A Guide to Christian Theology - Lesson 38
In this lesson, you explore the biblical teachings about the eternal state, where you'll learn about the new heaven and the new earth and their characteristics. You'll also delve into the topics of resurrection and final judgment, as well as the eternal life promised to believers and the eternal punishment for unbelievers. Ultimately, you'll gain insight into the theological significance of the eternal state and how it impacts Christian living, providing hope and assurance for believers.
I. The Sheep and the Goats
II. Book of Life
A. A Place of Exclusion
B. Forever or Not
C. Levels of Punishment
IV. The New Heaven and New Earth
- 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
Okay, conversion package, part two. Repentance, faith. Repentance is change of allegiance values, so forsaking, turning around. Faith is loyal to Yahweh, believing, trusting what he says even when it makes no sense. And new birth, new heart, indwelling Holy Spirit. My longings change, my deepest desires change.
I have a desire for the word. I have a desire for worship. I have a desire for fellowship with other believers. I have a desire for service if I've got this new heart I think. I've got a desire for purity, for cleanliness in my life. I've got a desire for witness. And I think a lot of times we've got a desire to be home. We're just tired of this sinful place and want to be back with Jesus. Those are some things that come out of that.
The other piece of that is justification. And this is, of course, a famous word. It's a really important word. And so, in justification where I do that is I'm understanding here that justification, it's God's declaration. And justification is a declaration, is not a transformation, a debate around that but the lexical stuff is pretty clear.
God's declaration that we have been accepted, there's your blank, have been accepted as his children. We have been forgiven of our sin so that we come into the family. We've been pardoned from condemnation. As I've got here, it's not just as if I'd never sinned. I hear the justification, just as if I'd never sinned. No, God has not forgotten that you're a brat and he noticed you still are. No, it's not viewed as if we are righteous.
I hear people all the time, "God looks at me and he doesn't see my sin. He sees Jesus's righteousness." I don't think so. I think God really sees us for all we are. And then, we're actually accepted. We're actually fully members of God's family. And that's the whole heart it seems to me of justification. There's a forensic side, to use a fancy term, a legal side, and that's the forgiveness piece.
And when I look at the passage in scripture that talk about the forgiveness that comes out of that, that is reality is that our sins as far as coming into the family are done. Now relational stuff in the family, there's still a place for repentance and confession there of course. But as far as coming into the family, no matter what you have done, I think that's where it is.
Let's go to 1st Timothy chapter one is one of my favorite passages, called Paul toward the end of his life is reflecting on his transformation. Oh my. There's so much stuff in here I'd love to look at. I start down verse 12, 1st Timothy 1:12. "I thank Christ Jesus, our Lord, who has given me strength that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service." But then reflects on his own life. And we know something about his own life.
"Though I was a blasphemer, a persecutor, a violent man, I was showed mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly along with faith and love there in Christ Jesus. Here's his trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am the worst."
Now I think he's using historic present here to say he still feels the weight of what he did before he was converted. He was a murderer. "For this very reason, I was shown mercy that so in me, the worst of sinners, Christ might display his immense patience, an example for those who would believe in him receive eternal life." This is what he's talking about. If here's somebody who is murdering Christians, thinking he was doing right, can be accepted and forgiven, what can't be accepted and forgiven? And the answer is there's nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing. And you can be forgiven. It's astonishing, astonishing reality.
What is the disqualifying sin for coming into Christ's family? And the answer is, if you come through Jesus, there is no disqualifying sin. Now I'm saying this in two sides. I'm saying on one side from people wrestling with the weight of their own sin. I've talked to people who say, "I could never be a Christian. Well, the church would fall down around, the lightning strikes would come everywhere if I came," and talking about their own sin. I say, "Yep, your sin is bad. It's true." However, work of Jesus Christ is far greater, far greater. I mean we know that.
But the other side is on the church side. And this is actually the harder thing because we have certain sins that are unacceptable. You cannot be a Christian, you cannot be justified, you cannot be forgiven if you're still practicing certain sins. And these are typically the emotionally hot button ones. Homosexuality is a current one.
If I'm still practicing. For many Christians, if two people walk in, two men walk in holding hands and say, "Hey, we're Mr. And Mrs. Jones and we've accepted Jesus Christ." They would be looked at with, "Oh, wait a minute, maybe you should go to the gay church down the street." Way too often. I mean not quite that blatant.
But see there, what Paul is saying. And it's radical, it's radical, but so powerful is that when you come into Jesus Christ as far as being in the family, there's no disqualification. And now again, I'm pushing buttons and I mean to. Justification, our membership, that's that last sentence there in the handout. Well, let me go back and look. We're not viewed as if we're righteous, but actually righteous as far as membership in God's family is concerned. We're not accepted as we might be, nor as we will be. But as we are in Christ Jesus, we're accepted as we are in Christ Jesus.
It's astonishing. Our membership in the family of God is no way dependent on our own character or behavior. And you say, "Are you serious, Gary?" And the answer is, yes I am. As far as membership in the family, it doesn't matter what you're currently doing. If I make that commitment to follow Jesus, my phrase is I like Jesus and I want to be like Jesus and I want to be with other Jesus people. That's the transformation of gospel.
But as far as behavior and lifestyle at the beginning, justification means I'm accepted by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, apart from any work good or bad on my part. That is absolute radical. That is absolutely radical. But that's the gospel. Where's that in the Bible? Good question. How about if we look at... Let's see, Bible. If you look at Romans 8:1 Let's start in Romans three.
Romans 3:21. "Apart from the law, the righteous of God has been made known to which the law and the prophets testify." Apart from the law, that's the mosaic covenant, the law and the prophets is the whole entire Old Testament Torah. "This righteous is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, Jew and Gentile, for all of sin falls short of the God and are all," note that word, "All are justified freely by his grace through redemption that came by Jesus Christ." And it talks about the sacrifice that goes on and the boasting that comes out of that.
Verse 28, "We maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from works of the law." Mosaic covenant. This is absolutely astonishing. This righteousness, this acceptance is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe there is no difference. All who believe. You say, "Man." Well, keep going. Look at Romans chapter four. Paul peels back to the Old Testament. "What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to flesh discovered, in this matter? If in fact Abraham were justified by works, you have something boast about, but not before God. What does scripture say? 'Abraham believed God. Abraham amened God. Abraham trusted God and God said that kind of trust is righteous.'" He's talking about the incredible faith of Abraham here who is willing to believe that God can make a baby and a 75-year-old wife.
Now, as I record this, my pretty wife is 72. And just to prepare for this, I said, "Sure, pretty wife, let's have a baby." She was not stoked on that. She doesn't want more babies. But the point of it is, I said, "Yeah, but could you do it if I begged you?" She said, "Gary," no, she can't make a baby. But see, Abraham believed that God when he said "Your 75-year-old wife will have a baby." That's outlandish trust. That's the kind of trust that said a crucified man from Galilee is the Messiah, who from Bethlehem, who fill out the Davidic covenant.
I mean, it's ridiculous to think that a crucified man is the Messiah. If you actually look at it, we take it without thinking about it. But that's a ridiculous claim. But that's the faith that says, "Yeah, that guy on the cross, he's the Messiah. He's the one that's going to transform the world. He's the one that's going to crush the serpent." Really? We just have to understand how radical that is. That's the kind of faith he's talking about.
Abraham believed God about a baby. We believe God about Jesus', Messiah and make our allegiance to him. That's the kind of faith God wants. Now the one who works wages not create his gift, but an obligation. However, to the one who does not work but trusts God, here's a phrase, who justifies the ungodly.
What does justification mean? He means to declare righteous. And now he's justifying the ungodly. What's this about? He's going to justify, declare righteous Paul the murderer? That's what it says. That's what it says. How can that be? Because that sin is forgiven through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. But behavior change has not happened yet and may not happen for a while.
That comes out of new life, that comes in their faith is credited as righteousness he says. And he goes on. David does similar things. See, that's the radical side. We can say in Romans 8:1, again, just overwhelmingly stunning. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Now, this is a place where you get some strange things happening because you look in the King James, it says "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus who walked not after the flesh but after the Spirit." And see, it's a well-known textual issue here that this statement as it's in the original, "Therefore no condemnation of her in Christ Jesus," period, full stop, is so radical can't be true.
Scribes took the phrase from verse four and put it back in verse one that said, "Well, as long as you're living obedient life." That's not what it says. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. It's unbelievably radical when you stop and think about it. Now there will be change, but not at the conversion. This is what we mean by imputed righteousness is the idea that we're forgiven, forensic, and accepted, relational, familial in Christ. Purely by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone, apart from any works in our part. Born again, new desires, new spirit, justification, new identity, child of God, huge change, huge change. New identity, child of God.
And those realities simply by God's grace. God's help, God's gift apart from any works or any change on my part. It's ridiculous. It's stupid, it's real. Thank God. Now that doesn't mean you have to be a terrible sinner to get saved. You can be an incredibly moral person and you still need to get on the Jesus team because that's what he's saying here is the works, the good life and such will not get you on the right team. And we started in demeanor of darkness. We got to transfer it over to the kingdom of light.
And that's what justification is about, is what is the family you're in? What is the authority that you're under? And we need to join the Jesus team, if you will. And that's what the gospel is about, is what team are you going to play for? And that team is faith, my allegiance, my trust. It's repentance, renouncing other allegiances, renouncing the values of that other team. And then coming onto the Jesus team. New desires, new power, new identity, new community because we always join the church. We always join a existing group of people when you come into faith.
That's what we're talking about when we talk about justification. I've got some more material in here. Source is a free gift from God. The ground is Jesus Christ's atoning work [inaudible] sacrifice. The means faith alone is justification by... Can you fill in the blanks there? I hope you can by now. Justification by what? Yeah, grace alone through faith alone.
And it's past tense for all believers there in Romans chapter five. It's past tense for all believers. Not future for those who obey. It's stupid and true. It's true. And now it will lead to change. Let's look at one more verse as we finish up, your Ephesians chapter two. I mean you probably know this already, but it's important. He's talking about people who begin at chapter two verse one. "You are dead in Christ that is separated from the life of God, driven out of the garden."
And then this great picture here of, "But God who is rich in mercy made us alive, raised us up with Christ." In verse eight, "For it is by grace you've been saved through faith. And it's not of ourselves. We cannot restore the relationship. It's a gift of God, not by works. Nothing we can do can restore the relationship. Nobody boasts." That's the justification piece. It's his gift to us. But we got to read onto verse 10, "For we are God's handiwork created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us for to do." But that's the next key topic and one we'll spend some time on.
Conversion package. This is all in one logical package, though it may take a bit of process. We hear the gospel, we respond to it with repentance, abandoning prior allegiances to other values, other dark world things. Faith means putting our allegiance to Jesus. Where you go, Jesus, I will follow. Not sure what that means, but whatever it means, I'm with you. That's the faith, the trusting, obedient faith that leads to regeneration, new birth, new desires, new spirit. New desires, new power. And to justification, new family. I can say child of God in my new identity. That's the foundation. Those are indicatives of the Christian life. It's amazing. It really is. Now questions.
Would you say in the church today that as you were talking about the way God accepts the ungodly that we have a hierarchy of sins? There's some that are more acceptable than others. And that really, the way to deal with all those things is to realize that gossip and obesity or whatever, any other excesses, love of money, whatever that is, are things that God wants us to work with each other in community.
Like it talks about in James, as we look into the word, as we interact as a community, then we come having all those things and then look at God's words. We're changing in the process of being community rather than expecting people to come in, already having that stuff taken care of.
Well, you've got several questions that are not surprising. One of them is are some sins worse than other sins? And I already said yes, there is. Just again to look at scripture, if I go to John 19:11. This is where Jesus is talking to Pilate. And there's a powerful interchange there. Verse 11, "Jesus entered, 'You have no power over me unless it's given to you from above.'" And then the next sentence, "Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin."
And the one who handed Jesus over to Pilate is Caiaphas, the high priest. And by office and knowledge, his sin is greater than the incredibly gross sin of Pilate. There are differences in qualitative of sin, but the point of it is they're all sin. And they're all disqualifying as far coming into the family of God. There are some sins that are worse than others.
What happens in the church though is we make certain sins, because they're emotionally hot button things, we make them worse. We can have an angry person, we're okay. We can have a guy who's having multiple affairs as long as he does it discreetly, and that's okay. But if somebody is, again, using a current hot button issue, somebody who comes in is proud of their fact that they're a gay activist, let's say. And they come into our church, in many churches. Oh my. You can't come here. You're not allowed. Just because the political hot topic.
Or another church is if you're a racist. If you really believe that all black folk got rhythm or some of those silly things, if you're a racist, you're not acceptable. What the sin is will depend on the context you're in. But we do have, these are politically hot button sins, which is unfortunate. And so, the gospel work is yes, you come in with whatever you've got and we'll apply the gospel to those things and bring transformation. Now what else do you want to ask?
Well, that's the purpose of the church community, isn't it? That as we interact together, that we're all looking at the word, we're all in relationship, encouraging each other to follow the Lord, to obey his word, to look into the spirit and to live in that direction.
You use the standard definition of justification as being declared righteous, which is the forensic part. But you see justification as more than just forensic.
What would be a good definition to hang onto for justification?
Yeah. Some people divide things further down and differentiate justification from adoption. And adoption is being brought into the new family. That's the acceptance piece. I don't see a reason to differentiate those two because they're both status type things.
If somebody wants to differentiate justification and make it purely forensic, purely legal, and then have adoption as a separate category, I'm fine with that. But what happens is, inevitably it seems, they emphasize all the stuff on forensic and never get around to the acceptance piece. You've got to have them both. And I don't see reason to separate them because the foundation is the same and they actually come together because it's forgiveness that enables me to come into the family.
But then in the family, there's certainly a lot more forgiveness that needs to happen in a relational sense, but not in the forensic sense. I do put those together. That's where I'm looking at. We're accepted his children, forgiven of our sins, is the two together. Accepted his children, is the relational, familial piece. Forgiven of our sin is the forensic legal piece. And they're both good metaphors of our Christian life.