Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Doctrine of Eternal Judgment, Pt. 1-B: Look to Jesus and Live!

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:14-15, NKJV).

“Then they journeyed from Mount Hor by the Way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the soul of the people became very discouraged on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses: ‘Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread.’ So the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died. Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, ‘We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord that He take away the serpents from us.’ So Moses prayed for the people. Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.’ So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived” (Numbers 21:4-9, NKJV).
In my last post, I spent time studying Jesus’ words regarding “We” and “Our Witness,” demonstrating that the plural witness refers to God the Father and the God the Son (Jesus Christ). I stated in that post that inclusivists who claim that one can get to Yahweh (the Father) without faith in the Son (Jesus Christ) are unbiblical and oppose even the will of God the Father. The will of the Father can clearly be seen in Jesus’ submission to the Father’s will that Christ die for the sins of the world:
“O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39, NKJV).
Notice that in the above verse, Jesus submits to the Father’s will, which is to take of the “cup” of death. Jesus clearly states here that it is “not as I will, but as You will,” which means that it is not His will that puts Him on the cross, but the will of God the Father. Yahweh then, is pleased to bruise His Son because it is only through faith in Christ that men and women can be saved. And what about Jesus’ words right before His ascension, that “all authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” (Matt. 28:18)? If all power has been given to Christ, how then, can inclusivists assume that the Father still has power over salvation (when He has given it to the Son)?
Along those lines, John 5:24 is an interesting passage indeed. While one must “believe in Him who sent Me,” an unbeliever must also “hear My word,” Jesus referring to His own words. One cannot just believe in Yahweh without heeding the words of His Son, Jesus. Why must one heed the words of Jesus? Because “as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man” (John 5:26-27). Jesus has been given eternal life to give to those who believe, and the power of judgment to judge those who do not. Even Paul affirmed this in his sermon on Mars Hill (Acts 17:31). The Father has ordained that Jesus be the judge of all mankind; if the Father has ordained Jesus for the role of judge, and the judge sets the standards, then how can inclusivists continue to assert that one can get to the Father without going through Jesus?
Worse than that, 1 John 5:10 says that the one who does not believe in the Son “has made Him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has given of His Son.” Simply put, God the Father has testified of His Son, Jesus Christ; if one does not believe in Jesus, then one makes the testimony of God the Father to be a lie, and thus, the Father becomes a liar. Inclusivists then, are claiming (with their theology) that the Father is a liar; one need not believe in Jesus, but appeal straight to the Father instead. Is this not contradicting the Scriptures?
In today’s post, I will cover the verses posted above in the original quote: Numbers 21:4-9 and John 3:14-15.
Numbers 21 teaches us that the Israelites complained against God and despised even the very bread they were receiving: “our soul loathes this worthless bread” (Numbers 21:5, NKJV). As a result, the Lord sent “fiery serpents” to bite the people, and some of them died as a result of the serpent bites (v.6). Seeing how serious their sin of complaining was, they turn to Moses and beg him to ask the Lord to remove the serpents. He does so, and the Lord gives a response:
“Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live” (Num. 21:8).
There is something here that I want you to see: in verse 6, the Lord sent “fiery serpents” to bite the people because they complained against Him; how interesting it is that in verse 8, the solution God gives Moses involves “a fiery serpent” that Moses is to make(artificial) and place it on a pole before the people! How interesting it is that the one thing that God used as the Israelites’ punishment turned out to be the statue they had to look to in order to be healed! Is that not remarkable? By looking on the object of consequence for their sin (the object of their punishment), they would be healed. By looking on the serpent (an acknowledgment of their sin), God would heal them of the serpents’ bites.
And it is this same passage that Jesus notes to Nicodemus in John 3:14-15. In the same way that the serpent was placed before all to see, so must Jesus (“the Son of Man”) be lifted and raised before all. Why must Jesus be lifted this way, and exalted before all the world? “that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:15). In other words, Jesus must be lifted like the serpent of Numbers 21 because only through His crucifixion and exaltation can the world gain everlasting life.
Jesus takes a passage that Nicodemus knew all too well and shows Him how it relates to Jesus’ own coming, death, and crucifixion. Isn’t that interesting? The Jews had the Old Testament Scriptures, and yet, did not get “the big picture”--- that the OT Scriptures were all about Christ.
But this also poses a problem for inclusivists. If Jesus is using the Old Testament, stating that it points to Himself, how can inclusivism be right? I mean, do inclusivists not argue that one need not explicitly confess the name of Jesus Christ in order to be saved? But by so doing, they are not only undermining the New Testament, they are also undermining the Old. In short, they are affirming a theology that contradicts ALL (read this word again, ALL) of the Scriptures.
The Old Testament points to Christ and the Gospel. The Father and the Son point to Christ and the Gospel. In other words, there are all these witnesses for faith in Christ, but there are no witnesses for salvation without faith (via some other way). So the choice is yours; do you desire to be saved from the wrath that is to come? Jesus is the only way. There are no other options, there are no shortcuts, there are no exemptions or special passes. The only way to be saved is through Christ and Christ alone. He is the one that was “raised” on a pole (death by crucifixion) for all the world to see...and it is only by looking on the Son of God that we will find healing for our sin-sick souls. There is a balm in Gilead, and His Name is Jesus. Would you receive Him today? If you desire to experience salvation this day, please feel free to comment here at this post. Look to Jesus and live!!! God bless.

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