Wayne Grudem

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Why a Virgin Birth?

Posted by on 23 Dec 2010 | Tagged as: Christmas, Incarnation, Virgin Birth, Wayne Grudem


The Incarnation

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Isaiah 7:14

Could there have been another way for the Son of God to come to earth and be both fully human and fully divine in every way? If Christ was born of both parents, it is hard for us to believe he is fully divine, God in all his glory and perfections. If Christ descends to earth and takes upon himself a human body without birth, then it is hard for us to believe he is fully human. Something unique, something beyond the imagination of humankind must take place. The Virgin Birth is the divine solution to this perplexing dilemma: Jesus was conceived in the womb of his mother Mary by a miraculous work of the Holy Spirit without a human father (Matt. 1:23). Reformed theologian, Wayne Grudem, provides a fuller explanation:

The virgin birth made possible the uniting of full deity and full humanity in one person. This was the means God used to send his Son (John 3:16; Gal 4:4) into the world as a man. If we think for a moment of other possible ways in which Christ might have come to the earth, none of them would so clearly unite humanity and deity in one person.

It probably would have been possible for God to create Jesus as a complete human being in heaven and send him to descend from heaven to earth without the benefit of any human parent. But then it would have been very hard for us to see how Jesus could be fully human as we are, nor would he be a part of the human race that physically descended from Adam.

On the other hand, it probably would have been possible for God to have Jesus come into the world with two human parents, both a father and a mother, and with his full divine nature miraculously united to his human nature at some point early in his life. But then it would have been hard for us to understand how Jesus was fully God, since his origin was like ours in every way.

When we think of these two other possibilities, it helps us to understand how God, in his wisdom, ordained a combination of human and divine influence in the birth of Christ, so that his full humanity would be evident to us from the fact of his ordinary human birth from a human mother, and his full deity would be evident from the fact of his conception in Mary’s womb by the powerful work of the Holy Spirit.

Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994), 530.

Stone the False Prophet

Posted by on 09 Aug 2010 | Tagged as: Gift of Prophecy, Prophecy, Prophets, Wayne Grudem

Why Not Stone the False Prophets?

But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death. You may say to yourselves, ‘How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD?’

If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him.

Deut. 18:20-22 NIV

Often, I am asked the question, “If New Testament prophecy exists today, why do you guys (i.e., Charismatics and Pentecostals) not stone the prophets when they are obviously wrong in their predictions”? To begin to answer this question, we need to examine the difference between an Old Testament prophet and present day New Testament prophetic ministry.

In the Old Testament the prescription was clear (Deut. 18:20-22). If a prophet failed in his prophecy, he dies because his words did not come to fruition. Clear, tangible, visible evidence assisted the observers in discerning whether a prophecy was true or false.

The Holy Spirit was not present individually in the lives of the Israelites, the only means available for discernment was outward evidence. If the “word of the Lord” came true, the prophet was from the Lord. If the prediction was false, the prophet was false and must be killed before he or she deceives and misleads hundreds, if not, thousands of people.

Today, however, any New Testament believer has within him (or her) the presence of the Holy Spirit. Since, the Holy Spirit is resident within, then are all the spiritual gifts are available to every believer (1 Cor. 12). One of those resident gifts is the spirit of discernment (1 Cor. 12: 10): this gift assists each believer and the whole body to discern whether a prophetic word is from the Lord, the flesh, or even the devil (1 Cor. 14: 29). Thus, we are able to weigh whether a prophetic word is valid by an inner witness (1 John 4: 1-3, 1 Cor. 14:29).

Therefore, we no longer need piles of stones outside our church doors. The Lord himself guides a congregation to accept or reject a prophetic word or ministry.

In 1 Corinthians 14:29 it seems that the prophet’s words could be challenged and questioned, and that the prophet could at times be wrong. Yet there is no indication that an occasional mistake would make him a ‘false’ prophet. In 1 Corinthians 14:30, Paul seems unconcerned that some of a prophet’s words could be lost for ever and never heard by the church.

In 1 Corinthians 14:36, he refuses the prophets the right to make rules for worship other than the ones he has given, and in 1 Corinthians 14:37-38 he seems to indicate that, in his opinion, no Corinthian prophet had a kind of divine authority equal to his own. Finally, in 1 Corinthians 11:5 and 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, Paul allows women to prophesy while denying to them the right to enforce obedience or belief on the congregation, and this would be consistent with the view that prophets spoke with something less than ‘absolute’ divine authority.

Wayne Grudem, The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today (Westchester, IL: Crossway, 1988), 87.

The Blood of the Lamb

Posted by on 28 May 2010 | Tagged as: Blood of Jesus, D. A. Carson, Jesus Christ, The Cross, Wayne Grudem

Christ’s Atoning Work

And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.

Rev. 12:10-12

A few weeks ago, I was experimenting with electronic reading. At Best Buy, we sell the Sony E-Reader and Barnes and Noble Nook. I have examined their respective features pro and con, but I was not quite sold on either one. For months, I have been intrigued by the Amazon Kindle. I preferred an ereader with touch screen which at this moment Kindle does not produce. I decided to wait for the next generation model to see if they might produce a better interface. I was saving my Amazon gift certificates on-line for a possible future purchase.

However, the iPad made its debut and changed everything about electronic reading. Most reviews are saying that the Kindle application on an iPad is the best reading experience. Before, I made a decision about what ereader I wanted, I decided to download the Kindle application on my Mac Book Pro (I have since ruined the computer by spilling water on it) and then on an old Gateway laptop.

I purchased two books for my ereading experiment, Scandalous by D. A. Carson, and Unpacking Forgiveness by Chris Brauns. Today, I finished D.A. Carson’s work and found his insights as usual thoroughly compelling.

Scandalous discusses the glory of Jesus’ finished work on Cross and the power of his resurrection by explaining Matt 27:27-51; Rom. 3:21-26; Rev. 12:1-17; John 11:1-53, and John 20:24-31. Chapter three is an exegesis of Revelation twelve: The Woman and the Dragon. This chapter alone is worth the price of the book.

In that chapter, Carson develops a full teaching on the meaning of the phrase, “the blood of the Lamb,” from 12:11, “They overcame him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb.” The blood of the Lamb is physical evidence that Christ’s life was poured out as our redemption (i.e., payment that frees us from slavery to sin). In other words, Christ’s blood shed is his death for us in all its saving power. Wayne Grudem defines for us the meaning of the blood of Christ in Scripture:

Scripture speaks so much about the blood of Christ because its shedding was very clear evidence that his life was being given in judicial execution (that is, he was condemned to death and died paying a penalty imposed both by an earthly human judge and by God himself in heaven).

Scripture’s emphasis on the blood of Christ also shows the clear connection between Christ’s death and the many sacrifices in the Old Testament that involved the pouring out of the life blood of the sacrificial animal. These sacrifices all pointed forward to and prefigured the death of Christ.

Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994), 579.

Now a little taste of D.A. Carson’s Scandalous on the blood of Christ:

All Christian blessings and resources are grounded in the blood of the Lamb.

Do you find yourself accepted before this holy God? If so, it is because of the blood of the Lamb. Have you received the blessed Holy Spirit? He has been poured out because of the blood of the Lamb. Do you have the prospect of consummated eternal life in glory? It was secured by the blood of the Lamb.

Are you in the fellowship of saints, brothers and sisters who love Christ, the church of the living God, a new body, the body of Christ on earth? This is bought, secured, and constituted by the blood of the Lamb. Are you grateful for the spiritual armaments that Paul tells us to deploy (Ephesians 6)? The entire arsenal is at our disposal because of the blood of the Lamb. May we go to God in prayer? It is because of the blood of the Lamb. Do we find our wills strengthened by the Spirit? That incalculable benefit was secured by the blood of the Lamb.

Every whiff of victory over the principalities and powers of this dark age has been secured by the blood of the Lamb.

D.A. Carson, Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010), 99.

Standing Before God Himself

Posted by on 04 Aug 2009 | Tagged as: Evangelical, J. C. Ryle, Second Coming, Wayne Grudem

Evangelical Essentials (Part Eight)

So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

2 Cor 5:9-10 (ESV)

No man ever said, at the end of his days, ‘I have read my Bible too much, I have thought of God too much, I have prayed too much, I have been too careful with my soul.’

J.C. Ryle

HT: J.C. Ryle Quotes

Evangelicals believe in a final judgment because scripture frequently affirms the fact that there will be a verdict by God in which he decides the eternal destiny of believers and unbelievers. All will stand before the great judgment seat of Christ in resurrected bodies and hear the Lord’s declaration of their unending fate.

If we have given our lives to Christ, then we can be assured that Christ’s righteousness has covered our guilty stains and that we will be delivered from condemnation.

It is important to realize that this judgment of believers will be a judgment to evaluate and bestow various degrees of reward, but the fact that they will face such a judgment should never cause believers to fear that they will be eternally condemned. Jesus says, “He who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment but has passed from death to life” (John 5:24). Here “judgment” must be understood in the sense of eternal condemnation and death, since it is contrasted with passing from death into life. At the day of final judgment more than at any other time, it is of utmost importance that “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1).

[Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994), 1143.]

As Christians, we begin understanding the final judgment by acknowledging that we are accountable to God: we will be judged for our faithfulness to the gospel, behavior in his name, and the quality of our ministries. We must give an account to God for the gifts, opportunities, and abilities that God granted us in this life (1 Cor. 3:10-15). We will have to explain how we used God’s gifts for his glory. This reverential awe is a sure cure for our carelessness. It is dangerous to claim a relationship with Jesus, while no genuine fruit is manifesting in our lives. We want to be diligent that we are actually walking in the “works that have been prepared for us to do” (Eph. 2:10).

When God asks what we did with our lives, will we be able to say, “I invested in people, served the church, reached out to the world, and advance the kingdom to the best of my ability?” Or  will we have to admit, “I wasted my life playing all hundred levels of Warcraft, watched every S.E.C. football game since 1985, and alienated everyone around me.”

As Evangelicals, the doctrine of final judgment grants us a a healthy fear of God and a determination to be faithful with our limited time on this earth.

What is the Imputed and Imparted Righteousness of Christ?

Posted by on 23 Jul 2009 | Tagged as: Evangelical, John Wesley, Justification, Wayne Grudem

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Evangelical Essentials (Part Five)

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Romans 5:1-2 (NKJV)

Justification by faith is God’s acceptance of me to be in right standing by the righteousness of Jesus Christ being accounted to me, a sinner. Justification is an immediate legal work of God in which he forgives our sins, counts Christ’s righteousness as our own, and declares us righteous in his sight.

[Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994), 723.]

Evangelicals believe in the imputed (i.e., Lutheran, Reformed, Wesleyan,etc.) and imparted righteousness (i.e., Wesleyan) of Christ, this phrase and these terms can be confusing and intimidating. The imputed righteousness of Christ is summarized by a sentence in the Lake George blessing: “God was in Christ Jesus reconciling the world to himself not counting men’s sins against them.” Imputation is the crediting of Christ’s righteousness to my account. This imputation is twofold: we receive Christ’s holiness and forgiveness and Christ takes upon himself our guilt and judgment.

Impartation is Christ releasing within us his very life so that moment-by-moment we may experience his presence enabling us to make righteous choices. In summary, Christ’s righteousness is a gift which can be described as a wedding garment—a white robe of righteousness—completely covering us in Christ enabling us to spend a lifetime of communion with the Father (Isa. 61:10). This same righteousness is imparted to us on a constant basis enabling us to display of the fruit of the Spirit, as we trust Christ in our weaknesses and struggles.

[Bob Mumford, The Agape Road: Journey to Intimacy with the Father (Nashville, Tenn: Lifeway Press, 2000), 57-59.]

This declaration is forensic in that the legal charges against us have been dropped and we have been declared righteous. To be credited as righteous is to be conferred a legal standing of being forgiven and no longer liable to punishment. This new status declares me righteous in God’s sight; free from the condemnation of sin, the fear of death, and accusations of the devil. The imputed righteousness of Christ is a gift; it cannot be earned. This gift can only be received from a grateful heart by faith alone (Rom. 3:26, 28; 4:5; 5:1, Gal. 2:15-16). Christ’s righteousness is not only declared to be my righteousness in heaven, but this righteousness also transforms my life here on earth.

John Wesley concurs that the righteousness of Christ is both imputed and imparted (his word is implanted):

That Christ’s righteousness is imputed means that ‘all believers are forgiven and accepted, not for the sake of anything in them, or of anything that ever was, that is, or ever can be done by them, or ever can be done by them, but wholly and solely for the sake of what Christ hath done and suffered for them.'”

I believe that God implants righteousness in everyone to whom He has imputed it. Implanting is a lively horticultural metaphor, as distinguished from a declarative, juridical metaphor. It requires daily nurturing, not a simple bang of a gavel.It is the fruit of our acceptance with God, not the ground of it.

[Thomas Oden, John Wesley’s Scriptural Christianity:A Plain Exposition of His Teaching on Christian Doctrine (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994), 207, 208.]

In brief, Christ’s righteousness is a transformative righteousness in that it effectively changes those who have been declared righteous by God.