Melchizedek

Who was, or is, Melchizedek?

Melchizedek

Who was, or is, Melchizedek?

Dr. Trey Talley, Lead Pastor and Elder
Author of The Missing Gospel of Modern Christianity
 
If you were asked to name some of the most influential people in the Old Testament, you might think of Adam, Noah, Joseph, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Elijah, David, etc., but for most people, the name Melchizedek would come to mind. However, the author of Hebrews uses much ink to express just how important Melchizedek is for us to understand the priestly role of Jesus Christ. So, who is Melchizedek? 
 
Well, for starters, his name is only mentioned two times in the entirety of the Old Testament. And even though the author of Hebrews reveals that Melchizedek is even more crucial than even Father Abraham, we know almost nothing about him. Melchizedek shows up out of nowhere, is recorded as saying only one sentence, and then he is gone. 
 
Many believe that Melchizedek was just a good man who lived in the time of Abraham who had a lot of great Christlike qualities. However, I think that there is more to Melchizedek. I believe that there is sufficient evidence to show that Melchizedek was not a man but a Christophany. This is a term used when the second person of the Trinity, God the Son, makes an appearance before His incarnation.1 
 
Before we begin, I highly recommend that you read Genesis 14:17-20; Psalm 110Hebrews 5:5-11, 6:19-7:1-28.
 

11 Points Proving that Melchizedek was a Christophany

1. His name. As the author of Hebrews emphasizes, it literally means King of Righteousness and King of Peace. This type of language is extremely lofty, and in fact, Isaiah uses Isaiah to describe One that will be both King of Righteousness and King of Peace when he told the coming Messiah.2 

2. He is both King and Priest. God appointed who was to be king and who was to be a priest. These two roles were separate except in the person of Melchizedek and Jesus Christ. King Saul once overstepped his position as king and performed duties only allowed by God for priests. How did God respond? God removed him as king.3 For another example, King Uzziah similarly acted also as a priest, and God punished him with a lifetime of leprosy.4 So for Melchizedek to be both a king and a priest puts him in a unique category with Jesus Christ, making this one more reason to think of Melchizedek as a Christophany.

3. His appearance and disappearance. Nothing is known of Melchizedek, yet he was not only a king but the priest of the one true God. If God had established another earthly kingdom with this righteous king and had a people represented to God by this priest, then it would seem that there would be more information recorded about these people who had Priest and King of the One true God. Instead, like other Christophanies of the Old Testament, He appears and then disappears. There is no history of Melchizedek existing before he appeared to Abraham or after he appeared to Abraham.

4. His lack of ancestry. The book of Genesis is packed with genealogies. Yet, nothing is known about Melchizedek. “He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.”5 The point appears to show more than just a resemblance to the eternality of the Son of God, but Melchizedek was the eternal Son of God.

5. He resembled the son of God. Some theologians try to downplay this description because of the word “resembling,” was used instead of something more definitive like “was the son of God,” however, if anything, we see that the word “like” is a sufficient reason to believe that Melchizedek was more than just a man because we also see language like this used in Daniel when he describes Jesus, “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one likea son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him.”6 It could easily be said that in both cases, something more is implied. As we know, Daniel is describing the one who is man and God, Jesus Christ. It seems that the author of Hebrews is describing one that is also both God and yet is appearing like a man.

6. He has a never-ending priesthood. The whole point that the author is making with Melchizedek is that his priesthood continues forever. The only other time that we read the name Melchizedek mentioned in the Old Testament is Psalm 110, “The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”7 It would seem highly doubtful that God would place Jesus’ priesthood under a mere man who existed in Abraham’s day. Since the priestly role belongs not to God the Father, nor God the Holy Spirit, but to the Son, I believe that the Psalmist’s point is to show that the Messiah’s Priesthood because He is never ending.

7. He was superior to Abraham. What other person would possibly be considered more important than the man who received the promise of God that through his offspring would come the Messiah? Think about it. Surely there could be no contemporary of Abraham that would be more important than that. The only one superior to Abraham would have to be the one who is to be Abraham’s offspring: a pre-incarnate Jesus Christ.

8. He preceded and superseded the Levitical priesthood. God alone appointed Aaron to begin the Aaronic or Levitical Priesthood. However, the priesthood of Melchizedek was shown to be in existence hundreds of years before and continues forever. However, the Levitical Priesthood had a beginning date and an ending date. Once Jesus had become the incarnated perfect priest. He took the perfect sacrifice (Himself) into the perfect temple (heaven), thus ending any need for the Levitical Priesthood to continue.

9. He is immortal. This point appears to be made because the same individual who appears in Genesis 14 is mentioned over 500 years later as being a never-ending priest. Also, by the author of Hebrews writing, men give their offerings to the Levitical priests who are mortal, but Abraham gave his offerings to One who was not. “In the one case, tithes are received by mortal men, but in the other case, by one of whom it is testified that he lives.” Who alone is immortal? None, but God. Also, consider this statement regarding Melchizedek and Christ:This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. For it is witnessed of him,’ You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.”8 The author of Hebrews uses Psalm 110 to show that Jesus’ Priesthood is forever and tied directly to Melchizedek.

10. He serves bread and wine. “And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.)”9 While it could be just happenstance. It certainly does not seem to be so to me. Where else do we learn of someone serving these two things? Yes, Jesus serves bread and wine to His disciples on the evening of the Passover Feast. This is where Jesus changes a God ordered an annual feast that had gone on for over 1000 years to show that He is the lamb of God that is about to be sacrificed for the forgiveness of sins.10  Even now, when we take of the Lord’s Supper, we do so to commemorate the New Covenant, the forgiveness of sins, and the fact that we will dine again with Him in heaven one day.

11. His priesthood is not instituted by the Old Covenant Law. The Law and the Levitical Priesthood were given to the Israelites as part of the Old Covenant.11 However, Melchizedek’s priesthood and ability to bless others on God’s behalf existed long before the covenant with Israel was ever made. This means that Melchizedek’s priesthood existed before the Law the Levites and the Old Covenant, which means that it will continue after the Law, the Levites, and the Old Covenant. The author makes this point in Hebrews in chapter seven when he writes, “Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the Law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the Law as well.”12

Not only do we have these 11 points that point to Melchizedek as a Christophany, but we also have multiple weak points of saying that he was only human. Such as: (1.) Where did he come from? (2.) Where did he go? (3.) If he was a God’s king of righteousness, king of peace, and priest, then where were the people he represented to God? (4.) The whole bible is built upon God’s special revelation of Himself to the lineage of Abraham. But if Melchizedek was a priest beforehand of a people, then it sure seems that God would have given us more information about them.
 
In summary, whether you believe that Melchizedek was just a good man or a Christophany is not salvific, and Christians have continued to hold fellowship with one another even when there is a disagreement about Melchizedek’s nature. My point in writing this article is that I believe that the passages about Melchizedek in Genesis 14, Psalm 110, and Hebrews 5-7 make a lot more sense when we see Melchizedek as a pre-incarnate appearance of Son of God.
 

1. Other possible Christophanies to explore: Genesis 16:7-13, 22:15-18, 31:11-13; Exodus 3:13:21, 14:19; Judges 6:11-23, 13:9-20, etc. 

2. Hebrews 9:6-7

3. 1 Samuel 13:8-14

4. 2 Chronicles 26:16-21

5. Hebrews 7:3

6. Daniel 7:13

7. See Psalm 110:1-4

8. Hebrews 7:15-16

9. Genesis 14:18

10. Luke 22:20

11. Exodus 20-24

12. Hebrews 7:11-12. See also Romans 8:3-4; Matthew 5:17-18; Galatians 3:19-26



10 Key Points of Reformed Theology

10 Key Points of Reformed Theology

Dr. Trey Talley, Lead Pastor and Elder
Author of The Missing Gospel of Modern Christianity
 
On October 31st, the thoughts of many are on candy and costumes, but on this day in 1517, the thoughts of one man were centered on theological clarity. On this day, just over 500 years ago, Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Thesis to the door of the Wittenberg Chapel. These were 95 points of disagreement with the teachings and practices of the Roman Catholic Church. He had hoped that this would lead to some great discussions within the Roman Catholic Church; however, (long story short) Luther was ordered not to challenge the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, excommunicated by the Pope, and even had a price placed upon his capture (dead or alive), by the Roman Catholic Church.
 

What did Luther say to cause such a harsh response?

Primarily it had to do with the fact that he believed the Bible to be the supreme standard of truth. The problem was that the Bible was being hidden from the people. It was unlawful to possess a Bible or to preach, teach, or even speak from the Bible in a language other than Latin, which had become a language reserved only for scholars. The inaccessibility of the contents of the Bible meant that over 99.9% of the people had no way of knowing what was in the Bible. As Luther entered a monastery and was allowed access to a Bible, he was shocked to discover that the Roman Catholic Church’s core teachings were not in the Bible. There was nothing in the Bible of purgatory, a Pope, the Treasury of Merit, praying to Saints, relics, or repetitions of the Hail Mary.
 
Most important, Luther discovered that the Bible taught a salvation that was by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to the glory of God alone. Luther was a brilliant man, whose most important work was the translation and distribution of the Bible to the people in their native language. Luther went on to teach and write for many years, but here are some key points that Luther and the other early Reformers taught that can be easily remembered known as the Five Solas. The Five Solas are based upon five Latin words with the Latin equivalent of the English word “alone” placed before them. These are meant to be five quick reference points to the theological difference between the Roman Catholic Church and the Reformers.
 

The Five Solas

  1. Scripture Alone (Sola Scriptura) – The Bible is the sole written revelation of God, our only infallible rule for faith and life, and alone can bind the conscience of believers absolutely. No Popes, Councils, Priests, traditions of the church, organized, or unorganized religion has authority over the Bible. God is the Supreme authority, and His Word bears His authority. It is our role to submit to the Word that He has authorized. Psalm 119:9-16; Matthew 4:4; 2 Timothy 3:16
  2. Grace Alone (Sola Gratia) – Our salvation rests solely on the work of God’s grace. There is nothing a person can do to earn, work, or achieve salvation. Salvation is the unmerited favor of God given to a person due to the perfect work of Jesus Christ. Romans 2:4, 3:20-26; Ephesians 1:3-8, 2:8-10
  3. Faith Alone (Sola Fide) – Justification is by faith alone. By God’s free grace, the righteousness of Jesus Christ is imputed (given) to us by faith and is the sole ground of our acceptance by God, by which our sins are pardoned. This faith consists of a knowledge of the Gospel, believing the Gospel to be true, and a trusting in the Gospel alone for one’s salvation. Romans 5:1; Galatians 2:16, 3:6-11; Ephesians 2:8-10
  4. Christ Alone (Solus Christus) – Jesus Christ is the only mediator through Whose work we are redeemed. There is no one else who is qualified to mediate between you and God. This exclusion includes Mary the mother of Jesus, all “saints,” or anyone else other than Jesus Christ. John 14:6; John 3:16; Colossians 1:13-20; 1 Timothy 2:5-7
  5. To God Alone Be Glory (Soli Deo Gloria) – Salvation is of God and has been accomplished by God; therefore, to God alone belongs the glory. Since mankind is dead in his sin, and deserves nothing but the wrath of God for rebelling against God, any mercy bestowed upon sinners in salvation should result in giving the glory to God, and Him alone. Romans 11:36; 1 Corinthians 10:31; Ephesians 3:21; Colossians 3:17; 1 Peter 4:11

 

These Five Solas reveal a clear, concise theology that says, “We believe that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, to God alone be the glory, and we rely on the Bible alone for our source of authority.”

The theology of the early reformers such as Martin Luther, John Calvin, William Tyndale, etc. spread quickly as Bibles, and Bible-based teachings began to be produced in mass due to the printing press.

However, in the early 1600s, a man named Jacobus Arminius went against the Reformers teaching. The followers of Arminius created an acronym that stood for their points of disagreement. However, the acronym came to be loved by those to whom it was meant to mock, due to its truthfulness and ease of remembering. The acronym T.U.L.I.P, along with the Five Solas, became an easy way to remember the key theological points of the Reformation.
 

T.U.L.I.P.

Total Depravity – Often referred to as Total Inability. Every human being is born a sinner and can do nothing in and of himself to right his sinful position before God. People are born sinners and actively pursue sinful behavior. People are spiritually dead in their sins and cannot make themselves come to life spiritually. Mankind is a slave to sin and cannot set himself free. John 6:44; Ephesians 2:1-10; Revelation 3:9-20
 
Unconditional Election – God, not man, is sovereign over all things, including salvation. Salvation is not based on a condition that we have met. It is based on God’s own free sovereign choice. We, as humans, do not contribute to our salvation. Romans 8:30; Romans 9; Ephesians 1:4-5
 
Limited Atonement- Also referred to as Definite Atonement or Specific Atonement. Jesus Christ died only for those whom the Father had given Him. His work was perfect, and all those for whom He died will be saved, because He has taken the wrath that they deserved. Jesus died in the place of all the elect taking, paying for their sin, and making peace between them and God. John 10:11-14; John 17:2-9; Romans 8:30
 
Irresistible Grace- All those for whom the Son died will come to Him for salvation. They will be made willing to come to God on their day of salvation. God regenerates them, bringing them to life, causing right belief and right affections for Him. Since no one seeks after God, God supernaturally seeks and saves all who are His. This is purely an act of His unmerited favor towards His elect. John 6:37; Philippians 1:29; Titus 3:5
 
Perseverance of the Saints- God guards the salvation of his elect. Everyone the Son died for will persevere and enter into heaven. Both the beginning and the preserving of their salvation is the work of God. There is no power in existence that can remove the believer out of the saving hand of God. John 6:37-38; Ephesians 1:14-15; 1 Peter 1:3-5
 
 
Together these ten points are the heart of the Reformation. The Reformers did not create these doctrines. Instead, the Reformers were simply returning to the actual teaching of the Word of God.
 
This Halloween, don’t just think of costumes and candy, consider Christ, and be thankful for those who cared enough to risk their lives to teach the truth of the Bible.


What does coming to the front have to do with salvation?

What does coming to the front have to do with salvation?

“Come to Jesus!”, “Come now!”, “Come to the front, Jesus is waiting here for you.”, “Get up and come quickly!”, “He died for you. The least you can do is take a few steps towards Him.”
This style of evangelistic plea has become the focal point of almost every major evangelistic outreach of our day, and the common end of most Sunday worship services. But, are such altar calls and invitations Biblically warranted?

CHARLES FINNEY AND THE INVITATION.

In the middle of the nineteenth century, Charles Finney, a traveling evangelist with piercing eyes, tremendous personality, mesmerizing communication skills, and very little biblical knowledge, began the time of invitation that would soon come to be practiced at virtually every church in America. Finney became known for his incredible ability to stir up large audiences of people and get them to respond to his messages by beckoning them to come forward during his sermons. To many, it appeared that Finney had found a new method of evangelism that was extremely effective, and with the call to the front, results could be seen immediately.
Finney was successfully drawing massive audiences and seeing thousands of people come to the front for salvation. Surely this must have been a great move of God, right? Sadly, Finney’s bigger-than-life personality and his magnetic ability to get people out of their seats to come to the front caused many to overlook the fact that his doctrine was fundamentally flawed.
Finney had distorted the gospel of God, substituted his own version of the gospel and was actually calling on people to believe and respond to “another gospel” that was not from God. Finney did not believe that man was born sinful and required a Savior for the forgiveness of sins. He rejected the biblical truth that we are saved by Christ’s righteousness being applied to us. Finney also did not believe in the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ, nor did he see any need for it. He believed that it was impossible for Jesus Christ to die for the sins of others.1 He even went as far as to teach that Jesus Christ’s death on the cross was just a great example of selflessness, but in no way brought about salvation.2 Finney writes, “It is true, that the atonement, of itself, does not secure the salvation of anyone.3 He had created a Christ who was nothing more than a moral example for people to follow, but Whose work did not and could not save anyone. In fact, Christ’s righteousness, Finney says, “could do no more than justify himself. It could never be imputed to us . . .”4
However, the altar call, which was created by a man who rejected the true gospel, has become so popular, that modern Christians just assume that this is the way that it has always been since the time of Christ. The invitation system is so prevalent that one would be hard-pressed to find a church that does not use some form of Finney’s “altar call” methodology.

WHAT’S AT THE FRONT ANYWAY?

So, what about you? Have you ever wondered what is at the front of the church that is not at the back or side of the church for salvation? Truthfully, there is no square footage of a church that someone must go to be saved. God could save a person no matter if they walked to the back, side, front, or even remain seated. Yet, countless pastors and evangelist promote the front as the place to come to be saved as if it is a means of salvation. What does walking forward have to do with one believing the gospel of God? Does physical movement somehow aid in salvation? Is there some connection between being saved by Christ and walking forward while music is playing at the end of church service?
Many professing Christians describe their salvation with such an action as “going to the front,” or “walking the aisle” as well. Such Christians often speak of their physical response of “going forward” as if such activity is an essential element of their salvation. This is a common mistake of Christians living in a “come to the front” era. In supposedly, telling others about our testimony, we often put the emphasis on the walk forward, instead of the message of the gospel. To an unbeliever, it would be easy for them to assume that “going forward” is what a person does to be saved.

IS THE “COME TO THE FRONT” METHOD USED IN THE BIBLE?

While the altar call may be a widespread practice today, there is no scriptural support for such a practice. A quick search of the sermons of Christ and the Apostles shows that the whole “come to the front method” was never used. This methodology is entirely foreign to the Word of God. Many evangelistic sermons are recorded for us in the book of Acts, yet not once is there a call at the end to come to the front. The people are never told to come to the front for salvation; instead, they are told to believe unto salvation.
 
In his book, The Invitation System, Iain Murray presents the following points to consider regarding the high-pressure methodology of the “Invitation” as used in the modern church:
  1. The invitation system, because it represents an outward response as connected with ‘receiving Christ,’ institutes a condition of salvation which Christ never appointed.
  2. Because the call to come forward is given as though it were a divine command, those who respond are given reason to believe that they are doing something commendable before God, while those who do not are falsely supposed to be disobeying Him.
  3. By treating two distinct issues, ‘come to Christ’ and ‘come to the front’ as though they were one, the tendency of the invitation to mislead the unconverted in regard to their duty. The real issue is as stated in John 6:20 ‘This is the work of God, that ye believe on him who he hath sent.’5

 

That being the case, does the “come to the front method” of evangelism add a non-biblical step into salvation? It is difficult to see how the modern emphasis on coming forward would not be seen as contributing in some degree to a person’s salvation. In fact, I have commonly heard preachers and evangelists say things like, “If there are 100 steps to your salvation, Jesus will take 99, but you must take the first one.”, or “Come now, Jesus is waiting here for you, all you have to do is come Him.” It is easy to see how such words could lead to the belief that walking forward is contributing to one’s salvation. Could such an invitation be seen as adding to the gospel? Could it even be adding human effort (works) as an essential component of the gospel? Some might not believe that “going forward” is that much work, but if it is contributing in any way even just one percent, how can that not be a mixture of God’s grace and human effort?

“OH NO, I WALKED FORWARD! AM I SAVED?”

No one is saved because he or she went forward during an invitation, but some are saved despite their going forward during an invitation. It is possible that some who “come to the front” have genuinely heard the gospel and believed in the gospel for their salvation. Perhaps they understand that walking to the front is not adding to their salvation or required for salvation at all. And maybe they have just followed the speaker’s appeal to walk forward now that they are saved. If their faith is in the Jesus Christ of Scripture, then they are saved no matter if they walked forward, backward, or just stayed seated.
 
However, it is also possible that a person could not have heard the gospel, not believed in the gospel, and still walked forward under the compulsion of the speaker, peer pressure of friends, or an entirely wrong view of what is needed for salvation. Clearly, such a person is not saved; instead, they have just gone for a walk and gotten a bit of exercise, which has most likely lead to a false conversion. The point is, that genuine salvation and “coming to the front” are not synonymous.
 
As you reflect on your salvation, perhaps you too made a trip down the aisle. However, this does not mean that you are or are not saved. We should never look to a “come forward” event in our lives as proof of our salvation. It is good for professing Christians to, as the Apostle Paul says, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves.”6 Paul was not calling on the Corinthians to reflect on a time when they walked forward as a test of their salvation, but he is calling on them to make sure that they believe in Jesus Christ and what He has done to provide salvation.
 
There is no biblical support that a person needs to come forward to be saved. Many preachers and evangelists act as if coming to the front is a biblical command; however, Jesus nor His Apostles ever used such a practice. With such great emphasis placed on the visual act of going forward, many people tend to confuse their physical activity with the spiritual action of salvation. We, as Christians, should keep this in mind when we evangelize or share our testimonies with others. Even if we did walk an aisle, or go to the front, during an invitation, we must be careful that we do not make such an action a part of the gospel that we are proclaiming to others. The gospel’s call is not to walk forward but to repent, believe, and walk in obedience to Christ.
 
1. Charles G. Finney, Finney’s Systematic Theology, ed. James Harris Fairchild (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1976), 320-322.
2. Ibid., 209.
3. Ibid., 217.
4. Charles G. Finney, Finney’s Systematic Theology, ed. James Harris Fairchild (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1976), 320-322.
5. Iain Hamish Murray, The Invitation System (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1973), 26.
6. 2 Corinthians 13:5


Is belief necessary for salvation?

Is belief necessary for salvation?

Dr. Trey Talley, Lead Pastor and Elder
Author of The Missing Gospel of Modern Christianity
 
When professing Christians are asked about their salvation, their mind often goes to a time when they walked an aisle at church, raised a hand, made a decision, said the sinner’s prayer, were baptized or joined a church. While such activities are often relied upon as proof of salvation, the truth of the matter is that such activities are no guarantee of salvation. For instance, it is possible that a person could walk an aisle at church, raise a hand, make a decision, say the sinner’s prayer, be baptized, join a church and still be just as unsaved as a person who had done none of these things. Can people claim to be Christians, yet still be on their way to hell? The answer is, “Yes.” So, if these things do not provide the surety of salvation, then what does? This leads to some critical questions, such as “How can a person be saved?”, “How do you know if you are actually saved?”, and “How do I check on the salvation of others?”
 
The Apostle Paul writes that the gospel “is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes…”1 In other words, belief in the gospel is essential for a person to be saved. This means that belief in the gospel is not a secondary or tertiary matter when it comes to determining one’s salvation, it is primary.
 
The word believe is basic, yet descriptive of what one’s response should be upon hearing the gospel. It points to the fact that the gospel must be accepted as presented in Scripture, and to reject that information is to remain a non-believer. The English word believe is most commonly translated from the Greek word pisteuó, which means, “to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place confidence in.”2 Keeping such a definition in mind helps us to understand what it means to “believe the gospel.” Take these scriptures for example:
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:12)
… whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:15-16)
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. (John 3:18)
… these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:31)
But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand. (Acts 4:4)
Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul . . . (Acts 4:32)
But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. (Acts 8:12)
… a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed. But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. (Acts 14:1-2)
For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.’ (Romans 4:3)
Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed. (1 Corinthians 15:11)
For we who have believed enter that rest . . . (Hebrews 4:3)
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5:13)
 
As you can see, the God’s word puts great emphasis on belief. However, before calling people to “believe,” we must first give them the foundation–or the Who and What–in which they are to believe. People cannot just believe in anything they wish and be saved by it. The belief must be placed in the right object, or better yet, the right person. Regarding the empty call to “believe” that some Christians were issuing, Charles Spurgeon wrote:
I have sometimes thought when I have heard addresses from some revival brethren who had kept on saying time after time, ‘Believe, believe, believe,’ that I should like to have known for myself what it was we were to believe in order to our salvation. There is, I fear a great deal of vagueness and crudeness about this matter.3
 
It is far easier to command people just to believe, but we must never forget that there is a message that must be connected to that belief for true salvation to occur. A call to believe without giving a person what they need to believe is futile. Belief, no matter how strong it is, in anything besides the person and work of Jesus Christ amounts to a faith that is entirely ineffective in bringing about salvation.
 
God has given us the message which is required of us to believe, and that message is centered on Jesus Christ. The Apostle John is abundantly clear that the gospel is all about Jesus, and it is only belief in Him that saves. For example, in John 3, he writes that “whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”4 He then writes about the condemnation of those who do not believe, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”5 At the close of his gospel, John summarizes his entire message by stating the purpose of his writing, “these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”6

1. Romans 1:16: All Bible references are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version Containing the Old and New Testaments: ESV. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2007)
2. Joseph Henry Thayer, Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Baker Book House, 1977), entry for pisteuó.
3. Murray, The Invitation System, 33
4. John 3:16
5. John 3:18
6. John 20:31


A Cup Full of Hell?

A Cup Full of Hell?

A Cup Full of Hell?

A Cup Full of Hell?

 
On the night before Jesus’ crucifixion, we find Him in tremendous sorrow and greatly troubled about a cup. The thought of having to drink from this particular cup even had Him sweating drops of blood. 1
 
Notice how Matthew records the night and draws much attention to cup:
 
“My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me. And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”
 
Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” (Matt. 26:38-39,42)
 
Even as Jesus is being arrested, He is still talking about the cup:
 
So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?” (John 17:11)
 
What was this cup that Jesus was so concerned about? Was it the fear of His imminent arrest, abandonment, beatings, torture, mockery, and execution that was now only hours away? 
 
As horrible as the anguish of crucifixion may have been, it does not appear to be the cup to which Jesus was referring. If it were, this would be contrary to His previous teaching.“
 
“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!” (Luke 12:4-5)
 
Jesus told the disciples not to fear man, so we can safely assume that He did not either. Why? Because, torment and death, as horrific as it may be, is nothing compared to the eternal punishment that sinners face after death from the hand of God. 
 
From the passage, we begin to get a right understanding of Jesus’ anguish. He was fearful, not of mankind, but of the cup of wrath that He was about to receive; a cup of hell. 
 
To understand this analogy even better, it is good to see how the cup was used to describe God’s wrath even in the Old Testament. Take these examples for example:
 
Wake yourself, wake yourself, stand up, O Jerusalem, you who have drunk from the hand of the LORD the cup of his wrath, who have drunk to the dregs the bowl, the cup of staggering. These two things have happened to you—who will console you? —devastation and destruction, famine and sword; who will comfort you?  (Isaiah 51:17,19)
 
Thus the Lord, the God of Israel, said to me: ‘Take from my hand this cup of the wine of wrath, and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it. They shall drink and stagger and be crazed because of the sword that I am sending among them.’
So I took the cup from the Lord’s hand, and made all the nations to whom the Lord sent me drink it: Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, its kings and officials, to make them a desolation and a waste, a hissing and a curse, as at this day…” (Jeremiah 25:15-18)
 
Though Isaiah and Jeremiah speak of the cup of God’s wrath that unrepentant Israel was to drink, it was only a foreshadowing of the supreme cup of wrath that the enemies of God will drink from for all eternity. For this, we look to John’s description of the cup found in the book of Revelation.
 
He also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name (Rev. 14:10-11)
 
Just from a few passages we begin to see why Jesus was in agony over drinking from this cup. The cup was full of divine wrath that sinners deserved.
 
But why was Jesus, who had not sinned, going to receive this wrath? 
 
He was drinking from the cup that was poured for you and I. All sin deserves the full wrath of God. All sinners must drink of the cup of God’s wrath, or as we have seen, have Jesus drink of it for them. This is what Jesus does for all who trust in Him for salvation. Jesus saves us from the wrath of God, by becoming the object of God’s wrath in our place. What no human can ever drink of exhaustively, Jesus, while on the cross, drank every last drop of the wrath of God for all believers.  As Paul said, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”2
 
As Jesus died on the cross, to fulfill prophecy, and to add one more exclamation point to what He had accomplished, He returns to the drinking analogy. As John records, “When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished’. With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”3 Jesus drank the cup of God’s Wrath for us. The cup is now empty, God’s wrath has been poured out fully. It is finished.
 

Comfort:

 
All people who trust in Jesus Christ for their salvation will never have to drink of the Wrath of God because the cup is empty! Every drop of judgment and wrath was received by Jesus Christ on the cross. We will not face the wrath of God. We will not drink of that cup. We will not experience hell or eternal punishment for our sin, because Jesus Christ drank of God’s wrath in our place
 

Warning:

 
If Jesus is not your Savior, then you will drink and continue to drink from the never-ending cup of God’s wrath for all eternity. Repent of your sin and believe in Jesus Christ for your salvation today.
 
~ Trey Talley

Footnotes:

1. Luke 22:44
2. 2 Corinthians 5:21
3. John 19:30


Noah’s ark and the flood points not to cute and cuddly animals, but to sin, judgment, wrath, and God’s provision of salvation through Jesus Christ.

Noah’s Ark: Cute and Cuddly, or Wrath and Fury?

Noah’s ark and the flood points not to cute and cuddly animals, but to sin, judgment, wrath, and God’s provision of salvation through Jesus Christ.

Noah’s Ark: Cute and Cuddly, or Wrath and Fury?

What is the first image that comes to mind when you think of Noah’s Ark?

Is it cute bunnies, giraffes, and kangaroos; or is it the death and destruction of sinners at the hand of God?

If you are like most, your mind immediately goes to the various childhood images of a lot of cute animals on a large boat. However, despite its overemphasis, the preservation of animals is not the primary lesson to be learned from the story of Noah’s Ark.

Both Jesus Christ and the Apostle Peter taught about the flood, yet neither of them even mentioned the animals. Instead, they used the flood account to teach on more serious matters such as sin, judgment, and salvation. 

Let’s look at what Jesus and Peter said about the flood to discover what they found to be of most importance. 

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him (1 Peter 3:18-22).

  1. God’s people were, and are, in the minority.

Peter’s audience of believers were the minority in their society, yet God was with them. Peter used the ark account to remind his audience that counting heads is not the way to determine who is right and who is wrong. The most important factor is to be right with God; even if that does put you in the minority view. 

Think about it. Only eight people in the entire world were following God in the days of Noah. As it was in the days of Noah and Peter, the same goes for us today. Christians may not be in the majority, but we are right with God. 

  1. God’s method of salvation was, and is, exclusive.

Out of His mercy and grace, God provided the Ark. No matter what other ways people thought they could be saved by, in the end, they were proved wrong. 

Perhaps some of them did not believe that God would judge their sin like He said He would. Perhaps others trusted that they were good enough to escape God’s judgment. And still, others may have thought that if God is good and loving, then surely He will not really bring destruction. However, God provided only one way for people to be saved: the ark. 

So it was with Peter’s audience, and so it is for us today. The exclusivity of salvation by God’s ark points to the exclusivity of ultimate salvation from sin, judgment, and wrath through Jesus Christ. As Jesus said, “I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father accept through me” (John 14:6). 

  1. God’s method of salvation was, and is, 100% effective.

God put Noah and his family on the ark and sealed them the door. The rest of the world received God’s wrath, but those on the ark were safe. The ark floated perfectly through the storms, and by the hand of God, all of its inhabitants arrived safely. Its passengers had weathered the storms, were spared God’s wrath, and were saved just as God said they would be. 

Peter reveals that the ark was a type, or shadow, of the ultimate Ark of salvation, Jesus Christ, who will succeed in preserving, protecting, and bringing all of His elect safely home to God the Father. 

Peter reminds his audience that Jesus suffered God’s wrath for their sins to bring them safely to God. We can also fully rest in God’s method of salvation. As he clarified earlier by writing,

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3-5).

  1. God did, and will, punish sinners.

Sinners hope that God will not judge them for their sins. However, the global flood and consummate death reveals that God does not wink at sin. He wiped out all people on the earth, except for eight, due to their sinfulness. It was a catastrophic event brought about by the anger, wrath, and judgment of God against sinners. 

Both Peter and Jesus Christ use the story of the ark to reiterate that the Day of Judgment is coming for all sinners. And as bad as dying in a flood was, it will be nothing compared to the coming final judgment of God. 

Jesus said, 

“For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man” (Matt. 24:37-39).

Summary:

Jesus, God in the flesh, and the Apostle Peter clearly taught that God really did judge sinners by causing a global flood. They also taught that a greater judgment and punishment is coming for all sinners. 

The good news is that God has provided the ultimate Ark of salvation, Jesus Christ.  Ultimately, the entire event of Noah’s ark and the flood points not to cute and cuddly animals, but to sin, judgment, wrath, and God’s provision of salvation through Jesus Christ. 
~ Trey Talley


When you think of your salvation what comes to mind? A walk, a prayer, baptism, or maybe a hand raised? The truth of the matter is that such activities are no guarantee of salvation. 

The Key Issue of Salvation

When you think of your salvation what comes to mind? A walk, a prayer, baptism, or maybe a hand raised? The truth of the matter is that such activities are no guarantee of salvation. 

When you think of your salvation what comes to mind?

The Key Issue of Salvation A walk, a prayer, baptism, or maybe a hand raised?

When professing Christians are asked about their salvation, their mind often goes to a time when they walked an aisle at church, raised a hand, made a decision, said the “Sinner’s Prayer,” were baptized, or joined a church. While such activities are often relied upon as proof of salvation, the truth of the matter is that such activities are no guarantee of salvation. 

For instance, is it absolutely possible that a person could walk an aisle at church, raise a hand, make a decision, say the “Sinner’s Prayer,” be baptized, join a church and still be just as unsaved as a person who had done none of these things? Is it possible for someone to think he or she is on their way to heaven even though his or her destination is hell? 

The answer is, “Yes.” 

So, if these things do not provide surety of salvation then what does?

This leads to some very important questions, such as “How can a person be saved?”, “How do you know if you are actually saved?”, and “How do I check on the salvation of others?”.

Salvation, according to the Apostle Paul, is directly related to the belief in the gospel. Instead of relying on reciting a prayer, raising a hand, or walking aisle, He simply writes, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes…” (Romans 1:16). 

As you can see, Paul links salvation to the gospel; and in order to be saved, one is required to believe in the gospel. In other words, belief in the gospel is essential for a person to be saved. 

The key issue is belief.

Whether a person has walked an aisle, filled out a card, raised a hand, said the sinner’s prayer, asked Jesus into their heart, or even whether or not he or she was baptized, is not the key to determine if one is truly saved. The key issue is belief, and the key belief must be the gospel. This means that belief in the gospel is not a secondary or tertiary matter when it comes to determining one’s salvation, it is of utmost importance.



The Justice of God People wrongly assume that just because they are not immediately receiving punishment for their sin that they are escaping justice. Paul says that God’s slowness to punish does not prove that they someone has escaped justice but that it is meant to lead them to repent of their sin.

The Justice of God

The Justice of God People wrongly assume that just because they are not immediately receiving punishment for their sin that they are escaping justice. Paul says that God’s slowness to punish does not prove that they someone has escaped justice but that it is meant to lead them to repent of their sin.

The Justice of God

The Justice of God People wrongly assume that just because they are not immediately receiving punishment for their sin that they are escaping justice. Paul says that God’s slowness to punish does not prove that they someone has escaped justice but that it is meant to lead them to repent of their sin.Civil justice is sometimes served in this life, but sometimes it is not. However, no matter how much perceived justice a person receives in this life for their sins or crimes, God’s justice can never be satisfied by such measures.

For example, a man commits murder and gets a punishment of 60 years in prison, serves his time, and eventually is set free. At the end of the 60 years is he now right with God because civil justice has been served? He might have served the amount of time demanded by a court or judge to supposedly pay the price for his crime, but did the 60 years of time in prison do anything to satisfy Divine justice? Did it somehow erase his sin before God?

Of course not. 

No amount of prison time or punitive punishment can ever pay for even one single sin. Truly, sixty years of prison time could not even pay for one single “little white lie.” 

Mankind is helpless when it comes to satisfying God’s judgment and subsequent punishment for our sinfulness. 

Let’s consider another situation. What about guilty criminals who escape justice completely? Many people get away with horrible heinous crimes. Even murders sometimes go unsolved. Does this mean that someone has escaped justice? 

What if a person committed horrible crimes and went on to live a life of health, wealth, and apparent happiness then died. Did he escape justice?

No. It is impossible to escape justice. Though a person might appear to have escaped punishment, ultimately, he will not. 

A civil government can punish evil doers, however neither prison nor the death penalty should sinners fear the most. 

Unrepentant sinners should fear the One they will encounter after death. It is then that they will stand before the Supreme Judge and face perfect justice. 

This is what Jesus is talking about when He said, “I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! (Luke 12:4-5).

Fear God? Why should someone fear God? 

Because God is the absolute perfect judge who is holy, righteous, just, omniscient (all-knowing), and omnipotent (all-powerful). 

Those who think this life is all there is are greatly mistaken. Those who think they can escape justice by avoiding it in this life make a horrific assumption of what happens at death. They have not escaped justice. They have entered the courtroom of God and will face Him with every single sin that they have ever committed. 

As the Apostle Paul says, 

“Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed” (Romans 2:3-5).

People wrongly assume that just because they are not immediately receiving punishment for their sin that they are escaping justice. Paul says that God’s slowness to punish does not prove that they someone has escaped justice but that it is meant to lead them to repent of their sin. However, instead of repenting, many people continue to store up their sins and by doing so, they are storing up the wrath that they will receive from God’s righteous judgment. Not one single sin will escape God’s perfect judgment because He is perfectly just. 

For unrepentant sinners, death is not an escape of from punishment but the beginning of eternal punishment. Death does not free them. Rather, their death seals them in their state of sinfulness, guilt, punishment with no chance of repentance, and no possibility of paying off their sin.

We also must be careful to assume that God only punishes certain sins like kidnapping or murder. It is very easy to think of certain horrible sins as deserving of justice but think that God should not punish all sinners. 

Who is not a sinner? The Apostle Paul tells us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Every single sin from all of humanity must and will be punished because God is perfectly just. 

Knowing that we are guilty of sin, that we will face God, and that justice will be served, is there any hope? 

How can a man get rid of his own sin, make himself sinless in the eyes of God, or pay the price for even one of his sins? 

He can’t. That’s why the solution must come from outside of ourselves. We need a righteousness that is humanly impossible for us to acquire. That is why we need a Savior from God. We find this Savior in the person and work of Jesus. 

“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15).