Why you should (and probably already do) believe in limited atonement

By Robin Schumacher, Exclusive Columnist

When it comes to which of the five points of Calvinism that irk non-reformed Christians the most, my money is on limited atonement. The doctrine of limited atonement teaches that Christ’s redeeming work on the cross secured an actual salvation for only the elect of God.

If this causes you to grind your teeth in irritation, stop. I’m going to show you why you probably already believe in limited atonement and then provide what I believe to be the definitive argument that puts the issue to bed once and for all.

Welcome to the club

Unless you’re a universalist, you already believe in limited atonement. That’s right – if not everyone is saved, then the atonement has to be “limited”.

How is it limited? It is limited to believers only: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Technically, this is called limited in extent, meaning limited in who it applies to. Christ’s death saves every person that it meant to save and doesn’t make salvation a mere possibility, which would be limited in effect.

So, as I said, you likely already believe in limited atonement in general without knowing it. Charles Spurgeon puts it like this: “[They] say Christ died for all men. Ask them what they mean by that. Did Christ die to secure the salvation of all men? They say no, certainly not…Did Christ die to secure the salvation of any one person in particular? They say no, Christ has died that any man may be saved if … and then follow certain conditions of salvation.” 

The knockout punch

John Owen wrote what is perhaps the most definitive work on Christ’s atonement in “The Death of Death in the Death of Christ”. In that book, Owen delivers what I believe is the knockout punch to anyone who opposes limited atonement. Let me quote his argument in full and then let’s work through it a little at a time:

“God imposed his wrath due unto, and Christ underwent the pains of hell for, either all the sins of all men, or all the sins of some men, or some sins of all men. If the last, some sins of all men, then have all men some sins to answer for, and so shall no man be saved . . . If the second, that is it which we affirm, that Christ in their stead and room suffered for all the sins of all the elect in the world. If the first, why then are not all freed from the punishment of all their sins? You will say, ‘Because of their unbelief; they will not believe.’ But this unbelief, is it a sin, or not? If not, why should they be punished for it? If it be, then Christ underwent the punishment due to it, or not. If so, then why must that hinder them more than their other sins for which he died from partaking of the fruit of his death? If he did not, then did he not die for all their sins. Let them choose which part they will”.

The Options

“God imposed his wrath due unto, and Christ underwent the pains of hell for, either all the sins of all men, or all the sins of some men, or some sins of all men.

Owen says we have three options: either Jesus died on the cross for (1) all the sins of everyone; (2) all the sins of a particular group of people; (3) some of the sins of everyone.  He then proceeds to work through those possibilities.

Option 3 – out

If the last, some sins of all men, then have all men some sins to answer for, and so shall no man be saved.

Working backwards, Owen quickly jettisons the third option because, if everyone still has some sins that have not been atoned for, no one will spend eternity with God. Impossible to disagree with, wouldn’t you say?

Option 2 – limited atonement

If the second, that is it which we affirm, that Christ in their stead and room suffered for all the sins of all the elect in the world.

The second option Owen presents is limited atonement – that Jesus only died for God’s chosen people and took upon Himself all their sins. Such a position ensures an actual salvation for that group of people because all their sins were placed on Christ at the cross and they have nothing left for which to atone.

The start of option 1 – a good question

If the first, why then are not all freed from the punishment of all their sins?

Option 1 is what many Christians believe – that Jesus took upon Himself, at the cross, all the sins of everyone who ever lived or will live. But Owen asks a good question: if that’s the case, then why isn’t everyone saved?

Outside of universalism, no one believes all will be saved and this includes those not upholding the reformed doctrine of limited atonement. And it is these people that Owen addresses next.

Is Unbelief a Sin?

You will say, ‘Because of their unbelief; they will not believe.’

The ever-famous John 3:16, which I’ve already quoted, limits the atonement to only those who believe – a point that showcases the truth that all Christians really believe in limited atonement in one form or another. But then Owen asks an important follow up question:

But this unbelief, is it a sin, or not?

This inquiry marks the beginning of the end for anyone who attempts to deny the doctrine of limited atonement. The answer, of course, is yes. Paul flatly says, “whatever is not from faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23). The writer of Hebrews, describing faithless Israel, also says, “So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief” (Heb. 3:19).

But Owen works through the possibilities, nonetheless.

If not, why should they be punished for it?

If unbelief is not a sin, Owen says then there is no reason for it to bar anyone from God’s presence.

If it be, then Christ underwent the punishment due to it, or not.

If unbelief is a sin (and we have seen that it is), then it was either one of the sins that Christ died for, or it was not. So, either unbelieving people still have something for which to answer to God or they don’t.

If so, then why must that hinder them more than their other sins for which he died from partaking of the fruit of his death?

This logical conclusion is the deathblow for anyone claiming that Christ died for all the sins of everyone, but that unbelief keeps a person from eternal life. Owen says if unbelief is a sin, and if Christ died for ALL the sins of everyone born of human parents, then that sin must be included in the mix and labeled as one for which Christ died. Unbelief, as a sin, could not keep anyone from spending eternal life with God more than any other sin for which Jesus paid.

If he did not, then did he not die for all their sins.

If someone wants to say that Christ did not die for a person’s unbelief, and unbelief is a sin, then Jesus did not die for all his or her sins. Thus, a person cannot make the claim that Jesus died for all the sins of the world (with “world” being defined as every human being ever born).

Let them choose which part they will.

This is polite 17th century language for saying, “Checkmate”.

Owen convincingly shows that options 1 and 3 are untenable, with the only option remaining being the doctrine of limited atonement.

Not fair?

In his book entitled, The Nature of the Atonement, John McLeod Campbell explains how the only alternative becomes one where Christ’s atonement is limited. Recounting the just-covered John Owen’s summary of the case, Campbell concludes, “As addressed to those who agree with him as to the nature of the atonement, while differing with him as to the extent of its reference, this seems unanswerable.”

I agree.

Any scripture plucking[1] or other arguments fall short of undercutting the biblical logic behind limited atonement. Truth be told, most attempts are emotional in nature and boil down to a “not fair” contention.

But here’s the thing: as Christians, we often quote Is. 55:18, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways” and we rest in it until it comes to matters like this. Then we expect God’s ways to be our ways.

But Proverbs 50:21 says simply, “You thought that I was just like you”, meaning He’s not just like us. Whatever superficial feelings we have about God’s plan of salvation being not fair are misplaced.   

Dr. James White speaks to the simplicity and beauty of Christ’s atonement when he says, “In its simplest terms the Reformed belief is this: Christ’s death saves sinners. It does not make the salvation of sinners a mere possibility. It does not provide a theoretical atonement … Christ’s death saves every single person that it was intended to save.”

I’m good with that. Are you?

[1] E.g., 1 John 2:2; John 12:32; 2 Pet. 2:1 by themselves and not viewed within the whole of Scripture.  

Robin Schumacher is an accomplished software executive and Christian apologist who has written many articles, authored and contributed to several Christian books, appeared on nationally syndicated radio programs, and presented at apologetic events. He holds a BS in Business, Master’s in Christian apologetics and a Ph.D. in New Testament. His latest book is, A Confident Faith: Winning people to Christ with the apologetics of the Apostle Paul.

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Online Source

Christian Military Fellowship May 2021 Newsletter

If you are reading this, you might already know that I have been connected to the Christian Military Fellowship for quite a long time. Below is a link to the CMF Web Page, which is also located on the right side of The Battle Cry  Home Page

CMF has a simple mission, “To Win, To Disciple, To Equip to Win” men and women serving in the  military, so that can become ambassadors for Christ in uniform. If you have served in the military or know someone who has, please share this post.

One of my roles with CMF is as the editor and a writer for our monthly Newsletter, The Christian Report.  A friend (Thanks, Jim!) suggested I post our newsletter to The Battle Cry.

Here is a link to the May 2021 CMF Newsletter. I would have embedded it in this post, however WordPress wants me to upgrade to the WP Business edition.

In His Service,

Dan C.

What to Do with Evil News

by Dan Crabtree,The Cripplegate

The Puritan Thomas Watson said during the morning exercises at the Cripplegate, “John the Baptist’s head on a platter is a common dish nowadays.”

“Nowadays” was the embattled era of the English Civil War, but it could just as well be today or any other day. Church history records more dark years than halcyon days. Persecution, slander, and mistreatment has always been par for the Christian course. Jesus told his disciples, “In this world you will have trouble…” (John 16:33), and he meant it. Heads are still on the menu.

I’m assuming if you’re reading this that you’ve been on your phone or computer scrolling through all kinds of articles and videos. I don’t know your Internet habits, but here we are. So, what did you see while you were scrolling? Mostly good news? Encouragement? Rejoicing in the happy providences of God?

Or did you see another exposé on a disgraced evangelical leader? Or news about another church service turned into a shooting gallery? Or a catalogue of another church that’s left the Bible far behind? (And those were just the Christian sites.)

Brothers and sisters, we are surrounded with bad news about the evil that permeates this world. Given the dominance of Satan’s handiwork in the headlines, it would be so easy to despair. To get angry. To embitter. To whip someone online with a fresh one-liner because you’ve just had enough.

But King David has a better way for us. In his waning years, David penned Psalm 37 to help his people sing even when “the wicked plots against the righteous and gnashes his teeth at him” (Ps 37:12). And his wisdom can teach us how to respond rightly to all kinds of wickedness in our neighborhoods, our workplaces, or even on our screens.

  1. Don’t worry about evil news.

David’s psalm begins, “Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers!” Meaning, don’t get worked up about the existence of evil on this earth. You know this is part of post-Fall life, so expect it and don’t get wrecked by it. Don’t let it make you angry, don’t let it provoke you, don’t let it cause you to despair, and don’t get consumed by it. David makes this even clearer in verse 8 when he says, “Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.” David is saying, “Don’t let evil make you evil!” Instead, “Turn away from evil and do good” (v. 27). Responding to evil in-kind accomplishes nothing of lasting worth, so instead meet fire with a cool glass of water and so “overcome evil with good” (Rom 12:21).

As a pastor, it’s heartbreaking to see the sheep under your care drowning in despair from the 6 o’clock news. As a sheep myself, I’m tempted to be overwhelmed by it all, too. But David exhorts us to swim against the current, to keep our heads above water, to not become emotionally engulfed by the actions of evil men and women and the pain they inflict on others. Sinners will sin. That reality must not own us.

Practically, avoiding anxiety about current events may look like ingesting less evil news. You might delete a news app, put the phone away at home, check the news less often, or maybe even take a break from seeking out any digital source of news altogether. Here’s a baseline principle – if it’s causing you to sin more, then don’t do it. Jesus said something about plucking out eyes, right? Our newsfeeds may also need some plucking. Only allow it into your brain if you can respond to it in a godly way. That means don’t worry.

  1. Enjoy Jesus despite evil news.

Most people are familiar with Psalm 37 because of verse 4 which reads, “Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.” This is not some magic prosperity formula (sorry Joel Osteen) but a diagnostic about the primary temptation that evil news contains. The worst effect that the sin of other people can have in your life is to steal your joy in Jesus. Seriously. They can kill you, but that’s gain for the Christian (Phil 1:21). They can take your stuff, but that will only make you rely more on God (2 Cor 1:9; Heb 10:34). They could even say horrendous things on the Internet, but not one letter of it can alter your eternal inheritance in Christ!

It might sound like a Christian cop-out to say, “When the world is burning, rejoice in Christ!” but that’s what David says. And Paul says it too: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (Phil 4:4). Why do these godly men Jesus-juke in the face of untold wickedness? Because when we delight ourselves in the Lord, “he will give you the desires of your heart.” That is, when our hearts on set on treasuring Jesus, then we get Jesus. And whatever else we get; we get more of Jesus. This verse doesn’t turn God into a vending machine for material blessing but reminds us that God is the fountain of all good things (James 1:17). When we come to him to be satisfied, he always gives us more of him, and we’re always satisfied in him with whatever he hands us. That’s Paul’s secret to contentment, even in the face of radical, horrific evils (Phil 4:13). And it ought to be ours, too.

For me, this means that the headlines become my prayer line. When I hear about another church bombing or insurgent attack or celebrated sin, I throw my eyes upward, cry out for mercy, and find the ear of the God of all comfort. My sadness turns to worship when I take it to the Lord in prayer. And worship is what my heart most delights in because I was made to praise Jesus.

  1. Trust God with evil news.

You probably saw this one coming. When things are bad, God’s in control, etc. Amen and amen. But David’s logic in this psalm gets more specific than that. The reason that you should trust God with evil news is that God will judge all of it.

God’s just condemnation of evil takes up the bulk of this psalm and makes up David’s main argument. Why shouldn’t you be envious of evildoers? “For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb” (v. 2). Why should you lay every thought and plan at the foot of God’s throne? Because “He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your justice as the noonday” (v. 6). “Evildoers shall be cut off…” (v. 9), “in just a little while, the wicked will be no more…” (v. 10), and “the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he sees that his day is coming” (v. 13). Over and over again throughout this psalm, David contrasts the fate of the evil with the righteous. Though “transgressors shall be altogether destroyed” (v. 38), “the salvation of the righteous is from Yahweh, he is their stronghold in the time of trouble” (v. 39).

That means I don’t have to settle accounts because God will! I can “leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord’” (Rom 12:19). My part is not to bring final judgment but to trust the perfect Judge. He’ll deal with all evil either on the cross or in the lake of fire, so I can rest in his righteous accounting.

And fellow believer, do not doubt that God is an exacting accountant. He will bring every wicked act in the nightly news before the bar of his holy wrath and pronounce the sentence it deserves. Evil may carry the day, but it will not carry that day. A time is coming soon when there will be no more evil news but only the good news of the gospel and God’s saving work will remain.

Trust God until then. Darkness may have its hour. “Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil” (Eccl 8:11). But it’s only an hour. “They will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead” (1 Pet 4:5). Evil news, as David says, will pass away like smoke and then righteousness will reign for eternity. And so will we (Rev 22:5).

So, it may be worthwhile to cut the cable, put down the phone, and replace the dreary headlines with Scripture memory and sermons and fellowship. I know it’s helped me. It certainly will be worthwhile to press on to make Christ your own in prayer and Bible study, as it always will. But whatever evil news you encounter, believer, trust in the invisible hand of Providence behind it, guiding every morning and evening to the dawn of an eternal day. “Trust in him, and he will act” (v. 5).

Source: What to do with evil news | The Cripplegate

William Wirt and the Blind Preacher – Archibald Alexander

The power of religion, in promoting happiness in this life and in disarming death of its terror, has seldom been more beautifully illustrated than in the example of William Wirt, Attorney General of the United States. When a young man, just commencing his professional career, he was distinguished for his genius, his eloquence, his fascinating powers of conversation, and his polished manners. In every circle his society was courted. Fond of pleasure, and the center of attraction of every convivial(1) party, he was living for the joys of this short life, and was in great danger of being ingulfed in that vortex of worldliness and fashion where so many thousands have perished.

While thus living, as he was on one of his professional circuits as a lawyer, he passed a Sabbath where the celebrated blind preacher of Virginia, Rev. James Waddell, was to preach. Mr. Wirt having no other way to pass the Sabbath, entered the humble church with the congregation. He has himself described, in his own forcible language, the scene which ensued. The primitive simplicity of the preacher, the subdued pathos (2) of his tones, his unaffected (3) piety and fervid eloquence, all combined, through the influences of the Holy Spirit, to touch the heart of Wirt. He felt the emptiness of his own joys, and the unprofitableness of his own life. He reflected and wept and prayed. “God be merciful to me a sinner”, which became, for many days and nights, the anxious supplication of his soul. Forsaking his thoughtless companions and his dangerous habits of gayety, he commenced a new life of Christian usefulness. True peace visited his heart, and his benignant (4)countenance proclaimed that he had sought happiness and found it, where alone happiness can be found. He became the advocate of Christian missions, and to every object of philanthropy he consecrated the energies of his noble mind.

Though necessarily called to move in the highest circles of opulence and intellect, and to encounter the temptations with which those circles are ever filled, he humbly, yet fearlessly sustained his character as a disciple of Jesus Christ, and gave his commanding influence, unreservedly and constantly, for the promotion of piety. Revered by the community, and loved almost to devotion by a wide circle of friends, he spent his days in doing good. And when the dying hour came, hope and joy beamed from his eye, brilliant with almost celestial vision, as the glories of his heavenly home were unfolded to his view. His body has long ago mingled with the dust, and his spirit has long dwelt, we trust, with the God who gave it.

Such are the effects of religion. Infidelity can show no such triumphs. Who will not utter the prayer, “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his?”

(1) friendly, lively, and enjoyable

(2) evoking pity or sadness

(3) without artificiality or insincerity

(4)kindly and benevolent

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The story you just read is the true account of how God brought William Wirt to the foot of the Cross of Jesus Christ, published in a collection of articles by Presbyterian theologian and Princeton Seminary professor Archibald Alexander (April 1772 – October 1851). The blind preacher, Rev. James Waddel was the first Presbyterian Minister in the Northern neck of Virginia. He was known as the “blind preacher Waddell” because he had periods of blindness.

Footnotes notwithstanding, it’s a wonderful account of one man’s salvation. We are told of Mr. Wirt’s character and life situation leading up to a Sunday when he “happened” to walk into a church and listen to a renowned and talented preacher. While he was attracted to the preaching (he was a lawyer), the Holy Spirit opened his heart to hear and receive the gospel message (the Lydia principle in Acts 16?). He was shaken to the core with the realization of his own sinfulness and prayed the simplest of prayers, “God be merciful to me a sinner”. He found a true peace and happiness he had never before known. As a result, his entire life was changed forever!

Dear reader, what’s your story? How did god save you? What happened on your way to the cross?

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For the Times They are A-changin’ – Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan was right in 1964, when he wrote that song, and he’s still right. In fact, the times are always changing, for better or worse. In 2021, we live in an especially ‘interesting’ time of change in our nation. It seems that academia (all levels), modern culture, and institutions are wholeheartedly embracing ideologies and policies contrary to their essential purposes in providing goods, services, and entertainment. Some of these ideologies and policies are contrary to a Christian worldview and blatantly oppose Divine moral law and support that which God terms “abomination”. Those who stand against the tide are losing friends, their reputations, their livelihoods, and much more. We live in what’s called a “cancel culture.” I’m certain, that if it were possible, those who try to “cancel” everything and everyone opposing them would also try and cancel God.

Furthermore, every facet and level of our society is being impacted by the ever-increasing moral decay and lawlessness we see all around us. Legislation, rules, regulations, and policies have been written to ‘engourage’ us to ‘behave’. Unbelievers and nonconformists will be persecuted and/or punished! That includes everyone, no matter what their function in society, their religious persuasion, their age, and anything else you can think of.

How do we, as Christians, respond to our ‘anti-God’ culture? That’s our challenge.

On one hand, there’s nothing new under the sun. The world’s operating system has always been at odds with Christianity and Christians have always been under pressure to conform to the world’s ungodly standards. Jesus even told his closest followers:

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” (John 15:18-19)

What appears to be a rather recent development however, is the speed and manner in which we are being brought into submission to what seems like a “new world order”, as evidenced by all of the legislation, regulations, rules (corporate, institutional, and social) being enacted to cause us to conform.

So, how are we to respond? I can think of a few principles that will help us in that regard.

First, remember the source of our strength to combat evil, our battle ‘dress’, and the ‘situation’ on the battlefield:

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Eph 6:10 – 12)

As believers, with whom are we to be engaged in battle? Are we to be contesting with men, or with the spiritual forces behind their machinations? What’s the Christian’s end game?

Secondly, remember the purpose of our wearing the whole armor of God, and the ultimate goal of our warfare.

“Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”(Eph 6:13)

We are to “stand our ground” and live out our Biblical principles in an increasingly hostile environment. We can also lovingly, gently, and with respect, present the Christian worldview to whomever provides us an opportunity, and in whatever format that presents itself.

Finally, remember our primary mission for this life. In a parable at the home of Zacchaeus, a tax collector in Jericho, Jesus said:

“A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and to return.  So he called ten of his servants, delivered to them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Do business till I come.’’’ (Luke 19:12 – 13)

The nobleman in the parable gave money to his servants and told them “Do business till I come.” I love that phrase! I don’t know about you, but it excites me! In our case, Jesus is the nobleman in the far country (planet Earth) and we are his servants. So what is the “business” of Jesus?

“And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations” (Matt 24:14)

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

No matter what our main occupation or situation in life might be, we are to be about the business of the gospel, proclaiming it and making disciples. We are to be about ‘investing’ the gospel in our own lives and in the lives of others. We should be continuously growing in our own knowledge of God and His Son, sitting under sound Biblical teaching, and at the same time pointing the lost around us to the Cross of Christ and helping other believers grow in their faith.

Sharing the Gospel message in a lost and dying world is the greatest privilege God has bestowed upon his children!

Let’s “do business” until He returns, as we pray “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!”

Lessons from a Blind Man

It’s a familiar story found in John, Chapter 9. It was a Sabbath Day in Jerusalem.  Jesus and his disciples were walking the city streets when Jesus noticed a Jewish beggar who had been blind from birth, which set off an interesting chain of events.

Relying on Jewish tradition, the disciples asked Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”  Jesus told them that no one’s sin caused the blindness and that the poor man was blind so that the works of God could be made manifest.

Jesus healed the man’s blind eyes by anointing them with mud and spit and telling him to go and wash in the nearby Pool of Siloam. The begger went, washed, and returned with his sight completely restored!  Neighbors and others who knew the man were divided as to whether this was the blind beggar, or just someone who looked like him.  When they asked him how he received his sight he simply told him the story of what had happened.

The man was hauled off to the Pharisees in the synagogue (it being the Sabbath and all), where he received the third degree from the religious leaders who were conflicted about the matter.  Some said the man who had healed the blind man had violated the Sabbath while others were puzzled how such an obvious ‘sinner’ could have performed such a miracle!  After all, working on the Sabbath was a sin and therefore, the man who had performed the healing had to be a sinner. They asked the blind man what he thought about the man who healed him and he answered “He is a prophet.” 

The angry and still-confused Pharisees had the man’s parents brought in and asked them if the formerly-blind man was their son. They admitted that he was, but were too scared to admit to a possible miracle and played the “We know nothing, ask him!” card like Sgt Schultz (Hogan’s Heroes).  So the Pharisees questioned him again, reminding him that Jesus was a ‘sinner’ (sinners don’t go around healing people) and asking him how his eyes were really opened. 

Then came the classic response, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know.  One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.”

That was the last straw, and the man was angrily ejected from the synagogue (excommunicated), the worst thing that can happen to a practicing Jew!  What happened next was the most wonderful and astonishing climax to a long day:

“Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”  He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?”  Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.”  He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshipped him.” (John 9:36 – 38)

What can we learn from the events of that long ago Sabbath Day?  Trust me, there is much we can, and have learned through the years.  But as Alistair Begg commented in a sermon about the events that day, “Not only do we have here an illustration (the blind beggar) of saving faith, and not only do we have here the impact of saving faith in a life in that he worships, we have an example of what we may do endeavoring to lead men and women to faith in Jesus.” (From the sermon “Lord I Believe” & the Sermon Series “A Light in the Darkness” John 9:38 (Aug 27,2006))

In the sermon, Alistair then tips his hat to Charles Spurgeon, who outlined the principles Jesus used in the healing of a blind Jewish beggar (From the sermon “A Pressed Man Yielding to Christ”, delivered October 12th, 1882 at The Metropolitan Tabernacle Evening Service):

1. “If you have a choice as to those to whom you go, seek out the oppressed.”  Yes, we are commanded to go, “into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature”; but if we are able to pay particular attention to some more than others, “seek out the sick, the sad, the weary, the poor, the broken-down ones, and especially such as have been put out of the synagogue.”  Out of all the busy people in the streets Jesus noticed and singled out the blind beggar, first to bring healing and later to identify himself as the Son of God.  The hurting and disenfranchised are “likely soil for the good seed of the kingdom to grow in, and bring forth fruit. Those whom nobody else wants, and nobody else will have, our blessed Lord and Master delights to receive.”

2. “Next, when you come to close quarters with them as Christ did, ask them questions.”  Jesus asked the blind beggar, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”  It was a very pointed and personal question.  As Spurgeon put it, the preacher in the pulpit can “fire the gospel gun, and the shot flies where God directs it;” but the person in the pew (you) who loves the Lord, can, as it were, “hold a pistol close to the sinner’s head.”  You can deal with the lost and hurting on a personal level, one by one, and call them to respond directly to a direct and very personal question.  When the time is right, ask just like Jesus asked, “Do you believe?”  That is the way to win souls, begin with a personal question.

3. “Next, be ready to answer enquiries.”  This is what Jesus did when he revealed himself to this man.  When Jesus asked him, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”  the man answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?”  Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.”  He said, “Lord, I believe.” When you are asked a question tell them everything you know in answer to the question, and if can’t tell them everything they want to know, take them to someone who is more advanced in spiritual matters, so that with prayer, patience and loving instruction,  they can be lead to Christ.

4. “Next, pray to the Lord Jesus Christ to reveal himself to them, for that is the way faith comes.  We cannot speak of Christ as He should be spoken of; but, when He reveals himself, then the sinners see him.”  All of the mere words we speak in leading someone to Christ will be fruitless unless accompanied by the power of the Holy Spirit himself working in the heart of the hearer. “All the portraits of a beauty never touch the heart like one glance from her eyes; and all the portraits of Christ, that ever were painted by his most admiring disciples, never make such an impression on the heart of man as when once he says, as he said to this man, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.”  None but Christ himself can preach Christ to the full. He must reveal himself, or the Spirit must reveal him, or else men do not see him.”

5.  Finally, glorify Christ by your personal testimony.”  Remember Jesus’ high priestly prayer, in which he said, “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word,” meaning the word of his disciples through all the ages of history.  Even though it is the word of Christ we speak, when it comes from deep in our own hearts, from our own experience, it is also our word bringing salvation to the lost and dying.

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The above article was first published in the Christian Military Fellowship April 2021 Newsletter, downloadable here.

Conspiracy Theory or Gospel Truth?–by Clint Archer

On July 20, 1969 Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon.

Or did they?

I find most conspiracy theories to be insufferably far-fetched. I mean obviously the moon landing happened— we have photos, video, mission logs, moon rocks, and the testimony of the men who walked on the moon.

On the other hand…

A conspiracy theorist may point out that photos and video could easily have been shot in a studio, you’ve never seen a moon rock yourself, and the astronauts had much fame and fortune to gain by faking their claims, as did the USA, who won a decisive Cold War victory against the Soviets in the Space Race.

Did you know that there are photos of the lunar module in which there are shadows falling at a 45-degree angle from each other, indicating two light sources?

Did you know that in one photo there is a moon rock clearly labeled with a perfectly symmetrical engraved letter C? The so-called “C-rock” has been weakly explained as a curled hair that interfered in the development process.

Did you know that the American flag in one photo appears in front of the camera’s cross hairs, indicating it was superimposed on an existing photo? And why was the flag rippled since there’s no moving air on the moon?

Did you know in the reflection of a visor there can be seen an image of a piece of equipment not found on any moon landing gear, but looks suspiciously like a stage spotlight?

Makes you think, doesn’t it? And you wouldn’t be alone. After a series of documentaries aired on TV, a poll revealed that 20% of Americans and 28% of Russians believed that the first moon landing was faked.

So, is there any incontrovertible proof that could be used to silence conspiracy theorists once and for all? We’ll get back to that. First, let’s look at an event in history that was far easier to prove.

Paul is writing to the young pastor Timothy and in his letter, in 1 Timothy 3:16, he includes what is widely deemed to be a hymn or confession or creed that was sung or recited by the early church.

6 VOICES HARMONIZING 6 EVIDENCES IN THE EASTER HYMN

1. MANIFESTATION

1 Timothy 3:16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh

The word mystery [musterion] in Greek is a term for a truth that was unknown before but revealed. This revealed truth is the revelation of godliness. Jesus was godliness incarnate, manifest in the flesh.

Christianity isn’t a system or lifestyle choice. It is a belief in the claims, teachings, and events of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The Apostle John defended the physicality of Jesus to the Gnostics who were saying Jesus was a spirit, an influence, and emanation from God rather than a real person.

1 John 1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life

John knew Jesus firsthand, tangibly, in living color.

He’s not a myth like the Loch Ness Monster or the Easter Bunny. He is an historical figure, attested to by history, and seen by countless eye-witnesses. He was manifest in the flesh.

2. VINDICATION

1 Timothy 3:16vindicated by the Spirit

Vindication is when something you claim is proven to be true.

The coming of the Spirit on Jesus vindicated his claims. If he was a crazy man making crazy claims, then why did the Spirit empower him to do miracles?

Romans 1:3-4 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord

The enemies of Jesus questioned his genealogy, his claims, his teachings, but they never questioned his power.

Many people make great claims, but Christ made claims and the Spirit vindicated him with God’s power.

3. CONFIRMATION

1 Timothy 3:16seen by angels

Pop quiz: how many men have walked on the moon? Answer: 12. Who were the 3rd and 4th? Pete Conrad and Alan Bean who walked on the moon in November 1969.

If you landed on the moon in November 1969 and noticed no footprints, no flag, and no evidence that anyone had ever been there before you, wouldn’t you make fuss about being the real first person on the moon? You wouldn’t give that accolade to someone else. But Conrad and Bean came back with photos of Armstrong and Aldrin’s footprints. 

So one major line of evidence used to prove that the first moon landing was not faked, is what was seen by the other astronauts. They would never play along with a hoax.

In the same way the one species of creature who would never play along with a human pretending to be God, is the angels.

And yet, they testified that the resurrection was genuine.

Luke 24:2-6 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.

These are creatures who live in heaven with God would never be party to a human hoax.

4. PROCLAMATION

1 Timothy 3:16 proclaimed among the nations

One proffered theory for a faked resurrection is that the disciples stole the body to perpetuate the myth of Christ’s powers. But that part of their story led not to fame and fortune for them, but shame, capture, and martyrdom.  Hoaxes are meant to make money, power, and prestige.

We understand why Armstrong and Aldrin could be accused of staging a hoax: they got unimaginable fame and fortune as heroes and celebrities. But the preaching of the disciples cost them everything.  And yet they never, ever changed their story. They never watered down the resurrection claim and they never left it out of a gospel presentation. They insisted it was the central tenet of their message.

We’ve seen in Acts that John and Peter get arrested and beaten for preaching the resurrection. James gets beheaded, Stephen gets stoned to death. Eventually every last Apostle ends up martyred (save John who dies in exile).

All because of their unedited proclamation of the resurrection.

Now how is it possible that not a single person accused of faking the resurrection ever faltered on even one detail? Every last one of them would rather die than change their story. Why? Because it was true! So it was proclaimed in the nations.

5. GLOBALIZATION

1 Timothy 3:16believed on in the world

Jesus promises that he would build his church.

Matthew 16: 18I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Jesus said he would take personal responsibility for people in the world to believe the gospel.

Then he left these marching orders…

Matthew 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations

That promise is impossible to fulfill without the resurrection; Jesus needs to be alive to fulfill that promise. And since the promise is obviously being fulfilled with great effectiveness, it counts as a line of evidence that Jesus is alive, backing up the globalization of his church. He was believed on in the world.

6. ASCENSION

1 Timothy 3:16taken up in glory.

The ascension itself was the physical, visible part of the Father’s promotion and exultation of Christ for what he did. He wasn’t just taken up, he was taken up into glory.

Ephesians 1: 20-21he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.

There is no higher position in the Universe than the right hand of the Father in Heaven.

The CEO of all Creation. The Director of the Universe.

There is something hardwired into human beings to reach out and explore and set goals and conquer what’s next. But Jesus, transcended every possible goal in the Universe. He ascended to Glory. The top rung on the corporate ladder.

And the fact that the Father bestowed that honor on him is evidence that the incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus was accepted as the ultimate confirmation: Mission Accomplished.

These six voices in this line of evidence are not meant to convince unbelievers.

This is a hymn of faith for we who believe and just love to revel in the truth of what Jesus did.

CONCLUSION:  To answer our question: Is there any incontrovertible evidence for the moon landing to silence conspiracy theorists once for all?

The answer: It doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter whether people believe that humans walked on the moon. No one’s soul is in the balance.

But it does matter that you believe God walked on the earth. It does matter if you believe that Jesus claimed to be God and was raised from the dead to prove it. Do you believe?

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Online Source: The Cripplegate,