Revelation 1:9-11

The Setting of the Revelation

The End Times

In my last post, we continued our verse-by-verse study of The Revelation of Yeshua the Messiah to Yochanan.  In this post, we continue to unpack Chapter 1 of Revelation.

9 I, Yochanan, am a brother of yours and a fellow-sharer in the suffering, kingship and perseverance that come from being united with Yeshua. I had been exiled to the island called Patmos for having proclaimed the message of God and borne witness to Yeshua. 10 I came to be, in the Spirit, on the Day of the Lord; and I heard behind me a loud voice, like a trumpet, 11  saying, “Write down what you see on a scroll, and send it to the seven Messianic communities — Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea!” ~ Revelation 1:9-11 (CJB)

The island called Patmos was a small rocky island in the Aegean Sea, about 50 miles offshore from the city of Ephesus on the Asia Minor seacoast.  The Roman fortress on the island of Patmos housed prisoners and exiles. Patmos was in a group of islands that protected the thriving seaport of Miletus.  The Christian church was facing severe persecution. Almost all Believers were socially, politically, or economically suffering because of this empire-wide persecution, and some were even being killed for their faith. Yochanan was exiled to Patmos because he refused to stop preaching the Good News.

patmospatmos-fortress

7-churches-of-revelation

(Photos courtesy of Google Images)

 With respect to verse 10, there is a real difference in many English translations on the phraseology of the Greek.  Because of my intended audience, I use the Complete Jewish Bible as my translation.  Here is what Stern says about his phraseology.

I came to be, in the Spirit.  Alternative understandings:

  • Yochanan’s body remained where it was, but in his spirit, he saw visions;
  • The Ruach came over him, with the result that he saw visions; or,
  • The Ruach caused him to be physically present. Compare: Then a spirit lifted me up and brought me to the east gate of Adonai’s house, the gate that faces eastward.” ~ Ezekiel 11:1a (CJB)“When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away. The eunuch saw no more of him, because he continued on his way — full of joy. But Philip showed up at Ashdod and continued proclaiming the Good News as he went through all the towns until he came to Caesarea.” ~ Acts 8:39-40 (CJB)

    “I know a man in union with the Messiah who fourteen years ago was snatched up to the third heaven; whether he was in the body or outside the body I don’t know, God knows.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12:2 (CJB)

On the Day of the Lord.  If this is what Greek “en tê kuriakê êmera means, as I (Stern) believe it does, Yochanan is reporting the unique experience of having seen God’s final Judgment. I think my translation is supported by the context, since the whole book of Revelation is about the Last Judgment, which over and over in the Tanakh is called in Hebrew “yom-YHVH” (“the Day of Adonai,” “the Day of the Lord”).  On the other hand, Ignatius, who claimed to be a disciple of the emissary Yochanan, wrote letters only two decades or so after Revelation was written, in which he uses the Greek kuriakê” to mean Sunday – as does modern Greek. This only shows how quickly the Jewish roots of the New Testament were forgotten or ignored.

If it means “on the Lord’s Day,” that is, Sunday, the day on which Yeshua was resurrected – and this is the majority understanding –  then Yochanan is mentioning a relatively minor detail, the day of the week on which his visions took place.  According to the NLT Study Bible, “the Lord’s Day” was used in the Roman world to refer to celebrations in honor of Caesar, but Messianics used it to refer to their weekly worship, celebrating Yeshua’s resurrection. The earliest Believers worshiped in Jewish synagogues on the Sabbath, the last day of the week (Acts 18:4), but by the time of Revelation, they were excluded from synagogues and gathered on the day that commemorated the resurrection, the first day of the week.

Special Comparative Note on Revelation 1:10 [1]

Some Futurist commentators support Stern’s translation as implying that the Ruach carried Yochanan into the future so he could observe the actual “day of the Lord,” i.e. the Second Coming and its precipitating events at the end of the age.  The majority of expositors, including most Futurists, however take in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day to be a reference to Yochanan’s state of mind on the first day of the week.

In my next post, we continue in Chapter 1 on the verse-by-verse study of this fascinating prophesy.

Click here for PDF version.

 

[1] Material in this chart is taken from “Revelation: Four Views, Revised & Updated” by Steve Gregg

The Olivet Discourse

The End Times

In my last post, we began a new series on the End Times by reviewing the beginning of time in B’resheet.  We are on an adventure to see if we can gain some understanding of the End of this Age.  In this post, I want to re-cap what we have already learned in What Does Yeshua Say About the End Times – Part 1 – 13.

The Olivet Discourse is contained in Matthew 24 & 25.  The Olivet Discourse grew out of some questions the talmidim asked when Yeshua told them that the temple would one day be destroyed.  First, they wanted to know when.  This answer is not recorded in Matthew but is given in Luke 21:20-24.  Second, they asked about the sign of Yeshua’s return.  This is answered in Matthew 24:29-44.  In their final question, they asked about the sign of the end of the age.  Yeshua’s reply is in Matthew 24:4-8.

What Does Yeshua Say About the End Times
Part ~ 1 In this post, we covered Matthew 24:1-3 wherein Yeshua foretells of the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE.
Part ~ 2 In this post, we looked at Matthew 24:3-8 wherein Yeshua warns the talmidim to Be Alert to the Signs.  Many will come proclaiming they are the Messiah and you will hear of wars and rumors of war.
Part ~ 3 Continuing in Matthew 24:9-14, Yeshua warns that the talmidim will be arrested, punished and put to death.  “But whoever holds out till the end will be delivered. And this Good News about the Kingdom will be announced throughout the whole world as a witness to all the Goyim. It is then that the end will come” ~ Matthew 24:13-14.
Part ~ 4 In Matthew 24:15-20 we learn about the Abomination of Desolation and examined Daniel’s prophecy in chapter 9.
Part ~ 5 Continuing with the Abomination of Desolation in Mathew 24:21-28, we explored the three main views regarding the Tribulation.  I will come back to this topic again in this series more in-depth then I did in the previous series.
Part ~ 6 Next, we explored the Coming of the Son of Man in Matthew 24:29-31.  We will be spending more time on this as well in this current series.
Part ~ 7 Matthew 24:32-35 presented the Lesson of the Fig Tree.  The blooming of the fig tree gives us a clue as to when He will return.  He won’t return until all He has said will happen comes to pass.  “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away” ~ (v. 35).
Part ~ 8 Per Matthew 24:36-51, No One Knows the Day or Hour of His second coming.  It is the Father’s secret to be revealed when He wills.
Part ~ 9 Moving on to Mathew 25:1-13 we learned about the Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids.  Yeshua continues to warn His talmidim to be alert and prepared for His return.
Part ~ 10 Matthew 25:14-23 deals with the Parable of the Talents.  In this post, we dealt with the first two servants who invested what was given to them and made a profit for their master.  It teaches us to be faithful with our own talents, time and treasures.
Part ~ 11 Continuing with the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:24-30, we see how the master dealt with the servant who just buried the master’s money and did not earn a profit.  It was in this post that I first raised the question Can Salvation Be Lost? 
Part ~ 12 Studying Mathew 25:31-36, we began to look at the metaphor of the sheep and the goats in The Final Judgment.
Part ~ 13 The Olivet Discourse and The Final Judgment concludes in Matthew 24:37-46.  We learned the differences between Sheol, Hades and Gehenna.  This is another subject I plan on reviewing again in this series.

For those who may not have read the above posts, I would highly encourage you to at least read Matthew 24 & 25 for yourself before going any further with this series.  They contain the words of our Lord that set the background for understanding the visions that were given to Yochanan as recorded in Revelation.

As we go through Revelation verse-by-verse, I will also be going back to the prophets who will confirm what Yochanan was seeing had been previously prophesied years earlier.

In my next post, I want to present the most popular views of the millennium and rapture of the saints before we start dissecting Revelation.  As we go through the letter, I’ll do my best to present the different views as we come to passages that are interpreted differently by the adherents to those views.

Click here for the PDF version.

 

 

 

 

The Beginning and the End

The End Times

In my last post, we looked at The Mysterious Festival of Hanukkah.  Today, I am starting a new series which I have entitled The Beginning and the End.  This is a series about the End Times.  I have never been much of an eschatology buff.  Yeshua declared: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will certainly not pass away. However, when that day and hour will come, no one knows — not the angels in heaven, not the Son, just the Father. Stay alert! Be on your guard! For you do not know when the time will come” ~ Mark 13:31-33.  I knew that many people ignored this passage and tried to calculate exactly when the End would come; all failed.

Shortly after committing myself to the Lord, I read Hal Lindsey’s “Late Great Planet Earth” and was convinced a pre-tribulation rapture of the church would occur soon.  Then going through the entire Bible, I became a mid-triber hoping the pre-tribers were correct.  I devoured Tim LaHaye’s “Left Behind” series.  I thought it was a great fictionalization of the End Times and didn’t have too many concerns from a scriptural standpoint.  But, once again the idea of studying eschatology didn’t trip my trigger.

It now appears that God has cocked that trigger.  As I think I’ve shared before, my personal study in God’s Word this year has been through the Brit Hadashah (New Covenant), Tehillim (Psalms) and Mishlei (Proverbs) using the English Standard Version Study Bible.  In addition to the Olivet Discourse which I blogged on earlier this year, I kept running into passages in the Brit Hadashah by Sha’ul and Kefa that mention the End Times.  My Tuesday Skype group has also been studying the End Times and the Pastor at our church who leads the Senior Adult Ministry (Prime Time) has just finished a study on Revelation.  Ok, Lord, you got my attention.

Two Common and Opposite Errors When Studying the End Times [1]

Sometimes, examining the End Times degenerates into endless debates and unwarranted speculation about specific details. Other times, End Times curiosity comes to a screeching halt as people throw up their hands at what they’ve begun to feel is an impossible and fruitless enquiry.

  1. THE SLIP INTO UNWARRANTED SPECULATION ~ A slip into the rut of unwarranted speculation and guesswork results in a desire to wring more detailed data out of Scripture than Scripture clearly provides. The prophetic passages in Scripture are inflated until the rest of what Scripture has to say is marginalized, pushing Yeshua and the Besorah to the edges and corners of each page.
  1. THE SLIP INTO SHOULDER-SHRUGGING CYNICISM ~ A slip into the rut of shoulder-shrugging cynicism about the End Times results in downplaying or ignoring End Times (That describes me until recently.) A balanced understanding seems unattainable, so Messianics abandon careful study of the End Times.

These two possibilities represent two dangerous ditches in any study of the End Times.  During this series, I will do my best to build guard rails that will protect us from slipping into either of those ditches.

As we go verse-by-verse through the Revolution of Yeshua the Messiah to Yochanan, we will scour the rest of Scriptures to bring clarification and background information to provide the best possible understanding to what we read.  Where there is more than one viewpoint, I will present the most recognized explanations.

I want to cover the End Times from the beginning of the Tanakh to the end of the Brit Hadashah.  As I have heard it said many times, the Bible is the story of creation and redemption.  The Tanakh announces the coming of the Messiah and the Brit Hadashah assures us the Messiah has come and He will be coming back to judge us all.

In the Beginning

Let’s start in the beginning!  B’resheet 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”   We have already seen that the Ruach is God.  So, He was there I the beginning.  Yochanan (John) 1:1 also indicates that Yeshua was there as well.  “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  [The “Word” (GK logos) is a title for Yeshua in the Brit Hadashah.]  So, we see in this very first verse of the Bible the three persons of God – Father, Son and Spirit.  B’resheet 1:2 offers additional proof that the Rauch was present at the time of creation.  “The earth was unformed and void, darkness was on the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God hovered over the surface of the water.” 

It is almost impossible for me to quote B’resheet 1:1 without giving a little more background information.  Some of you may have never heard this before.

In Hebrew, B’resheet 1:1 reads (Hebrew is read from right to left):

:הָאָרֶץ וְאֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם אֵת אֱלֹהִים בָּרָא בְּרֵאשִׁית

Transliterated (transcribed into English pronunciation) it reads: B’resheet bara Elohim et hashamayim ve’et ha’arets.  For me, belief in the truth of this one simple, yet utterly profound statement hangs all the validity of the entire Bible and serves as the basis for a belief in creationism.  If we cannot believe this one simple truth, then nothing else is relevant.  If we cannot believe the veracity of this one simple statement, then the entire rest of the Bible is merely words with no lasting meaning.

I want to share two interesting tidbits about this verse.

  1. In Hebrew, bara (בָּרָא) means “to create.” This verb is of profound theological significance, since it has only God as its subject. Only God can “create” in the sense implied by bara. The verb expresses creation out of nothing, an idea seen clearly in passages having to do with creation on a cosmic scale.[2]  Now, we all know that all of us can also create, but we can’t create out of nothing.  We must start with some raw material.  In Hebrew, the word for that kind of creation is asa (‏עָשָׂה).[3]
  2. No English translation of the Bible attempts to translate the Hebrew word et (אֵת).  It is a preposition before the noun hashamayim which means “the heavens.”  Now, I’m certainly not a grammar scholar in any language, but this is what I find fascinating about this word in the first verse of the Bible.  The first letter in the Hebrew alphabet is alef (אֵ) and the last letter is tav (ת).  Consequently, et is a pictorial representation of the first and the last.  Where have we heard that before?  “I am the Alpha and the Omega [4], the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”  (Revelation 22:13)

We read in B’resheet 3 that because of the Fall, Adonai already had a plan in place to redeem mankind.  “Adonai, God, said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all livestock and wild animals. You will crawl on your belly and eat dust as long as you live. I will put animosity between you and the woman, and between your descendant and her descendant; he will bruise your head, and you will bruise his heel’” ~ Genesis 3:14-15.

In my next post, I want to re-cap what we learned earlier from Yeshua in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24 ~ 25) so its fresh in our memories.

Click here for the PDF version.

 

[1] Material in this section was taken from Rose Guide to End-Times Prophecy.

[2] Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old Testament and New Testament Words.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters in the Greek alphabet.

Eternal Security ~ Encore

Response to Comments

In my last post, I wrapped-up the series on Eternal Security.  As promised, I want to take a few minutes to respond to the comments made in the last several posts.

As a reminder, this series was inspired by my own quest to answer the question:  Can I Lose My Salvation? I did my best to present both sides of the coin impartially.  I spent a lot of time praying in addition to reading and researching Scripture, commentaries, study notes, dictionaries, theology books and other related material.  In my last two posts, I answered the question by stating that theologically, I am a Calvi-minian and am in no fear of losing my own salvation.  My responses are italicized.

In Eternal Security ~ Pat 21, Michael from altruistico posted:

Good morning, Donald;

Can a Christian lose salvation? First, the term Christian must be defined. A “Christian” is not a person who has said a prayer or walked down an aisle or been raised in a Christian family. While each of these things can be a part of the Christian experience, they are not what makes a Christian. A Christian is a person who has fully trusted in Jesus Christ as the only Savior and therefore possesses the Holy Spirit (John 3:16; Acts 16:31; Ephesians 2:8–9).

I don’t disagree!  Trust and obey, there is no other way.

So, with this definition in mind, can a Christian lose salvation? It’s a crucially important question. Perhaps the best way to answer it is to examine what the Bible says occurs at salvation and to study what losing salvation would entail:(See: Can a Christian lose salvation? @ http://wp.me/p26QNa-3qg).

Michael, you have stated your position in your usual excellent manner.  We obviously disagree on the issue of can a Christian as you’ve described above and in your post, turn his back on His Savior and walk away.  I do believe it is possible by his own free will, but highly improbable by the working of the indwelling Ruach. 

Secondly, we must look to the question of “Is it possible for a person’s name to be erased from the Book of Life?” First, Scripture is clear that a true believer is kept secure by the power of God, sealed for the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30), and of all those whom the Father has given to the Son, He will lose none of them (John 6:39). The Lord Jesus Christ proclaimed, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:28-29b). Salvation is God’s work, not ours (Titus 3:5), and it is His power that keeps us.

If the “anyone” referred to in Revelation 22:19 are not believers, who are they? In other words, who might want to either add to or take away from the words of the Bible? (See: “Is it possible for a person’s name to be erased from the Book of Life?” @ http://wp.me/p26QNa-2dZ ).

Michael, I going to take a pass on this position as my next series will be a look at the End Times.  I’ll examine this issue then.

And thirdly: We must answer the question “If our salvation is eternally secure, why does the Bible warn so strongly against apostasy?” The Bible teaches that everyone who is born again by the power of the Holy Spirit is saved forever. We receive the gift of eternal life (John 10:28), not temporary life. Someone who is born again (John 3:3) cannot be “unborn.” After being adopted into God’s family (Romans 8:15), we will not be kicked out. When God starts a work, He finishes it (Philippians 1:6). So, the child of God—the believer in Jesus Christ—is eternally secure in his salvation.

However, the Bible also contains some strong warnings against apostasy. These warnings have led some to doubt the doctrine of eternal security. After all, if we cannot lose our salvation, why are we warned against falling away from the Lord? (See: “If our salvation is eternally secure, why does the Bible warn so strongly against apostasy?” @ http://wp.me/p26QNa-2To ).

I think I laid out my position of Apostasy clearly in Eternal Security ~ Part 4 & 5.  I stated above: I do believe it is possible by his own free will, but highly improbable by the working of the indwelling Ruach, for a believer to Apostatize.  

In Eternal Security ~ Part 23, Wally from Truth in Palmyra posted in response to a question I asked on where we disagreed:

I think it comes down to the extent of perseverance of the saints, Don. I know you lean towards even a saved believer being able to walk away from his salvation. I actually believe we might WANT to, and even intend to.  I just don’t get on board with the idea that, no matter how much we might think we want to walk away, or plan to, that God will actually let us. I honestly think in that case He revokes our will and keeps us anyway. He loves us so much that He stops us from being stupid.

I’m not convinced that He revokes our will; but, by the indwelling of the Ruach it’s not a fight that I think I could win.  It is that indwelling that I consciously rely on to keep me from doing the ultimate stupid. 

Also, in Eternal Security ~ Part 23, Patrick from Serving Grace Ministries commented:

I think you [Wally and I] are both right. It would be ludicrous to believe that the God who draws all men unto Himself would let go easily. Also, notice that Hebrews 6:5 the author (who I believe to be Paul) is dealing with the issue of maturity in the things of God… those who have advanced beyond the elementary teachings of the Gospel but have flowed in the gifts of the Spirit.

Patrick, you’ll get no argument from me, except for the authorship of the Letter to the Messianic Jews (Hebrews).

 And, Spaniard VIII from SPIRITUALMINEFIELD commented:

I disagree with Wally that God takes away our freewill, its unBiblical. I do agree with Wally that you cannot lose your salvation because Jesus plainly said so in John 10:28. Even though you have freewill, you will never choose to abandon Christ, its impossible. Why? Because through faith in Jesus we are born again, becoming a new man, not the same as the old one. Our soul becomes totally devoted to Jesus Christ. If we can lose our salvation, then we never had something that was eternal. Either we have it or we don’t. Thanks for the ping Son.

See my response above to Wally’s comment and the following.

Interestingly, over the last couple of days in my daily readings (both Scripture and devotionals) I have been seeing passages or comments that support the “once saved, always saved” credo of classical Calvinists. “He who wins the victory will, like them, be dressed in white clothing; and I will not blot his name out of the Book of Life; in fact, I will acknowledge him individually before My Father and before His angels.” ~ Revelation 3:5.   I’m not there yet, but who knows what the future may hold.  Regardless, I am convinced that I am saved and won’t be left behind.

I close with the following two quotes from devotions I have read in the last two days.

“So how does a branch keep from being pruned from the vine? If God is the divine gardener and we are the branches, how do we make sure that he doesn’t target us for trimming? How can we make sure that we survive the gardener’s shears?  Stay united with me, as I will with you — for just as the branch can’t put forth fruit by itself apart from the vine, so you can’t bear fruit apart from me” ~ John 15:4. According to Yeshua, the secret to growth is connection. The way we stay healthy is simply to stay attached. The formula for more fruit is to remain on the vine. To feed from its roots. To stay plugged into the source of all life. [1]

“As God’s child, live today with the surety, hope, and courage that come from knowing that your standing before God is secure.”  [2]

In my next post, I share about Hanukkah.

Click here for PDF version.

 

[1] Embracing Eternity: Living Each Day with a Heart Toward Heaven ~ December 16th.

[2] New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp ~ December 15th.

Interesting verse after recently turning 70…


But I consider my own life of no importance to me whatsoever, as long as I can finish the course ahead of me, the task I received from the Lord Yeshua — to declare in depth the Good News of God’s love and kindness.
Acts of Emissaries of Yeshua (Act) 20:24 CJB

http://bible.com/1275/act.20.24.CJB

Eternal Security ~ Part 20

Unpardonable Sin and Grieving the Ruach

In my last post, we concluded our presentation of Election that we started in Eternal Security ~ Part 2.  In this post, I want to tackle the issue of the Unpardonable Sin and Grieving the Ruach.  Once those issues are fully addressed, I will move on to the contested passages before wrapping-up this series with my own personal position.

Unpardonable Sin

What is the Unpardonable Sin?  Interestingly, that phrase is not contained in the Bible.  It has developed over the years to refer to blaspheming the Ruach HaKodesh“I tell you that people will be forgiven any sin and blasphemy, but blaspheming the Ruach HaKodesh will not be forgiven” ~ Matthew 12:31.  Attributing to the Adversary the work of the Ruach can imperil the soul for eternity. “Someone who blasphemes against the Ruach HaKodesh never has forgiveness but is guilty of an eternal sin” ~ Mark 3:29. “Everyone who says something against the Son of Man will have it forgiven him; but whoever has blasphemed the Ruach HaKodesh will not be forgiven” ~ Luke 12:10.

Recall in Eternal Security ~ Part 2: Glossary of Terms, Unger stated:

This was a specific sin possible only during the earthly life of our Lord, when He was ministering in the power of the Holy Spirit. Under those unique conditions a person who attributed to Satan the power of the Holy Spirit, so visibly and openly manifested, was guilty of this peculiar sin. For this reason, there could be no forgiveness in the age then present or in the age immediately following. Since no such conditions exist in this age, the unpardonable sin is now impossible. An unpardonable sin and the gospel of “whosoever will” cannot coexist. Were such a sin possible today, every gospel invitation would specifically shut out those who had committed such a trespass.

In both Mathew and Mark, the context for Yeshua’s pronouncement is His defense against the P’rushim’s accusation that He was driving out demons under the power of Satan, not the Ruach.  The passage in Luke is contained in several mini-teachings to the talmidim on His way to Jerusalem.

With respect to Matthew 12:31, the ESV Study Bible [1] states:

The sin is attributing to Satan what is accomplished by the power of God, and doing this through the flagrant, willful, and persistent rejection of God and His commands. This sin is committed today only by unbelievers who deliberately and unchangeably reject the ministry of the Holy Spirit in calling them to salvation.

With respect to Mark 3:29, the ESV Study Bible states:

The opponents’ accusation against Jesus is the unforgivable, eternal sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Mark 3:28 emphasizes that “all sins will be forgiven,” anticipating the eternally valid, substitutionary atonement of Jesus. However, if a person persistently attributes to Satan what is accomplished by the power of God – that is, if one makes a flagrant, willful, decisive judgment that the Spirit’s testimony about Jesus is satanic – then such a person never has forgiveness.

With respect to Luke 12:10, the ESV Study Bible states:

Jesus closes this occasion of teaching his disciples with one of the most enigmatic, debated, and misunderstood sayings of His ministry. Key to understanding this passage is the distinction Jesus makes between, on one hand, the extreme case of blasphemy against “the Holy Spirit” and, on the other hand, the lesser case of speaking in a dishonorable way against “the Son of Man.” One who asks to be forgiven for disrespectful words hastily spoken against Jesus (the Son of Man) will be forgiven. But blasphemy against the Holy Spirit – that is, the persistent and unrepentant resistance against the work of the Holy Spirit and his message concerning Jesus – this, Jesus says, will not be forgiven. The person who persists in hardening his heart against God, against the work of the Holy Spirit, and against the provision of Christ as Savior, is outside the reach of God’s provision for forgiveness and salvation. Christians often worry that they have committed this sin, but such a concern is itself evidence of an openness to the work of the Spirit.

As we see, we have a difference of opinion between Unger and the authors of the ESV Study Bible on when the Unpardonable Sin can be committed.  Unger maintains that it was limited to when Yeshua was ministering on earth; while the ESV Study Bible it can still be committed by those unbelievers who deliberately and unchangeably reject the ministry of the Holy Spirit in calling them to salvation.  While I understand Unger’s position, I can’t reconcile it with the whole of Scripture.

What if someone after Yeshua’s ascension or even today were to repent of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit?  Is there no forgiveness for the person who repents of this sin?  Was Sha’ul sinning against the Ruach in the days when he persecuted Believers and even “trying to make them blaspheme” ~ Acts 26:11?  Evidently not!  He wrote to Timothy and stated: “I received mercy because I had acted in unbelief, not understanding what I was doing” ~ 1 Timothy 1:13.

A.W. Tozer has stated:

“I have discovered a very helpful rule in this matter. I believe it holds good throughout the whole church of God around the world. Anyone who is concerned about having committed the unpardonable sin may be sure he or she has not!” [2]

Grieving the Ruach

The concept of grieving the Ruach is found in Ephesians 4:30: “Don’t cause grief to God’s Ruach HaKodesh, for he has stamped you as his property until the day of final redemption.”   That the Ruach can be saddened or grieved points to the personality of the Ruach. The Ruach is a person who can be saddened by the way we live. Sha’ul has already explained that the Ruach’s power within gives new life to believers. While we continue to battle with our sinful nature, we should be living for Yeshua each day. To refuse to do so, to constantly give in to lying, anger, stealing, and foul talk is to grieve the Ruach of God. Because the Ruach controls and guides speech, praise, prophecy, and tongues, we offend him when we use them improperly.

Sha’ul reminded the readers that the Ruach within them gives both a privilege and a responsibility. Their responsibility is to not disappoint Him by the way they live; their privilege is their promised future, for through the presence of the Ruach, they were stamped until the day of redemption. The seal of the Ruach upon a Believer marks that Believer as God’s property until the day he or she is completely redeemed.

For further study, be sure to check out my friend Michael’s blog at Altruistico on “What Is the Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit?” and “What is the Unpardonable or Unforgiveable Sin?”

In my next post, I will begin to examine several of the contested passages we have encountered along our journey.

Click here for PDF version.

[1]  In my personal devotion time this year, I have been using the English Standard Study Bible as I re-read through the Brit Hadashah, Psalms and Proverbs.

[2] “Jesus, Author of Our Faith” by A.W. Tozer

Eternal Security ~ Part 16

Arminian Theology ~ Part 2

In my last post, we took a brief look at Arminian Theology.  In this post, we continue to explore Doctrinal Affirmations of Arminian Theology and The Remonstrance. As a reminder, in order to ensure that I present the material on this topic and Calvinistic Theology without any preconceived bias, I have elected to utilize “The Moody Handbook of Theology” by Paul Enns as my source document.

Doctrinal Affirmations of Arminian Theology

Arminian doctrine is found in widely diversified groups today: Lutherans, Methodists, Episcopalians, Anglicans, Pentecostals, Free Will Baptists, and most Charismatic and Holiness Believers. The doctrinal views that will be presented here are generally representative of Arminianism (especially as held by Wesleyans), but because of the diversity of the denominations and groups holding to the general tenets of Arminianism, what is true in particular of one will not necessarily be true of all.

Not all the doctrines that are fundamental to the Christian faith will be discussed, but only those which particularly set Arminianism apart as distinctive. Continue reading “Eternal Security ~ Part 16”

Eternal Security ~ Part 15

Arminian Theology ~ Part 1

In my last post, we took a brief look at Jacobus Arminius.  In this post, we now turn to explore Arminius’ views of Scripture which have been distilled into what has been called Arminian Theology.  As a reminder, in order to ensure that I present the material on this topic and Calvinistic Theology without any preconceived bias, I have elected to utilize “The Moody Handbook of Theology” by Paul Enns as my source document.

Introduction

Arminianism is a term used to describe the theological views of Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609) and the movement that followed his teachings. The Arminian position was expressed in detail by followers of Arminius in the Remonstrance, a document produced in 1610, formally protesting the strict Calvinism in the Netherlands.  Recall that Arminius died in 1609.

Major theological emphases of Arminianism are:

  • Conditional election based on the foreknowledge of God;
  • God’s grace can be resisted;
  • Christ’s atonement was universal;
  • Man has a free will and through prevenient [anticipatory] grace can cooperate with God in salvation;
  • And, the believer may lose his salvation.

Although Arminianism is a product of a theological difference within the Reformed church, its theological views are held by diverse groups today. Methodist and Wesleyans adhere to Arminian doctrine, as also do the Holiness movement, many charismatics, and others such as the Free Will Baptists. Continue reading “Eternal Security ~ Part 15”

Eternal Security ~ Part 14

Brief Bio-Sketch of Jacobus Arminius [1]
(1559 ~ 1609)

In my last post, we concluded our initial exploration of Calvinistic Theology.  In this post, we now turn to explore Arminius’ influence on the Reformation and society in the sixteenth century and beyond.

As was true with Calvin, Arminius was a product of the Protestant Reformation albeit born fifty years after Calvin.  He was a Dutch theologian and founder of an anti-Calvinist Reformed theology.

Arminius was born in 1559 in the Netherlands during the Spanish occupation. His father, an armorer or smith, died around the time of the boy’s birth, so Arminius was educated under the direction and at the expense of family friends who recognized his abilities as a student. He had just entered Marburg University (Germany) when news came of the infamous Oudewater massacre by the Spanish. Arminius returned home to learn that his mother and several of his brothers and sisters had been among the victims. Continue reading “Eternal Security ~ Part 14”

Eternal Security ~ Part 13

Calvinistic Theology ~ Part 4

In my last post, we began to unpack the Five Points of Calvinism.   In this post, we will conclude our unpacking of the Five Points of Calvinism, as well as looking at Moody’s Summary Evaluation of Calvinistic Theology.  As a reminder, in order to ensure that I present the material on this topic and Arminian Theology without any preconceived bias, I have elected to utilize “The Moody Handbook of Theology” by Paul Enns as my source document.

Irresistible Grace

Grace “is the unmerited favor of God.” Calvinists emphasize the necessity of God’s grace in salvation. If man can do nothing to save himself, then God must act; God must provide grace in order that man might be saved. That is the work of irresistible grace, which is also referred to as special or efficacious (because it is effective) grace.

Opponents of this doctrine might suggest that if grace is irresistible then God forces someone to come against his own will. That is not the idea of irresistible grace, according to Calvinists. It does not make someone come contrary to his will. Rather, irresistible grace makes the individual willing to come. Irresistible grace is the supernatural work of God whereby He works in the soul of the individual, changing the entire nature by the Ruach’s operation.

In the logic of Calvinism, God, through His Spirit, draws precisely those whom God unconditionally elected from eternity past and Jesus died for. Thus the purpose of God is accomplished. He elected certain ones, Jesus died for those very ones, and now through the Rauch, God dispenses His irresistible grace to them to make them willing to come. They do not want to resist. Continue reading “Eternal Security ~ Part 13”