What Does 2 Peter 3:9 Teach?

There are many in the Christian community who believe that God wants to save all men, based in part on 2 Peter 3:9 (KJV): The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. It seems clear to many that this verse teaches exactly that – God wants all men to come to faith in Christ Jesus. Since it is just as clear that not all men do come to faith in Christ Jesus, something else is needed. Enter Charles Finney and his “new methods” and other things within our control. Is this what honors our Creator and King?  bibleTeaching

This short article is not a comprehensive examination of any “new methods” nor of the overall nature of the atonement – Is it intended for all men or only for those chosen by God to be saved? I simply want to examine the question, What does 2 Peter 3:9 teach? As with all such questions, we run to the first rule of hermeneutics – context! What does the paragraph teach, what does the chapter and book teach? What does the whole Bible teach about the topic?

The first contextual element gives clear evidence of the intended meaning of verse 9. Let’s read the paragraph in which this verse appears. It is widely agreed that a new paragraph starts with verse 8, although where the paragraph ends appears to be another matter. The ESV is shown below.

2 Peter 3:8 – 10 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

Peter opens this paragraph addressing his audience: the beloved, his brothers and sisters in Christ. Whatever comes directly after this is intended for Christians, not for the world. The main idea presented in this paragraph is that our Lord is not tied to calendars and time, that His promise to the elect is a sure thing that will come to pass, culminating in a dramatic event that cannot be missed.

Verse 9 begins with a clear indication of the subject of the Lord’s desire: YHWH is patient toward you (ESV), or longsuffering to us-ward (KJV). God is patient towards the beloved, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. Not wishing that any of what group should perish? If we take verse 9b out of its context, we are free to imagine that Creator God wants to save everybody. As I observed in the opening, that brings in all sorts of questions and has serious consequences on our theology of salvation.  But if we allow the Word of God to guide us, the immediate context tells about whom verse 9 speaks. YHWH is addressing His beloved, and towards them He is patient, not willing that any of His redeemed lose heart but trust Him to bring to completion that which He started, as YHWH Himself builds His temple (1 Cor 3:9 & 16; 6:19; 2 Cor 6:16) with the spiritual stones (Eph 2:19 – 22; 1 Peter 2:4 & 5) He has chosen. To claim verse 9 shows that YHWH desires all men to be saved actually works violence on the Scriptures, leading one to conclude the Creator and Sustainer and Judge of all things is unable to bring His desires to pass – contrary to what is declared about Him in Psalms 115:3 and 135:6.

When our interpretation of Scripture puts limits on God (beyond what the Bible describes, in that He cannot lie nor can He stop being YHWH), we know our interpretation is wrong. Every instance I know of wherein men do such a thing has been founded on a view of man that is too high and a view of God that is too low. Rather than attempt to bring God down to our understanding, we should bow before Him as revealed in Scripture and worship Him in humility.

Before we take a look at the greater context within this letter, it will be helpful to review the overall structure of this letter. Chapter 1 has a short greeting with an emphatic description of the believer’s positon and security in Christ Jesus, and an exhortation regarding the truth of the gospel. Chapter 2 is a warning about false teachers, their characteristics and their doom. Chapter 3 turns again to the believers to provide comfort in the promises of God, His power over all creation, and the beautiful culmination of His grand plan of redemption of sinners, with words of instruction to continue to learn about our Lord until He returns.

Now let’s see if there be any reason to overturn the clear meaning of our subject paragraph. Chapter 3 begins in much the same way as verse 8, as Peter addresses the audience of his letter as “beloved”, contrasting these dear brothers and sisters with scoffers and false prophets who question whether Christ will return. And in passage that ends this chapter, and the letter, Creator God addresses His people as “beloved” in verse 14 and 17, connecting them with this characterization with the Apostle Paul in verse 15.

The letter begins with a greeting to the saints, who are the beloved: Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. Every sentence in this chapter is addressed to these saints, and we see the first use of the word “beloved” in verse 17 as it is used to describe God the Father’s view of His Son. There can be no argument that being called “beloved” in this letter is anything less than a glorious reference to our status as children of the most high God.

Since chapter 2 addresses believers indirectly, as Peter describes the enemies of God, we have nothing to add to our review of the topic in this chapter.

2 Peter begins and ends calling Christians “beloved”, as a reflection of our standing in Christ, and in verse 3:9 it is these people about whom Peter says God is patient towards and not willing that any of them would perish. This is not a half-baked promise to lost people that they can ask Jesus into their hearts and be saved. It is a glorious promise to Christians that those chosen before time (Eph 1:4; Rev 13:8) will be raised from spiritual death to new life in Christ Jesus before that terrible day of judgment. When He returns, one time, it will be bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him (Heb 9:28), those who have been called (John 6:36 – 44). Verse 9 is a promise from God that God will keep His promise to save every sinner He chose – none will perish, but all will come to faith and repentance. Let the saints praise His name!

Comparing Adam and Israel

Scripture records Christ as “the last Adam” in 1 Cor 15:45. Were there others who stood in as an “Adam” in the course of redemptive history? I think the Bible shows this to be the case, with Noah, Abraham, David, and the nation of Israel (summed up in Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) being the “interim Adams” before the last One appeared.

This chart shows my view on how Israel fulfilled this role.

Comparing Adam and Israel

Formed by God from the dust of the earth.

(Gen 2:7; 1 Cor 15:47)

Formed by God from the dust of the people of the world. (Gen 11:10 – 11:3; Deut 7:7)
Was brought to life by the word and breath of God. (Gen 1:26 & 27; 2:7) Was brought into being by the word of God. (Gen 12:2 & 3; 15:1; Ex 3)
Had close fellowship with God. (Gen 2:15ff; 3:8a) Had close fellowship with God. (Gen 15; Ex 15; 2 Kings 23:1 – 27)
Was given a covenant within which to live and prosper. (Gen 2:16 & 17; Hosea 6:7) Was given a covenant within which to live and prosper. (Gen 17:14; Ex 19:3 – 6; 24:3 – 8; Neh 9 & 10)
Broke the covenant and received the penalty of death, which was carried out in due time. (Gen 3:6 & 7; 22 – 24; 5:5) Broke the covenant and received the penalty of death, which was carried out in the fullness of time. (Deut 31:16 – 18; Judges 2:11 – 15; Jer 11:10 – 13; 1 Kings 11:9 – 11; Ezek 44:1 – 7; Hosea 6:7)
Was cast out of the garden, cursed to walk and work in the world which was wrecked by The Fall. (Gen 3:23 & 24; 3:17 – 19) Was divorced by God, left desolate, cursed to walk and work in darkness until the light of Christ. (Jer 3:6 – 10; Matt 15:12 – 14; 23:37 & 38; 2 Cor 3:12 – 17)
As a type of Christ, Adam points us to the anti-type, Christ Jesus, in whom there is life for Adam’s children who are secure in the Last Adam. (1 Cor 15:45) As an echo of Adam, Israel points us to the anti-type, Christ Jesus, in whom there is life for Abraham’s children of promise. (Gal 4:21 – 31)

What Does John 3:16 Teach?

The following is part of the book I am writing, from a section on the gospel which is a necessary element of a biblical church. th

There are truths in God’s Word that rub our flesh the wrong way; predestination is one of them. I refer the reader to Appendix 5 for a biblical defense of this doctrine. We must embrace the truth of Scripture, even if it goes against what we’ve learned from me. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12) God’s Word is sharp and, as wielded by the Holy Spirit, cuts like a scalpel, bringing healing to our broken souls. False teaching is seen as less threatening, like a butter knife. And it works the same way – tearing the flesh as it pierces, bringing destruction rather than healing. Good counsel presents the truth of Scripture; this is biblical love – even though our beloved traditions may have to be abandoned.

Many who disbelieve predestination run to John 3:16, as if this verse disproves it. Let us briefly examine this verse to see what its message truly is. Here’s the verse, from the King James: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. That settles it for many, who do not stop to see if the words may have had a different meaning when written 500 years ago than they do today; including Baptist preachers who ought to know better. But contrary to a popular hermeneutic which declares, “when the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense”, the plain sense of Scripture often contradicts the true meaning of Scripture and our common sense often makes no heavenly sense. The genre of the text we are reading will indicate how we are to read it – poetry and apocalyptic books cannot be taken literally, and even historical narratives are full of word pictures that must be interpreted rightly to get God’s view of His Scriptures. The Jews of the first century had common sense and they took certain prophecies in the plain sense. This caused them to look for a king like David – a man of war – and miss the true meaning of their own Scripture.

In regards to John 3:16, let’s examine a couple of key words upon which the meaning of this verse hang. In English, the word “so” can be either an adverb or an adjective. We see it in verse 14: And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up (KJV). Here, the word “so” is an adverb, meaning “in like manner” or “in the same way” – describing the nature of something. Many people think the word “so” is an adjective in verse 16 – describing the degree of the thing that follows: God loves the world SO much. The problem with this view is that the Greek word translated as “so” in English (houtos – Strong’s #3779) is rarely used as an adjective. Strong’s Greek and Hebrew dictionary defines it only as an adverb. Houtos shows up more than 200 places in the Greek New Testament. In only four occurrences it is definitely an adjective: Galatians 1:6; 3:3; Hebrews 12:21 (houto); and Revelation 16:18. In more than 97% of the uses the word houtos is an adverb. (http://www.brenthobbs.com/index_files/john_3_16.php accessed 25 May 2015) Now looking back John’s gospel, let’s read a little more for context:

John 3:14-16 (KJV) And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Is there a compelling argument that John’s use of houtos changes from the common adverb in verse 14 to the extremely rare adjective in verse16? If its use in verse 16 is as an adjective, the Bible tells us God loved the world to a great degree that He sent Christ to die for the same world He said we are not to love (1 John 2:15). Since Jesus said Scripture cannot be broken (John 10:35) we must interpret Scripture with Scripture and lean not on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5), even if the plain sense makes common sense to us. Our common sense is our understanding, not God’s. I don’t have space here to examine “the world” and how it’s used; but since not everybody at all times in every nation, tribe, and tongue has been forgiven, it’s reasonable and in keeping with Christ’s high priestly prayer in John 17 that Jesus did not come to save the whole world in the comprehensive sense some assert. As noted in Ephesians 5:25, Jesus gave His life for the church, not everybody in the world. And since “the world” often means a region (Luke 2:1; John 12:19), or the system which lies under Satan’s rule (John 15:19; 17:13; 1 Corinthians 2:12), we have no reason to assume this term means everyone everywhere as regards salvation, as the Lamb of God died for the redeemed, not the damned.

The argument is not whether or not the death of Christ is sufficient to save everyone – His death is more than sufficient for the entire human race. The question is, did Christ die for all men – is the atonement universal? One English Bible translates this phrase, “in tasting death He should stand for us all” – those for whom Christ stands are the redeemed. The word, man, is not in the Greek text, meaning the original phrase would be “should taste death for the whole” – the whole body, the church for whom Christ gave Himself (Ephesians 5:25); Jesus died for every son God brings to glory. God the Father chooses only some to be saved – election is not universal. God the Spirit regenerates only some to bring them to new life, He only seals those who are born again – the Spirit’s work in saving and sealing is not universal. For Christ’s death to be universal, it would mean that some of His blood, some of His trials and suffering under the wrath of God the Father, was for those who are spending eternity under God’s wrath. Any blood or work done by Christ on their account would be wasted! And if the death of Christ was universal, it would put Him at odds with the Father and the Spirit, because their work in salvation is particular, not universal.

Let’s read the passage from John 3 in the Holman Christian Standard Bible:

Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life. “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

This is more in line with the common use of the Greek and keeps consistency within the passage and with the whole teaching of the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus.

Marriage – what’s the Big Deal?


There’s something more basic than homosexual activism and the resulting ruling by black-robed oligarchy declaring marriage a basic right that must include two (will it soon be three or more?) men or women.  States must offer and recognize marriage licenses for these couples. This is interesting because there are myriad licenses issued by the states that are not honored automatically by other states (concealed handguns, medical, law, plumbing, hair dressing) and there is no out-cry that basic human rights are being violated or that the national government has an obligation to “level the playing field.”

Search the U.S. Constitution and copy down every phrase that touches on marriage. …




I’ve printed them above for handy reference: there aren’t any!

How the national government determined it has a role in marriage (beyond tax policy) is another mystery. Post-modernism runs rampant in the court system, leading me to call the chief justice Humpty Dumpty – who told Alice words had whatever meaning he wanted them have whenever he used them. We are no longer a country ruled by law – we are ruled over by an oligarchy of folks in black robes who think they know better than anyone else what truth is, while denying the very truth found in the charter document of this country. They are to interpret laws and lower court cases, not make law up or imagine what the legislature meant nor be the country’s “Dr. Phil.”

Now we who know and belong to the Creator see the battle lines. The system of this world is at war with the creator of this world. Because they cannot see the One Who created this world, or them, they conclude He is imaginary. The Bible says people like this have become futile in the understanding (Rom 1:21 & Eph 4:18).

The Word of God tells He created marriage – giving Moses the reason and composition for this relationship that was announced to the creature before the Fall (Gen 2:24). Jesus confirmed this as YHWH’s plan in Matt 19, adding “So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Notice this – “what God has joined together”; marriage is a covenant (Mal 2:14) that God created and that He calls each couple into when He joins them together. This is made clear even when man doesn’t consider a relationship marriage, as Paul teaches (1Cor 6:16) that that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her. For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.”

We can observe two things regarding the recent Supreme Court ruling: when two or three men get a marriage license, they are not married. The creator of marriage defined it as between a man and a woman. Man is by nature a liar and when the one known as Obama celebrates this ruling and when the oligarchy declares marriage to be a right for anyone and all combinations of people they are all defying God and heaping up judgment on themselves. Those who claim Christ yet join with the reprobates celebrating this latest abominable ruling are revealing themselves as enemies of Christ, not brothers and sister of Him.

Marriage is the only place given where sex can be enjoying as a gift from God – Hebrews 13:4 (KJV) Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. YHWH declares He will judge adulterers and sexually immoral (the phrase used in other translation where the KJV has whoremongers). Man is a fool in thinking he can contrive myriad relationships that will be fun (for a season), for he soon thinks something is not right for he tries to get society to approve of his sin (Rom 1:18, 32; 1 Pet 4:1 – 5). Judgment for violating the marriage covenant called for death in the Old Covenant (Gen 38:24; Leviticus 20:10-16) and calls for excommunicating a church member (1 Corinthians 5:1, 9 – 11). Paul teaches us “The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.” (1 Corinthians 6:13) and tells Christians to “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.  On account of these the wrath of God is coming.” (Galatians 5:19-21) He also tells us (1 Thess 4:3) that it is God’s will that Christians abstain from sexual immorality.

Another aspect of marriage that makes it unacceptable for man to redefine: YHWH uses it as a metaphor to describe the relationship between the church and Jesus (Eph 5:31, 32). This is why the attempted deconstruction of marriage by our political leaders is so seriously evil. Judgment is coming for those who celebrate such wickedness – Rev 2:14, 20; 14:8; 19:1 & 2. Read those passages and see how those evil persons will end.

God has given us marriage as the only release for our sexual desires: (1Cor 7:2) — But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. There is no provision for a man to have a man or woman to have a woman – those desires are sinful and God will not honor them.

And man, as much as he tries to cover it up and talk louder about how sin is not sin, will not escape God’s judgment.

Romans 1:18-25 (ESV) For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

Romans 1:26-32 (ESV) For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

May God have mercy! Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus.

The Danger of Presuppositions

The Danger of Presuppositions

The Sabbath before the command, a sermon by Voddie Baucham

reviewed and analyzed by Stuart Brogden

This review is not intended to malign or condemn my dear brother and friend, Voddie thBaucham; it is to expose the errors one can be led to if presuppositions are left unexamined, if documents other than Scripture are held too tightly. This sermon sums up much of what caused me to withdraw from Grace family Baptist Church; it violates many of the basic rules of hermeneutics that Voddie taught me, apparently having his view distorted by his “confessionally colored glasses” as Bob Gonzales put it.

To the sermon, which can be listened to here: http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=410151353280

Early in this sermon, Voddie asserts “Israel mirrors New Covenant people.” This is fundamental to the message of this sermon, but is it true? A mirror is intended to give an accurate image of the object, as when Scripture says Jesus Christ is the visible image of the invisible God (Col 1:15) and He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature (Heb 1:3). Israel, however, is NOT a mirror image of the church which was purchased by the blood of Christ Jesus. Israel was a type, a shadow – providing a useful but imperfect image of the antitype, the church (Hebrews 8:1 – 6). They were a mixed seed of mostly unregenerate people. While the local church will have wheat and chaff growing side-by-side until the reaping (Matt 34:31; Rev 14:15), the universal church is pure and undefiled in any way (Eph 5:27). This cannot be said about Israel; it is NOT a mirror of God’s redeemed people. But it’s important for Voddie’s entire message that we agree that we are Israel (as he points out later), because the Scriptures tell us that the covenant was made with Israel and the words written on the stone tablets testify of that covenant (Ex 34:27 & 28). Moses emphasizes (Deut 5:2 & 3) this covenant was made with national Israel, not the patriarchs. And not – by implication – with Adam or the redeemed. As we will see, if Israel is not a mirror of the church, this message fails.

Still early in the sermon we are told, “Understanding the Sabbath is one of the most important junctures in our theology.” I agree with him on this. It will be apparent, however, I do not agree with his understanding of the Sabbath. Then he says, “Is it 8 of 10 or 9 of 10 who deny a Sabbath commandment?” It’s clear he simply made up this number, apparently to demonstrate the pitiable condition of the apathetic saints who disagree with him. Before getting into the substance of his argument, I am compelled to point out a subtle but glaring aspect of his repeated description of non-Sabbatarian Christians as those who deny or do not believe in a Sabbath command. Speaking for myself, I do not deny that the Bible has a Sabbath command. I believe in the Sabbath command. I simply look to the Scripture to inform me as to the subjects of this – and other commands. I deny that the Sabbath Command is binding for people in the New Covenant. I openly agree that it IS binding on those in the Mosaic Covenant, but not all men universally. By phrasing it as if we deny that the Bible commands some people to keep the Sabbath, Voddie implies though we cut objectionable parts from our Bibles. It is more likely, as we will see, that sabbatarians add parts to the Bible – reminding me of an author who describes dispensationalists as people of the invisible Scripture. Voddie taught me to tackle the best argument of those I disagreed with, as any victory over a weak argument would be meaningless. He appears to have forgotten this counsel, as this sermon engages only weak (or made up) positions.

One of the main tenents of his argument is that the Decalogue, as a unit, is equal to God’s moral law. This is not explained or defended from Scripture. As his beloved Second London Baptist Confession states in chapter 19, paragraph 3 (referring to the tablets of stone mentioned in paragraph 2), “Besides this law, commonly called moral …” and not one single verse is referenced. As one author I recently ran across observed, when theologians don’t have a biblical defense for something they assert, they use phrases such as “commonly called”. This is an appeal to a false authority – a logical fallacy. This is another aspect of preaching Voddie taught me – do not fall into the use of logical fallacies to make your point. Doing so lessens the authority of the message.

Therefore, he concludes, as a moral law, the Sabbath is binding on all people. From this position, He mocks 7th day Sabbatarians, whom he describes as 1 of the 10 who don’t get “truth” as he defines it. Another 10 percent hold to the idea of a “Christian Sabbath”; the remaining 8 of 10, a huge majority of Christians, deny the “Christian Sabbath” and are unable to explain why. Voddie is well aware of scholarly works by credible Christians who provide solid biblical defense for why the Sabbath is for Israel and not the Christian. D.A. Carson’s From Sabbath to Lord’s Day and Terrence O’Hare’s The Sabbath Complete are two such books that I know he is aware of. Is it sophistry to assert that, in general, all those Christians who deny the “Christian Sabbath” cannot explain why they hold that position. I betcha 9 of 10, or maybe 10 of 10 people who believe the Decalogue equals God’s moral law cannot explain it from Scripture. This is because Scripture does not define “moral law” nor does it equate that concept to the Decalogue. That correlation is simply not found there. That’s why the Westminster and Second London Baptist Confessions say the Law given Moses is “commonly called” the moral law. This is a concept originally put down on paper by Thomas Aquinas, the same one who developed the triad view of the Mosaic Law.

Baucham makes the interesting observation that since the Sabbath command was introduced in Exodus 16, chronologically before the law was given to Moses, and because it is allegedly rooted and grounded in a creation ordinance, it transcends the Decalogue. This is a double assertion based on his confessional presuppositions, not found in Scripture. When YHWH instructs the infant Hebrew nation about the Sabbath, using manna as the object, it is clear they were not familiar with the Sabbath, it was something new to them. This is the first record of the Sabbath in Scripture. It is another argument from silence to claim the Sabbath was known, kept and enforced from creation. The mention of the 7th day in the Decalogue does not establish a creation ordinance; it is given by God as an example for Israel to help them understand His command to rest from their work. John Calvin, John Gill, and John Bunyan each held a high view of the Lord’s Day, but dismissed and argued against the idea of a Sabbath creation ordinance. Circumcision was part of the Mosaic Covenant given before the Decalogue – does it also transcend the Decalogue and bind all people?

Voddie asserts that the 7th day of creation sets the pattern for work and worship. He later calls this God’s rhythm for life. I completely agree that YHWH was demonstrating for us our need for rest from work in sanctifying the 7th day of creation to Himself, as a minimum. Since all creation and the gift of work were soon to be cursed by the Fall, I also see the 7th day rest pointing to the One Who will do away with the ravages of sin and provide true and eternal rest for weary souls. Scripture tells us that God gave the Sabbath to the Hebrew people through Moses:

You came down on Mount Sinai, and spoke to them from heaven. You gave them impartial ordinances, reliable instructions, and good statutes and commands.  You revealed Your holy Sabbath to them, and gave them commands, statutes, and instruction through Your servant Moses.  You provided bread from heaven for their hunger; You brought them water from the rock for their thirst. You told them to go in and possess the land You had sworn to give them. Nehemiah 9:13-15 (HCSB)

YHWH gave the Sabbath to Israel as part of the ordinances, instructions, statutes, and commands, through His servant Moses. When Nehemiah continues on to describe YHWH’s kind provision in the desert, giving the Sabbath command to them is not listed. But taking the command in Exodus 16 into account, we can be sure YHWH taught and revealed His Sabbath to Israel at that time – but it was not given as the sign of the Mosaic Covenant until Sinai. There was a Sabbath before the commandment. It began as a teaching of the concept to the Hebrew people, not as a continuation of something they knew for generations since Adam taught Seth. In Exodus 16, when Israel is rebuked for trying to gather manna on the Sabbath, God tells them the Sabbath is to be kept by the families staying in their homes. There is no corporate worship, nothing standing as a type for the “Christian Sabbath”.

Voddie tells us, “Whenever you see Israel messin’ up – stop and insert yourself. That is you and me before we came to God. Forget generalities – this is you and me.” Again, the notion that Israel is a mirror of New Covenant saints shows up and seems innocuous. Voddie also taught me to be careful about inserting self into a Scripture passage, often using Jeremiah 29:11 to teach this. It appears he forgot this lesson. While all Scripture, including Exodus 16, is for our edification (1 Cor 10:6; Rom 15:4), not all Scripture can be applied directly to us. Israel is typological of all sinners, but that is NOT the same as saying you and I are Israel in this passage. Being less than careful in this matter can lead to serious errors – as when people drink poison and handle snakes by inserting themselves into Mark 16:17 & 18.

He quotes Ian Campbell from Why Easter makes me a Sabbatarian. This is an interesting article, easily found on the Internet, providing a defense of the Westminster Confession’s view of the “Christian Sabbath”. Despite Campbell’s assertion to the contrary, the pre-command for Sabbath-keeping in Exodus 16 is given only to Israel, not all people; same as the Decalogue. Nothing in the context of either scene comes remotely close to including Gentiles. Voddie admits the Decalogue summarizes the Mosaic Covenant, yet declares “the Sabbath was not just for Israel.” His continued conflating God’s moral law with the Decalogue leads him to impose the Decalogue universally. “If the Decalogue is a communication of God’s righteousness, then everyone is responsible for upholding it.” If by upholding it Voddie means we are bound by it (as the 1689 says), then he will run into myriad problems throughout the Bible as God’s righteousness is revealed and communicated in ways that even Christian Sabbatarians would not claim. The crime and punishment of Achan in Judges 7 comes to mind.

If everyone is required by God to keep His Sabbath, why is the only record of the Decalogue we have contained in the monologues by Moses, communicating this law (the summary of the Mosaic Covenant) to that people? If it was commonly practiced from creation, why is there no Biblical record of anyone other than Israelites being instructed about the Sabbath or punished for violating it? There is plenty of punishment meted out on people for murder, theft, idolatry, etc., before the Decalogue is published, giving warrant to the notion that there is a moral law at work in all humanity. Yet nowhere in Scripture is the Sabbath held up in this light; it is a sign of the covenant between God and Israel. The tripartite view of Mosaic Law is difficult to demonstrate, as when we try to separate moral law from ceremonial in Leviticus we see they are interwoven everywhere one looks. Principals of moral law and ceremonial and civil law are there to learn from; but they are not neatly defined and set aside (sanctified) as separate records.

Voddie claims Sabbatarians are the only people who see all men responsible before God for keeping His law. Others say man must voluntarily enter into covenant with God to be held accountable. This is another logical fallacy – the Excluded Middle: assuming there are only two alternatives when in fact there are more. Are Sabbatarians the only ones who embrace God’s sovereignty and monergistic work of justification, and the Christian’s responsibility to pursue godliness? Reading from Luke 6, wherein Jesus makes the claim He is the Lord of the Sabbath, Voddie asks, “would Jesus claim to be Lord of something that was abolished?” What if the Sabbath is by design a type of the rest we find in Christ as He redeems us? We are told to rest in the Lord (Psalm 37:7) and are invited by the Lord Jesus to find rest in Him (Matthew 11:28 – 29). If He gives us spiritual rest when we come to Him in faith (which He graciously gives His elect), is He not, in this way, continuing as Lord of the Sabbath? No one enters into His rest unbidden by Him – He is Lord of the Sabbath! Jesus does not promise the pale imitation of the rest provided for by temporal respite; He gives the eternal rest that can be found nowhere else. Baucham then runs to Hebrews 4:9 to claim THAT as a Sabbath – the weekly “Christian Sabbath.” For each of the types spoken of in Hebrews 3 & 4, the Spirit recounts how the infant nation of Israel failed to enter His rest in Canaan because of unbelief (Heb 3:7 – 19), how we who do believe enter that rest (not in Canaan, but in Christ; Heb 4:3), and He speaks, again, how Creator God rested from that work on the seventh day (Greek word hebdomos, #G1442; Heb 4:4), and how the (spiritual) rest promised to those who believe is different than the (temporal) rest Joshua promised (Heb 4:8). Therefore, a Sabbath rest remains for God’s people.  For the person who has entered His rest has rested from his own works, just as God did from His. (Hebrews 4:9-10 (HCSB)) This rest, sabbatismos (Greek word G4520) is used nowhere else; it is found only in verse 9. If it were to be a weekly Sabbath, we would expect to see sabbaton (Greek word G4521) which is used 68 times in the New Testament, overwhelmingly to describe the Jewish Sabbath. If the temporal rest Joshua sought was singular occurrence and the rest from creation was a singular occurrence, why would the rest believers gain when we are adopted by God be a weekly event, rather than a singular, ongoing rest in the finished redemptive work of Christ Jesus? The Jewish Sabbath was a pale ceremonial rest from work to demonstrate their trust in YHWH, not an instruction to develop corporate worship. As a command to rest from that work which provided food for themselves and their families, the Jewish Sabbath serves a wonderful type for Christians – to rest from that work which seems to earn God’s favor and find true rest in the finished work of Jesus, the antitype; not a weekly spiritual respite.

Where does the Sabbath command include worship? This question is never asked nor answered in this sermon. One might think it central to the idea that the command to rest from work had been changed not only in the day in which it is to be observed, but as to its practice. We are to assume worship is commanded; Voddie does, and then strains to accommodate the change in day: “The commandment is 1 day in 7, not the 7th day.” This is simply not true. If it were true, each tribe of Israel could have established their own day of the week to honor the Sabbath given by God as a sign of the covenant. We know they did not do so. The commandment is “the 7th day”; the example from creation is “the 7th day.” Exodus 20:9-10 (HCSB) You are to labor six days and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. You must not do any work—you, your son or daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the foreigner who is within your gates. From Strong’s Hebrew dictionary: Number 7637, shebîʿâ, is found 98 times in the KJV and means “seventh” 96 times, “seventh time” once, and “seven” once. Since this word is used myriad times to describe the Jewish Sabbath (there being no other kind in Scripture), how could it mean any day in a given week? Our English translations (NIV, NASB, ESV, HCSB, KJV, and many others) all say “the seventh day.” I didn’t find a commentary written by men in either camp who interpret this word as “one day in seven;” they universally interpret it “the seventh day.” And as with creation, the day after the sixth day is specified as the day of rest, not worship. But Voddie says “8 out 10 Christians do not believe that there is a Sabbath command … this means that going to church is optional.”

In truth, we see clearly a Sabbath command; we don’t see it given to anyone other than national Israel and we don’t see it commanding worship. There’s a HUGE difference! Voddie continues to portray only two extremes – you believe in the “Christian Sabbath” or you believe worshiping God with His people is not important. This is another example of the Excluded Middle fallacy. There are many Christians who understand the Sabbath command to be a sign of the Mosaic Covenant and yet eagerly and willingly participate in regular corporate worship with the saints. People indwelt by the Spirit of God will increasingly desire to please Him and will not degrade into the slouches Voddie posits as the end of all who neglect his idea of Sabbath keeping. Being burdened by a law from the Mosaic Covenant will not transform them. The Jerusalem Council (Acts 15) was emphatic on this point:

some of the believers from the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to command them to keep the law of Moses!” (verse 5) … Now then, why are you testing God by putting a yoke on the disciples’ necks that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear? (verse 10)

In this comparison between the Christian Sabbatarian position and those who do not agree with it, Voddie lumps all non-sabbatarians in with Ed Young’s horrible Easter Sunday extravaganza. “This command, which has been place since the creation of the world…” Again, there is no record of any Sabbath command or Sabbath keeping until Israel was instructed in Exodus 16. Law against murder is clearly in view, for example – yet NOTHING about Sabbath until the Exodus. There is no command or instruction to move the Sabbath to the 8th day. Christian gatherings on the 8th day (prayer, praise, preaching, and fellowship of the saints) have no connection to the commandment – which was to stay in your house and rest from your work. The false contrasts continues.  He states that only Sabbatarians give the Lord every Sunday, and everyone else only Easter. Voddie heavily expounds, “the timeless command observed by us on this day speaks volumes.” And “As God’s people, this is what God commands of us” – to gather twice as much manna on Friday so we won’t gather on the Sabbath. “But if you believe there is an obligation for God to be worshiped on this day, ‘but you do whatever to rid yourself of the guilt of playing sports on Sunday’ … is the day His or is it not?” “That’s the question – is the day His or is it not? We cannot embrace the blessing of the Sabbath without embracing the fact that it is a command.” He implies the “Christian Sabbath” is the only means by which saints can gather and participate in the ordinary means of grace our Lord has given us.

A long quote from B.B. Warfield’s sermon on the “Christian Sabbath”, pressing the command and obligation of the Sabbath, with no exegesis to show how this command is binding on Christians as is claimed. Voddie touts the notion that we must be commanded to worship each week because the world does not see its need to worship God – sounding just like Walter Chantry’s pragmatic plea to keep the Sabbath as a means of redeeming the culture (Call the Sabbath a Delight). Paraphrase: ‘Only if you get the “Christian Sabbath” as a command do you get the blessing God intends for you in this day.’ How ‘bout this, as an alternative: Jesus kept the law of Moses and the prophets, not just the Decalogue. He earned the right to be our lamb who takes away sin. We find the blessing of our rest in Him and His finished work.

He laments, ‘Failure to attend church regularly will cause your soul to shrivel. Failure to give God this day is to your great harm and detriment.’ Again – Christians want to gather and worship our Lord; the command does not command worship.

‘What does the Sabbath teaching in Exodus 16 tell us about Israel and us? First, it was commanded and very specific. Gather twice the bread on the 6th day … As the people of God, this is what God commands us. Again, 8 of 10 Christians do not believe the Sabbath command means they think going to church is optional.’ I agree with Voddie that we who claim Christ must trust Him to provide for us and not view work as an ends to be pursued to the detriment of our souls. This principle is taught us by the Sabbath command given the Hebrews. This is how types are interpreted, discerning the way they apply to us, rather than assuming equivalence.

“Ancient writers wrote about how extraordinary Israel was where in 1 day out of 7 everything stopped.” He doesn’t tell us the name of one of these ancient writers, but the official record of Israel’s history, the Scriptures, tell us Israel routinely profaned God’s Sabbath command and were punished many times (Ezek 20 & 22 for example). “This 1 day in 7 set them apart inwardly.” FAIL! Only the Spirit of God can do this! He presumes equivalence between “the Lord’s Day” and the “Christian Sabbath” and assigns spiritual blessings to Christians for keeping of the Law of Moses – which the Apostles declared a burden no man could bear.

“This is the day when we let everything else stop!” And yet – Voddie has repeatedly taught that it’s OK for people to enjoy sports and recreation on Sunday as long as it does not conflict with church. The Christian values the community of faith on Sunday, but meets with God every day. It’s not just the 8th day that is God’s – every day is. Our Sabbath rest is found in our Savior, not in a shadowy ceremonial type that was fulfilled in the person and work of our Lord.

FINALLY he tells us our day of rest is the rest we find in Christ (IAW Heb 4:9, perhaps?); but it’s still only a weakly (no misspelling!) rest for Voddie, rather than the ever increasing rest we enjoy as He sanctifies us. “He gives you six days – do you not believe He can multiply your bread on the 6th?” We mostly work 5 days in this country and ought to trust in our provider more than our employer – but that work is as much as ordinary means of grace as any other provided for us.

Voddie condescendingly dismisses rules for Sabbath keeping, pointing to Exodus 16:23 – claiming they were permitted to cook the manna on the 7th day, just not permitted to gather (the text does not say they were permitted to cook manna on the 7th day). Therefore, he declares, there are no lists for what it means to keep the Sabbath! But what says the Scripture? There we find many rules for Sabbath keeping – not only those made up by the religious rulers.  Exodus 31:15 (death for working); 35:1 – 3 (which forbids kindling a fire); Numbers 15:32 – 36 (death for picking up wood); Leviticus 25 (describes the Sabbath Year – why do Christian Sabbatarians not practice this?); Numbers 28:9 – 10 (burnt offerings); 1 Chron 9:32 (bread of the presence); 2 Chron 23:8 (military guard); Neh 10:31 (showing the Sabbath applying to Israel, not others); Neh 13 (God’s wrath promised to come on Israel for their profaning the Sabbath); Jer 17(prohibition of bearing burdens). No rules for Sabbath keeping, no penalties for breaking those rules? No lists for what God means to keep His Sabbath? Contrary to what Voddie says, the biblical Sabbath has rules, penalties, and lists. If the “Christian Sabbath” he holds to does not, it does not bear witness to the Sabbath in Exodus 16 he is pressing upon his flock.

Voddie claims the typological aspect of the Sabbath comes into play after the first resurrection. It’s only a weak weekly observance until you die. He declares that the work of ministry is permitted on the Sabbath and then says his Sunday ministry (preaching) is not work – it’s worship. Preparation for preaching is work. Why, then, defend the work of ministry on the Sabbath if that is not work? A day off to rest his body is fine, but he will not dare call it a Sabbath, “because the Sabbath is the Lord’s Day, not mine.” Every day we live is the Lord’s Day, not ours – just as every good thing we have is a gift of God and not our own (1 Cor 4:7).

My dear brother gives us many good reminders about the value of Christians gathering for corporate worship – yet no exegesis showing how the 8th day is defined by the 4th word. He simply gives a naked assertion that the 4th word “goes all the way back to creation.” The Scriptures are silent on this topic in that era; it violates Sola Scriptura to teach that it does. No argument from me that to work six days and rest one is a God-given rhythm for life. The Sabbath command teaches this – it does not teach nor require worship. “This is what we must learn, saints – that God will give us 7 days of provision in 6 days of work.” IS THIS THE APPLICATION OF THE 4th WORD FOR CHRISTIANS? I rather treasure the surety of my soul! Just as God rested from His work of creation to show us a pattern for life and point us to the promised seed, Christ rested from His work of redemption to provide us an eternity of rest – rest that starts as soon as He redeems us and gets better every day until He returns to bring the ultimate glory to His name by recreating the heavens and earth and putting a final end to sin for His saints. That’s my Sabbath – the God-man who is Lord of the Sabbath, He bids me find my rest in Him.

To borrow from Kim Riddlebarger’s Reply to John MacArthur (located here: http://kimriddlebarger.squarespace.com/a-reply-to-john-macarthur/), This is hard to say, but in his sermon Pastor Baucham set up and repeatedly attacked a straw man.  His was a pyrrhic victory over a phantom foe.

A Tale of Two Sabbaths

A Tale of Two Sabbaths

Stuart BrogdenSabbath

The Bible declares itself to be sufficient for life and godliness for those indwelt by the Holy Spirit. This is the concept behind the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. People who truly hold to this doctrine will not embrace dogma that cannot be clearly taught from God’s Word. While there are myriad issues that divide denominations and churches from one another, one’s view of the Sabbath appears to be one of major contention amongst those who embrace the idea of Sola Scriptura. Within this arena there is a coalition who herald the Puritan view of the Sabbath, which is recorded in the Westminster and Second London Baptist confessions. What follows is a comparison between the biblical description of the weekly Sabbath and the confessional views of Christian Sabbatarians, according to the Second London Baptist Confession in chapter 22. Let the reader decide if the Puritans and those confessions had it right or followed traditions of man.

Biblical Sabbath “Christian Sabbath”
Every 7th day (Ex 16:27-30, Ex 20:8-11, 31:15, 35:2; Lev 23:3; Deut 5:14) Para 7: Claims “law of nature … by Gods appointment” a “moral, and perpetual commandment, binding all men, in all ages” (no Scripture citation). One day in Seven (Ex20:8). Changed from the last day of the week to the first day of the week (citing 1 Cor 16:1-2; Acts 20:7); claiming “Christian Sabbath” as the Biblical Sabbath was abolished (no Scripture citation).
Rest from all work (Ex 16:23, 25; 20:8-10; 35:2; Lev 23:3; Num 15:32; Deut 5:12-15; Jer 17:21) Para 8: Rest from all things (Isaiah 58:13; Neh 13:15-22).
Remain in your dwelling (Ex 16:29; Lev 23:3) Private and public worship are commanded (para 8; no Scripture citation)
It is a sign to the Israelite (Ex 31:13, 16, 17; Lev 24:8; 2 Chr 2:4; Neh 9:14; Ezek 20:12, 20)
Death penalty for violating it, even minor activities such as picking up sticks (Ex 31:14-15; Num 15:32-36)
No fires for cooking, Sabbath day meals were prepared the day before (Ex 35:3)
Ceremonial bread, made in accordance with a strict formula, was presented (Lev 24:8; 1 Chr 9:32)
Offerings – consisting of lambs, grain, and drink (Num 28:9, 10)
Soldiers/priests guard the temple (2 Kings 11:5-12; 2 Chr 23:4-8)
Gentiles not bound (Deut 5:15; Neh 10:31) All men are bound (para 7; Ex 20:8)
Prohibited from business (buying or selling) with Gentiles (Neh 10:31, 13:15-19)
Gentiles invited to join with God’s people and keep the Sabbath (Isaiah 56:1-7)
Israel to keep the Sabbath (Isaiah 58:13)
Duties of necessity and mercy are permitted (para 8; Matt 12:1-13)
No bearing of burdens (Jer 17:21-27)


  1. The Second London Baptist Confession (1689 LBC) cites Exodus 20:8 for setting the Sabbath one day in seven and for binding all men. That verse does not mention the frequency of the Sabbath; verses 10 & 11 both specify the 7th day, that day which ended the week for the Hebrew nation. Every 7th day, not one day in seven – that’s the consistent record in Scripture. Neither does that passage mention anyone other than national Israel as the subjects of this covenant and this specific command.
  2. The 1689 LBC then claims 1 Cor 16:1-2 and Acts 20:7 as a record of God having changed the day of observing the Sabbath. Read the texts – narratives showing the practice of the new church on “the day after the Sabbath.” No instruction or record of changing the Sabbath; no record of establishing the “Christian Sabbath” or abolishing the 7th day Sabbath, which continued on during the Lord’s time on earth and the apostolic era.
  3. Because of the death penalty for minor infractions of the Sabbath command to rest (as shown in Ex 31 & Num 15), it was common in Israel for the people to ask the religious leaders for clarification of what was permissible. This developed into the complex, legalistic list of rules that were infamous in the time of Christ.
  4. The “holy convocation” mentioned in Lev 23:3 is widely considered to have been a call to prayer, praise, and instruction from the Word of God. But the biblical record (Ex 12; Lev 23; Num 28 & 29) shows a consistent requirement to cease work, with cooking meals being the only exception. There is the occasional mention of humbling one’s self, making offerings to God, and the blowing of trumpets. Some of these convocations lasted several days or weeks. There is nothing in Scripture to indicate this was a weekly occurrence of prayer, praise, and preaching; although extra-biblical history does show the post-exile nation adopting the weekly synagogue practice that was well established by the time of Christ.
  5. There are many special Sabbaths, such as the Day of Atonement (Lev 23:32) and the Sabbath year (Lev 25). This comparison is restricted to the weekly Sabbath.
  6. Nehemiah 13:20-22 reveals the only passage in Scripture wherein Gentiles are told about the Sabbath, their merchants being warned to leave the Jews alone on the Sabbath so the Jews won’t be led astray. Gentiles are not commanded by Nehemiah to keep the Sabbath.
  7. There is not one Scripture cited by the 1689 showing the weekly Sabbath being addressed to, defined for, imposed on, or required of anyone other than those under the rule of Moses. Nor is there any biblical record of Christians keeping the Sabbath.

Evidence that Cannot Save

Evidence that Cannot Save Law

A review by Stuart Brogden

John Warwick Montgomery has an impressive resume – author of more than 60 books in in 6 languages; he holds eleven earned degrees; is admitted as a lawyer to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court; and is a Distinguished Research Professor at Concordia University Wisconsin. That’s something of note. He has written a short book, History, Law, and Christianity, which is divided into two parts that examine the historical and legal evidence for Christianity. One of his colleagues at the university, Rod Rosenbladt, endorses this book and encourages readers to buy several copies, “because you will end up doing what I do. You will give copies to non-Christians!”

And this perspective reveals the faulty foundation of this work – it is presented as a compelling argument for the biblical account of Jesus that can bring lost people into the kingdom of God. We should not overlook the excellent examination of historical and legal evidence that does support the biblical accounts – but we cannot fall into the trap of thinking evidence or philosophical arguments will save anyone. This faulty foundation shows up early in the book – page 4, as the author declares, “Like Cambridge professor C.S. Lewis, I was brought ‘kicking and struggling’ into the kingdom of God by the historical evidence on behalf of Jesus’ claims.” On page 31, Montgomery serves up a short quote by Pliny the Younger, circa 122, showing how early Christians met for worship, and he then comments, “From that day to this all Christians – Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant – have worshiped Christ as God on the basis of the historically impeccable testimony of Jesus’ own followers and of those who knew them intimately.”  Let’s leave aside the issue of which Jesus is embraced by Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholics and just focus on the thrust of Montgomery’s statement. It is another declaration that people come to saving knowledge of Christ on the basis of evidence and confidence of arguments based on that evidence.

This cannot be allowed to go unchallenged. If the author’s perspective is true, we need to witness with an eye towards saving people contrary to the Apostle Paul – And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:1-5, ESV)

As with other books that have been written in this vein, this book can be quite useful for Christians who want to grow in their confidence of the biblical record, but is dangerous as a witnessing tool. People convinced by such evidence and sound arguments may very well end up having a faith that rests in the wisdom of men. We are ambassadors of the cross, not of historical evidence. People are brought into a saving knowledge of Christ Jesus by the work of His Spirit, as we proclaim His gospel. The flip side of the coin offered up by Montgomery is the attractive but just as faulty view that we can save Mormons (or others) by showing them factual errors in their religious books and doctrines. We cannot argue anyone into the kingdom of God.

That being said, this book has much encouragement for the saints. Montgomery rightly refutes post-modernism, false philosophical arguments, and liberal theology. He provides a very credible and readable defense of the person and deity of Christ Jesus from the historical record and the legal perspective, starting off (page 8) reminding us our faith is not blind or without evidentiary support: “Christian theology cannot be divorced from logic and history.” Since the gospel is centered on the work and person of Christ Jesus, we must accept the biblical record as factual – not something merely mystical – just as Jesus did when He talked about Adam, Jonah, Abraham, and other ancients from Moses’ account. Montgomery reminds us that while we can gain much from reading books written by other Christians, our faith and our truth are founded on the “primary documents” – the word of God. This is good stuff!

On page 11 and following, our author examines the historical credibility of the Bible, looking at biographical evidence, internal evidence, and external evidence. In each of these areas, the Scriptures excel in comparison to other historical persons and events accepted by all with far less support in all of these areas. Does this not reinforce the fact that such evidence cannot bring about the change that happens when one is born by again by the will of the Creator? But to see how blind lost people are to truth and willing they are to believe anything else, Montgomery observes: “To express skepticism concerning the resultant text of the New Testament books (as represented, for example, by Nestle’s Novem Testamentum Graece) is to allow all of classical antiquity to slip into obscurity, for no documents of the ancient period are as well attested bibliographically as the New Testament.” We can have confidence in our God because His Word is reliable. But we believe His Word because He opened our mind to His Truth when He made new creatures in Christ.

The second part of this short book focuses on the legal defense of the faith. He begins (page 47) by pointing out that every false religion is self-validating, a standard that very post-modern would embrace. “Christianity, on the other hand, declares that the truth of its absolute claims rests squarely on certain historical facts open to ordinary investigation.” The edge of the knife – our faith is fact-based, historically, archeologically, and philosophically; but can only be embraced if we are raised from spiritual death by the Author of all Truth. By nature, men suppress the Truth (Roman 1:18) and cannot will or desire to see it (Isaiah 64:7). Beginning on page 51, Montgomery addresses “four overarching questions” that “need to be addressed: (1) Are the historical records of Jesus solid enough to rely upon? (2) Is the testimony in these records concerning his life and ministry sufficiently reliable to know what he claimed about himself? (3) Do the accounts of his resurrection from the dead, offered as proof of his divine claims, in fact establish those claims? (4) If Jesus’ deity is established in the foregoing manner, does he place a divine stamp of approval on the Bible so as render it pronouncements apodictically certain?” Then he uses classical legal reasoning to examine each of these.

Our author examines motives for false testimony and the complexities of deception, providing nifty charts to show the various points of tension in each false presentation. Telling lies requires excellent memory and collaboration – and falls apart rather easily under competent cross-examination. The culture of disciples provided a cross-examination of sorts, making it impossible for them to carry on a life based on lies when so many Jews and Romans, who were hostile to their claims, walked among them day by day.

His last paragraph is worth a close read: “To meet man’s desperate need for apodictic (clearly established or beyond dispute) principles of human conduct, an incarnate God must not speak with a forked tongue. And, as we have seen, no divine stuttering has occurred. To the contrary, his message can be relied upon as evidentially established, a sure light shining in a dark world, illuminating the path to eternity.” Note this clearly – “His message can be relied upon.” We have been entrusted with His message, not our own. His message is the simple, foolish message of the cross, the story of the fall of man, the perfect life of the solitary God-man who earned the right to take the punishment for our sins and make a way for sinners to be reconciled to holy God. That is the life-giving message that He has given us – and we have nothing to be ashamed of when we proclaim it. The message is credible because the Author is credible. Once He gives new life, we can appreciate and embrace the trustworthiness of the message.