Systematic Theology Paper

Final Synthesis Paper

 

A Paper

Submitted To:

Dr. Hart

Graduate School of Theology and Ministry

At Oral Roberts University

In Partial Fulfillment of

The Requirements for the Course GTHE 561,

Systematic Theology II

By

Christopher B Walsh

April 26th, 2017

 

1 Timothy 1:15 (NIV)

15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.

Here we read of the mighty apostle Paul, near the end of his earthly ministry, refer to himself as the chief of all sinners.

From1 Corinthians 15:9, “I am the least of the apostles…,” to Ephesians 3:8, “I am the least of all the saints…” we see the progression in the apostle Paul’s life, as he is getting closer to the end of his earthly journey, beholding the glory of the risen Savior:

“It’s not so much that Paul wants to draw attention to himself as the “chief” sinner although I am sure he was not speaking hyperbolically here.  Rather, he wants to cast a greater light on Christ and show us the magnificence of Christ, His love, mercy and grace towards sinners!  Paul is calling us all to cast our eyes upon Christ and marvel at Him and the greatness of His saving grace.  As Paul is evaluating his own spiritual standing (i.e. in relation to the grace and glory of God in Christ) he cannot help but see himself as the “chief” sinner.”[1]

I believe this quote sums up the gospel!

Despite all the revelation given to the apostle Paul in writing much of the New Testament, I believe He sees the glory and heart of Jesus – the primary truth of the Word of God – we are all sinners, who need a Savior.

Truly it is written: Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”

We are all touched by the traducianistic nature of the fall of the original couple in the garden – we have inherited not only the combined natural DNA of our parents, but also the fallen nature of all humanity – original sin.

From the taste of the forbidden fruit, came an avalanche of the effects of this insidious fallen nature manifested: from Cain murdering his brother, to Lamech taking vengeance upon his enemies, until God Himself can take it no more.

We read in Gen 6: 5 The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.

So we read the account of Noah, saved through the flood, a beautiful picture of Christ, the only Savior of the world.
Why then does a person need to be saved or more importantly: why do I need to be saved?
It’s the eternal ancient story being worked out again, in this, my generation.

The Bible declares:

Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

This insidious sin nature then, is not just “out there”, so to speak, rather “in here”, as we look in the mirror to discover the greatest enemy of ourselves, to be staring back at us. Each of us must confront our own fallen nature, and agree with God. It is I that has sinned, it is I who must be forgiven, and it is I who am need of a Savior.

So is this Savior?

He is God the Son, The second person of the Trinity!

Who is this Jesus?

Theologians have argued His nature, but the following creed was adopted was adopted at the Council of Chalcedon in A.D. 451

Chalcedon Definition,

The Chalcedonian Definition (also called the Chalcedonian Creed) Following, then, the holy Fathers, we all unanimously teach that our Lord Jesus Christ is to us One and the same Son, the Self-same Perfect in Godhead, the Self-same Perfect in Manhood; truly God and truly Man; the Self-same of a rational soul and body; co-essential with the Father according to the Godhead, the Self-same co-essential with us according to the Manhood; like us in all things, sin apart; before the ages begotten of the Father as to the Godhead, but in the last days, the Self-same, for us and for our salvation (born) of Mary the Virgin Theotokos as to the Manhood; One and the Same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten; acknowledged in Two Natures unconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably; the difference of the Natures being in no way removed because of the Union, but rather the properties of each Nature being preserved, and (both) concurring into One Person and One Hypostasis; not as though He were parted or divided into Two Persons, but One and the Self-same Son and Only-begotten God, Word, Lord, Jesus Christ; even as from the beginning the prophets have taught concerning Him, and as the Lord Jesus Christ Himself hath taught us, and as the Symbol of the Fathers hath handed down to us[2]

This is the officially accepted doctrine of the Christian church, but it has not been accepted without controversy. There have been six main heresies:

Ebionism states that Jesus is not God

Arianism – states that Jesus was not fully God

Docetism states that Jesus is not human

Apollinarianism states that Jesus is not fully human.

Nestorianism states that Jesus was two distinct persons

Eutychianism – Jesus has one blended nature.

While each of these positions has extensive reasoning’s of man behind them, they have been fully refuted by the person of Jesus, for has not He Himself declared for all eternity that I AM, the way, the TRUTH, and the life. All lies and deception fall crushed beneath the power of His glory, for He is the God of absolute TRUTH and holiness!

It is written: Matthew 22:37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.

As we seek to obey this command, we quickly find others who have gone before us in the journey, great theologians and academics that have contributed much to Christian thought and understanding.

Dr. Hart brilliantly and succinctly introduces three of these as we consider the questions:

What is salvation, or more importantly, what is redemption?

We discover three main theologies of redemption.

These are:

Gustav Aulen – The Ransom theory – Jesus is our Victory! “The note of triumph sounds like a trumpet call through the teachings of the early church”

Anselm – Satisfaction theory, the justice of God is fully satisfied in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus.

Abelard – The Moral Influence theory: It is the goodness of God that leads to repentance, that because God is love, we should automatically want to receive Jesus and serve Him.[3]

As great of each of these theories and lines of reasoning are, none of them is complete enough in and of itself to incorporate the whole gospel, rather each contributes to our understanding of redemption, and it is the study of all three of these combined that gives a more complete understanding of the miracle of redemption.

As I look at the spiritual landscape here in yea even Tulsa, Oklahoma, I see there is ‘nothing new under the sun’

Could the victorious teachings of Aulen, be the heart of the great Victory Christian Center with its far flung mission’s movement and over 1600 International Bible Schools in over 100 nations?

Could the teachings of Anselm be reflected in the Baptist and Holiness churches that teach believers the power of the cross and in living a crucified life?

Could the teachings of Abelard, be the heart of God reflected in ‘the grace movement’ focusing on the love of God, and our identity in Christ that should cause us to desire Him, His holiness, and a life free from sin?
Well then, if we need salvation, and have received redemption through the atoning sacrifice of our Savior Jesus, by what means do we receive this great gift?

By Faith!

Faith, – “pistis” What we believe, is the noun.

“Pisteo”, this is the verb, for faith without works is dead.

As a Rhema graduate taught at the feet of Kenneth E. Hagin, one would be tempted to believe that faith is the only topic in the Bible.  Obviously, this is not the full counsel of God.  Yet in light of eternity, faith is the most important for Ephesians 2:8 states: For by grace you are saved, through faith.  Yet faith works by love Galatians 5:6 and it is the love of God that made salvation available.  The text brilliantly makes this distinction between the noun and the verb.  So faith is both the belief and then the action upon the belief.  Since faith only comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God, and the Bible says that everything we need for life and godliness has been given to us by these exceeding great and precious promises, so then faith: that is formally developing belief systems in others, must be the heart of every true ministry.  Families need divine order.  So ministers must preach on God’s covenant of marriage, the roles and responsibilities of wives and husbands in the home, the duty of children to honor and obey their parents.  And as these words are preached and people believe and act upon them, God brings great grace, power, and love from Heaven into the lives of those that do them.  This principle is true of every area of life and godliness.  Answers for all of life’s questions can be found in the Word of God believed and acted upon.

The illustrious Dr. Hart expounds on this by both teaching the Scriptures and quoting many, many theologians.  I love his quote “clearly then, faith (pistis), the noun and believing (pisteo) the verb are central to the Biblical doctrine of salvation. [4]

 

Clearly faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus will cause one to call on the Name of the Lord and be saved.  But the road to the cross must continue past the resurrection to Pentecost and the mighty baptism of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus gave the promise of the Holy Spirit, but clearly the promise had a purpose as American Baptist Scholar Howard M. Ervin stated, “The purpose of Pentecost is unmistakably world evangelism[5]” Holy Spirit prayer produces power for Christian service for each and every one of us.  Not only was prayer central to the event of Pentecost; Prophecy also played a major role.  This led to provocation as God deliberately intended that the Pentecostal experience would provoke.  We see the Holy Spirit portrayed as wind, creator, fire, the dove, and water.  He is both the personal spirit as the Paraclete and divine, but there is one work of the Holy Spirit.  We see Him displayed as paschal, purifying and Pentecostal, but Paschal. that is the direct application of Christ-saving work at Calvary is the manner at which He imparts to us eternal life.[6]

I love the way I heard gunnery sergeant USMC Gregory Gill state it while giving his testimony during the flag raising ceremony between veterans and the Navajo nation in July 2014:

“If all we got in receiving Jesus is eternal life, we have been overpaid”.

We see then a new law at work in creation, the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus.  There must be integration between Calvary and Pentecost.  We recognize the work of the Spirit in Spirit baptism but also in leading people into true repentance.  Clearly He is the One that causes people to hear the Lord’s call through the Gospel.  We understand that in Christ we have been grafted into the faith of our father Abraham and that Jesus is the ultimate faith teacher.  Faith alone will move the hand of God and cause us to change as our born-again nature works in us to will and to do according to His good pleasure.  It is the cross that reconciles, the Holy Spirit that empowers, and faith that sanctifies, as we embrace the spirit disciplines as the means for sanctification.  We discover that we have been adopted, chosen, into the royal family of Heaven.  And so Dr. Hart discusses the age-old controversy between Calvinism and Armenianism to reveal the straight and narrow way that Jesus Himself promised.

 

Hope for a despairing world

Even the great Sir Winston Churchill looked to Billy Graham for the precious gift of hope.  For hope is a Christian virtue from the pages of Scripture to the lips of Dr. Martin Luther King we discover in the promises of God the great Christian hope laid out in the Scriptures.  The theology of hope may have had its origins in Germany.[7]

Is not Eschatology simply the theology of hope?  “Forward looking and forward moving and therefore revolutionizing and transforming the present.”[8] We see Christian hope in history for “Jews and Christians believe that God has revealed Himself redemptively in history.”[9]  Just as the Jew looks to the historical Exodus account, we look to the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.  So we find hope in our personal mission “the ultimate meaning of history between the ascension of our Lord and His return in glory is found in the extension and working of the Gospel in the world.[10]  Hope also produces assurance (Phil 1:6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ).  Paul was confident for he knew God would complete His good work.  We too can have this assurance, the hope of our salvation.  Christian hope will produce a joy-filled lifestyle.  We can face death squarely as Christians knowing our sins are forgiven and we have eternal life in Christ Jesus!  Jesus is coming again!  We see the signs of the times.  And yet hope has us looking up not fearfully but in joyful anticipation of the second coming of Jesus.  We read about the devil, the beast, and the false prophets, and hear the myriad voices declaring the second coming and the three main positions pre-millennial, post-millennial, and millennial.  Whichever position you choose, know that even as Jesus was raised from the dead, we too shall be raised and given a glorified body.  There will be a great white throne judgment where “we will all someday face judgment before the throne.”[11]  For those of us whose names are found in the Book of Life, eternal glory waits.  To those who are not found there, there is a place of eternal torment awaiting that the Bible calls hell.  This place was prepared, not for human-kind, but for the devil and his angels, yet many will end up there in this place of weeping and gnashing of teeth.  “If Heaven is the community of the redeemed, then hell is the community of the damned.”[12]  How can a good God send people into an eternal hell?

So then we walk on our pilgrimage with eyes facing forward looking and longing for the hope of Heaven.  If we really believe in Heaven, then we must also believe in hell.  Dr. Hart shockingly states that no one in his class actually believes in hell anymore. “If we really believed in hell, we would be moved to avert as many as we could from its horror.”[13]  While we shudder to think of our eternal responsibility to share the Gospel, we must also think of the glories of Heaven.  “This is the city, the community, the family, the fellowship, the joy, the perfection, the kingdom, the commonwealth, and the paradise for which we have all been longing!”[14]

If faith is not only what we believe, but also the way that God requires us to live in this covenant, we must understand the workings of faith and faith works by love.  Jesus said I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.  So what is the church of our Lord Jesus Christ?  For a general definition of the New Testament church, it must include all true believers in Jesus Christ at all times and all places and also the local gatherings of God’s people.  In relation to God, we have become both the people of God and the temple of God; in relationship to Jesus, we are both the bride of Christ and the body of Christ.  In relation to the Holy Spirit, we are the fellowship (koinonia) of the Holy Spirit and the ministry (diakonia) of the Holy Spirit.  The Church takes on many forms in its historical dimension and the eschatological dimension, our corporate worship and our home fellowships.  But I am more of a practitioner.  I love Rick Warren’s Purpose-Driven Church where he set his congregation on a research assignment in the Scriptures to succinctly express the main purposes of the church.  He summarized these into five main purposes which are outreach, worship, fellowship, discipleship, and service.  While there are many particular denominations of the Christian faith, and most were created at a time during history to meet a need of humanity or correct an error in the current institutionalized structure.  I have become firmly non-denominational in my theology embracing the spirit of St. Augustine of Hippo, “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”

The primary responsibility of the church is ‘martyria’ or (witness); it is this witness that is the root of koinonia (fellowship) and diakonia (service). I agree that Dr. Hart is correct Biblically, and his discussion supports my theology, that faith only comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Therefore, the preacher, the oracle of God, speaks the Word of God, and faith comes, not only for salvation, but for everything required for life and godliness, which of course includes fellowship and service.

So then, the church of the living God is a charismatic, spirit empowered place for both fellowship and service, where believers worship in spirit and in truth. Since God Himself inhabits the praises of His people, Holy Spirit provides heavenly witness to His people, depositing His precious gracelets among His people, His supernatural gifts.

Yet, are the ‘motivational gifts’ listed in Romans 12, any less supernatural?

In Ephesians chapter four we read of the gifts of ministry offices, five-fold ministry; my number one prayer mandate, when I seek to obey Paul’s command to pray for those in authority listed in 1Tim 2:1-5. As goes the church in a nation, so goes the government of the nation, and so I daily pray heavenly offices fully obey God, that there be flaming pulpits in every nations declaring boldly, with authority the uncompromised Word of God, with signs and wonders following, that people can hear and obey, and fully submit to the reign and rule of heaven for that nation.

This verse explains why we pray for those in authority:

1 Tim 2: 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

We then baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in water. I believe there are five baptisms recorded in the New Testament, the text mentions three, but suffice to say that believers should be baptized in water, as an outward sign of being baptized into the body of Christ, and should receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

Every should observe the Lord’s supper, for this sacrament is a direct commandment of the Word of God, and a wonderful celebration of God’s covenant, with us, His people.

Who did Jesus come to save? Me and You, and though we work out our salvation with fear and trembling, we have been redeemed, an each given wonderful, diverse and beautiful gifts from heaven to glorify the magnificence of our Savior, God the Son, Jesus King of all kings, Lord of the universe!

[1] https://graceforeachmoment.org/2012/04/25/paul-the-chief-of-sinners/

[2] Henry Bettenson, Documents of the Christian Church, (2nd Edition; London: The Oxford University Press, 1963 pp 51-52

[3] P363-67 Truth Aflame

[4] Truth Aflame p. 417

[5] Howard M Ervin, Spirit Baptism:  A Biblical Investigation “Peabody, Mass:  Hendrickson, 1987”p. 38

Hart p.377

[6] Hart p. 388

[7] Hart p. 465

[8] Jurgen Moltmann, Theology of Hope: On the Ground and the Implications of Christian Eschatology. trans.

James W. Leitch (London: SCM, 1967),16.

[9] Hart p. 468

[10] George Eldon Ladd, The Gospel of the Kingdom (Grand Rapids:  Eerdmans, 1959, 133.

[11] Hart p520.

[12] Hart p526-7.

[13] Truth Aflame p528

[14] Truth Aflame p532

Author: chrisaomministries

Chris Walsh is a missionary, the President of AOMMinistries. This blog now reaches over 100,000 people each day! Chris is the author of three books: Parable of the Sower, Worship - Not Just a Song, and now 'Welcome to the Grand Illusion, a prophetic prayer strategy to take America back!' The Walsh family has completed over 20 missions trips since April 2014, and is committed to bringing the Word of God to the nations, by every available media.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s