Looming War: The Continuing Betrayal of Israel and Its Hope in Jesus the Messiah/Part 2
|By: John G. Weldon, PhD; ©2011|
|When Christians are truly convinced that the Bible is the Word of God, true from beginning to end, and when they understand the infinite wonders of the biblical God, they can’t help but fall in love and be committed. That’s why every Christian who wants to grow in the faith and glorify God needs to study theology.|
Looming War: The Continuing Betrayal of Israel and Its Hope in Jesus the Messiah
- “The situation of Israel is once again heading toward extreme peril.” — Marvin Olasky, May 18, 2011
- “The battle for the Jewish State’s survival promises to become even more intense in the coming months.” — www.OneJerusalem.org, June 3, 2011
Part Two: The importance of theology
Theology is the study of God and apart from God Himself, perhaps no subject has greater importance, even throughout history, indeed forever. Throughout eternity the redeemed will engage in theology, the study of God. Because we are finite and God is an infinitely perfect and glorious Being, the learning will go on forever and the resulting joy will increase forever, merely one of the endless wonders of redemption.
Unfortunately, it is the lack of individual study of theology (and apologetics, or the evidence for the truthfulness of the Christian religion) which significantly explains the less than robust condition of the Church today. (Still, it is nothing short of a miracle what God has accomplished through His Bride in 2000 years.) Nevertheless, when Christians are truly convinced that the Bible is the Word of God, true from beginning to end, and when they understand the infinite wonders of the biblical God, they can’t help but fall in love and be committed. That’s why every Christian who wants to grow in the faith and glorify God needs to study theology (a good primer is J. I. Packer, God’s Words; for the serious believer, John Piper,The Pleasures of God.)
One of the doctrines of theology is Christology, or the study of the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. A subdivision of this branch would be Messianic prophecy, Jesus’ fulfilling of many specific predictions in the Old Testament about the Messiah; it would also include what the New Testament teaches about Jesus being the Messiah. (For example, Alfred Edersheim’s classic The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah lists some 400 Old Testament passages the rabbis deemed messianic.)
Theology as a whole today is a mixture of both truth and error, depending upon how biblical it is. For example, those who employ the unjustified, often rationalistic and anti-biblical presuppositions involved in higher criticism of the Bible (such as redaction, form and source criticism) end up with a wasteland of theology and biblical studies, making the text teach whatever they want it to teach or don’t want to teach, as illustrated in the so-called findings of the Jesus Seminar – which somehow decided by vote that the vast majority of Jesus statements in the Gospels are false, despite all evidence to the contrary. (As noted philosopher and theologian William Lane Craig observes, today, even “Radical critics… are being increasingly marginalized within the academy as scholarship has come to a new appreciation of the historical reliability of the New Testament documents.”
Regardless, one can read liberal and rationalistic theologians and pastors alike and find such statements as “Jesus never claimed he was the Messiah,” or “The Messiah isn’t coming.” In The Myth of God Incarnate, edited by the noted British philosopher and theologian John Hick, a half-dozen British theologians claimed that most New Testament scholars don’t believe that Jesus ever even claimed to be the Messiah or the Son of God. This is nonsense, as we will see.
The Jewish people gave the world the Bible (both Testaments) yet sadly, only about 1% of the 14 million Jews today believe in its central figure. Allegedly, over half of the Jewish people who accept Jesus as the Messiah do so through reading Messianic Prophecies, which, given their power, is hardly surprising. Again, in light of the hostile conditions Israel faces today and the increasing persecution of Jews throughout the world, it is important that Christians not only remember to pray for their salvation, but for their safety as well. According to some, more Jewish people today are more open to Christ than at any time in the last millennium. To be sure, the more difficult matters become for the nation of Israel and for individual Jewish people, the more likely they are to look to the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob, and to David’s promised Son, Jesus the Messiah.
Biblically Jesus clearly is the Messiah, the predicted Son of God and Savior of the world who, in ultimate sacrifice and supreme love, would die an atoning death for the world’s sins. By His death He offered eternal salvation as a free gift to everyone who would believe on Him. (John 3:16; 6:47)
Indeed, Jesus Christ is found more in the Old Testament than even many Christians realize, and certainly the Jews generally. Many years ago I remember reading Dr. Norman Geisler’s short book Christ: The Theme of the Bible that briefly reveals how each of the 39 books of the Old Testament speaks in some way of Jesus Christ. Given the fact that the Old Testament was written by many writers in many places from many professions over some 1500 years, this is nothing short of a miracle. Messianic prophecy itself is an important theological and apologetic study, documented in many important books, the titles of which we encourage readers to peruse. For biblical proof that Jesus is the Messiah, see part three.
- Marvin Olasky, “In Coming Years Israel Could Face Problems Threatening its Existence,” May 18, 2011; http://www.crosswalk.com/news/israel-insights/in-coming-years-israel-could-face-problems-threatening-its-existence.html. fckLR
- Individual study of all the basic Christian doctrines is immensely enriching; these include Bibliology, the doctrine of the Bible; Theology Proper, the doctrine of God (theism, Trinitarianism, God’s attributes); Christology, the doctrine of Christ (the person and work of Jesus Christ, e.g. the incarnation and virgin birth, hypostatic union, Jesus as Messiah, etc.); Pneumatology, the doctrine of the Holy Spirit (the person and work of the Holy Spirit); Soteriology, the doctrine of salvation; Anthropology, the doctrine of man; Harmartiology, the doctrine of sin; Ecclesiology, the doctrine of the Church (e.g., the nature of the Church as Christ’s bride, in organic union with Him); Angelology, the doctrine of angels, elect and reprobate; and Eschatology, the doctrine of last things. Each of these has sub-doctrines. For example, under the doctrine of salvation, we find the sub-doctrines of (in no particular order) depravity, imputation, grace, propitiation/atonement, reconciliation, calling, regeneration, union with Christ, conversion (repentance/faith), justification, adoption, sanctification, eternal security (perseverance), election/predestination, redemption, and death, resurrection and the final state.
- See John Ankerberg, The Case for Jesus the Messiah at: https://www.jashow.org/articles/jesus/christmas/the-case-for-jesus-the-messiah-incredible-prophecies-that-prove-god-exists/. Also see note 21.
- William Lane Craig, On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision, 2010, 183.
- Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg classic three volume Christology of the Old Testament<nowiki>; Christopher J. H. Wright, </nowiki>Knowing Jesus through the Old Testament<nowiki>; Walter C Kaiser Jr, </nowiki>The Messiah in the Old Testament, David Baron, Rays of the Messiah’s Glory, Bill Myers, Christ BC: Becoming Closer Friends with the Hidden Christ of the Old Testament, Arnold Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiah andMessianic Christology. For Jesus use of the Old Testament see RT France, Jesus and the Old Testament and John Wenham, Christ and the Bible<nowiki>; for the appearances (theophanies) of Christ in the Old Testament, see James Borland, </nowiki>Christ in the Old Testament.) See the bibliography at: http://www.israel-pro.org/ENGLISH/live_site/powerpoint_flash/BIBLIOGRAPHY_Messianic%20Prophecy_ppt_061005.pdf<nowiki>; and at “Israel in Prophecy” “Pro 2 – Messianic Prophecy and Eschatology in the Bible,”.