Common Mistakes Every Student of the Bible Must Avoid

William D. Barrick, professor of Old Testament at The Master’s Seminary, delivers a sound exhortation to all Bible students, originally presented at the 2006 Shepherd’s Conference. For those of you familiar with D. A. Carson’s Exegetical Fallacies, Barrick’s paper is offered as a sort of supplement to Carson. Barrick distills lessons learned from several decades of preaching and teaching experience.
Young brothers and sisters, Barrick’s insights will prove helpful as you grow toward maturity in the faith. Many times we evangelicals are tempted to be shallow and slapdash when dealing with the holy text. This is a deadly, dangerous temptation. We cannot build a theological house of cards on a foundation of sand and expect faith to weather the hurricanes of physical, mental, and moral disaster which abound on every hand.

The One True God by Paul Washer

You can download a pdf edition of The One True God by Paul Washer. It is structured very differently than most other theological books. It is more like a workbook for a Bible study than an academic textbook. The author intends to get you into the biblical text and to utilize your mind and your heart in the pursuit of God through the Bible. Paul has served as a missionary and is the director of the HeartCry Missionary Society, which he founded during the time of his mission in Peru.

Jesus Our Mediator – Reflections from Abraham Booth

Taken from chapter 11 of Abraham Booth’s The Reign of Grace. Booth writes concerning the person of Christ in his atoning work.

“It was absolutely necessary also, that our Mediator and Surety should be God as well as man. For as he could neither have obeyed, nor suffered, if he had not possessed a created nature; so, had he been a mere man, however immaculate, he could not have redeemed one soul. Nay, though he had possessed the highest possible created excellencies, they would not have been sufficient; because he would still have been a dependent being. For as it is essential to Deity, to be underived and self-existent; so it is essential to a creature, to be derived and dependent. The loftiest seraph that sings in glory is as really dependent on God, every moment of his existence, as the meanest worm that crawls. In this respect, an angel and an insect are on a level. Every intelligent creature, therefore, whether human or angelic, having received existence from the Almighty, and being continually dependent on him, as the all-producing, all-supporting first cause; must be obliged to perpetual obedience, by virtue of that relation in which he stands to God, as his Maker and Preserver. It is highly absurd to suppose it possible for any creature to supererogate, or to do more in a way of obedience to Him from whom his all was received, than he is under the strongest obligations to perform, in consequence of his absolute and universal dependence. But whatever is previously due from any one, on his own account, cannot be transferred to another, without rendering the first devoid of that obedience which it is absolutely necessary for him to have. Universal obedience, in every possible instance, is so necessary in a rational creature, as such, being dependent on God and created for his glory, that the omission of it, in any degree, would not only be criminal, but expose to everlasting ruin.

The righteousness, therefore, of a mere creature, however highly exalted, could not have been accepted by the Great Supreme, as any compensation for our obedience. Because whoever undertakes to perform a vicarious righteousness, must be one who is not obliged to obedience on his own account. Consequently, our Surety must be a Divine Person; for every mere creature is under indispensable obligations to perfect and perpetual obedience. Now, as our situation required, so the gospel reveals, a Mediator and Substitute thus exalted and glorious. For Jesus is described as a Divine Person, as one who could, without any arrogance, or the least disloyalty, claim independence; and, when thus considered, he appears fit for the task. But of such an One we could have had no idea, without that distinction of Persons in the Godhead which the Scriptures reveal. Agreeably to this distinction, we behold the rights of Deity asserted and vindicated, with infinite majesty and authority, in the person of the Father; while we view every Divine perfection displayed and honoured, in the most illustrious manner, by the amazing condescension of the eternal Son: By the humiliation of Him who, in his lowest state of subjection, could claim an equality with God. Such being the dignity of our wonderful Sponsor, it was by his own voluntary condescension that he became incarnate, and took upon him the form of a servant. By the same free act of his will he was made under the law, to perform that obedience in our stead, to which, as a Divine Person, he was no way obliged.

The necessity there was that our Surety should be a Divine Person, might be further proved, by considering the infinite evil there is in sin. That sin is an infinite evil, appears from hence. Every crime is more or less heinous, in proportion as we are under obligations to the contrary. For the criminality of any disposition, or action, consists in a contrariety to what we ought to possess, or perform. If, therefore, we hate, disobey, or dishonour any person, the sin is always proportional to the obligations we are under to love, to honour, and to obey him. Now the obligations we are under to love, to honour, and to obey any person, are in proportion to his loveliness, his dignity, and his authority. Of this, none can doubt. If then infinite beauty, dignity, and authority belong to the immensely glorious God; we must be under equal obligations to love, to honour, and to obey him; and a contrary conduct must be infinitely criminal. Sin, therefore, is a violation of infinite obligation to duty; consequently an unlimited evil, and deserving of infinite punishment. Such being the nature of our offences, and of the aggravations attending them, we stand in absolute need of a surety, the worth of whose obedience and sufferings should be equal to the unworthiness of our persons, and to the demerit of our disobedience. If to the evil there is in every sin, we take into consideration the vast number of sinners that were to be redeemed; the countless millions of enormous crimes that were to be expiated; and the infinite weight of Divine wrath that was to be sustained; all which were to be completed in a limited and short time, in order to reconcile man to God, and to effect his eternal salvation; we shall have still stronger evidence in proof of the point.

Were a defence of the proper Deity of Christ my intention, the Scriptures would furnish me with ample matter and abundant evidence in favour of the capital truth. For the names that he bears, the perfections ascribed to him, the works he has done, and the honours he has received, loudly proclaim his ETERNAL DIVINITY. But I wave the attempt, and proceed to observe,

That it was necessary our Surety should be God and man, in unity of person. This necessity arises from the nature of his work; which is that of a Mediator between God, the offended Sovereign, and man, the offending subject. If he had not been a partaker of the Divine nature, he could not have been qualified to treat with God; if not of the human, he would not have been fitted to treat with man. Deity alone was too high to treat with man; humanity alone was too low to treat with God. The eternal Son therefore assumed our nature, that he might become a middle person; and so be rendered capable of laying his hands upon both, (Job 9:33) and of bringing them into a state of perfect friendship. He could not have been a mediator, in regard to his office, if he had not been a middle-person, in respect of his natures. Such is the constitution of his wonderful person, and hence he is called IMMANUEL God with us, or in our nature.”

God and god – The Irony of the Watchtower Jesus, part 1

Christians believe, on biblical grounds, that there is one God. This belief is nicknamed ‘monotheism’. God is the unique being over all. In essence, God is the creator of everything and everyone else. He alone is uncreated. He alone is God. Anyone else who claims godhood is a mere pretender to the throne. Throughout the history of both old and new testaments, people have been constantly pursuing gods other than God. God has condemned this pursuit repeatedly.

For example:

  • “You shall have no other gods before Me.” – Exodus 20:3, NAU
  • “To you it was shown that you might know that the LORD, He is God; there is no other besides Him.” – Deuteronomy 4:35, NAU
  • “I am the LORD, and there is no other; Besides Me there is no God. I will gird you, though you have not known Me;” – Isaiah 45:5, NAU
  • “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” – I Timothy 1:17, NAU

Jehovah’s Witness beliefs differ from historic Christianity in several areas. One critical difference lies in their presentation of Jesus as ‘a god’ instead of God the Son. They believe that Jehovah is Almighty God and Jesus is a created being who fills the role of Mighty God. In defense of this, they feel compelled to justify the existence of ‘a god’ apart from Jehovah but there is an inescapable irony to their defense of this dual-god doctrine.

In their pamphlet on the Trinity, they make the following claim:

“Thousands of times throughout the Bible, God is spoken of as one person. When he speaks, it is as one undivided individual. The Bible could not be any clearer in this. … I am Yahweh your God . . . You shall have no gods except me.” —Exodus 20:2,3, JB. (http://www.watchtower.org/e/ti/article_05.htm)

“You shall have no gods except me.” Now wait a minute. What did God say? Read it again. “… no gods”. But doesn’t the Watchtower teach Jehovah’s Witnesses that there is both God and a god ruling the universe? How does that make sense in light of God’s prohibition against having any god other than him? Jehovah’s Witnesses want to have God and a god. God denies that this is possible.

The Watchtower did get something right. “The Bible could not be any clearer on this.” It’s ironic that Jehovah’s Witnesses believe something that is opposite from what the Bible teaches so clearly.

To be continued…

Jesus Keeping the Sabbath

Leon Morris writes concerning a healing sign that Jesus performed on the Sabbath in the Gospel of John.

That the miracle was performed on the Sabbath stamped Jesus as an evildoer in the eyes of Pharisaic officialdom. The sign is Jesus’ assertion that he could do on the Sabbath things that the Pharisees could not do. His relationship to God differs from theirs. Apart from God Jesus is helpless (vv. 19, 30), so that the healing of the man must not be seen as simple a magnificent human achievement. As John relatesit, it is a deed in which God set his seal on the work of his Son. ……

We are told of four Rabbis challenged to explain why God commands Israel to abstain from work on the Sabbath while he himself does not do so. They asked, “Is not a man permitted to carry on the Sabbath in his own courtyard?” and pointed out that both “the higher and lower regions are the courtyard of God”, so that in his own way God is keeping the Sabbath. Only it is not the way earthlings keep it. Jesus is saying that he observes the Sabbath in the same way the Father does. The Jews recognized that his claim meant that he was asserting that God was his own Father, his Father in a special sense, for he was “making himself equal to God” (5:18). But Jesus did not mean this in the sense that he was a second god, a being quite separate from the Father. He says that he is quite unable to do anything from himself, and that what the Father does the Son does (5:19). He does not say that he does similar things, but that he does the same things. (Morris, Jesus Is The Christ, pp. 28-29)

Again, Jesus does not say that he does similar things. He does
the same things! Glory to our Lord and Savior.