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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Christ Forsaken by Joel Beeke

“Ay, ay, d’ye know what it was—dying on the cross,
forsaken by His Father — d’ye know what it was?…
It was damnation — and damnation taken lovingly.”
— John “Rabbi” Duncan (1796–1870)

“And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46, KJV).

It is noon, and Jesus has been on the cross for three pain-filled hours. Suddenly, darkness falls on Calvary and “over all the land” (v. 45). By a miraculous act of Almighty God, midday becomes midnight.

This supernatural darkness is a symbol of God’s judgment on sin. The physical darkness signals a deeper and more fearsome darkness.

The great High Priest enters Golgotha’s Holy of Holies without friends or enemies. The Son of God is alone on the cross for three final hours, enduring what defies our imagination. Experiencing the full brunt of His Father’s wrath, Jesus cannot stay silent. He cries out: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

This phrase represents the nadir, the lowest point, of Jesus’ sufferings. Here Jesus descends into the essence of hell, the most extreme suffering ever experienced. It is a time so compacted, so infinite, so horrendous as to be incomprehensible and, seemingly, unsustainable.

Jesus’ cry does not in any way diminish His deity. Jesus does not cease being God before, during, or after this. Jesus’ cry does not divide His human nature from His divine person or destroy the Trinity. Nor does it detach Him from the Holy Spirit. The Son lacks the comforts of the Spirit, but He does not lose the holiness of the Spirit. And finally, it does not cause Him to disavow His mission. Both the Father and Son knew from all eternity that Jesus would become the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world (Acts 15:18). It is unthinkable that the Son of God might question what is happening or be perplexed when His Father’s loving presence departs.

Jesus is expressing the agony of unanswered supplication (Ps. 22:1–2). Unanswered, Jesus feels forgotten of God. He is also expressing the agony of unbearable stress. It is the kind of “roaring” mentioned in Psalm 22: the roar of desperate agony without rebellion. It is the hellish cry uttered when the undiluted wrath of God overwhelms the soul. It is heart-piercing, heaven-piercing, and hell-piercing. Further, Jesus is expressing the agony of unmitigated sin. All the sins of the elect, and the hell that they deserve for eternity, are laid upon Him. And Jesus is expressing the agony of unassisted solitariness. In His hour of greatest need comes a pain unlike anything the Son has ever experienced: His Father’s abandonment. When Jesus most needs encouragement, no voice cries from heaven, “This is my beloved Son.” No angel is sent to strengthen Him; no “well done, thou good and faithful servant” resounds in His ears. The women who supported Him are silent. The disciples, cowardly and terrified, have fled. Feeling disowned by all, Jesus endures the way of suffering alone, deserted, and forsaken in utter darkness. Every detail of this horrific abandonment declares the heinous character of our sins!

But why would God bruise His own Son (Isa. 53:10)? The Father is not capricious, malicious, or being merely didactic. The real purpose is penal; it is the just punishment for the sin of Christ’s people. “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Cor. 5:21).

Christ was made sin for us, dear believers. Among all the mysteries of salvation, this little word “for” exceeds all. This small word illuminates our darkness and unites Jesus Christ with sinners. Christ was acting on behalf of His people as their representative and for their benefit.

With Jesus as our substitute, God’s wrath is satisfied and God can justify those who believe in Jesus (Rom. 3:26). Christ’s penal suffering, therefore, is vicarious — He suffered on our behalf. He did not simply share our forsakenness, but He saved us from it. He endured it for us, not with us. You are immune to condemnation (Rom. 8:1) and to God’s anathema (Gal. 3:13) because Christ bore it for you in that outer darkness. Golgotha secured our immunity, not mere sympathy.

This explains the hours of darkness and the roar of dereliction. God’s people experience just a taste of this when they are brought by the Holy Spirit before the Judge of heaven and earth, only to experience that they are not consumed for Christ’s sake. They come out of darkness, confessing, “Because Immanuel has descended into the lowest hell for us, God is with us in the darkness, under the darkness, through the darkness — and we are not consumed!”

How stupendous is the love of God! Indeed, our hearts so overflow with love that we respond, “We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

Friday, June 4, 2010

Sola Scriptura!

"The Church is to be judged by the Scriptures, not the Scriptures by the Church."  - John Wesley

What is “Sola Scriptura?”
Sola Scriptura is from the Latin: Sola having the idea of “alone,” “ground,” or “base;” and the word Scriptura meaning “Writings” – Referring to γραφὴ, meaning “Scripture.”

This is the teaching that Scripture is the Church's only infallible and sufficient rule for deciding issues of faith and practices that involve doctrines. This is not stating that the church is not important and that we cannot learn anything from other sources, but it is saying at the Scripture is the final authority and test all things and hold what is good. (1 Thessalonians 5.21). The Scriptures always speak in the name of God, and command faith and obedience. Christ and his apostles always refer to the written Scriptures, then existing, as authority, and to no other rule of faith whatsoever.--Luke 16:29; 10:26; John 5:39; Rom. 4:3;2 Tim. 3:15. The Bereans are commended for bringing all questions, even apostolic teaching, to this test.--Acts 17:11; see also Isa. 8:16. Also, Christ rebukes the Pharisees for adding to and perverting the Scriptures.--Matt. 15:7-9; Mark 7:5-8; see also Rev. 22:18, 19, and Deut. 4:2; 12:32; Josh. 1:7.

In 1.6 of the Westminster Confession explains Sola Scriptura as:

The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men. Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word: and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.1

            It is very important that you see the history behind Sola Scriptura and it will give you the understanding of how important this doctrine is, not only for the church to hold onto, but for every person who professes faith in Christ. This all started in the 16th Century Protestant Reformation. The main issue Martin Luther was arguing for was Sola Fide (Justification by faith alone), which we will get to soon, but what is often overlooked is Sola Scriptura that is equally important during this time period. Martin Luther had two debates with the leading Roman Catholic theologians of his day (Martin Ek and Cardinal Cajerton). As Ek and Cajerton debated the subject of justification, they pointed out that Luther's views differed significantly from the official position of the Church. For the Roman Catholic Church, both the former Church councils and the Papal declarations were binding upon all those in the Church. These men were able to demonstrate that Luther was in disagreement with both Church Councils and the Pope himself. Martin Luther was perceived by many as being the most arrogant and pompous individual imaginable. They could not understand how one man could do as Luther was doing.2

            Luther stood against the Pope and the Councils and in result of this, they considered him blasphemous. Luther admitted that indeed he stood against them. In his opinion, Church Councils could err as well the Pope himself. Of course, this was hugely disturbing and even considered blasphemous. Luther was quickly likened to the Bohemian John Hus, who had, around a hundred years earlier, made similar statements to Luther's, and was burnt at the stake as a heretic. Luther left the Diet of Worms, riding off into the night. On his way home he was kidnapped by his own people, transferred to the Wartburg Castle where he translated the Bible into German, the vernacular of the people. The Reformation sparked by Luther swept most of the countries of Europe.3

            Dr. James White has written a book called The Roman Catholic Controversy and in this book he has provided a very helpful list of what IS and IS NOT Sola Scriptura.


1. First and foremost, sola scriptura is not a claim that the Bible contains all knowledge. The Bible is not a scientific textbook, a manual on governmental procedures, or a catalog of automobile engine parts. The Bible does not claim to give us every bit of knowledge that we could ever obtain.

2. Sola scriptura is not a claim that the Bible is an exhaustive catalog of all religious knowledge. The Bible itself asserts that it is not exhaustive in detail (John 21:25). It is obvious that the Bible does not have to be exhaustive to be sufficient as our source of divine truth.

3. Sola scriptura is not a denial of the authority of the Church to teach God's truth.

4. Sola scriptura is not a denial that the Word of God has, at times, been spoken. Rather, it refers to the Scriptures as serving the Church as God's final and full revelation.

5. Sola scriptura does not entail the rejection of every kind or form of Church "tradition." There are some traditions that are God-honoring and useful in the Church. Sola scriptura simply means that any tradition, no matter how ancient or venerable it might seem to us, must be tested by a higher authority, and that authority is the Bible.

6. Sola scriptura is not a denial of the role of the Holy Spirit in guiding and enlightening the Church.


1. The doctrine of sola scriptura, simply stated, is that the Scriptures alone are sufficient to function as the regula fidei, the infallible rule of faith for the Church.

2. All that one must believe to be a Christian is found in Scripture, and in no other source. This is not to say that the necessary beliefs of the faith could not be summarized in a shorter form. However, there is no necessary belief, doctrine, or dogma absolutely required of a person for entrance into the kingdom of heaven that is not found in the pages of Scripture.

3. That which is not found in the Scripture  either directly or by necessary implication  is not binding upon the Christian.

4. Scripture reveals those things necessary for salvation (2 Tim. 3:14-17).

5. All traditions are subject to the higher authority of Scripture (Matt. 15:1-9). There can be no understanding of the sufficiency of Scripture apart from an understanding of the true origin and the resultant nature of Scripture. The Reformers had the highest view of the Bible, and therefore had a solid foundation on which to stand in defending the sufficiency of the Scriptures. 4

            This is so important that we hold to this doctrine because it is the foundation of our faith. This is also very important for sharing our faith. We are able to have full confidence in using Gods word because it does not come back void (Isaiah 55.11).  Therefore if we share the gospel faithfully, it is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1.16) A.A. Hodge says it well concerning the infallible rule of faith and practice, “Whatever God teaches or commands is of sovereign authority. Whatever conveys to us an infallible knowledge of his teachings and commands is an infallible rule. The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the only organs through which, during the present dispensation, God conveys to us a knowledge of his will about what we are to believe concerning himself, and what duties he requires of us.”5

            Praise God that he has given us his word and opens our eyes to the way, truth, and light. We can have faith and full assurance in the Word of God in what it says and teachings. What a blessing it is.

1 “Westminster Confession of Faith,” n.d.,
3 Ibid.
4 James R. White, Roman Catholic Controversy, The (Bethany House, 1996).
5 A. A. Hodge, Outlines of Theology (Banner of Truth, 1972), Chapter 5.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The 5 Solas!

As I am starting off, I have decided to to do a series and it is going to be on the 5 Solas. It has been something that has been on my mind for a long time and i have decided to do this study and share what I come up with with all of you guys. May the Lord bless this research and I pray that you all may benefit from this!