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Luther door
Oct 31, 1517 Reformation Day
The Protest for Reformation in the church in the early 1500s may have been triggered by the question of how money for indulgences was garnered and spent, but the root issues on both sides of the Roman Catholic and Protestant divide delve deep to the heart of the Christian faith, that of the authority of Scripture, getting it into the hands of the people in their own languages, and clarifying the Good News of the Gospels (i.e. what one puts their faith in and how one attained salvation of their souls). Thus the Reformers discussed “the Solas” (or “the alones”) which ought to characterize Christian faith.

Sola Scriptura – The ultimate authority for Man to know God’s mind is through God’s Word alone. By Scripture we test all other ideas and urges which we might wish that God had given us (1 Cor 4:6).
Sola Fide – We are saved by “Faith alone” (Gal 2:16) and not by trying harder to do good things while we continue to have a past (or even present) full of guilt. It is a faith in Jesus and his work that saves, but it is not a faith that is alone, for works bloom from faith.
Sola Gratia – Our salvation is a work of grace as a gift from God, so it is “grace alone” that initiates salvation, not our own will, so that none may boast (Eph 2:8).
Solus Christus – Salvation is through Jesus Christ alone and that by faith in him. “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” -Peter (Acts 4:2)
Soli Deo Gloria – Glory to God alone (Isa 48:11).

These were ideas from Scripture and had been noticed throughout church history, and here’s just one example a couple decades before it was declared by the Reformers.

When I confine myself to explaining holy Scripture my hearers receive much more light, and my preaching bore much more fruit in the conversion of men to Christ. For the holy Scripture contains that marvelous doctrine which more surely than a two-edged sword pierces men’s hearts with love which has adorned the world with virtue and has overthrown idolatry, superstition, and numberless errors.”
—Dominican monk Girolamo Savonarola,
The Triumph of the Cross, Florence, Italy, A.D. 1498

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“We hate God.
Nobody really seeks him on their own.”

“I disagree. Some might hate him, but I don’t.”

“But, you are agnostic.”

“Yeah, but I believe in a God of Love.”

“So you don’t hate the God you believe in and/or don’t know about?”

“Of course not!”

“But what if that God you believe in is not real? Then could it be possible that you actually hate the real God?”

“No, because I believe we all basically believe in the same God, but none of us can know about him very well.”

“What about the God of the Bible specifically? If God were that God exactly, could you love that God?”

“Well, I don’t believe the real God is like that. . . .”

Have you ever had a conversation something like this where the person did not even want to admit the sheer possibility of something? I have and it makes me more and more convinced of God’s word. There’s a passage, a few of them, that I had a hard time taking at its word. For example, Romans 1 says that people refuse God because they are “suppressing the truth in unrighteousness” to which I promptly responded, “No, that must be hyperbole. There are lots of sincere people trying to find the truth. I was one of them.” But are they? Was I? Is that really the condition I found myself in when God called me? Or was I rather delighted to stay in the apathy I had wrapped myself in and wait until I was old and grey before I sorted out and committed to the truth about God? In light of Romans 3:11 and 5:10, Tim Keller once said, “If you deny you are an enemy of God, then you’re really an enemy of God.” God took me, while still an enemy, reconciled me to Him and adopted me as a son and an ally.

If only more people would investigate Christ Jesus and the Bible more even handedly. If only they’d merely pose the “what ifs” of testing out the worldview of Christianity to see that it is sound rather than presuming that it isn’t when it doesn’t fit their own worldview (but does it fit what we know of the world on its own measure?). We have “uneven scales,” judging one worldview solely and only by another, and by so doing we’re unable to get away from our narrow cultural bias to think-test another point of view—to wear the other man’s shoes. If only more souls, when posed with strange Bible verses about, say, humanity’s spiritual deadness and hatred toward God, would react honestly with the Bible’s view of God in mind rather than their own god when they respond, “No, I love God. I just don’t agree with Jesus’ view of God.” Then they’d at least realize that if Jesus was speaking truly, they do hate God—the God of the Bible.

Jesus taught, “Whoever hates me, hates my Father also.” (John 15:23) And, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God.” (John 8:42)

So if your heart has convicted you and the Spirit is tugging at your soul to seek the truth about God, and if you desire forgiveness for breaking the most important moral commandment (to Love God), you may find yourself saying something like this: “Thus have you said: ‘Surely our transgressions and our sins are upon us, and we rot away because of them. How then can we live?’

Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?”
(Ezekiel 33:10-11 ESV)

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Aliens? Oh no! I’ve utterly lost my faith!
No problem, kid, watch my flashy thing.

I wish more journalists who made comments about religion actually knew what they were talking about. Here’s an example of one who doesn’t.
http://io9.com/5921472/would-people-still-believe-in-god-after-we-made-contact-with-aliens
The article asks the question “Would people still believe in God after we made contact with aliens” and broadly berates all religions, but Christianity in particular, for irrationally holding on to their faith now that he believes the likelihood of discovering them is at hand. Then he throws Darwinism up as a second prime example of what should have “quashed religious sentiment.” The best part is when he tries to show that history has proven that Christians will ignore science discoveries that contradict them, yet his example is the discovery of so-called canals of Mars which have since been shown to be false. . . .

The film Prometheus [mild spoiler] also asked a similar question to its own religious character, Elizabeth Shaw, after discovering that aliens made humanity. “Do you still believe in your God?” they ask, as if discovering this should eradicate her faith in her God. Shaw rightly responds, “Who made them?” Alien makers would only set the problem of origins back a step, but there would still be need for an ultimate First Cause with the power of being in itself.

To be honest Prometheus’ discovery in particular would be a game changer, though not suddenly a proof for atheism. But in case you were wondering about what the mere discovery of aliens existing would do to Christianity (and you probably weren’t until you read the io9 article): No, the Bible doesn’t imply that God only made one world inhabited with intelligent life, though many have drawn such conclusions. The Bible is not even concerned with that question. So neither am I.

And no, Darwinism isn’t a trump card against the Bible either since well before Darwin, theologians too (like Augustine of Hippo of the 4th and 5th century) had said that perhaps life arose slowly over time.

The problem with Darwin is that he thought his entire system could work with simple mutation + time + chance, but this leaves big questions as to how life got there in the first place and where the new genetic information is coming from when a cat evolves into a catfish (or vice-versa). And neo-darwinism is based on illusory philosophical assumptions before even getting to the science (i.e. naturalistic materialism and also grand ideas about Progress that should have gone extinct after WWI. Ever heard a darwinist talk about creatures devolving? I rarely have.).

Darwinism, and now here’s the crux of it, says natural selection is good enough to explain the apparent design in nature, so that there’s no need for a Divine Hand to guide evolution at all. But how does one prove that scientifically? Again, this is a philosophical issue more than a material facts issue, because Darwinism starts with the presupposition that the material world is all that exists. But if one presupposes naturalistic materialism (that there is no supranatural) in order for Darwinistic evolution to work, they have already self-refuted themselves.

By advocating an intelligent cause I’m not advocating some superfluous idea like: “Sure Darwin was 100% right and I’m just adding a leprechaun to the mix to make sure it happens.”
Of course someone would ask, “Why not just remove the leprechaun, wouldn’t it work just as well?”
“Umm… yes. But—”

Rather, I’m saying Darwin’s wrong that his system is good enough to replace a designer’s input. The Bible has nothing against evolution in the vein of adaptation. But what it has against Darwinism is this idea that it could all happen undirected, without an intelligent cause (an idea which is very sparse in the evidence department when compared to the evidences for Christian Theism). It turns out Darwinism is the one suffering from discoveries that contradict it. This is precisely what some leading microbiologists are starting to insist: that natural selection alone isn’t enough to get life from non-life or even to get completely new species.

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“They have taught that man may, properly, be a slave; that the relation of master and slave is ordained of God; that to send back an escaped bondman to his master is clearly the duty of all the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ; and this horrible blasphemy is palmed off upon the world for Christianity. . . . Standing with God and the crushed and bleeding slave on this occasion, I will, in the name of humanity which is outraged, in the name of liberty which is fettered, in the name of the constitution and the Bible, which are disregarded and trampled upon, dare to call in question and to denounce, with all the emphasis I can command, everything that serves to perpetuate slavery—the great sin and shame of America!”
-Frederick Douglass, former slave (1852)

These days many critics have panned the Bible and the Christian faith as patently false because they say that the morals it teaches are deplorable. A popular comment along these lines is something like, “The Bible justifies slavery!” But does it? Yes, in fact it does. However, that is probably not the answer the critic thinks it is. The Bible’s condoned slavery is a far cry from the oppressive slavery most people think about today and more closely resembles modern corporate employment. In other words, the Bible’s regulations on slavery have rarely, if ever, been followed. One also must remember that not everything in the Bible is approved of, so many forms of slavery that are described are actually not acceptable to God and, in fact, he is shown as being opposed to it (Exodus 3:9-10 ESV) which is what the whole plagues on Egypt was about not to mention a source for Christians who led the opposition to European and American slavery. So what kind of slavery was tolerated and was that as a result of regulating existing human conventions or the express designs of God from the beginning?

First, slavery was not a God-construct from the beginning, but a social construct of humans everywhere which had to be regulated to keep it humane*. For example, tolerable slavery was often a means for people to work off debt, especially (and this should not be overlooked) for those living in an entirely barter-based economy. While some, even to this day all over the globe, use debt as an excuse to enslave people indefinitely, this was not the tolerable slavery God had in mind. God established a law through Moses that set slaves free after they paid their debt, and even if they didn’t or couldn’t, slaves were required to be set free by the end of six years (Deut 15:12). Slaves in the ancient world not only earned money, they were able to be educated, and some even held offices of power over free people (ex: Gen 41:44). I’m not saying ancient slaves had it easy, no doubt some had it far worse. The point is God clearly desires to give dignity to and protect even slaves from oppression.

Second, tolerable slavery was often chosen by the slaves themselves. Bondservants, as they are called, were so well treated that they decided to be marked and stay with the families they served and loved (as if part of the family) once their term of service had been performed (Deut 15:16). This strongly suggests slaves are included in the community as neighbors to love and not property to abuse on a whim. Indeed, according to the Hebrew Bible, not even animals were allowed to be treated harshly (Prov 12:10, Deut 22:4, 25:4).

Third, as implied already, slaves had certain rights as human beings (under the law of Moses). They could not be murdered, beaten, or otherwise mistreated at the whims of their masters. Slaves could not be made by kidnapping people for it was law that “Whoever steals a man and sells him, and anyone found in possession of him, shall be put to death” (Exodus 21:16). And if such a slave ever escaped from his master, he was not to be returned (Deut 23:15). I never see the critics mention those verses. Such laws represent radical departures from what most people think of when they think of slavery today (which is instead synonymous with oppression). These restrictions (just to name a couple) are part of those laws given by Moses, and let’s not forget what God’s heart was in using Moses to release all Israel from oppressive slavery! They were reminded by God again and again that they were once slaves and to act accordingly. This does not change into hardy endorsements in the New Testament, for Paul’s letter to Philemon is radically anti-slavery, especially in ancient Rome. And then there’s a little thing called the gospel which proclaims “freedom in Christ” (Gal 2:4-5) “for all who believe” (Rom 3:22-25) its historical news about the resurrection (1 Cor 15:1-8).

Furthermore, slaves were not so simply by virtue of a particular ethnicity or some other immutable external factor that arbitrarily made them out to be less than human. They were to be considered part of the community. The Bible grants humanity dominion over animals, not other humans who are made in the very image of God (Gen 1). Jesus makes this clear when he said to his disciples, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your [slave**]” (Mark 10:42-43).

Although I can see why they would be intentionally biased, if the critics actually looked fairly at the specifics of what the Bible accepts and rejects about slavery rather than making up things for themselves, perhaps they would see their straw man for what it is. Yet even though slavery in any form, corporate Dilberts included, is undesirable at some level, Jesus would say, “It was not like this from the beginning, but Moses regulated your behavior with these rules because your hearts were hard” (paraphrased from Matt 19:8). In other words, while slavery, as in divorce, is not ideal, guidelines become necessary to a fallen world about fallen activity to prevent even more disaster. These rules were “good enough for now” to meet Israel “where they were at.” God has at one time tolerated slavery***, but always hates oppression and injustice. The teachings he set forth in the Bible about slavery actually turned out to be the force which abolished it! In fact it was so successfully abolished on Christian grounds, that none of the Christians today (not even the extremists!) are teaching that the Bible endorses slavery. Only the critics are doing that. Folks aren’t readin their Bibles…

*Much like how today’s lawmakers are not endorsing killing by legislating laws on self-defense. Or like how divorce is hardly a moral ideal instead doing damage but it is tolerable in a legal sense. That doesn’t make the government in favor of killing or divorce. It’s simply a provision given because of human evil.

** The Greek word used in Mark 10:43 translated “servant” in English is literally the Greek word for “slave”.

***Just as God is tolerating your sin right now, but he’s willing to forgive a repentant heart.

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In Jesus’ day, there were some who didn’t really care what he said, but they were bound and determined to use his words against him. For example Jesus said, ‘”Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.” The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.’ Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?”’ (John 8:51-53)

People are still twisting God’s word to make it seem like contradictory nonsense. I actually read one rant that insisted the Bible condoned cannibalism! This is either an elementary reading problem or else it must just be spiteful propaganda. Or is it? Perhaps it is merely symptomatic of their blindness. At any rate, since thankfully there aren’t many people jumping in with the biblical cannibalism ranter here are some more popular misconstruals: The Bible endorses slavery or genocide. The Bible says things like wisdom is pointless folly but other places praises wisdom so therefore we should dismiss it out of hand as God’s Word. Or depending on which gospel you read, Jesus acts like a different person entirely. And they mislead with various other details. These accusations are no less ignorant than Jesus’ audience in John 8 who forced a meaning on his words that he had no intention of conveying and didn’t bother to try to clear it up with him. And I know this not by some superior schmartz or an inside chat with God, but by the context of John 8 and also by simply reading how Jesus spells it out in John 11:25-26, ‘Jesus said to [Martha], “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”’

I’m not arguing that this proves Jesus was God. Even if Jesus wasn’t God, these hearers twisted his words. He’d be wrong if he wasn’t God, but at least what Jesus was saying would be coherent. However, Jesus was right to say believers would “never see death” or “never die” if what he was saying were true. He wasn’t saying they would never die a natural death first (so his hearers got all upset over nothing), because Jesus had resurrection in view.

So how could they (or we) know that Jesus wasn’t just crazy or lying? Many ways come to mind including his own resurrection and miracles and his integrity, but for the sake of a short blog post, here’s a prophecy he gave which we can immediately agree—whether one is Christian or not—came true and keeps on coming true. And I should note that while a clever mind can always think of probable ways around an undesirable outcome, I believe the cumulative evidence makes only one view the most plausible, and that is that Jesus was right.

In Kenya, Oct 27, 2011: “The [six] attackers believed Hassan had converted to Christianity from Islam, according to Compass Direct News. They hit Hassan on the head, face, back and legs with a metal bar; cut his hands with knives; and stomped on his stomach after he fell to the ground.” Hassan was left for dead but thankfully someone rushed him to a hospital where he even needed a blood transfusion to survive. However, others do not live through similar attacks.

Kenya, Nov. 5, 2011: Suspected extremists sympathetic to al-Shabab threw a grenade into a church elder’s home outside Garissa, Kenya, killing 8-year-old Winnie Mwenda Mutinda and 25-year-old John Kikavu. Three others in the house were seriously injured.

In Israel, c. 33 A.D.: “The hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you.” (John 16:2-4)

In the first century, it was among Jews who thought they served God with violence against Christians (and some still do). In the middle ages, it was from others calling themselves Christians, from Muslim conquerors, and from government heads. In recent centuries, it has been from Fascists and even Communists (serving the “greater good”), the K.K.K., superstitious tribes, and radical Hindus and Muslims. And the martyrdoms have only increased.

Looks like Jesus knew what he was talking about.

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I’ve read these days that Jesus didn’t primarily concern himself with afterlife issues. That later, Christianity got “too heavenly minded to be any earthly good.” But where do they get these historical convictions which remove a person’s hope for eternal life? They’d better have a pretty good explanation because according to Paul “if in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Cor 15:19 ESV). At least Paul seems to be under the conviction that Jesus taught about eternal life. He’s not the only first century Christ follower who said they were passing on this idea from Jesus himself. Here are just some of Jesus’ intentions for his mission, including his own words on it.

He is said to have come…

to be a sacrifice for sins (salvation).
After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high… (Heb 1:3, see Heb 10:1-10)

to teach truth about God.
Long ago . . . God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, . . .
(Heb 1:1-2)

to preach the Kingdom and repentance.
[Jesus] said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” (Mark 1:38)
Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt 4:17)

to bring salvation to the sinners (e.g. to seek the lost).
Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, . . . For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10)

to give eternal life (i.e. salvation).
“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.” (Matt 19:29)
I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)

to heal the sick and give sight to the blind and to set the captives free.
(Luke 4:16-22)

to oppose oppression and oppose the devil.
The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.
(1 John 3:8 )

for judgement (already but not yet).
(John 9:35-39, Acts 17:30-31)

to make distinctions and division between good and evil
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth…”
(Matt 10:34, Matt 25:31-46)

These are what the leaders commissioned by Jesus and who had followed Jesus were saying that they learned from him. They were saying this in the first century. To say that they say otherwise is to do some embarrassingly twisted mental gymnastics.

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:7-11)

The apostle closest to Jesus says this about him and orthodoxy:

Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life. I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you. (1 John 2:24-26)

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And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots. Then they sat down and kept watch over him there. And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” (Matthew 27:35-40 ESV)

As I understand it, the events recorded in this passage are generally taken by the majority of scholars to be historical facts about how Jesus died.* That is he was crucified by the Roman official Pontius Pilate at the request of the Jewish leaders, that he was mocked and his clothes were gambled away, that he had said he would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, that he claimed to be the Son of God/Messiah, and that the sign of the charge against him read “the King of the Jews.” But I am not now interested in posting quotes of scholars to authenticate each of those pieces, rather in this post, I want particularly to discuss the fact that many mocked him and his claim to be messiah by asking him for proof of divine power—just as they do today. Some skeptics would rather look for (even demand) any other evidence but what is offered. This was apparently true in Jesus’ day too as he also pointed this out. He pointed out that people find ways to ignore evidence by judging appearances or demanding that it meet their expectations, rather than looking on with wisdom and discernment and conforming to what is:

“But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates,

‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’

For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.” (Matthew 11:16-19)

And also: “He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’” (Luke 16:31)

But let us consider just these few facts which we do have reported to us, handed down through those who claimed to be witnesses of Jesus’ crucifixion. Let’s look and see what these events tell us when compared to documents written hundreds of years before Jesus was born. One of those facts in the passage from Matthew cited above was that the people mocked Jesus. “So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, ‘He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, “I am the Son of God.”’” (Matthew 27:41-43)

Interestingly enough, their skepticism (actually more like bare unbelief) which leads them to ask for proof (which they likely wouldn’t believe even if he gave it) itself becomes a proof in fulfillment of prophecy about the Messiah. A huge one comes from the twenty-second psalm.

But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;

“He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him;
let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”

(Psalm 22:6-8)

Yet you are he who took me from the womb;
you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts.
On you was I cast from my birth,
and from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
Be not far from me,
for trouble is near,
and there is none to help.
(Psalm 22:9-11)

This from the Psalm which begins “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus (personally meaning every word of it as God had indeed forsaken him in that hour) offered it as proof to those who would hear it when he quoted from this psalm moments later. We can see into what must have been in Jesus’ heart and mind as he was hanging there on the cross by reading the rest of Psalm 22, though it was written hundreds of years earlier by Jesus’ ancestor King David. Our scenario from Matthew fulfills even more prophetic writing than that, though I will only offer a couple more to keep the post short. The first one is again from Psalm 22.

For dogs encompass me;
a company of evildoers encircles me;
they have pierced my hands and feet—
I can count all my bones—
they stare and gloat over me;
they divide my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.
(Psalm 22:16-18)

By the way, David wrote this psalm hundreds of years before crucifixion was even invented. A very large section of Isaiah (one of several) also refers to the future messiah, and the parallels are specific and striking. Only one man could fulfill all of Isaiah 53. Only one man did. Here’s a sampling.

In Isaiah:                                                          Jesus:

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,    (didn’t speak to mockers and accusers)
yet he opened not his mouth
(Isaiah 53:7)

And they made his grave with the wicked  (hung between two robbers and died)
and with a rich man in his death,               (buried in Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb)
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.        (He was innocent and sinless)
(Isaiah 53:9)

So what is the meaning of this? So what if an innocent man claiming to be the Son of God died unjustly? Isaiah completes the sections with a gospel statement about the meaning of this good news packaged in such a terrible tragedy.

Therefore I [God] will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, (The messiah will live again in victory)
because he poured out his soul to death       (because he died purposefully—
and was numbered with the transgressors;             a clear reference to resurrection)
yet he bore the sin of many,                          (to take the sins of many on himself)
and makes intercession for the transgressors. (and intercedes by reconciling sinners (Isaiah 53:12)                                                  with God)

That same message of the good news of reconciliation with God is still being offered today. As it was said in the first century, so also it applies to us now, at least while we have breath: “Brothers, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to us has been sent the message of this salvation. For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize him nor understand the utterances of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him. And though they found in him no guilt worthy of death, they asked Pilate to have him executed. And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people.”
-The Apostle Paul, former enemy of Christ (Acts 13:26-31)

*“[Jesus’] execution on the charge of being a messianic pretender (‘king of the Jews’) is generally reckoned to be part of the bedrock data in the Gospel tradition.”
-James D. G. Dunn (“Can the Third Quest Hope to Succeed?” in Authenticating the Activities of Jesus, 34.)
“The majority of scholars . . . accept the titulus [Pilate’s sign of the charge against Jesus] as historical and genuine.” -Craig Evans (Authenticating the Activities of Jesus, 24.)
“There can be little doubt, historically speaking, that Jesus was executed as a messianic pretender.” -N.T. Wright (Christian Origins and the Question of God, vol 2; 522.)
[The 3 quotes above taken from William Lane Craig’s Reasonable Faith, 3rd ed., 305]

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