Jesus Is Our Champion!

Jesusisourchampion

Hey everyone! How are you? I hope all is well!

 If you wish to be disappointed, look to others. If you wish to be downhearted, look to yourself. If you wish to be encouraged…look upon Christ.

-Erich Sauer (1898-1959),  Wiedenest Bible School, West Germany

We ought to continually look to Jesus,

We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

Hebrews 12:2 NLT

I like the word “champion” to describe how we look upon Jesus. Jesus is our champion! He initiates and perfects our faith. Isn’t that awesome?! Let’s look more into this verse:

looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:2 ESV

Looking to Jesus – We are exhorted to look to the Saviour. We are to look to his holy life; to his patience and perseverance in trials; to what he endured in order to obtain the crown, and to his final success and triumph.

The founder/author/champion and perfecter finisher of our faith – The word “our” is not in the original here, and obscures the sense. The meaning is, he is the first and the last as an example of faith or of confidence in God – occupying in this, as in all other things, the pre-eminence, and being the most complete model that can be placed before us. The apostle had not enumerated him among those who had been distinguished for their faith, but he now refers to him as above them all; as a case that deserved to stand by itself. It is probable that there is a continuance here of the allusion to the Grecian games which the apostle had commenced in the previous verse. The word “author” – ἀρχηγὸν archēgon – (marg. beginner) – means properly the source, or cause of anything; or one who makes a beginning. It is rendered in Acts 3:15; Acts 5:31, “Prince”; in Hebrews 2:10, “Captain”; and in the place before us, “Author.”

It does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament. The phrase “the beginner of faith,” or the leader on of faith, would express the idea.

JESUS IS OUR CHAMPION!

He is at the head of all those who have furnished an example of confidence in God, for he was himself the most illustrious instance of it. The expression, then, does not mean properly that he produces faith in us, or that we believe because he causes us to believe – whatever may be the truth about that – but that he stands at the head as the most eminent example that can be referred to on the subject of faith.

We are exhorted to look to him, as if at the Grecian games there was one who stood before the racer who had previously carried away every palm of victory; who had always been triumphant, and with whom there was no one who could be compared.

The word “finisher” – τελειωτὴν teleiōtēn – corresponds in meaning with the word “author.” It means that he is the completer as well as the beginner; the last as well as the first.

As there has been no one hitherto who could be compared with him, so there will be no one hereafter; compare Revelation 1:8, Revelation 1:11.

“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, the first and the last.”

Who for the joy that was set before him – That is, who in view of all the honor which he would have at the right hand of God, and the happiness which he would experience from the consciousness that he had redeemed a world, was willing to bear the sorrows connected with the atonement.

Endured the cross – Endured patiently the ignominy and pain connected with the suffering of death on the cross.

Despising the shame – Disregarding the ignominy of such a mode of death. It is difficult for us now to realize the force of the expression, “enduring the shame of the cross,” as it was understood in the time of the Saviour and the apostles. The views of the world have changed, and it is now difficult to divest the “cross” of the associations of honor and glory which the word suggests, so as to appreciate the ideas which encompassed it then. There is a degree of dishonor which we attach to the guillotine, but the ignominy of a death on the cross was greater than that; there is disgrace attached to the block, but the ignominy of the cross was greater than that; there is a much deeper infamy attached to the gallows, but the ignominy of the cross was greater than that. And that word – the cross – which when now proclaimed in the ears of the refined, the intelligent, and even the frivolous, excites an idea of honor, in the ears of the people of Athens, of Corinth, and of Rome, excited deeper disgust than the word “gallows” does with us – for it was regarded as the appropriate punishment of the most infamous of mankind.

We can now scarcely appreciate these feelings, and of course the declaration that Jesus “endured the cross, despising the shame,” does not make the impression on our minds in regard to the nature of his sufferings, and the value of his example, which it should do.

When we now think of the “cross,” it is not of the multitude of slaves, and robbers, and thieves, and rebels, who have died on it, but of the one great Victim, whose death has ennobled even this instrument of torture, and encircled it with a halo of glory.

We have been accustomed to read of it as an imperial standard in war in the days of Constantine, and as the banner under which armies have marched to conquest; it is intermingled with the sweetest poetry; it is a sacred thing in the most magnificent cathedrals; it adorns the altar, and is even an object of adoration; it is in the most elegant engravings; it is worn by beauty and piety as an ornament near the heart; it is associated with all that is pure in love, great in self-sacrifice, and holy in religion. To see the true force of the expression here, therefore, it is necessary to divest ourselves of these ideas of glory which encircle the “cross,” and to place ourselves in the times and lands in which, when the most infamous of mankind were stretched upon it, it was regarded for such people as an appropriate mode of punishment.

That infamy Jesus was willing to bear, and the strength of his confidence in God, his love for man, and the depth of his humiliation, was shown in the readiness and firmness with which he went forward to such a death.

And is set down at the right hand of the throne of God – Exalted to the highest place of dignity and honor in the universe; Mark 16:19 note; Ephesians 1:20-22 notes.The sentiment here is,

“Imitate the example of the great Author of our religion. He, in view of the honor and joy before him, endured the most severe sufferings to which the human frame can be subjected, and the form of death which is regarded as the most shameful. So amidst all the severe trials to which you are exposed on account of religion, patiently endure all – for the glorious rewards, the happiness and the triumph of heaven, are before you.”

Source: Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

Always, for God’s glory and our joy in Him!

Kevin Nunez

What Is Your Understanding of Biblical Discipleship?

 

What Is Your Understanding of Biblical Discipleship?

Salvation is free, but discipleship will cost you your life.

-Dietrich Bonhoeffer

When you hear the word discipleship, what thoughts come to your mind? Like other words, it may have lost the significance of its original meaning. In your church do believers tend to think of discipleship as knowing facts about Jesus or following Jesus in a personal, dependent, obedient relationship? Biblically, discipleship is not a program but a process of becoming Christlike and being zealous to see others become disciples also.

The Gospels and the Book of Acts include 260 references to the word disciple. Every time the word is used, it refers to a declared relationship with Jesus Christ, not a level of spiritual or religious achievement. Becoming a Christian, in New Testament understanding, was the same as becoming a disciple of Jesus. The word disciple in the New Testament, then, refers primarily to any Christian, not to a subdivision of the Christian community.

According to Clarence Drummond, a Georgia pastor, to be a Christian is to be a disciple. (Source 1)

Scripture teaches three stages in a Christian’s life.

1. Justification. God initiates justification to bring a person into right standing with Him. The person becomes justified in God’s sight (see Rom. 5:1) by confessing and repenting of his sin and asking God to atone for it through the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Inherent in the person’s declaration of need for God to redeem him from the penalty of sin is also a profession of his desire to follow Jesus as the Lord of his life. This profession begins the second stage.

2. Sanctification. This stage describes a believer’s journey of faith from justification to the end of his earthly life. Sanctification is the process of becoming mature or more Christlike in one’s faith. God wants Christians to learn how to live as He wants them to live (see Phil. 2:12).

3. Glorification. One day when a believer’s earthly life is over, he will be glorified, becoming like Jesus (see 1 John 3:2). The process of discipleship will then be complete (see Phil. 1:6).

Christian discipleship is a lifelong journey of obedience to Christ that spiritually transforms a person’s values and behavior and results in ministry in one’s home, church, and the world.

Dallas Willard, author, professor, and outspoken follower of Christ, said, “We progressively learn to lead our lives as he would if he were we.” (Source 2)

After someone becomes a Christian, becoming like Jesus in character and being obedient to Him should be the main objectives in life (see Gal. 5:22-23). John the apostle wrote, “The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ without keeping His commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly in him the love of God is perfected. This is how we know we are in Him: the one who says he remains in Him should walk just as He walked” (1 John 2:4-6).

The Christian life ought to be more distinctive than any other type of life.

More to come on this topic, “Biblical Discipleship.”

Sources:
1. Clarence Drummond, in remarks given during a Georgia Baptist Convention conference.
2. Dallas Willard, The Great Omission (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2006), 166.

3. http://www.lifeway.com/

Always, for God’s glory and our joy in Him!

Kevin Nunez

δυναμόω

 

Hey everyone! How are you? I hope all is well!

Today I’m feeling a lot better.

Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.

Lamentations 3:23 NLT

Thanks for your prayers. I was reading Colossians this morning and I came across this passage which really encouraged my Spirit. I remember in my Greek class at Biola we were going through Colossians and Dr. Lunde emphasized the word “δυναμούμενοι.” It is derived from the word, “δυναμόω.”

It (derivatives of δύναμαι ‘to be able,’ 74.5) to cause someone to have the ability to do or to experience something—‘to make someone able, to give capability to, to enable, to strengthen, to empower.’

δυναμόω: ἐν πάσῃ δυνάμει δυναμούμενοι κατὰ τὸ κράτος τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ ‘being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might’ Col 1:11.

ἐνδυναμόω: πάντα ἰσχύω ἐν τῷ ἐνδυναμοῦντί με ‘I can do all things by the one who makes me able’ or ‘I am able to face anything by the one who makes me able (to do it)’ Php 4:13; ἀλλ’ ε’νεδυναμω’θη τῇ πι’στει ‘but he was enabled by faith’ Ro 4:20.

-Louw, Johannes P. and Eugene Albert Nida.

I am encouraged! When God’s word speaks to you it is powerful! God is my strength. 

11May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Colossians 1:11-14 ESV

As I read that I was inspired to create a new blog named http://dunamoo.wordpress.com/ and to have Col. 1:11 as Scripture that grounds this ministry.

Maybe all the hardships I’ve gone through are meant to bring me to realize this truth at the young age of 22. I know harder times will come and it’s probably best for me to be ready now than later in life.

I am able to face anything by the one who makes me able (to do it)

Phil. 4:13

There is more I want to say but I’ll leave it at that right now and I’ll write more about this later.

God is my strength!

Source: Louw, Johannes P. and Eugene Albert Nida. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains. electronic ed. of the 2nd edition. New York: United Bible Societies, 1996.

Always, for God’s glory and our joy in Him!

Kevin Nunez

SINLESSNESS: JESUS CHRIST WAS ENTIRELY FREE FROM SIN

 

Hey everyone! How are you? I hope all is well!

Here we are continuing our discussion on J.I. Packer’s Concise Theology.

Understanding basic theological truths is important in the life of the believer. Again I reiterate what J.I Packer says,

theology is for doxology and devotion—that is, the praise of God and the practice of godliness. “

SINLESSNESS

JESUS CHRIST WAS ENTIRELY
FREE FROM SIN

He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.

1 PETER 2:22

The New Testament insists that Jesus was entirely free from sin (John 8:46; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15; 7:26; 1 Pet. 2:22; 1 John 3:5). This means not only that he never disobeyed his Father but that he loved God’s law and found wholehearted joy in keeping it. In fallen human beings, there is always some reluctance to obey God, and sometimes resentment amounting to hatred at the claims he makes on us (Rom. 8:7). But Jesus’ moral nature was unfallen, as was Adam’s prior to his sin, and in Jesus there was no prior inclination away from God for Satan to play on, as there is in us. Jesus loved his Father and his Father’s will with all his heart, mind, soul, and strength.

Hebrews 4:15 says that Jesus was “tempted in every way, just as we are,” though without sinning. This means that every type of temptation that we face—temptations to wrongfully indulge natural desires of body and mind, to evade moral and spiritual issues, to cut moral corners and take easy ways out, to be less than fully loving and sympathetic and creatively kind to others, to become self-protective and self-pitying, and so on—came upon him, but he yielded to none of them. Overwhelming opposition did not overwhelm him, and through the agony of Gethsemane and the cross he fought temptation and resisted sin to the point where his blood was shed. Christians must learn from him to do likewise (Heb. 12:3-13; Luke 14:25-33).

Jesus’ sinlessness was necessary for our salvation. Had he not been “a lamb without blemish or defect” his blood would not have been “precious” (1 Pet. 1:19). He would have needed a savior himself, and his death would not have redeemed us. His active obedience (perfect lifelong conformity to God’s law for mankind, and to his revealed will for the Messiah) qualified Jesus to become our Savior by dying for us on the cross. Jesus’ passive obedience (enduring the penalty of God’s broken law as our sinless substitute) crowned his active obedience to secure the pardon and acceptance of those who put their faith in him (Rom. 5:18-19; 2 Cor. 5:18-21; Phil. 2:8; Heb. 10:5-10).

Source: Packer, J. I. Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1993.

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Always, for God’s glory and our joy in Him!

Kevin Nunez

INCARNATION: GOD SENT HIS SON, TO SAVE US

 

Hey everyone! How are you? I hope all is well!

Here we are continuing our discussion on J.I. Packer’s Concise Theology.

Understanding basic theological truths is important in the life of the believer. Again I reiterate what J.I Packer says,

theology is for doxology and devotion—that is, the praise of God and the practice of godliness. “

INCARNATION

GOD SENT HIS SON, TO SAVE US

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

JOHN 1:14

Trinity and Incarnation belong together. The doctrine of the Trinity declares that the man Jesus is truly divine; that of the Incarnation declares that the divine Jesus is truly human. Together they proclaim the full reality of the Savior whom the New Testament sets forth, the Son who came from the Father’s side at the Father’s will to become the sinner’s substitute on the cross (Matt. 20:28; 26:36-46; John 1:29; 3:13-17; Rom. 5:8; 8:32; 2 Cor. 5:19-21; 8:9; Phil. 2:5-8).

The moment of truth regarding the doctrine of the Trinity came at the Council of Nicaea (a.d. 325), when the church countered the Arian idea that Jesus was God’s first and noblest creature by affirming that he was of the same “substance” or “essence” (i.e., the same existing entity) as the Father. Thus there is one God, not two; the distinction between Father and Son is within the divine unity, and the Son is God in the same sense as the Father is. In saying that Son and Father are “of one substance,” and that the Son is “begotten” (echoing “only-begotten,” John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18, and niv text notes) but “not made,” the Nicene Creed unequivocally recognized the deity of the man from Galilee.

A crucial event for the church’s confession of the doctrine of the Incarnation came at the Council of Chalcedon (a.d. 451), when the church countered both the Nestorian idea that Jesus was two personalities—the Son of God and a man—under one skin, and the Eutychian idea that Jesus’ divinity had swallowed up his humanity. Rejecting both, the council affirmed that Jesus is one divine-human person in two natures (i.e., with two sets of capacities for experience, expression, reaction, and action); and that the two natures are united in his personal being without mixture, confusion, separation, or division; and that each nature retained its own attributes. In other words, all the qualities and powers that are in us, as well as all the qualities and powers that are in God, were, are, and ever will be really and distinguishably present in the one person of the man from Galilee. Thus the Chalcedonian formula affirms the full humanity of the Lord from heaven in categorical terms.

The Incarnation, this mysterious miracle at the heart of historic Christianity, is central in the New Testament witness. That Jews should ever have come to such a belief is amazing. Eight of the nine New Testament writers, like Jesus’ original disciples, were Jews, drilled in the Jewish axiom that there is only one God and that no human is divine. They all teach, however, that Jesus is God’s Messiah, the Spirit-annointed son of David promised in the Old Testament (e.g., Isa. 11:1-5; Christos, “Christ,” is Greek for Messiah). They all present him in a threefold role as teacher, sin-bearer, and ruler—prophet, priest, and king. And in other words, they all insist that Jesus the Messiah should be personally worshiped and trusted—which is to say that he is God no less than he is man. Observe how the four most masterful New Testament theologians (John, Paul, the writer of Hebrews, and Peter) speak to this.

John’s Gospel frames its eyewitness narratives (John 1:14; 19:35; 21:24) with the declarations of its prologue (1:1-18): that Jesus is the eternal divine Logos (Word), agent of Creation and source of all life and light (vv. 1-5, 9), who through becoming “flesh” was revealed as Son of God and source of grace and truth, indeed as “God the only begotten” (vv. 14, 18; niv text notes). The Gospel is punctuated with “I am” statements that have special significance because I am (Greek: ego eimi) was used to render God’s name in the Greek translation of Exodus 3:14; whenever John reports Jesus as saying ego eimi, a claim to deity is implicit. Examples of this are John 8:28, 58, and the seven declarations of his grace as (a) the Bread of Life, giving spiritual food (6:35, 48, 51); (b) the Light of the World, banishing darkness (8:12; 9:5); (c) the gate for the sheep, giving access to God (10:7, 9); (d) the Good Shepherd, protecting from peril (10:11, 14); (e) the Resurrection and Life, overcoming our death (11:25); (f) the Way, Truth, and Life, guiding to fellowship with the Father (14:6); (g) the true Vine, nurturing for fruitfulness (15:1, 5). Climactically, Thomas worships Jesus as “my Lord and my God” (20:28). Jesus then pronounces a blessing on all who share Thomas’s faith and John urges his readers to join their number (20:29-31).

Paul quotes from what seems to be a hymn that declares Jesus’ personal deity (Phil. 2:6); states that “in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” (Col. 2:9; cf. 1:19); hails Jesus the Son as the Father’s image and as his agent in creating and upholding everything (Col. 1:15-17); declares him to be “Lord” (a title of kingship, with divine overtones), to whom one must pray for salvation according to the injunction to call on Yahweh in Joel 2:32 (Rom. 10:9-13); calls him “God over all” (Rom. 9:5) and “God and Savior” (Titus 2:13); and prays to him personally (2 Cor. 12:8-9), looking to him as a source of divine grace (2 Cor. 13:14). The testimony is explicit: faith in Jesus’ deity is basic to Paul’s theology and religion.

The writer to the Hebrews, purporting to expound the perfection of Christ’s high priesthood, starts by declaring the full deity and consequent unique dignity of the Son of God (Heb. 1:3, 6, 8-12), whose full humanity he then celebrates in chapter 2. The perfection, and indeed the very possibility, of the high priesthood that he describes Christ as fulfilling depends on the conjunction of an endless, unfailing divine life with a full human experience of temptation, pressure, and pain (Heb. 2:14-17; 4:14–5:2; 7:13-28; 12:2-3).

Not less significant is Peter’s use of Isaiah 8:12-13 (1 Pet. 3:14). He cites the Greek (Septuagint) version, urging the churches not to fear what others fear but to set apart the Lord as holy. But where the Septuagint text of Isaiah says, “Set apart the Lord himself,” Peter writes, “Set apart Christ as Lord” (1 Pet. 3:15). Peter would give the adoring fear due to the Almighty to Jesus of Nazareth, his Master and Lord.

The New Testament forbids worship of angels (Col. 2:18; Rev. 22:8-9) but commands worship of Jesus and focuses consistently on the divine-human Savior and Lord as the proper object of faith, hope, and love here and now. Religion that lacks these emphases is not Christianity. Let there be no mistake about that!

Source: Packer, J. I. Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 1993.

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Always, for God’s glory and our joy in Him!

Kevin Nunez