand of their oppressors who oppressed them,
But when they cried to You in the time of their distress,
You heard from heaven, and according to Your great compassion
You gave them deliverers who delivered them from the hand of their oppressors.

But as soon as they had rest, they did evil again before You;
Therefore You abandoned them to the hand of their enemies, so that they ruled over them.
When they cried again to You, You heard from heaven,
And many times You rescued them according to Your compassion,

And admonished them in order to turn them back to Your law.
Yet they acted arrogantly and did not listen to Your commandments but sinned against Your ordinances,
By which if a man observes them he shall live.
And they turned a stubborn shoulder and stiffened their neck, and would not listen.

However, You bore with them for many years,
And admonished them by Your Spirit through Your prophets,
Yet they would not give ear.
Therefore You gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands.

Nevertheless, in Your great compassion You did not make an end of them or forsake them,
For You are a gracious and compassionate God.

Now therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who keeps covenant and lovingkindness,
Do not let all the hardship seem insignificant before You,
Which has come upon us, our kings, our princes, our priests, our prophets, our fathers and on all Your people,
From the days of the kings of Assyria to this day.

However, You are just in all that has come upon us;
For You have dealt faithfully, but we have acted wickedly.

For our kings, our leaders, our priests and our fathers have not kept Your law
Or paid attention to Your commandments and Your admonitions with which You have admonished them.

But they, in their own kingdom,
With Your great goodness which You gave them,
With the broad and rich land which You set before them,
Did not serve You or turn from their evil deeds.

Behold, we are slaves today,
And as to the land which You gave to our fathers to eat of its fruit and its bounty,
Behold, we are slaves in it.

Its abundant produce is for the kings
Whom You have set over us because of our sins;
They also rule over our bodies
And over our cattle as they please,
So we are in great distress.

A Conversation with Bob Enyart On Open Theism


Doctrine Via Dialectic: Examining Biblical truths by means of fictitious conversations.

This conversation is inspired by Bob Enyart, who in a debate with James White stated that time has eternally existed with God and that God does not know the future. You are encouraged to listen to the debate, located at the bottom of this post, to learn more about the unbiblical doctrine of open theism.


Blogger: So in your debate with James White you declared that time is uncreated?

Enyart: Yes.

Blogger: And this is important to your position on open theism, because it allows you to state that God has eternally lived in sequence?

Enyart: Yes, that is right.

Blogger: And God living in sequence is important because it allows you to state that God does not know the future, and the future is open?

Enyart: Yes.

Blogger: So let us look a little deeper then, at this notion of God having always lived in sequence.

Enyart: Okay.

Blogger: You believe that God thinks, right?

Enyart: Of course.

Blogger: And you stated in the debate that God thinks new thoughts?

Enyart: Yes.

Blogger: So, if we had a timeline, we could plot the times in which God thought new thoughts.

Enyart: Theoretically, yes, we could place God’s new thoughts onto a timeline.

Blogger: We could then follow the timeline backwards, and in doing so we would see the sum total of God’s thoughts reducing as we work backwards in time.

Enyart: Yes, you are correct. If God thought a new thought today, and His total thoughts were X, then yesterday His total thoughts would be X-1.

Blogger: And so logically, does it not follow, that we would reach a point on that timeline when God only had one thought?

Enyart: I perceive you are trying to trap me.

Blogger: How so?

Enyart: If I were to say that God eternally existed in sequence but that His thoughts could not be reduced to one, you would likely accuse me of being inconsistent. However, if I were to say His thoughts could be reduced to one, I would be in an even more difficult position.

Blogger: I am not trying to trap you, but you are right about being in a difficult position. If you admit that God’s thoughts could be reduced to one, then not only do you have to defend that position, but you have to address whether it was possible for God to have had zero thoughts at some point in eternity past.

If you are going to deny that God’s thoughts could be reduced to one, then you have to somehow defend the position that despite living eternally sequential, God had an unknown amount of thoughts, greater than one, that did not occur sequentially. You would then also have to account for God, at some point and time, beginning to think new thoughts in sequence.

Enyart: I’m not sure how to proceed from here. I am certainly not going to address this issue right now.

Blogger: I guess our conversation is over, then. I must point out your argument is terribly ironic, since in your debate with James White you accused reformed theology of deriving their attributes of God from Greek philosophy rather than the Bible. This whole concept of God living eternally in sequence and thinking new thoughts and not knowing the future sure seems to be philosophical to me, rather than Biblically based.



God’s Oracles Center Around Christ: 1 – The New Testament Explicitly References The Centrality of Christ

The Christian ought to believe that God’s oracles center around Christ because Jesus, the Christ, explicitly said that very thing. In an encounter with the Pharisees, recorded by the disciple John, Jesus dispelled the notion that the primary function of Scripture is to teach the law of God so that one could be righteous through holy living.

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me…For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. (John 5: 39, 46)

After His resurrection from the dead, Jesus made another explicit statement about the Christ-centered message of Scripture, during a conversation with His disciples.

Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” (Luke 24: 44 – 47)

The author of Hebrews told us that God’s oracles climaxed with the coming of Christ.

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. (Hebrews 1: 1 – 2)

Prior to Jesus, God spoke to Israel through a series of prophets, and the prophets looked ahead to the coming of the Christ. When Jesus came, the prophets ceased, for the Messiah had been revealed, and their message was no longer needed. All that was needed was for the words and deeds of the Messiah to be written down for posterity, and that has happened thanks to the authors of the New Testament.

Believing that Jesus is the main focus of the Bible is key to accurately reading and comprehending the Bible. One of the easiest things to do is to forget that the book is primarily about Jesus. When one does this, when one forgets, the book often becomes about the reader. The reader goes to Scripture to extract principles for living a better life, just like the Pharisees did in Jesus’ day. This narcissistic reading can even happen when reading about Jesus – instead of focusing on the glory of Jesus and giving Him due praise, the reader instead studies the words and deeds of Christ, merely so they can try to mimic those qualities in their own life and become “a better person”.

Thankfully, the Holy Spirit gave us explicit references in Scripture, which prove the primacy of Christ, to help guard our hearts and minds as we approach God’s holy word. Since God desires His people to worship Him in spirit and in truth, we must read Scripture, the revealed word of God, accurately. As we increase in our comprehension of the Biblical narrative, and as we increase in our comprehension of our own sinful nature, we will learn that it is impossible to please God through our living of His law. It is only because of what Christ has done on our behalf, by dealing with our sin, that we can be pleasing to God. The redemption of mankind through the sacrificial death of Jesus of Nazareth is what the oracles of God all point to, in one way or another. The apostle Paul summarizes this great work well:

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5: 21)

To rightly understand the gospel of grace, and not turn it into a gospel of works, one must understand that Jesus stands in the center of all of God’s revealed truths.