Translate

Friday, May 10, 2024

Post #45 The Doctrine of God - How the Trinity Anchored Practices And Preaching In The Book of Acts

Introduction:

    As we continue our Biblical survey of the doctrine of God and the doctrine of the Trinity, we come to the Book of Acts. A pattern we find common in the Bible pertaining to God's revelation of Himself is the cycle of God's works, followed by the revelation of His ways. 

    In Genesis, we see God create - His work. Then we see the exposition or revelation of the way in which He did the work (hence Genesis 1-2). This cycle of God's work, then "ways of revelation", is repeated progressively throughout the Bible. God acted in history, followed by a codifying all He did in creation, providence, and redemption, though means of the Divine inspiration of Scripture. Scripture does not merely witness to what God did, it is the revelation of all He achieved. The entire Old Testament is a testimony of God's work of creation, providence, and redemption, followed up by the ways of His revelation put into writing via the prophets.

    The time between the Old and New Testaments, known in the technical literature as "the second temple era" or the "intertestamental period" witnesses a temporary cessation of this cycle of "God acting, followed by revelation" for four hundred years. We could say that the Jews spent four centuries reflecting upon the revelation they had received through the 39 books of Genesis to Malachi. 

    It is then that the Son of God is incarnated in history as the man Jesus Christ. Once Christ arrives in history through His incarnation, the cycle resumes. Jesus came as the decisive revelation of God in the flesh. He came to work the final work of redemption here on earth, and then to ascend after His resurrection to do His work as Mediator in the Heavens (see Hebrews 10:19-25). The Gospels, Acts, Epistles, and John's Apocalypse serve as the final body of revelatory literature, disclosing God's ways through the incarnate Son of God and the ongoing work of the Spirit. The New Testament, along with the Hebrew Bible or "Old Testament", completes God's written revelation of His acts in creation, providence, and redemption, as well as predicting what will be Christ's return and consummation of the ages. 

The Triune God in the practices and preaching of the Christians in the Book of Acts

    The reader may notice in my introductory comments above how embedded the doctrine of the Trinity is in the fabric of Scripture. We've witnessed the Old Testament's setting the stage for this doctrine. No doubt Jesus spoke time and again about His own relationship with the Father. He further elaborated on His promise of the Holy Spirit. These two-sets of truths show how all three Persons of the Trinity worked together as One God in the drama of redemption accomplished in the four Gospel accounts. But what about the Book of Acts, and the remainder of the New Testament for that matter? 

    The 19th century theologian B.B. Warfield wrote a wonderful article on the Doctrine of the Trinity in His volume "Biblical and Theological Studies", an essay that readers can access in the online "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia" here Trinity, 1 - International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.. What Warfield has to say is relevant to our posting today,

    "The relation of the two Testaments to this revelation is in the one case that of preparation for it, and in the other that of product of it. The revelation itself is embodied just in Christ and the Holy Spirit. This is as much as to say that the revelation of the Trinity was incidental to, and the inevitable effect of, the accomplishment of redemption. It was in the coming of the Son of God in the likeness of sinful flesh to offer Himself a sacrifice for sin; and in the coming of the Holy Spirit to convict the world of sin, of righteousness and of judgment, that the Trinity of Persons in the Unity of the Godhead was once for all revealed to men." 

    When you consider the practices of the early church as demonstrating their consciousness of the Triune character of the God of the Bible, one can begin with the practice of Baptism. Jesus gave the church the practice of Baptism as one of two ordinances or commands. In Matthew 28:19-20 we find Him commanding the disciples to go into all the world and make disciples of all the nations, teaching them, and then "baptizing in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit". 

    When we come to Acts 2:41, 8:12, and other places in Acts of the Apostles, we see Christian converts being baptized in the name of Jesus. This isn't a denial of the Trinity in the Baptismal formula. If anything, to be baptized in the name of Jesus was still affirming the plurality of persons in the Godhead, since public identification with all that was entailed in public confession of Jesus was resident in His name (The true deity, co-equality of the Son with the Father, plus He and the Father's promised sending of the Holy Spirit). 

    No doubt the practice of worship, prayer, and preaching in the Book of Acts showed how central the Trinity was in the Christians' minds. For instance, Peter's inaugural sermon on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 explains the event of Pentecost by reference to all three Persons of the Trinity. In Acts 2:17, reference is made to the Father's sending of the Spirit, wherein Peter quotes the prophet Joel "God says 'I will pour forth my Spirit'". Peter later in the sermon mentions all three Persons of the Trinity in Acts 2:33

"Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear."

    Throughout the Book of Acts you'll encounter roughly twenty sermons, half of which center upon the Resurrection of Jesus. In one of the Apostle Peter's sermons, we find him mentioning the Trinity in Acts 10:38

"You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him." 

    The Apostle Paul's preaching is also recorded in the Book of Acts, referencing language that points us to the Trinity. One example is found in Acts 13:33, where Paul quotes Psalm 2:7, a passage that depicts the eternal Son of God and the Father in an inter-Trinitarian dialogue,

"that God has fulfilled this promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus, as it is also written in the second Psalm, ‘You are My Son; today I have begotten You.’"

    Like I said, there are roughly twenty sermons in the Book of Acts, most of which have woven within them a Trinitarian understanding of God's acts and revelation of Himself. 

    I only need to mention a couple other examples of practices of the early Christians to round out our study today.

1. The Lord's Supper.

    In addition to Baptism, Jesus had given one other command or ordinance to His church, the Lord's Table. In Acts 2:46 we read of how the early Christians were "breaking bread" from house-to-house. It is most likely this was reference to eating of meals together, however we could also include that they observed the Lord's Supper as a church gathered together. 

    The text states they continued in the Apostle's teaching. What was it that the Apostles had taught? In context, Peter had expounded to those gathered on the Day of Pentecost of the promised Holy Spirit, and how He came as a consequence of the ascension of Christ, as promised by the Father (see Acts 2:1-37 for the whole sermon preached by Peter). 

    The Lord's Supper, initiated by Jesus on the Eve of His crucifixion, represented not only His accomplished work of redemption, but also the body of believers. The three-thousand people saved that day were summarily baptized and had occasion to celebrate the Lord's Supper and other acts of fellowship with one another (Acts 2:42-47). No doubt the Trinity informed these practices of the early Christians.

2. Church Discipline.

    Jesus first taught about church discipline in Matthew 18. He expounded what I call "The Great Concern", namely the concern over the holiness of believers in what would be the forthcoming Church birthed on the Day of Pentecost. Accountability is so important in the Christian-life. The local church is designed by God to be a community in which Christians urge one another onto love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:23-25). 

    In Acts 5:3-5 we see the harrowing episode of the deceit of Ananias and Sapphira, a married couple who pretended to sell property to give to the church, while lying about how they secretly held back some of the proceeds for themselves. The Apostle Peter  publicly confronted them. In the passage, we find one of the strongest passages concerning the Personality and Deity of the Holy Spirit,

"But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, 2 and kept back some of the price for himself, with his wife’s full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land? 4 While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” 5 And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last; and great fear came over all who heard of it." 

    We see in verse three above that this couple had lied to the Holy Spirit. Then in the next verse, Peter tells them they have lied to God. The Lord disciplined these two by way of physically taking their life! This was what the Apostle John would later refer to as "the sin unto death" (1 John 5:16-17). 

    The deity and Personality of the Holy Spirit follows from the doctrine of the Trinity, since the one divine nature is equally and wholly in the Father, in the Son, and in the Holy Spirit. What is remarkable here is that the early Christians, Jews by background, would have had no problem affirming the deity of the Spirit of God, since He is mentioned as God in the Hebrew Bible (as early as Genesis 1:2, and most robustly Psalm 104:30, Isaiah 63:10, plus several other places). To mention one of the of the Divine Persons is to automatically include the other two. Even in this traumatic scene, the Triune God was deeply embedded in the spiritual life of the early Christians - Peter most notably.

Closing thoughts

    Today we looked at how we see the doctrine of the Trinity shaping the preaching and practices of the early church in the Book of Acts. Although I've given only a sampling of the full scope of references for sake of space, the reader ought to perceive how much the doctrine of the Trinity factored into the Church's understanding of itself. This ought to also demonstrate that the doctrine of the Trinity is not just a speculative doctrine, but highly practical in helping the Christ-follower and the Bible believing church to remain faithful to the Biblical revelation of the Triune God.  

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Post #44 The Doctrine of God - Summarizing Jesus' teaching on the Holy Spirit's ministries and relationship to the Father and the Son



Introduction:

       As we move ahead in our study of the doctrine of the Trinity, I've labored these last several posts to set forth the Biblical theological understanding of the doctrine of God. Before we can consider the Systematic theological treatment of the Trinity (that is, theological conclusions we draw from the Biblical text in conversation with other disciplines), we must first have an understanding of how God progressively revealed Himself through the Bible. 

    The task of Biblical theology with respect to the doctrine of the Trinity it two-fold: God's unity of being and plurality of identity as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Once this foundational work is completed, only then can we move onto consideration of what Christians throughout church history understood reflected in the Biblical data (Historical theology). Consequently, once the work of Biblical theology and historical theology are considered, we can then reap the harvest of systematic theological reflection. 

    We surveyed the Old Testament's teaching and revelation of the Person and work of the Holy Spirit. In this post, we will observe how Jesus handled the revelation of the Spirit's identity and work. 

    Much the same way we observed in our studies of Jesus' teaching on the relationship between Himself and the Father, so too we shall see how Jesus' teaches the Personhood and true deity of the Holy Spirit. Such observations will reinforce to us the Trinitarian understanding of the doctrine of God found in the remainder of the New Testament. 

What Jesus taught on the Holy Spirit

    Throughout the four Gospels we find references to the Person and work of the Holy Spirit. Author John Walvoord's book "The Holy Spirit" summarizes these mentions of the Holy Spirit in the life of Jesus by way of five headings.

1. The Holy Spirit in Christ as a child.

    Isaiah 11:2-3; 42:1-4; 61:1-2 all refer to the anointing of the Messiah with the Holy Spirit. It is in passages such as Luke 1:35; 2:40,52 and John 3:34 that we find the Holy Spirit accompanying Jesus from His virginal conception and early life. Let readers be reminded that the incarnate Son of God has two natures or "two ways of expressing His Personality". There is the "Divine nature" which He shares eternally with the Father and Holy Spirit. Then, we have the "human nature" He received when the Holy Spirit united true humanity to the Person of the Son in the virginal conception in Mary (see Matthew 1:20-23; Luke 1:35). 

2. The Holy Spirit and the baptism of Jesus.

     It was the prediction of Old Testament prophecies (such as Isaiah 11; 61:1-2) that the Messiah, as a man, would be marked by the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, which was fullfilled by Jesus once He was publically baptized. The Spirit of God's working was with the incarnate Son from the beginning of His human life. The empowerment and Messianic anointing phase of the Spirit's working began at Jesus' baptism, thus initiating Him into public ministry. 

      Scriptures such as Matthew 3:17 record for us the descent of the Holy Spirit in the form of a Dove. This public anointing of Jesus was a public way of expressing that Jesus was indeed God's Messiah. Walvoord comments on the scene in Matthew 3:17 - "The Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove, and Christ was coming up from the Jordon. No better instance of the revelation of the Trinity could be desired." 

    Readers may note that in Jesus' baptism, we have the voice of the Father from Heaven, coupled with the descent of the Spirit upon the Son of God incarnate.

3. The Holy Spirit in relationship to Christ's public ministry (Luke 4:18 compared to Isaiah 61:1-2; also see Matthew 12:28; Mark 5:30; Luke 5:17; 6:19; 8:46). 

4. The Holy Spirit in relationship to the sufferings of Christ.

    Walvoord reminds us here of how the Holy Spirit drove Christ into the wilderness to face Satan the Temper in Mark 1:12 and Luke 4:14. No doubt the writer of Hebrews references the Holy Spirit's work in enabling Jesus to endure suffering on the cross, thus presenting His once-for-all sacrifice to the Father (Hebrews 9:14). 

5. The Holy Spirit's relation to the resurrection and glorification of Christ. 

    Jesus had already indicated in John 11:25 that He was the resurrection and the life. In John 10:17-18, Jesus stated that He could lay down His life and take it up at will. As to the Holy Spirit's work in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, Paul calls Him the "Spirit of holiness" that exercised that resurrection power in Christ's lifeless body to raise Him in Romans 1:4. The Apostles commonly credited the Holy Spirit with the work of raising our Lord from the dead (see Acts 2:32-36; 1 Peter 3:18). 

    Coupled with Jesus' resurrection is the Holy Spirit's activity in His ascension, especially in how He works with the Son in the distribution of spiritual gifts to the church (Ephesians 4:12-16; 1 Corinthians 12:1-7). The coming of the Holy Spirit to empower the church at Pentecost was proof positive of Jesus' ascension (see Acts 2:22-36). 

    It is no wonder that Jesus taught so much on the Person and work of the Holy Spirit, since the Spirit Himself was resident in Christ's humanity, as well as active throughout His life, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension. We find the following two ideas summarizing what Jesus taught about the Holy Spirit.

1. The Holy Spirit as the Divine Person of the Comforter.

    The Deity and Personality of the Holy Spirit are evident in what Jesus taught about Him as "the Comforter", "Helper", or "Paraclete" in John 14:16; 15:26-27; and 16:7. This truth of the Holy Spirit as the Comforter calls to mind all of the references to Yahweh as the "Helper" or "Comforter" of Israel (Deuteronomy 33:26; Deuteronomy 33:29; Psalm 115:9; Isaiah 41:14, 44, 49:8;Hosea 13:9). No doubt the Holy Spirit's predicted ministry to believers would come as a consequence of Jesus' accomplished work and the sending forth of the Spirit by Himself and the Father (see John 14:26; John 15:26).

2. The mutual indwelling of the Holy Spirit with the Father and the Son.

    A couple of posts back I devoted time to showing how Jesus as the Son taught about He and the Father's mutual indwelling or unity with one another as the One True and Living God. 

    This "He in me" language is Jesus' theological short-hand for summarizing how He and the Father are distinct Persons yet truly God within the Godhead or Divine nature. In John 14:17 and 14:23, we see a prime example of how the Holy Spirit would mutually indwell somehow with the Father and the Son in the indwelling ministry He would come to have in the life of believers. 

    Jesus also used this same "Him in Me, I in Him" language to convey the Holy Spirit's work of uniting the Christian to Christ upon their profession of faith in Him. 

    Such a work is what theologians call the "believer's union with Christ". It is this union with Christ that the Spirit uses to bring to every Christian the Person and ministry of Jesus on their behalf in Heaven, so that they may sense their Savior at work within them (see Romans 6:4-12; 1 Corinthians 12:12-13; Galatians 2:20; Colossians 1:27 and roughly 100 other places in the New Testament that use the phrase "in Christ"). The Holy Spirit weds our humanity to His in a wondrous work that Peter describes as "participation in the Divine nature" (2 Peter 1:3-4). What this means is that all that Christ is and has done is mine to experience, enjoy, and to ground my identity.  

    This closeness of "mutual indwelling that the Holy Spirit shares with Christ is of such nature that seven New Testament passages refer to Him as "the Spirit of Christ" or some other variation (Acts 5:9; 8:39; Acts 16:7; Rom 8:9; Galatians 4:6; Phil 1:19; 1 Pet 1:11). 

    Much like what we saw in the mutual indwelling language of the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit's mutually indwelling work with the Father and the Son entails His "unity of essence" with the Father and Son, while preserving His distinct identity as the third member of the Trinity. 

Closing thoughts for the day.

    We have witnessed how much the Old Testament set the tone for the New Testament's teaching of the Holy Spirit as a distinct member in the Godhead, co-equal in power and glory with the Father and the Son. We also observed how Jesus carried on such a "Trinitarian consciousness" in His teaching about the Holy Spirit. In the next post we will lay out what the remainder of the New Testament teaches about the Godhead with respect to the Divine unity of the Godhead and the three distinct Persons. 

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Post #43 The Doctrine of God: The Old Testament and Jesus' teaching on the Divine Person of the Holy Spirit

Introduction:

    In the last three posts, I've written about what the Old Testament and Jesus taught about God the Father, His relationship with the Son, and His works in creation and redemption. Interested readers may review those last two most here http://www.growingchristianresources.com/2024/04/post-40-doctrine-of-god-jesus-teaching.html here http://www.growingchristianresources.com/2024/04/post-41-doctrine-of-god-old-testament.html and here http://www.growingchristianresources.com/2024/04/post-42-doctrine-of-god-old-testament.html

    In those prior posts, we covered the following:

1. God the Father as truly God.

2. God the Father sharing the same equality of deity or Godhead with the Son.

3. God the Father being the Creator of the world.

4. God the Father being the Savior of His people.

    We discovered that Jesus was carrying forth the "Trinitarian consciousness" resident within the Old Testament Scriptures and in His own teaching. As the incarnate Son of God Himself, Jesus gave unique authority and personal experience in how He communicate the two truths that form the cornerstone of the doctrine of the Trinity:

1. The unity of the Godhead or Divine nature, revealing God as One True and Living God. 

2. The plurality of Persons within the Godhead, identified as "the Father", "the Son" (or "the Word" and "Angel of the Lord" in the Old Testament), and the Holy Spirit (or "Spirit of God", "Spirit of Holiness", "The Glory of Israel" in the Old Testament).

    We've seen thus far continuity from Old Testament implications about those two cornerstones of the doctrine of God to Jesus' explicit teachings about their meaning. In today's post we want to uncover what the Old Testament and Jesus had to teach about the Person and work of the Holy Spirit.

The Deity, Personhood, and work of the Holy Spirit and His relationship to the Father and Son in the Old Testament.

    As we've explored the Old Testament's teaching on the Godhead or Divine nature, we've discovered what it had to teach us about God's nature and attributes in regards to His unity of being, as well as His Personal identification thus far as the Father. Consideration of the Father gets us to the understanding of God as one true and living God, personally identified as "Father". 

    We've also seen too that mention is made of "the Son" (Psalm 110 and Proverbs 30:4), a.k.a. as "the Angel of the Lord" (Zechariah 3 for instance) and "the Word" (Psalm 33:6,9). Such pre-incarnate appearances of the Divine Son of God in the Old Testament are what we call "Christophanies", whether as one of the three mysterious visitors to Abraham in Genesis 21 or as the fire in the burning bush to Moses (Exodus 3). The Son is revealed as exhibiting the same Divine attributes, names, and actions as the Father, while distinct from Him in regards to identity. In future posts I plan to write about the useage of the term "begotten" to describe the Divine relationship between the Father and the Son, discussed in passages such as Psalm 2:7 and John 3:16).  

    As the student of the Bible explores the Biblical revelation of God, they find a consistency of presentation regarding Divine personhood and Divine nature or Godhead. We've already noticed these two trends in our studies thus far of how the Persons of the Father and Son progress from Old Testament implication to what Jesus Himself explicitly taught. So, do we see this same pattern of Divine Personhood and Godhead with respect to the Holy Spirit? 

    In Genesis 1:2 we see first mention of the Holy Spirit's activity as the Creator "hovering over the waters of the deep". The Spirit's work of infusing life into the otherwise inanimate creation demonstrates His creative capacity as we would expect of God (see Psalm 33:6; 104:29-30; Job 26:13; 33:4; 40:13). Author John Walvoord in his classic book "The Holy Spirit" noted the following about the Holy Spirit's creative activity,

"Creation is ordered by God in such a way as to be self-sustaining to some extent, the design of animal and plant life being such that species are self-perpetuating. Behind the outward phenomena, however, is the work of the Holy Spirit, sustaining, directing, renewing."

    As we understand the Holy Spirit's abilities in creation, we can also note His activity as the Redeemer. No doubt the Holy Spirit was at work in the Old Testament convicting people of their sin and working to change hearts and lives to turn to God in what the Old Testament called "the circumcision of the heart" (Deuteronomy 10:18; Psalm 51:11; Isaiah 63:10-11; Nehemiah 9:20; Psalm 143:10). 

    In as much as the Spirit's work of salvation was not as robust as we see in the New Testament, it nonetheless had the same principles - changing of the heart, saving faith, preservation of the believer in their salvation. Jesus makes note that the key differences of the Spirit's working of salvation in Old and New Testaments was in the former He worked "outward and upon", whereas in the latter He would come to work "inwardly and through" (see John 14:17; John 16:8-12). 

    By the Spirit's works of creation and redemption, we readily see proof of His deity. 

    Further, in those same works we see evidence that He indeed was a "He" and not an "it". The Spirit could be grieved (Isaiah 63:10-11); jealous for His glory (1 Samuel 15:25); exhibiting a will in terms of restraining sin or working forth holiness in the life of the Jewish people (see Genesis 6:1-9; Isaiah 32:15ff; 44:3-5; Ezekiel 36:26; Zech 12:10). The Spirit distributed gifts, another indication of His will or volition (Exodus 31:3; 35:30 for example). We know He spoke to the prophets in words (for instance Psalm 16:9-10; Acts 2:25-31; 2 Peter 1:10-12; 1:19-21). 

Closing out of today's post.

    In addition to the Holy Spirit's deity and personhood in the Old Testament, we finally see evidence of Him alongside the Father and the Son. Two prime examples of this is Isaiah 48:12-16, and even more explcitly, Isaiah 63. Isaiah 63:1-7 shows us God the Father, ever calling to His people. Then in Isaiah 63:8-9 we see the Angel of the Lord, corresponding to the Person of the Son. In Isaiah 63:10-14, we see mention of the Holy Spirit, performing the same acts of deity we mentioned above. Remarkably, the remainder of Isaiah 63 closes with focus upon God as the true and living God, giving us the two foundations necessary for the later New Testament's full revelation of the Trinity: Divine unity and plurality of Personhood. 


Saturday, April 20, 2024

Post #42 The Doctrine of God: The Old Testament and Jesus' Teaching On God the Father as Creator And Redeemer



Introduction:

    In our last post http://www.growingchristianresources.com/2024/04/post-41-doctrine-of-god-old-testament.html, we began to look at what the Old Testament and Jesus had to say about the Deity of the Father and the Father's relationship to Him as the incarnate Son. We noted that the Old Testament reveals the Person of the Father under four major subjects:

1. God the Father as truly God.

2. God the Father sharing the same equality of deity or Godhead with the Son.

3. God the Father being the Creator of the world.

4. God the Father being the Savior of His people.

     We looked at the first two headings and will devote the remainder of this post to the final two subjects. The point of our current postings is to establish a Biblical theology of the doctrine of God with respect to the doctrine of the Trinity. One major point to make is that the New Testament's revelation of the doctrine of the Trinity did not come from left field. The testimony of Jesus and the Apostles reveal a full-realization and progressing revelation of the Old Testament foundational truths we already noted about the Father, the Son, and the Spirit in the Godhead. 

    Thus far then, we can say Jesus's teaching brought together the above  truths into a coherent picture of the Biblical doctrine of God. It is this coherent picture that springs forth the full robust doctrine of the Trinity in the New Testament.  

God the Father as the Creator of the world. 

    If we take into consideration everything I wrote above, we can understand why the Old Testament makes known the Father's work in creation. Passages such as Job 38:8; Psalm 33:6,9; and Malachi 2:10 indicate God the Father as having the capability to create. The Father, often called "the First Person of the Trinity", is assigned the title "from whom all things are made" (1 Corinthians 8:6).1 As to the work of creation, we must not forget that all three Persons inseperably worked as One God in creating all things. 

      This capability of the Father as the Creator, being God by nature, is also ascribed to the Divine Person of "the Word" or Son and the Person of the Holy Spirit in Psalm 33:6,9 and Psalm 104:30. Such Scriptural assigning of creative abilities to the Son and the Holy Spirit lead to the conclusion that they are wholly God by nature - with all three Divine Persons being God the Creator.

    Such ascription of Divine power to the pre-incarnate Word and the Spirit of God is the Old Testament's indirect way of pointing us to their equality with the Father in regards to deity. No doubt Jesus, in His many mentions of the Father throughout the Gospel, taught this very same truth (see Matthew 19:1-7; John 5:25-29). 

God The Father as the redeemer of His people. 

    We've noted how the Old Testament teaches us about the Father as He is as truly God, His relationship to the Son, and His work in creation. We've observed how Jesus taught those same truths. One final area we find the Hebrew Bible teaching about God the Father is in His role as the redeemer of His people. 

    It is in this work of redemption where the Old Testament shows us precursors of the doctrine of God the Father. Such "precursors" set the stage for Jesus' teaching and the underpinnings for a full New Testament revelation of the Trinity.2 

   So, we have seen four main ways the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament brings forth the revelation of God the Father, and how Jesus incorporated such truths into His teaching.

1. God the Father as truly God.

2. God the Father sharing the same equality of deity or Godhead with the Son.

3. God the Father being the Creator of the world.

4. God the Father being the Savior of His people. 

Jesus' teaching about the Father and the Godhead - what additional light He shed upon the Godhead.

    I have labored to show how much unity there is between the Old Testament's vision of God as one in being and plural in person and Jesus' reaffirmation of the same. We must equally grasp that the incarnate Christ furthered our understanding as to how those two major truths about the God of the Bible (His unity of being and plurality of Personhood) operated to set the ground for the doctrine of the Trinity.

    The 19 century theologian B.B. Warfield's essay on the Doctrine of the Trinity points out that what Jesus was setting forth was not new. The doctrine of the Trinity flowed naturally from the Old Testament through Jesus' teaching into its full-orbed revelation in Acts, the Epistles, and the Book of Revelation. 

    What was it then that Jesus brought to the table that propelled the understanding of the Godhead forward? 

    The unity of the Godhead and the plurality of the Persons find their clarity in Jesus' teachings, which interested readers may read more about in the footnotes following this post.3 

   Thus, in the Old Testament, the acts of creation and salvation are used as lenses to introduce us to the Father. What Jesus does is show how He Himself is that primary lens, explaining the Father and making Him known, since He Himself is truly God as the Father as God - He being the Revealer and the revealed (see John 1:18; John 14:8; 17:3). 

Closing thoughts

    Whenever we combine what Jesus says about the distinctions He and the Father have as Divine Persons along with the mutual indwelling language we devoted time to in the last post, what emerges is a firm foundation for the continuing, progressive revelation of the Trinity in the Bible.  

    This then demonstrates what I said at the beginning of today's post concerning what Jesus taught about the Godhead, and the agreement between Himself and the prior Old Testament revelation.

1. There is one, and only one true and living God that is one in nature or in His Godhead.

2. This Godhead (that is, deity, Divine nature, Divine essence, God's very substance and being) is equally and wholly in each of the Divine Persons - The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Endnotes:

1. In theology, we often refer to the Father as "the first Person of the Godhead". Why is that? The idea of "first" means "principle", which is to say the Father is unoriginated, the "unbegotten One", who makes common the Divine nature by His eternal act of "filiation" or "begetting" the Son (see Psalm 110; John 1:18; 3:16). 

    The ordering here is not an ordering of importance (all three Divine Persons are of equal importance). The ordering is also not that of power, being, or glory (all three Persons are one in nature, hence co-glorious, co-eternal, omnipotent). The ordering of "first person", "second person", and "third person" refers to how the undivided Godhead or nature is communicated among the three persons.  

    Thus, the Father, as I mentioned, is described in the Bible and in the doctrine of the Trinity as "begetting the Son", the fount that makes common the Divine nature. The Son, eternal and without beginning, ever receives or is "begotten" in an eternal, second act of sharing in the Divine nature with the Father. Then, the Father, with the Son, in what we could call a "third activity", makes common the Divine nature in what theologians refer to as "spiration" (that is, an outbreathing) of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is identified then as the third Person of the Trinity, proceeding eternally from the Father and the Son (John 15:26). 

    This "order of eternal relations" distinguishes the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit from one another in terms of identity, while at the same time affirming their equality and unity of being. 

2. It is in Deuteronomy 32:6 we find first clear mention of the Father's explicit involvement in the salvation of His people - 


“Do you thus repay the Lord, O foolish and unwise people? Is not He your Father who has bought you? He has made you and established you." 


    The remainder of Deuteronomy 32 is devoted to how the Father saved Israel from Egypt, carrying them along as a father would his son. 


    Isaiah 43:10-11 is another striking example of the Father being the Redeemer of His people, with the reminder that He is God by nature, and that there is no other God - asserting His nature of self-existence or what theologians call "Aseity" (from the Latin a se, meaning "from oneself"). 

    This same self-existent, exclusive Redeemer of God's people is expounded most clearly in the Old Testament in Isaiah 63:8, 15-19; 64:6-9). Jesus no doubt taught this truth in His expression of the Father sending Him, the Son, to be the Savior of the world (John 3:16).

3. The places Jesus teaches about the Father in Matthew 6:9-11; Mark 8:38; 11:25; 13:32; 14:36; Luke 10:21-23; 11:11-13; 15:11-32 sharpen the picture about the Father, with the additional, startling reality of the intimate awareness and uniqueness of relationship Jesus has with this Father that no other had. 

   We find Jesus revealing truths about Himself as He teaches the sharper picture of the Father. For example, as truly man, Jesus shows how much He is yielded in His human will to the Father's will, thus encouraging others to do the same (Matthew 6:10, 25-32; 11:25; 12:50; 21:31; 26:39,42; Luke 23:34; 6:36; 10:21-22; 11:2,13; 12:30). As truly God, the Son equates Himself with the Father, who being God by nature, means Christ Himself is truly God as well (John 5:17-18; 5:26-27; 8:58). 

    No doubt the "only-begotten" language I referred to earlier in Psalm 2:7 finds its way in Jesus teaching about Himself in His relationship with the Father (John 1:14-18; 3:35; 5:20; 10:17). To be "the only-begotten Son" refers to how the Father, as the unoriginate one, shares in common that same unoriginated nature through communication of it to the Son by the eternal act of begetting. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Post #41 The Doctrine of God: The Old Testament and Jesus' Teaching On God the Father's Deity And His Relationship To The Son

 


Introduction:

    In the last post here http://www.growingchristianresources.com/2024/04/post-40-doctrine-of-god-jesus-teaching.html we focused upon Jesus' teaching about the unity He has with the Father and the Holy Spirit by way of their "mutual indwelling" with one another. We looked at key passages in the Gospels where Jesus used the "He-in-me, I-in-Him" language. Such phraseology indicated that Jesus had in mind two pillar doctrines that are essential for a Biblical understanding of the doctrine of God,

1. There is one, and only one true and living God that is one in nature or in His Godhead.

2. This Godhead (that is, "deity, Divine nature, Divine essence, God's very substance and being) is equally and wholly in each of the Divine Persons - The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit.

    We can summarize these twin pillars of Biblical theology proper (i.e. the Doctrine of God) as God's unity of being and plurality of identity. Both pillar truths provide the basis for articulating the Doctrine of the Trinity. 

    It may surprise readers to know that in most respects, what Jesus taught about the Godhead in its unity and plurality of identity was revealed throughout the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament (albeit in progressive fashion). In other words, much of what Jesus taught in His doctrine of God was not novel. He simply added further insight to an already established theology proper revealed in the Old Testament. The famed 19th century theologian B.B. Warfield in his essay "The Biblical Doctrine of the Trinity" in his "Biblical and Theological Studies", page 32, comments on how the New Testament authors handled the doctrine of God with respect to the Old Testament revelation

"The simplicity and assurance with which the New Testament writers speak of God as a Trinity have, however, a further implication. If they betray no sense of novelty in so speaking of Him, this is undoubtedly in part because it was no longer a novelty so to speak of Him. It is clear, in other words, that as we read the New Testament, we are not witnessing the birth of a new conception of God. What we meet with in its pages is a firmly established conception of God underlying and giving its tone to the whole fabric."

Jesus' teaching about Himself and God the Father

    As Jesus revealed Himself as the decisive revelation of God in human flesh, He always pointed to the Father.  Who exactly God the Father was in the Old Testament, as well as how Jesus conceived of Himself in relationship to the Father, will enable us to get more prepared for the New Testament's full revelation of the Trinity. 

    We can summarize the Old Testament revelation of God the Father under four headings. For this post, we will detail the first two of those headings, and deal with the remaining two in the next post. The four ways the Old Testament reveals the Father is as follows:

1. God the Father as truly God.

2. God the Father sharing the same equality of deity or Godhead with the Son.

3. God the Father being the Creator of the world.

4. God the Father being the Savior of His people.

    As I expound each heading, let the reader note how Jesus reiterates that truth in His own instructional ministry.

1. God the Father as truly God.

    He is the eternal one, being without origin by nature, expressing all the Divine attributes that we have looked at in previous posts. In the Old Testament, the Father is revealed as "God", "LORD", and other Divine names. Isaiah writes in Isaiah 63:15 "Look down from heaven and see from Your holy and glorious habitation....". Then Isaiah 63:16 "For You are our Father....". In Daniel 7:9, Daniel relays a vision of the Heavenly throneroom, speaking of the Father as "The Ancient of Days". In Malachi 1:6 and 2:10, we see reference to "The Father", the "LORD of Hosts", being His name. 

    In most of the 5766 places within the Hebrew Bible where we observe the personal name of God, Yahweh"/"LORD", as well as most of the 2706 places where we see the more general name "Elohim" mentioned, unless otherwise indicated, we can safely say the Old Testament is speaking of God the Father.  

    Jesus made a point to distinguish Himself in His humanity as submitted to the Father, to whom as truly man He regarded as the only true and living God by nature (Mark 10:18). He also made a point to show Himself, as truly God, being equal to the Father, with whom He said He was "One" (John 10:30). As truly God, the Son mutually indwelled with the Father, meaning they both shared the undivided nature or Godhead as One God (see the previous post in the this series). 

    The incarnate Son also claimed He could perform the same functions as the Father in forgiving sin (Mark 2:7), raising the dead (John 5:25-29; 11:25), and executing final judgment (Matthew 11:25-27; 25:31-46; 28:18).  

2. God the Father sharing the same equality of deity or Godhead with the Son.

    We've already noticed how the Father is called "Yahweh/LORD" throughout the Old Testament. In most cases, we can assume the Old Testament is speaking of Him. The only times where we find exception to this is when mention is made of another figure, "The Angel of the LORD" in passages such as Genesis 16:7-11; Exodus 3:6,14; 23:20-33; Joshua 5:13-15; Judges 2:1-5; 13:18; Malachi 3:1-4 and others. Or, where we see an occasional mention made of "two-Yahwehs" (a Yahweh in Heaven and a Yahweh on earth - Genesis 19:24; Job 19:25-28). 

    Biblical scholars refer to this Old Testament revelation of the Father and the Angel of the Lord or other designations of a second Divine Person as "the two-powers doctrine". It is well documented in the Jewish literature spanning between the 400 year gap of Malachi and Matthew the Jewish beliefs about a "Yahweh in Heaven" and a "Visible Yahweh".  

     Scholars such as Michael Heiser have noted that following the advent of Christianity and the Bar Kochba rebellion of 132 A.D., the Jewish Rabbis expunged any mention of such "two-powers teaching", thus eliminating their one-time held belief of the plurality of Divine Persons within the Godhead.                    

    As one studies the Old Testament revelation, as well as Jesus' own teachings, it is evident that within the Godhead there is a plurality of at least two, if not three Divine persons. Each Person is distinct, while equal in their possessing the entirety of the Godhead or Divine nature.  

    For instance, we find the Father "begetting" the Son in Psalm 2:7, a term Jesus used often in His teaching ministry about He and the Father's relationship (John 1:14, 18; 3:16). Proverbs 30:4 explicitly mentions the Persons of the Father and the Son. The Old Testament revelation gives us two general conclusions in regards to the Father's relationship to the Son. 

    First, the Father and the Son both share and reveal the totality of the Divine nature or Godhead. Then secondly, the two are to be distinguished from one another while exhibiting the same Divine perfections we would expect when talking about God. 

Conclusion for today

    In our next post we will continue noting how the Old Testament reveals God the Father as the Creator of the World and the Savior of His people. We will also draw conclusions as to how Jesus not only incorporated the revelation of the Old Testament's teaching of the Father into His own expositions, but also the additional light He shed upon the relationship shared between the Father and Himself. Such understanding will show the reader how the Old Testament and Jesus' teaching paved the way for the New Testament's full-orbed revelation on the Trinity. 


Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Post #40 The Doctrine of God: Jesus' Teaching On The Godhead And Mutual Indwelling Between The Three Persons Of The Godhead



Introduction:

    In our last post we began to pivot this entire series on "The Doctrine of God" from discussion of the unity of God's being expressed through His Attributes to how we plan to approach conversation of His Triune identity. I had pointed out three starting points for getting ourselves to the doctrine of the Trinity from considerations of the unity of His being.

1. The glory of God.

2. The Old Testament revelation of God and how it presupposed a plurality of personality within the Godhead.

3. Jesus' teaching on the mutual indwelling of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

    It is the third of these I want to draw out attention to in this post, since the entire Old Testament revelation of God finds it harbor in the teachings of Jesus' doctrine of God. 

    Anytime we talk of the unity of God's being and attributes, the term used is what we call "the Godhead". I'll elaborate on that below. Also too, how the unity of the Godhead relates to the Three Persons of the Trinity (The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit) in such unity is what we find in Jesus' teaching on the mutual indwelling of the Three Persons. 

    For now, let the reader know that the particular subject of the Godhead and the mutual indwelling of the Persons of the Trinity is spelled out by Jesus in His teachings, providing a launching point for the remaining revelation of God in the New Testament. 

    As I noted already, in today's post we'll define the term "Godhead" and understand how it is handled by Jesus in a sample of His teachings. We will then introduce the reader to Jesus' teaching on the mutual indwelling He, the Father, and the Spirit have among themselves. 

What is meant by the term "Godhead"

    The reader may had noticed I made mention of the term "Godhead". The idea of "Godhead" is synonymous with everything we've looked at concerning God's being and attributes - that is, the Divine nature itself. The KJV uses this term "Godhead" in three places. As I list the three places, I'll use the NASB as a comparison for readers to see how this term is understood in modern English.

1. First verse with the term "Godhead", translated as "Divine nature" in the NASB 1995

Acts 17:29 "Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device." (KJV)

Acts 17:29 "Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man." (NASB 1995)

2. Second verse using the term "Godhead", translated "Divine nature" in NASB 1995 

Romans 1:20 "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse." (KJV)

Romans 1:20 "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse."

3. Third passage with the term "Godhead", translated "Deity" in NASB 1995

Colossians 2:9 "For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." (KJV)

Colossians 2:9 "For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form." (NASB 1995).

    Thus what we find then the term "Godhead" is synonymous with "deity" and "Divine nature". In Acts 17:29, we have then the term "Godhead" speaking of God's substance of deity, not being made of physical material, leading to the conclusion, as Jesus taught, that the Godhead is "spirit" in John 4:24. Jesus certainly taught what theologians speak of concerning the "substance" of the Godhead, otherwise known as the Divine attribute of spirituality.  

    In the Romans 1:20 passage, we see the Divine nature or "Godhead" listed alongside one of the attributes - Divine power or "omniscience". Jesus taught that for God, all things are possible, since He is omnipotent. One of things we will see in future posts is how the term "God" could either refer to the Godhead or was Jesus' way of talking about His Father (context of course being the final deciding factor). At anyrate, when we speak of the Godhead expressed through the attributes or perfections of deity, we find this theologically termed "the character of God". 

    Then we thirdly see in Colossians 2:9 how the Divine nature or Godhead is possessed by the Son. Jesus will unpack this point of the Godhead or Divine nature being an entire possession of not only Himself, but of the Father, who makes common to Him the Godhead or Divine nature by His act of begetting (John John 1:18; 5:26). This third use of the Godhead introduces us into discussion of the doctrine of the Trinity. 

    Thus far, we've noticed how the term "Godhead" contemplates God's Divine substance and character, and how both are possessed wholly by the Father, the Son, and as we shall see in later posts, the Holy Spirit. 

Jesus' teaching on the mutual indwelling between Himself and the Father and the Holy Spirit

    As we move on from having defined the term "Godhead", we can now pivot to starting to discuss how Jesus conceived of the "oneness" of the Godhead or Divine nature on the one hand, and then how He understood the Godhead functioned in, among, and through the Father, Himself, and the Holy Spirit. 

    Jesus often used what theologians call "mutual indwelling" language when highlighting both the union of deity and distinction between Himself and the Father, or between Himself, the Father, and the Spirit. This phenomena in Jesus' teaching on the Godhead would involve phrases such as "I in Him, and He in me". Take for instance John 10:38 "But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him." We see Jesus using similar phraseology in how He describes the unity between He and the Father in John 14:10,11 (2x He states "I am in the Father and the Father is in me). In Jesus' High-priestly prayer in John 17:21 He prays "that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You". This isn't a mere unity of activity, but of being. We similarly see how He, along with the Father and the Holy Spirit mutually indwell one another in how they work in and through believers (see John 14:23). 

    In the first four centuries of the church, certain theologians such as Gregory of Nyssa, Basil the Great, and others took notice of this descriptive terminology of Jesus. They grasped that what Jesus was teaching was nothing other than the two most fundamental tenets of Trinitarian theology,

*There is one, and only one true and living God.

*This one Godhead is in the Father, as well as in the Son, and equally in the Holy Spirit.

    Theologians came to use the term "perichoresis" (Latin "circumincession") to describe how the Persons of the Father, The Son, and Holy Spirit mutually indwelled or "co-inhered" within one another. Theologian Vern Poythress explains this idea in his book "The Mystery of the Trinity", page 91, 

"The coinherence of the persons means that each is completely present to the others. Each has complete knowledge of the others. Each acts with the others in the works of God in creation, redemption, and consummation."

    Poythress later adds,

"Coinherence (that is, the mutual indwelling of the The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit) presents us with a kind of harmonious bridge between the biblical teaching on the distinction of the persons. The persons are indeed distinct, but they are also profoundly one, through coinherence. Each person is fully God, the one God."

Conclusion for now

    In the next post I plan to pick up more on Jesus' teaching on this doctrine of mutual indwelling, and specifically what He had to say about the Person of the Father. For today at least I wanted to alert readers to some examples of Jesus' teaching on the Godhead, and the doctrine of mutual indwelling. As we shall see in forthcoming posts, Jesus brings together everything taught in the Old Testament on the doctrine of God, as well as setting the tone for how the New Testament would bring into full view the Triunity of God. 

More next time....

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Defending The Resurrection Of Jesus From The Dead And Noting Its Importance For Today


 

Matthew 28:6 "He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. 7 Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.”


Note to reader: I have included links to videos in this post which readers can click on and view to visualize what I have written in the post below.

Introduction:
    
      No other event or Christian doctrine is more proclaimed, more attacked, and more crucial than Christ's resurrection. We will first note four key areas of consideration when talking about the event of the empty tomb. Afterwards, we will then consider how three top "Christian apologists" or "defenders of the faith" handle the resurrection of Jesus in their communication of the Christian faith. Then lastly, we will consider why the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus are crucial to connecting the Christian faith today to what followed from the empty tomb during that first Easter morning.

Four key areas involved in discussing the resurrection of Jesus from the dead

1. Jesus' burial

2. The empty tomb

3. Jesus' post resurrection appearances to His followers

4. Changed lives of Jesus' followers

       Now why are the four above categories important? Whether one is a committed Christian or a skeptic, the four above areas are those which the majority New Testament scholars (whether conservative, non-conservative or skeptical alike) agree as those events which require explanation. It is one thing to find a majority consensus on "what happened". Yet, it is quite another matter when exploring the explanations for what happened. Readers may check out two videos which lay out the events associated with the empty tomb here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qhQRMhUK1o&t=26s and the explanations given for the empty tomb here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6SbJ4p6WiZE Both videos together provide a compelling example of how one could present the historical argument for Jesus' resurrection. 

Explanations of what brought about the empty tomb, and the only one which show itself superior to all the others.

       There are only two sorts of explanations for the empty tomb on that first Easter. First, there are naturalistic explanations (examples being: Jesus fainted and was revived in the tomb; Jesus' body was stolen; a look-alike was placed on the cross; the disciples hallucinated; the location of the tomb was mis-identified). Then the second sort of explanations is the supernatural explanation (God raised Jesus from the dead). When anyone puts forth an explanation, the way to test each of these is to see which one explains the four facts above and which one outperforms the rival explanations. I won't go any further but to say the above summary is typical of how the event of Jesus' resurrection is approached as a historical event. 

What top Christian apologists or defenders of the Christian faith say about Jesus' resurrection from the dead

       Apologetics is that branch of Christian doctrine which expresses why a Christian believes what they believe and defends the Christian faith against common objections. Three top Christian Apologists today list the above four areas in their short list of what lies at the core of the Biblical narrative of Jesus' resurrection from the dead.  I want the reader to note the last element in each of their listings, since the importance of Jesus' post-resurrected appearances will be discussed toward the end of this post.

       First, Josh McDowell in his book: "Evidence that Demands a Verdict" lists the following elements of what he calls "the resurrection scene":1

1. Jesus was dead
2. The tomb
3. The burial
4. The stone
5. The seal
6. The guard
7. The disciples
8. The post-resurrection appearances 

        The second Christian apologist, Liberty University Professor Gary Habermas, lists out a very similar short list in the argument he gives for the resurrection that he calls the "minimal facts argument":2

1. The burial
2. The empty tomb
3. Post resurrection appearances
4. Changed lives (especially of the Apostle Paul).

       Dr. Habermas' argument leans heavily on Paul's statements in 1 Corinthians 15:1-10, noting that the material represents early information that takes the reader back to within a year after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.  

       The third Christian Apologist who argues for the historicity and reliability of the resurrection accounts of Jesus Christ is Dr. William Lane Craig, a world renowned expert and debater who frequently engages with formidable opponents of the Christian faith.  In his presentations, I have heard Dr. Craig list in a similar fashion the following essential elements to the account of Jesus' resurrection from the dead:

1. The burial
2. The empty tomb
3. The post resurrection appearances
4. The changed lives of the disciples
5. The conversion of the Apostle Paul


The one area among these elements that merits further focus and explanation: Jesus' post-resurrection appearances to various people.

         The particular matter of Jesus' post-resurrection appearances, and how to explain the dramatic change in the disciples' lives will be reserved for the end of this post. For now, the reader should know that, in the last 30 years, academic scholarship has shown increasing interest in testing explanations for what took place on that first Easter morning. 

       For any Christian, the explanation or hypothesis: "God raised Jesus from the dead", not only represents the Biblical position but also has shown itself the most able to explain the four areas above and to consistently outperform its naturalistic rivals.  Exploring how the post resurrected Jesus radically changed the lives of his disciples in the wake of His resurrection, as well as how He is still changing lives today lends immense credibility to the truth of the resurrection narratives. 

What we observe in the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus

         Whenever we consider the four Gospel records, the Book of Acts and 1 Corinthians 15, we find a dozen episodes featuring Christ's post- resurrection appearances.  Furthermore, we find three common themes among them all:

1. Desperate condition of the people before His appearances.

2. Direct encounter with the Risen Christ during the appearances.

3. Dramatic change that resulted from the appearances.

        Eight individuals or groups stand out in these post-resurrection appearance narratives, what we could call "post-resurrection profiles". 

1. Mary Magdalene
2. Peter
3. Emmaus Road Disciples
4. Thomas
5. The Disciples in general
6. Group of 500 people
7. James, the half brother of Jesus 
8. Paul

        In scanning over these eight people or groups, we discover that in each case, their lives before, during and after each post-resurrection appearance leads to the conclusion that Christ indeed not only raised from the dead, but is alive and operating among His people. Such post-resurrection power is the basis for the salvation and Christian growth of every Christian living today.

Closing thought

        The importance of Jesus' post-resurrection appearances cannot be over-estimated.  Not only is such a truth a vital component in communicating and defending the truth of Jesus' resurrection from the dead, but also is vital in explaining how Jesus is able to change lives today. In closing, this is why we come across such statements as 1 Peter 1:3. 

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." 

      May we think on such truths and live our lives for the living, risen and exalted Jesus Christ!


Endnotes:
1. Josh McDowell. Evidence that Demands a Verdict - Volume 1. Here's Life Publishers. Page 189.

2. Dr. Habermas' minimal facts presentation can be found at the following link at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ay_Db4RwZ_M