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Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Jesus' miracles do not prove he was God

It is a common enough Sunday School application to assert Jesus' miracles prove he was God. Surely, were anything in scripture obvious, it's that!

Except, it isn't true.

We cannot simply look at Jesus' miracles and claim they are proof of his deity. Many people, including prophets and apostles, did miracles yet we, quite rightly, don't argue they too are gods. Therefore, miracles are not, of themselves, proof of deity.

No doubt, many of us would look at Jesus' miracles and say 'Only God could do that!'. On one level, this is true. However, Jesus did these miracles - not in his deity - but in his humanity. On this understanding, Jesus did these miracles by the power of the Spirit (see Acts 10:38). This still suggests Jesus' miracles could only be done by God. However, they were done by the person of the Spirit empowering Jesus in his humanity.

This is not mere academics nor just semantics. This is an issue that really does matter and truly makes a difference to how we view Christ's life.

On a lesser level, it is important that we don't load the miracles of Jesus with a burden they cannot bear. It doesn't take much to see the problem of citing Jesus' miracles as proof of his deity (what about the others who did miracles?). It is always important to avoid poor argument in a bid to convince people of biblical truth (see here for further thoughts). In the end, such shoddy arguments are usually seen as hollow and often leave people further from Christ than when they first engaged with us.

In reality, Jesus' miracles were never intended to prove he is God - just as the apostles miracles were never intended to prove they are gods (which, for the avoidance of doubt, they are not). Instead, the miracles of Jesus, by the empowering of the Spirit, speak of the Father's appointment of Jesus to his very specific mission. Each miracle Jesus does acts as a pointer to his ultimate work through his death and resurrection (well explained here). That Jesus was empowered by the Spirit to do these miracles acts as proof - not of Jesus' deity - but of his special appointment by the Father for this work.

More importantly, we make a nonsense of Hebrew 4 (amongst other passages) if we argue that Jesus' miracles act as proof of his deity. As explained here, if Jesus can switch at will between his humanity and his deity, we have real problems upholding the view, taught throughout scripture, that Jesus' full human life is counted to those that believe in Him.

If, however, Jesus' miracles testify to his anointing by the Father for his salvific work on the cross, we can uphold the truth of Jesus' full humanity, the truths expressed in Heb 4:15 and the truth that Christ's humanity is counted as righteousness to those who believe, all whilst simultaneously upholding his miracles prove he was anointed by the Father and, as a result, his work on the cross would be effective.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Two interesting posts on approaching ministry

Here are two interesting posts on approaches to ministry.

The first, accessible here, deals with the issue of using ministry as a means of personal fulfilment. I have touched upon this here, specifically in respect to those of us trying to find ministry opportunities. However, the post to which I have linked deals with this same underlying issue but in relation to its dangers once we have undertaken a specific ministerial role.

The second, accessible here, deals with issues related to ministry and church planting. Specifically, it discusses the importance of having a sound hermeneutic by which we can successfully handle scripture. It offers a warning that although our theological conclusions may be true, predominantly because those to whom we have aligned ourselves are sound, without a good hermeneutical base our theological inclinations can change as quickly as our ephemeral infatuations with big personalities and we stand little chance of training up others to handle the word effectively.

Both helpful posts and worth a moment of your time.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Sometimes it is about the nail

I came across this video here

I mainly wanted to share the video because I found it funny. However, it also got me thinking about how we often seek to justify our own sin. We may have a host of 'issues' for which we seek counsel without ever addressing the elephant in the room: those issues may be a result of your own sin. The deceitfulness of the human heart so often means, not only are we wont to ignore our own sin but, when others call us on it we argue it is they who have missed the point.

Nevertheless, it is always worth remembering, sometimes it is about the nail.