Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Resurrection of Christ Pictured in the O.T.

     In 1 Corinthians 15:4, the apostle Paul says that Christ "was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures". Have you ever wondered: Where is the third day mentioned in the Old Testament and how does it picture the resurrection of Christ? 
     Here are some occurrences of "the third day" as mentioned in the Bible (think about how these could foreshadow the resurrection of Christ):

• Isaac received back his life "as a type" (Gen. 22:4; cf. Heb. 11:17-19)

• Dinah (Gen. 34:25)

• Pharaoh’s chief cupbearer (Gen. 40:20)

• Joseph’s brothers (Gen. 42:17-18)

• the Israelites at Mt. Sinai (Ex. 19:10-25; cf. Deut. 5:24)

• the unclean Israelites (Num. 19:12-13, 19, 31:19)

• the Israelite spies (Josh. 2:15-24)

• the Gibeonites (Josh. 9:16-17)

• the Israelites apart from Benjamin (Judges 20:30-35)

• David (1 Sam. 20:5, 12)

• Abigail and the village of Ziklag (1 Sam. 30:1-20)

• an Egyptian (1 Sam. 30:11-15)

• an Amalekite (2 Sam. 1:1-2)

• the people of Jerusalem (2 Sam. 24:10-25)

• Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:5)

• the Jewish temple rebuilt (Ezra 6:15; cf. Jn. 2:19-22)

• Esther (Esther 5:1-2; cf. Esther 4:11)

• the nation of Israel (Hosea 6:2)

• Jonah (Jonah 1:17-2:10; cf. Matt. 12:38-40)

Jesus! (1 Cor. 15:4; cf. Lk. 18:31-33, 24:44-48; Acts 10:40)
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"In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son"
(Hebrews 1:1-2)

Friday, September 21, 2012

The False Christ of Tom Stegall's Groundless Gospel

In the book The Gospel of the Christ (Milwaukee: Grace Gospel Press, 2009), the author Tom Stegall presents a fictitious case study about a man named Joe who doesn't believe that Christ "was raised on the third day" (1 Cor. 15:4). Stegall writes: "Even though Joe believes wholeheartedly in Christ's substitutionary death and bodily resurrection and salvation by God's grace, he is vociferously denying the truth of 1 Corinthians 15:4 that Christ's resurrection occurred on 'the third day.' So, again, we must ask, is Joe saved or lost?"1

In his book Stegall correctly says that "a person is saved by believing the gospel (1 Cor. 4:14; 2 Thess. 1:8-10)".2 But what is the gospel according to Tom Stegall? Apparently a gospel without any mention of Christ's burial and no mention of "the third day" (1 Cor. 15:4) - or if these truths do happen to be mentioned they can be rejected and denied by the hearer. Amazingly, Stegall concludes that these two facts included by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:4 are actually "more than the gospel."3 Stegall makes it clear that in his opinion "a person does not have to believe" these details in order to be saved. 4

There are at least three glaring problems with Stegall's reasoning:
  1. First, he is using a completely hypothetical case study to redefine the gospel. Let me back up and say that Stegall actually presents two hypothetical case studies in his book attempting to show that the lost don't have to believe in Christ's burial and the fact that His resurrection occurred on "the third day" in order to be saved. Ironically, Stegall prefaces his fictional case studies by saying: "when seeking to determine the contents of saving faith, we are not considering what is typical for most Christians, or even what is logical [is Stegall admitting that his groundless gospel is illogical?], but rather what is divinely required for eternal life according to the Word of God."5 In light of this statement the reader would naturally expect Stegall to explain what the Bible says about what's required for eternal life, but Stegall does just the opposite. Instead of addressing any biblical basis, Stegall goes on to present two fictional case studies of people who supposedly got saved even though they rejected the truth of Christ's burial and the fact that His resurrection occurred on "the third day".6 Amazingly, Stegall then concludes that these facts are not part of the gospel.7 The real problem with Stegall's fictional case studies is not the case studies themselves, but that Stegall uses them to form soteriological conclusions about the gospel. This mindset is more postmodern than it is biblical. Stegall would do well to follow his own doctrinal statement when it says: "We believe the Bible is the only infallible rule for all faith and practice, and it is therefore solely sufficient (apart from human wisdom and ecclesiastical tradition) to lead an individual to salvation".8
  2. Stegall's teaching is inconsistent with and contrary to the apostle Paul's teaching in 1 Corinthians 15 where the fact of the third day is included in the content of the gospel (notice the hoti content clause in verse 4: "that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures"). While verses 1-11 give the context of Paul's gospel, verses 3b-5 give the actual content of the gospel message. Notice the four content conjunctions beginning in verse 3: "that Christ died...and that He was buried...and that He was raised...and that He appeared...." The word "that" (Greek hoti), repeated four times in verses 3-5, functions as a "content conjunction" and indicates a content clause. Greek grammarian David Alan Black affirms: "Content clauses involve a subject, predicate nominative, direct object, or an appositional noun clause. Such clauses are commonly introduced by hina, hoti, hopos, and hos."9 More specifically, Daniel Wallace cites 1 Corinthians 15:3 to illustrate a "content conjunction".10 And John Niemela notes under the heading "Indicating a Content Clause" that "1 Corinthians...15:3...15:4a-b, [and] 5" (but not 15:6ff) each indicate "a Content Clause".11 Even Stegall affirms that "Paul begins by stating explicitly, 'I declare to you the gospel (to euangelion) which I preached (euengelisamen) to you' (1 Cor. 15:1a)....In the following verses Paul then specifies the content contained in that good news starting with the conjunction 'that' (hoti) in verse 3."12 Ironically, Stegall points out the significance of the hoti content clause in relation to the gospel message when he says that "a content clause, express[es] essential content"!13
  3. The third glaring problem with Stegall's reductionist reasoning is that Jesus Christ made it clear that He would rise from the dead on the third day according to the Scriptures (see Lk. 18:31-33; 24:44-48; Jn. 2:19-22; cf. 1 Cor. 15:1; Gal. 1:11-12).

It's also important to point out that when fictional Joe denies the truth of 1 Corinthians 15:4 that Christ's resurrection occurred on the third day, he attacks and impugns the sinless character of Christ! How is this so? Because if Joe is "vociferously denying the truth of 1 Corinthians 15:4 that Christ's resurrection occurred on 'the third day'"14 as Stegall asserts, then Joe is not trusting in the true Christ who predicted that He would indeed "rise from the dead on the third day" (Lk. 24:46). Robert Gromacki writes: "If Christ had been raised from the dead on the second, fourth, or any succeeding day, that would have been a remarkable, unprecedented achievement; but it also would have declared Him to be a false prophet."15 Sadly, Joe is believing in a deceiving spirit masquerading as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:1-4, 13-15). Joe is trusting in a "false Christ" (Matt. 24:4-5, 24) and in "another Jesus" (2 Cor. 11:4), neither of which can save.



ENDNOTES:

1 Tom Stegall, The Gospel of the Christ (Milwaukee: Grace Gospel Press, 2009), p. 563, italics his.

2 Ibid., p. 563.

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid., p. 561.

6 Ibid., p. 561-563.

7 Ibid., p. 563.

8 "THE DOCTRINAL STATEMENT OF THE WORD OF GRACE BIBLE CHURCH, THE HOLY SCRIPTURES," (accessed September 22, 2010), bold added.

9 David Alan Black, It's Still Greek To Me, p. 144.

10 Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond The Basics, p. 678.

11 John Niemela, "For You Have Kept My Word: The Grammar of Revelation 3:10," Chafer Theological Seminary Journal 6 (January 2000): 29-30.

12 Tom Stegall, The Gospel of the Christ, p. 532.

13 Ibid., pp. 393-394.

14 Ibid., p. 563.

15 Gromacki, Called To Be Saints, p. 182, bold added.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

I Want the Whole Gospel Too


James MacDonald of Walk in the Word Ministries has just written a blog article titled "I Want the Whole Gospel" - and it's excellent! The article is written like a heartfelt prayer to God. The opening sentence, which is especially good, reads:

"I want the whole gospel: Every single ounce of truth; give it to me straight just like it is in the Bible."

Please click on the link above to read the whole article!