A Guide to Christian Theology - Lesson 22
Life of Jesus
From this lesson, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of various aspects of Jesus' life and mission. The speaker challenges traditional Christian beliefs, starting with the concept of the virgin birth, emphasizing that it signifies God's presence with us rather than Jesus' sinlessness. They argue that Jesus' life serves as a model for Christian living and explore topics such as His spiritual death, resurrection, exaltation, and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. The lesson encourages critical thinking about these theological concepts and provides alternative viewpoints for consideration.
Life of Jesus
I. Virgin Birth and Its Interpretation
A. Greek Term "Parthenos"
B. Translation of Isaiah 7:14
C. The Septuagint's Use of "Parthenos"
D. Isaiah's Context and the Sign of a "Pregnant Virgin"
E. Prediction of a Virgin Birth
F. Significance of Virgin Birth
II. Sinlessness of Jesus
A. Jesus' Virgin Birth and Sinlessness
B. Theological Significance Beyond Sinlessness
III. Jesus' Life and Teaching
A. Jesus as an Exemplar
B. Jesus as a Theologian of the Church
IV. Jesus' Death and Atonement
A. Spiritual Death on the Cross
B. Substitutionary Atonement
V. Resurrection and New Life
A. Resurrection Beyond Atonement
B. Implications for Regeneration
VI. Ascension and Exaltation
A. Exaltation over Hostile Powers
B. Pouring out the Holy Spirit
VII. Return and Cosmic Renewal
A. Judgment, Resurrection, and Kingdom Establishment
B. The New Earth
VIII. Baptism as Symbolic Cleansing
A. Experimental Interpretation of Jesus' Baptism
B. Cleansing from Defilement
C. Anointing and Empowering as Messiah
D. Transition to Jesus' Messianic Mission
IX. Virgin Birth and Jesus as the Son of God
A. Connection between Virgin Birth and Son of the Most High
B. Unique Nature of Jesus' Parentage
C. Tying Virgin Birth to the Son of God
- In this lesson, explore the significance of systematic theology, blending academic insight with personal devotion. Learn to interpret biblical texts, understand how theology shapes beliefs, and fortify your faith against deception. This study fosters personal, biblical, and responsible theological growth, vital for spiritual development and discipleship.
- Learn diverse ways to tackle theological questions, focusing on Holy Spirit baptism. Understand deductive, inductive, and retro-abductive methods. Acts 17:11 and Acts 15 show how community perspectives contribute to nuanced theological discussions, promoting unity amidst differing viewpoints.
- This lesson provides insights into theological certainty levels, categorizing beliefs into "die for," "divide for," "debate for," and "decide for," highlighting essential doctrines, divisive issues, passionate debates, and less crucial matters, while underscoring the significance of understanding diverse perspectives and theological terms across different Christian tribes.
- Explore general revelation through creation and conscience (Psalm 19, Romans 1). Responding leads to God, though not salvation alone. Special revelation possible. Diverse salvation views, favoring knowing Jesus. Seared consciences don't always void salvation.
- Gain deep understanding of special revelation: history, divine acts, and communication revealing God's character and redemptive plan via Messiah. Lesson highlights Bible's key role, conveying God's nature, guidance, and transformative power, emphasizing ongoing divine-human communication.
- This lesson delves into the concept of divine inspiration in Scripture, citing 2 Timothy 3:15-16 and 2 Peter 1:16-21. It explains "God-breathed" as a term highlighting God's creative influence on words, rejecting mere concepts or dictation. Inspiration involves human authors, their personalities, and styles, conveying God's message to the entire church.
- In this lesson, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of the characteristics of God, including their definitions, biblical support, and implications and applications.
- In this lesson you will gain insight into the Bible's clarity, sufficiency, and authority, and the Canon.
- In this lesson, you'll grasp a deep understanding of God's character. His foremost quality is compassion, like a mother's love. He's gracious, patient, loving, faithful, and forgiving, extending favor even to the undeserving. Yet, He's just, not sparing the persistently rebellious. This lesson dispels misconceptions, urging contemplation of God's profound blend of love and justice.
- This lesson delves into holiness via Isaiah 6, emphasizing dedication over separation from sin. It challenges misconceptions and calls for church reform.
- This lesson delves into the fundamental characteristics of God, particularly the Trinity, emphasizing God's essential relational nature within Himself and its biblical implications, while also addressing theological controversies and highlighting the complexity of the Trinity.
- This lesson explores different approaches to knowing God, inspired by Thomas Aquinas, discusses the doctrine of immutability, and highlights how God can change in his attitude and actions based on biblical evidence, emphasizing the value of in-depth Bible study and open dialogue in understanding God's nature.
- This lesson covers key theological concepts: sovereignty, election, and free will. It explores differences between Calvinist and Wesleyan-Arminian views on God's sovereignty, impacting God's plan and human responsibility. Emphasis on defining terms to prevent disputes. Speaker is a "Calminian," blending Calvinism and Arminianism for a balanced perspective. Valuable insights into theological complexities and scripture interpretation.
- Exploring various theological views and problematic issues surrounding the concept of providence, we will gain a comprehensive understanding of the role of prayer in providence, as well as the compatibility of God's sovereignty and human responsibility.
- This lesson explores Jesus' dual nature, divine and human, delving into emotions, knowledge, sin, and his role as the Second Adam, offering theological insights.
- Learn about Jesus' life and mission, challenging traditional beliefs like the virgin birth. Explore his spiritual journey, resurrection, and more, fostering critical thinking and alternative perspectives.
- This lesson provides a comprehensive examination of atonement, its various dimensions, and the theological concepts surrounding it.
- Learn about the Holy Spirit, baptism, and its role in Christian faith. Understand diverse perspectives on its workings in believers' lives, emphasizing its incorporation at conversion and empowering influence, supported by biblical insights.
- Gain insight into the relationship between spirit baptism and conversion, the various terms used in Scripture, and the importance of ongoing fillings with the Holy Spirit for special ministry tasks, character, and as a command for all believers.
- This lesson explores the role of the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts. It challenges traditional definitions, proposing that any ability empowered by the Holy Spirit and used in ministry is a spiritual gift. The primary gift is the Holy Spirit himself.
- Learn about the theological debate on spiritual gifts like prophecy and miracles. Explore four perspectives: cessationism, continuationism, functional cessationism, and word of faith. The instructor, a continuationist, emphasizes discernment and scripture while promoting respectful dialogue among believers with differing views.
- This lesson explores the Bible's view of humanity, emphasizing humans as God's unique creation, made from dust and breath, in His image. It delves into human origins, our role as covenant partners, and the interaction between spirit and body, supported by biblical passages, offering a holistic perspective on being human in God's eyes.
- This lesson redefines humans as image-bearers of God, emphasizing the role of reflecting divine attributes in all work, gender equality, and growth in Christ-likeness. It promotes dignity for all, with potential for deeper reflection as faith matures.
- In this lesson you will explore the origin of sin, rejecting dualism in favor of a Christian perspective where sin arises from the choices of morally responsible creatures. The lesson introduces the idea of a pre-creation rebellion by Satan, emphasizing that humans are called to engage in spiritual warfare by doing good and promoting Shalom in the world.
- You will gain knowledge and insight into the nature, marks, purpose, structure, and sacraments of the Church and learn about the different views and definitions used to define it.
- This lecture discusses the leadership offices of a church, including eldership, deacons, and church members, and how they function according to biblical principles of polity, which prioritize following what the Bible prescribes, closely following what it describes, and using wisdom and being Spirit-led in matters it is silent about, all with the aim of effectively sharing the Gospel and achieving unity and focus.
- In this lesson, you will explore baptism's significance, modes, and theological perspectives, and learn its role in church membership, unity, discipleship, and spiritual growth.
- This lesson provides an overview of the historical, biblical, and theological aspects of Communion, including practical considerations for its practice.
- You will gain a good understanding of death and its theological implications, including the biblical view of death, consequences of death, and resurrection and the afterlife. The lesson covers the definition of death, cultural views, and the portrayal of death in the Old and New Testaments. You will also learn about the physical and spiritual consequences of death, as well as the Bible's teachings on resurrection and the afterlife.
- From this lesson, you gain insight into the biblical concept of God's Kingdom, its significance in Christian theology, and its impact on eschatology, social justice, and the Church's role.
- In this lesson, you gain insight into eschatology, examine biblical perspectives, explore key events like the Rapture, Tribulation, Millennium, and Final Judgment, and learn the significance of eschatology for today's believers.
- By studying the eternal state, you gain insights into the new heaven and earth, resurrection, judgment, and eternal life, deepening your understanding of Christian hope and assurance.
- Through this lesson, you gain insight into the crucial role of church leaders, their essential qualities, and the challenges they face, while discovering the importance of support and encouragement for their growth and effectiveness in ministry.
- In this lesson, you gain an understanding of the nature of Scripture and learn to interpret the Bible within its historical, literary, and canonical contexts while addressing challenges in biblical interpretation.
- This lesson delves into the structure and authority of a church, examining different leadership models and emphasizing the overarching role of scripture as the final authority, while also highlighting the need for congregational involvement in decision-making processes and the unique nature of the apostles in early church leadership.
- Learn Dr. Breshears' local church leadership principles: focus on equipping, inspiring, empowering, unifying, exemplifying, caring for, overseeing, and shepherding members. Rooted in biblical teachings, emphasizes servant leadership. The lesson discusses congregational decision-making, women in church leadership roles with respect for differing views.
- Learn about church leadership principles, roles of elders and deacons, active membership, mutual commitment, gift utilization, and clear processes in this comprehensive lesson.
- This lesson explores sacraments, focusing on baptism and diverse theological views. Baptism signifies a profound commitment to Christ within a believer community, emphasizing understanding and promptness post-conversion.
- In this lesson, you'll grasp the essence of baptism, its questions, and debates. Discover belief's role, its confession, and the link to repentance and faith. Explore diverse views on baptism performers, methods, and locations. Gain insights and wisdom for informed baptism decisions in your faith community.
- From this lesson, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of Communion, also known as the Lord's Supper or Eucharist. It will provide you with insights into the controversy surrounding its terminology and the theological background of Communion, primarily focusing on 1 Corinthians Chapters 10 and 11. You will learn about various theological perspectives on the real presence of Christ in the Communion elements and explore different viewpoints on the frequency, leadership, eligibility, and practical aspects of Communion. Overall, this lesson will equip you with the knowledge to better understand and participate in the Communion meal.
- This lesson delves into two ends: individual death and the end of the age. It explores human death, material and immaterial aspects (Ecclesiastes 12:7, Genesis 3), fear, loss of autonomy, cremation, death determination, rewards, and urges preparation to meet Jesus, facing the undeniable reality of death.
- Learn about the Kingdom of God, its aspects, Christ's return interpretations, and key concepts like inaugurated, Messianic, and millennium kingdoms. Emphasizing humility and mission in theological debates, it prepares you for insightful discussions on Christ's return and tribulation.
- Learn about Christian views on heaven and hell. Hell is punishment for those who reject Jesus; heaven is eternal bliss with Him on a renewed Earth. Explore differing views respectfully.
Understand the core topics of systematic theology, from what we know about God to the future state of humankind. Special emphasis is given to such topics as Christ, salvation, the church, and the future.
A Guide to Christian Theology
Dr. Gerry Breshears
Life of Jesus
So, let me think. We did a little bit on the life of Jesus. There's a lot we can do with that, but I want to do just kind of a brief summary, hit some high points.
And I'm going to differ knowingly from some of the stuff that I was taught.
Virgin birth. Was Jesus born of a virgin? Well, in New Testament there's absolutely no question about it. Parthenos, the Greek word there that's translated "virgin," is unquestionably a woman who's never had sexual relations with a man. That's the term the Septuagint uses when it translates Isaiah 7:14. Isaiah 7:14, it's the word alma, and Bible translations often translate it as "young woman," and say, "Well, 'alma' could be a married young woman or woman who had sexual relationships." There's a whole word study thing behind, you can do that, but the fact the Septuagint translate that as "parthenos" clearly, to me, says it was understood to be a virgin.
And when I look in Isaiah chapter seven, God is ticked off at Ahaz, who's making a deal with the Assyrians and pretending he trusts God, and his hypocrisy irritates God. And he says, [inaudible], "Oh no, I'll always trust you, God." "Oh gee, come on. And if you won't ask for sign, let me give you a sign." And before this... And again, John Sailhamer [inaudible] Hebrew said it should be translated "the pregnant virgin." The "pregnant" or "birth" there is an adjective, so it's "pregnant virgin will give birth." And before that child grows up to a age of accountability, these two guys who are threatening you from the north are going to be nothing.
"Pregnant virgin"? Like, "Wait a minute." And then down in chapter eight, [inaudible] goes into his wife, they have normal sexual relationships, a kid is born, and he names him Maher-shalal-hash-baz or something like that. I mean, that's abuse just to give a name like that, I think. And before the kid is able to say yes or no, these two guys are toast. So in Isaiah's day, there is not a virgin birth.
I think what happens here is He gives him a sign, it happens so many times, of something much bigger which is yet to come. So John Sailhamer, his funny way of saying things, when you're driving down the line of textual narrative, you're on the freeway and suddenly you go... over something, stop and look what you just ran over. And this is one of those. "Pregnant virgin." Like, what in the world?
Well, there's nothing virgin birth about the birth in Isaiah's day. But again, that's looking forward to a greater sign yet to come. So then the New Testament says, "Oh, here it is." So I do think that there's a prediction of a virgin birth, but it doesn't happen Isaiah's day. And then the Septuagint realizes that, so the pre-Christian Jews understood there's a virgin birth yet to come, and Jesus fulfills that. So what is that about?
It seems to me... This is often said, that He's virgin-born because that protects Him from sin. Sin only comes through the father's line. I think nonsense. I think we'll clone a human in your lifetime, maybe not mine, because I'm an old man, and if we clone a human woman, if that were true, then that cloned human would not have a sin nature because there's no father involved in what's happening. I'm confident, they clone a human woman, there will be a sin nature there.
I think the sign of Emmanuel's not connected to sinlessness at all. It's a powerful sign, it's a suitable sign, of God with us in the God-man Jesus. But I don't think it's anything about the sinlessness of Jesus. My own view. But it does show God with us. He brings the life of God to us and makes our dwelling with us. That's the point of virgin birth.
The Apostles' Creed, for example, just speaks about the sinlessness of Jesus. In many theologies, really the only thing you look at from the life of Jesus is sinlessness, because that makes Him qualified to be our substitute. True. But I think the life of Jesus, much more than that, I think Jesus shows how to live because He's living as a perfectly spirit-filled human, and His life is indeed a pattern for our life. I think He lives a exemplary life to show us what the Christian life looks like, and I think Jesus is the very best theologian of the church.
Now, He does say some things that I think are unique to the nation of Israel, but He's a theologian of the church, the ultimate theologian of the church. And so I want to look at the life and teaching of Jesus to say, "How do I live?" And look at the teaching of Jesus to the best theological revelation of the Father, John 18. So He shows us what Christians' life is like so that we... and being perfectly spirit-filled human who lays aside the use of His divine attribute, that makes it something that we can really be like Him. Other models of incarnation don't do that as well, in my judgment.
He dies on the cross, and that death is spiritual death first, it seems to me. So when He quotes Psalm 22, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" I think at that point the Father and the Son are separated in spiritual death. And the three hours of darkness on the cross, I think is symbolic of the separation of the Father and Son. I can't prove it, but I think that's the case. I think He suffers spiritual death. He cries, "My God, my God." But at the end of the three hours, He says, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit." I think spiritual death has ended at that spot, and then physical death comes after.
That's the same with Adam and Eve. They experience spiritual death shortly after their betrayal and they're driven out of the garden. So spiritually they're dead, but they live for hundreds of years before physical death happens. I think Jesus recapitulates that same pattern, and He dies as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. So I think His death is a substitutionary death, as Isaiah 53 says. We'll say more about that in the next lesson.
Resurrection. Many have said resurrection just proves price paid in full. If it weren't price paid in full, God would not have raised Him from the dead, but the fact God raised Him that says it's finished and the price is paid. I agree that the atonement has been provided. I don't doubt that for a minute. But I think the resurrection is much more than that.
I think resurrection is bringing life back into the realm of death. And when you look in the resurrection, He's bringing full life to sinners. And I think what comes out of that is He's bringing that new life of God back to us so we can participate in that. So in the baptism, we're buried with His death, we're raised to newness of life to join Him in his newness of life, and I think that relates to regeneration. Again, we'll unpack this later.
His ascension, or I prefer the term exaltation... He's exalted to the right hand of the Father to be our high priest and to pray for us, certainly true. But again, I think it's more than that. When I look in the second half of Ephesians chapter one, it talks of Him being exalted, the right hand of the Father, far above every throne, dominion, principality and power. I think that's His resurrection, his exaltation over the hostile powers.
So I think it's an exaltation over the demonic forces, Satan being the preeminent, and His triumph over the powers. And we, seated with Him in the heavenlies, have our authority [inaudible] the demonic realm as well. And then when He's up there in heaven, both John and Peter, in Acts chapter two, talk about Him pouring out the Spirit. And I think that's what He does, is from His place there, He receives the spirit from the Father and pours that Spirit out on the church to empower, unify, us individually and as a corporate group, so it empowers the ongoing work of the people of God.
And the last thing in His messianic mission is His return, and His return is to judge all living persons, the resurrection of all persons at judgment, and then to establish the kingdom, and then to do the cosmic renewal we call the new Earth.
So quick, quick, quick flyover of the life of Jesus. I mean, really quick. But there are a couple pieces I wanted to go back and drill on one more, and then we'll talk about the atonement, the work He does on the cross. Let me just give you something I'm thinking about. By the time you see this, I may not believe it anymore, you just never know.
But if you look at Matthew chapter three and you start at verse 13, Jesus comes in Galilee to be baptized. John says, "Wait a minute, I know who you are. You should be baptizing me." And Jesus said, "No no no. It's proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness."
Okay, now this is me being experimental. Okay? Don't get out your hammer and nails. Why is Jesus baptized here? This is not baptism during the church. This is the washing of repentance that John is doing. I put this in the context, every Jewish person coming into the temple had to go through the mikvah. They had to do a washing. And what is that saying? It's His symbolic way of saying, "I am cleaning myself from the defilement of living in a sinful world."
I think that's why Jesus is baptized. It's His way of saying, "I have been defiled, rendered unclean, by living in the presence of sin for 30 ish years." And this baptism is His way of cleansing Himself from that defilement. Now, he's not done any sin. That's clear. But he's lived among sinners. So like Isaiah, "I live in a people of unclean lips." Nehemiah prays that same prayer. Daniel prays that same prayer. I think Jesus' baptism is to wash Him clean from the defilement of living among sinners for 30 years, though He does not sin.
I think that's why He's baptized. That's why John recognizes, "Oh, okay, I get it." Because that's what he'd been doing for people, baptizing them to prepare for the coming of Messiah. And then He goes down and He's baptized. He comes out of the water. The heaven is opened, the spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on Him. I think at this point is when He is anointed to be Messiah, in the same sense that David is anointed to be king by Samuel in 1 Samuel 16, Elisha's anointed to be prophet by Elijah. And I think at this point is when He's anointed by the Holy Spirit and empowered by the Holy Spirit to do the mission Messiah.
So again, experimental. I think to this point, He has been Messiah-designate, but He's not yet Messiah. He is now anointed to be Messiah, and now He begins the work of Messiah, and the first thing He does is go into the wilderness and face the serpent, and He's tempted by the Devil and wins.
So these are both experimental. I may not believe it by the time you see this, but I kind of believe it now. I think the baptism is a washing to cleanse the defilement comes living among sinful people, and I think the power of the Holy Spirit comes on Him to anoint and empower Him to be Messiah, and this is when He becomes Messiah. He's the designated Messiah, but He's not yet the Messiah until He actually is baptized with the Holy Spirit, anointed.
Okay, so there you go. Nobody's going to crucify me yet?
Not yet, yeah. Questions, comments?
I'm going to go back to that whole issue of the virgin birth.
In Luke, the angel connects the virgin birth, as he's explaining it to Mary, that so He'll be called the son of the most high. Is the fact that He was born of a virgin meant to help us understand that Joseph wasn't His father and in some way He was the son of God?
Yes. I absolutely think that's true. That the fact that He is not a human father, which is unique in all of history, thus the only begotten of the Father, I think that is to show a very suitable way, the human tradition through Mary, but the divine side through the Holy Spirit. I think that's the suitable thing to do that. I don't think it's tied to sinlessness, it's tied to Son of God.
Like you know your Bible or something. Yeah. Good. Yeah, well said.