Monday, April 27, 2015

Guest Post: The Late Great Rapture Theory?

Excerpted from WHATEVER HAPPENED TO HEAVEN?  by Dave Hunt
It is an understatement to say that the winds of change are blowing at gale force through the hallowed halls of tradition. Scientific discovery is advancing in quantum leaps, computer technology is literally exploding, and...communications networks are bringing this rapidly expanding knowledge to the world with lightning speed. The inevitable result is a revolution in every field from physics to medicine and from economics to politics. That we currently face dramatic and accelerating worldwide change beyond present comprehension is sensed by almost every person who gives any heed to the contemporary scene. Nor is it possible to seriously doubt the connection between the quickening pace of high-tech's sensuous, self-centered living, and plummeting public morals.
Needless to say, the church has not remained untouched by these currents of upheaval and transformation. Influenced by the world as never before through the subtleties and persuasive power of modern media, Christians are being adversely affected in numerous and deceptive ways. The faith of many, particularly the youth, is being devastated by the challenge of "scientific" or "progressive" ideas which also undermine biblical standards of morality....
[As one symptom of "changing hope"] there are many Christians today (and their number is growing rapidly) who view the hope of an imminent rapture as the negative product of a defeatist theology. They sincerely believe that the expectation of being taken home to heaven at any moment undermines the "victory" they are convinced could be won by the church if Christians would only catch the vision of taking over the world and would unite to fulfill it.
On the contrary, there is a much more exciting and worthwhile hope for those who believe in the rapture. We will return with Christ from heaven in transformed bodies to reign over this earth with Him. That hope involves a truly new world order far superior to anything we could establish in these mortal bodies and without His physical presence on earth. Such a vision of the future helps us to realize that we are not part of this old world order and to make a clear break with it even now.
The ground is being laid for a major confrontation between those who long to leave this earth for heaven in the rapture, and others equally sincere who believe it is the Christian's duty to establish the kingdom upon this earth and that only when this has been accomplished by the church in His absence will our Lord at last return....
Of course, there have always been diverse views of the Second Coming. The amillennial position, generally held by Lutherans, Presbyterians, and Catholics (among others), sees history moving on for many thousands of years with Christ finally winding things up at some indefinite time in the future and with prophecy having little if anything to say that would give us any hint of timing or events along the way. Similarly, the postmillennial view suggests that we are already in the millennium (which is not a literal thousand years but could be hundreds of thousands), that the church is gradually taking over the world and will eventually establish the kingdom in Christ's absence, after which He will return for the final judgment. While there is a general belief in the rapture, postmillennialism puts that event so far in the future that it has no practical motivating effect in one's life.
In the early 1970s the rapture was the most-talked-about topic in the church. Lindsey had captured the attention and imagination of his generation. Pastors preached about heaven and Christians eagerly anticipated being caught up at any moment to meet their Lord in the air. Even the secular world became familiar with the concept. There were movies, such as The Omen , about the end times. Radio and television mentioned the Second Coming frequently, and cartoons and bumper stickers also took up the theme. One of the latter solemnly warned: "I'm leaving in the rapture, ride at your own risk!"
All of that has changed. The bumper stickers have worn off, the movies have lost their appeal, and the sermons have gone on to currently popular themes. The subtitle of a recent article in Moody reflects present sentiment: "Hal Lindsey was premature. The earth is great, but it's too early to call it late."
Most Christians no longer know what they believe about prophecy and now realize that their previously held opinions must be given an honest and careful review. Many who were once excited about the prospects of being caught up to heaven at any moment have become confused and disillusioned by the apparent failure of a generally accepted biblical interpretation they once relied upon. Those who believed in the rapture because it was popular are, of course, abandoning it now that it has become unpopular. They never had a good reason for what they believed based upon their own carefully weighed convictions. It is sad that so few Christians know the Bible for themselves....
The church is now ripe for the developing views of history and prophecy that either downplay or eliminate the rapture and put the emphasis upon "Christianizing" (in contrast to "converting") the world. A new genre of books espousing the idea that "victory in Christ" means a Christian takeover of this world is coming off the presses and selling well. Such ideas are being successfully taken into mainstream evangelical churches by [groups] denigrating...the rapture."
Today, the once-bright hope of the church being taken home to heaven by Christ at any moment has become the butt of crude jokes and a common subject of ridicule or scorn even among many Christians. The initial ad for the Reconstructionist Biblical Blueprints book series derisively called the rapture "God's helicopter escape." Earl Paulk, founding pastor of the 10,000-member Chapel HillHarvesterChurch near Atlanta, and a popular Christian television teacher, calls the rapture "The Great Escape Theory."
Being taken to heaven in the rapture has been to a large extent replaced by the rapidly growing new hope that the church is destined to take over the world and establish the kingdom of God. The focus has turned from winning souls for citizenship in heaven to political and social action aimed at cleaning up society. Scarcely a sermon is being preached about the world to come. Attention is focused instead upon achieving success in this one. If we have a big enough march on Washington and vote in enough of our candidates, then we can make this world a beautiful, safe, moral, and satisfying "Christian" place for our grandchildren. This is a very enticing scenario. George Grant's appeal sounds logical and extremely persuasive:
I became very disenchanted over time with the pessimistic mentality that the purpose of world history is to back the church into the corner and finally at the last second, right before the moment of absolute destruction, God snatches us into the heavenly realms and says: "Well, you lost the world, you lost your culture, you lost your children, you lost the schools, you lost all the unborn babies, you lost South Africa, you lost everything. Well done, my good and faithful servants." I just couldn't buy that. Reconstructionists say that's not the only view on how the church is to operate in the world.
The expectancy of the Lord's soon return which was so evident in the 1970s...has all but vanished from the church.... There has developed a surprising and growing antagonism against eagerly watching and waiting for Christ's return, which surely was the attitude of the early church. The pendulum is swinging to an outright rejection of not only the pretrib but also the premillennium rapture....
The trend...has accelerated. We could cite the current struggle going on in the Southern Baptist Church as one example. It is the largest Protestant denomination, but is presently losing members at a surprising and growing rate to independent churches that deny the rapture, deny any place for national Israel in prophecy, and believe that an elite group of "overcomers" will soon manifest immortality in their bodies without the resurrection or the Second Coming, and take over the world for Christ. Only then will Christ return. Not to take His bride home to heaven as the Bible clearly teaches, however, but to reign over the kingdom that has been established by her for Him here on this earth. One of the leaders in this movement writes:
"You can study books about going to heaven in a so-called 'rapture' if that turns you on. We want to study the Bible to learn to live and to love and to bring heaven to earth."
Is this issue even worth discussing? After all, what does it matter when Christ comes or when or how the kingdom is established? Is eschatological debate of any significance? A partial answer would lie in the fact that "last days" prophecy is a subject that takes up about one-fourth of the Bible. How could we dare to suggest that the Holy Spirit would give such importance to something which, in the final analysis, really doesn't matter? Based only upon the amount of attention given to it in the Bible, when and how and why Christ returns must be of great importance both to God and to us. We need to seek to understand why.
One reason for the significance of this issue should be quite obvious. Paul tells us that Christ is going to catch His bride away from this earth to meet Him in the air-"and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (1 Thess 4:17). Consequently, those who expect to meet Christ with their feet still planted on earth--a "Christ" who has arrived to take over the kingdom they have established in His name--will have been badly deceived. In fact, they could have been working to build the earthly kingdom for the Antichrist. Yet this teaching that we must take over the world and set up the kingdom for Christ has become the fastest-growing movement within the church today.
One of the key doctrines of this movement is the claim that the church is now Israel, heir to all of her promises, and that national Israel has been cut off from God and has no further place in the prophetic scheme. This new focus on an earthly inheritance for the church has further turned the hope of being taken to heaven in the rapture into an object of ridicule. It has also produced a drastic change in attitude and a serious reduction in the evangelical church's traditional support of Israel, an about-face which is being viewed with alarm by that tiny nation....
Speaking at Edmond near Oklahoma City on April 11,1988, Rick Godwin, a long-time associate of James Robison and popular speaker on Christian media, delivered the type of anti-Israel rhetoric that is becoming so typical in charismatic circles: "They [national Israel] are not chosen, they are cursed! They are not blessed, they are cursed!... The church--that's the Israel of God, not that garlic one over on the Mediterranean Sea!" Earl Paulk's criticism of national Israel and those who look favorably upon her includes the ultimate accusation:
The hour has come for us to know...that the spirit of the antichrist is now at work in the world...[through] so-called Holy Spirit-filled teachers who say, "If you bless national Israel, God will bless you." Not only is this blatantly deceptive, it is not part of the new covenant at all!
Currents of change are sweeping through the world and the church. In the crucial days ahead, the evangelical church could well suffer a division over the rapture and the related issue of Israel comparable to that experienced by the Catholic Church as a result of the Reformation in the 1500s. Nor would it be surprising if, in the cause of "unity," the larger faction in Protestantism moved much closer to ecumenical union with Catholicism, which has been traditionally antisemitic and discarded the rapture about 1600 years ago. Some of the reasons why this could happen, and the likely consequences, should become clear in the following pages.... [See resource pages for details.]
We must beware that in our zeal to "change the world for Christ" we do not become so wedded to an ongoing earthly process stretching into the indeterminate future that we lose our vision of heaven. We cannot be truly faithful to the totality of what Scripture says unless we are sufficiently disengaged from this world to be ready to leave it behind at a moment's notice.
There is cause to be concerned that...kingdom/dominion advocates could be fostering a false conception of our earthly ministry--a conception which we must guard against lest we subtly fall into...[the] mistaken notion that mortal man can accomplish what only immortal Man, our risen Lord, and we as immortal resurrected beings with Him, can perform. We dare not settle for anything less than the fullness of what Christ has promised! The glory that He offers is light-years beyond the...agenda of Christianizing and taking over this present world in these bodies of weakness and corruption....
The joy and glory He has planned and in which He desires that we participate--and the prospect of being caught up at any moment to see this hope realized--are more than enough to excite and inspire and motivate us to victorious living and witnessing.... We dare not, however, in the name of unity and the avoidance of controversy, abandon the hope given to us in [the] Scriptures (See 1 Cor:15:51-531 Thes:4:16-18).

Hunt, Dave. (2011, October 1). The Late Great Rapture Theory?. Retrieved April 27, 2015 from

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Word is our Counselor

To a great extent, sin is its own judgment. When it is fully developed, the sin itself is the judgment of the seed of rebellion that started in our hearts, sometimes years earlier.

It is surprising and perplexing how our sinful actions, which inevitably bring judgment and our own demise, so often feel empowering, rewarding, satisfying and blissful, especially in the beginning. Sin is usually brutally deceptive, which is why we are to know God’s ways and be on guard for sin’s lure.

As Christians, we do not follow our own feelings in determining what is good or bad because we know from God’s Word (and experience) that our feelings can, and often do, lead us astray. As Christians, we trust our wondrous and gracious God and His Word alone in determining right and wrong.

As the prophet has warned,

"The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked;
Who can know it?" 
Jeremiah 17:9

But we seek God’s inerrant Word,

"Princes also sit and speak against me,
But Your servant meditates on Your statutes.
Your testimonies also are my delight
And my counselors." 
Psalm 119:23-24

Monday, March 30, 2015

Guest Post: On the King James Only View

Question: Dave, you have been accused lately of undermining the Bible and opposing the authority of God’s Word because you don’t insist upon using the King James Version exclusively. How do you respond to such indictments?

Response (Dave Hunt): I will publicly defend God’s truth and expose false doctrine regardless of who teaches it, without judging hearts and motives. Heresy that is taught publicly must be opposed publicly. But I will not publicly defend myself in response to personal attacks against me, no matter how vicious and false—and there have been some lately. In obedience to Christ I am obliged to pursue Matthew:18:15-17 privately with individuals who make false charges (though publicly) against me personally, and I have done so.
As for undermining the Bible and opposing the authority of God’s Word, the falsity of such charges should be apparent to anyone who has read my writings or listened to my talks. Anyone with doubts may read the chapter on sola scriptura in my latest book, A Woman Rides the Beast , or listen to the tape of my debate with Karl Keating on that same subject, or the five-tape series of messages I preached on the sufficiency, inerrancy and authority of God’s Word. Nor is it true that I defend the modern versions and run down the King James Version. I have been living in the KJV for more than 50 years and it is the KJV which I use when I preach and teach. The record speaks for itself. In the past, on occasion, I have quoted a modern version in my books where it seemed to be more understandable to the average reader, particularly the non-Christian.
As for the KJV-only debate, I hesitate to step into that arena because whatever one says only seems to heighten the controversy. However, we have received so much mail on this topic, reflecting confusion from both sides, that I will try once again to bring some balance where I believe it is badly needed. Where doctrinal purity is not involved, we need to respect one another’s sincere differences of opinion. We must disagree courteously and in love and deal with the issues rather than attack persons or motives. There are godly and sincere people on both sides of this controversy.
Let both sides remember that all versions are translations . For the KJV to be perfect in every word , the translators must have had the same infallible inspiration of the Holy Spirit in their translating as those who wrote the original Greek and Hebrew documents (2 Tm 3:16; 2 Pt 1:21) had in their writing . Claiming such inspiration for the KJV’s translators, some KJV-only advocates even denounce all other translations as New Age or of the devil. Yet the King James Bible translators themselves, far from claiming inspiration or perfection, confessed that they had consulted other “translators and commentators” to improve their work. They acknowledged that the KJV was not perfect but could be improved, and that there were places where they were uncertain of the exact meaning of some words. They even recommended consulting a variety of translations. Why should I be castigated for agreeing with the KJV translators? The following is from the introduction to the 1611 KJV, titled “The Translators to the Reader” (note that in seventeenth-century English the “u” and “v” were reversed):
Neither were we barred or hindered from going over it again, having once done it [the work of translation]...[nor] were we the first that fell in hand with translating the Scripture into English, and consequently destitute of former helps....Neither did we thinke much to consult the Translators or Commentators, Chaldee, Hebrewe, Syrian, Greeke, or Latin , no nor the Spanish, French, Italian , or Dutch ; neither did we disdaine to reuise that which we had done, and to bring back to the anuill that which we had hammered...vsing as great helps as were needfull....
Yet for all that it cannot be dissembled...[that] it hath pleased God in his diuine prouidence, heere and there, to scatter wordes and sentences of that difficultie and doubtfulnesse, not in doctrinal points that concerne saluation (for in such it hath beene vouched that the Scriptures are plaine) but in matters of lesse moment, that fearfulnesse would better beseeme vs than confidence ...and to resolue upon modestie....There be many words in Scripture, which be neuer found there but once...there be many rare names of certaine birds, beastes and precious stones, &c. concerning which the Hebrews themselves are so divided among to determine of such things as the Spirit of God hath left (euen in the judgement of the iudicious) questionable, can be no lesse than presumption. Therefore as S. Augustine saith, that varietie of Translations is profitable for the finding out of the sense of the Scriptures; so diuersitie of signification and sense in the margine, where the text is not so cleare, must needes doe good, yea, is necessary, as we are perswaded....They that are wise, had rather haue their judgements at libertie in differences of readings, then to be captiuated to one, when it may be the other.
So the KJV translators themselves disagree with those who claim inspiration and inerrancy for the KJV. They admit their own fallibility, the imperfection of their KJV translation, give alternate readings in the margin and recommend consulting a variety of translations! This is only logical. If, as some insist, the KJV is the perfect translation and all others are of the devil, then the Spanish, German, French, etc. Bibles are not the Bible either! The whole world must learn seventeenth-century English and read the 1611 KJV if they would have God’s Word. Nor could anyone refer back to the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts behind the KJV; for to do so in order to be more certain of the exact meaning would be to suggest that the KJV was not perfect after all. The unreasonableness of that view is obvious.
In fact, the KJV translators take up many pages of their introduction arguing that the Bible needs to be in every language so that all may read it in their “mother tongue” and thus understand it better. That fact, they say, is the justification for their labors to put it into the daily language of their countrymen. These men even argued that “the very worst translation of the Bible in English, set forth by men of our the word of God.” How far they were from what some are claiming today! Of course, the KJV translators had not encountered the deliberately perverted translations of today’s cults.
They were confident that while the many translations in English or other languages differed on some words and phrases, no doctrine was affected . (Doctrine is affected, however, in today’ s perverted versions such as the New World Translation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Joseph Smith’s Inspired Version, and a few others.) Thus, to tell the millions of people who were saved through reading the NAS or NIV, for example, and who are edified and growing in faith through daily study of such versions that they are using the devil’s false Bibles, is, in my opinion, extremism and only causes division and confusion. Rather, suggest consulting the KJV as well.
I was reared on the KJV and use it exclusively in all my study and speaking, only rarely consulting other translations for comparison. Why consult other translations at all? The KJV translators did so and recommended the practice! In following their advice we discover that, whereas in some places modern versions are deficient, in other places they excel. For example, the KJV at 2 Thessalonians:2:2 says not to be troubled by rumors that “the day of Christ is at hand.” If one believes in a pretrib Rapture which marks the beginning of the Day of Christ, then it is not disturbing but good news if that day is “at hand.” Nor need that be disturbing even if one believes in a mid- or post-trib Rapture. It would only be disturbing if the day of the Lord had already come , for that would mean one had been left behind at the Rapture—which is why it is obvious that Paul had taught a pretrib Rapture to these people. The KJV 1611 edition had many marginal notes elsewhere, but none here. One was added later: both the Greek and common sense required it. Today’s KJV margin suggests “is now present.” That changes the meaning entirely, makes sense, and admits that the 1611 edition wasn’t perfect. The NAS reads “that the day of the Lord has come,” and the NIV, “has already come.” So a required later revision (one of many) in the KJV shows that the 1611 edition was not “inspired”—and the revision agrees with the NAS, the NIV and the NKJV!
Furthermore, some modern versions excel in places, even when it comes to declaring the deity of Christ . For example, there are eight verses in the New Testament which clearly declare that Jesus is God: John:1:1Acts:20:28Romans:9:52 Thessalonians:1:12Titus:2:13;Hebrews:1:82 Peter:1:1 and Revelation:1:8. The KJV is only clear in four of these (Jn:1:1Acts:20:28Rom:9:5 and Heb:1:8), whereas the NAS and NIV are clear in seven of the eight (the same four plus Ti 2:13; 2 Pt 1:1 and Rv 1:8) For example, in Titus:2:13 the KJV says “the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ,” while both the NAS and NIV say “our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ,” certainly a more definite declaration that Jesus is God. In 2 Peter:1:1 the KJV says “God and our Saviour Jesus Christ,” whereas again both the NAS and NIV say “our God and Savior Jesus Christ.” (Actually that’s what the Textus Receptus says in the Greek—the KJV translators simply made a mistake, which was corrected in the NKJV as well.) At Revelation:1:8 the KJV says “the Lord,” whereas the NAS and NIV say “the Lord God,” clearly declaring that Jesus is God.
If the situation were the other way around (i.e., the KJV clearly declared Christ to be God in seven of the eight places and the modern versions in only four), some KJV-only advocates would surely accuse the modern versions of downplaying Christ’s deity. Instead, they ignore the weaknesses in the KJV while jumping on those in other versions. It is surely helpful to the church to have the deficiencies in modern versions pointed out, and those using them should beware of such improper renderings. At the same time, however, those championing the KJV should honestly acknowledge those places where the modern versions excel.
The fact is that the KJV, NKJV, NAS, and NIV (in spite of some failings in each) clearly teach that Jesus is God, one with the Father; and all four clearly present the gospel and all of the other cardinal doctrines of the Bible if one reads the entire text and doesn’t take an isolated verse here or there to prove a point. Therefore, to suggest that the NAS and NIV are “the devil’ s Bibles” and part of a New Age conspiracy to usher in a one- world religion by destroying God’s Word is simply not true and places an unwarranted condemnation upon those who use such versions. Tragically, this faulty perception is causing confusion and division in the church. We must repeat our earlier warning that Gail Riplinger’s book, New Age Bible Versions , is literally filled with errors and cannot be relied upon as a defense of the KJV. She even lumps the NKJV in with modern versions, whereas it is based upon the same Hebrew and Greek texts as the 1611 King James Version.

TBC Staff. (1995, January 1). Question: Dave, you have been accused lately of undermining the Bible and opposing the authority of God’s Word because you don’t insist upon using the King James Version exclusively. How do you respond to such indictments?. Retrieved March 30, 2015 from

For more on the subject, see my article here:

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Guest Post: The Preaching of the Cross

Dave Hunt
Mar 1 1988
In our great concern over the growing apostasy and in our zeal to contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints, we must constantly take heed of our personal relationship with and testimony for our Lord. And to do this, we must always keep foremost in our hearts and minds the Cross .
Scripture makes it very clear that the cross of Christ is the heart of the message we preach, the determinant of our relationship to this evil world, and the secret of victory over the world, the flesh and the devil in our daily lives. Christ reminded His listeners repeatedly that it was not possible to be His disciple and thus a true Christian without denying self and taking up the cross to follow Him. I think the Bible makes it clear what this means, although there is also more depth of truth in the Cross than we will be able to fathom in this life.
Paul wrote, "I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and Him crucified" (1 Cor:2:2). This characterized his consistent conduct and the message he preached. For him there was one important rule: "Not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ be made of none effect" (1:l7). We dare not compromise, dilute or try to improve, with man's wisdom, the straightforward simplicity of the Cross. To do so destroys its truth and power to save others and to deliver us from succumbing to daily trials and temptations.
We have a tendency to forget that "The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness" (1:18). One of the greatest problems today is the often well-intentioned attempt to reinterpret the gospel to make it sensible and acceptable to the natural or carnal man. Instead, the unchangeable message must change the thinking and lives of those who receive it or it cannot change their eternal destiny. Let that never be forgotten. That transforming power is missing, both from the gospel preached to the lost and from the Christian's life, when the sharp sword of the Word with its radical message of the Cross has been sheathed in the popular psychologies and self-oriented thinking of our day.
What we are trying to say is illustrated through a man who had the most amazing and unique testimony of anyone who ever lived. A resident of death row, he knew on the day of his execution, as footsteps came resolutely down the corridor, that he was going to die. When the door of his cell swung open, however, the jailor spoke these astonishing words: "You are being set free. Another man is dying in your place!"
Of course, I'm referring to Barabbas, the only man who ever lived who could literally testify, "Jesus died for me, in my place!" But Barabbas was not saved. Why? Simply because the death of Christ had freed him to live his own life. Yet that is often today's self-centered understanding of the gospel: Jesus died for me so that I can live for myself, for worldly success and happiness, and go to heaven when I'm too old or too sick to enjoy earthly pleasures anymore. Against that false impression, A.W. Tozer wrote:
Among the plastic saints of our times, Christ has to do all the dying and all we want is to hear another sermon about His dying—no cross for us, no dethronement, no dying. We remain king within the little kingdom of Mansoul and wear our tinsel crown with all the pride of a Caesar; but we doom ourselves to shadows and weakness and spiritual sterility.
People would come to Christ promising to follow Him wherever He would lead. His reply was simple: "Let Me make it very clear. I'm heading for a hill outside of Jerusalem called Calvary, where they will crucify Me. So if you intend to be true to Me to the end, take up your cross right now, because that is where we're going."
Of course no one did that. Even His closest disciples all forsook Him and fled to save their own lives. Nor would it have saved their souls had they died on crosses erected beside His. He had to die in their place. But after His resurrection they were changed men, no longer afraid to die for their Lord. For then they understood and believed and gladly submitted to the truth: Christ had died in their place because theydeserved to die. His death was not to deliver them from death, but to take them through death and out the other side into resurrection.
At last they understood and believed. Acknowledging that God was just in condemning them to death for their rebellion against Him, they accepted the death of Christ their Savior as their very own. They had died in Him; and believing that changed everything .
In Galatians:6:14 Paul writes, "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." As those who have been crucified with Christ, we have been completely cut off from this world. One of the problems with today's Christianity is its attempt to make itself appealing to the spirit of this world and thus to become popular with the world. Christ would no more be popular today than He was in His day; and He said that those who hated Him would hate His disciples. So John wrote, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (1 Jn:2:15).
Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Paul explained further: "For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you" (2 Cor:13:4). How are we weak in Him? Not in our relationship to sin or Satan or to the temptations of this world, over which we have the victory through Christ. We are weak in the same way that He was weak, i.e., in that He did not fight to defend Himself or His kingdom against the political or military might of this world. His victory (and ours in Him) over Satan also came in submitting to death: "That through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage" (Heb:2:14-15).
It is not through gritting our teeth and determining by our will power that we overcome temptation, but in accepting the fact that we are dead in Christ. The dead no longer lust, lose their tempers or act selfishly. Our victory is in our being " dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom:6:11). We have given up life as we would live it in order to experience His life being lived in and through us. The life He gives is resurrection life, and only those who are dead can receive that. We cannot know the fullness of the power of the Holy Spirit, which is the Spirit of Christ, until we have willingly accepted His death as our death.
These few thoughts scarcely scratch the surface of the meaning of the Cross (which includes, of course, the Resurrection). In meditating upon this greatest event of all time and eternity, we begin to see both the horror of our sin and the amazing love of our Lord—the two chief motivations for holiness. May we abide in His love, that the Cross so fully proved, and become the messengers and channels of that love to the world for which He died. TBC

Hunt, Dave. (1988, March 1). The Preaching of the Cross. Retrieved February 28, 2015 from

Monday, January 26, 2015

Guest Post: The Finality of the Cross

By Dave Hunt
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me....”   — Galatians:2:20
Anti-Christian elements in the secular world would like very much to do away with all public display of the cross. Yet it is still seen atop tens of thousands of churches and in religious processions, often made of gold and even studded with precious stones. Most frequently, however, the cross is displayed as popular jewelry hanging around necks or dangling from ears. One wonders by what strange alchemy the bloodstained, rugged cross of torment upon which Christ suffered and died for our sins became so sanitized and glamorized.
No matter how it is displayed, even as jewelry or graffiti, the cross is universally recognized as the symbol of Christianity—and therein lies a serious problem. The cross itself rather than what transpired upon it 19 centuries ago has become the focus of attention, resulting in several grave errors. Its very shape , though devised by cruel pagans for punishing criminals, has become holy and mysteriously imbued with magic properties, fostering the delusion that displaying a cross somehow provides divine protection. Millions superstitiously keep a cross in their homes or on their person or make “the sign of the cross” to ward off evil and frighten demons away. Demons fear Christ, not a cross; and any who have not been crucified with Him display a cross in vain.
Paul declared, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor:1:18). So the power of the cross lies not in its display but in its preaching ; and that preaching has nothing to do with the peculiar shape of the cross but with Christ’s death upon it as declared in the gospel. The gospel is “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Rom:1:16), not to those who wear or otherwise display or make the sign of the cross.
What is this gospel that saves? Paul states explicitly: “I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto which also ye are saved, that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures...” (1 Cor:15:1-4). It comes as a shock to many that the gospel includes no mention of a cross . Why? Because a cross was not essential to our salvation. Christ had to be crucified to fulfill the prophecy concerning the manner of the Messiah’s death (Ps 22), not because the cross itself had anything to do with our redemption. What was essential was the shedding of Christ’s blood in His death as foreshadowed in the Old Testament sacrifices, for “without shedding of blood is no remission [of sins]” (Heb:9:22); “for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (Lev:17:11).
This is not to say that the cross itself has no meaning. That Christ was nailed to a cross reveals the horrifying depths of evil innate within every human heart. To be nailed naked to a cross and displayed publicly, to die slowly with taunts and jeers filling the air, was the most excruciatingly painful and humiliating death that could be devised. And that is exactly what puny man did to his Creator! We ought to fall on our faces in repentant horror, overcome with shame, for it was not only the screaming, bloodthirsty mob and derisive soldiers but our sins that nailed Him there!
So the cross lays bare for all eternity the awful truth that beneath the polite facade of culture and education the heart of man is “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jer:17:9), capable of evil beyond comprehension even against the God who created and loves him and patiently provides for him. Does any man doubt the wickedness of his own heart? Let him look at the cross and recoil in revulsion from that self within! No wonder the proud humanist hates the cross!
At the same time that the cross lays bare the evil in man, however, it also reveals the goodness, mercy, and love of God as nothing else could. In the face of such unspeakable evil, such diabolical hatred vented against Him, the Lord of glory, who could destroy this earth and all upon it with a word, allowed Himself to be mocked and falsely accused and scourged and nailed to that cross! Christ “humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross ” (Phil:2:8). When man was doing his worst, God responded in love, not merely yielding Himself to His tormenters but bearing our sins and taking the judgment we justly deserved.
Therein lies another serious problem with the symbol, and especially with Catholicism’s crucifix, which portrays Christ perpetually on the cross, as does the Mass. The emphasis is focused upon the physical suffering of Christ as though that paid for our sins. On the contrary, that was what man did to Him and could only condemn us all. Our redemption came about through: His bruising by Jehovah and “his soul [being made] an offering for sin” (Is 53:10); God laying “on him the iniquity of us all” (v. 6); and His bearing “our sins in his own body on the tree” (1 Pt 2:24).
The death of Christ is irrefutable evidence that God in righteousness must punish sin—the penalty must be paid or there can be no forgiveness. That God's Son had to endure the cross even after crying to His Father in agonizing contemplation of bearing our sins, (“[I]f it be possible, let this cup pass from me” — Mt 26:39), is proof that there was no other way mankind could be redeemed. When Christ, the sinless, perfect man and beloved of His Father, took our place, God’s judgment fell upon Him in all its fury. What then must be the judgment of those who reject Christ and refuse the pardon offered in Him! We must warn them!
At the same time and in the same breath that we sound the alarm of coming judgment, we must also proclaim the good news that redemption has been provided and God’s forgiveness is offered for the vilest of sinners. Nothing more evil could be conceived than crucifying God! Yet it was from the cross that Christ in infinite love and mercy prayed, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Lk 23:34). So the cross proves, too, that there is forgiveness for the worst of sins and sinners.
Tragically, however, the vast majority of mankind rejects Christ. And here we face another danger: that in our sincere desire to see souls saved we adjust the message of the cross to avoid offending the world. Paul warned that care had to be taken not to preach the cross “with the wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect” (1 Cor:1:17). But surely the gospel can be explained in a new way that is more appealing to the ungodly than those old-time preachers presented it. Perhaps today's techniques for packaging and selling could be used to clothe the cross in music or a beat or entertaining presentation such as the world uses that would give the gospel a new relevancy or at least familiarity. Psychology, too, can be drawn upon to provide a more positive approach. Let us not confront sinners with their sin and the gloom and doom of coming judgment, but explain that their behavior isn’t really their fault so much as it is the result of abuse they have suffered. After all, are we not all victims? And didn’t Christ come to rescue us from victimization and our low view of ourselves and to restore our self-esteem and self-confidence? Blend the cross with psychology and the world will beat a path to our churches, filling them with new members! Such is today’s new evangelicalism.
Confronting such perversion, A. W. Tozer wrote: “If I see aright, the cross of popular evangelicalism is not the cross of the New Testament. It is rather a new bright ornament upon the bosom of a self-assured and carnal Christianity....The old cross slew men; the new cross entertains them. The old cross condemned; the new cross amuses. The old cross destroyed confidence in the flesh; the new cross encourages it....The flesh, smiling and confident, preaches and sings about the cross; before that cross it bows and toward that cross it points with carefully staged histrionics—but upon that cross it will not die, and the reproach of the cross it stubbornly refuses to bear.”
Here is the crux of the issue. The gospel is designed to do to self what the cross did to those who hung upon it: put it utterly to death. This is the good news in which Paul exulted: “I am crucified with Christ!” The cross is not a fire escape from hell to heaven but a place where we die in Christ. Only then can we experience “the power of His resurrection” (Phil:3:10), for only the dead can be resurrected. What joy that promise brings to those who long to escape the evil of their own hearts and lives; and what fanaticism it seems to those who want to cling to self and who therefore preach what Tozer called the “new cross.”
Paul declared that in Christ the Christian is crucified to the world and the world to him (Gal:6:14). That is strong language! This world hated and crucified the Lord whom we now love—and in that act it has crucified us as well. We have taken our stand with Christ. Let the world do to us what it did to Him if it will, but we will never again join in its selfish lusts and ambitions, its godless standards, its proud determination to build a utopia without God and its neglect of eternity.
To believe in Christ is to admit that the death He endured for us is exactly what we deserve. Therefore, when Christ died, we died in Him: “[W]e thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead [i.e., all have died]: and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him who died for them, and rose again” (2 Cor:5:14-15).
“But I’m not dead,“ is the earnest response. “Self is still very much alive.” Paul, too, acknowledged, “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do” (Rom:7:19). Then what does “I am crucified with Christ” really mean in daily life? It doesn’t mean that we are automatically “dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom:6:11). We still have a will and choices to make.
Then what power does the Christian have over sin that the Buddhist or good moralist doesn’t have? First of all, we have peace with God “through the blood of his cross” (Col:1:20). The penalty has been paid in full, so we no longer try to live a good life out of fear that otherwise we will be damned, but out of love for the One who has saved us. “We love him, because he first loved us" (1 Jn:4:19); and love moves the lover to please the One loved at any cost. “If a man love me, he will keep my words” (Jn:14:23), our Lord said. The more we contemplate the Cross and meditate upon the price our Lord paid for our redemption, the more we will love Him; and the more we love Him, the more we will desire to please Him.
Secondly, instead of struggling to overcome sin, we accept by faith that we died in Christ. Dead men can't be tempted. Our faith is not in our ability to act as crucified persons but in the fact that Christ was crucified once and for all in full payment of the penalty for our sins.
Thirdly, after declaring that he was “crucified with Christ,” Paul added, “nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life I now live in the flesh I live by [faith in the Son of God], who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal:2:20). The just “live by faith” (Rom:1:17;Gal:3:11Heb:10:38) in Christ; but the non-Christian can only put his faith in himself or in some self-help program or phony guru.
Tragically, the Catholic’s faith is not in the redemption Christ accomplished once and for all upon the cross, but in the Mass, which allegedly is the same sacrifice as on the cross and imparts forgiveness and new life each time it is repeated. It is claimed that the priest transforms the wafer and wine into the literal body and blood of Christ, thereby making Christ’s sacrifice on the cross perpetually present. There is no way, however, that a past event can be made present. Moreover, if the past event accomplished its purpose, then there is no reason for wanting to perpetuate it in the present, even if that could be done. For example, if a benefactor pays a creditor the debt someone owes, the debt is gone forever. It would be meaningless to speak of re-presenting or reenacting or perpetuating the payment in the present. One could wellremember with gratitude the payment that was made, but no reenactment would have any virtue since there no longer remains any debt to be paid.
As Christ died, He cried in triumph, “It is finished,” using a Greek expression that meant that the debt had been paid in full. Yet the newCatechism of the Catholic Church says, “As sacrifice, the Eucharist is also offered in reparation for the sins of the living and the dead and to obtain spiritual or temporal benefits from God” (par 1414, p 356). That is like trying to continue paying installments of a debt that has been paid in full. The Mass is a denial of the sufficiency of the payment Christ made for sin upon the cross! The Catholic lives with the uncertainty of wondering how many more Masses it may take to get him to heaven.
Many Protestants live in similar uncertainty, fearful that they may yet be lost if they fail to live a good enough life or lose their faith or turn their backs upon Christ. There is a blessed finality to the cross that delivers us from such insecurity. Christ need never be crucified again; nor can those who have been “crucified with Christ” be “uncrucified” and then “recrucified”! Paul declared: “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col:3:3). What assurance for time and for eternity!

Hunt, Dave. (2014, December 1). The Finality of the Cross. Retrieved January 26, 2015 from