The quote in the image is hypothetical and overstated to illustrate a point. Throughout church history, God’s people have looked to the whole of Scripture to inform belief–not single proof texts. Part of that process is using reason to infer truth. Ergo, we find the doctrine of the Trinity woven throughout Scripture like a resplendent, intricately-detailed tapestry.
The 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith in Modern English, chapter 1.6 begins, “The whole counsel of God concerning everything essential for his own glory and man’s salvation, faith, and life is either explicitly stated or by necessary inference contained in the Holy Scriptures. Nothing is ever to be added to the Scriptures, either by new revelation of the Spirit or by human traditions” (emphasis mine).
In using logic and reason to determine good and necessary consequences from God’s Word, we are simply practicing the interpretive technique modeled by our Lord in Mark 12:24-27:
24 Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God? 25 For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. 26 And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? 27 He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.”
The passage to which Jesus refers does not explicitly state that there is indeed a resurrection, which the Sadducees rejected. But that doesn’t stop the Son of God from using God’s message to Moses to demonstrate the logical, reasonable truth of the resurrection. God IS the God of the living, consequently we will be resurrected: those who reject God to eternal judgement, and those in Christ to eternal life.
This week’s Rapid Theology episode of The Backroads Baptist was inspired by Monday’s memory verses and questions that arise when one reads “the firstborn of all creation” concerning Jesus.
Our scripture memory passage earlier this week came from Colossians 1, and focuses on the Second Person of the Trinity: The Son of God, Jesus Christ. There’s a very interesting and wonderful descriptor of Jesus included twice. Listen:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn [there’s number one; the firstborn] of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn [second time that word’s shown up; the firstborn] from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.
So, this word “firstborn”–does it mean Jesus is a created being? Does it mean he had a beginning? If not (and I think you all know Jesus is not created, but eternal; if not …), what does it mean? First of all, rest assured that Jesus is not caused. God the Son is most assuredly God. We affirm paragraph 2 of chapter 8 of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith in Modern English:
QUOTE “The Son of God, the second person of the Holy Trinity, is truly and eternally God. He is the brightness of the Father’s glory, the same in substance and equal with him. He made the world and sustains and governs everything he has made. When the fullness of time came, he took upon himself human nature, with all the essential properties and common weaknesses of it but without sin. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary … Two whole, perfect, and distinct natures were inseparably joined together in one person, without converting one into the other or mixing them together to produce a different or blended nature. This person is truly God and truly man, yet one Christ, the only mediator between God and humanity.” ENDQUOTE If you have any doubt, look to the first verse of the Gospel of John: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
As we look at a word like “firstborn” that without any qualification refers to a created being with a beginning, it’s important to look at the whole of scripture and indeed to let scripture interpret scripture. “Firstborn” appears elsewhere. There’s:
4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia:
Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.
Now, here’s what firstborn means–conceptually we see three distinct reasons the Holy Spirit inspired the word “firstborn,” but bear in mind they are functionally inseparable in Christ’s role in our redemption. The first is Christ’s position. He is the firstborn in that he is the heir, the Prince of Peace, the King of kings.
He shall cry to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation.’ 27 And I will make him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth. 28 My steadfast love I will keep for him forever, and my covenant will stand firm for him.
The second is this: Jesus is the firstborn in his incarnation, in that he QUOTE “became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, …” John 1:14
Finally, Jesus Christ is the firstborn in his occupation–his finished salvific work:
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
Time does not permit me to read other pertinent passages such as 1 Corinthians 15:20-22 and Hebrews 2:9-12. Read those and you will see more clarity in how Jesus is the firstborn in his position, incarnation, and occupation. But I do want to specifically answer one burning question you might, like I did, have about the “from the dead” part of “the firstborn from the dead” What about those resurrected before Jesus, like the widow’s son in Luke 7, Jairus’s daughter, or Lazarus? Weren’t they raised from the deadbefore Jesus? Listen to Paul in Acts 26:
22 To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: 23 that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.”
How can Jesus be the “first to rise from the dead” when those I mentioned–the widow’s son, Jairus’s daughter, Lazarus–when they were resurrected prior to Christ’s resurrection? The answer lies in understanding what it truly means to “rise from the dead” in the context of the redemption of God’s people. Back to the widow’s son, Jairus’s daughter, and Lazarus: what happened to them eventually? They died. Jesus, however, triumphed over death. He rose from the grave victorious, nevermore to die. The first to defeat death, and the victor on our behalf.
“For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.”
20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.
But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers,12 saying,
“I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.”
For this very brief episode, I recorded some thoughts based on a sermon I recently preached pointing out the beautiful symmetry and parallelism in Matthew 1 and Revelation 21.
The short, single-topic, reading from a transcript is likely what to expect more of going forward, though I do hope to record some episodes more like #s 002-009 someday soon.
In Matthew 1, we read of the angel who appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him to take Mary as his wife, and that he was to name the child conceived in her by the Holy Spirit “Jesus.” We then read:
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).
Take note in particular this language—the meaning of the name “Immanuel”—God with us.
Then consider Revelation 21 and its parallel. John sees a new heaven and a new earth, and new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. Then verse 3:
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God …”
Notice the striking similarity? At the incarnation of Jesus Christ, he is called Immanuel, which means “God with us.” At the exaltation of Jesus Christ, once again God will dwell with his people. Once again, God will come to us.
During this season, we focus on celebrating the first coming of Christ. We celebrate what the Old Testament saints anticipated. They were wise to look to the Scriptures and anticipate the arrival of their Redeemer. We would be wise to learn from them and do likewise: to search the Scriptures and anticipate the return of our Redeemer. Like those saints of old, there is much we don’t know; God’s Word is not explicitly clear on some things concerning eschatology. However, we know what to believe: that he is returning, and his return and the hope of the assurance of our eternal habitation in a city prepared by God, in a “better country,” should cause us who are in Christ to live fundamentally differently from those who are in Adam—it should cause us to see this world fundamentally differently.
Darrell Harrison said, “The Gospel calls the follower of Christ to adopt and embrace an entirely different view of this world—so different, in fact, that we are to live in it as if we belong to another world altogether, because we do.”
Indeed, the Bible is clear in its language that we are “not of this world.” Those in Christ are aliens, strangers, exiles, and sojourners—the wilderness bride of Christ.
God’s Word tells us plainly to live this mortal life in light of eternity, expecting Christ’s return: “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-4
In his book Far As the Curse is Found, author and professor Michael D. Williams wrote:
The future to which we aspire shapes our attitudes and decisions in the present. It’s important to know where we are headed, for it tells us how to live in the present. That is as true of what we see to be our ultimate future—the issue of human destiny—as it is of our proximate futures. To live responsibly in the present requires that we be acquainted with our future end.
We believers must be able to confidently tell the world:
I ALWAYS have joy and hope and the knowledge that at the end, on the last day, I will stand before my Lord and Savior JUSTIFIED and everything I did for His Kingdom will be worth it—for His glory and my good! Everything I endured in this life—grief, pain, loss—will be worth it—for His glory and my good! I don’t know exactly every detail about how my story ends, but I know how my eternity begins: WELCOMED by my gracious Heavenly Father into everlasting life with HIM, where he will dwell with us.
In this episode, Ryan gives his recommendations for trying out the wonderfully relaxing and contemplative hobby of pipe smoking. He also talks about what he and his fellow elders have done during the quarantine to shepherd the church family.
“The Trinity” is a human term that does not appear in Scripture But truths throughout the Bible paint a crystal-clear picture It and “Triune God” are phrases we use to summarize What God has revealed about himself to human ears and eyes The Trinity is present at and responsible for creation Was there at Christ’s baptism and seen in Revelation A very convincing verse is 2 Corinthians 13:14 The Son’s grace, the Father’s love, and the Spirit’s fellowship are seen In Isaiah 44, the Lord says “there’s no other God besides me” It’s also true that the Father, Son, and Spirit share divinity But, the Spirit is not the Father, the Father is not the Son The Son is not the Spirit, yet they are Three in One We don’t serve many, no we serve one God in Three Persons Yes, one Being alone is worthy of all creation’s worship The God we serve is self-sufficient, in eternal community He said, “Let us make man in our image,” all for his glory God the Father, Son, and Spirit didn’t create out of need We contribute nothing to God, he is perfectly complete The Trinity does not change, doesn’t improve or get better Oh, but the Triune God changes us; the Three work together The Father purposed it, the Son, Jesus, purchased salvation The Spirit produces it to make the one once dead a new creation Changed, our thoughts of God rightly regard knowing him as serious But God doesn’t illuminate everything; his ways are still mysterious You can’t explain the Trinity, though some will try it still They’ll point you to the simple apple—the seeds, the flesh, the peel They take one thing with several parts to try and achieve their goal And say, “God is like this apple here; the three parts make the whole” They might even say, “Thinking of the Trinity as water will suffice” “God is like it in its three forms of vapor, liquid, and ice” But God the Trinity does not exist in equal parts divided Coming together as the One True God only when united As for thinking of the Triune God as forms like states of matter Is that liberty or just wrong? I’m afraid that it’s the latter You might be saying, “Hey, these words you’re bringing here are brutal” But explaining the Infinite God with finite things is entirely futile We could try forever to give a metaphor or a simile But none are adequate, so I’ll just say, “God is One in Three” God didn’t reveal more to us because this is how he planned it And at least on this side of heaven we’ll never understand it But doesn’t it make more sense that God’s beyond our comprehension? It’s not an issue to struggle with how Three are One without division And just how the Three could be one God, one being, and one essence Maybe I’ll be able to wrap my mind around when in his presence No matter what, when faith is sight from down on bended knee I’ll worship my great Savior, the Triune God of one and three
I can’t recall as much of what I read as I used to, and I don’t have the time to study and build up knowledge as I would like. So, I read Scripture for songwriting, sermons, and personal study; and read books and articles by those with far greater knowledge and education than I, and I wind up thinking, “Why am I even trying to contribute? I know so little!”
Thankfully, I know as long as I preach and sing according to God’s Word, even if it is on the simple side, God uses it. God uses me. ME! as a means for his glory.