Wesleyan Theology I - Lesson 19

Offices of Christ (Part 2)

Penal substitution asserts that atonement primarily involves Jesus’ taking the sinner’s place (‘substitution’) in bearing the penalty (hence ‘penal’) for his or her sin. That penalty was no less than God’s wrath and the sinner’s death. God’s wrath is his unswerving opposition to evil. The moral influence theory teaches that without the fall, that amazing instance of the love of God to humanity would have never existed. Penal substitution and moral influence theory complement each other. In the governmental view, the death of Christ illustrates the punishment which sin may attract and therefore serves good government by acting as a deterrent. Jesus raised from the dead into an immortal body. Only life can give meaning to human existence. Death destroys all meaning. The first time Christ came as a redeemer. As king, Christ is coming again to rule . Three roles of king are giving laws, restoring people to the image of God and reigning in all believing hearts.

Kenneth J. Collins
Wesleyan Theology I
Lesson 19
Watching Now
Offices of Christ (Part 2)

II. PRIEST (cont)

D. Theories of the atonement (cont)

1. Penal substitution

2. Moral influence

3. Comparison of penal substitution and moral influence

4. Governmental


A. Resurrection

1. Event without analogy

2. Biblical evidence

3. Resurrection and hope

4. Philosophical considerations

B. Ascension

1. Biblical Evidence

2. Mediator and intercessor

3. King of kings


  • For the first 5 centuries after Christ, the theology of the Christian Church was ecumenical. Since then, you have differences in Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox theology, and then the Reformation with different Protestant traditions. The Church has a history of promoting and preserving knowledge in all fields of study. Ideological secularization is characterizing theological ideas as irrelevant and not academic. Structural secularization is the process of marginalizing the subject of theology in the academy. Both revelation and reason are both important elements in the discussion of philosophical and theological subjects. God is transcendant, which means that he is distinct from everything that has been made. God is immanent, which means that the Spirit of God can be communicated in time and space through media, but is not the media itself. 

  • God can only be fully know by revelation. However, we can know some things about God by observation and reason. Thomas Aquinas gave 5 reasons that supports the idea of the existence of God. We can perceive motion and there must be something that caused the motion. Nothing can come from nothing, so something must exist at all times, which is God. Humans are contingent beings, but God’s essence is to exist. There are different degrees of goodness and complexity in organisms, so there must be a being of a highest form of good. Design and purpose must be at work because it’s not reasonable that the universe resulted from chance. Dembski also estimates that the mathematical odds for everything happening from a single cell at less than 1 in 10 to the 150th power. 

  • Humans are both material and spiritual and have the capacity to experience transcendence. Without God, you are describing a diminished view of humanity. John Calvin says that wisdom is the knowledge of God and the knowledge of ourselves. Revelation of God comes from Scripture (the most important), tradition, reason and experience. Theology should be participatory and result in transformation. …Wesley’s theology describe in two words would be, “holiness” and “grace.” Wesley’s theology is conjunctive. Holy love is a tension. Holiness results in separation and love results in community. Wesley’s view of grace includes both cooperant grace and free grace. 

  • Two sources for knowledge are revelation and reason. Empiricism teaches  that you get knowledge from your senses. Rationalism teaches that you get knowledge from the operation of your mind. Kant said that the mind makes a formal contribution to knowledge by organizing it.  All knowledge begins with experience but it does not all arise out of experience. Reason can only take us so far. Humans are the only species that worship God.

  • Scripture is unique, the word of God and inspired by God. Scripture is the source of truth and provides a norm for truth. Wesley gives four arguments for inspiration. They are miracles, prophecy, goodness of the doctrine and the moral character of the penmen. Characteristics of Scripture include the sufficiency, clarity and wholeness of Scripture. 

  • Univocal refers to a one-to-one correspondence between the language we use and the reality of God. Equivocal refers to the idea that human language does not correspond directly to describing God, so it acknowledges ambiguity and more than one interpretation. Analogical refers to language used to describe God using  analogy. “Via Negativa” is describing characteristics that God is “not.” “Via Positiva” is describing a characteristic that is true of God, using analogy. Aseity means that God’s essence  is to exist. Eternity means that God transcends the limitations of time-space. There is not a space where God is not. Omniscience of God means that God knows all things. Omnipotence of God means that God is all powerful. Once God creates, there is an order in creation, and God works within the framework he created.  Immutability means that God’s essence does not change. Leslie Weatherhead describes three aspects of the will of God as the intentional will of God, circumstantial will of God and the ultimate will of God. Wesley describes God’s holiness as purity and simplicity. The wrath of God can be described as God’s unending determined opposition to evil.

  • Triunity describe God’s nature. The concept of the Trinity was foreshadowed in the Old Testament and taught explicitly in the New Testament. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all active in creation, baptism of Jesus and resurrection of Jesus. The Trinity is three distinct persons with the same essence. The distinctiveness has to do, not with their nature or essence, but with the relations. Person is different than an individual. According to Wesley, the Trinity is an invitation to participate in the deeper life of God. The gospel is the universal love of God, manifested in the person of Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Holiness apart from love can result in legalism. Love apart from holiness can result in sentimentality and wishful thinking. 

  • God created humans in his image so we have both a physical and spiritual nature. Sometimes biologists make statements about evolution that are outside of what can be examined and verified by science. According to young earth creationism, creation took place in 6, 24 hour days and the earth is about 6,000 years old. According to theistic evolution, once the process of evolution began, no special supernatural intervention was required for it to continue. The opposite of a naturalistic explanation for life is not supernatural, but intelligent causes. Intelligent design makes information theory and mathematical probability integral to its overall approach. Irreducible complexity argues against gradualism in the evolutionary process. 

  • God freely created the world and chooses to govern within the framework of the created order. The moral law is consistent with the character of God. God uses the moral law to convict the world of sin, bring us to Christ and keep us alive. Natural law is a body of moral principles that can be discerned by reason. Natural law is the will of God expressed in a created order. Deep conscience refers to the interior witness to the foundational principles of the moral law. Four characteristics of our moral design that are evident at the level of the species are interdependence, complementarity, spontaneous order and subsidiarity. 

  • Adam and Eve were created, not just as physical beings, but also spiritual beings. The image of God includes relationality as well as the capacity for rational thought. Wesley describes it as a natural image, political image and moral image. Wesley says that the natural image of God means that we have physical bodies and also a spiritual nature. Humanity is the conduit for God’s blessing of the rest of creation. 

  • The characteristics that give a human personhood belong to another order of explanation than that explored by biology. Sartre, who is an existentialist, says that existence precedes essence. In other words, each person determines their own nature by the choices they make. Others would say that your choices determine your character but that’s separate from your nature. Postmodernism teaches that the self is only a social and linguistic construct. Some scientists have argued that humans do not have a soul, but that cannot be proved or disproved by the scientific method. If God is dead, humanity is dead. Human beings are more than the social groups in which they participate. Humans are animals, but not merely animals.

  • Lucifer brought sin into the world with his sin of pride. The sin of Adam and Eve was unbelief. Wesley describes  unbelief as the perversion of the relationship between God and humanity, a lack of faith in God, resulting in alienation. He distinguishes three types of death as physical death, spiritual death and eternal death. Satan was self-tempted when he sinned. Adam and Eve were tempted by something external to them, Satan.  Wesley sees Adam as a representative of all humans, so all humans inherit Adam’s sin nature. 

  • There are orders of creation and preservation, like family and marriage, that can mediate the grace of God. God sustains creation, and also relates to people as persons. The three-fold circle of divine providence is the outer ring of the whole race of humans, the second smaller circle is all that are called believers and those who profess to be believers, the innermost circle only the true disciples of Jesus who worship God in Spirit and in truth. Wesley doesn’t deny that bad things happen to good people, both from other people and from events in nature. If God eliminated all evil, it would require eliminating freedom, which would also eliminate love. 

  • Wesley describes total depravity as "a want of original righteousness," and also in terms of a "natural propensity to sin.” Luther, Calvin and George Croft Cell agree. Eastern Orthodox teaches that Adam and Eve were not so fallen as to be unable to respond to any subsequent proffered grace. Wesley teaches the total depravity of humans and the sovereign act of God in salvation. He uses prevenient grace in two distinct ways. The “narrow” sense refers to all those degrees of grace that come before justifying and sanctifying grace. The “broad” use views all grace as prevenient and emphasizes the prior activity of God because he is always ahead of us and takes the initiative. Prevenient grace can be understood as both cooperant and free grace. 

  • God acts preveniently to give humans revelation by communicating his divine attributes. God places in humans a moral law that is expressive of the image of God. The Holy Spirit restored to all humans a certain measure of free-will. Original sin makes it impossible for people to respond to God on their own without God restoring their personhood, which they need to be able to respond to God’s grace. God doesn’t do it in a way that overruns a person’s personality.

  • The incarnation is a foundational teaching of the Christian faith. Since Jesus claimed to be God, it’s not an option that he could be just a good person. Paul teaches that Jesus has the same nature as God and that Jesus created all things. Ebionites rejected the divinity and virgin birth of Jesus. Adoptionism taught that Christ was a good man that was penetrated by God’s nature at his baptism and becomes divine, which treats divinity as an acquired attribute. Arias taught that Christ was not coeternal with the Father. He was more than mere man but he was created so he wasn’t equal with God. The first ecumenical council of Nicea in 325 affirms the divinity of Christ in response to the teaching of Arias. Wesley affirmed that Jesus existed as one person with both a human and divine nature. To affirm the essential equality of Christ with God the Father, Wesley often used the terms, “the only-begotten Son of God,” and “the Word of God.” The Son of God is the creator and sustainer of all things and the redeemer of humanity. The difference in the Godhead is relations, not nature. 

  • 1 John 4:2 describes the incarnation as Jesus coming to earth in the flesh. Jesus is also referred to as the Son of David in the Gospels. Jesus was able to become the mediator between God and humanity because his divinity meant that he was not a part of the problem of sin and his humanity meant that he could fully identify with humans. This is a unique and distinct role that can only be accomplished by Jesus, the God-human. Jesus suffered physically and emotionally and then died and was resurrected to new life. This qualifies him to be priest, a mediator between man and God. The title, Son of Man also emphasizes the humanity of Jesus. Apolliniarism taught that Jesus had a human body and soul, but a divine mind rather than a human mind. Docetism taught that Christ is pure spirit and only seemed to have a body. Gnostics view the body as lowly and the mind is considered higher. Monophysitism taught that the divine and human nature of Jesus was mixed into one nature. Nestorianism teaches that the divine and human natures of Jesus were sharply separated. Wesley viewed Jesus as the expression of the God of holy love, maintaining divinity while becoming human.

  • As a prophet, Jesus proclaimed the coming kingdom of God. Messiah in Hebrew has the same meaning as Christ in Greek. It means, “the anointed one.” The baptism of Jesus was the beginning of his public ministry.  When Satan tempted Jesus, the temptation was real because of the humanity of Jesus. It was necessary for Jesus to experience temptation. Jesus as a preacher, went from place to place, proclaiming the kingdom of God. As a teacher, Jesus taught in the synagogues and the listeners described him as teaching with authority. Christ as a lawgiver is seeking to communicate wisdom to humanity. This moral law is connected to God’s character. Jesus performed miracles to heal the sick, bring people back from the dead and demonstrate his power over nature. Christ as priest, became the mediator to bridge the gap between God and humanity. At the cross, what the holiness of God required, the love of God provided. Theories of the atonement are the best attempts of thinking about how to express the atoning work of Jesus. 

  • Penal substitution asserts that atonement primarily involves Jesus’ taking the sinner’s place (‘substitution’) in bearing the penalty (hence ‘penal’) for his or her sin. That penalty was no less than God’s wrath and the sinner’s death. God’s wrath is his unswerving opposition to evil. The moral influence theory teaches that without the fall, that amazing instance of the love of God to humanity would have never existed. Penal substitution and moral influence theory complement each other. In the governmental view, the death of Christ illustrates the punishment which sin may attract and therefore serves good government by acting as a deterrent. Jesus raised from the dead into an immortal body. Only life can give meaning to human existence. Death destroys all meaning. The first time Christ came as a redeemer. As king, Christ is coming again to rule . Three roles of king are giving laws, restoring people to the image of God and reigning in all believing hearts.

  • The personhood of the Holy Spirit is revealed by the roles of the Holy Spirit. Jesus told the disciples that he would send an advocate. The Holy Spirit is an advocate, teacher, proclaims truth, provides direction and assists in prayer. Four characteristics of the Holy Spirit that indicate his deity are eternity, omnipotence, omnipresence and omniscience. The Filioque controversy is a difference between how the Eastern Orthodox and Western Traditions describe the nature of the Holy Spirit.

  • At the beginning of creation, the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. The Holy Spirit is the author of the Bible and brings understanding as people read it. The Holy Spirit makes effective the completed work of Christ and gives us the power to live out the Christian life. The Holy Spirit is personal, not an impersonal force. The believers received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost after Christ ascended to heaven. The gifts of the Spirit are for the common good of building up the body of Christ. We should be cooperating with the work of the Holy Spirit in our individual lives and his influence should be evident in how we interact corporately.

 John Wesley's beliefs understood from an historical and theological perspective

Dr. Ken Collins
Wesleyan Theology I
Offices of Christ (Part 2)
Lesson Transcript


Let's continue. Penal Substitution. This view is supported by a number of theologians throughout the history of the church. Penal substitution also resonates with numerous biblical materials and authors. For example, what we mean by penal substitution draws allusions from Isaiah Chapter 53 that are reflected from a New Testament perspective as well. And this view of the atonement penal meaning penalty substitution, that Christ was our substitute bore, our penalty bore our sins, bore our punishment, if you will, was advanced by the reformers. And it asserts that the atonement primarily involves Jesus taking the sinners, place, Jesus taking the sin His place. In other words, being our substitute in bearing the penalty. And that's why the word penal is used, bearing the penalty for for our for our sins. And so that penalty was no less than God's wrath and the sinners death. And we've talked a little bit about God's wrath before, which is easily misunderstood. And it has to do with the righteousness of God and how God takes sin seriously in righteousness and in holiness. Now, there are various objections that have been leveled against the penal substitution theory, especially in modern times, by theologians who disapprove of a God who is not only loving but wrathful, and who not only pours out blessing but exacts penalties for transgressions. Yet this view carefully and positively formulated as R.W. Yarborough points out in his work on the Atonement, it does exact penalties for transgressions. Okay. This view carefully and positively formulated the penal substitution view is indispensable to an accurate interpretation of the apostolic witness. So the scholar Yarborough has pointed out, and I found his work very helpful here as he's considering the penal substitution view, as he's thinking about it in terms of penalty and thinking of the wrath of God, thinking of the holiness of God and the justice of God, that this is very helpful and these things must be considered.


Now, John Wesley, by and large, followed the Protestant reformers and maintained that satisfaction is best considered in terms of penal substitution. And so although we could make a distinction between the and sound satisfaction theory of the atonement and penal substitution, nevertheless they are they are very similar. They are very similar in many respects. And according to Westley, Christ makes compensation and satisfies the justice of God precisely by standing in the place of sinful humanity, by being reckoned among its numbers, and in the end, by bearing the penalty the very wages of sin. And we see Wesley explore all of this, these important themes relating to the atoning work of Christ in his treatise, his very large treatise, the Doctrine of Original Sin. And this is what Wesley writes in that context, quote, Oh, our sins were the procuring cause of all his sufferings. His sufferings were the penal effects of our sins, the chastisement of our peace. The. Punishment necessary to procure it was laid on him freely, submitting there to and by his stripes we are healed. Pardon? Sanctification and final salvation. Wesley Rites are all purchased and bestowed upon us. Every chastisement is some fault that laid on Christ was not for his own, but for ours, and was needful to reconcile and offended law giver and offending guilty creatures. And so Wesley concludes, The Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all. And so in light of this teaching, it is not surprising to learn that broad agreement exists in the secondary literature that Wesley's satisfaction view of the atonement is best comprehended in terms of what we're calling penal substitution. And so and earlier, Wesley and Methodist scholar Langford, for example, noted that quote from John Wesley to Richard Watson, the theme of Jesus's substitution read death as a means of satisfying the Justice of God was central in Methodist theology as it was in the Reformation theology of that period.


And so, once again, we're seeing some commonality between Wesley and theologians and reformed theologians. In addition, Detzner reminded the broader community that, quote, In the West, when Atonement, Christ performs a penal substitution, and Colin Williams, another Methodist theologian, pointed out that, quote, The central point of penal substitution airy theory was of great importance for Westley and Lindstrom. Another method, a scholar argued much the same, argued much, the same. And though Dunning, another scholar and Nazarene scholar, agrees with these descriptive judgments of Wesley's view of the atonement, he nevertheless takes issue with the suitability of a penal substitution review in Wesley's overall theology in a way that Lindstrom did not. And so this is what Destiny writes. And he's going to raise an important issue here. Quote, The idea that Jesus bears the punishment of man's sins is totally foreign to the New Testament. Dunning postulates the language it uses is suffering, not punishment. And to underscore the point, this Nazarene scholar adds, quote, It is truly unfortunate that Wesley failed to recognize this and thus introduced an element incongruous with his otherwise largely biblically sound views. And so what Dunning is suggesting here, and he's being critical of John Wesley's theology, especially in this area of the atonement penal substitution. And what what Dunning is suggesting, he's criticizing the penal part, that there is no punishment, that what there is, is suffering. Again, he says the language it uses and he's thinking of the New Testament here is suffering, not punishment. Okay. Now, though, some modern assessments of Wesley's theology may have difficulty acknowledging penal substitution in general or the wrath of God in particular. Clearly, Wesley had no such difficulty in terms of the issue of penalty. Wesley consistently viewed the death of Christ as bearing the punishment, rightly due to the rebellious sinner drawing the relation between.


The suffering servant of Isaiah 53 and Christ. Wesley reveals that at Calvary, the LAMB of God bore, quote, those punishments by which our peace, our reconciliation to God was purchased. End of quote. And elsewhere in his treatise, The Doctrine of Original Sin, Wesley declares that, quote, his sufferings were the penal effects of our sins, the chastisement of our peace. And though Wesley contends in his commentary on Isaiah that human sins were the deserving cause of Christ burden, he nevertheless argues in a way often rejected by contemporaries that, quote, God was the principal cause of all his sufferings. Now, as the Apostle Paul put it. Quote He made him. Who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf so that we might become the righteousness of God. Now, another framework that we can use to consider the great work of Christ in making atonement for the sins of humanity is what is called the moral influence theory. The moral influence theory of the Atonement. And Wesley underscored the love of God, that the love of God called forth in believers by drawing a relation between the first Adam and then the second Adam. Had not Adams send Wesley reasons. We could not have loved God as delivering the sun up for us all. We might have loved the Son of God as being the brightness of the Father's glory, the express image of his person, Wesley declares. But we could not have loved him as burying our sins in his own body on the tree. And so what is Wesley suggesting here? He is suggesting that we would not have known God in this way if Christ had not suffered. And so sometimes the language is used of the quote unquote, happy fault of Adam and Eve.


What some refer to using the Latin phrase Felix culpa or happy fault that in a sense necessitates the coming of Christ and his atoning death such that a far greater good comes out of the original evil than is otherwise possible. In other words, you know, putting this in another way without the fall. That amazing instance of the love of God to humanity would have never existed, which has in all ages excited the highest joy and love and gratitude in his children. Believers might have loved God as creator, as preserver, as governor, but there would have been no place to love God as the Redeemer. And so, as a consequence of this, believers may quote, According to Wesley, attain more holiness and happiness on Earth that it would have been possible for them to attain if Adam had not fallen. I'm going to express that in another way. What Wesley is saying then, in terms of this Felix culpa, this happy fault, he's talking about knowing God, and in a sense he's arguing that God is so good and wise and merciful that even out of something so bad as the fall of humanity, God brings enormous good out of it, enormous good out of it, in that humanity will now understand something about God that it would not otherwise have understood. And that is how God has been revealed to us in Jesus Christ at Golgotha, as humble, sacrificial love as given for us as bearing our sin and bearing our burdens. And this is, you know, very much caught up in what Wesley means here by the happy fault or Felix culpa. Now, though, Wesley did indeed view the atonement of Christ as having excited the highest joy and love in us and gratitude from his children.


Though he also stressed some of the subjective aspects of Christ's work. It's human word direction, so to speak, by illuminating the importance of receiving grace efficacious only. Nevertheless, his view can be distinguished in some measure from the moral influence theory of the atonement put forth by Abelard, this medieval scholar. Indeed, if we take a look at Abelard commentary on the Romans, it does develop some of what we're calling the subjective aspects of the atonement. In other words, the very human word relation. Nevertheless, in this view, the love that is engendered is not necessarily rooted in the connoted descent, the kinetic descent to the cross in the way that it is for Wesley. So there would be that difference between Abelard and Wesley. Indeed, for Abelard, judging from his appendix to Romans Chapter three verses 19 through 26, the love of God might have been revealed, according to Abelard, in other ways, apart from. Calvary and here Wesley and Abelard start differ. They differ. In Wesley's reckoning, by way of contrast, it is precisely at the lowest depths in the least likely of places that the humble, sacrificial love of God paradoxically shines forth. What manner of love is it that takes the place of sinners, bears their judgment and despises the shame? So understood Love and the cross are not incidentally related, but are necessarily so together. They are a reflection of God's humble, sacrificial holy love. Now let me speak about Abu Lord's articulation of the moral influence theory in another way. So you can clearly see a kind of contrast going on between penal substitution on the one hand, and then the moral influence on the other. And I'm not going to suggest that these are contrary views of the atonement. I think in important ways they can complement one another.


But when we think of penal substitution, we're thinking principally of the holiness and righteousness of God that must be satisfied. So we're thinking largely of the God word relation. In other words, how is that going to be satisfied or reconciled? How will God be reconciled to humanity? We must take the justice of God, the righteousness of God into account. And penal substitution does that quite well. It does that remarkably well. However, we have a problem here, a problem that is well recognized by Abelard and the moral influence theory in that when we are thinking of reconciliation, it's not just God that's involved in reconciliation, because reconciliation entails not one but two parties, so to speak, two parties. And so atonement, If at one moment and reconciliation is to occur, there must not only be the God word direction in terms of righteousness and holiness to be considered. They do need to be considered. But we must also consider the human would direction. How will humanity be reconciled to God? Because sinful humanity is angry at God and hates God. And how is that anger and hatred of God, you know, by the sinner? How is that to be overcome? Because if it is not, there is no reconciliation. And so this is the strength of the moral influence theory of the atonement. And what Abelard and those who follow in his works are suggesting is that by the magnificent display of the humble, sacrificial love of Christ at the Cross, that the sinner's heart is melted because they see the love of God, they see the love of God, they see the extent that God has gone to reconcile sinners, to reconcile sinners, and to bring them in proper relationship. And so the moral influence theory deals with the human world.


Part of the larger problem of reconciliation of two parties, both God, of course, but also of humanity. On the other hand. On the other hand. And so I think these theories of the atonement in this particular case, if we're talking about penal substitution on the one hand and moral influence on the other, that they do not contradict one another, but they are complementary towards one another and they treat different aspects of the one atoning work of Jesus Christ. Now there's another theory of the atonement that we are going to consider, and it's the last one we'll take a look at. And it's called the Governmental The Governmental Theory of the Atonement. And it was put forth by Hugo Grote, Gro deus. In one of his more important works, and this view is known as the governmental, sometimes it's referred to as the rectum role, or we see t. O. R a l lateral theory of the Atonement, which derives from and is in some way related to the penal theories of the atonement that we have already considered. And so colored by some important notions of the role of the sovereign. You know, thinking of governance here. This theory anticipates some modern views. God, God's pardon of sinners is within his absolute, unfettered discretion. The death of Christ being accepted by him as ruler or governor, not as a creditor or offended party. And so the emphasis here is slightly different. As ruler, God's interest is in the good government of the world. The death of Christ illustrates the punishment which sin may attract and therefore serves good government by acting as a deterrent. So in the governmental view, there is the stress upon God as sovereign, God as governor and sinful actions being judged because they detract from that good order, that good order of governance.


And so we see that now. We have considered the roles of Christ in terms of profit, in terms of priest. But we also need to consider the role of Christ as king. And under this heading, when we think of Christ as king, we are thinking especially of his resurrection, of his ascension. And then also as Christ as ruler, as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. And so we will begin we will begin with the issue of resurrection. Resurrection. And when we talk about the resurrection of Christ, we have to realize that this is an event without parallel, without analogy. Now, you might be saying to yourself, Oh, but we're not other people resurrected in the pages of the New Testament. Yes, We've already mentioned briefly, you know, the widow of name, her son, the daughter of Jairus and Lazarus. We talked about that. However, those raisings from the dead are different. They are different from the resurrection of Jesus Christ, because in each of the three instances I just mentioned, those people were resurrected to die again. When Christ is resurrected, crisis resurrected with an immortal body, a glorious, spiritual resurrected body. And so there is a difference. And so when Scripture refers to Jesus as the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep, Paul writes that in First Corinthians Chapter 15, we see that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is distinct. It is a different kind of resurrection because Christ has now an immortal body that cannot die. Whereas in the resurrection, as we've mentioned earlier, Lazarus, for example, Lazarus will die again. And so there's a difference. And we just want to stress that, you know, I think especially in our age, you know, in the 21st century, we need to really think about this issue as human beings, very importantly, the issue of death and the issue of resurrection.


Because because when we consider death, death is like a vacuum cleaner of meaning. You know, it just gobbles up all meaning. It destroys all meaning. Death can give meaning to nothing. And Paul Tilak in his own book, the courage to be greatly realized this. And he realized that human beings are confronted with the specter of death, and that can result in a crisis of meaning. Because if all is lost. In death, you know, then you're left with the question in the present, What's the meaning of my life now? And so once again, it's this issue that only life can give meaning to human existence. Death eliminates, destroys, wipes out whatever kind of language you use here. And we have to face that issue very, very. Forthrightly. So I'm suggesting think about think about later on this issue of death and resurrection and think about it, especially in terms of the issue of meaning. What is the meaning of my life? And if death were an end, if it were an absolute end, what does that do? What does that do to our existence today? How does it reflect back upon our existence today? And when you do that, I'm going to make a suggestion here. I'm going to make a suggestion that that many of us intuitively believe I'm feeling. I'm appealing to human intuition here. I'm appealing to an intuition which is a form of reason. It is a form of reason. Intuitive powers of the soul that intuitively you believe your own life is meaningful. You do. You believe it has meaning. And I'm suggesting work with that. Think through that. Especially in terms of the reality of death. And then think about resurrection. Then think about resurrection. Okay. I think that will be helpful.


Now, as we said, the resurrection of Christ is an event without analogy. Only by Jesus may be claimed. I have authority to lay my life down and to take it up again. Jesus says that in in John chapter ten verses verse 18. And this is what most sharply distinguishes Jesus resurrection from all others. Others have been raised by a power, not their own. Okay. Jesus was raised by his own power. And actually, you know, if you look in the New Testament materials. Yes. What Jesus says here, Jesus was involved in his own resurrection, but so was the father and so was the Holy Spirit. Because Scripture, in terms of the Spirit, just for an example, it argues that Christ was raised by the Spirit of holiness. And if that same spirit is in us, then we too, we too shall rise. And so the resurrection of Jesus Christ is different. It is unique. It is also distinct. Now, of course, we have biblical evidence here. We have some rich biblical evidence. Let's take a look at the Gospel of Luke. Chapter 24 Verses one through seven. And I'll simply read it on the first day of the week. Very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb. But when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleam like lightning stood beside them in their fright. The women bowed down with their faces to the ground. But the men said to them, Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here. He has risen. Remember how he told you while he was still with you in Galilee? The son of man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified.


And on the third day, raised again. Or we can take a look at Romans Paul's witness here. And he writes, Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the Gospel of God, the gospel He promised beforehand through. His profits in the Holy Scriptures regarding his son, who, as to his earthly life, was a descendant of David, and who, through the spirit of holiness, was appointed the Son of God in power by His resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Okay. And so I what I read here, what I see here in Paul's affirmation of the resurrection of Christ is not only this raising by the spirit of holiness, not only the power entailed, but also an affirmation upon the life of Jesus of Nazareth. That resurrection in this respect represents an affirmation of the life of Jesus Christ that in power He was raised from the dead by the spirit of holiness. And of course, Paul continues in Romans 811. And if the spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his spirit who lives in you. Okay. And so and again, Paul, in Ephesians one, 19 through 20, that power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead. And here Paul is referring to the Father raising Christ from the dead. And so we have seen already Christ referring. He has the freedom to lay his life down, take it up again, that Christ is involved in his own resurrection. We see the Spirit's role, the spirit of holiness, his role in raising Christ from the dead.


And in this last quotation from the Apostle Paul, we see the father being involved in raising Christ from the dead. Well, I, as a theologian, have encountered people from time to time, especially in the 21st century, you know, who doubt the resurrection and, you know, their thought is supposed to be avant garde, cutting edge and this sort of thing. And I scratch my head because it's so clearly evident that the Apostle Paul already wrestled with those issues. He wrestled with those issues in the first century, because all one has to do is read first Corinthians chapter 15 verses 12 through 24. And Paul raised precisely those issues of doubt, of extensive and far reaching doubt in terms of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It doesn't make someone avant garde today in the 21st century to raise them. That's already old news. It's been done before. It happened in the first century by the Apostle Paul himself in First Corinthians 15. And so let me quote this material. Let me cite it and make a little commentary along the way. So we see how Paul addresses this issue. And I'm starting at verse 12 in the 15th chapter of First Corinthians quote, But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say, see? Some were saying even during that time there is no resurrection of the dead? Well, if there is no resurrection of the dead, you already know, in light of what I just said, that is an attack upon the meaning of your life. Because death is an end and it's the great vacuum vacuum of all meaning. If there is no resurrection of the dead, Paul continues, then not even Christ has been raised.


Not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, see, he's making an argument here. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, Paul writes, We are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead, but he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. So Paul, once again, is drawing an association between the resurrection of Christ and our resurrection. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile. You are still in your sins. Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. They're lost. In one sense, they're annihilated. They perished, they're extinguished annihilation. I think that's the right word here, if only for this life. We have hope in Christ. We are of all people, most to be pitied. And we can understand that, especially as we think of the persecution of the church, which is ongoing in that the darkness hates the light. And Jesus talked about that even in the Beatitudes, Jesus talked about that. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, Paul continues. Notice the language here. The first fruits, meaning Christ's resurrection, is unique. He is the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep for since death came through a man. And Paul is thinking of Adam here. The resurrection of the dead comes also through a man, and he means Christ here. For as in Adam, all die, Paul continues, So in Christ, all will be made alive. But each in turn Christ the first fruits. Then when he comes, those who belong to him, then the end will come when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.


And so we see here that the Apostle Paul, I think, grappled quite seriously with this issue of faith and doubt. Resurrection. No resurrection, death as an end, death as a final consequence. And and what would be the implications of all that? I mean, Paul thought through that very carefully, very clearly, and affirmed once again the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I mentioned that work from Paul Tillich, the theologian, one of the few great American theologians. I guess we have Jonathan Edwards on the one hand. And then then I guess we could have Reinhold Niebuhr on the other, and I think we could add Paul Tillich, even though Germany couldn't claim him because he fled from Germany and became an American theologian. So we have very few world class theologians, but we're going to claim Tillich as one of our own. And as I said, he wrote that important work, the courage to be, and he dealt forthrightly with this issue of death and how it should be considered very seriously by human beings in terms of how they live their lives today and indeed how we understand our lives today. He also considered the issue of meaning and meaninglessness that that confronts our existence, especially as we think about the specter of death, the meaning of our lives, you know, larger meanings, smaller meanings, those sorts of things. And then also the question of guilt or please. Do note that the kinds of issues that Tilak has raised here in his book, The Courage to Be. These are religiously significant issues that are not going away. They're not going away. And so when we talked about earlier, non Manipur bowls of condition and other words that are part and parcel of the human condition, this ongoing issue of guilt, the threat of meaninglessness, the specter of death, and how that relates to our own existence.


Those are going to be ongoing. No amount of technology is going to catch up with them. And so that tells me that human beings are going to be practicing religion because all these three things are religiously significant. They're going to be practicing religion if the Lord doesn't come in the 21st century, in the 22nd century, in the 31st century, because these are wherever you have human beings, you are going to have these three religiously significant variables, if you will. And so I think Tillich makes an important contribution to a discussion on death and resurrection. I think it's very helpful. Okay. Now, let's talk about the ascension of Christ, as is our pattern. Once again, let's begin with the biblical evidence here in terms of the ascension of Christ. Here I'm thinking of Luke, the Gospel of Luke, chapter 24, verses 45 through 53. And this is what it states there. Then he opened their minds, meaning the disciples, so that they could understand the scriptures. He told them, This is what is written. The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my father has promised, but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high. When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. And while he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worship him and return to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple praising God. And so here in this Lukan material, we see a reference to the ascension of Christ as being taken up into heaven.


And another important place in Scripture where the ascension of Christ is described would be in Acts Acts chapter one verses six through 11. I also want to read this passage to put this material on the table, so to speak, so we understand the larger significance. Quote. Then they gathered around him and asked him, Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel? He said to them, It is not for you to know the times or dates the father has set by his own authority, but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth. After he had said this, he was taken up before their very eyes and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. Men of Galilee. They said, Why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus who has been taken from you into heaven will come back in the same way. You have seen him go into heaven. Okay, let me express the ascension here by using a kind of diagram or chart, if you will, to embrace the work of Christ. The one who comes, the logos made flesh. And we can do it by a kind of parabola, an inverted parabola, if you will. So I'm going to draw it like this. That's how I'm going to do it. And here is, is, is glory. Here is glory. Here is heaven. Here is the presence of God. Okay. And we have already explained very carefully, referring to the Johannine materials that the logos has come.


And so there is a descent, a coming from glory, and we can put a little mark there. This is the level of becoming incarnate, becoming a human being. Okay. And note that this is a connoted descent moving from the glorious form, more face value down to the form of a servant, humble, humble themself among men and women becoming human, a human being. And then at the bottom here, the very bottom, the bottom of the descent would be Calvary. This would be the cross where Christ is having fellowship with common criminals. He is despised, he is rejected, he is ridiculed, He is crucified. This is the lowest descent of the connote movement, the incarnation or movement that finds its nature right here at the cross. But notice the Gospels clearly. It doesn't stay there. Christ doesn't stay there because Christ rises. He rises from the dead. And so there is a breaking out of death. This this low descent here, a breaking out through resurrection. But even more than that, breaking out in resurrection and ascending ascending to the father and and going back to the father in heaven as being seated at the right hand of father being for us, an ongoing intercessor and mediator. So I think we can understand ascension, which we've been talking about over here. So but you see Ascension here, and this is the point as part of a movement. This is one grand movement of redemption. And yes, Christ not only is raised by Christ. Must descend and go back to the father and be seated at the right hand, for our sakes. This very much is a part of what redemption entails. And so we speak of Christ in terms of ascension as being seated at the right hand of the Father, where he is a mediator, where he is a mediator and an intercessor.


And so if we take a look at X chapter seven verses 54 and 56, this is what it states. When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnash their teeth at him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. Look, he said, I see heaven open. And the son of man standing at the right hand of God. Or again, Paul, in Romans chapter eight, verse 34. Who then is the one who condemns no one? Christ Jesus, Who died more than that? Who was raised to life, is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Or we can look at Ephesians, Ephesians chapter one versus 17 through 23 to see this very important work. Quote I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people and his incomparably great power. For us who believe that power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked not only in the present age, but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be the head over everything for the church, which is his body.


The fullness of him who fills everything in every way. And so we see here that after the ascension of Christ, there's an ongoing role that Christ is fulfilling. Seated at the right hand of the Father, a role of mediator, a role of intercessor. And that takes us, of course, to a discussion. Now, finally, Christ as king, as king of kings, and as Lord of Lords, we've considered the prophetic role, the priestly role, and now we consider the kingly role of Christ that he has been enthroned as a king. Here. We begin with the Book of Revelation, Chapter 19, verse 15 through 16. Quote, Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. He will rule them with an iron scepter. He treads the wine press of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty on his robe and on his thigh. He has the name written King of King and Lord of Lords. Wow. That's that's an amazing verse when you think about it. I think it's going to undermine some of the very sentimentalized pictures of Jesus that I hear from time to time that don't recognize and are loathe to recognize that when Christ comes again, he's coming not as a savior, but as a judge. He's coming as a judge. And the author of the Book of Revelation is clearly pointing to this role because he notes that Christ will tread the wine press of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty, and on his robe and on his thigh, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. So in our Christology, especially as we consider Christ in all of His roles, we have to bring in all of this biblical information, this biblical witness in terms of forming our own proper conception of precisely who Jesus Christ is.


And then we could take a look in terms of the kingly role such places as Matthew chapter 28, verse 18, which I'm going to read now, actually, I'll pick it up at verse 16 and read on through 20 quote. Then the 11 disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go, and when they saw him, they worshiped him. But some doubt it. Then Jesus came to them and said, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you, and surely I am with you always to the very end of the age. And so here we see in Matthew this witness that all authority, all authority in heaven and on Earth has been given to Jesus Christ, has been given to Jesus Christ. And there will come a day when that will be fully manifested to all now, fully manifested to all, to saint and sinner alike. And so we think of the second Coming of Christ, we think of the second coming of Christ, especially as we think of His kingly role. We compare the two comings of Christ. The first coming Christ comes as a redeemer, as the one who is sacrificed on our behalf. The second Coming of Christ is different than that and is expressed chiefly in the kingly role that Christ is coming to rule, is coming to rule, and to establish the righteousness of God upon the earth. And He will reign forever and ever. Okay, let's stop there and take what questions that you might have. It's interesting when you're contrasting the penal substitution.


Yeah. And. Moral influence. Influence theory? Mm hmm. Mm hmm. Because. In my experience, I've heard a lot of people talk in a negative way about referring to the wrath of God, that that makes him into something that's unacceptable in his nature, I guess. And I think part of that might be when you talked about us projecting our. Our. Understanding of of human characteristics on to God. But then to think about the moral theory where we have as much anger to God or we have we express anger towards God, too. I thought that was interesting. Yeah. Yeah. I'm glad you raised this issue, because for those theologians in the 21st century who would reject the wrath of God as simply off the table as not suitable to describe their understanding of who God is. I think that's based on a misunderstanding of of wrath as it is presented in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. First of all, recognize that this is scriptural language, both in terms of Old Testament and New Testament, using the word wrath to describe to describe God. And so it's biblical language, first of all. But I think what's happening with some of these theologians is that they are confusing. And I'm going to pick up on what you're suggesting here. They're confusing human wrath, which is often hateful, revengeful and out of control. You know, that kind of thing. When we use the wrath, those sorts of images come up in our minds. We think of revenge, fall out of control and hateful. Yeah, and even hateful. That's right. And that's not what we mean here. No, that's not what we mean. You'll recall in an earlier lecture, I said that wrath is a love word. It is.


It's a love word. It's a it's a holy love word. And so I would critique some of those theologians and argue that when they remove wrath from discussion, they now have a very sentimentalized view of what love is. It's not a serious view of what love is. They're not thinking of the divine love. They're thinking of something else. And by the way, they're thinking of less, much less. Okay. And so it earlier we had noted that what Divine Wrath is as a holy love word, it is a determined, intentional, ongoing, unswayed opposition to evil. That's what it is. That's what. And that's a good thing. You know, that's a thing in which we rejoice and the saints will rejoice in glory about the judgments of God in terms of that when God judges evil in the end, when the coming judgment is present. And so we have to see wrath as a holy love word. And it's God's opposition unswervingly. So because of who God is to evil. And so when I see a backing away from this kind of language, I'm seeing, then somehow or other, we're tolerating evil. And we're thinking that's a good thing. No, it's not. You've already contradicted yourself. You've got theology going on that's that's riddled with contradictions because you've got a mishmash of good and evil because of sentimentalize understandings of what love is. The kind of love that's revealed to us at Golgotha is a serious love. It is. It's serious. It has to do with righteousness. It has to do with justice. It has to do with holiness. But it also has to do with fellowship and communion and reaching out. You say both end Both end, not either or. And so that's why I've said wrath is a holy love word.


Holiness. Yes. Love also. Okay. So I'm glad you raised that issue. And that's important there. Yeah. Yes that both and comment because we thought I was wanting to mention as you introduced the moral influence theory. Yes. Without the fall, we would never have known God in the way we do. And I found it rather frequent that people ask, well, if God knew what was going to happen, wanted to create us to begin with. Well, there's so much that so much good that wouldn't have happened if he hadn't created us and allowed us to fall. I think he's more glorified, if that's possible. And in expressing and applying redeeming love, then loving, perfect creatures forever and ever and ever. Anyway, just even that was just a comment. Yeah, and that's interesting. I want to pick up on what you said because, you know, even Paul deals with this issue that that both good and evil attests to the glory of God. And so some were drawing the conclusion, well, why not then be evil? Because that will attest. And Paul, of course, rejects that. But, you know, even Paul is noting here that all redounds to the glory of God, because evil unintentionally, of course, nevertheless is going to glorify God. So people who are in opposition to God, who hate God, who reject God, in the end, what they do will glorify God. And the saints, of course, are going to glorify God because we're going to see the wonderful work that God has done in their lives, in forgiving their sins and transforming their being and what they have come from and what they are. You know, that, too, will go.