Letters may be edited for brevity.
Editorial Comments unless otherwise specified are by Philip L. Powell (plp).
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Christ being made SIN
Fri 14/10/2011 8:17 AM – Dear Pastor Powell: A friend sent me [the CWM] article on ... “Hellsong” written by Lance Goodall [LG]. It was very informative and good for warning, however, I was greatly alarmed by the [statements] by LG [following] his reference to a verse from Hillsong United, Break Free (Abridged) 2007:
Now we have a Christ, whose love doesn't hold us back, and a love that is "taking a stand" on the cross. When you look at the importance of songs in conveying a message, this song falls short of the traditional Christian canon. In fact it is downright repugnant!
Christ paid our price on the cross. He took our place. He took our penalty for sin, and received the very wrath of God poured out on Him. He died a physical death, as the Eternal God in human flesh. He who had no beginning ever present with the Father, was cut off for the first time from God. (My highlights.)
The Scripture reference He used was 2 Corinthians 5:21.
Now my question is, "How could the Lord Jesus Christ, who is God, be cut off from God?" Is there a division in the Godhead? I do not believe there is.
I believe Psalm 22 is Messianic. Verse 24 says:
For He hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted neither hath He hid His face from Him; but when He cried to Him He heard.
Does this look like God the Father abandoned God the Son on the cross?
I also appeal to you to look into the [meaning of] 2 Cor. 5 v 21 because it is widely taught that the Lord Jesus became 'sin' literally on the cross and not a 'sin offering'. How could God accept a "sinfilled" offering?
Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers. But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. - 1 Peter 1:18-19.
And as we are told by Peter the Apostle, many things Paul says are hard to be understood that those who are unlearned and unstable wrest to their own destruction .......
2 Corinthians 5:19 says God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.
As a young Christian, I used to be confused by the words of the Lord Jesus from the cross,
My God, my God why hast thou forsaken me? - Psalm 22:1.
I now believe that He was identifying Himself who He was and it is the prayer of a righteous man and the Righteous One who was to come. Does God ever forsake a righteous man?
I have been young, and now am old: yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread. - Psalm 37:25.
I truly believe that the doctrine of the sinfilled Saviour abandoned by God the Father on the cross is one of the damnable doctrines we are warned about.
Sent in Christian love – AL - Sydney
ED - Thank you AL for your thoughtful letter. I will endeavour to respond to all the issues and to answer your five questions, albeit necessarily briefly.
As a general principle of biblical interpretation we must accept the notion that the Bible always explains itself. Any anomaly or paradox needs to be examined in the context of a good biblical hermeneutic. This means that we must never ignore what the Bible says or simply interpret a difficult text or passage arbitrarily on the basis of what we think or even “truly believe”, no matter how sincere we may be. So let's apply that immediately to the matter under review.
Psalm 22 is, as you say a Messianic Psalm – all of it not just verse 24, which you cite followed by a strong conclusion. You have also quoted verse 1, but then you appear to dismiss the obvious meaning of that verse. Note it is directly quoted (almost verbatim) by Christ on the cross – cf. Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34. You are right when you say that it is the “prayer ... of the Righteous One that was to come” but we still must explain the meaning of “why have you forsaken me”,which becomes clear when you carefully examine the entire Psalm.
Verse 22 is the turning point in the Psalm—a sort of water-shed in the sufferings of Christ. In the previous part of the Psalm we have a detailed declaration of the sufferings of the Saviour including the mystery of His being God-forsaken as implied in verse 1. Effectively in these verses our Messiah is looking in four directions—UP to God; BACK to history; DOWN to His bodily sufferings; and OUT to His enemies.
Those directions of His gaze are not in strict sequence but through meditating on the Psalm one can grasp the pattern.
Verses 22-31 embrace the future. Here Christ looks onward to TRIUMPH which culminates in the victorious cry of verse 31 – “he has done this” – cf. “it is finished” – John 19:30.
This explains verse 24 which you allude to and which seems to trouble you re the notion of Christ being God forsaken. The mystery linked to the opening of this Psalm 22 is explained by the closing section of the Psalm and this too reflects upon the Corinthian verse that you mention.
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.- 2 Corinthians 5:21 NKJV.
FIRST we should clear away some misconceptions. Many people have tried to overcome the perceived problem of Christ, the perfect Saviour becoming sin, by replacing “sin”, in this verse, with “sin offering” but that doesn't fit textually. The word “sin” (STRONG 266 αμαρτια hamartia) appears twice in the verse. If you render it “sin offering” once, consistency requires that it be done both times, but that doesn't make sense. Christ was of course our “sin offering” but this verse is saying more than that. The type of the Day of Atonement offering of the two goats (Leviticus 23) helps us to understand what Paul is saying. Both goats carried the “sins” of the people—the Lord's goat in an act of death; and the scapegoat in an act of removal. In each case the sins of the people were symbolically transferred to each animal by the imposition of the priest's hands. In effect both goats “became” or “were made” sin—antitypically, Christ our offering, beautifully and completely being the fulfilment of the types of both the Lord's goat and the scapegoat.
In the garden of Gethsemane our Lord desired that “a cup” should be taken from Him, but then He submitted totally to the Will of God – see Luke 22:39-42. What was this cup? Obviously it was something momentous, as the thought of it, caused our Lord to “sweat as it were great drops of blood”. I and many others have concluded that this was the cup of human iniquity.
Death and the curse were in our cup:
O Christ, 'twas full for Thee;
But Thou hast drained the last dark drop,
'Tis empty now for me.
That bitter cup, love drank it up;
Now blessing's draught for me.
This is one of the great mysteries of the Gospel and I know that some people will say, “Ah there you go again. When you can't explain something you revert to the mystery excuse.” But the fact is there are a number of inexplicable mysteries associated with the Gospel. A “mystery” in the Bible sense is something hidden to those who are on the outside but gloriously clear to those who have been initiated. This is really what we are up against here. Some stumble at it, others use the entire idea to express something greater and more vital. It has inspired our greatest poets and hymnist of history.
Another example is Charles Wesley who wrote:
Tis mystery all: th'Immortal dies!Who can explore his strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph tries
to sound the depths of love divine.
'Tis mercy all! Let earth adore;
let angel minds inquire no more.
Tis mystery all the immortal dies!
Who can fully explain that? It's a MYSTERY and our entire salvation is based upon it. We do well to follow the example of the angels in Wesley's hymn and give up inquiring and the same applies to this matter of Christ the eternally righteous one being made or becoming SIN for us. He didn't take sin into His nature. He didn't become sinful. He was made by the Father to be SIN – i.e. the essence and extent of sin. Not as Kenneth Copeland and his Word of Faith associates teach, to be dragged to hell until his “wormy spirit” was quickened so that he flexed his muscles and broke free in triumph from the caverns of hell. That is heresy and rubbish.
A proper understanding of Psalm 22 makes it clear that our Saviour secured victory—His and ours—not in hell but upon the cross. It also teaches that He was temporarily God-forsaken, so your expressions “sin-filled Saviour” and “sinfilled offering” do not accurately reflect the teaching. Christ was NOT totally abandoned or cut off by God on the cross. There is no division in the Godhead. Psalm 37:25 remains inviolate–God does NOT forsake the righteous though in the case of Christ on the Cross He did withdraw the sense of His presence for a period of at least three hours, see Matthew 27:45-46; Mark 15:33-34; Luke 13:44-46 - plp.
Sat, 22 Oct 2011 12:14:52 +1100
Dear CWM, I noted that you have booked Tom McMahon ... during the period February 10 to March 8, 2012. This may be a big mistake as he has been working with Dave Hunt for many years on his radio program and monthly newsletter The Berean Call. Although they both find many targets for proving apostasy from the many that are out there trying to call themselves the prophets of Christianity, they are not consistent in their own teaching.
In one case their tradition of "Man's free will" being sovereign over who is saved and who is not, they used an heretical website to prove that Acts 13:48 has been translated incorrectly (apparently an anti-Trinitarian Yahwist website claims the first 15 chapters were originally written in Hebrew, but they have absolutely no evidence to support this) so that it was not those who were appointed unto salvation, only those who were positively disposed towards the message were saved.
This, if it were true, would mean we could have no confidence in scripture as our final authority and then we would need someone like the pope to make it clear to us what we should believe and what we should not. I don't think that sort of organization should be promoted at any of your events. You may say that Tom isn't Dave, but their whole group work together under the writings of both Dave and Tom. I have heard them trying to explain where this anti-Trinitarian Yahwist idea came from once and it appeared that they didn't know what the source was. It was one of their workers who had found the site and passed the idea on to them for their use and as they had no idea of how to get around this text they grabbed it and added it to their next edition of "What love is this". BTW, they have not removed this error from later editions even though it has been shown to them to be wrong and a serious problem as an example of how to exegete a passage of scripture. See http://cetf.co/sGBGcM for a complete disclosure. They continue to use sloppy exegesis as you will see from this web page about one of their latest claims? http://cetf.co/uGzqJU.
If, after reading this evidence, you still think that they are good people to promote true Christianity then please remove my name from your mailing list as I don't want to associate with such people (1 Timothy 4:16; 6:3-16; 2 Timothy 2:20-4:5; Titus 3:3-11).
ED – I wrote two emails to Peter - Thursday, 27 October 2011 9:18 PM and Mon 7/11/2011 11:01 PM.
To date (18/11/2011) there has been no response. CWM is pressing ahead with the visit of Tom McMahon, who along with his mentor and associate, Dave Hunt (DH) is held in very high regard by all associated with CWM.
If you select the links provided by Peter, in the above, you will arrive at Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog of which we are told James White (JW) is Director, Richard Pierce, President and Barry Ladden, Vice President. The first cleverly yet cynically is headed To Dave Hunt: The Bereans Called. They Want Their Name Back. Sad as is this unwarranted public cynicism of a high profile Christian leader the following statement which is part of the blog is far worse – “blatantly dishonest obfuscation all in a failed attempt to save face” for in it DH is accused of two serious acts which impugn his character
Firstly that DH's motive is to “save face”; and secondly that he is being dishonest. It is one thing to engage in vigorous debate. It is quite another to beg the question by attacking your opponent's character and that is clearly what JW is guilty of here. More than that he ignores DH's basic argument viz. that his interpretation of Acts 13:48 is not based upon the website which he unfortunately had drawn upon, but upon other things. For JW to avoid that point is unfair.
The English “ordained” and it's Greek equivalent (STRONG 5021 τασσω tasso) does allow for connotations other than that adopted by JW and his Calvinistic associates. Strong tells us that the word contains the idea of mutual agreement, which suggests a dual act - divine and human. Peter in his email to me refers to the tradition of “man's free will” as being at the base of what he thinks is DH's error. My own view is that only God has free will, but in that free will He has chosen that men and women have freedom of choice to accept (receive cf. John 1:12) or refuse God's offer of salvation. I see no conflict there, but, and here is the point, it is most discourteous and bordering on being “unchristian” to interpret another man's view upon the basis of what is one's own. I think both Peter, whoever he is (email@example.com ) and JW have fallen into that trap. The second link leads to another Alpha & Omega Ministries blog with the heading Dave Hunt: A Man Who Refuses to Be Corrected. I found the opening statement concerning—again for its obvious cynicism and for its irrelevance. What does (did) Dave Hunt's dress, which JW apparently found “odd” have to do with the issue or for that matter what did JW's exercise “lifting” (presumably weights) bear (pardon the pun) on the matter - the mind boggles.
JW may have a point that, contrary to what he says DH claims, the Bible does use the words “elected, predestined, chosen” other than in reference to ser vice. I suspect that JW has misrepresented DH here, notwithstanding the good responsive points he makes to the danger of diversion from context, leading to erroneous conclusions. My concerns are two-fold.
1. Lack of generosity. This can be from both sides.
I simply cite JW's unfortunate remark—“the fact that Dave Hunt is not honest enough to stop telling falsehoods when it comes to Calvinism.” I personally know DH, have stayed in his home and shared platforms with him. He is definitely sincere in what he believes and makes a good case for it in his many presentations. He does not warrant the dismissive treatment Peter offers.
2. Lack of specifics. This too can be from both sides.
DH is said to be a man who “refuses to be corrected.” I have heard the same said about JW. Dave Hunt is considerably my senior and very much senior to James White. To make such a claim of an older man is discourteous and completely contrary to the biblical requirement of showing respect and honour to one's elders. In addition and contrary to the blog's claim, I found that DH is always open to possible correction in line with what is implied by the name of his ministry The Berean Call. For example as I drove him around Brisbane, some years ago, we discussed the implication of Ephesians 2:8-9 “saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” One of Dave's statements in his book What Love is This suggested to me that it is some form of human faith that saves a person. I pointed out to Dave that this would constitute works and gave my own view on what occurs in this area at the point of salvation. Saving faith is not apart from the human individual will, but it is not of the individual human will. Human choice is involved but the faith that saves is derived from God at the time of surrender of the human will to the Gospel call. Dave agreed.
Another occasion was when I chaired a meeting at which DH spoke. The old “bone of contention” of eternal security was raised. DH does believe in eternal security as a result of which some have dubbed him a one point Calvinist, which he denies as his conclusion is not derived from the Calvinistic perspective. As Chairman of the meeting I suggested that it is always a dangerous thing to project the idea that it does not matter what we do after salvation, we will always remain saved. Dave again agreed and this time publicly. It is not a question of “once saved, always saved” which is a very dangerous statement to make and doctrine to embrace. It is more a matter of “once saved really saved”.
Now what is the point of all of this? On st Friday October 21 , 2011 I listened to an excellent debate in South Brisbane between Roger Perkins, a United Pentecostal and James White, on the Tri-Unity of God. JW undoubtedly got the better of the argument as he expertly and graciously presented the orthodox view and backed RP into a corner. JW was brilliant. On the Sunday after the debate (23/10/2011) I drove James for approximately 30 minutes to the Brisbane airport for his flight back to the USA via Sydney. I reminded him that we had communicated sometime previously and that it was in respect of Dave Hunt. He seemed not to recall the exchange and when I asked if he knew that DH is now 85 and very unwell, he said he had not heard. I was hoping that my gentle hint might have helped heal a rift. In my opinion both DH and JW are good men of God, who according to my biblical theology will both spend eternity in heaven. They need to be reconciled.
My first email from Peter quoted above was dated October 27, 2011 just 4 days after my encounter with JW. Is there some coincidence, I wonder? Will my going public on the matter produce anything valuable? Peter has threatened to disassociate from us over his perception of DH and our links. That is a mean spirited attitude. Quite clearly Peter has been influenced by James White, who uses expressions like “Calvinistic” and “Reformed” in my opinion in advisedly and in an elitist sense. Personally I take the position that I am being reformed and am not yet totally REFORMED and won't be until Christ returns:
“Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. - Philippians 3:21.
In the meanwhile we are all in the making. I don't rank myself alongside either JW or DH. They are way ahead of me in knowledge, ability, and certainly in influence. I'm just like the “boy who ran away to Scotland” and who discovered some interesting things that caused him to wonder.
So he stood in his shoes; And he wondered.
He wondered; He stood in his shoes; And he wondered.
Is there a meeting point? Will my dream of building a bridge where good men can cross and stop wrangling and join forces in the greater work of preaching the Gospel, end up as a pipe dream? Sadly another poet has all too often been proved correct:
No matter how subtle the wrist;
No matter how closely each stands
If one man closes his fist;
They cannot contrive to shake hands.
I STAND IN MY SHOES AND I WONDER ... plp.*
Pastors in the New Testament
Tue 18/10/2011 2:50 PM
As a recipient of CETF I do admire and respect those who continue to seek after truth. HOWEVER, I have yet to find any proclaimer of God's Word point out to me the biblical basis for Pastoral oversight, Title or Seniority in relation to “His Church-The Body of Christ.” I have been unable myself to find any biblical foundation for Pastoral oversight or Senior Pastors in my research.
From my studies I have found limited mention of pastors/shepherds and when discovered the biblical view was that where mentioned they were in most cases nothing but a disappointment to GOD. I am of the view that there is no solid evidence for the pastoral gifting and function to be operative from the position of Title or function above any other of the ministry gifting's in the Body of Christ and furthermore even those holding to the “title” of pastor have elevated that function/ministry/gifting or office to Senior Pastor making them Senior and others Lesser/subjective Pastors....”a little leaven leavens the whole lump” as it were. Therefore to acclaim the pastoral role as Shepherd would then make Senior pastors as the Chief shepherd.
This [my] view of course would be contrary I believe to the position generally held ........BUT .. What does The Word have to say on the matter.
Where in the New Testament are any of the epistles addressed to a pastor and how many times in the New Testament is pastor mentioned and if historically “church government” has been hijacked by the pastoral office what evidence does the New Testament provide for “church government” and what really is the role of a Shepherd/pastor and is there any definitive role and function that a pastor plays above any other.
Thanks – Roy Australia.
ED – We have addressed this issue previously albeit very briefly - see http://cetf.co/suBmJk – last item; see also CETF # 56 p. 22.
The English word “pastor” appears only once in the KJV of the New Testament (NT)—Ephesians 4:11—and that in the plural form:
And He [Christ] gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors [STRONG 4166 ποιμην poimen] and teachers – Ephesians 4:11.
The Greek “ποιμην poimen”, from which the English “pastors” is derived, appears a total of 17 times in the NT and is most frequently applied to our Lord Jesus Christ by Himself and is rendered “shepherd”. From the farming analogy a pastor (shepherd) then is one who cares for the sheep of God's pasture. A true “pastor” will carry out three functions – guarding, guiding and feeding God's flock. The “chief” or “head” shepherd is Christ. However, Peter clearly saw himself and others who shared his pastoral responsibility as “under-shepherds”, who are accountable to the “chief Shepherd”.
The elders [STRONG 4245 πρεσβυτερος presbuteros] who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder <4245> and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: Shepherd [STRONG 4165 ποιμαινω poimaino – rendered “feed” KJV] the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers [STRONG 1983 επισκοπεω episkopeo], not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd [STRONG 750 αρχιποιμην archipoimen] appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away – 1 Peter 5:1-4.
You are right when you say that the term is not a title, except when it is directly applied to Christ who is called “the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls” (1 Peter 2:25 cf. John 10:11). A similar truth applies to each of the other ministry gifts mentioned by Paul in Ephesians chapter 4. Not one of them is a title—apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor or teacher. They are all functions within the body of Christ, each at the discretion and under the direct supervision of our Lord Jesus Christ, Head of His Church.
So it naturally follows that you must be right in stating that the terms senior or head pastor are non-biblical i.e. they are extra-biblical, when applied to men. The same applies to each of the five ministry gifts mentioned. That, however does not necessarily mean that it is inherently wrong to adopt the word “senior” or “head” in a multiple ministry setting for designation purposes, providing any required biblical principles are maintained. After all it's best if the “buck stops somewhere” and it is important that people know who should be held accountable. However, I do understand your concern and sympathise with your view of the danger of usurping the position that belongs ONLY to Christ.
Throughout the NT governmental leadership, within the local Church, is generally seen as being multiple. Paul instructed Titus and Timothy to appoint (ordain) “elders” plural [STRONG 4245 πρεσβυτερος presbuteros] – cf. Titus 1:5 with 1 Timothy 3:1-7. Titus 1:7 shows that an “elder” in the NT Church was also called a “bishop” [STRONG 1985 st επισκοπος episkopos] so called in 1 Timothy chapter 3, where we are told that such should be able to “teach” (v. 2) and to govern or “rule” (v.5). In other words they are to perform the duty or function of a “pastor” [STRONG 4166 ποιμην poimen]. We are dealing here with function not title, so the designation — “elder", “bishop”, “pastor”—is not important; a rose by any other name remains a “rose”.
There are of course biblical principles in respect of the character and operation of Church leaders—all of them:
Peter tells us that they must not lord it over “God's heritage” but rather they must be good examples to “the flock” see 1 Peter 5:3;
Paul tells us that they must not be avaricious, violent, quarrelsome, immoral, covetous or given to wine – 1 Timothy 3:3, 8 etc cf. Titus 1:7 etc.
There is no absolute system of government taught or exemplified in the New Testament. The general pattern appears to be that of multiple elders with one being held particularly accountable – cf. Revelation 2:1 etc (“angel” = Gr. αγγελος aggelos [STRONG 32] = messenger). At times there was apostolic direction (command) see 1 Cor. 7:10; 2 Thess. 3:4, 6, 12; 1 Tim. 4:11. New so called apostolic direction no longer applies as we have the Word of God to direct us.
Summary & Conclusion
Roy we commend you on making some very good points and helping to open up this topic for discussion. I think the major problem we face today relates to the abuse that has occurred from ambitious and self-serving men who have masqueraded as the “minsters of Christ” when they are nothing more than hirelings. There is no ideal form of Church government in either the NT or in the pages of history. There are principles of operation and when those principles are usurped abuse occurs. This also shows the wisdom of God. A pioneer person, whatever he may be called, inevitably performs a number of ministry and governmental functions. He is able to do that based on biblical precedent, which would not be possible if there were a clear cut form of local Church government. As the work grows changes can be made without offence. It happened in the NT and throughout history where God used various forms of Church government. Each has its strengths and its weakness but any fundamental problem derives from human pride, selfishness and/or ambition. The guiding light is possibly provided for us by Paul when he writes:
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself - Philippians 2:3 NKJV