Jesus is your superhero (or is He?)

© The Very Rev. Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th.D., 2017

My wife and I were coming home last weekend (June 2017), and we detoured to Hot Springs, AR for a couple of nights. As we left the tourist-busy town, there was a church with these words on their sign:

“Jesus is your superhero, God is your superhero, you are a superhero.”

I just shook my head, and sighed to the Lord how long He will put up with this milkquetoast Christianity in the USA. Look at the words: there are three superheroes: Jesus, God, and you, and would not an unbeliever think all three were on the same level. We have presented a saccharin Christianity, sicky sweet and artificial.

And when we think of a superhero, do we not think of breaking and smashing things, much violence, killing everything in sight with bitter power, having difficulty overcoming, but Jesus was not like that. He could have been, and He did smash things but not in the way we would like to see. He certainly did those things under the old covenant (Old Testament). Yet, in the New Covenant (New Testament), though He healed and raised the deadHis miracles were done to overcome Satan and sin, not Roman armies. He restrained Himself in one sense, though He had resonating power to destroy anything He wanted anytime He wanted.

For example, when Pilate told Jesus that he had the power “to crucify [Him], and power to release [Him]” (John 19:10 NKJ), Jesus’ answer was very telling: “Jesus answered, ‘You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above.’” (John 19:11 NKJ) Recall what happened when the Roman soldiers went to arrest Him, who was in control?

“Now when He said to them, ‘I AM,’ they drew back and fell to the ground.” (John 18:6 NKJ)

Moreover, as the early fathers often reminded us, at the same time that Jesus was incarnate and healing, sleeping, getting hungry, He was “upholding all things by the word of His power” (Heb. 1:3 NKJ) Do not think for a moment that the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, the Son of God, either gave up being God or gave up the use of His attributes. Either way, that would eclipse the Holy Trinity and destroy who God is. Can you image one person of the Trinity not being able to function as God. That would be incarnation by deicide!

No, the incarnation is by addition, not by subtraction. The Son of God added sinless humanity to Himself, and did not remove either the essence of deity or the functions of deity. For example, in John 1:1 we learn that in the beginning was the Word (eternal existence), the Word was with God (distinct from the Father), and the Word was God (one in essence with the Father). Then in John 1:14 we see that the Word “became flesh,” and there is not a hint of removing His attributes. Indeed, God’s attributes are not like pins in a pin cushion that any member of the Holy Trinity can remove and replace at will. Each attribute contains all the other attributes, for God is one. Remember John 10:30 where Jesus says, “I and the Father are one.” The Jews rightly understood His claim to deity because in the next verse they picked up stones to kill Him for blasphemy. In John 8:58 Jesus claimed to be the I AM, who does not and cannot change. Thus, the incarnation did not change Him, for “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8).

The Bible is now a popular psychological manual for self-improvement. Many preachers I hear on the radio approach the Bible as one big OUGHT, turning the IS of grace into the OUGHT of obedience for blessing. In other words, if I do the three things (or five things) the preacher says, I’ll be blessed; otherwise, I’ll be defeated. How many times do I hear, “It’s all up to you,” at which point I must be a superhero, or I’ll get nothing.

We want to see Jesus as superhero destroy all those bad people (not us, of course) with some supernatural event so we Christians can be vindicated. I was a defendant (one of 18) in a church-state trial, and as I sat in court for 4 ½ months, 4 to 5 days a week, listening to lies, how often I wanted to call down fire from heaven and yell at my lungs capacity, “Elijah is back!!” But God normally does not work that way.

We hear that the Triune God wants us to be happy all the time, time, time. We are told we are deprived but not depraved.  All of life, ALL of life, is for ME, and God exists to help ME find MY happiness.

What we need is old fashioned preaching where the wrath of God is boomed out, with impending judgment suspended over us like a guillotine held by one thread. Here are verses you rarely if ever hear:

“O let the evil of the wicked come to an end, but establish the righteous; For the righteous God tries the hearts and minds. God is a just judge, And God is angry with the wicked every day” (Ps. 7:9, 11 NKJ)

“The LORD tests the righteous, But the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates.” (Ps. 11:5 NKJ)

“He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” (John 3:36 NKJ) [And that wrath abides, now, as an ongoing matter. One never has a soul to sell, for it always belongs to God or to the devil. At judgment, all hope is gone, FOREVER.]

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18 NKJ)

“Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.” (Rom. 5:9 NKJ)

“Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.” (Rom. 9:13 NKJ)

“The wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.” (Eph. 5:6 NKJ)

Picture Noah’s ark floating on the turbulent waters with rain coming down in torrents. People are swimming in water, pounding on the doors of the ark to get in. It is too late. God’s judgment has come. On the side of the ark is a large smiley face that says, “Smile, God loves you.” That is where we are today. Too many weak preachers are holding people’s hands saying “There,” “There” while their parishioners go to hell.

So, is Jesus your superhero? No! He is the Lord God omnipotent, and His power and authority go way beyond all things imaginable. He upholds all things by His omnipotent power. He is in all places at the same time (Matt. 28:18-20). He has all knowledge. He can cause destruction and misery in any part of His world at any time, and there is absolutely nothing anyone can do about it. OR, He can cause a good election, or bring people back to the Gospel, or transform a nation to love righteousness and hate iniquity. He is Lord!

Jesus is way beyond superhero status, for He is creator of all that is (John 1:1-3; Heb. 1:1-4; Col. 1:16), the sustainer of all there is (Heb. 1:3; Col. 1:17), and the redeemer of His people.

He is to be worshiped, not slapped on the back as some kind of hero.

AMEN.

FREE WILL–WHAT IS IT?

(c) Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th.D.

(I know that I covered this once before.)

This is a true story. Decades ago I was called by a lady who was offended at some of my teaching. When I asked her what it was, she said you don’t believe in “free will”? I answered, “So we can be on the same page, what is free will?” She said, “Well, free means you can do what you like.” I responded that everyone believed that. She tried again: “You don’t believe that the lost can believe in Christ, that regardless of what they want, if they are not elect, they can’t believe.” I pointed out that her statement was a half-truth. It is true that the lost cannot believe in Jesus, but they also do what they like. They don’t want to believe in Jesus.

I tried to clarify the difference between “wanting” to believe and being “able” to believe, which she did not get. Then I said, “Let’s approach it this way. Is the converted person free from the control of the world?” She correctly answered No. Then I asked, “Is the unconverted person free from his indwelling sin, his sinful heart,” to which again she answered correctly, No. Finally, I challenged, “Is the unconverted person free from the control of the devil?” Again her answer was correct, No. Then what is the lost person’s will free from. She paused and proclaimed, “Their will is free from God,” at which point I almost dropped the phone. I politely said, “If the lost are under the control of the world, the flesh, and the devil, and God can’t help, then how does anyone become a Christian?”

POINT: Everyone uses the words “free will”, but no one knows what it means or the implication. Our choices are ours, but they are not free from outside or inside control. We can never come to Jesus for forgiveness and eternal life without trusting in Him, and we’ll never trust without His powerful grace that overcomes the controls. Here is the problem: WE LOVE THE WORLD, THE FLESH, AND THE DEVIL; we hate God. Who will deliver us?

The Triune God is our ONLY hope: The Father chose us to be in Christ BEFORE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD to His glory (Eph. 1:4-6); the Son AT A POINT IN TIME shed His divine blood for us for forgiveness of sins to His glory (Eph. 1:7-12); The Holy Spirit brought us to faith AT THE POINT OF OUR CONVERSION (Eph. 1:13-14), to His glory. TO HIS GLORY is repeated each time a person of the Holy Trinity did His work. Three works: the Father chose His elect before time; the Son redeemed His elect 2,000 years ago in time; the Holy Spirit applies the merits of Jesus’ work to us in our lives in our personal experience. GLORY BE TO THE FATHER AND TO THE SON AND TO THE HOLY SPIRIT. AMEN.

Crisis Regarding Christ

© by The Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th.D.,  2017

Some years ago a preacher visited my church. After the Sunday School class, during which I was teaching on various “Christian” cults, he said, “In my church we have no creed but Christ.” I responded, “Which Christ? The one of the Mormons, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the word-faith movement, or of the ancient creeds?” Today we have a crisis regarding Christ because we no longer value truth.

The historic Church has always assumed that there was truth and error, not just opinions. It was zealous to maintain the truth about the Son as revealed in Holy Scripture. It was not tolerant (the politically correct word today) of error concerning Christ, though they could be tolerant of other things. It came together on several occasions in ecumenical councils to proclaim the Gospel, the truth about Christ, writing doctrinal statements that were considered binding on all Christians. We have creeds that summarize those councils, such as the Apostles’ and Nicene creeds. (The Athanasian Creed is my favorite.)

The Church realized that faith was only as good as its object, and the object of faith (Christ) only as good as the content about Him. And from that day to now, those councils, especially the Council of Chalcedon, have been considered by all branches of Christendom—Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodoxy—to be the epitome of orthodoxy regarding the person of Christ. During the greatest revival in the history of the Church, the Reformation, the Reformers did not challenge Chalcedon’s teaching that Christ was fully God, fully man yet sinless, one person, and no mixture of the two natures of divinity and humanity (John 1:1-3, 14; 5:28; 10:30; Col. 1:15ff; 2:9; Heb. 1:1ff; etc). That was bedrock.

Unfortunately, today is different. The ambiance of this age is ripe for heresy since personal opinion is considered to be more important than truth, especially truth from the past. The Church has become obsessed with making people feel comfortable, not with truth. (Indeed, some preachers build large congregations by not preaching on sin or other “controversial” matters.) The Church has devolved into a radical egalitarianism, and truth has been reduced to its lowest common denominator. Now each individual—with or without his Bible—will decide for himself what truth is.

In contrast to the heresies, the early fathers understood that Christology was at the heart of redemption, that who Christ was determined whether man was redeemed or not. Their constant watchword was “what is not assumed [in the incarnation] is not redeemed.” Thus, if Christ had not assumed full humanity (sin excepted), we would have no redemption.

This worked the other way also. The early Church fathers recognized that if Christ had not been fully God and functioning fully as God (contra word-faith leaders who deny that the Son of God used His divine attributes on earth), there could be no reconciliation of God and man, Christ would have had no infinite merit to what He had done, but only the work of a man. At the Council of Ephesus, therefore, the fathers clearly stated in A.D. 431: “If any man shall say that the one Lord Jesus Christ was glorified by the Holy Spirit, so that He used through Him a power not His own and from Him received power against unclean spirits and power to work miracles before men and shall not rather confess that it was His own Spirit through which He worked these divine signs; let him be anathema” (emphasis added).

Anything less than one who functioned fully as man and fully as God in one Person could not die for our sins. He had to be man to die. He had to be God to give infinite value to His work. He had to be one person to bring God and man together, bringing the acts of God and man together as one act. The two natures of God and man could not be mingled, making Him less than God or more than man. If Christ had not been God or had not functioned as God while on earth, we would have the acts of a man and of the Holy Spirit through Him—separate acts of two persons—but that would have been no different than the prophets of old who had the Holy Spirit in them. No, Christ functioned fully as man and as God in one person, thus uniting His work of redemption as one work of the God-man.

Today we have many heresies. There are those who deny the deity of Christ altogether. There are others who deny that the Son functioned as God while on earth. Indeed, in the word-faith teaching, man can be a god and create his/her own providence by audible words. In the separation of God and man in Christ, there is no reconciliation of man with God since there is no real union of God and man in one person. Thus, salvation is eliminated. If Christ is only a creature, or only functioned as a creature, God is not revealed, but a wholly unknown being. Thus, God is eliminated.

If there was ever a need for a second Reformation, it is today, and this Reformation must begin where the first one did: with the Church’s stand for truth and with the Christ of the Councils and of the Bible. We must not invent a new “Jesus” for each succeeding generation, but proclaim the old, revealed Jesus, who never changes (Heb. 13:8). The gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church that proclaims Christ as the Son of God! AMEN. Ω

The Modern Crisis

(c) Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th.D.

In the Reformation of the 1500s, both sides believed the Bible to be God’s infallible word, both held to the Holy Trinity (one God in three equal person, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), and both taught that Christ was fully God, perfect man, one person, and no mixture of the natures of deity and humanity. Today the crisis is worse as even “Christian” people wonder if the Bible is God’s word, if the Trinity is really all that important, and if Christ was only a good man or something less than God.

There are two ways to be heretical: formally in belief and practically in one’s immorality, and our age is given to both.  In formal heresy, there are many in mainline denominations who take delight in denying the historic faith as expressed in such timeless statements as the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds, which all branches of Christianity have held (Protestant, Orthodoxy, and Roman Catholic). They deny that Christ is the only way to God; indeed, they deny that He is God. They deny the Holy Trinity. They pretend that all religions are the same, which means that none of them mean anything, an insult to all claims to know God.

But one can also be heretical in morality, such as the sexual promiscuity that is rampant today in so many circles. One may be right in his beliefs, but if his morality is contrary to God’s holy commandments, and especially if he/she declares such openly, then he/she is heretical.

There is no hope for anyone unless they repent, which means that they confess they are wrong, take God’s view on both belief and practice, and bow to His Lordship. There is not enough room in this universe for two lawgivers: God and man, which is what man wants, his own pretended autonomy.  The serpent’s lie to Adam and Eve was that they could be their own lawgiver, determining for themselves what was right and wrong. We know the consequences when our first parents believed such. Indeed, even in the New Testament many centuries later, God has stated that there is only one lawgiver: the Triune God (James 4:12). He, and He alone, determines what we should believe and what is true morality.

But when our culture dreams up beliefs or ethics out of his/her mind instead of listening to God, they have created a god after their own image to worship, and just coincidentally, one who will approve their latest fad in belief and ethics. The only way one can know anything about God is if He tells us, not when we dream up things that He must approve. If fact, the only way we can know anyone is if that person reveals himself to us. I once worked (unknowingly) with a con man who was my boss, who had us fooled that he was a fine Christian, but he was stealing from our clients. He knew Christian language and could fake a few very nice prayers.

Was it the great St. Augustine who said that God created man in His own image, and man has been returning the favor ever since? People thousands of years ago made physical idols to worship, and we make mental idols. In both cases, a new god is created after the heart of sinful mankind. Paul the Apostle noted such in his own day in Romans 1:18-24.

Yes, the great crisis today is Who is God, Who is Christ, and What shall we do with our sins? The Modern answer is that God and Christ are whatever we make them to be, and there is no sin except by our definition. I often hear politicians say “God bless you,” and I immediately ask myself “which God”? They usually just mean for us to fill in the blanks as to which God and how He will bless us. That way they can sound Christian, which is still politically expedient, for now, but they don’t commit themselves to any truth.

It is time that the true people of God stop listing to such heresies in belief and in morality, and leave ungodly churches that promote such. Moreover, if a parish will not stand openly for the faith and for God’s Ten Commandments, one must leave, for the Lord stated that the one who is not for Him is against Him (Luke 11:23). Go to a church that is in line with the history of the Church and still believes Holy Scripture. God’s principles are more important than the property! AMEN.

Five Solas: the Significance of the word “ALONE”

I posted this on my FaceBook account:

THE FIVE SOLAS (we are justified)
by Holy Scripture alone
by faith alone
by grace alone
by Christ alone
Only to God’s glory alone

Each point emphasizes not only the necessity of the point but also its sufficiency:

Holy Scripture is not only necessary it is enough.

Faith is not only necessary it is enough.

Grace is not only necessary it is enough.

Christ is not only necessary He is enough .

God’s glory alone is necessary but His glory is enough.

This is a bare summary of evangelicalism, but there is much more in the Creeds, and especially the great doctrinal statements of the Reformation, such as the 39 Articles.

As Charles Spurgeon once said (paraphrase): “It is not the doctrine of justification by faith in Christ that does my soul good, it is Jesus who justifies my soul,” who is my anchor behind the veil. As important as doctrine is, it is not doctrine in the frontal lobe that saves me, abstractly considered, but the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me. I REST IN HIM!

AFTER RECEIVING SOME CHALLENGING COMMENTS  on FaceBook from a former friend who left my denomination and went into Orthodoxy, Sam Seamans, I posted on FaceBook a long article in response to him. I guess it finally was posted, but it was long I got tired waiting for FaceBook to put it up, but here are my comments:

Sam, spoken like a true convert to Eastern Orthodoxy. The Greek word for “pillar” is a column that supports a superstructure, not a foundation. It is resting on a foundation (Louw-Nida lexicon; other lexicons). Jesus Christ is the foundation, the chief cornerstone, not us humans (Eph. 2:20). The church is built on Him, thus it is called the pillar, a column on a foundation. Irenaeus, (Against Heresies, 3.11.7-8) says from your passage (1 Tim. 3:15) that the “pillar and ground is the gospel”, which is what we hold. Moreover, the Greek word “ground” does not mean lying down on the floor with a superstructure, but church is here a solid defense against the confusion of myth” (TDNT).

To say “the CHURCH, NOT the Bible,” is the pillar and ground of truth,” are dangerous words. The holy scriptures AND the church complete one another; they are not in opposition as you suggest, though if they are in opposition, as in  the late Middle Ages, God sent a revival with the reformers to straighten up the mess with the Bible. Apparently you have not understood the five solas; they are not isolated but all hang together. Thus your comments assume that one can have faith or grace in isolation. Not so. If you knew the history of those points and what the reformers were saying, you would understand what we are saying. For example, the gospel was “according to the scriptures.” St. Paul explicitly states in 1 Cor. 15:3-4 that Christ died for our sins “according to the scriptures”, which at the time of his writing was the Old Testament. The New Testament built on that and so in both the OT and NT we could say the scriptures alone are sufficient. Other passages in Paul are 1 Cor. 10:1ff, 2 Tim. 3:16-17. It should be clear that at all times the Holy Scriptures were sufficient for salvation.

AS FOR THE FIVE SOLAS HANGING TOGETHER, it is from the Holy Scriptures that we are presented with the Christ, in whom we put our trust, relying on His grace, and seeking only His glory. These five points are like five links in a chain, not five isolated links scattered on the floor. As for NT coming before the church, there are several responses.

FIRST, the OT scriptures laid the foundation for the NT church, thus they already existed. Repeatedly, the Lord and the Apostles quoted the Old Testament, and through their preaching and writings, they brought the New Testament canon into existence, but always basing the New Testament on the OT. The Church did not invent the canonical books of the New Testament by some council, but as the books were written, the sheep recognized the voice of the Shepherd in those writings. Of course, the Church did formally recognize the canon, but only after they had been used for some time as scripture. So did the Church come before the New Testament books? Not really, as if it mattered, but they came together.

SECOND, unless you’re dispensational and make a bifurcation with two peoples of God, Israel then the Church, which I know you don’t, the NT people of God ARE the new Israel (Gal. 6:16; Eph. 2:11-22; etc), for the church, or the new Israel already existed.

I could add a THIRD reason: so what about the church allegedly coming first. Christ delivered the gospel to the apostles and expounded the OT scriptures to them to show that He was building on that foundation of the OT. (See Luke 24:44-48: “44 Then He said to them, ‘These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” 45 And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. 46 Then He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Lk. 24:43 NKJ).)

The apostles wrote down what He had revealed, which was in solidarity with the OT. The apostles recognized their own writings as Scripture as Paul said his writings were the Lord’s commands (1 Cor. 14:37), and Peter referred to Paul letters as “scripture” (2 Peter 3:15-16). So what time lag are you referring to from the time of the writings of the NT to the apostles? There was very little gap. What holy tradition are you speaking of that the NT allegedly came from? As for the proclamation that the Eastern Church did not need reforming, I would say our conversation says otherwise. As for the “innovations of the medieval scholastic period,” that is why we had a reformation. The medieval church had gone awry. The Eastern Church murdered its only bishop who tried to bring reformation to it. I would say Orthodoxy has stagnated over the centuries, the Roman Catholic Church has innovated, and Protestantism has validated its truth with the early fathers and the Holy Scriptures, as did Luther, Calvin, Cranmer, and most commentaries today go back to the fathers with vigor. But then Orthodoxy does not write commentaries, as you admitted to me, so I guess they would not know.

AS FOR THE CHURCH being the “pillar and ground” of the Bible, the passage you alluded to does NOT say that (1 Tim. 3:15), but it says the “pillar and ground of TRUTH”. My question to you is which church? Was it the western church, the eastern church, Marcion who tried to destroy the Bible but those who had the scriptures knew he was wrong? Which church is the infallible one? Also, if the early fathers are our interpretive guide, which ones? Is it Irenaeus, Chrysostom, Origen, the Cappadocian fathers, Augustine, which you guy reject, and which ones in the middle ages do you rely on, and why those? You should know that I agree with you about a strong church. I would even say that the fathers are our guide, but the only infallible guide is the Holy Scriptures. What will you put in its place, your holy tradition? You said to me recently that the fathers had a much better grasp on the Bible than we do today, which was an excuse for Orthodoxy not writing commentaries, but how in the world would you know that? But which tradition, from what time period, and who will interpret that to you? If only the early (and some Medieval) fathers can interpret the New Testament to us, who interprets the fathers to us? You are thereby saying that the fathers are self-interpreting to us, but that the Bible is not self-interpreting. In other words, the words of man are clearer than the words of God. That is a tough pill to swallow. We Protestants have many interpretations of the Bible, but most are united on the Apostles’ Creed, Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed. Even those Protestants who will not say these in worship nevertheless believe them as seen in their doctrinal statements. We are united on these creeds with the Roman Catholic Church, but you are not, why? You reject all three of these creeds, at the least the Western versions, especially hating the filioque clause. Who is right, your small group of a few million members, perhaps even 100 million, or the rest of the Christianity world with about two billion members? I can document that Rome and especially Protestantism have grown by about a billion souls in the last 100 years, but what about Orthodoxy? Very little.  Now there is a holy (Protestant) tradition if there ever was one. And which Orthodox group is right? Don’t you have 14 jurisdictions, or is it 18? Likewise Rome has its various groups internally.

AS FOR THE FIVE SOLAS BEING BIBLICAL, look at these: Bible is sufficient for salvation and living (2 Tim. 3:16-17), and a shorthand way to say that is scripture alone. Faith apart from all human merit is sufficient for salvation (Rom. 4:1-8; Eph. 2:8-9), and a shorthand way to say that is faith alone. Or as one confession so beautifully put it, “We are justified by faith alone, but the faith that justifies is not alone, but ever accompanied by good works” (WCF). We are saved only by grace and only to God’s glory (Eph. 2:8-10), and a shorthand way to say that is we are saved by grace alone to God’s glory alone. We are saved only by Jesus, and a shorthand way to say that is we are saved by the Son of God alone.

In other words, as J. I. PACKER SO BEAUTIFULLY PUT IT (not an exact quote), “What we mean is that JESUS saves sinners. Jesus saves, we don’t. The only thing we can contribute to our salvation is our sins. Next, we that Jesus SAVES sinners, not that He is their cheer leader, not that He does His part and we finish (Contra. Phil. 1:6) what He began, not that we cooperate to earn grace  . He saves SINNERS, not the self-righteous, not those who think they are basically ok.” That is what we’re are getting at.

SAM, I did not want to tangle with you regarding your recent move into Orthodoxy. That is one of the reasons I asked for a private conversation with you when I found out about your move into Orthodoxy. We hung up from that meeting on good terms.I can see the newfound zeal you have for your new faith, but in my opinion you made a move without understanding the issues. You knew we talked, and I gave you the right hand of fellowship; therefore, I was surprised to see you go after my statements that I thought I was just blessing people with on FaceBook, but you called my hand, so I’ve responded. I hope this is not offensive, but I could not let people think there are no good answers to your questions. I think, however, that even though we disagree on some of the terms, how used, and the significance of the Church, etc., we can still give one another the right hand of fellowship. Your brother in Him. AMEN.

Did Adam lose the world to the devil?

(c) Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th.D. 2016

Some misguided Christians today think that Satan is now the ruler of this world, and that it is not for Christians to have dominion on earth. Perhaps that could be possible when Jesus returns, but not now. They cite such passages as Satan is the “god of this world.” Yet the expression that Satan is the “god of this world” does not mean he is lord of lords, but that he is the god of this world in the sense that many worship him—not that he is almighty. His work is primarily in blinding the minds of people to the Gospel (2 Cor. 4:4; John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; Eph. 2:2; 1 John 5:19), but even that blindness is stripped away when the mighty grace of Jesus brings one to belief in Himself (Matt. 11:27; Acts 13:48; 16:14; Phil. 1:29).

Furthermore, that Satan is called by the Lord Jesus “the ruler of this world” (John 14:30) does not mean that there is not a Ruler above him, Who is Ruler of the universe and the Ruler of all rulers. Because there is a governor of Tennessee, do we conclude that there is not also a President of the United States who has greater authority than the governor? Besides, the Lord also stated: “Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out” (John 12:31). What else does the expression “Lord of lords” mean except that Jesus is the ultimate Ruler and that NOW?

And was it not true that during the temptation when Jesus commanded Satan to leave Him in Matthew 4:10-11 that Satan did so immediately without a word? Did not the demons obey the Lord every time He commanded them and without hesitation? Where do the health and wealth people get the idea that Satan owns this world? Here is how Frederick K. C. Price reasons.[1] God gave Adam dominion over the earth. This dominion was a legal dominion, much like we would deed someone property. The earth was deeded to Adam by God; it was his [Adam’s] to do with as he pleased. This dominion included not only the animals but also the mineral rights so that he owned all the gold, silver, diamonds, oil, and so forth. When Adam sinned, he gave his property to Satan, and God no longer had a legal right to the earth. Now the planet is Satan’s, and even God must honor this agreement. Redeemed man can reclaim his original inheritance and be rich. Capps agrees: “It’s illegal for God to come to earth and destroy the work of the devil with His divine Godhead powers.”[2]

Yet the truth is that though Adam came under Satan’s dominion to some extent, primarily Adam was under God’s curse for sinning. God never indicated that the land or earth at that time was not His. Indeed, He cursed it to bring forth thorns, but he never gave it up. Kenneth Hagin says: “If God is running everything, He does have things in a mess.”[3] Fred Price is even more blatant:

“God can’t legally do anything in this earth realm except what we allow Him to do.” He also says, “God does not have physical possession of the earth, Satan does,” and “If God came here, He would be arrested as a trespasser.” Price goes on to condition his audience to accept these blasphemies with such statements as these:

“Evangelicals consider this heresy, and they would never say this.” “Tradition and theology reject this.” “I hope you don’t think God is running this world, evangelicals think that.” “If this is an example of how God runs things, I don’t want to go to heaven.” They distance themselves from the evangelical community with such statements (“we” versus the “evangelicals”), thereby separating themselves from the body of Christ, and establishing themselves as a cult.

Price uses two other passages to promote the idea that the world is Satan’s: Luke 4:1-8 and Matthew 9:35-38. The major passage for Price is: “And the devil said to Him, ‘All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish’” (Luke 4:6).

Our first response must be that Satan is a liar (John 8:44). Price says that Satan is telling the truth since Jesus did not rebuke him, which is also a common dispensational argument from this passage. But it is an argument from silence that leads Price to the deafening conclusion that Satan was for once telling the truth. But even if the Lord had not answered the devil, the inference is not valid. In the most elementary logic class one learns that he can conclude anything or nothing from what is not stated. But the Lord did answer Satan: “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve’” (v. 8). The Lord answered the real point behind Satan’s pseudo-offer: worship reveals Who the real God is, and we are to worship the Triune God only. If the Lord had said the kingdoms did not belong to Satan, He would not have been confronting the point of the offer, admitting perhaps he was right. Observe also that Satan instantly obeyed the Lord when He commanded him to leave, which showed Who was really in authority.

Secondly, God the Father made the same offer to Christ. Psalm 2 is a Messianic Psalm, using the name “Messiah” in verse two (sometimes translated “anointed”) and the word “Son” in verse twelve. In verse seven the Son quotes the Father:

“I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You.’”

This verse is quoted several times in the New Testament of the resurrection of Jesus. The Father raised Him from the dead, and, to the consternation of the nations (vv. 1-3), He made Jesus King of kings. In other words, even though the nations did not want Him ruling over them, and even though they sought to cast off His “bonds” (vv. 1-3; bonds=His law, see Jer. 2:20; 5:5), the Father laughed and made Him King over them anyway. In light of this, the Father says to His only Son: “Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession” (v. 8).

Now who has made the genuine offer of the world to Jesus, the Father or Satan? Who is the liar, God the Father or the devil? Who really owns the world and could offer it to Jesus, the Father or Satan? In the verses that follow the Father’s offer, it is obvious that the Son did ask and the Father gave Him the nations, for He shall rule them with a rod of iron (v. 9), and the rulers must repent (vv. 10, 11) or perish under the Son’s wrath (v. 12). The Lord Jesus emphatically stated that “all authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth” at the resurrection (Matt. 28:18; see also Dan. 7:14).24 Of course, all these things are speaking of Christ in His Messianic office, not in His essence. In His essence as God, He has always had dominion over the earth (Ps. 24:1).

We Christians have already won, now let’s face down our ancient foe in the NAME of our eternal Savior who rules by omnipotent power not only inherent in Himself but also inherent in the words of the Gospel. AMEN.

[1] 04/27/92 broadcast, WPTY-TV Memphis, TN, 12 p. m.

[2] Charles Capps, God’s Image of You (Tulsa: Harrison House, 1985), p. 50.

[3] Kenneth E. Hagin, The Interceding Christian (Tulsa: Faith Publication Library, 1991), p. 13

Loving Darkness

((c) The Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th.D.)

Two main truths are presented in the following quote: I. There is condemnation; II. Some people practice evil

I. And this is the condemnation,  [two reasons for condemnation] that

(1)        the light has come into the world,

(2) and men loved darkness rather than light,

because their deeds were evil. [reason they love darkness]

II. For everyone practicing evil

                            hates the                             light

and does not come to the   light,

lest his deeds should be exposed. [Reason ungodly hate Christians]

(John 3:19-20 NKJ)

The “light” above is God’s holiness and righteousness. Read also in John 1 John 1:5-2:2) for the same idea.

I heard this on radio recently:

  • In China you can criticize evolution but not the government while here in the USA you can criticize the government but not evolution.

I don’t know which is worse; they are both ungodly tyrannies. Both countries engage in thought control, just as George Orwell predicted of the USA in his prescient novel, 1984. He was only off by a couple of decades.

My two smaller grandkids spent the night last night. My daughter and her husband have turned off their TV at home so the kids wanted to watch cartoons. I thought I would see what they are like. One was all violence, anger, revenge, yelling, screaming, blowing things up. We changed channels, and immediately two teen age cartoon characters were talking about a very racy lesbian scene in a movie they had seen, which was “cool.” I changed channels again. People tell me the comedy shows are just as bad, if not worse so I avoided them.

Next I scanned the menu on my satellite TV, and one program was called “Dating Naked.” My grandson had stepped out of the room, but I thought this surely can’t mean what it says—but it did! I quickly changed channels again before he returned. Finally, we found a nature show, but then there was the ever present evolution, though in this case only mentioned slightly. Whatever happened to the days of good clean cowboy violence, like the Lone Ranger, or Ramar of the Jungle, Tarzan, etc. Those may be on oldie channels if you can find them.

So now back to the “real” world. Could it be any worse? I guess you’ve seen lately that Obama by executive order has mandated that all public schools must honor LGBT people or lose their federal funding. (When will morality become more important than money? At least there are eleven states who are standing up to Obama: UT, AZ, OK, TX, OK, WI, LA, TN, AL, GA, ME. At least five states are in the South.) Obama is bypassing Congress in making laws. More particularly if one “feels” like a girl one day (regardless of the biological plumbing), he is permitted to enter the girl’s restrooms and showers. It is not objective biology that determines one’s gender but how one “feels,” and no one must challenge that or he will be guilty of discrimination. If one does not bow to the golden calf of newspeak, then follow misdemeanors, felonies, or civil fines in the tens of thousands or combinations thereof. Parents will wonder what has happened to their children as they self-destruct against God’s law, and children will murder their parents when they don’t get their way. PARENTS: You must take your kids out of public school and put them in a good Christian school, no matter what the cost is. Their precious souls are at stake. Your children are more important than new homes, new cars, nice clothes.

Christians are being setup as the great scapegoats, those who allegedly hate others (newspeak for holding people to a moral standard). No amount of logic makes any difference when you’re dealing with “feelings,” hate for righteousness, love for sin. If anyone challenges their love for their gods, it is all out media war, throwing bottles of urine and excrement at Christians, wanting to crucify (!) us. BUT in the long run, we Christians win; Satan has never learned that the Church is a gas fire: stomp it and it spreads; leave it alone, and it burns out. We have been somewhat successful in applying the Holy Scriptures to this land, so that we have been left alone, by which I mean, we’ve had few challenges. Now we have sown the wind, we are reaping the whirlwind (Hosea 8:7), and challenges are abounding.

Those who love darkness are becoming increasing irrational, such as the following.

Antony Flew was the leading atheist scholar in England for 50 years against theism. He embraced theism or intelligent design a few years before he died because nothing else explains the design of the universe, the laws of nature, the origin of life itself, our intelligibility,[1] or the delicate balance of nature for us to live on earth. How could something come from nothing; how could life come from lifeless matter, such as molecules in motion; how could consciousness come from raw matter (non-consciousness); how could reason come from non-reason; how could self-conscious thought come from physical objects; how could the consistent laws of science come from random particles; how could persons come from non-persons? The atheist tries to argue that random chance begets intelligence, persons, balance of nature, order, and meaning. In short, chance or chaos gave rise to order. At every point, the atheist is irrational, contradictory, and functions by faith that is irrational, and make no mistake that “irrationality is the prelude to destruction.”[2] John Dryden, the seventeenth century English poet, said:

  • “For those whom God to ruin has design’d,
  • He fits for fate, and first destroys their mind.”

Today we might say it this way: “Those whom God would destroy, He first makes mad.”

We are mad, not legally insane, but mad with rebellion against the Triune God and His character as revealed in His holy law, such as the Ten Commandments. The USA is mad against the Incarnation of the Son of God, against His perfect obedience to His Father, against His death on the cross for our sins, against His bodily resurrection. If it is true that to whom much is given much is required (Luke 12:28), then the USA is in for horrendous judgment. Those prosperity preachers who tell us we can have all the goodies we want if we just magically say the right incantation into the air audibly, will have nothing to say when judgment falls (and it has begun). Make no mistake: turning to darkness or sin darkens one’s reasoning abilities. Reasoning is then only used to support one’s desires, not to determine those desires.

There is only one solution, which the world hates with an unholy passion: repentance from our sins and faith in the Lord Jesus for forgiveness of sins. Anything else is damnation forever. AMEN.

 

[1] See the excellent work by Antony Flew, the former atheist, There Is A God, published in 2007. Flew announced his change from atheism to theism in 2004, though sadly as far as I know he did not become a Christian before his death on April 8, 2010.

[2] Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983), p. 165.