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Christians in the West are familiar with apologetics as an intellectual or worldview exercise. We are less familiar with apologetics as a legal defense. This is an unfamiliarity that needs to be quickly remedied.

With pastors facing subpoenas for their sermons and wedding chapels being forced to conduct same-sex services under threat of imprisonment, Christians need a theology of defending themselves in the courts. While we certainly must turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, and love our enemies when faced with personal offenses (Matt. 5:38-48), we must not assume that defending ourselves—strenuously and sometimes even defiantly—before the governing authorities is inconsistent with being a follower of Jesus or antithetical to the propagation of the gospel.

We think of Acts as the great missionary book of the Bible. And it is: from Pentecost to persecution to Paul’s missionary journeys, we see the word of God go forth from Jerusalem to Judea to Samaria to the ends of the earth. But in addition to being a narrative of great missionary advance, Acts was written as a legal defense. Luke was at pains to demonstrate to most excellent Theophilus (likely a Roman official or a member of the societal elite) that Christianity was not hellbent on overthrowing Roman rule and was not in violation of the religious provisions of Roman law. Five times in the last main section of the book (chapters 21-28) we see Paul defending the spiritual and legal legitimacy of his gospel and his ministry: before the mob in Jerusalem (22:1-21), before the council (23:1-10), before Felix (24:1-27), before Festus (25:1-12), and before Agrippa (26:1-32). In these chapters we repeatedly find the word (or some variation of the word) apologia as Paul makes his apology or defense (22:1; 24:10; 25:8; 26:1ff., 24; cf. 19:33). The Apostle Paul in Acts is a missionary, a pastor, and a cultural apologist.

We should note four things about Paul’s defense, in particular about his first defense in Jerusalem (21:27-22:21).

First, Paul had reason to give a defense.

There was strong opposition to the Apostle Paul and his ministry. Part of this was owing to the serious theological differences between the Jews and the Jewish Christians. Part of the opposition was due to personal animus against Paul and part was owing to slander and misinformation. People were ready to believe the worst about Paul (or ready to make up the worst about him). They thought he had brought a Greek into the temple (21:27-29). They thought he belonged to a revolutionary guerrilla group called the Assassins (21:38). It was a perfect recipe for hatred and violent attack.

You can see why Paul was so thankful for those who were not ashamed of his chains (2 Tim. 1:16) and why it was such consolation to the persecuted Christians in Hebrews that Jesus was not ashamed to call them his brothers (Hebrews 2:11; cf. 10:33). There was a cost to associating with people like Paul. Like Jesus, he was controversial, embattled, and embroiled in legal wrangling. Paul did not float above the fray. He never found a way to be so comprehensively nice and invested in social justice (Gal. 2:10) that his enemies patted him on the back, or even left him alone.

Second, Paul was eager to give a defense.

There are times in the epistles where Paul refuses to defend himself (and then goes on to defend himself anyway). He understands that sometimes we get into more trouble by trying to respond to every accusation thrown our way. Jesus didn’t do much to defend himself. But that may not be the best example because his specific mission was to die an atoning death for our sins. The point is: no one should (or even can) defend himself against every opponent, every injustice, or every hurt.

But every is not the same as none. In fact, in the final chapters of Acts, providing a defense for his gospel ministry is Paul’s singular concern. When dealing with the Romans, he does not hesitate to claim his rights as a Roman citizen (Acts 22:22-29) or to let people know he hails from the impressive city of Tarsus (21:39). And when dealing with the Jews, he makes no qualms about emphasizing his Jewish credentials—that they are his brothers and fathers (22:1), that he can speak their language (v. 2), that he was trained by the most influential rabbi of his time (v. 3), that he was full of zeal (v. 4), that his conversion was attested by a devout and well respected man (v. 12), that like the prophet Samuel he was praying in the temple and received a vision (v. 17).

In his first defense in Jerusalem before the Jews, just like in his subsequent defenses before Roman magistrates, Paul is keen to show not only that his message is consistent with the Jewish religion and by divine commission, but that he has not broken any laws and does not deserve the mistreatment he is receiving. The same Paul who was not afraid to suffer in Jerusalem and did not count his life worth anything so long as he could preach the gospel (Acts 20:22-24), was not about to let his legal rights be abridged and the harshest allegations against him go unanswered. Paul understood that to quietly accept injustice could have been simpler and perhaps even personally satisfying (Acts 5:41), but in his case (as in an increasing number of our cases), an unwillingness to defend himself would not have served the cause of the gospel. His silence would not have strengthened Theophilus in the faith and it would not have helped the fledgling church. Paul wanted to show that this new faith was not anti-Jewish and was not inciting rebellion against Rome. Paul claimed his citizenship and challenged the likes of Felix, Festus, and Agrippa so that he might finish his course and bring the gospel to the heart of the Roman Empire. He knew that at times defending the faith means defending your rights.

Third, Paul’s defense was often ineffective.

In Acts 22 we see how monumentally unsuccessful Paul’s brilliant speeches could be. Paul can’t even finish his defense without the crowd crying out for his death (v. 22). He had truth on his side, but truth doesn’t always win out in a court of law, let alone in mob rule. True, Paul had more success making his case to the Romans than before his own countrymen, but even then he never received the strong vindication he deserved. His defense may have been convincing to the Roman magistrates, but they were still content to put political expediency above personal integrity. Acts 28 ends triumphantly with the gospel going forth (v. 31). And yet Paul is still under house arrest (v. 30) and will eventually be killed a few years later under Nero (2 Tim. 4:6).

Fourth, Paul used his defense as an opportunity to preach Christ.

It may look like Paul is obsessed with giving his testimony in the last chapters of Acts. But the only reason he wants to give his testimony is so he can testify to Christ. Time after time, when put on trial, Paul found a way to talk about the resurrection of Christ, about faith and repentance, and about the Messianic identity of Jesus. We can be quick to say “Let’s stop all this fighting, all this controversy, all this culture war stuff, and get on with the work of evangelism” as if Paul’s defense was not also evangelism! More than ever, we must be ready for someone to ask us a reason for the hope that we have–even if they mistakenly believe our hope to be hate.

For Paul, defending the faith was just as important as preaching the faith because he did not see the two as different tasks. He was a missionary at heart. His passion was the proclamation of the gospel. If that meant death, he was ready to die, so long as it was his death and not the death of freedom for the gospel to go out boldly and without hindrance.

Paul was willing for his life to be cut short if the work of the gospel could go on. But so long as the gospel itself was maligned, misrepresented, and unfairly marginalized, he wasn’t about to submit himself to slander or surrender a single civic right. He would keep preaching the Christian gospel. He would keep on defending the religious and legal legitimacy of the Christian faith. And he would not believe for a moment that the two tasks were aimed at different ends.

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100 thoughts on “Is It Wrong For Christians to Defend their Rights?”

  1. Dan Dulcich says:

    As I said before, I do not wish to contend with you brother, but I will give the reason for the hope that I have, and through scripture, demonstrate how that hope is supported by the word of God!

    Matthew 12:50 NASB “50“For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.””
    John 6:40 NASB “40“For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.””
    Revelation 7:9 NASB ” 9After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands;”
    Revelation 7:13-17 NASB ” 13Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?” 14I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15“For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them. 16“They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; 17for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.””

    So the number who are saved, by Jesus’ death on the cross, by grace through faith, are so vast in number that even all those who were present couldn’t count them….Take the two verses together (Matthew 7:14 & Revelation 7:9) and you get a different picture than the one that you portray. Apparently, to God, a ‘few’ is still a very large number, so big that it could not be counted!
    In John 6:40, Jesus Christ is the one declaring what the will of God is,… to believe in Him (Jesus) who He(God) sent!
    And in Matthew 12:50, Jesus, is once again declaring that all who do the will of the Father(God, John 6:40) are brothers and sisters, family under God as heirs to the promise.

  2. Theodore A. Jones says:

    Mt. 12:50 is referencing Gen. 9:5 NIV. This statement is the Oath referenced in Heb.6:7.
    I am not your brother and I advise you not to refer to me as such.

  3. Dan Dulcich says:

    Other than the fact that all three of those verses can be found in the Bible, they have nothing else in common, nor are they in reference to each other. If you claim that you are not my brother in Christ, than whom do you serve? For if you serve Christ, then we are brothers just as Jesus declares in Matthew 12:50 NASB.

  4. Theodore A. Jones says:

    That’s what you errounsely think. No man’s murder is a direct benefit. When I push the hell chute button for your last ride it will be then that you make the connection of those verses. Saynara. No

  5. Dan Dulcich says:

    2 Corinthians 5:14,15 NASB “14For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; 15and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.” – who died and rose on their behalf. To do something on behalf of someone, is to act in their place.
    1 Thessalonians 5:9,10 NASB “9For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him.”
    Romans 5:6-11 NASB ” 6For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.”
    Romans 4:25 NASB ” 25He(Jesus) who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.”
    Romans 6:22,23 NASB “22But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. 23For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
    Romans 10:5-13 NASB ” 5For Moses writes that the man who practices the righteousness which is based on law shall live by that righteousness. 6But the righteousness based on faith speaks as follows: “DO NOT SAY IN YOUR HEART, ‘WHO WILL ASCEND INTO HEAVEN?’ (that is, to bring Christ down), 7or ‘WHO WILL DESCEND INTO THE ABYSS?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).” 8But what does it say? “THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART”—that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, 9that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. 11For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” 12For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; 13for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.””
    1 Corinthians 15:3,4 NASB ” 3For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,…”
    Galatians 3:13,14 NASB “13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE”— 14in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”
    And of course there is Isaiah 53 NASB…
    “The Suffering Servant

    1Who has believed our message?
    And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
    2For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
    And like a root out of parched ground;
    He has no stately form or majesty
    That we should look upon Him,
    Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.

    3He was despised and forsaken of men,
    A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
    And like one from whom men hide their face
    He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

    4Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
    And our sorrows He carried;
    Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
    Smitten of God, and afflicted.

    5But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
    He was crushed for our iniquities;
    The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
    And by His scourging we are healed.

    6All of us like sheep have gone astray,
    Each of us has turned to his own way;
    But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all
    To fall on Him.

    7He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
    Yet He did not open His mouth;
    Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
    And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
    So He did not open His mouth.

    8By oppression and judgment He was taken away;
    And as for His generation, who considered
    That He was cut off out of the land of the living
    For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?

    9His grave was assigned with wicked men,
    Yet He was with a rich man in His death,
    Because He had done no violence,
    Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.

    10But the LORD was pleased
    To crush Him, putting Him to grief;
    If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
    He will see His offspring,
    He will prolong His days,
    And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.

    11As a result of the anguish of His soul,
    He will see it and be satisfied;
    By His knowledge the Righteous One,
    My Servant, will justify the many,
    As He will bear their iniquities.

    12Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
    And He will divide the booty with the strong;
    Because He poured out Himself to death,
    And was numbered with the transgressors;
    Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
    And interceded for the transgressors.”

  6. Dylan says:

    @ Dan
    I’m sorry you have had to wait so long for this reply. I’ve had to make it a long reply in order to try and address what I see to be your main points, and so it has taken me a while to get it all down during a busy week.

    “When you transgress the law, you owe a debt to the law, that payment often took the form of a sacrifice.”

    I first want to say that I think it’s important to understand what the “law” (Torah) is. For the Jew, the Torah was understood as teaching/instructions that reveal the truth of God. In the context of the covenant, the Torah revealed what it meant to be a part of the covenant community and to remain a part of it. One of the clearest indications of the nature of the Torah is given in Deuteronomy 30. In this passage, the law is said to represent blessings and curses, life and death. The Lord is literally saying that if you walk in His ways you will experience blessing/life, whereas walking in wickedness will lead you into curses and death. Sin causes separation because the one who sins is basically walking away from God…away from life. The Torah draws attention to this. It seems to me that you believe that the giving of the Law establishes man’s obligation to God, as though God were saying “Here are my demands…if you don’t carry them out then you deserve for me to put you to death”. Or in other words, that there would be no sin without the Law. But Scripture paints a different picture. The Torah was given to reveal what had always been true regarding man’s relatedness with God. In the Garden, God revealed to Adam that the result of eating from a particular tree would be death. Eating from the fruit caused them to be ashamed of who they were, and so they hid themselves from God. God did not say “You have disobeyed me, and so I am going to curse the ground”. He said “Cursed is the ground because of you”, meaning Adam’s action had corrupted the earth. They had become unfit for their vocation of tending to the Garden, and so they were exiled.

    There are some similarities between the Torah and a “penal system”…but the Torah was first and foremost a revelation of Himself and covenant community. It seems to me that you are viewing the Law as a penal system simply because that’s the only way penal substitutionary atonement would make any sense. Your commitment to the theory causes you to misunderstand the Torah. To say that sin causes us to owe a “debt” to the law makes no sense (and you have further confused me by contradicting yourself a few sentences later when you said that “the debt was paid to God”). Sin causes separation, plain and simple…a separation that can be dealt with through repentance and forgiveness. For the Jew, forgiveness is primarily a matter of cleansing rather than pardoning. Sin pollutes the soul and ruins relationships. Forgiveness purifies the soul and renews relationships. 1 John 1:9 speaks of this forgiveness that “cleanses” us from unrighteousness. If the Torah is any kind of “system”, it is a relational system flowing with mercy and grace.

    Using the “Lord’s Prayer” in Matthew 6 to support your position is highly problematic. First, the term rendered as “debts” in most translations (not all mind you) is usually taken to be figuratively referring to sin or trespass (verse 14 makes this somewhat clear). Second, Jews don’t seem to have ever held that sin results in an objective debt. What we do find is that sin would often result in a subjective feeling of indebtedness…that is an offender who realized his offense would often feel duty-bound or strongly obligated to make amends toward the neighbor he offended. This is a matter of conscience rather than legal process. This is why Paul and Peter wrote about having a clear conscience before God and man. A guilty conscience comes through awareness that a particular act of commission or omission was contrary to the ways of God, rather than through awareness that God is keeping some sort of legal tab on us.

    Your use of the parable in Matthew 18 is also problematic. It appears that you are making the mistake of viewing the parable as an analogy rather than as a story designed to invoke a response. The parable starts out “the kingdom of heaven is LIKE…”, which means that what follows is meant to teach a principle of the kingdom rather than describe the kingdom in detail. If you start out by saying that the king represents God, you have already all but missed the point of the story. The principle of the kingdom presented in the story is that in much the same way as you might forgive a monetary debt owed to you by another, you should be willing to forgive the offenses (sins) against you committed by another. Jesus used the commonly understood concept of debt forgiveness to teach that it is very important in the kingdom of heaven for people to forgive sins. It is utterly improper hermeneutics to suggest that this passage speaks of us owing an un-payable debt because of our sin.

    As for Isaiah 53, I completely agree with you. This passage speaks of The Servant bearing our sins. However, this can only be properly understood by keeping in mind the sacrificial system of Israel. The phrase “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” as used by John is a clear reference to the atonement sacrifice, in which the sins of Israel were symbolically placed onto an animal that was then slaughtered. But the killing of the animal was not due to it having sins transferred to it, as though it now somehow legally deserved to be killed because of the sins on it. The killing of the animal was a ritual/symbolic act, whereby the people of Israel collectively sought to reckon their sinful nature as put to death so that they could turn afresh to God. Paul makes it clear that The Suffering Servant has become once and for all that sacrifice upon whom we can symbolically place our sinful nature and reckon it put to death with Christ so that we might live for God and not the flesh.

    The Romans 3 passage you cited does not appear to say anything at all about penal substitution to satisfy a debt. Could you please explain how you are getting that out of this passage?

    I have no disagreement with your assessment of Proverbs 10:16. I never said that wickedness could result in life. Again, as I explained concerning Romans 6:23, the term wages is not meant to suggest that our wickedness “earns” us death just as employment earns us money. It simply means that if we continue sinning, we will experience death because we are effectively walking away from life. The natural outcome of wickedness is death. You are incorrect when you suggest that the sacrifice was put to death in order to “pay” for sin. That is not why God gave Israel the sacrificial ordinances. God does not require some sort of payment for sin…that is simply what you have been told and I believe that you simply have not done due diligence to discern whether it is an accurate view or not. God requires his people to learn his ways and apply them and walk humbly with him. If we neglect doing that, or we fall into idolatry, there must be repentance…and for ancient Israel, that was accomplished through animal sacrifice which served as symbolic demonstration of putting sinfulness to death. So it is with us…except in our case Christ is the focal point: when we reckon ourselves to be crucified with him, we are stating the conviction that we are now dead to sin and alive to God through the power of the resurrection.

    “Why was it necessary to have something die for the sin?”

    Actually, not to make things more complicated than they already are in this discussion, the death of an animal was not always necessary for sin. On multiple occasions, the fact that someone interceded before the Lord on behalf of the people was sufficient to restore the relationship between God and his people (I’m thinking Moses for one…there are plenty of others). Hopefully you are beginning to see now that you are trying to make the Scriptures appear far more simple than they actually are. Anyway, back to the question. Provisions concerning animal sacrifice were made a part of the covenant because it was for ancient Israel an appropriate way for the people to repent and turn back to God. It was a demonstration of sorrow for sin and the desire to put off the sinful nature.

    “Because of that sacrifice, God could forgive them.”

    Because of what the sacrifice symbolized, God could forgive them. The sacrifice represented repentance, which was a necessary prerequisite for forgiveness. The sacrifice did not represent a “payment” to God. That I think is a gross misreading of the Scriptures.

    “…and by defeating sin, it also defeated the law and death.”

    What do you mean that Christ’s sacrifice “defeated the law”? The Law did not need to be defeated. It needed to be fulfilled.

  7. Dylan says:

    @ Tim
    You claim that God “set the rules” for man to follow. As I have tried to explain to Dan, the Law (Torah) is not a set of rules that God has come up with to demand mankind to follow. The Law represents the revelation of God’s character and of covenant community. When God gave Adam the vocation of tending to the Garden, the one thing he showed to be outside of Adam’s provision was the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. His revelation to Adam was “the day that you eat of it you shall surely die”, not “the day that you disobey me and eat of it you will deserve to have me put you to death”. The death spoken of here is in reference to what the natural consequence of the act would be, or what the result of eating the fruit would be. Indeed, what do we see happen when Adam ate of the fruit? He became ashamed of who he was and hid himself from God, from his source of life. If that’s not an experience of death, I don’t know what is.

    You keep claiming that the concept of penal substitution is well represented throughout all of Scripture…but unless you are capable of demonstrating this through exegesis of actual passages, we won’t really get anywhere in discussion. It unfortunately doesn’t really mean anything for you to say that Dan has exegeted the Scriptures better than I have. The fact of the matter is, your criteria for determining who the better exegete is is whoever happens to come to the same conclusion as you.

    I’m sorry that you feel that I have missed the “whole problem of man” in the bible. I’m not sure how that could be. I have clearly explained that the problem is the sinful nature and resultant separation from God. Could you try to be more specific about what you feel I am missing?

  8. tim says:

    Perhaps the book you should read is edited by David Gibson and Jonathan Gibson, From Heaven He Came and Sought Her: Definite Atonement in Historical, Biblical, Theological, and Pastoral Perspective (Wheaton: Crossway, 2013).  

  9. Theodore A. Jones says:

    You boys have it backwards. The sin of first degree murder is not a benefit for anyone.

  10. tim says:

    To anyone who wants this one: what does Matthew mean when he writes that Jesus came to save his people from their sins? How does Jesus save someone? What is saving them from? Why is he saving them?

  11. Dylan says:

    @ Tim
    Although pages would likely be necessary for a complete response to your questions, this hopefully would be a descent start.

    The concept of salvation is closely tied to Israel’s experience(s) with divine deliverance from slavery from Egypt and subsequently from oppression by wicked people and nations. A common theme tying all of it together would be engendered by the phrase “release from captivity”. Virtually all the New Testament writers would come to see God’s people under captivity to the power of sin. The power of sin is that it corrupts flesh and soul in ever-increasing degree and thus destroys community/fellowship. Sin keeps us from fulfilling our appropriate vocation by making us practitioners of lawlessness. For those that unite themselves with Christ in his death, the power of sin over them is destroyed because they have acknowledged the sinful nature and turned away from it (literally put it to death). As a result, Christ gives the Holy Spirit by which we walk in newness of life (the resurrection), set apart for good works according to God’s vocation for us. To be saved from sin is to be released from the destructive cycle of sin and empowered to abide in the presence of God. The death of Christ accomplished this because it is through his blood that this covenant takes effect. The covenant is effected through his blood because by and large it was through blood that the old covenant was effected and in a certain sense maintained. Thus the new covenant fulfilled the old covenant, in that it became the perfect representation of the old.

    In regards to the book you recommended, correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems that the book deals with the debate between limited (definite) atonement and universal atonement. It seems like that would only further complicate the particular discussion we are having (not to mention I probably will never get around to reading the book anyway).

  12. Theodore A. Jones says:

    “Thus the new covenant fulfilled the old covenant, in that it became the perfect representation of the old.” Yeah right!

  13. Theodore A. Jones says:

    The new covenant only takes about a minute and a half to read aloud. It is the Acts two message. That statement was actually written by Jesus after his ascension. Then angles delivered it to the apostles. Acts two 7:53 & Gal. 3:19 The word REPENT is law and can only be obeyed by the faith of confessing directly to God that you are truly sorry Jesus was murdered when he was crucified or disobey the law that has no possibility of forgiveness. There are no exceptions.

    It does not take pages of inscription to explain what the new covenant is.

  14. tim says:

    From Heaven He Came and Sought Her. Far better treatment of the subject than Dylan and Theodore.

  15. Dylan says:

    Again, I’m quite confused why you would recommend a book on the subject of definite (limited) atonement in regards to a discussion on penal substitution. It seems like a cop out to refer people to a 700+ page treatise instead of critiquing someone’s argument yourself. The book is not a treatment of penal substitutionary atonement so it’s very strange that you would claim it to be a “far better treatment” than anyone here. You claiming that is simply you stating that you disagree with me. Can you tell me why you disagree with me?

  16. tim says:

    Hey Dylan,

    Have you read the book? It defends penal substitution very well? What about Pierced for our Transgressions? Have you read that one? And what’s wrong with me recommending books to defend my position? I have learned lots of things from many teachers. Who hasn’t? Why would I take the time to write any more long posts when you told me you would deal with my last one? You seem fickle? Go up to the top of these posts and fine my long post and your response. So I recommended 2 strong books that will challenge ( and I think) easily defeat your view of Christ’s atonement. Plus, I know any thoughtful person reading this thread will look them up to. So you will be shown wrong by great men to a wider audience, which is a very good thing given that the gospel is really no gospel in your view. What a shame.

  17. tim says:

    Also, anything the late Leon Morris wrote in his defense against Dodd’s view of propitiation and the atonement is excellent. Morris was a magnificent man to learn from and is far more precise in his understanding of the atonement than you are. I love reading his books. Have you read them? Which ones?

  18. tim says:

    Plus Plusput your view forth as a more “Jewish” view, I.e., that your view better deal with the OT material as a Jewish person of those time would have understood the concepts and words. All of my book recommendations deal with that claim too and show it false.

  19. Theodore A. Jones says:

    Substitutionary atonement and all variants of that concept are false assumptions that the sin of murder is a direct benefit. Every action of sacrificing any human in your place only has the factual result of you being guilty of the sin of murder. Substitutionary atondment is the leaven Jesus warned about leavening the whole lump and it has.

  20. tim says:

    Your a fool Theodore. Most people reading this thread will easily see that. Your argument and exegesis is tragic. Not even worth a response really. Read the books I suggested, and bring a dictionary. Blackest darkness mate…that’s where the road your on leads to.

  21. Theodore A. Jones says:

    As for your books; they ain’t the BOOK.
    “For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.” ROM. 2:13
    That apostle also wrote “Do not go beyond what is written.” 1 Cor. 4:6
    I don’t think those books you are touting are anything he has wfitten.

  22. Theodore A. Jones says:

    And by the way “Your a” Tim, needs to You’re a, etc. A dictionary might be helpful for you as you say.

  23. tim says:

    Thanks for the grammar lesson Theodore. What I really need is to learn how to make my fat thumbs type more accurately.

    You’re still a fool, though. And the blackest death and darkness is reserved for false teachers like you and Dylan. God gives the church teachers. The books I recommend as well as the author Leon Morris are great examples of God-given teachers. You should try to read them and understand. You’re an arrogant fool. And an emissary of Satan.

  24. Theodore A. Jones says:

    You did not make a grammatical error. You misspelled a contraction. Leon Morris? Never heard of him. As for commenraries. None if them have ever been worth the paper they are printed on. They are either a defense of RCCism or Protestantism and the soteriological assumptions of both systems defiantly go beyond what is written. No man’s murder has been a direct expeiation of sins nor was Jesus Christ murdered in anyone’s place.

  25. tim says:

    But the word “your” was spelled correctly, so when read by you, it is a grammatical error. Are you that stupid?

    Leon Morris is a giant in the church. You should read him. Far grander writer than you or I. Plus, your exegesis and theology stink. Your terrible at biblical interpretation. I feel very confident rejecting your understanding of the atonement.

  26. Dylan says:

    Tim, stop…just stop. This is getting beyond ridiculous. You claim that I am a “false teacher”. But I am not a teacher at all…I have never claimed to be a teacher. I am a follower of Christ who is caught up and engaged in the great conversation that we call “theology”. You are just intimidated by me because you don’t understand what it is I am talking about. Name-calling is the first sign of irrational thought, and you my friend have clearly crossed the threshold. You seem to be full of arrogance and you appear to lack the slightest ability to carry on constructive dialogue as evidenced by your willingness to call someone “stupid”. I suggest you become a little slower to speak and much quicker to listen and learn. The conversation of theology is passing you by my friend, and with it the opportunity to grow in the knowledge of God and in appreciation of the Scriptures.

    God has indeed given the Church teachers. But, as you claim to understand, not all who claim to be teachers, or are called teachers, are from God. All it takes is for confused Christians to gather around them those who will speak what their ears want to hear. Many so-called “teachers” are in this category, because they write and speak whatever will appeal to a particular demographic in order to ensure that their message turns a profit (book offers). You appeal to certain fellows such as D.A. Carson and Leon Morris, claiming they are genuine, God-given teachers of the Church. But there are plenty who don’t pay them any mind and you only do so because what they write or speak sounds good to you, not because there is any truly discernible anointing from God upon them. Many are they who construct fine arguments and are experts at employing rhetoric and have probably puffed up their minds with plenty of “education”. But you don’t really have any real reason to prefer one over any other teacher other than that you like how/what they teach. I am trying to help you to realize that some of the things you have been taught are the result of Tradition rather than inspiration. Biblical/historical scholarship continues to uncover many elements of the Scriptures that have been lost/misunderstood. This must be allowed to inform our conversations, otherwise we are no better than the Pharisees…stuck in Tradition as taught by a bunch of puffed up modernized “rabbis”.

  27. Theodore A. Jones says:

    Hey! I think Tim is rachet jawin against me. Only the true disciple of Jesus gets the acclaim that Tom is dishing out. What Tim has done actually identifies and verifies what I am. So don’t stop him.

  28. Dylan says:

    “God himself pronounces the sentence of death (Gen 2-3)”

    I actually addressed this passage in previous comments to both you and Dan. It’s incredibly poor exegesis (in reality eisegesis) to try to make this passage say that God pronounced a death sentence on Adam, as if to say “if you don’t obey me I will put you to death”. As I explained before, that is simply not what the passage says at all. The passage tells the story of how man failed in his divinely ordained vocation and as a consequence became ashamed of himself and hid himself from God, who is as you so rightly put it “the source of life”. Adam’s sin literally separated him from God and even put him at odds with God, because we see that Adam even blamed God for giving him the woman that offered him the fruit. So you see that God did not put a death sentence on Adam…rather God forewarned Adam that taking of what was not part of the provision of the Garden would lead naturally to death. From the very beginning, sin was not described as an “offense against God”…it was described as separation from God.

    You need to stop reading your modern, anachronistic presuppositions into ancient Hebrew poetry. D.A. Carson does just that with Genesis and also with Psalm 51. The historical context of Psalm 51 is most likely during the period of exile and the sin in question is most likely idolatry, for the national sin of idolatry was the whole reason for the exile. The psalmist looks forward with certainty to the loving faithfulness of God for the remission of the sin and the restoration of Israel to the state of covenant faithfulness. To use this Psalm as a representative principle for all sin is simply poor stewardship of this precious collection of ancient communal prayers.

    As for his overview of the wrath of God, he certainly doesn’t appear interested in supporting his view with any Scripture as far as the Old Testament is concerned. More to come on this…

  29. Dylan says:


    Not to sound disrespectful, but I think it matters very little who you…what matters is knowing who God is and the power of God in Christ. Tim’s approach to you reveals far more about himself than it could ever reveal about you. It is your approach to Tim that reveals who you are, and I would venture to say you display every bit as much of arrogance as he does.

  30. tim says:

    Welcome back guys…I see I’ve missed a lot today.

    First, name calling is not the first sign of irrational thought. Biblically, it is used by key people as a very effective tool when dealing with false teachers/believers in the biblical God. For example Jesus in Matthew 23 has all sorts of strong personal attacks against a group of men who should have known better than they did. Teachers of the people (you two guys are doing a lot of pontificating in this thread in effort to counter Dan and I and teach others who might read it….teachers with a small t) and yet hypocrites and white wash tombs, and blind guides. And snakes…that one best fits you guys. Working for the wrong master. Jesus also referred to certain people as swine. He even called his own disciples fools.

    And then there is Paul in Galations. He called his opponents “dogs” and mutilators of the flesh and that he wished that they would just castrate themselves. Why? Because the were messing with the gospel, just like you fools are. Galations 1:6ff applies to you both. No penal substitution, no gospel. No gospel, no life. Death awaits you if you fail to repent before you die physically. Like Adam in the garden, God in his Grace, is giving you time. When anyone sins against God and refuses to repent, what is left but death (separation from God forever)? Whether God waits or not to exact the consequence of your sin or not matters little in the ultimate picture. In the end, if you rebel against him, you will die (spend eternity in Hell, Matthew 25). This is what is hinted at in Genesis 3 and fleshed out more fully through the rest of the bible. We do not make our whole case from one chapter of the bible (Genesis 3…I don’t think you’ve got the passage totally work out yet Dylan). Rather we watch what God does through the who thing and see how the New Testament sheds light on the Old. This is very biblical.

    I came from atheism, not a Christian tradition. I read the Bible daily, study commentaries, and engage with all kinds of folks on issues like this. I’m not the least overwhelmed with Dylan. Neither is Don Carson. Nor Peter O’Brian, or Gordon Fee or Thomas Schreiner, I Howard Marshall, Craig Blomberg, and a score of others whom I have sat under over the years. Leon Morris was a great gift to the church through the 20th century and did a marvelous job defending Penal Substitution. And how about:

    Justin Martyr
    Hilary of Poitiers
    Gregory of Nazianus
    Ambrose of Milan
    John Crysostom
    Cyril of Alexandria
    Galasius of Cyzius
    Gregory the great
    Thomas Aquinas
    John Calvin

    So much depth to the historical belief in the Jesus as our penal substitute.

    Read and study the 2 books I suggested, as well as Leon Morris’s work “The Atonement: It’s Meaning and Significance. I can do no better than that list.

    Also, the first few you tube vids of The God Who Is There by DA Carson would help you boys find the real gospel, and the real Jesus.

    Back to my kids!

  31. tim says:

    For some more appropriate name calling, see Amos 4: 1-3. Not the beginning of irrational thought, but the beginning of condemnation and rebuke.

  32. Dylan says:

    “Biblically, it [name-calling] is used by key people as a very effective tool when dealing with false teachers/believers in the biblical God.”

    Jesus and the Biblical authors wrote and spoke from direct revelation (what we call “inspiration”) from God…and they were THE leaders of the Church who were intimately involved with the life of the Church and had more than just a passing acquaintance with those they were writing/speaking to. It was in this context and this context alone that they used the strong language they used towards certain people. The prophet Amos for example knew all too well the injustice and oppression characteristic of the nation of Israel. The entire nation had gone astray and so he addressed them all in such a way as to bring them face to face with the things they were doing. You are displaying more arrogance and misappropriation of Scripture when you presume to use them as justification for your slanderous remarks. Are you an apostle like Paul, a prophet like Amos, or the King of Israel like Jesus himself? You would do well to heed my advice about being slow to speak, because you have no idea who I am and how I live and conduct myself, and so you are filling the air with useless and idle speech that is by no means edifying. My remarks about name-calling and irrational thoughts are in the context of internet-based/social media dialogue. What I was hoping you would understand is that quickly coming to a determination about someone’s character and then calling them names after only a few back-and-forths on an internet blog is the epitome of irrationality. I’m sure you are an intelligent, thoughtful person…I’m just wondering what’s hindering you from acting like one.

    “No penal substitution, no gospel.”

    It’s fine if you want to keep on being your own authority…but thank goodness the Body of Christ is not under your headship. Christ never said “Unless you believe that your sins have earned you a legal debt to God that requires God to put you to death, and believe that I am about to take that legal debt upon myself so that God can accept my death as a payment to him so that you can be acceptable in His sight, you will not inherit eternal life”. Neither do any of the apostles. Rather, Christ said “Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have no life in you”; and “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father and I too will love him and show myself to him”. You are reducing the gospel of Christ to systematic theology and denying/reducing its power. I do not judge or condemn you in this, because this is simply how you have been taught by those who themselves are influenced by an utterly bankrupt modernist rationality. This version of penal substitution you hold says more about an incomplete view of God than it says about the Gospel. The problem is you are starting with what you think you know about God, and then using that to determine the Gospel. Instead I would suggest that you should comprehend the Gospel by the life-long process of soaking in it, experiencing it and demonstrating it in the context of covenant community and then see what it shows you about God. You claim to have “sat under” many teachers…but what demonstrated to you that they were trustworthy and anointed to pass onto you the “keys of the faith” so to speak? You may indeed have “learned lots of things” from them, but have you learned discernment?

    I do believe there is a Scriptural basis for the concept of substitution with regards to the atonement. But it seems that this basis is mostly limited to historical Judiasm. In the crucifixion, Jesus, who perfectly fulfilled the divine vocation, represented Israel, who corporately had failed to be the covenant community of God. Christ experienced the ultimate oppression, exile, and death that belonged to Israel and was vindicated by God, so that those Jews who put their faith in Christ as the genuine sacrifice could finally repent and be the covenant community through the power of the Spirit. So I’m not discounting the substitutionary elements of the cross…I’m simply doing my best to hold those elements in their proper context within redemptive history.

    I’m sorry that I come across as “pontificating” to you, if that is indeed a truthful expression of your perception and not just some clever attempt to disregard what I am saying. I really don’t see how I am writing dogmatically or pompously. I’ve not once tried to proclaim that you are in danger of the wrath of God or a reprobate or a deceiver of the brethren for not agreeing with me. I have tried to ask you to demonstrate to me why you believe my statements are false aside from ambiguous appeals to certain modern authors and simply claiming that I have “missed the Gospel”. You on the other hand fit the bill of pontification perfectly, and it is most interesting how often it is the case that a person will attempt to denounce in someone else what is in fact festering in his/her self.

  33. Dylan says:

    “Death awaits you if you fail to repent before you die physically.”

    You are correct that repentance is the key. And I assure you I have acknowledged my sin before God and acknowledged Christ’s atonement for that sin by claiming “I have been crucified with Christ”, and have made turning from sin toward God a lifestyle through the gracious working of the Spirit. However, to understand what repentance is, and thus to understand what John the Baptist and Christ meant when they said “Repent for the kingdom is near”, we have to first understand what sin is. It just sounds like to me that you haven’t really wrestled with the fundamental principles of sin because either you are ignoring some parts of the narrative or have misread others through the lense of reductionism. I have suggested that when God had formed man, he placed him in a garden and gave him a vocation, effectively saying “this is what I have created you for”. In Jewish understanding, when man walks according to that vocation, it is known as “hitting the mark”, while failing to walk in that vocation, or in other words choosing another vocation, is known as “missing the mark” (The Hebrew word translated most as sin means “to miss the mark”). Walking according to God’s vocation for us causes us to abide in the life of God in his presence. Choosing another vocation causes us to be ashamed and to hide from the presence of God which ultimately makes us unfit for our vocation…”your sins have separated you from God” (Isaiah 59:2). There is no indication from the account that Adam demonstrated repentance for his sin, and so he was exiled from the garden. As the following chapters show, lack of repentance leads to ever-increasing departure from the divine vocation and greater dysfunction. This leads to the wrath of God which is poured out on the earth to restore things to right (the flood). The wrath of God here is not portrayed as the result of some legal debt that had accrued and that God was keeping track of. But what do we see? God had become grieved because the wickedness of man had increased to the point that they were fully occupied with evil in every single thought…mankind, with the exception of Noah’s family, had in one accord chosen to pursue their own vocation. The flood did not meet the demands of some debt…it cleansed and restored the land so that “a remnant” (discussed below) could inhabit it and fulfill the divine vocation.

    When God gave Israel the Mosaic Law, it was part of the revelation of God meant to highlight the divine vocation for mankind in community that would make them a light to the nations. In a very interesting way, it also served to highlight again the separating qualities of sinful nature. Time and time again, we see the separating effects of a growing unrepentant spirit eventually leading the entire nation to go after other gods. Living according to this sinful nature results in an unrepentant heart. In His wrath, God allowed the land to vomit Israel out into exile so that the land could be rid again of the pollution of sin. When there is no demonstration of repentance there is no indication before God that the hearts of His people are inclined towards Him. The wrath of God came upon them not because a multitude of sins committed by individuals accrued a legal debt, for there was ample provision of Mercy for His people through repentance. Wrath came upon them because the entire nation forsook real repentance and sought after other gods, the crucial indication that His people had given up entirely on the divine vocation. Fortunately, the wrath of God always works in conjunction with His grace. His wrath brings judgement which cleanses the land of sin’s pollution, and His grace functions to reserve for Himself a “remnant” who will repent and thus fulfill their vocation in restored creation.

    Ultimately, it seems that what Christ saves us from is our sinful nature, for it is only because of the sinful nature that the judgement/wrath of God is even necessary. To acknowledge him as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world is to place our sinful nature on him as he is led outside the camp and slaughtered, thereby releasing us from its power. Paul describes this in Romans 7 when he speaks of being released from marriage/slavery to sin through the body of Christ. In Christ, our first husband is reckoned to be dead, which releases us to be joined to Christ in order to bear fruit to God in our proper vocation. Romans 8 continues on to show that the mind under the sinful nature does not submit to God’s law…but putting sin to death in Christ frees us to fulfill our obligation to God through walking under the Spirit. There is no condemnation for those who walk according to the Spirit, not because their debt to God has been paid, but because they have humbled themselves, repented, and turned their hearts to God, trusting in Him alone which is man’s proper orientation.

    Clearly, I don’t expect you to agree with all that I have shared. My intent was to clarify some things in case you still didn’t understand what I was saying, and to offer up some advice about avoiding idle talk and harmful prejudices. The main reason I am reluctant to accept your appeals to various books/authors is frankly because they are much more difficult to actually engage in conversation with and there are simply far too many books written by far too many “teachers”. Do you at least agree with me that there are far too many people seeking to be teachers these days?

  34. tim says:

    Geez, how on earth can I imitate Paul who is imitating Christ under your view of things? I guess when you decided which part of Christ’s or Paul’s words, conduct or action I’m allowed to imitate, please send me the list! I take 1 Corinthians 11:1 in context though and this name-calling aspect of my discussion with you is being done for the glory of God, and the defense of his gospel, a very Pauline thing to do. So I think what you wrote back on that subject is not biblical. You, like Paul’s Jewish opponents in Corinth and Galatia are a dog and emissary of Satan, masked as angels light. This is so because you distort the gospel of God and pervert its perfection. In this regard you are no different from JWs, Mormons, or the Socinians. Galatians 1:6 applies to you and Theodore and you both are anathema.

    You cannot understand Genesis 3 properly without realizing the importance of Genesis 2:17. And if you screw up Genesis 3, then you don’t have a chance of understanding the whole bible. You seem to understand this point, and it is my contention that you have badly missed the most crucial point of the chapter and this is a major reason why you have not grasped the concept of Penal Substitution that is so clearly taught in the bible. This concept is fundamental to the make-up of the gospel in that, if one denies Penal Substitution, one has rejected the gospel and cannot be saved. And if the person who denies Penal Substitution actively and aggressively preaches forth his ideas in conversation, lecture, internet posts, etc, then that person is a false teacher and under the wrath and judgement of God, and for whom 2 Peter 2 is specifically written. This includes you Dylan.

    Genesis 3 could have been titled: The God Who Does Not Wipe Out Rebels. There are (at least) four important points that emerge from Genesis 3. 

    1. The deceitful repulsiveness of that first rebellion (Genesis 3:1-6)
          We are introduced to the serpent. According to the last book of the bible, Satan himself stands behind this serpent in some way (Rev 12). Moreover, his smooth talk aligns him with another description of Satan where we are told that he masks himself as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14), deceiving, if it were possible, the very chosen ones of God (see Matt. 24:24): he’s a smart-mouth.

    The serpent approaches the woman and avoids offering her a straight denial or a direct temptation. He begins with a question (I’m sure you can open you bible and read it again so I’ll spare my self typing it all out). Notice what the serpent does. He expresses just the right amount of skepticism, a slightly incredulous “Can you believe that God would really say that?” – like an employee asking “Can you believe what the boss has done this time?” The difference is that the person whose word is being questioned is the maker, the designer, God the sovereign. In some ways the question is both disturbing and flattering. It SMUGGLES IN THE ASSUMPTION THAT WE HAVE THE ABILITY, EVEN THE RIGHT, TO STAND IN JUDGEMENT OF WHAT GOD HAS SAID.

    Then the devil offers exaggeration. God forbid the consumption of one fruit, not all fruit. God is not a cosmic party pooper…”can you believe God really said that?”

    Initially the woman does ok, and responds well (3:2). And then she gives him 2:17 in 3:3. So far, so good. But then she adds her own exaggeration of not to touch the fruit in 3:3. God did not say anything about that. It’s almost if the prohibition not to eat the fruit has got under her skin, making her sufficiently riled up that she has to establish the meanness of the prohibition. The first sin is to sin against the goodness of God.

    Look at the slippage going on in her head already. What should she have said to Satan? Perhaps, “Are you out of your mind!???? Look around! This is Eden; this is paradise! God knows exactly what he is doing. He made everything; he even made me. My husband loves me and I love him- and we are both intoxicated with the joy and holiness of our beloved Marker. My very being resonates with the desire to reflect something of his spectacular glory back to him. How could I possibly question his wisdom and his love? He knows, in a way I never can, exactly what is best – AND I TRUST HIM ABSOLUTELY. And you (Satan) want me to doubt him or question the purity of his motives and character? How stupid is that? What possible good can come of a creature  DEFYING his Creator and Sovereign? Are you out of your skull!?????”

    Instead, the woman flirts with the possibility that God is nothing more than a cosmic kill-joy, bent on limiting the pleasure of his creatures.

    Then comes the first overt contradiction of God from Satan in Genesis 3:4. The first doctrine to be denied in Scripture is judgement. If you can get rid of that one teaching, then rebellion has no adverse consequences, and so you are free to do anything.

    Far from recognizing the threat of judgement, the serpent holds out that rebellion offers special insight, even divine insight: “God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (3:5). Here is the big ploy, the total temptation. THE HEART OF THE VICIOUS DECEITFULLNESS CENTRAL TO WHAT THE SERPENT PROMISES IS THAT WHAT HE SAYS IS PARTLY TRUE AND TOTALLY FALSE. It is true, after all: her eyes will be opened, and in some sense she will see the difference between good and evil.  SHE WILL DETERMINE IT FOR HERSELF. God himself says so at the end of the chapter: “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil” (3:22).

    And yet this is an entirely subversive promise. God knows good and evil with the knowledge of omniscience: he knows all that has been, all that is, all that will be, all the might be under different circumstances – he knows it all, including what evil is. But the woman is going to learn about evil from personal experience; she is going to learn about it by becoming evil.

    Indeed, the expression in Hebrew,  “the knowledge of good and evil,” is often used in places where to have the knowledge of good and evil is to have the ability to pronounce what is good and what is evil. That’s what God had done, if you recall. He made something and declared that it “was good” (1:10). He finished creation and said that it was “very good” 1:31). For God has this sovereign, grounded-in-infinite-knowledge ability to pronounce what is good. Now this woman wants this God-like function. God says, in effect, “It is not good to eat that particular fruit. You will die.” But if she does, instead of delighting in the wisdom of her Maker, she is pronouncing, independently, her own choices as to what is good and evil. She is becoming “like God,” claiming the sort of independence that BELONG ONLY TO GOD, the self existence that only belongs to God, the moral absoluteness that only belongs to God.

    To be like God, to achieve this by defying him, perhaps even outwitting him – this is an intoxicating program. this means that God himself must from now on be regarded, consciously or not, as a least a rival and maybe an enemy: “I pronounce my own good, thank you very much, and I do not you to tell me what I may or may not do.”

    this section represents a test. If God makes image-bearers and pronounces what is good and evil, if he orders the whole system, then to come along at any point and say, “No, I will declare my own good. What you declare to be evil, I will declare to be good. What you say is good, I will say is evil” – this is why the tree bearing this fruit is said to be the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. What is crucial is not the tree but the rebellion. What is so horricfically tragic is GOD’S IMAGE-BEARER STANDING OVER AGAINST GOD. This is what Carson termed “the de-god-ing of god.” and Adam and Eve are doing this so that they can be their own god. They follow Satan’s lead in this rebellion and this, in short, is idolatry. This is the foundational horror of Genesis 3 and sets up the whole bible, explaining what the problem really is, and who is the One who is really pissed, and what he is going to do about it.

    We should not think of the serpent’s temptation as nothing more than an invitation to break a rule. Sin does not just equal “breaking a rule.” What is at stake here is something deeper, bigger, sadder, uglier, more heinous. It is a revolution. It makes me god and thus de-gods God.

    “When the Woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom” – that is, physically appealing to the eye, aesthetically pleasing, transforming the domain of wisdom – “she took some and ate it” (Gen. 3:6). You certainly know the language “take and eat,” which Christians recite at the Lord’s Supper, and it is impossible not to recall the latter use of this pair of verbs. “She took…and ate.” “So simple the act and so hard the undoing,” someone has said. “God will taste poverty and death before ‘take and eat’ becomes verbs of salvation.” See F. Derek Kidner’s commentary on Genesis. “She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it”  (3:6). Apparently, he was with her in all this, entirely complicit, no less guilty than she in the deceit and repulsiveness of the slide into self-destruction.

    My next letter to you will be on Genesis 3:7-13. For now this is all I can spare time-wise on my Sunday.

    Eventually I will make it all the way to Romans 1:18-the end of chapter 3 with you. Here are some general thoughts for the journey ahead.

    The biggest problem for man is the fact that God exists and has set a day in the future where he will judge the world, on the basis of what they have done, by the man Jesus. The certainty of this moment is the background against which the NT message of salvation is set. Jesus stresses it aggressively in Matthew 25:31-46 and Paul spends a great deal of time stressing it too. According to Paul, Jesus saves us from the “wrath to come” (1 Thess 1:10) on “the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgement will be revealed” (Romans 2:5). This is support by several other texts: John 3:36; Romans 5:9; Eph. 5:6; Col. 3:6; Rev. 6:17; 19:15. Throughout the bible, I see God’s “indignation”, “anger”, and “fury” as judicial; the point to God as the active judge of sin. As John says, “sin is lawlessness” , this makes perfect sense. God is angry to the point of wrath because his image-bearers have decided to rebel against his commands. In the garden, for example, God told Adam and Eve not to eat fruit from a specific tree; He gave them a direct order, a command. Along came Satan and twisted God’s words up and enticed the woman to eat from the forbidden tree and also Adam. The issue here is not if God’s image bearer would do their God-given work well (!) but whether or not Adam would let God determine what was good and bad and obey him. But Adam failed and decided to decide for himself what was good and bad, in DIRECT contradiction to what God had said. Eve, Adam, both deceived by Satan, defied God by eating the fruit. Yes this means they also failed at their vocation, but primarily the issues in Genesis 3 is disobedience to the command of God. As a result, first of all, the anti-God, self-aggrandizing mindset expressed in this act of direct disobedience became a part of Adam, and of the moral nature that he passed on to his descendants (Romans  3:9-20). Adam and Eve were also gripped with guilt and shame, and were now afraid of God (God had promised them in chapter 2 that they would die for eating from that tree!). Also, they were cursed and expelled from God’s presence (Eden). BUT, at the same time, God began to show them saving mercy. He made them garments to cover their nakedness, and he promised one day that the woman’s seed would crush the serpent’s head

    Key to the discussion of Gen 3 is to see it within the cannon as a whole, particularly how Paul connects his letters to it, and therefore his theology. The best example of it is in Romans, where Paul affirms that all mankind is naturally under the power of sin, the reign of death, and the inescapable wrath of God (1:18, 19; 3:9, 19; 5:17, 21). He traces this back to the sin of the one man Adam, whom he describes as our common ancestor (Acts 17:26; Rom 5:12-14; cf. 1 Cor. 15:22). Paul, as an apostle, has given us the inspired and proper interpretation of the history in Gen. 3. Adam was made by God to be THE representative for all his posterity, just as he was to make Jesus the representative for all God’s elect (Rom 5-15-19; cf. 8:29, 30; 9:22-26). In each case the representative  involved those whom he represented in the fruits of his personal action, whether it was for their “wealth or woe,” so to speak. This is a divinely determined arrangement, whereby Adam determined the destiny of his descendants. That is why everyone is under the wrath of God from that moment on in scripture. But yet, as the bible moves forward, we can see how God planned to deal with the radical problem of sin for some and not others, 

    So the OT reads like this: Genesis begins with the creation of the heavens and the earth and the primeval history of humanity (Gen 1-11). Because of our ancestors’ fall into sin, God singles out one individual, Abram, and promises that his offspring will inherit the promised land of Canaan and that through them all the earth will be blessed (Gen 12:1-3). The rest of the five books of the Law describe the obstacles that seem to put those promises in jeopardy, but also the ways in which God preserves Abram’s descendants and eventually leads them out of slavery in Egypt to that very promised land. En route he gives them laws to obey that will form the heart of prescribed Israelite religion from that time forward. The remaining historical books, the Former Prophets, narrate the cycles of obedience and disobedience of God’s people in his land. to the extent the, and especially their leaders, were more obedient to his law than not, he blessed them with prosperity, peace and safety in the land. To the extent that they were more disobedient than not, God remained patient but eventually handed them over to their enemies – Philistia, Assyria, Babylon, and finally Persia. Some died and from this act of judgement, a remnant was saved.
    The latter prophets all contain some combination of condemnation and edification: denunciation of Israel and the surrounding peoples because of their sins, ANNOUNCING THE VARIOUS JUDGEMENTS THAT GOD HAD IN STORE FOR THEM but also inserting promises, as we have just seen, of a subsequent restoration of Israel, when the people will again follow their God. Ultimately representatives of all nations will embrace the God of Israel in an age of messianic deliverance. This is what the New Testament takes up and brings to a close. In the New Testament we see the plan of God in regards to the salvation of some people from every part of the world commence and unfold. This is the good news. This is the gospel, that “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself.” And there is no clearer picture of it in the bible than Romans, especially Romans 3.

    See you when I can

    Repent and believe the good news that Christ died for your sins, as the Servant of the Lord in Isa. 53,


  35. Tim Kingston says:

    Ok, on to Genesis 3:7-13

    Above all, there is a massive inversion: God creates the man who loves his wife, who comes from him, and together they are to be vice-regents over the created order. Now instead one of the creation order, the serpent, seduces the woman, who hauls in the man, and together they defy God – the order of creation is turning on its head. And of course, there is death. This should not be surprising. If God is the Creator and gives life, then if you detact yourself from this God, if you defy this God, what is there but death? He is the one who gave life in the first place. He did not bring the universe and his own image-bearers into existence so that they might be completely autonomous from him, somehow achieving the self-existence that belongs only to God. So if one walks away from him, what is there but death? If you pronounce your own good and evil and decide you want to be god yourself, thus detaching yourself from the living God who made you and who alone gives life, there is nothing but death.

    What kind of death? Augustine wrote, “If it be asked what death God threatened them with, whether bodily or spiritual or that second death [this language is used for hell itself], we answer, It was all….[God] comprehends therein, not only the first part of the first death, wheresoever the soul loses God [that is, we die spiritually; we hide from God and become dead to God], nor the latter only, wherein the soul leaves the body, …but also…the second which is the last of deaths, eternal and following after all.” YOU CANNOT CUT YOURSELF OFF FROM THE GOD OF THE BIBLE WITHOUT CONSEQUENCES. God himself has ordained that the attempt to displace God brings with it the punishment of death.

    But note the results that are immediately emphasised by the text. The eyes of the man and woman are opened; they know they are naked. In consequence they sew fig leaves together for a covering (3:7). At one level the serpent has kept his promise, but this new consciousness of good and evil is not a happy result. There is no pleasure here, but there is the loss of the knowledge of God and, finally, little but shame and guilt. Now they have something to hide, so they sew fig leaves, which is meant to be a bit silly. you cannot hide moral shame with fig leaves.

    But this is also a way of saying that there is no way back to Eden. You cannot undue the loss of innocence. if you steal something, you can return it, but if I cheat on my wife after years of marriage, I cannot undo it. The stain on my own being cannot be undone. Likewise, if I defy God, I cannot undo the defiance. It cannot be undone. I cover myself in shame. There is no way back to innocence. In the bible, there is only one way forward – to the cross.

    One of the results of this guilt is broken fellowship with God.(3:8-10). However spectacularly wonderful the pleasure of enjoying intimacy with God , captured in the picture of walking with God in the cool of the day (3:8), now it is gone. like the case of me committing adultery above, I cannot look at my wife in the eye anymore. Shame engulfs me. I would hide. Even if good efforts were made to heal the breach, there are certain things we could not talk about anymore. This is why sin in the bible is sometimes describes as analogous to sexual sin. Read Hosea.

    Sin results in broken human relationships too. Look now further than the blaming the starts between Adam, Eve, and the serpent. One of the things that commonly occurs in the wake of defying God is this: we deny that we have any responsibility for what happened. Everything we do that’s wrong is someone else’s fault.

    To put it another way: one of the inevitable results of guilt and shame is self-justification. Adam justifies himself by blaming Eve; Eve justifies herself by blaming the serpent. Our only hope of being reconciled to God, however, is for God to JUSTIFY us, for GOD TO VINDICATE US. Self-justification cannot cut it, for we are guilty; in fact, self-justification is merely one more evidence of idolatry – the idolatry of thinking we have the resources to saves ourselves, the idolatry that is still so impressed by self that it cannot readily admit guilt. In response to what he thought was wrong with the world, G.K. Chesterton said, “Me.”

    More when I can. Gen. 3:14-19


  36. Dylan says:

    Thank you for your response. I am at least thankful that although you insist on considering me a “false teacher”, you are still willing to dialogue with me. That is encouraging. The analysis of Genesis 3:1-6 has some great insights and I don’t see much issue with it except for one crucial point which I will address below. First I want to inquire about something. How often is it that you copy and paste someone else’s thoughts as though they were your own, failing to give proper citation and respect to the original source? This particular instance tells me two things: 1) You are inadequately familiar with the Scriptures, and instead are far too familiar with certain interpretations put forth by others; and 2) you have little desire to be straightforward with me. That is unfortunate, and represents more barriers to constructive dialogue being added to what you have already erected. I’m not sure how D.A. Carson would feel about you using his writings the way you have.

    As for the context of 1 Corinthians 11:1, I have no reason to determine which of Paul’s behaviours his readers were called to imitate…Paul did that himself when he wrote the passage! But you have to go back to verse 23 to see it. The context relates to any issues of indifference, anything that may be regarded as having no meaningful bearing on a person’s conscience in regards to salvation. Paul’s conclusion in verse 31 is “In all matters such as these, act to affirm the glory of God”. The end result of this aim is that the multitudes would come to salvation, because it is through insistence on these superfluous matters that many are turned away from the community of faith. Paul demonstrated this truth among the Gentiles, and so to this behaviour also they are called. You are trying to justify your words and the attitudes of your heart through faulty proof-texting.

    I am not attacking Paul’s gospel, because I have not contradicted a single word of Paul. But it seems to me that you are coming up against the kingdom of God and attempting to deny entry into it those who in reality have already entered in. You say the atonement must be understood as thus and thus and so you presume to shut the door in peoples’ faces, forgetting that it was for this reason that Paul rebuked the Judaisers who tried to get Gentiles to become Jews. The sign of faith in Christ is not “I have understood and confessed a particular theoretical framework of atonement”. The sign of faith in Christ is repentance and the fruits thereof to God according to the Spirit.

    The fact of the matter is that you are in no position at all to proclaim me to be anathema (Do you even know what that word means?). I would have to be under your authority for you to legitimately declare that. Thankfully that is not the case here. Now, can we move on or are you going to continue to think more highly of yourself than you ought?

    “This concept is fundamental to the make-up of the gospel in that, if one denies Penal Substitution, one has rejected the gospel and cannot be saved.”

    There is absolutely no basis whatsoever anywhere in Scripture for this claim. The gospel is that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, and so all who turn to God by coming to Christ are gathered from their exile into the city of God and will not be condemned. What you fail to realize is that theories of atonement like penal substitution have arisen over time through speculation by theologians into the mystery of the cross, speculations that were influenced by and came out of temporal experiences. They are an attempt to systematize the gospel and give it more explanatory qualities, but the power of the gospel is not in its theoretical framework, but rather in the creation of a new humanity. By the confession of faith that Jesus has come in the flesh, that God has raised him from death, and that he is Lord, we are united with him in his death and life, the continuing fruits through the Spirit of him who is the firstfruits. I do not deny that Christ died for sins…this I affirm with all of my being, even his death for my sin, that it might be taken away. This is of course the testimony of Scripture…but to go beyond this by theological speculation into supposed deeper meanings is to place your trust in the wisdom of man and not on the revelation of God. “False teachers” are known by their fruits…that is, by their deeds. But as I said before, you know not my deeds, and unless you can somehow show that what I have suggested here is contrary to Scripture, your accusations will continue to be seen for what they are…and my conscience will bear witness to me that I am walking in the light.

    I will close by addressing your claim that I have totally missed the connection of Genesis 2:17 with Genesis 3. In your analysis you claim that the death mentioned in 2:17 represents the wrath/judgement of God. However, this idea cannot be maintained in light of chapter 3. By the time God enters the picture in 3:8, the man and the woman have already experienced death…their hearts are no longer inclined to God and they have no sense of responsibility for their profound dereliction. They have, as you rightly put it, become gods in their own eyes, and so God exiles them from the garden. Their banishment from the garden is the judgement of God. Through exile, God is saying “You have become dead in sin and your heart is not inclined toward me, so you will be sent away. All who come after Adam face that same judgement through lack of repentance. That is why the prophets said “Repent”, why John and Jesus said “Repent”, and why Peter said “Repent”.

  37. tim says:

    I have talked to Don twice in as many weeks about you and showed him some of your writings. Feel free to contact him about my use of his material. He recommended serval of his works for me to share with you and several works by others. I have made you aware of some of them, but you have so far refused to engage them. So I will bring them to you as I deem wise. If they are not Don’s work, I will cite them properly. Nothing would make me happier than if you would read Don’s many fine works. Don is a servant of Christ and an insightful interpretor of Scripture. He is a God-given resource to the church and it is my pleasure to sit under him. I’m not looking to make up my own theology and interpretation, but I weigh what others say, using the 4 years of biblical hermeneutics I took in university and test what people say to determine how to understand the bible texts. How do you do it?. Do you probe yourself on being a lone-ranger? Who are you mentors/teachers? Bible says you should have some. So who are they?

    I will keep going for the sake of Christ,


  38. Tim Kingston says:

    No no Dylan,

    When Paul talks about imitating him he is talking about all areas of life. “So,, whether you eat or drink, or WHATEVER YOU DO, do it all to the glory of God.” It is this immediate context statement that most informs, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.” In fact, I suspect John 5 is in view here where, in verses 19-46, Jesus is patterning his life, his work, and his identity from the Father. He reveals what the Father does perfectly, including how the perfect man of God should look like, sound like, acts like etc. I suspect that Paul is working along these line when he says to imitate him as he imitates Christ, who is imitating what he sees his Father doing. It is in all areas of life that we are to do this…”whatever you do…” So, you, being a peddler of false doctrine on an essential issue such as the gospel, are to be attacked aggressively, just like Jesus did to the Pharisees,, and just like Paul did to the dogs who hounded him as he planted churches.

    Using Don’s books as I did says nothing about my knowledge of Scripture. Your two conclusions do not follow from a valid deductive or inductive argument. In fact, I used Don’s words because I agree with him wholeheartedly on most issues. He is, in my view, the finest NT scholar of the late 20th and early 21st century. I can, on most topics, do know better than he does, and I’m fine with admitting that. I have also been very straight forward with you. Go back and see where I have recommended reading his books and others…stating that I can do no better on my own than the works I recommended. I have been very straight forward. The only reason I spent time writing stuff down for you to read is because others helped me when I was an arrogant, self-made know-it-all. so now I will give back.

    You are attacking the gospel. Penal substitution is well taught in Scripture. For example, It is taught in Exodus 12, Leviticus 16, Isaiah 52:13-53:12, Mark 10:33-45, 15:33-34, John 3 and 11:47-52, many sections in Romans,[3:21-26, Romans 4:25, 5:8-10, 8:1-3, Galatians 3:10-13 [I thoroughly reject E.P. Sanders and the New Perspective on Paul], 1 Peter 2:21-25, 3:18. Instead of me tell you about the exegesis, why not read Chapter 2 of Pierced For Our Transgressions, Rediscovering the Glory of Penal Substitution, by Steve Jeffery, Michael Ovey,, Andrew Sach and chapter 17 in From Heaven He Came and Sought Her titled, The Definite Intent of Penal Substitutionary Atonement by Garry J. Williams. Really smart dudes that I have studied very closely and found to be in accord with good biblical interpretation. I invite you to consider their arguments. Plus the list of pre-reformation theologians I have listed in an earlier post. I will write more on Gen. 3 as I can. Genesis 3 sets the stage, it is not the smoking gun text for my view or yours. But it sets the stage for all that the rest of Scripture says. Disobedience to God and exile from his presence to a life of chaos, misery and failure. If not corrected, a fearful expectation of wrath against the rebel is what will happen.
    Night dude. Hope you don’t die in your sins. Christ died for your sins, to satisfy the wrath that God will pour out on you if you do not believe the only true gospel. God was indeed in Christ, who’s death satisfied his wrath against the sins I committed against him. I was just like Adam, trying to be my own God and forgetting constantly about the only one who is God. If I hadn’t repented from that and believed in his Son, God wrath would remain on me, and I would be destined for hell.

  39. Dylan says:

    A couple of quick points…First, I have in fact responded to some of the material you have provided from “Don”, if you cared to notice. Frankly, I haven’t the time to respond to all of it, because unlike you I am not merely regurgitating the writings of others verbatim, thus it takes me much longer than you to engage in this conversation. I assure you though that I am attempting to work through the rest of it (in fact I have already begun preparing my thoughts on the Exodus 12 passage as presented in “Pierced For Our Transgressions…”, which I only recently was able to track down).

    Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, I wonder if you would do me the favor of articulating to me what you feel is the “false doctrine” I am peddling. That is…what is my doctrine concerning the cross of Christ? If you are able to answer that question, then we might just be able to move forward.

  40. tim says:

    Penal Substitution is the BASIS for a correct view of the Atonement. The atonement of Christ is essential to the gospel and defines the statement, “Christ died for our sins.” If you don’t have this part of your theology right, you believe and peddle a false gospel, as bag as the dogs that said you have to keep some or all of the law in order to been justified.

    I follow Paul’s lead as set out in 2 Corinthians 10:1-6. I rely on great teachers in the church to lead me in learning scripture and communicating it. I’m not the least embarrassed or ashamed of that. It’s how God set up the body. Some are great teachers, and I follow them. Don is one of them. I have given you a list of many other, including pre-reformers.

  41. tim says:

    Actually, back to the understanding of what it means to imitate Paul, look at Philippians chapter 3. This is where he calls his non-Christian opponents dogs, and in verses 15 ff. He goes on to talk strongly against them again while urging the Philippians to imimitate him in all aspects of his life, including harsh condemnation of heretics and heresy. Pretty clear.

  42. tim says:

    In Galatians 2 Paul calls the people trying to slip some law into the gospel false believers. These are the people he has in mind who are under God’s curse in Gal. 1:6. I don’t have to be over you in authority to tell you that if you change, omit, mess with the gospel, then you are under God’s curse. In denying penal substitution, you have changed the gospel, or how God reconciles men to himself in Christ. So you are a false beliver like those in Galatians 2, and you are under the Divine curse of Galatians 1:6-8.

  43. Dylan Caspari says:

    “I don’t have to be over you in authority to tell you that if you change, omit, mess with the gospel, then you are under God’s curse. In denying penal substitution, you have changed the gospel, or how God reconciles men to himself in Christ.”

    It is true that you don’t have to be over me to give me a valid warning to not “mess with the gospel”. The fault with your argument here is the claim that my questioning of your idea of penal substitution has somehow changed the gospel…how God reconciles men to himself. Your begging the question, which is a logical fallacy, by assuming from the start that legal substitution is required for atonement, and then reading that assumption back into Scripture and claiming “See, there it is”. That is why your arguments are unconvincing to me and should be to anyone who has discernment and who has not also assumed a penal substitution framework from the start. The task before you would be to 1) suspend for the moment your presuppositions about penal substitution being the central element of the atonement and thus of the gospel so that you might 2) focus on demonstrating from Scripture alone what the nature of atonement must necessarily involve. You have attempted to accomplish step 2) to some degree, but without first demonstrating step 1). I’m trying to address whatever analysis of Scripture you are presenting, but unfortunately you are sabotaging the dialogue by arguing at me from your assumptions. You can find just about anything you want in the Bible if you want to find it (indeed, much in the way of heresy has been suggested because of this reality)…the challenge is to find out what Scripture says, without wanting to find anything in particular. Unless you are willing to agree to that principle and apply it in our dialogue, we are unfortunately pretty much through here I think.

    “I have also been very straight forward with you. Go back and see where I have recommended reading his books and others.”

    I of course remember you recommending him earlier in the dialogue…that is not the point. The point is, you copied and pasted material from one of his works (from The God Who is There), one that I was unaware of, without properly citing it. This initially led me to believe they were your words, until I began to notice that the style of writing had noticeably changed. You were not straightforward with me, and it is strange to me that you would not accept responsibility for this, even though it is a relatively minor issue. It doesn’t give me much assurance that you would take appropriate responsibility in regards to weightier matters, particularly if you feel that your assurance in your own learning is being questioned. It’s good that you got his permission to use his writings, but it’s still not clear to me whether he understood that you would not be properly citing him.

    “When Paul talks about imitating him he is talking about all areas of life. “So,, whether you eat or drink, or WHATEVER YOU DO, do it all to the glory of God.” It is this immediate context statement that most informs, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.”

    Verse 31 is PART OF the immediate context of 11:1. The problem is once again that you have all but ignored the words “So, whether you eat or drink” so that you can emphasize instead the words “whatever you do”. Paul did not capitalize that phrase as you have done, because he is not emphasizing or elevating it above and beyond the overall context that starts in verse 23 and that is summarized by the phrase “whether you eat or drink”. If you continue to ignore the first phrase, as well as verse 33 which ties this all into the concept of making the gospel appealing to all men, then you will continue to give yourself false liberties to do whatever it is you feel like doing, which in this case appears to be devouring others.

  44. Dylan Caspari says:

    “look at Philippians chapter 3”

    I have read over that passage and here is my response. First some observations about the words he uses in the initial verses in regards to the Judiazers. He says to “watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh. It seems that he starts with a general term, and then qualifies his use of that term. The most logical reason they are dogs in Paul’s eyes is because they try to “mutilate the flesh”, which is precisely what undisciplined dogs do. Their intent and the impact of their teaching on the integrity of the Body is clear. That seems to be the clear meaning of his words here.
    Now onto verse 15. When Paul says “All of us who are mature should take such a view of things”, he refers to verses 10-14 where he describes the new goal that serves as his primary focus and confidence. For verse 17, we would need to be clear on what it is that he means by “the pattern we gave to you”. It seems that Paul continues on with the “race” metaphor in the use of “walk according to” or “walk as enemies”. This pattern or example is probably referring to walking as an ally of the cross, because verse 18 presents the counter-pattern/example of the judiazers…walking as an enemy of the cross. Though they may talk positively of the cross, they demand things that work against the mission of the cross, which was to usher in a new sign of covenant community (faith in Jesus Christ). In that case, his instructions to them are to watch out for the enemies of the cross by avoiding them, and to make note of those who are allies of the cross and walk as they do by pressing forward in the hope of Christ.

    Now, if all of the above is sound, then we as followers of Christ are at liberty (indeed obligated) to disassociate ourselves from “enemies of the cross” who are adding to the requirements of covenant membership those things which are passed, and are mindful only of earthly things. If you can somehow convince yourself that that is applicable to me, then by all means you should disassociate yourself from me. It is incredibly sad to me if that is the case, because it is my conviction that we both profess the very same gospel and are of the same Body with Christ himself as the head. It would be to me as though your faith and conscience are somehow weak in this area and are unable to fathom that specific theories about the nature of atonement might largely be in the realm of extra-biblical speculation and therefore not critically important to laying hold of and walking in the atonement that Christ has accomplished for us. This is not to say that we don’t need to understand the atonement…we absolutely need to understand it. But what did Paul say…“no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit”. For this is not just a passing, idle statement, but a conviction that overflows into good fruit and a pressing on into the fullness of faith, which is more about greater obedience to Christ than it is about memorizing a formula showing how atonement makes sense.

    As for my teachers/mentors, you have probably never heard of them, as I apparently don’t have access to the calibre of Godly men that you do. What I mean is, they are not of those who are prolific writers. Nothing personal against prolific writers…just it’s possible that the dramatic increase in the number of books being written since at least the 16th century has contributed to a huge decline in the experience of faith, such that it seems that we now predominantly attempt to pass on the faith through publishing deals. At the very least, these developments have had profound implications for the way we learn and determine “truth”. I certainly don’t consider myself a “lone ranger” as you put it, though there are times here and there where my particular circumstances might make the casual observer wonder whether I am consistently under accountability.

    Anyway, I’m very much interested in engaging with the Scriptures that highlight the atonement. I realize there is quite a bit that you have made reference to already, and I will attempt to comment on them if we can put the rest of what has been discussed on the backburner for the time being. Is that doable?

  45. Theodore A. Jones says:

    Substitutionary atonement, penal substitutionary atonement etc. requires murder to be committed first in order
    to put the concept into effect. The scriptures point out that all of the written code was disobeyed by murdering Jesus Christ. That fact Dylan is what you completely disparge.

  46. tim says:

    “So whether you eat or drink…” Is exactly my point when I emphasize “whatever you do.” The phase means “the mundane, everyday things of life.” From the littlest things to the most grand things (presenting the gospel to the world), do it all for the glory of God. “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.” Paul wants us to imitate him in all aspects of his life. Including when he rips peddlers of false gospels a new one. The Judaizers in Galatia, Philipi, and Corinth would be examples.

    As for your attempt to catch me in a question begging galaxy, I offer this consideration. First, I am not assuming PS in thext, I believe I have found it in the text via study. To me, when I read the Bible, I see it coming off the pages of both testaments. I also read guys like Morris, Piper, Carson, o’Brien, Moo, Blomberg, etc. and confirm that I’m on the right track. I am confident that the doctrine is scriptural and have offered many works from scholars to present my position. Since I cannot ever imagine being as smart as DA, I use his way of presenting the material to you to gigivyou the very best I can offer for the level I feel your at. Perhaps you should email him yourself with your concerns? And also explain to him why you don’t accept PS as a biblical doctrine. Perhaps he is smart enough (and can use his own words and ideas) to debate you? What do you think the chances are that you would bring to him something that he’s never heard or dealt with before? Try him.

    I have offered you material on PS to review and I understand you are working on a response to EX 12. I would suggest that you read each text examined in chapter 2 of Pierced before you respond to any one text in the chapter. They, together, build a string case from the whole bible.

    Let me know if you want Don’s personal email,


  47. tim says:

    And yet Mormons, JWs, Socinians, Gnostics, Judaizers, and other non-Christian people say “Jesus is Lord” all the time. I suspect Paul’s words in the early part of 2 Cor. 11 apply. There are lots of Jesuses (!) Running around the landscape today and lots of gospels. But there is only one of both, and PS lies at the heart of the true gospel. I committed cosmic treason against my maker and deserved death and exile from him forever in a terrible place, but God, who is rich in mercy saved me by offering his son in my place to die a death I should have died myself. I CANNOT thank my Father enough for that. I live because he saved me. I’m justified by Grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone.

    Carry one Dylan.

  48. Tim Kingston says:

    Genesis 3:14-19

    Three curses:

    Serpent: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head and you will strike his heal.”

    From the woman, which is another way of saying, from the human race, will ultimately come one person who will crush the serpents’ head. This predicts a utter defeat of Satan at the hands of a human. This, we know now, was accomplished by Jesus on the cross, where he destroyed Satan who held everyone under the oppression of sin, shame and guilt.” DA, “He [Jesus] will crush the serpent’s head by taking their guilt and shame on himself.”

    This promise of the defeat of Satan is extended to all believers in the NT [Rom. 16:20]. Carson, “There is a sense in which all Christians, by living under the gospel and being reconciled to God because of the gospel, are destroying the Devil and his work.”

    To the Woman:

    Carson: “The first categorical command that God gave the man and woman was ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it’ [Gen. 1:28]. But know, this side of the fall, even the most fundamental rights and privileges – part of their very being – now becomes a pain-filled thing. The whole created order is out of wack. Even introducing new life is bound up with loss.”

    Gen.3:16 is to be interpreted with Gen. 4:7. Gen. 4 records the first murder [seen as an immediate consequence of chapter 3’s rebellion] and explains that sin desires to have [control, manipulate, boss him around] Cain, but he must rule over it. So, with this meaning of the verbs in chapter 4, applied to Gen. 3:16, we can quickly see that God is informing the woman that the consequence of her action will destroy the marriage relationship. This rebellion will ruin all relationships.

    When you read on through the following chapters you plow your way through the first homicide to double murders, polygamy, genocide, rape – on and on – “all because at the beginning someone said, ‘I will be God.'” Carson.

    To Adam:

    “Because you listened to your wife…” Adam listened to his wife instead of God. And the result is that everything in creation is cursed because his allegiance went to his wife rather than God. he worshipped her instead of Him. Creation is therefore curse, because God subjected it to a curse [Romans 8}. Nothing is working properly and God is pissed. He could wipe them out if he wanted to, justly. But he doesn’t. God’s forbearance kicks in.

    Genesis, 3:20-24

    The Long-Term Effects that Flow from This Rebellion:


    “‘The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them’ [Gen. 3:21]. They had used fig leaves If God used garments of skin, THEN BLOOD HAS BEEN SHED – A SACRIFICIAL ANIMAL. At this stage of the bible’s storyline there is no system of sacrifice; that comes later – a priestly system with proscribed sacrifices and ritual. But God knows that they need to be covered. They have so much shame to hide. He does not say to them, ‘Take off those stupid fig leaves. If you just expose yourselves and be honest with one another, we can all get back together again and live happily ever after.’ There is no way back. He covers them with something more durable, BUT AT A PRICE OF AN ANIMAL THAT SHEADS IT BLOOD.

    This is the first sacrifice in the long trajectory of bloody sacrifices that reaches all the way down to the coming of Jesus. When he appears, he is declared to be ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’ [John 1:29]. By his bloody sacrifice – by his death – we are covered over. Our shame and our guilt are addressed because he dies in our place. A lamb cannot do that. Here in Genesis 3 the death of an animal to cover the man and the woman is a picture of what is to come, the first step in an entire institution of sacrifices that points us finally to the supreme sacrifice and what Jesus did to take away our sin and cover our shame.”

    Genesis 3 describes willful rebellion.

    Genesis 3 does not think of evil primarily in horizontal terms but in vertical terms. The primary guilt of rebellion against God is guilt before God. As Carson says, the person most offended by our sin is God [cf. Psalm 51]. It is this way because sin is lawlessness against God, which is idolatry, a subject that the bible has way more to save on than the horizontal effects of sin [which are still very real and terrible].

    Seen in this light, Genesis 3 shows what we most need. Our greatest need is to be reconciled to God – a God who now stands over and against us and pronounces death upon us because of our willfully chosen rebellion – then what we need the most is to be reconciled to him. We need someone to save us. The ultimate problem is our own alienation from God, our attempt to identify ourselves merely with references to ourselves, this idolatry the de-gods God; and what we must have is reconciliation back to this God, or we have nothing. It is in the light of this analysis that this chapter, Genesis 3, looks forward to the coming of the woman’s seed.” Carson

    Next: What Romans 1:18-3:31 has to say. This is, as Luther said, “The center of the whole bible.”


  49. Dylan Caspari says:

    “And yet Mormons, JWs, Socinians, Gnostics, Judaizers, and other non-Christian people say “Jesus is Lord” all the time.”

    I agree…and yet if you noticed, I clarified that the confession that “Jesus is Lord” is every bit as much demonstrated through behavior that is obedient to Christ. Clearly, their behavior is not in accordance with Christ, and that is the reason a mere verbal acknowledgement of Lordship is insufficient.

    “They had used fig leaves If God used garments of skin, THEN BLOOD HAS BEEN SHED – A SACRIFICIAL ANIMAL. At this stage of the bible’s storyline there is no system of sacrifice; that comes later – a priestly system with proscribed sacrifices and ritual. But God knows that they need to be covered.”

    To just outright claim that God made them skin coverings from animals that were sacrificed to atone for their sin is just ridiculous. The Hebrew passage is notoriously difficult to translate, and there is wide variety of interpretation, particularly from the Jewish scholars who are closest to that language. In any case, with there being no mention whatsoever of atonement or the inflicting of the punishment of death because of sin, there is simply no warrant for the conclusion being made (see also final paragraph below).

    “By his bloody sacrifice – by his death – we are covered over. Our shame and our guilt are addressed because he dies in our place.”

    The blood of Christ does not “cover over our shame/guilt”. His death is not a “covering” for us at all? Nowhere in the New Testament is Christ’s death said to be a covering over us. Our shame and guilt is NOT addressed if it is merely covered over. They can only be addressed if they are removed from us by his blood washing over us and cleansing us. Are you not forgetting what Romans 5:9 says: “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!” It is the sanctifying process effected through his cleansing blood that completely removes our impurity/unrighteousness so that we arrive at the “day of judgement” without blemish/guilt before God. And the sign in the present that we are His people and that we will not be condemned is obedience to Christ and the fruits of the Spirit.

    “As Carson says, the person most offended by our sin is God [cf. Psalm 51]”

    I already addressed this highly questionable use of Psalm 51 in an earlier response. You might want to look over it again and think about the points I raised.

    “Our greatest need is to be reconciled to God – a God who now stands over and against us and pronounces death upon us because of our willfully chosen rebellion – then what we need the most is to be reconciled to him.”

    God does not stand over and against us, for he sends his rain upon the righteous and the unrighteous. The unrighteous are unrighteous because they see God as their enemy when in fact He is the Friend of sinners. Christ reconciles us to God because through Christ we see God as our Father, because that is who He truly is, rather than as our enemy. All who see God as their enemy will hide from Him, even as He seeks in love after those who have wondered away. He does not pronounce death upon us, as though He is the one putting us to death…He is telling us what sin accomplishes in us, what we will experience if we make sin our master. From the very beginning, God has been guarding man from the consequences of their iniquities: Adam tried to be separate from God, but God drew near to him; Cain feared the consequences of his murderous act, but God placed a protective mark upon him; though Abram lied to Pharaoh because he feared for his life, God intervened to preserve Sarai for the promise of Isaac; what Jacob’s sons intended for evil, God made for their good by exalting Joseph in Egypt.

    To state as a matter of fact that “God was pissed” after Adam’s sin is all the evidence I need to conclude that you have made God in your own image. Not even in the bringing of the flood is God shown to be angry with man…in fact, he is actually filled with sorrow and grief at having seen man corrupt the earth with violence. Up to this point, God has not entered into covenant with any man or people, and thus there is an utter lack of emotion in his dealings with people…his emotions seem to be with respect to man’s affect on the rest of Creation. Anger is strangely absent from any of the events of Adam to Noah. The reason being is that Genesis is much more about the nature and condition of man than it is about what God is like. Your reading of divine anger into the Genesis story is nothing short of anachronistic. The very first mention of anger from God that I could find is from Exodus 4:14, after Moses basically begs God to send someone else to deliver Israel out of Egypt. The really interesting thing about that is that God was making known to Moses the reality of His heart for His people who were in bondage, and Moses was basically saying “Not interested!” It’s not difficult to see here a connection between God’s anger and threats to his redemptive purposes. The apostle Paul looks back even at Jacob and Esau, where he sees God “hating” Esau because he despised the promises of God connected with his birthright so that he could satisfy his hunger.

    Anyways, I really have little disagreement with the minutia of details regarding the fall of Adam and Eve that you have provided. It’s all very well thought out and insightful. The problem however that I see is that in your attempts to exhaust the possibilities of just how screwed up and “cosmic” their rebellion was, you are exalting it and seemingly/ironically making God out to be subservient to that rebellion, as though it all but dictates to Him how He must operate in light of it. But God will not be controlled by sin…He allowed sin to flourish in man for a time so that mankind might behold the fruit of sin which is death. In time, God began to teach people how to live through covenanting with them, and all of His work since then has been about teaching people the way of life (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and how to be set apart from sin. It just makes no sense in this context to conclude that man’s rebellion ultimately forces God to choose between destroying us or destroying Himself. It is really a false dichotomy, and one in which neither choice truly accomplishes the transformation/restoration of the soul that is promised and demonstrated in Scripture. It is this false dichotomy that sees the coverings that God fashioned for Adam and Eve to be the smoking gun of penal substitutionary theory, rather than simply a demonstration meant to teach man that God provides for us far better than we can provide for ourselves. I’m still working through Chapter 2 of Pierced, but meanwhile just wanted to respond to your latest post.

  50. Josh Mills says:

    I wonder if anyone’s compared this article to a previous TGC article: We Dare Not Defend Our Rights:
    Be keen to hear what people think. I’m taken by Kevin’s argument, but Collin seems to suggest the opposite.
    Perhaps though, Kevin is a suggesting a more corporate defense, for the church in general, before actual courts etc. rather than by individuals and personally. But then in courts, it’s still an individual doing the speaking. It’s one person talking with another, whether you’re acting personally or corporately.

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Kevin DeYoung

Kevin DeYoung is the senior pastor at Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina. He is chairman of the board of The Gospel Coalition, assistant professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte), and a PhD candidate at the University of Leicester. Kevin and his wife, Trisha, have seven children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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