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Question #1: 

Hi Bob,

“Then Jesus ordered him, ‘Don’t tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.’”
(Luke 5:14)

It seems that Jesus did want this man to tell others…but not by telling an anecdote. He wanted him to go to the temple and give an offering.

Response #1: 

This was the procedure required by the Law (Lev.14:2-22). I don't read here that the Lord instructed the man to explain how he'd been healed of his leprosy (the "testimony" is the act itself which speaks to the power of God for anyone paying attention). Given the low spiritual state of the citizens and rulers of Judea at this time, I doubt that any would have been motivated to ask him how he was healed (being content merely to receive their share of the offering).

Our Lord was consistent in eschewing celebrity (Matt.8:4; 9:30-31; 12:16; 14:13-14; Mk.1:43-45; 3:20; 8:26; 9:30; Lk.4:42-44; 5:15-16; 5:19) – which is also a negative for us (1Cor.3:21; cf. 1Cor.4:6-7). As I say in BB 4A: "Jesus knew full well that the approbation of human beings is about as stable as the wind; He was looking not for human approval but to please His heavenly Father (e.g., Matt.26:42; Lk.11:2; Jn.4:34; 5:30; 6:38; cf. Is.42:1-2)." We should ever strive to do the same, following His lead as in all things.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #2: 

Hi Sir,

I am really learning through your ministry, just some query concerning the term “spiritual death” of Christ. We know that He never sinned at all during His earthly stint, hence, He was a worthy sacrifice for the redemption of sinful humanity. Maybe I just need a little bit more explanation concerning Christ spiritual death and His sinlessness.

God bless,

Response #2: 

Very good to make your acquaintance, and thanks for your perceptive question.

You may have already seen these, but first let me give you a couple of links to the places where this term is defined and discussed:

The Spiritual Death of Christ (in BB 4A)

The Spiritual Death of Jesus Christ and the Blood of Christ (also in BB 4A)

Specifics on the spiritual death of Christ

Essentially, the "spiritual death of Christ" is synonymous with the "blood of Christ", but since the latter term is so often misunderstood and abused – it is not literal blood but Christ's dying for sin being described as it was previously represented by animal blood – I tend to use the former term.

You are absolutely correct that Christ never sinned and was the only One who could be a worthy Substitute as the only perfect human being – and the only One capable of dying for the sins of the world as the God-man. The term "spiritual death" means that He died in a spiritual sense for us – what He accomplished on the cross He accomplished BEFORE He gave up His spirit and died physically; as He says before He exhales His spirit, "it has been completed" (Jn.19:30). As Paul says:

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
2nd Corinthians 5:21 NKJV

He never sinned but was "considered as sin" in the place of all us sinners and judged for all of our sins – analogous to the offerer placing his hand on the head of the burnt offering to symbolize the "transfer" of the penalty and punishment for sin to the offering:

Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.
1st Peter 2:24 NKJV

I hope this clears it up – but do have a look at the links and do feel free to write me back about this.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #3: 

His Sir,

Thanks for your response about my query on the term ”spiritual death” , it helps me a lot even the link. It is just the meaning of the spiritual death that I'm confused about as some popular TV evangelists explained that if Christ died spiritually which means that He did sin at the cross for this reason that God the Father could not look at Him on that particular time when He said why have you forsaken. They said that if Christ died spiritually then He is not worthy to be an atonement sacrifice.

Response #3: 

You're most welcome.

The "problem", to the extent there is one, is one of English vocabulary. The term "spiritual death" is not in the Bible.  As I said, the Bible most often uses the phrase "the blood of Christ"; but that term has been so misused by, e.g., the RC church, that it needs to be explained whenever used (see the link); "spiritual death" is thus a developed term used for our benefit, a short-hand, so to speak, to be able to refer in the case of Christ to His work in dying for the sins of the world and paying the entire price in being judged for them; we use this short-hand to save time and not have to explain the entire doctrine every time we mention it. But derived terms such as this may NOT be used to develop doctrine, as those who are saying these incorrect things you report are doing. One of the complications is that the term "spiritual death" is also often used for human beings who are "dead to God" as opposed to being "alive" to Him after being born again. Clearly, these are NOT the same things. In the case of human beings, we are "dead to God" at birth by virtue of being contaminated physically and as a result of this contamination we sin. In the case of Christ, He was not contaminated and NEVER sinned; on the cross He bore our sins in His body and was judged in our place for them – something that only a perfect human being could do, something that only someone who was also God could endure. So these are two different things entirely.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #4: 

What is the connection?

"As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, 'Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.' He replied, 'Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.'"
(Luke 11:27-28)

"From now on all generations will call me blessed,"
(Luke 1:28)

Response #4: 

The woman in the first passage cited was trying to diminish our Lord by her words and distract attention from the gospel and from our Lord's teaching – which is why He rebuked her. Mary was speaking in the Spirit. The woman-in-the-wrong was correct in what she said (and I suppose it is one a myriad of fulfillments of the prophecy), but wrong to say it when she said it. Our Lord does not say she is wrong but corrects her misrepresentation of the situation: everyone is blessed through the Word of God if that Word is obeyed, and that was the time to hear the Word rather than glorify the mother of our Lord's humanity.

Yours in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #5: 

In Psalm 16:8, David says "I have set the Lord always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken." Now the Lord never appeared to David, but David was a man who was passionate in his faith. It is of course a very good point you make that David's "ability to visualize his Master, to call to his mind's eye his Lord and deliverer that form a very large part of David's spiritual success", but wouldn't seeing the Angel of the Lord in 2 Samuel 24:16 count as seeing the Lord?

Response #5: 

I'm not sure about this instance. In the passage quoted, "the angel of the Lord" is actually "an angel of the Lord" in the Hebrew (same thing in the companion passage in Chronicles). So when we read "the Lord relented and spoke to the angel" and "David spoke to the Lord when he saw the angel", we get the impression that this is not THE Angel of the Lord, a Christophany. In any case, the angel doesn't appear to David personally or communicate with him; David is only given to see him from a distance. And notice that David speaks to "the Lord", not to the angel.

Question #6: 

Since the burning bush is an illustration of our Lord’s sacrifice on the cross, I have always assumed that it is He, in His pre-incarnate state, who spoke to Moses? I have just re-read Theology today and the question noted above has come to my mind. Later you write:

a. The Angel first appears to Moses in the burning bush (Ex.3:2ff.). It is the Angel of the Lord who appeared to Moses in the fiery flames (v.2), but shortly thereafter the Angel represents Himself as God the Father, saying "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob (v.6), and "I shall be who I am" (v.14), and is further identified as "the Lord" (in v.7). The symbolism of the fire and the bush is important: the bush calls attention to Christ, the Messiah, as the Branch (Is.4:2; 11:1; 53:2;Jer.23:5; 33:15; Zech.3:8; 6:12), while the fire represents the fiery judgment of the cross that does not consume Him (cf., for example, the burnt offerings of Lev.1 which represent Christ's work on the cross). This first appearance of the Angel of the Lord to Moses, then, is a Christophany, an appearance of the pre-incarnate Christ representing and speaking for the Father.

Why should we take the Angel representing Himself as God the Father here? I would have thought that it is simply our Lord speaking on His own behalf as God, so that we've got a clear testimony of His own deity and a separation between these two Persons of the Godhead.

Response #6: 

While I wouldn’t dogmatically say it can’t be thought of that way (after all, Jesus is God and He is also the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – as is the Father whom the Son serves in the plan of God), in scripture wherever “God” is used by itself it is almost always referring to the Father. The Spirit is God and the Son is God, but when the Bible uses the word “God” without qualifying it, it should usually be taken to be the Father who is meant (or occasionally the entire Trinity as in Genesis chapter one). The distinction in this chapter between “Angel” and “God” seems to me to be a firm cue that this is what is going on here as well

Question #7: 

I think I understand the principle, but I'm not entirely certain about this particular instance. If my understanding is correct, you take the Angel of the Lord - pre-incarnate Jesus Christ - as speaking on behalf of the Father there? I just thought that when the first person pronoun is used in Exodus 3, the Angel speaks for Himself, as the Second Person of the Trinity.

Response #7: 

I'm not sure I can give any more evidence on this that what I've already written. I will say that "God is one" – which means that there never was a time when what Jesus said was not exactly what the Father wanted Him to say. So from that perspective our Lord has always been speaking for the Father – just as the Father speaks through Him (Heb.1:2).

"For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure."
John 3:34 NKJV

"Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works."
John 14:10 NKJV

Question #8:  

I'm sorry that I'm coming back to our Lord's appearances, but I want to understand this important issue and be at peace with it. Following would be the summary points on this:

1) All the Old Testament appearances of God are appearances of Christ, as you wrote.
2) Christ Himself confirms that "He is" the Yahweh of the Old Testament.
3) Christ represents the Father and speaks on His behalf, also in Exodus 3.

From BB1 Theology:

Person: The Father is often referred to as the 1st person of the Trinity (i.e., the authoritative "I" person), because He speaks to us as "I", directly manifesting His authoritative will as our God, creator and ruler of the universe (e.g., Ex.3:14-15; Is.46:9-10).

Point 3) is still somewhat difficult for me, but I may just have to leave it for the time being and come back to this in some time, maybe my understanding of the issue will have improved. At the moment the use of the first person pronoun by our Lord in the New Testament when He refers to these passages (and in the New Testament I would think we can only interpret these verses as Him speaking of Himself), combined with the fact that He is the Creator and God makes it hard for me to dismiss the interpretation that it is not only He who appeared in the bush, but also that He spoke for Himself. Finally, though, the Father and the Son are one and so to take Son's appearances as representing the Father is in any case not a big difference. Well, that's how I stand with it now, but thank you for bearing with me on this.

Response #8: 

Christ is clearly Christ speaking from His humanity, although of course He is also clearly the Father's Anointed, speaking the policy of the King's kingdom as the One who will rule over it not many years hence. The issue is an OT issue. In those times, due to the dangers of paganism with its multiple gods, the importance of stressing the oneness of God was paramount. For that reason in a direct head-on view we are only ever given to see the One – which would be Christ in Christophany representing the Father. But from the NT perspective we can turn the picture to the side and see our Lord Jesus representing the Father who would send Him into the world.

Question #9: 

Thank you very much for bringing this point, it solved the issue. I remember your explanation of the reasons why Trinity was not revealed in the Old Testament, but I didn't apply these principles to this verse. Once we understand that Moses could not have thought that this was our Lord, it becomes clear that pre-incarnate Christ must have represented the Father. And then, as you wrote, with the New Testament perspective we can see that it was Christ in fact, who identified Himself as the Jahweh of the Old Testament. Thank you for bearing with me on this. So we could perhaps say:

1) Yes, it is Christ, but Moses doesn't know it;

2) Consequently, the key aspect of this appearance is the representation of God the Father - the only One the Old Testament believers would know;

3) Finally - He is One with the Father in any case.

Response #9: 

On Christ in the Old Testament. There is also this:

(24) By faith, Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, (25) and chose instead to suffer maltreatment with the people of God rather than to enjoy the transitory pleasures of sin, (26) because he considered the reproach [suffered on behalf] of Christ greater riches than [all the] treasure vaults of Egypt. For he was looking to his reward. (27) By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king. For he grew strong by seeing the One who cannot be seen (i.e., by keeping his mind's eye on the invisible Lord Jesus Christ).
Hebrews 11:24-27

And this:

As the Pharisees were gathering together, Jesus put a question to them, saying “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?” They answered Him, “David's son.” Then He said to them, “Well then, how can David, speaking in the Spirit, call Him Lord? For he says, 'The Lord said to My Lord, 'Sit down at my right hand, until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.' [Psalm 110:1]' So if David calls Him Lord, how is He his Son?” And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor did anyone dare to question Him any longer from that day forward.
Matthew 22:41-46

Both of these passages indicate to me that at least some great believers before the cross were aware of the difference as well as of the correspondence: Jesus and the Father are God (along with the Spirit); but Jesus is not the Father and the Father is not Christ.

When the disciples asked our Lord to "show us the Father" (Jn.14:8), they certainly saw Christ – face to face – and knew that He was not the Father, but they should have known that they are One (as they certainly did come to know in full). And when Moses and David communed with Him, they did have, according to the passages above, an understanding of the difference, even if at that time they could not see it as the disciples did (or should have). Before the cross, these great Old Testament believers knew of the Messiah, the Christ, the One to come, and they knew that He was not the Father (that is still the case today with many unbelieving Jews who do not understand/accept His deity). The Trinity is the truth and has always been the truth, and that is true before it was fully revealed (as in seeing three peaks of a great mountain all in a row before the cross, and seeing them from the side after the cross).

Question #10: 

As for Christ in the Old Testament - I was actually thinking about the passage from Hebrews 11 when I wrote to you. Matthew 22:41-46 shows that David knew that there was another One to be called Lord who was not the Father. I can see how Moses also had indications that there is a difference between God the Father and Christ - God spoke to Him and yet He was represented through the Angel of the Lord; he also saw God, even if not in His full glory, and yet we know that no one can see God and live. And He was the one who penned the Old Testament books which contained these verses. I just wonder about Hebrews 11:26 - whether what is meant what Moses actually thought or what the author interpreted for us - just as Jesus tells the Pharisees the true meaning behind Psalm 110. I don't think it makes a significant difference in Moses' case, but it made me think.

Response #10: 

Wonderful observations. I'm taking the liberty of pasting in here the end of a conversation between one of my seminary brothers and a somewhat famous Jewish Christian scholar, Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum of Ariel ministries, on that very passage (see the link https://ichthys.com/mail-grace-versus-law2.htm#Fruchtenbaum):

In Hebrews 11:26 "considering" (as in "considering the reproach of/for Christ) is masculine singular and grammatically refers back to Moses, a single person (like everyone else in this long list in Hebrews) who is being held up as an example. So Moses, personally, "considered the reproach of/for Christ of greater value . . . ". That is what Paul wrote and meant, regardless of Hebrew grammar (no Hebrew in this context). And "Christ" means "Christ" here, just like it does in ALL of the other very many places the word occurs in the book of Hebrews. In fact, the word always means Jesus Christ, the Messiah, everywhere else in the NT. Also, if my lexicons are correct, it's never used of "the Jewish nation" anywhere, neither the Greek word in the LXX or the Hebrew word in the MT. It is a VERY inventive rabbinic-style (by which I mean spiritualized) interpretation, but there is nothing here for those of us who believe words means something.

Question #11: 

I get some idea of what Dr. Fruchtenbaum could have meant, although I'm not entirely clear from the brief report of your friend - does he mean that "Christ" in this passage refers to the entire Jewish nation? In any case, this seems far from what I meant.

I was thinking whether Moses was suffering the reproach of Christ - which I understood as the suffering for taking a part in progressing God's plan of salvation the culmination of which is our Lord's sacrifice - but without knowing exactly who Christ would be. The author of Hebrews (I have just finished reading the introductions on this book - NIV SB, Thiessen, Guthrie - and I must say that the arguments against Paul's authorship really lack substance in my honest view, so I am now even more inclined to think - as I know you do - that it is he who wrote the book) calls this reproach "the reproach of Christ" - but I wonder whether this means: a) that Moses knew he was suffering for the case of the Messiah to come, or b) that Moses knew he was suffering for taking an active role in furthering God's redemptive work which was to culminate with Christ and which at this stage also foreshadowed His coming as the One who would provide the actual payment for sin (foreshadowing in the burning bush, the animal sacrifices, etc.), but without him actually understanding what and who these shadows were pointing to.

Hopefully you see what I mean - it is certain that Moses knew he was suffering for God's cause - but I wonder whether he knew that he was suffering specifically for Christ, or whether at that stage he did not yet know it - but the author of the Hebrews knows it now that Christ has already come and with the benefit of retrospection he can call this reproach "the reproach of Christ".

Response #11: 

I think what my friend was trying to say is that Dr. F was taking the word "Christ", which of course is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word "Messiah" and which in turn means "anointed one", to mean that Moses "considered the reproach of the anointed nation (Israel) to be . . .". That doesn't work in my view for the reasons described at the previous link.

On your take, this is a very good way to look at it and I would agree. Clearly, Moses did not "know Christ" as we "know Christ" today after our Lord has come in the flesh. But he did as you remind us know about the Messiah to come, and it is also pretty clear that at the burning bush and elsewhere in his conversations with the Lord there were times when the Angel/the Lord/the Father seem to be differentiated enough to suggest that he had some better idea of the truth than many are willing to give him credit for. He wanted to know more we can be sure (Matt.13:17; Lk.10:24; 1Pet.1:10-12), but I think your discussion explains a lot.

Question #12: 

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

In studying the "Judgment, Restoration and Replacement - SR Part 5", I came to a reference in John 12:44 that sort of puzzles me a bit. As it is written, it appears to contradict other Scriptures, but I know that is not the case. I have checked several versions: German and English.

"44 Jesus aber rief und sprach: Wer an mich glaubt, glaubt nicht an mich, sondern an den, der mich gesandt hat;

"And Jesus cried out and said, "He who believes in Me, does not believe in Me, but in Him who sent Me".

"44Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me."

The NIV adds the word only, which makes it agree with other Scriptures. What is the translation of this verse and why the difference? Thanks for your great help. Hope I am not nit picking, but it does concern me. Blessings to you,

Your friend,

Response #12: 

The NIV has creatively expanded the translation to make the sense clear (that is what interpretive vs. literal translations do), and NIV is surely right about the sense. I think a better way to make clear what our Lord means might be to render this as "Whoever puts his trust in Me is really putting his trust in the One who sent Me". After all, someone who "is believing in Me" is clearly not at the same time also "NOT believing in Me" but "really He is believing the witness of the One who sent Me". That this is what is meant is made very clear in the next verse where our Lord says "And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me" (NKJV) – meaning that the Father and the Son are One and have One indivisible purpose and plan so that believing in the One is believing in the Other (just as seeing the One is seeing the Other), with the result that refusing to believe in the One is refusing to believe in the Other. So our Lord cannot be taken in any way to be negating faith in Himself as necessary for salvation, and that is made clear in the very next verse:

"I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness."
John 12:46 NKJV

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #13: 

Hello Dr. Luginbill,

This morning a thought that came to me. It was in the form of a question which I had never heard before or not even thought about. The question is: Why did Jesus' physical body after His death and burial not undergo decay or as the Bible says "see corruption"/decay as in:

Acts 13:35
“Therefore He also says in another Psalm, ‘YOU WILL NOT ALLOW YOUR HOLY ONE TO UNDERGO DECAY.’ 36“For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers and underwent decay; 37but He whom God raised did not undergo decay.

I gave this question some thought and realized the reason why His physical body did not undergo decay. It was because "He who knew no sin, was mad sin for us. So, Jesus had no sin and no sin nature. Physical decay in my thinking is due to sin? Am I thinking correctly. Here is another thought. I have always believed that the benefits that Jesus purchased for us by His death on the cross outlined in the "New Testament" did not actually take effect until His physical death? This is outlined in:

Hebrews 9:16-17
For where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it. 17For a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives.

Therefore, the actual New Testament did not really begin until Matthew 27:50, as that is Jesus' last will and "Testament". Would appreciate your thoughts on these two points. My the Lord continue to bless you as always,

Your friend,

Response #13: 

Good to hear from you as always, my friend.

As to your first question, it's an interesting one. Sin leads to death (spiritual death, physical death, eternal death); but Jesus died physically without ever having sinned; and it required Him to give up His spirit to do so. Still, He bled as we all do, became hungry and tired as we all do, needed sleep and food as we all do – even though His powers of endurance were remarkable. So I'm not sure we can conclude that His physical body would never have decayed, absent the presence of His spirit and without normal sustenance.

What we can say is that the scripture is true: His body did not decay; instead, He was resurrected on Sunday morning following His crucifixion and the giving up of His spirit the preceding Friday.

Biologist may quibble that "there must have been some immediate decay", but that is looking at things in terms of a modern scientific viewpoint instead of the biblical viewpoint. I suppose from a scientific point of view, we are all in the process of decay. As I often remark, "gravity is winning", and all most of us have to do is look in the mirror to affirm that obvious fact. But from the biblical point of view, we all know what a decomposing carcass looks like . . . and smells like. In Jewish cultural terms, there was no "obvious decay" until after the third day. This is why Martha resisted our Lord's call to open Lazarus' tomb – and no doubt precisely why the Lord waited until the fourth day to visit the family and perform the miracle . . . in spite of obvious decay:

Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.”
John 11:39 NKJV

The point is that before our Lord's human body had a chance to decay – as understood and observed in terms of the culture of that day – He would rise with an eternal body as the pattern of all of us who have placed our hope in Him.

As to when the blessings of the cross take effect, I would say that they took effect the moment our Lord declared from the cross – after the three hours of darkness lifted wherein He had born the sins of the world – "It has been accomplished!" (Jn.19:30; see the link: tetelestai). The cross is the foundation of everything, namely, the spiritual death of Christ in paying for our sins by bearing them in His body (see prior link), not His physical death which was only necessary to move forward in fulfillment of the prophecies and the resurrection. We receive salvation based upon the fact that Christ has already paid for our redemption, bearing all of our sins; but the benefits in terms of salvation that were made available to everyone before the cross were done so on the basis of divine "credit", so to speak, based on the promise of the Savior who would come and pay for all sin:

(25) God made Him a means of atonement [achieved] by His blood [and claimed] through faith, to give proof of His justice in leaving unpunished in divine forbearance [all] previously committed sins, (26) so as to prove His justice in the present, namely, so that He would be [shown to be] just [in this] and [justified] in justifying the one who has faith in Jesus.
Romans 3:25-26

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #14: 

Hi Bob,

As usual, thank you for your last email and all the information you gave me. I was reading the bible the other night and came across the verse John 10: 34 and it seems to me Jesus is saying He is the author of the law, meaning where He said " I said "ye are gods. so to me, this is verification that He is God. Am I correct or not?

The new thing that the enemy is now preaching is that Jesus never said He was God! using John 8:24 and using "I Am " and not " I Am He "

Love to hear your explanation which will be the same as mine, and that Jesus is saying He s God.

In the love our Savior

Response #14: 

Good to hear from you.

As the Word of God Himself whose very thinking, the mind of Christ, is the Bible we love (1Cor.2:16), our Lord is most definitely the author of the Law and also its true subject:

"You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me."
John 5:39 NKJV

In terms of John 10:34, if there was any doubt, our Lord says in the verses immediately following . . .

"If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be set aside—what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’?"
John 10:35-36

On John 8:24, I'm not sure I understand the details of the false argument, but the Greek text says, "I AM" – which is a clear claim of deity indeed (and there are very many clear statements of His deity, particularly in the gospel of John and right from the very start of the book!). Here are a couple of links on this:

The Divinity of Jesus Christ

Jesus is God

The Person of Jesus Christ (in BB 4A: Christology)

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #15: 

Hi Bob,

A quick question regarding Jesus' return. Jesus said no one knows when His return will be (not the Son nor the angels) , but only the Father. Would this imply that even the Holy Spirit of Truth does not know also?

God Bless,

Response #15: 

It's a great point and it leads to the correct answer: of course God knows – God knows everything. So the only way the Son doesn't know is in His humanity (this is the doctrine of kenosis; see the link), wherein during the first advent He had to live life under the limitations we labor under in order for His sacrifice to be acceptable, and that meant in His human experience being deprived of the use of His deity.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #16: 

Hi Bob,

Thank you so much for all the emails that you have answered since I first asked you a biblical question. I have archived all the emails that you have responded to because they are a fount of knowledge to me. I have learned so much that I haven't been able to find in my bibles or on the web. I have also shared them with my brothers and sisters in Christ and it has helped them grow mightily in the Spirit. I can already foresee God saying to you the words found in Matthew 25:21,23) at the Bema Seat of Christ.

I wanted to add this in my other email but I sent it before this question came into my mind. It seems as if all the answers to the difficult questions in the Bible are avoided in the footnotes. I checked my bible and its footnotes but they were a little unclear.

And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
(Luke 2:52)

My footnotes says that Jesus was both God and man (which I already know). And that there were times when He as a man gave up His divine abilities (e.g., omniscience). But He grew in stature and wisdom because the Word was made flesh (which I already know). And why did Jesus gain "favor" with God if Jesus is God's one and only beloved Son?

So it seems to me that He was going back and forth with tapping into His divine attributes and times where He freely chose not too. Is this correct? Did Jesus know that He was God Incarnate from the moment He was able to think? My wording may be a little off so I apologize if it is. I am not articulate as you are. I've actually read Christian articles that said that Jesus only knew about His ministry to die for the sins of the World during His last three years on Earth. To me, that sounds bizarre and unbiblical, but I am not 100% certain and do not want to say anything that would upset the Lord, whom I love so dearly; that would break my heart. Can you help clarify this passage in scripture? Thank you so much for your help through answers as it helped me to grow in the knowledge of the truth of God's Word abundantly.

Response #16: 

As to our Lord growing "in grace and stature and wisdom with God and man" in Luke 2:52 (NIV), you are on the right track, but our Lord's "kenosis" (see the link), entailed Him in His humanity having to live as a human being throughout the entire first advent, right up until the time when He expelled His spirit on the cross. He had to fight the fight we fight (only without ever losing) all the way until the end in order to be the perfect Sacrifice – because otherwise His experience would not be truly human. So there was no "switching back and forth". The ground rules our Lord had to fight His fight under were absolute, and He followed them perfectly, even though we tested His patience to the limit, and even though He had to push to the absolute end of His human strength on many occasions. The place to find all the details on this is "Jesus' early life" in BB 4A (at the link). Here is the most pertinent excerpt:

This passage [Lk.2:40-52], though rather short considering it contains by far the bulk of our information about our Lord's life until the commencement of His ministry at about age thirty, is very revealing. For one thing, we see immediately the load and the difficulty that our Lord had to bear just in terms of His normal family life. He was God and the Son of God, and His answer to His parents indicates that without any doubt He was fully aware of these facts. And yet, since in order to be qualified to be our sin-bearer He had to live an absolutely perfect life, free from the slightest tinge of sin (a feat truly beyond our comprehension which He did indeed accomplish), our Lord had to be the perfect son, even as He had to prepare to fulfill the obligations of the Son perfectly. This meant obeying His parents when they were right – and when they were wrong. As Jesus perfectly negotiated the mundane hours, days, weeks, months and years until He came upon the scene to fulfill the ministry of ministries many years later, we can say without question that He never did wrong, either by omission or commission, and thus was never in the wrong. However, people being the imperfect creatures that they are, there must have been countless occasions whereupon He had to endure the faulty conclusions, impressions, and applications of others with whom He necessarily had to interact, and, until His majority, interact with in an obedient and submissive way – even on those numerous occasions where He was in the right and they were in the wrong. This would have been difficult enough for anyone to bear, but considering that He was aware of His status as the Son of God, and that He had to prepare with every spare moment and ounce of energy for what was to come, what for the rest of us would constitute mere “daily” life must have been for Him a gauntlet which intensified with every step forward. We often fail to appreciate the sacrifice that becoming a human being and enduring with perfect patience the years of waiting must have entailed for our Lord, even as He had to take maximum advantage of every opportunity to prepare for what would be the most incomparably difficult three and half year experience any human being would ever know culminating in the passion and the cross, especially since, being God, His existence before the incarnation was blessed to an infinite degree:

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
2nd Corinthians 8:9 NIV

Our Lord was well aware from early on, as you rightly conclude, not only that He was the Son of God but also that He had a critical mission to fulfill – the most critical mission in the history of the world by far (for without it being successfully undertaken we were all doomed and damned). At twelve years old He astonished all of the teachers at the temple and His parents as well (e.g.). Here is a link on that: "When Did Jesus Realize He Was the Son of God?"

Keeping you in my prayers, my friend. Thanks for yours as well!

In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #17: 

Also, when Satan tempted Jesus when He was fasting for 40 days, Jesus "quoted" Scripture to rebuke the Devil. Does this mean that Jesus was quoting Himself since Jesus is called "The Word of God"? I apologize if none of this makes sense. I pray fervently every day and ask God to help me understand Him and His precious Truth better. I am always wary that the enemy may try to deceive me by giving me some sort of knowledge that is NOT from God, and masquerade as the voice of God. I also draw near to God with all my heart and strength, and love Him with everything that I have. I also pray to Him that He will not allowed me to be deceived by Satan. What are your thoughts on this?

God Bless,

Response #17: 

As to our Lord, it is true that in this sense you mention He was "quoting Himself". But one also has to take into account that this occurred during the first advent, the time in which our Lord was operating under what we call "kenosis" (see the link). Just like us, He had to learn the Bible in His human nature by effort and concentration. And just like us, in His humanity, He was tempted throughout those 33 years, "yet without sin" (Heb.4:15). So from the perspective of His human nature, He was giving us an example of how we also ought to face temptation – by deploying the truth of the Word of God we have learned to prepare ourselves for just such occasions.

Question #18:  

Hi Bob,

What exactly does it mean when the bible says that Jesus was "made" Lord in Acts 2:36?

I've searched for answers and I was not surprised when my bibles say absolutely nothing regarding this, and a number of biblical scholars have attributed to the footnotes in my bibles. There's a lot of websites that speak about this, and they are ALL Jehovah's Witnesses sites. This makes be very upset when I read about those who are blaspheming the name of Christ by making Him out to be nothing more than a "good teacher" or a created being when Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would "GLORIFY" Him. To me, this means that those who deny Jesus' Deity cannot have the Holy Spirit, and therefore are not saved. JW's say that Jesus was not always Lord because He was "made" Lord. I found this passage in Luke that states that Jesus was ALREADY LORD at His conception.

"And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of MY LORD should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy."
(Luke 1:41-44)

Thank you and God Bless,

Response #18: 

You are absolutely correct in your conclusions. Good for you!

Also, the translation "made Lord" is obviously misleading. After all, kyrios, "Lord", in this context is definitely a reference to the tetragrammaton, YHVH. This (kyrios) is the Greek equivalent for that Hebrew word. So this is even more emphatic than "made Him God" would be – and clearly no one can be "made [into] God" or "made [into] LORD / YHVH" – there is only one God and only one YHVH (in three Persons):

One Lord [kyrios / YHVH], one faith, one baptism,
Ephesians 4:5 KJV

The Greek verb poieo is being used here in the sense of "appoint" or "make manifest as" or "confirm as". It is a very plastic and generic verb that is often used in periphrases like this, and that is what is to be understood here as well. So I would translate "confirmed as" Lord and Christ – because the Father did that through the resurrection. The resurrection and subsequent ascension and session are the means of this confirmation, and that is what Peter had just said in the verses immediately preceding:

This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: ‘The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”
Acts 2:32-35 NKJV

It is through these actions that the Father "made Jesus [known as] both Lord and Messiah" (next verse: Acts 2:36).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #19: 

Hi Bob,

This question is about Jesus' new name found in (Revelation 19:12)

His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written that no man knew, but he himself.
(Revelation 19:12)

What is Jesus' new name that only Jesus Himself knows?

God Bless!

Response #19: 

Well, since only our Lord knows it . . . we will have to wait to find out. But it does say in the very next verse: "and His Name has [always] been called, “The Word of God” ".

Hope you are doing well, my friend!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #20: 

At this point I am still not certain how to take Psalm 138:2. Firstly, even though I understand and agree that the Father made Son the issue, as you wrote, it is still hard for me to accept that it would glorify the Word "above" the name of the Father. And so I wanted to ask you about the translation of the last part. Is the rendering "according to all your name" (NASB, etc.) even correct? Or should we take it as "above all your name". And secondly, although we can now apply "the Word" to the Son, I assume that David probably meant it also as the literal word of God and it is also difficult for me to see how the word of God could be magnified above the name of God.

Response #20: 

The preposition 'al can mean both things of course, but with the verb gadhal, "to exalt / make greater than", it's hard for me not to interpret it as anything other than saying that the Lord has name his Word "greater" than His Name, whether that is seen in a spatial or rank-order sense. God is greater than all things, obviously. But this verse makes it clear – as we know from other scriptures too – that He has to be approached His way, not our way; that is to say, the way He tells us to do it (His "Word"), regardless of whether we are attempting to flatter Him by praising Him (His "Name"). That means not coming before Him with, e.g., vegetables (as Cain did) – because that was not what He told the two boys to do. It's all very well to say we love the Lord, but as the Lord said to us:

"But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?"
Luke 6:46 NKJV

It's following what the Lord says that counts – not some worship we make up; the latter defines 99% of religion masquerading as Christianity throughout the ages. His Word is what we need to follow. So this verse telling us that He has put that Word first, "above all His Name", that is ahead of all self-willed acknowledgment of Him, makes that point strongly. The Word is His priority (not feigned obeisance; cf. Is.29:13; Matt.15:8). And no doubt for that reason our Lord has this as His title: "the Word of God"; because we can only come to the Father by Him, believing in Him.

Question #21: 

Hi Bob,

"And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene."
(Matthew 2:23)

Being a "Nazarene" meant being under the vows of the Nazarene oath, not a resident of a city with a similar sounding name. Is Matthew employing paronomasia?

Response #21: 

No, this is a geographical reference.  This is a common misunderstanding even though Matthew does spell it out pretty clearly, telling us right there in the verse you quote that the city's name is the reason for this title.


Jesus was not a Nazarite

The Branch prophecy

Nazareth and Nazarite confused

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #22: 

So the "branch" in the Isaiah 11:1 prophecy is really a reference to the city of Nazareth?

Response #22: 

No. Rather, Nazareth being our Lord's home town was not coincidental: it verified the prophecy in Isaiah that He was/is "the Branch".

Question #23: 

Hi Bob,

I am struggling with the doctrine that Jesus Christ died for all of humanity. Yes, if I could convince myself of it, it would be a wonderful truth because it would mean that I could say with certainty that God loves me, but then I ask myself: did Jesus really die for the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, or for Judas? And then I find it very difficult to believe that Jesus died for everyone...or for those people.


Response #23: 

Praise God that Jesus died for the sins of all, even the worst people in the world (in our opinion) – otherwise there would be no justice in the offer of salvation (Jn.1:29; 12:47; Rom.3:23-26; 2Cor.5:14-15; 5:19; 1Tim.2:4-6a; Heb.2:9; 7:27; 1Jn.2:2; 3:5).

The only sin impossible for Him to die for was the sin of rejecting Himself, since it is only by accepting His gift that we are all saved.

God's thoughts are ever higher than our thoughts (Is.55:9).

The mercy of God is ineffable and beyond understanding in its magnitude – and so is His absolute righteousness . . . which is why Jesus had to die for all.

In greatest praise of Him,

Bob L.

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