Ask Dr. E – Episode 6

This is our 6th full episode of Ask Dr. E! We love hearing from you as you write or call in to submit your questions.

In this episode, Michael addresses questions about Jesus as both man and God on earth, whether we can walk out of the hand of God after we’re secure in our salvation, whether Jesus’ blood atones for the sins of everyone or just for a select group, what Michael thinks about when people say they ‘hear from God,’ and Jephthah’s rash vow to sacrifice whatever walked out his door to greet him when he returned from battle.

Looking for the answer to a specific question you heard while listening? You can find the timestamp of each question in the Show Notes for Ask Dr. E episodes!

Show Notes

(2:17) 1. When Jesus was on earth, could He only do what the Father asked Him to do? Since He was fully God and fully man, was He able to do miracles on His own, was He able to look at the heart of man on His own, or was it always through the power of the Holy Spirit or His Father who would communicate with Him because of their special connection?

At the core, we’re trying to grasp that Jesus was fully God and fully man. This is a major New Testament teaching.

John 5:19, John 5:30, John 6:38-40

For those who want to burrow further into these texts, reference an exhaustive concordance. If you read an NASB, you’ll want to us an NASB concordance. If you have a question about a given word, an exhaustive concordance will show every time that word is used so you can look at every verse it appears in.

In these verses, let’s look at Jesus’ willing submission to His Father’s will. He Submits to His Father’s will all the way to the crucifixion. Matthew 26:39

So, even though we have glimpses into Jesus’ thoughts, we know that He willingly submits to His Father in everything.

Mary’s questions suggests that Jesus was able to do miracles on His own and that’s what we call an argument from silence: the Bible doesn’t say Jesus did “this” without consulting His Father or that The Father told Him to do “this” miracle, but John 5:30 is clear.

These are over-arching principles of Jesus’ ministry:

  • He always does what pleases His Father
  • He only does what His Father instructs Him to do

Did Jesus have the ability to see the heart of man on His own? John 2:24 gives us the insight: Christ knew the hearts of men.

As the sovereign creator of the universe, He knew all the thoughts and intents of man’s heart. As the God-man, we’ve got this tension where He’s going to know things but also restrain things.

Jesus has always existed as the Son, but He willingly humbled Himself in submission to the Father’s will (Philippians 2:7-8).

These texts don’t answer all of our questions, but it helps us understand a little bit of this tension: Jesus was fully God and fully man.

(14:59) 2. I believe that Jesus Christ died for all men. I don’t believe that we are predestined–that He selected a few and died for the few. That would be like being on the cross and saying, “oh wait, I’m not dying for you. I’m just dying for these folks over here.” So I have a hard time with that concept.

We answered a very similar predestination question here:

Ask Dr. E Episode 1 (beginning at 21:13)

In short, this is a huge question. Let’s talk about the extent of the atonement. There are two main views: limited or unlimited.

Atonement: when Jesus died, His blood was shed to cover (atone) man’s sin. The question is, how much does Christ’s blood atone for?

Reformers hold to limited atonement: that Jesus died only for the elect. A popular phrase you may hear is “Christ’s blood was not wasted.”

Unlimited atonement is that Jesus’s sacrifice was sufficient for everyone, but affective only for those who believe.

John 12:32, John 1:29, John 3:16, Titus 2:11

“Whosoever”/”Whoever” is clearly not limited to “the elect” but rather mean “all,” as the text says.

These texts don’t mean that everyone is going to be saved, it’s not universalism, but we can’t dismiss the “all,” “the world,” “whosoever,” these broad-sweeping terms that reveal unlimited atonement.

One reason many hold to a reformed/limited view is that early on, many who held this belief were Catholic priests. As these reformed leaders left the catholic church and the reformation began, they still had some vestiges of Catholicism and some of these ideas are woven into Catholic theology.

Second, this is an unnecessary argument–because all who elect will be saved, and the atonement is sufficient for the elect. We find no reference in the New Testament that Christ’s blood was wasted or spilt, because He died for sinners.

The elect? Yes, those who respond by faith.

Ephesians 1:5, Romans 8:29-30 – it’s hard to get around the doctrine of predestination when Paul says it this clearly.

Even some of our reformed friends miss this: those whom He predestined, He called.

He had to call even those He predestined, which means that at some point even those who are predestined respond to His call.

All are called, only the elect respond to the call. But the call is universal as Jesus died for sinners.

Christ’s atonement is sufficient for everyone, but affective for only those who believe.

(23:00) 3. When we are secure [in our salvation], can we walk out of the hand of God volitionally or are we in His hand securely once we belong to Him?

We are secure in our salvation, but that does not mean that we cannot willfully choose a sinful lifestyle.

Many believers may be following Christ, but many believers choose to live unfaithfully.

If we’re asking about the security of our salvation, that rests upon Jesus’ work in our place, on our behalf, instead of us.

Not some “measure” of our faithfulness.

Many Christians look at a person’s life and will say, “they’ve been a faithful believer,” and then they choose a life of sin. Maybe they’re just a confused, sinning person. This doesn’t necessarily mean that this person isn’t saved or was never saved.

Let’s be very careful in saying “He or She is not a Christian because (fill in the blank)

We aren’t to determine that. But we are still to be wise. If there is a person living in gross immorality who is involved in the local church in leadership, that’s not right. The passages on discipline instruct us to judge wisely. But does that mean a person living in sin is not saved? We can’t judge that.

Our salvation rests on our belief and acceptance in Christ’s work, not what we do or don’t do. We can’t undo the work of Christ.

There are several terms in the New Testament which we translate to Fruit

Matthew 16:17 you will know them by their fruit, every good tree bears good fruit but the bad tree grows bad fruit — He’s talking about false prophets in this text. Many have misapplied this text to more of a general application, but the idea of a good work producing fruit in kind with your “tree production” to prove a person as a believer or unbeliever is a bit of a stretch.

John uses the term in similar ways, but is talking about the branch parable (John 15:2) No one agrees on this. Some believe it was the believer’s works that are pruned, some think its people who aren’t truly believers. In this situation, we’d say He’s pruning the believers unproductive works

Galatians 5:22 prior in this passage Paul says the deeds of the flesh are evident, but the fruit the production of the Spirit. If a person is a person of love, joy, peace, patience…that person is being controlled by the Spirit of God.

Note: the “fruit” here is singular.

The “fruit” is love, and the rest of the list are manifestations of what love looks like.

 

The over-arching control of the Spirit results in a person who is loving.

 

We’re not “fruit-inspectors,” that’s not our role. If we study the word “Fruit” in the NT, it is used to refer to false teachers, perhaps works/good works, and the result of the Holy Spirit’s work in my life and your life.

We need to be careful using these terms sometimes. We have a religious vocabulary that we can use until it becomes meaningless, which is why context matters: go back and see what these words mean and how other authors use them before we draw conclusions.

 

(34:22) 4. My question is about hearing from God. It seems to be a trend among popular bible studies and teachers today–hearing from God–quite a bit. even my Sunday school class at church is doing a video series from a very popular Christian author who talked about how God still speaks the same today as He did in the Old Testament through dreams, through burning bushes, etc, and I found that to be unbiblical. My understanding through studying the Word is that God spoke in the Old Testament because we didn’t have the scripture yet, the inspired Word of God, and we didn’t have the Holy Spirit yet. And that, yes, today the Holy Spirit can speak to us but our primary means of hearing from God is through His word, the Bible. I just want to make sure I have a correct understanding of that, and I was hoping you could biblically walk me through that to make sure I understand about “hearing from God.”

This is a popular and ever-present discussion.

Scripture is the very word of God. It’s not merely a record or account, it is the word of God.

Signs and wonders, for the most part, were used by God in unique and pivotal ways. It’s safe to say, even in Scripture, these are not normative. “Supernatural” means above the natural, these works are to be above nature, not normative.

Experiences are just that, they have no authority. Scripture has authority. That’s the differentiation.

Here’s the problem with experiences: If we have an experience (a dream, vision, hear a voice) and we make a decision based on that information alone–depending on the outcome of that decision, how do we determine the validity of that experience?

I wont say experiences are categorically not of God, but let’s be very careful not to let experience or circumstance teach us theology.

Our theology must be grounded in God’s word, God’s Spirit, and God’s people.

The Spirit is not a mystical experience of being guided through life. The Spirit is a person who indwells the believer and to whom we submit. How? Back to the scriptures.

Bob Salstrom at Dallas Theological Seminary was the consummate silver-haired pastor. He always had an open bible on his conference table and whenever I would go see him, he would put the Bible in my hands and say, “read this–what’s that say to you and me?” and we’d talk about it.

When I was younger, I was unsure about “once saved, always saved” theology and he asked, “what’s the authority you base your salvation on?” I said, “the Bible,” and he said, “that’s right. This [the Bible] is the only authority we have.”

When we start losing our moorings from the Bible itself and start making experiential conjectures, we’re going to get in trouble.

Experience A + B led us to C, and then C doesn’t work out. Was God leading us in the wrong direction, or did we misinterpret God? It’s got to be the latter if we thought the experience led us to the decision.

If the experience confirms and affirms God’s word, wonderful, but let’s not make decisions based on experience alone.

By the way, if you’re living in sin, you’re not submitted to the Spirit. If you’re living with your girlfriend or boyfriend and believe God’s leading you to get married, you’re confused. You cannot live in sin and ask God to bless your married. This is just one example of how we live in sin and selfishness rather than submitting ourselves to the Spirit and the authority of the Bible.

 

Don’t let experience be your authority. Submit to God’s Word, God’s Spirit, God’s people.

 

(45:20) 5. What do you think about Jephthah’s vow to sacrifice whatever came out of his house in return for his victory in battle that resulted in the sacrificing of his daughter?

“In those days, there was no king in Israel and every man did what was right in his own eyes.”

That’s the cadence of the cycle of Israel in the book of Judges.

Much of the land had not yet been taken, Israel had not been obedient in taking the Promised Land, tribal disputes abound.

It’s a story of people who get what they want and then discontinue following God.

Jephthah is the ninth Judge and is called a valiant warrior, but he is the son of a harlot, he comes from a broken home. His backstory in Judges 11 shows us that he’s been cast out but is being called back because the people need his skill in battle.

 

Judges 11:30-31, Judges 11:34

 

More than likely this isn’t a physical home, he may have had some shelters or tent structures but this is more of a compound structure, so he likely anticipated an animal would be sacrificed.

There is no perfect character in the Bible, every one is flawed. Jonah was the most successful (Michael Easley’s opinion), and his story doesn’t end well either. At the end of the book he’s depressed and complaining.

 

The one thing about Scripture that is so unlike any other world religion is that the Bible records man in his sinful condition and God using us in spite of it.

 

David’s sins are recorded for eternity. Jephthah’s rash vow is recorded for eternity.

Judges 11:34 is tragic. His one and only child is coming out to greet him with tambourines and dancing. When he saw her he tore his clothes.

There are two prominent views on this. For years, I have believed he killed her. In recent scholarship there is a view that Jephthah’s daughter vows to remain a virgin and be excluded in the tribe. We don’t know for sure whether he killed her, or whether she simply remained a virgin for the rest of her natural life.

The text does say that he did to her according to the vow that he made, and the vow he made was that he would offer her up as a burnt offering.

Now, God didn’t sanction this.

The Lord had already decreed that there were not to be vows made to Him nor were children to be sacrificed to Him. (Deuteronomy 18:10)

Jephthah’s a judge who, in line with the theme of the book of Judges, does what is right in his own eyes as Israel has no king.

Meaning, Israel didn’t follow her King – Yahweh Elohim.

Judges is the darkest chapter in the old testament and we see continually that everyone does what is right in their own eyes. And at the end, Samson’s eyes are taken from him.

Israel at this time is not following the law well and this is an epic failure of the Levitical priesthood. The law has not been communicated well to the next generations. It’s a horrible story where a judge with a twisted moral compass felt required to fulfill a vow he was never supposed to make in the first place.

Now, we know this is Ask. Dr. E, but Dr. E has a question for Hanna S:

As we’re coming up on graduation time, do you know of any resources that may be beneficial for graduates?

Hanna wrote a book that released last year called The College Girl’s Survival Guide and it’s a perfect gift for the graduate in your life.

The book is a culmination of 10 years of conversations Hanna had with college students and answers the most common 52 questions she received. It’s a great gift for anyone in college, but it’s especially helpful for recent high school graduates.

You can buy it Here! (Or on Amazon, or almost anywhere books are sold!)

Have a Biblical or theological question? Ask Dr. E! Call us at 615-281-9694 and leave a voicemail with your question. Michael will answer it on an upcoming Ask Dr. E episode!

Michael Easley

About Michael Easley

Michael is husband to one, dad to four, and host of Michael Easley inContext.



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